Thursday, February 28, 2013

I get to go!!!!!

I need to get away.

Bad.

I'm now counting down the days until I get to join some of my favorite internet friends at this.

Mr. Amazing is going to hold down the fort. I'm registered. I'm buying my plane tickets later on tonight. Because, yes...I'm in Texas. But no, I don't want to drive 10 hours one-way to get to a retreat!

I cannot wait!!!!!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mr. Amazing is on the mend

I just realized that I left the story of the motorcycle accident just kinda hanging out here in bloggy-land. Sorry about that.

Mr. Amazing had to stay the night at the hospital last Wednesday. He was released on Thursday. Each day since he has made a bit of progress. (Though he does have me a little concerned today...he's unusually cold and tired. He's not running a fever though so we continue to wait it out.) The most important thing is that he's home now and is doing fine overall. The motorcycle was completely totaled. Our insurance company has been awesome and that is all taken care of. I'm sure Mr. Amazing will be getting a new bike sooner than later.

Our little respite cherub Angel went home Sunday. If I might continue to beg for prayers....please pray for baby Angel and her two sisters. It is possible that they will be reunited with their mom Tuesday. Mom's boyfriend is quite suspect (possible perpetrator) and all CPS has done is tell Mom he can't come around. And of course, the boyfriend is still everywhere he's not supposed to be and CPS is turning a blind eye.

Like I said though, my cherubs are all doing well. Herman has his permit and is learning to drive. He's also started counseling and I think it's really going to make a difference this time.

TT has been stressed; but he's talking and not raging!

Bart continues to bounce off the walls like always. I'm working on staying connected with him emotionally so that he will not feel the need to disobey as often. I know that if he feels like I'm really listening to him, he's less likely to go off in a rage. Bart is Bart though. All is well.

Dude and Dolly are doing fine. Nothing new to report. I will say that I am REALLY enjoying having them all to myself. Granted, Dolly randomly asked, "are we going anywhere?" last week a lot! (She didn't know how to word it but she wanted to know if there were going to be any visits.) Eventually we got it through her head that the answer is no. She was never outwardly sad that we told her no. But she did ask several times. Dude loved hearing that we weren't going anywhere! He is so not a fan of visits!

The next thing on my agenda is to get ahold of the blasted GAL. I meant to call him again last week but it went to the bottom of my to do list after the accident. I just put a reminder on my phone though to go off in the morning. We will make contact!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Maybe Dude should drop some gum?

Do you know how long it takes to get the tangles out
when Dolly decides to toss her hair all about in the bathtub before bed?!

You can bet your britches that if we ever get permanent custody,
Locks for Love will be getting a nice long donation!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A letter to the school

This letter is going in Dolly's book bag tomorrow. I know mistakes happen. But it really bothers me when schools drop the ball like this....

Yesterday my husband was in a very serious accident on his way to work. I did everything I possibly could to ensure the safety of all of my children before leaving to go to the hospital. (Side note: I called the school, told them the situation first thing Wednesday morning and said that Dolly had to go to daycare after school. I was assured that it would not be a problem at all.)

It was only because of the grace of God that I was home when Dolly got off the bus Wednesday. The bus driver does not check to make sure any adults are home. For all he knew Dolly could have been walking in to an empty house.

I am not pointing this note at any one person but I feel that I must address this particular issue. I have many extra rules and regulations that I am required to adhere to because Dolly is a foster child. I have to be able to trust that the school is able to follow these rules too.

TODAY: please make sure that Dolly is put on the shuttle to Day Care after school. I am hoping to be at the hospital getting my husband to bring him home at the same time school is getting out. I cannot afford for this mistake to happen twice.

Thank you.
Cherub Mamma

Abandonment...part 245,048

Cherub 2 struggles with feelings of abandonment. They are strong. They are deep in his core. He knows that we love him and will do so forever. But he will still spend the rest of his life trying to reconcile the fact that his family of origin abandoned him.

This is not easy stuff.

Yesterday, during a writing assignment he completely lost it! Full on screaming fit! Any time he struggles with school, he feels safe enough to let it all out with me. And any time he struggles with school, it triggers his anxiety and his feelings of abandonment.

During the screaming fit, because he was feeling so inadequate about doing his writing, he screamed at me, "It's not my fault I have anxiety!!"

I looked at him and said, "I know!"

Then he screamed, "It's not my fault I'm adopted!!"

If you ask Cherub 2 he will tell you he thinks about adoption every single day. I believe him. You cannot candy coat this stuff. Love does NOT just "fix" everything. He feels a very real pain. All I can do is validate it and make sure he knows he is allowed to feel anything that he's feeling. I tell him that he needs to be honest with me. Even if his feeling is that he wishes he didn't live with us, he's allowed to feel that. It's my job as the mom to handle my own big feelings. He is not supposed to do anything to "protect" me.

We don't talk about adoption every day. We don't even talk about it every week if his anxiety is in check. But when he struggles I make sure to give him permission to say whatever it is that he is feeling.

Yesterday, as we processed through the statement, "it's not my fault I was adopted, " I asked him, "Do you sometimes feel like it's your fault?"

Sobbing, he answered yes. Through incredible tears he told me that he thinks if he had been a girl maybe his parents would have kept him.

I didn't plant this thought. We've never talked about this angle before. These were his true feelings.

Again I say -- it is INCREDIBLY important to let our kids feel their feelings. It is not fair to them to think that if they aren't saying anything they aren't thinking about adoption. I know I think about my family all the time. Why would my son be any different?!

We processed. He cried. I cried. We both moved on. I felt such pain for him. I wish that there didn't have to be such loss in order for me to have the wonderful joy I feel having Cherub 2 as a member of my family.

Fast forward to this morning....

Mr. Amazing got into a motorcycle accident on the way to work. Satan did his best to make everything this morning a disaster. But I kept my cool, made arrangements for all my kids and we made it to the hospital before they even had the collar off his neck.

It was a very scary morning for Cherub 2. Very scary! His daddy is hurt. His mommy was a wreck. And I had to make arrangements for the three bonus cherubs in our home today because I really couldn't have that many little ones in tow at the hospital. (We're doing respite this week for 2yo Angel and I don't have her set up for drop-in daycare anywhere.) When all was said and done it was just Bart & TT with me most of the day at the hospital.

TT's anxiety went OFF. THE. CHARTS. He did the best he could at holding it together. But as we got back into the ER room after Mr. Amazing had his CAT scan, TT struggled! He even threw up he was so upset.

Now we're back home and he is stick poking. Every conversation is an opportunity to argue. Every chance he gets he finds a reason to be angry.

Being angry is so much easier than admitting he's scared because his daddy is hurt.

I just grabbed him and said he's got three options:
1. Keep on fighting and throwing fits.
2. Process his feelings and try to deal with this so he feels better.
3. Run away from it all.

He grinned and said he wanted to run away.
I whispered in his ear that he could go watch TV alone in our guest bedroom.
We'll process tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the day after that. He knows I'm here for him. And sometimes, running away is OK I guess. It's hard work to deal with these emotions head on every day.

I've got no good ending for this post. I just figured I'd share.
Adoption is really hard stuff!!

---

Mr. Amazing has been admitted to the hospital. He has some internal bruising and a punctured lung. They hope to be able to release him tomorrow. He's in a tremendous amount of pain but things aren't too serious. I appreciate any extra prayers you'd like to toss up on our behalf.

Monday, February 18, 2013

More about Dallas

Here's my monthly installment of what I learned about Dallas...
1. The children slept with Grandma in her bed again. ------ I don't know why but this one just bugs the heck out of me. The children can't consistently tell me who is sleeping in "their" room. Maybe I'm jumping the gun thinking that other people live with Grandma...but I'm 99% sure that they do. (Please keep in mind that no other people participated in the home study. Only Grandma!) I also know that Dude and Dolly FREAK OUT at bedtime if things are different. One time my very close friend Daphne, from across the street, watched the cherubs at OUR house and they freaked at bedtime because Papi S and I weren't here. They also cried a LOT over our vacation this past Christmas even though they were with us. I'm sure they cry at bedtime every single night when they are in Dallas. But it bugs me that they sleep WITH Grandma. I highly doubt she's in to attachment or a family bed. I'm betting they've got nowhere else to sleep. Exactly how is that going to work long-term? These kids deserve their own space!
2. Dolly has a blue and grey car seat. Dude has a brown one. The baby cousin (approx. 1-2 years old) has a car seat. But the other girl cousin approximately Dolly's age does not. (At least Dolly has a car seat now!)
3. Grandma N doesn't have a car. She's going to be getting a new one though.
4. In the meantime, the uncle that I have reason to believe is a wanted felon drove them all to the store this past weekend. It seems that he spent a great deal of time with my cherubs. (The cherubs gave me conflicting reports as to whether or not he slept at Grandma's house so I can't confirm that.)
I'm waiting for the GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) to call me back. I'm not exactly sure how to proceed with this information. Minnie's solution to the felon Tio E was to tell Gma that he can't come around. So either Minnie didn't really tell Gma or Gma didn't care. OR...Tio E does whatever he wants even though Gma tells him he can't be there.
I. Don't. Know.

But I don't like it!!!

Part of me wants to get my own lawyer. But a bigger part of me still isn't ready for that level of a financial risk. I really want to talk to the GAL to see what he thinks about all of this.

Part of me wants to see how I can alert the feds to the location of this uncle. But I'm not sure that would make a difference with CPS at all. I mean...since they refuse to believe that he lives with Gma...if he gets arrested CPS will just think Grandma N's is that much more safe. I think it'd be better if the GAL did something about getting Tio E arrested again.

Part of me wants to file a formal complaint against CPS for the complete mishandling of this case. I've had others in CPS (a long time ago) tell me I should. But I'm seriously afraid that if I did the consequences would come back to harm ME. Even though it's supposed to be anonymous, I'm the only one that has a problem with CPS. I'm sure they would know I'm the one complaining.

-----

The cherubs have transitioned OK enough back from this visit. They were both VERY tired last night. Both cherubs refused to eat dinner. I was thankful that Dude's school was closed today. It enabled all the cherubs to get to sleep in which was very nice!

Dude needed a lot of redirection today compared to normal. That could be because of the visit or it could be because we are doing respite for Angel again (2yo little girl). I get in his business immediately though and I don't cut any slack. It seems harsh but it helps get things into the appropriate rhythm faster if I don't candy coat anything. Even my husband thought I was a little over the top. But parenting trauma looks different. I have to remind Dude right away that there are rules here and I love him enough to make him follow them. In a way, I can tell he appreciates the structure because even though he cries, he snaps back almost immediately and I haven't had a lot of repeat problems. (He tested several different rules today but he didn't repeat misbehaviors.)

Now I get to take a deep breath and relax for almost a month. Minnie won't make a home visit because she counts the 30 seconds in our home when she picks up the kids as a monthly visit. (In her defense she does spend several hours with them at the airport and on the plane. And my licensing worker passes on lots of documentation about stuff going on in our home.) We don't have any family visits because Bio Mom is in jail.

Here's to praying that Dude will level off a bit and maybe even start cooperating at school a bit more. And I sure would be happy if he stopped peeing his pants as frequently!

Friday, February 15, 2013

I'll probably never know

After every single trip to Dallas the cherubs tell me they slept in Grandma N's bed with Grandma. (Though one time they did say that Grandma N slept on the floor.)

But when I ask them who slept in "their" room I get varied answers. They get nervous. One kid will tell me one thing. Five minutes later they'll tell me something different. They'll tell me it was their tia and tio. They'll tell me it was their cousins. They'll tell me it was nobody.

Like I covered before though, my kids CANNOT answer open ended questions. And even though I'm asking something rather direct like, "who slept in the other room?" -- they cannot answer.

I've got a level of uneasiness over me this morning that is stronger than usual. I don't like my kids being exposed to drug dealers. I don't like the idea of my kids hanging around gang members. I don't like the idea of my kids spending time with a felon that is running from the law. I have a real problem with Grandma having those people in her home. I have a bigger problem with CPS not investigating who actually lives with Grandma N!!

I'm glad that Bio Dad is in jail. But honestly...I know that Grandma N has a problem with Bio Dad. CPS told me as much. I know that Grandma N wanted all contact with Bio Dad to happen at a CPS office. (Of course CPS never assisted with this request. They don't care what happens in Dallas.)

Really...it's this uncle (Tio E) that I have a problem with. At the very beginning, well over a year ago, I was told that Grandma N lives with her son, his wife (though from FB I can now tell it's just his girlfriend), and their baby. CPS told me this!!!

And the children tell me that Tio E sleeps at Grandma N's house. So I have no reason to believe that he is actually living anywhere else (despite what his parole papers said).

But this morning I casually asked if Baby M (Tio E and Tia B's very young son) sleeps at Grandma N's house. The cherubs said no. They said he has his own house. But that contradicts what they said just last night when they told me Tia B sleeps at Grandma N's house. (As they gear up for a trip to Dallas they do chatter about it more. They just never have much real information. It's stuff like, "Tia B buys us pies from McDonald's.")

I do not know if they literally don't know who lives with Grandma and who doesn't or if they are being coached in Dallas to say certain things.

And honestly...I'm probably never going to know. Nobody from CPS is going to investigate the situation at Grandma's house. And the children will never be able to tell anyone exactly who is there either.

I REALLY hate this part of foster care. It's one thing to have to say goodbye. It's another thing when it seems so obvious that the children are going to an environment that is not safe. I know many of my readers have had to live through this themselves. It's so sad. There is a System that is supposed to be in place to protect these kids! If Dude and Dolly lived with Tio E and Tia B all the time, and one or both of them got arrested for the crimes they are currently participating in (because I'm sure Tia B is not innocent), CPS would remove these children. That's how it works. That's how the children came in to Care to begin with -- their mom got arrested.

Well, Tio E is currently wanted by federal authorities for some pretty serious crimes. He's got an active FB page that leads me to believe he is absolutely up to no good. But CPS doesn't care if he lives with Grandma. CPS doesn't care if my kids are exposed to this lifestyle on an intimate level. All they see is a Grandma that says she'll take the kids. That is all they see so that is all they care about.

And somehow I have to be OK with all of this in 2.5 hours when Minnie shows up to get the kids.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Higher standards...part three

I'm not sure how I feel about not understanding all this paperwork. I never in a million years thought I would need to know how. I am thankful that I've got a friend that can decipher everything for me though!!

Bio Dad did not post bond today. He is not out of jail.

I just didn't know how to read the Greek that is legal paperwork. What I thought was information saying he posted bond was actually a notice saying that there is an agency hold on his case.

That is one small weight off my chest. At least I know he won't be at Grandma's house this weekend.

Higher standards...part two

Bio Dad posted his $83,000 bond today.

Here's to praying he doesn't drop by Grandma's house this weekend.

Higher standards

With the help of a friend I dug up some more information on the bio family of my cherubs in Dallas....

Great Grandma P had told me that Bio Dad's brother (Tio E) is currently running from the law. With a little digging I found his charges. They are rather substantial as well (think federal offenses).

Then I found his Facebook page. I know it's him because Tio (Uncle) E has pictures of "my" kids on his wall. I also saw multiple pictures with Tio E making a gang sign. I even saw a little cherub younger than my Dude tossing up the same gang sign.

Then I asked Dude and Dolly if this man is their tio. They confirmed that they've seen him. Then I asked if Tio E sleeps at Grandma N's house. They said yes.

When my children go to their Grandma's house once a month in Dallas they are associating with known felons. They are exposed to things that are not safe.

Rainbow called me the other day. She asked me if Dude is still having behavior problems. The conversation led itself to discussing the new information that I found out. Rainbow called Minnie's supervisor.

His response....

Foster parents are held to a higher standard than relative placements.

Even though they aren't supposed to be. Even though I had a previous person involved in this case tell me that the bio family SHOULD be held accountable for safety issues.

It just isn't a concern right now for my kids. No one but me cares if they are safe in Dallas. CPS (especially Minnie) does not give a damn. Drug users. Felons. No car seats. Neglect. Cockroaches. And many more things that I'm sure I know nothing of.....
This is what my cherubs have to look forward to if they live in Dallas forever.

Foster care sucks!

(And somehow...knowing all this...I still have to put them in Minnie's car tomorrow morning at 10:30AM so they can spend the weekend in this environment yet again.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Jail

Bio Mom was arrested on Friday. She's been dropping dirty every time and now she didn't check in with her PO.

I just found out that Bio Dad was arrested on Jan. 26 too. His charges are REALLY substantial.
Oh yeah, and when he got arrested, they found a syringe in his pocket.

I so don't want to send my cherubs off to Dallas this weekend. Granted, Dad is locked up...but I'm not too trusting of the other people in and out of Grandma's all the time either.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

What's for dinner?

Parenting my cherubs seems normal to me most of the time. But then things will happen. Conversations will take place. And I will realize again how different it really is.

Another mom that parents kids from the hurt places calls them Trauma Pockets.

Holes in the development. Things that just aren't quite right.

Mr. Amazing is back from his three week business trip in Wisconsin. He played bachelor for those three weeks and had to cook for himself. Admittedly, he said he didn't do as good of a job with meal planning as he should have. He asked me specifically to have meals for him when he got back (ya know...complete with fruits and vegetables).

So tonight at supper I asked everyone for suggestions. It's easy for my big kids to tell me some meals that they'd like to eat over the next few days. Of course Mr. Amazing chimed in with his wish list. Normally I wouldn't even ask the little cherubs. Conversations like this seem to fly over their heads. But tonight they were paying attention, so I asked them what they would like to eat for dinner this week.

Deer. In. The. Headlights.

Never mind the fact that other children had been discussing this. Never mind that I tried to simplify things and I asked them, "What food do you like to eat?" They could not answer. Neither one of them.

Dolly tried. I asked her, "What would you like to have to eat this week?" She stammered out a very hesitant, "spaghetti".

We were eating spaghetti right then. She only possessed the ability to say something that was right in front of her.

My kids cannot answer open ended questions. They just simply can't.

It bothers me because "people" cannot see how far behind my kids are. They hear my kids talk. My kids manage to follow the cattle herd at school and do OK. And Dolly especially is really picking up on letters and sounds. All the people that make decisions about these kids think everything is hunky-dory.

But they cannot answer open ended questions. And with something as simple as, "What foods do you like to eat," they really should be able to. Dolly could have told me pizza, McDonalds or potatoes. Dude could have said pancakes or tacos. Shoot...a simple "chicken" would have been nice to hear. But both kids sat there just kind of staring at me. Finally they both said, "I don't know."

I know that much of this is because they are still English language learners. They no longer speak in Spanish and I doubt they actually understand much of it anymore. And they are still learning English. It is still new to them all things considered. Couple this with 2.5 years of neglect PLUS the ongoing trauma of foster care...and it takes a lot for them to just get by. Conversation skills are lacking.

There isn't much I can do to "fix" this. I talk with them. I read to them. Those are the biggies. And I know they are making a HUGE difference because my kids are learning so much!

But it's frustrating to me to watch my kids struggle!!

Friday, February 8, 2013

"He is different. He has changed a lot."

Some thoughts about Dude and his life....

I realize it was a month ago, but court is traumatic. When you think you're going to have to say goodbye to all the people you know and love...that is not easy stuff. It's hard to prepare for and it's hard to recover from.

Mr. Amazing left for Wisconsin three weeks ago. It's not easy when Daddy is gone. Dude and Dolly have never experienced this. (well...except for the summer from Hell when they had to go to emergency respite -- but that was a different heap of trauma) They hear me telling them that Daddy will be back. But do they REALLY believe me?!

Monthly visits to Dallas are still happening. They are confusing and over-stimulating and neglectful all at the same time.

Bio Mom disappeared out of the cherubs' lives for nearly a month.

Dude's school now teaches in a foreign language two days a week. That means on every Tuesday and Thursday Dude does not understand what is being said to him fully all day long. This started in January when we were all still in the throws of court drama.

Dude is the youngest child in his preK class by as much as 1.5 years. So not only is he still trying to catch up developmentally due to 2.5 years of neglect by his family of origin, but he's in with a bunch of kids that are considerably older than him when it comes to early childhood development.

Dude does not "need" a daily nap anymore. So the act of trying to force him to sleep is going to be met with some resistance. I wish there was an alternative. I can't easily keep Dude up later at night either because Dolly needs the 7:30 bedtime. (I think I might have to start picking up Dude every day before nap time just so I can eliminate this particular problem.)

The teacher aide in Dude's class is a complete pushover. She knows little of child development and she does not know how to control a classroom of little people. (This was confirmed to me by the lead teacher and is based on more than just my observations.) I have spoken with Miss G multiple times about how she must tend to Dude IMMEDIATELY if he misbehaves or he will continue to walk all over her. He's a very bright little boy and will continue to push her buttons if she can't learn how to run the show herself. Still, if he misbehaves she lets someone else handle any discipline. So...Dude continues to act up for her regularly.

Dude's lead teacher has been missing a lot of school lately. She comes in late. Or she takes breaks in the day. Or she's just not there. Even if she just leaves for her lunch it's seeming to affect Dude. He does not want to obey for the aide.

The director at this Head Start location doesn't know much more about early childhood development. When Dude acts up he talks to Dude entirely too much. As if Dude cares?! No 4yo is going to listen to a lecture. Oh wait...kids in general don't give a rip about lectures. But this man doesn't seem to know that so he will "talk" with Dude about his behavior. What Dude needs is a VERY stern hollering at, a time out and a full understanding due to prompt attention when he acts up that his behavior is unacceptable. (Things like jumping up and down on the cot at nap time. Or telling his teacher he is NOT going to do something. Or...hitting other children...he's been hitting a lot lately.) Dude does not need a lecture or a walk outside. He needs to know that hands are not for hurting. He needs to be dealt with immediately - not when the lead teacher gets back in the room a half hour later.

Bio Mom asked for and got a visit with the cherubs after being gone out of their lives for a month.

But honestly...I shouldn't have to explain ANY of the above to anyone. The biggest problem of all is that DUDE NEEDS PERMANENCY! He has been in foster care for almost 20 months now. No child needs to hang in that kind of limbo for that long. Especially NOT such a young child! (There are supposed to be standards in place to prevent this!!)

So when Dude's teacher tells me that, "Dude is different. He has changed a lot since the beginning of the year," I want to scream! Of course he has!! He's living in daily trauma. Foster care IS trauma! Can't you see that?! Can't you wrap your brain around that?! It's hard for ME to deal with. I want to be able to answer questions with something other than, "I don't know," or, "maybe". If it is so damn difficult for me...can you imagine what it's doing to the children?! I am a fully grown adult with a well established support system. All these kids have is ME. Don't you get that?!

Instead, she goes on to tell me that she's taken Dude and threatened to send him to the "baby room" at school when he misbehaves. Ya know...the room he should have been put in to begin with. The room filled with other kids his age. She shames him.

Needless to say, when I was told yesterday that Dude's lead teacher was going to be gone and the authorities in the room were going to be the wishy-washy aide and a brand new substitute teacher...I decided that it wasn't necessary to send Dude to school today. He deserves a day where he is loved and accepted for who he is. He does not need to spend an entire day in a stress filled environment with people that don't have a clue.

Friday, February 1, 2013

"I want to stay here"

Dude: "Mommy....I want to stay here."

Me: "You mean you want to live here forever?"

Dude: "Yeah. I want to stay here with you."

Me: "I would like that Dude. I love you very much. How about you Dolly? What do you want?"

Dolly (with hesitation in her voice): "I want to stay here too."

Me (because I notice this conversation is very, very difficult for Dolly): "You want to live with Mommy and Papi and you want to visit Dallas? Right Dolly."

Dolly (with big smiles): "Yes!!"

Dude: "We told Minnie that we want to live in Dallas."

Me: "Oh Dude....you did?! Well then, that is probably what is going to happen."

-----

Why oh why oh why oh why is so much emphasis put on what the children say?! These oh so very young children. These children that long for permanency. These children that just want to be done with the crazy of foster care!

Because if Minnie heard that the cherubs want to live in Dallas --
she is surely going to continue pushing for Dallas.