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September 23, 2021

The interview and helluva lot of driving

 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. 

                                             short video is exhibit A of our struggling minivan. 

                                                    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. 

The number of calls I made to find an indoor pool with a hot tub that was open is staggering. Hello, time suck. Also on the list of wants: A hot breakfast. And a room with a separate room with a pullout so we didn't ALL have to go to bed at 8 pm. I had a page of notes. Curly cared about a hot tub and Reg wanted to be fed well. We all wanted the space of a suite.

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 . . . 



16 comments:

Suzanne said...

<3 <3 <3

(That last bit about Ed not needing to see you made me giggle!)

Jenny in WV said...

Frequently delivering homemade cookies to your child at college 4 hours away, makes you guys sound like the most awesome caring parents!

Looking forward to the next part.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Laughing at Ed's comment and Mini flipping you off.
Not laughing at all the driving, not sleeping, and running out at a moment's notice.
ROCK STARS!

Beth Cotell said...

I am dying that Mini flipped you off in that photo. Better not show that one to the foster care interviewers! HAHAHAHAHA!

Anxiously awaiting the next installment....

Anonymous said...

Ed telling you to stay away, the bird flying during the book reading, the Elf in the van, the brown rug. Your family’s sense of humor is the best! Do you prefer the bangs in the eyes haircut or the straight across the forehead haircut? Haha… hopefully you can help the boys out with their hair. That is a lot of time and miles invested, hopefully you were able to get some naps in in the car.
-AM

Charlie said...

Loving all of this……

Ernie said...

Suzanne- Me too. It was a hoot. Although I WAS irritated come May when he needed a ride back from college because he had too much stuff for someone's car. I was like BUT WE'VE BEEN DOWN THERE A MILLION TIMES. YOU COULD'VE SENT BACK ALL WINTER CLOTHES OR SOMETHING. Sigh.

Ernie said...

Jenny - Yes, until that kid says please don't come and see me this weekend. I did get where he was coming from. What were the chances that these two boys would be in his neck of the woods. Crazy.

Ernie said...

Suz - Yes, there have been a few lighthearted moments. Keeps one going. Mini is a sly one with the bird flipping behind the book so the 8 year old is clueless. It is a really cute photo otherwise. He'd just had his shower and his hair was all combed. There were times when I would be like, well it's Thursday - are we heading there - um - tomorrow? I even called Curly out of school to babysit for my tots so we could leave town on occasion. Nutty.

Ernie said...

Beth - Oh, there are things that I will explain later that no government worker needs to be made aware of. That's what it means to be part of a family - something just need to stay within the family. Looking at Tank on this particular incident. You will die. But so much to share before we get to his oops.

Ernie said...

AM - I am nothing if not an excellent car napper. Um, we just had the poor aged before her time minivan serviced - it sounded like the rearend was going to fall off whenever we turned. Needed rear brakes and other stuff to the tune of 900 bucks - but the knocking sound from the elf who maybe fell off someone's shelf (not mine - never had time for that nonsense) is STILL happening. What on earth? Sometimes it happens when the car isn't even on. Fingers crossed that it doesn't mean the car is going to blow up.

Ernie said...

Charlie - Thanks for your support - happy to finally feel like there was stuff to tell. It's been hard to drive around and only talk about the stuff that didn't involve these boys. That was a big chunk of our winter/spring.

Kari Wagner Hoban said...

Ed is all college students. You are making me laugh. At this stage in the game, most parents are looking forward to being rid of children. You are trying to add more. :)

Ernie said...

Kari - You are not wrong here. Ed is like all college students: sweet, food. (several weeks later) DON'T VISIT ME. When we started this process Mini was in 6th grade. She's a senior in high school. It didn't seem like we were about to be empty nesters at that point . . . now we sometimes look at each other and whisper WHAT ARE WE DOING?

Nicole MacPherson said...

Ha, Ed is so funny!
Boy, that is a lot of driving, you must have been exhausted by this process.

Bibliomama said...

I'm tired just reading this. And the 'don't visit me' is hilarious. Angus has been texting a lot more this year, but we still can't cross the stupid border, so he hasn't had time to get sick of us showing up.