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.