Monday, January 31, 2011

Mom, I'm too sick to go to school

By and large, I let my kids direct how they feel and how they want to handle things. My oldest has stayed home from school "sick" before. I'm never too concerned. I figure if they want to stay home and be treated like a sick person, oh well. I don't allow an abundance of TV or video games. (They're sick you know. They need their rest.) And in the afternoon, when everyone comes home from school, they have to stay inside. I always call them out on it and let them know that I KNOW they aren't really sick. In the case of my oldest it's always because he's tired. Cherub 2 has high anxiety that looks like he's sick. (He can even work up a fever if he's really stressed.)

Anyway...Cherub 3 woke up this morning convinced that he was sick.

Bart had also had an accident in the middle of the night that required new sheets and all. No one slept well last night! So, I knew that his real problem was that he was tired.

I went through the usual routine. He was instructed to eat some breakfast first. Because there was no vomiting or fever, he was required to eat something so we could assess how "sick" he really was. It was quickly apparent that he was fine. He finished getting ready for school without problems.

In walks Cherub 1. Herman looked at me with the most pathetic face and said that he didn't feel good. I sized him up and down. He had already missed school on Friday because we let him attend a Christian Motorcycle Association rally half-way across the state. He also has an algebra test today - so he really needed to be in school.

So, I said, "Herman. You're tired. You'll live. Go get ready for school."

Bart pipes up from the kitchen, "Yeah Herman. It didn't work for me either."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cherub 3's Tiny Baby Story

Can't leave out Cherub 3!! Here's his story...

Once upon a time there was a mommy and a daddy. And they wanted to have a bigger family. But right then, they were awfully busy with Big Sister M***, Big Brother Herman, Foster Brother Jordan, Baby Brother TT, two dogs (Lucy and Charlie) and a cat named K.C.

Whew!

But...one day the mommy noticed that she was feeling kinda funny. She came home over her lunch hour and took a special test. Mamma said, "whoa!" Mamma said, "whoa!" She showed Daddy the test. "We're having a tiny baby," they said.

They were really excited. Mommy's tummy got bigger and bigger and bigger. And people threw parties for that tiny baby.

We were pretty sure this tiny baby was a boy. We called him Bart.

Then, as it was getting closer to the tiny baby coming, Granny called on the phone. She told the mommy that the tiny baby needed to be born on December 26 because it would work well with her work schedule. The mommy laughed and told her to tell that to Bart. So, mommy put the phone down by her tummy and Granny told Bart when to be born. (...now laugh here about how this is the only time Bart has ever really obeyed)

On Christmas night, Granny and Papa came up to visit everybody. It wasn't supposed to be time for that baby to be born yet (Bart wasn't supposed to come for three more weeks). But, sure enough, while everyone was watching The Sound of Music, mommy felt a funny pop. Momma said, "whoa - the tiny baby is coming".

Mommy asked Granny if she wanted to come to the hospital. Granny said yes. So, Daddy drove Mommy and Granny across the street to the hospital.

It didn't take long. And at 2:30AM, momma said, "whoa" and out shot that tiny baby like a rocket. The doctor put that wiggly little baby up on Mommy's tummy. Mommy and Daddy said, "We'll name him E*** S*** E***. And we love him very much!"

That's not the ending. That's just the beginning!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My compassion is waning

I'm going to put this out there. All that compassion I had for bio mom is waning. I want to think positively. I want to believe her claims of wanting to change. I want to believe that family reunification is the right thing.

But I'm struggling.

Mom came along yesterday to Pumpkin's dental surgery. I swear we discussed that she would bring dinner for Pumpkin at their visit last night. I swear we did.

And I know that I told her how much Pumpkin had eaten yesterday. I called her about an hour before the visit to let her know that Pumpkin was still pretty out of it, but that she had managed to eat 4 oz. of applesauce. That was all she had eaten all day long.

Mom brought some Sprite for Pumpkin. She did not bring anything for Pumpkin to eat. The visit lasted from 5:00PM to 7:00PM. Most normal five year olds eat their supper during that time. Any child that had surgery and was just starting to feel better should have been offered something during that time.

I talked with the CPS worker that supervised the visit. She called her supervisor and had me explain what happened. I was assured that it will be addressed on Monday with Mom.

Then the visit supervisor shared with me that Mom spends the visits on her phone. She barely even interacts with Pumpkin. Instead, Pumpkin spends the visits up on the lap of her 16 year old sister.

Wouldn't you think that a woman who is up on felony charges of abandonment would at least PRETEND to care about her kid on the first week of visits?! I mean really! She hadn't seen her daughter in three weeks! Dontcha think that if she truly did want to change and get her daughter back that she would pretend for at least a few visits?!

The good out of this is that Pumpkin trusts me and my family. Transitions are going OK. You can tell that she wants to be with her mommy, but she's not freaking out when she has to leave to come home with me. It's so sad that Pumpkin has to suffer more to prove what her mom can or cannot do.

Friday, January 28, 2011

You don't do this for the money!

Today has been a long day. I don't know what it is about sitting around and waiting - but it just seems to drain me of all my energy.

Pumpkin had dental surgery this morning. Basically, if you wear scrubs, Pumpkin hates you and will not cooperate with anything. Thus, getting dental treatment in the traditional way isn't possible. She had to be put under general anesthesia to have the full exam performed, x-rays and then all the restoration completed.

Pumpkin got twelve (yes...that's 12!!!) crowns today. There may have been other cavities as well. What a dental disaster. (I've already had a conversation with her mom, who came to the procedure this morning as well, about restricting the juice and other sugary liquids. Of course I'm not counting on anything to change. But I had to say something!)

Pumpkin woke up the absolute crabbiest I've seen her yet. I was told this is very common with kids coming out of surgery. In fact, the little girl next to us in the recovery room was screaming as loud as Pumpkin was. It was very difficult though. Pumpkin wanted her mommy and was stuck with me. The hospital only allows one person back in recovery and mom doesn't have the right for unsupervised visits yet. So - it had to be me.

Pumpkin screamed all the way home. First, she wanted her mommy. Then she wanted her book. Then she dropped her book and screamed and writhed and screamed some more. I pulled over, readjusted her in the car seat and handed her the book back. Of course, in her loopy post-surgery state, she dropped the book again. This time I pulled over, readjusted Pumpkin, took the book from her and put it in the front seat. It didn't stop the screaming but at least she wasn't writhing in her seat trying to get the book on the floor next to the door (ya know - far enough away that I couldn't reach it without stopping and getting out of the van).

Pumpkin seems to be recovering just fine. I hate being the mean mom that keeps making her have to do these things that make her so miserable. But, that's part of parenting. Her mom kept making all kinds of excuses yesterday during the FGC about why Pumpkin didn't have glasses that were prescribed over a year ago, or her vaccines up to date and things like that. I looked her mom in eye and said that part of parenting is doing the hard things - even when our kids don't like it.

It's somewhat exhausting making up for several years of medical neglect. But we're almost there. Then, maybe I can take a breather and not be in the doctor's office multiple times a week.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Family Group Conference

Our Family Group Conference meeting was this afternoon. Basically, this is a meeting where EVERYONE shows up.
  • Bio parents
  • Other family members
  • Lawyers or their representatives
  • The guardian ad litem
  • Foster parent(s)
  • Investigative social worker that opened the case
  • Current social worker managing the case
  • CPS supervisor(s)

You get together around a huge table to go over the basic details of the "story".
  • Hopes/dreams for Pumpkin
  • Family strengths
  • Concerns
  • Why CPS got involved
  • Parent's responsibility concerning education
  • Other needs the child may have
  • Legal timeline
  • ...and some other stuff - but this is where Pumpkin and I were excused

Obviously I got to spend some more time with Pumpkin's mom. I also got to meet her grandmother. The meeting itself was something of a snoozer. Mainly because 90% of the meeting was conducted in Spanish. I believe if I had not been there, they wouldn't have translated anything. As it was, the translation was kept to a minimum. Anyone that spoke in English had to have their answers translated for the grandmother though.

My compassion for mom waned a bit this evening. It was difficult to see her in a positive light when so many things from her past were brought up. Pumpkin has never been in foster care before. But this isn't the first time CPS was involved with the family. Mom also has a criminal background. And, due to the charges being brought up this time around, she will likely face jail time (she's being charged with felony abandonment and medical neglect).

Mom also felt the need to give Pumpkin THREE apple juice boxes during the two hours we were there. That, and a few pieces of chocolate. The candy doesn't bother me! Every kid deserves a little chocolate every now and then. But three boxes of juice?! Not good for her teeth and not good for her digestion. Needless to say I cleaned up the most disgusting diaper blowout of my lifetime. (And I've changed a bunch of diapers over my 39 years of life on this planet.)

Nothing like a bunch of poop to put me in my place.

I didn't handle it well. I got angry at Pumpkin.

And it's not her fault. It really isn't. It's not her fault she's where she's at developmentally. It's not her fault she wears a diaper. It's not her fault she can't communicate.

I'm going to have to remind myself of that a lot. Pumpkin is the victim here. I need to always, always, always show her compassion, understanding and love.

Even when I'm covered in poop.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Special Ed homework continued...

Yesterday, I put a note at the top of Pumpkin's homework page that simply stated, "Pumpkin is not capable of doing any of this homework assignment. As an alternative, I do read to her every day."

Today I got a note back on the sheet that read, "I attached an assignment more appropriate. Pumpkin can still color this page. I wanted to expose her to numbers. Thanks! Mrs. DB"

Really?!

Expose her to numbers?!

Really?!

OK - I've got to climb up on my soapbox here........

Neurotypical children (in general) don't learn a damn thing from worksheets! Worksheets exist to simply determine whether or not a child has mastered a subject. By and large, they are something like a quiz or test. There's no "learning" involved! You can either do them or you can't.

So...let's cover this again. Pumpkin CAN'T.

The "more appropriate" sheet instructed Pumpkin to put polka dots on a picture of a dress. The other side of the page instructed her to finish coloring in the bunch of grapes by drawing circles.

I'll slow this down a bit in case you missed it...
P  u  m  p  k  i  n    c  a  n  n  o  t    u  n  d  e  r  s  t  a  n  d    t  h  i  s.

She has shown progress since coming to my home. She can now identify a bunny along with the kitty, puppy, butterfly and chicken that she already knew. Does she know any other animals? No. Can she say any animal sounds? No. Can she identify any colors? No. Can she identify any shapes? No. Will she name any body parts for you? No.

When it comes to coloring, she can't use a three fingered grasp yet. She holds crayons, pencils, markers, etc. with a fist grip and she just plain scribbles. She isn't aware of the lines of which she's "supposed to" stay inside.

Needless to say, this is a fight I'm not going to participate in. (Love and Logic taught me that I don't have to attend every argument that I'm invited to.) I gave Pumpkin her snack up at the table. When she was finished I handed her a few crayons and the worksheets. I made sure that Pumpkin scribbled something on each page. Then I let her get down to go play with the toys.

....sigh...

Cherub 2's Tiny Baby Story

There are lots of different views about how to tell your children they are adopted. There's the view that the children shouldn't be told. It's just easier this way. If they don't know, then they never have to feel bad about it.

Frankly, that view scares me to death! It always has! But after reading The Primal Wound, by Nancy Verrier, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt how dangerous that approach really is! (Another book I highly recommend for adoptive parents is: Twenty Things Adoptive Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, by Sherrie Eldridge.)

By not telling children their adoption story, you turn adoption into a secret. Something to be embarrassed about. You add more questions than answers. Because, eventually, the children find out. They always find out. Then, not only are they grappling with the whole concept of adoption, but they have to try and rectify why it was kept a secret.

Some adoptive parents decide to tell their children when the kids are "old enough to understand".

I'm not sure when that age would be. So, in my case as an adoptive parent, I wanted to let TT know his adoption story from birth. We began telling him his "Tiny Baby Story" when he was nothing more than a wiggly little toothless baby.

Cherub 2

Once upon a time there was a mommy and a daddy. And they wanted to have a tiny baby.
The mommy tried to get pregnant.
But no babies came. And they waited. And waited. And waited.

Then God told them to become foster parents. At first this isn't what the mommy and daddy wanted to do. But then they obeyed. They took all the classes and got their license.

But no children came. And they waited. And waited. And waited.

So...they got puppies!

Just three weeks later, on Tuesday, October 14, a beautiful baby boy was born. His biological mom and dad made a difficult decision. They decided that they could not parent him. So, they made an adoption plan.

Then...on Wednesday, October 15, Mommy got a phone call at work. The social worker on the phone told Mommy all about this beautiful baby boy. She asked if we would like him to be a part of our family. Mommy said, "YES!! Give me that baby!" The social worker asked if Mommy needed to call and ask Daddy what he thought. Mommy said, "NO!!" Then the social worker told Mommy she had to go to a meeting but that she would call her back.

And Mommy waited. And waited. And waited.

Then, 15 minutes later (the longest 15 minutes of Mommy's life) the social worker called Mommy back. She said a lot of stuff to Mommy but the only thing Mommy heard was where that baby was and when she could go see him. Mommy said, "Whoa!" Mommy said, "Whoa!" Mommy said, "Whoa!" And she fell down on the floor at work and she laughed and she cried because she was so happy.

And that night Mommy, Daddy and Big Brother Herman went to the hospital to meet W*** M*** E***. But that's not the ending...that's just the beginning!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When No Child Left Behind has gone too far...

PumpkinPie brought home homework today.

"Count the shapes and circle the correct number below. Then color the pictures."

Pumpkin has been in school for a grand total of five days in her life. She barely walks. She barely talks. But she can do homework?!

Oh for the love of Pete!

Monday, January 24, 2011

First family visit (AKA grace when you need it)

Pumpkin Pie has been in our home for three weeks now. I'm sure it's been a very difficult and very long three weeks for her mother. I know that I personally have been swamped dealing with all the extreme medical and educational neglect that Pumpkin has suffered.

On the positive side of things though, Pumpkin has gotten a chance to really get to know us. To know our home. To know our routine. She has settled in quite well.

I was worried just a little (OK - who's kidding who here?! I was worried a ton!!) about her first visit with Mom tonight. My stomach was in horrible butterflies as I drove over to the CPS office. I was worried for Pumpkin. Would she understand what was going on?! I prayed over and over that God would give me the appropriate words to say. That I wouldn't be overwhelmed with anger towards her mom for all that she's put Pumpkin through. That I would be able to show the love of God in my response to everything.

But can I tell you, I really didn't think I was going to be able to do it!! I was nervous. And I've been so frustrated the past three weeks trying to figure out Pumpkin's story and trying to get her all the services that she needs.

Not to mention the fact - I've never had to do anything like this before. With our first foster placement (when we were licensed in the Midwest), visits worked differently. The SW showed up at our home, took our foster son to his visit and then brought him back to us when it was over. The only time I had to meet the parents was during a Family Group Conference. It was totally different! And our first placement down here in the South never had visits. So I'm a total newbie when it comes to how our particular CPS office runs things.

Pumpkin and I were the first ones at the office. We signed in. Then, after waiting just a bit, Mom and the three siblings showed up. Pumpkin leapt out of her chair and went quickly to her mommy. Appropriately so, no one paid attention to me. I passed off the diaper bag to the SW supervising the visit and said I'd be back at 7:00.

When I got back at 7:00 the building was locked down so I just waited in my car. When the time came for Pumpkin to come back to me, they simply unlocked the door and let her mom bring her out to me. I ended up standing outside talking with Pumpkin's mom for almost 20 minutes. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be!

I'm still frustrated that Pumpkin has suffered so much medical and educational neglect. But I was able to see how much her mom does love her. She is going to do whatever it takes to get her daughter back. She didn't seem angry with me. She understood that I have to follow my rules too. Things like getting Pumpkin in school. Getting her in therapy. Doing the things that she didn't do.

I promised her that I would take good care of Pumpkin. Then, with a knowing look and connection that only two mothers could have, she said, "Please do."

Pumpkin seemed a bit sad but not distraught as we pulled away. She fell perfectly into routine when we got home. I got her teeth brushed. We read books. We prayed and sang. I know that she's going to be sad. She's going to miss her mommy. But I'm pretty confident that I won't be lying when I tell her that she'll get to see her mommy again real soon.

Cherub 1's Tiny Baby Story

When my oldest was just a bitty little thing, I started telling him a story. I would hold that beautiful bundle of joy and tell him just how much I've always loved him! We ended up calling this his "Tiny Baby Story". It was a short story about pregnancy and how excited we were to have him in our family. By the time he was two years old he would sit on my lap and tell the story with me - Readers Theatre style if you will. I'm something of a ham and it was a blast to have him hamming it up with me. We would "perform" for all of our friends and family.

This is his story...

CHERUB 1
Once upon a time there was a mommy and a daddy. And they wanted to have a tiny baby.
So...the mommy got pregnant.
And her tummy got bigger. And bigger. And bigger.

People threw parties for the baby.
And the baby got lots of presents.

We didn't know if the baby was a boy or a girl. So we called it Baby Herman.

Then...one day...on Tuesday, March 18, Mommy went to the doctor.
The doctor said, "Any day now." But, that afternoon, Mommy went to work.

At 6:00PM, Mamma said, "Whoa!" Mamma said, "Whoa!" So Mommy went home.

But it wasn't time to go to the hospital yet. So Daddy watched TV.

Then it was time to go to the hospital.

And Mamma said, "Whoa!" Mamma said, "Whoa!" Mamma said, "Whoa!" And...at 11:40PM, out came the tiny baby. Mommy asked, "Is it a boy or a girl?" The doctor said, "It's a boy!"

Mommy and Daddy said, "His name is A*** M*** E*** and we love him very much!"

That's not the ending....that's just the beginning.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Naming my kids

By and large I'm quite the FreeRange parent. Fostering does change that some. I find myself second guessing decisions just because CPS is "so close" to my family. On my old blog I was completely comfortable using our family's real names. I personally don't think there are predators out there that are going to scour through blogs, find out kids' names, then go to the work of finding those kids and then somehow use the fact that they know the kid's name against them. It's possible - just not probable.

However, because I gave my blog address to several different people at our agency it is possible (and probable) that they could check up on me to see if I'm following the rules as a foster parent concerning social medias. That's why I'm starting up a blog that is slightly less identifiable. I'm also going to use "fake" names for all my kids - not just my foster children.

For fun, I figured I'd let everyone in on where those names came from.

During the times that I've been pregnant I never liked to actually call the life inside of me "baby". My oldest was Baby Herman. Honestly - named after the baby in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The cigar smoking baby totally cracked me up.

My middle son was adopted at birth through the foster care system. Obviously I didn't have a name for him during pregnancy. However, when the nurse at the hospital put that perfect, beautiful, blond haired baby in my arms for the first time, the name (Patrick Scot) I had thought we would give to our next-born son just didn't fit. I just couldn't bring myself to naming such an amazing baby after a stupid starfish. So, Mr. Amazing and I spent a day tossing around names until we finally decided on one. In the meantime, he was Tomato Trout. (Stupid - but funny. I nearly wet my pants laughing when Mr. Amazing came up with that one.)

My hubby has called me Pookie Bear since we started dating (after 18 years it's just been shortened to Bear). When I found out I was pregnant with our third baby, it was just after we had watched some nature show about grizzly bears. A "bear" name for our growing baby seemed appropriate. Two bears had been featured on the special - one named HoneyBump and one named Bart. HoneyBump was too long of a nickname for a fetus. So Bart it was.

Those are the cherubs that call me Mom. I love me some Herman, TT & Bart!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Top secret stuff here...nah, not really

I'm still working on getting this blog up and running. If you've joined me from my previous blog - thanks for sticking around. I've really gotten to enjoy this community. The comments mean a lot to me and have kept me sane more than once.

But rules are rules and I'll follow them. Or..at least I'll hide from those that don't think I should be doing this.

I can't say that this is a blog about foster parenting. But, since I am a foster mom, and I write about what I'm doing in my life, I guess this is a blog about foster parenting. Shhhh....don't tell CPS.  :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

School has started

Pumpkin started school yesterday. I was prepared for the staff there to be completely unprepared. So, all in all, my expectations were met.

Two weeks ago I contacted the special ed department in our district to let them know that Pumpkin would be coming. I pretty much got completely blown off.

On Monday I enrolled her in school. The special ed diagnostician for our elementary just happened to be in the office the same time I was there filling out paperwork. We sat in the conference room and I went over all the details. When I left she told me that they would mainstream Pumpkin until she could be evaluated. In fact, one of the last things she told me was that they would get her set up in a regular kindergarten room and let her be independent. (Keeping in mind that I had just told this woman that Pumpkin can barely walk and is practically non-verbal.)

We agreed that due to a dentist appointment and therapy appointments, Pumpkin would start school on Wednesday.

I showed up in the office on Wednesday with Pumpkin in hand. The secretary behind the counter had her paperwork all ready. She then gave Pumpkin a once-over. I explained everything that had been decided in the therapy evaluations on Tuesday. (Ya know. That she's almost non-ambulatory, that her OT development is that of 19 months old and that she's practically non-verbal.) She gave me a deer-in-the-headlight sort of look and muttered that Pumpkin couldn't go into a "regular" classroom. I half-grinned and said, "Yeah. That's what I thought." From there, I was told to wait for the principal.

While waiting, I got to speak with the counselor and the vice-principal. Everyone seemed rather uncomfortable and unsure of what to do. I got the same response from the principal when she arrived about 10 minutes later. She said that she had to call the diagnostician. I was then informed that the diagnostician would come over to the school to meet Pumpkin.

Apparently calling in advance with precise information and having a meeting in person just wasn't enough. This woman hadn't taken anything I had said seriously. And now she had to come to the school and we had to wait some more.

When she arrived she sat down next to Pumpkin and smiled. She looked at me and asked if Pumpkin knew she was starting school. I had to choke back a laugh as I answered her, "no". She too seemed rather perplexed by the situation. She had Pumpkin walk around the room some. She kept trying to talk to her. Eventually she gave up and started messing with paperwork.

It was decided that "officially" Pumpkin can't be in the self-contained room yet. She hasn't had her ARD/IEP meeting. However, it was also determined that Pumpkin couldn't function in a regular classroom setting. So...they decided to do one thing on paper and another in reality. About an hour after school started, I was able to walk Pumpkin in to the special ed room to meet the teacher and aides.

Once in the classroom I breathed a sigh of relief. Everyone there seemed to take everything I had to say about Pumpkin seriously. They were kind and compassionate. And although Pumpkin cried fiercely when I left, they very lovingly redirected her. I even got a text from her teacher after lunch letting me know that Pumpkin had settled down quickly and was having a great day.

I still have several more things to work out. Pumpkin needs a stroller at school - but I was told they would provide one. I also need to navigate getting her on a bus home so I don't have to do the whole pick-up thing. (Oh how I hate the pick-up routine!! ...shudder...) I have orders to get a pediatric stroller for our personal use. I just have to find a DME that can do it. And I'm waiting to find out if a judge will approve for Pumpkin to have her dental restoration work done under general anesthesia. Visits start on Monday. And we have a Family Group Conference on Thursday.

I'm nothing if not busy.  :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Dentist, Therapies & A Worker...Oh My

Where do I even start?

I have spent soooooo many hours in medical facilities over the past two weeks! Again I say...it's a good thing I'm not in this for the money. 'Cause my graphic design clients are having to wait a little bit longer for their proofs... I'm not even making the dough on my "real" job.

Thankfully though, Pumpkin is easy to take care of. I'm not completely stressing out. The child possesses the ability to just sit in a chair and do nothing for extremely long periods of time. Granted, this behavior is quite odd. But, given the fact that spending a lot of time in medical facilities involves spending a LOT of time waiting...I'm not complaining about this facet of her development.

Today was jam packed! We started out by taking my cherubs to school. Then I raced home and crammed as much freelancing into my morning as possible. At 9:45 we left to head to a pediatric dentist about a half an hour away.

Of course Pumpkin failed her exam there as miserably as she did the exam last week at my "normal" dentist. Picture much screaming and gnashing of teeth. However, she is now scheduled for surgery next Friday where they will put her under general anesthesia to take x-rays, perform a complete exam and do all of the restorative work that she needs done. Granted, this appointment is on the calendar. I am awaiting approval from someone in authority on her case before it can happen. I believe that the CPS worker can approve it. But it might have to go in front of a judge first.

After the dentist I choked down lunch from MickeyDs (Pumpkin fully enjoyed hers) and we raced back home to her therapy evaluations. Oh - but I popped into her family doctor to see if they could fill out the form that will release Pumpkin for the dental procedure. (Her family doc is located right next door to the therapy clinic.) The family doc has to clear her for surgery. Please keep in mind that this same clinic has seen Pumpkin three times in the past two weeks. But no. The doctor can't just fill out the form. We have an appointment tomorrow at 3:30 for that. I can hardly wait. (sigh)

Anyway, we spent three hours at the pediatric rehab facility getting Pumpkin fully tested by a physical therapist, an occupational therapist and a speech therapist. Without going into all the details, I was spot-on when I said that Pumpkin is developmentally between 18-24 months. I believe she fell at 19 months after the evaluations were complete. (Maybe a little lower than that in her language skills.) She has been set up for therapies three times a week (one hour for each therapy). That's nine hours of therapy a week!! Thankfully - this will be taking place during school hours and the clinic provides transportation from school to therapy and then to my home when she's finished. Whew!

I raced home after the therapy evaluations to my cherubs. I checked my email and saw that yes, Pumpkin's CPS case worker was going to come by tonight. She had emailed me this morning to say she wanted to stop by. I was to call her when we got back from everything. Thankfully her worker showed up on time and completed the visit in a timely fashion. She took everything I had to say about Pumpkin's development seriously. She also completely respected my decision to have her do therapies during the school day. I never once felt like I was playing second fiddle to her decision making power. It was quite refreshing!!

Visits with mom will start on Monday - 2x a week (Mondays and Fridays). We have a Family Group Conference scheduled next Thursday. My appointment calendar is so booked I barely have any room left for anything. But all things are lining up and working out well so far. I haven't lost my mind yet.

If only I could get Pumpkin to stop filling her diaper AFTER I put her in bed. Potty training is a long way off. But I'd love it if she could just tell me she has pooped. Seriously. Sleeping with that on your bum all night?! Yuck!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rusty skills

Pumpkin had ANOTHER doctor appointment yesterday. This one was to get caught up on her vaccines. She needed six. They combo'd a few and she got four pokes. One in each leg and one in each arm.

I didn't have any children's Tylenol on hand so they wrote me a script. I filled it after her appointment and was able to give her a dose about two hours after she got her shots. She seemed fine though.

At bedtime it seemed that the pain from one of the shots rendered it impossible for her to walk at all. I had to carry her in to brush her teeth. She wasn't running a fever though and she was in a terrific mood.

She made a lot of noise during the night though. Starting at...oh, I dunno...about six hours after her Tylenol wore off. Not crying per se. But she woke up completely. She talked a little. She made her humming/moaning sound a little.

I didn't make the connection.

No. I started wondering how messed up her sleep schedule must have been when she was at home. I drifted in and out of sleep and daydreamed that she got out of bed and started walking around our neighborhood. I got out of bed multiple times myself to check on her and tell her it was nigh-nigh time.

But noooooo.... I didn't have sense enough to give her more Tylenol.

She woke up just after 8:00 this morning. Mr. Amazing heard her and said that she was calling for Momma. Then, he mentions, "So, do you suppose she was awake all night because her Tylenol wore off?" I groaned and said that I hadn't even thought of that. Man my skills are rusty! Then, he shares that he thought of it in the middle of the night but figured that I had thought of it too so he didn't say anything.

I just might have chewed him out a little for not saying anything. I just might have mentioned that I had a really crappy night's sleep. I just might have mentioned that next time he needs to be a parent too and either do something about it or at least nudge me and say something.

Needless to say I changed her diaper and gave her some meds. Hopefully the pain from the shots will wear off soon.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Court results

I fear that sometimes I say too much about my foster children and their case specifics. This post will be rather generic.

Court was today at 2:00. At just after 3:00, Pumpkin's guardian ad litem came over to meet her. We had spoken on the phone prior to court but she wanted to meet Pumpkin in person.

All things at court went as I expected they would. Two individuals came forward that are willing to care for Pumpkin in the time that she cannot be at home. Both should pass their home studies without question. However, I have no idea if or when Pumpkin will be leaving our home.

In the meantime, I believe that her mom is going to get me some of her things. Visits are going to start officially. And I will be given what I need to get Pumpkin in school and in the therapies that she needs.

The System - explained further

The judge where we live at requires ALL children - no matter the age, to attend court. At least that is how it has been explained to me. In fact, I was told that he requires children that have been placed with relatives out of state to be flown back for court hearings.

However, I JUST got a phone call from CPS. Apparently the judge does not require sick children to attend court. And, despite the fact that I told the worker that Pumpkin isn't "sick", her seizure disorder qualifies her to not have to attend.

When asked if I needed anything, I just reiterated the fact that I'd like to have some of Pumpkin's things. She came to me with the clothes on her back. I realize it's a pain, but for the two hours that it would take a social worker to leave their office, drive to the home of the child, pick up a few things and then bring them to me...it really bothers me that it's not a priority. These kids are confused enough. To leave them completely empty handed bothers me. Granted, I know that many kids have very little to begin with. But what they do have is "theirs" and it should be important to get it to them as soon as possible.

I'm glad that Pumkin and I get to stay home today. Court would have been VERY confusing for her. It wouldn't be like a visit where she could actually spend some time with her mommy. I'm not sure if they'd even let them sit together. I have yet to get to attend a court hearing actually in front of a judge. (With our last placement we were taken to a back conference room so the girls wouldn't have to face the man and woman that had so horribly abused them.)

So, I called our agency to talk to our worker there. I asked that she talk to the lawyer and GAL about the possible physical abuse and the medical neglect. I sure hope that everyone communicates well about the actual situation at hand here. Thankfully my SW at our agency is terrific about relaying information to me quickly. I'm still going to be nervous all day until I hear what happens in front of the judge.

Dentists, The System & Court

Pumpkin hates all doctors. And Pumpkin hates the dentist. I now have the pleasure of using the referral from yesterday's dentist appointment to go visit a pediatric dentist. When that visit most undoubtedly fails (due to writhing, screaming and the like) an appointment will be scheduled to do x-rays and restorative work in an operating room setting under sedation.

Let's just hope that when that time comes CPS approves the procedure. Because despite the fact that a tooth right in the front of Pumpkin's mouth is practically rotted away, CPS still has to approve any kind of restorative work. Especially if it requires sedation.

I'm not saying this to complain. Just explaining the system to anyone that isn't familiar. When you're a foster parent....basically you're just a glorified babysitter. Don't go into this thinking you have rights. Or that you get to make any kind of decision for the child. You don't! And, by and large, I understand why. I can't say I'm thrilled with the system. There is a lot that is really messed up. But I do understand how it got this way.

Pumpkin hasn't had a visit with her mom yet. The CPS investigative worker got it approved by her supervisor. But, I'm assuming, she couldn't locate anyone to actually supervise the visit in their office. Of course I never got a call back letting me know this. But, I am thankful that the SW called me to see if a visit worked with my schedule. I just have to pray that the new worker (when this moves from "investigation" to whatever the title is of the SW that handles the case after investigation) is as thoughtful!!

We have court today at 2:00. I'm sure it will elevate Pumpkin's stress level significantly! She's not going to understand at all why she gets to see her mommy but why she doesn't get to go home. I'm praying that her lawyer and GAL take the medical neglect seriously and that they do a little investigation as to the scars and permanent bruising on Cheerios' back. It's out of my hands though. So, I'm just praying and praying and praying.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Visits starting

I didn't take notes yesterday in church. So I can't point you to the exact verses we covered in the sermon. You'll just have to trust me that this stuff is in the Bible.  :)

God doesn't hold our sin against us.

God is love.

If we want to be effective Christians, we too must BE love.

That means we can't hold other people's sin against them.

Nope. Can't do it. Can't try to make them feel bad for what they've done. Can't hold it over their heads saying if they want to know God, they have to make a big deal about their past. We're supposed to forgive and show them love. We can't hold their sin against them.

I heard this message and knew it was for me. I thought it was to prepare me for meeting Pumpkin's mom at court on Wednesday. I'm in favor of family reunification. It generally is what's best for all involved. Kids need their parents. It's how we are designed.

Then I found out that CPS has approved visits before our first court hearing. Ooookaayyy. (Be sure to say that with some hesitation.) Then the SW starts asking me some general questions. Kind of like she was doing a home visit over the phone. Ooookaayyy. (Not exactly protocol. I'm pretty sure she was supposed to come to the house.) Then the SW tells me that Mom took Pumpkin off her seizure medicine awhile ago. Mom just doesn't remember when. This time take a big breath before you say ooookaayy.

I called our agency and asked to talk to our SW there. She used to work with CPS so she knows both sides of things and how it's "supposed" to work. Even she seemed surprised that CPS would approve visits before the judge weighs in on the matter. And...we have court on Wednesday so it's not like that the wait is much longer. She also thinks it's fishy that visits would start when the signs of medical neglect seem quite apparent. Really, the judge should make this kind of call.

So, I may get to meet Mom sooner than Wednesday. I have to pay close attention to my self talk. Ooohhhh...I want to be really mad at her. I can't say that I enjoyed spending ALL DAY in the hospital last Thursday because she took it upon herself to stop medicating her child (with a medication that is pretty important). But I can't hold her past faults against her. No matter how much my flesh wants to. The important thing is that Pumpkin is safe now. Not wandering the streets. Getting the meds she needs. And hopefully Mom will work her case plan and everyone can be reunited.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The waterworks have begun

Pumpkin is having a lot harder time getting around. She's falling a lot more and even crawling/scooting on her bottom some instead of walking. She's also less vocal (with words anyway). I'm assuming this is because she's back on her seizure medicine. As I'm learning, this is the fine dance with seizure meds. You have to find the correct balance of meds to stop the seizures but still allow the child to function. She was also off the meds completely for at least four full days (possibly longer). Her body has to get used to being on them again to begin with.

Last night Pumpkin missed her mommy. She cried and cried at bedtime (for almost an hour). It wasn't a violent cry; but she was so sad. I held her (as much as she would let me anyway) and she just cried. It broke my heart.

The first thing out of Pumpkin's mouth this morning was, "Mommy????"

Today was hard for Pumpkin. She just seems out of it (for lack of a better way to describe things). She can't seem to communicate as well. She's not as mobile as she wants to be. And she misses her mommy. So, most of the day, I heard the usual babble/moan sounds that she makes normally mixed in with lots of cries for Mommy. Then, as she seemed to get more and more tired (from the meds???) she would just cry.

We're still newbies when it comes to fostering. This is the first placement we've had where the child even asked for mommy. Our little Jordan that we cared for in Iowa (18 month old boy) was probably a RAD baby as he withdrew so deep inside himself instead of expressing much emotion. Our girls MissArguePants and TurtleTurtle had been moved so many times, and their abuse was so severe, they didn't know WHO they wanted. But little Pumpkin wants her mommy.

This is difficult for me for a couple different reasons. One - it just breaks my heart. I want to comfort her but she just wants her mommy. Two - the developmental delay makes it impossible for us to discuss what is happening. She just doesn't understand. It's like I'm taking care of a 40 pound infant.

How do you seasoned foster mammas handle things like this? I'm not sure I can personally tolerate crying all day long. Of course I want to be sympathetic. But, being totally honest here, I just might go crazy if a non-communicative child simply cries all day. It's not the same as a baby. I can't put her in a sling, or a swing, or a bouncer. I don't know what to do to make it better. I never know when to sit with her and try to comfort and when to go on about my business.


For now, if she's saying "Mommy", I try to stay with her. I want to make sure she knows she's not alone. But if she seems to just be crying for the sake of crying, I'm not sure what to do. I'm toying with the idea of a rug, or a place I can put her when it seems like she's choosing to cry instead of communicate. Is that too harsh???? She possesses the ability to talk some. And I know the seizure meds make her in more of a fog. But it's still not OK for her to cry all the time.


But then again, it IS OK for her to cry. I can't imagine what she's gone through. I feel so bad for her right now. Advice please??????

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Baptism by fire

Pumpkin has a seizure disorder. I was told she hasn't had a seizure in 8 months. No medications were given to me. No primary care physician information was given to me. No record of ever seeing a neurologist was given to me.

I tracked down her primary care physician. I got access to her medical records. We found out that Pumpkin has seen a neurologist. We were waiting to find out if she was supposed to still be on meds or not.

Pumpkin had a seizure this morning.

We got to spend the morning in the ER. Then she was admitted.

Thankfully, she improved as the day went on. For some reason (and I'm grateful for whatever that reason was) the doctor on call decided to go ahead and discharge Pumpkin tonight. We left the hospital just before 8:00PM.

I came home right away to calm down Cherub 2 who had decided that this fostering stuff stinks again. He's not a fan of Mommy being gone at bedtime. Hugs, kisses, prayers and a lullaby made things better. Mr. Amazing held down the fort while I took off to go pick up the seizure meds that Pumpkin was supposed to have been on all along.

Pumpkin decided to empty her stomach in a projectile sort of way all over the couch.

Mr. Amazing is not a fan of projectile stomach emptying.

The pharmacy filled Pumpkin's prescriptions with pills instead of liquid. While they were correcting that error, Mr. Amazing called to inform me that Pumpkin wasn't well.

Did I mention that Mr. Amazing isn't a fan of barf?

I raced home as quickly as possible to assist with the cleanup. Pumpkin is going to sleep on the love seat in the living room. I'm going to find something to put over the clean, but still wet, couch and sleep on that.

I'm going to spend the evening praying that Pumpkin doesn't barf, have a seizure, and then choke. I'm not usually a worrier. But this scenario doesn't seem like that far of a stretch.

I guess it's a good thing I'm not doing this for the money.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Better experience at the doctor this time

I'm still trying to figure out the whole Medicaid system. Things functioned differently when we were in Iowa. I don't know if the system changed or if it's a Texas thing. But there's so much to learn.

Our agency requires a communicable disease check up to be done within 72 hours of placement. Because I have no friends in the medical field here in Texas, that means I have to make it to a doctor's office within the first three days. With Pumpkin I got the screening done in the ER the day of placement.

We have 21 days in which to have a physical completed. When TurtleTurtle and MissArguePants came, I just picked a doctor's office that was open on a Saturday and went as a walk-in. We were able to do the communicable disease screening and their physicals all at one time. The person at the counter took all our information, made one quick phone call, and switched the girls' primary care physician to their office. It went incredibly smoothly. (That part only! The doctor was a witch!!!)

Anyway, I assumed (I know...I know...never assume) that the switch in primary care physicians was an easy thing to do when kids are first placed in foster care. So, this time around, I made an appointment for Pumpkin at our family doctor.

We showed up Tuesday for her appointment and I was told that we could not be seen there. They can't make any calls to switch her physician. ??? Anyway...they printed out a small form that listed her current primary care physician. I called that office and was able to make an appointment for Pumpkin for Wednesday. Given Pumpkin's developmental delays, I'm pleased to be able to continue to take her to the same doctor.

Things went smoothly. Of course, nothing can go perfectly. Pumpkin has been seen in a different clinic than the location I chose. But getting her records transferred will be easy. In fact, I'm waiting for a call so I can go pick them up so I can have a copy for myself. And, instead of being reported to CPS 'cause I'm a "bad" foster mom, the doctor told me today that "I'm one of the good ones". That was nice to hear.  :)

I have a feeling I'm going to be busy playing taxi very soon. She won't let anyone look in her mouth so I don't see the dental check-up going well. My dentist said they'll be able to refer us to a specialist though. And, after we find out what's in Pumpkin's medical file, we'll start testing for hearing and vision. I have a feeling we'll end up getting a neurological work-up as well. Thankfully Pumpkin is a mellow kid and can wait for long periods of time without getting restless.

Monday, January 3, 2011

God's hand in things

Yesterday, at the ER, we had terrific nurses! They were so compassionate. It really made the experience much more bearable.
(Is anyone a fan of visiting the hospital?!)

One of the nurses was touched by Pumpkin's story. He looked at me and asked if I had other kids. I laughed and said yes, three boys. He realized then that I probably would have little to nothing for a girl. He mentioned that he has one at home the same size as Pumpkin. He asked for my number and said that he would bring me some clothes.

Sure enough, he called this afternoon and asked for directions to my house. He showed up with several different outfits, a little jacket, a brand new hooded towel and a brand new doll for Pumpkin.

God's hand is all over this! I was scared yesterday. I didn't think I was equipped to handle a little one with the developmental delays that Pumpkin has. That fear has been completely erased. Granted, she's getting along better today than yesterday. She can walk pretty good at home. Our house is arranged so that she can almost always grab hold of something. She's talking a little more too. I think I've heard about 2 dozen different words. We had a great giggle fest while playing with the dry erase board this morning. She would point at the board for me to draw a picture. Then she would either say what the picture was or repeat what I said. Then she would take the erasure and wipe the board clean. Giggling the entire time. She thought it was hilarious!

And a complete stranger reached out to us with a donation.
If that's not God - I don't know what it is!

This is Mr. Amazing's first real experience dealing with someone that is developmentally delayed. He too has been a little weirded out by it all. Sounds harsh saying that. But this whole experience has been a major adjustment! However, when Mr. Amazing walks in the room and Pumpkin looks up and says "hi Dad"... he melts! He's even agreed to change a diaper if necessary. (Please keep in mind he changed just as many diapers as I did when our three were younger!!! However, it's a lot different changing the diaper of a five year old that just moved in.)

Cherub 1 donated his stuffed Sponge Bob to the cause. Pumpkin's favorite character EVER is Sponge Bob!!! (Followed closely by Dora.)

Cherub 2 announced today that "he OK with all this". It's helped that Pumpkin is so easy to take care of. TT has managed to keep all his anxiety in check!

Cherub 3 has given Pumpkin several different toys. He got down on the floor and played with her tonight after supper too. It's so sweet!

I know a lot of people put all kinds of restrictions on what kinds of kids they will foster. There's nothing wrong with most of them! That's one of the advantages of fostering. You can say no to a placement. Birth order is important to some. Others only do boys...or only foster girls. Race (unfortunately) is an issue in some families. I could go on and on.

When we signed up for this I felt our restrictions were pretty limited. No middle school girls. (We have a middle school boy and I'm not dealing with those hormones!) No major safety concerns - known fire starting, known harm to animals, known sexual perpetration, etc. The last restriction was no major medical issues. I just didn't think we were equipped to handle those things.

Now it looks like I'll have physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and more in my future.

You know how to make God laugh don't you....

...just tell Him your plans!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

More info on the second placement

It has been an interesting day to say the least.

The little miss slept and slept. Finally, around 11:30 or so I decided I'd wake her up. I figured I'd change her diaper. Then, since she woke up a little to let me do that, I decided to bathe her.

As we went into the bathroom and I turned on the water, she looked at me and said, "hot". I thought for sure she was going to be scared of the bath but she climbed in without any problems. As I was getting her washed up I noticed some discoloring on her back that looked sort of like scars and bruising. Since she was so sleepy and out of it, I questioned if perhaps she was under the influence of something as well. I called the on-call worker at our agency and she directed me to the ER.

So, off to the ER we went. Thankfully we got in quickly. They assessed her, did blood work and x-rays. Then we sat around and waited. And waited. And waited. It was a little bizarre to wait for so long with a small child that just sat there. She didn't talk. All she did was thumb through a Sponge Bob activity book that she found and latched on to at our house right before we left. At one point in time, while eating some Cheerios, we did have a cute little moment. She took the Cheerio and put it between her lips. Then she quickly sucked it into her mouth and giggled. I took a Cheerio myself and did the same thing. She thought it was pretty funny.

I'm going to call the precious little thing Cheerio on this blog. (This was the original name I gave to Pumpkin before I switched things on this "new" blog.)

The doctor finally came and did her assessment. She told me that the blood work and urine sample detected nothing. The x-rays showed no broken bones. And then she determined that the marks on Pumpkin' back are scars and pigment discoloration - most likely from a previous injury. She sent us on our merry way.

All of this is speculation but this is what's I've figured out so far:
Pumpkin was probably a preemie. She has had a feeding tube at some time in her life.
She most likely has fetal alcohol syndrome. Her facial features are tell-tale for that.
I'm guessing that she's got cerebral palsy. That would explain the developmental delays and the limp.

It's been relatively smooth sailing. The only crying she's done was while they were putting in her IV so they could draw blood and then again during the x-rays. That's normal! She's called for her mommy several different times. Again, normal. She ate a good supper - even the fruits and veggies. She will walk on her own now a bit, but she's very wobbly. She talks just a little. While reading a book at the hospital she pointed to a couple different things and told me what they were. Thankfully, her first language is English. (Whew!) And, when I put her to bed, she went down and stayed in bed.


I have to take her to our family doctor tomorrow. We'll go from there. Mr. Amazing and I still aren't sure if this is the best fit for our family. Pumpkin functions around the level of an 18-24 month old child. That's pretty challenging when she's the size of a five year old. But for now, she's safe. And we'll love on her as long as she stays!

Second Placement

Got a phone call this morning.

Five year old girl. Found wandering the streets. Mother arrested for intoxication.

At first, I said no. The intake worker said the little girl is non-verbal and has a limp. She used to have seizures but has been free of those for a long time. Mainly, I was concerned that she wouldn't even understand English. Given where we live, that's a very valid concern! They called me back and said that the mom speaks good English. So, I said yes.

They left out a pretty big detail though that I didn't find out until everyone arrived at my house this morning. She's still in diapers.

I'm trying to not jump to too many conclusions. However, if I had to guess right now, I'd say that we're talking more than just a few developmental delays!!

The police found her at midnight. CPS got the call at 2:00AM. The little girl ate a snack at 2:00 but has been sleeping ever since. Even when they brought her into my living room all she did was wake up for about 30 seconds, cry out "Mommy" a couple times, and then fell back asleep. Something's just not right with that. I know that all children respond to trauma differently. But my gut says something just isn't quite right.

I've already been pretty clear with all the workers involved. We didn't sign on for major medical issues. That kind of fostering just isn't the best fit for our family.  These emergency placements sure are interesting!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

I don't really have much to say - but figured I'd wish everyone a Happy New Year!

We've had a pretty terrific holiday break. I'm almost sad the cherubs all start back to school on Monday. I've loved having them around.

We've had several different calls for placements lately but haven't been able to accept any of them yet. One sibling group needed a home while we were doing respite. We couldn't have them because it would have put us over capacity.

We also got a call earlier this week for a sibling group of three. Mr. Amazing and I were out on a date though and didn't get the message right away. By the time we called our agency back, they had found a different home for the kids. Needless to say, the intake worker at our agency now has my cell number.

Another foster mom posted a great list about fostering that included, "You might be a foster mom if you are able to love kids like they are your own within one minute of learning they even exist." I can relate!

I've been a bit sad this week ever since we missed out on the sibling group of three. It was a two year old little girl and her four and six year old brothers. They were removed due to neglect. All I was told was that they have lice and really dry skin. Lice doesn't scare me! (bwaaa haa haa haa) And I really liked the idea of having little ones around the house. In just a few short minutes after hearing about the kids I got ready! I mentally figured out where everyone was going to sleep and how we would work things. I started to prep my heart for falling in love again. Then we got the call saying they had a home already. Then, I was sad they weren't coming. Then, I got really sad because fostering shouldn't exist at all. Then, I became just a little overwhelmed thinking about what a fallen world we live in. Then, I took a deep breath because I know that God is in control and I know we'll get another call.

So, I'm trying to stay on top of housework, meal planning and other life things. So much has to happen those first few days when a new placement comes. I want to be ready.