Thursday, October 31, 2013

How this has affected my kids - Part 2

Today I'm going to write about Bart and how he has responded to being a foster sibling.

Bart is the baby of our forever family. He's never struck me as being a "third child" though. Bart is headstrong, loud, and incredibly independent!! Bart is much like Herman x1000. Bart too "goes with the flow" quite well.

We discussed fostering with both TT and Bart before we did it. We talked about the good things and the stuff that might be more difficult. At the time I know that both boys didn't understand. You really can't explain fostering to anyone. It is something that must be experienced.

Our first placement was MissArguePants and her sister TurtleTurtle. Bart was five and in kindergarten when they came. You'd have to go back in my archives to read about the girls. The short of the story though...those sisters rocked our world! They had been horrifically abused in more ways than training could ever prepare us for. And because they were closer in age to TT and Bart, they impacted their worlds tremendously.

Bart remained positive through it all. But it was difficult. The constant tantruming took a lot of energy to contain and TT and Bart didn't get the attention they were used to. For the most part though, Bart just rolled with the flow. We all breathed a sigh of relief when they left.

Then Pumpkin came.

Pumpkin is the same age as Bart. Developmentally though, Pumpkin was a toddler when she came. She could barely walk and she only spoke about 25-50 words total (and very few of those words were "spontaneous").

Bart LOVED Pumpkin. He simply adored her and he was fiercely protective of her! When Pumpkin started school she was in the self-contained special ed classroom. The teachers reported that Bart would make extra stops into the classroom throughout the day to check on Pumpkin to make sure the teachers were caring for her correctly. Quite the opposite of Herman, Bart hugged Pumpkin and tried to engage with her all the time. When school started after Dude and Dolly came it was no longer practical for me to walk Pumpkin in to class in the morning. She could not do it on her own of course. Bart immediately stepped up to make sure that Pumpkin got to her classroom safely every morning. Bart never saw her disabilities - he just saw his sister. It was beautiful.

Bart got knocked out of his role as baby of the family when Dude and Dolly came. It strikes me as funny when people get super concerned about maintaining birth order when doing foster care. When you add members to your family - you mess with stuff no matter how old the kids are! For example, Dolly was used to being the oldest and when she came she fell to 5th in line. Bart was used to being the baby (for the most part) and he was thrust into middle child.

Bart was jealous of Dolly from time to time. It created friction - but nothing that wasn't easily handled. For the most part, Bart just rolled with the flow. The longer Dude and Dolly stayed, the more cohesive of a family we became. Bart was an amazing big brother to the kids and he loved them like they'd been with us forever.

And then they left.

Grief was thick.

Mr. Amazing and Herman somewhat stayed in the background - neither one knowing exactly how to handle the strong emotions that had taken over our house. Bart, TT and I were quite vocal in our grief.

I got the idea from a FB friend to put up a interactive feelings wall. I used the six stages of grief on each of the colored cards. Bart, TT and I each made a white card with our name on it. (Mr. Amazing and Herman didn't want to participate.) As things have happened during the days/weeks/month since the cherubs left, we've moved our names around to mark how we are feeling. Bart's name has been back and forth through all the feelings. One day he had pushed his all the way up to "acceptance". Then, something triggered him and the next time I looked at the wall he was back under "anger". It's been very healing to express our feelings this way. It's sparked some excellent conversations and it has also allowed for us to share how we feel without having to talk about it.

We're a month out now from when they left. Bart is still sad...but he's moved on. I got a call asking us to do respite next week. It's for a 5yo little girl, a 3yo little girl and a baby boy. I intentionally didn't agree to anything until after I talked to the kids. I intentionally told them that I feared having a 5yo girl in the home might be difficult because it will remind us of Dolly. Bart thought about it for a second or two though and said, "I don't care. It'll be fun, Mom."

Bart is healing appropriately. In fact, I think it's about time that I can take down the cards on the feeling wall. We're all just bouncing back and forth between anger and depression or acceptance for the most part. Our anger is toward The System. We're all angry. But I think it's safe to say that Bart accepts the reality that the cherubs aren't coming back.

Bart shares my passion in wanting to help kids and families. I'm proud of him and how wonderful of a foster brother he was. If for some reason we decide to do this again, he'll be right there next to me with a smile on his face ready to welcome someone new into our home.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How this has affected my kids - Part 1

A reader has posed a question to me. grkanga asked:

My children were adults when I fostered so I didn't have children of my own impacted by the legal chaos like yours have been. I would be very interested in you posting about how your children have been affected by the entire process... from start to this horrific end. I know SOME foster situations work well. I believe in the concept of supporting biological parents being able to care appropriately for their children..... but the system has some HUGE flaws when it is common for children to not have permanency for 5-10 years. Please share...as you are able without increasing the pain to you and yours.
I'm going to answer on behalf of Herman first.

When we started fostering, in Iowa, Herman was right around seven years old. He was a very happy-go-lucky kind of kid that really rolled with the flow. He was an only child for the most part. But over the course of his seven years prior to fostering he had shared us (his parents) with several different people. My sister stayed with us for awhile. She was a young adult and didn't require my parenting per se. But still, she was there and it changed our family dynamics. Another time, my teen-aged cousin stayed for several months. Herman was four when she came. In an unofficial way, we were fostering my cousin who we hoped would take the opportunity for a fresh start and let go of some of her very bad habits. Unfortunately, my cousin was unable to make different decisions. Her stay with us involved many events that occur when you foster (running away, smoking, police involvement, etc.)

Herman also has a half-sister who lives out of state. He became an "official" little brother when that same half-sister lived with us for a year (the year prior to us starting our fostering adventure). Herman was never phased by this. Herman wanted siblings very much and he loved having his sister there! We welcomed his sister for the year and we were sad when she left. But through it all, Herman just rolled with the flow.

Our first "real" fostering placement was a little boy who was right around 18 months old. He stayed with us for six months. It was a text-book fostering case for the most part. He came. His parents worked their plan. They did weekly visits. Visits got bumped up to overnights. The boy went home to his parents.

Honestly -- I've got no way to explain things other than to say that Herman went with the flow.

When we got the call that TT had been born and we were going to get to adopt him, Herman's response was almost like, "Well...it's about time." He shifted into the role of a permanent big brother perfectly.

Herman just rolls with the flow.

When we decided to get our license here in Texas Herman didn't mind. This time around he was older and you'd think he'd have more of an opinion on things. But really, he didn't. He knows why we do this and he shares the passion that we have of wanting to help families. Well...that might be pushing it. I don't know if he personally shares our passion. But he fully understands it and agrees with it. When we asked him how he felt about us fostering, he didn't care one way or the other. He didn't even mind if we took in teenaged boys. Again...Herman just goes with the flow.

As we cared for MissArguePants and TurtleTurtle, Herman didn't get too involved. He played outside with them some. But in the house, they caused so much havoc that he just stayed out of the way. When they left we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Pumpkin made Herman uncomfortable. Caring for a special needs child was a new experience for all of us. Herman helped with Pumpkin when it was appropriate. But he didn't seek out opportunities to get involved. Jokingly I told Herman more than once, "Pumpkin isn't contagious." He was never mean to her though. He just tried to avoid her.

And then there was Dude and Dolly.

They became full members of our family. Everybody was involved. Everybody played. Everybody interacted. Herman seemed to mimic my emotions most of the time. He got angry at The System. He got angry at bio parents that don't want to do their part. He loved the children. He was the best big brother any kid could ask for.

When they left Herman tried to get all macho. He detached from everybody. Unfortunately, their departure coincided with us (his parents) discovering a horrible lie Herman had been weaving for quite some time. It's hard to say what was fueling his intense emotions. He was very upset that the kids were gone. He was also very upset because, as a male, he wanted to protect me and my grief was painful for him. And he was also very upset at himself for his choices and how he got caught.

Now that we're a month out he's pretty much back to normal. He talks about Dude and Dolly fondly. He's still furious with The System. And he can smile knowing that deep down I want to help more kids. Laughingly he says I'd adopt two-dozen if I could.

In true Herman fashion...he just rolls with the flow. He knows we're done fostering for now. He knows that if we moved out of Texas I'd probably want to foster again. And he knows that if the situation presented itself, I'd adopt if possible. He understands my passion. I know he's been influenced by what we did. It sounds all hokey when I write it out here -- but he really has grown and matured through the process. Morally he's a wiser person. Overall, he's OK with everything. He just rolls with the flow.

Monday, October 28, 2013

They've been gone for a month

We went to court last week to see about getting a schedule for our phone calls. So far, the "schedule" has been about worthless.

On Wednesday the phone rang in on time - 7:00PM. However, there was some sort of problem with Grandma's phone. The call dropped twice. I spoke with Dolly long enough to find out that Grandma was making them eggs and potatoes for supper and that Dolly doesn't know if she gets to do Halloween or not. If she gets to, she wants to be Ariel, the Little Mermaid.

After we got disconnected the second time Minnie got all quiet. She acted like she didn't know what to do. I told her that my boys really want to talk to Dude. She said something about trying to call to Grandma again but I guess it never happened. I spoke to Dolly for less than 7 minutes. Minnie never contacted me again that day.

On Saturday Minnie sent me a text at 10:09AM telling me she was having problems connecting with Grandma again. I'm quite sure that Grandma isn't putting forward any effort toward this phone calls. She might not have even been home. But missing these calls will never be enough to change anything in this case.

I responded via text to Minnie saying, "Do what you can. Just keep me posted. If we don't talk that's OK. I just don't want it reflected poorly on us – that we didn't want to talk or something." Minnie never responded to me.

At 10:47AM I got a phone call. Of course by then the family had all gone their separate ways – I only had TT with me. We were in a place where I could barely hear anything. It's not like I can just sit around all Saturday morning waiting to see if Minnie is going to connect us or not. It's so frustrating!!

Dolly and I spoke for about 7 minutes. She didn't have much to say. It's starting to get very awkward. I feel like I have to be very careful about what I ask and Dolly volunteers nothing. Basically Dolly tells me she colors at school and she's fine. I try asking open ended questions like, "What did you eat for breakfast?" I tell her what things we're eating and doing. But really...those are stupid questions. The conversations are short and painful. Dude won't come to the phone at all now! He won't even talk to his brothers. I'm betting he likes having that control. I can't even speculate if he's angry or not. I mean...I'm sure he is. But I know nothing anymore.

They've been gone over a month now. My home is no longer in compliance with many of the safety rules my agency requires. I moved my dishwasher detergent back under the sink. I've pulled all the plug covers off. Nothing is locked and my kids can easily get to the cleaning supplies. It's nice having my house back to "normal".

We're not taking any more kids. My husband is going to actively start looking for a promotion which will mean a move for our family. I know there is no way we could see another case all the way through and I'm not going to bring a child into our home without being able to assure them that we wouldn't move them out to another foster home.

My grief is still incredibly intense. It's very hard to explain though. I've moved through my grief over the children themselves...I think. I'm sure it will still come in hard to deal with waves. But I'm pretty sure the worst of that grief is over. Now I grieve for The System that fails so many children everywhere. I'm having a hard time reconciling the fact that I'm taught "God can work all things for His good" AND the fact that children get hurt daily. I want to help. I want to make a difference. And yet I feel perfectly helpless and worthless. I'm still so very angry. And anger is a hard emotion to hang on to. It does some pretty devastating things to the body. I've got to figure out how to let go.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Court...again - UPDATE

I'm so sorry for not updating sooner. And no, I'm not at home in the midst of a wonderfully happy celebration.

Court happened pretty much exactly as I thought it would this time.
  • Phone calls will be on Wednesdays at 7:00PM and Saturdays at 10:00AM.
    No exceptions and they will be on time.
  • The State has until 10/28 to produce notes from a worker that "supposedly" was put into place in Dallas three days after the children arrived there.
  • The State has until 10/28 to have family/play therapy in place in Dallas.
  • The State has until 10/28 to mail the rest of the children's belongings.
It is very, very unlikely that the cherubs will have a legal need to return to my care. The situation in Dallas is one of subtle neglect - nothing that CPS will ever catch. There of course is the danger that they could get mixed up in the middle of drugs and/or gangs. If one of the more volatile relatives does something dangerous in front of the cherubs there would be cause. But I truly believe that Grandma N does TRY to keep the kids safe.

So right now I'm concentrating all of my prayer efforts over the therapist that is to be assigned to the family in Dallas. My prayer is that the therapist that is put into place in Dallas is a good one. This is no small request either. It has been my experience that therapists are given little background information by the State. And since Grandma N knows NOTHING of what has happened over the last 2+ years, she can't be counted on to help the cherubs process much. I want Dude and Dolly to HONESTLY get to process through all they've had to endure. Dude needs to know that his anger is OK but he can't hang on to it forever. Dolly needs to know that this is not her fault.

Minnie didn't say anything in court that totally made my skin crawl. Though, as always, she is full of lies. She literally told Ms. Colorado earlier this month that the reason phone calls didn't start with us after the removal was because she didn't have my phone number. Never mind that Minnie has been on the case more than a year. Never mind that Minnie has called me from her cell countless numbers of times. Never mind that Minnie will even text me when it suits her. No...she claimed she didn't know my number.

The judge made me uncomfortable when they were discussing family therapy during court. Apparently NOW it is important for the children to be in an unbiased place where they can express their wishes about where they'd like to stay. I'm disgusted by the fact that everyone seems to think it was biased before. The kids were in therapy before. The kids spoke to their agency worker without me present before. The kids even told their lawyers they wanted to stay with us. But it didn't matter then. Now?????

It's too late. I always made it clear to the cherubs if they moved to Dallas they'd never get to see us again. They don't know that they have permission to tell their new therapist that they don't want to live in Dallas. And no, I will be given no contact with the therapist at all. I am being treated like the bad guy here. I get nothing outside of two monitored phone calls each week.

I don't have high hopes. Ms. Colorado looked me square in the eyes and told me that everything we brought before the court this past Monday should have been brought to the judge's attention by the cherubs' lawyers. It is so obvious that the State-paid professionals in this case do not care. And since everything hinges on State-paid professionals, there is little I can do to change anything.

So I'm taking it all to God. Prayer is literally ALL I've got. Please continue to pray for the cherubs. Please pray with all your might that somehow a therapist will be put into place that can discern the truth. Please pray that this therapist is able to establish a level of trust. Please pray that the cherubs use their strong voices. I'm NOT praying for the cherubs to come back to me. I don't want that to be the goal of their therapy. No...all I want now is all I've wanted since the cherubs came to my home...permanency and healing. And even though that's not happening under my watch, it is still what they need.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Court...again

My very strongly worded email about the inconsistency of the phone calls triggered Ms. Colorado to contact the judge. Working with him, an emergency hearing has been called for tomorrow.
The children will not be there.
It's NOT a placement hearing so the children won't be moved from Dallas.
The purpose of the hearing is to address some of the things that CPS is supposed to be doing but currently isn't.
Ms. Colorado said that she's going to bring up the parenting concern of letting the cherubs watch a horror movie. (One Saturday morning the cherubs both spent their time on the phone telling me about the movie they had watched already that day. It had a "bad guy" in it with a knife that cut people and was scary.)

Ms. Colorado is going to address the fact that a CPS worker has not been assigned in Dallas yet.

Ms. Colorado is going to address the fact that family therapy (despite being court ordered in September) has not started in Dallas.

And last, Ms. Colorado is going to address the issue of our weekly phone calls. She's going to demand an official court ordered contact schedule. (We're not getting all of our phone calls and when we do get them it is without notice of any kind.)

I'm also hoping that Ms. Colorado can do something about the fact that my cherubs don't have their belongings yet. Everything was perfectly boxed and dropped off at the CPS office exactly like I was instructed to do. But it's been two weeks and they haven't sent the boxes. That isn't fair to Grandma N, who I'm sure could benefit from having the rest of their wardrobes. And it isn't fair to the cherubs who deserve THEIR toys!

I'm a nervous wreck. It's all I've got to not role around various scenarios in my head over and over. Ya know....if the judge says THIS, then I'll say THIS. Or if CPS accuses me of manipulating the cherubs...I'll say THIS. I want to be prepared. Then again, I can't prepare for any of it because I don't know what's going to happen.

So I'm trying to not think about it. When I do think about it, I'm trying to just pray. 'Cause really...prayer is all I've got now.

Tension is high in my house. It's been a rough week all the way around. TT just had his 10th birthday and birthdays aren't easy for him ever. Mr. Amazing just went back to work after being on furlough due to the shutdown. And I got my arthritis medicine this week. That tends to make me sick/emotional for a couple days. Honestly...we're barely hanging on at times.

But we will get through.

Having court on Monday is a good thing. These issues need to be addressed sooner than later. It's unfortunately that MY lawyer is the only one fighting for the cherubs. It's unfortunate that CPS isn't doing the things that were court ordered a month ago. Hopefully getting CPS to do their job now will further insure the safety of the cherubs. Right now, it's all I can hope for.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

An email

I just sent a very strongly worded email to Minnie, her supervisor and Ms. Colorado concerning the lack of phone calls we have received from Dude and Dolly.

Week one (the week they left) = no calls
Week two = two calls crammed in at the end of the week on Thursday and Saturday
Week three = one call Friday and one call Saturday
Week four = no calls yet

Minnie told me last Saturday that calls are supposed to happen on Wednesdays and Saturdays. However, this Wednesday has come and gone and I heard nothing. I indicated that rules are in place for biological families that are supposed to have contact. Because these phone calls are court ordered, I hope we could be extended the same courtesy.

I very much want to be done with the calls. I don't believe that they are particularly helpful for anyone at this point in time. Like I explained to TT and Bart the other day, we can't PROVE that things are dangerous in Dallas. That is unfortunate because we can't prove things are safe either!!! No matter what though, the State has their mind made up and I highly doubt that the cherubs will return. Minnie is not going to document anything negative. She just isn't. And because the therapist and the guardian ad litem changed sides so to speak, we've got nothing to go on as foster parents.

But we are still IN the case. Despite things being a paperwork disaster (the court sent out the Petition to Terminate Rights to both bio parents and didn't put postage on it - egads!) we're still in things. If I was to tell the State we didn't want the calls, that would reflect very poorly on us.

So I have to play this nasty game. I have to continually hurt TT and Bart by setting them up for contact that we aren't consistently getting. And who am I kidding?! It hurts me too!! I actually feel better and move on with life right up until the time when a call is supposed to come. Then I get all sick to my stomach and upset.

I'm betting we'll get some call tomorrow and then again on Saturday. The calls coming so close together will make it impossible for there to be much conversation on the second call. I may or may not get a "warning" so I can be prepared for the call. Last Friday Minnie used her iPhone on FaceTime and we actually got to see the kids. However, she didn't tell me in advance that she was going to call so I got this FaceTime contact while driving! I had to pull over. And it was just me and TT in the car so Dude and Dolly were very disappointed that they didn't get to see everyone. As wonderful as it was to actually see them, it was perfectly rotten that I didn't know about it in advance. TT and I just cried and cried after we got home it hurt so bad.

I really wish I knew how to handle all everything.

This stuff isn't taught in the foster parent training classes!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Home School Changes

We made the jump to "traditional" home school for both TT and Bart this past Monday. Up until this week, TT was officially enrolled in a public online school. (Bart was piggy-backing on TT's curriculum in everything but math.) For TT though, that meant the curriculum was provided. The lesson plans were provided. And he had a supervising teacher over it all. Most importantly, the online school would have TT take the end of the year STAAR standardized tests.

As this school year progressed it became apparent that TT's struggles with learning differences hadn't lessened. We started the RTI process (Response To Intervention). I knew he had some problems last year. We were doing most everything orally. But the amount of learning lost over the summer, especially in math, was complicating things for TT. The very assessment driven curriculum of the public school continued to make things worse.

Mr. Amazing is currently at home right now due to the government shutdown. As a non-essential federal employee he's on furlough. He's had the *pleasure* of observing home school since October 1st. Granted, our family is under a tremendous amount of stress right now - hitting us from all angles - but he was able to observe school in its finest. He saw TT lose it simply because I said it was time to do math.

So we talked about it. We prayed about it. I consulted some people that I really trust. I even had a 45 minute phone conversation with TT's teacher. She had been in agreement with me that TT has dyslexia. This time I asked her to look into the future. We discussed how the school would be able to modify things for TT with an official diagnosis. Without hesitation she agreed that a "traditional" home school would be a good fit for TT. She sees the incredible downfall of having to complete that 3% of the curriculum each week in the online school. She also let me know that TT would probably just be diagnosed as a "slow learner" and any curriculum modifications would be minor if we got them at all. We would continue to spin our wheels with TT in the very test driven public school system.

Sure, that format works well for some kids. Bart would THRIVE if the state of Texas would allow it. But Texas requires that a student be enrolled in a public brick & mortar the year prior to enrolling in an online school. Bart didn't qualify because I home schooled him for 2nd grade so he couldn't enroll in the online school that begins in 3rd grade.

TT needs hands on work. TT needs things given to him orally. And TT needs things presented to him differently. I discussed how TT figures out the "pattern" of whatever lesson the curriculum was trying to present. Math, grammar and even spelling was always presented focusing on only one thing. He was supposed to master that and then move on. It was easy for me to see that TT wasn't truly "learning" what was being presented. The lessons don't really build on each other and the multiple choice tests/quizzes every day don't really measure if he's learned the subject. They only measure whether or not he can regurgitate the information right away. Mix it all up and TT can't do it. ALL multiplication...he can do it. Mix up multiplication, division, addition and subtraction and he'll get turned around. ALL (grammar) subject/predicate work...he can do it. Mix up subject, predicate, direct object, adjective, etc. and he'll get turned around.

So we withdrew him.

We're doing a modified version of un-schooling right now. It's definitely not radical unschooling. But we're stepping back from "school" as it looks to most kids. Daily I want my two youngest to read, write and learn. I've got them both going through a typing tutorial so that they can learn to type the correct way. They got email addresses and both kids started their own blogs. Already they've written work for their blogs that they would have fought me tooth and nail over if it had been "assigned". We're reading a wonderful book out loud that is a piece of historical fiction. It has inspired fantastic conversations. They're learning about Jewish life through the eyes of a zealot alive during the time of Christ. We've gone out on our own to research Jewish tradition and the Law. Next Friday we're going to have our own Shabbot at home with the family. (We're going to drive to church though on Saturday and we're going to turn our lights on and off as necessary. LOL) They've also watched several documentaries on Netflix.

I ordered an official math curriculum. Math-U-See will be arriving on our doorstep next week. That will get added in immediately. I also don't have to send back any of the consumables from the online school. We can do things from that curriculum if I think it will help. Eventually I'll have to come up with something for grammar. I may just continue to do my own thing for literature, science and social studies. For now though, I'm not making any major decisions. We're just trying to lessen the stress in the home to create an environment where TT feels comfortable learning! I don't care about test scores or a transcript. I guess that's one good thing about Texas. None of that is required.

Already we've seen the tantrums decrease. Through the writing on their blogs the kids have had spelling lessons and grammar instruction. It's working well. It's definitely going to take a lot of work on my end as I want them engaged in learning. I'm not so radical that it's going to be OK for them to play all day long. While there is value in play, I do want more structure than that.

Life has been a mess of emotion lately. We're still all struggling with the loss of our two family members. The phone calls have been nice and horrible all at the same time. We're still "in" the case but it's a mess. I had to lessen the school problems. Herman is still attending the online school but I'm changing it up for TT and Bart. It's our decision for right now. I don't know what we're going to do next year. Thankfully, foster care has taught me how to better live in the moment. I know I don't have to have next year planned out. For now, we're just off on a new adventure. We'll see where it takes us.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Day I Lost My Kids - Part 6

It takes about an hour to drive from where court is to our home. The cherubs slept part of the way. Mr. Amazing drove. I buried my head in my cell phone and updated people. I didn't want to actually talk to anyone. I sent a text to My Genius Sister and told her to call the rest of my family. I posted on Facebook and I chatted electronically with some of my closest friends.

It was Hell.

Once home I did not know what to do. I didn't know when they were officially flying out. I had no idea how much time we actually had together. Everyone was in a state of shock. It was perfectly horrible.

Because I was in so much pain, I decided to simply hide from it all. I let the children turn on the TV. And since the little ones were leaving, I didn't even make it be something that would keep their attention. My boys turned on Transformers and everyone zoned out. (Even the little ones.)

I stayed on my computer chatting with my friends. It was the biggest cop out possible, but I seriously did not know what to do. Should I have spent those next two hours saying over and over how much I love them? Should I have spent those next two hours telling them how evil the powers that be are? Should I have encouraged them to be excited? Or should I have given them permission to be sad? I seriously did not know!!! They were in as much of a state of shock as I was. So we all just zoned out separately.

It was Hell.

Throughout the next few hours I would try to connect every now and then. Dude was P.I.S.S.E.D. O.F.F.!!! He would have NOTHING to do with me. He wouldn't sit on my lap. He wouldn't talk to me. Nothing! And when I asked him how he felt about things, he very smugly told me, "happy".

Dolly was more curious. She asked a few questions about things she heard in court. She was very conflicted. The idea of going to Dallas didn't scare her or make her sad. But she wasn't thrilled either. As she sat curled up on my lap she said something about me keeping her safe. She didn't like my response, "That's going to be Grandma's job now, Dolly. I won't be able to keep you safe anymore."

How do you explain FOREVER to a child. None of this made sense to her.

It was Hell.

Dolly's birthday was the very next day. My Princess Sandwich (long story) was to turn six. I had been so confident that they were staying that we had made all the plans for her birthday party to be the weekend after court. With that in mind, not all of Dolly's presents had been wrapped. Even if they had been, she still wouldn't have been able to bring them to Dallas on the plane that day anyway....not enough room. Still, she had some presents from Mr. Amazing's parents that had come in the mail. We let Dolly open them. It was painful. I so wanted to be happy but it hurt so bad. Dolly smiled for the pictures but there was no sparkle in her eyes. Everyone was just going through the motions.

Minnie arrived just after 5:00PM.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Phone calls

I promise I'll wrap up the rest of "The Day I Lost My Kids".

However, life just doesn't seem to stop even though you're grieving. I've been swamped lately putting out the emotional outbursts from TT and Bart all week long. It's been rough.

----

We finally got our first phone call with the cherubs on Thursday this past week. (Yes...we were supposed to get two a week starting when they left. Yes....Ms. Colorado is documenting everything. No...nothing will probably happen to Minnie for not making them start on time.)

The first call didn't go well. Minnie set it up as a three-way conference call. Yes, she monitored everything. The line at Grandma's house kept dropping. Also, the kids were really, really hard to understand. Neither child is accustomed to talking on the phone. They liked calling my family when they lived with us, but I always held the phone myself and put it on speaker. Having them hold the phone possibly complicated things. I'm not really sure why the calls kept dropping.

Either way, there wasn't a lot of "conversation" on Thursday. Pretty much, Dude and Dolly just kept saying, "I love you," and, "I miss you," over and over and over.

Dolly informed me that she's going to school and she does her work. It seems that Dude goes to day care.

After about 23 minutes, the call dropped again and I told Minnie it was OK to be done talking. She said she'd connect us again on Saturday (today).

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This morning rolled around and Minnie made no contact. At about 10:15AM I sent her a text asking when we were going to get to talk to the kids. About 15 minutes later she messaged me back to say she'd coordinate the call at Noon. She was going to go in to the CPS office to see if connecting things via a land line would help. (She used her cell phone with the first call.)

At about 1:00PM Minnie messaged me that Grandma had taken the kids grocery shopping and she was waiting for them to get home.

I sent her a very strongly worded text saying that I want an official schedule for these calls. It's not OK to expect me to sit around waiting for a phone call all day long. I said that the calls are very important to me and I don't want to miss them!

Minnie said she understood.

I'm glad everything is in writing.  :)

At about 1:30PM they finally called in. This conversation went better. The call didn't drop at all. Still, the kids didn't talk a whole lot. What they did say pained me though.

It seems they spent this morning watching a Halloween horror movie. It had a bad guy that wore a mask and cut people up. It was scary.

Exactly HOW am I supposed to respond to conversation like that?! I can't question the appropriateness. I can't say anything without Minnie being able to twist it around to me not approving of things in Dallas. (Which I don't. But I have to play this rotten game and support everything.) So, all I did was say, "Oh," a lot! I did ask if they liked being scared like that. Ever the stinker Dude answered, "Yes." All I could say was, "Oh." It sucked!!!

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During the first call (on Thursday) Dolly went around and wanted to talk to everyone. Me, Mr. Amazing, Herman, TT and Bart. She even asked about our dog Charlie. Then, she broke my heart into a hundred pieces when she said, "Can I talk to Granny?" I had to explain that she only gets to talk to us and that Granny is in Iowa. The judge didn't give her permission to talk to anyone else.

It sucked!!

After we went over the pleasantries this time I asked Dolly, "Do you have anything else you want to talk about?"
Dolly replied, "Yes."
Then she said, "Mommy...why the judge say I have to live in Dallas?"
I nearly choked but I replied, "I don't know baby. But we have to do what the judge says."
Dolly was quiet.
I asked her, "How does it make you feel?"
Dolly answered, "Sad."

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And that about sums things up.
I'm barely hanging on.
The grief is horrible.
These phone calls are torture.
I have no idea what is going to happen.
I miss my kids!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A poem by Bart

Bart had to write a poem today for school. It was supposed to cover a strong emotion, use imagery and a simile. Here is his poem:

When They Moved Away
By: Bart Eldridge

When they moved away there were tears as big as clouds.
The sadness was exploding.
The tears were overflowing.
When they moved away.

The Day I Lost My Kids - Part 5

Mr. Amazing said that the cherubs burst into tears when he explained to them what was going to happen. By the time I got out to our car though they had calmed down. They, like me, seemed like shells of themselves. Neither child spoke. Both just sat in their car seats and stared straight ahead.

We started driving through town toward the line of restaurants on the way home. We asked the cherubs where they wanted to eat. They chose McDonald's. Their last meal with us was crap food from a crap restaurant. It was somewhat depressing. But we were going to give them what they want!

My phone rang while we were driving. It was Great Grandma P. Despite Minnie giving me orders via Rainbow that I'm not allowed to talk to GGP, I took the call. In fact, I had spoken with GGP the week before court to let her know what the schedule was. Honestly, I was surprised that she wasn't IN court.

When I told GGP what had happened she was audibly distressed! I believe her words were a repetitive, "Oh no oh no oh no!" I told GGP that we were on our way to McDonald's and that she should meet us there. Because dammit, if "family" is oh so important to CPS, my cherubs deserve to be able to see theirs and say goodbye!! GGP said she'd meet us over there. I stressed that she had to come quickly because we only had a matter of hours before they were flying out.

Great Grandma P looked so upset when she got to the McDonald's. She came in and hugged me, Mr. Amazing and the cherubs. GGP wanted to know what happened. I gave her the short version of the story. There wasn't much to tell. It was over and the kids were leaving.

We sat there and made small talk for about 10 minutes while the kids finished eating. She walked with us to the car and we hugged our goodbyes. It was difficult for everyone. Nobody wanted to say those goodbyes. I reminded GGP that I already had "adopted" HER and that we should stay in touch. She said several times that she's going to enlist the help of other family members of hers (in Dallas) to "keep an eye on things".

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For those readers that don't know...

Great Grandma P is a maternal great-grandma. (Their maternal grandma - Bio Mom's mother - died many years ago from cancer.) GGP is 74 years old and knows that she is unable to care for these cherubs until they reach adulthood. From the beginning CPS did not predict that reunification with Bio Mom would ever "really" be possible. GGP is in relatively good health but she is very, very poor. From what I understand, she might have even been the person that contacted CPS about the plight of the little ones to begin with.

I know that Dude and Dolly spent a lot of time with GGP before coming to live with us. However, she wasn't exactly their primary care giver. Bio mom did not have her own living arrangements. She lived with friends, in hotels and stayed with grandma on and off. They bounced around a lot.

I simply adore Great Grandma P. It pains me to know that she might never see those cherubs again. GGP acted like a grandma the entire time they were in Care. She obviously loved them. She made sure she came to as many visits as CPS would allow. She called to check on the cherubs. She even used her meager funds to buy gifts for the cherubs. Shoot -- GGP bought Easter baskets for TT and Bart too this past Spring!!! If GGP could have cared for these cherubs I would have supported their reunification 100%!!

GGP does know where Grandma N in Dallas lives though. If she managed to get herself to Dallas, she could find them. When this case first started out, GGP even helped Grandma N get from the bus station to court by driving her. As the case progressed though they had no contact.

GGP said many times that she didn't want the cherubs to end up in Dallas. If they couldn't be with Bio Mom, GGP wanted the cherubs with ME. It is because of GGP's opinions that CPS ended up (very spitefully) limiting her contact with the cherubs.

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It was an hour-long drive home after we left McDonald's. A very long, painful drive.

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Skipping ahead...but finishing the story about Great Grandma P...

For reasons I do not know, Minnie's supervisor called GGP in a somewhat threatening way on the Tuesday after court. Apparently the cherubs told Minnie that they got to see Great Grandma P before they left.

Why this bothered anyone at CPS I will never understand.

And God bless GGP...but the sweet woman lied to cover for me. I told her it was completely unnecessary. But rather than tell CPS that we spoke on the phone and then met at McDonald's, GGP told Minnie's supervisor that she happened to be at the courthouse with a friend and saw the cherubs there.

I broke no court rules by having contact with GGP. This situation seems to have just fizzled out as I've heard nothing else. It just points one more finger at Minnie though. She is one angry, spiteful person.