We had three social workers visiting the kids one afternoon this week, and I was a mess. I realize that it’s time to deal with my authority issues.

There are big things at stake, of course. About 18 days from now, a judge will settle the main legal question remaining before we can adopt the kids. She will rule on whether the kids’ birth mom should have her parental rights terminated, and their foster parents (us) be made the “permanent placement plan.” There are things that have to happen after this, and these can take another 6 months, but my understanding is that this is the last serious hurdle remaining before we’re legally fathers.

All indications are that this outcome is a near-sure thing. The birth mom asked for a review on one previous ruling, but didn’t show up for the hearing. She’s not made any attempt to visit the kids in a year. There’s little chance this could go any other way.

But it’s not the court date that I’ve been focusing on. All week leading up to the three social workers’ visit, I couldn’t stop fretting what they would be looking for. Two of them were new to us, one representing the kids attorney, one subbing for a vacationing worker who represents the kids. So there’s the unknown. And the rules for Foster care homes are overwhelming. Anyone who wanted to try “gotcha” could surely find some technicality awry. Are all medications locked away or did I leave out the dog’s allergy pills? Does that visit to the swimming pool (documented in a cute picture) run afowl of the water certification requirements?

Yet again, these fears make no sense. If at any time I felt like anyone in the system was out to nitpick us into trouble, I might have reason to worry. But while there’s been some inefficiency and poor communication, no one we’ve dealt with has been anything short of thrilled to have the kids in our home. Everyone loves how the kids are doing, and wants them here. Every worker we’ve met is clearly dedicated to the wellbeing of the kids.

This brings me to my lifelong fear of getting caught shoplifting. If I’d ever stolen anything it would be smart to worry. But since early childhood, I’ve been terrified of being accused. Accidentally bringing a book into a bookstore, or some other pocket object into a place that sells the same thing. “But I bought this somewhere else!” I always cry in my nightmare. And I did.

Is there a name for feeling guilty about something you didn’t do?

While all this worry is understandable, and probably displaced from the big things at stake, I think it’s time to get a grip and admit that there’s no truant officer out to get me. Time and again I’ve been blessed to have mostly people who want to see me succeed and be happy. Straight friends were incredibly kind to me when being gay was controversial. My parents let it be known that I was free to be an artist or a bohemian or a hobo if I wanted to be. (“We know you’d be a classy hobo,” my dad once told me, and I’ve always taken solace in that thought.) Friends and clients rallied to my side when I fell apart and had to take some time off a few years ago.

And now the representatives of the State of California want me and my partner to be the forever family for two incredible little beings. How much fantastic luck has to hit me over the head before I take it in? I do not want to have wasted my life worrying about the end of the world if everything turns out more or less ok.

So for the record, here it is: I may have committed infractions and omissions. I’m not always pure of heart or clear on my motives. My misunderstandings and shortsightedness surely equals that of everyone else. But I’m a solid, good person. Who loves his kids and his partner. And is ready to do his darndest to be a good dad.

Let’s dot the i’s and cross the t’s and get this thing legal. Every indication is, there’s nothing to worry about, and everything to be thankful for.