Thursday, December 11, 2014

anxiety issues

TT's story really does belong to him.

But I also think that his story can be used to help other people.

Until I started reading blogs, I had NO IDEA what mental illness really looked like. It is only because other families shared with brutal honesty that I had a clue of what it means to parent a child from the hurt places. And it is because of that honesty and sharing that I was able to do some things as a foster parent that otherwise might have been impossible. I learned from those stories and it helped me.

That is why I share what I do about my kids.

It's also why my blog is reasonably anonymous. TT doesn't need the whole world knowing about his issues and being able to relate his story directly back to him. I trust the people that I know in real life that read this blog to respect his privacy and I don't "advertise" to most that I even write.

Anyway...I'm going to share what it's been like since TT started the Prozac one week ago for his significant anxiety issues.

First, and I know I've said it before but it's worth repeating, TT doesn't have normal levels of anxiety. TT also doesn't look to most like he suffers from anxiety at all. He will hold it together in public or when he's with friends. But behind closed doors, there are many things that come easily to most kids that are nearly impossible for TT.

It is because of this that I decided all of our OTC methods, if you will, were no longer working well enough.

I have taught TT every calming technique in the book. I'm acutely aware of his sensory needs and he is as well. We also pay crazy close attention to TT's blood sugar levels. Where most kids would be fine eating a "healthy" protein bar and a container of yogurt for breakfast in the morning, TT is most definitely not. He HAS to have food in as close to a natural state as possible and he has to have protein. Processed food spikes his blood sugar and the resulting crash is never pretty!!

But all the measures we have in place to help TT with his anxiety haven't been enough. He can't sleep through the night at home. He also wants (desperately) to stay overnight at friend's houses but he simply can't. He gets too nervous. And any mistake he makes while doing school sends him down the road of horrible frustration and shame. Any new situation spikes a level of anxiety that he can't escape. And really, life shouldn't be that hard for an 11 year old.

One week ago today TT started on Prozac.

It takes 2-3 weeks for the effects of Prozac to really kick in. By this morning though, I put together some changes I've noticed, connected them to the Prozac, and called his psychiatrist.

For the past couple days, TT has not been able to sit still. He has been twisting and turning and rolling all over the furniture and floor during school time. He also seems much more agitated and restless in general. And, sleeping through the night (something he has always struggled with) is more problematic again. (He had been sleeping through the night in his own bed for about two weeks prior to starting the Prozac.) The change in personality started around 2-4 days ago. Looking back, it was gradual at first. But yesterday was perfectly horrid. And today, when I was reading out loud for literature, he started wiggling again. This behavior is so unlike him that I sent a text to my favorite doctor, My Genius Brother.

My Genius Brother told me to call the psych because these "symptoms" weren't going to go away.

Thank God the psych handles stuff like this over the phone. We didn't have to kill another 3.5 hours waiting in her office for a visit. She went ahead and switched his med immediately. Starting tonight, TT will be on Lexapro.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

criminal charges

Sometimes, when I'm avoiding work that needs to be done, I stalk people online. For months now, I've wanted to know what Daisy's biological father is up to. After all, Daisy went home on October 2. Is he in prison? Is he seeing her?

So I stalked him tonight. I found a website that I hadn't stumbled on before. I looked up his criminal case.

Miss Daisy suffers a LIFE SENTENCE because of what he did to her. Granted, she's healing quite well. But she is going to suffer for the rest of her life because he got high and shook her (more than once).

Daisy is significantly visually impaired.
Daisy suffers global developmental delay.
Daisy has a shunt in her brain.
Daisy has a seizure disorder as a result of her traumatic brain injury.

Even if she heals perfectly (which she won't), she has to wrap her brain around the fact that she almost died at the hands of her father.

Well, I found the results of his criminal trial.

The man that nearly killed Miss Daisy has been sentenced to: 7 years probation, 100 hours of community service, and a $1000 fine for a 2nd degree felony. Charges were dismissed on the 1st degree felony.

I'm sick to my stomach.

Because as soon as CPS is done in this case, I'm quite confident that Kori will be back with him instantly and Daisy will have to grow up with her bio dad and bio mom together.

My only solace is the fact that Bio Dad WILL face the ultimate judge.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Welcome to the Roller Coaster

Most of my readers know all about Dude and Dolly. They were my everything. We fostered those cherubs for 27 months of their very young lives.

Their mom dropped out of the case almost immediately.
(And now, 3.5 years later, she's still not involved. At all.)

Dude and Dolly needed permanency and the State wasn't doing much to give it to them. After living with us for two years, we finally hired a lawyer to intervene. 

Lawyers are expensive.

My friends banded around me. One friend started a puzzle fundraiser on her blog. People from all over the world donated money. I was very humbled.

Another friend said, "Hey, I've got an idea. Why don't we write a book?"

A book?!

Yeah, a book.

With no thought toward personal gain, fourteen women poured their hearts into their stories. Several more people took those stories and spent hours editing them and laying out said book.

All the while we continued to foster and adopt more cherubs in our group of mammas.

As you all know, Dude and Dolly didn't get to stay with us. And eventually, I told our lawyer we were done.

But we kept working on the book.

And today, I'm very proud to announce that the book is officially for sale.
It is a collection of the good, the bad and the ugly of foster care. Each story is personal and written in the voice of the mom that lived that story. If you want to know more about the roller coaster that is foster care, this book tells it like it is.

Welcome to the Roller Coaster is available for sale at WelcomeToTheRollerCoaster.blogspot.com. Copies of the paperback are $14.99 plus $3.99 shipping. Orders for the first printing are being taken today, December 8, through Sunday, December 14.

On December 15, our first run will go to the printer. After about a week, we will have all the copies in our hot little hands. At that time, we will start personally filling all the orders. If everything goes right, the first printing of the book should be in people's hands before Christmas.

As time progresses, an Ebook version for the Kindle will be made available. (I'm the graphic artist designing this book though and the Ebook version has taken quite a bit of my time. I'm getting to it. Life is a little bit easier now that I'm not chasing Miss Daisy around anymore.)

Speaking of Miss Daisy...
Her mom sent me a picture yesterday. I teared up almost instantly. Daisy is standing in every picture she sends me and her smile is straight from her heart. Not just any smile. But one that shows Daisy is full of joy in her soul. As much as it pains me to say this, and as much as I still worry sometimes, I think Miss Daisy is probably exactly where she belongs.

I told Kori that we have a gift for Daisy. I asked if we could get together at my place? Her place? Or somewhere neutral?

Kori said absolutely yes! She just needs to look at her schedule to come up with a day that works for her.

This foster care stuff really is a roller coaster. As cheesy as that title first sounded to me when we started putting the book together, it honestly does fit.

We're just a group of foster mammas that thought the proceeds from a book might help two cherubs trapped in the clutches of foster care unnecessarily. Now we know that this book is so much more than that. It tells the stories you don't hear when you sit in your first class of training. These are the stories of real foster care. Maybe you've been fostering for a long time. Reading this book you'll know you're not alone. Maybe friends and family can read the book to better understand what you're going through as a foster parent. Maybe licensing agencies can make it available to open the eyes of brand new foster parents.

Our only advertising is going to be social media. It would mean a lot to me if y'all could share about this book. Welcome to the Roller Coaster has a Facebook page and a blog page. Any help you can give us promoting the book is much appreciated.

Thanks!
~ Cherub Mamma

Saturday, December 6, 2014

I went to another B.A.C.A. meeting

I submitted my fingerprints for FBI processing several months ago. I can't do anything with B.A.C.A. children until my fingerprints have cleared. My State clearance came back right away. And even though I was a licensed foster parent (that had obviously passed Federal background checks), B.A.C.A. requires I pass a Federal check for them.

Well, I found out last night that my first round of fingerprints got rejected. (I was worried that the ink wasn't dark enough the first time around but the gentleman taking my prints said it was fine. Sadly, it wasn't.) Anyway, I had the pleasure of paying another $20 and getting inked again last night at the meeting Mr. Amazing and I went to. Hopefully this second set of prints will process better. I was told that we should know within the next two months or so.

Until that time, all I can do with B.A.C.A. is attend training meetings and go on rides without children. There is a Level One (described below) being done locally next weekend. I'll be able to ride with the group to the meeting point but I won't be allowed to go to the actual Level One with the child. I think I'm going to go though. Becoming a patched member isn't a guarantee. And B.A.C.A. requires that once you are patched that you attend at least one "child event" every single month. It looks good to attend a child event before the background check comes back because it shows you're dedicated to the cause.

Since most people aren't fully aware of B.A.C.A. and how it works, I'm going to describe the process of bringing a child into the organization. Their mission is very defined and how they go about functioning is also defined within an organized series of events that are really very structured.

Things start happening for a child when B.A.C.A. receives a referral. This referral can come from the family/guardian of the child, through CPS or other State or local agencies. However, B.A.C.A. doesn't accept every child that has been referred into the group. The first thing B.A.C.A. does is have an initial contact meeting with the child and family. Around six B.A.C.A. members go to the home to meet with the child and their family/guardians to assess the situation and see why B.A.C.A. has been called.

Most of the time the referrals are legitimate. B.A.C.A. serves to empower children that are frightened. B.A.C.A.'s role is to, by their very presence, help the child overcome their fear so that they will be able to testify in court against their abuser(s). However, sometimes B.A.C.A. will receive a referral from a family member that is looking for vengeance against an abuser or something like that. Retaliation is not the role of B.A.C.A. Members of B.A.C.A. stand to help children and no one else. Cases have to be legitimate. If laws have been broken (by an abuser), B.A.C.A. won't get involved unless the authorities have been notified and the case is being processed in the legal system.

After the initial contact, and after the case has been determined to be legitimate, B.A.C.A. arranges for a Level One ceremony. Members of B.A.C.A. from all over the state will ride in to the ceremony. Primary B.A.C.A. members (2 of them) are assigned directly to the child. The child is given a biker vest and a road name. (No one in B.A.C.A. goes by their "real" name...not even the children.) There are also other parts of the ceremony that can be done differently by each chapter. Sometimes the child is given a stuffed animal or a blanket. Sometimes the child will elect to go on a motorcycle ride themselves. The ceremony lasts roughly an hour. When it's done, the child knows exactly who they can call, at any hour of the day or night, if they are afraid. In fact, the children are often told to test their Primary contact by calling them at 3:00AM to see what happens. B.A.C.A. Primaries are supposed to pick up the phone each and every time their child calls – no matter what.

The B.A.C.A. chapter then works to maintain contact with the child at least two times a month until the child goes to court to testify against their abuser. Most of the time the contact is via the phone. However, when appropriate, the Primaries to the child can meet with them in person and go out for ice cream, or pizza or play at the park. This type of contact is very much led by the child though. The role of B.A.C.A. is not to become a close friend, confidant, or therapist. The role of B.A.C.A. is to empower the child to not be afraid. Anytime the child feels scared and feels the need for the presence of his new B.A.C.A. family, the child may call upon these bikers to go to the child's house and provide the necessary reassurance to feel safe and protected. B.A.C.A. members and supporters also support the children by: providing escorts for them if they feel scared in their neighborhoods; riding by their homes on a regular basis; supporting the children at court and parole hearings; attending their interviews, and; staying with the children if they are alone and frightened. The B.A.C.A. members never go to the child's house alone and never without the knowledge or permission of the parents. Their mission is not to be permanently engaged as the child's power. The mission of B.A.C.A. is to help the children and their families learn how powerful they can be.

I'll describe more about B.A.C.A. in future posts. Feel free to ask any questions that you might have about the group now though. I'm anxious to get my background clearances finished so I can start having contact with the children. It will take at least a full year for me to prove my dedication to B.A.C.A.'s mission before I receive my back patch and become a full member myself. Until that time I'm considered a "supporter". Once fully cleared, I can attend Level One ceremonies and I can go to court to support a child. But until I get my back patch, I cannot be a Primary contact.

I had to smile last night during the training. There are a lot of similarities in the emotions of a foster parent and a B.A.C.A. member. The leader at last night's meeting discussed the role of the Primary contact in great detail. After a child has attended court, verdicts have been made and sentences against abusers carried out, contact with B.A.C.A. is to become less frequent and then eventually stop. Of course the child can initiate contact whenever they want. And if for any reason they are afraid, B.A.C.A. will be there for them immediately. But if B.A.C.A. has done their role correctly, they will have empowered the child and the child will no longer be living in that crippling fog of fear.

The leader at last night's meeting said he misses the kids he has been a Primary to. Sometimes when he's out and about it's all he can do to not stop by and say "hi". But it's not appropriate and he has to be OK with the final goodbye. He looked at the crowd of potential B.A.C.A. members (our chapter here is still forming so there are no full patched members yet) with a look in his eyes that screamed, "You don't understand. You'll have to say goodbye. Goodbyes hurt."

All I could do was smile back. "My heart understands goodbye. I get this."

I really can't wait til I can say "hello" though. I'm missing being a foster parent and I'm anxious to be involved doing something.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Never tell the universe you're ready for things to settle down

I may or may not have had a conversation with the universe wherein I may or may not have told the universe what I thought life should look like now that we've closed our foster home.

The universe hasn't been listening.

Monday morning we went to the library to do school. Sometimes school goes better when we're in public.

It didn't.

We packed up our bags, I checked out two books for the boys but left behind the movie they wanted out of spite.

Sometimes I'm a brat. 
 
Once home neither boy could comprehend anything about the last couple lessons we had gone over in math and neither boy wanted to sit still long enough to let me help them with the concepts.

Fits were thrown.

By everyone.

Including me.

Repairs were made.

Life moved on.

TT picked up a box stuffed under a table behind my desk. It just happened to be the birthday present I sent Dolly back in September. The birthday present that didn't get delivered because her grandma lives in an apartment building and her mail box is very small. All packages get left at the main post office and grandma wouldn't go pick up the gift from me to Dolly. It was returned back to me. TT asked if he could have the gift. TT is sentimental like that. The gift was a small box of Lego's. I decided that TT could have the Lego's because keeping the gift for years wouldn't do anything to prove to those cherubs how much I love them. But every time TT sees the dolphin Lego set he'll remember Dude and Dolly.

I got glitter on my face from the wrapping paper on the gift. I couldn't wipe it off all day long. I swear the glitter just multiplied like a bad STD. So every time I looked in the mirror, I was reminded of the gift that never got delivered.

I was sad.

I also spent the morning calling the psychiatrist office. I called at 9:30 to see if there were any cancellations for today. There weren't. They told me to call back at 10:00. So I did. They told me to call back at 10:30. So I did. Then they said there was a cancellation and TT could come in for an appointment at 9:30 on Tuesday (the only day the doctor takes new patients).

The afternoon sucked about school too. But I don't really remember what happened. We eventually got through math.

I went to bed early last night.

Tuesday started off better. The boys started math early and there were cheers in the living room as both boys instantly figured out how understanding the greatest common factor of a set of numbers will help them when they need to reduce fractions.

We left for the psychiatrist's office at 9:00am.

When we walked into the waiting room it was filled with people. Several of those people were young men. All about the same age as Ricky and Herman. All of them were wearing dark blue sweatsuits and full shackles.

It makes me sad to see teenage boys in handcuffs.

I checked TT in and filled out new patient paperwork. We left to go eat some breakfast. I had been told to expect a LONG wait at the psychiatrist. They said they'd call when we had one person left in front of TT.

After breakfast we went back to the doctor's office. All the boys in shackles were out of the main waiting room. The receptionist told me that "people" were uncomfortable seeing the boys in cuffs so they went ahead and started all their appointments first that way those boys wouldn't be in the waiting room with the other patients.

At 10:45am TT was called back to get his vitals taken. The nursing tech also sat us down to fill out an intake questionnaire. She had a real problem understanding why I wouldn't give her my family's medical history. I told her it was irrelevant to tell her if there is a history of heart disease in my family because I don't share the same genetics as TT.  She didn't understand but eventually gave up.

We were told the doctor would be with us shortly. I didn't let TT play any more video games. We sat in a tiny room filled with old, shabby, mismatched furniture and waited for the doctor.

She finally came in over an hour later.

Five and a half hours from when I left the house this morning, I returned. TT is going to start the medication Prozac. It's commonly prescribed to help with anxiety in young children. We should know in about 3 weeks if it's going to help or not.

The boys cooperated with a little bit more school in the late afternoon.

After supper I told my hubby something my mom said on the phone earlier today. Mr. Amazing didn't respond with great love toward having family pictures done with everyone. He thinks it's impossible to get 19 people to look at the camera and all smile at once. He promises he'll cooperate though, Mom.  :)

Then, out of the blue my phone rang again.

It was Great Grandma P.

New readers probably don't know who Great Grandma P is.

Old readers probably just gasped a little.

GGP called to tell me that her daughter died.

She called just to talk to me. Like a friend. Like a family member.

I told her I was sorry. No parent should have to bury their child.

Even if their child was all the sorts of trouble that her daughter was.

GGP has been in Dallas the past few weeks taking care of her daughter before she passed.

I couldn't let the conversation go without asking about Dude and Dolly.

GGP said she hasn't seen them but she's heard they're doing well.

GGP reports that Mommy C (Dude & Dolly's birth mom) is living in Houston and doesn't have custody of Baby Zippy either. Mommy C has no contact with Dude and Dolly. And GGP says that she won't have anything to do with Mommy C anymore because of the way she's walked away from Dude and Dolly.

I told GGP that if she sees Dude and Dolly before she leaves Dallas, she needs to tell them that I love them.

GGP gave me the name and address of her granddaughter in Dallas. I believe it's where GGP has been staying to care for her daughter that just passed.

GGP said that her granddaughter, Cousin Melissa, has contact with Dude and Dolly because she a daughter the same age as them. She said that Cousin Melissa threw Dolly her last birthday party.

I told GGP how Grandma N wouldn't go to the post office to pick up the present I sent for Dolly's birthday.

GGP says that I can send packages to Cousin Melissa and she'll see that Dude and Dolly get them.

I hung up the phone and cried.

Hard.

Oh yeah, and while I was on the phone, my husband got a call. My father-in-law is back in the hospital. Again.

And my own dad hasn't been well. At all.

But my kids might hear that I love them this week. They might get that whispered in their ears.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I went to my first full B.A.C.A. meeting

I'm on my way to becoming a member of B.A.C.A. (Bikers Against Child Abuse). I'm looking forward to being able to help abused kids from an angle different than foster care.

I'll be honest, I'm no biker. I don't even know how to ride a motorcycle yet. But I'm going to learn. And then I'll be able to ride with Mr. Amazing. In the meantime, I'm eligible to be a member of B.A.C.A. because I "have access to a motorcycle".

It takes at least a full year from expressing interesting in B.A.C.A. to the time you receive your back patch and can have a relationship with a child directly. For now I can attend meetings. And after my background checks (both State and Federal) come back, I can attend child centered events - like the ceremony called a "Level One" when a child is welcomed into the B.A.C.A. club. (And yes, I have to go through all the background checks all over again.) I submitted my fingerprints about two months ago so I should have Federal clearance soon.

For those of you unfamiliar with B.A.C.A., I thought I'd post their Mission Statement today:
Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.) exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children. We exist as a body of bikers to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. We stand ready to lend support to our wounded friends by involving them with an established, united organization. We work in conjunction with local and state officials who are already in place to protect children. We desire to send a clear message to all involved with the abused child that this child is part of our organization, and that we are prepared to lend our physical and emotional support to them by affiliation, and our physical presence. We stand at the ready to shield these children from further abuse. We do not condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner, however, if circumstances arise that we are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, we stand ready to be that obstacle.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Reader question...RE: Mr. Amazing's employment and our future in foster care

I'm still answering questions from grkanga:

When will your Mr. Amazing know if he will be transferring job locations? And, how does that work ~ is it like military where he would have an idea of where he might go and have preferences he can express or is it just arbitrary and out of the blue?

Will you, assuming new location, look at fostering again or just CASA.
My husband is employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He's currently the assistant manager at a National Wildlife Refuge on the border of Mexico. We will know when he will transfer job locations because he has to apply for, interview for, and be hired for any new job. He has full control over what jobs he applies for and where they are located. He is, however, limited to what pay grade he can apply for. He's currently a GS9.

There aren't a lot of jobs open right now. They seem to come in waves as Refuges across the country retire people, promote people and hire new staff to fill the openings. And sometimes when jobs are posted, the Refuge doing the hiring already knows who they are going to hire. (They post the job for legal purposes but don't intend on actually looking at the other applicants.)

My dream job for Mr. Amazing would put me right back in Iowa with him running the Refuge in my home town. However, that position is a GS13 so he's going to have to wait awhile before he's eligible to even apply for that position should it ever become available.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service typically doesn't promote you where you are currently employed. Well...that's not exactly right. When Mr. Amazing was applying for his current position, he was a GS6. The position here in Texas is considered a GS5-7-9. He was hired on as a GS7. After Mr. Amazing was here one year he was eligible for his promotion to GS9. But he can't be promoted any higher than that. So, in order for him to advance, we will have to move. He's currently looking at GS9-11 jobs or GS11-12 jobs. Those are the only ones he's eligible for.

We have no idea where the next job will take us. We have no idea if we'll be able to do foster care or not. There are too many variables. Some jobs are too remote and would make doing foster care incredibly difficult. Some jobs require that you live on the Refuge and our home might not be large enough.

But caring for children from the hurt places is very important to us. I'm positive we will continue to do something. I just don't know what it will be. We know that right now we have to take a break from actual foster care. We never wanted Mr. Amazing to apply for any new jobs when we had placements because we always made a commitment to see each placement all the way through. (A job opened up in Louisiana a couple months ago that Mr. Amazing is wishing he would have applied for. But because of Miss Daisy, he passed on the opportunity.) We can't take kids in now because we can't commit to seeing their cases all the way through and we don't want to disrupt placements unnecessarily.

I am not opposed to doing foster care again. I would definitely consider becoming a CASA. And we are both on our way to becoming patched members of B.A.C.A. (Bikers Against Child Abuse). B.A.C.A has chapters in almost every state in the country so it's likely we could stay involved with B.A.C.A no matter where we live. We will continue to leave this part of our lives open for God to move in. I'm sure He'll tell us what He wants us to do next. (He always has before!)

For now, I'm enjoying helping other foster mamma friends. I went to Mississippi to help out a friend of mine last month. And later on this week (or whenever she gets approval from the decision makers over her cherubs), my friend J-Mamma is going to come stay with us for about a month. J-Mamma's husband is employed by the military and was deployed today. She's busy at home caring for her Little J, who suffered abusive head trauma similarly to Miss Daisy, and also Little J's sister, Jazz, who was born addicted. That's a LOT to parent alone. J-Mamma is going to stay with us and let us help her with the babies so she doesn't have to be alone.

God will keep me busy as long as I listen to Him I'm sure.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Reader question...RE: Homeschool - PART THREE

In a comment on one of my other posts, girlfrog2003 said this:
We are also new foster parents and received our first placement about one month into school (a sweet newborn baby girl). How do you juggle having any kind of routine for school and all of the foster care stuff??? My daughter is autistic with a healthy dose of anxiety (and it's been amazing how much of that has gone away and how much more "focus" she has now) and she does so much better with a routine, but routine has been such a foreign concept the last few weeks. Constant requests for meetings appointments tomorrow, and then oh we cancelled it, and I need this paper today, etc. I suppose it doesn't help that due to my daughters disabilities I can't just put something in front of her and let her work on her own. I really have to sit down and work with her. Any wisdom or tips are so much appreciated.
Please don't think that this is going to turn into a blog all about our homeschool. It's not. But I do love answering reader questions so I will continue with this theme as long as people want to know more. I also want to be sure to clarify that this is OUR homeschool and not how I think homeschool should look in general. This is what works for our family.

Anyway, back to the question...how do I juggle the crazy routine of foster care and homeschool?

Sigh.

That's a hard one!!

My answer probably isn't going to help you much, girlfrog2003. It's really lame. But all I can really tell you is do school when you can.

When Daisy was with us, her therapy sessions made routine perfectly impossible. We really did just have to "do school" whenever the house was free from extra human beings and when the baby was settled enough for me to sit with my boys. Because like you, girlfrog2003, I have to sit with my boys most of the time too. Whenever I give them work to do and then go about my own business there is sure to be unnecessary competition and outright fighting along with lots of off topic conversation and wandering in general. Bart can drag a math worksheet out over two hours when he's having a bad day.

I know what works best for my boys though so we've always had a routine - of sorts - that plays to their strengths. I try to get started pretty early in the morning. (Their attention spans get shorter as the day gets longer.) I do "difficult" stuff first and I rarely do two "difficult" subjects in a row. (For example, we never learn a new skill in math and then follow it with a writing lesson.) I make sure to keep blood sugars even all day long with frequent snacking for TT. (It keeps his anxiety at bay.) And I try to get them to do something physical (where they raise their heart rate) after lunch before we sit down to work in the afternoon.

One thing that helped my boys, because due to foster care in our lives I couldn't ever put together a "set" schedule, was to write all the subjects/activities for the day up on a large dry erase board mounted on the wall where we do school. The boys know that their free time comes when the whole board has been erased. They know we don't necessarily work in the order of everything on the board - but that it does all have to get done. I usually color code things. One color for school, one color for foster care appointments, and one color for chores.

Everyone does homeschool just a little bit different. I'm sure you'll get into the swing of things eventually, girlfrog2003. It does take quite awhile though to switch from brick and mortar school to an effective homeschool. I've read that some people say to plan on one month of homeschool for every year of brick and mortar the child had done before things start to work well at home. And for some families it takes longer than that. If I'm being honest, I'd say it took us almost 1.5 years. But...one of those years was still technically public school as TT had A LOT of demands on him to complete all the work the online charter school required. Also, the boys and I really did have a lot of grief to work though when Dude and Dolly left.

I know quite a few of my readers homeschool. I don't personally read any homeschool blogs so I don't have any good links myself. If any other readers want to help girlfrog2003 out with more scheduling tips or other pointers for homeschooling special needs, please comment with advice or links to blogs.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Reader question...RE: homeschool - PART TWO

I explained our journey toward homeschooling in a post yesterday. I still haven't answered all of grkanga's questions though.
Here or on FBk please write about the reasons why YOU would or would not home school a child. NOT specific to your children but generically. Does the local school district available make a difference? What was your school background? What do YOU most like about home schooling your children and what have you found is harder than you expected?
My first post was really all about MY kids specifically. I had to get that out of the way first. Generically it's hard for me to answer questions about why or why not kids should (or shouldn't) be homeschooled. Doing school at home is radically different than traditional public school. It really is very personal.

I think the local school district definitely played in to things for me the most. Like I said yesterday, if all of the teachers we met had been like the one TT and Bart had for first grade, they'd probably still be in brick and mortar school. She is an amazing teacher who makes the educational process personal for each kid. When I told her that TT has severe anxiety and that wearing gloves helps him when he's on sensory overload, the gloves were welcome in her classroom. When it became apparent that Bart needed extra work to stay busy, and that it wasn't necessary for him to fully participate in all the classroom activities (because he was more advanced), she accommodated him fully! Instead of sitting through calendar time, he was allowed to stay at his desk and write.

But other than our experience with that one single teacher, things haven't been very positive. I was blown away by how far behind TT was - despite receiving terrific grades in K-2. And I knew that Bart was just going to keep getting in more and more trouble at school because of the unrealistic expectations for boys that need to move during the school day. I'm not opposed to ADHD medication in any way. But I didn't want to immediately drug my kid when I knew a different learning environment would probably help more.

I am homeschooling my kids largely because I want my kids to have a passion for learning. There are so many things that have changed since No Child Left Behind was made law. Teachers, at least the ones I've gotten to know personally, tell me that they are so limited to what and how they can teach. Everything is dictated for them. It is difficult to treat each student or class personally. And those tests...those blasted tests. I knew they would destroy TT due to his anxiety.

Homeschooling has really been a journey for us. That first year with TT and Bart was anything but easy. The fighting was daily and I struggled so much. I wanted school at home to look like brick and mortar. The more I let go of those expectations, the easier things got.

I have read that homeschool moms need to be allowed to have a "grace" week...or month...or in our case - year. I let go of the subjects that caused the extreme fighting. Literally - just let go of them. I worked hard on relationships. And I did everything in my power to decrease TT's anxiety toward school. Children just can't learn when they are in a state of high anxiety. The brain prevents it. When you're stuck in fight/flight/freeze you simply can't transfer knowledge from short term to long term memory. I stopped all testing. I said things over and over to remind TT (and Bart) that my goal for school was for them to get the knowledge in their brains. We did a lot of oral work because writing seemed to bother both of them. And spelling...I stopped that altogether.

We did do math. But I got a different curriculum - one that didn't look like or function like public school curriculum. For what it's worth, I've been incredibly pleased with Math-U-See. We managed to do two year's worth of math last year which totally got TT caught up to what kids his age are doing in public school. And because I slowed things down and personalized how we did math, his anxiety dropped away. He can do word problems now without completely freezing and freaking out. He understands things so much better.

Things this year are going so much smoother than last year. It's complicated to describe really. I can't exactly say why things are better. There are so many possible reasons. But, things are better.

I added more work that looks like curriculum and the boys don't freak out when the books get cracked open. That appeases the teacher in me. Part of me still wants my kids to know and be able to do everything the public schools say they should be able to do. But daily I struggle with all that really is expected in a traditional brick and mortar school. It's unrealistic to expect kids to sit in their desks and regurgitate information all day long without being allowed to move and talk. Learning should come alive.

I'll be honest, I never retained a single bit of American history as a kid. Not from what I learned in elementary or high school. It went in one ear and out the other. I puked the names and dates down on paper and got almost straight A's. But the knowledge didn't stick.

We're watching a simple series I bought on Amazon this year called Liberty's Kids. I've checked out books from the library to supplement the content in the series. And now, for the first time ever, I actually know and will probably retain information about my country's forming history.

The kids dictate some of the things they want to learn and I come up with "curriculum" and/or activities to supplement. We read the book The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler last year and then went to visit the art museum in our town last year. Bart announced that we should have donuts on the first day of school this year and that morphed into an entire "unit" (if you will) of learning about donuts. They read about the history of donuts. They made their own homemade donuts. We visited local bakeries and even got a full backstage tour of a Shipley Donuts location. (The owner had homeschooled his children and took time out of a morning to give my boys a hands-on tour of everything.)

Nothing about homeschooling has really been easy. It took a long time to work out the relationships between mom/teacher/son/student. Bart pushed a LOT. He didn't want to obey. I have threatened to send him back to brick and mortar more times than I can count!!!

I don't feel like I identify with most of the other homeschooling families that we've met either. I'm much too liberal for the homeschool co-op we joined last year. Well...maybe liberal isn't exactly the right word. But I'm definitely much more "free range" than any other homeschool family that I've met locally. So we really do this homeschool thing alone. I'm grateful I've got two boys that are close in age though. I think that makes it easier.

Overall, I really do adore homeschooling. I love the flexibility. I love how personal it can be. When my boys understand a math concept, we move on. There's no principal telling me that they have to do three more worksheets as homework and they have to take a pre-test and a final test to prove that they know how to do long division. When they get a concept, we move on.

And my boys have learned things that aren't taught in public school. Granted, these things can all be done in the evenings and weekends with public schooled kids. I'm not saying my kids know more than others!!! But they are comfortable with stuff that their peers, at least the ones in our neighborhood, don't do. Both Bart and TT know how to light the grill and cook a chicken breast from start to finish. Both boys understand consumer math and know how to grocery shop effectively. They can follow a recipe to make a batch of cookies or mix up something for dinner. Those types of skills are going to help my boys when they graduate and do "life" on their own.

This post is crazy long and I don't feel like I've said much. We're still going 'round and 'round with this homeschool journey. Odds are we won't be homeschooling next year. I've got the boys on a waiting list for a small charter school. And if Mr. Amazing gets the opportunity to move us out of Texas because of his job, I will seriously consider public school again wherever we end up. But I'm flexible enough to know that my boys might stay in homeschool through high school too. I want them to receive the best education possible. And if I feel that's in my home, that's where they will go to school.

But I also have to take TT's passions into consideration. And TT absolutely loves football. He lives and breathes football. I let him play flag football for the first time last year and he became totally hooked. Add to that...the kid is pretty good too. He wants to play in the NFL. Yeah...I know that's a pipe dream. But who am I to deny that to my kid?! So...in order for him to play in the NFL he needs to play in college. In order for him to play in college he needs to play in high school. In order for him to play in high school he needs to play in middle school. And next year, TT is in 6th grade. Texas doesn't allow kids to be homeschooled and to participate in public school activities. So, if TT wants to play ball, he's got to go back to public school. I've got Bart and TT on a waiting list at a small charter school yet this year. They'll go if spots open up. I want them to get used to what formal school feels like again before TT gets thrown to the wolves in middle school. And if middle school is too much for TT, he'll come back home. But I have to let him try.

Again, this post is a bunch of rambling but it does sort of explain why we're doing what we're doing. If anyone has questions or comments feel free to fire away. I think homeschool has benefited my kids tremendously. TT's anxiety is diminished on a day-to-day basis and Bart can move at a speed that works for him without being subjected to tons of repetition. But it's fluid and our needs might change. I take every school year and evaluate what will be best for that year. I'm not stuck that one way is the only way.

I'll leave you with a video of TT playing quarterback (and running for a touchdown). Just because it makes me smile....

video




Thursday, October 30, 2014

Reader question...RE: homeschool - PART ONE

A reader, grkanga, commented on my last post with some questions she'd like answered.
Here or on FBk please write about the reasons why YOU would or would not home school a child. NOT specific to your children but generically. Does the local school district available make a difference? What was your school background? What do YOU most like about home schooling your children and what have you found is harder than you expected?
I've never really written much about our homeschool adventures. This will probably be a long post because we've wound round and round to get where we are today. But I can walk you through our journey and how we ended up where we are now.

Never in a million years did I ever think I would homeschool. I am from a long line of teachers. I have always supported the public school system. In fact, during the time I did attend college (I didn't graduate due to...um...life) I was an education major. I was a theatre major with a minor in English and planned on teaching high school. Herman started right up in a brick and mortar without thought to any other options.

TT joined our family when Herman was in first grade. God put a wonderful (WONDERFUL) family into our lives immediately after that beautiful surprise. The mom said that she didn't run a day care but that she would love to be the babysitter for our new bundle of joy. She had a boy at home the same age as Herman and an older daughter. She homeschooled them. Their whole family loved on TT while I worked outside the home and Mr. Amazing finished his college education. It was the first time I had ever met anyone that homeschooled their children. They planted the first seed that homeschooling could even be an option.

Fast forward to fifth grade for Herman. By now I was a work-at-home mom doing freelance graphic arts (what I still do today). Herman had a lot of problems at school. There were no academic issues. Herman is incredibly bright!! But there were a lot of social problems. Every year seemed to be worse than the year before. I was constantly being called by the school.

Most of the problems in fifth grade were issues with a bully. One day, in the fall of that year, Herman was walking home from school and the bully physically attacked him. It was serious enough that the school let us know we could press charges. Mr. Amazing and I talked it over and decided that pressing charges was too severe for a fifth grade student. We hoped that the meeting with the police officer was enough of a deterrent for future bullying.

We were wrong. Very wrong.

It just got worse and worse.

I met with Herman's two teachers toward the end of the year and asked them if it was as bad as I thought it was. Sadly, they said "yes". The school had done a lot. They had moved the offending child out of Herman's class. They had put measures into place to try and protect Herman. But all the bullying had gone somewhat underground and the things the other classmates were being talked in to doing were verbal and discrete. The school couldn't stop it. With the full blessing of Herman's teachers, I pulled Herman home and we did homeschool for the last 10 weeks of school. His teachers literally gave me a bunch of books and told me what Herman needed to work on for the rest of the year. They felt bad. I even got an apology from the Vice Principal.

I never really did feel like a homeschooling mom though. Herman and I spent a lot of time butting heads. Finding that balance of mom/teacher/son/student doesn't happen quickly when everyone is used to brick and mortar school. We moved out of that town before Herman started sixth grade - so back to public school he went.

Then we moved to the area of Texas we live in now. Without rambling on and on, I'll simply state that yes, it was largely because of the school district that we are now homeschooling all the kids.

I'm going to focus on mainly TT and Bart because they have gone through the most transformation. But I did have Herman in an online school for almost three full years of highschool. He started off in the brick and mortar middle school here for 7th and 8th grade and I had a LOT of problems with the offerings of the public school. If anyone wants to know about that experience I can put it in another post. (This one is getting quite long already.)

Both of my younger cherubs started off in brick and mortar schools down here just like Herman. I first put them in a very small charter school. I was incredibly overwhelmed when I went to the traditional public elementary school closest to our home. I knew that TT's anxiety would be completely out of check there. I couldn't start him in kindergarten in such a huge school with so many people speaking Spanish. The tiny little charter school seemed like a better option. TT started kindergarten and I put Bart in 1/2 day preschool there.

It wasn't all that I had hoped it would be though. TT went through four different kindergarten teachers over the course of the year. FOUR teachers!!! They kept quitting. The school was also very tiny and often mixed different grades together. When TT's fourth teacher quit with 2-3 weeks left to go in the year I pulled the boys out early. It seemed pointless to send him through the anxiety nightmare of getting to know a new teacher when there were only a couple weeks left.

Because I didn't want TT and Bart to be in the same classroom, and the little charter school couldn't promise me that wouldn't happen, I enrolled the boys in the traditional brick and mortar school the following fall. Things continued to go downhill. TT's anxiety was off the charts and we dealt with all sorts of behaviors at home. Bart's ADHD seemed more and more prevalent too. They stayed in the brick and mortar for two years. I simply adored the teacher both boys had in 1st grade. If all the teachers had been like her, we'd still be doing public school. But the school itself had too many policies that I took issue with. And I saw the joy of learning being sucked right out of my boys. Add in the fact that standardized testing starts in third grade and I knew we had to do something for TT. There was no way he could stay in the traditional brick and mortar school and manage his anxiety. The tests alone would kill him.

So I tried something else.

For 3rd grade, I enrolled TT in an online public charter school. The school didn't offer anything for students under 3rd grade so I bought A Beka 2nd grade in a box for Bart. It was our first year of schooling at home.

I started seeing all sorts of "holes" in TT's education. He struggled with reading pretty bad. He showed a lot of signs of dyslexia. I worked with the online school and the official teacher of his class. They explained the special education process. We decided to finish off third grade and work on some skills over the summer to try and help him catch up. TT failed all his standardized tests for third grade. I downplayed it as much as possible but we were all concerned.

Fourth grade started and I put TT in the online public school again. (Texas law requires that students be enrolled in a public brick and mortar the semester prior to starting in an online school. Bart didn't qualify, so I did a different curriculum for him.) I started the special education process but TT tested just high enough within grade level that there were few modifications that the school was going to be able to offer him. After spending almost an hour on the phone with his teacher I decided to pull TT from public school altogether and move to a more traditional homeschool education completely. His teacher agreed with me that a more flexible learning environment would be better for TT.

To add to all of this...our cherubs, Dude and Dolly, had just left our home forever. We were up to our eyeballs in tremendous grief. I wanted to rally the troupes and reconnect as a family. I knew we'd never be able to keep up with the incredibly rigorous curriculum of the online school, manage TT's dyslexia symptoms and anxiety and deal with Bart's ADHD. Traditional homeschool it was.

I bought a completely different math curriculum. I used bits and pieces of the consumable curriculum that we didn't have to send back to the online school. The year prior Bart had completed all of his 2nd grade curriculum and most of TT's online stuff. It made sense to just have the boys do the same work even though they're a year apart.

And that brings us almost to where we are at now. I take a traditional homeschool approach with a whole lot of unschooling thrown in for good measure. I'll write more about what school looks like for us now and why I do things the way I do in my next post.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Training is needed

Most children that come in to Care require extra help. Most children that come in to Care have some sort of a special need. I've personally dealt with physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy (for several of my cherubs), counseling (talk or play therapy) and in Daisy's case, vision therapy. Other children need special education accommodations. This is because children from the hurt places have rarely had a healthy childhood with all the emotional and educational experiences necessary for healthy development.

I have decided that a huge training deficiency is a lack of understanding, amongst the decision makers, about how all these special needs can be met.

When Daisy left, I typed up three very detailed documents for CPS to use. I even cc'd a copy of each one to Kori. The first was a list that included every single specialist, doctor, and therapist that Daisy was seeing. I had names, addresses, phone numbers and emails for everyone. The second document was a general medical history. I knew Kori wouldn't know off the top of her head when different procedures had happened so I listed everything out with dates. She needs to be able to tell future doctors when Daisy had her last EEG, for example. The third document was a detailed list of all of Daisy's future medical needs. I spelled out all her upcoming medical appointments and several things that CPS needed to follow up on. One paragraph of that paper said this:
Daisy needs to be receiving vision impairment services through the public school system. As of now, Daisy has had the initial appointment and the full vision test. She does qualify for both VI services and Mobility/Orientation services. The next step in this process is for (my school district) to schedule the ARD meeting. The paperwork is going to have to be transferred to (the school district Kori resides in). ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) can help with this but someone is going to have to make sure the ball gets rolling. Daisy desperately needs the vision therapy. The longer she goes without, the more her vision can be stunted.
I just got a message from Martin, Daisy's (old) CPS worker. He said that the new supervisor in Daisy's case needed clarification on that above statement as Daisy is not of school age yet.

I'm sorry - but CPS staff members should have a basic idea of how special education works! I can promise you that Daisy is not the only child under 3 that is in the public school special education system. I have run in to it time and time again. The decision makers in these cases have no idea how to go about getting services for the kids. And since many, many foster parents aren't trained on this either, I'm betting way too many foster kids just simply don't receive services. (I received NO training on special services prior - or after - becoming a foster parent. Everything I know I've learned through direct personal experience.)

That just kills me!

Because really - what needs to be explained in that paragraph up there? I said exactly where Daisy is at in the process and what needs to happen next. They can either call ECI or the appropriate school district. But no...they needed to contact me to have me explain that children under school age, even infants, can be a part of the special education process. What did they think I meant? Did they think I just made all that up?!

My biggest fear is that all of Daisy's early interventions will just stop. I know that I had to learn the hard way about absolutely everything! My agency is unaware of the processes to receive therapies. And now it's perfectly clear that CPS is as well. And since I feel that Kori truly doesn't believe her daughter needs all these therapies, Kori won't do the hard work of staying on top of things to make sure they happen. What motivation is she going to have to keep calling people if she doesn't think Daisy needs them anyway?!

Sometimes it's really hard to let go. I've got no control over any of this now. In fact, Martin just told me that the State is NOT the medical consentor in this case. They said they'd do that in court, but the paperwork says otherwise. Kori is free to decide, or not decide, anything at this point in time. I was very disappointed to hear that. No one is going to accompany Kori to any of the medical appointments.

I fear for Daisy's future.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I just saw Daisy

Earlier this week Kori invited me to meet with her and Daisy at a local fall festival. It was a very neutral setting and one that made sense without being too awkward, so I said yes.

If I'm being totally honest, I'd tell you I really didn't want to go.

I knew if I wanted to maintain connection at all though, I needed to agree to this and meet with them. Otherwise I might not get another chance.

I want to give y'all a play-by-play. I want to point out all the ways that Daisy is being cared for differently from when she lived with me. But that's not fair. So I'll say this, it is evident that Daisy is very loved and that Daisy's current needs are all being met.

Daisy is attached to her mother in a healthy way. There was live music at the event and it was obvious that Daisy was overstimulated (and possibly confused/scared/upset) by the unknown of where she was. The music was very, very loud and Daisy couldn't tell where she was or who the people around her were. When I went to pick her up, she became instantly upset and wanted to go back to Kori immediately.

This hurt my heart.

But in reality, it's an incredibly good thing. Daisy wants to receive comfort from her mom. That is healthy attachment. And that is very, very good! I'm pretty sure Daisy didn't know it was me and just wanted to go back to the familiar.

TT and Bart came with me. I bought them some "tickets" and they ran around the festival winning a whole pile of crappy junk toys. They tried getting Daisy's attention multiple times and Bart tried holding her too. Daisy just wanted to stay in her stroller though and basically interact only with her mom. It hurt TT and Bart's feelings, but they handled it amazingly well. We processed things when we left. They too recognized how good it was to see Daisy happy with her mom. As much as we wanted Daisy to come to us, knowing she's comfortable with her mom is reassuring in the long run. It's better than thinking that Daisy has been caught up in anguish over losing us in her life.

We stayed an hour. Kori and I only had so much small talk that we could make. And since Daisy didn't want to have anything to do with me, I could only stomach sitting there doing nothing for so long. As I got ready to leave Kori asked if I wanted a picture of me with Daisy. I said yes. This picture is probably too revealing, but I'm not going to sweat it. I got to see Miss Daisy again. Miss Daisy is doing well. And for that, I am grateful.

Monday, October 6, 2014

But what about MY kids?

While I was outside the courtroom prior to Daisy's hearing last week I heard something from the original social worker that made my skin crawl. She was talking about the family that cared for Daisy for the first six weeks she was in Care prior to coming to us.

I don't want to bash on these people. I think they were doing the best they could with what they thought foster care was. Obviously though, their training failed them miserably!

The caseworker said that while trying to hash out when visits were going to take place between Daisy and her mom, the original foster family was obviously opposed to participating in visits in any way shape or form. They were placing very tight restraints on their schedule and limiting when they would be willing to transport to visits. Then one of the foster parents said something along the lines of this, "Who will be there to get Daisy out of the car?"

The social worker had no idea what she meant and pressed for more information.

"Who will be there to get Daisy out of the car at the CPS office? I mean, I'm going to have to have my biological kids with me and I can't expose them to that."

I almost threw up a little.

No, fostering hasn't been easy for me. And no, it most certainly hasn't been easy for my kids either. But I don't regret any of it.

A blog I stumbled across today sums it up just about perfectly. I encourage you to read these words. I'm thankful for all that my children learned by opening up our home to foster care.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Community Property

There is one aspect of foster care that tends to make me angry. Not just frustrated...but downright angry. And that is when casual people you meet treat foster kids like they are community property. There are lots of little ways people devalue foster kids. But the biggest one, the one that makes me angry, is when ANYONE says anything along the lines of, "Oh my, they're so cute. I just want to take them home with me."

Numerous strangers said things along those lines to me about Dude & Dolly. And yes, I even had people say it to me about Daisy. Now...once the foster kid is an almost grown man-child, people don't pipe up with wanting to get involved like that. But cute little foster kids - people think it's OK to offer up their home.

This is wrong.

Any child in foster care is living in a limbo from Hell! They know they don't have permanency even if they can't speak. Tiny infants (like my TT when I brought him home) know that they aren't with that woman they were inside for 9 months. The voices don't sound the same. The sounds of the home aren't the same. The smells aren't the same. The rhythm of the way the new mom walks isn't the same. They know!

And big kids know too.  Kids that hear "someone else wants them" worry that maybe they will have to move again. No kid needs to have that concern in their life. And don't get me started on what a phrase like "I wish they could come home with me" does to an attachment challenged child!

It's a hurtful phrase to the foster parents too. They are the ones that sacrificed their "normal" life to voluntarily let all sorts of decision makers in. They are constantly reminded that they, as parents, are less than. Quite often foster parents are barely treated better than babysitters by the decision makers in the case. We don't have much of a say in court and we are limited by a million rules to making real decisions in a child's life. The last thing we foster parents need to hear is that someone else would gladly take that child for us. Because the person volunteering their home has no clue what it takes to be a foster parent and in one fell swoop they just devalued all the extra sacrifice. Fostering is NOT so simple as to just take a kid in to your home.

The other place I notice foster kids almost instantly becoming community property is at the doctor's office. It's even worse at the hospital.

I'm not exactly sure how to spell out the exact ways I've seen it and felt it. Because sometimes it is just a feeling. It's like the doctors and nurses take a level of control over the child and honestly think that you, the foster parent, don't care because "they're just a foster child". I had nurses be so surprised that I stayed by both Pumpkin's and Daisy's said the entire time they were hospitalized. Granted, my agency requires it. But still - I could have had social workers from my agency fill in. I chose not to. I stayed by their side because it was important to me AND because it was important to them. My kids needed ME.

I also noticed that community property issue when the doctors offered up so little information about health of my child. It was almost like they had an attitude of, "We've got this under control. You're just the foster parent anyway. We don't have to tell you anything." I never did get to see a copy of Daisy's MRI despite asking the neurosurgeon and the neurologist.

I have a friend that is deep in the trenches right now with a very sick foster baby. Her little girl was born addicted to drugs in a bad way and also has a serious heart condition. She is one sick baby and the prognosis over her future is grim. It is unlikely that this baby will ever have a "normal" life. She is going to fight severe special needs forever.

My friend has two forever kids and one other foster child. The hospital she has to be at if she wants to be with her baby isn't right next door to her house. The hospital stay has been exhausting to her on so many levels. She is stretched thinner than thin.

But still, she got added to a mailing list (I assume from her church) asking her to sign up to make meals and provide childcare for someone's biological child that is ill. Almost NO ONE has stepped up to help her. In fact, when she worried about how she had to leave the hospital because no one was available to watch her other kids while dad was at work, she had someone tell her that it doesn't matter...the baby doesn't know the difference.

No one would tell a biological parent that their child doesn't need them when they are sick and hospitalized. No one.

Don't tell that to a foster parent either. If anything, our foster kids need us even more because absolutely everything in their lives is such a mess.

The other concern with this super sick foster baby is how the medical professionals are treating the baby. She was admitted because she had a cold. Since coming back to the hospital, she has been subjected to so many unnecessary tests and treatments. She is back on methadone despite having been completely weaned off of it for awhile. And the foster parents that are fighting so hard for this baby have had no say in any of her treatment. (Both parents have medical backgrounds too so they do know what they're fighting for.) To the foster mom in question, it has felt like the hospital took over fully and isn't involving the foster parents because that baby is community property.

Another friend drove over three hours across the state to the hospital to pick up her newborn foster daughter (a kinship placement even). The doctors in this case decided to keep the baby admitted a bit longer. CPS was there but the hospital social worker decided to trump everyone and not even let the new foster mom visit her brand new baby. Wouldn't even let the foster mom SEE the baby! And this foster mom is on track to adopt this baby (she has her older brother already).

Could you imagine being told by a hospital that you can't even see your baby? Especially since CPS, the legal guardian in the case, was there saying you most certainly could?! Still...the hospital won and my friend had to turn around and drive home.

Stories like this break my heart.

Those two babies I talked about above are currently in the hospital as I'm writing this. I am asking for prayers for these two sweet babies and their foster families that are fighting so hard to be treated properly. Health, healing and a quick transition home to where they are safe and loved is needed for these babies. Thank you for your prayers.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Comfort from a stranger

During the week between the pretrial (Sept. 24) and the final hearing (Oct. 2), I worked through a lot of big feelings. I knew that we were going to be doing a lot of those "lasts" and I was sad. I had really enjoyed having a baby in the house. (Due to life, it's unlikely I'll have a baby around again until I'm a grandma. And that had better not happen for a long time!)
One of the things I did was wear Daisy a lot. She always seemed to calm down in the carrier. I know she liked the physical contact and movement. (I couldn't wear her and sit at the computer to work. I had to be moving.)

Often times, after supper, I would strap her on and clean up the kitchen. I love to listen to oldies so I'd play Elvis really loud and dance while I cleaned. She LOVED this. In fact, as soon as "All Shook Up" would come on, she'd start bouncing and shaking her leg like she was dancing. It was almost like she was telling me, "Come on mamma...it's time to dance!"

The day after the pretrial, I had Herman take a video of us dancing together. I knew it was another one of those "lasts" that I was going to miss. I posted the video in one of the Facebook support groups I'm in online. I briefly told the story of Daisy and shared my grief over knowing our time together was short.

One of the women in that group just happens to have a husband that works for CPS. She's also an adoptive mamma. She said my story really touched her heart. Up until this night, we weren't personally "friends" - we were just in the group together. She "friended" me and sent me a private message that night. She showed me a picture of a necklace and asked if she could send it to me.
I was so touched. I gave her my address.

It's hard to find people in real life that understand this fostering journey. I've got a few friends where I live that get it. But my strongest supporters are moms that I've met online that are walking a similar journey.

The next week seemed to fly by. I didn't know if the necklace had really been mailed or when it might come.

Then October 2nd came. I think it was the only court date I've ever had where I didn't spend hours the week before stressing about what I was going to wear. I decided on a simple outfit of capris and a lightweight sweater. I decided to wear an ankle bracelet that I had made myself many years ago. I figured I could look at it during court and think fondly of what it was like when I had free time to explore hobbies like jewelry making - and think about what new hobbies I might take up after Daisy leaves. I put a pretty bracelet around my wrist that was made of different beads that my grandmother had in her costume jewelry collection. When she passed away my aunt had all her costume jewelry taken apart and put back together into custom bracelets for all the girls in the family. My grandma was a foster mom many, many, many years ago and I was reminded of her love of children from the hurt places.

I dressed Daisy in a simple outfit and we got ready to go.

Then Miss Daisy left a present in her diaper that rivaled all the gifts the child had ever given me. I had to stop everything and change her clothes from top to bottom (including the shoes - ugh).

OK. Deep breath. Now I was ready to walk out the door to go to court.

The mail had come during all that fiasco and I looked in the box before I got in my car. There, right on top, was an envelope from my new Facebook friend.

I ran inside, opened the envelope and wrapped that symbol of support around my neck.

And off to court we went.
My new friend does sell these necklaces. I've already had people on Facebook ask me if I could post a link to where I got it. Even though I rarely promote things here, I'm thrilled to be able to link to her little store. Go check out Sunflower Farms and Shop and show Lindsay some love.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The trial that didn't happen

Let me start out by saying - I am OK. This is NOTHING like when we lost Dude and Dolly. I cannot even begin to compare the two experiences. I cried a lot yesterday. But today...today I have been OK. I don't think the grief is going to overwhelm me at all. Yes, I'm sad. But I have known all along that this was the most likely outcome. If anything, making the comparisons in my mind between this experience and losing Dude and Dolly last year at this time is what's probably been the hardest for me. Not only am I OK, but my husband and children are all OK too. Thank you for lifting our family in prayer. It really makes this so much easier to bear. Just knowing that I've got hundreds of people praying for my family all over the world brings a comfort like no other.

Yesterday was difficult. Big feelings were all over the house. TT's anxiety was off the charts and Bart's ADHD had him literally bouncing off the walls. That's never a good mix. When I get dysregulated I need less sensory input. Put me somewhere quiet and preferably alone. Let me connect in person or online with my community. But don't touch me. Don't make too much noise. And just let me be.

When my youngest cherubs are dysregulated they sensory seek. They get physical. They fight with each other. They bounce all over the house. They make so much noise. (Oh do they make noise. Repetitive sounds. Nonsense sounds. So many annoying sounds.)

And then the baby was fussy. She wanted to be held. When I wasn't giving her 100% of my attention she was crying.

Yesterday was rough.

But today was so much easier. Maybe it's because so many prayer warriors were praying for us today. Maybe it's because I actually got enough sleep the past few nights. (Miss Daisy still sleeps like crap but we managed to finally figure out a system to help her sleep better. It involves a little rule breaking but it has been worth it to get better sleep.) Maybe it's because we grieved so hard yesterday.

I got to the courthouse a little after 1:00pm. I knew I didn't need to be early because we were the first case on the docket and the doors would be locked to the air conditioned waiting room until our case was called. It was HOT outside (high of 93° today). All the players in the case were there. In fact, I saw Ricardo, the CPS supervisor, in the hallway on the way in. I cornered him immediately and asked him, "So, what's the plan for today? Are you guys conceding or is there going to be a trial?"

His response didn't surprise me at all.
We are going to agree to a 180 day monitored placement. I've seen cases go either way. If we go to trial today and lose, we could be kicked out of the case entirely. If we at least agree to a monitored placement, without actually going to trial, CPS will be involved for six more months.
Ricardo went on to tell me that he addressed the concerns of Kori going to the criminal trial with Daisy. I didn't blog (on here) about this fiasco that happened last week. The short version of that story is that Kori admitted to me that she cancelled one of Daisy's speech therapy sessions so she could go to the criminal trial. I brought this detail to the attention of CPS immediately. Today Ricardo said that Kori's lawyer was going to provide documentation from the courts stating that it had been requested that Kori be there. It was concerning but not concerning enough to force CPS to actually go to trial today. CPS didn't have proof today that Kori had brought Daisy to the trial so they really couldn't do anything with that information.

I asked Ricardo if he was going to move Daisy right away. He looked sympathetically toward me and said no, he'd wait a a few days. I honestly did NOT want to drag this out. Long goodbyes are as crappy as short ones. I told him that moving her today was fine - her things were all packed.

Once over by the courtroom I saw everyone else. Mr. CW was there along with the investigative worker, the CPS worker that had the case first (before Mr. CW was on), Martin (the current CPS worker) and several other people. Everyone was there in case they decided to actually go to trial. All the CPS people congregated together around the State's attorney to discuss the case. Kori looked very uncomfortable when she walked past them all and sat down next to me.

Did I mention it was crazy hot outside? It was sweltering.

Mr. CW came over to thank me for nominating him for CPS worker of the year. The Texas Foster Family Association has an annual meeting where they honor foster parents, workers and agencies. I nominated Mr. CW several months ago and he won! I was very happy for him!! He went up to Dallas last weekend to accept the award and also got to spend some time with family at the Texas State Fair. We chatted about fair food and fun until the bailiff came and unlocked the doors and called our case.

Once in the room everyone assembled. Everyone except the lawyer that was supposed to be representing Miss Daisy. The judge decided to wait a bit for her and called the next case to go ahead of us. I didn't move. I stayed in the gallery and watched the fate of another family unfold before my eyes. Foster care hurts my heart sometimes. A sibling group of four is going to be in foster care for a long, long time while their mother goes to prison.

Ms. Colorado (the lawyer substituting for Daisy's usual lawyer) arrived late. Our case was called immediately after the first one ended.

They didn't beat around the bush. Roll call was taken and the judge asked CPS what they wanted to do. CPS responded by saying they were in agreement with a 180 day monitored placement as long as a couple provisions were put into place.

There was a little back and forth between everyone but nothing heated. The judge took time to make sure that Kori understood the rules. I'm still confused that NOTHING has been said about Bio Dad at any of the court hearings. I heard them specifically say that they are going to terminate Bio Dad's rights when all the players were talking prior to court. I heard that word for word. I don't know what they're waiting for on that end because they have never said anything to the judge about TPR on Dad. I, personally, would like to see his rights terminated. It will make it that much harder for Kori to have a relationship with the man when all this is done and over with.

In fact, I called the District Attorney this week to make sure that he has my contact information. I have no problem testifying against Bio Dad. I hope they call me. A tiny part of me is afraid that they won't now because I no longer have Daisy in my custody. An even bigger part of me is afraid that Bio Dad's attorney will call Kori who will completely down play the permanent damage that Daisy has suffered.

Anyway...back to court.

It is a 180 day monitored placement. That means that CPS still has temporary managing conservatorship. Kori is restricted to travel within a two county range. She has to allow CPS access into her home any time they show up - no matter what. I believe a worker will be making a weekly visit to her home and, like before, surprise inspections can still happen.

Then the State did something a little above and beyond what they usually do. They explained that one of the provisions to Kori getting custody is that she, under no circumstances, can cancel ANY medical appointment, therapy or early intervention of any kind. CPS explained this. Kori's lawyer agreed to it. And the judge realized that something needed to be done to ensure that the correct level of monitoring was in place for this. The judge made the State the medical consentor. Kori does not get to make any medical decisions for Daisy for the next six months (other than her already approved decision to not vaccinate). Someone from CPS is going to have to go to every doctor appointment. And if Kori cancels anything, the monitored placement could be in jeopardy.

Another provision is that Bio Dad cannot be within 200 yards of Daisy. The judge made it very clear that this is a big deal. No funny business allowed. He granted visitation to the paternal grandparents even though CPS was firmly against this. But he said if the grandparents allowed any contact with Bio Dad, the placement will be in jeopardy.

And last, Kori is required to put Daisy in day care. I personally hate this rule. Day care isn't going to be good for Daisy at all. I know that Kori at one time was looking to hire an in-home nanny. Individual attention for Daisy would be better for her. But the State has required day care and I believe they will pay for it as well.

We all filed out of the courtroom. I chatted with Mr. CW a bit. He asked how I felt about the ruling. I was honest. I think it sucks. But, I'm not a green foster parent. I've looked up the laws and I've read them. The State didn't have grounds to keep Daisy in foster care any longer. And even though I wanted them to try and fight harder for Daisy, I understand why the route of monitored placement was taken. I asked if there was anything special I could do to make sure that we get the call should the placement with Mom fall through. Mr. CW said that intake will see that we had her before. But there are absolutely NO guarantees - and nothing I can do about it - to make sure we would get the call. In fact, he said that sometimes they purposefully don't place back with the first foster family. I can't wrap my brain around that and it makes me very mad. But I'm not going to allow myself to dwell on that detail. We are keeping our license open for awhile just in case. However, if my husband gets an employment opportunity that requires us to move, foster care is not going to make us turn that down. We will close our home immediately and move.

Ricardo came out at about the same time Kori did. I asked when the move was going to happen. Kori said they had asked her if she brought a car seat. I guess they wanted to move her right then and there. I looked at Ricardo and asked if we could have two hours. Herman didn't really see Daisy this morning before school and I wanted every family member to get to say goodbye. I also wanted CPS to pick Daisy up in my home so that I would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Daisy's things were going with her immediately. (If Daisy had left from court it's likely that CPS wouldn't get her things to her for weeks.) Ricardo looked at Kori and asked her if we could have two hours. A little bit reluctantly she agreed.

We walked to the parking lot together and said a quick goodbye.

I made all the phone calls to all the important people. I told my family. I called Daisy's therapy providers. I let my licensing agency know.

And then I sat down in the living room and played with Daisy.

Let me reiterate - it was NOTHING like the couple of hours I had with Dude and Dolly before they were ripped from my home. Those few hours were a torturous Hell. They didn't want to leave. I didn't want them to leave. My entire family was in shock.

No, this afternoon was pleasant. I played with Daisy. I fed her a snack. I snapped some pictures. And everyone got to say goodbye. I told CPS they could come at 4:30pm. Herman gets out of school at 4:00 and I had told him to come straight home. Miss Daisy simply adores Herman and she went straight to him as soon as he walked in the door.
CPS showed up right on time. In true CPS fashion this assistant brought a car seat rated for an infant up to 20 pounds. I told the worker at my door that under no circumstances was I going to allow her to use that car seat with Daisy. Rather than wait for her to go back to the office and locate an appropriate one, I unbuckled mine and put it in her car for her. I brought all of Daisy's things out and loaded her car up full. I then buckled Miss Daisy into the seat and kissed her goodbye.

I sent Kori a text message of that picture above and one more of all four of the kids together. I thanked her for the goodbye.

She messaged me back and said, "I live in town - not on Mars." She also included her email address.

I believe that I will get to stay in Daisy's life for a little while.

And that was that.

I haven't even cried today. (I cried enough yesterday thankyouverymuch.)

I'm going to be OK. My husband is going to be OK. My kids are going to be OK.

We are going to rearrange the house. The guest room will go back downstairs. The crib will go in the corner of my (huge) bedroom. I'm going to put away all the baby stuff. I might even have a garage sale and sell some of it. What I really want to do is find some young mom who's on the cusp of having CPS in her life in a bad way and help her out. But I'm not actually making any decisions right now on all the baby stuff. If we move due to my hubby's job, it's unlikely that we'll move it all with us. (Which makes me very sad. I've got some awesome baby stuff.) For now though, I'm literally just praying to God to tell me what to do with everything. I haven't gotten an answer yet.

What happened today had to happen. I'm grateful that the judge did what he could to make sure that all of Daisy's medical appointments, therapies and early interventions HAVE to be maintained. That, my friends, is answered prayer. I won't get to post as many updates but there's a good chance Kori will message me pretty regularly. And for that, I am grateful.

For now, our fostering season is over.

But just wait. Now I've got time to go to all the B.A.C.A. trainings. It won't be long and I'll be riding with my husband all over the state to help abused kids stand up to their abusers in court and not be afraid.


A quick update

I know some people only follow the blog - not Facebook. So, here's the short version of what happened today.

Miss Daisy will be being picked up by CPS at approximately 4:30pm to go back to her mother's house. CPS agreed to a 180 day monitored placement.

I'll blog the long version later.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Praying Mothers

Right now there are two moms doing a lot of praying. One is praying fervently that wisdom prevails and that the future can be taken into consideration. One wants to protect the baby she cares for from the potential of future harm with every fiber of her being. This mom has called to every prayer warrior that she knows. She has prayed over this baby since before the baby was born.**

The other mom is praying that all this crazy ends. She believes with every fiber of her being that her baby is safe in her arms. She sees no potential of future harm and wants to be able to make decisions over her daughter's life again. This mom is praying as hard as as the other mom and has her own family and friends praying as well.

God can move. God will move. And the powers that be will decide the fate of that baby and these two moms tomorrow. Court is at 1:30pm Central Standard Time. It's the only case on the docket at that time so we shouldn't have to wait too long. By this time tomorrow, it's likely we will once again be a family of five. But I'm not going to stop praying.

-----

I've spent the last week preparing my heart for the goodbye. We've talked about it at home. We've discussed how it's going to feel. I've sorted through her things. I've even made my list of everyone that I have to call tomorrow if she's leaving. I will be able to go on autopilot and no one will suffer. I'm not cooking dinner tomorrow and the kids know we will be gathering together as a core family of five to regroup and start the new chapter of our lives.

-----

** The story of the pink blanket **

In the early months of 2013, before we intervened in the legal case with Dude and Dolly, I spent some of my free time sewing. I'm not an accomplished sewer, but I can make a straight line. I made several different blankets with the intents of donating them to my licensing agency to be given as Christmas presents. As I sewed the blanket you see in all of Daisy's sleeping pictures, I prayed. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed. I knew the bundle of pink was going to go to a little girl so I prayed for that little girl as I sewed each line. Out of all the blankets, I remembered praying the most over the one Daisy has.

The night Daisy came to me she was wrapped in that blanket.

I honestly don't think the social workers that had her knew the significance. I don't think they knew I had donated that blanket. And all I could think of is how much I prayed for that baby before she was even born. The blanket is very special to me. It belongs to Daisy but I'm struggling with the decision. Do I tell Kori of the incredibly significance? Or will it be lost on her because she doesn't think her daughter should have ever come to me in the first place? I think it's just something I'm going to store in my heart forever.

 


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Here's what happened in court

I arrived with Daisy about 30 minutes early. Thankfully the weather was much milder today and it wasn't perfectly miserable to sit outside waiting for our hearing. I wasn't there long when Kori came out of the air conditioned waiting room to see us. I took Daisy out of the stroller and handed her over to Kori. Daisy played the back and forth game a bit going from my lap to Kori's and back to me again.

Then I saw Ms. Colorado. For those of you that have recently joined this adventure, Ms. Colorado is the lawyer we hired when we intervened in the case with Dude and Dolly. Shaking my head, I let her know that those babies are still in foster care.
Side note: Texas recently changed things and there is now a website you can register with. If you know the name of the parent involved in a CPS case and the full name of at least one of the children, you can look up when the court hearings are. This isn't exactly necessary for me with Daisy's case because I am required to attend all the hearings with Daisy. However, it did give me an opportunity to look up Dude and Dolly's case. I saw that they just had court a couple weeks ago. And when I looked up the case this week, I saw that they are still in Care because the next hearing for them is in January. 
Ms. Colorado shook her head back at me and responded with, "Hmmmm....I wonder what's up with that grandma in Dallas that was supposedly so wonderful for those cherubs that they are still being monitored?!" We chatted a bit about foster care in general. I told her how we are done after Daisy either stays forever or leaves. I even mentioned a few things in Daisy's case that make me frustrated (like the level of Mom's denial).

It wasn't too long before the new caseworker, Martin, came to us to say that our case was being called. They had shuffled a few of the hearings on the docket and since we were ready to go, they pushed us ahead of a couple other more complicated cases.

Not too much happened. CPS admitted that a home assessment had not been done at Kori's new house. It came across as just a matter of fact - not a concern of any kind. The judge reminded everyone that this case has to be done by November 11, 2014 and he asked if all the parties were ready for trial.

Kori's lawyer didn't show up today. And the lawyer that was filling in didn't even make it in for most of this hearing. As they were wrapping up, Kori raised her hand and told the judge that she has three days off in a row now. Could her visits be extended to three nights instead of just two? The fill-in lawyer bumbled something about the same request and then the judge asked Daisy's lawyer how she felt about that.

I'm glad I had left a message earlier this week with Daisy's lawyer about the non-existent home assessment. Daisy's lawyer had a field day with that fact. She totally spun it all to make Kori look very bad. Said that Kori didn't give CPS enough notice to do a home assessment and that in no way shape or form should another day be added to the visit schedule. Kori can't be trusted.

CPS didn't say much and just sort of agreed with Daisy's lawyer.

The judge said he would make no changes to the visit schedule and even indicated that a positive home assessment would be necessary for reunification to take place.

The hearing is scheduled for October 2 - next Thursday - eight days away.

Ms. Colorado was in the room for the hearing. Then I heard Daisy's lawyer turn to Ms. Colorado and say, "At the hearing, monitored placement, unless something changes."

Come to find out, Daisy's lawyer isn't even going to be here for the trial next week. She was asking Ms. Colorado to fill in for her and what she is to ask for is a monitored placement.

Sigh.

The lawyer that is going to be representing the most important person in the hearing next week was simply told, "monitored placement, unless something changes". So, should anything change, the lawyer representing the most important person in this case (in my opinion anyway) will know NOTHING of the actual case. Ms. Colorado knows NOTHING and will have to advocate based on that.

Sigh.

I walked out of the courtroom and waited for Kori. She stayed behind with Daisy to talk to the lawyer that represented her today.

While waiting I went over to talk to the CPS supervisor, Ricardo. I asked him, "If Daisy goes hoe next week, will she come back to my house after court? Or will you release her straight from the courtroom?"

I think my question caught him off guard. He thought for a moment and then said, "I'm pretty sure she'll go home with you first."

Then things got weird. It was so obvious that Ricardo wanted to tell me more but felt like he couldn't. In a conversation of half-sentences and innuendos, Ricardo indicated that they (CPS) are trying to find something on Kori still. I don't know if he thought something legitimate would turn up during the home assessment or if there's something else. But it was obvious that he's not comfortable with reunification. He even asked me if I thought Daisy will be OK or not. I point blank told him, "no!" His next comment just about made me throw up a little. He asked, "Do you think daycare will help Daisy?"

Um. No. Daycare does not heal a traumatic brain injury. Intensive therapy does. A safe, loving home environment does. A family committed to understanding disabilities does.

But all I said to him was, "no."

Kori was visibly upset when she handed Daisy back to me. I left and went home.

About an hour later Kori called me to talk. She wanted to discuss these tiny little eczema rashes that were on Daisy's cheeks today. For some reason these really concerned Kori. Not concerned like she was upset with me or anything. She just made a rather big deal over them because her other two kids had milk sensitivities and broke out in a similar fashion. I assured Kori that I'll keep an eye on things and not to worry. Kori went on and on about how if I take Daisy to the doctor she wants to be there too. I assured her I wouldn't go to the doctor without her.

The conversation drug on. Kori started talking about court today. She was horribly upset about how they painted her and the move. She said they lied. She had told them she moved. CPS is the one that dropped the ball.

Kori has a bit of truth to that. However....

Kori was sending text messages to Mr. CW before he left to tell him she was moving. Mr. CW had ceased communicating with Kori via text because of a text conversation they got in one time where Kori was rude and belligerent. She completely disrespected him and got way out of line. Mr. CW was advised that he legally didn't have to communicate by text and was to only communicate via phone and email with Kori. I have to assume that's why Mr. CW did nothing about Kori's pending move before he left his position as caseworker.

On September 2, Kori sent an email to Ricardo to tell him she moved to a new city. She wasn't forthcoming with the address and just asked what she was to do next.

That's where CPS screwed up. They should have followed through right then.

But technically, Kori had already moved and she hadn't officially let CPS know where her new residence was.

Anyway...Kori went on and on about how evil CPS was lying about her in court today. Then she drug me right back into her crazy with this, "CPS illegally stole my child from me. It's not like she was ever neglected. Or lived in a dirty house. Or ran around with dirty diapers or anything. She has always been cared for and loved."

Once again it seems that Kori wants to forget that minor detail where her daughter lay in the hospital on November 4, 2013 fighting for her life. She doesn't want to acknowledge the shunt in her brain or the craniotomy that was necessary four months later because there was still blood on the brain. She doesn't see that her daughter is well over eight months behind developmentally and what that really means to a 16 month old child. She wants to forget the minor detail of a traumatic brain injury that will forever impact Miss Daisy's life.

Somehow tiny eczema rashes are more important.

So we will go to court next week on October 2nd. This is not a TPR trial and I don't know how to explain what it really is because I've never done anything like this before. I've had kids in Care well past that magic 12-month mark and none of them have ever had "trials". I can only go by what I've read online about Texas and the order and kind of hearings we have here:
  • Emergency hearings: If your child is removed from your care without a court order, the court will schedule a hearing for the next working day. This hearing allows the judge to learn why your child was removed from his or her home and to decide if there is a good reason to keep your child in care until the adversary hearing (see below). If the judge decides your child may be in danger while in your care, your child may remain in foster care for the time being.
  • Non-emergency hearings/Show Cause hearings:  CPS often asks a judge for a court order before removing a child from a home when there's significant risk of abuse or neglect but the current circumstances are not an emergency.
  • Adversary hearings: The court holds an adversary hearing within 14 days of your child being removed from your care. At this hearing, the judge decides whether to return your child to you or if your child would still be at risk of continued abuse or neglect in your care. If the judge does not return your child to your care, he or she may decide to place your child with a relative or close family friend if they are appropriate, available, and willing to help. Otherwise, your child will stay in foster care. The adversary hearing is your chance to present your view of what happened and how your child can be protected now.
  • Status hearings: The court holds a status hearing within 60 days of your child's placement in foster care. The purpose of this hearing is to make sure you have a family service plan (see “What should I expect from my caseworker?”) and understand that following that plan is a way for your child to return home. This hearing also ensures each parent has been notified of the legal suit.
  • Permanency Court Reviews: About five months after the first adversary hearing, the court will review your progress on meeting the requirements of court orders and the family service plan. Before the hearing, CPS must submit a permanency report. This report includes CPS' view of your progress and a final recommendation on a plan for a permanent place for your child to live. The court may issue any additional orders it deems necessary. After that, permanency court reviews are held every four months until the case is resolved and your child's legal status is permanent.
  • Court Resolution:  Within 12 months of giving CPS temporary legal responsibility (temporary managing conservatorship) for a child, the court will either return your child to you or give permanent custody to a relative, a close family friend, or to CPS. On rare occasions, the court may extend the 12 month deadline for up to six more months. The court may terminate your parental rights if it has legal grounds to do so and decides that is what is best for the child.
  • Placement Review Hearings: If a court gives CPS permanent custody of a child (permanent managing conservatorship), the court reviews the child's living arrangements and plans every six months.
The trial next week is going to be "Court Resolution". And unless CPS turns up something concrete against Kori, Daisy will be returned home to her mother.

Bio Dad's criminal case has been postponed again. He continues to walk about a free man. He was there today and shook my hand. Thanked me for caring for Daisy.

I am convinced that Kori and Bio Dad still have a relationship. It was subtle, but I swear she flirted with him when we came into the waiting room together. He was respectful of the restraining order though and never tried to come close to Daisy this time.

I'm going to have all of Daisy's laundry done. I'm going to have all her personal toys gathered. I will have a large box ready to fill with her belongings. I'm going to be ready for Daisy to leave.

And I'm going to pray. I'm going to pray that if Kori is really unable to protect Daisy for the rest of her life that proof is made evident within the next seven days.