My Nastya. What a beautiful child! I love her dearly, and feel that we have bonded extremely well, actually. Overall she gives me very little "trouble". I can't count the number of sweet little "love notes" she has written me, or the impulsive hugs, or the sweet kisses I get on a daily basis.
However, one must never go into parenthood expecting love. That goes double [triple?] for adoptive parenthood!
You can only expect TO love. And, to suffer, and to be humbled, and to relinquish "self". Wow! What a spiritual discipline!!
Yesterday I had a wonderful taste of the chastening end of things.
We had our annual foster care licensing meeting. (Now, this is somewhat humbling in and of itself...as a virtual stranger comes into your home to inspect it - and critique your homelife, for all intents and purposes.) It is like a mini-homestudy. I resent having to fiddle around and "fix" some things. For example, so foster parents won't kill babies in their care, there is a regulation about how hot your hot water can be. I don't recall the temperature; I only know that we found it is not hot enough to allow even two family members to take showers or baths. Therefore, my "check-list" for the visit involves crawling around on the basement floor lowering the temperature of our hot water. I don't ordinarily aim to deceive, but we just can't live like that day in and day out. If I actually did foster care for a small child, I would think differently, obviously. But all of my crew are more than capable of adjusting their bath water (and complaining loudly about insufficient hot water!!)
We also had to change the beds around this time. That bothered me more, as it rather involved the children in deceit. But however reasonable things might seem to me, regulations are regulations. Anastasia's little half-bed in my room is not acceptable. Children may not sleep in their parents' rooms. I really don't understand this one; families around the world sleep with the entire family in one room! However, in modern-day America this is not considered "OK". [Good thing I am not an actual proponent of the "family bed" - that would bring everything to a stand-still!] But first Lydia, and then Anastasia have felt safe and secure in that little bed in the corner of our big bedroom. However, for the licensing inspection we had to shift it all around so that Anastasia had a room of her own. Meaning Ilya, who never sleeps, was put in with poor Sergei who relishes a good night's sleep (which he didn't get last night).
Anyway....back to our attention-seeker. I am sitting at the table talking with the social worker, when Nastya comes in, marches up to her and asks, "Can you get me a different family?" By the grace of God, she did not go on to relate manufactured events that might really cause problems, but rather focused on her more honest complaints, which obviously just amused the SW. "Zhenya always annoys me; he messed up my bed! I should not have to live like this!" and, "The boys get to play on the computer, and they won't let me play and mama won't do anything about it!" "I want a different family where I get more clothes! See! these pants are too short and I don't have anything else to wear to ice-skating!" Well, yes; it was funny in some respects. But I didn't find it all that funny in light of my previous experiences. Also, it just struck me that I don't enjoy having someone looking over my shoulder like this. I don't like my children getting the idea that our family would or could ever be altered. That is one downside of Maxim being with us. The concept of disruption came into their innocent little heads. It shouldn't be in her mental vocabulary any more than it should be for any biological child.
I had to explain to our "worker" in intimate detail exactly why Craig is working in Korea, and that our marriage is strong. I had to go into detail about my own job, about jobs he has had, about how he obtained the job in Korea, about how he felt about leaving. Frankly, this didn't strike me as their business!! I have an acquaintance at church, a single woman, who has five foster children! Did she have to go into detail about why she never married? It felt so intrusive. Plus, I was "cited" for not alerting the agency "withing five working days" of our "change in household make-up". I simply got a "warning" when we adopted Ilya - and failed to tell this woman I see once a year about it.
Of course I do understand their "rules". So many foster parents are not quite what they are hoping for (as I noticed during the training). They don't want someone's drug-dealing uncle, newly release from jail, popping in to a home. I get it; I just don't like it. Particularly, I am exasperated by the fact that each element of DHS seems to be its own entity. Our caseworkers in two parts of the state discussed with us Craig's and Lydia's plans to move out. So, pardon me if I forgot to also tell the licensing office! I'm just not a good foster parent in this way. I can include Maxim in our home, and treat him as my own. I am not good as treating him as "state property". I cannot regard foster parenting as a "job". So I tend to forget those aspects of it.
Well....I lived through it for another year. Only - I have to go get fingerprinted! This is nearly a laugh-out-loud, side-holding bit of information. I have surely been fingerprinted more than any living non-criminal person! Here's a run-down:
- fingerprinted by county police deputy to host Sergei
- fingerprinted by INS to adopt Sergei
- fingerprinted by Lansing police to adopt Sergei
- fingerprinted by Lansing police second time to adopt Sergei (adding my "alias", i.e. my first name which I've never used for anything, ever)
- fingerprinted by East Lansing police for Diocese of Lansing
- fingerprinted by State Police for Diocese of Lansing (requirements changed)
- fingerprinted by my colleage and fingerprints sent somewhere for Diocese of Lansing (requirement changed again)
- fingerprinted by INS to adopt Anastasia
- fingerprinted by Lansing police to adopt Anastasia
- fingerprinted by private entity for Diocese of Lansing
- fingerprinted by Ingham Int. School System
- fingerprinted by Lansing police to adopt Ilya
- fingerprinted by INS to adopt Ilya
Enough already??? No!!! I have to return to the same place where I was last fingerprinted for the Diocese to be fingerprinted again for the DHS. And this place is on the farthest end of town, and only open during working hours. Good, eh?
All I can say is - get into fingerprinting! It looks like the next "big thing" if my experience is anything to go by!