Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Things I learned today....

  • My cherubs spent time with their uncle when they were in Dallas. Ya know...the uncle that is a wanted felon...the uncle that CPS supposedly told Grandma N to not allow over. Unfortunately the uncle was not arrested this past weekend. I'm hoping the law catches up to him sooner than later.
  • My cherubs slept with Grandma N again. Like always.
  • My cherubs (neither one) had a car seat this time around. Grandma N's car is broken and has been for the past two visits. My cherubs describe riding in the back seat of another person's car (they don't know who this person is). If I'm understanding them correctly the infant in the group gets a car seat but the other four children also in the back seat just share seat belts??? (if they even buckle up I guess)
  • Minnie wants my kids to start play therapy. This blows my mind. If they are leaving my care in six weeks -- why do we have to start this hassle?!
  • Dolly is five years old and has to have a psychological evaluation the next time the psychiatrist comes to our agency. I can hardly wait. I'd love to think that information gathered would help prove she needs to stay with me. But I know better.
  • I don't have to buy a crib immediately in order to accept the placement of a newborn. It seems that Bio Mom is seven months pregnant. (In full disclosure, I learned this last Friday.) If we were to get the call for this child, we can accept and then go buy a crib.
  • Rainbow knows just as much as I do about our chances of getting a call on said child.

Essential Oils

TT....like always....slept in my room last night. The cherub falls asleep in his own bed every single night without issue. However, whether it's due to honest to goodness fear - or if it's just become a habit - he comes in to my room in the middle of the night and curls up on the floor next to my side of the bed. (We keep a pillow and blanket there for him just in case.)

I swear -- trauma seems to most strongly affect three things in my opinion:
1. bodily functions
2. food issues
3. sleeping

TT only has problems with sleeping.

Despite how awful yesterday was though, TT is in a great mood this morning. He just begged me to cuddle him for a bit. I pulled him up on to my lap and we started cuddling.

The first thing I had him do was give me lots of eye contact. He doesn't have a problem with this, but I still do it specifically when we are cuddling just to keep that connection.

Then I played our silly game where I ask him, "Who loves you?" He knows he's supposed to answer that I love him but all my kids start out saying everyone else BUT me. (That's the game!!) I tickle and poke all over the child until they say that I love them. It's hilarious! It is a playful reminder of how many people in my cherubs' lives love them. And they are in complete control of when the "game" ends. It does get a bit obnoxious though when they start listing their friends' pets before they will say that I love them.  :)

After this I started going over what our day is going to look like. I told TT that we would likely be going out to run errands after Dolly's bus comes to take her to school. I told TT that after yesterday I really wanted to buy some essential oils. I told him that they might be able to help him self-regulate.

TT asked me what essential oils are and I started to explain. I barely got through any kind of description when his face lit up and he said, "Ohhhhhh.....essential oils. I'm going to be king!!!! You're going to anoint me." He then burst into a fit of giggles about becoming king!

We'll have to see. Maybe King TT will rule today. This oughta be good.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ice Cream for TT

Spelling. The fit today was brought on by spelling words.

First his socks were on his feet funny. He tugged at them. Then he fell to the floor.

When I didn't IMMEDIATELY respond, he started fussing and whining.

I ignored it some more.

Then came the full-on temper tantrum.

I got down in his face and quietly whispered that if he kicked my table, I would spank his bottom. (He's mine forever...I can do this. And he was still in control at that point in time.)

He spun around and kicked the air. He kicked a little closer to the table. He got coy and kicked the wall right next to the table.

I spanked him. One minor swat to the bottom. Nothing more.

He COMPLETELY freaked out.

I decided to out-crazy the crazy and I told him we were going for a drive. I HAD to do something. I told him to get up and walk or I would carry him. He screamed at me. I told him to get up and walk. He screamed again. I counted to three.

Without missing a beat, my 16yo son grabbed my purse and said he'd carry it for me. I picked up my wailing 9yo and carried/drug him to the car. I pretty much threw him and and started to back out the driveway. (You know you've been doing "this" for awhile when your teenager isn't even phased and calmly goes along without saying a word.)

He flopped around in the vehicle. He screamed at me that he wasn't buckled in. I calmly told him he had better buckle up because if I got pulled over he'd have a lot of talking to do with the officer. He buckled up.

I drove in silence.

He regulated quickly. We began to talk.

I asked him what he had been thinking about. He told me that it was complicated.

I asked him what color his feelings were. He answered pink. I knew that was a lie so I elaborated. I asked him if it was a pretty pink or something darker like an owie. He said it was something darker like an owie. I asked him if it made him smile or if it looked hurt and broken. He said hurt and broken.

I asked him if his feelings were an animal what would they be. He answered an rhino.

My cherub is very knowledgeable about animals. He knows that rhinos have almost no predators. I told him that it must be pretty scary to have feelings so big and powerful. I asked him if he had anything bigger and more powerful than the rhino.

He said, "Yes. I have you."

Breaking all "rules" I asked him to come up to the front seat of the car. At this point in time we needed to connect. I needed to be able to touch him. He climbed up next to me and held my hand.

I drove. I drove to a drive-thru. Because when your kid is totally freaking out and throwing a temper tantrum it's totally normal to get out of the house and buy milkshakes for everyone.

OK. It's NOT normal. But it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

I looked at TT and said, "So...am I rewarding you for throwing a temper tantrum?"

He sheepishly looked at me and answered yes.

I looked back at him and said, "No. I am NOT rewarding you for throwing a temper tantrum. I am angry for your behavior at home. But I AM buying the son I love oh so very much some ice cream."

During our ride to the drive-thru TT shared with me that his complicated feelings involve a fear that he is going to become injured and have to stay in the hospital for a year. I'm not sure exactly where this fear is coming from but I have to assume it's been festering ever since Mr. Amazing's motorcycle accident. I wish I knew how to help him through this. I'm confident it ties in with his overwhelming fear of abandonment. Everything seems to tie back to that with TT.

I sure hope we get to the bottom of this one soon though. When I got home Bart showed me a huge hole in the stairwell leading upstairs. It seems that one of TT's tantrums today involved kicking the wall. He's getting bigger. The damage is getting bigger. It's very frustrating!

------

Fast forward to the last subject of the day....Language Arts – Composition.
It seems that writing is always a trigger for TT. (I'm considering having him tested for dyslexia next year.) Anyway....writing is so scary that it brought about another tantrum.

First a pencil was broken and thrown across the room.

Then a dining room chair was knocked over and broken beyond repair.

------

It's been a rough day. Here's to hoping we can all sleep well and recover quickly. I'm emotionally spent!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

9:00PM

When Minnie finally arrived on Friday at 3:00PM -- FOUR HOURS later than she had told me she was going to arrive -- I did ask what time she would be dropping the cherubs off on Sunday.

Minnie's answer, "7:00, 8:00, 8:30...it's going to be late."

That's all she said. And since I was fuming so bad because she was so late and had destroyed my Friday, I didn't say anything else. What could I say?! Obviously this woman thinks I sit around all weekend waiting for her anyway!

So, when they finally arrived tonight at 9:00PM, I wasn't surprised when all Minnie nonchalantly said was, "Sorry we're late. There were flight problems."

Of course I wanted to pop off with something about how hard it must be to send a text nowadays.

But I kept it to myself.

I will NOT do this again. We've only got one visit left before court -- but I WILL make contact with Minnie and/or her supervisor and I WILL have the full flight itinerary (complete with flight numbers) in my hands before the next visit weekend.

For now though, I will let it go. I will forgive Minnie. The last two sermons at my church have convicted me strongly on my need to forgive Minnie for what she does to ME. I'm still trying to discern what it means to forgive her for what she does to ME and still advocate against what she's trying to do to my cherubs. But I'll get there.

God is bigger than all this silly drama.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Some more realities of foster care and CPS

My cherubs are scheduled to go to Dallas today for a weekend visit. Minnie rarely gives me times for flights on her own. I practically have to beg for the information. When we were at a family visit with Great Grandma P this past Wednesday I asked Minnie what time they were flying out today. Minnie's answer was, "The flight is around 1:00 I think. I'll be there to get the kids around 11:00." That is all I got. She did go on to say that she had a placement scheduled for this morning at 8:00AM.

I went on the airline's website to see when the flights were between our airport and Dallas today. I sent Minnie a message this morning checking to see if the kids were flying out at 2:10 or later as there were no flights at 1:00. She did not respond.

I called her cell phone.
No answer.
Her voice mail box was full so I couldn't leave a message.
I called her office.
No answer.
I didn't leave a message as I knew she was out of the office today.

Eventually I called my agency. I wanted to cover my ass (because as a foster parent that is a HUGE part of the job) to see what would happen if I took the kids to day care and just left Minnie a note. (I also sent Minnie another text telling her I needed to know when she was coming and that taking the kids to day care was a possibility if she didn't arrive soon.) My agency sympathized with me but didn't give me "permission" per se. They acknowledged that the action could make Minnie very angry with me and there wouldn't be anything they would be able to do to help. They did attempt to contact Minnie for me as well.

They called her cell phone.
They called her office.
They sent an email to both Minnie and Minnie's supervisor.

Eventually Minnie sent me a text saying that she would be to my house at 3:00PM.

My agency called me back. They had spoken with Minnie as well. Minnie told them that she had specifically told me she would be to my home later.

This is a bold-faced lie.

And now I sit waiting even longer.

My kids are ALL freaked out. My forevers are triggered by these visits. Dude and Dolly are triggered by the visits. It is difficult for the cherubs to engage. There are tantrums. There is fussing. There are lots of annoying giggles from Dude and Dolly that show they are nervous and dysregulated.

And me, I'm HUGELY triggered! This is such a disregard of my schedule and my life. It is rude. It is unfair. And dammit....it pisses me off.

And there isn't a damn thing I can do about it.
Nothing.
Because I'm just the foster parent. It's my "job" to sit around and wait for caseworkers to do their thing. My own schedule and anything I might have planned has to take the back seat to anything the caseworker is doing. Expecting Minnie to send me a text just letting me know she'd be to my house at 3:00PM is over-the-top I guess. Silly me.

I hate foster care!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

He never calls....he never writes....

but the lawyer is in agreement that Dolly could use a haircut!!! I'm so glad I included the Guardian in the email that I sent.

I took Dude and Dolly to a visit in their home town tonight so they could see Great Grandma P. When Minnie met me at the door, she told me (out of the blue) that Dolly is going to be allowed to get a haircut.

I squealed with joy!

Minnie said that Bio Mom has not given permission yet, but the lawyer has signed off on it. All we need now is a judge's signature. I'm confident that won't be a problem.

Minnie said that Bio Dad (via Grandma N) said it's OK to cut the hair. Grandma N also is in agreement. (I'm quite confident that Bio Dad is NOT...but Grandma N wants it cut badly enough that I'm sure she lied on his behalf.) After the judge signs off, Minnie will send a letter to Bio Mom (who is still in jail) and...well...Bio Mom will just have to deal with it.

There is no specific amount of hair I can cut off but I assured Minnie I will just take it above the waist. I just measured how much hair that will be and I'm pretty sure Dolly will get to donate a 15" long ponytail to Locks of Love.

With all the crap that IS this case...I was happy to hear this news tonight. Dolly is going to be so thrilled to be allowed to wear her hair down. Both of us will appreciate the ease of brushing that this haircut will bring.

You know you're a foster parent when a haircut can bring this much euphoria!

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Five

I submitted an inquiry with the State of Texas this afternoon about a sibling group of five that needs a forever home.

I am crazy. I know this.

I'm also not holding my breath.

But I am anxiously waiting to see what will happen next.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Grandma cancelled this weekend

Grandma N -- the Grandma that "wants" to care for my children for the rest of their lives -- can't be bothered with a visit this weekend.

Without any confidence (maybe she doesn't believe her either??) Minnie told me that Grandma has to be at court with her son. You see, not only is Tio E a felon, but Bio Dad is in jail too. I suppose he could have court this Friday. But to me...it sounds like a total cop-out. The kids were supposed to arrive on Friday late morning / early afternoon. They leave on Sunday. I struggle to believe that court is conflicting with this schedule.

What will Grandma do with the cherubs if she gains custody? Her two sons have not turned from their lives of crime. I highly doubt court visits will cease and she will turn her attention to the cherubs she supposedly cares for.

The visit has been rescheduled for next weekend.

When I told the cherubs of the cancellation this Friday it was met with many cheers and much happiness!! They're looking forward to seeing Granny and Papa. My parents may live 1255 miles away but they've invested oh so much more in the lives of my cherubs. A visit from them is something to really look forward to! I'm glad Dude and Dolly won't have to miss any of it now.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Minnie's response

Minnie responded to my haircut request....
I would need to contact mom however I know she get very upset when we tell her we want to cut it. She claims it some type of promised.  I will also send a letter to the father.

I will send a letter out to mother today and ask for permission. And I will send her this pictures.
I'm slightly bothered that we are still messing with asking the bios on this. (I'm also incredibly bothered by the above grammar that was copied and pasted from the email Minnie sent me. LOL) At some point in time CPS and/or the lawyer could take this request before the judge. I am confident that it isn't that big of a deal.

But what do I know?! Drugs, felons and more are all acceptable too. Why should I get all upset about a haircut?!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

McDonald's is therapeutic

Friday I had to leave Dude and Dolly in day care for the day. Mr. Amazing and I had a mandatory foster parent training. Dude's school was out for spring break and Dolly's school was doing some things that day that I'm not in favor of (celebrations she would have been excluded from because I did not have her do any "selling"). And because she would have needed to go to day care after school...I just had her stay there all day.

Day care stresses my kids out!!!

Saturday Mr. Amazing rose to outstanding heights. As we were falling asleep Friday night he said, "I'm going to go out Saturday morning, but I'll let you sleep in 'til 9:00 if that's OK." For the most part, our kids can handle things on Saturday morning without too much issue. Most of the time I make up sandwiches ahead of time. But if I'm being honest, it's usually better if an adult gets up by 7:45-8:15 and starts managing things. (TT is always up first - often before 7:00. He's not allowed to turn the TV on until 7AM though. Dude and Dolly roll downstairs 15 to 30 minutes later. Bart wakes up when he wakes up....sometimes it's early. Sometimes he sleeps in.)

The change in routine...with Mr. Amazing being up and me being in a bedroom with the door closed...stressed my kids out!!!

Saturday afternoon I had to leave to take Herman to an eye doctor appointment and to a counseling session. I was gone during snack time.

Me being gone stresses my kids out!!!

Dolly spent the morning asking Mr. Amazing a lot of nonsensical questions. By the afternoon (even though I had been up and fed her lunch and cared for her in many ways), Dolly was very worried about supper. Multiple times she asked Mr. Amazing what we were going to have for supper. Because he honestly didn't know, that added to her stress. She made sure to let Mr. Amazing know how much she likes McDonald's. The child was honestly worried she wasn't going to get to eat.

The last time the two went over the top talking about me cooking dinner I finally broke down and asked them, "Were you hungry sometimes when you lived with Mommy C?" Dude seemed confused. (I honestly don't think he remembers.) But Dolly put her head down and mumbled out a yes. My cherubs don't have difficult "food issues". But the years of neglect they suffered in have shaped their little brains. They can't just let go of the uncertainty of the way things used to be.

Mr. Amazing sent me a text while I was out letting me know about Dolly's level of concern and her desire for McDonald's. I hadn't planned on taking the kids out to dinner. But given all that Dolly has been through in her five years of life, I decided that it would be therapeutic to indulge them. I told Mr. Amazing to let her know that I would be taking them out to McDonald's as soon as I got back home.

The relief she felt washed over her so visibly. Mr. Amazing reported that she immediately calmed down and went about the rest of her afternoon without issue. Granted, she had her socks and shoes on and was W.A.I.T.I.N.G. for me by the door come about 4:30PM. But knowing that she was going to eat at McDonald's was a good thing.

This foster parenting gig sure keeps you on your toes. And sometimes you have to do things just a bit differently than one might think is necessary. And for Dolly, McDonald's was therapeutic.

Friday, March 8, 2013

I just hit "send"

I spent the afternoon in another required foster parent training. It was just me and Mr. Amazing so we got off topic a lot! It felt good to vent to another social worker about all the CRAP this IS this case. It also made me want to cry when even he recognized that there's almost nothing we can do to further advocate for our cherubs' safety. If CPS doesn't want to believe that Tio E lives with Grandma N...well...there's nothing I can do.

Like others, he tossed out the idea of calling the local police the next time my kids are there for a visit. But when I made the comment, "What if they find out I did it?! I don't want to get investigated again," he paused and shook his head. Me leaping to that sort of a conclusion is not out of the question. CPS doesn't want me to advocate. If I do, they can make my life miserable. They have that power. Like it or not, I'm the one that has to be treated like an idiot. I'm the one that has to answer to everyone about any parenting decision I make. I'm the one that has to keep piles and piles of paperwork justifying everything. I'm the one that has to attend hours and hours of redundant training that barely scratches the surface of what it's like to parent a child from the hurt places. The kinship placement does get different rules and expectations. They shouldn't. But they do.

Since I can't do anything about the big picture, I decided to bite the bullet with a smaller issue. I finally mustered up the courage to pen the following email, attach some pictures and hit the send button. I know I won't hear anything today. It'll be interesting to see if anyone responds though. I sent this to Minnie, Rainbow and the new GAL.

Dolly would like to request a haircut. Because she is only five years old, I am helping her out with this request. Anything you can do to help would be much appreciated.

1. Dolly's hair has not stopped growing since she came in to Care. As evidenced by the attached photos, her hair is now down to her knees.

2. Dolly desires to wear her hair like her classmates at school (not up in a ponytail or braid). This is currently not possible due to the overwhelming length of her hair. It would get in the way at school and at play.
4. Dolly occasionally cries during the times that her hair must be brushed. It takes a long time to care for this much hair and she is tired of the process and the pain when it comes to getting out the tangles.
5. The hair also must be pulled up at all times for hygiene reasons. Even in a ponytail it still reaches past her waist now. (This poses as a health concern to me.)
6. As a foster parent, I am unable to teach Dolly to care for her hair herself as it is too long. She is not physically capable of washing and rinsing her hair, brushing it or getting out the inevitable tangles.
7. Her bio mom is currently in jail and has no contact with Dolly. The bio parents have not agreed to haircuts which is why I need further legal permission to do this.
8. The paternal grandmother that the State wishes to place Dolly with is also in agreement that a haircut is needed.

Dolly would like permission to cut her hair up to above her waistline.
Please let me know if you need any additional information.
Thank you.
Cherub Mamma

Monday, March 4, 2013

Advocating makes me feel sick

I don't know what to do anymore. I seriously don't know how to advocate. I'm completely worn out. And when I do try to call someone, I literally get sick. My heart races so fast I can feel it in my chest. I physically ache. It becomes difficult to breathe. Just writing about it puts a tingle in my arms.

CPS thinks things are just hunky-dory in Dallas. Despite the fact that Grandma N has NO relationship with these cherubs, CPS is perfectly find sending them there to live forever.

You can read all my reasons why I think Dallas is a bad idea for my cherubs in previous posts. I won't rehash it all. Simply put now though, Grandma N has many, many people in and out of her apartment every day. One of the individuals is her son. This man is currently wanted by the federal government on some rather substantial charges.

My licensing agency spoke with a supervisor at CPS about the uncle in question. CPS's answer to the problem...they'll tell Grandma N that Tio E can't come over when the kids are there.

During the last visit my cherubs had in Dallas, Tio E spent time at the apartment (possibly even slept there) and he drove the children around in his car.

Doesn't sound like CPS really gives a damn if he's around or not.

I've left two messages for the GAL to call me concerning the case in general. He has not called me back.

I called the probation department. They confirmed that Tio E is on probation and that there is a warrant out for his arrest at this very moment. He violated his probation back in November and has been "hiding" from the law since. I believe he has had contact with my cherubs every month they have gone to Dallas. The probation department said there's nothing that could be done unless I could say specifically that Tio E is at a specific location at a specific time. I cannot do that.

CASA is not an option. Trust me.

The attorney for the cherubs is only concerned about the legality of things. I'm not sure what I'd even say if I called her.

Because let me refresh your memory -- the lawyers and guardians down here don't give a damn. They do not spend time with the children outside of court at all. They pretty much just do whatever CPS tells them to do. Besides, my cherubs are on their third lawyer. This last attorney (and the guardian for that matter - the cherubs finally do have separate representation) was assigned in January. She doesn't know my kids. She doesn't know the case. She just doesn't know.

I don't know what to do anymore. I seriously don't know how to advocate. I could call the lawyer and the guardian over and over and over I guess. But what would I really accomplish? I'm asking someone to do their job and that is out of the norm down here.

The only thing I can think of is to legally intervene. I've prayed over this many times. I just don't think this is what we are supposed to do.

Will someone tell me it's OK to just be their mom now? To stop "advocating". That it's OK to speak up when asked but I can stop feeling guilty about not knowing what to do?

Because I'm worn out.