Today I went to a reunion of sorts. It was a Boy Scout function my Dad was in charge of, a training for a backpacking trip to Philmont. Philmont is a high adventure camp in Cimmaron, New Mexico. Within the camp is a major mountain ridge that belongs to the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range and has a famous landmark called the Tooth of Time that the settlers used on the Santa Fe Trail. In fact, you can still see the ruts from the wagon wheels in the valley there.
In 2005, my Dad convinced me to go on a trek with him. We did a 7 day, 75 mile, backpacking trek through the camp. In fact, I hiked the entire length of the ridge line pictured above. We went with a crew of 12 and all made it back, mostly in one piece. It was one of the most defining weeks of my life but the time leading up to the trip was critical. We trained. We practiced. We did group outings to shake out the group dynamics and for 7 days we relied entirely on our map, a compass, and each other. At the time, it was one of the hardest things I had ever done. At the end of the trip I was changed. I had a new appreciation for nature and a new confidence in myself. I had LITERALLY climbed a mountain and came over the other side of it.
Two years later I was married, and had experienced a lay off, unemployment, and the beginning of a very deep depression.
Five years later I was beginning the process of becoming a foster parent.
While driving to the reunion, I realized that I was driving the same route we used to take for court for the Fab Four. I became aware that by that point in the route, I was usually in full anxiety mode, near panic. Tonight, I was at peace. And I couldn't help but think of the distance we've covered as foster parents or the visual of foster care as a mountain we've hiked over and come out the other side.
We trained for this mountain too. I would argue we got the most useful training while we were already "on the trail". But we learned none the less. And like Philmont, we came back mostly in one piece.
Philmont is no joke. Neither is foster parenting.
As I walked into the reunion shelter, I was greeted by a few of the crew members that were on the trek with us and other Scouting friends of the family who have known me nearly all my life. Each of them ready with hugs and hearty congratulations on the near finalization of the adoption. Once again, I felt at peace.
My kids are really going to be my kids forever and I am eager for that day to finally be here!