Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Too Attached

I don't run a hotel.
The children that live in my home are PART of my family.
They aren't extras.
They aren't second best.
They are my children!

Yes – I have to share them with their bio family. I have to share them with social workers. I have to share them with the State.

But as far as I'm concerned, they are my family. So attachment is going to happen.

It has to happen. Attachment is necessary.

How many people have heard of attachment disorders?! Do these social workers understand what happens to kids with attachment disorders?!

It's my JOB to attach to these children. Because a broken attachment is better than no attachment at all.

These children need to know that they are important. That they are loved. That they are special. That they deserve good things.

They only learn these things when they are attached to their caregivers.

So y'all are right. Any worker that says we are "too attached" needs a serious Come to Jesus moment!

For now though, I'm just waiting to hear back from the lawyer I called yesterday. One step at a time. One tiny, tiny step. But someone has to fight for these children to be able to grow up in a loving and safe environment. And that someone is me!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

bullet point updates

  • My agency worker thinks the idea of us getting a lawyer is a good one. She's going to keep things quiet on her end though so as not to cause any complications if the wrong person found out. (Not that any "wrong person" exists in our agency. She's just extending this privacy as a courtesy to me.)
  • Jasmine is no longer going to be the caseworker for Dude and Dolly in a matter of two weeks. It's going to back to Minnie who handled their case when the cherubs came in to care. The children like Minnie a lot so that's a good thing.
  • Dude and Dolly's mom might get out of jail/rehab before the next hearing. This could complicate things for CPS if Mom doesn't want to sign the PMC paperwork and send the kids to Grandma.
  • Dude and Dolly's dad is out of jail. He hasn't been served yet. I'm not sure anyone knows where he is. Dad has major problems with heroine though. (And we want these cherubs to go live with his mom?!) No one has vetted out this situation to see if Dad will be having contact with his mom and as a result his children. Accckkkk!!!
  • Jasmine is going to set up phone calls between Dude, Dolly and Grandma. She said that she hasn't done this before because she questions what the children get out of it. But the lawyer made mention of the lack of relationship so she's going to start making the phone calls happen. Again I expressed my concern that SHE is having to do this at all. Why isn't Grandma trying to be involved in these cherubs' lives all on her own?!
  • I asked Jasmine if she really believed that Grandma lost her bus tickets before court two weeks ago. Jasmine insisted that she did. She said that Grandma was crying. I said that Great Grandma doesn't buy it for a second. I explained the situation as Great Grandma told it to me. Jasmine seemed surprised.
  • I then went on to tell Jasmine about Great Grandma's concerns with the children being placed in D*** with Grandma. Jasmine is going to make an appointment to talk about these concerns with Great Grandma. I do hope she follows through with this. Somehow we have to stop this train from heading on to D***.
  • I discretely asked Jasmine what would have to happen for the State to consider us for PMC. I did this somewhat innocently to judge her reaction. Her response was neutral. She said it wouldn't upset CPS or complicate things. At least not really. She said we'd have to get our own lawyer. Then she said when all is said and done the kids would end up at Grandma's house anyway. That's just how the system works.
  • While all of this was happening I got a referral to a lawyer from our pastor via a text on my phone. (As soon as Jasmine left I called the law firm and left a message.)
  • The last thing Jasmine told me before she left was that Minnie (Dude and Dolly's new/old worker) thinks we are too attached to the children. She understands that the kids become a part of our family – that's just how we do things. But Minnie has concerns.

This is probably going to get very, very messy.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

First therapy session

Ms. Fowler came for the first time yesterday to talk to Cherub 2 (TT).

Of course, Mr. Wonky had to come and visit first. There was some whining and complaining and a whole lot of:
Mom...when is she going to be here?
Why do I have to do this?
I want to play with my friends!
How many times is she going to come?

It was mild. But frustrating.
And of course, despite multiple times of being told he was NOT to go inside any friend's houses, just minutes before Ms. Fowler arrived, TT disappeared into a neighbor's home.

He did OK though. Ms. Fowler is incredibly calm and patient. She immediately engaged TT in helping her unload her car with the toys she had brought. He didn't seem too threatened and he warmed up quickly.

I contained all the rest of the children to the first floor of the home. TT and Ms. Fowler had their session upstairs in our playroom.

I don't know all that they talked about. At least not specifically I don't. When the hour was up I joined them upstairs for just a bit. Ms. Fowler explained that TT set his own goals. He's going to try and focus on his perfectionism and patience issues.

Ms. Fowler and I had done a little bit of "intake" over the phone. I'm not sure I had mentioned the perfectionism problem or not. But, when I filled out the paperwork she gave me yesterday, I boiled TT's "issues" down to four key problems: anxiety, perfectionism, lying and stealing. (The stealing isn't chronic, but I do want it addressed in therapy.) I thought it was pretty cool that she keyed into his perfectionism problem right away and that he set it as a goal to work on as well.

We agreed to meet again in two weeks. Ms. Fowler said we would readdress the effectiveness of therapy in about two months. TT shot off like a bolt of lightening as soon as he was given the chance. He didn't even stop for a (much needed) snack. I should have kept him home to eat something first. When TT's blood sugars dip at all, he gets incredibly dysregulated. It's not that we try to throw food at the problem. But he can't stay regulated on his own when he's hungry at all! TT assured me that he was fine though and he took off to go play with his friends.

I regretted the lack of snack when it was time to call him in for dinner. It was at that time that we had the beginnings of meltdown.

First, both he and Bart had gotten out their bikes. They had been specifically instructed not to get out their bikes because it had rained all morning. Mud puddles call loudly to Bart and I didn't want to deal with that mess. So, come dinnertime I look out to see both boys on their bikes. I holler for them to put the bikes away and come inside for dinner.

Bart obeyed. (shock!) TT acted like he did. It was obvious TT was dysregulated though. He was visibly agitated. I didn't do a full inventory of the contents of the garage. I just assumed all the bikes were back like they were supposed to be. I shut the door and got everyone situated at the table.

TT raced through dinner and asked immediately to be excused so he could go outside. I let him get down from the table but I said he was NOT to go outside. I was going to have all the kids help with a few simple chores before releasing them to free play again.

TT flipped out!!!! Then, he went outside anyway.

Marching after him, I went outside and ordered him back in. He started spinning some story about needing to go outside to get his toys back. He said his friends were riding his bike and that they had taken our basketball. I was ticked that he had gone outside deliberately after being told not to. We started to butt heads.

TT was making it sound like his friends had stolen his bike out of our garage. Initially I believed him. His bike was out in the street and his friends were retreating from our yard. I believed him until I turned the corner and saw the garage door was shut. (I had forgotten that I shut it before dinner.) No one had stolen his bike! He had never put it away!!!

The meltdown went from bad to worse. I brought TT inside. Herman volunteered to go outside to put away the bike and the basketball. I took TT into the guest room and put him up on the queen-sized bed that is now in there. TT completely lost control. He flopped and rolled and acted like he was being pushed off the bed. He ended up (all on his own) on the other side of the bed flailing for me to "help" him. Then he slid off on to the floor.

Once there he insisted that he was trapped. He screamed at me to help him. I knew perfectly well that he was in no way trapped. At first I said I wasn't going to help him. But then, as he started morphing my resistance into melodramatic crapola (like...I NEVER help him...and I don't care about him) I decided to hold my hand out. Again, he insisted he was trapped and couldn't lift his hand towards mine. It was so obvious that he was full of it! Trying to think outside the box, I went to go get my phone. I told TT that this display was so over the top I wanted to video it so he could watch it later. While I was out of the room TT managed to roll all the way under the bed. As I came in to video him he crawled out from under the bed and almost seemed a little embarrassed by his behavior. He wasn't regulated yet, but he had turned a corner.

Honestly, I don't remember how he got fully regulated. I think Satan himself decided to pay a visit to our home. Over the next two hours every.single.one. of my children ticked me off. And not just a little bit! There was screaming. Yelling. Defiance. Hitting. Whining. And more and more Defiance. Every single child pushed every single button of mine. It was exhausting!

At 8:00PM though, after Cherub 1 left to go watch the MMA fights with Mr. Amazing, and all other cherubs were in bed asleep, I got the most interesting phone call.

Ms. Fowler rang me. I think the purpose of the phone call was to simply let me know that she misplaced my check and wanted me to look for it around the house and where she parked her car. But we ended up talking on the phone for nearly an hour!

In her one short appointment with Cherub 2, she made a pretty accurate assessment. I was amazed!

First and foremost, she went on and on about how gifted he is. This is paramount in my opinion because it is the huge difference between how his mind works and how he responds to his body that causes so many of our difficulties. She worded it better than that but it was her assessment too. She asked a lot of questions but really seemed to understand my TT pretty well.

I'm going to keep a record of his moods. Originally we talked that he would do this assessment himself. I think I'm going to have him make a chart that he fills out daily so he can self-assess. But, I think I'm going to keep my own chart as well.

I'm also going to "nurture" him a little less when he's flipping out. I have a hard time telling when his trigger is real and when he's being manipulative. I think I'm going to try the video response again. That idea didn't come from Ms. Fowler but I'm pretty sure she would approve. I'm not trying to demean my little guy. I just want him to be aware of what he's doing. And since he does seem to be able to turn it on and off (sometimes anyway), I need him to turn it off a little faster!

After she's met with him for awhile we may move forward with sending TT to a psychiatrist. She's definitely not rushing with anything yet. She made this very, very clear to me!! But she does personally work with a couple child psychiatrists that she trusts. She's going to bring a book for me to read about bipolar as well. She's NOT diagnosing TT with bipolar (one visit does not a diagnosis make...plus, she's a counselor, not a psychiatrist). She just wants me to read the book and determine if I see any of TT in the descriptions in the book. It will help her know how best to proceed.

I feel really good about it all. For a small amount of money in the grand scheme of things, I had a licensed professional drive over an hour to my home, have a therapy session with my son and then call me later for almost an hour long consultation with me. I don't expect miracles but I do think we will make some progress.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Decision Time

Bluebell (Pumpkin's CPS worker) came this afternoon for her monthly visit. Other than having to document the fact that Pumpkin split open her lip last night when she fell after her bath and hit the counter – the visit was a short one. We had very little to cover as nothing has changed in Pumpkin's case. Pumpkin is going to have a visit with her uncle next month that I will supervise. And things will (hopefully) progress from there. We are all hopeful that the judge will approve the transfer to the uncle's house after court in April.

Before Bluebell left though, she asked if I had any questions. I said I did...but that they were about Dude and Dolly's case. I wanted to pick her brain. I completely understood if she was busy or didn't want to. But...if she was willing, I really wanted another worker's take on things.

Bluebell said she'd chat, no problem. We went to the kitchen to discuss things away from the cherubs.

I spelled out everything that has happened in the case. I expressed my concern over Grandma "wanting" the kids but not having ANY kind of a relationship with them.

Bluebell informed me that placement with Grandma, given these circumstances, is AGAINST State policy. Policy says that the person needs to have a "significant relationship" with the child – even if it's a blood relative.

This is where it got interesting. Bluebell recommends that we:

 1. Get our own lawyer. We need to do this before we say anything officially to CPS. We need to do this so that CPS doesn't get "offended" and decide they want to move the kids. When I told her who the supervisor over Jasmine is, she made it very clear again that we need to get a lawyer first. I guess the supervisor over this case is a real peace of work!!

2. File a formal complaint against DFPS. They are not following their own policies and we can complain. She told me where to go on the website and everything.

I asked Bluebell if she knew of a lawyer to recommend. She does – but wasn't sure if said lawyer would be able to represent us in our county as she is located one county over. I tried to call the law office after Bluebell left but no one answered. I have to assume they were gone for the weekend.

I called Mr. Amazing to let him know what Bluebell recommended. He had a 1/2 hour left on his commute home today so he's got a bit of time to think about things.

I have NO IDEA what we're going to do. I don't know if we're in a place where we want to hire a lawyer to potentially be chasing rainbows. On paper, this case doesn't look that messy. CPS needs to tie up some loose ends and it's quite common to place children with grandparents. Grandma hasn't ever hurt these children so it's not unreasonable for the placement to happen. And Bluebell was quick to tell me that the judge down here doesn't like it when people intervene in CPS cases.

But I do want what is best for these two beautiful children. And since no family members are able to step up and come forward for these kids except a grandma that isn't really that interested, I think we are what's best for these two beautiful children.

I'm asking for prayer for our family. We need to make the wise choice for our family and for these children. If doors open, I guess we'll walk through. We just have to know what doors to approach first.

Keeping things locked up

Note: This is not a paid post or anything like that. I just think this product is perfect for those of us in foster care and I want to let others know.

It seems my organization tip yesterday went over well. I figured I'd share my other little gem. This time it's about storage.

When you're a foster parent it can seem like you have to lock up just about everything. Of course different agencies and areas of the country have different rules. Sometimes things have to be out of reach. Sometimes they have to be under lock and key.

We have a big house. As big as it is, I still don't have a single closet I'm willing to lock down completely so that no one but the adults can get in it. Besides, it isn't our goal to live in this house (or part of the country) long-term. We don't want to put locks all over the place. I know some people use locking filing cabinets. But they are usually pretty big and often rather expensive.

So what's a foster mom to do? I've got cleaning supplies that are supposed to be kept under lock and key. Where do I put them?

I swear by these locked storage boxes!



Not only do they lock, but it ISN'T with a key. I don't have to hide some stupid key and then try to remember where I put it. These lock with a combination. And yes...the combination at my house is 0000. But that's only because I think it's perfectly ridiculous to have to lock up my cleaning supplies!! bwwaahahahahah

Where I live the standard my agency holds for medications is a "double lock". However, I can't get a definitive answer from anyone about what that HAS to look like. Some say it much be a locked box inside another locked box or closet. Because I've had licensing in my home a couple different times, and no one has said anything negative, I also store my medications in one of these lock boxes. There are two combination locks that function independently from each other. Therefore, the meds are double locked!

I found these at Office Depot but I'm sure other office supply stores carry similar products.

Oh yeah, if you're wondering why I have two spray bottles that look like they contain cleaning products NOT in the box – it's because they are filled with a solution of vinegar and water. Not only is vinegar cheaper than traditional cleaning products, but it is better for the environment AND I'm not required to lock up vinegar. That way any of my kids can get a basic household cleaner out to clean up after themselves and I can't get in trouble for it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Organization

There are lots of ways to stay organized. And we all know that paperwork is half the job when you're a foster parent. I've decided to share my organization system with y'all today.

I've seen this in several other blog posts. By no means is this original. But it's how I've been doing things all along so I figured I'd share. I've even taken some pictures.  :)

I keep a 3-ring binder for each foster kid that comes into our family. Pumpkin's binder is 3" thick and is completely full! I call it Pumpkin's Bible. I go nowhere without it!! Dude and Dolly are a lot easier to care for – they share a binder.

Before I explain how I do it, I want to explain WHY I do it.

For the most part, foster parents aren't always taken that seriously. Like I mentioned in my last post, we are at the very bottom of the totem pole. One way to help level that playing field is to stay organized. When I show up with my binder, people usually do a double take. I had one social worker practically bug his eyes out. He asked me if I was a brand new foster parent. My response was, "No. I'm just organized. I want to always be able to back up what I have to say with proof if necessary."

I needed that social worker to take care of a medical paperwork snafu. Under other circumstances, he might not have been inclined to believe that Pumpkin had truly had her physical. He probably would have told me that if I received a letter saying she needed a physical, then that's what I would have to do. Because I had my binder, I was able to - right there on the fly - bring out paperwork showing all the exams Pumpkin has ever had. This social worker, one whom I had never met, took time out of his busy court schedule to fix the problem for me.


My binder system is very simple. The first page is probably the most important. This sheet, more than anything, impresses the heck out of the professionals involved in my kids' cases. It contains all the contact information anyone could ever need. For Pumpkin's book I've got her name and birth date at the top. Under that I have our name, address and phone numbers. (I'm really not worried about anyone getting ahold of our contact information. I make it available to everyone. I just don't give out our social security numbers - ever.) Under the immediate contact info I list out all the professionals involved in Pumpkin's life. They include, but aren't limited to, doctors, dentist, rehab, day care, school, our licensing agency, her CPS worker, GAL, lawyer, CASA and her Medicaid case worker. I keep this sheet of paper in a clear page protector so I can pull it out. If I know I'm going to be meeting someone new (if her worker changes or I'm meeting with CASA) I print out an extra copy so I can just give it to them.

The second page is a list of all of Pumpkin's medications. Again, this is in a clear protector so I can give a copy to any interested parties.

Page three is for the copies I have of Pumpkin's birth certificate and social security card.

I use folders for the next couple categories. The first one contains "Things to Turn In". Every time Pumpkin sees a doctor I have to have a special form filled out that I have to turn in to my agency. When the month is up, I store her med logs in this folder until I see our worker, Rainbow. When Rainbow comes for her visits, I'm able to simply grab the bible, turn to the folder and hand her everything all at once.

The next folder is for paperwork I want to keep but for items that change frequently. I don't keep all my copies of everything. For example, our agency worker has to write up an Individual Service Plan every few months. I only keep the most current copy. And since it's quite thick, it's easier to store this in a folder instead of hole punching it. I also keep a current copy of the clothing and personal possessions inventory sheet I have to fill out every 3 months.



Behind all the folders are sections for all the paperwork.
General Health (including her immunization card in a clear binder)
Neurology
Hospital
Dentist
Vision
Rehab
CPS Forms (placement forms & medical consenter forms)
Education (504 & IEP)

I simply three-hole punch everything and file it behind the appropriate tab. I keep everything here forever. In fact, since all I was required to give CPS when Pumpkin went home in September was the education section, I kept my bible intact. I figured Pumpkin's mom didn't care about this information before – she probably hadn't started caring. When Pumpkin came back in to care 11 days later, I still had everything I needed. When Pumpkin leaves my care to go to a relative (hopefully), I will be able to give them her complete medical history (or as complete as I've been able to put together).

Finally, I keep a folder behind it all to store blank copies of forms. If I have to rush to the doctor or hospital for an emergency, I know that I've got her Medicaid card (I store that in the front pocket of the binder itself), medical history and necessary forms. If left to my own devices, I'm quite confident that I would forget to get the medical form filled out if I didn't keep copies with me at all times.

Because of Pumpkin's special needs, lots of people need information out of different sections. She saw a new dentist last time and he appreciated getting the actual diagnosis list from the neurologist. Yes, I could have told the dentist everything. But it's more official when I can give him a signed copy from the neurologist himself. The school needs her medical information. Her social workers need everything. And when I have had to go to the hospital, it helped to be able to show them official forms from each professional.

People respond positively to organization. And showing up to every event with full documentation on our kids helps level that playing field. I feel like I'm taken more seriously because of this binder and I don't leave home with my kids unless I've got their binders with me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I don't want to puke

After playing phone tag, Dude and Dolly's lawyer finally reached me yesterday. Honestly, it was a very bizarre phone call. She really didn't say much. For the most part, I don't think she realized why I wanted to know or even cared about what happened in court. So often I think these kids become little more than case numbers and manila envelopes to the professionals involved. And very few want to accept that this is MY life they are messing with too. Even if the case is working perfectly towards reunification, MY life is greatly affected by what goes on in court.

When I get completely freaked out or stressed, I often feel quite sick to my stomach. All I can say is that when I hung up the phone with the lawyer, I didn't want to puke. I guess that's a good thing.

The children didn't go to Grandma's in D**** simply because CPS has neglected to properly process all the necessary paperwork concerning the bio dad. I believe he has to be "served" and that hasn't happened yet. At one point in time they were supposed to do a paternity test as well. I'm not sure what ever happened with that.

All the lawyer told me was that there were procedural problems. It is because of these procedural issues she can't legally make the transfer to Grandma yet.

Key word there = yet.

The lawyer went on to babble a bunch of nothing. I tried to press her for what would happen next. What options she thought she had. Her main response was, "CPS has their hand on the wheel. They are driving this. They want to proceed with sending the children to Grandma."

The lawyer said again that she's not in favor of the children going to Grandma. It just doesn't sit right with her. She said she mentioned the lack of relationship to the judge. His response was along the lines of, "I don't know why The Department would want to send these kids to a stranger. But if that's what they want to do...oh well."

The lawyer obviously wanted to wrap up the phone call. I pressed her a bit and asked if it would be possible for us (the foster parents) to be considered for PMC (permanent managing conservatorship).  She didn't want to discuss this. It was apparent. First she said that foster parents don't do this kind of thing. I said that I've done my research and that due to the amount of time we've known these children and the role that we've played in their lives, that I thought we could. The lawyer, quickly, said something about us needing to get our own counsel. Honestly though, she didn't say much. She didn't say, "yes, you can do this." But...then again...she didn't say, "no, this isn't an option."

Instead she went back to the mantra that CPS is driving this. It's all up to them.

I've got a couple reactions to this. First, I'm surprised she puts that much weight on CPS. There's no formal written hierarchy. But from my experience it goes like this from the top down:
1. judge
2. doctors
3. lawyers
4. CPS supervisors
5. CPS case workers / foster parents
And honestly, there shouldn't be a #5 in front of the last one because really, we (both the case workers and the foster parents) have NO say in anything when it comes to the courts.

But...the lawyer didn't completely shoot me out of the water.

Now it gets tricky. I know what I think is best for the children. It seems that the lawyer agrees with me. And I've even heard CPS agree with me on more than one occasion. But the train is still rolling on towards Grandma's house. I'm not sure what can be done to change its direction.

The lawyer, probably in an attempt to get me off the phone, said that she would talk with the CPS supervisor over this case. Honestly, I doubt she's going to do it for real. I certainly doubt that she's going to do it right away.

I figure it's up to me now to make sure CPS understands the full picture. Somehow I've got to help them see beyond the narrow path of Grandma being the only solution here. If they could consider us for PMC, or even adoption, it would change everything. The lawyer said again that the children are not going to go to their parent(s). That's not an option at all.

I have to play my cards right. I can't go in telling CPS what to do. That will never work. But somehow they've got to see that there are other options. That legally we could be considered. That leaving the children in a safe, loving environment would be best for them. I'm not sure how I'm going to convince CPS of this. But...at least I don't feel like puking when I think about it.

Hopefully their worker will come see us before the month is over. She's supposed to make a monthly visit and so far she hasn't missed yet. I don't want to say anything over the phone really. I'm pretty sure our next conversation has to be in person if I want it to be successful.

I'm certainly not getting my hopes up. I do know how The System works. But I still have a peace about all of this. I don't want to puke. So I'll keep on fighting the good fight.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Therapy

Mr. Wonky has been making a lot of visits to our house lately. I've always figured we'd need outside therapy to help us eventually. But the environment where we live makes me incredibly skeptical of anyone in the medical profession. I know that a "therapist" isn't a medical professional. But it's close. It's someone who is supposed to help with how we think about things. It's brain work. I know I'm being dramatic. But I won't let just anyone close to this part of my children.

Anyway... after a particularly exhausting run-around with Mr. Wonky recently, Cherub 2 and I were sitting on the floor of the kitchen hiding from everyone behind the island. We were talking very quietly. As we processed all that had just happened, he shared with me that his counselor at school hasn't been meeting with him. She had said that she would. They had made arrangements for her to call for him at 9:00 during computer time. Each day 9:00 would come and go and my little guy would feel abandoned all over again.

I asked him if he wanted to talk to a different counselor. His older brother Herman had worked with a counselor before. Cherub 2 had an idea of what it all entailed. With a sigh of relief, he answered yes, he would like to talk to a counselor.

Now...I had to find one.

Since moving to this part of the country I've had the pleasure(??) of meeting five different counselors. The first one scared me to death. He was everything a counselor shouldn't be. To sum up the first meeting, he basically said that ALL foster kids are alike. They are all cut from the same cloth. And my two little girls just needed to get over it. They weren't being abused any more so they had no reason to act up at all. Needless to say, he was not welcome in my house ever again.

The second counselor was wonderful. Marvelous. Amazing. She understood trauma. She deeply cared. She was a play therapist who knew it was about establishing, very slowly, a relationship first. Unfortunately, the court decided she wasn't going to be allowed to work with the girls we had at the time. The relationship was a short one.

The third counselor was court ordered. She didn't scare me. But she sure didn't impress me!!

Counselors #4 and #5 were for my oldest son and for myself. I only saw mine twice. He was perfect for me. Herman's counselor was OK. She helped Herman through some rough spots. But both these counselors were through a non-profit ministry at a local church. And neither one seemed like a good fit for Cherub 2.

Who I really wanted to work with was Counselor #2. (Let's call her Ms. Fowler.) Ms. Fowler lives/works almost 2 hours away from where we live. I decided that a drive is worth it if we're going to be receiving quality counseling. I googled her name and got a phone number.

I got lucky. Not only was the number current, it was her cell phone and I got to talk to her immediately. She let me know that she wasn't working for our agency anymore. I said that wasn't a problem because I was looking to help my son (not a foster child). She was surprised that I would want to commute that far for counseling. I explained that if it's quality therapy, it's worth the drive. She went on to say that she doesn't have an office that she counsels out of right now but an associate of hers was willing to loan hers out. We negotiated a fee. She said she'd talk to her friend and get back with me.

God has got to be all over this. Not only was I able to find the counselor I wanted, but she called me back and said that it would be better for her to come to our home! For only $5 more per session, she's going to drive to our home to do the therapy!!! And...weekends work best for her. I'm not going to have to try and work this in after school. I'm so happy!!

Ms. Fowler is going to schedule our first appointment for this Sunday afternoon. (We already have plans on Saturday that involve mandatory foster parent training that can't be rescheduled.) I'm excited to add another person in to the whole Mr. Wonky mess. Cherub 2 seems pleased. I don't know if he has expectations of what therapy is going to look like. But he regularly says he doesn't like Mr. Wonky and he wants to keep him away. Me, I just like having another person involved that understands trauma. I'm anxious to hear her take on things.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Is this week over yet?!

Monday = court = stress for everyone

Tuesday = Valentine's Day = stress for Cherub 2 (This was the first time I was aware of this holiday triggering my adopted child. Yesterday was not an easy day for him. Mr. Wonky came to visit!!)

Wednesday = 2nd grade program at school = even more stress for Cherub 2

----

I got a therapeutic work-out last night. I did OK for part of it. But then again...I retreated into our guest bedroom and bawled my eyes out for part of it too. It was one of those obnoxious shaky cries that scares grown men. (What's wrong with the woman...she's leaking...I can't fix her...kind of cries.)

I can't wait for this week to be over!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

PMC????

I talked to my agency worker, Rainbow, about intervening in the case with Dolly and Dude as soon as we got out of court yesterday. Mei had sent me some very good information about it. (See the comments in this post.)

Rainbow said that she would talk things over with her supervisor. She said that she knew nothing of this process. As it seems, the director of our agency is unfamiliar with intervening as well.

The director indicated to Rainbow that we should consider trying to get PMC (permanent managing conservatorship) of Dude and Dolly. The director seems to think that "intervening" goes against what CPS is trying to pursue right now. That's not exactly how I understand intervening. But the director thinks that since they are not moving towards termination at all right now, PMC is the only real alternative.

No one has spoken with the CPS caseworker, Jasmine, yet. The lawyer hasn't returned my phone call yet. No one knows what really happened in court yesterday except those two.

Maybe PMC is all that we could gain if we hired a lawyer and officially intervened in this case. I was told by the lawyer herself that this judge doesn't like to terminate rights. As of Friday, she too was not in favor of moving towards a termination trial.

Can anyone else tell me what PMC looks like? Rainbow couldn't answer any of my harder questions. If we had PMC, I do know that Mom would be able to come back at any time and try to fight for her kids. We would always have that hanging over our heads.

But, on the flip side, the kids would be out of foster care. I wouldn't have to get permission from anyone if I wanted to leave the county. If we stopped doing foster care I could go back to a "normal" life. But could I move the children out of state if my husband got a new job? Would the children go on our health insurance or would they still qualify for Medicaid?

It looks like I might get to learn a little bit more about the legal system. What do you know about PMC?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Oh holy potatoes!!

Stupid title. But I can barely think straight!

My cherubs are going to be hanging out at our house for another three months.

I really know NOTHING. I believe the lawyer was able to draw things out because CPS neglected to take care of some paternity things. The bio dad is completely out of the picture. But there is still paperwork to be filed and, I believe, a genetic test to be done.

I'm not going to know the real intentions until I get to speak with the lawyer. I didn't get to go into the courtroom yet again. In fact, they had removed all but 2 chairs in the waiting area so I spent the entire time at court sitting on the floor with very nervous children. About 20 minutes after when our case was to be called, the lawyer stepped out of the courtroom and said that the next hearing would be in May. I was to make sure I brought the children with me then.

My jaw dropped. My eyes bugged out. She indicated that she wasn't going to discuss the case in front of the others waiting in the room. I am to call her.

I will be calling first thing in the morning!!

I got to meet a relative of Dude and Dolly that really impressed me today. Their maternal great-grandma is a neat lady! She and one of her sons came to the hearing today. We exchanged phone numbers. I hope to be able to talk to her about the cherub's history.

I can't wait to talk to the lawyer. I want to know what her intentions are. And then I may need to start getting my own legal ducks in a row. Boy this foster parenting stuff is a trip!!

It will probably change nothing...

Dude and Dolly's grandma was supposed to come to court today. She called CPS yesterday crying. It seems she lost her wallet that contained all of her money and her bus tickets. She will not be able to have the visit with Dude and Dolly or attend court.

This could change nothing. CPS has informed me (quite sternly) that they are still recommending the children go to Grandma. I was told that Jasmine has spoken with her supervisor and the case has been staffed out. It is all but a done deal.

However, the lawyer wasn't convinced on Friday that going to Grandma's is the best solution. Grandma not being able to show up could change the game plan.

Granted, Grandma could have honestly lost her wallet. Or, this could be a convenient way to not have to put forth any effort with the children. And since she's done nothing with the children so far, I have a hard time believing the story that she lost her bus tickets.

Mie -- tell me more about the intervening please. If the children don't go home I want to be legally considered at the next permanency hearing. I welcome all advice!! Either comment directly or email me at cherubmamma at gmail dot com.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

When it rains...it pours

Here's a random post where I whine and complain....

I've got a lot of work to get done right now. My freelancing business is usually pretty flexible, but I've got a couple jobs that I need to get turned ASAP.

I bought a new computer months ago. I bought all the new software I need a couple weeks ago. Last weekend I moved all my data over to my external hard drive. I figured that would be the easiest way to move info from one computer to the other. In fact, I was considering working off my external hard drive so that I could seamlessly work between my desktop and my laptop.

Yesterday I thought it would be a good idea to finally get my new system up and running.

Yesterday I accidentally destroyed all the data on my external hard drive.

It's grey and raining. Everyone is cooped up in the house. An underlying tension fills the air. No one is really looking forward to court on Monday.

And then, to top it all off, Pumpkin is sick. She had a really strong odor to her urine on Friday. There were no other symptoms so I figured I'd just monitor things for a day or so. As the day went on yesterday, she seemed less and less "normal". Of course, Pumpkin isn't verbal so she didn't/couldn't tell me what was wrong. Because of the odor, I assumed she had either a yeast infection or a possible UTI. When I bent down to kiss her as I was giving her her medicine after supper she felt a little warm to me. I took her temp and determined that she did in fact have a very low grade temp. VERY low grade.

But with Pumpkin's underlying medical condition, and the fact that we do have court on Monday, I didn't want to wait any longer. I kissed the rest of the cherubs goodbye and left Mr. Amazing to hold down the fort. Pumpkin and I went to a clinic across town.

We got there at 7:15PM. At just before midnight I found out that Pumpkin had strep throat.

I'm now waiting for a program to try and read my hard drive to see if it can recover any of the lost data. I'd like to avoid re-doing all the work I did last week. Unfortunately, this means I can't work on any of my current jobs that are due.

I also got to spend the afternoon at the doctor office again. As ridiculous as it sounded to me, we had to have a follow up appointment today – less than 24 hours after she got the diagnosis – only 2 hours after she started the antibiotic. Thankfully that appointment went faster and we were only out a little over an hour. Pumpkin's blood count looks better today than it did last night.

I'm antsy. I want to be DOING something!! I can't work. I can't even mess with photos and get Dude and Dolly's picture books ready. I guess maybe I should go tackle the laundry I constantly avoid.

Court is tomorrow at 1:30. I have to leave at 10:00AM. It will take an hour to get to where we need to go. Dude and Dolly are scheduled to have a visit with Grandma from 11:00 to 12:00. Then we will break for lunch. (Won't that be awkward. Do I invite Grandma to come with us? Do we go our separate ways? Acckkkk!)

Prayers are appreciated. I have a real peace about all that tomorrow is going to bring. Part of that peace comes from knowing the lawyer thinks similarly to me. Even if she's not able to come up with a legal reason for the children to not go to Grandma's – at least I will know that my feelings are valid. I also know that my peace comes from all those that are praying for me and the children. Thank you for your prayers!!

And while you're tossing another one up – feel free to pray for my computer too.  :)

I'll keep y'all posted. If nothing else, tomorrow is going to be interesting!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The lawyer called me back

Summary: No one thinks that these young children should go to Grandma. Not their CPS worker. Not our agency worker. Certainly not me. And now...even their lawyer questions if it's in their best interests.

However, CPS is still filing paperwork that they want the children moved half-way across the state to go live with Grandma. My agency worker is here to support me but can do nothing legally right now. I have advocated for the children but there's little else I can do. It's all up to the lawyer and the judge.

The lawyer says she's going to sleep on it....pray on it even. She says she hopes she has an epiphany over the weekend and figures out how to best present this case to the court on Monday.

Me, I just hope they don't drag it out if all they're going to do is end up sending the children to Grandma anyway.

I did say that in the land of rainbows and unicorns I'd love for there to be an open adoption. Grandma could stay "Grandma" and be very involved in our lives. But I would be Dude and Dolly's mommy forever.

But alas, that is only in the land of rainbows and unicorns where hopefully kids aren't being abused and neglected to begin with.

I guess there's a small, small, super tiny chance that they will argue for the kids to not be moved to Grandma's house. Legally though, everything looks good on paper. And paperwork is how this System operates. There's no way to really quantify if Grandma loves these children or truly wants to take care of them. And since she's "blood", she trumps all.

I now have NO IDEA what is going to happen on Monday though. The lawyer was quite flustered. She doesn't like the idea of very small children going to live with someone who doesn't appear to be vested in their lives at all. I literally told her that I hope she does have an epiphany and that she figures out a viable solution to this mess. I told her I pray that the judge listens and rules with wisdom. And all in all, I pray that whatever happens truly is in the best interests of the children!

Feelings

I'm glad
I got an opportunity to parent these children. To show them love. To give them security. To make a difference.

I'm proud
of all the ways our family stretched and grew when these children came. Six kids is a lot of work but having a big family has been pretty awesome!! 

I'm nervous.
Court always makes me nervous.

I'm anxious.
I just wish this was all over with.

I'm angry
at all the friends and family that neglected these precious children to begin with.

I'm disappointed
that Grandma has done nothing to foster a relationship with these kids since they came in to care.

I'm jealous
of Grandma. She gets to raise these kids now and I have to say goodbye.

I'm sad.
I don't want to say goodbye.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I called the laywer

I ended up calling Dude & Dolly's lawyer.

I want their transition to Grandma's house to go as good as possible. Somehow, sending them off with a social worker they barely know and one that is a total stranger just doesn't sound like a good idea. These little ones have never flown on a plane. They will be leaving all they have known for eight months. I know that doesn't sound like a lot. But to them, it really is! They have had stability, love and safety for the last eight months. The least they deserve is a smooth transition to their new home. It's going to be very scary for them.

Jasmine (their CPS worker) told me that the only way they would really be allowed to let me help with the transition is if the judge makes it a court order. She recommended that I speak with their lawyer and make sure to mention this before court. She agrees that it would be best for all involved if I went to D*** and helped the children through the initial transition. But she knows that her supervisor won't allow it unless a judge makes it so.

I didn't want to trust that the lawyer would say anything if she's presented with this information just minutes before court. So, I called today.

I got in contact with a very nice person in the office. (Of course the lawyer was in court.) The office lady assured me that she would pass my message on to the lawyer and then someone would call me back.

Since I had her captive ear, I also expressed my concern over the lack of relationship with this grandma they are going to. I made sure to let her know that my concern is separate from my willingness to help with the transport and transition to Grandma. I'm not going to try and push any of my own agenda or complicate things. I truly want to do what is best for the children! But I thought it was important for their lawyer to know about the lack of involvement. I've seen the lawyers present things to the judge that are completely untrue simply because a situation was blown out of proportion. (ie. I heard a lawyer say that Pumpkin wanted to go back home. This suit and tie had NEVER spent ANY time with Pumpkin. And...remember...Pumpkin can't talk. How on earth would he know what Pumpkin wanted or didn't want?!) I really want Dude & Dolly's lawyer to know the full story. I know that in the end a blood tie trumps all. But I don't want this being painted as some beautiful reunion!!

So now I sit waiting for a response. This is probably good for me. I'm one of those people that rehearses difficult situations over and over (and over and over) in my mind. I've already had "the conversation" with the lawyer in my head at least four dozen times. I'm hoping now I can let it go. I do hope she calls me back. I really want to know that I've been heard.

Mom doesn't understand

Here's another little tidbit from my home visit with Pumpkin's worker last week.

Pumpkin's mom doesn't understand that Pumpkin is never coming home.

I was pretty sure this was the case just based on what I heard outside the courtroom before the hearing. It made me sick to my stomach. I believe that Pumpkin's mom deserves respect. I believe she needs to hear the truth about the case. I don't believe Mom's lawyer has dealt with this case the right way. I believe that Mom has been snowballed about the PMC (permanent managing conservatorship). They told Mom that she would get more visits with Pumpkin but left out the details about the State taking conservatorship and Pumpkin never going home.

Pumpkin's mom called up Bluebell (the CPS worker). Bluebell is relatively new to this case. She's a seasoned worker who knows what she's doing. As far as workers go, I really like her. She listens to me and takes me seriously. She doesn't think she knows more about Pumpkin than I do.

Anyway, Pumpkin's mom was upset and was demanding to know what she needed to do to get Pumpkin back. Bluebell had to explain PMC to Mom. Mom didn't understand! Bluebell told Mom that unless the judge does something really strange at the next hearing, Pumpkin will never be coming home. She also stressed that CPS is recommending that Pumpkin never go back home.

From there Mom started crying. I guess she expressed a huge level of depression and said she just wanted to die. Bluebell recommended that Mom seek professional services to deal with the mental imbalance.

The relative resource here where we live is not going to be considered as a possible permanent home for Pumpkin. This leaves only the uncle half-way across the state. Mom does not want Pumpkin to go there. She's devastated. She says she'll never get to see Pumpkin again.

I feel bad for Pumpkin's mom. Not because of the overall outcome. Honestly, I think it would be best for Pumpkin to never see her mom again. I think it's great that a family member wants to step up and fill the need. They say they want to adopt Pumpkin. I just feel bad that things aren't being explained to Pumpkin's mom by the people that are representing her in court. I'm sad that she doesn't understand what's going on right now.

Pumpkin has a two hour visit tonight. I'm not looking forward to it. It happens between 5 and 7. I have to feed Pumpkin supper almost as soon as she gets home from school. Pumpkin will be upset after the visit. It will be subtle but she will struggle with basic communication even more. Usually she withdraws and doesn't interact with anyone in the family. It's so hard for me because I can't explain any of it to Pumpkin. She just doesn't understand and isn't capable of understanding. I do hope that Mom is stable enough at the visit to handle it well. I wish the visits were truly supervised. Yes, they are in the CPS office. But there is usually only one or two workers supervising as many as 8 or more visits at once.

Also, the State has decided that they will not be sending me with Pumpkin to visit the uncle in his home. I'm sure this is a funding issue. I find it very unfortunate. Thankfully the uncle is going to come and visit Pumpkin here sometime in March. But I just don't think a short (couple hour) visit will give the uncle enough time to grasp what it's like to care for Pumpkin full time. It's all they're going to do though. I pray this visit goes well. I pray for Pumpkin and her family regularly. Prayer is pretty much all you've got when you're a foster parent!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Football

Every single thing is bringing me to tears lately. I so just want this week to be over with.

Right now five of my cherubs are playing together up in our playroom. The squeals and giggles are so loud coming through the monitor I can barely understand anything they are saying. In fact, I do believe they are playing football. It's probably going to end with someone getting hurt.

But I can't bring myself to stop them. They too only get one week left with Dude and Dolly. Homework just doesn't seem that important right now when there is a football game going on in the play room.

I'm just going to sit here at my desk and cry.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Day care

I just explained to Dude and Dolly that they will be going to day care tomorrow. I've got a doctor appointment and I'm not going to bring them with me.

Dude sat at the table with his eyes getting wider and wider. Then they glassed over.

Dolly looked at me and said, "Grandma get me?"

I cannot explain to them what is going to happen in just over a week. They don't understand.

It hurt my heart to say it all over again.

"No Dolly. Your grandma isn't going to come get you. That's not happening yet. Your grandma lives far far away. Besides, we have to talk to the judge first. He has to decide.

But when you do go live with your grandma, it isn't down here. Your grandma lives far far away. You will have to say bye bye to Mamma L***. You won't get to see me anymore. The day care will be totally different. It is far far away."

Both kids struggled to keep a straight face. Neither one understands. And I can't explain it any better than "Grandma lives far far away". They don't know this Grandma. They don't know where they are going. And they don't understand that they won't see us ever again.

This week is going to suck!!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Highlights from a home visit

This is going to be a long and somewhat rambling post I'm sure. This blog is as much for me as it is for anyone else. I'm not sure why I want to remember all these details sometimes. Foster care is so frustrating. And, as usual, a whole lot of crazy that really amounts to nothing has been going on.

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Characters in this post:
Bluebell = Pumpkin's CPS worker
Rainbow = our agency worker
Jasmine = Dude and Dolly's CPS worker

I got a text on January 16 from Bluebell asking to have a home visit on the 17th. Since my family was in town from out of state I made it clear I wasn't as flexible as normal. Bluebell said it would be no problem to come by the next week after my family left.

On January 19th I sent a text letting Bluebell know I was available every day the following week. No reply. And no home visit happened that week.

Monday I got a phone call asking if Bluebell could come by on Tuesday. It's the end of the month. She has to get her visit in. She said she'd be here at 4:00.

Around 4:45 I got a phone call letting me know the home visit just before mine ran long. She was on her way. Would it be a problem? I said no.

45 minutes later Bluebell showed up.

It was supposed to be a short visit. This is Pumpkin's CPS worker. And since nothing has changed in her case, we really didn't have to cover much.

I only had one thing I wanted to know. How are things progressing towards placement with a bio relative?

Bluebell told me that an uncle located on the other side of the state is looking to be a good candidate. Several positive phone calls have taken place. Bluebell then shared that in order for the judge to consider this placement, this relative needs to visit with Pumpkin at least once, if not two more more times, before court in April.

I volunteered my time and service to take Pumpkin across the state to make this happen. I really want to communicate with the person(s) that will be raising Pumpkin when she leaves care. I've done a tremendous amount of "detective" work. I also know all the nuances of caring for Pumpkin. For example, I know that Pumpkin needs to eat a lot of yogurt in order to stay regular. And if she's not regular -- it's NO fun!! I'd love to pass that information on so that the next caregiver doesn't have to learn it the hard way. Bluebell said she'd make arrangements to fly Pumpkin and I to visit this uncle over a weekend sometime this month. Fun things to look forward to????

But the comment about visits before permanent placement got me to thinking.

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Dude and Dolly have had almost NO CONTACT with the grandmother that is going to take custody. There was one very strange phone call back in September...while I was driving down the road. Dolly rattled off all kinds of things about her birthday in English. Grandma mumbled a few things in Spanish. Neither person understood the other and Dude didn't talk to Grandma at all.

And there has been one visit. It was right before the court hearing in November.

Grandma has not initiated any contact at all. No letters. No cards. No phone calls. No nothing. It totally breaks my heart. I cannot wrap my brain around wanting to care for these children but not finding it important to start building a relationship.

-----

On Wednesday I called Jasmine right away. I had to leave a message. I wanted to know her take on things. Grandma has had no contact. Did she think the judge would require another visit before he'd allow placement? If Bluebell thinks that visits prior to placement are important to the judge, what does Jasmine think?

I also sent a text to Rainbow. She's awesome and I knew she'd call me back. None of this was a rush so I figured she could call me at her convenience.

Rainbow called me back before Jasmine did. Rainbow shares my frustration with Dude & Dolly's situation. But, as we talked, we decided rocking the boat would probably not be a good idea. Ultimately, the judge wants these kids out of care. "Relationship" isn't important to the equation as far as the law is concerned down here. If I tried to make "relationship" important, I could make things worse. They could decide that the kids need to stay in care for another three months so contact could be made. At best though, only one visit would be arranged. I personally think three more months in care with only one visit would be detrimental to all parties involved. I'm not sure my heart could take it and I know the "behaviors" would get even more wonky. (Because yes, they have their own versions of Mr. Wonky too!) Of course, I could call the kids' lawyer and make sure she knows about Grandma's apparent lack of commitment. But, on paper, Grandma has done all she needs to do to get the kids and that's all that matters. Talking to the lawyer wouldn't change anything.

Rainbow left a message with Jasmine too. Jasmine returned her call (not mine). Thankfully, Rainbow passed on Jasmine's thoughts to me.

Jasmine says that Grandma will get the kids. It's a done deal. She said something about being short of resources and down one worker (as an excuse for not arranging any visits with Grandma as of yet). Honestly, a judge shouldn't care about those excuses. Relationship should be important. It should be a sign of their overall intent to truly care for the children. Important or not though, this case is all but done. The children will have court on the 13th, come home with me and then be placed with Grandma later that week.

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I will say something to the lawyer right before court. That's really the only contact the lawyers have with their children. Minutes before we get called into court, the lawyer will take me aside and ask me how things are going. I will use that brief amount of time to express my opinions on Grandma's lack of contact. I'm not going to hold my breath though. I'm preparing for them to leave.

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Pumpkin will be leaving too. Hopefully all will proceed forward and she will be adopted by her aunt and uncle. I hope I get to be a part of that transition. If the State drags their heels though and progress is not made in April when we go to court again, I am putting in my 30 day notice. I have reached the end of my ability to care for Pumpkin long-term.

When we got our license there were three kinds of cases we were not going to take.
1. teenage girls (we have a teenage boy - 'nuf said)
2. known dangers (we have small children and a pet - I didn't want to have to worry about fire starters, ones that have harmed animals, ones that have sexually perpetrated, etc.)
3. major medical cases

When we got the call on Pumpkin over a year ago we were told that she had some developmental delay and a limp. We were told that she used to have a seizure disorder. All of this was horribly misleading. They didn't even tell me she wasn't potty trained. I had no idea what I was agreeing to.

But when Pumpkin came I was too nervous to say anything. And then I didn't want to see her go because I truly did want to advocate for her.

I'm tired though. Pumpkin and I just aren't a good fit. It sounds so callous, I know.

She is horribly apathetic. You can't imagine it if you've never met a child like this!! She would be perfectly happy to let me do everything for her and decide everything for her 100% of the time.

I don't mesh well with that level of apathy. Pumpkin has splinter skills. There are things she can understand and things that she can do that don't seem to match up with her level of disability. Therefore, it is almost impossible for me to determine what she truly can and cannot do vs. what she is just refusing to do.

I want to push Pumpkin to master self-care skills. She wants to have nothing to do with being independent. So we clash. I believe the child can learn to put on and off her clothes (with help of course). I believe the child should have to say, "drink please" if she wants a glass of water after brushing her teeth. I want her to tell me, "more fruit" (mimicking a verbal prompt) when she obviously wants more of something at dinner.

Pumpkin however wants to fuss and cry instead of even trying to put on and off her clothes. Pumpkin wants to grunt, very much under her breath, something that you can tell is "drink please" but without any level of annunciation. Pumpkin wants to very clearly say "all done" instead of "more fruit" even though it is obvious she wants more fruit. She would rather get down from the table instead of using her language abilities to say what she wants. If she can't get what she wants through simple routine or pointing, she is perfectly OK not getting what she wants. She does NOT want to put forth any effort to communicate her desires.

And yes, I believe Pumpkin has the ability to communicate more than she does. She can talk along with complete SpongeBob episodes. She can sing songs. She will repeat things that others say all the time. But if I WANT her to communicate something, she shuts down.

I realize this is most likely due to the trauma and abuse that she has suffered. She spent the first 5.5 years of her life never being asked to do anything for herself. Then, not only does she enter foster care, but the new "mom" now expected her to communicate her wants?! I represented a mom figure that she wanted to reject anyway (like many foster kids do). And I wanted her to learn how to do things for herself. Pumpkin will cooperate so much better with just about everyone else around her but me.

I really want to go on and on explaining all the reasons I can no longer care for Pumpkin. I feel guilty. Guilty that I'm not in love with her. Guilty that most of the time I really don't like her much. I want to explain that even though I'm not head over heels for her, I still will advocate for her best interests. I still want her to be taken care of and loved. And I do tell her that I love her all the time. And that I do hug her and kiss her even though she rejects me. That I keep on trying to fake it until I make it. But it's not getting easier to care for her. It's getting harder. Not because Pumpkin is any more difficult to care for, but because of me and my own issues.

And since I can't get over my own issues -- Pumpkin needs to go somewhere else.

I'm praying that the State will do its job effectively. Bluebell was compassionate and did not judge me when I explained that I'm "done". In fact, she said that she will use this information to hopefully get her supervisors and the lawyers to do their parts quickly. The homestudy has been done on this uncle. All looks good for a permanent placement. In fact, the uncle has made it clear he wants to adopt. It seems that's all that is left to do is to arrange a visit or two before April. And since I agreed to supervise the visit(s), they just have to pay for the plane tickets and put it on the schedule.

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My babies are going to be leaving in less than two weeks. We will probably take advantage of some respite with Pumpkin and do something fun with our core family. It's going to hurt when they leave. It's going to hurt bad! Then we'll make it through the next couple months with Pumpkin. Hopefully I'll take her to visit her uncle and that process can continue to move forward. And then, Lord willing, Pumpkin will be transitioned to her uncle's home after court on April 3.

Then....

Who knows!!