Monday, April 30, 2012

7:10PM

8:54AM - CPS supervisor tried to call one cell in our home. My oldest had the phone and no one heard it ring.

9:05AM - CPS supervisor called again.

9:44AM - CPS supervisor called yet again. This time she left a voice mail. (After all, it is the last day of the month and every kid is supposed to be seen once per month and the worker over Dude & Dolly's case has been MIA all month long.)

10:20AM - My oldest checked the voice mail and called me on my cell to tell me that Rebeca (CPS supervisor) had called. I was on my way to a neuro appointment with Pumpkin so I called Rebeca back and told her to call me on the other number.

12:30PM - Rebeca called in again. NOT on the number I told her to call on in my voice mail. But, I happened to have the other phone close so I didn't miss this call. And yes, Rebeca wanted to stop by and see Dude and Dolly. It seems she's carrying part of the caseload (at least the home visit part) of some of the MIA worker's cases.

I had to tell Rebeca that Dude and Dolly were in day care. I had just gotten home from the neurologist and then the eye doctor. I was going to let Dude and Dolly nap at day care. Then, after I dropped Pumpkin off for her family visit at 3:00, I was going to pick up the babies.

When Rebeca found out she couldn't come at 2:30, she asked about 5:00. I laughed and had to say no because that was when I had to pick up Pumpkin from her family visit. Rebeca tossed out 7:00 or 7:30. Again I said no, that's too close to bed time. So...we agreed on 5:30.

I've been doing this long enough that I didn't really expect to see Rebeca at 5:30. In fact, I went ahead and made dinner to be served right at that time. Sure enough, at 5:40 Rebeca called to say that she was running late. She'd be to my home at 7:00. I got an apology. But really...what could I do?! They have to come and I have to accommodate.

We ate dinner. I started baths early. By 7:00PM all three of the littlest cherubs were up in their room looking at books. I was bitter. I was angry. I hate having my life open to "their" beck and call. Besides, this Rebeca is the worker that has totally blown of this case since the beginning. She was the LAST person I wanted to grace my threshold. What could she possibly say to me?! What would I say to her?!

7:10PM Rebeca showed. She was smiling and we made pleasantries. She sat down at the kitchen table and we got to business right away.

I cut to the chase almost immediately. I gave her my take on this case in about 45 seconds. The kids don't want to go to Grandma's house. The kids want to stay here. We want the kids to stay here. And Grandma has been out of the picture since the kids came in to Care so really...does she want them?! Can she raise them?! Will they be safe?!

I figured she would cut me off at the knees. I was ready for it. My heart was prepared.

Instead...Rebeca surprised me. She really surprised me!

It seems that she and Deborah  had discussed this case in detail. Rebeca admitted that this case has been on "pause" for months. She took responsibility for that. Then she said that she doesn't like the idea of the kids going to Grandma's house either. My jaw dropped.

Now before I go doing a happy adoption dance, everyone has to acknowledge that Grandma did pass a home study. So, the judge could very easily say, "send 'em to Grandma's!"

However, Rebeca told me that the kids' lawyer doesn't want the babies to go to Grandma's. I know this. But I wasn't sure how open the lawyer had been with the rest of the State. So here we are again at a place where every single player in the game doesn't think it's a good idea for the children to leave our home.

Rebeca said it though. If the kids don't go to Grandma's this time the State is going to pursue non-relative adoption. She said the word "termination". I made sure she knew that we would be willing to do an open adoption. I even saw her write those words down in her notes.

From there we went upstairs to where the three youngest cherubs were waiting. Rebeca talked and played with the babies. Rebeca talked and played with Pumpkin. (Rebeca has been the supervisor over Pumpkin's case for all but a couple months -- and starting in June - I think - she's going to be supervisor over Pumpkin's case again.) We spent almost half an hour talking with the kids and going over details in both cases. Rebeca is going to take some of the information I gave her about Pumpkin back to Deborah. No one wants Pumpkin to go back home to Mom either.

I've been told to make sure that Dolly keeps her therapy appointments. Rebeca agreed with my understanding that the kids' lawyer will only argue for what the kids want. So, if we want the lawyer to say they need to stay in our home, that's what the kids have to tell the lawyer they want. It disgusts me that young children are put in this place. But it is what it is. I will continue to validate things if Dude and Dolly say they want to go to their grandma's. However, if they say they want to stay with us, I'm going to tell them to make sure they say this to everyone (the therapist, the social workers and the lawyer).

I know that everything is totally up to the judge. Anything could happen. The kids could be sent across the state to Grandma's house. We could be granted PMC. Or they keep treading water and the kids could stay in foster care when...hopefully anyway...the State would begin to pursue termination.

I'm NOT getting my hopes up. But I am going to pray that I don't go completely crazy the next two weeks. Just 14 days from now my post will contain life changing information no matter what. I'll let y'all know what happens.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Something to look forward to

It's been a pretty average week. I haven't been given any encouraging news about either of the cases in our home right now. The lawyer (GAL) called me back about Pumpkin. She and Pumpkin's attorney ad litem still want to schedule a meeting with me. They say they want to make a case against Pumpkin's mom. However, the GAL spent the entire phone conversation literally saying, "the judge is probably going to send Pumpkin home". She proceeded to give me multiple cases she brought before the judge just this week where he ruled in a completely bassackwards way. A shaken baby case where no charges were filed by the mom against the dad and the judge sent the baby home to mom anyway. A case where the parents were in direct violation of court orders and went to see their kids anyway - so the judge went ahead and gave them unsupervised visits. Things that just don't make sense. (I'm starting to wonder if this judge doesn't suffer from mental illness.)

Pumpkin's case worker made her last-minute appointment to swing by yesterday for her monthly home visit. She too had nothing positive to say. She took good notes that I know she will give to the lawyers. She added to the craziness though and gave more examples of off-the-wall things the judge did this week.

It's so hard to think positively when everyone in The System points a finger to the nutcase at the top of the totem pole.

Dude and Dolly's new worker hasn't made her appearance known yet. So much for their monthly visit – unless of course I get a last-minute plea to come by on Monday. Rainbow (our agency worker) told me that the new (invisible) worker did respond to an email of hers though. I guess she just said that nothing has changed in the case. << oh joy >>

Oh yeah, Bluebell is going to be off Pumpkin's case in a month. Things are getting shifted around again. It's no wonder these kids don't get out of foster care in a timely fashion. Continuity of staff sure would help.

Even though court is just around the corner...I do have something to look forward to! And oh...I am looking forward to it!!

On Wednesday of this coming week I'm going to leave all six children in the capable hands of Mr. Amazing. I'm going to get in the car and drive north for about four hours. I'm then going to check in to a hotel ALL. BY. MYSELF.

It's gets even better though. On Thursday morning, I don't have to wake up. That's right – I get to sleep in as long as I want!! Alone. Without children. (ah...sweet bliss)

Around noon I'm planning a stroll along the Riverwalk. I envision finding a nice little cafe and ordering myself some funky sandwich. I'm going to sit...alone...and enjoy it. I'll probably find a magazine or book to read and I'll just sit...alone...and enjoy my time.

Later on in the afternoon I'm going to gather up a box of samples of the work that I do and head on over to the conference room at another hotel. I'm going to rub elbows with guys I've been working with for years but have never gotten to meet in person. I'm going to be dressed up with makeup and everything. There will be cocktails. There will be food. And hopefully there will be a few new sales. After I spend a few hours discussing grown-up topics that don't involve children, special needs or fostering, I'm going to retire to my hotel room.

I will once again sleep. No diapers to change. No children to chase to bed. I am going to relax.

I'm not going to rush on Friday. After a quiet morning I will get back in my car and drive South. I will get home before the cherubs are finished with school. I will listen to Dolly give me a play-by-play of all that happened while I was gone. I will scoop up each child (well...maybe not Herman...he's a little big for scooping) and I will love on them like I've been gone for years. I will make dinner for everyone and settle back into home life where I belong.

Hopefully Mr. Amazing won't be too worn out from flying solo for a few days. I'll have food prepared in advance for him. I'm going to lay out clothes for the little people. (He claims he doesn't know how to match clothes - he's full of baloney but I'll appease him.) I have also deputized Daphne to come over and help brush hair. Mr. Amazing is good. Really good. He can do just about anything he's that good. But he's a little bit intimidated by girl hair that goes six inches past the rear end of a four year old!!

I'm looking forward to my escape. It's going to be just long enough that I'm going to get to relax. But not too long that I feel like I'm abandoning everyone. I can't wait!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Medicaid/HHSC changes affecting economy

I sat in the waiting room again this morning while Dolly was in speech therapy. For the time being I will continue to do this because I CAN entertain one child for one hour a week while Dolly receives services. Unfortunately, I CANNOT entertain 2-4 children for up to three hours two to three times a week while Pumpkin gets hers.

Again while waiting I discussed these new laws with the woman in charge of the small therapy clinic my kid(s) attend. Due to the changes in the Medicaid transportation laws that require a parent or guardian be on board if Medicaid is transporting to or from a medical appointment – and the Health & Human Services Commission (HHSC) requirement that a parent or guardian attend each and every therapy, children all over our part of the country are being pulled out of their therapeutic services. I'm not the only parent that said they can't attend their kid's therapies.

Already, Lutheran (the therapeutic facility) has had to fire nine people. They've also had to reduce the hours of several different employees. If children keep dropping out of therapy they may have to close a few days a week or let go of more employees. The director told me that she's heard of other clinics that are paying their staff on a daily per-case basis. Meaning, if a child is a no-show for any reason, the therapist won't get paid. Some therapists are employed as on-call staff only.

It's going to have a ripple effect that is going to cost our part of the country millions of dollars. It's so unfortunate.

Lawyers have been hired. Press conferences are happening regularly. People are taking this up the food chain legally. But honestly, I don't trust Texas to do the right thing here. It's very sad.

I've got to make some major decisions about Pumpkin too. I think I'm going to have to have her attend therapy once or twice over the next few weeks in order to keep her paperwork current. Pumpkin's mom does not have a full-time job. She does have the ability to sit in the waiting room while Pumpkin receives services. And I'm afraid if Pumpkin is out of her therapies when she goes home to Mom, it would be detrimental on many levels. Not only would Pumpkin be out of our therapeutic environment at home. But I really want those three professionals assessing Pumpkin daily for signs of abuse. They've known Pumpkin for over a year and I trust each one of Pumpkin's therapists to raise a red flag immediately if things weren't right.

I'm still hoping the laws can get changed quickly and Pumpkin can get back in therapies like she was before. If they don't, I will do what is necessary to make sure she stays in a therapeutic environment. Even if that means I have to sit in a waiting room to make it happen.

Oh yeah, I've called the lawyer's office again. I'm waiting to get a call back. I'm going to call every single day until I get to speak to Pumpkin's GAL. Someone has to explain to me what they are doing to build a case against Pumpkin's mom. Either that or someone has to explain to me how Pumpkin is going to be safe if she goes back home!

Thank you to those that commented on yesterday's post. I was feeling quite down. But between your comments, and those made to me at Bible study last night, I've been refreshed. I have the POWER of Christ in me. And because of that I can move mountains!! I'm going to continue to pray over my children and I'm not going to be defeated by the lies the enemy is throwing my way. Even if we are a family of only five in a month, that does not mean that God abandoned the cherubs I cared for as my own. It simply means that His plan was not my plan. I will continue to believe. I will continue to hope. I will continue to trust in God.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I'm just F.I.N.E.

Thank goodness I keep myself busy. 'Cause when I'm not busy, I'm just a little bit sick to my stomach.

Here I am only a little over two weeks away from our next court date for Dude and Dolly. I haven't heard hair nor tail from the new worker in their case. I know NOTHING! Any hopes I had of them getting to stay with us have been unceremoniously dashed!

I talked with another foster mom here in the Valley that had her little boys for four years. FOUR YEARS! The littlest one was an infant when he came. Awhile ago I heard the judge told her that the boys will never go home to mom. But...then again...the judge also said he'd never let them get adopted either. (what??!!) Anyway, even though the foster family loved these kids like their own for...let me refresh your memory...four years – AND they wanted to adopt the cherubs – just a couple months ago the judge ordered the kids placed with their bio dad's girlfriend! Not the mom. Not the dad. But the girlfriend!! A loving relationship of four years was destroyed so these kids could go live with a girlfriend. Dad isn't part of the plan legally. But he's involved now. Cause the kids were placed with his girlfriend!!

I'm not holding my breath that this same judge is going to let my cherubs stay with me. All I can do is remind the beauties that I do want them. That I would keep them. And that no matter what I'll love them forever!!!

And then there's the whole thing with Pumpkin. Every time I think about my non-verbal daughter being put back to live with her mom in what was a neglectful and abusive situation, I tense up. I start to freak out! I get a little bit sick to my stomach!

Pumpkin cannot defend herself. Pumpkin cannot tell anyone if she's being hurt or neglected. Why oh why oh why can't the State put together a case against her mom?! They can't honestly think that assigning a Child Safety Specialist to the family is going to keep Pumpkin safe! Pumpkin goes to court in just under four weeks. If something doesn't change, she will either continue to languish in foster care or she will go home to her mom. Neither situation is a healthy one. (And dammit we're a good foster family! But Pumpkin deserves permanency!!!)

So, like I said, I'm glad I stay busy. Every time I have any quiet "down time", these two situations roll over and over in my brain. I told myself I wouldn't get worked up before court this time. I told myself it was all going to be OK no matter what. But as we get closer and closer to these dates I dwell more and more on the children, the effects of foster care on their lives, and I get all selfish and wonder what it'll feel like to be a family of only five again. What will it feel like to not have any more foster children? Do I have the energy to jump in and do it again? Or will we be done when these two cases leave my home?

BTW - I'm just F.I.N.E (f***ed up, insecure, neurotic and emotional)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Text conversation

I decided to try and get some answers last night so I sent a text to the worker that most recently handled Dude & Dolly's case. She's a supervisor and has since been relieved of handling things with Dude and Dolly. But...she's back on Pumpkin's case as the supervisor. So it wasn't out of the question for me to contact her.

ME: I haven't heard anything from the new case worker for Dude and Dolly. Do you have their contact info? I really want to know the position the State is going to take when we go to court in three weeks. Do you know if everyone is still recommending a transfer to D*** with their grandma?

DEBORAH: I'm not sure. R*** is the supervisor, you can reach her at 555-1234

ME: Thank you! While I've got you...do you know what's going on in Pumpkin's case? Her GAL was supposed to meet with me but never returned my call. I want to help everyone be ready in May for the contested placement hearing.

DEBORAH: We're going to staff the case with one of our child safety specialists as from what I understand we have no reason to not return to mom...or at least that's what I'm being told.

ME: OMG! You're kidding...right?!

DEBORAH: No. That's why I need to staff it.

I finished the conversation with a simple statement that I was horribly concerned about Pumpkin's safety with her mom. Deborah didn't say anything back.

This is the reality of foster care. Very rarely does it make sense. I'm scared to death for Pumpkin. A completely non-verbal child is being sent back for the second time into an environment of abuse and neglect with only the protection of a Child Safety Specialist. I highly doubt they will be able to keep Pumpkin safe.

As for Dude and Dolly -- I'm not exactly fearful for them. Disappointed...yes. But I can't prove that their situation in D*** will be filled with abuse or neglect. I do know the transfer will be highly traumatic. I'm confident they will not be happy when they leave our home.

Just this past weekend my AWESOME neighbor Daphne came over the house so Mr. Amazing and I could go on a date. Dude and Dolly were in their own home – with someone they know and trust – and they couldn't go to bed. Dolly sat on the edge of her bed for hours rocking back and forth saying, "My mommy sings to me. I want my mommy. I want my mommy. Daphne no knows the songs. My mommy sings to me." over and over and over

I can't imagine how they will handle the transfer to a new home with a complete stranger that doesn't even speak their language.

Oh wait -- I guess I can. It's what happened to them back in June of last year when they came to live with me.

I pray their grandma wants to love on them as much as I did!!

My house could feel very empty in less than one month.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lousy Solution to the Therapy Nightmare

I had the pleasure of sitting in the waiting room for one hour this morning while Miss Dolly attended her speech therapy session. I brought a sack of toys to entertain Dude. I brought some breakfast for me.

I spent most of the hour conversing with the director of the facility.

This whole Medicaid thing is a disaster!

It's affecting so many, many families. The director asked me if I saw the local news last night. When I said no, she took me back to her office to watch a clip online where they interviewed a mom who works full time outside of the home. Her little guy needs services and therapy used to pick him up at day care. Starting Monday she has to choose between therapy services for her toddler or working for her family.

What kind of a choice is that?! Don't we want those utilizing Medicaid services to get a job? Get on their feet? Eventually stop needing the government assistance? This woman chose her job. Good for her – bad for her kid!

I dug my heels in hard. I told all those involved in Pumpkin's case that I CANNOT attend her therapies. Bluebell (CPS) blew me off. Rainbow (licensing agency) told me to go ahead and cancel services for now.

I've been told by Lutheran (the therapy provider) that they have lawyers fighting these Medicaid changes. This is a state-wide issue and many professionals are complaining about the change. It's going to cause a ripple effect. Kids stop going to therapy. Therapy places have to fire people. More people are out of a job. More people rely on government assistance. etc. etc. I'm hoping that when it is reported how many children are dropping out of much-needed services that there will be a legal change.

Until that happens though, Pumpkin will only receive what she's entitled to through the school system. I feel horrible about this. But I don't feel like I can do anything differently for the sake of the rest of my children and my job.

Rainbow says that she will tell Bluebell. From there, we'll wait to see what happens. Worst case scenario is that CPS will say that Pumpkin has to be moved from my home into one that will accommodate these private therapy sessions.

I'm hoping that the situation doesn't come to that. More than anything I'm hoping that the powers that be can get Pumpkin placed with her loving aunt and uncle when we go to court next (in four weeks). Oh, but wait...that would require a lawyer to do her job. To actually build a case against bio-mom. And from the fallout of our last court session, it seems I'm the only person with the information that can help build that case. And that would mean that maybe...just maybe...the lawyer would want to contact me to go over things. But no. They set up a meeting, broke said meeting and never called me back.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Do I kowtow or take care of myself?

I'll try to be clear and not ramble. But I'm just a tad frustrated with another player in The System. This time it's Medicaid. I'm going to give some of the back story in case you're not completely familiar with Pumpkin's case and all it entails.

When I got the call about Pumpkin I was told she had some developmental delay and a limp. They mentioned something about a past seizure disorder but told me she had been seizure free for nearly 8 months. I was not told she is severely mentally retarded. I was not told she could barely walk. I was not told she wasn't potty trained. And I wasn't told that once you have a seizure disorder you have it for life. (And there was NO way Pumpkin had been seizure free by any stretch of the imagination!)

When they carried Pumpkin into my house it was quickly apparent that the situation was different than how it had been painted. I knew in the bottom of my heart I was looking at an infant in a five year old's body. But...I didn't stop things. I signed all the paperwork and set myself in place to be an advocate for this little girl who had been severely medically neglected.

After navigating the Medicaid waters and figuring out which "kind" of Medicaid she had, and then locating providers, I was able to get Pumpkin in private therapies – speech, physical and occupational. I organized these so they took place during the school day. Medicaid provided transportation services that picked Pumpkin up at school, took her to the appointments (which could last as long as three hours total in one day) and then drove her back to school. The system worked. Pumpkin got her therapies as needed. She made progress.

Medicaid is changing things though. No longer can anyone use the transportation services unless a parent, guardian or other authorized adult rides with Pumpkin in the van.

Initially this wasn't a problem. The transportation service in our area had both a driver and a monitor in the van with the children at all times. This monitor served as an "authorized adult" so I didn't have to be there.

Starting Monday, April 23, the rehabilitation facility is contracting with a new transportation service. I was told this new contractor is taking over ALL transportation in our area. The kicker -- they don't have monitors in the vans when they pick up the children.

I have to be there. On the van. Giving up hours of my day to sit in a waiting room while Pumpkin attends therapies. (Which would be stupid. It's not like I NEED the transport services. I'm just explaining how I was told to do things by Medicaid so y'all can get the full picture.)

So, using my head for more than a hat rack...I say, "I'll drive Pumpkin to the therapies."

I don't really want to. It's still going to be an incredible hassle and will be a huge time suck. But, if I could drop her off and then come back I wouldn't lose my whole day.

This...isn't an option either. According to Medicaid statue 32.024(s) a parent, guardian or other authorized adult is required to be at all medical appointments or when a child is receiving services. Under no circumstances will the rehab facility allow me to sign a consent form letting the professionals in that rehab facility service as an authorized adult. No...they are saying that their hands are tied and yes, I have to sit in the waiting room while Pumpkin receives all her therapies.

Imagine if you are the parent of a special-needs child and you work at a full-time job outside the home. Just imagine! Now you have to get permission to take time off to sit in a waiting room while your kid gets therapy. Is it possible?! Probably not. Most people don't have that many hours they can throw away every week.

I know I don't.

Just because I work from home doesn't mean I have six-plus hours to spend doing nothing each week. It also doesn't seem like good parenting to expect my three year old to sit in the waiting room with me. And then, this summer, my 7yo and 8yo as well.

I get it -- Medicaid is trying to make sure parents are involved in their children's medical issues. I wouldn't dream of using transport services to take my child to the dentist, doctor or other appointment without me present. But this is different! These are regularly scheduled and very time consuming therapies. It's just not the same.

I keep being told, "It doesn't have to be you ma'am. It can be another family member or authorized adult."

I keep cutting them off and saying, "There is no OTHER adult that could do it." Then I make sure to add, "Do YOU have six hours that YOU could spend each week sitting in a waiting room?" Every person I talk to gets all sheepish and then says this is the way it is. Their hands are tied.

I kicked the problem back to my licensing agency and CPS. I said that starting Monday Pumpkin will no longer be attending her private therapies unless they can come up with a solution.

Bluebell avoided the problem completely and said she doesn't know what to do. My licensing agency has no idea what to do either.

I hate being this way. Pumpkin NEEDS her therapies desperately!!! But if I simply give in...well, I can't simply give in.

So marvelous people of the internet -- do YOU have any brilliant ideas?

I've ruled out home-based therapies. There are none in my part of the country that take the kind of Medicaid Pumpkin is on. There is one other facility located close enough to my house to drive to. However, that Medicaid statute 32.024(s) would technically still apply to them. I'm waiting for someone high-up on the food chain at that location to call me back and see for sure if they would require that I wait on-site during all therapies.

Help please!!! I welcome all ideas!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Do I tell the teacher?

I'm pretty sure the person that said Pumpkin is afraid of me works at the school.

I'm pretty sure it is in reference to a time or two when I had to pick Pumpkin up early for some appointment or another. When Pumpkin's routine gets disturbed...she gets disturbed. I have figured out that a soft sing-song-y approach does not work for Pumpkin. She responds better to a stern, "knock it off". Add that to any frustration I may have already been feeling and I guess I might come across as uncaring.

I've tried to not think about the investigation. But I can't seem to stop. There are only so many professionals in our circle and I've talked to most of them since this madness started. I'm pretty sure the negative comment about me had to have come from someone at the school. I'm almost positive it wasn't the teacher though.

Which puts me in a weird place.

I want to be involved with the school. But I don't want to associate with the person that thinks I'm mean to Pumpkin.

Add to that some issues that have become a problem since Pumpkin's ARD meeting...

The ONLY thing I really wanted to address at the meeting was what I believe to be a lack of supervision when Pumpkin is on the playground. Pumpkin has come home with bruises that no one tells me about. I've talked to the school about this in the past. I've explained that I have to be able to account for things like this. It's not that I don't think she's going to get bruises...she is. Pumpkin's ambulatory functions are very poor – she falls. But I'd just like to know when and where she's falling so that I can answer to the social workers and others that care about these things.

And there have been other issues. For example, the Thursday before Easter Pumpkin came home from school with blood all over her pants. I looked her up one side and down the other and couldn't find an injury big enough to produce the amount of blood that was on her. But still, it was very unnerving to have to deal with that. Pumpkin CANNOT tell me what happened. If any child in Pumpkin's class was bleeding, some caregiver at the school should have known!

So...I brought this up during the ARD meeting.

I got a horrible song and dance from the principal. The teacher assured me that Pumpkin is always looked after.

In an attempt to further explain why I needed better communication from the school I mentioned the time when Pumpkin got rocks in her braces. I was trying to get across to the powers that be that Pumpkin won't even tell me when she's in pain. Pumpkin spent the entire afternoon somewhat limping because of the rocks in her braces. I didn't think to check anything because Pumpkin often limps when she is fatigued...at the end of the day. I was NOT trying to tell the school they needed to check her braces for rocks. I was trying to explain why it was important for the school to communicate with me -- because Pumpkin can't.

However, the school got all bent on telling me they'd check her braces for rocks. The problem only happened one single time. But they got their panties in a wad over the rocks. The wouldn't say anything about the blood (despite the fact I brought the stained pants with me to the meeting). The rocks seemed to be the big issue. I didn't have any support with me to help me clarify things. (Not a single social worker, CASA volunteer or lawyer showed up to the meeting. Despite the fact every single one of them came a year ago. I had no reason to think they wouldn't be here this time too.) I ended up letting the subject drop because the school just didn't get what I was trying to say.

The ARD meeting was Wednesday morning. I didn't notice anything different that afternoon or on Thursday either. However, when Pumpkin got off the bus on Friday I immediately noticed that the SFO brace on her left foot had been taken off and put back on....UPSIDE DOWN!!

I nearly blew a gasket. I called the school. No one would pick up except the secretary. I waited 15 minutes and called back. They ended up connecting me to the vice-principal. I explained the problem and was told that it would not happen again. (I was blown off.) It just so happened that I also had a meeting with Rainbow, our agency worker, right when all this was happening. As soon as I got off the phone with the school, I showed Rainbow what had happened. Because the brace had been put on upside down, Pumpkin had two new bruises on her foot. She documented everything and said she would make sure CPS knew about the problem as well.

Well, things haven't gotten better. Pumpkin got off the bus yesterday and things appeared to be fine. I am not going to strip her down after school every day to do a full body examination. But, at about 4:45, I went to change Pumpkin's diaper. As I was moving her feet around I noticed the brace on her right foot didn't look quite right. This time the AFO brace on her foot had been removed and put back on. The strap holding it to her foot was so loose I could slide a finger under it.

If her braces are put on too tight, Pumpkin can get bruises. If her braces are put on too loose, Pumpkin can get bruises and/or blisters from the rubbing. I expect the professionals at the school to know how to put on and take off these kinds of braces. They are common enough in kids with special needs. I know at least one other child in Pumpkin's class wears them.

Pumpkin was lucky this time. The brace hadn't been on incorrectly long enough to cause a blister.

I'm so ticked off though. This kind of care is unacceptable. Pumpkin deserves better. But who do I complain to? And how I handle this problem tactfully? I wouldn't be surprised if the person who is doing this to Pumpkin's braces is the same person that thinks I abuse Pumpkin.

I've got a note in to Pumpkin's teacher asking her to call me today so I can talk about the brace problem. I don't trust the front office to handle things appropriately and I'm not going to be blown off again.

And as much as I want to be involved, I don't think I'm going to be a parent volunteer when Pumpkin's class goes to the zoo in a couple weeks.

What do you think though? Should I tell the teacher I'm pretty sure someone in her staff said those things about me? Or do I keep my mouth shut? I like the teacher good enough and I don't want her to think I'm not helping out the class because of anything she's done or not done. But, I don't think I can associate with the para-professional that thinks I'm an abuser.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Where do you want to live?

When we went to court back in February with the littlest cherubs, their lawyer asked the children where they wanted to live. Me...trying to be a good foster parent...had never given them the option of staying at our home. All I had ever done is tell them that the decision was up to the judge but that it all looked like the judge was going to have them go to their grandma's house in D***. So, when asked, the cherubs told the lawyer that they wanted to go with their grandma.

When talking to the lawyer after court, I said I wasn't surprised at all by their answer. I told the lawyer that I wouldn't dream of telling them they could live with me if CPS is saying it isn't an option. They lawyer muttered something along the lines of, "you do things different than I would," under her breath.

As time has gone by I have learned that this particular lawyer will only fight for what the kids want. So, if it looks like CPS might even consider letting the kids stay at my house, I have to open that up as an option to them.

I've spent the two months introducing this concept to the cherubs. It's a fine dance because I will NOT be accused of manipulating them. And every time we discuss things I remind them that the decision is not up to me, the children, the social workers or even the lawyer. The judge is the one that will decide. But...if the children want to stay with Mamma L*** and Poppy S***, they have to tell all the people involved that this is where they want to stay.

Then comes Friday, April 5. The cherubs finally had one (lousy) court-ordered visit with Grandma from D***. It was complicated. The kids were shy and a little confused. But from what their social worker told me that supervised everything, it went OK. Grandma was able to speak in broken English. She interacted with the children. They played. The kids warmed up to her.

One of the things I had complained about over 1/2 a year ago was the fact that these kids know NOTHING of their grandma. They would ask me questions about her and the house they were going to be going to and I couldn't answer a single thing. Apparently CPS told Grandma about my complaint. When she showed up for the visit, she brought pictures of her house and the toys she had bought the children. They spent time at the visit looking over "their new house".

So, after the visit, the cherubs informed me that they wanted to move in with their grandma.

I took a deep breath and validated their decision. I didn't say much. But I did think about the situation a lot.

I decided that the cherubs needed to know the full picture. Sure, they met Grandma. They saw pictures of Grandma's house. But everyone failed to tell these children if they go move in to Grandma's house they will never see us again.

Cherubs that are only 3 and 4 years old should NOT be put in this position!! They don't understand what is going on at all. They don't understand the ramifications of their decisions.

I'm still doing a fine dance. Because, like I said, I will not be accused of manipulating them. For example, when Dolly tells me that she wants to go to Sea World again, I don't tell her that she needs to tell the lawyers she wants to stay with us so she can go again. However, when the cherubs talk about wanting to go to Iowa to see my family that lives there (that they have met), I do tell them that the judge has to say it's OK for them to make that kind of a trip and they would have to tell the judge they want to stay with us.

I hate this. I hate having to put them in this position. But I don't think it's fair for them to have illusions of living with their grandma and still getting to have us in their lives. They can't figure that out. They don't understand how far away Grandma lives. They can't wrap their brains around the idea that Grandma wouldn't be able to communicate with us. They don't understand why we can't be one big happy family.

I do tell the cherubs that I would try to let them see their grandma if they "choose" us. Because that is reality. I would have as open of a placement/adoption as I could possibly manage. I don't like the idea of separating these kids from their family if I don't have to.

But I'm not going to let this awful choice get clouded up in their imaginations. They do need to know that if they "choose" Grandma they will lose us.

The System stinks.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Checking in

I've been busy lately. I've got several blog posts swirling around in my head. I'll do my best to write a few of them out when I can get a chance. For now though...

• The babies' visit went OK enough with maternal great-grandma (and the rest of the town they used to live in that decided to show up). The children were shy and nervous because of the extreme number of people that showed up. But CPS did a good job of limiting their time together and it didn't seem to leave a lasting effect on the cherubs.

• Along with the visit the cherubs had with great-grandma -- Grandma from D*** also came down to see the kids. This visit was a little stickier and has resulted in confusion from the babies. But we're getting through things OK.

• Pumpkin had her annual psychological evaluation. It was interesting.

• Pumpkin had her annual ARD meeting. It was horrific and I didn't get anything that I needed added to her safety plan at school

• My parents are here for a visit. I love it when they come!!

• I found out that what started out as a harmless investigation for things that were completely out of my control has turned into a witch hunt against me. Apparently someone told someone that Pumpkin is afraid of me. They are digging deep to see what they can find out. I've already had Pumpkin's drop-in day care tell me they were mortified that CPS would think anything negative about me and told the investigator how dedicated I am to the children and how much the kids love me.
The investigator also contacted Pumpkin's private therapists. Her speech therapist wasn't aware the questioning was part of an investigation. She caught me yesterday after Dolly's speech therapy session to tell me some other things about Pumpkin. In passing she told me she had also recently spoken with CPS. She told them "how wonderful" I am for the kids.
I'd really love to know who in my circle of contacts has this negative opinion of me and how I treat Pumpkin. I hope I get a chance to defend myself against these accusations. Mr. Amazing was questioned today. He's the one that told me the tides have turned and they are investigating me fully now and it's not just a paperwork necessity due to the minor issue.

• I'm really tired of The System!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Court Update

We didn't have to wait at all for court this morning. Our 10:30 hearing started around 10:20.

There aren't (polite) words to describe the event. I'm tongue tied right now trying to come up with a way to tell y'all what happened. And if you know me, tongue tied is NOT a typical description of me...oh...like...ever!

The State was not prepared. CPS was not prepared. They spoke in short sentence fragments like my 7yo does when he's caught being naughty. The judge in turn, treated them like children. The whole thing was quite a spectacle!

Bottom line -- it's the State's responsibility to:
1. give bio mom a laundry list of things "to do" so that she can get her child back.
OR
2. prove to the judge that it is not in the best interests for Pumpkin to go home and then, in turn, ask for a termination hearing.

Neither of those things happened today.

And since mom is not in favor of Pumpkin going across the state to live with her aunt and uncle, the State couldn't do a thing today other than trip all over themselves.

The judge kept demanding that the State tell him what Mom needs to do to get Pumpkin back. The professionals barely even answered. They kept their eyes down looking at their phones, computers and/or paperwork. At best, they started barking about some kind of training that Mom needs to get. Only no one knew where one goes about to get "training" like this.

Oh wait...that's right -- there is NO such thing! You don't have a special needs baby and then immediately get offered some class to take. You either step up to the plate and work with the doctors, therapists, and other professionals...or you don't. Pumpkin's mom hasn't taken care of Pumpkin's medical needs. And then, when given the opportunity to get her back, she abused her not even two weeks later -- in a doctor's office no less!!

There's no training to handle that kind of behavior. Either Pumpkin's mom is going to keep Pumpkin safe...or she isn't.

Surely the State could have had just a few ducks in a row. They could have talked about the past neglect. They could have brought up the inability of Pumpkin's mom to care for her for the first 5.5 years of Pumpkin's life.

But they didn't.

It is now court ordered for Mom to go to another "training" on how to manage Pumpkin's medical needs. This is perfectly pointless. But it has been court ordered so I have to play along.

Mom now also has to attend all doctor appointments. This should be interesting. They had her come to a few of them before. Then, after everything fell apart in September, they haven't had Mom participate at all. I know this is largely because the State doesn't want Pumpkin to go home to Mom so it's pointless to include her in Pumpkin's care. But it's has been court ordered so I will play along. Needless to say, I will NOT be supervising these events myself. Someone from CPS or CASA will have to join us so they can have input when it comes to telling the judge how well Mom does in these situations.

All during court the judge fired off questions to CPS and the lawyers. No one could answer a single question. But me. I could have. However, I wasn't being asked the questions. CPS literally turned around and asked me things as court was going on and then turned to the judge to give their answers after I helped them. It was quite sad.

Pumpkin remains in foster care. We will have a hearing next month to discuss placement with the aunt and uncle across the state. It's called a "contested hearing" as Mom is not in favor of this placement. The next official placement hearing is in August.

I'm not sure what my role is going to be. I know that I had said I was going to give my 30 day notice. But I really feel like the lawyers are going to need my assistance in putting together a case against Mom. And I feel so strongly in the need to advocate for Pumpkin. I'm not going to make any official decision until I get to sit down with CPS and the lawyers. I need to know what they are going to do next and what they need from me.

I'm toying with the idea of giving my notice as Pumpkin's foster mom. But then...getting the necessary training and becoming a CASA volunteer. If there was a way I could be Pumpkin's CASA, then I could still be involved in the legal side of her case. I just wouldn't have to manage the day to day care.

Today was a train wreck. Oh, who's kidding who. Foster care is a train wreck. We're all just hanging on trying to do the right thing. Days like today are so disheartening though. It's a shame that the process has to be drug out so painfully. Pumpkin deserves an end to foster care. Every child that's in The System deserves a true permanency plan. Why is that so difficult?!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Three Scenarios

ONE: Pumpkin and I will go to court Tuesday. The judge won't listen to anyone. Pumpkin will stay in Care.


TWO: Pumpkin and I will go to court Tuesday. The judge will carefully listen to CPS, Pumpkin's GAL, CASA and others. Pumpkin will be placed into the loving care of her aunt and uncle. I will have to race home and pack everything and she will leave immediately for a destination 13 hours away.


THREE: Pumpkin and I will go to court Tuesday. Pumpkin's aunt and uncle will be awarded custody. But for reasons that I haven't bothered to dream up yet (but very possible reasons nonetheless), Pumpkin will make the transfer to her aunt and uncle's later this week. CPS will pick that day. The State will also be buying me a plane ticket so I can help care for Pumpkin during the transition.

My week could become very, very interesting indeed!