Sunday, March 03, 2013
It's hard to believe, but my little babies are 18. They are nearing the end of high school. Nearing the start of Real Life.
Here in Israel, army service is more or less mandatory. But in our area, a lot of kids put it off a year, going into a service program or an extra year of study before they actually enlist. Looks like I have one of each--one will do her year of service with a program she was active in all through high school. It's a great program--well run, effective, and... based really close to home. A bit of a drawback when you're looking to leave the nest, but we assured her she won't be allowed home any more often than the kids from farther away....
Her sister didn't get into the programs she wanted, and decided not to do the extra year of study where she did get in. So... in July, I'll have a soldier. Weird.... Could be an interesting experience. She's probably going to go into something related to education (whether it's working in schools, running GED programs, or doing English-related training). She's so not cut out for anything actually military--in fact, she probably would have tried to get out of it if she didn't have the option of doing the education-related service.
DH and I have been preparing ourselves for suddenly having the house to ourselves. Lots of advantages to this, ya know?? But things never seem to go exactly according to plan, do they?
Almost 5 years ago, we heard about a program at a nearby Children's Village--a sort of group home for kids who can't live with their parents for one reason or another. They were looking for volunteer families to host kids one or two weekends a month, to model more-or-less normal family life. We were matched up with a sweet little 7-year-old who had been living there for the past 3 years. The mix was pretty good--my daughters are enough older that there were no jealousy issues. In fact, it really opened their eyes about situations other kids face. Kids who can't live at home because of abuse, or substance abuse, or parental instability... or parents who just plain don't care to take care of their kids.
The first time we visited her at the Children's Village, my girls exhibited their typical Night and Day behavior. Day looked at the houses, the equipment, the books, the playgrounds, and commented on what nice facilities they had. Night looked at the 11 kids in one house, thought of how many other houses there were, and was overwhelmed with the sadness of it all.
And of course, they're both right.
Fast forward a few years--they were expecting changes. The family who lived in the unit with our little girl was leaving the Children's Village. Their own kids were getting a little older. They wanted a place of their own. And in fact they ended up buying a lot right behind us...
The girl's mother wasn't quite sure what to do. She didn't want to put her daughter--and son who also lived there--through a major transition like getting used to new house parents.
At that point, I decided to put a request out to The Universe that the best thing for the girl would happen.
A week or two later, the mother called and asked if we would foster her daughter.
We started looking into it. Thinking it over from every direction we could think of. We said it was worth considering through official channels.
I was torn. As much as I liked the idea, I was seeing all sorts of potential problems. I didn't want my own girls getting hurt over this....
I rephrased my request to The Universe.... I wanted the outcome which would be best suited for all of us. And again, within a very short time, we got the answer. The official channels did not approve the change, because if things did not work out (there were problems in a similar situation with an older sister), they couldn't guarantee a place in the Children's Village.
At that point, the mother started getting her act together. She found some resources, got some help... and took her kids back home.
I was thrilled. No matter how it worked out... this was a clear sign that her mother wanted her. Wanted her enough to choose to take her home again.
I was also worried. The mother's track record wasn't great. Her financial situation wasn't great. And now that the kids were no longer in this official institution, they suddenly didn't have the same access to things like after-school activities. We kept in touch, seeing her almost as much as when the connection was official.
The arrangement seemed to work, for a while. There were annoyances, of course--like being crammed into a tiny room with her brother, who is not always the nicest kid. There were problems like mom not waking up in time to get the kids to school. But overall, things seemed to be going OK.
But lately, there were some signs that things were not going so well. We've had an increasing sense of "what can we do"? Felt like time for another shout out to The Universe, to open up some options for her.
About two weeks ago, my neighbor who had lived with the girl in the Children's Village got a call from school. Things were going badly. She wasn't getting to school, grades were dropping. Generally the mother wasn't doing her job.
She called to talk to us about it. And, well... Looks like the fostering option is back on the table.
We're back at the stage of dealing with the Powers That Be to see what can be done. We live in a much better area, in a much better school district. And we're close enough to the mother that they'd still be in contact.
So now, instead of facing an empty nest, we may be about to have a 12-year-old....
Life's kinda funny that way.