When I found out that my niece was being taken away from her mother (no relation), my mind went into a bit of a fine frenzy. I had to make a decision. And I had to make it soon. DCFS gives a couple of hours to decide and you don’t just decide to take her for a few weeks, you have to decide, in that moment, that if her parents never get their act together, then you would be ready and willing to adopt the child. I sort of hate DCFS for that. I sort of love them, too. But right now I just think they are a little batshit crazy in asking people to make those kinds of decisions.
So—putting my brain in hyper-speed--I thought about it. Maybe I am the crazy one. Maybe the answer is such an obvious “YES” that the fact that I would hesitate so long makes me a bad person. Maybe it makes me selfish and self-centered. Or maybe it makes me intelligent and cautious. I’m not sure anymore because I haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep in about 7 days.
The thought process of deciding between having my niece come to live with me, and having her go with a foster family went something like this:
1. Maybe foster care will be better. Maybe she will be placed with a loving couple who really wants a child. (I’d cling to this for about 3 minutes and then it would go away)
2. Maybe she’ll be sexually abused in foster care (this one never went away)
3. Maybe the mom will be home all day and play with her and help her learn and grow. (happy thoughts!)
4. Maybe the mom will put her in front of the tv all day and ignore her and only do it for the government money. (sad thoughts)
And then the thoughts continued to this:
1. I do not want kids.
2. I love my life the way it is.
3. What can I give to a child?
4. How will I be able to afford daycare and babysitters?
5. I had so many plans for my photography business this summer and a 2 year old is going to eat up all that time…how do I provide a living for myself...and her, now?
6. My single friends aren’t going to hang out with me...or they won't understand...and....
7. I’LL NEVER DATE AGAIN!!!!!
But, more difficult than processing all my rollercoaster thoughts, has been processing what people have been telling me:
1. This will be good for you, it will make you softer.
2. See, God really did want you to have children, so you got them one way or another (don’t you just love that Christian God? Always giving you what you need, instead of what you want? )
3. This will increase your ability to love (again, because apparently, all single people are somehow so stunted in this area).
4. This will give more meaning to your life (this one pisses me off the most, as I don’t really succumb to the idea that being childless means that I have less value or meaning in my life).
5. This will be the best and hardest experience of your life (this one confuses me).
I understand that I’ve opened myself up to all kinds of advice. I’m taking it in. I’m processing it, but, in the end, I don’t think I am going to fall into the nice little categories that everyone seems to create regarding parenthood. But, naturally, I'm also trying to protect myself from the real possibility that her parents are going to get her back and I'll watch them all fall into old patterns again.
But, this week is probably not the best to assess it all as truthfully, I’ve mostly just felt numb.
As a friend said to me the other day, “putting on a play is hard, being a parent is hard, dealing with new situations is hard, trying to be patient with people who don't deserve it is hard, and coping with less than normal sleep is hard--but to suddenly deal with all of those things all at once! I'm not surprised at you feeling numb--I imagine that, like a computer dealing with too many programs going at the same time, your body and spirit and mind are just trying to survive.”