Will and I had our last adoption class last night. This morning I've been searching the databases of kids in foster care whose parents' rights have been terminated, who are legally eligible to be adopted. Out of all the kids in care, just one currently fits our family. We've put in a request to find out more information about her, and to see if our family is a good match for her. I'm not crossing my fingers. The class has prepared us for the long road ahead. Adopting kids through foster care is hard work and requires patience. Six months to two years is what we've been told to expect. We began the required classes in June. The classes are over, but our journey has just begun.
It's heartbreaking to search the database of kids. I click on the faces of these adorable children and read stories of trauma and neglect. So many kiddos are medically fragile. We're OK with emotionally fragile. Will and our nine-year-old biological child, Katie, are used to living with someone who is emotionally fragile. We're not prepared to take care of someone medically fragile. We both work outside the home and we have little time to devote to someone who needs all-day care. One of the reasons we want to adopt an older child is because they will be potty trained, capable of dressing themselves, feeding themselves, walking and talking. We want a school-aged child, old enough to be able to handle basic self-care, but slightly younger than Katie. Will thinks it's important for Katie to be the "oldest" in our children's birth order. I'm not so sure it matters that much, but Will's pretty firm in his belief that it would be better for Katie. I want what's best for Katie, even if I don't always know what that is.
We might consider adopting someone with severe medical disabilities if we could afford for one of us to be a stay-at-home parent, maybe. But I know I'd lose my mind if I didn't have a job outside the home. I love my family, and I'm devoted to them, but I get bored if my brain isn't stimulated with lots of ideas and problem solving and creativity that comes with working at the library. I succumb to caretakers' fatigue too easily to be a stay-at-home mom.
Will's more likely than me to enjoy being a stay-at-home parent. He's good at housework, lawn maintenance, and repairs. He's an early riser, great with kids, efficient with time, and a great cook. Damn, now I realize the solution to our problem: I need to make more money so I can support Will to be a stay-at-home dad.
I dunno, though. Of the two of us, I'm the worst housekeeper, but I'm the best at dealing with shit. Not, you know, like psychological shit. Will's got me beat in that area, too. I mean actual shit. Feces. Poop. Will gets the dry heaves if he has to handle the shit of anyone older than 3 or 4. That shit doesn't bother me. I started babysitting when I was ten, and I nannied for a couple of families right after high school. Even though my mom insisted that kids should be potty trained by age 2, none of the kids I ever cared for fit that mold. I mean, sure: if you force them to go sit on the potty and bribe them with M&Ms or sticker charts or whatever floats their little poo boats, sure, they can use the toilet. But most kids I know are too engrossed in their own curiosity of the toy or the screen or their backyard to pay attention to their little bladders and sphincters. Kids have accidents. Shit happens.
Shit doesn't bother me also because I've had pets since I was two. I grew up with the occasional shit in the house. It doesn't bother me. Ancient people lived in homes with their livestock. Streets used to be lined with horse manure. Yes, those people: they're all dead now. But some day I will be too, no matter how much shit I manage to avoid. Despite their unsanitary living conditions, our ancestors lived long enough to reproduce, or else we wouldn't be here discussing shit.
I think modern people are too germaphobic. I mean, yes, if I see poop on the floor, I pick it up with a paper towel, douse it with enzyme cleaner, and wash my hands thoroughly with soap and hot water. I'm not completely stone-aged. But if a kid craps their pants or pees on the couch, it bothers me less than most people I know, including my husband.
Things that bother me: housework, cooking, routine.
Things that bother Will: shit.
So yeah, I don't think either of us would really want to be a full-time stay-at-home parent, caring for a kid whose physical limitations would require us to devote 24 hours a day of our lives taking care of their basic needs. It's sad. I wish we were those kinds of people. Those kinds of people are such a blessing to this world.
Not that Will and I aren't. We're a blessing in our own way. We're not shitty parents. We're great parents. We love our biological daughter Katie. We have so much love, we want to share it with another kid. That's why we want to adopt.
But, because of our particular family, our needs, our way of doing things, our choices in kids to adopt are limited. Like I said, I found one girl who fits, so far. We'll see how it goes. We're going through the steps with eyes wide open. Minds, too. And still, it's a struggle. A struggle we're prepared for.