THE INTERVIEW (if you're just joining, we were interviewed by Indiana people in regards to the possible adoption of sibling brothers ages 8.5 and 10)
Since so many team members had time off at the holidays, this couldn't be set up until early January '21. There was a mental health 'situation' with one of our kids happening a few days before our zoom interview. I wasn't sleeping. Fortunately after everything with Laddie, I had my finger on the pulse of outstanding mental health providers and we were referred to the perfect person. The problem was resolved in a matter of about 6 weeks, thank God, but at the time one of our kid's was suffering and I was totally preoccupied and worried.
I reminded Coach that morning that we had a zoom. It felt like a low priority/not on our radar. I was thinking it was more fact sharing, forgetting that they'd be grilling us. We'd done these things a number of other times. We had very low expectations.
They asked us about our parenting style. What we liked to do as a family. How we disciplined our kids. I remember distinctly saying: WHEN THE KIDS WERE YOUNGER THEY WERE SENT TO THE BROWN RUG IN THE FRONT HALL FOR A TIME OUT. WE JUST MADE TANK, WHO IS 18, SIT THERE THE OTHER NIGHT BECAUSE HE KEPT USING THE REMOTE TO PAUSE THE MOVIE THAT WE WERE ALL WATCHING IF SOMEONE SPOKE, SAYING 'ARE YOU DONE?' PROVING ONE IS NEVER TOO OLD FOR THE BROWN RUG.
*It had literally been years since a kid was sent to the brown rug and the rest of the kids died laughing to the point that Tank didn't really miss much of the movie, because we couldn't play it while everyone was hooting and hollering.
Our worker texted us mid-zoom: YOU'RE DOING A GREAT JOB.
We were? Huh? I could barely see straight thanks to my lack-o-sleep fog. We weren't really 'trying' - just sharing stuff we did and how we DESPERARLY missed attending our kids' sporting events during shutdown, since cheering from the sidelines is all we know. We talked about how grateful we were for Santa's foresight to deliver a
last minute, two-ton, need to lift with a forklift ping pong table and how family volleyball games were a nightly occurrence, well - I didn't play per say, but I did take tons of video and photos of the family fun. It's a better role for me. Our responses didn't feel like rocket science and we weren't painting a picture of ourselves as the world's greatest parents, just a couple of people with no social life who were raising a competitive crew.
They told us they had one other couple to interview and they'd let us know in a few weeks. Afterwards, I told Coach. WELL, IF THE OTHER COUPLE IS FROM INDIANA, THEN THEY'LL GO IN THAT DIRECTION. IT'S WAY EASIER FOR THEM IF THEY FIND SOMEONE IN THEIR STATE RATHER THAN ACROSS STATE LINES. It was a Friday, I shrugged and continued on with the day, ready for the weekend and hoping for some sleep.
First thing Monday morning, my cell rang. An Indiana number. It was the brothers' worker.
She said: WE TALKED ABOUT IT, AND WE THINK YOU AND COACH WOULD BE THE PERFECT FIT FOR THESE BOYS. WE ARE MATCHING YOU. (I froze, HUH? I asked about the other couple they planned to interview). WE AREN'T INTERESTED IN TALKING WITH ANYONE ELSE. WE'D LIKE TO MOVE FORWARD WITH YOU.
I asked her about the next step, and then I called Coach. We attended another zoom with the team. We learned more about the boys and met their current foster mom. She assured us that the boys had come a long way in the 9 months since they'd come to her.
They lived near Bloomington, Indiana (3 hrs 45 min away from us) which is where Ed goes to college. We drove to meet the boys the end of January. *Let's pause a moment and consider HOW VERY nice it would've been had they lived just across the border of Indiana in say, Merrillville. Less than an hour away.*
We went to an indoor glow-in-the-dark mini golf place that someone set up in the mall. It was created inside a shuttered retail shop. I think Coach could've built something similar in our basement and had better results, but it was indoors and open during covid. Afterwards we watched the boys play basketball in a small rec league.
On the drive home, we were like, I DON'T KNOW. It was hard to get to know them with the foster mom there. We weren't falling all over ourselves with excitement that these were THE ONES, but we agreed that we'd press forward.
I won't bore you with the details, but we ended up driving there every other weekend FOR MONTHS. So the fact that our poor little minivan is barely chugging along since we added A BAZILLION MILES to her is no real shock. The drive was almost 4 hours one way and we often drove there in the morning and raced home at night where our kids were home, and Tank was the responsible person 'in charge'. If you are thinking, OH, THE KID THAT WENT ON THE SKI TRIP WHILE FUDGING THE DETAILS, then you're getting what I'm laying down.
This sound isn't irritating AT ALL.
Sometimes there were stretches when our visits weren't that regular, because we had other stuff going on. Eventually we stayed at a hotel with a pool and a hot breakfast and we brought Reg and Curly and half of the toys we owned in order to have something to do in the hotel suite. It was tough to find activities that were open during covid. They loved the pool. Couldn't swim, but they enjoyed flopping around.
When it was time to bring Tank and Mini there for their turn to spend time with the boys, we were literally about to leave the house when I realized that there would be no one home to supervise Reg and Curly (15 and 13 year olds). Oops. I had to phone-a-friend and farm them out. Curly was confused: BUT WE DON'T EVER GET IN TROUBLE. WE'LL BE FINE. (she says as she flips her wrist at me, thinking of all the movies she and Reg could watch in our absence). Yeah, great idea but when that little slipup gets discovered we'd be thrown in the slammer.
|What, you don't know what this is a photo of? Mini practicing reading with the younger guy at the hotel- note she is flipping me off for taking the photo.|
I tire just writing of these back and forth trips and cringe when I think of the hoops we jumped through and the organizing it took to pull it off. I kept a huge canvas Lands End bag in the dining room loaded with books and games and snacks - ready to go at a moment's notice because sometimes how we rolled. A few of our close friends knew what we were working on, but that was it. Still hadn't told family.
The boys were growing on us. The haircuts, however, were not. I apologize for sounding shallow, but DEAR GOD, HAND ME A SCISSORS. The boys had long hair into their eyes on top of their heads and shaved hair all around their heads. Huh? Perhaps a Justin Bieber look run amuck? The foster mom eventually cut the bangs portion straight across their faces like it was 1975 and no one anticipated photos being important in the future. She never tended to the grown-in nonsense on the sides and the back.
End with favorite memory of this time period: Every time we'd drive to Indiana, I'd text Ed to alert him. BRINGING COOKIES. or WANNA MEET US OUT FOR PIZZA? Remember he'd been home from mid Nov till Feb 1st because of covid. One time we were headed into town, he texted back I DON'T NEED TO SEE YOU. DON'T STOP HERE. DON'T NEED COOKIES. I'M SUPPOSED TO BE IN COLLEGE - YOU'VE SEEN PLENTY OF ME.
Message received, loud and clear.
More soon . . .