So, Erwin and I are heading off on our first overseas vacation just the two of us. Though I'm looking forward to going and have made all the arrangements for the care of the kids while we're gone, we haven't yet completed the one task I feel pressured to do. We haven't taken care of the legal paperwork to ensure our kids are secure in the case something should happen and we should both die.
There are numerous reasons for this. First, I don't even want to consider dying, let alone leaving my children parentless. Second, I'm not entirely sure what I need to do legally. And third, our situation is so completely complicated, Erwin and I cannot come to a decision as to who to name as our children's guardians. Neither of us feel confident naming any of our friends or family members as guardians for our kids. It's not that we don't trust family members, and it's not that we don't think they'd keep our kids best interests at heart. But in this place where we have to make a choice of guardians for our children, to place their entire future in another's hands, is overwhelming and we feel completely and utterly alone. Not just me, not just him, but both of us. It's something we agree non regarding this subject of which we've discussed frequently the past number of weeks.
A typical choice would be our parents. One set or the other. However, both of our parents are aging and not in the best of health and we don't feel that we should strap them with the care of our children. When I see and hear how tired they are just keeping them for short visits, whether a day or a month, I know we cannot put the responsibility of raising our boys on them. They are simply too old to have to raise a young family again, and add an autistic child with special needs to the mix and it seems impossible.
We live in one country, my family lives in another (in which Jari has never named America home and it would be so difficult to take away all that is comfortable and normal to him in the face of losing his parents as well), and Erwin's family lives in yet another country. The logistics of this are daunting. Legally, there would be thousands of hurdles.
Our siblings would be another logical choice. However, we don't feel that saddling our brothers and sister with our kids is a possibility. Erwin's sister has chosen not to have children because she doesn't want them. We can't force someone who doesn't even want kids to take on the responsibility of our boys. My one brother and I don't have a strong relationship (though it has gotten better over the past year, it's not a relationship I could comfortably place my children) and we don't agree with their parenting choices, as they vary so greatly from our own. My youngest brother, though I love him dearly, I can't see him and his family being able to deal with all the conflicts that come with raising Kaeden. We know that all of our siblings would do the best they can for our boys, but we can't find any of them the best choice for our kids.
Friends: I have a number of close friends with whom we have considered. Some are our age, but have no children. Some are just not financially or mentally stable enough. Some we don't know well enough, others we don't think they'd be able to handle the addition of our boys. Other Family: There should be options here, but as we go through the list, the options seem to dwindle away. One of our main choices due to lifestyle, parenting choices, and knowing the boys would be loved and well cared for, is negated due to the acceptance of marijuana use in the home, which we don't feel right subjecting our children to.
Kaeden's autism certainly plays a major role in our difficulty with choosing. His autism creates additional financial and emotional burdens in which people would have to be able to accept and deal with. I sincerely do not know many people who could have this stress added to their lives and be okay with it. I need to know, without a doubt, that he would be loved and accepted and helped, and I don't know where to find that within or outside of our family, in the face of looking at a lifetime. Because with Kaeden, it is a lifetime, and not just until he's old enough to move out of the house like it would be for Jari.
Yesterday, as Erwin and I sat talking this through over coffee at the kitchen table, we both fell silent when Erwin suddenly commented that maybe the best would be for our children to become wards of the court and be placed in a foster family who would come to accept and love them as their own. We wouldn't burden others and the boys would be cared for. But we all know how fostering works and how children get thrown from place to place.
In the face of losing their parents, I don't want my children to also lose the love of family, close friends, and the comforts they have known their entire lives. I just cannot fathom what to do, and I am totally stressed about this decision. Most likely, we will never have to use our choice, most likely our children will not lose their parents...but the possibility does exist. What are we supposed to do? How can we make a decision that concerns not only the future of our kids, but of whoever takes on this responsibility? How can we ensure they will be loved? How can we ensure they remain together as brothers and don't lose parents, home and a brother?
I don't like having to consider this. But it's one of those jobs we signed up for without knowing it when we made the choice to become parents. And I believe that it's the least we can offer our children, ensuring them their security, if it does come to play in our lives. Now, how, where, and most importantly, WHO?