(I’m doing a series of posts on how we came to adopt The Cherubs from foster care. It’s been both easier and more challenging than we expected. And it might be the best thing we’ve ever done.)
MAPP Class. The day you’ve been dreading for months. It’s a beautiful October morning – the sun is shining through the leaves, highlighting hues of orange, red, and gold. It’s weird driving into Cambridge on a weekend morning because there’s so little traffic. You remember this from when you used to go to church here – how it felt like God had just cleared the roads for you. Now it feels lonely, like you’re being punished because you can’t have children the normal way, so you have to get up early and sit inside all day with a bunch of losers for a mandatory class. You remember a guy you dated who racked up so many drunk driving charges that they made him take a class to stay out of jail. You feel like that guy.
Clearly, you’re in a good place.
You’re there early, the first to arrive (you thought there’d be traffic). You buzz in, then follow directions downstairs to the conference room. You introduce yourself warily to the instructors. The one who works for the agency looks…young. Nice, but not overly friendly. That’s fine, you think. Mentally, you’re ticking off the minutes until this is over. It’s just a series of hurdles, you tell yourself. Items on the checklist. You and your husband decided in advance on a game plan: put in the time, keep your mouths shut. You’re not there to make friends, you’re there to get licensed.
Other class participants wander in, and it seems they’ve made similar pacts. No one talks to each other. Everyone gets very involved with the workbooks you picked up on the way in, and their cell phones (which you’ll soon learn get almost no reception in this basement classroom.)
You’re surprised when a couple walks in that you know – the wife is a friend of yours from a class you took together on exploring faith. You give each other a big hug. So much for keeping to ourselves, you think. You wonder what God is doing. There’s no time to chat because the class is starting, but you find yourself breathing a tiny bit easier.
The first class is…not as bad as you thought it would be. The young instructor, Janna, is a social worker with CFCS who works with kids to find adoptive homes. She’s accompanied by a woman who looks very no-nonsense (but will later reveal a great sense of humor and perspective). She’s an adoptive mom who helps teach this class as some sort of liaison between the agency and DCF. “I wonder if she’s a watchdog?” you ask your husband later. “Maybe she’s here to make sure no one says anything bad about The Department.” But because you don’t plan on saying anything (or speaking at all, really) this shouldn’t be a problem.
They ask you all to introduce yourselves, share why you’re there, and whether you’ve had any previous experience with adoption or foster care.
“I’m Steve,” your husband says. “This is my wife, Trish. We’re here because we have friends who adopted and it seems like a good way to make a family and to help some kids. We were kinship foster parents for a four year-old girl in our extended family about a year ago.”
Bare bones, no details. You nod along and when it comes to you, you just say, “I’m Trish. What he said,” as you point to your husband. Everyone smiles politely, and you breath a sigh of relief as the next person starts to share.
At the break, you all wander out to find lunch. A handful of you agree to grab sandwiches at a deli and then go to a nearby park. You discuss your jobs, sports, housing prices in the city, transportation challenges. Anything but why you’re there. These people aren’t bad, you think.
The class ends early, which is an unexpected treat. You drive home in a bit of a daze, the exhaustion of carrying around so much dread finally hitting you.
At home, you crash into the kind of nap that leaves drool on the pillow. Over dinner, you discuss the OTHER big thing happening that weekend: The adoption event the next day where prospective parents meet kids waiting for adoption.
We could meet our kids tomorrow. You can’t even begin to process the magnitude of that, or imagine how this will feel like anything but looking at puppies at the pound. That seems horribly inappropriate for human children. And yet you’ve read approximately 400 articles on this process, how research shows that adoption parties lead to more placements than any other process. It’s starting to feel like dating. You don’t want to miss out. And yet you’re more than a bit overwhelmed.
That night you put a check mark on your calendar. One class down, four more to go. You did it.