Friday, January 31, 2014

Circles of Support

Ricky is the first teenager that we have fostered. I'm experiencing all that CPS has to offer with their "aging out" process. I'm trying not to judge the process. But it's going to be hard. I'm pretty sure every state in the union fails their foster kids that don't have permanency when they are 18 years old.

My first taste of the aging out process came this past Wednesday when I attended Ricky's "Circles of Support" meeting. It was held in the CPS office in a conference room.
Attendees included:
Me
Ricky
Emilia (Ricky's CPS caseworker)
Emilia's supervisor
an SSW from our licensing agency
a CPS education specialist
a CPS employee that runs the Circles of Support meetings (Mr. Meeting Man)
several people from PAL (Preparation for Adult Living)
some people from CPS whose roles I didn't ever actually hear
Rebecca (Ricky's godmother)
Ricky's 8th grade science teacher - a person that has been a male mentor to him over the past 3 years
Ricky's (current) 10th grade art teacher

Ricky's older brother Peter had to work and could not bring Ricky's mom. (Ricky's mom will NOT do anything asked of her on her own. If Peter can't drive her, she doesn't come.)

Also, Ricky's lawyer (GAL) was invited. I even called and left a message asking for his attendance. He never acknowledged any of us.

The meeting is something that CPS does for every teen aged 16 and up in Care. When we went in for the "pre-meeting" they painted this experience as something custom and special for Ricky. The reality of it is quite different though. There is a very set order of discussion and all the professionals involved, the ones that do this all the time, seem to have a set script they follow when it comes to the discussion.

Ricky actually has a rather deep support system though so we all threw their discussion off a bit. Granted, there were only four of us on HIS side there (he has additional stable friends and family). But the four of us spoke with determination. In fact, the gentleman running the show said that in all his 22 years of doing this, he had only had one other teen show up with teachers from their school and he almost seemed surprised by what we had to say. And because Ricky's after-Care plans are solid, safe and stable, much of this meeting was pointless. Still, we had to play along.

For nearly 2 hours we covered the points in their cookie-cutter outline:
Personal Information
Hopes and Dreams
Strengths
Fears, Needs and Concerns
Permanency Goal

CPS barely knew how to handle everyone saying so many positive things about Ricky. They didn't reject anything we had to say. But it seemed to stump them because they knew from the beginning that most of this meeting was completely pointless. When Ricky turns 18, that very day, he will walk away from Care and go back to a perfectly safe, perfectly supportive home that will treat him like a perfectly normal child and Ricky will have every opportunity to live a perfectly wonderful adult life.

Ricky did a wonderful job during the meeting. I had coached him, after getting advice from My Genius Sister (a former social worker that specialized in teens and aging out), to not get too emotional and to honestly not get hung up on the fact that he wants to go back to Rebecca. He was to follow their script and tell them his goals are to finish school and go to college. Only when asked was he to talk about Rebecca.

Of course, that was the biggest part of the meeting. When they got to "Permanency Goal" I nodded to Ricky that now was the time. When they asked where he wants to live, he was honest and said, "with Rebecca."

And this is where the meeting got awful.

Over and over and over and over Mr. Meeting Man (the CPS guy running the show) kept telling Ricky that CPS was bound by the law. That they HAVE to go by ONLY the OFFICIAL PLAN. Their plan sucks. They know their plan sucks. (More on that later.) But legally they kept saying they can't do anything about Ricky's current situation. Still, Mr. Meeting Man kept wanting to discuss where Ricky wants to live and what Ricky can do to get there. It was infuriating! It almost seemed like Mr. Meeting Man enjoyed shooting down everything Ricky, or any of his support system, had to say.

The OFFICIAL plan is:
1. reunification with bio mom
2. relative conservatorship

There is no part of any of the plan that allows for Ricky to go back to Rebecca. That would be called, if it were being considered, "kinship placement". That's not on the table at all right now.

When Ricky reminded everyone in attendance that his Bio Mom doesn't want him and is OK with him being adopted, Mr. Meeting Man practically choked. In the snottiest way ever he cut Ricky off and said that there's no way Ricky could ever be adopted.

I cut off Mr. Meeting Man and told him I knew of a family right here where we live that JUST adopted a teen boy literally a week before he turned 18. I said that my licensing agency made it happen from start to finish in about a month.

Mr. Meeting Man stumbled a bit and made sure to point out that the boy was already legally free for adoption.

Which brings us full circle back to Lola, Ricky's bio mom. She's WILLING to TPR (terminate parental rights) and sign Ricky over to Rebecca. She has said so to more than one person. Lola does not want to have anything to do with Ricky. She doesn't care if she parents him. And the State refuses to believe any of it or allow any of it to happen. The State could be done with Ricky in Care if they wanted. It is possible to let Bio Mom sign TPR papers and let Rebecca adopt Ricky. The State could step away and they wouldn't have to pay me a monthly per diem. But this option is not anything they will consider or even discuss.

So round and round we went. They kept asking Ricky where he wants to live in six months and then they kept telling him why it's not going to be possible. And since everyone knew he didn't need any of the other services this meeting was supposed to help put in to place, we got stuck in this loop of Care vs. Rebecca. They kept trying to say that Bio Mom is working her plan and has rights of her own. However, when I pointed out that Lola still tests positive for drugs and that she's not making all her visits, they glossed over things and tried to change the subject. Mr. Meeting Man refused to see that much of what he was saying didn't make sense.

Ricky was amazing. He took it all in stride.
My heart hurt so badly for him though. This is all so unfair.

The PAL coordinator had already contacted me prior to this meeting. We will be taking advantage of their services. If Ricky plays along and does a "training" with them, he will qualify for some financial aid (to help with housing and/or utilities) when he turns 18. He won't need that right when he turns 18 but I want him to have the option when he does move out on his own. He will also be able to obtain a fully funded college education (all the way up to a PHD if he wants) upon aging out. The PAL coordinator will help make sure that financial aid happens.

But Ricky doesn't need help figuring out WHERE he's going to live when he turns 18. He's not going to need to get his own apartment or figure out transportation options. He's healthy, so there are no medical issues to address. Ricky doesn't need CPS to make sure he learns how to take care of himself as an adult. All Ricky is going to need from this fiasco is help (from the PAL coordinator) to make sure he gets every single dime the State of Texas owes him for putting him through all of this.

It is unlikely that Ricky will go back to Rebecca at the next court hearing. I did learn during this meeting that Rebecca's home study is actually deemed "unfavorable" because she and several references state that the best place for Ricky is with Rebecca. That is not in line with the State's (very unrealistic but nevertheless legal) goal of reunification with Bio Mom. The State would have to do an addendum to the home study and Rebecca would have to completely change her tune in order for her to be considered for placement.

It's so very sad. Bio Mom is not going to get Ricky back. Rebecca is unlikely to get Ricky back before he turns 18. It looks like I'm going to be Ricky's mom until January 21, 2015. All I can do is try to get as many freedoms from CPS as I possibly can for Ricky.

Still, we are going to draft very well-worded letters and present them to Ricky's lawyers and to the judge. One letter is going to express why it is perfectly safe and necessary for Ricky to be allowed (legal) contact with Rebecca. The second letter will address why Rebecca is a safe and good place for Ricky to live while he remains in Care - despite what the State thinks the home study means.

That's all we got out of this meeting. Ricky can write some letters.

I'm not going to give up. We'll write those letters.
But I don't have a lot of hope.

Friday, January 24, 2014

too vivid of a dream

I turned in two very official pieces of paperwork to our lawyer yesterday. These two pieces of paper are going in the mail today so they can be signed by the judge Monday - during court for Dude and Dolly. They officially drop us out of the legal intervention. They make everything very final.

-----

I woke up in the middle of the night convinced my phone had rang and that I had spoken with Ms. Colorado. The details were so vivid. She told me that she went out to dinner with a friend. She never even apologized for calling me in the middle of the night because she wanted to tell me that we just HAD to stay "in" the case again. This friend of hers had information that everything was going to implode on Monday at court and Ms. Colorado wanted us in court for it. She wanted to let me know right away.

I was able to wake up enough to realize that it was just a very cruel dream.

But I went back to sleep and dreamed about Dude and Dolly coming home to me. I dreamed that they were shell-shocked but acted like it was perfectly normal to come back. I remember hugging them and telling them, "I loved you the whole time you were gone. I love you even when I can't see you."

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I never dreamed about the babies when they lived with me. I rarely dream about my kids. Not sure why. Instead I dream all the time about old jobs I've had, schools I've gone to, and getting lost. I'm always getting lost in my dreams.

But now my babies are going to haunt my dreams?!

I hope not.
I'm rather out of sorts this morning. It was all too vivid.
So vivid, I had to get out my phone right away and check my call list to make sure the first dream wasn't real.

-----

It's over. It's all over.

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I'm glad I've got an appointment Monday that will keep me from driving an hour away to sit in court and hear it all first hand. Part of me wants to hear the ending myself. But I know how this story ends Monday. And I'm being written out of it officially.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Time to assign a "blog name"

It seems we have a real "character" in Ricky's CPS caseworker.
From now one she will be known as Emilia.

Emilia didn't take too kindly to me referring to her as "The System". She handled it well. She empathized. But seriously - I do not give a damn if she likes being a part of The System or not. She decided to work for CPS. And CPS is the governmental entity that is SUPPOSED to be helping Ricky but appears to be trying to do their damnedest to mess with all the good stuff in his life!

We spoke on the phone for about half an hour. Emilia did a good job of agreeing with me enough that I didn't totally blow my cool. But seriously...I was fuming mad the whole time.

It seems that Emilia is totally bound by anything her supervisor tells her she has to do in this case. I get that. I really do. But let's keep in mind that this supervisor does not know Ricky. He does not know Ricky's story. He only chooses to pay attention to the details he wants to and I think that's where the problem lies. But this is how the supervisor sees things:
  1. The judge said Ricky can't live with Rebecca.
  2. Therefore visits must be wrong too because the judge didn't specifically say they could have visits.
  3. Therefore all contact must be bad.
  4. Therefore we need to take Ricky's cell phone away from him.
What the....??!!!!!!

Emilia assured me that she fought for Ricky to keep his cell phone. But she also indicated that this particular fight isn't over.

As far as I'm concerned Ricky will not surrender his cell phone under ANY circumstances!!! CPS did not buy his phone. CPS does not pay for his cell phone. CPS is required to give Ricky the most "normal, family-based" setting possible. He is not a criminal. I'm OK with how he handles himself around his electronics. It is perfectly ridiculous to think that Ricky should have to function without ANY contact at all with his friends and family. Ricky gets to keep his cell phone.

Ricky is going to practice saying the phrase, "I'm sorry. I don't understand that. I'm going to have to speak with my lawyer."

And when Ricky is around anyone from CPS, Ricky will keep his phone tucked securely away.

Correct me if I'm wrong. Do any of my readers have experience with anything like this? Can CPS meddle this way in Ricky's life? The child has not broken a single rule. He is complying with everything. The worst thing I'm doing is advocating and double checking to make sure we are in compliance. For example, I asked about the visits. Is Ricky required to go? My agency says no. However, CPS says that if the visits are court ordered Ricky HAS to attend them whether he wants to or not. Otherwise, the bio family could sue CPS claiming they are keeping them from their child. (We ALL know this will NEVER happen in Ricky's case. Ricky's bio mom has seriously checked out. But it did happen for real down here so that's why I'm being told I HAVE to drag Ricky to each and every visit even if his mom lets him know she's not going to be there.) (Note: Ricky doesn't have any contact with his mom outside of the sanctioned visits. However, he is allowed contact with his older brother Peter and Peter transports mom so he keeps Ricky in the know of whether or not mom is coming to visits.) But we are complying. Now that we've been told by CPS that visits are absolutely required, he will be there.

But Ricky doesn't have to lose his cell phone. I'll fight that one. A call to the lawyer will be made tomorrow. (I'm also going to check in with Ms. Colorado. I'll tell her I now have the names of Ricky's AAL and GAL. I'll simply ask for her advice. It'll cost me I'm sure. But I'm not going to fight CPS blindly either.)

Ricky's worker is back from vacation

I got an answer to my email that I sent last Friday concerning the removal of contact between Ricky and his godmother, Rebecca.
Thank you for advising me of the visit. Unfortunately Ricky's brother Michael looks forward to some type visit with his family so I do need Ricky to come as well. Although you are willing to allow his little brother to come over, as we both know... the other foster parents are little less flexible. Also, cancellations need to be done through the monitors as this is a billing issue (Dept issue right now). Unless we can schedule a regular sibling visit around the visit so I can get with the other agency.
As far as Rebecca, as I explained to her and Ricky, I was allowing the continued contact without my supervisors' approval anticipating this not be an issue. However, in finding out and discussing visits, he asked me to no longer do this without a court order as this may prove to be a concern at court in which the Judge may reprimand us for doing without his consent to begin with. I understand this is difficult for Ricky to deal with and Rebecca as well. I will speak to Ricky about it when I visit with him. I was hoping to do so before the visit but unfortunately my schedule did not allow.
Has he been scheduled for therapy?
Grrrrrrrr!!!

I sent back an email asking what Ricky's rights are. Can they REQUIRE him to attend all visits?! Come on now! Doesn't this kid have any rights of his own?!

I would love to know why the judge would care if Ricky saw Rebecca in the CPS office for 30 minutes, supervised, one time per week. I'm fuming that everyone is making such a big deal out of nothing. I literally told the worker that it seems like The System wants to shove Ricky back to his old life - the one he had before Rebecca plucked him out of the darkness.

I also indicated that no, he hasn't been scheduled for therapy. The first agency he was referred to completely cancelled on him the day of his first appointment. I don't know why, but they decided last minute they couldn't take him on at all. I haven't heard a word from anyone else.

I saw Ms. Colorado today when I went to her office to sign paperwork officially dropping us out of Dude and Dolly's case. It was sad for me. So final.

But, I did get to talk to her about my new kids. (Ya know, the ones I told everyone - her included - that would never come because I was D.O.N.E. fostering!) She just smiled. She asked about my new ones and I had the perfect opportunity to ask her for help with Ricky's case. I mean really...no one that's talking to me even knows Ricky's lawyer's name! She said she'd help me out. I know there's little she can honestly do. But even if she can look at her peer and say, "I know Ricky's foster family. They're good people. Give your client a call." I'll take it!!!

In the meantime, today is Ricky's birthday. He's at McDonald's with his girlfriend right now. He may or may not have seen other important people in his life last night when he went out to dinner in a public place where anyone can just happen to be. We're having his favorite dinner, pizza, as soon as TT and Bart get back from basketball practice. And even though he wouldn't give me a single idea of something that he'd like to get for his birthday, he'll get his present from us.
Hidden in the middle of all those Sour Patch Kids is a toilet paper roll tube. In the center of that toilet paper roll tube is a one-hundred dollar bill.

He's sad today. He's a kid from the hurt places. How many of his other birthdays have disappointed him over his 17 years? I hope the fact that we're keeping things low key - per his request - but yet we're celebrating - because I simply could not NOT celebrate - brings him a little bit of joy. He's only got to hang on for 365 more days and then he's free from CPS forever!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Ricky gets screwed even more

Ricky is #6 of 7 kids total. He's got one younger brother, Michael, who is in Care but has been placed through a different agency (and is obviously in a different family).

Ricky was supposed to go his weekly family visit this morning to see his bio mom, Lola, and Michael. Lola is always brought to these visits by Ricky's older brother Peter.

Well, Peter called Ricky this morning to say that he has to work and Lola won't be coming to the visit. Ricky had no desire to sit in an empty office room, devoid of anything to do, with his 12 year old brother for two hours. Honestly, I can't say that I blame him!

I called my agency's on-call worker. She informed me that I don't have to force Ricky to attend any visits. I'm a little worried about this because THIS is exactly what caused Ricky to be moved from Rebecca's care and placed into formal foster care. But...rules are rules. And if I'm not required, I'm not going to force a thing!!

I just remembered today why Ricky's case worker didn't answer her phone yesterday. She's out of the country on a vacation. That simply proves that the decision to stop contact between Ricky and Rebecca was made by the supervisor for no good reason. I hope the case worker can fix things when she gets back!

In the meantime, I left her a voice mail explaining why Ricky missed his visit today. I also asked for a clear explanation as to why Ricky can no longer see Rebecca at visits.

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Ricky was sad last night.
Ricky is sad again today.

Foster care does not make any sense to any of us close to Ricky.

He's thoroughly being screwed over and there's nothing we can do about it.

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Thankfully he can drive.
I gave him my car keys and told him to go out.
He said he's going to meet up with one of his older brothers.
I hope he decides to meet up with Rebecca too.
I feel so bad for him. My heart just breaks.

Friday, January 17, 2014

No more visits

I feel the need to be somewhat vague when it comes to Ricky's story. He's old enough that he could easily find me online. I do not want to betray his trust in any way. Therefore, it's unlikely that I will blog much about actually parenting Ricky. Instead, I'll focus mainly on the case and what The System looks like as it gets ready to age out a kid.

Ricky has started opening up about what his life has been like. Needless to say, he's a child from the hurt places. He's never had a stable parent and he suffered as a result. The area of the country where we live is rampant with violence and gang activity. Drugs are everywhere. It's a totally different culture. Think of some of the worst case scenarios you've heard of and you might have a decent picture of the first 14 years of Ricky's life.

When Ricky was in middle school he got "caught". For reasons that I'm not sure Ricky even knows himself, HE made a decision to turn his life around. In an almost demanding way, Ricky went to a school administrator and announced that he no longer wanted to do anything that he had ever done in the past. He needed a clean slate. This administrator wrote a letter and introduced Ricky to a teacher named Rebecca.

Rebecca turned Ricky's life around. She plucked him up from the culture he was neck deep in and gave him the ability to escape it. She rescued him. Ricky got to see a whole new world. Over the course of a year and a half Ricky grew, matured and realized that things could be different.

Then CPS got "officially" involved in Ricky's life.

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I got a phone call from Rebecca today. It seems for reasons that no one wants to explain, Rebecca is no longer allowed to see Ricky anymore. The lousy 30 minutes she was getting once a week at the tail-end of the bio family visit, that were fully supervised and in the CPS office, have been cut off completely. Even though the bio family has NO problem with Rebecca being there, CPS has said "no".

What the Hell is The System thinking?!

Rebecca saved him.
The System is Hell bent on removing her from his life. It simply does not make sense.

Rebecca tried to call the case worker.
She's not taking calls.

Ricky tried calling his case worker.
She wouldn't take his call either.

I knew to not even bother. I called my licensing agency.

Unfortunately it was after 4:00PM on a Friday when all this news hit the fan. I know nothing is going to happen before the scheduled visit tomorrow. And somehow I've got to convince Ricky to go to that visit anyway even though the ONLY person he WANTS to see isn't going to be there.

My agency loves Ricky. They simply adore him. I know they will help advocate. And I know that a phone call from another social worker will have more weight than a phone call from an angry foster parent. But sadly, it's still late Friday night and I'm sure CPS didn't take their call either.

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Rebecca has spoken with several different lawyers about intervening into this case. They've literally told her that yes, they can take her money. But odds are they best they could do would be to get Ricky back to her a couple months before he ages out anyway.

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My heart just breaks when Ricky says he wants to go home.
Home is with Rebecca and I can't make that happen.
And now, he can't "legally" see her at all anymore.

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For now though, unlimited phone contact is still allowed.
Ricky is on our car insurance. He's got a driver's license.
And Ricky is allowed up to three hours of unsupervised time every day (per CPS).
I'm going to parent with my kid's best interests at heart.
I'm going to look the other way when I need to when it comes to who he may or may not see at a restaurant or the mall.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Daisy has started therapies

So far this week Daisy has seen the physical therapist for an initial evaluation and both occupational and speech therapy for treatment. Per all three therapists, Daisy is functioning around the developmental age of 2-3 months. Chronologically, Daisy is 8 months old. When you're an infant, this level of delay is rather significant.

PT and OT will look a lot alike. Goals for both disciplines include things like tolerating touch, moving into position to crawl and things like that.

Speech (ST) also has goals of tolerating touch. The therapist will manipulate Daisy's mouth and tongue helping train the muscles for movements needed for eating and speech. Also, the speech therapist will assist with feeding to make sure that Daisy is eating correctly (physically speaking that is) and that she's not having aspiration issues.

I know all of this. I'm Daisy's primary caregiver and I've dealt with therapies before. I recognize that the general public might not understand what an infant would do in PT, OT and ST. But I would hope that her caseworker would educate herself on it and then pass along the knowledge to the bio family. After all, Daisy is also under the care of CPS too. Granted, I meet her day to day needs. But CPS communicates to the judge what Daisy's needs are. She needs these therapies. They should understand why!!

I'm getting a bit tired of communicating new health information to the bio family. I'm sure I just need to get over it. But I'm worried that if CPS isn't communicating things to the MOM what are they going to tell the JUDGE?!

At Daisy's visit tonight Bio Mom asked me how Daisy's appointment at the retina specialist went. There isn't much to say. I told Bio Mom that we know Daisy can see light. But anything other than that is a guess. There are too many variables at stake to know how much Daisy is going to recover.

I then added, "Daisy started her therapies this week. She's seen the occupational and speech therapists."

Daisy's mom's look of surprise caught me off guard. She needed me to explain why Daisy needs therapies. I told her it's to help her recover. I told Bio Mom it will help Daisy learn to walk, talk and will assist with any feeding issues.

Bio Mom got a look of alarm and said, "There aren't any problems are there?!" (In her defense, she was specifically relating this question to feeding issues.)

Keeping my frustration to myself I had to respond, "Well...Daisy is only functioning like that of a 2-3 month old child. She can't do all the things she's supposed to be able to do right now. No, I'm not seeing any feeding issues per se. But the therapist will be able to make sure and help as we go along." I kept it simple. I decided it wasn't a good time to talk about silent aspiration or any of the other problems that could develop.

I was frustrated though. Daisy should be getting ready to eat chunky food. Daisy would be able to start eating Cheerios and other small bites within a month or so if she hadn't been hurt. But as it is now, she barely is able to eat Stage 1 foods and even then she tires easily. Sitting upright and eating food is hard work for her. Bio Mom should have already known this.

I'm scared that CPS isn't fully aware of what's happened to Daisy. I'm scared Daisy is going to languish in Care because no one knows anything. I don't like being the one to tell the bio family everything about Daisy. I'm not going to be rude. I'll answer questions. But there is a criminal case pending and I don't want to say anything to compromise that either.

I'm also scared of the nonchalant way that Bio Mom cradled Daisy and cooed at her, "You're going to get all better," in such a way that it seriously sounded like she isn't acknowledging how badly Daisy got hurt. She sounded like a mom comforting a kid with a skinned knee.

I honestly don't want to read too much in to what I hear from Bio Mom. But since I've got very little contact with CPS, the lawyer has never contacted me and I'm the only one telling the bio family about the medical details - I'm uncomfortable.

Foster care sucks.

Friday, January 10, 2014

No news

Ms. Colorado called this morning.

Despite the fact that we are in the case with Dude and Dolly legally...
Despite the fact that we are to get all reports...
We have heard nothing.

Perhaps the State will give the required reports to Ms. Colorado during the next hearing. But they will be riddled with lies and we would have no time to do anything about it -- even if there was anything to be done.

Which there isn't.

Nothing happened over the holiday season to jeopardize their placement in Dallas. At least nothing was reported to have happened.

We are officially dropping out. Ms. Colorado is going to file the paperwork as soon as she possibly can. She's even going to try and get the judge to sign it in this county as he works primarily where I live and not where the cherubs are originally from. (One judge covers all the foster care cases in two counties but the county I live in is more "active" so to speak.)

We are done.

We are not going to go to court in two weeks. Grandma N will be given PMC. Parental rights will not be terminated. Bio Mom will get out of jail in November of this year. She will have the opportunity to be in their lives again should she choose to go to Dallas. Bio Dad is still in jail awaiting a criminal trial. It's been over a year since he was last arrested and I don't know anything else about how long he's going to be "in". When he gets out though, his children will be at his mother's house and he will be able to be in their lives.

Prayer is really all I've got left.

I pray that the family they have in Dallas that is safe is supportive and nurturing.
I pray that the family they have in Dallas that is NOT safe stays away.
I pray for Grandma N and the cherubs.
I pray that Dolly can see the good in everything.
I pray that Dude can recover from his anger.

I love these cherubs with everything I've got. But the writing is on the wall. They are gone.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Meeting the Bio Family

I walked into an empty waiting room in the CPS office this afternoon. An older couple was in there standing around waiting. As Daisy and I entered, their faces lit up.

I met Daisy's paternal grandparents.

It's evident that they love their granddaughter very much.
But the things Grandma said about her son...they gave me pause. She is convinced, and said so, that her son couldn't have done this on purpose. (At least she's almost to a place where she can acknowledge that he might have done it though. That's different from the interview of her on the news after her son was arrested.)

When they asked if Daisy could see, it hurt to tell them the truth.
Other than the doctors, it seems no one knows the truth.

I told them that Daisy is blind. I told them Daisy has significant brain damage. I told them that we'll know more after Daisy starts all her therapies. Then I said, "We don't know if Daisy will ever walk or talk." I said it again, "She has a lot of brain damage. Her injuries were significant."

The air in the room was so thick. I don't like being the person to tell everyone this.
But someone has to.

I do have hope.
Miracles DO happen!
But Daisy was hurt. Daisy was hurt bad!
And we do NOT know how well Daisy is going to recover.




Monday, January 6, 2014

Compassion fatigue

I've written about compassion fatigue before. It is rough stuff! And now that I'm a couple weeks in to these new cases, I figure I need to write about it again. They covered this in our foster parent training, but they barely touched on it and all they did was say that "we need to take care of ourselves". Well, if you don't really understand compassion fatigue, days like today just don't make sense. I'm extraordinarily tired tonight and I just want to curl up in a ball in a dark room.

I had to take Daisy to two separate medical appointments today. The first was simply to our pediatrician. It's not time for any "special" check-up, but I needed to establish a relationship with the doctor and get some therapy paperwork signed so it can get sent off to Medicaid for approval.

The appointment went well. It's very hard for me to watch the expressions on the people at the office though. I know they see a lot, but it isn't every day that an abused or severely neglected child comes through their doors. Often, they don't know how to respond.  For example, I don't think the nurse that took vitals and filled a ton of stuff in the computer when we got there really understands what Global Developmental Delay is!! Despite me explaining Daisy's injuries and what she's capable of doing, this nurse insisted on asking every single question exactly as it was written on the form in her computer.
No, I don't know if Daisy has abnormal thoughts.
No, Daisy doesn't eat dirt.
Shall I remind you that Daisy is practically immobile due to global developmental delay?
She meant no harm. But she kept asking question after question that didn't apply. And when I would give her an honest answer, she would look at me with this puzzled expression like she didn't now how to put the answer in the computer. Yes, Daisy is eight months old. But no, Daisy can't do the things eight month old babies can do.

The doctor we saw was great. But again, I had to tell Daisy's story. Thankfully she didn't react in ignorance or horror.

This afternoon I had to take Daisy to the hospital for a transfontenelle ultrasound of her head. Because she's eight months old her soft spots have almost closed. It was very difficult to get good images. The technician even brought in someone else so they could try as well.

Again, I had to tell Daisy's story. It's not like I say everything! But the diagnosis "Shaken Baby Syndrome" is all I have to say and it's a bombshell! Both men tried to contain their emotions, but they each had these looks of horror on their faces. It's hard to deal with.

I cannot live in that place of horror. I have to move past it and let it become part of Daisy's story - but not a part of daily life. Every time I have to tell Daisy's story to someone new though, I am flung back to that difficult place. My words explain what happened to her, the injuries, the horror - and it hurts!!

So foster parent friends - do take care of yourself. Hopefully this post can help you understand your own emotions a little bit better. Taking care of these innocent children is no easy task. It's so much more than simply caring for them. We bear the weight of their stories too.

I've got basketball practice with Bart tonight. I'm going to sit in a corner alone and fry my brain on stupid FB games on my phone. I'll recover tomorrow - no appointments. Then hopefully I'll get enough sleep to be able to hang on for the rest of the appointments I've got the rest of the week.

Thanks to everyone that pushed me to sign up with Medicaid for transportation reimbursement. After I get all the paperwork filled out I will qualify for over $200 reimbursement since Daisy came. That will definitely help the bottom line!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

@ r. - you made a very good point

While I believe my decision to break one of those rules honestly is in the best interests of the child - you're right...I shouldn't flaunt it. I deleted the post.

Tax Time

A lot of questions usually fly this time of year about claiming your foster kids on your tax return.

You can!!

This is the BEST post I've ever read on the subject. It answers every question.

And yes, I'm going to do my taxes today. I'm pretty sure Gma in Dallas wants the $$$ for Dude and Dolly but they were with ME until September 23rd. We are claiming them this year!!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

NOT in it for the $$$

Monday, 9:30AM
Daisy meets with her primary care physician to establish a relationship and get therapy paperwork and approval started

Monday, 3:00PM
Daisy has a transfontenelle ultrasound at the hospital

Tuesday
nothing...yet

Wednesday, 2:45PM
Daisy to follow up with neurosurgeon

Wednesday, 5:45PM
counseling session for Ricky

Thursday, 9:00AM
dentist for Daisy

Thursday, 5:00PM
family visit for Daisy

Friday, 1:00PM
Daisy follows up with the retina specialist

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I'm pretty sure this is what my life is going to look like most of the time now. Each one of these medical appointments will take me 1-4 hours minimum (not counting drive time).

Daisy has two family visits a week but is missing one this week because it conflicts with a medical appointment. (Thankfully I've been given permission to give preference to all medical appointments over visits with mom and even court.) Ricky has his family visit (only one) on Saturdays. He's got an out-of-town swim meet this weekend though so he's missing his.

I've got to work up my documentation for Daisy to submit to a third party group that evaluates kids for their "level". Despite MANY hours being spent dealing with Daisy's medical needs, and everyone knowing how badly she was hurt, Daisy came to me as a "basic". I've got to document 30 days worth of notes that will be submitted to this group to evaluate. Hopefully Daisy will get bumped up to "specialized" after that happens. I'm NOT in it for the $$$. But she is going to take an incredible amount of time and effort. There is also the cost of driving to all the appointments and the inevitable restaurant food that will need to be added to the budget as a result as well.

Here's to praying that TT and Bart will cooperate with school a bit more this semester. My schedule simply doesn't allow for a 1-2 hour meltdown over math every day.