Friday, July 18, 2014

The visit is still on

Nothing happened today. Daisy will still leave tomorrow night to spend 47 hours with her mom. I believe Mr. CW is popping in this weekend. But for the most part, these visits are unsupervised. 

So, for now, nothing is changing. We will see what happens next week. Court is only a month away and I'm sure it is going to be very interesting. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vague booking

OK...it seems my vague booking has sparked a lot of interest.

I feel like I need to be VERY careful with what I post. That's why I MIGHT go private. I still haven't decided yet. I'm a creature of habit and I don't really want to mess with my blog and FB settings. I want to keep on blabbering like I have been for years.

I promise, if I go private I'll invite y'all along.

It seems everyone wants to know what happened today.
I'm not private yet so I guess I'll spill a little.

Last week Kori, Daisy's mom, had some difficulties describing Daisy's condition to the doctor when we were there for a follow-up. I passed along this information to both Mr. CW and Daisy's lawyer. These difficulties describing Daisy's condition point to Kori's level of denial.

Kori also felt the need to defend Bio Dad to the doctor.
And to Mr. CW for the hundred millionth time.

Denial...more than just a river in Egypt.

Daisy's lawyer wants to stop the weekend visits immediately.

Also, CPS is under the authority of a new head-head-honcho (HHH). The last HHH left to explore new employment opportunities with all the undocumented children crossing the border daily where I live. The last HHH is the one that changed the concurrent goal in Daisy's case to family reunification. Neither Mr. CW or his supervisor were in favor of this concurrent goal change but they couldn't do anything about it. The HHH made the switch back in March.

Well...Daisy's case just got staffed with the new HHH this week. The new HHH is VERY upset with all the things that have gone "wrong" in Daisy's case so far. She insists that the primary goal in this case remain relative conservatorship. She is not in favor of reunification at all. In fact, if the judge won't let them play with that primary goal, she wants to change the goal in the case to termination.

Keep in mind there are NO relatives stepping forward or approved to take Daisy permanently. Relative conservatorship (in Texas) means that a family member assumes full guardianship of the child but parental rights are not terminated. However, the guardianship is permanent unless the bio parent hires a lawyer to fight to get their kid back at a later date. It's also called PMC (permanent managing conservatorship).

I was officially asked today if we would consider being an adoptive resource for Miss Daisy.

I answered that we lean more toward "yes" than toward "no" when it comes to adoption.

Internet safety

Daisy is the first cherub I've had with a bio parent that actively uses the internet.

Due to some recent events that have happened and are brewing, I think I need to bring this blog down.

I'm incredibly concerned that Kori will stumble across things and I could get in foster care trouble. I use fake names but I am just a wee bit of a blabbermouth.

I don't want to be done blogging. I enjoy the community and support. And I get a lot of private messages from people considering becoming foster parents thanking me for my brutal honesty.

But I'm a bit afraid that brutal honesty could get me in trouble.

If I disappear, please know that everything is OK. I'm only doing this to protect Daisy and my family from potential problems.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fighting for every service...Part Two

See this post for the first part of the timeline.

I've been trying to get VI (Vision Impairment) services for Daisy since February 20, 2014 when the referral was sent to ECI (Early Childhood Intervention - a division of Easter Seals). I just found out today that the referral has finally been sent to the VI teacher at the schools. Of course, the schools are closed for the month of July so I won't hear anything until August.

But let me back up. Let me fill you in from May 19, 2014, when I left off on the other timeline.

On May 19, I had just spoken with Daisy's ECI case manager about the $50 fee the eye doctor wanted to fill out that super special form stating Daisy's visual impairment. She assured me she would talk to her supervisor about it and get back with me.

June came and went and the ECI case manager never called me or came to the home for her (required) monthly visit. I did see the Specialized Skills Trainer though on June 5. She encouraged me to call her supervisor and leave a message.

I called and left a message.
No reply.
I called back and left a very strongly worded message.

The supervisor finally called me back mid-month. She did some song and dance and tried to make it seem like all this was normal. I laid in to her pretty hard. I expressed the fact that the ONLY reason I wanted ECI involved with Daisy was because of these VI services. I expressed my concerns about how long this process had taken. I reminded her that I started this process in February and it was already four months later and nothing had happened at all concerning VI services.

The supervisor continued to sing and dance. When I hung up I didn't really feel like any progress had been made.

Sometime toward the end of the month the supervisor did call me back to tell me that they had finally gotten a purchase order approved for the $50 so this super special form could get filled out.

I just got a phone call this afternoon from Daisy's ECI case manager. She said they had received the super special form from the eye doctor and she had passed it along to the school district so Daisy could be referred for VI services. This case manager told me she left information with at least three different people in the school district.

The school district is closed for the month of July.
The case manager's last day with ECI is the 31st of this month.
I have to pray that someone does something because I don't have the name and number of the new case manager for Daisy nor do I have a name and number for any of the VI specialists in the school district.

It's going to take over six months to get these services started. In my opinion that is completely unacceptable. And I know I'll be lucky if anything actually starts in August.

You have to fight for every single service a special needs child requires.  It is exhausting.

Give a special needs parent a hug the next time you see them. Trust me. They need it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

the truth about travel

Traveling with foster kids has become a sore spot with me over the years here in Texas. The program definitely doesn't function how it's advertised!

Three summers ago, 2011, we had Pumpkin only. The first time we wanted to travel with her we had planned on taking her camping for two whole nights. It was a complete fiasco. (There are several posts detailing the whole story. Post one. Post two. Post three.) Basically, I was told "no" on the travel for several different reasons including Pumpkin's health and Bio Mom's opposition to the travel.

I believe respite should be readily available for foster parents to use if it fits their needs. But for me, I want to include my foster kids in ALL our activities. That means I want permission to bring all my kids with me. Well, that camping trip three years ago got cancelled. We ended up putting Pumpkin in respite and we went to an amusement park instead (something Pumpkin could not have participated in anyway). It made me mad though. So incredibly mad.

Things didn't get any better. On June 15, 2011 Dude and Dolly entered into our lives. Our vacation to Iowa had been planned and we weren't going to take any placements. But the cherubs needed us. We were the only home available. I was told if they didn't come to us they were going to be put in a shelter in Dallas. They were 2 and 3 when they came. I couldn't imagine sending babies to a shelter that far away from home!!

Come July that year though, and no way no how were we going to get permission to travel with Dude and Dolly. Sure, they had just been placed with us. Their world was completely upside down. Mom wasn't making a single visit. They needed us!! But travel outside the state?! Hell no would that even be considered!!! I was forced to put them in respite because I wasn't going to deny my forever kids the vacation they had been promised.

Summer 2012
The summer from Hell.
The investigation.
We went to Iowa after the kids had been taken from us. It was on the drive home that I got the phone call clearing us of any wrong-doing. 

Summer 2013
Pumpkin had moved on. Dude and Dolly weren't having any visits. I had enough time to get permission and, Praise God, it was granted. We got to take the cherubs to Iowa for Cousins Camp. We had a blast!!!

Summer 2014...

I knew asking to travel was a complete long shot. Daisy gets visits. Travel is always complicated when visits are involved because my schedule is supposed to completely revolve around all visits. And, considering the big picture, these visits are a top priority and they should be factored in. I get that.

But I took that long-shot and I asked Mr. CW if there would be any way at all that I could bring Daisy with me to Iowa so TT and Bart could attend Cousins Camp.

Mr. CW is awesome. He went to bat for me and really pled my case to his supervisor. But because the trip takes us out of state, and because Daisy would miss one weekend with her mom, he couldn't get an answer. At best, Mr. CW said, we could ask Kori for permission. If she granted permission for Daisy to travel, he'd try to get the lawyers and judge to agree. But without her permission, it would be no go for sure!

I worked it into a text conversation with Kori. She asked questions about where and for how long and then said she would "have to pray about it".

I gave Kori a few days and then said I needed to begin making preparations. She told me that she "didn't have a peace about it" and wouldn't grant permission for Daisy to travel with me out of state.

And this is where I get my britches in a bunch. Yes, Kori has been working her case plan. Yes, based on how this case is currently being handled, Kori deserves to see her daughter. But in the grande scheme of things, this affects 47 hours of Kori's life.

I told Kori I had three options:
  1. Put Daisy into respite care where she would stay with strangers so I could go on vacation with my kids.
  2. Not go on vacation with my kids. Instead, get permission (from CPS) to travel with Daisy to the border of Texas where I will drop TT and Bart off with my mom who will then bring them the rest of the way.
  3. Disrupt this placement and go on vacation.
I honestly considered all three options very seriously.

I went round and round. In the end, even though it's not what is best for me, I chose option Number Two because that is what is best for Daisy. I don't have a deep support system locally and I don't have anyone that is approved for respite care in my circle of friends. I couldn't bring myself to place her with strangers. I've met enough of the foster families around here to know that I just wouldn't be comfortable with that. Not to mention the fact that my agency is having a Hell of a time finding respite care so I'd have to take whoever they give me as a willing provider.

I'm not thrilled with this decision. I hate the fact that Kori is totally OK with placing her daughter with strangers for 11 days versus keeping her in the safe, loving foster home she's in now. I had to laugh, but Kori asked me three times if it would be OK for her to just take Daisy while we are on vacation. She simply doesn't understand why her daughter is in foster care and honestly believes that she should just be able to take her if I'm going out of town. I believe she even filed a formal request for this with her own lawyer. If this request makes it off of Kori's lawyer's desk, it will be immediately shot down by Daisy's lawyer - I've been told this in no uncertain terms.

But I do believe I'm doing what's in Daisy's best interests. She doesn't need to go stay with strangers. I can't imagine sending a baby to go stay with strangers. And if Daisy does go home in August, just four days after my cherubs return from vacation, we'll turn around and go back to Iowa together sometime this fall. Homeschooled kids can travel whenever they want. But if Daisy stays with us after court, I know that remaining her primary care giver was in her best interests.

They certainly don't make travel sound so complicated in the training sessions though. Respite sounds easy and pleasant. And those glossy brochures talk about giving kids opportunities to experience things they wouldn't get to otherwise. It's a shame that the reality of what I'm allowed to do with my foster kids has to be so different.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The magic rattle

I'm pretty sure all my readers know how Daisy got in the developmental condition that she's in. The story I've been told is that Bio Dad tripped over a baby bouncer and dropped her. Then, when she didn't respond, he shook her a couple times. Then he performed CPS incorrectly.

That story doesn't match up at ALL with the level of damage done in Daisy's brain.
  1. She has a broken rib that had healed before the injury happened that brought her in to Care.
  2. Her retinas detached. Even though they have reattached
    and her eyeballs themselves are healthy, she suffers from cortical visual impairment.
  3. She had severe bleeding in the brain, has had multiple cranitotomies,
    and has a VP shunt installed.
  4. She is significantly developmentally behind.
Daisy has been in our home for 6.5 months. In those 6.5 months I have "gotten used to" Miss Daisy. In general, she is relatively easy to care for (especially now that we have the muscle spasms that were complicating her sleep taken care of). Coordinating all the therapies and doctor appointments is just part of life. Special needs is no walk in the park. But it's our life right now.

Just the other day, during occupational therapy, it struck me once again about how far behind Daisy is though. Two grown women (the OT and me) were down on the floor putting Daisy in the quadruped position (up on all fours) and then literally moving her arms and legs for her to simulate crawling. In order for Daisy to learn each physical milestone, we have had to put Daisy into position and then move her body for her. Over and over. And over and over. And over and over. (wash. rinse. repeat.) We have to put her muscles into position and then train them all over again. I can't count how many times we put Daisy in the sitting position and held her there, putting her arm down to simulate how she should prop herself up, before she could do it on her own. And she was put in the quadruped position probably 1000 times before she stopped complaining about it and can now get in that position on her own. Therapy has advanced to moving her arms and legs for her so she will eventually learn to crawl on her own.

Babies shouldn't have to be taught how to crawl like this.

But Daisy's brain doesn't work the way it should.

This is our life.

I sat in my living room the other day with another shaken baby survivor. A friend of mine (in real life) fostered when she lived where I do. She has since moved further north and ended up being placed with a relative's baby that had been injured severely. She is back down here visiting family and friends and I was thrilled she stopped by to see us! Little J is exactly one day younger than Miss Daisy. He was shaken about a month before Daisy was. His medical records confirm that he was shaken multiple times. (The scarring on his brain and eyes are indicative of multiple abuses.)

Little J barely knows that his arms and legs exist. He can't sit up. He can barely hold his head up. He's more visually impaired than Daisy is as he really doesn't track objects at all. I felt a level of "survivor's guilt" because Daisy is so much farther along than he is.

It's amazing how different the services Little J is receiving are compared to Daisy's. He's really being shortchanged in the therapy department. His mamma is fighting hard to get him in to a new pediatrician and hopefully private therapies. I did my best to show her things that we were taught to do with Miss Daisy.

One of the things I did was explain how you have to teach the muscles what to do by doing it for them. Since Little J is so incredibly far behind, we talked about teaching Little J to roll over. Start with the head and push it to the side. Then touch the shoulder and push it a little. Eventually, touch the hips and give a gentle push, if necessary, so the body will roll over. Then you position the arms under the head to help him hold his trunk up a little. Tickle the back of his neck to get him to lift his head up. Always start each movement by touching the muscles you want the baby to activate. This tactile stimulation will help them learn what to do after you repeat the motion many, many times.

Then I got out my very favorite rattle. This rattle is 17 years old. I couldn't even tell you where it came from. But there's something special about it. It's the first rattle any baby in my home, ever, has held. It's balanced perfectly. It's the right diameter. It's just perfect.
Now, I think it's magic.

I had put every rattle we own in Daisy's hands when she first came. I'd put the toy in her hands, wrap her fingers around it and then pray that she would hang on. At best she'd move her arm once or twice and the toy would simply drop out.

Then one day in February, while my parents were visiting, my mom got some toys out for Daisy while she was in the high chair. My mom put the magic rattle in Daisy's hand and she held on. I remember getting all choked up. Daisy was holding on to a rattle. She kept it in her hand for over a minute. It was awesome!!

I knew I had to get that rattle out for Little J. As he was lying on the floor I took his hand and opened up his tight fist. I put the rattle in and closed his hand around the middle. Little J hung on.

His mamma teared up. This was the first time Little J had ever held on to anything.

I know that feeling.

14 month old babies shouldn't have to be taught how to hold on to a rattle.

So consider this my Public Service Announcement.
If you're tired, stressed or otherwise unable to handle your infant's crying, screaming or whatever....put that baby down in a safe place and WALK AWAY. Just walk away!

No baby should have to go through this.
(Little J took that rattle home with him.)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ricky went home this afternoon

CPS came for Ricky at 3:00pm sharp. Same as Wispy - no fanfare. No emotion. No nothing. I didn't have to sign anything. All I had to do was hand her Ricky's "education binder" and that was it.

But the difference between this Friday and last Friday?

Ricky can come back and visit any time.

In fact, Ricky drove my car over to his home with Rebecca and CPS followed him. Herman went along to help Ricky move. (Ricky has a LOT of stuff!!)

Ricky and Herman made their way back here about an hour later. Rebecca gave permission for Herman to stay the night so they loaded up the car again and took off. Ricky will bring Herman, and the car, back in the morning sometime.

It hardly feels like Ricky is gone yet. He'll be back in the morning. And he's already asked to stay the night on July 4th because he and Herman are going to a concert together.

I'm so happy for Ricky! This is the kind of happy ending I've been waiting for. Foster care has been beating me up lately. I'm glad I got to be a part of Ricky's life....even if he never really needed to be in foster care at all. He survived and I am blessed as a result.