Saturday, April 23, 2016

Stay at Home Mom

This past week it was confirmed that I am going to be promoted to Stay at Home Mom.  At the start of the school year I had three part time jobs.  I worked 2.5 days a week in one district, 2 days a week in another and .5 days a week in the skilled nursing facility that I had worked for the past five years.  So when Baby Sam was born something had to give.

I quickly realized which of my part time jobs was going first and that was the 2.5 day a week district.  When I was hired I informed them that we had been waiting two years at that point to adopt a baby.  While I realized they were under no obligation to provide me with a maternity leave I would not accept the job unless I could have two weeks off when my baby arrived to settle everyone in.  The plan was for DH to take his paternity leave for three months and then we would figure out child care from there.  They agreed and I accepted the job.

Well we got the call for Baby Sam on MLK Day which was a day off for the district.  I called my boss to inform her that I would be at work Tuesday for a half day and would return for my half day on Friday.  Since I only worked Monday, Tuesday and a half day friday they were only going to be impacted a half day!  She said yes to everything.  She ended the call with "when the baby arrives do what you need to do."  She clearly didn't get it THE BABY WAS BORN!!  So Thursday I e-mailed her and told her I wanted to meet Friday to discuss the plan.  She agreed to the meeting then showed up 30 minutes late and tried to reschedule with me because she had another meeting starting at the time she arrived.  I told her I had not seen Baby Girl in 3 days and I was going home so if she was going to meet... NOW was the time.  She indicated she had NO idea that the baby was already born.  *sigh*  I informed her that I was going to need time off.  She no longer remembered our agreement and they were under no obligation to give me any time off (unfortunately verbal- stupid me).  During our meeting I also informed her that I was considering resigning as it wasn't right for me to take time off then decide to leave permanently.  She told me to think about it over the weekend.  She then proceeded to avoid any communication with me after.  A miracle occurred and during this week of no contact my paychecks started to accrue vacation time (I had previously had 0 hours on my pay checks and was told at 2.5 days a week I didn't qualify).  I finally was able to provide her with a letter of resignation the following week which initially provided her with an open ended end date (stupid me) as its challenging to replace someone mid year.  Long story short I ended up coming to my senses and giving them a 4 week notice (from my letter being submitted).

So then I was down to 2.5 days a week.  I increased my half day up to a full day and was working 3 days a week one being a weekend.

I did the math over and over.  I basically was working 2 work week days to pay for daycare (with a little savings) and my 3rd day on the weekend was where our savings was coming from.  So Monday I'm turning in a letter indicating I dont have plans to renew my contract for the 2016/2017 school year.  I'm torn.  I love my job.  I love what I do.  I make an impact on children's lives and they amaze me each time I go to work.  I'm appreciated by my team mates and I learn from them as well.

I can't however justify paying someone else to care for my child so I can turn around and care for someone else's child.  Being a Stay at home Mom is a JOB.  I'm exhausted at the end of a day with the two of them.  I keep a calendar and a schedule.  We learn things and we play.  I think I work harder when I'm home, but I enjoy it 10 fold because I am not compromising.  I get to see MY kids amaze me.

I am going to continue my Weekend per diem job which is a regular 8 hours every weekend.  I plan to pick up occasional hours during the week and we save only $400 less in a year.  I think it will be worth every dollar.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Adoption and Jail

Adoption is the most amazing thing that has happened to me.  It has allowed me to become a Mom, which otherwise would not have been an option for DH and I.  It is not popular in the adoption world to say but in some cases it is true: the birthparent would never be in a place to parent.  I do not know how often this happens but in our case neither of our children were born to parents that could parent.  For Baby Girl she has shown time and again that she cannot parent- ever.  Baby Sam's birthmom is younger and has exhibited a pattern of never achieving the ability to parent.  While they both struggle to care for themselves they both made decisions that put the well being of their daughters first and their emotional well being second.  Even in the most clear situations in which time after time a birthmother has been unable to change her pattern of self injurious behavior I still believe that the pain of placing a child is just as strong as it is for any other birthmother.

Our girls because of our devotion to age appropriate honesty have learned more about the world then most four year olds and 3 month olds.  Baby Girl is just starting to understand the concept of adoption.  She is just grasping why D couldn't care for her but still loves her SO very much.  She knows the love of her birthfamily and they are as much as our daily conversation as any other member of our family.

We set in motion as we do every January our visit for May.  I unfortunately learned just prior to Baby Girls birthday that D was back in jail.  She was arrested for parole violations in December for shoplifting.  Her birthfamily "forgot" to tell us until midJanuary and I'm sure they were hoping that maybe they wouldn't have to tell us because she would be released quickly.  She has yet to have a court date (thats just crazy to me) but they now believe she will be in jail until at least October maybe even December but that is all a guess.  I proceeded to coordinate our visit with her extended family as we did the first year we visited.  Baby Girl was too young to understand who anyone was let alone that anyone was missing.  This time we knew we were going to have to talk to her about it.

So how to do you talk to a 4 year old about jail and more specifically how do you tell a 4 year old their birthmom is in jail?  Each morning Baby Girl would wake up and ask if today was the day we drove to D's house.  Each morning I'd remind her that we were driving to Mom-mom and Pop-Pops house.  Each morning I was reminded that I needed to talk to her.  Each morning I was fearful of the cascading implications of this conversation.

I was fortunate to be able to talk through the conversation with a post placement social worker at our agency.  We talked about how since DH is a police officer we have been very conscious about NEVER calling the people he deals with "bad guys."  They are instead people who have made bad choices.  Jail has never been for "bad people" but instead "a place where grownups take time by themselves."  I'm constantly battling our influence at home with the world around her.  Clearly preschoolers are into "bad guys" who go to "jail" and their families don't have to frame the conversation any way other than the way the media does: good guys vs bad guys.  They dont have the complexities my family does.  She assired me we laid a strong foundation and my gut was right we needed to tell her.

So tonight was the night we agreed to talk to her since she will be home for 3-4 days and it hopefully would decrease the chance that she would tell people at school.  We also wanted to do it together.  DH reminded her of our trip.  He reminded her of all the people that love her in her birthfamily.  He listed the people that would be at our visit and then told her that D would not be there.  "oh, why." was her response.  DH invited me to explain further.  I reminded her that D loves her SO much and that im sure she is sad she wont be there, but that she broke a grown up rule and was spending time by herself.  "shes in jail?" she asked.  I have never been so happy to have a smart 4 year old that can say the hard things for me.  Jail was the one word that was hard to say.  "yes she is in jail."  I responded.

We answered her questions at an age appropriatly as we could.  I did lie in saying that I didnt know what she was in jail for but that she had broken a grown up rule.  We explained about judges and how they decide how long people stay.  Yes the door is locked.  We dont know if she cried but we assured her she was sad for missing out on things like our visit.  Baby girl was certain her heart was broken and wanted to send her 100 hearts.  I'm sad yet impressed by the maturity of my 4 year old.  Tomorrow we will work on a way to send 100 hearts to jail and I'll then have to find the words to tell a grown up that I told her biodaughter she was in jail.

In the end I care just as much about hurting Baby Girl in risking altering her perception of who her Birthmom is.  She is not a bad person but rather an adult that made bad choices. Choices that hurt herself and those around her.  I still admire her strength and love for our daughter.

She Was Born That Way

Before Baby Sam was in the hospital we took our first family trip to the pool.  Baby Girl started swimming as soon as we got home from the hospital.  Spring break was the following week so I was going to be home with two kids alone.  Since I planned to take Baby Girl swimming I wanted to see if I could manage both kids in/out of the pool with DH as back up in case it all fell apart.

Baby Girl, Baby Sam and I all went to the locker room together.  We successfully changed into our swimsuits and managed to make it out to the pool where DH was already waiting.  There were two other families there already.  The little girl made a bee line for Baby Sam as we got into the pool.  She wanted to touch her and talk to her and tell me all about her life.  Mom and I chatted mom pleasantries.  She mentioned how she couldn't imagine starting over after 4 years (since Baby Girl had told her how old she was).  I brushed it off saying how nice it is to have a big helper.  This is another post all togther but I honestly couldn't have planned the age difference more perfectly myself and since I had no ability to truly plan my childrens age gap I'm really fortunate.  I digress....

The other Mom and her daughter became distracted and moved away.  DH and I chatted, Baby Sam relaxed in the pool and Baby Girl was swimming.  Suddenly I heard "How did she get that way?"  I at first didn't know who she was talking to since the conversation had ended and it was an abrupt question.  I acknowledged she had been talking and she then asked "How did she get that way?  You know where did she get her skin tone from."  I was so unprepared but fortunately her daughter was excitedly telling me about how she was turning 3.  I responded to the mom "I know isn't she beautiful?" then turned to her daughter and became equally excited about her 3rd birthday.  I made no further eye contact with Mom and Baby Sam began to fuss so I got her out to feed her.

I was pissed- why didn't I know what to say?  what is it that makes this woman think she can ask?  After further reflection I realize my anger is elevated by the fact that I don't know.  I could have had some witty answer of from her father, I dont know what you are talking about, etc.  Really though that question of where her brown skin comes from- I dont know.  I dont know what her birthfather looks like and neither does anyone else.  He is an unknown male that my daughters birthmom likely traded sex for drugs.  Her conception wasn't out of love but out of lust for a drug that overtook her birthmoms life.  A drug that has overtaken our country.  An epidemic that started 15 years ago but we finally are acknowledging.  A problem that benefited the drug companies and the prescribing physicians too long and now my child suffers the consequences.  Her brown skin is flawless, her deep brown eyes twinkle, and her black hair is soft.  I dont know what her ethnicity is besides German, Irish and Polish.  Thats not what people see though.  They see a brown girl that doesn't fit into my family.  I stewed while I fed her.

As I fed her a water aerobics class let out.  The older women in their not so perfect skin made their way out of the pool.  Some of them admired us without any words.  Many of them wanted to know how old this small nugget was- 6 weeks.  Over and over I was told how beautiful she was and over and over I was told how fast it would all go.  One woman pointed to a younger woman about my own mothers age- it goes by fast; that is my baby.

When we were in the locker room Baby Sam wasn't happy.  She isn't a fan of getting dressed.  She prefers to spend her time naked.  Baby Girl was amazing at getting ready to go.  From the peanut gallery the Mom from the pool snarked "Oh she is crying because she is cold."  I continued to ignore her.  I just had a parade of older Moms come out of the pool commending my willingness to get my girl into the water early.

Once home I wanted to talk to Baby Girl about the pool conversation.  I wasn't sure if she had heard or not.  We have talked many many times that her birth brother/sister would not look like her since they have different birthparents.  Looking different is OK because love is what makes up a family.  We talked about how sometimes other people might not believe her that her blonde hair blue eyed self is related to whomever her sister/brother would be.  Now that we know that her sister is brown we have talked about the differences people might see but all of the similarities that I see about them.  The conversation about the pool was as follows:
Me: Baby Girl did you hear what that mom asked about Baby Sam?
Baby Girl: No (preoccupied)
Me: She wanted to know where Baby Sam got her Brown skin.
Baby Girl looks up at me with an odd look:  She was born that way.  (and twirls away)
Me: Why didn't I think of that!  I need a hug.  (to which she humored me).

If only we could all be so simple.