Selfishly I Cling to My Selfishness

That should really read shellfishly, right? Or maybe I should have gone the humble route and titled it “selflessly, I cling to my selfishness”. It is selfless of me to cling to it. Who else would sacrifice for my poor selfishness? Only one as selfless as me.

I am the oldest of five siblings. The first to be married, first to graduate college, fist to start balding, going grey, getting fat. All these firsts, yet I was not the first to have children. I married Sheryl on August 20, 1993. We knew before deciding to marry that having our own biological children was not possible and while there was some disappointment, we figured that sooner or later we would adopt a child, maybe two.

Honestly, I was sort of relieved we would not be having children anytime soon. I liked having the freedom to do most of the things I wanted to do. We were both very young, both still in school, trying to figure out this whole adult thing and our places in the universe. No one is ever really ready to be a parent (though many of us think we know everything there is to know about raising children, whether we have any or not), but I felt particularly unprepared and unwilling.

Mostly, I was selfishly content with my life. I worked part time while going to school and spent most of my weekends and free time with my wife and extended family. We could take vacations at a whim, never really worrying about much of anything. We talked from time to time about adoption, but our inquiries revealed the expense of such things and often that was a huge deterrent. We were happy most of the time, just the two of us, doing our thing and as the years went by, I started to be more convinced that we were never going to have any children. We were thrilled to be the awesome aunt and uncle that always had time for our siblings children, bringing gifts for birthdays and Christmas, always getting what the kids wanted. It was a fun time.

Sometime around 2006 the both of us started getting the itch, a feeling that we needed more in terms of our family. We were much better off financially then we had been ten years previous and the adoption costs seemed much more reasonable and affordable. Sheryl started looking at adoption sites. We decided that neither of us wanted to adopt an infant. That was work we didn’t want. Sleepless nights and diapers did not make either of us excited. We were also determined to adopt only one child, see how that went, then pursue another adoption if it felt right.

Our research and conversations led is to the Utah Foster Care Foundation, and the foster-to- adopt program. We took parenting classes ( I recommend them for any parent, foster, adoptive, biological), that really opened our eyes to what some children have to deal with. They prepared us for the worst of the worst situations-massive physical and emotional abuse, attachment disorders, emotional outbursts, all kinds of scenarios. More than that, they taught us how kids think, how they react and respond, how they might view the world.

We were foster certified in the spring of 2007 and waited patiently and fearfully for a placement. Just after we took our last vacation alone (to San Francisco), we received a phone call. Twin boys, age 7 were being moved from one form of foster care to a more permanent placement. We weren’t sure we were ready for two but it felt right and we decided to go for it.

Dylan and Destry were placed with us and though there was still a strong possibility they would be reunited with their birth mother, we were ready to have them join our family. We adopted them on July 9, 2008

But I am rambling and telling such a long story when what I wanted to get at was my reaction to those buster boys.

While I instantly had affection for them, I had been married and basically living on my own for 14 years. I had no one to worry about by myself. My stuff was my stuff, and the few things Sheryl and I had in common were easily shared. When it came to those boys, it was very hard to share anything. The TV was mine. The video game console was mine. The movies were mine. The house was mine. All of it.

Those 14 years had taken their toll in terms of my nature. It was the hardest thing in the world to allow my boys access to things that I felt were mine alone. I would buy things from the store and hide them away. It was actually quite ridiculous and looking back I shake my head and can’t help but laugh at myself.

Strange enough, it was only time that made sharing those things easier, not the act of sharing. As they acquired their own possessions, the need to share mine diminished. I did learn to be less controlling with the television and with some other things. I still have my own video game console and they have theirs. They even have their own dvd player and TV. I rarely hide treats from them anymore and we have found our own family balance between privacy and openness. It’s not perfect, but no family is.

One thing I try to not be selfish with is my attention and time. My parents always had time for me and my questions, and while I am often silly and sarcastic with them, I take what my boys say and think very seriously.

I still miss being able to take off for a week with Sheryl, just the two of us. I guess unlike many couples, we know what living alone together is like. I know what we are missing and can’t wait to experience that all again. It will not be the same, though. The boys will always be in the back of my mind. They are all wound up in everything and though it’s different, it is good.

About fenster

There are some who call me, Tim?

One response to “Selfishly I Cling to My Selfishness”

  1. Sheila M. Carty says :

    I love your honesty about your feelings, Ryan, and I also love how this story ended. My wonderful grandsons fit perfectly into this family, like they were “born that way.” Love you and Sheryl, Dylan and Destry forever! 🙂

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