Friendship, socialization and the Introvert

So all this building community talk has gotten me thinking about how we build community. When most of us think of community building we think big. Neighborhood barbecues, church picnics, conventions of like-minded individuals. Unfortunately, those type of large get-togethers can be wildly impersonal and often put introverts on edge. Many won’t even bother to attend. They are only one way to build community.

I’ve often been told that certain people won’t participate in various get-togethers and it got me thinking (and realizing) I’m often “certain people.” And what do I look for in community building as an introvert.

Community building can (and often does) begin with one-on-one connection. Coffee with one neighbor. Having the family across the street to dinner. Lunch with a co-worker.

Introverts find all interaction in large groups physically and mentally exhausting. And sometimes, even with small groups this can occur. Contrary to popular belief, introverts actually do want friends and interaction, but on a much smaller scale than extroverts are typically used to. It is easy to dismiss an introvert as being snobby or stand-offish when he or she doesn’t attend any of your parties but often it is crippling anxiety that prevents them from going not some notion of being better than you and your friends.

So, how does introvert friendship work? Well, it starts typically one-on-one like most friendships do. But your expectations for a big night with all your friends might not be an introverts cup of tea, so they may turn you down on social dates. Also, if you make plans with an introvert, it is courteous to not invite others unless you let them know in advance. I was once asked by a friend to go to dinner with her. I interpreted this to mean a nice dinner just us, a time to catch up and relax. Instead, I arrived to find she had invited 10 other friends. I didn’t know any of them and we had little in common aside from our mutual friend. They were all co-workers and all the conversation geared that way leaving me largely out. I couldn’t find any way in for most of the night and left feeling upset and ignored. I know that wasn’t my friend’s intent, but it’s what happened. If you want to get together with an introvert friend AND another friend. Try to limit the number of people you invite (obviously this doesn’t apply for things like birthday parties, weddings etc but more intimate less party atomospheres). And be courteous and let your friend know, “hey, would it be okay if my other friend x, comes along.” And if you are all the people have in common and you are the one who invited everyone, you’ve become the de-facto host who needs to make sure everyone is included. That means introducing everyone individually to each other and trying to think of something they have in common in the introductions. Example, “Kristen, please meet my friend, Angela, she’s from New Jersey but grew up in NC too.” It will give your introvert a common ground with the new person and make them feel more intimate in the situation.

Also (and this is kind of bad manners anyway), if an introvert friend is the host, say for dinner at her house, it is not okay to just show up with extra people. And yes, this has happened to me too. If you suddenly have family drop in on you or friends your options are, 1. Explain the situation to your unexpected guests and let them know you have plans and they may need to amuse themselves for a couple of hours 2. Call your friend to cancel/reschedule 3. (and this should be a last resort) call and explain to your friend that, hey, your parents just dropped by, would it be okay for them to join you two or maybe abbreviate your visit. Again, this is really not an introvert thing so much as being a considerate guest thing in general. If this sort of thing happens to you often, you probably shouldn’t be surprised if your introvert friend or any friend, really, stops inviting you to do stuff or doesn’t want to commit to plans with you.

If you invite an introvert friend to a place where you know a lot of people but they won’t, look out for them like you would if it were your own event. A co-worker’s Mary Kay party, invite your friend to ride with you and introduce her around. Jeff brought me to his high school reunion pre-party after we were only dating a short time. I knew only a couple of people there and we walked into a party of over 100 people and he promptly disappeared. I knew no one and was younger than everyone by several years. Thankfully the host introduced himself and made himself available to me for whatever I needed and brought me over to a group where I did know a couple of people and introduced me around. A few minutes later, Jeff showed up and I was ready to kill him but considerably less so since the people the host introduced me to were very kind. It could have quickly gone the other way.

Community can be built to great levels even with introvert participation but you have to be ready that it might be a little trickier and much less grandiose  in the starting out phases. When all else fails, ask the person what would make them most comfortable. Sometimes it’s an easy fix that way to get them plugged in. We all want and crave community and friendship, we just don’t all have the same ability to attain it.

Self…the ultimate devil

My friend and neighbor Randi has published a great post about giving up/limiting facebook and how the real enemy isn’t facebook but self. She admits her own struggles and how she feels it draws her (and others) into their selfish ways and causes us to sin by allowing ourselves to be addicted to it’s allures.

I especially liked this section of her post:

Self gets addicted to Facebook because self is full of pride, laziness, coveting, selfishness, lustful conditions. Self is the issue.  And we all know that issues are multiplied and magnified 100 x on media (social or not).
So it should be quite clear for all of us to see – Facebook addiction is an issue.
I see this issue now for what it really is.
Facebook addiction is to community what porn is to marriage.
Porn is an easy substitute for true intimacy, that takes time, effort & work.  True intimacy takes a lot of *giving* — not just taking!  Porn is selfish.  Porn is a counterfeit relationship. Facebook addiction is an easy substitute for true intimacy.  Facebook addiction is selfish.   Facebook addiction maintains an entire neighborhood of counterfeit relationships.
On Facebook, all the images and updates, just like porn,  are addictive.  It’s an easy fix to get quick conversation.  Quick feedback, quick affirmation.  Our facebook activity quickly can take a nasty turn from admiring people, being inspired by people —- into outright sin.  Coveting & lusting over what other people have – even good things.  We covet others’ success in ministry that they SEEM to have, quality friendships they SEEM to have, quality family life they SEEM to have.

Coveting, lusting, desiring immediate affirmation when we want it – all addictive, all sinful.

Addiction is addiction is addiction. And the reason we fall so easily into it, mostly (I will make exceptions for genetic alcoholism, pre-natal exposure to drugs etc which make a person much more susceptible than the average Joe to fall into addictions), is that we would rather settle on making ourselves happy immediately vs following God’s plan.
I’m not as much a community person as Randi is. We’re neighbors so I can say this and I’m sure she’d agree.  I’m extremely introverted and have a lot of social anxieties. I realize the importance of community and real connection, but I’m not great at it. It exhausts me, so when I make an effort, I really am dying to my own selfish desires to just crawl into my bed and ignore the world because, eh, who needs ’em? Social media takes care of the difficulties I face in face-to-face interactions, but it’s not the reward of those interactions so I keep going back for more and more. See how easy it is to be sucked in?!
And while I may not covet very much of what I see on facebook, I sin there too. Pride when I feel better about myself and my family compared to others and wrath when I look down on myself for not being enough. Not a better wife or mother or daughter or friend.
I’ve needed to stray back to facebook for a few things this summer and my twitter mysteriously starting posting tweets (mostly World Cup stuff) to facebook (I figured out how to stop that) but overall, I am feeling better about when and how I use it. Connection…helping with quick things (like swimsuits that might be more modest and also flattering) but not getting bogged down in ridiculous comments threads. Birthday wishes and Father’s Day commemorations. Remembering someone lost. But none of the nonsensical liking of every person’s posts. Far less Buzzfeed sharing and random ranting (Jeff kind of likes facebook now that he has to endure all my rants in person!).
And now I’m hoping to move on to a new community. New place. New people. New everything. And I’m wondering, will I fall back on those I know. Those who were once physically close enough for community but I can now only connect with? Will I be addicted to facebook again? Will I actually go to new people meet and greets at church or wherever? Me, me, me. I’ve given this house-selling thing solely to God and maybe I need to make a conscious effort to give our new life, when it begins, to Him as well. It’s not my life, it’s on loan to me for a brief period so maybe I better stop whining and start paying attention. Maybe I can die to self more than I’m used to and grow in grace.

The Things We Carry

I just read a blog about a foreign service family that is leaving one post for their next one. And I admit it. I cried.

In some ways what they are going through is much more difficult. They are moving from one foreign country to another. They have to do things like exchange currency and arrange for pets to be transported internationally.

In some ways what we are doing is more difficult. There are no mixers for new families in the area. No housing allowances.

But in most ways, it’s the same. We say good-bye to people we’ve grown to care about, even love. We hope that the teachers in town x are as great as the ones in town y (or better than). We hope our new parish is welcoming. We wonder if the now jobless spouse will be able to find work.

What we carry with us when we move from one place to another is our faith that God will provide and fill in those gaps that exist. That God will provide that job and good kids for our kids to be friends with. That everything will work out according to His plan when our plans seem to be falling apart.

We carry young children with anxiety that we try to quell while working through our own emotions. We carry memories made in houses we have made into homes. Over and over I’ve told William, “we’ll all be together, and as long as we’re together, we’ll be home, it doesn’t matter where we are!” And I believe myself enough to make him believe me.

Right now, after the anxiety of will our house actually sell (and I’ve seriously given that to Jesus, Mary and Joseph) my biggest anxiety is if I will be able to get a job. Yes, there are grocery stores there, but I’m wary of finding another boss who will work with my schedule the way my current one does. Jeff wants me to work in the school system. He can get me interviews, but he certainly can’t make anyone hire me. And all the interviews he got me in the past, the job went to someone else with the same reason, I “wasn’t what (they) were looking for,” or wasn’t “the right fit.”

I try to put that out of my mind because, we have to sell this house first before I can even begin to think about job hunting. I also have to have us moved and unpacked before I can even begin to be so worried…

Yes, I carry worry and fear but also excitement and joy. Anxiety and stress but hope and dreams too. Any major life change carries with it these things. But it does not define them. It is not so much what we carry with us as the way we carry it. Do we choose to focus on the positive more than the negative? Do we ask for God’s will and really want it? Or do we want God to bend His will to our desires? When we carry with us our trust in God, we carry all we need for that next phase no matter how odd or stressful or even downright awful it may seem.

10 things I…

So, I’m largely off facebook…because it is such a huge time-waster and our house goes on the market tomorrow so I do not have time to waste. And I have 3 kids off for the summer. Week 1 is almost done! I’ve ventured a little onto facebook. Mostly because I had to make this image my cover photo:

 

And I had to wish Dad’s happy Father’s Day, of course. But by and large…I’m just not going there. And happily so.

Here is a list of better things I’ve found to do with my time:

1. Clean my house.

Because no matter what it always needs to be cleaned. I live with three children, a cat and a dog. It should really go without saying.

2. Watch the World Cup Football Matches

And I watch them online on Univision’s sight. It’s in Spanish, a language I speak not one word of, but futbol is universal.

3. Re-read my old Judy Blume books.

Because they are all still as good as I remember them. But I’m learning new things from them. I think if you haven’t read Blubber or read it a long time ago, you need to re-read it. Especially as a parent. It is a very clever novel with bullying as it’s central element and it addresses it from the standpoint of a tormentor and tormentee. The edition I own has a note from Judy Blume in the back talking about a bullying situation her daughter witnessed in fifth grade that was the inspiration for the story. This book was originally published in 1974 which shows this is not a new problem and we’re still way behind the ball in how we address it. It also makes you re-think the incorrect notion that bullies torment others because of a deficiency in themselves. In 1974, I’m sure that idea was pretty revolutionary, and while we in general know better now, we also tend to still fall back on that idea as an excuse.

4. Declutter and throw away.

Being a pack-rat is great. Til you want to move somewhere.

5. Water the lawn.

It hasn’t rained here in over a week. My tomato plants are finally producing fruit…now’s not the time for them to die.

6. Chasing children who refuse to keep their rooms clean.

Long story, but you know….

7. Being creative with menu planning

I’d like to avoid using our oven as much as possible. And eat as seasonally as possible.

8. Exercise

Stop laughing everyone.

9. Have Joseph read to me

10. Have fun on twitter (which is so much less time consuming than facebook! I can barely believe it!)

Things I thought I’d be doing but am not

1. Blogging more

I dunno…too much fun enjoying life or some such nonsense.

2. Catching up on blog reading

Again, just not time!

3. Wishing I was on facebook

Because most days, I just don’t care. And that’s a good thing in light of my life.

4. Taking my kids places.

Okay this is just so far, and starting next week it will change. Even though hopefully I will be working a lot more hours next week. Without Jeff’s help, a lot of places are just not easy to take them to. That, and well, gas lately!

5. Sleeping

It’s pretty hard to nap with 3 kids at home, even when 2 are rather self-sufficient and the one who isn’t, loves to lie in bed with you. Plus, I’m having too much fun with them.

6. Having play dates

Summer is just too new for everyone, we all need some kind of de-compression chamber so we don’t get the bends. That’s kind of what this week is for us, at least.

7. Stressing about the move

Whatever will be, will be. Hopefully the house will sell quickly, but I’ve put it in Mary, Joseph and most definitely, Jesus’ very capable hands.

8. Worrying about my cat who lost his collar

He still comes home and mostly stays close to home (that may, in part, because it’s too hot to move outside). He’s happy, we’re happy. We do worry a little, but we’re mostly good.

9. Eating more junk food

I admit I’m trying to cut back but you know what, it’s okay if I have a little but I’m not wanting a lot.

10. Crying about the Rangers loss in the Stanley Cup

I’m actually avoiding thinking about it which is a great thing to do if you want to not cry about it.

Things I’m glad I’m missing on facebook

1. American living in Brazil ranting and raving about how much he hates soccer/futbol and how he’s not a party to any of it.

Pffffft! That’s my big raspberry for ya sour grapes!

2. People arguing with each other on Mark Shea’s posts.

I’m pretty sure Mark is the original Gadfly. I love him, but I’m usually exhausted when reading comments threads on his posts.

3.  People posting blatantly false things and reminding myself it’s not my place to get worked up about them and/or care.

I just saw somewhere that a veterinarian has spoken out against a viral post about not giving your dogs ice water. I’m sure my feed is slammed with the original viral post.

4. People who mistake their status update box for a therapist’s office.

You know who you are!

5. Jerky posts about how much some people hate soccer/futbol and how it’s the most terrible sport ever.

Go stand in the corner and think about what you just said!

6. The weird pictures facebook chooses as the image for links

Don’t get me started

7. Moderating groups

Just, no. Not right now. Give me my summer back.

8. Five hundred people tagging me in autism posts

9. Conspiracy theorists

10. People gushing about a book I’ve deliberately chosen NOT to read nor post on nor apply

Because I’m already doing most of it and you know what, so are a lot of the people gushing. And seriously, I don’t find the author to be a very kind person. I’m sure he/she is pleasant enough, but my encounters have been a holier-than-thou-let-me-smash-your-face-in-with-how-right-I-am-and-how-wrong-you-are kind of thing when asking a question and I’ve witnessed some straight up ugly, so just NO…too many other good things to pass up.

 

Awards Day…a conflicting day

Each quarter, the school has an award’s day presentation. I prep Joseph (and next year William) that you may not get any award. But Mama and Daddy still are proud of you and your efforts.  And he usually does get some award every quarter. Shelby typically does as well. The awards range from honor roll to behavioral awards to awards for exhibiting various character traits. And then the resource teachers (art, media, technology, music and physical education) give out awards for students who did exemplary in their class.

This final nine-weeks Joseph got the all-around citizenship award (only offered at the year’s end and the highest non-academic award a student can receive), an award for perfect attendance and the gifted gator award (an honor-roll type award for kindergarten and first graders as they do not get graded on the A-F scale). Shelby received the Presidential Outstanding Performance in Academics award, a bus award (f0r good behavior on the bus), and outstanding performance in Technology class. I go in with low expectations as aside from the honor roll type awards, students are typically not allowed to repeat in an award category. So, for example, in the first quarter, Joseph got the awards for outstanding performance in art and music so he did not receive those again in this academic year.

I sat through three awards ceremonies on Wednesday. One for 1st and 2nd graders. One for third and fourth graders. And kindergarten graduation. They occurred in that order and since I have a 2nd grader and kindergartener, I sat through the ceremony in the middle that I didn’t have a kid in. It didn’t make sense to go home and come back. Anyway, during that middle ceremony, I sat with my neighbor who has a fourth grader. Her son had many awards through the year. So as award after award was given and he did not get any of them, he became more and more upset. Finally, he did get some awards. He received an award for his participation in an all-county chorus and another for performing in the county’s annual arts performance celebration. And he got the Presidential Outstanding Performance in Academics award, which was very demanding for fourth and fifth graders.

But seeing that and then listening to grandparents sitting behind me in the kindergarten graduation saying how all these awards were terrible and didn’t represent any kind of exceptional performance (this was mostly during the “gifted gator” which many kids qualified for based on their good grades; 0f course their granddaughter won several awards and they stood up, hooted and whistled each time they heard her name; I’m sure she was much more qualified for those awards than any other child–sarcasm, people) got me thinking. If a child isn’t qualified for any award, none at all, should they really have to sit there and watch many of their peers get awards? Should the award ceremony be only for kids actually getting awards, perhaps occurring outside of school? And why are we giving awards for honor roll? Maybe for all As but so many kids get As and Bs should they all really get called out?

After the last awards ceremony, another mom texted me because her son didn’t make A-B honor roll. It turns out the requirements for each grade were different than what she though and her son had one C. We texted back and forth for a while. Me most listening, her venting. And finally, we got back around to “why do we, as parents, get so worked up about our kids’ awards?” Our society tells us that only the best matters but not everyone can be the best. And we should award mediocrity, except when we do so no one is bummed out. She and I finally decided that these awards are nothing compared to the award we receive of eternal life. We also agreed that these awards were something we needed to place significantly less emphasis on this aspect of education and life with our kids.

I guess I always felt like an outsider to many parents because I don’t bust my kids’ chops about being the best and being super competitive. Actually, with my kids, we have to tone down some of the competitive nature because they have it in spades naturally. I think most people thought I just didn’t want them to have ambition. Nothing is further from the truth. The truth is, the awards we get here on Earth, we can’t take with us. And A-B honor roll is not a criteria for eternal life.  If we are living Christ centered lives, we will be able to be excited for the good and not worry if we are overlooked or ignored or just not quite at the level of a bunch of others. So, maybe I’m not that conflicted after all.

Summer of Kristen update

Yesterday was the last day of school and it was a half day. I’m 4 days off facebook and not feeling sad at all about it.

This morning we had our first outing. It wasn’t great. I’m still considering it a win because there was little to no whining even when it turned out to be less than expected.

I have long wanted to investigate a nature preserve near us called Ev Henwood. It’s run by the local state university (that I happen to be an alumna of). I first heard about it when one of our local news anchors began writing a local newspaper column about being a dad and some of his outings with his kids. I was expecting a state park nature trail. Instead we got a bunch of woods, no real parking, narrow paths (most of which were obstructed and we had to climb around), and oh, these super annoying buzzing moths. They were moths that buzzed. Like bees.

I had been interested in seeing a Tar Kiln on the property. I had hoped for an hour-long outing. It took more like 30 minutes and everyone was ready to go long before that was up. We did see a couple informational signs. And by a couple, I mean two. The kids were awesome while I read them. We all wore hats because ticks. Well the boys alternated trying to fan the stupid moths away while I read. The tar kiln was not spectacular. It was overgrown and barely visible.

I ended up not taking any pictures because the forest was so thick it was dark and the stupid moths! The boys were great sports and Shelby, despite the annoying insect issue, didn’t protest almost at all.

I had told everyone that if we did well, we’d get a treat, well, on our way to Wally World, Joseph said, “Mama, you deserve a treat too!” They did learn some things too, which was great. At Wal-Mart Shelby picked out freezy pops and the boys picked two different kinds of frozen treat. Mama got 2 kinds of gelato, so I did treat myself! They were great too about doing a little shopping for the week while we were there.

I got home and we were relaxing when I decided to check my email. I’m glad I did. Jeff had scheduled a meeting with a realtor for this afternoon! Yikes! I raced around cleaning and making lunch (and then cleaning up from that). I lucked out in that the real estate agent was sufficiently happy at the meeting and Shelby decided to take a nap.

Jeff has to be at graduation tonight so the kids and I decided to make nachos for dinner. We’re excited. I’m hoping my next outing isn’t such a bust but again, we made it out and have a story to tell, so still a win!

To Quote Chris Rock: That’s What You’re Supposed to Do

I don’t know that the White House needs to champion dads being dads. I realize that absentee fathers are a huge issue that goes across religious, ethnic and racial lines. But I don’t know that we need a national forum on it. I mean, we shouldn’t need one.

This morning on NPR’s Morning Edition featured an interview with Dad-blogger Doyin Richards of Daddydoinwork.com and Gene Demby by anchor David Greene. Richards came to fame or infamy when a pic he posted in social media of doing his daughter’s hair while wearing his infant daughter went viral last year. He initially took the pic to document for his wife that yes, he could handle it when she was nervous and running late. He said the reactions ranged from racially/socially negative ones and ones saying he was the best dad ever. He found both ludicrous.

While the discussion quickly addressed racial stereotypes, it was something else Richards said that solidified my feeling that we really should not need this kind of hoopla as a White House initiative. Richards said that for dads just doing what dads are supposed to do we should not over-inflate their egos and make heroes out of them. I’ll add that for that matter, mothers shouldn’t be over-praised either.

Because, to quote Chris Rock, “that’s what you’re supposed to do.” Now that’s not to say we can’t be thankful for a good mother or father but should we be saying that a father who can successfully style his daughter’s hair while wearing his other daughter is “best dad ever” is over the top.

Richard’s larger idea was mostly dads should be good dads all the time. When people are watching and when they are not. Not all dads can do their daughter’s hair. But it doesn’t always make or break a good dad. A good dad will sometimes try something uncomfortable to help their child or even wife. Good dad’s come in all shapes and sizes and while gratitude for a good or great dad is always necessary, it should not be excused with effusive praise heaped on for the mundane. Appreciation and hero-worship are not the same things.

The Summer of Kristen

Starting today, it’s the summer of me. Well, me and the kids. I’ve dreamed up a fantastic summer for us. I’m just hoping the reality will live up to the hype.

What is the summer of Kristen you may ask? Well, a little primer on the “summer of” motif:

well, minus the three months pay (I’ll still have to work and Jeff only gets like 6 weeks and it’s unpaid) and the bee (hopefully).

Those of you more active in social media probably have read this article over the last week. And that is exactly what I want summer to be for my kids. We won’t sneak into movies, but we will see $1 movies as often as possible. And I probably won’t be as strict about snacks but I won’t let their diets completely go to hell. But a laid back, as tech-free summer as possible? You got it baby!

Now next year one of the kids will be able to add a half week of camp to that list (real deal, sleep-away camp), but this summer, the world is our oyster. As long as I have money for gas, we’ll be good. Part of my goal is to be as outdoor as possible without getting heat stroke. I think we can manage that. I have insect repellant and sunblock. We have a beach nearby with free parking. We have our in-law’s pool and the nearby city-pool we can utilize. We have parks and walking trails for first thing in the morning. We have a back-yard. We have a hose that’s good for drinking and water play.

Now one very not 1970s element of our summer is summer school. Well, not in the traditional sense of summer school. Four days a week for a few hours each day, Shelby will have extended school year so she doesn’t regress over the break, but for the boys the days are wide open. I’ve even looked into a few day trips where all I would have to provide is the gas to get there and back and food. I’m dreaming big! Hopefully our budget can handle big which means I will be working as much as possible but, there is still lots of time for play.

As a little side note, obviously with all this unstructured fun, I will have to give somethings up. It wasn’t hard to choose. I can’t give up cooking or house-cleaning. But I can give up facebook which sucks the life and fun out of summer like so many bee stings and sunburns. I’ve left my account active but let people know hey, I’m not checking in. I’m checking in to real life and that’s about it.

Plus, with putting the house on the market, showings and possibly packing up and moving, I really don’t have the time for it. I will check in periodically at Google+ because no one ever posts there and it is a great source of news for me as is twitter, but neither seem to require the time commitment facebook likes to demand.

So, here it is, starting today, the summer of Kristen! Whatcha got summer? I’m wide open.

So maybe you noticed…

…how I slipped into my post yesterday that we are trying to get our house on the market.

Sigh.

I honestly thought we’d retire here but in the last few years that became less and less a dream much less a desire. We like most of our neighbors (you know there almost always has to be one…). We like the school our kids are attending. We like our parish. I like my job.

But Jeff can’t get a job closer. Most of the ones he’s applied for were internally promised to someone already employed in the district. By law, they have to post the job opening and conduct interviews but it’s essentially a huge waste of tax-payer dollars and everyone’s time. Some of them expected him to teach culinary arts without a kitchen of any kind (fail!).

And while we are happy with the kids’ school now, the middle and high school situation in our district is appalling. Truly terrible. And I knew I could homeschool the boys but Shelby was a whole different matter. I have found some programs but without the related services, it would be extremely difficult.

A job opportunity that Jeff very much wanted came up and this accelerated any desire to move we may have had. He did not get the position, but after the prayer and my huge fight against sentimentality, it became clear, we needed to move. I asked God to direct my heart and all directions pointed to doing whatever we can to get to the place we want to be. Which is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from where we are now. God gently reminded me that He would never have created a desire in both my and Jeff’s hearts to live in that area if we were not meant to pursue it.

We are still readying our house for the market, interviewing potential realtors (we may end up doing it for sale by owner, who knows), painting and talking to our kids about it. And that last one has a lot of people scratching their heads. Why would we talk to our kids about moving? Isn’t it essentially an adult decision? Well, to answer the second question, yes, it is. However, we value the boys’ opinions. William is not thrilled about the idea of moving and often says “But I like this place?!” but more often he tells me, “I don’t want to leave my bunk beds” or “What will happen to my plushies?” He is not excited by the idea of change and he has very immature ideas (although appropriate for his age) of what moving means. None of our kids has ever moved. They were born here. We’ve talked about making new friends, going to a new school etc. With Shelby, it will all be choreographed down to the last detail.

What I’m most worried about now is that the house won’t sell. A few houses in our neighborhood have had very good luck due to great realtors, mostly, or very motivated sellers. But there are a couple that have languished on the market for over a year. One of my kids’ teachers just bought one on short-sale and it has been tough going for her in trying to get it liveable. It’s a shame to think people live so close to us like that, but it is what it is.

I’m just trying to leave it all in God’s hands and Mary and Joseph’s very capable hands but it is still stressful. Will the right buyer come along? Will the deal stick? Will we be able to find a great house where we want to move? We have to sell this house before we even start to plan.

If you have a prayer or two to offer up for us during this time, we really appreciate it.

In Response

I’ve had several readers/followers email or contact me privately about my post on envy. Initially I thought, oh no, my example of infertility has upset some people. And while it was people dealing with infertility and adoption who mostly messaged, they weren’t upset.

Katherine asked some questions about being rejected for adoption in the comments and some of them were in response to her questions or sharing stories regarding adoptions and how not easy it could be and just how this post reminded people of difficult times they were glad were passed or found comfort in what they were dealing with now. With permission I’m sharing some of these. All the people who responded asked to remain anonymous.

First a response on Katherine’s question about why having cancer at a young age would even be a deterrent on the part of the state/private adoption agency.

The sad truth is, that if we who can have biological children had to pass muster in some states or with some agencies to have our children, we wouldn’t be allowed to. If it’s not some long-ago illness, it could be your credit score or employment history. This is particularly true with private agencies. We attempted to adopt 2 children (while having 3 biological ones) and because of some of the regulations of the state and strict requirements of private adoption, we were unable to bring either child into our home permanently. It is truly easier on yourself if you can have children. No one will ever make you pass the bar to raise them by so many seemingly random tests.

A friend who has adopted through foster care wanted to respond on the difficulties of adopting this way for many.

Like your friend, we have the misfortune of living in a state where we cannot adopt out of our area/district. It is frustrating as we live only 2 miles from a neighboring district where there is much need. Originally, we planned to adopt a sibling group of 3. In the end, only one child was adopted, the others were returned to biological relatives. Our family was so confused as were many friends when the 2 siblings were taken back and would say things like, “Can’t they see how happy the kids are now and how much you’ve done for them?” In the end, while going through the foster-to-adopt process, the ultimate goal is not adoption by new parents, it is reunification with the child’s family of origin. Two of the children had a different father from the third and members of their father’s family stepped up just as we were nearing completion of termination of parental rights. And termination of parental rights is the reason so many older children are not adopted. It’s not that everyone wants babies (the youngest was 4 in our case), it’s that it is incredibly difficult for a biological parent’s rights to be terminated. And many, many judges will continue to give biological parents chances no matter what the situation. There are no easy answers when it comes to adoption.

Several people mentioned the cost of adoptions out of foster care here are some of those that stood out:

Cost is somewhat relative.  The typical costs of adoption in foster care where I live is about $5000 which may not seem like much for some people, but I work a minimum wage job and my husband is a state employee. We didn’t have $5000 in savings when we had our first child. We did have great insurance through the state but it would have taken us a while to amass those kinds of savings! If we weren’t blessed with biological children, we’d be childless.

We have been foster parents for many years. While it’s true it is much less expensive to adopt from foster care, I have taken issue recently with a meme going around about how you actually get paid to be a foster parent. First of all, we are not babysitters, much, much more is asked of us than that. Second, our local social services does give you a stipend each month and the child is on Medicaid but sometimes, that’s not enough. We took in 2 little girls who both had chronic medical conditions. The costs of special diets was more than triple what we were given for their stipends and Medicaid did not cover most of their treatments/medications. We went through the appeals processes and were always forced to pay out of pocket. We are blessed we were able to cut deals with many doctors and therapists and that we had some savings to fall back on.

While we think of cost in monetary terms, it was the emotional costs we were not prepared for. We were told several times that our adoption was a sure thing and that all parental rights would be terminated for sure. In the end, we did not adopt that child and it hurt, and still does most days. It was confusing for the child as well and we were heartbroken to let him go. We have not seen him since.

 

And there were people who were disqualified on technical issues:

We have 2 boys and 2 girls in a three bedroom home. We were shocked to find out our local social services require that we have a separate bedroom for the foster child. Their own bed was not enough, we were required to have a separate room completely.

No bunk beds social services said. And not just for a particular child, it was no bunk beds for a foster child, period. He or she could share a room with our kids, but had to have his or her own free-standing bed.

 

Finally, there was this from a prospective adoptive mom:

Infertility was the knife slid between my ribs I never saw coming. Like most families, mine would say, “well, you can always adopt!” We cannot afford private or international adoption even with help from relatives so we’ve begun the process of adopting out of foster care. We are nervous and excited. We are nervous the child will not like us or that we cannot be the parent he or she needs. So many of the children are victims of abuse or neglect, I pray to God that I am up for any challenge a child brings. Like your friend says, there are so many potential road-blocks. We’ve only been at this for just under a year and I have my patience very tested when someone says something like, “oh there are so many kids out there who need good homes.” Technically, they’re right?! But most of those kids, aren’t actually available to be adopted. Your post really helped me feel not so alone when I do get my dander up. It’s tough. Prayers for everyone going through infertility and/or the adoption process.

 

I thank you all so much for sharing your experiences with me. I learned many things I would not have known otherwise.