More Family Nurture Group

So below, I was worried about how superficial it may seem.  But there was actually some good stuff there!

First, please notice that my kids LIKE Family Nurture Group!  They ask about it regularly.  They get excited that we get to do it.  They participate fully.  They like when they get to lead a session or when they get to be the one who is sharing.

But I wanted to share about some of what you see in those videos below (and hopefully it makes enough sense to make a difference).

You see the video where my son is talking about his hurt?  He talks about slicing his finger while cutting watermelon.  My husband was a bit worried about putting that video up.  I mean, who lets their almost 8yo cut watermelon? Not us :)  However, just because that was made up doesn’t mean that it was useless.  Actually, what happened was that big sister was cutting up some fruit and sliced her finger. It bled a lot and just wouldn’t quit.  Every time we thought it had quit, it started up again!  It did eventually quit :) So really, he was processing that!   And empathy is a good thing!

And the video of my daughter talking about the cat?  That was the second time it was brought up during FNG.  The first time was during the cards (but my videos were segmented in a way I couldn’t share hers easily).  She picked up the card of the child holding the kitten.  She talked about him being happy to have a kitten.  So then when she said she had a “heart hurt” because daddy said we couldn’t have a kitten (a neighbor has a small litter and we had taken interest in them), she was talking about something real.  And how wonderful that this little girl could express that it was sad she couldn’t have a kitten.  How nice she could express that to her family.  She was a little guarded and was unsure if it was okay (my take on her behavior in the video), but she did it!

I do want to say that normally, the kids don’t sit all bunched up together, but not everyone could be or wanted to be in the video and these three would gladly take center stage to share.  Generally, we have people spread out and try to sit next to different people each time.  That isn’t always easy.  Sometimes it goes better than others.  We just try to push through the awkward or tough times and really focus on the “cool” times.

I chose activities easier to video and especially activities that are done each time.  I’ll try to post more videos at a later date.  Please ask for anything specific you may find helpful as it helps ME to think about such things for us also.

Some Family Nurture Group Videos

Here are a few videos of snippets of our family nurture group a couple weeks ago.  Sorry it took so long to get it up here.

I do want to say that I really am that cheesy.  :) And we really do seem a bit fake at this point, not natural.  I’m trying not to judge, just go with the flow :)  Hopefully you will not be too distracted by the out-of-camera shot family members, especially the baby :)

Okay, so we start with the Rules.  This is Tony leading us in the rules :)

Then I led the Skills of Attachment.

Here are a few of the activities we did.  Sometimes, how superficial things are surprises me.  For example, I’m sure you can tell that my boys made up their hurts.  Other times I’m surprised how much *does* come out as the feeling cards and my daughter’s hurt shows.  This was not the case at first, but it starting to show some.

Feeling Cards

Breathing exercises are different each time but fun:

Bandaids are done every time:

I hope that this glimpse into our livingroom was at all helpful.

Pi (π) Day!

So Pi Day is a great day for some neat activities even when kids are young :)

First, we need to start with a (gluten free) menu. All the items on the menu must be round.  Now, how round they are depends, of course, and we didn’t go overboard (for example, the veggies in the supper are not also round!).  This is what we decided for this year:IMG_6138

Quiver’s Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast
Cucumber Rounds with Hummus for lunch
Fruit (bananas, pineapple, oranges) cut in circles for snack
Vegan Pot Pie for supper
and
Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Pie for dessert

Note: Due to some difficulties with supper, we had dessert before supper!

FullSizeRender (8)So I thought that first we should start with some math, giving them SOME idea (maybe not much at their ages) of what Pi even is.  So we got paper plates, labeled the diameter and radius (and discussing how many of those there are in a circle which is a tough concept for little kids to grasp!).  In the side without the radius, they drew the letter pi.  We put digits of pi around the edge (discussing circumference) and decorated them.

Then, we listened to some stories and songs about Pi on YouTube.  There really are quite a few.  We spent a bit of time with it.  Some was over their heads, but all were fun :)  Maybe you’ll enjoy these:

Nine year old and I both learned 25 digits past the decimal because of the song above!

Next, we decided to find our birthdates in Pi and see whose comes up first (and last).  Here is the link so you can try it yourself: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/find-you-birthday-pi/  Our 7yo’s birthdate is first within the digits of pi.  Our 19yo’s birthdate is last.  The next closest to his was over 117,000 digits before his!  Kinda strange is that their birthdays are only 3 days part.

FullSizeRender (9)Of course, what Pi Day is complete without a circle art project.  Abstract or more realistic, circles are just fun!

And lastly, I challenged my nine year old to writing a story using the digits of pi as the number of letters in each word.  So the first word in the story would have three letters.  The second word of the story would have one.  The third would have four letters.  Alternatively, she could use the digits to decide how many words per sentence.  Wouldn’t it have been neat if I had been smart enough to write this post with one of those patterns?

Wow Updates! (Part I)

Okay, I have a few posts in mind but because I so severely neglect my blog, I guess I better start with an update.

First, Squishy is now 7½ months old.  His journey so far has been amazing, both good and bad.  Really.

His bioparents have fallen off the end of the earth.  They did this when he was just a few weeks old.  They never worked their caseplans.  They didn’t go to visits. At a couple points, they talked about him being adopted.  Right after Thanksgiving, they decided they wanted to work their plan and see him, but they just didn’t follow through.  Mostly, they’ve been missing from the case without going to court, being able to be contacted by the caseworker, etc.  So sad.

Additionally, his development has been crazy.  At two months old, we were unsure whether the child could see or hear at all.  We wondered if he would ever be able to walk or talk even.  But each week, he made the slightest progress and we were so happy for him.  We were so happy when he FINALLY started tracking.  Now he is “talking” constantly, laughing, and sitting (though he still doesn’t want to roll the one direction).

Medically, he’s doing better.  He was cleared from neurology though one more test was ordered “just in case.”  He passed his hearing test finally (though has to be followed as he is at risk for early onset hearing loss).  We still have to follow with ophthalmology.  The GI is one we will be working more carefully with.  We FINALLY found a formula that works (#9!), but we are not doing well with food.  The reflux is bad, but now we don’t have the formula allergy on top of it!  Now we are adding going to a specialist as he may have rotational scoliosis (the doctor’s guess) or something.

He is just an amazing little boy though!  He is a bit fussy, but he is fun and loving.  He is sweet.  He is hilarious.  He already has such a sense of humor!  He enjoys each of us and we enjoy him.  We are absolutely totally in love with him!

Second, we just had two children moved from our home.  It was not voluntary. Basically, the child related something completely innocent.  No one was worried.  But mom embellished it with an allegation.  The child immediately corrected her so no one was worried.  It got blown up BIG TIME with police, cps, licensing, and the agency.  Caseworker’s statement satisfied them all. No one was worried. We never got a single knock on the door.  No one was worried. And then the caseworker’s supervisor decided to move the girls (no notice).  We were so incredibly surprised!  I *know* it was just CPS covering their rears, but it HURTS. Honestly, I think this should count against the mother.  Though I support reunification in this case because mom has worked her caseplan like a champ and I believe in reunification for the most part, I think this shows extremely poor judgment which *really* concerns me for the girls’ safety and her ability to stay clean.

So that is what all is going on with the “not legally ours” members of this family.  I’ll have to write a second post for the legal members as this got LONG and it is time for this house to start hopping!

Family Nurture Group

(Quick update on who is in the home may be of help to understand this post: Currently, we are mom, dad, two young adults, 3 adopted kids (ages 9, 7, and 6), two fosters (4m and 4yrs) who will be leaving soon, one transitioning adoptive placement (age 4) and one pre-adoptive placement who is 7months.)

Several weeks ago, hubby and I went to a training that was based on Karyn Purvis’ work.  We got a lot out of the training, but we had one takeaway that has changed our Sunday afternoons.  It is Family Nurture Group. The kids LOVE it.  Our new 4yo asks about it daily!  Here is some of what we are doing, could do, etc:

***We start each time with the rules and skills of attachment. We do them as a back and forth chant like was done in the training I went to. We also use hand signals (which I do a lot of anyway ala Whole Brain Teaching).

***We practice a regulation skill. One week it was the magic mustache. Another time, it was strong sitting (which was an adventure as my 4yos had a very hard time learning how to do their hands).

***We do team activities. For example, one time we each picked a color marker. We each drew a line (curvy, zigzag, even items as long as you keep the marker on the paper) for the count of five then the next person starts their line where the person before them left off. Other ideas would be a vision board, mural, etc.

***ropes course type things like falling backwards into people’s arms (adults from sitting since most of our people are very small). Also, a giggle run would be fun (where you put each person’s head on the person before them’s tummy and then try to “ha” one more time than the other person without laughing).

***A family knot would work with older kids or at least if the people in the family were all mature enough to do it and similarly sized.  Be mindful of the dysregulation some may have with this.  Some may be uncomfortable with touch, how close everyone would be, or be apt to hurt someone.  

***Kid games with “listen and obey” like Simon Says, Mother May I?, Red Light/Green Light, etc

***We loved doing cotton ball activities. Our play therapist showed us these years ago. They can be things like closing your eyes and saying where the other person is touching you with the cotton ball. Yes, we had boundary issues when we did it originally, but that is another opportunity. Another that we did recently was having 4 cotton balls “in play” and blowing them across the circle (this could also be a regulation game in that it encourages proper breathing).

*** Certain books would work here. Last week, we used The Otter Cove. It is about belly breathing. We also LOVE LOVE LOVE the Little Owl Lost Her Whoo book. If we did it right before bedtime, we could use our Snuggle Up Sleepy Ones book (I swear that book works! Just thinking about it makes me want to yawn!).

***telling a story based off of the feeling identification cards was another used at the training and that I liked. I really liked the idea of naming the children on the cards! I never would have thought of that on my own and yet it makes so much sense!

***We could make stress balls (sand, salt, beans, tiny stones, etc) in balloons.

***Role playing. We’ll almost definitely use stuffed animals.

***Using lotion to massage hands or feet. Our therapist also had us use extra so that after doing so, we could do a hand/foot print on paper and sprinkle with baby powder. Shoulder massage could go here too.

****Activities from The Out of Sync Child Has Fun or Playful Parenting. I already had both books, so I’m going to look into this more to see what things would be good for this group.

***We did a family cheer. I’m less sure about this (though the kids love it) because we have temporary members. I keep thinking we could change it, but if I did it in a way to be less unified, it’d be weird and not the way I want. AND temporary members ARE H****s while they are here. And the two temporary members are very young so probably not thinking of any of this anyway. Just not sure.

****I was thinking of doing something with boundary bubbles, an issue we still have some struggles with, mostly with the one foster kiddo who is very sensory seeking.

***Last activity is a feeding activity. The first week, we used dumdum lollipops and peppermints. Each person got to choose which they wanted when asked and then their partner fed it to them. My 19yo *really* struggled with this! We used cookies, various candies, etc.

***The bandaid on your hurts thing hasn’t gone very well yet as we have a bunch of copy cats, but we are going to keep trying. I bought a ton of bandaids on Amazon. We also have used them to apologize in real life situations. The other day, I hurt my daughter’s feelings so went to her with one and apologized and asked if I could put it on her heart.

***And we end with the rules and skills of attachment again.

Anyway, so the kids love, love, love this and I’m so glad it has gone so well.  

What People Ask Foster Parents

So the other day, someone shared this link and so now I share it with you for your enjoyment (and so I can find it and watch it again).

And there are a ton more.  I’m sure you can think of some.  Here are a few we’ve heard.

“Are you a daycare?”
“How many are your real children?”
“Do you have any of your own?”
“Who did her hair for you?”
“How much money do they give you?”
“Can you get food stamps now?”
“Are they all yours?”
“Can their parents just come get them?”
“They call you ‘Mama?'”
“Their real mom didn’t want them?”
“Why would someone give up their baby?”

Neglect

I neglect my poor blog.  And really, I shouldn’t.  I’m positive I would find this therapeutic if I would just use it.  But also, I could be recording memories!  Squishy is already almost 3 months old.  The three are growing and changing so much!  And then there are changes that happen (like the three kids mentioned below have already been returned to the family member despite everyone knowing it was likely a mistake).

And it isn’t like I don’t have neat things going on.  I could be writing various thoughts about my Bible studies.  I could be putting down recipes we like as we take the plunge into plant-based eating (I would say vegan, but I keep learning that things are not vegan just because they seem like they should be!  For example, did you know that not all sugar or peanuts are vegan?!?!).  I could be sharing what the kids are doing in their educational pursuits.  Squishy has some medical and developmental things going on but is also making some progress.  Those would be two areas to put into writing.  And then there is his foster care case which couldn’t just be easy and going one specific direction.  We have had various “field trips” recently.  Sports are always a topic of interest, as is exercise.  Even what apps I’m using right now may be interesting to share.  Of course, there are tons of things I have opinions regarding also.  And then health related stuff (finally awesome news, rather than worrisome!).

Mostly, though, I think that sharing our blessings and trials would just prove beneficial to me, for me. Maybe I’ll keep the tab open in the browser to remind me to get over here a little more often :)

Never Say Never!

There once was this toddler from Nantucket.

Okay, so maybe not from Nantucket.  Middle of Nowhere, Texas more like it.  Anyway, this toddler.  He is about a year and a half old.  He is related to my three.  He also has two older siblings.  I’ve been following him from a distance for the last two years (from pregnancy).  Seems people have the need to tell me things.  

Well, I specifically asked if this child had CPS involved in his life and was told no.  I thought maybe that was a possibility since I knew that there was a relative *very* involved in his life.  That relative seemed normal enough (if Facebook is any indication. Ha!).  

So, of course, I was lied to and CPS *is* involved.  Recently, CPS took custody of the children but initially left them with this relative.  Good…maybe.  But when this all happened, people felt the need to tell me things.  Maybe it *wasn’t* so okay with this relative afterall.  Well, once CPS took custody, they were responsible for this little guy and his half-siblings so they requested a homestudy on the relative.  

Once I found out that CPS had taken custody, I immediately called multiple people trying to find the right worker.  If they could stay with the family, GREAT!  But if not, the one child is kin (a relative, in our case, via adoption) and we wanted him.  And since we’re a licensed foster home and *could* take all three, we were willing to take all three IF we were needed.  

I *really* hoped things weren’t as bad as they kinda sounded.  I mean, really, can you *really* trust gossip?  And the gossip in that area is *bad.*  It is amazing what all I’ve heard from up there since my kids were adopted!  It simply cannot all be true (or at least it doesn’t seem it could be but how things have played out over the last couple years suggests some things have been untrue also).

Anyway, it took some work, but we finally let some key people, including the current caseworker, know that IF needed, we could take all three kids (chances are they would have been split up had they just gone through the system due to circumstances locally).  

So then I get the call. Caseworker says there were significant concerns found in the home.  She didn’t outline what they were.  She asked if we still could take all three children.  I answered, yes.

So this morning, three little kids will have their world rocked because the multiple adults involved (or not so involved as the case may be for some) didn’t just do what should have been done.  I want to be angry because I know the kids will be upset, scared, and probably angry.  I want to be angry at them because they should “know better.”  I know darn well that they love these kids, so why?!?!?!

At the same time, I know that it isn’t that simple.  People do better when they can do better.  Many times, neglect and abuse are passed down generation to generation.  Life is hard in some places making stress more challenging so floors don’t get vacuumed and toilets don’t get clean.  Addiction is *really* hard to overcome with the best of help, much less just what the social service organizations in an area may have set up.  Depression and other mental illness can’t just be handled with a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”  Poor choices often snowball burying whole people and families, even areas.  

So this morning, as I await the arrival of three precious young children, I hope the best for their parents, grandparents, and other relatives.  I hope that somehow things can work out for them.  In the meantime, their little people will be safe and well-cared for.  

Oh, the title of this post?  I said “no more sibling group of three!”  I have said period, never, not happening, don’t call.  But obviously I couldn’t just let the little guy go and he shouldn’t be separated from his siblings.  So here we go again :)

Behavior is Communication

On a recent support group, someone posted about a very young child having huge fits that lasted 30-45 minutes and were destructive also.  The question was how to get the child to stop.

I didn’t say it at the time, but I don’t think the goal really *is* to get it to stop.  I mean, the long term goal may be, of course, but right now, I think the questions are “what is the child trying to communicate?” and “how can I best help the child?”  In time, because we stay calm, help the child get her needs met, and help her learn some life skills.  

In the end, though, different things work for different kids.  This first suggestion I listed almost sounds shocking, but I think if you’re matter-of-fact, empathetic, not punitive, it can really work.  Well, it did really work.  I’m much more likely to do a mix of the second two suggestions, but again, all kids are different.

Some ideas:

* Put her outside. “Outside voices go outside” and outside tends to be calming. ECI completely agreed with this idea for one of our toddlers a few years ago. And it really helped and worked. I do think you have to be careful about HOW you do it.

* We have had MANY kids that sitting very close to them, quiet, matching their degree of eye contact, or pulling them into your lap and rocking with gentle touch and soft speaking like you would an infant (shhhh, “I see you’re upset,” “Those are big feelings; I’m here for you.”). IMO, this teaches kids that big feelings are something you can handle and that you still love the child when she has them.

* Matching intensity by stating what they are really saying in words. This is good because usually screaming is something they do because they don’t know what really to say. Giving words for their feelings helps. Matching intensity tells them that you understand HOW they feel it.

The point with any of these things is to give them something they need. If they need a skill, you’re giving it. If they are needing acceptance and loving they hadn’t gotten prior, they are now getting it.

Punishment is rarely necessary for a 3yo and it often takes away from better discipline and need providing.

If you feel it *is* necessary to discipline further, whether that discipline includes punishment or not, doing so when everyone is calmed down will make more of a healthy impact. You can even make it more related to the situation. For example, using the calming jar (Pinterest) may be a good situation for a time out because it also is something the child could use in the moment later. Better discipline options like making amends and/or serving others will work well after everyone is calm.

Trying to discipline when people are out of control is just going to frustrate everyone more.  The 3yo is not going to want to apologize to her sister.  The 5yo doesn’t care that you have now taken his screen time and will send him to bed early because he wouldn’t just sit on his bed for five minutes.  Your just making the 11yo angrier and more focused on himself and his perceived injustice by grounding him for increasing amounts of time.  And it rarely *works.*  It isn’t likely to control him.  It certainly isn’t teaching him self-control.  And people can’t learn *well* when they are so upset. 

It is just so important to remember that behavior has little to nothing to do with how the child feels about us.  Instead, behavior is communication.  It tells us if our child is working from a place of love or fear.  It tells us if our child has needs for us to meet.  It tells us if they are lacking certain life skills.  Negative behavior is a call for help.  And when children can do better, they will do better.  That behavior communicates that they are starting to feel safe, secure, heard, loved.  It tells us that they have gained skills and tools they will need in life.  

Behavior is communication.  

 

I have really neglected my blog

Things were crazy.

I was having some health issues.
I was having a bunch of tests and such to have surgery.
I was back in physical therapy.
I have NO doubt that Doc will end up with a RAD diagnosis (and her brother was soooo anxious, poor guy).  
I still was having issues due to losing Monkey, especially as the anniversary of that was approaching (no doubt that losing another “supposed to be forever” placement in there didn’t help either).

So we took some time off.  

It was GREAT! 

I continued physical therapy.  I had surgery towards the end of April.  

We reopened primarily because of a possible adoptive placement (12yo girl).  But we said we could take ONE foster baby at a time (0-2yo girl or newborn boy) while pursuing adoptive or legal risk placements (ideally, one girl 0-12yrs old, though we have inquired upon some sibling groups also).  

Well, Squishy got here a month ago at just a couple days old.  And he is AWESOME and WONDERFUL.  I’m not even biased either :)  At this point, I’m willing myself to think just a month or two in advance, reminding myself how awesome it would be if these parents actually managed to get their stuff together to be able to parent him.  

Anyway, so we are about to start our school year.  The kids have progressed nicely over the last few months, making great strides academically.  So we’re looking forward to a stellar school year.  Hopefully I can post a little more about that.

Along those lines, we believe in early learning so I can post some about our journey regarding what we do with Squishy also.

I’ve lost about 60 pounds and feel better in a lot of ways.  I am hopeful to continue losing weight and gain some muscle.

Heidi is a great dog and we can see some real potential in her now.  Progress has been slower in some ways than expected, but she’s awesome.  I sure do love that dog. 

So hi again.  I look forward to seeing what is happening with all of y’all also :)

 

 

Just Busy

Well, maybe not JUST busy.  I may be a bit overwhelmed, excited, etc also :)

Obviously, our household is pretty busy naturally.  Add that Doc and Professor just really do keep me on my toes.  I hope they get a great home with a TON of patience.  I hope the mom will be knowledgeable about severe anxiety and attachment issues.  I hope she will be gentle yet effective regarding sleep issues and poop.  I hope she will love all three kids dearly.  I hope she will be able to keep them and any siblings who come along.  

(note:  I’m using “she” generically.  I am fully aware that some foster dads are AWESOME.  I also know they may have two foster moms or two foster dads where they are going next.)

I am trying to get things set up for us being a non-foster home.  We have sold a number of items already.  I packed up a few things.  I need to get a couple boxes to pack up a little more.  Seeing as CPS couldn’t give us even 24 hours last time, I just want to have their stuff ready for them in case we have a repeat.

But I’ve also been working on what *I* am doing.  I’ve had an increase in number of doctor appointments.  I have a few more scheduled as they leave.  I have a procedure I’m in the process of getting pre-surgical testing done for.  I have plans for some additional training for Heidi.  I have some diet and exercise things started (and boy is it hard!).  We have grand homeschooling and field trip plans.  And I’m planning a trip to Disney (on a major budget).  

I’ve also been dreaming of silly things like turning the hot water heater up to a temperature that will allow me to ENJOY my showers.  And we’re going to leave the shampoo on the side of the tub!  Oh, and I’m going to store canned/bottled drinks in their cardboard boxes ON THE FLOOR of the pantry!  Aren’t I a rebel?

Anyway, excuse the hodge podge of a post.  Right now, so many things are changing and I’m so excited about it.  There is some sadness and worry too; but mostly, I know this is what we need to do right now.  

BIG NEWS!!!!

Well, many of you have already heard somewhere else, but….

I have really appreciated all your support over time. So I wanted to share some big news.  We have decided to close our foster home.  I really feel like this will be best for each individual of our family, each relationship of our family, and our family as a whole.  I have such peace about this decision.  Honestly, it is more than that.  I’m about ready to jump up and down and throw a party!

ETA: We ended up being put on “inactive” which gives us 12 months to decide whether or not to close our license altogether.  That allows us to jump through a number of hoops to get restarted more easily than starting all over should we decide to foster in 6 or 12 months. 

OB: Fear = Freeze

The following post was from a little over two years ago.  A post on a group reminded me of it.  That and I’ve been going NUTS with this child’s “staring” rather than answering when I speak to him. I really wish I was as empathetic as I used to be.  I’m working on it.  I saw a few other posts when looking for this one.  Maybe I can get back to being more gracious.

A week ago, we had a situation come up that really helped me see how solidly T-lo is operating in a state of fear rather than actually being *here* sometimes.  All the other kids had gotten down from the table. T-lo was playing with his second piece of broccoli.  He had eaten the top off the first piece.  It had been 20-30 minutes.  This is something we struggle with not stressing about due to his growth issues.

I turned his chair to help him down (we have one of those bar height tables AND he has a booster seat).  I picked him up and told him “I love you. No matter what happens I love you. I. Love. You.”   He looked terrified.  I asked him what I had said sure he couldn’t have heard me or he would seem so scared.  He said, “get down from the table.” I tried again and he replied, “eat.” I tried one more time and he went back to his first answer. The child was so terrified when I picked him up, that he could only guess what I had said.

I hugged him tightly and a few moments later repeated what I had really said. This time he heard me. “I love you too, Mama.”

So that was quite an education.  A lot of times he seems to blank out, zone out, just not be there when we say something to him.  Or he’ll start crying though what is being said or done is not cry worthy (sometimes, quite the opposite).  It’s like he’s responding to something else.

Anyway, but something else has happened.

Since then, T-lo is eating.  It’s not perfect.  Not every meal, especially breakfast, is devoured; however, he’s eating more every meal without us  reminding him, bribing him, helping him, feeding him….It is just amazing that he is eating so readily.  One night, he ate a big piece of sausage while I was at the doctor’s office.  When I came home and got my plate, he helped me eat mine.  He just kept taking another piece and another piece.  The next day at lunch, he ate a LOT of food.  In just a few days, he ate more than he had eaten in a full month prior.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the feeding issue (and therefore his failure to thrive) is solved.  I am thrilled with his progress.

As those who read my blog know, T-lo still has major feeding issues.  We *try* not to stress about it as much as we used to since obviously he isn’t going to perish because of it, just be teeny (and yet, gene-wise, he could naturally be pretty small and so it works out….I think).

Would it be?

This weekend, we went down to “the farm.”  Two brothers own it together.  One of them is married to my sister-in-law (and has been for 30 some years so we say it is Aunt N’s farm).  It is a small property of land.  At one time, I believe they did have animals out on it.  They haven’t since their own children have grown up though.  With as much work as they are doing out there, maybe the will again.

But it was BEAUTIFUL.  And peaceful.  And just what I needed.

I almost didn’t go.  Doc and Professor are still so deep in trauma (especially fear and defiance and food issues) that I didn’t think I wanted to take them anywhere.  And my three have been trying to deal with their own issues triggered by the littles’ issues (probably a good topic for another post). And taking a baby sounded like WORK.  And did I want to deal with certain family members?  And really, I just want to stay home.

And then I needed to take broccoli and cheese casserole.  But while we were shopping, hubby told me to make a dessert too.  All while the house is a mess and I have five children who need me ON THE FLOOR.

I suggested hubby take Tumbler, Swimmer, and T-Lo.  If our young adult children wanted to go, they could.  But in the end, I just couldn’t bear backing out.

There were a few little hiccups, but it was WONDERFUL!  Absolutely, perfectly, amazingly awesome! And I got some of the greatest pictures!  Well, the best pictures were the less “staged” ones, but of course, those have family member kids, foster kids, etc.   I sure wish I could share pics of Professor, Doc, and Little Lamb too!  But here is a good sampling :)

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This last pic is Daddy with his little ducks.  Doc hadn’t yet changed into the outfit I had planned for the day (she had jeans, boots, solid black long sleeve and a pink jean jacket).  But she’s cute both ways!

I had recently read a book (oh, I meant to do a review of that book) with a dairy ranch as the main setting.  Since then, I had done some research about finding such a thing.  This trip definitely bolstered that interest.  The house wasn’t huge (doesn’t need to be really); but can you imagine the freedom my kids would have outdoors?  Plenty of room to climb trees, shoot cans, fish, play with sticks, making crafts with pine needles, whatever.  And no traffic.  And your neighbor is down there if you need him, but not 1/5 an acre over.  And the dogs could run and play.  And I could BREATHE!

Would it be so perfect ALL of the time? Something tells me we’d still have a little stress :)  However, it does seem like it would be a whole lot easier to relax in such a nice, and much slower, setting.

So I looked at land again yesterday.  Still costs money.  But maybe it will be an option at some point.  Maybe if they make the adoption tax credit refundable so families like ours got any of it (I’ll explain about that one day.  I made mention of it HERE.).

Well, my sister-in-law has said we’re welcome to go down as we wish.  And I WISH!  LOL  I’m asking hubby to ask her about a certain several days.  And then she also said she’d like to do a get together family wise every couple months.  Good!  Honestly, I’d go back TODAY if I could!

 

System is Unfair to Parents

Okay, generally, I think that parental rights over the children’s needs is a huge problem in the child welfare system.  However, I recently had an experience that showed me how unfair it is to parents also.

We often hear about how parents are delusional, not taking responsibility, unable to comprehend what they’d done, etc.  However, it may be that the system has fed into that a good deal!  Here is an example of when this happened to two parents.

Meeting with approximately 23 people, parents included. Caseworker, lawyers, D.A., kinship workers, CASA, supervisors, foster parents, etc are also there. Children have been in care a couple months when this meeting took place. It is not believed these parents will ever get things together enough or keep it together in order to be able to parent.  Wording below is not exact.  Specific circumstances will be generalized.

Facilitator:  What is the date the children were taken into care?  Is that the date permanency is based upon?

Caseworker: Date in question.  Yes.

Facilitator:  What were the circumstances that led the children to be removed from the home?

Caseworker outlines domestic violence, extreme neglect and filth, concerns of specific abuses.

Facilitator: any previous cases with this family?

Caseworker: Yes.  There have been X cases including ____.  Caseworker outlines number of times children have been in care, kinship, have had home-based services as well as the reasons for these cases.

Facilitator: Have the parents been offered a caseplan?

Caseworker: yes (it is about this time that I wonder why the caseworker pauses three full seconds before answering each time).

Facilitator: Mom, what services have you completed.

Mom lists numerous things she’s taken care of (imo, impressive considering how short children have been in care).  Most things have not been finished, but basics have been started.  For example, she’s half-way through parenting classes and has gone back to counseling and for medication management.

Facilitator: Is there any services mom is not compliant with?

Caseworker states that she has addressed each item on the caseplan though she states a clarification to one item that seems to me probably doesn’t matter and can’t be held against Mom.

Facilitator asks dad the same question.

Dad is not nearly as concise as mom was, goes off a little in left field, is chastised by mother, does that for each caseplan area.

Facilitator again asks caseworker about compliance and Caseworker confirms he has addressed each thing.

Facilitator asks what the goal is.

Caseworker: Reunification with parents

Facilitator: Concurrent?

Caseworker: Adoption by a non-relative

Facilitator: Kinship?

Caseworker briefly discusses the failed kinship placement as well as that grandmother is involved but unable to take the children. Mention is made of DNA testing, a named father for one of the children, no other known possible family members at this time.

Facilitator: any known reasons why RU (reunification) will not occur?

Caseworker: not at this time

Facilitator asks foster parents about each child, basically wanting to know that all are up-t0-date on medical, dental, and immunizations as well as any special needs are being addressed.

Facilitator: When is the next court date?

Caseworker answers.

And that was that.  Discussion afterward among the parties is about how useless the meeting was.  They also discuss how that meeting makes it sound like there is no reason the children wouldn’t be returned shortly.  No wonder Mom thought it was possible before the end of the year!  She was redirected to think no sooner than Spring, but still!  I mean, if a parent thinks, “a case plan is a list of the things I must do adequately in order to have my children returned to me,” there is no wonder the parents may think they are getting their kids back sooner than possible!

Why would there not be things on their caseplan that detail what else they will be judged upon so they can try to address those things as well as have a more realistic view of why the children are not being returned at any given time (possibly ever).

I have had several cases that this has happened with now, including my children’s.  CPS had NO intention on working with the parents another time after the history.  They didn’t meet the requirements not to receive a caseplan. The caseplan included the basics they had done several times and didn’t include anything else the parents needed to prove. In their case, what really happened was that family quit enabling them and they were incapable of following through with the caseplan on their own in part due to poor choices.  But what if they had done it all (with or without help)?

I absolutely think parents should be given a chance or two.  It is best for children to be raised by their parents when possible.  However, multiple chances, case plans that aren’t realistic, etc seems like it just sets kids up to not have permanency year after year.  My kids had nine homes, eight cases, over five years before TPR (termination of parental rights).  Most kids I’ve had who have had TPR or headed that direction have either had extreme circumstances which suggested strongly that the parents would not be able to do enough or keep it up or multiple cases which backs that idea up.  And yet each has had a basic caseplan and official goal of RU.

Again, I just think it is unfair for the children to be in limbo and with the issues that come with it.  And I think it is unfair to the parents to have it suggested they just need to do XYZ to get their kids back when that obviously isn’t (and can’t be!) the case.   I also think that the options available to the department as well as the parents should be covered with the family occasionally.  But again, I think they need to have a fair case plan in the first place so they can more accurately see what is going on in the case in order to evaluate the options.

Just weird and in my opinion, wrong.