Friday, June 27, 2014

Ricky went home this afternoon

CPS came for Ricky at 3:00pm sharp. Same as Wispy - no fanfare. No emotion. No nothing. I didn't have to sign anything. All I had to do was hand her Ricky's "education binder" and that was it.

But the difference between this Friday and last Friday?

Ricky can come back and visit any time.

In fact, Ricky drove my car over to his home with Rebecca and CPS followed him. Herman went along to help Ricky move. (Ricky has a LOT of stuff!!)

Ricky and Herman made their way back here about an hour later. Rebecca gave permission for Herman to stay the night so they loaded up the car again and took off. Ricky will bring Herman, and the car, back in the morning sometime.

It hardly feels like Ricky is gone yet. He'll be back in the morning. And he's already asked to stay the night on July 4th because he and Herman are going to a concert together.

I'm so happy for Ricky! This is the kind of happy ending I've been waiting for. Foster care has been beating me up lately. I'm glad I got to be a part of Ricky's life....even if he never really needed to be in foster care at all. He survived and I am blessed as a result.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Finally - some GOOD news!!

Ricky had court this morning. The case was supposed to be called at 10:00am. Amazingly enough, the party started at 10:15am.

The first thing that happened was that CPS asked to reset the actual trial date. Again, just like yesterday, I don't *really* know that this trial thing is. ALL the hearings sound exactly the same. And I've had cherubs in Care for over two years so it's not like they really follow the legal permanency deadlines. Nevertheless, today's hearing was a "pre-trial" and the next one is a "trial". Termination of parental rights is NOT something on the table right now. But I guess at the trial they can call witnesses and have additional testimony. (for whatever that's worth)

The judge did not reset the trial date but he did bring up the dismissal date of the case. If everything runs (legally) as it should, this case is supposed to be dismissed by October 22, 2014. Again - keep in mind - I've had cherubs in my care for longer than two years. I know of other foster families in our area that have had kids for 2, 4 or even 6 years. But apparently the judge thought it was important for all the players in the game today to know when this case is supposed to be done.

The judge asked if everyone had the most recent court report. Bio Mom's lawyer didn't have it. The GAL (Guardian ad Litem) for Ricky and his little brother (Michael) didn't have it. And the lawyer appointed to Michael's bio dad didn't have it. CPS made excuses. Everyone looked at everyone else funny. Nobody seemed to really care though, so the hearing progressed.

After a bunch of nothing being said, CPS finally reported that Bio Mom has been non-compliant with her plan. I guess the judge ordered a hair follicle test done. But nothing was really said about Bio Mom other than the fact she's not doing what she's supposed to be doing.

Then the new GAL started speaking. Prior to the hearing starting, the GAL did go around and talk privately with Bio Mom, Ricky's older brother and Ricky himself. After talking to Ricky he came back to me and said, "Hmmm...she said she doesn't understand why I was ever taken from Rebecca's house." I didn't get my hopes up. I honestly thought there was no chance of Ricky getting to go back to Rebecca's at all.

But the GAL started in and immediately wanted to know what CPS "had" on Rebecca. She said that if Ricky can't go back to live there, he should at least be allowed extended visits. She pressed hard on the fact that no one involved in Ricky's life has anything bad to say about Rebecca. Even Bio Mom is 100% in favor of Ricky living with Rebecca.

Ricky's AAL (Attorney ad Litem) stood up and addressed the court. He too said that there is no evidence against Rebecca. There are no signs of an "inappropriate relationship". He said that it is a testament of Ricky's character that he's cooperated with being in foster care and hasn't run away to Rebecca's house and that he's been very compliant. He tugged on the heart strings when he said that Ricky has given up on anyone in CPS actually doing the right thing by letting him go back home to Rebecca's.

The judge then turned to CPS and asked if they have any evidence of an inappropriate relationship between Ricky and Rebecca.

After a long pause, Emilia (Ricky's caseworker) said, "No."

The GAL pushed again to at least allow long weekend visits. The judge rattled off a schedule for these visits.

Then CPS got all uncomfortable and started mumbling excuses about the new caseworker for Ricky just starting out and how it's really hard to monitor visits that happen over the weekend.

The judge literally rolled his eyes and said, "Then I appoint Rebecca TPC." She is going to receive what is called Temporary Physical Custody.

The judge pointed out to everyone that Ricky is going to move in with Rebecca in seven months anyway. Nothing is going to change between now and then. Rebecca can care for Ricky and CPS can do spot checks if they must. Ricky's goal is still Independent Living. But now he gets to go back home to finish out that goal.

The trial was reset officially to September. The State basically put a band-aid on a gushing wound. The State wants Ricky's younger brother, Michael, to be placed with their older, 21-year old brother, Peter.

Peter is a great guy. But Peter still lives with Bio Mom. He helps support her. And when another brother, just one year older than Ricky, gets out of jail, Peter wants to support him as well. The State will never let Michael move in with Peter if a known felon is living in the house.

But they slapped that band-aid on and said they hope Peter has appropriate housing by September so he can take custody of Michael.

And we walked out of the courtroom.

Of course CPS doesn't give a damn about moving Ricky quickly. They are going to process the paperwork on Friday afternoon and let him move back then.

I know it's not going to be goodbye forever with Ricky. He'll come visit. I've got his phone number and I know where he's moving to. Ricky said he's going to come back every weekend.

Rainbow came and did a home visit today. Sadly, she said that due to Ricky's previous legal history he might not be approved as a frequent visitor. Can you imagine that?! He can LIVE in my house as a foster child. But because he got in trouble three years ago he can't come visit when he's no longer placed through my agency?!

Rainbow will be sliding that conversation under the rug. I will say nothing more about Ricky coming to visit. And she won't officially ask if we see him. Because of COURSE he's going to be allowed to come over and see us if he wants to. Thankfully he was out of the room when Rainbow was telling me this or else I'd have thrown a full on temper tantrum.

My forever cherubs are going to have to adjust again. This will probably be the hardest on Herman. Ricky and Herman have been pretty good friends. And Herman likes a lot of the "stuff" that Ricky has that he doesn't. Herman is going to miss the video games and the work out equipment. But he'll get over it.

TT and Bart have concocted a plan where we rearrange all the bedrooms upstairs. They want to give Herman their big (gigantic) bedroom. Then they want to split up for the first time ever with one of them taking Ricky's room and one of them taking Herman's current bedroom.

I'm going to wait a week or so and just let all the change settle. It's been a perfectly crazy roller coaster ride the past month and I need to get my bearings before anything else changes. I can guarantee that we will not be taking any new placements any time soon (if ever). I told Rainbow today that the don't need to call. I won't even do respite right now.

I'm incredibly happy for Ricky. I've been wanting to see something done in the child's best interests lately. I actually feel better about a longer transition for Daisy before she goes home. So I'm not as upset by yesterday's proceedings as I was initially. But I'm thrilled for Rebecca and Ricky!! And like a commenter said on my FB page, "While it can easily be said that the judge took six months too long to come to his senses, Ricky has gotten a chance to see another example of how a functional family operates and to build his support network." And for that, I really am grateful!!

Elvis and foster care

I grew up in a time before cell phones, and game machines, and being constantly attached to electronics. When we went on vacation and traveled from Iowa to California to visit friends, the highlight of the trip was counting the tumbleweeds in Texas.
My parents owned a car a lot like the one above. Ours was a dark red color. One summer my mom strapped in all three of us: me, My Genius Sister and My Genius Brother and took off for California. My dad traveled for work and he flew out to meet us there. (Yes, My Genius Mother drove all the way across the country, alone, without a cell phone. She's awesome!)
For entertainment we played the Elvis eight-track over and over (and over and over and over). I memorized the words to every single song.
I remember asking my mom what "the ghetto" was after hearing Elvis sing about it a few times. She did her best to describe things, but I really had to use my imagination. I was from a comfortable middle class home. My parents lived within their means. I had everything I needed and plenty of my wants. I tried to imagine what this ghetto thing was.
A couple months ago I decided it had been too long since I had listened to any music by Elvis. I broke out the iTunes gift card I had been given for Christmas and I purchased a "best of" album.

And this song came on:
As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin'
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto

And his mama cries
Cause if there's one thing that she don't need
It's another hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto

People, don't you understand
The child needs a helping hand

Or he'll grow to be an angry young man some day
Take a look at you and me,
Are we too blind to see,
Do we simply turn our heads
And look the other way

Well the world turns
And a hungry little boy with a runny nose
Plays in the street as the cold wind blows
In the ghetto

And his hunger burns
So he starts to roam the streets at night
And he learns how to steal
And he learns how to fight
In the ghetto

Then one night in desperation
A young man breaks away
He buys a gun, steals a car,
Tries to run, but he don't get far

And his mama cries
As a crowd gathers 'round an angry young man
Face down on the street with a gun in his hand
In the ghetto

As her young man dies,
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin',
Another little baby child is born
In the ghetto
And his mama cries

----

I burst into tears.

Ricky is my angry young man.

And I thank God I wasn't too blind to see he needed a helping hand.

I hope we can make a difference in his life. One that will help him see why he needs to continue making the good choices he makes now. Sometimes I worry. Ricky is still awfully angry.

"In the Ghetto" reinforced what my parents were teaching me as a young child. I knew when I was very little that it was up to me to make a difference. This song was originally titled "The Vicious Circle". I'm no saint. Sometimes I'm a pretty lousy parent. Sometimes I'm less than Christ-like in my thinking toward the bio family.

But I want to help break those vicious circles. And that's why I foster.

Please pray for Ricky today. We have court. I found out just last week that Ricky has been in foster care - or at least had CPS in his family's business - since he was only nine months old. "This" is all he knows really. Ricky barely understands his past. The report I received opened my eyes though and so many of his "family stories" now make so much more sense. They break my heart!! Nothing is going to change for Ricky today. The System has already given up on anything but Independent Living as his goal. But Ricky has a little brother who is five years younger. At age 12 I hope The System hasn't given up on him too.

As Ricky's mama, it really makes me cry. 



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What happened in court

Court was to be at 10:30am. I think Daisy's case got called just a little before 11:00am. I had to wait outside with Bio Mom (Kori). Bio Dad even came by to coo at Daisy and talk to Bio Mom.

The first thing the judge did was change the trial date to August 19. It is NOT a TPR trial. I don't really know how to explain everything. Even though every single hearing sounds exactly the same to me, they have different names and supposedly different agendas at the different hearings. Today was a pre-trial. On August 19 everyone has to be ready to go to trial on the case. If Daisy remains in Care she has a dismissal date of November 11, 2014. When The System works correctly, cherubs have permanency by their dismissal date.

Then the judge went around the room and asked for updates from everyone.
  1. Kori's lawyer asked for a monitored placement. She wanted Daisy to go home but still have CPS up in Kori's business making random surprise visits and such.
  2. Daisy's lawyer was extremely conservative and wanted no part of a monitored placement. She wants visits to continue and was OK with extending them to weekend overnights. She did go in to great detail about her concerns with Kori's denial. She and I spoke prior to the case being called and she used a lot of what I told her when she spoke to the judge. She stated that she's incredibly concerned that Kori would have anything to do with Bio Dad at all. She then expressed how disgusted (that's NOT the word she used but it was the tone) she was when she saw Kori letting Bio Dad coo all over Daisy while we waited for the case to be called.
  3. CPS then stated that they were willing to add overnight weekend visits for Kori and Daisy.
The judge listened well and then moved on to more general questions. We discussed Daisy's health. I explained what happened at the hospital the last time in detail for everyone. Then the judge called all the decision makers up to his bench and they went off the record.

Weekend visits have been approved. Daisy will leave my care on Saturday at 7:00pm and stay with her mom until Monday at 6:00pm. The extended visits on Thursdays (from 10:00am to 4:00pm) will continue as well. Daisy is to have no contact with Bio Dad at all!

And that was that.

Unless Kori totally screws up and lets Bio Dad come over, Daisy will go home in August.

The State still has a primary goal of "relative conservatorship". But when the judge asked if there were any relatives, and the State said NO, he told CPS, "Then you're going to have to change your goal because this isn't working." The judge then went on to say, "You need to be up front with Bio Mom if you're going to remove her child permanently. Otherwise, you need a new goal."

The State doesn't have grounds to terminate rights on Kori. She was not there when her daughter was injured and she has done absolutely everything the State has asked of her.

She's still in incredible denial. She does not believe that Bio Dad did to Daisy what the doctors say was done. She offers up no other explanation though. And we all know that Bio Dad did it because of what he HAS said.

Hopefully Bio Dad will be indicted before the trial in August. That really needs to happen in order to keep Daisy safe. Maybe by then Kori will come to better terms with everything and will begin picking up the pieces and moving on - AWAY from Bio Dad.

I just have to pray that what appears to possibly be a pattern with Kori is broken very soon. She has a lot of emotional healing to do and she has to face this change alone. I do believe that she loves her daughter very, very much. I believe she is capable of meeting Daisy's medical needs. I'm not confident that she WILL meet them. She looks at modern medicine with a very distrusting eye. But she is capable. And maybe, just maybe, my influence will help her be OK with the level of modern medicine Daisy needs. I'm not somebody that runs to the doctor at the drop of a hat. Kori and I have been in agreement that Daisy doesn't need to be seen for the nasty cold that is keeping Daisy up at night coughing. Maybe we can bond over things like this and Kori will trust me more when I explain why Daisy needs to be on anti-seizure medication and that the baclofen for muscle spasms is really important.

Either way, I'm sure this case will be done on August 19. If not, it means that Daisy was once again put in harm's way and Kori really screwed up. I hope it doesn't come to that.

Wispy's story

One of my readers (Hi Karen!) reminded me that I never updated the blog about Wispy.

Oh, my poor Wispy!!

I'm going to tell his whole story here starting from the beginning just so everyone can follow.

1. Wispy came in to Care April 11, 2014. He's from a part of Texas over three hours away from here - several counties over. When he came in to Care there were no beds home in his county. (Take away: that is the key point in this entire story. There aren't enough foster homes.)

2. CPS ended up placing him with a family in our county through our agency. They are good people. The dad is a pastor and the mom is so incredibly sweet. In fact, when they took in another tiny baby and needed to bring her to court, I babysat for Wispy.

3. On May 30 an emergency of some sort arose for the Original Foster Family (O.F.F.). I don't know what it was. They said it wasn't a death but it had something to do with their overall ministry. They had to leave immediately for North Carolina. They needed emergency respite for both of their foster children (Wispy and the other tiny baby).

4. After much to-do, I agreed to take either of the babies for three nights.

5. At the same time, Wispy had court in his home county. I was told the judge ordered that he be moved back to his home county. After a bunch of back and forth my agency decided to place Wispy with us until he could be moved to his home county. I knew that would take longer than the "three days" I agreed to. But I was OK with that. I gave my agency a drop-dead date of June 4. Wispy needed to be gone by then.

6. June 4th came and went. I didn't want to move Wispy to another foster home for more respite. I felt strongly that Wispy needed as few moves as possible. Wispy stayed. I cancelled an appointment with Herman on the 5th. (The reason I wanted Wispy moved on the 4th.) (Thankfully the doctor's office made changes to their policy and I un-cancelled our appointment and just brought Wispy with me.)

7. They found a home for Wispy in his home county on Friday the 6th. By Monday the 9th it was determined that the home wasn't properly licensed. Wispy would need to stay with us longer.

8. One thing led to another. Wispy's bio mom decided that she wanted Wispy to stay with the O.F.F. and not be moved back to his home county. CPS was fine with this.

9. The O.F.F. needed to be gone longer than my drop-dead date. Somewhat reluctantly, I decided to keep Wispy longer.

10. After a bit of back and forth, the O.F.F. said they would be back on the 14th of June. The dad was going to stay in North Carolina to tend to their emergency. But because Wispy's case was likely to move to adoption, and because CPS said it was OK for Wispy to stay with the O.F.F., the mom was going to come back alone to keep the placement. I believe they want to adopt out of foster care.

11. I was going out of town on the 12th of June. Because the O.F.F. was going to be coming back for Wispy, I decided I was OK with putting Wispy in respite care for a few nights....because when he was done being bounced all over the place he would be going back to somewhere familiar.

12. On June 10 my agency told me they had found respite. I breathed a sigh of relief. I really hadn't planned on taking two babies to South Padre Island while my big kids went to a science camp.

13. Later that same day Rainbow called me back to say that things had changed again. The O.F.F. was not coming back and they were going to close their foster home entirely. Wispy now needed a new "permanent" foster home.

14. We prayed about it. I called Wispy's lawyer to see if I could get the full story. She called me right back and explained things. Yes, Wispy's case was likely to move to adoption. Wispy's mother was moving out of state immediately. She, literally, was walking away from her child. Mr. Amazing and I decided that since it was OK for Wispy to stay in our county, we would agree to taking his placement officially.

15. I took two babies and two tweens, by myself, to South Padre Island. It was a blast!!!



16. On June 18 I was told that CPS would be coming the next day to sign all the paperwork to make it official. Wispy was going to stay. Rainbow needed to know my schedule so I told her when I would be available. I was nervous about things but excited about the prospect of having a baby that we might get to adopt. Then the plan changed again. Of course this was after we decided to rearrange the entire house for Wispy - moving our queen bed in the guest bedroom to the playroom upstairs and moving the crib downstairs, along with all the toddler toys, for Wispy. Rainbow told me "they" (CPS) wanted Wispy back in his home county so he could be there for court hearings. I told Rainbow that was ridiculous and I would have no problem driving Wispy over for his hearings. Rainbow agreed with me that it wasn't really necessary to move Wispy and said she'd make some more phone calls and talk to more important people to see if he could stay. I called and left a message with Wispy's lawyer making sure she knew that he could stay and that another move wasn't necessary for him.

17. On June 19 I finished rearranging the house. Boy did it look nice. While still covered in sweat from all the heavy labor of cleaning and organizing, I got a phone call that Wispy had to move anyway. They would be by on the 20th to pick him up at 11:45am.

18. With absolutely no fanfare or anything, Wispy was picked up Friday morning and buckled into his CPS worker's car. The worker barely listened to anything I had to say about Wispy. He nodded and acted like he cared but it was plainly obvious that he did not! Three weeks after he came, Wispy was gone.

The roller coaster of it all completely sucked! First he was here for respite. Then he was here for good - possibly even forever. Then he was gone. And the only reason he had to be gone from us was because of paperwork. He wasn't being moved to his home county to be close to any family or friends. He was being moved so that the caseworker's job would be easier. And his foster care file won't even list the three weeks he spent in our home as a placement. We were "only" respite for him.

Wispy was almost a year behind with his language development. He had just started speech therapy with his O.F.F. and even had a session in our home too. Wispy had suffered a great deal of neglect and I'm confident another move was disastrous to him. He was already displaying a LOT of trauma behaviors in our home. But all I could do was pray that the new foster family CPS picked is prepared for a baby with special needs. Sadly, I'm sure they aren't. Wispy, as adorable as he is, is going to need a lot to overcome what foster care did to him. No baby should have to go through that many mommies.

Yes...we have court tomorrow too

I'll be posting an update on today's court hearing with Daisy later on today. However, as is customary for me, I typically post the day before court with my thoughts and prayer requests. And guess what, Ricky has court tomorrow. So here are my thoughts...

The System is C.R.A.Z.Y. broken in his case. I mean, Daisy's is all a mess too. But Ricky's is seriously $%^&!!'d up.
  1. Emilia (Ricky's CPS caseworker) told him he was getting a new worker. I sent her an email two weeks ago and she confirmed he was getting a new worker. No one from CPS has been to see any of us nor has anyone called to introduce themselves. I don't know who is going to be speaking about this case from CPS tomorrow at all. Can you imagine how that makes Ricky feel? He doesn't even have the pleasure of knowing what person is going to screw him over tomorrow.
  2. Ricky is getting a new Guardian ad Litem too. Of course Emilia didn't bother to tell me this. She passed on the info to Ricky – who did not understand. And when I sent a very strongly worded email back to Emilia about the incredible importance of keeping me in the loop with information like this, she said he's getting a new GAL but she doesn't know who it is yet. So, yet again, someone will be representing Ricky and they will have never read the case or met their client.
Ricky knows his "plan" is Independent Living. He knows he's staying with us until he turns 18. I think he's even OK with this...well, as much as he can be anyway. Court is still stressful though. He knows that a bunch of people are making decisions about his life, his little brother's life (placed in a different foster home), and his mother's life.

Ricky is stressed out knowing that Daisy is likely to go home today. He's stressed out about his own court hearing tomorrow.

TT and Bart are equally stressed.

It's going to be a long week. I'll post an update later with results from Daisy's hearing.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Court is tomorrow

I wish I could say I feel all rainbow-y and lollipop-y toward Kori (Daisy's bio mom). But I don't.

I desperately want to.

But I'm still very, very scared for Daisy's long-term health and well-being.

After I posted about grace, I met with Mr. CW. It really seems that Kori is in very deep denial. There is evidence against Bio Dad that Kori is refusing to believe. There are things that Bio Dad has admitted outright to CPS. I find it hard to believe that Kori doesn't know these details too. And if Bio Dad is allowed to have continued contact with Daisy, these details are incredibly concerning!

I know I'm being vague. Sorry.

Anything can happen tomorrow. Absolutely anything.
  1. The case could be dismissed and everything, absolutely everything, could go back to exactly how it was prior to the injury. Bio Dad is not in jail right now - Kori bailed him out immediately and he hasn't been formally charged yet. This is the scenario that frightens me the most. I'm completely beside myself with the fact that Bio Dad hasn't had to face any kind of justice for the heinous crime he committed.
  2. Daisy could go home to Kori on a monitored basis. This could play out several different ways.
  3. Or Daisy could stay with us and the transition home could be drug out for Lord only know how long.
Eventually, I'm sure Daisy will go home. Kori was not there when Daisy was hurt. Kori has done absolutely everything the State has asked of her. So unless she makes some kind of a "mistake", Daisy will go home.

It's that potential "mistake" that scares everyone involved.

Mr. CW said this is a textbook case. Just like something you read in the textbooks. Ya know, the kind where the kid goes home. The kid dies. Everyone covers their butts. And the caseworker takes the fall for not keeping the kid safe.

I want to believe that Kori will keep Daisy safe. I desperately want to believe it.

It's all up to the judge.

We will know more tomorrow.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Praying for grace

With court coming next week for Daisy, I've been praying over her case in a new way. Because it's likely that Daisy will go home, I've prayed for God to show me His grace.

I know that God loves me.

And somehow, I have to know and accept that God loves Daisy's bio mom
just as much as he loves me.

So I've been praying for Him to show me this and help me love her too.

It hasn't been easy.

But today, at the visit drop-off, something changed.
OK...I really need to give her a blog name...
I'm tired of calling her Bio Mom...Let's call her Kori.
At drop-off, Kori was different!

Somehow the topic got on Daisy's flappy hand. Kori said, "Ya know, when it was just the two hour visits most of the time I thought she was just excited or happy. But after having her all day yesterday, well, I can tell it's not normal."

No Cheshire Cat grin. No absent look in her eyes. She said it and she meant it.

Little steps.

The visit today was short due to a scheduling conflict with the supervising agency. I came back after two hours to pick Daisy up.

The conversation continued.

We talked a LOT about Daisy. About her limitations. About what kind of medical care she needs. About her progress. But really, we talked most about the injury.

Kori listened. She asked good questions. She made eye contact. She got emotional appropriately. She didn't tune out.

Kori has done EVERYTHING the State has asked of her and then some. She has taken classes they didn't tell her to take. She comes to all the visits. She's even got an appointment scheduled with Daisy's lawyer later on this week. Kori wants her daughter home.

And for the first time today, I wanted it for her too.

I told Kori I want to stay a resource in her life should Daisy go back home to her. I didn't get ahead of myself and give her my phone number or address or anything. But I reached out an olive branch.

I have hope. Maybe Daisy will be OK.

Toward the end of the conversation Kori said, "I just want to have access to all the doctors. I want to know if what Bio Dad says happened could have caused all this. He's told the story tons of times and it's the same every time." She fell short of saying that she still completely believes him. She stopped herself and said, "Oh...I talk too much."

I looked at Kori and didn't hold back. I said, "The doctors will tell you that the damage inside Daisy's brain is not compatible with the story Bio Dad gives. In fact, the doctors will tell you that the shaking most likely happened more than one time."

We continued to converse. Kori didn't shut down. I still have hope.

But she still believes Bio Dad and his story...and that scares me.

Friday, June 13, 2014

I met a waitress

I took four children to South Padre Island by myself on Thursday and Friday. It was a unique experience. For the most part, everything went perfectly. I will say though, I wished more than once that I could have another set of hands.

On Thursday morning I dropped TT and Bart off at camp at 8:30am. I then had many, many hours to kill until it was time to pick them back up. Initially I was going to strap Daisy on my back and wander through some shops. I was going to bring her in the bucket or stroller and sit somewhere quaint and drink a cup of coffee.

I was not going to try and lug TWO babies all over the island without owning a double stroller.

I'm all for wearing a baby. But neither of mine will stay "worn" if all I'm doing is sitting. So it didn't make much sense to strap one on me just to walk across a parking lot.

Instead I opted for the, "Come on Wispy. Follow me Wispy. Here, take my hand. Come on Wispy!" approach while I pushed Daisy in the stroller.

Have I mentioned that Wispy is at least 6-9 months behind with his speech/language skills and that he rarely responds to his name? And he doesn't like to hold hands? And he won't follow anyone anywhere?

Maybe I should have strapped him up in the mei tai.

So here was my Thursday morning:
  1. Drive up and down the island a little
  2. Stop at Whataburger and get a snack
  3. Go to WalMart
  4. Go back to the island and go over by the beach
  5. Watch the babies both fall asleep in the car
  6. Sit in said air conditioned car while they slept
  7. Get out and go to the bathroom on at a pavilion area on the beach
  8. Stare at the car just across the parking lot and weigh out how bad it would be to drag both kids back to the car just to get some toys to play with
  9. Decide that toys are overrated and sit in the pavilion doing nothing
  10. Take the cherubs out to lunch
Wispy was more than just a little bored by the time I got to the restaurant. He started crying in the car in the parking lot. I tried to explain what we were doing - that he was going to get a glass of milk (his absolute favorite). Reluctantly he settled down.

I lugged the two cherubs in to the restaurant. (No easy feat.) We got seated. And Wispy started wailing again.

I handed Wispy his HotWheel. He wasn't interested. So I picked him up and cuddled him. Deep down I knew this wasn't just a normal fit. He had a certain exhaustion in his voice when he cried. It was more like, "Do we really have to be here? Do I really have to be with you?"

The waitress was awesome! I gave her a look of defeat and she simply smiled and said, "You're fine. Don't worry about it. I've got one of my own. I understand."

She was a young little thing. Early 20's but looked about 16 with a cute braid of blond hair with pink and blue stripes in it.

Over Wispy's cries she asked me, "What can I bring you?"
I answered, "A cup of milk."
"And for you?"
"Thank you! I'd like a Diet Coke."
"Do you need any snacks or anything?"
I motioned to the baby food and the toys and said no.

As she walked away, without thinking it through, I said, "He's having a rough day. I'm his third mommy and he's only known me for 13 days."

"Adoption?" she asked.

"Not exactly."

She came back with the milk and poured it in to the sippy cups for both babies. She sat down at the table and proceeded to tell me a story that gave me goosebumps.

It was on the east coast. Her mom had gone "kid shopping" on the state website. She had read all the profiles and picked a kid. Roy was his name. But when she applied to be considered to adopt him, the mom was told Roy already had a home.

I don't know how much actual fostering she did but the waitress said her mom was licensed for emergency care too. One day she got a call and by that evening a 14 year old boy was on her doorstep in typical foster care fashion with all his belongings in a trash bag. He was on so much medication that it would have knocked out a 300 pound man. He had been in 26 placements over the course of his life.

Her mom looked at this boy and asked said, "Hey? Is your favorite rapper Lil' Wayne?"
He answered, "Yes".
She proceeded to go through questions like knowing his favorite food, and sports teams and things like that.
Finally he looked at her and said, "Woman?! How do you know all this?"
She answered, "Because I wanted you several months ago but they told me you already had a home."

He's off a lot of the medication - down 2/3 from what he was on when he came. He can walk again (he has mild CP). He can talk and have conversations. And he's never had to move to a new home again.

This waitress loved on me and my babies the whole meal. She even took Wispy for a walk outside to see the parrots. She was kind, considerate and a soothing balm to my soul that afternoon.

So often it seems I'm caught up in all the ugly of foster care. So much keeps going wrong in my stories. Ricky shouldn't be in Care. Daisy is starting semi-supervised visits at home for 18 hours a week (three six-hour visits). Daisy is probably going to go home.

But there is good in foster care. There really is. A 14 year old boy in New Jersey can tell you all about how his story ended. And according to his sister, it's a pretty good ending.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I really should be working....

I cannot believe I'm taking four children to the Island by myself tomorrow. It's not so much that I'm doing it all by myself as it is the fact that I've barely started packing and we have to leave by 6:30am and I still have to do some freelancing right now.

But I really want to answer Karen's comment:
I'd also love to hear how your teens and Tweens are handling the changes. Does TT know much of Wispys story? I see a protective big brother and a lot of Mr.Wonky to come since their stories both involve abandonment. 
How the cherubs are handling things:
  • Ricky = "Well, he's pretty mellow. It's no big deal. I bet you'd rather trade Wispy for Daisy, huh? Do you want to trade Wispy for me?" (Ricky's trauma past is incredibly significant.)
  • Herman =  He gets a kick out of having babies around. Much more so than I ever thought he would. He loves to make faces and make Wispy laugh.
  • TT = uuummmm....lots of protectiveness and LOTS (LOTS LOTS LOTS) of Mr. Wonky. You nailed that one on the head Karen.
  • Bart = He really just goes with the flow. He LOVES being a big brother. He was particularly out of sorts when Dude and Dolly left because it moved him back to being the youngest in the house and he did not like it. He is nervous about Daisy leaving for lots of reasons. But now that he knows Wispy is here, he thinks that's pretty cool. He'd like to have Wispy stay around forever.
  • Daisy = She's really starting to take an interest in Wispy. It's been awesome to see her react to him and want to be close to him.
Mr. Wonky has been thick in the house with TT. Big, huge, giant tantrums all over the place. Insomnia. Violent freak outs. It's been ugly.

On the flip side, TT is doing the hard work. When he flips (as we call it) he tries really hard to regulate quickly. He's not giving up. He's doing a good job of vocalizing his frustrations and fears even if all he can say is they are "big feelings". I'm super proud of him!

The next two days are going to be fun. TT and Bart have already done a field trip at the place where the science camp is being held. That will help TT with his anxiety tremendously! I got a nice hotel room for a decent price. And I'm pretty good at using my mei tai so I should be able to haul two babies around without too many problems. (I don't own a double stroller and I'm not buying one just yet.) I'm still not sure how things are going to work on the beach exactly. But TT and Bart have assured me that they will help!

We saw a new pediatrician

From the time Daisy came to me, she saw Madame Doctor for her day-to-day medical needs. I liked Madame Doctor good enough and was pleased with the care she has provided for all of my children. However, because Daisy is an unvaccinated child, Madame Doctor found herself in a position where the clinic owner decided not to treat Daisy any longer. We received a letter in the mail stating that I had 30 days in which to find a new primary care physician for Daisy. After those 30 days were up, she could no longer be treated in the clinic(s) where Madame Doctor works.

I began the search of finding a new PCP (primary care physician). Playing nice, I first called the doctors on a list that Bio Mom provided. Supposedly Bio Mom had already called around to find a PCP that was willing to care for a special-needs, unvaccinated child.

The first doctor that I called said no almost immediately. I explained that I had a notarized letter from Bio Mom where she assumed all liability over Daisy's health. The office manager took a fax of this letter along with an explanation of our "story" to both doctors in the clinic. Neither physician was willing to treat Daisy.

I called a couple other doctors and didn't get called back.

Then we ended up in the hospital.

I very much liked the intensive care doctor that treated Daisy in the PICU. He really listened to me and took me seriously. Through conversation he said that he was personal friends with a pediatrician in town and he would make a phone call. His friend agreed to treat Daisy. (Whew. One problem solved.) When we were discharged, the PICU nurse scheduled Daisy's first appointment in the new doctor's office for this morning.

The new doctor is over a half hour away. I was pleasantly surprised to see an empty waiting room though - which meant I wasn't going to have to wait hours and hours to be seen. (Another huge relief for me!)

Everyone in the office was quite nice. I didn't learn anything new per se. But all the facts I know to be true were repeated to me again this morning. Even though I know this, it's still hard for my heart to process sometimes.
  • We are just starting to see the "behaviors" that will come as a result of the TBI (traumatic brain injury). Because she's still developing, behaviors will still continue to emerge. This is true because parts of Daisy's brain are permanently damaged. In fact, she has a condition called brain atrophy which can be progressive.
    Side note: I hear this a lot! "Daisy is still developing. We don't know how much she's going to progress. She is continuing to heal." That is wonderful news to hear. But the opposite of that is exactly true as well and that's what the PA was telling me this morning. Daisy is still developing and we have no idea how badly the brain damage is going to affect her overall. New symptoms and problems are likely to continue to come up.
  • The crying is likely to continue to increase. Kids with TBI have deep-seated brain issues that cause discomfort. Typically, the crying just gets worse and worse.
  • We didn't get to see the doctor - we saw a nurse practitioner. And she made this very clear when I got excited because she validated something I've thought all along. I said, "Yeah! A doctor says it's cerebral palsy." She said, "I'm just a PA." I said, "I don't care. You've got a white coat!!" It doesn't change any sort of a diagnosis or plan for treatment. But Daisy's flappy hand, leg, and now bobbing head *could* be called cerebral palsy.
  • Daisy didn't respond much at all when the PA checked her eyesight. Proof yet again that Daisy is significantly visually impaired.
  • The PA talked to me about another shaken baby that is cared for in their office. That pour unfortunate soul is far worse off when compared to Daisy. One of the other girl's symptoms is an inability to control her own body heat. The PA said the other little girl is always hot or cold. A light went off in my head. Miss Daisy has a VERY fine window of where she is comfortable. She often seems to be one extreme or the other. I never would have thought to attribute that to the brain damage, but the PA said it is very much from the head trauma.
    Again - it's those "symptoms" of the TBI that are going to continue to plague Daisy for the rest of her life. It's so hard to hear that sometimes. Daisy suffers from something that was 100% preventable!!!
I didn't tell Mr. CW about this doctor appointment. It's on a day that Bio Mom works but really, I'll be honest, I didn't want to drag her along to this one. Bio Mom didn't even ask me ANYTHING about her daughter being in the hospital over the weekend. She said nothing!!! I even had to change the visit by an hour on Monday because we weren't discharged on time to make the usual visit time. I drove straight from the hospital to the visit and Bio Mom said absolutely nothing to me when I handed her her baby. She didn't ask how Daisy was. She didn't ask what happened at the hospital. She didn't speak to me at all. (And yes, I know that Mr. CW had talked to her and told her what was going on. But still, one would think if her daughter was JUST released from the hospital that Mom would mention something about it.) Anyway, since she didn't care about the hospitalization, I didn't make it a priority to make sure she knew about this follow-up visit. Slap my hand.

The new PCP understood that I wanted to get a referral to a new neurologist. Dr. BrainMan was less than helpful in the hospital and he said several things that were even a bit insulting to me. If I was a brand new mother that he was working with it would be one thing. But Pumpkin saw Dr. BrainMan and we worked together for almost two years with her. I've seen him well over a dozen times in both his office and at hospital stays. So when he asked me if I had air conditioning, and if I fed Daisy when she was crying (insinuating that she might be crying because she's uncomfortable in her environment or that she's hungry) I decided I was less than thrilled with his attention to the problem at hand. I've parented my share of babies. And yes, I know that babies with TBI are going to have sleep problems and they're going to be irritable. But what I'm dealing with with Daisy is so much more than anything I can bear. I needed to discuss a change in her medication. And all Dr. BrainMan would offer up is to increase the dosage of Benadryl. He even looked me in the eyes and said that the phenobarbital that she's on can cause personality changes and irritability. But he refused to consider putting her on a different med to control any seizure behavior she might have.

Sadly, when the new PCP called the new neurologist, I was told that the next available appointment isn't until September. No amount of begging was going to change that. So...I'm stuck seeing Dr. BrainMan. Hopefully he will continue to write the Rx for baclofen that we got when we were discharged from the hospital. The PICU doctor knew that Benadryl wasn't going to be enough so he wrote an Rx for one month of the baclofen. So far, I think it's going to help. If Daisy stays in two weeks I might go ahead and make that appointment for September just in case. I don't really want to see Dr. BrainMan ever again. But for now, I'm stuck with him.

Overall I'm pleased with this new doctor's office. In fact, once I sign my life away officially and agree - on paperwork - to care for Wispy until the State determines he needs to go somewhere else (if that ever happens anyway), I might move Wispy to this doctor's office as well. As much as I like Madame Doctor, if she can't see Daisy, I'm not sure how I feel about bringing my other kids there anymore. After all, Daisy would likely be with me if I had to bring TT or Bart in (for example). What would they do? Would they kick us all out?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A quick update

I've got a lot of people that have joined the fun with me on Facebook. So I'm betting a lot of y'all already know this. But that baby - the one that was only supposed to stay for three nights - he's going to be staying for a whole lot longer.

Several things have happened. First, the court order telling everyone that Mr. Wispy needed to move three hours away sort of dissolved I guess. Bio Mom is walking away (literally) from this case. She told the courts she wanted Wispy to stay with the original foster family (O.F.F. from here on out). Well, as you all know, the O.F.F. had to leave due to an emergency of some kind. I wasn't told much but I know they had to leave immediately for North Carolina.

Well, when the case changed, our agency called the O.F.F. right away and told them if they were back in less than two weeks, they could continue to care for Wispy. (Our agency has to get permission for any child to stay in respite longer than 14 days.) The O.F.F. decided that Foster Mom would drive back from North Carolina to care for Wispy. She said she'd be back this Saturday, the 14th.

I have a science camp scheduled on South Padre Island for TT and Bart this Thursday and Friday. As much as I've wanted to avoid moving Wispy, I knew that I really didn't want to juggle TWO babies on the island. And since Wispy was going to be going back to what he knew as home, I felt OK telling my agency they had to find a new respite home for him starting this Wednesday (tomorrow).

It was a nail biter but Rainbow (who is now my worker again because NotRainbow got fired) called me this afternoon to tell me a respite home had been found. All I was waiting for was to find out exactly when they could pick him up tomorrow.

Then I got a phone call that changed everything. The emergency that took the O.F.F. out of state was big enough that the O.F.F. decided to stop fostering and to close their home. Wispy officially needed a new "permanent" foster home. And since he was already with us, we got first dibs.

I called Mr. Amazing. We agreed to pray on it and ask the kids what they thought.

I also called Mr. Wispy's lawyer. Wispy is from several counties over and things are done differently there. I had actually talked with Wispy's lawyer yesterday to give her an update on Wispy for court that happened today. It was easy to call her back today and ask what was going on in the case. I told her I wanted to know if Wispy was going to be a good fit for us or not. I left a message because I knew she was in court.

Not only did Wispy's lawyer call me back - but she apologized for not calling sooner. All I could think was, "Please! You called me back! It was within a couple hours of when I left the message. I'm still in shock you actually called me!!"

Wispy's lawyer told me everything. She wasn't vague or misleading. She just laid it all out there. I thanked her and called Mr. Amazing with the update. We continued to agree to wait until we could talk to each other in person.

The low-down on the case though...Wispy's mom is walking out on him. Literally. She is moving out of state. She doesn't want to maintain visits. She's not going to work her case plan. In fact, Wispy's lawyer is pretty sure Mom was high at court today.

As of right now there is no family willing to take Wispy.

TPR (termination of parental rights) has NOT been discussed. I honestly don't know what the goals are in this case. It's still a very "young" foster care case. Wispy has only been away from his mom for about two months now. Nothing is going to happen immediately.

But we do know there will be no visits. And the judge where Wispy is from doesn't require his kids to come to court every time so I won't even have to drive over for that.

Mr. Amazing and I discussed things over dinner. Right now we are only agreeing to foster Mr. Wispy. After all, this is foster care. But we also know where this case might head and we're OK with that too. I sent Rainbow a text to let her know that we'll sign all the paperwork and make this official.

I've got permission to bring Wispy with us to South Padre Island. Somehow I'm going to do two babies at the beach.  :)

So that is that. We are now parenting two teens (each 17), two tweens (a 9yo and a 10yo) and two babies (both 1 year old - Daisy is 13 months and Wispy is 20 months).

Foster Care is one crazy roller coaster!!!

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Speaking of roller coaster...have any of you heard about the book that is going to be released soon? It's called, Welcome to the Roller Coaster. It looks very interesting!

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And last, I'd like to welcome all the new followers on my blog and on my Facebook page. Since there are so many new people, I figured I'd toss out another Q&A session. Comment away. Are there things you want to know about our family? About fostering? About adoption? Are there parts of our story that have been hard to follow or to catch up on? Ask away. In between diaper changes I'll do what I can to answer things.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Shall we break down where your thinking went wrong?

I got a phone call yesterday letting me know that my agency has a new policy that just went in to place. We are now required to drive to our agency to pick up our per diem check and sign for it if we want to be reimbursed for this adventure called Foster Care.

My agency is 36.6 miles from my house. It takes approximately 45-60 minutes to get there, depending on traffic. For the past 4.5 years I have received my per diem either in the mail or hand delivered by my worker during a routine home visit.

My agency informed me that someone, somewhere had a problem getting their check. I don't know what happened. But rather than deal with a mistake that happened once or twice, the state director made it an official rule that all checks have to be picked up by the foster family and signed for.

Needless to say, I was a bit ticked. But Rainbow told me it's pointless to argue. The director in our local office makes that commute daily so she's not going to understand why I don't want to make it one time per month.

Well, thinking like a logical person, I decided to call the state office for my agency. I figured I'd go to the decision makers with a solution to this problem. I simply called and said I had a question about per diem checks and that I wanted a phone call back.

They called me back and said that they passed my name on to the regional director. Told me to expect a call. I told the lady from the state office that the only reason I was calling was to find out when my agency was going to start using direct deposit for our per diem checks. I didn't complain. I wanted an answer to a simple question. She said she couldn't help me. I wasn't thrilled that my question was being passed down a level in the food chain. But I decided I'd wait and see what happened.

About 20 minutes ago I got a phone call from my local office.

Damn.

I didn't want to talk to my local office. I wanted to talk to the person (or someone close to the person) that made this decision about having to pick up our per diem checks in person.

I mean, really...Rainbow is coming to my house tomorrow for a visit. Give me one good reason why she can't bring that check along with all the other paperwork she has to bring me!

The lady in our local office laughed a little and understood exactly what I was trying to do. She said she was going to redirect me to the state accounting department for our agency. I told her my entire point was to act professional and think responsibly. I wasn't calling to complain. I was calling with a solution to the problem that I faced.

I then had to call My Genius Sister. Sometimes, when crazy things like this happen, I just have to tell another thinking adult.
1. I called the State office for our agency to ask a simple, general question.
2. The State office directed me to the Regional Director.
3. The Regional Director didn't even call me. They just sent a message to the local office.
4. The local office called me and they can't answer my question or help at all.
I just wanted to be responsible and professional.

My Genius Sister then said, "Shall we break down where your thinking went wrong? You were being logical. And I'm not sure you can use the words responsible and professional when it comes to what you're dealing with."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

C.r.A.Z.y. 'round these parts!!

I've been all over Facebook. I carry my phone with me everywhere. (I work from home and I need it to stay in touch with clients and, of course, my cherubs.) I've been posting on FB with my phone, but not on here. I'll play a little catch up.

Daisy is NOT sleeping. Not more than two hours at a stretch. It's maddening. I've tried E.V.e.R.y.t.H.I.n.G!!!! I'm going to call the neurologist again as soon as I'm done posting this. I called last week. I called yesterday. And they haven't even told me "no" to my request for a sleep aid for Daisy.

A foster family with our agency had an emergency come up on Friday last week. It wasn't a death - but it was incredibly serious. They needed to leave immediately for North Carolina. That meant my agency had to find emergency respite for their 9mo little girl and 20mo little boy (separate cases). We originally agreed to take the little girl for the weekend only until a longer term placement could be found. My agency switched things on us though and placed us with the 20mo little boy. I named him Mr. Wispy on FB. He's a tiny wisp of a thing with long, wispy, blond hair.

Mr. Wispy came in to Care about 45 days ago for the first time. Apparently he's from a couple counties over. I have to assume at the time of his placement there were no open homes willing to take him in his county. (He's absolutely adorable and very easy to care for overall. Somebody seriously missed out on a fun little boy.) Anyway, it was recently court ordered that Mr. Wispy be moved to a home where he's from so he can be closer to his bio mom.

Silly me. I thought they could take care of that the first part of this week.

I agreed to take Mr. Wispy through the weekend. I told my agency that my drop-dead date of caring for him was this Thursday. Surely they could get him moved to his new "permanent" home by then.

Silly me.

It's now Tuesday and I was asked if my agency was to pick him up on Wednesday or Thursday.

It seems my agency is perfectly OK with moving him from his first foster home, to me for a week, to someone else for another week or so and THEN to his final "permanent" foster home back in his hometown.

I informed my agency that I am uncomfortable with that. No baby needs to go through that many mommies. I said he can stay until they find a home 3 hours away.

They told me yesterday a home had been found.

They told me today that home fell through and we're back to square one.

Did I mention that Daisy isn't sleeping?

So, that's about life at my house. I've got two babies, two tweens and two teens.
(If a 9yo counts as a tween...HE thinks he's almost an adult most of the time.)

Now - to go call that neurologist again. I've tried twice while writing this and they don't pick up.