Friday, December 18, 2015

A Different View

Life with Jack means seeing things through his eyes. It is sometimes easy for John and I to forget that he has gone through so much in his life, many things we will probably never know about. That means that Jack sees things differently than a lot of other children his age. John and I were confronted with that about two weeks ago. He loves music and so I decided to take my old iPhone and fill it up with music so he can have it in his room. John and I asked him to go upstairs to play or read and he didn’t want to. There is a bit of a landing/walkway at the top of the stairs and he looked over and started to protest and ask why he had to be upstairs. I finally told him I was working on a surprise. My nephews love when I use that word because they know something really cool is coming. It is also a tactic I used in case my original plans didn’t work out, we could go to Plan B without anyone being disappointed or having a clue about what was going on.

Instead of the excited reaction I get from my nephews, Jack got all upset. We had him come down and asked what was going on. He asked why everything had to be a surprise and I told him the truth. I told him I wanted to do something nice for him and I wanted to see him happy and excited. He then said something along the lines of “Oh, like the surprise I got when they took me away from my family.” It had not occurred to us that a word we thought meant all sorts of great things was not a good word for him. Now, when we have an idea, we ask him if he wants to know or if he wants a surprise and we let it be his choice. So far, he hasn’t chosen for the surprise, but I feel that he is getting there.

We were also shocked by his lack of wanting a Christmas tree or lights in the house. We were going to get a small one and decorate, but he wanted nothing to do with it. He likes them in other places, and at other houses, but not in his home. Instead, he picked out a few small sticky window gels that he put up and a tiny green tree with a bit of snow he wanted in his room and that has been the extent of our holiday decorations. He also doesn’t seem all that excited about Christmas other than saying “I want that” every time a cool toy comes on TV.

We can only speculate about what he is feeling. When we ask him what he really wants for Christmas, he only says he wants a family and it makes me both super happy that we are on that track and it breaks my heart that any child should have to have that as their Christmas wish.

We are now one month into the six months we need to foster before we can adopt him. I really wasn’t sure how it would be to have a new person come into our lives. I look at him and I don’t see someone else’s child, I see my son. He calls us “dad” here and there, but not with any regularity. He mentioned yesterday that he was almost adopted before and I can imagine he is keeping is guard up just in case. The only thing that scares me about the whole adoption process is that fact that so much happens that is out of our control. There are so many people looking at him, at us, at everything. It’s all going well and we anticipate it staying that way. He is more relaxed and confident as time goes on, I think he will be relieved, as will we, when the day comes to sign the papers and make our family official.

I really hope it all happens before next Christmas, so he can use his Christmas wish for something other than a family. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Three Weeks With Jack

Three weeks ago today, we met Jack and brought him home. I can’t think of a time I have been more nervous, scared, excited and happy. So many questions. What type of personality did he have? Would we like him? Would he like us? Would we get along? Would our lives fill up with drama and fights and power-struggles? Would he be mean to the dogs? Would he throw things and break them? Would he bond with us?

A week or so before we met, we had been given a three or four paragraph write-up on him. Every child in need of placement has one and they are very generic, talking about if they like movies, comic books, have siblings and there is always a cute picture of them attached.  Minutes before meeting him, we were given a bit more information which we have since decided to disregard.

All children in the foster system have a file that follows them wherever they go. We had been told that he has huge meltdowns when it comes time to get ready for school or take a bath. A few days in, I noticed his socks didn’t really fit his feet. We looked into it further and discovered that a lot of his clothes were too small. We went to Old Navy and while we guided him, we let him pick out all his own clothes. We think it was probably the first time in his life he has been able to have a say in what he wears. We have not had a single issue with him getting ready other than the fact that he looks outside, sees the sun shining and wants to wear shorts even though the temperature is in the thirties and forties. But still, not a single getting ready for school meltdown.

Bath time is also a non-issue. He wanted to toys to play with and we said yes. The only issue is his lack of affection for soap, but we get around that with a bubble bath.

A few days ago, I took him for a haircut and he started to get upset until I told him he could get whatever haircut he wanted. He immediately cheered up and decided he wanted a Mohawk (really, a faux-hawk) and when he was done getting his hair cut, he was beaming his toothless smile and you would have thought he just discovered he had super hero powers.

He has lived in places where he couldn’t just go in the kitchen or get a drink of water when he wanted. We have rules of what he can have, but he can pretty much help himself. As he feels safer and his confidence grows, he is opening up more and is more relaxed and willing to play on his own.
John and I decided early on to give Jack a clean slate. We don’t care about his earlier behavior. In the situations he has lived in, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t act out. We didn’t tell him we had given him a clean slate, but we never bring up past events the way some of his previous caregivers have. It was great for John and I to let his past go so that we could let go of the expectation of something “bad” happening and not have that energy around him or in the family.  Yes, there are little issues, like not wanting to do homework, but everything we see is average seven year-old behavior. My nephews did the same thing. Friends of mine with children the same age have all the same issues.  

When John and I were going through the process of getting licensed and talking about being parents, one of our main priorities was to create an environment where our child would feel safe and have the confidence to become whoever they were meant to be and wanted to be. We have been giving him back control over parts of his life. We listen to his opinion. Sometimes he gets what he wants, sometimes he doesn’t. We constantly reiterate that we are a team and everyone has to do their part, and while we can’t always get what we want, we can all get what we want sometimes. Watching the changes in Jack, some subtle and some not so subtle, has been amazing. The energy and love Jack has brought to our lives is beyond anything I ever imagined. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

And Then There Was Jack

It has been a week since we met Jack and our lives have been turned upside-down, inside-out, pushed sideways and ties into knots, all in the best possible way. He has filled up an emptiness I didn’t realize was there. Yes, I wanted to be a dad, but I really didn’t expect it to be like this. It’s one of those things that now that I am in it, I don’t even remember what I expected. The house is filled with laugher, tickles, Legos, Lincoln Logs, books, batman socks and the occasional whines of “Why do I have to eat THAT?”

We have three boxers and the youngest one, Mia, adopted him the moment he walked in the door. Even when my nephews would stay the night, Mia never slept upstairs with them the entire night. That all changed when Hack came home. Mia sleeps with him, cuddles with him and spends her day playing with him and making him laugh. She has always been the dog that most takes on someone’s emotions and John are I are both really hoping that her bond with Jack will help him adjust and work through all the things we know are coming.

Right after I had the stroke in Tanzania, Ulco bought me a stuffed penguin when he went to South Africa. In those days when I was angry and afraid, I took a lot of comfort cuddling with that penguin when I was alone. On his first evening here, Jack saw it in the closet and asked if he could play with it. Since then, we have built a penguin habitat, he has named her Rosey and he takes her everywhere. It is so great to see how he takes care of her. I told him the story of how she took care of me when I was sad and scared and that made him smile.

Yestrday I took Jack to Valley of Fire and taught him how to use my old camera. We went on a couple of hikes but instead of being in Valley of Fire, we were on Mars and instead of a car, we had a spaceship. Right now, he is upstairs with my nephews in a fort we just built, playing with action figures and having a great time. He is really coming out of his shell and it is great to see.

We know he has a lot to deal with. He has been through a lot and dealt with more than any 7 year old should ever have to. The thought of it all is more than intimidating, but this week has really given me faith that we can make a difference in his life. He has certainly made a difference in ours.

There was a time when we were getting so frustrated with the process of being matched with the right child and jack really is the perfect one for us. His personality is a great mix of John’s and mine. He does some of the same things we used to do when we were young. It really makes me smile to hear him singing to himself and it is such an honor getting to know him. I really hope that this works out to be our forever family.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A New Old Journey

Several years ago, I stumbled into the world of leadership development and coaching, thanks to my friend Sytske. A mutual friend of ours suggested we have a cup of coffee as Sytske wanted a bit of advice on her business and thought I might be able to help her a little. What was supposed to be just a cup of coffee, ended up changing my life and that change is still happening today. We ended up becoming business partners, and it didn’t last very long due to the fact that I just wasn’t ready. I wanted to be and I thought I was, but looking back, I just wasn’t.

I went into it with the wrong attitude, and more importantly, I started teaching and communicating it, but I wasn’t living it and before long, on my end, things began to unravel and there was no choice but for me to bow out of what Sytske and I were trying to build. I had learned a very valuable lesson, there is no way to succeed while pretending. I spoke about things like authenticity while at the same time not being very authentic at all. I eventually learned that I couldn’t ‘do’ authentic. It might seem obvious, but I really didn’t get it back then.

A lot has happened between then and now. I can honestly say that I have been pulled apart, stripped to the core and rebuilt. I have spent much of the last several years questioning, examining and rebuilding pretty much every part of my life, much of it here on this blog. There were many times I hated it, times I wasn’t sure I would make it through, and often times I wasn’t sure I wanted to make it through.

Now, a part of my life has come full circle. I am one again, or maybe really for the first time, entering the world of leadership development and coaching. Many of the things I used to know from books, I now know from experience. All those years ago, I wasn’t willing to be vulnerable. Now, after everything I’ve gone through and shared, I have nothing to hide. There are things I have chosen not to share, but that is different than hiding.

Two weeks ago, I joined the John Maxwell Team. I am going through the certification process now and it feels like a great fit for me. Now, instead of reading or learning something and getting it in theory, I really get it. So much of what I discovered on my journey the past few years is now resurfacing in was that let me see it differently. Some of those things I will be sharing in time. This really feels different than before.

One of my favorite classes I love to do at the Nevada Women’s Business Center is “Start With Why”, using materials from the author, Simon Sinek. I really know what my “why” is. And I have the “how” and the “what” all lined up as well. The first time around, my “why” was money, on being “seen” a certain way. My “why” was a lot of ego. This time, I am focused on making a difference and adding value. Money will come, but instead of being the focus, it will be a result of a different goal.

It was over ten years ago that I met Sytske for a cup of coffee. While our business didn’t work out for me, that cup of coffee started me on a path that has made a difference. Many of the conversations we had pondered all those years ago came back and got me through so many rough times. Going through those last few years, I had a lot of support from the outside, but the bulk of what needed doing was internal and I was the only person that could do anything about it. I could often hear Sytske’s voice asking me questions as she would often do, the ones that would make me think and get me to look at things differently. Sometimes I liked the questions I would hear her ask and other times, she was downright annoying in all those conversations I had with myself. Sometimes it’s the most annoying and uncomfortable questions we need the most. She definitely has a gift and by sharing it with me, she helped more than either of us could have ever imagined. Once again, I am amazed by the way a seemingly random encounter can have such an impact on someone. It makes me so aware that anything I do, not matter how seemingly insignificant, might be the thing that changes everything for someone or myself.

Having no idea what I was rally going to write, it seems this is as much about starting a new phase in my life as it is about the gratitude I have for knowing Sytske.

So, Sytske, thank you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Time for a Change

I love it when people have opinions, thoughts and beliefs that are different from mine. I enjoy being able to have healthy conversations that explore the world around us while exchanging views, ideas and beliefs. Unfortunately, so many people are not interested in the conversation, they are interested in being right, having the one right view, the one right belief and have no interest in exploring, growing or even entertaining the thought that maybe, just maybe, there is a different reality out there they know nothing about.

I see it all day, every day. There are times when there is nothing I can do about it, except take full control and accountability for my actions and words and try to not get bogged down in the mire of negativity, anger and hatred. There are other times when I do have the choice to do something. I am careful about what I watch on TV or what movies I see. I’ve noticed that if I take in too much violence, anger and hatred on TV, it affects my mood and my reactions. I have learned that, for me at least, what I consume sets the stage for how I react both externally and internally.

Which brings me to Facebook. I know there is a lot going on the world today and I know a lot of people, including myself, have some very strong opinions about issues. From Obama to Caitlyn Jenner to unemployment, healthcare, terrorism, the environment and the list goes on, we all have opinions. Many of those things are things we don’t understand and historically, we humans don’t like what we don’t understand. And too often, we don’t want to understand what we don’t understand. It is easier to hate it, to push for its destruction.  

On a daily basis, I see so much anger, hatred and disrespect on Facebook and I have noticed it really affects my mood and how I act during the day. One thing I love about my life is that I know people from all different places and all sorts of life experiences. I really enjoy when a conversation is started that facilitates learning. I am working with a group right now to help them start a business and we spend a few minutes of each class talking about race, talking about things that most people can’t or won’t talk about. It’s wonderful to have a real conversation, with no anger, no finger pointing, no blame or guilt, just an open exchange of ideas and experiences. I have learned a lot from those types of moments.

While I love the differing opinions of people and I truly believe that we should all be able to express what we think and believe and question what we don’t understand, I do not believe the “I’m right, you’re wrong” blaming type of dialogue that lacks any type of respect or empathy is ever appropriate. Tell me your opinions and respect mine. When people take the “my way or the highway” approach, it does nothing but build walls, create division and further the gap between people of differing minds.

I decided this morning that I am not going to accept it any longer in places where I have a choice. Facebook is one of those places. To anyone I am friends with on Facebook, I value your opinion. I value and respect your beliefs even when I disagree or don’t understand them. They are what make us individuals. I do not, however, want to see hatred and disrespect. I don’t want to see things that have been posted just to anger or belittle other people. There is enough of that out there in the world and I am making the choice to keep it as out of my life wherever possible.

Instead of getting angry or dwelling on a comment or post that is meant to do nothing more than spread the misery, I will no longer respond to it beyond blocking and un-friending. I get angry too. I get scared at times. There are many things I don’t like or understand. I do understand I have a choice. I have a choice and I choose for respect and dignity of others.

I invite others to do the same. Think about what you write. Think about who it might affect. Think about a person who may be struggling with something. It may be the person next to you. The person you think you know best that you perhaps don’t know as well as you think you do. Think about what your child or best friend might be going through and then think about that thing your want to post on Facebook. As an uncle and soon to be dad, I think about what I am passing on, what example I am setting. I know I fall short and that is part of being human. I don’t strive to be right, I strive to learn, to be authentic and live in a place of integrity. To me, that means taking responsibility for my actions and words.

It is possible to have an opinion and to hold true to your beliefs and values without losing respect for others.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I spent days debating with myself whether or not I should call my mom. Each time I call or stop by, I always hope that maybe that time will be different, maybe something will have changed, maybe she’ll have some sort of break-through. It usually ends up the same way and even if all goes really well, it is as though the countdown to disaster has begun. It is only a matter of time before the good transforms into something unhealthy, volatile and toxic.

The few weeks leading up to Easter and a couple after that, she seemed at least a little happy. She was actually kind. I tried to see the situation as positive, yet history has shown me countless times, that it is only a matter of when, not if, the bombs would start going off and once again, there would be piles of emotional debris to sort through.

That day was yesterday. I phoned to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. Honestly, it wasn't that I really wanted to, I just thought I should do it to keep the good trend going and not provide her with any more ammunition. I decided before I dialed her number that I would cut the conversation short if it took a negative turn. I can’t control or even influence her emotional swings, but I can control my actions and reactions and I decided that I would end the call before getting caught up in something I didn't want to be involved in or saying things I knew I would feel guilty about or regret.

It started about two minutes into the conversation and rapidly plunged off the cliff. As usual, my part of the conversation was mostly limited to “uh-huh, uh-huh, ok, uh-huh” as she rambles from topic to topic. I won’t go into the details of the conversation and they just aren’t worth reliving or distributing. I stayed true to my commitment to end the call by simply saying that I needed to go, which was met with her yelling “Happy Mother’s Day to you too!” to me in a very angry tone before she hung up.

I have been struggling with this relationship for decades and each time, I feel smashed each time it comes to this point. I was going to tell her that I am going to be a dad soon, and then decided not to. This is one of the most exciting adventures I have been on and I don’t want that experience tarnished.

Once again, I am debating whether or not it is worth continuing. Part of me wants to shut the door and seal it off. Part of me wonders if I am giving up too easy. Everyone who has experienced my relationship with my mom first-hand has told me I need to end it. Everyone who has heard the stories is always surprised when they meet her. Surprised that while they thought I was exaggerating, the quickly learn I was downplaying it all.

I haven’t made the decision yet. I want to. I don’t want to. Why I keep feeling torn between these extremes is something that has confused me for a very long time. Now, because of the fostering classes I am taking, I understand it a bit more. If I cut all ties from her, then I am letting go of hope. Letting go of that “maybe” I have been chasing for so long. I am letting go of the idea I have of my mom, the one where she is the person I would like her to be. The person I believe she will never be.

I don’t know what kind of father I will be. I like to think I will be a cool parent, like Ken or Christina. I know there will be arguments and tough times. I also know I will never make them feel the way my mom has made me feel. They will never wonder if they are loved. I will never give them reason to doubt that they are anything less than perfectly enough, just as they are. 

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Detour Through My Mind...

I recently realized something new about my brain and how it works. It is something that has led to me and other people being frustrated. I didn't figure it out until fairly recently and haven't written about it yet because, well, I forgot.

And that is the issue.  I don't actually forget things. As far as I know, I haven’t actually forgotten anything at all. Just a few weeks ago a friend of mine was in town and we were talking about when we went out to dinner a year ago. I immediately remembered where we ate. I remembered the name of the waiter I had not seen before or since. So the information is all there, but sometimes it seems like the car keys that have been put in a place where we won’t forget and then we can't remember where they were and suddenly when we find them, we remember putting them there and the logic for choosing that space.

My brain works like that now. As far as I can tell, I don’t really have that spontaneous memory that I used to have, that most people have. I don’t remember to call people. I don’t remember to write. I don’t actively remember that someone is ill or has an ill relative. I remember these things when there is a trigger. I will see a picture, go to a place or someone will mention it and all the knowledge is there. Without the trigger, it is very hit or miss. It’s like when you wake up in the middle of the night with that amazing idea and you know you should write it down but you don’t and then you wake up and it has been forgotten and stays forgotten until something triggers it and it all comes rushing with back. I get that all the time.

Things that are part of my routine, I remember. I noticed that I usually phone John around the same time each day. I remember to feed the dogs because it happens at the same time each day. I need things in a routine in order to remember, or, and  it pains me to say this, I have to make lists. Looking around my office right now, there are lists taped to the wall for all the things I need to do that are not part of my everyday tasks. Things like expense reports, updating marketing materials and so on.

I understand that people think I have forgotten them or that I just don't care. That isn't true. I forget to phone or email Ulco. In fact, I saw an update from him on Facebook that made me remember to plan some trips for his visit that then reminded me I have been meaning to write about this issue for a couple of months. That is the normal process and it is difficult to explain. It’s difficult for me to understand. It was something I didn't notice, because it’s not like I can’t remember things. I remember most everything, I just need a trigger of some sort to bring it to the surface.

So if I haven't called, messaged, emailed or reached out to you, I am sorry. It is nothing personal at all, I have just temporarily forgotten to, thanks to two brain injuries in less than four years. But if you call, text or reach out to me, that will be enough of a trigger to contact you. It may not happen all the time, as if I see something late at night, by morning, it’s been filed away for another time. Be patient and try again.

I am trying to send emails and make calls when the triggers happen, but it’s not always possible.  It's somewhat frustrating, but then I don't really remember the frustration until it happens again.

Friday, May 01, 2015

A Bit Further Down The Road

I can’t believe we have past the halfway point of the foster and adoption classes. Only four left to go and it seems to be flying by. The classes have been quite heavy at times, talking about all sort of horrible things that children go through and trying to get at least something of an understanding as to what it must be like to have to leave everything behind, take only what you can fit into a box or bag and move to a new place, new family, perhaps new school and new life. Many of the children will go back to their parents at some point or go from foster home to foster home. We have had to do a weekly assessments of our strengths and needs, to see how they have changed based on our education and insight into what might be coming our way.

We had our home visit two weeks ago. For me, that was the dreaded moment. The thought of someone coming into your home and looking for everything and anything that can get in the way of getting licensed. Cleaning products need to be locked up. Paint in the garage needs to be up high. All medicines and vitamins locked up in a cabinet. We get assessed. The pets get evaluated. Trashcans in the garage get looked at to make sure they have lids. The yard gets a walk through, closets and cupboards get opened and examined. After all of that, we had a very, very short list of things that need to be done.

The harder part was the interview. The application itself asked all sorts of difficult and deeply personal questions. The interview was a chance to elaborate on those things and answer all sort of questions. That lasted for about two and a half hours on the visit and then we had to stay late for about an hour after the following class to finish up. There’s a lot in my background and I have been worried that it might get in the way. She told us that while there is a lot, she feels I am at a point where it can really help someone else. That was a huge relief.

John and I have been on a couple of local sites looking at the profiles of children that are available in the system. There are a few that seem to be a good match and in another two weeks, we will be far enough along in the process to be put forward as possible adoptive resources. No idea what all happens after that, how long it will take or even if it will move forward at all.

Our class has gotten smaller each week, some people quitting because they don’t meet certain criteria, others maybe because it isn’t the right time. I’ve had my one moment of extreme doubt. Drop me in a country I have never been in, where I don’t speak the language and have no was of getting around and I am perfectly comfortable and at ease. This is a whole different type of unknown.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Class Time

John and I had our first class on fostering and adopting a couple of weeks ago. It was quite a bit different than what I expected. As silly as it sounds, I kind of had the image of a small group of us all sitting around in a circle on comfy chairs, maybe on the floor cuddling over-sized pillows while drinking a flavored coffee. Typing this now, it seems I had imagined more of a Lamaze class.

We got to the room that was more of a conference room, tables set up in one big U shape. I arrived before John and picked two seats right at the front. Some of our valuation is going to come from the class and I am not going to be a shy wallflower. The instructors introduced themselves and then we dove right in to introductions. Each person was given either a parent or a child card and we had to find our match. One person might have the parent card of “I can foster a child that has a history of abuse and has difficulties handling their emotions” and then of course you would have to find the person with a child card that went with that.

Then, we got into the first lesson talking about physical and sexual abuse, neglect and other things many children go through. We talked about the feelings they might have as a result of different types of abuse. I answered a question about one of the topics and then was asked to read the definition. It was difficult. I know what it’s like to be physically abused. I know what it’s like to have all the feelings that go with that. Feelings that as a child are so big they seem impossible.

We were also given an application packet to complete. When we got home that evening, I read through the questions. Some are very basic such as income and expenses. Others are hard, including talking about how anger was expressed in the home when I was growing up. Then there are the questions about our relationship. What would we change about the other person? What would they change about us? I don’t think in those terms at all and it was challenging and great to realize I had to dig to really find something and even then, it is not something that really matters. John and I had to complete the same application about ourselves and each other. I haven’t yet read what he wrote, but I know there are no surprises and if nothing else comes out of this process, we will know each other even better than we already do.

There were times in completing my personal history that I had to take a breath or even just stand up and walk a bit. Grab a coffee or spend some time with the dogs. It’s not that the past bothers me. I don’t mind talking or writing about it, I just prefer to be in charge of when the subject comes up.

In the middle of last week, I had a bit of a meltdown. Suddenly it all felt so overwhelming. Will they like us? Will I be a good dad? Will I revert to behavior I grew up with? Am I ready? Should we wait? What if this is a mistake? The questions just wouldn't stop and I ended up having to leave work early as I couldn't keep focus on anything work related. I went home and John and I spent a lot of time talking about it. I realized these are the questions any parent-to-be asks themselves. I know we may never be truly and completely “ready” in every sense. How could we be? How could anyone be? There will always be a reason not to do this, but for me I know that the reasons to move ahead far outweigh any questions and doubts I have. John and I are a great team and we have a lot of support from people around us. We will not be in this alone.

Monday was our third class. It seems like it is flying by. Only seven more to go. Waiting for the background checks to be done and for classes to start seemed to take forever and now we are about one-third of the way through. We have to be ready for licensing by June 1 and the clock seems to be speeding up. So many things to do and I have learned we just have to remember to take it one piece at a time, and breathe. Lamaze style. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Next Big Step

I have wanted to be a dad since I was in my mid-twenties. It was something I pretty much kept to myself as that was time when gay men weren’t fathers. It was something I wanted and knew I would never have. Like living on the Starship Enterprise or traveling through time.

When I was married to Ulco, we talked about adopting someday and as happens, life gets in the way. I also liked being selfish. Not in a bad way, just I liked traveling on a whim, spending my money on what I wanted and not having to worry about someone else. No thoughts of braces or college, just the pure enjoyment of self indulgence. But always, I wondered what it would be like to be a dad. In Europe, the rules are such that you have to be no older than a certain age when you receive the first child and then there are other age restrictions after that. I am past that age and many years ago, resigned myself to the fact that I would never be a dad.

Coming back to the US and being around my niece and nephews rekindled that spark. I love taking them out and even though it is sometimes a convenient to drop them off at home sometimes, there is always a part of me that is sad to have it end. Even when they are on my nerves the most, they are still my favorite people in the world.

Before John and I ever got together, when we were great friends and nothing more, we had the occasional conversation about children. He wanted to be a father as well and also due to the way life works out, he never acted on that want. He never let go of the dream even though he realized it was not to be.

After we got into a relationship, John and I talked about it a few times. He is amazing with my niece and nephews and I sometimes wonder if they don’t love and enjoy him more than me. If they do, it’s perfectly okay with me. He’s an amazing guy and I love watching him with them.

In December, a woman came to my office. She came to participate in a small event we were having and even though I had never seen her before, I knew I had to talk to her. She worked with families that fostered and adopted children. A week later, John and I attended an information session to look into the possibility of adopting. Since then, we have been through two background checks, and Monday, we start the 30 hours of classes we have to complete before we begin the home study, after which we will be eligible to foster and adopt.

As we want to adopt, we will only be matched with children who are available for adoption. We want to adopt older children, between the ages of 8 and 12 and we are probably looking at siblings. Once a child reaches 8 years old, nobody really wants them. Everyone wants a baby, then they want an only child. We are looking at older siblings, open to whoever crosses our path that seems like a good fit. being older, not only can we choose them, but they get to choose us. And we know there’s a risk in that. It’s a vulnerability I’ve never felt before.

Since December, I can’t help but look at things in a different way. I know that there is someone out there who is going to change our lives in ways we can’t imagine or understand. There are children out there that have no idea that we are here, waiting for them. Waiting to open our home, our hearts and shake our lives up in every way possible. I sometimes wonder what they are doing. I wonder and hope that wherever they are right now, that they are with someone who loves them. I hope they are being treated well.

If all goes according to schedule, we should be licensed around early August. Given the ages of the children we would like to adopt, the chance of welcoming a child very soon after that is big. We know there will be hard times. We know there will be a lot to handle, but we will handle it. I can’t wait to see John be a dad or to be a dad myself. Every second the clock ticks is one closer to a new life, to a new family.

One second closer to being a dad.