Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First Impressions and Moving In Days

Boys' adoption story continues...

There it was Christmas Day and I was sitting in an RTC visiting room meeting Pollito for the first time along with his birth mother and the boys' foster mother. Tortuga was over the top with so many visitors and his birth mother had no idea who I was or why I was there but she assumed I was from social services. To say it was uncomfortable to not be able to introduce myself as the prospective adoptive mother to her children would be an understatement. It became apparent that the boys' mother was somewhat cognitively challenged and had been drinking. She showed almost no interest in Tortuga and focused on Pollito which was extremely painful for me to watch. Tortuga was so happy to see her and she seemed to have eyes only for Pollito. She went as far as to articulate her "joy" that Tortuga was where he "belonged" and she hoped this would make it easier for her to get the little one back. She said other very painful things to hear and I was relieved that most of it seemed lost on Tortuga. I couldn't believe the foster mom had brought her along and excused myself as quickly as I could. My only thought about Pollito was that he seemed alot younger than his 2 1/2 years but of course, I had already fallen in love! I was more convinced than ever that these boys were meant for us.

We drove the 9 hours to PA and arrived at C.'s dad's hospital bed around 10 p.m. He was thrilled to see us and we seemed to improve his condition. I was sick to my stomach the entire time we were there with incredible nausea and C. was anxious because she suspected that she might already be pregnant. We had agreed that the first day she could test was January 1st. After spending almost a week with her family we headed back to MA and on New Year's Day C. took a pregnancy test. It was positive! So much for the decision about waiting to settle the boys in before continuing C.'s attempt to conceive :-) We welcomed 2007 with the possibility of having a brand new baby and adding Pollito and Tortuga to our lives! We felt so blessed and just a tiny bit overwhelmed!

C. had been told the conception process would be a long one for her and her chances of conceiving without fertility drugs was less than 10%. To say we were surprised would be an understatement but we were also cautiously optimistic. Due to another existing condition she had also been told that the likelihood of complicated pregnancy and miscarriage was very, very high. All we could do was hope that this was all part of a greater plan and place our faith where it had always resided in a higher power than ours. We decided we would wait until she was at least 3 months along before sharing the news with anyone.

In the meantime we proceeded with the process of visits with Pollito and Tortuga and we were able to introduce Corazon and C. to the boys. Corazon was thrilled beyond words to be getting TWO brothers. She had spent the latter part of the previous year telling anyone who would listen that I was adoption anywhere from 2-4 more kids and she had also confided to her teacher that every night she prayed that God would put a baby in my belly too. People always asked us when the next child was due and she would act like she hadn't been the one to start that rumor. One wonderful quality of hers emerged in those visits with Tortuga--her lack of competitiveness and her extraordinary patience and generosity. No matter what Tortuga did and no matter how difficult he was to understand she patiently and kindly walked him through the conversation to try and figure out what he was saying. She played whatever he wanted on his terms and she continued to sing the praises of our home. With Pollito she was the caring big sister and she worked hard to share all her toys with him during our brief visits. We had settled on a moving-in day for Pollito but it kept getting pushed back because the foster mother was having a very difficult time letting go. She was in her late fifties and had grandchildren older than him but in a way he had become the last of her babies. On one of the days I was supposed to pick him up for the move she disappeared with him for the day. On another day she got in her car and followed me when I picked him up for a visit. Eventually she had to confront that the move would happen on January 14th I brought him home.

For the next few weeks his foster mother would call me several times a day offering to babysit, telling me how much she missed him, would show up daily at his daycare to "visit" with him and generally had a hard time "letting go." I tried to be understanding of the fact that she had him for a year but it was making life a bit difficult for us because she would get on a roll and not stop calling until I took her call and sometimes her messages suggested she didn't know why I was "mad" at her and "shutting her out" when it had been only 2 hours since the last time we had spoken! She even called me one day demanding I bring him back "home" because she had enjoyed her vacation but wanted her "baby" back! She called the social worker to tell her she had changed her mind and wanted to adopt Pollito but not Tortuga. It was a difficult and painful time for her and she was becoming a bit unstable and disruptive with her phone calls and visits. I was glad she didn't know where we lived and had to consider changing my phone number.

In the meantime, Tortuga was stabilizing at the RTC but continued to be on a whole lot of meds. We had begun talking with him about moving in with us and once he knew Pollito was with us he warmed up to the idea. I think the RTC had provided a routine for him that was predictable and consistent and his feelings of safety and security had increased. He was also learning how to manipulate the staff and his favorite diversionary tactic was to threaten to harm himself. I don't mean to imply that I don't take suicide threats seriously but in his case it seemed pretty predictable that any time he got a serious consequence for violation of a rule or expectation he would threaten to harm himself and basically get out of doing what he was supposed to do and end up with one-on-one attention from someone which included extra gym time. We were having a hard time believing that his threats were serious when to us the pattern seemed pretty clear but I was starting to get nervous about what that might mean for us once he came home so I started putting extra locks on certain items and locking up things that he might use to harm himself if he truly wanted to.

The month on January breezed by as my semester got started (day after Pollito moved in) and we prepared for Tortuga's transition and adjusted to a new schedule with Pollito home. I was entitled to take a parental leave but because everything had happened suddenly and without clear timelines I was already set to teach my courses and it would have put everyone in a bind if I had missed the beginning of the semester. Being in higher education does have its perks though because everyone agreed that I needed as much flexibility as possible so I was able to give up all of my other committee responsibilities, etc. in exchange for not taking the leave. I figured I would need to get used to juggling all of this anyone so might as well never have the time completely off! Besides, at the rate we were going I might need that leave again soon!

Corazon was thrilled to have a sibling and seemed to be giving up some of her RAD behaviors. Pollito had fewer than a dozen words and he seemed to have a hard time understanding anything we said. Nonetheless he had a great sense of humor and wonderful disposition so he entertained us with his dancing and laughing and generally happy demeanor. Tortuga had been very hesitant to spend time at our home overnight and we had postponed his overnight visit three times to help him warm up to the idea of moving. He was insistent that he wanted to stay at the RTC. I finally decided that we had to put a little pressure on him so I stopped my daily visits for about a week. We had planned on having him spend the night that weekend so I went to seem him on Sunday and informed him I wouldn't be there until Friday to pick him up for his overnight. I called him nightly to say I missed him and goodnight and had the staff give him a small gift from me each day but otherwise I stayed away. It was really hard because I passed his RTC about 4 times daily. That Friday he was so excited to see us and seemed ready for his overnight but then tried to back out. I said it was fine but we wouldn't be back until the following weekend. He mulled that over and "bit the bullet" and came home with us. We had a great time! Thank goodness for honeymoons. When it was time for him to go back on Sunday he didn't want to go! We did take him back to the RTC but partly because his insurance refused to continue to pay for the RTC he moved in two days later on February 12th!


Anonymous said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing their story.

Lisa said...

How grateful I am that they all have you and C!

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