Couples therapy started in March of last year. We took a short break, but even before we moved, we were working with our current therapist remotely. Individual therapy started at the beginning of April. I have not taken any breaks. Family therapy started in January. Integrating her required the skills of a professional, patience, and time.
I lost more weight than expected last year because of the various stressors surrounding this situation. I did not set out to lose anything more than the last few kgs of pregnancy weight, but I did. I let the weight fall off naturally instead of killing myself to get back into my jeans. I am not the best about taking time to eat. If I am busy or in motion, eating becomes secondary. I was able to admit that I was a little too small for my liking this time around, and I happily found a nutritionist and a personal trainer. Was I hesitant? Yes, but it was not stemming from a place of, "I am already too fat." It was more along the lines of, "I am comfortable at this weight." I have changed my diet for Lent, so I am not eating red meat, bread, or anything that contains sugar. I need something to balance it out because I did not want another drop in my weight to occur.
I am not worried about what the perception of us being in therapy is. It shows that we are not perfect but cared enough about our marriage to seek outside help. Fact is marriages weather tough times. Maybe not the precise issues we had, but seeking therapy is more common than not. We have been transparent about being in therapy for the past year. I am not ashamed of that. We can explain that away by saying we needed to strengthen our marriage and improve communication. We needed to do both. As long as we can prove or show that we are better now than before, I consider some degree of transparency a good thing.
My past relationship structuring was not that big of an issue when it came to fostering. Fostering is generally on a respite basis or an in-between placement home, so the requirements are similar but not exactly the same. Most children know it is temporary and not to get too attached. It is completely different when you adopt and take permanent legal responsibility of a child. They want to know that when a child is placed with you long-term that it will be in his or her best interest, so they care about all facets of your life: past, present, and future.
As progressive as the laws of this state are, poly is still not part of those laws and not entirely accepted or understood. A same-sex couple or single person would be approved faster than a person with "multiple, loving relationships."*Off the record, the belief is poly is unstable because of the potential influx of people. For an adolescent--like our daughter--with known abandonment and some level of attachment issues, poly is especially frowned upon because said child might get hurt in grown-up bullshit. Our youngest daughter may be resilient and eventually forgive and bounce back. For someone like our oldest to let someone in, develop trust and a bond, and then lose them would be a devastating blow. They have to be handled differently. People can try to sugar coat this or blame it on the society's ignorance, but the truth is a beast. My daughter is walking confirmation of the belief that children can get hurt in the crossfire.
To give you an idea of how stringent the requirements are, some states require that you do not conceive during the first two years after adoption. In one state, they will not let you adopt if the potential adoptee is older than biological children. In another state, they require that one parent be a stay at home parent for the first full year. Obviously multiple relationships that require you to be out of the home would not be embraced or understood. Would anyone really understand if I needed to spend 2-3 nights a week away from home to be with a co-primary? Would they understand if there was an upset in years of therapy because she got hurt by someone I was dating? These are some of the questions I asked myself over the course of those five months before her placement.
The greatest irony of all is even though there has been an addition to our family, I am still 100x more available now than I ever was when I had a second relationship. Being a mum has never required me to be out overnight, have dates, or anything that comes with being in a relationship. She has detracted nothing from our marriage or recovery efforts. She has not infringed on the bonding with our other children. Another romantic relationship would have killed any renewal efforts, and it would have made our youngest daughter retreat because she is fiercely protective of me and anything that "takes me away from her." She is not jealous or envious of another child, though. Another child does not pose a threat like my ex, and our therapist's belief is my ex is a trigger because she blames her for taking and keeping me away from her. When she talked to her, she asked why she was not upset about me working long hours, and she rationalised it by telling her that mummies and daddies have to work to take care of their families.
We simply saw the opportunity to do something good. When we first met her, she was waiting for placement again. Her pending placement fell through, and it broke my heart to watch the disappointment unfold. We took an interest in foster caring, but it was not something up for immediate consideration. We said in the future and left it at that. After her placement fell through, it seemed like opportunity was knocking. It felt like a good idea. We never act in haste. We slept on it for awhile, talked about it in and out therapy, and even brought our daughter and parents into the fold. We talked about it with her, but we did not make any guarantees or promises. The idea of adoption was born to give her the stability she craved and needed, but it was not the immediate goal. We felt moved to protect her and shield her in ways no one else has. I had a happy and loving childhood, and no child should be deprived of that.
We had over five months to decide if we really wanted to go through with it while we waited for approval to become foster carers. We had to undergo training, background checks, home evaluations, etc. before accreditation and placement. The option to bow out gracefully was always present, but we did not want to fail her like everyone else in her life. Nothing in my life the past 12 months has been predictable or expected. I am just going with it and riding the waves that life is sending my way.
It was always known that before our first child's first year of school, a relocation would be a given. This is why he got pissed off when I suggested scrapping the plans because my ex did not want to move. Years had went into the plans, and changing in the eleventh hour rubbed him wrong.
Moving across the world was not an easy task, but the adjustment has been relatively easy. No matter how much you plan for, sometimes the unexpected happens. Have there been interesting moments? Absolutely. It took me awhile to get my bearings here. I discover something new every day. I am not particularly keen on new people, and I prefer to keep a tight circle of people I socialise with. I have made acquaintances. I classify very few as friends. Our son is in a nursery, and this is the first time he has ever been in one. I had a bit of separation anxiety and worried about everything. Their paediatrician in London was why I decided to keep them out of a nursery. (He said nurseries were nothing but a cesspool of germs.) Our youngest daughter started school for the first time, and she was more ready than I was. Our oldest is in high school. Peer pressure, dating, driving, drugs, sex, teen pregnancy, uni plans, etc. We have been here almost a year and everything has tamed down. We have settled into routines and constantly tweaking them. They have co-curricular interests, have made friends, and our two youngest seem to love school. The move was good in the sense that we all needed a fresh start.
Why? Why not? The timing was not perfect, but when is anything in life perfect? I could understand asking why if it was at this point last year. Fresh from a separation, not on speaking terms, no trust, reluctantly going to therapy, still wanting a divorce, hurting one another, and butting heads over custody arrangements. Those circumstances were not conducive to foster caring or even healthy parenting of the two we already had. By month nine, our marriage looked nothing like it did, and our therapist was pushing the baby birds out of the nest to fly on their own. Should we have simply basked in that newly renewed love and focused on fostering relationships with the two children we already had? Of course. We are still doing that. This is no different than a couple wanting to have another child because they have enough love in their hearts and time in their lives to do it.
I only wonder if I would be asked why I chose not to terminate a pregnancy if I had become pregnant while in rebuilding mode. For the record, I would have kept the hypothetical baby.