Saturday, June 29, 2013

Baby Zippy

I've got another question to throw out to the Internet. I really want to know how anyone else has handled anything like this or what your opinions on it might be.

Dude and Dolly now have a baby brother. I've never met the cherub. For now, anyway, I'm going to call him Baby Zippy.

Baby Zippy lives in jail with his bio mom. I have NO IDEA what the State is planning for this cherub. All I know is that the facility where Bio Mom is living will allow Baby Zippy to stay for six months. I believe that Bio Mom has to stay longer than that so a plan will eventually have to be put in place. I do NOT know if this plan will involve a "phone call" to my house or not.

When do I tell Dude and Dolly about Baby Zippy?

How do I explain Baby Zippy to Dude and Dolly? (especially since I really know nothing myself)

Unless something very, very strange happens in this case, there is no chance that Dude and Dolly will ever go live with their bio mom again. They will not go to Bio Dad either! It's just what it is. Neither parent has done anything toward their case plan. (Bio Dad never "wanted" the kids anyway.) Both parents are currently in jail. And, it's been two years. The State has never thought that reunification with the bio parent(s) was an option. The only thing the State has ever asked for in the courts is Relative Conservatorship. I have to assume that the State's initial plan for Baby Zippy is for him to stay with Bio Mom.

I've explained jail as a place where Bio Mom can be kept safe because she was making bad choices. How do I spin it that to explain why it's OK for a baby to be in jail? How could I explain to Dolly that SHE can't go live with Bio Mom in jail? How do I explain a baby that they can't see?

Is it even necessary to tell the cherubs they have a sibling yet?

My gut tells me that I can wait until the absolute last minute to explain to Dude and Dolly about Baby Zippy. And by last minute, I mean right up until the time when they may see Bio Mom again. Is that a bad thing? If the cherubs wouldn't really understand anyway, do I have to try and make them understand prior to meeting the baby? IMO it would just add confusion to their already very layered trauma.

What do you think?


aka. Mimi said...

I'm with you on this one. I don't think I'd try to explain a baby brother they won't even get to see for months until the time is much closer. There is so much confusion in their lives right now, this would just add to it.

kate said...

It may not be right, but my initial, and strong, reaction is the same as yours. I wouldn't mention it now. I'd wait until they were about to meet Bio Mom and Zippy. They're so little that I can't think that adding this to their full emotional plates is going to do any good.

Amanda said...

We have chosen not to tell FS about his half siblings, even though we are in touch with one of them. The poor boy is already so confused about all the people in his life that, with the approval of his therapist, we didn't feel he needed to have any more introduced until he gets permanency somewhere.

Phoenix said...

I wouldn't tell them either. Not until you have to. If they won't understand it anyway, why add further trauma to their little lives?!! If you ever get that phone call, or if they ever see bio mum again, that's when I would tell them. That way it can be more concrete and may make more sense to them.

tashapork said...

I'd go with giving this information on a need to know basis. I'd leave out the details unless they ask about it. Kids tend to ask questions when they are ready for the information.

G said...

So far it's unanimous, and I agree with everyone else.

I won't lie to my foster kids, but I don't think there's anything wrong with withholding information that can't be put on their developmental level.

We have had the experience of having a new sibling born while kids were with us and the new sibling staying with mom. They were on a reunification track and biomom told the kids about the pregnancy, so we didn't get to control exactly when they knew it was happening. It was very hard on them -- and they were 3 and 7. They really couldn't understand why the baby could stay with mommy and they couldn't and I never did find a good way to explain it.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to disagree with everyone. Granted, our son's adoption was private, not through foster care, although I'm not entirely sure that makes a difference to the children. Also, we don't have visits with DS's birthmom because she lives too far away. We have phone and Facebook contact.

DS has an older brother who is parented by his birthmom. He's always known about "Iggy." When DS was almost 4, birthmom had a baby girl. After baby girl was born, and we had a picture of her, we showed it to DS and told him that "Princess A" was born and she was his sister. At that point, he really didn't have many questions. He simply accepted that these 2 people were his siblings, and he was OK with it.

As he got older, he did ask why they could live with S and he couldn't. It's a hard question to answer, but we've tried. I'm sure he'll continue asking it in different ways, and we'll just have to do our best to explain.

Pretty much any adoptee will tell you that secrets are not a good thing. It may be hard for you to explain, but I would tell them about their baby brother as soon as is practical. It does make sense to wait until you have more information about what might happen to him long term.

I also disagree that kids will ask questions when they are ready for the information. Kids don't always know what to ask, and if there's any reluctance on the part of the adult to answer a question, they may believe it's not OK to ask.

CherubMamma said...

Oh...the cherubs WILL know about their baby brother. That's for sure. I don't do secrets with ANY of my kids!!

It's just the when and the how.

As I'm understanding things, Bio Mom could be in jail all the way up until late 2014. Dude and Dolly might not see their Bio Mom again. (Though I don't know how a termination trial could happen without the bio parent being there.) And since I'm sure Zippy with be with Bio Mom the next time (if/when?) they all see each other, the cherubs will know beforehand of his existence.

But I think I'll wait until much closer to that meeting before I say anything to the cherubs myself. In the event the cherubs never "have" to meet their brother, I will simply try to secure pictures and whatnot -- in the end I'm hoping for as open of an adoption with Dude and Dolly as is possible anyway.

Of course, all this could be moot if a different relative sees fit to tell Dude and Dolly about Zippy themselves. Cousin A told me she was going to try and get a picture of Zippy for me to show Dude and Dolly. She did say though that she would let me explain it to them. Even she (a very immature 18yo) sees that Dude and Dolly might not understand all this just yet.

Teresa said...

Your last comment about a relative slipping with the news was my first thought about not telling them. We waited to tell our son about his Mom's incarceration, and Dad's girlfriend ended up telling him at a visit. For me, being able to set the tone of that first conversation would have been worth having to wade through those tough emotions. Instead I was left kind of doing damage control in the aftermath. Is there a possibility that they could hear about it from Minnie or their law guardian? As long as all the adults in their life are on the same page, I think it's OK to wait to tell them until the baby can be a real, tangible piece of their lives. Ultimately, though, you know what's best for your kids and I don't doubt you'll do right by them.

MamaFoster said...

Did she give birth yet? I think the kids have enough turmoil with the visits going on with gma right now. I would wait until I had to tell them or when it is more appropriate. That's me, everyone has their own opinion.

abrianna said...

I wonder that too- what if someone else spills the beans? I agree with waiting, but sadly you might not have that choice.

Their Dallas relatives could let it slip when they visit or Minnie could accidentally on purpose do it. Plus for Minnie she might see it as payback for her losing power in court. Can their GAL try and feel out what Minnie will do?

CherubMamma said...

The baby was most likely born within the last couple days or so.

Minnie hasn't told them yet, so I'm rather doubting that she will. It is a possibility that she could say something the next time she takes them to Dallas. But honestly, I don't think she knows how to talk to kids very well. I think flying them takes a lot out of her.

Their GAL won't talk to the kids. He hasn't yet...not even before court back in May. He spoke with ME, but he won't take time to talk to the kids. Even if he does talk to the cherubs, it's unlikely that he'd mention Zippy. They take their time to talk out in a hallway prior to court. They spend about 2.5 minutes.

The Dallas relatives probably don't know about Zippy. He is a half brother and the Dallas relatives are all paternal.

Waiting is definitely what I'm going to do. I'll know more about the direction of this case after court in two weeks. Hopefully I will be able to answer more than, "I don't know," to every question they ask.

Annie said...

Rely on the intuition of the moment....that's what I usually do, and since I think that is generally the prompting of the Holy Spirit, it works well. But, what I'd PLAN is what most responders have said - do not share about the baby unless it is necessary. This kind of information would have ME, an adult, sleepless with curiosity, worry, wondering, etc. I can't fathom how disturbing it might be to children in your children's situation. I'm upset right NOW! My stomach is turning.

If and when, it seems they will find out, then they can be told....or when you get a call. Telling them when the baby is still a baby is certainly different than waiting until the child is walking around. Some waiting seems like a good idea. Even if they hear about this child from someone, I think because the info doesn't come from you, it may seem like an oddity... I don't really know this dynamic for you, but I do think that a serious, sit-down talk, or even a light but clarifying talk, from YOU, will make this child come "alive" in their imaginations in a way that will be upsetting.

CherubMamma said...

@Annie - I think you're spot on there. Even if someone else tells Dude and Dolly, they won't understand or make sense of it unless I explain it to them. And even then, I think they will need to actually SEE the baby before it all really clicks.

I can wait to explain things until the very last minute before they meet the cherub - or at least see a picture of Zippy with Bio Mom. Right now the concept is too abstract and could be very disturbing...not at all conducive to their ongoing healing.

chicks3 said...

What would you do if you get "the call" in 6 months looking for placement for Zippy?

CherubMamma said...

That's a really loaded question @chicks3. :)

My gut reaction is to say no. I don't see extreme value in keeping the three siblings together. I know that sounds awful but hear me out. There is a significant age difference. Zippy is a half sibling. And knowing that Dude and Dolly could be well on their way out of Care and this sibling will be starting their adventure...I'm not sure the lack of permanency would be good for Dude and Dolly. (TT would benefit from us being done with foster care. The CONSTANT stress of fostering is very, very hard on him!!)

The other big reason that I lean toward a "no" answer is because I know that Bio Mom used drugs during her pregnancy. I wouldn't be surprised if she used alcohol as well. I'm 41 years old and I'm already parenting three cherubs that have suffered trauma. I'm not sure it's wise to bring in an infant, with those types of issues, that would stretch me even further. Somewhere there is a foster/forever family (if Bio Mom isn't doing her part yet) that would be thrilled to parent Zippy.

Another big reason I lean toward "no" is: Mr. Amazing doesn't want any more babies!!

All that said though...I'd probably say yes. Of course, this is provided Mr. Amazing changes his mind. I would NOT say yes if he wasn't with me 100%. My marriage is too important to me to breach that. I would not try to talk him in to anything either! God would have to move both of us toward the "yes" answer strongly.

Annie said...

That is the funniest response I've ever heard, thoughtful, honest and real - therefore really funny.

I'd feel the same way - NO (brain); YES (heart).....but there are so many things to consider - "Leave it to the Holy Spirit!" The only possible answer.

Charlene Hertzberg said...

I don't think it would wait until the children's life is stable and they have permanency (with you :) ) to let them know about the baby sibling. If they ask why the baby can live with mom, you can explain that the jail will help keep the baby safe, but they can only have very little babies there that can't move around because there is no where for older babies or kids to play or be kids, it wouldn't be a safe place for a big kid.

Mie said...

I would probably feel things out with them - figure out what they remember from mom (bigger tummy? know she was pg at the last visit? etc.) Then, depending on that, I'd bring up pregnant mommies sometimes when I see them - try to get the idea across that babies come from mommies tummies because in your family, like mine, that's not exactly how babies join the family :) I'd then bring up what it would be like to have another baby sibling, what they'd think about that, etc. Then I'd bring up what if mom had another baby. Eventually it would be a "mommy x had another baby in her tummy and it came out". But this would take weeks or months, depending on how ready it would be.

The other thing I'd wait for or my timing would be dependent on would be knowing the plan for baby. I wouldn't rush anything until I knew what was *Supposed* to be happening with the baby (cuz we all know that could change at any time). Once I knew what was happening, then I'd come up with my final communication plan. If the baby is being adopted in a private adoption out of state (hello memories of my situation!) then I wouldn't worry to much about saying anything specific until they were older and I knew if they'd have a relationship with the baby's parents or not.

CherubMamma said...

That's another good point Mie.

Dude and Dolly do not know that their bio mom was pregnant. Even though she was at their last visit, it wasn't obvious and Bio Mom said nothing to anyone about it.

That's another reason why I think I'm going to wait until later to bring it up with them.

I agree it's a good idea to do things in "stages" too.

More than anything though, I think I have to be able to answer at least a FEW of the questions the cherubs will have for me when I do tell them. I don't even know the little cherub's real name.

Court in two weeks will reveal a lot more about OUR case. I'm guessing I might even get a little more info. on the baby too. I'm definitely waiting until I know more before I say anything.