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Posts Tagged ‘friends’

We went for a stroll in Central Park to visit Dennis and Stan’s tree.  What, you may wonder, is a Stan and Dennis tree? Well, it is the tree in Central Park where we scattered the ashes of my wonderful father – shhh, don’t tell anyone, I am quite sure that it is illegal – and then later also scattered the ashes of our dear dog Stan.  Since the Marley book, we’ve been talking a lot about endings.

Now, this is an amazing tree and the perfect place for one human and one dog that acted like a human to rest in peace – especially since they were the best of friends.  Blitzen really seemed to take in the occasion and grasp the significance that the place held for Andrew and me.  She did a lot of processing along the way and asked questions like – What were the ashes like? Were we feeling sad? How did we pick the tree? We talked about heaven and reincarnation and that lots of different people believe lots of different things but that the people that we love are always with us in our memories and our hearts.

After strolling around the tree and agreeing that it is a very very fine tree, Blitzen said, “So now I guess your dad and Stan are living in the tree.  The ashes probably went into the ground and up into the tree.” Yes, I think that is probably right.

Dennis and Stan Tree

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When we started this blog, Andrew and I, I think we mostly wanted to force ourselves to produce a record of what we expected would be an unusual, amazing, heartbreaking, confusing, joyful journey.  And it has been those things.  It has been a little bit of an electronic lifebook of the past year plus, a public journal of our attempt to parent/love/engage/give to a creative, bright, sad, angry little girl.

For me, the blogging has been way more.  It has been something that I have done for myself in a way that I did not anticipate.

I really enjoy writing – who knew?  It is cathartic and liberating and forces me to be mindful and experience this experience now, as it is happening.

It has also built a community of support.  When I feel tired or like I am not a good parent or think to myself, why on earth did I sign up to do this exhausting, maddening job? Somebody always hears me and responds in a way that makes me take a deep breath and reminds me that I can do this.  That I am doing it and I am doing it pretty darn well, actually, so I should let go a little bit and accept and relax.  And often the responder is a total stranger which is oddly validating because, wow, someone that doesn’t even know and love me, is taking time to send me good internet vibes.  How thoughtful, how kind, how helpful it is to hear from you, internet peeps.  And I also feel, as corny as it sounds, that creates an atmosphere of love for Blitzen.  She doesn’t know about it but I do — a kind of shockingly large number of geographically diverse people are rooting for her and interested in her story.

All this to say, thanks for talking me into blogging, Andrew.  It has totally been worth it.

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In MAPP class, we heard discouraging tales of foster parents whose families and friends didn’t approve of their fostering. In contrast, our family and friends are finding creative and wonderful ways to support Blitzen and welcome her to the family.

Blitzen loves mail, and she rarely opens our mailbox without a happy surprise addressed to her.  Recent treasures included multiple Thanksgiving cards, a statue of Winnie the Pooh from my father, passed down rain and snow gear and homemade hats from a cousin, a card and favorite art supplies from our four year-old niece, a jewelry-making kit from our friends, an introduction to a rarely-seen fairy from a friend in Minnesota and a photo-filled letter from our cousin’s dog in Pennsylvania.  On the way are a package of hand-me-down rain and snow gear and We’re working on writing y’all back.  The concept of penpals is thrilling to Blitzen, who hopes to correspond with humans, dogs and fairies alike.

The in-person love is rolling in as well.  Blitzen was feted and gifted by aunts at Thanksgiving.  A friend at my school gave her a delightful assortment of beads.  A music teacher friend/backup provided child care and music lessons.  Friends have met us in the park and we’ve had playdates with their dogs.  Friends with two young children took a four-hour round-trip train journey to spend two hours playing with Blitzen.  This weekend, my mother, a child development expert and grandma extraordinaire, flew in and is spending several days working/playing with Blitzen and us, helping us establish routines and sprinkling loving pixie dust.

Blitzen feels the love. Carrie and I do.  Thanks, friends.

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So, it is kind of like dating.   We’ve moved from hinting to sweet talking to the full-fledged ask.  Usually starts with a dinner out, then a friendship version of a love note and then, the proposal — just jump in, worst that can happen is that they say no.

Dear Friend or Friends-coupled,

Last time we had dinner (or went to the ballgame or that wild cocktail party)  I mentioned that the agency requires  that we establish a community of people that are willing to support us in our foster parent journey.  The whole ‘it takes a village’ approach made official.  Since we have some family in town but not a ton, we’re also looking to a few of our friends that we love and trust (that would be you) and we are asking if you would be willing to be a ‘back-up’ (that is official foster agency lingo there).

I am sure you are thinking – Ummm, what does back-up mean?  A back-up is someone that is willing to get to know our wee-one and is willing to be involved and engaged in our lives (as you already are and as your schedule allows – you are not required to attend every school play although you will probably want to, I am sure) and would be able to help out in an emergency or make yourself available for a routine babysitting gig.  Being a back-up means you can supervise and watch the foster-wee when we are not present.

Ummm, what do we need to do? is surely your next question. You would to fill out the attached form (it is a little scary how not technically savvy the agency is but you can fill this out with a pen directly on the form).  This form allows the agency to conduct a background check to ensure that you are not a registered sex offender or child abuser in our state.  The most difficult part is remembering your addresses for the last 28 years (yes, 28 YEARS).  You do not need to get fingerprinted but you will need to meet XXXX, our social worker, at some point so she can eyeball you and make sure that you don’t look like an ax murderer, at least.  She’ll also ask you some questions about our relationship with you, your discipline philosophy, whether you actually like kids, etc.

So, let us know if you are in.  If you decide that you just can’t do it, don’t worry – you’ll still be invited to all of the school plays.

Love – C and A

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