It’s time for us to proceed with the next step in parenthood, namely having a second child. But it seems like we are frustrated at every turn by this inability to make a decision. We are moving in two directions–trying to bring one child in while another seems to be on his way out–or so we’ve been told. We continue to inch slowly forward towards private adoption, though ultimately what is confounding that decision is cost. We also continue to list on the open sea of adopting older kids through social services. A wave it seems comes to lift us up and we are riding high until the practicalities swamp the boat. Neither of us can resist the child that pops up on Adoptuskids.org or on Wednesday’s Child but the notion of facing another set of case workers keeps me up at night. All of this adoption decision-making is tainted by the reality that creeps up on us. Someday soon they will come for him (though it is hard to imagine that life-out there, the one that waits for us without him–without our son). I continue to hold out this strange, vague, pitiful hope that I remand to its corner, where it is not allowed to interact with the rest of my thoughts, hopes or dreams. The damnedest thing, though is that they all pale in comparison to that elephant in the room–or should I say that elephant that I have shoved in the corner-our son’s impending departure.
Our plans to be an unconventional, conventional family with a house in the suburbs on a leafy tree-lined street, a station wagon, make that two station wagons, and two-point-three children, have become a casualty of the great foster parenting experiment. The notion of having one and then two years later having another and then possibly two years later having another–I think it’s called birth spacing–all of that has become completely fucked up by this coming and going of our foster son. Do we begin the infant adoption? Do we pursue the four year old available in Ohio through social services? Do we do it all and then things happen the way they do–because we live charmed lives that are guided by fate and the “it-was-meant-to-bes”? Sometimes I become weary of thinking like that. If we took all of the actions laid out before us we could end up a year from now with three kids. We had hoped that we would ease into a family of that size rather than having them all arrive at the same time. And now the latest nonsense that we are throwing around is pursuing a sibling group of four. Are we getting desperate, emotionally spiraling out of control, or loosing a grip of reality?
Then there are our friends who have gone and done what I just described. These two also unconventional-conventionals have gone from zero to three in less than six months. Even couples having triplets, they at least have nine-months to prepare. I admire and at the same time fear for them. While we have ventured into fostering with the hopes of adopting one child, they now have three. I wonder if it’s that easy. Do you just consider the notion, say yes to the social worker and later deal with the consequences? Isn’t that what got us, sorry, how I got us into this mess in the first place? I made that first inquiry; we attended that first informational session; we made it through the training; we said yes to the little boy-and now here we are?
But consider the alternative. You do nothing. Your carefully laid plans are a mess and you let it get the best of you. There is no basis upon which to make any decisions or to understand what adopting another child will mean to your lives. You wait until it is too late and you are too old. While neither of us feels too old to have young children, even infants, we have to remember how our age will impact them later in life. I may not have control of my own life, but I want to give them the best odds that their dad will be around when they graduate from high school. Being in my mid-forties the probabilities are not great. I have no intention of allowing a child to lose his parents once and then turn around and lose his adoptive parents before he becomes an adult.
Sometimes when I think about having our own children, I wonder if I could just toss all of the considerations aside. The other night Darrow asked whether we should just give someone a chance-like an older kid. That’s what we did with our foster son. We just said yes, without knowing fully what that was going to mean. Even now, it’s not like we would turn around and not do it all over again. He is a healthy, happy little boy-he has flourished because we took the chance. I wonder about the two friends with three kids. In some ways I envy them. They have become enveloped in fatherhood. Suppose it is just that easy–like our friends–time to leap off of the dock because you know you know how to swim.