The 6Parkers?

So, last week, I got a voicemail from Patrick’s case worker.  She was wondering about setting up a December visit.  Then, she said that Patrick told her that after this visit, he would decide if he wanted to be adopted. 

Immediately, a few questions come to mind.  The first, of course, was “Wait, what???”  We had considered the possibility, but it hadn’t gone beyond some obsessive talking and agreeing to
wait and see.  When Patrick hinted at the possibility, we tried to be neutral, but open.  The last thing that we wanted to do was give him false hope or commit out of guilt.

And, in all honesty, as he casually rode off with his case worker, I was pretty sure that we had dodged a bullet.  I don’t mean that so harshly, but, yes, I was happy to get back to our little family that works just as it is.  We kind of figured we’d be like an aunt and an uncle to him.  We’d be somewhere for him to come on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We’d be his home base.

But, as I listened to the voicemail, I realized that he had been thinking about it.  When he left, Brian said (to me) that it would be good for him to go home and see how he felt and we would be able to do the same.  My insecurities led me to assume that he was bad-mouthing me to his foster family, that he was glad to be home, and, that was telling everyone that his siblings drove him crazy.  But, turns out, the visit actually meant something to him; although those things may still have happened.  She went on to say that she wasn’t sure if we were still thinking in those terms.   And, I was glad that it was a voicemail because I don’t know what I would’ve said.  I also wondered who told him that it was officially on the table as an option.  I assume it was the foster mother who was going to try to open his mind to the possibility.  Apparently, she did.

Knowing that he might want it, though, changed how I was feeling.  That suggested that he might be willing to make some effort to make it work.  And, of course, it got my mind racing. 

It got me thinking.  Could it ever work out?  On the surface, I can list a million and one reasons why it wouldn’t be a good idea.  He’s a bitter 12 year old.  (For now, anyway.  In a couple of weeks, he’ll be a bitter 13 year old.)  He has trouble with relationships, being honest, and picking up his socks.  He talks back, argues, and wants control over everything.  He eats too much, yells too much, and talks about wrestlng too much.  He has walls that I wonder if I could ever climb.  He doesn’t feel much of a connection to his siblings and it’s unclear what he thinks of us. 

But, he’s also a kid.  A kid without a family.  A kid who will turn 18 and basically have no where to go.  Odds are not in his favor.  If it’s not us, then who is going to come looking for a cranky, black (let’s be honest here, it doesn’t help his chances) teenage boy? 

Then I wonder what I would be like.  I mean, I had my token bad boyfriend (everyone gets one)
and it shattered my confidence for years.  What would I be like if I was basically rejected by everyone who was supposed to love me?  What if everyone who supports me in life is paid to care?   (Disclaimer:  They definitely do care, though.)  What if I grew up without my siblings?  Would it be any surprise that I don’t know how to relate to them now? 

I’m so lucky that I don’t have to know.  I have parents who love me.  I have sisters who I have known all my life and I love them dearly.  And, I know that they love me.  When I married Brian, I knew how to behave in a relationship (mostly) because I had good examples of love in my life. 

Anyway, the one thing that is extremely clear is that he deserves better than he’s gotten.  It’s also clear to me that he’s going to have to work for it a little (or maybe a lot), if he wants better than he’s gotten.

What would I need from him?

Fade to my imaginary conversation scene with Patrick….

-I need you to understand that we’re doing the best we can.
-I need you to know that we’re not perfect and we’re well aware of that.

-I need you to know that we’re big on respect.  You have to respect us.  We have to respect you.  You have to respect your siblings.  It might take awhile for you to feel like they are part of you, but they are, and deserve to be treated that way.

-I need you to understand that I’m going to expect from you what I expect from them.  Good grammar.  Politeness.  Appropriate words.  Etc.

-I need you to admit that Batman is cool because you know that he is. 😉  It’s ok to like superheroes and anything else that we like.  No one will make fun of you for enjoying things.  At the very least, don’t ruin our fun.

-I need you to be honest (or at least try to be).  I need you to understand that stealing is wrong.  Cursing at your teachers is wrong.  (He apparently did that, too)   And, getting in fights is wrong.

-I need you to understand that if you join this family, you’re in.  All the way.  The good, the bad, the mundane.  There will be no sitting/sulking at different tables in restaurants.  You can sulk at the table with us, but you’ll be sitting with us.  You’ll be part of family activities, whether it be dinner out, movies, or seemingly endless errands.  And, you’ll wash your hands, brush your teeth, or whatever else I ask the four of you to do.

-I would say something about putting your clothes away and cleaning up after yourself.  But, I haven’t figured out how to get these three to do that yet, so not much point there 😉

-I need you to understnd that it would be an adjustment.  We would love you and accept you.  But, it would take us some time to figure out the best way to do that.  And, we would need you to be a little patient.

-And, not most importantly, but it will feel like it to us, once a year, I need you to put on a wacky costume, wander around DragonCon, and pose for pictures.  This might seem like a weird thing to insist on, but it’s important to us.  Because it’s part of being a Parker.

Plus, I’m pretty sure if you left your attitude at home, you would love it, too.

And, in return?

-We would love you.

-We would listen to you.

-We would admit when we screw up.  Because we will screw up.

-We would do our best.

-We would even let you have a say in what costume you wear to DragonCon!  haha.

-We would understand that you might not be ready to call us Mom and Dad.  There would be no pressure.  Although, I will be hoping for soon. 🙂

-And, most importantly, although, you might have trouble believing it, we would not give you back.  We would not reject you.  We would love you.  You would be free to drive us as bonkers as the other three do.  But, it would be awesome, if you tried not to. 😉

I don’t know what the right thing to do is.  I take that back.  I do know what the right thing to do is.  But, I don’t know what the right thing to do for us is.  I think I’m just going to see how we feel in December, too.  Because it is definitely not like getting a new dog which incidently, I want. 😉  It’s like getting a bouncing teenage boy with issues on ton of issues.  And, since we mean it when we say it’s forever, we would need to make sure that we were really, really ready for it.  Or at least as ready as is possible.

I don’t know.  But, I do know that I’m looking forward to seeing him, again.  Now his cover is completely blown.  We know that he cares enough to seriously ponder being one of us.  Oh, Patrick, you thought I was bad before, insisting on hugs and obnoxious things like that.  You are in for it now.  😉


50 thoughts on “The 6Parkers?

  1. I have said it once and I will say it again. There is no one I have ever met that touches me like you guys, your story, your courage, and most of all your love reminds me why we fight so hard for the good things in life.


  2. My husband's niece &nephew were in fostercare they are now both happily adopted (but with contact of the family) people like you with so much love to give make me proud.I knew I couldn't take them, but another family could. Bless you!Cant wait to meet you at DC 13!


  3. You basically summed up how I'm feeling in your blog post. We have a two year old with multiple health issues that needs a permanent home. We struggle with the decision everyday. I know what's right, but need to make sure we are totally ready for all that comes with it.


  4. You are an amazing mother with an amazing family. What love and selflessness you show here! And yes, I think the dressing up and having fun is probably the most important thing you can demand that he do. Let go of the pride to let in the love…


  5. Thank you! He was definitely a little intrigued when we talked about it. Hopefully, he would be into it. 🙂 \”Let go of the pride to let in the love…\” — I love that!


  6. This post made me cry!!! You have such a cool family and I think your list of what you what and what you need is totally reasonable. I think if you feel it's the right answer, the walls will not be too great. The journey will be long and hard but I totally believe that if it falls into place, it will be a great blessing in your life (but I do say this only knowing the details that you have posted about). Such a difficult decision but you'll know what to do and if it means you become the family of 6, think of all of the exciting possibilities (and costumes!! :-). Ordinary teenage boys are hard enough to crack – some of his struggles come with puberty and the others….eventually (if this becomes his reality) he will love the Parkers as you love him!! Steep learning curve, for sure. Come December, it will become clear. Family of 5 or family of 6, you'll still love him and that's something to hang on to.


  7. I am coming to you from my daughter's blog, You and your husband are such terrific parents; and I love your honesty. Parenting isn't all about sweetness and light – it is about loving and guidance and being there through thick and thin (sometimes more \”thin\” than anything!). Keep up the good work; the world needs more parents like you!!


  8. I found your blog through a friend of a friend blog thing, you know how it goes. I am the adoptive mother of six children. Our oldest son has a condition known as severe reactive attachment disorder and from reading your description of Patrick I am fairly certain he could have the same condition. It is caused by a lack of appropiate parenting in the child's first years of life. It is a condition that leaves the child without the ability to love or be loved. Most people assume love is something that is just found in everyone and that is so not true. Love is a learned behaviour and if not learned as a baby it can not be learned later in life. The pathways in the brain that are needed to understand how to love and how to be loved literally do not exist. These children, as we were told but didn't want to listen, do not do well in large family settings. They do much better in either a home where they are the only child, or a group home setting. When they receive too much love it will actually cause them to self distruct. I know where your heart is, I have been there, two of my children have an older brother that child services wanted us to adopt, but after looking into it further not only would it not have been the best thing for him, it would have been detrimental to the children we had already adopted. Its so hard to say no because you can see the very sad future that is in front of this young man, but there is only so much any one couple can do. You really need to look at how his behaviours will affect the children you have already adopted. Your thoughts of being an aunt and uncle figure in his life are probably closer to what this young man may need. You would have to learn to parent this child in a way that is so unnatural to everything you have know as a parent, and everything you experienced as a child. You have to do what we refer to as \”flat parenting\”. You can show this child no emotion good or bad. Everything he does your emotional response must be flat, your voice tone must be flat, your words are what will change. If you are dealing with him after he has stolen or is having a bad attitude day your words will be saying what he needs to hear, but you will not show any bit of being upset or angry, you will be flat. If he accomplished something he has been working on, your words will be of praise, but your tone and emotions will be flat. You have to ask yourself if can take a child into your home knowing that he will never be capable of loving you or accepting your life in return. I know this may sound harsh, and believe me when people talk to us about how we have to parent our son, the phase of \”all he needs is love\” is said to us all the time. People will not understand that by \”loving\” a child with SRAD it will only make his life worse, not better. Love can not heal all wounds.I guess to sum things up, you really need to find out the diagnosed conditions this young man has, as he probably has more then one, and do a lot of research about these conditions. Do more visits and see how your children are after the visits. If they are hyper and out of control, or you are noting they are stressed, think about what it would be like for them to have him there all the time causing the stress and escalating behaviours. I don't want to be a Debbie Downer about this, I just wished we had talked to other parents of children with SRAD before we adopted our first son, not that it would have changed our minds, but we would have been a lot more prepared. Just don't go into this thinking that \”well if we just love him and accept him\”, everything will work out. Good luck with your decision and thank-you for being so amazing that you would even consider adopting this young man. If you want to talk more, or have questions you can e-mail me at I really do wish you all the best, being the adoptive mom of kids who came to you through foster care is not easy, and comes with its own special problems.


  9. Thank you for this. I can't say that it's what I wanted to hear, haha, but I definitely appreciate the information. I've done a little reading on it and wondered if he has it, as well. Although, his case worker doesn't think that he does and I'm hoping she's right. You've given me a lot to think about. Thank you.


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