Without question, the single best decision Göran and I ever made was to become foster parents. It changed our lives in every way for the better. Yes, it introduced complications. Yes, it really tested the limits of our relationship at times. It forced me and Göran to learn how to communicate and work together and resolve conflicts in ways we'd never had to before. It forced us to really think about and clarify our values. It required many forms of creative problem-solving. It was one of the greatest challenges we've ever faced. And I would never trade the experience of parenting Glen for anything in the world.
Glen just finished his second year in college, and he's thriving! He's finally settled on a major, and is doing well academically. Been on the Dean's List twice! He became the first "legacy" of the Delta Lambda Phi fraternity (the "gay" fratenity) -- a fraternity that Göran played a founding role in. Glen is playing a leadership role in the fraternity -- which has given him and Göran plenty of opportunity to interact at a variety of fraternity functions. He has a steady on-campus job, and he and his boyfriend of two years moved into off-campus housing together earlier this year. Can you tell we're proud? The moments in my life when I'm happiest are the moments when he is near, like during our recent family reunion in Utah, when Göran and Glen and I were all able to join the rest of the family in celebrating my parents' 50th wedding anniversary.
Some day my life will be over. When I reflect on that, it is clear to me that whatever my other accomplishments are, they will pale in comparison to the accomplishment of being a father. I could let go of everything else but that one. We love our son, and we will always be there for him.
It was tough for me when Glen moved out. I actually grieved. Which, logically, didn't make sense to me, because we still see him all the time. He visits every other weekend or so. He still calls every once in a while to ask for advice with the various challenges he's facing in college, or for help with his Finnish homework. (He's minoring in Finnish!) One of the reasons he went to the University of Minnesota was so he could stay close to us and see us on a regular basis. I love that we do see him regularly! Don't know how I'd manage emotionally otherwise. Still, I realized that I missed the active, daily parenting that happens when the kid is still living under the same roof with you.
So... After Glen had been out of the house for a year or so, Göran and I let the agency know that we were open to receiving another kid, if they found one who would be a good match for our home.
The placement seemed to take forever. I finally learned that we had to wait so long partly because the bulk of placements take place in the summer, to avoid having to disrupt kids' school years. While we were waiting, it was really bothering me. I was anxious to have a new kid! It was as if I had constantly running through my head David O. McKay's famous dictum: "No other success can compensate for failure in the home." To me, our home felt like a half home without a kid around... I kept thinking to myself, "I'm wasting my time with all this other stuff. I want to parent again."
And now we're on the verge of becoming parents again. After a few referrals that didn't pan out, this past weekend we finally had 10-year-old Jeremiah over for a pre-placement visit. That's the last hurdle... The pre-placement visit is basically a trial run for both the kid and the parents, when both parents and kid get to decide that they want to go forward with the placement. And, bottom line, we fell in love with Jeremiah, and he fell in love with us.
The end of the pre-placement is always difficult. Jeremiah had already decided for himself: he wanted to stay with us! He protested that he didn't want to leave!
We're traveling to California this weekend, so he won't be permanently placed with us until after we come back -- though he will spend a few more days with us in the coming week, before we go. He'll be back with us temporarily tomorrow, and then back with us again permanently one week from tomorrow.
It's on the verge of something like this that you realize you're in the calm before the storm. Göran and I have been checking in with each other again and again the last few days: "Are you ready for this?"
I'm anxious... In the sense of nervous, and in the sense of eager, both at the same time.
Our lives are about to change forever... Again!