We adopted the girls 4 years ago and brought them home almost 5 1/2 yrs ago.
We always knew we wanted to adopt. We tried fertility treatments and were unsuccessful. We had an idea of at what level we'd stop trying to get pg. I was an older (36) age when we started and so we knew there were probably lower chances for us and had adoption at the back of our minds.
When we stopped trying to get pg, life got in the way. Job layoffs, a hysterectomy operation and recovery for me, etc. We took a break of 4 yrs to heal, get new jobs and try to plan next steps.
We had always had an idea we'd adopt internationally. We considered Guatemala, China, Korea, Russia, etc. But our timing was off, we'd have to take out a home equity loan to pay for it, etc. It just never seemed the right time and we just were never able to start the process.
Our friends adopted foster to adopt and we observed the process they went through. They went to a private agency to start the process, not working directly with a county. We went to an information session through the agency and signed up on the spot in May of 2007. We decided we could do this. We started the process the next month for our homestudy and classes and everything sailed along smoothly. We WERE going to be parents!! We couldn't believe it. Then fall 2007 hit and the mortgage industry took a huge hit. I was working as an admin for a mortgage processing company and I got laid off. We were devastated. Half way through our homestudy process and an almost completed homestudy. We again had to take some time off and wondered if we could do it. My mom lent us a small amount of money as you make payments to the agency for various parts of the homestudy (as you do also in the international adoption and possibly domestic adoption process as well) but we still had a couple more payments to make in order to get us to the assigned Social Worker part of the process. So we plugged along through Thanksgiving and Christmas, hoping we'd be able to start again in the new year.
In February of 2008 we were able to complete the homestudy process and waited for 8 very long weeks to get homestudy written up and finished by our agency Social Worker. In April, we attended a fair with local agencies in a town 50 mins away, to 'present' our homestudy to the agencies. No kids were present but you could look at profiles and see if any kids interested you, then someone from our agency would talk to the counties/agencies there and see if any more info could be obtained. We started out with 2 sets of 3 kids, one was an older set with an older boy Dave was interested in hearing more about, a girl in the middle and a younger boy. The next set was in our county but was 3 younger kids, two girls and a boy, all 3-5 and under. In each instance relatives came forward to show interest so we were back to square one. I called the agency weekly as they had an Adoption Coordinator who got the profiles in and then looked at homestudies to do a match. I made sure she knew who I was and there was a set of 3 Pacific Islander boys, a 5 yr old girl and 11 mos old boy, etc.
We did a home visit on the 5 yr old girl and 11 mos old boy but decided the fit wasn't right. However the county worker knew our agency Social Worker and a month later passed along our homestudy to her co worker. We were to attend our first picnic (where kids were going to be there) and so we were going to meet the girls. We had signed up to do activities and so we fulfilled that part, checking out other kids as well. The county worker wanted us to spend time with the girls as we were the only ones being considered for them, she told us. If we passed they'd move on to the next homestudy. We spent time with the girls while they ate. BGA was demanding, now knowing her as I do, she was overwhelmed and very uncomfortable. LGA was so very cute and very shy. We talked it over briefly and decided to move forward. We WERE going to be parents, this WAS happening!
We had what is called a 'disclosure' meeting at the county offices where the girls were from. Our agency Social Worker drove up with us which in hindsight was not a good thing. On the way back we couldn't really talk or make a decision. However, it was good to ask him what he thought and he thought it was a good match. We heard some of the info about the girls (we know now that a lot is held back and things sometimes get missed in the rush to match kids and parents). And we decided it would be the girls who joined our family.
Visits with the girls started a week later. We took them out for a lunch date after meeting them again one on one (they kept interrupting the info that needed to be exchanged, a sign of things to come because they still interrupt me when I am talking to people, paying at a cash register, ordering food, etc.) at the foster parent's house. Both workers came along and after 2 hours we returned them to the foster parent's house. She reamed me out a bit (but not too much as there were two social workers present) about a mustard stain on LGA's dress as we'd let her have a hamburger with mustard on it and it stained her dress.
The next visits were half day visits. We would pick the girls up after school (it was June of 2008) and then take them to a park for lunch or to play. They didn't interact with us at all at first and when I complimented BGA on her pretty eyes and eyelashes she glared at me really harshly. We then did a day trip on a Saturday to a funland park. The girls took off and did not wait for us. We had to establish ground rules on that but it was really hard to do because they weren't ours yet and we weren't sure how much we could say to them. So they took off and we had to chase them down. We returned them earlier than expected as we had run out of things to do and it was a scorching hot day in June. The girls got a bit sunburnt also (bad new mommy forgot the sunscreen. I had a lot to learn).
The first overnight visit then occurred two days later on a Monday. We kept them Monday and Tuesday and then brought them back on Wed and picked them back up on Friday and brought them back on Sunday, and picked them up again to take them home for good the following Thursday. It was fun having them but also different for me and I was very tired the first few weeks of them being home. We eventually got into a routine and they went to school at the end of July as that was when school started here for them the first few years they were home.
The girls have come a long way from the two little girls who came home to the almost young ladies they are today. Foster to adopt is not for the faint of heart. I wish I could say it was. It took us 13 mos to adopt the girls and a few hurdles in between, lots of attachment and bonding had to happen. The girls were 3 and 6 when we met them and just 4 and 6 when they came home. Personalities were formed and they were older than babies would have been. But we got through it, we bonded and we became a family. Lots of things happened during the years the girls came home, they met my brother and mother and family (and my brother and mother passed away), they met friends who were part of our lives and friends came and went, decided how much time they wanted to invest in the girls, etc. We had school changes, and FASD appeared on the scene quickly at age 5 for Angelina. Life has ebbed and flowed and we have adapted, we have grown as a family and as the girls have grown life has gone on. I love them and can't imagine what life would have been like without them. Here are some early pics.......
Just home a couple of weeks
A forever family........adopted at court
And now on to the cat part of this post. This cat was adopted by us two years ago. She was a semi feral cat, found out in the valley on her own, evidently dumped. No other kittens or a mother with her. She was so cute as a kitten. We had a cat who lived 8 yrs and then got cancer. She died in early 2010 and we did not really want another cat. The girls begged, absolutely begged for a kitten. When I saw this girl's kitten pic I was drawn to it. Dave had had a calico cat and he loved her. I thought for sure we could win him over with her pic. He saw it and said as long as I was willing to clean the litter box he was game (and the girls at some point, however,neither one of them are fond of litter box duty and BGA almost gagged when I showed her how I clean it so it has fallen to me, yet once again)/. I didn't do any research and didn't realize the kitten was semi feral with apparently NO hands on contact with humans (I won't say the rescue group but their primary rescues are not of the dog and cat variety) and she was active. I thought that would be good for the girls. So we took her home. She bit, scratched (I'm lucky I did not get cat scratch fever) her way through our house and we had to settle on putting her in our bathroom for a bit then bringing her out in her crate to get her used to being in the house. Of course two VERY eager young girls could not keep their hands off her and she hated absolutely hates being held. Major problem. Lots of anger and jealousy issues as the cat really has always preferred BGA. BGA is her person. BGA for her part loves the cat, but doesn't want the cat in her room, and really claims to be a cat person, yet takes no responsibility for the cat at all.
So fast forward to the cat that avoids the dogs, who chase her, stays in our room a lot (once she learned to jump the baby get set up to keep dogs in our room at night) and really has nothing to do with any of us but BGA. It went on like this for a year. I debated for the first time whether we had made a mistake and we should try to find a home for her. We couldn't really as she bit a lot the first year and I knew she would not really be adoptable. I tried to find farm type settings for her as she was always trying to get outside and figured she'd be happier in a farm type of setting. She was so unfriendly Dave and I felt that we really would not miss her if we placed her somewhere else but we couldn't seem to do it. The girls proclaimed to love her but would get so frustrated that they couldn't pick her up (yet they kept doing it and she would scratch them and we would have kids with face scratches). I felt bad but I really had never experienced a cat like her and she really didn't like me as I was the one who fed her and took care of her those first few months.
We left her for the first time to go sort out my mom's estate last year and when we came home she wouldn't leave our side and stayed with us a lot. She became the slightest bit friendlier, then as we settled back in, became aloof again. 2 yrs after we adopted her, she has become friendly like she was when she was a kitten again, but on her terms. She will sit by you but only on Dave's lap and no one else's except possibly BGA. She will come in when you are in the bathroom (I think the rescue group kept her in the bathroom and that is where she felt safe in our house) and in our bedroom. She will go down the hallway to LGA's room while we are trying to get her to sleep at night and go in there. She will also go to the girls when they are in their bathroom, even if they get up at night. She seems to feel comforted there for a petting. She will sleep on our beds and at one point on Sunday when I was watching tv on our bed she and the dogs all came in and got on the bed. She loves her food and if you don't give it to her becomes almost manic in her quest for it. She appears to be going back to square one and her kitten ways. The cat who never would purr, you could pick her up (which she hated) or go up to pet her and nothing, no sweet purr, she would just stare at you, now purrs LOUDLY when you pick her up or pet her. She will sometimes NOT purr but nine times out of ten, she will. This cat is slowly warming up as she attaches. She has taken a long time to attach more than any of the cats I have ever had. I love her, but I do still miss the kittens whose purrs go a mile a minute. I was able to pet a kitten in a shelter last week. He was only 6 weeks old, but my oh my was he lovely. He purred a mile a minute, made kitten kneads on his bed and head butted me through the bars. I wanted him (and would have brought him home but he was not ready to go yet) to adopt. But the more I want to adopt another kitten, the more this cat opens up. So I'm waiting. It might not be the cat we all envisioned having (after our last lap loving cat) but she's opening up, if only we can be patient. She will give the love she can, I just don't think she was ever taught how to. But as with humans, we can all love. We all have the capacity, it's just opening up our hearts and allowing it in. So here's to this sweet Calico, showing us that adoption can take many forms, be it human or feline. :-) Happy Adoption month, please support adoption in any way you can.