Sunday, September 30, 2012

Trip down memory lane

I got all my old blog posts moved over and made slightly more anonymous. Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted a few in the process. But, for the most part, our entire fostering journey in Texas is now all on this blog.

I almost got a little PTSD going back and reading about TurtleTurtle and MissArguePants. Those two months contained some of the most difficult parenting experiences ever.

And reading about Pumpkin the day she arrived?! Wow! I wore myself out those first two weeks at all the doctor appointments. I knew so little about seizures and special needs back then!!

It's amazing how much I've changed over the past two years. I'm awfully jaded now. The System sure has a way of doing that to us sometimes. But I wouldn't go back and change a thing. I've learned so much and I truly am glad that we've fostered. I'm not sure if we'll keep on doing it after Dude and Dolly leave (because no part of me believes they'll get to stay forever). We're doing it now though and all is well.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Old posts

I used to write a different blog. On that blog I had no problem using real names and posting pictures of my forever kids. I'm not afraid of the big bad internet.  :)

But because we're technically not supposed to talk about fostering in any social media, I decided to needed to make my blog more private. (I had given my blog address to our licensing agency. At first they had NO problem with me doing this.) To be on the safe side after the announcement about social media, I switched things over a couple years ago.

I'm in the process of adding back in my old posts. I'm just going to make them less recognizable. I'm not sure if these are popping up in your feed or not. (It's not my intention for everyone to read them right now.) But if they are, now you know why.

I'm also deleting any comments that use my real name.

I sure wish I could show you pictures of my kids though. 'Cause gee whiz...they're cute!!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Prayers, Pumpkin, visits and a birthday

Not much to report over here in my neck of the woods. We've all adjusted rather quickly to Pumpkin moving on. Cherub 3 probably misses her the most. He's mentioned it several times and he's had a LOT of "big feelings" this week!! I have simply been making it a priority to pray for Pumpkin and her new family every time I think of her. When I look at the few diapers left laying around.... When I look at the clock every night at 6:30 and think about giving her her medicine... When I look in the corner of my living room where some of her toys used to sit... At 10PM when I would typically go check her diaper... So yes, I've been praying a lot. It's a good thing.

Dude and Dolly are handling things just fine. They asked about Pumpkin a few times; but overall they haven't said much. I did smile though on Thursday. Dude misses Pumpkin too. He had a "family tree" sort of assignment at school. He was simply supposed to glue pictures of anyone in his family to a picture of a tree that they sent home. I was slightly challenged because I wanted to include his first family but I have no pictures of his first daddy. I didn't think it would be right to include one parent but not the other. In the end, I opted to only put our family on the tree. Dude doesn't indicate any desire to be a part of his biological family. And while I KNOW he really does, I decided to not complicate this simple preschool assignment by including them. I also did not put a picture of Pumpkin on the tree. She is gone now and we do have to move on. However, Dude's teacher told me that Dude did talk about his "other sister" when he presented his tree to the class.

The biggest event of our week now is probably the family visit for Dude and Dolly. As long as Mom confirms 24 hours in advance, the visit is on. They've seen their mom four weeks in a row now. (Though one of those visits was following court and was not a "typical" visit.) These visits involve me packing up all four of the youngest children and trekking an hour west to their home town. The visits are two hours long and then we trek back. That hour drive home sucks!

The littlest cherubs are conflicted! They miss their mom. They're confused. They're overwhelmed with big feelings.

The bigger two of the cherubs are just as much of a mess. It triggers Cherub 2 and his own issues. Every part of fostering forces TT to deal with his own adoption story. Cherub 3 is typically horribly jealous so these visits are hard for him too! He doesn't want to have to share Dude and Dolly. These visits remind him that he has to.

So basically, the car ride home sucks! There's crying. There's fighting. This last visit even came with very loud and somewhat bratty statements of, "I want to go to Dallas to my grandma." Of course I followed that with a quiet, "I know you do baby. It's OK. I love you no matter what."

The rest of the evening following a visit is just as wonky. Dude and Dolly typically have a difficult time getting engaged. They bounce all over the place and have this nervous little giggle that permeates everything. TT is easily angered. And Bart wants to mark his territory so to speak and he gives way too many hugs. He wants reassurance that Dude and Dolly still love HIM.

Visits are messy! Necessary. Good I guess. But very, very messy!

And I do say "good I guess" in this case because I'm not convinced this is what is best for these kids. The State is not looking to reunify with Mom at all! They have made this incredibly clear!! So, if they are wanting to send the children away from their Mom, halfway across the state, why are they toying with everyone and making them have these visits?!

They have to right now. Even though the goal of the State is listed as Relative Conservatorship, they are having Mom work a Service Plan. Mom is being given another opportunity to prove whether or not she can do this parenting thing. Obviously, part of most Service Plans is visits.

They mess with the kids though. It is guaranteed that Dude will wet the bed the night after a visit. He's also had an accident at school the next day every single time. (NO other accidents ever. Only one after each visit.) This last visit had Dolly play-acting with her dolls the next day too. She brought her baby doll over to me and announced that her baby doll missed her first mommy. I scooped up that baby doll and "comforted" her. I talked to the doll. "Oh baby...you miss your first mommy. That's so hard. mmmm hmmmm. I know baby. It's sad when you can't see your first mommy very much. Is this your new mommy? Does she take good care of you? That's good baby. I'm glad you're safe now. You're safe and loved. mmmm hmmmm. I know baby. You miss your first mommy." Then I hand the baby doll back to Dolly and tell her she's doing a good job and I know she'll take good care of her baby.

I haven't had to deal with this part of fostering in months and months. So, as you can expect, it tugs at my own big feelings too. I really hate the visits and all they entail.

I know in most cases visits are necessary. Crucial even. Families HAVE to be given a chance to stay together. Kids need to stay connected to those they are going to go back to. I get all this. I really do.

But if Dude and Dolly are never going to go back to their mom – are visits with Mom what they need? Don't they need visits with Grandma? Shouldn't they be in contact with the family they are going to be placed with in Dallas? (And in my opinion, one visit over one weekend is hardly enough. I think there should be phone calls. I think there should be contact of some kind.)

Because it's the little things that are getting to me. Dolly turned five on Monday. I know her birthday wasn't celebrated early when she went to Dallas a couple weeks ago. And sure enough, Monday came and went and nobody in her biological family acknowledged the event. Shoot – I don't think her mom said anything to Dolly about her birthday at the visit just this Wednesday. Same as last year...the only people that even told Dolly happy birthday were those of us in her foster family.

This breaks my heart!

I know that celebrating a birthday is the least of CPS's concern. I get that. But I'm a mom. And these things are kinda a big deal to me. I have a hard time having to share Dude and Dolly with a mess of people that can't even send a birthday card.

So there you have it. Big feelings all around. But we are managing. And tomorrow there will be rainbow cupcakes and balloons galore! Pink wrapping paper will cover the floor of my living room and Dolly will hardly know what to do with it all. But you only turn five once! Happy Birthday Dolly!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pumpkin is doing well

Aunt L called me three times on Friday. I was so happy to be able to help her with the little things. I had just dropped off Pumpkin that morning but she didn't hesitate to call me and ask questions.

I didn't hear from her over the weekend at all. Part of me worried that perhaps she felt like she was intruding. I had already told Aunt L that I would not be calling her – that I'd wait for her to contact me. I knew that she was going to be up to her eyeballs in figuring out just how to take care of Pumpkin. And more than anything, I didn't want Aunt L to think that she had to answer to me in any way.

But I just got off the phone with Aunt L. I must say, having this contact is making it easier for me to let go! I feel such a sense of relief right now. A wave of comfort washed over me. I know that I can let go and not hang on to all the stress that was caring for Pumpkin. I can be a resource but I don't have to carry the burden anymore.

Pumpkin is doing well. All things considered, Pumpkin is doing quite well.

Pumpkin is also testing every single boundary that she possibly can!!! That child can be quite a pickle. (Thus why in addition to her being my Pumpkin Pie, she was also my Princess Pickle.) Pumpkin has refused to eat. Pumpkin has refused to take a bath, to get her hair brushed, to wear her shoes, and much more I'm quite sure.

Thankfully Aunt L paid attention to my warnings about such behavior. Aunt L seems to be handling things well.

I'm so happy for Pumpkin!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pumpkin is home

I'm still numb from all that yesterday was.

I've never wanted to say goodbye to someone so badly. Yet...it wasn't an easy thing to do.

I wrote about a million blog posts in my head throughout the trip. I want to document everything. Somehow though, I'm betting I don't.

I am amazed at Pumpkin's new family. They honestly have NO IDEA what they are getting themselves into. But at every turn, they haven't flinched. When I told Pumpkin's aunt that in three weeks she's going to be questioning everything. That she's going to feel more alone than ever before. That the frustration she'll feel will be entirely new to her. She didn't flinch. She didn't try to gloss over things and say, "oh I'm sure we'll be fine". Instead, when I followed all that up with, "I want you to know you can call me about anything," she simply said with the most amount of sincerity possible, "thank you." (And to her credit, she's already called me three times to ask very valid – but very simple – questions. She is not going to try and navigate all of this on her own. I'm impressed!)

It wasn't as awkward as I thought it would be traveling with Pumpkin's social worker. She's a very nice young thing. (And by young...23 with her Master's!) She's still quite naive. We had a few really good conversations though. I was able to open her eyes to the value of foster parents interacting with the bio families. She was so surprised when I told her how we continued to stay in contact with our foster son when we did this years ago in Iowa. I told her how we even babysat for him and his sister a few times after they were out of Care. She had never heard of co-parenting programs in foster care (like I know some of my readers are required to do). Her eyes practically bugged out of her head when I told her how some foster parents are required to transport to and supervise all visits. She may have a lot of education but she's still wet behind the ears!! My favorite thing I was able to work into conversation though was about "real" parents. I asked her to NEVER refer to any parent as a "real" parent. I then pinched my skin and explained to her that I am very real and that it's really hard to hear a bio parent referred to as real. It diminishes our role and really puts us down. If that's the only thing she takes to heart, I've done something good.

Pumpkin traveled well. We stayed in a hotel room the night before because our flight was at an airport an hour away from where we live and we flew out at 6:15AM. I could tell from the moment we left the house Thursday night that Pumpkin was horribly confused. But, in her own way she trusts me enough to not fuss at me.

There were no issues at the airport. The staff at each airport treated us well and as we went through the security line it was perfectly painless. Pumpkin wasn't phased by flying. Whew!

Aunt L and Uncle M picked us up at the airport. We went back to their house and immediately went about the last "training" session if you will. They showed Pumpkin's worker around the house. I sat down with Aunt L and went through each section of Pumpkin's binder. Aunt L asked really good questions. I feel confident that she's going to be able to do what needs to be done to take care of Pumpkin well.

Both Aunt L and Uncle M want to adopt Pumpkin. I was disappointed in the State's lack of information to them prior to this actual transfer. Aunt L and Uncle M were asking when they would be able to make the adoption final. I actually had to explain that right now they are simply taking placement of Pumpkin. Pumpkin is still in foster care. This is just a kinship placement that comes with no monetary support. At Pumpkin's next court hearing in January the aunt and uncle could be granted PMC (permanent managing conservatorship). The State hadn't even told them what that is though. I had such a brief amount of time to explain these concepts and also explain what could happen in the future. (That Pumpkin's bio mom "could" get her act together, hire a lawyer, and try to get Pumpkin back if the status is PMC.)

I feel bad that the State is hanging Aunt L and Uncle M out to dry. That's why I hope that they continue to stay in contact with me. I made sure to give them the names and phone numbers to Pumpkin's lawyers. They are going to have to fight a bit in order to get PMC I'm sure. They will have to fight a lot more if they are ever to adopt Pumpkin. I'll help where I can. But this is also where I have to let go. I'm not responsible for helping Aunt L and Uncle M fight. They can utilize my assistance if they want. But I know that I don't have to keep fighting this fight myself.

Aunt L drove the social worker and I back to the airport right around noon. The actual goodby with Pumpkin was so uneventful. I simply bent down in the car and gave her a hug. Pumpkin didn't understand! And once again, there wasn't a thing I could do to actually explain it to her. I was overwhelmed with emotion. I wanted to scoop her up. I wanted so badly for her to understand that THIS move was a GOOD one!! I think that's part of the reason why I was so overwhelmed with emotion.

Parenting Pumpkin for the past 21 involved so many daily interactions that Pumpkin didn't fully understand. It's really hard to look at a person, care for them, and have no way to explain to them what is going on. Pumpkin suffered a traumatic brain injury at birth. Pumpkin then suffered through 5.5 years of abuse and neglect. Then...Pumpkin came to me. Everything I did at first confused her. Made her mad even. I expected her to do things for herself. I expected her to participate. I made her do things that were difficult (doctor visits, personal hygiene, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, school and oh so much more). But never did she really understand. And never did she warm up to me. Never.

It hurt to say goodbye. I know that Pumpkin is going to have to learn a whole new routine. Pumpkin isn't going to understand. And that hurt. I just wanted to protect her and make it better.

But I had to hug her and say goodbye. It was all I could do.

I'm numb today. I don't know if it's because of the emotion or just fatigue from jet setting across Texas and back all in one day. I know I will heal though. I'm not upset about this. I just have to get used to my new reality. Every time I think of Pumpkin I will pray for her and for her new family. Prayer is so vital to me as a foster parent. And once again, it's all I've got to cover this new situation.

Pumpkin is home.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

21 Months

Pumpkin came in to care January 2, 2011.
I was told Pumpkin had developmental delay and a limp. I was told all she was doing was crying for Mommy. They said she used to have a seizure disorder.

I learned hard and fast that Pumpkin was much, much more complicated than what I had "agreed" to. I learned about seizures. Neurologists. Special education. Diapers. (Margaritas for rewards.) Doctors. Doctors. And more doctors. I learned about physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. I got a crash course in navigating Medicaid – the hard way! Transportation. Visits. ARD. IEP. acck acck acck

Pumpkin's mom worked her service plan.

Pumpkin went home September 2, 2011.

Pumpkin came back into care September 13, 2011. (Yes...only 11 days later.)

The State changed their goal from reunification with Mom to relative conservatorship.

At some point in time through all this (quite possibly back in January even), Pumpkin's aunt and uncle that live in El Paso said they would take Pumpkin and raise her.

March 2011: Mom said she didn't want Pumpkin going to El Paso. Despite this being a very viable option to get Pumpkin some stability...to get Pumpkin out of foster care...to get Pumpkin what she needs! (because no child deserves to languish in foster care – no matter how good the foster home)...the judge listened to Mom and Pumpkin remained in Care.

The State drug its heels! Nothing happened. In fact, the State began taking steps to move Pumpkin back home with mom. It was frightening really.

June 2-4: Over the course of this weekend someone hurt Pumpkin while on an unsupervised weekend visit with her mom. My home was put under investigation because I reported the abuse. It was Hell!!

Pumpkin left my home for emergency respite on June 22.
Pumpkin returned to my home after our names were cleared August 11.

Pumpkin's mom's health deteriorated. She finally realized that she could not fight it anymore. Physically, she is unable to care for Pumpkin at all anymore. There are no relatives in our area willing or capable of caring for Pumpkin. At court in August, Pumpkin's mom didn't even show up. However, her lawyer no longer fought the idea of Pumpkin being moved to El Paso. It was court ordered that Pumpkin could go. It was done.

Again, the State drug its heels. Paperwork needed to be done. A courtesy walk-through of the aunt and uncle's needed to be done (their homestudy is nearly 10 months old at least). Time drug on and Pumpkin has stayed in Care.

Lord willing though, Pumpkin will be getting on a plane tomorrow morning and flying across the state to El Paso. I don't have the flight itinerary but I'm confident it's going to happen. I said goodbye to Pumpkin's bus driver this morning. I pinned a note to Pumpkin's shirt telling the school to send her things home. (Because Pumpkin can't talk and they rarely look in her book bag that I send daily so I couldn't put a note there.)

I'm going to pack Pumpkin's things and ship them out today. The State in all its wisdom has decided that Pumpkin gets two duffel bags and a suitcase. The fourth box I can send on the plane is a month's supply of diapers. Never mind that Pumpkin's toys might not all fit. Never mind that Pumpkin's toys will likely be ruined if I send them in the bags I've been allotted. This does not seem to concern the State. When I pressed that they could send them via UPS, I was told, "no".

Pumpkin's aunt and uncle are about to embark on an adventure they are woefully unprepared for. I personally feel like nothing can prepare you for a child like Pumpkin! I've done my best. And they've agreed. But they don't know what they're getting in to.

The least they deserve is all of Pumpkin's things!!!!

I'm so incredibly ticked off at the State because of their nonchalance toward the issue! I'm going to take matters into my own hands. I will be finishing up laundry and packing boxes today. The State has agreed that I can fly along with Pumpkin to assist in her care prior to the actual transfer. (Her caseworker would have no idea what to do if Pumpkin threw a fit or had a seizure!!) I've decided that I am not going to try and navigate the airport with a special needs child, a clueless social worker, and tons of boxes and/or bags. I'm going to ship her stuff out today myself. I'm sure I'm breaking tons of rules. But I'm not going to ask permission. Instead, I'm going to inventory things. I'm going to take pictures of the boxes I'm shipping. And I'll save the shipping receipts. It will make tomorrow just a bit easier on me so it's worth it.

I'm super emotional today. I'm having a hard time knowing my own trigger though. Is it because of the all recent contact Dude and Dolly have had with their biological family? Or is it because Pumpkin is leaving?

Make no mistake. I've wanted to be done caring for Pumpkin for a very, very long time. In fact, I even gave my 30 day notice. (I just happened to rescind said 30 day notice after the craziness of this summer and the fact that Pumpkin was court ordered to finally go to El Paso.) It is incredibly difficult to care for a child that requires so much work and does nothing to fill my "love tank" back up. It's so hard to describe. I know I sound pretty self-centered. But Pumpkin NEVER gives anything back. No smiles. No affection. No attention. No nothing.

OK OK OK -- it's probably a little harsh to say "no" smiles, affection or attention. But it feels like it. Granted, she likes Mr. Amazing quite a bit. Every day when he comes home from work she gets up from where she's playing and practically races to him saying, "give me hug". But for me...nothing. I probably get spontaneous affection one time a month -- if that!! Most of the time Pumpkin won't look at me. It's pretty hard to love someone that acts like they hate you. It's pretty hard when that person that hates you needs you to do damn near everything for them.

So here we are 21 months later. I'm not exactly sad to see Pumpkin go. In fact, I'm actually rather happy. I want to be down to only one foster care case in my home. (Juggling two is a circus act!) I want to be done navigating the world of special needs.

But I'm all in a funk.

What if the aunt and uncle realize they can't do this?
What if I get a call asking me to take Pumpkin back?

Why am I so worried about all the "what ifs"?!

I'm going to have to just let go. I know this. Tomorrow is going to be a crazy day. I'm nervous about all that I have to try and "teach" the aunt and uncle in such a short amount of time. I have to let go of Pumpkin and trust that her family will be able to take care of her. I've made it as clear as possible that I want to remain a resource for them. But I know that I'm not going to call and check on Pumpkin after we make the transfer. I'm going to leave it up to the family to contact me. I have to just let go.

And I want to. Believe me I really, really want to.

But dammit – I'm crabby today. This foster parenting stuff really messes with your mind. 21 months after I started on the adventure with Pumpkin it's finally over. These 21 months grew me. Stretched me. Strengthened me. Made me fall to my knees. And now they are over. I got it right more often than I got it wrong. But boy, did I get it wrong a lot! And after tomorrow, I have to just let it go.

Please pray for Pumpkin. Please pray for her family.

I've got to go now and pack some boxes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pumpkin's "last" visit

Pumpkin has her "last" visit with her mom in 30 minutes. No, TPR has not taken place. But Pumpkin is being moved all the way across the state. The odds of her mom ever going to see her are quite slim. Besides, Bio Mom is quite ill now and is unable to even care for herself at this point in time. This goodbye visit is taking place at Pumpkin's grandma's house.

The visit is from 4:30-6:30. Mr. Amazing won't be home yet. In order to follow all the rules (and keep TT & Bart from killing each other) I have to pack up all five of my little kids to drop Pumpkin off.

This visit is taking place roughly 2 miles away from my home. Her social worker is supervising the visit and will practically have to drive right past my house to get there.

It's raining right now.

I sent a text to Miss Worker: "Is there any way you could pick up Pumpkin for the visit today so I don't have to take five kids out in the rain?"

Her reply: "I'm sorry but since I have never assisted Pumpkin in getting off a vehicle I would not want to risk her falling. Bio Mom is not well enough to assist me."

Oh holy potatoes! THIS is the answer I get?! This candy-ass little SSW is too chicken to help Pumpkin in and out of a car?!

-------

I just spent the last 30 minutes in a vehicle with several dysregulated kids. Oh joy. (Nothing is more fun than plunking four kids in a vehicle for an errand that bores them to tears. Especially when said errand falls on the same day all children had to drive two hours for another visit that morning.) First, I went to the wrong XYZ Street. Because, yes, there are two of them separated by a block that won't let you go through. And of course, my GPS system took me to the wrong half of the street.

When I finally got to the correct address, I got out and spoke briefly with the SSW. Then I opened up the door to my Suburban and told Pumpkin to get out. I didn't even hold my hand out for her. Now...Pumpkin cannot really get out on her own very well. But I really wanted to make a point to the caseworker. When I could tell that she was watching and that Pumpkin really did need my assistance, I held my hand out and Pumpkin stepped down. It was that simple.

Without prompting, SSW said, "I'll go ahead and bring Pumpkin home. She doesn't have the problems I thought she did."

Yippee ki ay

The lovely little SSW is also going to come into my home and take an assessment of how many things Pumpkin has that will need to be moved. I'm getting just a touch frustrated with this process too. She keeps insisting that we will be able to check four bags on our flight for Pumpkin when we go. I had to quite sternly inform her that I will not be donating four suitcases to the state of Texas.

SSW says that's not a problem. She'll get bags for me.

But still...Pumpkin has toys. Toys that need to be protected when they are packed. I sure wish I knew what the SSW is honestly thinking. Besides, I don't have all of Pumpkin's things packed yet. Exactly how is she going to know how much stuff Pumpkin has until it's all packed?!

------

I'm anxious for Pumpkin to be moved. I'm anxious for this chapter to be over. I'm so burned out with "Foster Parenting" right now!! The kids...oh how I love the kids! But the actual job of Foster Parenting....I'm tired of it!! I'll be glad when I'm down to juggling just the needs of one particular case.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Maybe I jumped the gun

Bedtime tonight was another logical time to talk about the visit to Dallas this weekend.

It seems I may have jumped the gun. Both cherubs insisted that Papi J slept at a different house. They seemed genuine too. Not sure why I got the story I did this morning. But tonight, they were singing a different tune.

Dude very much insists that he still wants to stay here forever. (We had to talk about when court would be next. He's trying to figure out this whole system.) ((Good luck buddy!))

Dolly seemed settled enough. Not too emotional. Not too freaked out. But contemplative. Her take on things was different from Dude's. She looked up at me tonight and said, "You happy I'm back Mommy." She won't let me in on her emotions but she wants to know what mine are.

All in all, today wasn't too bad from the little cherubs. It's more me. And I know that.

It's hard to share them. They've been mine for over a year with hardly a blip in the radar from their bio family. They knit themselves to me. I don't want to unravel all that.

But, sure enough, Bio Mom called to confirm her visit for tomorrow morning. Looks like I'll be packing up the homeschool and heading an hour west so Dude and Dolly can see their mom again.

So share them I will. With a Bio Mom that has barely seen them since they came in to Care. With a Bio Mom who already missed one appointment last week concerning her Service Plan. With a Grandma that has NEVER initiated contact of any kind with the kids. And with a Bio Dad that just got out of prison.

Sharing really sucks sometimes!

Where did he sleep?

Soooooo.....

I don't want to pry.

OK. That's a lie!! I really, really, really want to pry! I really, really, really want to know everything that happened with Dude and Dolly over the weekend.

But they are so little. I pretty much have to wait for them to volunteer up the information.

If applicable though, I can ask a few questions without freaking them out.

Dude informed me he wanted cereal for breakfast this morning. Dude loves cereal for breakfast! I asked him if his grandma gave him cereal. He smiled and said no, she gave him a tortilla and egg. It was a brief conversation but it let Dude know that I'm interested in what he did. No judgement! I'm just interested.

I couldn't help myself though with Dolly. I asked her if her Papi J slept at Grandma's house or if he slept somewhere else.

She said he slept at Grandma's.

I smiled and said, "Oh, so you got to see him first thing in the morning."

She said, "Yes. And then we went to the park."

Papi J has not even started any services yet. Papi J was supposed to get ONE four hour visit while the children were at Grandma's house. It appears that Papi J still lives with Grandma and didn't leave like he was supposed to this past weekend.

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Everyone is home again

We had a blast at Six Flags! I'm so incredibly glad that we went!

It's hard to describe...think awful of me if you must...but I didn't miss the bonus cherubs at all. Herman brought his best friend from across the street and the six of us had a ton of fun. I didn't have to wipe any butts or noses all weekend long. (um...unless you count the time I had to wipe off half a container of chocolate ice cream off of Bart's face) I didn't have to keep track of little people. I didn't have to second guess any of my parenting decisions. I was on my own with no one to answer to but my family. (I tire of social workers and all the ridiculous rules that make up foster parenting.)

This is my blog and more than anything I'm going to keep things real. So there it is in all its truth -- I went away for the weekend without three of "my" kids and I didn't miss them at all.

This foster parenting stuff is HARD!! I have to love these children just like they are a permanent part of my family. To do anything less when they are around would be wrong in my opinion. I love Dude, Dolly and Pumpkin so very, very much.

But I am forced to share these children. In order for me to keep my sanity, I have to be able to let go as fast as I grab on. I had to be completely OK with putting Dude and Dolly in Minnie's car on Friday afternoon knowing that they would be surrounded by a completely different family all weekend long. I cannot let my identity be wrapped up completely in them. Yes, I'm their mom when they are with me. And I love them with all I've got. But like it or not, they have a biological family that is trying to connect now.

Side note: I still do not believe that this biological family would be doing ANY of this connecting if the State wasn't orchestrating and paying for all of it. None of the members of the biological family (except their maternal great-grandma) have ever tried to have contact with the kids all on their own.

Side note or not though, the kids were whisked away this weekend and I had to let go. So...let go I did.

And we had fun!!

The first thing I did after we got back this weekend was pick Pumpkin up from respite care. That was an adventure. Nothing is more complicated than a severely retarded, basically non-verbal child that has also suffered complex trauma. Pumpkin didn't understand why I left her this weekend. And, partially because this was a brand new family, Pumpkin didn't handle things well. I spent 45 minutes trying to prepare this family for all that Pumpkin is Friday night. But I had no idea Pumpkin would up the ante. She refused to get dressed. She refused to get her diaper changed. She refused a bath. She refused to let the foster mom brush her teeth. She wouldn't let anyone brush her hair. She was a total terror! I think they were glad to see us leave tonight as I pulled out of the driveway.

I got down in Pumpkin's face though and told her to "knock it off". (She was crying as I took her out to the car.) I know that sounds really harsh; but Pumpkin does NOT respond to sing-song-y correction. She lightened up almost immediately. By the time we go home Pumpkin cooperated with all that needed to be done with the bedtime routine. She was still visibly upset. But my hands are completely tied. It's not like I can explain things to her. She doesn't understand. And she doesn't respond to lovey-dovey comforting. Generally, she doesn't want to be held or hugged.

In a way, I'm glad this happened this weekend. It's looking very much like Pumpkin will be transferred to her aunt and uncle's this coming weekend. I will know for sure to better prepare them for Pumpkin's level of stubbornness. Because once again, I won't be able to explain to Pumpkin what is happening, where she is going and that this time, I won't be coming back. Her aunt and uncle need to know from the beginning that they can't coddle her or she will dig in and not cooperate with anything.

Dude and Dolly got home past their bedtime. The flight home had been complicated with multiple gate changes and lots of stress. They were completely wiped out! Dude looked happy to be home. Dolly looked shell shocked.

Because it was late enough there was little I could do but get them ready for bed. There really wasn't time to try and process anything that happened this weekend. I could tell just by looking that Dolly would become overwhelmed with emotion and that wouldn't be healthy. I made the decision to act like everything was normal and just shuffle them off to bed.

I smiled a lot. I asked them if they had fun. But I pretty much just helped them into their jammies and got them in bed. There were lots of hugs and kisses. We sang. We prayed. But I didn't draw things out with extra songs or cuddles.

After tucking in TT and Bart I went back into Dude and Dolly's room for one more round of hugs and kisses. Dolly seemed much more relaxed. She actually smiled and told me she loved me. I know it's all OK. I felt a little bad being so hurried tonight. But it wasn't my fault they didn't get home until after 8:00PM and that I've got to get them off to school in the morning. I did the best I could with what I've got.

Minnie had almost nothing to say about the actual weekend visit other than it went well.

I'm anxious to see how Dude and Dolly process this out this coming week. I'm sure they'll tell me bits and pieces about the visit. I'm not going to push but I will take notes. If necessary, I'll schedule a meeting with their lawyer too.

Tomorrow starts a new week. Wanna take bets to see if bio mom confirms her court ordered visit tomorrow? She has to call in to CPS or else the visit on Tuesday is automatically cancelled. And for what it's worth, Minnie told me that Mom has already missed her first appointment since court last Monday.

It's going to be a crazy week. But what week isn't crazy when you choose to live in Foster Care Land?!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Their first weekend visit

Minnie is going to be here in about and hour to pick up the littlest cherubs. They are off to the airport on their first weekend visit with their paternal grandma. The State is calling it a monitored visit because Minnie is taking them there, will be staying in Dallas, and then will fly back with the kids on Sunday. However, I'm quite sure Minnie will NOT be doing anything social work related during the visit.

Dolly is conflicted. By Monday night (after court) she said she wanted to go live in Dallas. I smiled, gave her a hug, and said, "I know you do baby". She cried herself to sleep that night.

By Tuesday morning Dolly was all hugs and kisses and came up to me many different times before she left for school to tell me, "Mommy, I want to stay here. I want to live here."

The cherub is drawn to her biological family – just like every other single human being on the planet!!! But ultimately, she's also drawn to us...the family she actually KNOWS. This very limited contact with the people she's related to confuses her.

So, for the most part, Dolly is OK with this weekend visit. She understands it is temporary and she's very curious. She wants to see what it's like in Dallas. She wants to see what this grandma person is all about.

Dude on the other hand must have told me half a dozen times during the bedtime routine last night, "I don't want to go to Dallas. I want to stay here!!!"

All I can do is reassure him that I'm not going anywhere and that he is coming back. I even told him, "It's not like it was this summer buddy. It's not like when you had to go to Mamma R's house. The judge says you are staying with ME Dude. You WILL be coming back. I'm still going to be your mommy for now."

He's OK with that answer. But he's definitely not thrilled with it! I'm a bit curious to see if he's going to throw a fit when Minnie comes this morning.

As far as both cherubs are concerned, I tell them that it's their job to talk to their lawyer about all of this. Depending on the fallout when they get back, I might try to schedule that "out of court" visit the lawyer mentioned that she wanted. I think a visit with their lawyer fresh off of a visit to Dallas would be a good thing. Otherwise, they might not be able to talk about it at all.

And yes, even if both kids come back from this visit saying they want to move to Dallas forever, I'll let them talk to their lawyer. In no way am I going to complicate things with my own agenda. Because...honestly...I don't have an agenda other than advocating for these cherubs' best interests! The State wants them to go to Dallas. They want this case out of their hands. They just want to be done. Something pretty awful would have to happen at Grandma's house for her to no longer be a permanent option for these kids. So unless that pretty awful thing happens soon, it's better for the cherubs in the long run for them to be OK with moving to Dallas.

I've had to keep my own emotions in check some. I'm bitter. Being perfectly honest here – I don't want to share these cherubs. All they've known for the past 15 months is me and my family. (Except for Mamma R's during what I think I'll refer to as the Summer From Hell!!) But this is Foster Care Land and it rarely makes sense. Thankfully, I'm not in fear of how the children are going to be treated this weekend. Most of my fears are very minor compared to the other things I've read about visits in Foster Care Land. But I'm still bitter. I don't like making these kids go through this. Is "biological family" always best?! Is it best for these kids?! Personally...I don't think so. And that makes this visit difficult for me.

But I'm going to get through it. This is a minor blip on the screen in Foster Care Land. Dude and Dolly have done better this week than I thought they would coming off of court on Monday. I know they will get through the weekend just fine. We'll process and move forward when they get back. I'm sure we'll have to process a LOT! But we will. I'm glad the kids are with us through this. I'm very glad they came back. Our home is a safe place for them to express all their emotions.

And to keep my mind off of things while they're gone ---
I was able to secure respite care for Pumpkin. (Because yes...she's still here. The State couldn't possibly be moving any slower in getting her transitioned to her aunt and uncle's house!)
The Core Family (me, Mr. Amazing, Herman, TT & Bart) is going to Six Flags this weekend!!! We're taking off first thing tomorrow morning to go have some big kid kind of fun and I can't wait! With all the Hell that was this summer, I never felt like we got to do anything fun together. Yes, we went to Sea World the weekend the kids were ripped away from us. It was fun, but I still had Hell hanging over my head the entire time. And it hasn't exactly been easy transitioning back to the kids being here again now that our names were cleared. School....a visit with bio mom...court...bio dad was there...aaccckkkk!!

So I figured we'll get away as a group of big kids this weekend to go play.

Pumpkin would not be able to enjoy 99% of the park. Nor will she "miss" going as she doesn't understand. And as far as the little cherubs are concerned...my big kids have been instructed that we will not discuss our activities directly with them. They will know we went somewhere. I'm not asking my big kids to lie! But nothing will be rubbed in their faces. They went to Dallas. We went to San Antonio. I'm hoping it can be a non-issue to the littles.

But for me and my core family – I'm hoping to reunite some. Reward ourselves for the hard work we've all be doing. Really enjoy ourselves for a couple days.

We have to be back by Sunday at 5:00. So as much as I'm going to hate saying goodbye in about an hour to Dude and Dolly, I'm glad we decided to do this mini vacation. I've got something to look forward to too!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Most awkward quote of the day

Before the major proceedings of yesterday's main event, we were all together in a small waiting area outside the courtroom. Dolly was on the chair next to me and Dude was on my lap. Dolly was saying, "Papi, Papi, Papi" (pronounced Poppy) in an attempt to get her biological dad's attention.

Dude looked over at her and very sternly announced, "THAT'S NOT OUR PAPI!"

Monday, September 10, 2012

Betcha wanna know what happened....

Court was supposed to start at 2:00. I had been instructed to show up at court by 1:30 minimum. I actually arrived at the courthouse just after 1:00. We walked up to the third floor and began the wait. There were exactly five chairs in the waiting area. I decided that I would take one of those chairs. Dude would not leave my side and was up on my lap almost the entire time. I sat next to Great Grandma and we chatted.

Dude would not have a thing to do with his bio family (except for Great Grandma). Dolly was intrigued and wanted to interact with her bio mom and bio dad; but she was also very nervous! They kept speaking to her in Spanish and Dolly understands very little Spanish these days. It was awkward to put it mildly. When they would say something in English, Dolly would respond...sort of. After waiting over an hour and a half, the kids were really wound up. All they could do was giggle with a very dysregulated nervous giggle.

Appearing in court today: bio mom, bio dad, paternal grandma, maternal great-grandma, me and the children – plus lawyers for bio mom, CPS and the children.

The initial plan (before the cherubs' lawyer arrived) was drawn up. The children were to be placed in Dallas. Grandma N was to be given Temporary Managing Conservatorship. And things would go from there. Bio Mom and Bio Dad would be given an opportunity to do their services. Everyone was in agreement with this. All that they needed was to actually have the judge sign off. I sat in amazement that all this would be decided without anyone representing the children! (Just for the record...this was all decided prior to the case being called. It was all very casual and off the cuff. The judge was participating in the conversation but nothing was legally official at this time. It was more like the judge was familiarizing himself with the case and with what the State was going to propose.)

Then, low and behold, a new lawyer entered the scene. Ms. Veracruz was given the case and told she would be acting as attorney ad litem and guardian ad litem (dual roles). She introduced herself to the family and then stepped aside with the children to talk to them.

Great-grandma insisted that I go with the children to talk to the lawyer. By now I wanted to throw my hands up in despair. What's the point?! But I moved to the side of the courtroom and sat there while she attempted to talk to the cherubs.

The cherubs had been waiting too long in a very stressful environment. They had never met this lawyer before. It all seemed futile. The cherubs stood there practically mute. And since their bio dad had stepped over with us, I didn't know what to say or what to do. Anything I had to say would probably not be met with favor by bio dad. Still, the lawyer asked me what I thought.

I looked at the lawyer, and I guess because I was feeling rather jaded, I asked her, "Do you really want to know?" I mean...really...did she?! Ms. Veracruz said yes so I started in with a 30 second sound bite. Right there in front of bio dad I told the lawyer that my biggest concern was that the children do not know this grandma at all! Grandma has never done anything to begin a relationship with the children. And this bothered me.

Ms. Veracruz looked at bio dad and said something. I don't remember what. And then she seemed sort of defeated herself. She said, "Well, it's my job to represent the children and their desires. But it doesn't look like they will talk to me."

Because I have told the children it's their job to talk to their lawyer I looked at Dude and said, "Dude, do you want to talk to your lawyer?" I then looked at Dolly and asked her the same question. Both kids perked up and said they would. The lawyer kindly took them out of the room away from everyone and spoke with them very briefly.

When she came back in the room I knew exactly what the children had said. So, I asked for a few minutes of her time as well.

Away from bio dad I was able to speak more freely. I gave the lawyer another 30 second sound bite. She asked me how long I've been with the kids. When I answered 15 months she gave me a blank stare. I read right through it and said, "My husband and I would take PMC. We would love to adopt these kids." She looked back at me and asked, "Why won't the State consider that?!"

I didn't know how to respond. The best I could give her is that they aren't too fond of me. She didn't think that was a decent answer. She seemed stumped by the whole process. She seemed determined to do something. She looked at me and said, "I may be a lawyer, but I'm a mom too!" She had a new agenda. I made sure Ms. Veracruz understood that bio dad said he's living 20 minutes away from his mom but that I didn't think that was accurate. This concerned Ms. Veracruz greatly. We went back into the courtroom.

Ms. Veracruz circled up with CPS and the other lawyers. The plan changed immediately. The children would remain in foster care. Visits with bio mom would be increased so that the State could give Mom an opportunity to work her service plan. Weekend visits would be scheduled once a month in Dallas with paternal grandma. Bio dad would be given an opportunity to see the children for 4 hours during that weekend. (Bio mom and bio dad are no longer "together".)

Minnie wasn't extremely thrilled with this change. In fact, she felt it necessary to tell Ms. Veracruz about the investigation this summer. The way she plugged it into the conversation was weird. Even the lawyer didn't understand why it was being brought up.

Court happened. I love the new judge. His courtroom is not a freaky stressful place. He's kind. He's polite. He pays attention. It's so radically different from the old judge. The judge had no problem with the children staying in foster care. He had no problem with the increase in visits. (Granted, prior to Ms. Veracruz showing up, he had no problem with moving the children to Dallas either.) He set the next court hearing for January 7!!

Everything was made official. Afterward, I stepped up to Ms. Veracruz to "defend" myself about the whole investigation topic. I gave her the 30 second sound bite about how that whole thing happened. I did say that the children made mention of us "pow-powing" them but that it didn't make sense in the grand scheme of things. She looked at me and said, "I don't know why the State even said anything about it!" I responded, "I told you, they don't like me too much." She smiled. She handed me her business card and told me that if the children ever want to talk to her to have them call. Then she said....get this....that she wants to meet with the children outside of court!!!!!

I nearly dropped over! I've never had a lawyer take that approach down here!!

Sooooooooo......
  • The cherubs have a new lawyer that seems to think the cherubs staying with us is a very good idea.
  • The cherubs have a new lawyer that will discuss this outside of the courtroom before our next appearance.
  • Bio mom is going to be given an opportunity to work her service plan. Technically that puts us all the way back to square one. However, there isn't a single person that thinks bio mom is going to complete her service plan. (Minnie practically said this verbatim to me.)
  • Bio dad isn't technically in the picture. But he's got a service plan to do too. No one really paid any attention to him at all except to grant him visits when the kids are there to see Grandma N.
  • Grandma N is being granted 1x a month weekend visits that the State is going to pay for. The first one is this weekend in fact. The cherubs will fly to Dallas on Friday. Minnie will stay in Dallas but will not be supervising anything. Then on Sunday, Minnie will fly back with the cherubs.
  • The State is still trying to place the children with Grandma N in Dallas. They have no Plan B.
  • And...the next court date is in January so I get to have the cherubs through Christmas. I don't have to say, "I don't know" about anything!!!!!! I may even be able to work things so that the cherubs can travel with us to Iowa. (I'm not holding my breath on this. But it's a possibility – especially if Mom isn't keeping her visit schedule by that time.)
Thank you for your prayers! It seems another miracle has taken place. Here we go again!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Raw honesty

Tomorrow is court. I'm not nearly as emotional about things as I was three months ago. I guess I learned this summer that I can and will continue on with my life even when it seems impossible. In the midst of all the hell that was that investigation, my life continued on. And I know that even if these kids move on to Dallas, I did all that I could for them. At least if they have to say goodbye this week, I will get to say goodbye under better circumstances.

Please know that I want these children to stay with me. When all is said and done, I would love more than anything to raise these cherubs to adulthood. I don't believe that their grandma is invested in them. She chooses to have almost no contact with them whatsoever. One visit over three months?! No phone calls. No letters. No nothing. Just one visit back in July that I'm sure the State paid for.

But...if they are ultimately going to end up in Dallas anyway – I am very ready for these children to move on.

Raw honesty.

I'm tired of the drama of this case. For nearly a year now the State has been trying to get these kids up to Dallas to their grandma's house. (They've been in Care almost 15 months but initially the plan was reunification with Mom.) For nearly a year now there has been reason after reason why the kids shouldn't go to Dallas.

Tomorrow there's a new reason.

Dad is out of prison. Dad is living with Grandma (his mother). I guess Dad knows that he'll have to move out if the kids move North – but really...will he?! Who is going to make sure that these kids stay safe from their biological father's potential influence. He has not participated in any services. He's not going to either. And Dad has a history of making lots of bad mistakes. LOTS of bad mistakes!

Raw honesty – I'm done with foster care. I'm tired of everyone else making all the decisions for my family. It's been hard enough telling Dude and Dolly I don't know how or where they are going to celebrate Halloween. Because of course, that's all they want to talk about now. I can't promise Dude that he'll get to be a firefighter. If he goes to Dallas – will Grandma let him dress up? I just don't know. So I don't promise. I'm tired of saying, "I don't know".

If these cherubs don't get court ordered to move to Dallas tomorrow, I will have to spend the entire Christmas holiday season saying, "I don't know". The thought of that makes me sick to my stomach.

Think about it. Everything in Foster Care Land takes place in three month increments. That means, if they stay with me tomorrow, our next court hearing will be right around December 10. So as soon as the decorations make their way out in the stores – and the kids start talking about Christmas – I will have to answer every single question with, "I don't know".

Will Santa Come?
I don't know.
Will I have a stocking?
I don't know.
Will we have a Christmas tree?
We will baby. But I don't know if Grandma does.
Will we get presents?
I don't know. (Grandma didn't acknowledge Christmas with these cherubs last year.)

Of course I will do all that I can for the cherubs before the court date. But I won't be able to promise anything.

And more importantly it will complicate my original holiday plans.

We want to go HOME for Christmas. We want to go to Iowa.

I won't be able to ask for permission until after the court date. I won't be able to commit to my family that we will be visiting about our ability to come North or not. I won't be able to promise the children that they will be able to come. I won't even be able to tell the children "no", they can't come to Iowa. I will have to completely put the trip on the back burner until mid-December and then just roll with the punches as they come.

I won't get to look forward to any of it!!

So, in all raw honesty, if the cherubs are going to ultimately end up in Dallas anyway – I'm more than ready for them to go. The System continuing to drag things out is beyond frustrating!

Of course, if there is any hope at all that these cherubs could stay with me forever, I'm willing to do whatever it takes.

Like I do every three months, I'm asking for prayer. I pray that wisdom prevails tomorrow. I pray the new lawyer can see all aspects of this case. I pray that the judge can rule in the best interests of the children. (I pray the judge makes the next hearing in January instead of December.) And I pray my heart can handle whatever is decided.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How the visit went

I told the children that we had to go to the CPS office in their hometown. I was honest with them. I told them I did not know who was going to be there. I simply said that Minnie (their CPS worker) said they needed to come.
  • Bio mom showed up.
  • Great Grandma came too. (whew!)
  • Dude was pissed off! Not sure at who. But he didn't want to have anything to do with his mom!! In fact, he didn't lighten up in the visit and interact with mom until he realized that I never left the building. (I stayed in a conference room with TT and Bart and we worked on a little bit of school.)
  • Mom walked Dude and Dolly to the bathroom part-way through the visit. Dude walked past the conference room I was in, pointed at me and announced to everyone, "there's my mommy!"
  • The visit ended when Dude announced he was done and wanted to leave. It was only a few minutes short of the allotted two hours but they went ahead and ended the visit early.
  • Neither child was upset upon leaving. I drove Great Grandma back to her house and the kids got to spend a couple extra minutes with her around. Awkward enough, bio mom is currently living with Great Grandma. However, when mom's ride dropped her off at the home, bio mom completely ignored the children in my vehicle. (This is probably a good thing as bio mom is not allowed contact with the children outside of the CPS office.)
  • Great Grandma helped explain the family tree a bit more. I better understand who is who, who is living with who, and what bio mom has been up to since she got out of jail several weeks ago. (It's not good. Mom is still making bad choices!)
  • The ride home was uneventful for the children. They seemed less phased by the visit than what I had anticipated.
  • I called Rainbow on the way home. We discussed what Minnie has told both of us. It should make for an interesting day at court next Monday.
According to Rainbow, Minnie told her that the reason Mom wanted to see the kids is so she could make a decision about whether or not Mom still wants them to go to Dallas or not. Putting this information together with the fact that Minnie told me that the lawyer probably isn't going to "go for" this move to Dallas just yet – it seems like we might be starting all over at square one. Who knows?! Would the State really think about reunification with Mom? I've been told that is a resounding NO! I've also been told that bio dad is NOT an option either. Neither one have completed the necessary services for reunification. It's either us or Grandma N in Dallas.

The afternoon went better than I expected. Dude also tossed in a bit of a twist. Any frustration he was harboring toward me is long gone! He has announced multiple times that he wants to live with me forever. I've also been told more times today that he loves me than he's said over the past three weeks combined.

Story time brought up one of the crappy parts of foster care though. It finally triggered Dolly's big feelings. They wanted to read their new Halloween books that we bought at the book store this afternoon. Dolly started in talking about all she wants to do during Halloween. Because I'm always honest with my kids I had to share the hard truth. I don't know where they are going to be this Halloween. I told her that I'm sure Grandma N would celebrate Halloween; but I couldn't promise it. Dolly understood the depth of this statement and got very, very sad.

The children have been here over a year. They yearn for consistency and tradition. The kids have been talking about a lot of things over the past three weeks. They realize they missed out on vacation to Iowa this summer and have been asking if they will get to go later. They ask if they can go to the zoo again. They've asked to go to the beach, to Sea World and all kinds of other places we've gone before.

My hands are tied though. Court is on Monday. I can't promise a trip to the zoo. I certainly can't take them to Iowa. And I'm not able to run up to Sea World either. But none of these trips are out of the equation over the next four months. They've heard the boys talking about going to Iowa over Christmas. The cherubs want to go too.

But here I am. Stuck. All I can say is, "I don't know". And, "it's up to the judge."

And then, because The System is as twisted as it is, I feel like I should tell the children (and I do tell them), "If you want to stay with Mamma L*** and Papi S***, you have to tell your lawyer." No preschool children should be put in this position. But I know their lawyer will ask them on Monday. The kids need an answer.

Because especially now, if Mom is wavering on whether or not she wants the kids to go north, if they look at their lawyer and say they want to stay....well then, they just might stay awhile longer.

Dude is upstairs in bed with a smile on his face. Almost like he was a year ago, he doesn't understand why his sister is crying.

Dolly on the other hand has so many emotions she doesn't know what to do. I sat up with her for nearly 1/2 an hour. Dolly kept trying to stifle her cries. She didn't know how to talk about the overwhelming amount of emotion she is dealing with. The only thing she could manage to muster when I asked her if she wanted to talk was, "Halloween". That's all she could say. And this is so much more than whether or not she's going to have Halloween at our house or not. Eventually, I just had to hug and kiss one more time and leave her alone. She's finally allowing herself to cry. I'm quite sure she's going to cry herself to sleep.

Foster care sucks!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Visits - oh joy - part 2

It gets better....

I JUST got a call from Minnie (the kids' CPS worker). A member of Dude & Dolly's bio family is freaking that Great Grandma was going to get a visit and no one else was. I didn't exactly follow if the problem was that they wanted to see the kids too. Or that they were genuinely concerned that bio mom would try and crash the visit with Great Grandma.

Either way, I've been told to cancel my dinner plans and come to the CPS office an hour away so bio mom can have her visit at 9:00AM tomorrow. Great Grandma is invited to tag along at that time.

I guess that cuts down on one drive. And it means my Wednesday night is free again for church.

I'm still not looking forward to a visit with Mom. But, then again, Minnie said that Mom doesn't like to get up early and she's not convinced Mom will make this visit.

It'll be such fun at my house if she flakes out. TT doesn't handle abandonment well. I'll get backlash from every single one of my kids.

I can hardly wait.

Visits - oh joy

Great Grandma called me late last night and asked if we could change our dinner date to Wednesday. I said, "no problem."

My licensing agency just called to let me know that bio mom wants to have a visit with Dude and Dolly before court. I said, "oh crap!" Of course, I have to bend my schedule every which way to accommodate. But I can't really say no.

I'm certainly not looking forward to the backlash that I'm sure will be mine after the visit. These two cherubs haven't seen their mom since last November. That's a looooonnnngggg time when you're 3 & 4 years old. (Shoot - Dude wasn't even 3 yet at their last visit!!)

So it looks like I get to drive an hour away to make sure the kids get a visit with the relative that loves them and has tried to care for them for years.

Then the next morning I get to make that same drive so they can see the mother that abandoned them over a year ago.

Then, hopefully, I'll fly across the state on Friday to help transition Pumpkin into her new home.

I'll try to recover over the weekend.

Then I'll make that hour long trip to the west one more time so I can attend court on Monday with Dude and Dolly.

I'm not freaking out yet either. Am I getting used to foster care?! Or am I just certifiable?!!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

A dinner date

I spoke with Great Grandma today and we scheduled a dinner date for tomorrow. I'm going to drive to the town where she lives and take her out to Chili's. (I don't know my way around her town well and she wouldn't commit to where she would like to eat. I wanted something nicer than fast food since it's my treat. This was the only restaurant I could think of that I knew how to get to.)

I promise I won't manipulate the conversation about court next Monday. However, if Great Grandma wants to tell the children they need to tell their lawyer they want to stay with me...
I won't be stopping her.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

What I've learned about lice

I'm not currently dealing with this problem myself. However, I've read about this issue on several other blogs lately. Consider this a public service announcement with an alternative way to treat lice that is not commonly found on the internet.

When we first got MissArguePants and her sister TurtleTurtle in our home, they came with lice. Bad lice. In fact, these precious girls told me that they didn't remember at time in their lives when they didn't have lice. They knew how to scratch their heads so they wouldn't get caught at school. They also shared with me horrific ways their bio family had treated said head lice in the past. (I believe the worst I heard was kerosene or some other horribly flammable liquid.) Nothing would kill the lice.

Because we have to take our kids to the doctor within 72 hours of placement, I was immediately given an Rx for lice pesticide. (All the drugs you commonly get OTC are pesticides.) I followed all the instructions to a "T". Still...the lice remained. All the doctor would do is prescribe another round of the same drug that didn't work the first time.

My brother is a doctor. I consulted him. He told me to go back to my pediatrician and ask for ivermectin. I did. The episode did NOT go well. Needless to say, the doctor and I did not see eye to eye on this issue and she just wrote an Rx for the same drug that had failed me twice.

I started to use my Google degree. I scoured the internet for any information I could find. My brother told me that the FDA had just approved benzyl alcohol for the treatment in drug resistant lice. Unfortunately, I knew my chances of getting an Rx for that were close to zilch.

I happened to find a link mentioning the idea that the alcohol in Listerine would work the same as benzyl alcohol. At this time, I cannot find the exact link that I found so you'll just have to trust me on this one.

Here's the science behind it:
Studies of the effect of Ulesfia Lotion (brand name of Rx) on native, captured lice suggest that benzyl alcohol inhibits lice from closing their respiratory spiracles, allowing the vehicle to obstruct the spiracles and causing the lice to asphyxiate.

The reason lice don't die when you wash your hair is because, simply put, they can hold their breath. They breathe out of spiracles on the sides of their bodies. They can close these and stay alive for several hours without breathing. Home remedies like mayonnaise and excessive amounts of hair gel sort of work at asphyxiating the lice. However, they are very messy and not super effective.

Benzyl alcohol keeps them from closing the spiracles and the lice drown when you wash your hair.

I decided to try Listerine on my girls. I poured it directly on their dry hair. (I didn't want the lice to close their spiracles before I poured on the Listerine.) Yes, you have to be very careful to keep the Listerine out of the child's eyes. I saturated their hair well and then put it up in a shower cap. I placed several washrags around the inside of the shower cap so the Listerine wouldn't run out and get all over. I had the girls wear the shower caps for around 30 minutes while they continued bathing like normal.

After it sat for awhile I helped the girls rinse their hair. I was nothing short of amazed the first time. Mind you, I had used the Rx multiple times and I had used the nit comb for hours and hours nightly pulling as many lice and nits out as I possibly could. The first time I rinsed their hair after the Listerine, there were at least 50-100 lice in the bathtub with the first girl.

Because the Listerine can only kill live lice, I knew that I wasn't done yet. I used the nit comb quickly that night on her hair but I wasn't too worried about it. I simply made plans to treat again after the eggs on their heads hatched 2 days later. (I recommend treating the second time 2-3 days after the first. Then, depending on what you're seeing for dead lice, you can treat again in 2-3 days or wait up to a week.)

Two days later I treated again. This time when rinsing there were a lot fewer dead lice. I combed through with a nit comb. But again, I did not spend hours!!! Using Listerine cuts way down on that horrible time suck of a process!! In fact, it's not even exactly necessary if you treat with Listerine until the lice are gone.

I waited a week after the second treatment before I did it one more time. THERE WERE NO LICE!!! My girls, for possibly the first time in years, were lice free. The only side effect they suffered from was minty fresh hair.

One of the biggest benefits of treating lice in this manner is that it is not a drug. Lice will not become resistant to it. And you don't have to worry about putting pesticides on your child. And, if you're a foster parent, you don't have to get a prescription or permission to treat this way. It's so easy and it solves a problem quickly.

Yes, I still recommend bagging up stuffed animals and pillows that may have been infected. Yes, wash the bedding in hot water. But, for the most part, lice want a human host. If they're happy where they are at, they're not going to leave. We never had anyone else in the house become infected during the entire time we were trying to get the problem under control with our girls.

I believe wholeheartedly in this method. When TT came home from school with lice last year, I immediately reached for the Listerine. He had a pretty bad case – any kid at all can get them! Listerine to the rescue! He was lice free in two weeks!! (I actually think we got them all the first time and the little bit of nit combing I did got all the eggs.)

Lice is NO FUN! I hope this can help someone.



Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tell me not to worry

Dude is throwing bigger temper tantrums than ever before.

He's over 3 1/2. These are like 2 year old tantrums. This morning the freak out was because he wanted the toy Bart had in his hand.

As soon as I walk close to him to redirect, he freaks out even worse.

If I put my hand out toward him (to take him by the hand to walk him away, to wipe his face off because he's spitting all over himself, or when I need to pick him up to move him) he starts screaming, "ouchie".

Today he said, "Mommy don't hurt me." All I was doing was sitting next to him in a chair while he screamed.

Tell me not to worry.