Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saying Goodbye (but not really, I hope)

Life really is imitating one of my books, "Waiting." I blogged earlier about a transgender character in "Waiting" and how my child recently came out as transgender. Also in "Waiting," one character gives up her children because she does not feel capable of doing the best by them. Again, I was in that situation a few days ago.

Backing up...

In March, my wife told me she had met a sixteen-year-old she wanted us to adopt. I agreed, and we went through DSS classes, the whole shebang, to get the child. The child had problems, but nothing my wife and I could not handle. Throughout the summer, we went to the group home where the child (I'll call her Celeste from now on) lived. The next step was to have Celeste over to our house for day visits. These turned into overnights, and then weekends. And then Celeste was living with us part time.

Everything was going pretty well. Celeste was a motivated, smart kid who wanted to succeed and do well in life.

A little more than two weeks ago, Celeste moved in full time, and custody was signed over to me and my wife. Things gradually went downhill, but starting about Wednesday last week, they took a sharp turn for the worse. One incident that stands out to me is that my wife was physically ill and had been since Monday from dealing with all of Celeste's crap. Wednesday she was trying to nap, but Celeste would not let her, waking her up three times. When I told Celeste to let my wife sleep, Celeste yelled and screamed and banged and slammed doors. I'm not sure why this one stands out most to me compared with other incidents. Maybe because it, to me, shows a basic lack of decency. Let the woman sleep, for goodness' sake. Everything else can be attributed to, say, being a teenager or to other issues. But not that.

I dunno. Not the point anyway ;-) So, we had cops over to our house more times than I care to realize.
Thursday night was bad. Celeste overdosed on sleeping medications, and we called police and paramedics. Melanie was about to drop dead from exhaustion. DSS said we had to take Celeste home from the ER. My wife was hoping we could get respite care for the weekend and be able to approach Celeste anew in a few days.

When we got home, my brain was so frazzled, I locked the keys in my still-running car. Argh. We had to wait for a tow truck.

About 1:30 a.m., my wife went into the bathroom and found a knife under the showerhead. She had already said she didn't want either one of us to be alone with Celeste. I had, however, felt safe enough. Until the knife.

The knife.

Wow. It freaked me out. And it was the last straw for Melanie, my wife. She did not feel capable of dealing with Celeste's problems and did not think she would even after respite care. We made the decision we had to relinquish Celeste.

The next day when Celeste found out, she yelled and cried and screamed and said we overreacted to the knife. But Celeste would never say WHY she put it there. Maybe she does not know, and that kind of scares me more than anything. She put a knife in the bathroom and did not know why.

We had to leave without saying goodbye. But it turns out we can stay in Celeste's life, if she wants us to. That makes me so happy. No more overnights, but we can still do emails, phone calls and day visits with Celeste--only if she wants us to, of course. Celeste turns seventeen years old in a few weeks. I told Melanie I have a feeling that when Celeste turns eighteen (or finishes her senior year in 2013, one of the two), she is going to show up at our door and ask to move back in with us.

Melanie and I are inclined to let her. We know we made mistakes. So did DSS and the group home. We were woefully under-prepared. We will be better prepared this time, and now that Celeste would be an adult, we don't have to be as much "mothers." What killed me most about giving Celeste back was that she would never have a home to go to, so I'm glad her social worker is keeping communications open.





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