Side "Fostering" Project
There are many "foster" parents out there that don't even know that's what they are. My definition of a foster parent is an adult who takes a provisional fathering or mothering role in the life of a child who is not their own by relation or adoption. Lots of people fit that description.
Kids who aren't typical foster kids need people like that, and to a child they are very much foster parents. The more of them a kid has the better. I had a couple of scouting leaders when I was growing up, as well as a couple of church youth leaders, that were "foster" parents of mine, by that definition.
And I've discovered that there are a few kids around here that need that sort of thing...particularly father figures. For whatever reason, decent men seem in shorter supply than moms who do what they're supposed to. A lot of these kids, particularly the girls, have only ever had men in their lives that beat or otherwise abuse their mothers, or themselves. I suspect some of them have never known a man who didn't try to come on to them sexually. These are 12 and 13 year old girls I'm talking about, here.
There is a lady in our church who seems like a wonderful woman. She and The Wife have struck up what looks like a pretty good friendship. This woman has several kids, one of them a girl. She had to take the boys on a school shopping trip, and they were about to leave as we stopped by yesterday after church. The girl didn't want to go and was basically hiding, hoping they'd go without her. Not gonna happen. This is one mom who's on the ball and won't let her kids by with TOO much.
We offered to take her for the afternoon. She and her mom had taken care of our animals for us during long weekends away before and she knew us. She missed our dogs and cats too, and I guess we looked like a better option than spending a day with several noisy, rude boys who tend to pick on her. So we had a visitor for the day.
She stayed with us for about 6 hours. In that time, she watched TV with me, took a nap, played yaghtzee with The Wife, played with the dogs, sat and talked with me, and basically did a great impression of a great person who I'd love to hang around with more.
Her mom came to get her later, and she seemed genuinely sorry to go. We gave her a sackful of my gumballs (I love those things you get for a quarter, but you can get them at discount warehouses for a nickel apiece if you buy in bulk, which we do) plus a bunch of other candy stuff we'd bought for "Josie" before she went insane, so someone would enjoy it before it got too old.
And the last thing she did before leaving was walk uneasily up to me as I was sitting in my chair and just sort of stand there. I know what a kid looks like when they're looking for a hug. I did my "fatherly" duty. You should have seen the smile that got me.
She'll be back again, I think. And she'll be welcome literally with open arms. You see, her dad tried to kill her mother once upon a time. She needs to have firsthand experience that all men are not like that. She needs to be shown how a man should treat a woman...I made sure to hug and kiss The Wife several times in front of her while she was here. She needs to be shown that when she gets to that age that's just around the corner for her, that kind of treatment is what she should expect from any man who ever wants the pleasure of her company.
I need to be a daddy. I was made for this stuff. It makes me feel like I have a truly important, difference-making part to play in people's lives. I'm sure God had reasons for making me unable to have children the way He did, but He sure did make it harder for me to get into the position of being a daddy. Maybe that's the point...because this way I appreciate the opportunity more than most daddies.
A Conversation and a Letter
"Josie" is now in the process of being smacked down by some people who know how to smack down teenagers who think "they're all that". I talked to her yesterday for the first time since she left for residential, and her attitude was decidedly moderated from what it had been.
The Wife had spoken to her once or twice, but her phone time is severely limited and while I'm a great guy and all, The Wife is the one "Josie" will prefer to talk to over me every time, given the choice. I don't blame her. I'd much rather talk to The Wife than myself too. But I miss this little shit, and it was really good to hear her stupid little voice.
It was funny, because earlier in the day I had just mentioned to The Wife how I was missing her and how I should really write her a note to let her know I was thinking of her, and suddenly I get a chance to talk to her.
So I sat down and wrote her the note. I let her know how I hoped she was trying to learn something, and how I missed her and loved her, and how when she gets out she'll have work to do. I told her I thought the best thing for her would be to go to a different town where she hasn't been pigeonholed by society as a troublemaker. I didn't mention that a side benefit would be that she wouldn't be pigeonholed by the boys as an easy lay...I probably don't need to be quite THAT frank with her.
Anyway...there are no other children as of yet, but we are fully recovered from our earlier adventures and are ready to begin again. We did have one referral for a pair of brothers...but that hit a snag because they are Native American. Apparently we're too white to take care of them. Sigh. Some of the people who scream "racist" at the slightest provocation really need to look in the mirror.
Beyond that, I'm still working on my new adventure. It's taking longer than anticipated to work out the details, but if I've got anything, it's time.
Regarding "Josie": she continued to screw up. She ended up getting a minor consumption violation, which isn't really the type of thing she was that much into, except as a way to rebel. She had a court review this last week, at which point she was sent to a residential treatment facility for a term of 6-9 months.
The Wife and I are ambivalent about the whole thing, but on the whole I think we both feel that this was the right thing to happen and the right time for it to happen. We were ready for her to go and she was about ready to go. She really needed to get out of this community...she has been stigmatized around here, and people (including social workers and cops) had stopped giving her a fair shake. One of the last things The Wife told her before she left was to try to get all she could out of this, since she has to do it anyway. I concur.
On the day she left, she called me over lunch asking if I wanted to see her before she went. I would have if I had had just a little more notice, but as it was the probation officer would have had to wait around until I got there about a half-hour later. I left it with just the promise that we would visit as soon as it was possible after she got settled in.
The story with "Josie" isn't over...but we've hit a part where we're not a daily part of her story anymore, and that seems like the right thing to us right now. Maybe we'll pick it up again later. Maybe not.
My secret surprise: still a secret, and really no further comment. Sometimes things take time, you know?
Regarding adoption: we were accepted by the nonprofit agency and have sent them a giant buttload of cash. We're in now, hell or high water.
Regarding other items: The Wife has back troubles the last couple of days and has been pretty stationary. It's a good time to get any health issues out of the way, as we won't have time for that when we become parents. I'm on vacation for the next week, and you'll recall that my college-friends get-together is next weekend to cap off the vacation. Sounds like everyone will make it, and a good time will most likely be had by all. I've lost some weight...I'd like to lose another 10-15, but I'll take it if it's all I get. The Wife likes my abs. I have visible abs! Yeehaw!
Final note: I just re-watched one of my favorite films, "Under a Tuscan Sun". What a flick. I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it, especially if you start to feel sorry for yourself, or if life is just getting you down. I find it inspiring. In celebration of that and to keep this weight-loss thing from getting too easy, I'm gonna go see if there's a pizza in the freezer.
I'm likely to be light on the writing stuff awhile longer, but autumn always brings introspection and reflection to my mind. I'll probably be back to daily writing sometime in September. Until then I'll shoot for weekly or better, and be happy if I make it. I'll definitely be writing more if there are any breaks in the fostering or adopting front, too.