May 5, 2010. I learn tonight that my sister and her husband are heading to the Galapagos Islands on Friday. A bit of a last minute trip, she tells me. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous. Those kinds of adventures are completely outside the realm of possibility for us, now and forever. But I do wish them a safe and exciting journey. Looking through the reams of photos once they return hopefully will help quell my unfulfilled wanderlust. Lots of people my age are anchored right now to home, soccer games, and dance recitals, there’s nothing unusual about that, we have young children after all, it’s just that Pat and I may never again have an indulgent moment together, let alone an outright adventure. Our son is a permanent child and my husband turns 62 in June. They say kids with FAS are emotionally and socially half their chronological ages. With luck, that means Peter should have the maturity of a 15 year old by the time he’s 30, about 21 years from now. Too soon to leave him for the Galapagos, though, even if Pat at 83 was still game for the adventure (and we had a penny to spare between us). But that’s all right. I won’t despair. We gambled our futures on two orphans from Russia and now it seems the entire rest of our lives are meant to be about loving, caring for, and where possible, healing them. And that’s not such a bad thing. If I look back at the end of my years and am able to say I’ve done the best by our children that I possibly could, then I believe my life will have had meaning, that my parenting efforts will have been successful. Heavy thoughts for an uneventful hump day, but some nonsense going around a local online group of parents that I belong to has me thinking about what really matters, and what frankly doesn’t. Around the start of the CPS phase in our lives, I naively sought support, even action, from these online folks, many of whom I know personally. They live in our town and their kids attend Peter’s school. But instead of an outpouring of outrage, letter writing, and peaceful protesting in response to our plight, reactions I secretly imagined and yearned for in the deepest recesses of my heart, I found, with a few notable but important exceptions, mere apathy and in some instances, outright annoyance. I suppose this is why I’m feeling a little down right now about our lives, our future, the very choices Pat and I made so that we could experience parenting and the joy of a child’s love within the scope and breath of our marriage. On days like this I feel life with our children, especially Peter, breeds unavoidable isolation and loneliness. People are quick to write letters and attend public meetings when there’s a heated zoning issue or a recent crime wave (usually of stolen bicycles), but asking them to rally around and advocate for the rights of a brain-damaged child yields an entirely different response. Its too sensitive, too messy, definitely too emotional; maybe these same parents worry that even slight involvement might impact the way the school treats their children. The real crime here is that I didn’t realize any of this from the start. These aren’t bad people, not by any stretch. I’m the one who asked too much. Despite occasional and appreciated heartfelt well wishes, we’re on our own, entirely, and always will be. I need to remember that. If only an FAS colony existed for adoptive families like ours, where CPS wasn’t called when you make tough parenting choices for your incredibly tough child, where the school understands the variable and overtaxed brains of our damaged kids, where healthy siblings like Sophie have friends who understand, and where otherwise good neighbors don’t close their blinds to what’s occurring in front of their very eyes. Kind of like a leper colony only without the stigmatized fear of contagion. I’d trade a trip to the Galapagos in a heartbeat for that kind of community. If only it existed.