Tuesday, April 30, 2013

More toothbrush pictures

I've been noticing the toothbrushes all together for several days now. At first I didn't think too much of it. Sunday night was the first night that I totally paid attention. It intrigued me.

So last night I decided to carefully watch the whole process. I also decided to mix it up a bit.

I put my toothbrush off to the "wrong" side.



Then I got the kids started brushing their teeth.

Dolly finished first and reached around her brother to put her brush away. When Dude was finished he reached over to put his toothbrush on the right side of the sink next to his sister's brush. Then he noticed where my toothbrush was. And then he stretched himself up on his tip-toes as far as he could possibly reach to put his toothbrush away.


Monday, April 29, 2013

An update

So much has been going on lately. Very little of it has been "good". I figure I can write a super long post and bore everyone to tears or I can just let y'all know that we are hanging in there. 'Cause we are. We WILL get through all of this.

The short of it...

Herman is home. Herman seems much more stable. We will hang on until the end of the year. He will either pass all of his classes or he won't. And if he doesn't, the world will continue to spin. I'd actually like to see him fail. But, even though he schools at home, he's technically still attending a public school. And NCLB has made it so that teachers' jobs are on the line even when students like my Herman are fully responsible for their behavior....not the teacher and their ability to teach. That said, there will be much extra credit offered and too many assignments exempted I'm sure. But we'll get through.

TT is having a ROUGH time of things. Mr. Wonky is visiting us for sure!!!
• foster parenting (including the visit to Dallas)
• my in-laws are visiting
• court is next week
• Mother's Day is coming
Can you blame him?! I sure don't. But we'll get through.

Bart is even struggling. He threw a tantrum of epic proportions yesterday that involved a two person restraint for at least a minute or two (maybe more -- time seems to stand still when things are so out of control and I don't want to exaggerate). We worked hard on "repairing" though. Bart is so happy and forgives so quickly. I had to mention several times that even though he forgave my anger and I forgave his, we still have to work hard to repair our relationship. We now have a code word in place. If I say the word "pineapple" he knows that I might be very angry, but I'm in my "healthy brain" and I won't lay a hand on him as long as he does what I'm asking. It will be his job to stop his tantrum and simply sit down where I can see him. We'll get through.

"Something" happened in Dallas during the cherubs' last visit. I'm never going to know all the details. Dude and Dolly said that Grandma N was angry a lot and yelled at them over the whole weekend. Dude said it was "because they giggled". Oooohhhhhh how I know the sound of that dysregulated giggle!! I'm sad that they were in that state of discomfort all weekend. I'm sad that Grandma N didn't know what to do to help them feel safe.

Dolly didn't say much. But she did totally break my heart. I asked her how she felt with Grandma all weekend (immediately after Dolly admitted that Grandma yelled at her all weekend). Dolly's response...."I felt fine."

Dude on the other hand had a horrible week. Major tantrums. Hitting teachers. Increased aggression at home. Wet the bed twice. Wet his pants. Climbed in bed with his sister. (This is a throw back to when he came in Care. He often crawled in bed with his sister in the middle of the night. NOTHING inappropriate...he just wanted to be close to her in order to feel safe.) And did I mention...increased aggression?! I must say, I'm incredibly fearful of what kind of a child Dude will become if he does indeed get moved to Dallas. I'm afraid for Dolly too. They are both hanging on by a thread right now. If they move Dolly will go so deep inside herself. She will search everywhere for love. And Dude, I'm sure, will become a gang member in search of that same love. (Having a father and at least one uncle in a gang won't help matters either.)

Court is Monday, May 6th. I'm asking everyone that knows to please pray for these cherubs. I have absolutely NO IDEA what is going to happen. I will say though, I am praying for permanency for them more than anything. I do NOT believe it is in their best interests to stay with us if the State is unwilling to change their permanency plan!! If the State is going to continue to push for these cherubs to go to Dallas, then the cherubs just need to go to Dallas. Every member of our family NEEDS permanency right now. Of course we want them to stay with us forever. But if that isn't a possibility, then they need to go and get settled with Grandma! But no matter what happens, we will get through.

I'm going to end this post with a visual.
This is what my sink looks like at the end of the day. I use my toothbrush last, so it is on the far edge.
I handed Dude and Dolly their toothbrushes last night. I purposely put my toothbrush (the green one) over by the faucet so they'd have room to easily put their toothbrushes back without needing to touch mine or knock anything over.

This is how Dude thinks the toothbrushes need to be put away.




Sunday, April 21, 2013

To the stranger...

To the stranger that saw my kid in McDonald's this morning and talked to him...thank you!

God sends people when we need them and a total stranger saw my son and told him to go home. And my son listened. I am so thankful for answered prayer.

He's Home!

Praise God!

We've got stuff to process. This isn't over. But he's home and he's safe.

Prayer request for Herman

I'm a bit beside myself this morning and I'm going to ask the "internet" for some extra support.

Last night at approximately 6:30PM my 16yo son ran away. It's a long and complicated story but needless to say his behavior surprised the heck out of me. I didn't expect such an extreme response to what we were arguing about. He packed a bag and left our neighborhood. He didn't bring a phone. I have no idea where he went. I have no idea where to look. He's either alone or with people I know nothing about.

I ask for prayers.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wonky

Right or wrong I'm taking Dude & Dolly to day care in the morning. Dude is supposed to get out of school early so it's just easier for him to wait for the blasted visit to Dallas at day care instead of going to school, coming home, and not engaging for the rest of the afternoon. I do feel a little guilty. I know it's going to stress him out. But I'm in self-preservation mode too. I've got to take care of my own emotional needs as well as those of the cherubs I'm going to be parenting forever. Day care will take Dolly to preschool and pick her up afterward. Minnie will pick them both up around 4:00PM and they will fly north. I won't spend the entire day with that damned visit hanging over my head. And on the plus side, I won't have to see Minnie until she drops the cherubs off on Sunday. (And...just for you Mama P...maybe I'll practice taking secret pictures between now and then. LOL)

Mr. Amazing didn't get the promotion he had all but been promised today. He's angry. He's frustrated. This just adds to the overall stress in our home.

Herman is STRUGGLING right now. We're seeing all sorts of wonky behavior out of him. I don't write much about the crazy this darling cherub adds to our family. But it seems the Good Lord did not see fit to give me a single "easy kid". Herman is 16 but he often has a maturity level much younger than his chronological age. It's hard for me to adjust to this because I used to consider him quite mature. He has ADD that we are trying to manage with both medication and counseling. We're making miniscule amounts of progress though. Right now I'm just praying we all make it until the end of the school year intact. He's horribly behind in many of his classes and he's got a TON of work to do get caught up and actually pass 10th grade. And, because this is Texas, he's got right up until almost the last day of school to actually do the work and turn it in...even if it was due over a month ago. << sigh >>

TT is wonked out too. The poor kid has a TON on his plate right now. The list is quite extensive and there isn't much of an end in sight. He was worried when I went out of town last weekend. He got sick the day I got back. (I still don't know if it was from his overall anxiety or if he really had a bug of some kind.) He has his state standardized tests next week and he's got test anxiety. Then, my in-laws are coming. He's super stressed about that. Then we have court. Then it's Mother's Day. (Never forget....MD can be super stressful for adopted kids! I've made this mistake before. It wasn't pretty.) Things aren't going to mellow out for him until summer either.

Bart does OK as long as I remember to give him his caffeine pill in the morning. Bart is Herman times about 1000. Bart definitely has ADHD. We're choosing at this point in time to only medicate at home, when necessary, with caffeine. It works very similar to the Rx stimulants and it keeps me from having to see doctors all the time. And, for Bart, it seems to be working. He managed to get through the standardized tests I wanted him to take at the end of the year. He seems to be processing all the crazy OK. Here's to praying that he stays status quo.

Dude's teacher told me today that Dude is acting up again in school. Hmmm....it just started this week. And oh yeah....I went out of town last weekend. It's a no-brainer to me. But given his circumstances, there isn't anything I can do but assure him that I'm here for him now.

Dolly even acted up while I was gone. The wonky sure does seem to revolve around me. Sometimes it's hard to not take it personally. If I do "this" different or "this" better maybe my kids will be "better".  aaaccckkkkk!!!

I'm trying to look forward to this weekend. I detest having to send the cherubs to Dallas. But...at least I get to sleep in on Saturday as late as I absolutely want. There is something nice about having kids that can fully take care of themselves. We don't have any major plans for the weekend. Herman has to do his schoolwork. I need to clean the house to get ready for my in-laws. Hopefully the wonky will take a break. I could use it for sure!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A conversation at the dentist

NURSE AT DENTIST OFFICE: "When would you like the next appointment scheduled? It's six months out from now."

ME: (almost laughing) "Six months?! Doesn't matter. I've got NO idea what my schedule will be like in six months. Just make the appointment for whenever."

NICE LADY IN WAITING ROOM (NLIWR): "I keep my planner with me so I can keep track of my appointments."

ME: "Oh yeah, I live and breathe by my Franklin Covey at home." (The waiting room was almost empty, I didn't have any foster cherubs with me, so I decided to elaborate.) "But we are a foster family and I cannot predict what anything is going to look like six months from now."

NLIWR: "Oh thank you for being a foster family."

ME: "Um. Yeah." (It was really strange to be thanked for this so quickly by a total stranger!)

NLIWR: "My daughter used to be a social worker with CPS for about four years down here. She's up in Houston now working for an adoption agency. She still works with foster parents though."

...insert nice chit chat about The System...

NLIWR: "How long have you fostered?"

ME: "We did it for about three years when we lived in Iowa. We've been licensed down here for about three years now too."

NLIWR: "Are those two brothers?" (indicating toward TT and Bart)

ME: "Yes."

NLIWR: "Do you have any kids of your own?"

ME: "Oh yes. All of them."

NLIWR: "I mean...do have any biological kids?"

ME: "Yes."

NLIWR: "How many?"

ME: "Enough."

NLIWR: "How many? How many of your kids are your own?"

ME: "All of them are mine."

....this went back and forth for entirely too long...

Eventually NLIWR figured out I wasn't going to tell her how many were bio and how many I adopted. You see, TT was sitting right there. It was not this lady's business to know how many kids I adopted and how many I birthed. I'm sure if I had told her she would have wanted to know who was who. And that was none of her damn business!!! It's such a fine dance. I don't want TT to be embarrassed about being adopted. But ultimately it is HIS story to tell...not mine. At least not like this!! I finally ended the conversation by telling NLIWR that I had three forever kids and two foster cherubs.

I've heard about conversations like this. I kinda hoped I'd never have to have one. It was horribly frustrating and I'm still not sure I handled it quite as well as I should have. I'm going to have to work on my script better for the future.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Going to Dallas again...

My cherubs are leaving for Dallas again this weekend. Because I will NOT go through another fiasco like I did last month, I sent an email to Minnie.
Can you please forward to me the flight numbers that you will be taking this coming Friday and Sunday with Dude and Dolly? I want to make sure that they are available for pick up and that my family is at home when it is time for their return.
Thank you.
This was the response Minnie sent:
I'm waiting for my travel arrangements but it looks like I will be picking them up at 4pm Friday and I will be back Sunday by 7pm.
Well, since things were about that vague a month ago I responded with:
When you can then, please forward to me the flight numbers so I can keep an eye on the actual departure and arrival times.
I have included Minnie's supervisor in all of this conversation. If for some reason she does not give me the actual flight numbers, I think I'm going to complicate things for her. We literally live within a couple blocks of the day care that I use and Dude's Head Start. Because I will NOT wait around for 4:00PM without knowing for sure when the flight is leaving exactly, I will make Minnie pick the children up elsewhere. She can stop at the day care for Dolly and over at Head Start for Dude. And I can take my forever cherubs and go somewhere else to play in the afternoon without waiting and waiting and waiting!! I will NOT go through that again!!!

Waiting

Ya know -- you can really tell when someone has NO IDEA about child development!!

Dolly is STILL waiting for her hair cut that she was promised a month ago. I'm guessing it's not going to happen now as we have court next on May 6th.

How sad that she was told by Minnie that it was going to happen and then Minnie conveniently does NOTHING about actually making it happen for the child.

Foster care sucks.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April 23rd Sucks

7:30AM: Drop off Dolly at day care. Try to communicate with the staff that does not speak English that Dolly is supposed to stay there all day and NOT be taken to school. Pray they understand.

7:45AM: Drop off Dude at Head Start. Tell them that Dude will be staying all day that day. Pray Dude doesn't freak out.

8:30AM: Arrive at hotel across town so TT can take his state standardized math test. Pray he doesn't completely freak out due to anxiety. Pray he does well on the test. Pray that he's done early enough because....

12:45PM: Pick up Dolly from day care and race to the town where our agency is located. It has been determined that Dolly needs her psychological evaluation. She is five years old and our agency requires it. Now...she's been five since last September. Couldn't this have been done sooner?! We're not even going to have the test results available before we go to court.

2:00PM: Dolly's psych eval starts. I will have a ton of paperwork to fill out. Pray that TT and Bart can keep themselves entertained while I do this. Pray that Dolly is actually able to talk to the psychiatrist.

2:30PM: My husband has to get out of work early to pick up his parents at the airport. After nearly 20 years of marriage they are coming to our home for their second-ever overnight stay. (Granted...we used to live a lot closer.) They didn't check with us at all though when they bought the plane tickets. (Initially they were going to drive and arrive several days later.) Their timing now completely sucks!! And they are staying for an entire week.

4:00PM (approx.): Pick Dude up from Head Start. Spend the rest of the evening dealing with VERY freaked out cherubs. Dude will be stressed because he spent extra time at school.  Dolly will be stressed out due to the change in her schedule and the actual psych eval. They will feed off of each other and be dysregulated in general. Their nervous giggles will grate on me all night. TT will be stressed because of the test. Bart will be stressed because of boredom and the change in schedule. And everyone will be stressed by the presence of our guests.

I'm completely freaked out about April 23rd! Can I just skip the rest of this month please?!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Meeting Miss Mary

Dude, Dolly and I went to meet with the new counselor yesterday. This is something that Minnie set up for the cherubs. I do NOT understand why Minnie did this. We have court in four weeks. There isn't enough time to establish some kind of a relationship in therapy with the cherubs in order to be able to submit something of substance to the court.

My initial fear was that this therapist is someone that Minnie knows well. I was concerned that Minnie might be able to dictate what kind of a report this therapist would write. So, with trepidation, I watched my cherubs go into a play room with toys across the hall from me and I sat down with Miss Mary, the therapist. (She's actually a doctor...has lots of letters after her name if you know what I mean. But "Miss Mary" sounds more pleasant and matches her personality better than "doctor" does.)

I didn't hold back. She was pleasant, professional, yet very easy to talk to. I told her I'm a good talker and she had better tell me where to start and what she wants to know. Miss Mary said that I should start with why the cherubs entered Care and what the current status of the case is now.

I started at the beginning.

I also was very clear about my bewilderment surrounding starting counseling at this time in the case. Miss Mary looked right at me and shared in my bewilderment. When I told her the cherubs don't have a need for therapy right now for any issues or behaviors, she was as confused as I was. She immediately said that there isn't enough time before court for her to determine whether the cherubs would be OK in Dallas or better off with us. She put me at ease when she very sternly said that she would NOT write any kind of a report for the courts stating an opinion either way. Not for court held in May anyway.

Then we talked.
Miss Mary sees grounds for termination. Neither bio parent has worked their service plan. The cherubs have been in Care for almost two years. Both bio parents are incarcerated again. She seems to think there are grounds. (And this woman knows "foster care". She did her dissertation on foster care and she's been working with CPS for over 8 years in the Valley.)
Miss Mary says the case is black and white. There are valid concerns about the situation in Dallas. She agrees with all of my concerns. She literally asked me, "Where is the grey?"
She is just as confused as some of the other workers and lawyers have been. When I told her that we would be willing to take PMC or have an open adoption she was blown away that that hadn't been formally pursued by the State.

Miss Mary went in to play and talk with the children toward the end of the visit. She said she was going to ask them four questions including what they think of Dallas and where they ultimately want to live. I was concerned she was going to dive in that deep without establishing any kind of a relationship first. She was gone for about 15-20 minutes and then they wrapped things up.

We walked toward the door. The cherubs went out to the car while we chatted right inside the door. Miss Mary said that she ended up not asking all the questions she was initially going to ask. She did say that both Dude and Dolly aren't impressed with Dallas. I guess they answered, "What do you think of Dallas," with, "I don't really like it." However, when Miss Mary asked Dolly where she wanted to live, Dolly didn't answer at all. Deer in the headlights is all she got.

I'm going out of town next Friday so the cherubs aren't going to go. And the next Friday the cherubs will be in Dallas. We won't meet with Miss Mary again until the last Friday in April. We'll be lucky if we see her three times before court. Again Miss Mary assured me that she has nothing more than a professional relationship with Minnie. They aren't "friends". She then told me that she's going to contact Minnie to see if she can ascertain what Minnie wants the cherubs to get out of counseling. Miss Mary said she would then pass along Minnie's intentions to me.

I'm very curious to know what Miss Mary finds out. I'm not holding my breath though. I'm pretty sure this entire adventure is a waste of time and tax payer dollars. However, if the cherubs do remain in Care yet again (because that is always a possibility), Miss Mary told me that she does come and do home visits. I was thrilled to hear this. If anything, I could use some counseling and meeting with her once a week, even if it's only for a few minutes, might help me process some of the crap that IS foster care.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Balance

Court is coming up next month. I can feel the time ticking away.

It pains me.

I feel myself pulling away.

How do I prepare my heart?

If I prepare for them to stay, I'll be devastated when they leave.

If I tell myself they are leaving, it will be hard to stay connected the next month because I'll want to prepare all of us for the departure.

It's weeks away and I have a peace about them leaving.
When Dolly tells people she wants to go live in Dallas (when asked by a social worker as a yes/no question– Dolly never speaks spontaneously about Dallas anymore)....or when the only reason Dolly seems to even consider staying if I ask her is "because she loves the dog" I get bent out of shape. The DOG ranks higher than me?! What the?!
Fine.
Leave.
And I'm OK with it. (Not just bent out of shape. I'm really OK with it.)
I'll sleep in on the weekends....really sleep in. I'll be D.O.N.E. with the drama that IS foster care. I'll get to go on dates with my husband again. Maybe my other cherubs will stop freaking out so much. Ahhhh....it sounds nice.

When I have to fight against the stupid preschool teacher that puts a sad face on a stupid worksheet...I get all mamma bear. Nobody better mess with MY babies!!
These are MY kids. No one loves them like I do. No one will advocate for them like me. That Grandma in Dallas doesn't want them. I do! I'm their mom! I've been their mom for almost two years. They belong here! This is what they know! This is what's best for them!!

I feel like I'm on a teeter-totter.

And I don't like it.

I want them to stay.
I'll be OK if they go.

I hate the waiting!

Monday, April 1, 2013

No baby for me

Due to a somewhat obsessive need to continually check on the incarceration status of Dude and Dolly's bio parents, I discovered today that Bio Mom is currently being held in a facility that will allow her to keep the baby that is due in approximately two months with her.

We shouldn't get a call at all about the baby as Bio Mom's release date is set for this summer. If for some reason the baby is removed from Bio Mom at a later date, it is likely that Dude and Dolly will already be with their Grandma in Dallas and we will no longer be a licensed foster family.

I am relieved. I really don't want to parent a baby where it is known that drugs were used during the pregnancy...especially since the drug of choice was synthetic marijuana. I know – miracles can happen. But this baby is already set up to have a very, very difficult time in life and he/she isn't even born yet. I've got enough going on with our family dynamics. I really don't want a drug (and possible FASD) baby. And in the grand scheme of things, I don't think keeping Dude and Dolly together with this new baby (that is likely to end up in Care eventually) is necessary. It would be nice I suppose in the long run. But the age difference is big enough and their circumstances different enough that I don't see a benefit right now in keeping all three together.

-----
-----

Dude and Dolly are starting therapy this Friday. I'm still blown away that Minnie is requiring this. If these cherubs are being set up to leave my home in less than two months...why do they need therapy now?! They aren't staying in the area so they won't be able to maintain the relationship after they are placed with Grandma N. And due to where the therapy is taking place, I don't believe that this therapist is in Minnie's pocket (so to speak) or that she will be pushing Minnie's agenda necessarily.

Either way, I'm going to be honest with this therapist. I will tell her about my concerns in Dallas. I will be forthcoming when I say that Dolly expresses a desire to live in Dallas but that Dolly does NOT understand that living in Dallas means saying goodbye to everyone here forever.

It ought to be interesting to say the least. It is a play therapist. And to start, she's going to meet with the cherubs together. When I asked what to expect in the future, the therapist said it will depend on how the first session goes and what the issues are. I smiled and told her that there are no issues. The therapist seemed quite taken aback. But really...there aren't. The only "issues" are because my cherubs are languishing in Care. I'll let y'all know how it goes.