Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Weight

When I'm stressed out, it's almost like I've gone to the closet and pulled out a weighted compression vest to wear. It pushes on my chest and it hurts. It physically hurts.

Sometimes I wonder what it's like to not walk around with that vest on all the time.

Because try as I might, I cannot seem to stop internalizing the pain I feel for my foster kids. The logical part of my brain says to let it go. My brain knows not to get caught up in the loop of worry. But it happens.

Am I the only one that does that???
If she says this...then I'll say this.
If the caseworker does this...then I'll respond with this.
If the judge says this...then I'll say this. But if they say this...then I'll say this.
It's insane! It's all to try and do the best I can for my kids. But it's perfectly insane!

I recognize that those worry loops aren't from God. Satan wants me to get caught up in them. Often they make me mad and Satan would much prefer that I stay mad at Bio Mom rather than extend her any grace.

Over the years I've learned how to step out of those loops. I believe ('cause some pastor sometime told me so) that Satan can't read your mind. So I will audibly say, "Satan, go away! I am taking my thoughts captive." Then I ask for the Holy Spirit to come to me and fill that void. Sometimes I have to do it several times. But I'm usually able to get out of those loops of worry, anger and frustration.

But there are still times during the day where I hurt from the stress of the situation. It started for me this morning. I wasn't worried about going to the doctor with Bio Mom yesterday. I wasn't stressed right away this morning. I didn't even feel the pain on the drive there. But once I graced the doorstep of the office building...BAM...it hit me hard!! And it was so hard to snap out of the loop.
If Mom says this about the eczema...I'll say this.
If Mom asks about the seizure last week
that I didn't tell her about (I told Mr. CW)...I'll say this.
If Mom says something about foster parenting in general...I'll say this.
If Mom says this...I'll say this.
And then she didn't show.

The tension built and I couldn't seem to shake it. Of course it didn't help when the nurse told me about Bio Mom coming back for the private meeting with the doctor. So many more worry loops ran through my mind. Should I say something to the doctor? Should I tell Bio Mom I know? Should I say something to Mr. CW? Over and over I tossed conversations around in my head. Bigger and bigger the pain in my chest got.

I took deep breaths. I prayed. I tried to let it go. The logical part of my brain knew the stress wasn't necessary. Everything was exactly the same at 10:30 this morning as it was at 9:30 this morning.

But then TT decided to join the stress party. He's been playing with Mr. Wonky for about a week now. I had to help him regulate when I was having a hard time regulating myself.

We made it through. TT calmed down. I stopped hanging out in the loop.

But then, because...well..why not?!...I jumped into a new loop.

Ricky has a banquet tonight. First he was going to go. Then he wasn't going to go. Then he decided to go. And he called me from school yesterday to ask me if I could take his suit to the cleaners. My day was cram packed yesterday. I didn't make it up to his room to try and locate said suit that needed cleaning. And when he got home from school he didn't go get his suit and bring it to me so I spaced off taking it to the cleaners last night.

He brought it to me this morning.
We all know how my morning went.

So I started worrying - completely unnecessarily - about the stupid suit.

The banquet isn't a full formal event. Yes, it's being held at a hotel in a banquet room. Yes, Ricky needs to dress nice. But a three-piece suit certainly isn't required.

But I felt bad. I knew his suit needed to be cleaned a few weeks ago. But I never told Ricky specifically to bring it to me to get it cleaned.

But Ricky has a driver's license. Ricky has a bank account. Ricky knows that I'll transfer money into his account for stuff like this. I do it all the time. Ricky never took his suit to be cleaned either.

But Ricky's just a kid. He's never been responsible for stuff like this ever. I should have done it for him.

But he doesn't need the suit. He'll be OK.

But he wanted the suit. I should have cleaned the suit.

And on and on I looped.

----

I just want to do right by my kids.

----

Daisy's Bio Mom didn't say anything to me at the visit drop-off or pick-up. I didn't say anything to her either. It's just easier that way.

Ricky was polite like always. He said it's fine he doesn't have his suit. He'll wear his khakis.

And I'm going to go put on nice clothes and get ready to leave in just a few.

----

Hopefully that weighted vest will stay in the closet tonight. I'm tired.

We went to the neurosurgeon again today

Bio Mom ended up being a no-show at the neurosurgeon this morning. Bio Mom knew about the appointment. She was there when it was assigned last week. Today is also her day off at work. I don't know why she didn't show up. But attending medical appointments is something that is simply allowed. Bio Mom is not required to attend.

Daisy is scheduled to have a visit this afternoon. I'm not going to bring up the fact Bio Mom was a no-show this morning though. I'm keeping my interactions with Bio Mom to a bare minimum. She's made it clear to all the people in power that she wants her baby back. Mr. CW used the word "hostile" when he described how she's interacting with CPS. I will give her NO ammunition against me.

I did get some interesting information at the doctor's office this morning though. It seems that last week, after Daisy and I pulled out of the parking lot, Bio Mom went back into the doctor's office to speak to him alone.

My initial reaction to that was one of extreme disappointment. This doctor, the neurosurgeon, is the one that continually tells me that Daisy is going to be "just fine". Over and over that's all he seems to say. I was afraid that this doctor helped shove Bio Mom deeper into her denial.

The neurosurgeon came into the exam room and cautiously asked me if Daisy was going to go back to Bio Mom. I smiled and said I don't know what's going to happen. Then I told him I knew she came to talk to him in private last week. He told me that Bio Mom wanted to know "how to care for her baby".

I told the neurosurgeon, briefly, that I thought Bio Mom was trying to find out if her daughter was going to fully recover from her injuries. I indicated that Bio Mom is in extreme denial about the severity of the damage done.

The neurosurgeon looked at me and said, "I'm not in a position to talk to her about that."

I said, "Yes you are. You've seen the MRIs. You know about the amount of permanent brain damage Daisy has."

He softened a bit and said, "Yes." But he went on to say that's not what Bio Mom wanted to know. Instead, she was trying to figure out if she needed to do things on a day to day basis differently. I think his words were, "Bio Mom wanted to know what she needed to do to prevent further brain damage."

----

My Genius Sister decoded all of that for me. She's soooo smart.

Of course Bio Mom wants to know how to prevent future brain damage. She's still convinced that Daisy simply suffered from an accident. Bio Mom wants to know how to prevent that kind of accident from happening again.

Sigh.

----

I broke about a zillion rules and spoke with two of the nurses before I left today. One of them said something about praying for Daisy and hoping she ends up where she's supposed to be. I could tell they sympathized with Bio Mom a bit. I mean...Bio Mom did come back in to try and learn more about her baby. (Bio Mom looks good on paper I tell you.)

I couldn't help myself though. When one of the nurses asked me about Bio Dad I said, "He's not a long-term concern in this case. CPS is not trying to place Daisy with him in any way." The nurses looked relieved. I added that he will have a criminal trial too. Then I said, "But the real problem in everything is Bio Mom is still with Bio Dad."

The nurses just shook their heads in disgust. Any sympathy they had for Bio Mom went out the window. Now everything I had said about Bio Mom being in denial about Daisy's disabilities made sense to them.

----

I sent a text message to Mr. CW letting him know that Bio Mom didn't come to the appointment. He said thank you for letting him know and that was that.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My new obsession

I remember when I had only one child. I just knew that if I could only have more kids, I'd stop obsessing about the one.

I think in my case I'd have to have 27 kids to stop obsessing.

My newest obsession: what to feed Miss Daisy and how much to feed her.

She's taking less and less out of her bottle. I do good to get her to drink 18 ounces a day total. She's completely unable to drink from a cup of any kind so I don't know how to get her to consume more. It bothers me though. It doesn't seem like enough. For example, she got up this morning at 6:50am. I gave her a bath and got her dressed. She typically doesn't want anything right away to eat or drink. At about 7:30 I offered her a bottle. She only took 2 ounces.

Daisy is eating solid food a lot better and I know that's part of the reason why she's taking less from her bottles. But she's not taking a tremendous amount. It varies depending on what she's being served and her mood, but she usually only takes about 4 ounces per meal.

Daisy cannot feed herself at all. She's able to tolerate some texture and she's starting to chew soft foods. I don't feel right feeding her all store-bought purees. It's not that I think they're bad. But they're all sweet and they don't offer any depth of flavor. I'm afraid if that's all I serve her she'll never learn to tolerate "real" food.

So I'm obsessing.

Feel free to join me in my obsession. What would YOU feed Daisy?

I've started making a lot of my own baby food. That way I can add a variety of flavors and textures. I can puree it still so she's able to eat it. But I don't have to take the puree down to totally smooth. For example, I made some super soft oatmeal this morning. I added chia seed to it and then stirred in some small ripe banana pieces. At 8:40am I offered her this. She did well eating it but only took 3 ounces. For Daisy's entire breakfast she took 2 ounces of formula and 3 ounces of solids. Is that enough?

Things to keep in mind:
For eating purposes, Daisy is around 4 months old developmentally. But chronologically she's almost one year old. Somehow I have to meet her biological needs within her developmental abilities.

In general, Daisy is about 5 months old developmentally. She's active to a degree. But she's not crawling or moving all over the place. Her caloric needs aren't as high as a typically developing one year old.

However, Daisy is a very big baby. She weighs at least 23 pounds and is at least 29" long. (Those numbers are from a month ago so I'm guessing both are higher.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

The birthday party dilemma

Daisy is turning one year old in two weeks. I've had several people ask me if we're going to throw her a birthday party. Here's my answer...
  1. I never want to treat my foster kids differently from my forever kids!
  2. Birthday parties for my forever kids typically just involve family. I've thrown bigger parties before. When Herman turned one I invited a bunch of people that I worked with, some friends and all my family. Our tiny little house was jam packed. When TT turned one it coincided with his adoption as well. We literally invited our entire church and had a pot-luck one Sunday after service. But when Bart turned one there was much less fanfare. As my cherubs get older they have requested bigger parties. But I'm not the "bouncy-house, gift bags, tons of kids I don't know" party throwing kind of a mom.
  3. In general birthdays involve the child getting to pick out their favorite food for dinner. I bake and decorate a cake. And they open presents from family members. We've also had other small traditions like the child getting their own bottle of flavored milk from the store. (Strange - but my kids loved that tradition and it stuck around for several years.)
  4. I always want to meet my foster kids where they are at developmentally.
  5. Daisy doesn't have a favorite food. She can't eat cake. And my entire extended family lives over 1200 miles away. I've got a few friends in my neighborhood. And I suppose I could invite her therapists and social workers. But it would be over-stimulating and probably even scary to Daisy to have a bunch of people over to the house.
  6. Also, Daisy needs nothing right now. Every time I think of a toy or piece of equipment that might help with her development, I buy it right away. I honestly struggled giving my sister birthday present ideas yesterday when she asked me.
  7. And for what it's worth, Daisy couldn't open presents. She wouldn't even get anything out of hand-over-hand pulling on bows and ripping off paper. Once we got in to the present, Daisy couldn't see it anyway so the excitement would be lost on her entirely.
So I'm really not sure what we are going to do for Daisy's birthday.

I want everyone to know that I love and adore Daisy and that she is special to our family. But I don't have to throw a party for a bunch of other people to prove that. If I throw a party, it would simply be to have pictures so I could prove I threw a party. It wouldn't mean much to Daisy.

I also realize that her own biological family can acknowledge her birthday and take pictures if remembering the event that way is important to them. Bio Mom is high functioning. She can throw a party for Daisy during a visit if she feels it's necessary to have those kinds of pictures.

I don't mean to sound callous. I do want to celebrate Daisy's life!! But I think it's going to look a lot like us singing to Daisy "Happy Birthday" all day long. I'll be sure to take pictures of her with the presents she will be receiving. And that will be about it.

If Daisy is still in my life when she's older, and if she's more aware of thing things going on around her, future parties and celebrations will look different. But for now, I think I'm going to meet Daisy where SHE is at.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

CORRECTIONS

  1. I shouldn't write a blog and make dinner at the same time. I really needed to proofread that last post a few more times. I've caught two typos and I'm sure there are more.
  2. I was incredibly wrong about the healing of Daisy's incisions. I'm no doctor but I'm no dummy. I usually try to get my brother's take on things when new meds are prescribed for my family members. And I'll own it when I make a mistake.
    I called My Genius Brother (a doctor) to ask about the cream that was prescribed. He informed me that head wounds heal quickly and it is concerning that Daisy's are still scabbing over. The cream that was prescribed is for burns and wound care.
  3. I was also wrong about the neurosurgeon having us come back in 10 days so he can make money on another office visit. The neurosurgeon was paid one fee for surgery and all post-op visits. It really is concerning that Daisy hasn't healed fully from her craniotomy. She really does need to be seen in 10 days to make sure everything is OK.

It was awkward

I got to the appointment at the neurosurgeon's office about 10 minutes early this morning. Right or wrong - I prayed that Bio Mom wouldn't show up. Or at least that they would put me back into a room and we'd be seen before Bio Mom got there. (I prayed hard too.)

But no. I waited out in the general waiting room and Bio Mom showed up about 5 minutes after the appointment was supposed to have started. I had Daisy down in her car seat because I really wanted her to fall asleep.

(Side note: I'd love to have Daisy on some sort of a schedule. She needs to sleep more than she does. But it is simply impossible to accommodate all of her appointments and keep her on anything that even resembles a schedule. Too many people want to see her each day. If I even tried to put her on a schedule I'd just spend every single day mad because somebody would mess it up!)

It became apparent that Daisy was not going to fall asleep. So I unbuckled her and handed her over to her mom. I did not start conversation. Not even small talk.

Eventually we got called back to the exam room.

It was even more awkward there because again, I didn't talk. I mean...what would I say?! I've already told Bio Mom all about Daisy's medical needs. I'm not just going to start preaching at her. I figured if she wanted to make small talk she could start first.

It's even awkward figuring out how to sit in situations like this. Do we sit next to each other like we're friends? Do we avoid each other because of the situation? I could tell even Bio Mom didn't know what to do. In the general waiting room we sat next to each other. But in the exam room I opted to sit on the exam table instead of in a chair right smack next to Bio Mom.

Awkward doesn't even begin to describe how it feels.

Everyone in the office thinks of Daisy as "my" kid. Everyone is protective of Daisy. Everyone was looking at us funny.

Well...they probably weren't. But it felt that way to me.

In the exam room Bio Mom tried to talk to me some. I answered her questions. But yet again, she got all weirded out (technical term of course) when I flat out told her, "The way Daisy flaps her arms and hits her head all the time is not normal. It just isn't."

I know it hurts. But Bio Mom isn't ready to hear that her daughter isn't normal.

Someone has to get it through her head that Daisy is NEVER going to fully recover. You cannot suffer the level of brain damage that Daisy did and be all hunky-dory just fine.

When the doctor came in he did a bit of a double take and then tried to assess the situation. He had to make sure that Daisy was still with me. I said yes. Then he muttered something about, "so...Mom has visits." I said, "Yes. Bio Mom has two visits a week and can attend all medical appointments." He seemed relieved to know that Daisy was still in my care.

As is typical for this brain doctor, he didn't say much. He prescribed some cream because the incisions are still red and scabby. Bio Mom's feathers were ruffled and she wanted to know exactly what the cream was for. They sort of blew her off and said it was just to help Daisy heal. Me...I'm just frustrated that I've got another med log to fill out for no reason. (The incisions aren't infected. The doctor even said so himself. They are healing just fine. They're just healing slow. I'm no doctor but I'm no dummy either. He just wanted to give us a reason to have to come back again in 10 days. Gotta get as many office visits as you can to make the $$$.)

Bio Mom struggled getting Daisy in her car seat. I took my paperwork and went to the front office to wait for them to give me Daisy's next appointment. Bio Mom came out and awkwardly said goodbye to Daisy and then just left.

I'm going to have to compartmentalize all of this. The awkwardness of everything takes a toll on me. It drums up that compassion fatigue again. It puts Daisy's story out there all over again because I have to explain to Bio Mom things about her daughter that she doesn't understand or want to accept. Today I was able to let go of my stress pretty quickly though. I called My Genius Sister and word vomited on the way home from the appointment. That always helps.

I've decided that I'll go with Bio Mom to any specialist appointment without a social worker present. Since the specialists rarely say much, the most awkward part will be the waiting for the appointment to start. The appointments themselves are short. I've worked with the neurologist for several years (back when I had Pumpkin). And knowing how he functions, I know it will be as easy as the neurosurgeon was today.

I will NOT go to the one-year well-child check by myself with Bio Mom though. Madame Doctor will probably go off on Bio Mom because Daisy isn't vaccinated. I'm going to call Madame Doctor ahead of time though and ask her to cover some of the overall developmental delay issues too. These are things *I* know - but Bio Mom needs to hear it from someone other than just me. Someone has to help Bio Mom understand that...here it is again...Daisy is never going to be "normal". Daisy is always going to struggle. Even if she does learn to walk, talk, eat food, and maybe even read (if her sight returns), Daisy will probably have social/emotional difficulties due to the brain damage. I mean...come on...she has to wrap her own brain around the fact that, intentional or not, her bio dad nearly killed her. That's some deep stuff to try and comprehend. I don't want to be the only foster care professional in the room when Madame Doctor examines Daisy. That one I won't do alone.

There's nothing easy about foster care. But I survived today. And I'll survive tomorrow. Daisy is safe and loved. And maybe, just maybe, Bio Mom will figure things out.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Co-parenting adventure

Bio mom is now allowed to attend all medical appointments.

CPS is not going to be supervising these appointments.

That puts me and Bio Mom playing nice together in a doctor's office.

(I can hardly wait.)

Our first attempt of doing this together happens tomorrow at 9:30AM. We get to go see the neurosurgeon. He's going to take 30 seconds to look at her incisions and tell me to come back in 3-4 months.

If it's weird or uncomfortable in a way I don't want to deal with, this will be the LAST attempt at co-parenting without a social worker with us. I already let my agency know I won't play this game if Mom causes problems. And I'm still not sure I'm willing to go to Daisy's one-year well-child check alone with Bio Mom. (Madame Doctor will probably rip Bio Mom a new one and I don't want to be the only one there to witness it!)

Tomorrow should be a very interesting day.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Talking with Great Grandma P

I always told myself that I wanted to stay in contact with Great Grandma P even after Dude and Dolly went to Dallas. And we did talk for awhile. About once a month or so GGP would call me and we'd talk about the case. GGP wanted us to stay in the case. She did NOT want those children to go to Dallas. So as long as we were still intervening, GGP and I stayed in contact.

After we officially dropped out in January I stopped calling. I mean...what would I say?!

But a few days ago I decided to tell her I miss her. I sent GGP a brief text telling her I'm thinking about her. (It cracks me up just a little that a 74 year old grandma texts.)

Great Grandma P didn't text me back though. I honestly didn't expect her to. She lives in EXTREME poverty. Her phone could have been shut off. She could have a new phone number. She could be sick. And in reality, she could have even died. She's not young and she's not always healthy. (But to look at GGP she's the type of woman that strikes you as someone that's never going to die. She's strong. She's vibrant. And she's always on the go!)

While in the car on the way to the meeting with Daisy's lawyer I got a phone call. Low and behold, it was Great Grandma P!!

Talking with GGP is always an interesting experience. She talks about family members like I should know who they all are. She tells me stories like I should know all the details. Sometimes I have a hard time following her. But, all in all, our conversation was soothing to my soul.

She had recently been in Dallas. She's seen Dude and Dolly. According to GGP they are doing OK enough. They're not as good as when they were with me. But they are OK.

GGP's filter though is different from mine. The reason she thinks they aren't doing as well is because Dude needs a haircut and they aren't dressed as nice as when they lived with me.

Poverty skews things.

I wanted to know HOW they are. Are they being loved? Are they being kept safe? Are their emotional needs being met?

Of course GGP didn't address those issues. She did say though that the kids wouldn't talk to her much. They just wanted to run off and watch TV.

When the babies came to me they literally did not watch TV. They couldn't. They didn't enjoy it. In fact, there were a few times when I would have given anything for 30 minutes of a cartoon to settle them down. Toward the end they watched some TV at our house -- and a LOT of TV when they went to Dallas for the weekends.

I'm sure it's hard for the cherubs to see GGP though too. When their mom dropped out of their life GGP was the only family member they had much contact with until the State started flying the cherubs to Dallas. I'm sure they equate GGP with their time with us.

I'm glad to know the babies (they're hardly babies anymore -- but they'll always be my babies) are still in the same apartment. When a package my mom sent to them at Christmas was returned twice, I was afraid they had moved or that they had been shuffled to a new family member. But Dude and Dolly are still in the same apartment with Grandma N.

I asked GGP to contact me next time she's going to go to Dallas. Getting packages to Grandma N isn't reliable. She lives in a very large apartment complex and I don't think she's willing to drive anywhere to pick packages up. I asked GGP to let me know when she's going north so I can send a package or two with her for the cherubs. She said she'll let me know when she goes next. I really hope she does.

I miss my babies.

Friday, April 11, 2014

brace yourself...

I just got back from the doctor's office with Miss Daisy.

You'll NEVER guess what she has.

Brace yourself!

Daisy...

has...

eczema!

Madame Doctor is sooooooo not a fan of CPS. This is the same doctor that watched Pumpkin get abused IN HER OFFICE and then watched that abuse get thrown out in court. And, like many doctors, Madame Doctor is in favor of vaccinating children. She is not pleased that Bio Mom and Bio Dad "get" to abuse their children and nearly kill them but still get to retain rights over their care concerning immunizations.

And now Madame Doctor is furious with Bio Mom for even suggesting that I could be responsible for eczema and baby scratches.

Furious!

I am to continue treating it like I always have. I am to use Aquaphor to keep it moist. I'm to put socks over Daisy's hands to keep her from scratching if at all possible. (I refuse to keep socks on Daisy's hands all day. Daisy is visually impaired. She NEEDS to feel the world around her. But I do put them on at night sometimes.) I am also to treat with aloe vera because it has some anti-inflammatory properties.

------

Keeping the drama going...

Not only did Bio Mom start all this with a photo to her lawyer...but BIO DAD came in to the CPS office today with a photo of Daisy because he too "is concerned".

(Hmmm....the bio parents aren't "together" yet Dad has a recent picture of Daisy?)

-----

Mr. CW has documentation - from the bio parents themselves - that Daisy had eczema prior to coming in to Care. Bio Mom has also said before that Daisy has always scratched herself.

It is VERY unlikely that this will go any further. Mr. CW has got my back. It will all depend on whether or not someone actually calls the Abuse Hotline and whether or not the investigator comes to me first or goes to Mr. CW first.

-----

Foster care sucks!

it is not IF...it is WHEN!!

Daisy has eczema. I've got several pieces of paperwork from different doctors saying "eczema" on them. She breaks out on her forehead. She also gets pretty bad cradle cap. I use coconut oil sometimes. I've found a natural tea tree oil shampoo that really helps her scalp. And I put Aquaphor on any scratches that she makes. I keep her fingernails as short as possible.

Daisy has a neuro disorder of some sort that causes her to flap her left hand, scratch her head with her left hand and shake her left leg. The first doctor I talked to about it said that it's possibly due to the brain damage. The doctor's example was: newborns have a lot of random body movements. Daisy was thrown back due to the brain damage to the developmental level of a newborn. Perhaps that's why she does it. Her neurologist says (without even looking at her or getting much of a description from me) that it is seizure. Another doctor told me it could possibly be a harmless sleep disorder.

On Wednesday of this week, Daisy had a bit of an eczema flare. She also has been rather fussy this week. This resulted in Daisy scratching her head in several places. Pair those scratches with the inflammation from the eczema, and her forehead looks pretty bad.
Bio Mom asked about it at the visit yesterday. I told her much of what I just wrote above. The deer in the headlight look when I said it could be seizures was another reminder of what level of denial Mom is in. I know she's been told over and over by me that seizures are "normal" for children that have suffered the level of brain damage Daisy has.

I asked Bio Mom if Daisy scratched herself a lot before the injury. She said yes. She said Daisy's nails are really sharp. I added the fact that Daisy has been like this since birth to my list of "symptoms" so I'd have the full picture the next time we speak with a doctor.

And last, I've been taking videos the past few days of how Daisy hits and scratches herself. It does NOT look like seizure to me so I wanted to SHOW the neurologist.

But this is my life now:
  1. At yesterday's visit, Bio Mom took a picture of Daisy's forehead.
  2. Bio Mom emailed said picture to her lawyer.
  3. Bio Mom's lawyer emailed the picture to Daisy's lawyer.
  4. Daisy's lawyer emailed the picture to CPS. 
  5. Mr. CW sent me a text asking me what I know about this.
  6. I explained ALL of the above to Mr. CW and sent him the videos I've taken.
  7. I scheduled a doctor appointment for Daisy to see her pediatrician this afternoon.
  8. All it is going to take is for Bio Mom or Bio Mom's lawyer to call the hotline and I WILL be under investigation again.
  9. Mr. CW told me to be prepared for that exact scenario.
It is not IF you're going to be investigated...it most certainly is WHEN. Document everything. Tell everyone everything. Never act like anything normal is really normal.

Because in foster care...nothing is normal!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I met with Miss Daisy's lawyer

My entire body went on Red Alert at about 1:00PM today. Exactly one hour before I was to meet with Daisy's lawyer.

Lawyers, in general, don't make me nervous at all. It's just how The System works down here that messes with me. I don't personally feel like I should have to chase down the lawyer for a meeting. In my rainbow and lollipop world, the lawyers should call the caregivers (if the cherubs are young) and talk with them once a month. If the cherubs are older, the lawyers should set up a meeting with the child they represent. But...that's my rainbow and lollipop world. Reality down where I live is that lawyers do not do much and decisions are made on limited information given to them minutes before everyone is standing in front of the judge.

So I scheduled this meeting.

I rehearsed about a million different introductions. I never hit on a script that I liked. Because, keep in mind, I have to support whatever the State is supporting. And this lawyer was pushing for reunification just 10 days ago.

I'm sitting here 90 minutes later and I honestly can't tell you how I started things. (Stress really messes with my head.) But I can tell you the conversation was smooth, the lawyer talked to me like I had a clue, and she took notes. (Yes...the lawyer took notes!!)

The topic I wanted to come up the most did come up. And I came right out and said it, "Bio Mom and Bio Dad are still together. No, they don't have the same physical address. But they are very much emotionally together."

I then sited my three examples:
  1. Bio Mom showing the video during the visit and then saying that nobody knows Bio Dad like she does
  2. Bio Mom and Bio Dad asking if they could live together again when they were at the Family Group Conference. Bio Mom stating during said conference that she is waiting to see what happens at the criminal trial when it comes to her relationship with Bio Dad.
  3. Bio Mom telling the babysitting service that she's still with Bio Dad.
The lawyer took note of all three events. She indicated that she's going to talk to CPS about the Family Group Conference and that she's going to call the babysitting service to see what they say. (Inside I was screaming, "You were invited to the FGC!! You could have come and heard it all yourself! You could have taken an active role in protecting your client!")

As much as I wanted to fully focus on the relationship with Bio Mom and Bio Dad that puts Daisy at risk, I tried to keep my focus on Daisy and her medical needs. The lawyer seemed totally OK with court ordering that Bio Mom keep up with all interventions if reunification happens. I found it interesting though...Ms. Lawyer didn't know anything about Daisy not having vaccinations or any medical care prior to the injury. I did my best to explain that Bio Mom will have a LOT to juggle to keep up with all of Daisy's therapies and specialists.

All in all I think the meeting went well.

When I got home I sent a text right away to Mr. CW to let him know that I had met with the lawyer. I wanted him to have the heads up since Ms. Lawyer indicated she would be checking in with Mr. CW. I do not want him blindsided by anything! (I like Mr. CW!)

Now I wait. I'm guessing nothing is going to change right away. I have to hope that Ms. Lawyer will better advocate for Miss Daisy as the case moves forward – now that she has the bigger picture painted.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Meeting with the lawyer

I'm pretty sure I know what I'm going to say on Thursday when I have a sit-down with Daisy's lawyer. But just for fun, what would YOU say if you were meeting with the lawyer?

Friday, April 4, 2014

more on the visit schedule

I'm dying to know what the powers that be are discussing about this crazy visit schedule for Miss Daisy. But of course I cannot make it sound like I personally care. The dance of foster care is so strange. I don't know how to explain it, but it is incredibly important to know how to work your "role" as a foster parent. Often this depends on the case worker you're dealing with. Mr. CW will answer all sorts of my questions "off the record". Therefore I know not to ask detailed questions about the case via email. Neither of us want that kind of a paper trail. So, if I really want to know something that perhaps not all caseworkers would share with foster parents, I need to send a text or ask him in person.

Mr. CW told me last night that he'd keep me in the loop. If I were to bother him again this morning trying to get details, it might sound like I'm being pushy. My approach...blame it on the therapists. I sent Mr. CW an email this morning asking if he had any more information because I wanted to let the therapists know where they would be going next week for therapy if/when visits were moved to Mom's house.

Mr. CW told me that it looks like visits are going to stay supervised at the CPS office for now.

Because it was via email, Mr. CW said absolutely nothing more. And because it was via email, I asked him nothing else. I just thanked him for the information.

I believe God Himself intervened for Daisy. Maybe it bought us a week. Maybe longer. But at least nobody is rushing helter skelter into unsupervised/supervised visits that last all day long. I'm grateful for the time it did buy. Hopefully Daisy's lawyer will call me back soon and I can further express my concerns on Mom's ability to handle Daisy's medical needs.

Of course that is all a dance too. I cannot (repeat...cannot) make it sound like I don't support reunification. It does not matter if I think reunification is the worst thing possible. I am not supposed to share that opinion with a single soul! No...I am to basically go along blindly with whatever the powers that be suggest.

My approach with the lawyer is going to be this...
Daisy's initial path in life included no medical intervention. I'm not sure if she ever had any well child checks and I know she received no vaccinations. What precautions are going to be put into place to ensure current interventions and medical appointments are maintained?
Hopefully a question like that will open up the doors to the other things I want to address. I do want to make sure the lawyer knows that Bio Mom is still "with" Bio Dad. I need the decision makers to understand the potential danger in that. I also want people thinking about the domestic violence and neglect charges that were brought up against Mom by a family member during the initial investigation.

But for now, I just wait. I don't know when visits are going to be next week at all. Mr. CW told me that Bio Mom's work schedule has changed so they will likely fall on different days at different times. And I'm going to leave another message at the lawyer's office asking for her to return my call.

And I'll wait.

And I'll love on that precious baby.

And I'll pray.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dancing with CPS

Daisy's new visit schedule is unlike anything I've ever even heard of.

If I understand things correctly, the judge ordered that a babysitter of sorts be present during the "unsupervised" visits that will take place in Bio Mom's home. This babysitter is not going to be contracted by the State though. I honestly do NOT understand their role exactly. If Bio Mom wants to go out during the visit, for example, can she leave the baby? I mean...SHE is the one that hired the babysitter and is paying for their services. And if the babysitter sees something that concerns them, are they required to report it? How can the State require an employee of Bio Mom's to report anything?! (Of course I would hope that any child care provider would report abuse. But what about the subtleties of this case that aren't abuse...yet...but cause great concern? ie: a baby crying inconsolably and the parent being unable to handle things)

I live in a rather large city. But it's small enough that Bio Mom contacted the exact same babysitting service as what I had already interviewed for my own, personal use.

After learning of how these visit dynamics were going to work I got concerned. I can't put my finger on it, it was just a gut feeling. It didn't sit right with me. I decided the correct thing to do would be to "drop out" myself.

So this morning I sent an email to the owner of the babysitting service. I told them that if they wanted to continue to proceed with the myriad of background checks, reference checks and fingerprinting I MIGHT consider utilizing their services AFTER the new visits with Daisy were established and I could see how Daisy was responding. But as of right now, it felt like a conflict of interests to me and I wanted to back out.

After a brief discussion, the owner of the babysitting service became rather concerned herself. She was unaware of the full role CPS was asking her company to take in this dance. She informed me that she was going to back out as well.

The more I thought about it the more I realized I had to be proactive again. I just got off the phone with Mr. CW. His voice fell as I explained the story. Even he agreed that this could be easily spun to make it sound like I was trying to sabotage things. I went ahead and documented the entire relationship with the babysitting service in an email. Thank God I'm able to prove that I made contact first and that once I realized how the dance was proceeding I bowed out first.

I have no idea what this is going to mean in the grand scheme of things. Maybe they'll proceed with the visits and not have anyone there. Maybe they'll force Mom to find a different babysitter. Either way, I bet Mom is going to be mad at me if she catches wind of any of this. But...even Bio Mom is aware that the babysitting service had met with me first and she continued moving forward herself. The owner of the company told her that when the needs assessment was done at Bio Mom's house.

Dancing with CPS is never easy!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Protecting and advocating

I contacted Mr. CW today to see if Daisy still had her regularly scheduled visit. Interestingly enough, today's visit was cancelled. (Glad I called!!) Tomorrow's visit still stands though. The overall visit schedule will be changing next week after the lawyers and CPS can agree on things.

Overnight visits aren't being allowed yet. Instead, visits are going to take place in Mom's home during the day (on her days off from work which just happen to fall non-consecutively during the typical work week). Visits are going to be 10-12 hours long I think.

This is where things get REAL interesting though!!!

Mom is going to be required to hire a nanny/babysitting service to be in her home during these visits. If I understand things, this babysitter of sorts will not be reporting to CPS. However, they will be there to ensure Daisy's safety. Not only is Mom to hire said service, but she is going to be expected to pay for it out of her pocket as well.

I find the whole thing very, very strange.

Even stranger...Bio Mom chose and interviewed the same local company that I interviewed and in turn hired. The owner of the company meets with families in their home to basically do a needs assessment prior to having any of the sitters she has on staff work for you. I met with the owner just days before Bio Mom met with her separately. The owner of the company did tell Mom that she had already met Daisy. It seems Bio Mom was forthcoming about her situation and the fact that Daisy is in foster care.

CPS is running their own background checks on this small business before they will allow the new visit schedule to start. I assured Mr. CW that the business is legit and everything will come back favorable.

I addressed some of my other concerns with Mr. CW. I told him that I, personally, need to be protected when it comes to these unsupervised visits. I briefly explained what happened when Pumpkin was abused by her family one weekend and how I got blamed in court. I told him that provisions will need to be in place at drop off and pick up. I won't do this without another party looking Daisy over completely before and after a visit and I will not be wrongly accused again. I do hope Mr. CW understands how serious I am about this!

I then moved forward with some of my long-term concerns. Since the State has now fully opened the option of reunification with Bio Mom, things have to be put into place to protect Daisy and ensure that her medical needs are being met after she goes home. Prior to the injury that brought her into Care, Daisy was on a path of no medical intervention at all. Since that is no longer an option, will Bio Mom be required to attend Daisy's medical appointments now? And since Bio Mom's denial is a very valid concern of the State's, will someone from CPS be attending as well so they can document the interactions between Bio Mom, Daisy and the doctor? Mr. CW hadn't thought of this angle at all yet and said he would address things with the rest of the staff involved with this case at CPS.

As far as the missing vaccinations go, Bio Mom has already signed a piece of paperwork absolving anyone currently involved in Daisy's care from liability over the lack of vaccinations. Bio Mom is against vaccinations (believes they cause autism I think). No one from CPS is going to try and force Mom's hand on this nor are they going to try and get the judge to sign orders allowing vaccinations to start. Should the doctor Daisy is currently seeing officially announce that she will no longer treat Daisy in their clinic if she remains unvaccinated (as they have already threatened), it will be up to me to find a new clinic that not only takes Texas foster care Medicaid but will also agree to treat a special-needs, unvaccinated child. I guess CPS even tasked Bio Mom with finding a clinic under these perimeters and she found several. I'm NOT thrilled to death with this idea. I guess it'll be nice enough to get a list of doctors to talk to from Bio Mom so I'm not starting from scratch. But I like the pediatrician we see now and I want Daisy to maintain continuity of care with the same doctor.

Mr. CW stressed (STRONGLY STRESSED) how close things were to Daisy leaving Care yesterday. It seems that the ONLY reason she's still under the watchful eye of the State is because of the domestic violence issues raised against Mom. Otherwise, Daisy's lawyer (who has never spoken with any of Daisy's caregivers) was more than willing to hand Daisy over yesterday. I really question if she's read the file on Bio Mom and the incident that brought Daisy into Care.

I went ahead and dug out the investigative report that was emailed to me when Daisy arrived.  I decided to read it again. (I've NEVER received one of these. I'm betting I'm not supposed to have it.) There are accusations in the investigation from a paternal aunt against Bio Mom. Accusations of neglect in the home and of domestic violence. There are also reports from the investigator stating the condition of the home Daisy was removed from. I could be wrong, but it's my understanding if the condition of a home is poor enough that an investigator actually mentions it - the condition is pretty damn bad!!

I find it interesting that this aunt has never been interviewed again.

I find so many things interesting. There are a few questions I'd love to have answered by the people making decisions in Daisy's life...
  1. Bio Mom and Bio Dad are still "together". No, they aren't living under the same roof. But just two weeks ago, in a very formal meeting at CPS, they asked permission to move back in together. If Bio Dad isn't a safe person, and Bio Mom cannot see this at all, isn't that a significant concern? Legally they should not be able to say they aren't "together" because all they are addressing right now is the physical location where they sleep. I realize emotions can't be legislated. But something isn't right here.
  2. The current visits are concerning because Daisy cries inconsolably and it is documented that Bio Mom does not know how to sooth her. This goes along with the neglect that the aunt reported in the investigation. (The aunt states that Daisy would cry and Bio Mom wouldn't even get up to tend to her.) Is it a good idea to lengthen these visits without any form of supervision that is reporting to the State? What if Mom continues to neglect? Who is going to report it? Daisy can't talk yet and this level of neglect has never been addressed in the courtroom or anywhere else I believe.
  3. If Bio Mom has a history of domestic violence, should she be required to complete services addressing the problem?
CPS told me again, off the record, that they are pursuing terminating the rights of Bio Dad.

But if Bio Mom is still "with" Bio Dad, I don't think it's safe to send Daisy home!! I'm all for second chances. But something isn't sitting right with me here. Bio Mom is still head over heels in love with the man that nearly killed her daughter and took over 20 minutes to call 911 when he did it.

Are we just going to close our eyes to all the danger signs and send Daisy back? What if this man somehow gets acquitted criminally. What if??!! The door would be wide open for them to become a happy little family again.

I'm angry. No...I'm furious! And I'm not even in this case all super lovey-dovey hoping Daisy becomes mine forever. I love the little girl! We've even discussed that we would consider being an adoptive resource should the case come to that. But I'm not all a mess because I want to parent Daisy forever and ever and ever. No...I want to watch CPS do their damned best to protect this little girl and ensure that her permanency is SAFE! And I'm not seeing that.

I'm just as pissed at Daisy's lawyer as I am at Bio Mom for not kicking Bio Dad to the curb! How can this professional say and do the things she did yesterday?! Did she not read anything in the court report?! Because she certainly hasn't talked to any of the people that know Daisy and know the case. Bio Mom's therapist reported formally that Bio Mom is in denial about the "accident". (There's that word again. "Accident." Bio Dad did CPR wrong. That's how Daisy almost died.) Even the therapist sees a problem!!!

I placed a call to Daisy's lawyer this afternoon at 1:00PM. I left a message. I'm going to call every day until she schedules a meeting with me. (Even Mr. CW thinks it would be a good idea for me to meet with Daisy's lawyer.) I'm going to do my best to come across as an advocate for Daisy without too much bias against Mom. It's going to be difficult. I hope she will speak with me. But someone has to look into these allegations against Bio Mom and take them seriously. Daisy's life depends on it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Daisy's first permanency hearing

After much angst about what I should wear today, I finally decided on a nice, but quite casual outfit. I tend to obsess about what I should wear to court each and every single time. It has NEVER mattered what I had on. But I think I obsess about my outfit because it's the only thing I do have control over. It was already in the upper 70's this morning with high humidity. I wanted to be comfortable and not covered in sweat. I also realized this morning that most of the dressy clothes in my closet don't work well with wiggly babies in tow.

I opted on the stroller for Daisy. I knew parking would be rough and I wanted a way to get her to the courtroom easily. If I would have put her in my carrier, I would have definitely ended up hot and uncomfortably sweaty. There's a good chance Daisy would have barfed on me too as that is her M.O.

I decided to NOT show up to the courtroom as early as I typically go. I wanted to meet with Daisy's lawyer but I didn't want to sit around for hours. We got to the waiting area about 25 minutes before the case was to be called. I walked up to the door, peeked my head inside the inner waiting room and made sure that Daisy's case was on the docket. I noticed that Bio Mom and Bio Dad were in the corner of the waiting room but I didn't acknowledge them. I went back outside to the covered waiting area outside the building.

I saw Dude & Dolly's GAL. I wanted to deck him when he came over and coochie-cooed Miss Daisy. I'm not his biggest fan. But I played nice.

I asked both the GAL and another CPS worker if they had seen Daisy's lawyer or even Mr. CW. The GAL said that Daisy's lawyer wasn't there yet and neither one had even heard of Mr. CW before.

So I waited and played with Miss Daisy on my lap.

After awhile I saw both Mr. CW and his supervisor. Mr. CW came out to talk to me. He said that things were going to be close. Said there was about a 50/50 chance Daisy would go back home to Mom. He said all they "had" is the fact that Bio Mom is in denial about Daisy's injuries.

Finally court was called. We all filed into the courtroom. No, I never met Daisy's lawyer. She didn't feel it was necessary to speak with her client's caregiver prior to court. This is typical where I live. The hands off nature of the lawyers concerns me so!

The first thing CPS did was acknowledge to the court that both Bio Mom and Bio Dad have successfully completed all of their services. It was noted that Bio Dad didn't need to take a domestic violence class because after they got the investigation notes together, it was determined he was the victim. (Supposedly Bio Mom threw a frying pan at him sometime I guess.) Bio Mom's lawyer claimed this was the first they ever heard of this. Then the subject was dropped.

The judge then asked CPS about Daisy and how she's doing.

Mr. CW did an OK job of explaining Daisy's recent medical fiascoes. However, an opportunity presented itself so I clarified a few points directly to the judge. He listened intently. It went well. Then the judge asked, "So, will Daisy need brain scans again in the future?"

I was able to reiterate how severe Daisy's injuries are. I said, "According to her neurosurgeon, the next time this happens...and yes, that is a WHEN this happens...not an IF this happens, Daisy won't get another CT scan. She's already been exposed to a lot of radiation. Next time this happens he will order an MRI immediately."

The judge clarified my statements and made a comment about needing future surgeries.

I confirmed that, yes, Daisy will need future surgeries on her head. No child can sustain the types of injuries that she did without needing future care in that area. I made sure he understand at the least, Daisy will need to have her shunts repaired, replaced or removed. Future surgeries are inevitable.

The timing was perfect and I do believe the judge understands the severity of Daisy's injuries.

All the professional players in this case then went about stating what they want to happen.
Bio Mom's lawyer said Daisy needs to go back to Bio Mom.
Bio Dad's lawyer said nothing.
CPS said they want permanent relative conservatorship but there are no relatives.
CPS then said that the concurrent plan is reunification.
Bio Mom's lawyer said again that Daisy needs to go back to her mom.

The judge called everyone up to his bench. I heard nothing. They all bantered back and forth. It was excruciating. I couldn't read anyone's expressions to know what was being said. It went on for what seemed like forever.

Then everyone sat back down and the judge ruled.

Daisy is remaining in foster care for now. There is still just enough uncertainty that the judge is unwilling to give custody to Bio Mom. However, all the players will be meeting soon to discuss a change in the visit schedule. I believe unsupervised, weekend visits will be starting soon.

Mr. CW came out to talk to me and to give me the dates for the next two hearings this summer. (I couldn't hold a baby and take notes at the same time in the courtroom.) He shared that Daisy's lawyer almost complicated things terribly! I don't know why, but I guess she decided that it'd be just peachy to send Daisy home today. However, the domestic violence accusation swung things in CPS's favor. That created just enough speculation on Mom that the judge ruled to keep Daisy in Care.

I'm concerned about unsupervised visits. I don't have a real good personal track record with them. Pumpkin came home from one abused with marks on her and I got accused when I reported it. And Dude and Dolly came home neglected and a drug needle was in their suitcase one time. Daisy won't be able to tell me a THING and no one gives a damn about a crying baby before, during or after visits.

It seriously looks like this case is going to move quickly to reunification with Bio Mom. I'm going to have to take necessary steps to include Bio Mom in Daisy's care. I don't know how that's going to look just yet. I have to wait to hear what CPS has to say about the change in the visit schedule first. We'll go from there.

For now though, we remain a family of seven.