Sharing recipes, crafts and frugal living, the challenges and triumphs of parenting a neurotypical child and a child on the Autism Spectrum. Yoga Instructor said goodbye to her nightly glass of Chardonnay to give up habits that were not serving her purpose in life! The CocktailMom name remains, however with a new focus on healthy and authentic living.


Adoption from Foster Care- Patience

Photo by Kelly Sikkema
I’m going to be honest with you, this adoption journey has been hard. It is not for the weak. You need stamina and a layer of patience that you never knew existed before.

We consider ourselves a “catch”, we are a loving couple with great jobs and a strong support system of family and friends. We live in a diverse town with a plethora of resources at our fingertips. We have two incredible children that we share custody of so a child coming into our home has the benefit of siblings but also, depending on the week, will be the only child in the home so he/she will get our undivided attention. It’s the best of both worlds!

We thought that we would get swooped up right away and that the social workers would be ecstatic to place a child in our home. But that hasn’t been the case. Keep in mind that we are only looking to adopt a child that is considered “older”, between 5 and 11 years old. We’ve learned that most states want to keep kids in their home state, for various reasons. The most understandable is that the child has siblings that they need to remain in contact with by having playdates monthly or attending day camps together. We totally understand needing to maintain that connection and openly say in our adoption paperwork that we support maintaining relationships of any kind with birth family. But then sometimes the state just decides that the children should be adopted within the state, without an explanation. There are no siblings to stay in contact with, no birth family members wanting to see the child. From what I can understand there are children who are sitting in foster care and not being adopted by an awesome family that happens to live in another state because the state wants them to be adopted by someone in that state. The kicker is….no one is coming forward. So these kids continue to get bounced around from foster home to foster home. They switch schools more times than I switch out my clothes in my closet. They continue to get older and older. And statistics show that children over ten years old have a 50% less likely chance of being adopted at all. 

My wife thinks that a doctoral student should take this study on for their dissertation, to research how many children continue to stay in foster care and age out of the system rather than be adopted out of state. I think it would be too depressing to know those numbers, to see that truth. There is this underlying concern that we aren’t being picked because we are two women. Only once did a social worker come out and say that, explaining that the child (who has the right to choose based on his age and the state laws) that he did not want two moms. But it made me wonder, did anyone explain to him that he is missing out on an incredible opportunity to have a family that will love him and care for him? Did anyone sit down with him and explain that two moms are pretty much the same as a “traditional family”; we go to PTA meetings and we drive you to soccer practice. That two moms will love you just as much as having a mom and a dad will. 

We will continue to hold on to hope that our child is out there and soon will join our family. In the meantime, keep us in your prayers. And let me borrow that extra layer of patience that you have stored in the back of your closet. 


Adoption from Foster Care- our journey

Well intentioned people who hear that we are adopting an older child from foster care have referred to the kids in foster care as “broken” or “damaged”. Those words don’t sit well within me. These kids are not a broken toy or a damaged shirt from spilled hot sauce on taco night. We aren’t going to “fix this child”. Instead I like to think of our decision to adopt an older child as offering a child a safe place to land. I imagine that their lives feel really unsteady most of the time and I hope a child coming into our home finds a safe place to be themselves, a place where they can let their guard down, a place where they can breathe a little easier because life doesn’t feel so stressful anymore.  

Of course we intend to provide love and understanding. But more importantly we want to offer a child a safe space to heal and grow and the opportunity to become something different. As we read children's extended profiles it seems as though the course of their life is already mapped out for them; the grandparents have a history with Child Protective Services, their parents were foster kids who got pregnant or were incarcerated. And all too often drugs, alcohol and poverty are the underlining themes to each story. It’s a generational problem being passed down. And we are hoping to offer a child an opportunity to change the course of their life. 

I’ve heard my children retell a story that they have heard their father tell of something traumatic that happened to him when he was five years old. When the story comes out of my children’s mouths they make it sound like it happened yesterday when in fact it’s a thirty-five year old story. Immediately I am annoyed that my children can recite the story word for word as I have heard my ex-husband tell it numerous times. I take a deep breath, “That is your father’s story to tell and hold on to for dear life, it isn’t yours. It doesn’t shape you. Stop telling it! It isn’t yours to tell and instead focus your energy on telling your story, tell people your dreams, share a story of kindness that has impacted your life.” 

I went on to explain to them that the things that happen to you in your life shapes your story but it doesn’t define you. People chose to hold on to experiences and expect others to accept it as a definition of who they are or why they act a certain way. But that isn’t the truth. 
The truth is our experiences shape us but they don’t define us.

I haven’t heard either of them tell the story since I stopped them in their tracks that day and said that to them. And I hope that the child coming into our family also learns that the choices that his birth parents made has shaped his life but it doesn’t define who he is going to be in the world. Because greatness is right around the corner. You aren’t broken. You aren’t damaged. You just haven’t been given a safe place to land. A home is waiting for you.


Mummy Halloween Costume

My children's elementary school has a storybook parade on Halloween day. Children are encouraged to dress up like their favorite character from a book. As a working mom I didn't have the time to create a costume for school and a costume to wear out trick or treating. Nor did I want to spend the money on two costumes so whatever they choose for school needed to also work for trick or treating. 

At the time my oldest wanted to be a mummy so we found a book at our library that had the word "Mummy" in the title and was on his reading level at that time, we read it and then made this very simple costume. I picked up a yard of white cotton fabric at my local craft store and cut it into wide strips. I then sewed the strips onto a white long sleeve t-shirt and sweatpants. Being sure to leave some of the fabric strips hanging loose so that he looked as though he was coming undone. I then took the remaining white fabric and wrapped it loosely around his head to complete his mummy costume. Simple and it only took a night to complete.
 Book: Icky Ricky #1: Toilet Paper Mummy
(Here is a link to the Finn Hat post.)  


Adopting through Foster Care

The journey of adoption is exciting, frustrating, hopeful and heartbreaking. It’s a myriad of emotions being thrown at you daily. There are so many ups and downs and though you and your spouse are going through this amazing experience, right now it feels very lonely. Don’t get me wrong, we have an incredibly supportive family and a huge network of friends in our community cheering us on in person and virtually. But daily there are so many emails and phone calls that we can’t talk about because of privacy issues and that we don’t want to talk about because we don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up since we know that that particular child won’t be joining our family.

We are in what they call “the matching process”, which means we are daily looking at websites where social workers all over the United States post information about children in foster care who’s parent’s rights have been terminated. The websites have pictures and a small amount of information about the child and sometimes a video of the child being interviewed (think of the Wednesday’s Child segment that you’ve seen on the news). After reading the child’s profile and feeling as though that child would be a good fit for our family, based on this limited information, we then inquire about the child. The child’s social worker receives our home study and then we wait to hear if we would be a good fit for this child. The waiting is hard as waiting often is. But the rejection is even harder. The blanket statement “You were not selected for this child” that we receive via email, leaves us asking BUT WHY? Why did they not pick us? Aren’t we good enough? That child seemed like they would fit well in our family! Maybe we should tell them more about us that wasn’t in our home study…..

The whirlwind begins in your mind and then you take a deep breath and center yourself. You tap back into your truth. And you know that the social worker didn’t chose your family because there was another family that fit the child better. We trust that these amazing, hardworking people who see and hear things on a daily basis that would make you burst in tears and want to cover your eyes…they know what is best for this child. It’s not personal. But it feels that way in the moment. 

Daily I am thankful for my meditation practice. When this experience seems overwhelming and it feels as though my heart can’t hold anymore hurt in one day, I sit and close my eyes and breathe. I tune back into my breath and focus simply on inhaling and exhaling. I let my mind go clear and then I pray. I pray to the Divine that our new child will find us and join our family. That our house will continue to be filled with laughter and love. And to give us the courage to continue to be open and compassionate beings on a daily basis.


Related Posts with Thumbnails