Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Visit in my home #2

I got a text from Bopper this morning at about 8:30am. It's Spring Break in Texas and the grandparents wanted to know if it would be OK if they brought all five of their kids to today's visit. I took a deep breath and responded yes. It's only two hours. I really didn't think it would be that big of a deal.

However, as I thought about this, it bothered me to know that legally this family could not travel to my home all together. They have only one vehicle and it seats only five people. Four of their children are required by Texas law to be in a car seat or booster. The car seats are to be installed per manufacturer's instructions. And I'm pretty sure no manufacturers say kids can be in the front seat. So, technically, four of their kids need to be in the back seat. They don't have a vehicle where this is possible. I have briefly expressed this concern to CPS before - but only how it would affect unsupervised weekend visits with the babies as I assumed those were going to be starting very soon and I wanted to know how I would be required to handle that if I were doing a drop off by myself.
Side note: Typically we meet in the parking lot at the CPS office in the evening, after the office is closed, to drop-off kids. At least that's how it worked with Daisy. I wanted to know what my reaction should be if the grandparents didn't have proper car seats for the babies AND what I should do if they didn't have proper car seats for their own kids. Bopper's initial reaction was that I would only be responsible for things if they didn't have car seats for Russell and Star. She said that the grandparents are looking for a new vehicle. And then she said that unsupervised visits aren't going to be happening for a long, long time.
Anyway...I decided that if I didn't say something to CPS about my transportation concerns again, it would eat at me too much. I was VERY CLEAR that I didn't expect anything to change today! I still expected that both grandparents would come along with all five children. However, I felt it was necessary to at least point out to CPS if were to happen, it wouldn't happen legally.

I'm not sure what Bopper said. But the grandparents decided that Grandma would come with only three children and Grandpa would stay at home with the other two.
The visit went well enough. I'm not going to complain. This is unique ground we're covering. While co-parenting might be the norm in other parts of the country, I've been told by every single person involved here (my agency, CPS, and the visit supervising company) that having visits in the home of the foster parents is completely unheard of.

Grandma and her three oldest kids came to the visit. They played in the living room with the babies for a little over an hour. Then Grandma asked about feeding Russell lunch.

Both babies were brought into the kitchen. I got lunch ready and then stepped back a bit so Grandma could feed Russell (and Star could feed herself – Star refuses to eat off a spoon but will feed herself anything you put on her tray). I couldn't leave though, as I was baking cookies.

The visit supervisor did a great job of translating back and forth between Grandma and I. Russell was being a bit of a stinker and didn't want to cooperate with Grandma as she was feeding him. Star seemed uncomfortable too. It was more just because it's awkward and different though. Grandma certainly wasn't doing anything wrong!!!! I tried to explain to Grandma that his behavior wasn't normal at all, though. And then I explained that she'd likely see more behavior like that if/when he moved to her home and that she should expect a lot of regression. She asked why.
I explained that Russell doesn't understand what's going on around him. There will be no way to explain to him why he's moving in with them. I've been taught in several different trauma trainings that a move can cause a kid to regress as much as a year. That's why kids in foster care need additional supports to heal. And even though Russell is safe in our home, a move is still a move. That's one reason why I wanted visits to be in my home. The kids will see me interacting with the grandparents. They will see me trusting them. And it will be easier for the bond I have with the kids to transfer to the grandparents. Grandma expressed gratitude again for all we're doing for the babies.

As for Russell's behaviors though, I went on to explain why I'm so incredibly strict. For example, when it comes time to wash his face, I won't let him turn his head away from me. I firmly grasp his head and tell him no if he doesn't cooperate. I don't play with him or make it seem like what he's doing is OK.

It's not that his behavior isn't normal for a 2 year old. It is! But his maturity is going to happen so incredibly slow, that if you don't start NOW to direct appropriate behavior, you'll be dealing with an 5 or 6 year old that won't wash his face or let you do it.

I hate feeling like I have to present the worst case scenarios. Of course not all kids with Ds are going to be that delayed. But kids with Ds are very known for having behavioral difficulties. Anyone that parents Russell will be doing themselves a favor by being incredibly consistent and firm in establishing proper rules and expectations.

It's hard to convey all that I know about Down syndrome in these short meetings via a translator. I certainly don't try to be negative all the time either. But I want the grandparents to understand what to expect. I get the impression they haven't starting trying to learn anything about Down syndrome on their own. That makes me a little sad. But, it's apparent that they love Russell so I cling to that.

I explained as much as I could about Russell, what's normal for him, and what to expect as he gets older. It seems harsh in a way. But if they're not going to try and learn anything on their own, they need to hear from someone that it's possible that Russell won't ever be developmentally/emotionally older than 8 or 9 years old.

I was thankful this visit supervisor cut things off at noon, exactly. (Last week lunch drug on longer that it should because Grandma doesn't keep things moving with Russell and he doesn't want to eat for her well. The visit went on until almost 12:30 and the supervisor let it. I was too uncomfortable to tell everyone to leave. LOL)

After everyone was gone I called My Genius Sister to get a little bit of what I call "therapy". She lets me process all my feelings and lets me vent so the things that bother me don't eat me up. There were a few things about this visit that bothered me significantly. But I spewed everything to my sister and I'll suck it up and go on from there. If I get a chance, I will convey my concerns to Bopper. But I don't think it's anything Bopper doesn't already know so I'm not too concerned.

My big kids should be back from the trampoline park and lunch soon. I sent them off so they wouldn't have to be here during the visit. The rest of the afternoon is just for us. I like days like that. And because the visit was in my home this morning, the transition to nap was very smooth. As awkward as these visits are, they are still best for the babies. I'm glad we're able to do things this way.


Unknown said...

i call the police on ANY vehicle i see with kids not properly restrained. What are people thinking????

acceptance with joy said...

I'm in a different state, but I have done visits in my home or yard... It is awkward at first, for sure, but it really does seem to work in the best interest of the kids. kudos to you!

Kristin Reed said...

So while Grandma is feeding Russell lunch and Star is eating, what are her other three kids doing? The whole thing seems awkward, but in the best interest of Star and Russell, so good for you for sticking with it!

Cherub Mamma said...


Last week, during lunch, Grandpa held his 15mo old daughter (she was fussy). The 3yo little boy got into ALL the toys that are in the baby jail on the other side from the living room. He played quietly though. It wasn't really bad.

This week Grandma brought the 5yo, 6yo, and 13yo. They just sat at the table and waiting while Grandma fed Russell. I offered everyone cookies. :) I'm trying to be hospitable. But I'm not going to feed everyone every week.

Lisa said...

Love reading your blog--thanks for the updates. I agree that it's pretty fantastic that you're allowing these visits to happen in your home.

I'm a bit of a car seat nut myself and have learned a lot from an online FB group so if it makes you feel any better car seats are allowed in the front seat of a car. It's not best practice, of course, but as long as the airbag is turned off and the seat is as far back as possible, then it is okay. (This is why car seats are allowed in single bench trucks, for instance.) Based on all that I've learned about car seats, I will say that probably 90% of the people out there aren't using seats correctly. However, in this limited question about car seat locations then that is do-able. Hope this makes you feel slightly better! It sounds good, though, that they're working on getting a new car to accommodate everyone. They certainly seem like they're trying.

Kareninaz said...

I think I'm mixing parents up. I know (or think anyway) that Russell and Star's dad is in jail...but I thought he was late teens early 20s? So basically the 5 younger are gma and gpas 2nd family? You probably can't elaborate much more. Feel free to delete this.

Kareninaz said...

I should have reread before I commented. Ok, they are half sibs which I forgot, but I was thinking Sylvia was 10 years older than she is. I was right about Russell's dad. Interesting that his parents are willing to take both kids.

Cherub Mamma said...

You're right, Kareninaz. The babies are half-siblings. Mom is 22, I think. Russell's dad turns 19 next month. Star's dad is right around 38.

Grandma and Grandpa have eight children total. Three adults (one of them being Russell's dad) and then 13, 6, 5, 3, and 17 months.

All I know for sure is that the State wants the siblings placed together. The only relatives being considered are these grandparents. No one else passed a home study. (The grandparents didn't either. But they are addressing some of the areas of concern.)

Bopper doesn't think that Mom really understands that she's not getting her kids back. When it comes down to it, she doesn't think that Mom will be in favor of the grandparents taking custody of Star. It's likely the State would ask for that placement anyway though, in order to keep the siblings together.

A million things could still happen though. The next permanency hearing is in May.

Kathy M said...

OK, I understand why the grandparents want them, but reading the number of children the have at home and the needs Russell has...I'm very nervous for all of you. I'm a teacher, not a foster parent, but I know what you are talking about and trying to explain that moving trauma to someone who doesn't understand is impossible. Then throw all of these other kids into the mix, concerning. I wish there was some way it could be arranged for you to keep them and the grandparents have visitation. That way the babies know their bio families, but are still in a place that can give them the attention they will need.

Love from Iowa to you and yours