Preparations

This is the exciting part, as anyone counting down the days until a baby’s due date can attest. The thrill of eliminating clutter and barely used gym equipment doubling as clothing racks, to make space for a new family member. Deciding on a decorating theme, shopping in previously unexplored isles of your neighborhood department stores, the list goes on and on.

After much internal debate, I’ve decided on an aviation theme for two reasons: The first being that it is very easy to find boyish decor when searching for aviation related bedding and adornments; the second, because his prospective father is a pilot, however distant and unaffordable that hobby has become. Revisiting old maps once used to navigate the open skies above the mountainous terrain of my rural hometown, now pieced together to form the majority of Northern and Central California, proudly displayed above a cherry-stained crib. That, and two hand-made wooden airplanes, a Corsair and a Cessna 310, mark the beginning of a slow and methodical transition into baby boy land.

Across from the crib where a power-rack once stood, lies a toddler bed made up in navy blue linens, a matching diaper changing station next to that. In the opposite corner, two matching dressers filled with onesies from newborn to 18 months. There is no guarantee this baby will be an infant, so I need to be prepared for anything up to three years of age. My collection of clothing and diapers reflect that readiness.

In my bedroom, there is a co-sleeper filled with newborn clothing, toys, and accessories. The living-room holds an assembled Pack-N-Play, and an Eddie Bauer (the pride of the collection) high-chair stands in the dinning room in the place where my mini-bar once lived. My 16 year old Lagavulin and 12 year old Glenlivet now occupy the vacant space of my range-top cabinet in lonely solitude, symbolizing the changing of a single man’s bachelor pad into an even cooler, age appropriate bachelor pad for two.

From the licensing side, I’ve attended 3 out of the 4 required classes and completed the first of 3 interviews. I am expecting to be licensed by early to mid November, and waiting for placement with the possibility of having a child by Christmas. It is a long-shot and a time frame my Social Worker has cautioned me from hoping for too strongly. And then there’s the other possibility, and the most sobering reality I am forced to come to grips with: I can meet all the requirements, have the perfect child placed in my care, love him as my own flesh and blood, and end up having him reunified with his birth parent(s), never to see him again. The idea of this has caused more than one restless night’s sleep.

Here’s the reality: Fulfilling the dream of holding a baby of your own, only to be pried from your grasp through the process of reunification, is a very real possibility. One that I sincerely hope I never have to experience, but am fully prepared for. If the only solace I can take from this is the knowledge that during the time he was in my care, he was fed, cared for, and loved, than I can live with the hole his departure will most certainly leave. Ultimately, there is nothing more grounding for a child than the knowledge, for him, that his parent(s), imperfect though they were, chose to fight for him; The knowledge, for me, that he won’t have to go through life believing he didn’t matter to the people who should have loved him the most. The knowledge of those two facts make this reality bearable and the emotional risk acceptable.

But there will be many tears shed. That is my job as his foster parent. His job is to enjoy care-free bowel movements, make messes with his spaghetti, and ensure that no member of his household gets more than two or three consecutive hours of sleep.

It should never be the concern of a child, whether or not he or she goes to bed hungry or struggle to stay awake because his parents fought all night in the next room. It should never be the concern of a child that they look presentable in public or that their health is being properly monitored and attended to. It should never be the concern of a child, whether or not they have a clean, warm place to sleep or whether that place will be with people he knows, or with complete strangers to him. It is the right of every child to be a kid, free of those concerns. Free to jump in puddles and color outside the lines, without the fear of abuse.

If those conditions are met, than I will be grateful for my time with him and excited for all the possibilities his future holds.

Until next time…

Continue this journey

The day I decided to become a foster parent.

There are few decisions in one’s life that cause more emotional turbulence than the decision to become a parent. Turbulence which intensifies when the route chosen is anything other than traditional. As far back as I can remember, I have looked forward to holding my son in my arms, stroking those pudgy cheeks with my thumb as I kiss his forehead. The proudest joy-filled tears clouding my vision as I breathe in his newborn smell for the first time. Knowing my life would forever change in the moment his tiny voice broke through the barrier of nervous expectation in an infants cry, announcing to the world that he had arrived.

Just like most perspective fathers, the idea of sharing that experience with a wife I adore — the porch light welcoming us home from across a plush, mowed lawn, wrapped in white-picket fence. Inside, a freshly painted nursery sitting in perfect stillness, awaiting the arrival of its new and tiny occupant — was truly the creative genius my mother assured me I had in spades as a schoolboy passing the time in a distant and pleasant daydream.

But, unlike most prospective fathers, I am doing this alone, and without the pleasure of the love-making that created this new life. It’s not that I didn’t try to paint that picture on the blank canvas of my imagined future. God knows I loved the woman I had once been engaged to marry. Even after several break-ups and reconciliations, our love for one another somehow survived, despite the advice of friends and casual observers on both sides of the metaphorical isle. But reality, as is often the case, has a way of taking up residency in the places where hopes and dreams once flourished.

My reality came knocking, eviction notice in hand, after an unplanned pregnancy “scare,” in which one of us was terrified and the other, hopeful. Which was which is unimportant and I will never tell you. I won’t even hint at it. All you need to know is that the “terrified” insisted on the morning after pill and the “hopeful” regretfully paid for it. It was at that moment that the “hopeful” made the decision to adopt. A decision which ultimately led to the mutual termination of the imperfect and stubborn love that had occupied much of the decade of my life, leading me to this decision. I think I always knew deep down that I would eventually have to choose between the two.

I chose this child and never looked back. Truth be told, in that moment, I have never experienced a time where I’ve felt happier and more at peace in this life. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t miss her, but I’m trading up for the long haul.

So adoption, right? Well, adoption is a great option. One I would have dived into head first, had I the mere sum of between 30 – 50k with the picture perfect life a parent putting their child up for adoption would choose. “Our Suburban paradise will never be complete without the addition of your precious angel and future CEO/Harvard Business School Graduate to leave our vast fortune in African diamond mines to…Our Yacht’s nursery was just completed…Something about country clubs…You get the picture”┬áBut that is not my reality, either. I work a Graveyard shift as a (recently single) man. Not quite the Ivy League pedigree most people leap at the chance to pass their baby off to, for any amount of money. That reality is what led me down the path of becoming a foster parent, and in August of 2017, I submitted my application and began the process of becoming licensed with Social Services.

The following entries will comprise the journey of my experience: the challenges I’ll soon face; the joys I will soon experience. It is my hope that, one day, my baby, whom I fully plan to adopt as my own,

(Hence the “My”)

will read this and discover how much I loved him, even before I’d met him, and how no obstacle could have ever kept me from one day holding him in my arms. That he may have been dealt a lousy hand from birth, but that he was always wanted and loved, and not a minute of his life passed where his tiny fingerprints were not permanently printed on my heart. Everything in my life has led me to this decision and, for that reason, I would not change a thing from my past.

Having a son is a uniquely special experience for a man that can only be rivaled by the experience of having a daughter… but I have to choose, so I’m choosing a boy between 0-3 years of age, with a high probability for adoption. My hope is to receive a baby, and hours old would be ideal because I don’t want to miss a single second of my son’s life. But this is where patience and faith become thy constant companion, keeping me steadfast in the knowledge that the perfect child is or will soon be matched to me, and that perfection can take any form, in any color, and at any age…But from the moment of his first cry, he was perfect.

Let the journey begin…

Continue this journey