Saturday, January 19, 2013

An Exercise in Adulthood

I have a confession. Neither hubby nor I have written a will. I know, I KNOW! It's awful. It's irresponsible. It's not okay. And yet, we're stuck. I mean, the material things (the house, the bank accounts, the life insurance policies), those are no big deal. It's the whole who gets kids thing that has stumped us. Like for 7 years now. Seriously. I know.

I mean, besides the whole "who wants to think about this?!" issue, how do you make that decision? How??!!! (No, really, pleasefortheloveofbabyjesus tell me!) How do you decide who will raise your children if you are not there to do it? I don't know. Hence why it hasn't happened.

I'm sure for some people the answer is obvious. But it's not for us.

Ideally, we want a 2 parent home - because we know how hard it is to parent two children when there are two parents. Trying to do it with just one, sheesh. My mom raised my brother and I on her own. She did (says her admittedly biased daughter) a great job. But I saw how hard it was. Additionally, when thinking about all the challenges and heartaches our children would have to go through (and will present to their new parents) in grieving the parents and family they've known their whole lives, well, it seems like having a partner to share that is better.

We want someone who lives locally, because most of our family are local (including the boys' birth families) and it's so important for those relationships to be maintained and even strengthened. We want someone who has a diverse community. We want someone who is in a place to parent two additional (busy) children. We want someone with similar values and beliefs as us. We want someone who loves them.

Also, I think adoption adds something for us to consider. And this has been a sticking point. Maintaining contact with the boys' birth families is absolutely important. An unwillingness to do so, or simply not regarding it as important, is a complete dealbreaker. We need, the boys need, someone who understands the importance of their relationships with their birth families. Someone who will make the effort to initiate contact when the boys' birth families have been silent. Someone who will respect their birth families, and the role they have in the boys' lives. Someone who will love, not just our boys, but their birth families as well.

How do you decide who will parent your children when you cannot? As we've talked about this and thought about this time and again, I've come to wonder if birth parents may be uniquely qualified to make this kind of decision. It's one they've made before. And It gives me a tiny insight into the difficulty of the decision they had to make.

We still don't know who to choose. It's an ongoing conversation. One we KNOW we need to make. And soon. It's part of being a parent. It's part of being an adult. And it's hard. Sure, we could just throw something out there, just to have something on paper, living under the belief that it will never be needed. And, of course, the likelihood is that it won't ever be needed.

But I also know that there's a possibility it will be needed. And, if it is, my children deserve to know that we made a well thought out decision. That we did our best to assure they were loved and taken care of in our absence.

Not that that makes it any easier. It's hard. Being an adult is hard.

Today's Lesson: Sometimes we (aka me) all need to put on our big girl (aka adult) pants and write the damn will already (or maybe that's just me).


Elizabeth said...

We did ours last summer, and it was so hard, but it's such a relief to have it DONE. I'm sure you will feel the same way- ugh, it's no fun to think about or do though.

Sandy - Longtime Reader said...

It's definitely tough to make a decision. Absolutely. I made it before I brought my babies home, because the idea of *god forbid* something happening before I finished it was enough to make me sick. Then they would be left to the mercy of the courts and I wouldn't have any say in what happened to them and that terrified me more than picking the wrong person. But I went through all of that trying to decide who to pick, and in all honesty, you won't find all of those things in your guardians...but, as long as you know you can trust them to do the very best they can by you and by your boys, that is sometimes all you can do. I put into my will that they would be required to maintain regular contact with the birth families as long as it was safe, and as long as the birth families continued to want contact...because, like you, I feared very much for that. Over all, a mother is never easy about the idea of ever having to leave her little ones but in the end, the best thing you can do is have the final say in who gets to raise them should you not be able to (god forbid.).

Venessa said...

We are in the same boat...trying to make that decision. It is hard and it has kept us from making our will as well. Thanks for the reminder...we just need to do it for our little's sake!

Jenny F. Scientist, PhD said...

... which reminds me that although we wrote wills, and had them notarized and all, I have not yet deposited them with the Clerk of Courts. Bah.

(Ours are my parents, then Dr. S's brother and SIL.)

Anonymous said...

At least you have life insurance! For us, the decision was clear. We chose the family members who both love Mira the most and who have the resources, mostly emotional resources, to parent her. It helps that she has a cousin in that family who is nine years older and adores Mira. I'd be more nervous about placing her with other family members who have kids more her age. It's hard for us even without adoption because our families aren't close emotionally, culturally, or geographically. We haven't written the document yet, but we've been discussing it at length in the last months and we'll be putting clauses in there about visitation to make clear that we're not choosing one side of the extended family over the other. Good luck! You're right; this is a hard decision even when it seems unlikely--I can't imagine how hard it must be for birth parents.

Motleymommy said...

Well are not alone. We havent done ours either. Not sure really why. It hangs over me sometimes, prolly should hang over me a little more. I dont wanna grow up all the way....

Thrift Store Mama said...

I'm going to put more pressure on you. You HAVE TO MAKE THIS DECISION NOW. NOW !!! And then you have to do a will and e-mail EVERYONE IN YOUR FAMILY AND TELL THEM who it is. I found your blog through Family Rocks: Life of Peg and her blog is about what happens when both parents die and people aren't prepared.

NONE of our family lives locally except for one sister of mine. She was an easy choice of guardian because she lives locally and will raise the girls as we would want them to be raised. She isn't religious, so we asked her to commit to taking the girls to church and religion class weekly and raising them in the faith.

She also isn't married. So, we told her that it didn't matter to us that she wasn't married but that if she was in a serious relationship with someone who we didn't think would be a good father figure, we would mention it once and never speak of it again. But if she married that person, we would likely choose a different guardian. I simply can't imagine that my sister would ever choose someone whom we didn't adore, but I wanted to put that out there.

It is really, really hard to be a single parent and raise a child and there is a distinct possibility that she will never marry. So, hubby and I have a RIDICULOUS amount of term life insurance and a small amount of whole life insurance. My sister will be able to buy a house, quit her job, pay for the girls college, and hire part-time childcare help. O

One of the things that makes me saddest about Family Rocks: Life of Peg is that her sister and BIL's death (and Peg's "adoption" of two of her nieces) has put her family under significant financial strain.

When my BIL and his wife asked us to be guardians to their children, they had a discussion with us about what they would expect and then asked us if we could agree to that. We just followed that same model.

I do have several friends, though, for whom this is a major issue.

Good luck figuring it out.

Logical Libby said...

We have a will, we just haven't signed it. Like you we just can't decide who we want our kids with. I think it's because, at heart, we only want them with us.

gailcanoe said...

My husband and I have a will, yet we have no children. We did inherit some money from a relative and wanted to ensure that the money would go to our nieces and nephews if something were to happen to us, hence the will.

We are also listed as the godparents for two different children from two different families. We are friends with both families and they each chose us to parent their child in the event that they couldn't do so. However, we made sure that the parents knew that they can change their mind and name other caregivers at any time and that we'd be okay with that.

When I was a kid growing up, my parents changed their will at least 3 times. The first person that we were to go to was a grandparent, however as the grandparent aged, my parents revised it to be our aunt and uncle. Then, the last revision before we were grown and out of the house listed local friends that were like family so that we could stay in the community and finish high school.

The ability to change your will when you want is key. What is best and most appropriate for our god-children now may not be the best option when they are older and have a closer relationship to the parents of their friends or to relatives that live elsewhere then they do to us. However, we would gladly take on either (or both) of those kids any day and we promised to keep those kids in contact with their parents' families so that they would know their roots/culture.