Once again, thank you all so, so much for your kind words and wonderful wishes, especially for Naomi's well-being. And thank you for worrying about our welfare too!
I really have to say that Gary and I do not feel like angels. We are terrified. Since we've been married, we've had the good fortune to act like newlyweds for the past 11 years. We made a conscious decision not to have our own children, and we never planned to adopt any. We have never had to share our affection - and not a whole lot of our time, either, as we're business partners - with anyone else. The addition of cats and TCS into our/my life was about the biggest adjustment we've ever had to make as a couple, lol!
But we told Naomi last night, when we all confirmed again we want to try to make this work as a family relationship, that if she disappears into the city and doesn't contact us, we're not going out to look for "someone else" to adopt. We don't know what it is, and our heads are coming up with the millions of things that can, will or might go wrong - but our hearts insist we continue. Like Gary says so often that it's the motto in my signature line, there are a million reasons why something can't be done - you just need one why it can.
As to emotional investment - it's already too late. If the tests come back positive, and we're only here to be with her so that she's got family to be with while she dies, we will be complete wrecks. In the long run I'm sure that would be the easiest path, because the only pain that needs to be dealt with is the pain of loss, not the ongoing pain of struggling through life with a former physically and emotionally abused homeless heroine addict.
No, the hardest thing will be if she isn't HIV or AIDS positive, and she does make it through detox. That's when the real struggle begins, and we do know that. As to whether we're actually prepared for that or not, I'm sure we're not. Thankfully the detox program we've chosen requires intense on-going family therapy. This we chose intentionally because we are aware that the real work begins once she's not physically addicted to heroine. And we come up short against others in the same program - we have to learn how to be a family on top of it all. She certainly doesn't know how to be part of a family, let alone a how to be a little girl. And she will regress. It will be like having a newborn in the house, and I'm sure we're not prepared for that either. Unfortunately, for better or worse, we're aware that the way people function is that "what we know" is almost always what's most comfortable. I don't remember the movie it's from, but it's one of my favorite lines: "We fear change."
Gary and I have already discussed that the first time she runs away to score, we'll deal with that in therapy and as a family. The second time it happens, we have to move. We can't be near NYC. Not that there aren't drugs available everywhere, and not that she can't run away from anywhere and get herself back to NYC. My point is that we've already decided the level of commitment we're willing to make, and it's not as people helping out a drug dependent kid, it's as parents, whatever we get in return - because that's what happens when you have biological children.
Gary is a classic example. Gary was a heroine addict (among other things - he says it's easier to just say he was an intravenous drug addict) from the age of 11 y-o to 14 years old. The other night (it could have been two days ago, it could have been five days ago - days and nights and time are VERY blurry right now) Naomi was in the city scoring. She called on her way. After procuring and sampling her purchase, she called and said in a whisper we could barely hear "I don't feel very well. I really don't feel well. I think it was bad stuff. I can't take this anymore, my heart can't take it," and we heard her vomiting and she dropped the phone. "NAOMI - CAN YOU GET TO A HOSPITAL? NAOMI - WHERE ARE YOU? WE WANT TO CALL AN AMBULANCE." She picks the phone back up. We repeat the message. "No, don't call an ambulance. I'm not going to tell you where I am, just let it end, I'm not worth it...." and the phone drops again, this time it's dead. We have no idea where she is, we have no idea where she goes - other than that it's somewhere on the lower east side. She's got lots of squats. It was just before midnight. The minute that phonecall started, we were getting dressed. By the time it ended, we were in the car on our way. We had no idea where we were going. We had no idea if she was telling the truth, perhaps what she thought was the truth - or just testing us, as we've been told to expect. None of that mattered. We were in the City in 40 minutes (usually takes an hour and 10 minutes. Thank God we managed not to get a ticket!). We sent text messages of how to contact us in an emergency so that anyone who found her - if the phone was with her - could contact us. We left her voice and text messages all along the way. We stopped for coffee, waited half an hour, then got in the car and headed home. Gary was in wracking sobs the whole way home. The very idea of having to identify her body brought up so much stuff for him. He was in the Israeli army during the Lebanon war, and out of 25 guys in his original unit, five survived, and he had to identify 11 of them, and was responsible for notifying 9 of the families - in person.
About one minute after we walked in the door, she called, sounding really stoned. She was in NJ. (That means that she woke up within a half an hour, got herself to Port Authority (if she wasn't already there), caught the next bus to NJ, and a cab to the hotel). She had just arrived at the motel room of other two. She didn't remember what she'd said, but she thought she ought to let us know she was OK because she was pretty sure she said something that might have scared us, she didn't really remember, and her cellphone ran out of battery, so she couldn't call. (We keep reminding her she can use a payphone to call collect - but she's right about that. There are very few payphones on the streets anymore. They're inside of places - like hotel lobbies and bars, and they won't let her in those places). Gary really did want to know if she was telling the truth, and as he's made friends with the entire front-desk staff of the motel, he did call to ask if a short skinny red-headed girl had recently walked through the lobby. The front-desk staff all know what the story is with the other two, but they don't know Naomi per se. It turns out that she had just arrived.
She was speechless when she learned we'd just gotten back from the city. She broke down crying hysterically. "You'd do that for me?" She couldn't get over it. So - was it a subconscious test? Did her cellphone really run out of battery? (It is difficult for a homeless person to charge a cellphone. Not all the squats have electricity). It doesn't matter. (Although it was very strange for Gary to feel relieved that his daughter had actually ODed instead of finding out that she'd been safe in a motel room in NJ all along - how weird is life getting for us?) What transpired upped the stakes, and raised her awareness as to our level of commitment. And if anything's going to help her find the motivation to want to get off the drugs, it's knowing there's a life outside of drugs because there are people who care, and there's a safe alternative
BTW - we cannot commit her. She's not a minor. And this private clinic will not accept her unless she calls to schedule her admittance, so there is no "forcing" her to quit and enter detox.
So the first thing Gary did the next morning was call his mom. They've already had these apology discussions, but now it's different. What he did to her is happening to him! He was saying - but at least I never called and said I was dying and wouldn't tell you where I was! And she said well.... and she related to him about seven different experiences he didn't remember. She reminded him of things he stole from her to foot the bill. Well - not reminded so much as informed him of these incidents. Anyway, this is certainly functioning to help bring Gary and his mom closer together. So if there's nothing else to be thankful for out of all of this, there's that.
Also, Gary's sister was a drug addict, and we went through hell and back with her. She lied, stole from us and his mother, used all of us, and then died of cancer she didn't know she had because the drugs prevented her from feeling the pain. We've been through that cycle of commitment, betrayal and loss. (Though honestly by then, though I'm ashamed to say it, it was basically a relief).
We have already done a background check, although that was really at our lawyer's insistence more than a real desire to know the truth. It really doesn't matter whether she was lying or not - heroine addicts (or addicts in general) will - or are capable of - saying and doing anything to obtain what they need to get that next fix, as Gary himself knows from experience. And as she's not a minor, whether her parents really were dead or not doesn't affect her ability to be legally adopted. But again - that her story checked out simply confirmed for us that perhaps she really does want a chance at a new life. I think this little girl is desperate to be safe, and I think she's desperate to just be cared for. Not that it was a thought in her mind as a possibility until we came along - but we've been doing our darndest to show her it's an option and that she has a choice. Whether or not she can "take" all that comes with that is different. There's just no way to know.
Fortunately, though Gary and I do have a lot of "things," we aren't people who are attached to those things. We have already taken steps to protect our personal financial information. Not that she can't break into a locked closet, but... and of course we'd be angry, hurt and feel betrayed (and I'm sure that's an understatement) if she were to disappear having stolen X, Y, and Z - but thankfully, unlike Gary's mom who essentially defines herself through her things, both Gary and I have "shed" just about everything we owned several times in life.
As to right now, Naomi hasn't seen anything but pictures of our home and doesn't know where we live. If she follows through with her commitment to check into rehab, then she comes home. We go shopping, and she gets to decorate her room and purchase a wardrobe. Gary's mom is jumping for joy that she finally gets to spend money on someone (we actually had to ban her from sending stuff to us, because it's just too much!) - not that she can afford it either, but it's so wonderful she wants to help.
Although this morning we did actually start discussing bringing her home tonight. Perhaps the reality of "home" might help her make the decision to pick up the phone after her appointment tomorrow and book herself into the clinic where we've got a bed waiting for her through Friday. We'll see.
So.... the appointment to find out the test results is Wednesday at 11:00am. (That's tomorrow, right?) We don't know yet whether or not Naomi wants us to be with her or just be waiting for her. I really hope she'll let us be there with her. There's only two ways out of that office, so if we're not invited to be with her, at least we can man the exits.
She was in the City again last night, and the three of us talked on the phone for an hour as she traveled to meet her connection. The one thing she has been consistent about - except that one night - is staying in touch. She was going to get up "early" this morning and come out to NJ after taking care of business, so to speak (early is 11:00am) - and not head over to see her friends, but let us pick her up from the bus and get her her own room in a different hotel. She requested that. We were going to get adjoining rooms so she didn't have to be alone if she didn't want to be (and so we could keep an eye on her), and that was going to be a surprise. We'll see what happens. (We're not just taking things one day at a time right now, we're down to one minute at a time, lol!) But she text messaged us at 5:32am to say that she wouldn't be able to call until after 3:00pm today. We immediately text-messaged back to say that was fine, we'd talk to her then. (Of course Gary was weeping again, because she signed the text message "Sunshine," which is what he's been calling her).
So.... we have no idea what's going to happen. But she's basically been straight with us, and I think her desire is genuine. We just don't know if she has the strength of will.
I will look into the book White Oleander. I've never heard of it. For her birthday, I gave her my copy of Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you all for your prayers, good wishes, support, sharing, warning, helping - all of it. Thank you.