In what seemed like the endless time between being approved as foster dads and getting matched with our kids, I yearned so much for the wait to be over. I thought, as I always do, that this “next thing” would be the beginning of a new life.
Of course it was. It’s hard to clearly visualize my life before kids; the two little rugrats have brought a seismic shift to just about every part of my days and nights. It was one of the biggest transitions I’ve ever had.
And yet, there’s always another “next thing.” This one’s kind of a big one.
The thing I’m trying not to think about (can you tell I’m stalling?) is this: the hearing to terminate the parental rights of the birth mom was supposed to be this week, but it’s been delayed until March.
As I understand it, once parental rights are terminated, our being able to adopt the kids is near-certain, though it can take 6 months more. While everyone involved feels it’s overwhelmingly likely that the hearing will happen, and things will proceed toward adoption, having even a micro-sliver of a chance that we might not be able to adopt “our” kids sends icy water down my spine. I can’t even bear to think about it, except of course I can’t not think about it. On the twenty or so times during any day I’m not able to keep this terrifying possibility out of my mind, the extra two and a half months of waiting seems like a kind of torture.
But it’s absurd to be giving so much power and dread to this hearing. The easy argument is that, as I’ve said, it’s nearly certain things will go “our way.” But supposing that tiny little chance of disaster did strike, what good is my worry doing to avoid that? The kids are “ours” right now, we’re their parents, and any time I’m spending fretting about the future is time I’m not enjoying them. Even if I knew they’d be pried from us in some horrible scenario, wouldn’t I just want to have as much time with them as possible? I hope I would.
Because after the termination hearing, there’s the adoption. Then there’s first grade, first adult tooth, first medical scare, first boy- or girlfriend, first driver’s licence. I’ve got to tell her, and then him, about the facts of life! If I’m not careful my whole existence could be just one “finish line” after another I have to cross. I might be less anxious if this next step was over, but that’s like saying we’d all be more relaxed if we were dead. We would, but it would be pointless. It’s during the wait that we’ve got to do our living.
And we are. The five year old got her first wiggly tooth. And not being one to wait around, she wiggled that thing senseless for a couple days, and out it popped. First visit by the tooth fairy! This month the kids might see their first snow. I’m on the cusp of launching several cool work projects. Grandpa Ted gave our daughter a dollhouse for Christmas and it’s time to help him assemble it.
Oh, and my awful nagging cold is over! There’s nothing so joyful as breathing normally after a cold.
So really, what are 20 little panicky thoughts in a day. In fact if you add my other fretting I’d be thrilled to only have 20 mini-freakouts on any given day. The blessing is I’ve got so many more moments filled with excitement, challenge, sadness, fun, gratitude. I’m trying to stay with that, at least until the hearing.