Characters: "Jake" and "Suki"
"Jake" comes to us from a nearby town. We've had him on respite a time or two before, and he seemed a decent kid at that time. He was actually the one I was with the single time I managed to get my new canoe out on the lake this summer. During that fishing trip and during his stay with us, he was extremely quiet, respectful, and VERY helpful. When you're trying to do hard work, a motivated teen guy looking for something to do is exactly what you want. He fit the bill for us admirably, on one or two occasions (we're constantly doing things around here that require physical work).
It was a little weird, actually, with his former "foster" family. I use scare quotes because I'm really not sure what his situation was. They seemed like a foster family, but they had rules and did stuff that seemed like they should be illegal or something. Isn't it unreasonable (in most cases) to restrict a 17-year-old to their room after 8:00pm unless they've done something to deserve it? They did...and no real explanation why other than that they "needed that time for family." Well, if you're not willing to include your foster kids in your family, doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose? Massively??!! I do this, to a major extent, the way my parents did it. These kids *ARE* a part of the family for as long as they live here, and for as long AFTER they live here as they treat us decently and want to continue to be associated with us. Or if they realize later that they *should* have treated us more decently and would LIKE to be associated with us.
We're not picky.
Another weird thing...we were told this kid has a history of "abusing" animals. I flat don't believe it. I've seen him with our animals when I know he didn't know I was there. I've seen him with our cats. We are confident enough in this that we've broken our own rule against foster kids bringing in their own pets because he has a cat he aquired somehow during his last foster placement, and she's BEAUTIFUL. It's white with grey face, paws and tail. It has blue eyes, and would be a siamese, except that I KNOW siamese, and she ain't it. For one thing, I kissed her on the lips and I still have my face. For another, she hasn't said a mew yet. Siamese cats ALWAYS announce themselves. Frequently. And their voice is very distinctive. Plus, they usually have "differences of opinion" with other pets, and she has fit in remarkably well. Yes, we're a 4-cat, 2-dog, 4-person household.
But back to "Jake". He's tall, lanky, and from what The Wife says, he should be good-looking to girls his age. I don't see it, but hey, I thought they SHOULD all fall in love with me in high school and college and that was a bust, so what do I know?
Apparently he *IS* good-looking to at least some girls, because he's already approached me all man-to-man, asking what sort of rules we had about dating. This is, of course, due to some sort of budding relationship he has going at school (already, after a week!) with a girl I'm sure he thinks I know nothing about. The Wife has already scouted this out, and she approves of a relationship between the two. 'Nuff said, IMHO. My job now is to encourage him to treat her like a lady, run interference with The Wife when she gets TOO harsh on him kissing her and so forth, and damned well getting our X-10 home security system back up to snuff before things get too far along. We wanna KNOW when things are happening.
Heh. I like this kid so far. He's respectful, he knows how to go along to get along and seems to have a good sense for how far he can push things, I think we can help him, he likes to fish and hunt, and it's a VERY WELCOME change of pace from the all-drama-all-the-time girls we've had to deal with mostly so far.
No, Your Honor.
You just don't really know someone until you've seen them in court. I've been in court several times...recently, mostly with foster kids. You see whether they're good liars then as a foster parent. You pretty much know what the truth is, and you know when they're lying to the judge. You get to see what they look like when they're lying to the face of an authority figure. That comes in handy.
Yesterday, I got to see our birth mom in action. I'll do an entry on her soon, and I'll call her "Sylvia". This woman was magnificent. She cried at the right time, she said the right things, and most importantly she meant it all, and there was no act being put on. She made it clear to the judge that she would not let the tribe have this child. If we were not to adopt this child, then she would take her home and do the best she could. You can be sure that if that were to happen, we would do whatever we could to help her. We love her almost as much as Amanda.
Once again, the tribe literally phoned it in. You know, if they care about this child so much, why don't they show up in person like the rest of us have to? I have to make special arrangements at work for each of these things they inflict on us. I took a week of my precious vacation time for the birth, to which the tribe did not bother to send a representative and about which they really didn't seem to care beyond noting their legal obligation to make objections about us adopting. Which, of course, made my vacation time basically misery. I'm still trying to recover from that one.
Our lawyer was surprised they bothered to show up. Apparently this was unusual. "Sylvia" wasn't surprised, nor were The Wife or me. There is SOMEONE in that tribe that, we think, has it in for "Sylvia" because of her two children that were placed with family members in Montana years ago. There is a very good story behind why each of those two children were conceived, and it's not my place to divulge that information here, even anonymously. Suffice it to say that I don't know whether the tribe has knowledge of any details there. Either they don't, or they're the most heartless people I've run across in my life...and that's saying something.
I said "our" lawyer in that last paragraph because I think of him that way. He's actually "Sylvia's" lawyer, but we're paying for his considerable expertise in this particular area of the law. An example: he was actually able to get the judge talking about a particular MN law, and work in the fact that he personally had written an amendment to that very law. He has no right to anonymity, so I will say that his name is Mark Fiddler, and his web site can be seen at http://fiddler-law.com
. He specializes in ICWA in particular and adoption in general. He's the best in MN in this area, he came highly recommended to us from MULTIPLE sources, and he's a very decent man, and I have the utmost faith that if this thing can break our way, he'll make it happen. The way he performed in front of the judge said enough for me. He's expensive, but not as expensive as some lawyers. If you REALLY care about what you want, you don't worry about money anyway. For our part, we're technically going without representation. Unlike our government and many individuals I could name personally, we don't believe in promising payment we can't deliver, and the one lawyer is going to be expensive enough, thank you very much.
Pray for us. We've fallen so totally head-over-heels for Amanda that we can't go back now, no matter how much it costs. Mark told us he already knew what the tribe would say after their 20-day delay, and he already was composing in his head what his response would be. He wouldn't need to charge us much for that because he's written many similar letters to judges.
We can't let ourselves think too much about the possibility of failure. I've seen how part-black children are treated by kids from "the rez". Granted, it was back in the 80s...but it can't have changed THAT much since then, and it was HORRENDOUS. Racist Indians (and by no means are they all racist, but enough of them are that it's a problem) hate blacks even more than they hate "whitey", and that's SAYING something.
So pray for us. Pray especially for Amanda. Pray that whatever happens, God will watch over this precious little girl and make sure that even if it's not our place to parent her, at least she ends up in a loving home that treats her right. She deserves no less.