We arrived at our first class in a series of ten and were surprised to find that Mr. and Mr. Fancy Car weren’t even there – though after previously wasting an entire hour of my life at orientation staring at their Porsche keychain only to find out that they drove a Honda, I didn’t really care to spend any more time with them anyway. Plus, there was this new group of people to sort out and if the orientation was an eclectic bunch from all walks of life, this classroom was the United Nations.
And then it began:
“Everything you think you know about foster-adopt is wrong,” the social worker proclaimed, kicking off the class.
I mean, really? This is how you’re going to try to pique our interest – by boastfully explaining that everything we know about this overly complicated, horribly bureaucratic, sometimes awful, but hopefully wonderful process is wrong? You do know that we’re the ones dragging our butts to these three-hour parenting classes every Thursday night for the next nine weeks in god-knows-what-neighborhood-we’re-in, right? Not to mention that we’ve both had long days at work, we’re hungry, tired AND our dog Travis is super-pissed off by this sudden change in our schedule, even though we keep promising him that he’s going to be a happy boy (he really wants a kid). So please, if you’re trying to use this bold statement as some kind of tease, some way of grabbing our attention, give it a rest already, lady, because we clearly know what we’re getting ourselves into.
We’ve got this. I mean, it’s why we signed up to become foster (and hopefully adoptive) parents. Eric and I have been together for nine years, which is like forever in gaydom, so I’m pretty sure we have the whole “stability thing” down. We took time making sure this was the right decision and did tons and tons and tons and tons and tons and tons of research (well, I did the research. I handle the ideas and research in our relationship; Eric is the decision-maker.) We get that it won’t be easy and that opening our home and our lives to a child will require a lot of work, but we’re pretty sure we’ll be really good at it. That’s why we’re willing to sacrifice our Thursday nights for the next three months, feel dead-tired at work on Fridays and deal with our dog as he pleads with us not to leave.
Not to even get into the fact that the person teaching our class is a social worker. You know, that notorious profession associated with horrible stories of overworked, underpaid, and overwhelmed employees with huge caseloads and backlogs of children waiting to find forever homes. In fact, she’s probably just disgruntled because she’s here on Thursday nights as well and simply wants to prove her point that she knows what’s best for these children even though we’re the ones who will be taking care of them. That has to be it… That has to be why she’s saying that we don’t have any idea what we’re getting ourselves into.
Come to find out – she was right.
Over the next nine weeks, not only would we find ourselves in awe of our instructors and the information they provided, but we quickly realized that we truly didn’t understand the realities and intricacies of the foster care system. I mean, sure, we knew the gist of it: child is removed from home and ends up in the system, most often times for abuse or neglect, and we provide a safe, structured, loving, and nurturing home – sometimes it’s days; other times it’s weeks; and sometimes it’s forever, which is where the whole “foster-adopt” thing comes in. But beyond the basics, we were completely in the dark about the actual process of it all and the unpredictable twists and turns that could appear before us at nearly every step of our journey. As the information poured out at us, we suddenly found ourselves grasping for more, always wishing that class could go just a little bit longer – even if it meant Travis the dog had to wait.