Baby Bird Time

fighting imposter syndrome one blog post at a time

Month: June 2016 (page 1 of 3)

I Forgot The Title For This Post (Along With Everything Else)

If you are looking for a foster care/adoption sensitive review of Finding Dory, I found this one to be helpful. Your situation may vary. 

 

I can still remember, vaguely, my first movie theater movie. It was Rainbow Brite, I was probably three years old, and we went with my childhood best friends. They brought snacks — a can of cheese balls stands out in my mind, and I remember a vague image of Starlight the horse walking on the screen (I realized years later this is surprisingly accurate and I remembered a real scene in the movie). I remember the highlight of the experience was figuring out how to scoot back in the seats so they popped back up.

We went to the movies for the first time and saw Finding Dory. I have no idea what my kids will remember — likely the “Nemo Rock” that was more interesting than the actual movie, maybe some surprisingly good chicken fingers and gross toaster oven fries, and either a vague image of fish or something from the no less than 10 (how I would love to be exaggerating on this point) previews we saw.

I keep intending to write a post addressing a few things: the reason I felt it necessary to take what maternity leave I could scrape together even though we have been together for over two years (an anniversary that somehow passed without my awareness). And that’s a topic that, honestly, does deserve a whole post of its own, if not a series of them.

Right now, however, I don’t feel mentally capable. And those two years are partially the reason.

I stopped effusive apologizing for my lack of memory about a year in to foster care. I grew increasingly comfortable with hitting a wall midway through a sentence and stopping just to say, “I’m sorry, my brain just stopped and I forgot where that was going.” After it happens enough  times, you have to kind of just go with it. On multiple occasions I told people that I had the memory of Dory from Finding Nemo. And they would kind of laugh, because haha self deprecating. More like HAHAHAHA NOPE why am I in this room again and what room even is this

Before I became a parent, before two years working with the foster system (and we were fortunate to consistently have awesome people working with us), I used to pride myself on my mental ability. Specifically I thought I had an amazing memory… because I did. (See Starlight and cheese balls above).

Then I had twin babies. Then we had foster care, and appointments and meetings and an endless to do list. At the same time all of my responsibilities ramped up, so did the chronic stress.

There’s another post worth writing — the impact of chronic stress.

But others have written on that before and done so better than I can. Google stress and executive function, Google stress and memory, Google vicarious trauma. Do all that and come back to me because guess who doesn’t have the mental energy for it? (Me. It’s me).

This is what it looks like from an experience perspective. All of the sudden my good memory was gone. I wasn’t consciously even aware of the stress as much as I was aware of my brain short circuiting. It honestly felt like I can only assume the onset of Alzheimer’s feels like. The feeling you get when you walk in a room and forget why, all the time. About everything.

I would start a simple task, let’s say folding towels, and get distracted by either my children or my own brain. Midfold, my brain would be like, “HEY! Electric bill! Electricity is a thing that you use!” and I would go to do that. I would login to the website to pay the electric bill and get maybe as far as the “pay bills” section of the website. And then I’d wonder how ants procreate (spoiler alert: it’s weird). Or the kids would need something. Or both. And two hours later, the bank has logged me out for inactivity and I have a half folded towel on my dryer.

And what idiot can’t even fold a towel?  Which is even more stressful, because now not only are you the person that doesn’t know if it’s safe to order winter clothes, who has no downtime in sight for your family who desperately need downtime, you’re also the idiot who can’t even fold a towel.

Yes, we’ve been together for two years. They have been wonderful years. The majority of them was spent doing things like this, and if you’re wondering if experiencing “firsts” with an older child is as exciting as having a newborn, I would contend that it is even better. 

But adoption changed literally everything. Because it was also two years of consistently retraumatizing my kids and at times myself by introducing them to yet another person they were expected to socialize with. It was assessments scheduled at nap time and expectations and ignoring my intuition in order do the things we had to do, and people telling me what my kids needed without recognizing how trauma contributed to those needs.

What we need is time to heal. What we need is time to experience being a normal family. Maybe then I will get that towel folded.


Also, spoiler alert: they found Dory.

Choosing a Foster Agency

I heard on the internet that a sports thing happened last night, and while I don’t tend to follow sports things outside of the Olympics, after a few people posted videos of LeBron James crying, my interest was piqued because while I don’t follow sports things I enjoy sports emotions. Which is probably why I enjoy the Olympics.

Which led me down a rabbit trail of finding these shirts. I want the Columbus one. I’m not getting paid for that; they don’t know I exist.

Which reminded me of a conversation I had at a recent foster care training when another family asked me why I chose to be licensed through a neighboring county and not my own. And with the grace and finesse of a functioning adult, I said something smart to the effect of,

“I think I chose the one where I didn’t have to actually make a phone call.”

Honestly, my other reasons are equally awkward, if not more awkward:

  • It felt right. It really did. But I’m still working on finding words to say this in a not crazy way. So far I’m comfortable with “I had a gut feeling” because that is accurate.
  • I liked the website design.
  • The trainings fit well with my work schedule, which didn’t happen at any other agency. (This is a good reason and I should use it more often).
  • The agency was the second most responsive overall, and the first most responsive via email. One agency called me nearly immediately and I had a nice conversation with the recruiter though I knew I wouldn’t go with them. The next contact I got was an email from my agency a couple days later. I received information from others months later.
  • The racial demographics of my county made me assume I would end up having white children, and to be honest I really didn’t want white children. I wanted to shift the balance of our family to be slightly less overwhelmingly white, and also shift any confusion over my brother’s and my relationship into something more like of a general haze of confusion all around. You can see how well that worked out. Once we met, I wanted my children more than anything, but when speaking in hypotheticals, my plan was for my family to look slightly less like a Cedarville alumni gathering.
  • I am honestly just in the mindset of knowing I have to drive out of town to accomplish anything, because there is nothing in town. 33 years of need some shoes? go to Columbus, need an oddly specific type of household product? go to Columbus, want a burrito? go to Columbus have resulted in a Pavlovian response. It’s just become a default.

In the interest of full disclosure, my town got a Chipotle but it is so poorly managed and confused that it bears no resemblance to Chipotle and should consider changing its name to something else, anything else — heck, call it a Qdoba, just lower my expectations. We also got a Starbucks a couple years ago that defied all odds and is consistently awesome, so much so that I still get a happy little feeling of surprise every time I realize that Starbucks is a thing I can have! Right now, if I want it!

 

In conclusion, I have now provided little helpful information for anyone in the beginning process of their journey, but perhaps this can stand as a testament to not needing to do extensive research before jumping in. My thought process was something along these lines. Steps 1-2 can be completed at any point.

  1. I want to be a foster parent, and I would ultimately like to adopt.
  2. I’ll Google everything!
  3. I have a home with space and I can afford stuff, so maybe it’s time to get serious.
  4. I’ll fill out the contact me form on every agency’s website so now the burden to follow up with me is on them and I don’t have to remember anything!
  5. Agency(s) follows up, hopefully by email so you don’t have to remember to return a phone call or forget what was said 10 minutes later.
  6. DONE. With that part anyway.

 

In conclusion, that’s how I chose my agency, and congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers for playing the sport and winning the points and emoting enough to make me take notice.

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent and have completed steps one and two, please feel free to contact me and I will provide more specific guidance and advice on arbitrary ways to make extremely important decisions.

 

 

Hello, Future Employers of my Children

If you found this obscure corner of the internet decades into the future, congratulations!

Out of all the voices competing in my head for reasons I should second guess myself, there’s one that has never gotten much airtime until my finger hovered over the “publish” button. I was a teenager in the initial days of AOL popularity, back when people on the internet were assumed to be serial killers or 40 year old men pretending to be teen girls.

The majority of my time was spent on message boards for obscure religious fiction, however, and after you’ve spent two years discussing the plot twists and turns of Cheney Duvall, M.D., the likelihood of your conversational partners being deranged serial killers goes down pretty significantly. I’m not sure how many serial killers have bothered to not only read the whole series but acquire such in depth knowledge of Cheney and Shiloh’s relationship that they can write the equivalent of a scholarly article on the reasons they won’t end up together for at least two books.

Against all advice, I exchanged addresses and phone numbers with friends from these message boards, and our online friendships evolved into real life friendships, complete with real life visits. I’m grateful to say that many of the friends I met when I was sixteen and logging on to dial up Internet still continue to this day.

 

A lot has changed since then, and the division between “the Internet” and real life is mostly gone. We’re all using our real names now. Everything is online. I had vague “internet friends” in 1999; and I bought a house and legalized an adoption practically over email two decades later.

So in that sense I don’t fully understand the fear behind posting anything on the Internet – it’s a new(ish) forum, but it shouldn’t be any more damning than the rest of real life. I don’t fully understand worrying about my kids’ future employers googling them and finding, say, a blog post about finger painting. An employer that judges you based upon your activities at age two is probably not an employer for whom you want to work.

The part that does cause me hesitation is the foster care and adoption piece. In that area, my intention is to keep my commentary vague enough to protect their stories but also specific enough to actually say something.  I do have a strong sense, that is constantly in conflict with my need to second guess myself, that there are things I need to say. That our family has a story to tell even if the main gist of that story is hahaha, you thought you had to have your life together to be a foster parent?! That is the side I want to share — I feel like we lived under this shroud of foster care mystery and from the inside, it isn’t mysterious at all. It’s difficult, like worthwhile things are.

That’s the line I’m trying to walk right now. But if you’re here from the future because you Googled my kids prior to a job interview, I’d be happy to fill you in on why they would be awesome.

 

 

With that in mind…

 

Hello, Noah’s future boss. 

It’s nice to meet you. I’m sure you’ve met Noah, and I’m betting everyone else at your organization has also met Noah. As you likely know, he loves meeting people and is the definition of an extrovert. Hopefully by the time you read this letter, the introverts won’t have overthrown modern culture completely. We still need our extroverts! (I am one. I’m biased).

I am confident that you can see why your organization needs Noah. Employers are focusing increasingly on social and emotional skills and Noah is a master of all of these. He is astoundingly empathetic and attuned to the feelings of others. Noah will bring life and fun to your team. If you need a creative thinker, Noah is your man. He is always ready with a new idea and he excels and bringing others along with him in his ideas.

Noah is a quick learner and can make connections like nobody’s business. You could train an employee for a week on the specifics of their job or you could train Noah in a day on the vision of your company. Once he catches your vision, he will spread it. To everyone.

Noah’s experience is broad and includes past work in being a pirate, building a rocket ship to the moon, and various animal noises.

I can guarantee Noah will be an asset to your organization, and he’ll see you at the company picnic he just organized. It’s this Friday at 1:00 pm. You’re bringing a dessert to share.


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Hello, Noelle’s future boss. 

This letter seems futile because have you met Noelle? You’ll probably be working for her soon, if you aren’t already. Chances are you’ve already realized that once she sets her mind to something, nobody is going to stand in her way. She accomplishes what she wants to and she will without fail find the most efficient way to do it.

She is a perfectionist and will ensure that everything is done correctly. That’s a quality that everyone thinks they want until they see it in action, so please remember that her devotion to getting things just right is ultimately going to improve your organization. She won’t stand for less.

As a toddler, Noelle enjoyed playing baby dolls and pretending to cook. I trust that these skills will be an asset in the workplace. She has extensive experience in rocking and tucking in stuffed animals. She is also resourceful; if a blanket cannot be found she is able to substitute a tissue or wet wipe without missing a beat.

I trust you will enjoy working for Noelle, because that’s what you’ll be doing pretty soon.

 

 

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