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!

 

If he’s not, he can’t!

Okay, plain and simple truth:

A person does as well as he can do in the situation.  If he isn’t doing better, it is because he can’t do better.  When he can do better, he will do better.

The same is true of Mamas also.  The difference is that we have a world of resources at our fingertips.  We can see a psychologist.  We can find a specialist.  We can read another book.  We can read a couple more blogs.  We can ask on message boards.  We can join support groups.  We can go to another training.  We can practice alternative options we hear about.

It isn’t easy being the mom of a hurt child.

Today, on more than one occasion, I told myself, “it’s not about me.”  I can have my feelings, thoughts, fears.  But I have to rise above them (not deny them!) in order to find ways to do better and better every day with my children, all of them.

Oh the Lies!

I have a child who lies.  A LOT.  All three of them went through a time of doing so; but one does it to an extreme.  Pretty much, if he is speaking, there is a good chance, well over 50-50, he is lying.

Woman in office at school using a playful tone:  Oh, and where have you been?
My child: At home
I look at him incredulously as I hand the doctor note to the front desk woman.

WHY?

Mom:  Did you wet your pants?
Child: No.
Mom: Are you sure?  If you did, you need to go change.
Child, in a “doncha know” voice: I didn’t!
Mom: Let me see
Pants were wet.

WHY?

Mom: Wow, that was fast.  Did you eat it all?
Child: Yep
Mom: Are you sure?
Child, in an “of course” voice, speaking emphatically: Yes!
Mom: I’m going to have to go check.
Child: okay <shrug>
I start doubting.  Maybe he really did eat it.  Maybe I shouldn’t doubt him so much.  But it just doesn’t seem likely.  As I walk to the trash, I don’t even see the wrapper on top of the quite full can.  I start wondering what he did with it.  Then I see it, in a fast food cup. As I reach for it, I can tell the food is still there.  I open it, seeing over half of it. Dang!
Mom: We have a problem.  Do you know what it is?
Child: I didn’t eat my food.
Mom: No, that is not the problem.  That is little.  So you didn’t eat it.  We probably could have left the rest for snack or something.  But we have a REAL problem.  Do you know what it is?
Child: I lied.

WHY?

Now I know that I did THE worst thing a mom who knows her child lies or would be tempted to lie:  I asked him a question to which he could lie.

Most of the time, I don’t think of it as a “I’m gonna catch you moment.”  When I first asked about eating the item, I really was thinking, “wow, that was fast.”  I was impressed, not thinking, “oh, wait a minute.  My kids who NEVER eats a decent speed or amount happened to eat THAT big thing THAT quickly?  No way.  Now let’s see if he lies about it.”  Seriously, I didn’t go there.

And I wasn’t USUALLY thinking about the likeliness of him lying when I asked about wetting his pants (on purpose) either.  Mostly, I have a busy household and need the kid in clean clothes should someone come to the door or we have to leave in five minutes flat or or or or. But knowing that he’s going to pee the second he gets angry or scared or whatever does make me ask.   However, I do have to say that one of THE things that worked to get him to stop doing it was to say, “if you wet yourself, please go take care of it.”  Well, and doing similarly regarding the things that would have triggered peeing anyway.

Anyway, I don’t think he means to lie.  I think it just comes out.  When it is easier to tell the truth, he still lies.

Mom: Did you put up your towel?
Child: No.
Mom: Please go do so.
Child walks back towards room then comes back out.
Mom: Where’s your towel?
Child gives look saying, “I lied again.”

WHY?

Sometimes I probe after something like that.  I mean, really, WHY would you lie to possibly GET in trouble?  That makes no sense.  I can see lying to get out of trouble.  Lying because you threw away half a sandwich makes sense.  Lying that you didn’t do something you know you did?  Not so much.

One day, one of my boys was four years old and got in trouble RIGHT after waking up.  It was something that we had been working on so I decided to give a short time out for it.  The child sat on his bed for 2 or 3 minutes.  Upon getting up, he went in the livingroom and the rule was reiterated.  Because of the urination issue, Dad asked if he had wet his pants.  He said yes.  Dad told him to go change.  He spent a long time in his room.  I go check on him,  “What are you doing?”
Child: I don’t know.
Mom: What are you supposed to be doing?
Child: Changing
I look around, pull back the blanket, am confused.
Mom: When did you wet?  Sitting in time out?
Child: yes
Mom: The bed isn’t wet.
Child looks blankly at mom.
Mom: You didn’t wet your pants?
Child: No
Mom: Then why on earth would you tell your father you did?

Seriously, I simply don’t get it.

Why?

BTW, I prided myself, the first time around parenting, that my kids weren’t into lying.  It was, of course, that I had such a great relationship with them.  I also attributed it to using positive, non-punitive discipline.  They weren’t fearful of or trying to avoid punishment because we didn’t use those things.  My kids, my easy one and my challenging one, just didn’t lie.  I HATE lying with a passion.  I won’t tell you your dress is pretty if it is hideous.  Before caller ID, I didn’t tell people the person they were calling for wasn’t home if they were.  I just hate lying!  And so I was pretty proud of myself when my first set of kids didn’t do it.

But as with so many things with parenting, if you have enough children, you’ll be humbled.  In this case, it has been times three with one of them sticking with it and doing it to an extreme.  Peeing your pants or not finishing a snack or meal won’t get you punishment.  Lying most certainly will.

Today, I asked, “whatcha thinking?” after we handled the punishment and discussion about the lying.
Child: I don’t know (in a “how am I supposed to know” tone)
Mom: You know what I *wish* you were thinking?
Child: What?
Mom:  I wish you would say something like, “I’m sorry for lying, for disappointing you and Jehovah God.”
I looked at him, about to get up and let that settle.
Child:  I am thinking that now.
He makes a half of step closer to me.  A tear runs down his cheek.
I hug him and pray with him.
We both start crying. I think he really was sorry.  He just didn’t know to be before I suggested it.  I don’t know what to think about that.  I don’t know what to do about that.  But I am really glad we ended up on the same side, together, begging for guidance.

Family Trees

Do you have any good idea about your family tree?  Have you worked on it?  Have you been to familysearch.org or ancestry.com?  Do you have 40 birth certificates, 20 death certificates, a dozen draft cards, pictures in black and white?

We do.  We also have a MESS and a half!

The Tree of Me – a tree that recognizes biological roots and the adoptive family tree

See, we found out when doing our family tree that we’re not the only adoption-minded people.  In fact, we’re not the only ones who have taken in non-related family (sans adoption) either.  We’re not the only ones who know about abandonment.  We’re not the only ones who have done things a little differently.

Okay, so let’s try this. Here are a few stories.

First, you probably have read a few things about my children.  Tumbler is 7. Swimmer is 6.  T-lo is 5.  They came to us through fostercare.  We never had heard of them before.  We didn’t know their family.  I had never even heard of their town or county.  So they were complete strangers who have become our daughter and sons.

Second, my hubby was adopted.  Did you know that?  His stepfather adopted him and all of his siblings when he was little.  His biological father died when my husband was only six weeks old (there is a story there.  Well, possibly two.  Or three? The world may never know what REALLY happened).

#3 – OKay, here is an interesting story though.  My husband’s biological grandfather…He was born in 1901 to a young mom named Lena.  His father died that year (weird, coincidence).  Anyway, his mother couldn’t care for him at first so he was in a children’s home for a short time.  Later, she got him back and married another man.  This man took my hubby’s grandfather as his own.  What is weird is that I can’t find anything about his(the grandfather’s) biological father and family.  Anyway, but that isn’t where the story ends.  As you learn more about Lena, you find out that she took in other people also.  Sometimes she took in whole families.  Other times, she just had a couple extra children.  Interesting, huh?

Wait wait…so that is hubby’s side, right?

My father was adopted.  Now, we have limited information about it as there seems to have been some “interesting” legal stuff going on and the lawyer who handled it died between the time my father was 14 and wanted to know and 18 when the lawyer said he’d tell him.  At some point, my mother got the idea that it was a kinship adoption.  BTW, my aunt was also adopted.  Both had the same biological and adoptive parents.

So biologically, I have nothing further on my dad’s side.

Cabin Class Bedroom on RMS QM

Cabin Class Bedroom on RMS Queen Mary

I was able to get enough information to start following my father’s adoptive father’s family for a little while.  It wasn’t a lot, but something.  For his mother, I get cut short pretty quickly also.  I managed to get my grandmother’s birth certificate which helped with her parent’s names.  I got some neat pics of the ship she came over on also. But I have her mom’s name then NOTHING.  I found where her husband’s belongings were sent care of her mother’s last name and that is it.

Earl Johnson

E. Johnson

Now my mother’s father’s side of the family is fairly normal as families come.  I’m sure there are some stories, of course.  But it seems more straight forward.  But her mother’s side of the family is less so.  Her mother’s age is in question.  It seems she has multiple birth dates due to fudging it to join the military with her brother during WWII.

Anyway, I have never been able to find out anything about my grandmother’s father or his family.  Unfortunately, the children (my grandmother and her brother) were 3 and 5 by the time of the 1930 census and my great grandmother was living with her mother, father, and siblings. A family member doesn’t mention him at all though there is a paper family tree that names the father of the children.

So I have some lines that go very far though they may not be biological and some that don’t go very far at all, especially if we only use biological lines.

Okay, so I’ve mentioned I have an open adoption with my children’s biological family.  So I have slowly used what I could figure out from facebook and other things to put together a beginning of a family tree biologically for my children.  I actually have done pretty decently considering!  So I forgot to ask MeMe about it when she was here for the adoption party.  I texted her, asking some basic questions.  She tried to fill me in.  Well, last night, when we were talking, she said she was getting the information off the genealogical report for the tribe!  WHAT?!?!  I immediately thought about how I was glad that hadn’t come out before the adoption.  Honestly, had we been told during the placement call, that would have been a deal breaker.  Unfortunately, we have heard too many stories of native children not being able to get permanency or ripped from the only home they’ve ever known for no reason other than tribe affiliation.  Well, as I researched the information, it probably wouldn’t have mattered.  They are from a subsection of Cherokee that is not yet recognized by the BIA.  However, the children’s great grandfather and grandmother’s sister are “card carrying” members so it might be nice to look into it.

Anyway, just found some interesting things and I’m glad to be able to provide a biological family tree as well as our family tree for them.  They are welcome to fill it in more in time.  I’ll also do what I can with MeMe as we go along.

May I get on a small soapbox briefly?  I think people doing genealogical research need to be mindful that there are PEOPLE involved.  It is neat to find skeletons, noble stories, etc.  However, especially in our complicated world, it is wise to simply accept the information as it is known sometimes.  There is a young person in our family tree whose family members were bullied by a genealogy-studying extended family member because she thought she remembered some juicy fact about this young person’s biological ties or lack thereof.  She was very firmly told that the record available states XYZ.  She decided to list this child differently on her family tree.  What is odd is that she accepted the adopted child of the family.  So say there were three children.  She listed the one biological child and the one adopted child the same, but listed this third child differently.  How RUDE!

I really enjoy doing our family tree.  I can’t dedicate much time to it; but here and there, I try.

Mental Torment

This post is going to tell you what I do to myself as a foster-adoptive mother.  And then you’ll know why I’m crazy.  Please know that I tell myself to “chill” constantly, to stop worrying what other people think, to accept my best, that perfection is not attainable at this time, etc.  But in the end, I am constantly WORRIED despite Jesus’ admonition to stop it already!

Okay, so I was going to start this another way, but I saw this post and thought, “Oh, YES!!!!”

But, quite honestly, the worst part has been the mental torment of second-guessing every move I make, every standard, every moment of discipline, because for some reason I feel like I have forgotten how to be a parent. The plethora of attachment training sessions, adoption books and doctors who seem to know more about my child than I do all feel like dozens of fingers pointing at me in condemnation.

That was written by Sara over here —> http://saraescamilla.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/quick-esca-update/

Sometimes I have this “yes!” or “yee-haw!” moment that I’m doing just fine, thank you very much.  One of my children will  show they’ve internalized the discipline (teaching/guiding, includes correction, of course), for example.  Or there is some other progress made.  The other day, Ace knocked his sister, the 9 month old(!), down.  He ran and my son grabbed up the baby.  I went and fussed at Ace in a “what on earth, have you lost your mind?” then “you better not ever do that again” manner.  And then I threw a party. Why?  Because Ace made eye contact with me the entire time I fussed at him!  My other kids do that pretty naturally, only looking away if it is another behavior in their case.  They could look at you no matter what you were saying, doing, or how.  But Ace?  Ace TRUSTED me enough to look at me.  We’re bonded enough that he could do so.  So obviously my fussing at him pretty strongly a few times (well, and I left him in his room too!) hasn’t caused any issue with our attachment.  Or maybe it has even helped.  He knows I’m not going to kill him no matter how upset I am with him.  It is safe to make eye contact with me.  It hasn’t always been safe to look ANYONE in the eyes EVER, but…

Anyway, but seriously, I’m sitting here wondering if I should really post that story.  I mean, we all know that you’re not supposed to use a raised voice or even use “that” tone with foster children, especially those traumatized by abuse, lacking attachment, etc.  And then there is the leaving him in his room for a few minutes.  How dare I?  Even though I know that Ace and I are just fine (thank you very much), I know there could be a lot of judgment.

But on a day to day basis, probably the worst judge of myself, is myself.  I wish I could do everything perfectly.  Of course, what *is* perfectly?

And really, my kids are BEAUTIFULLY behaved.  Sometimes I think we’re just way too hyper about things.  And then I think, well, they are so beautifully behaved *because* we’re very firm with high standards.  If we relaxed (like I so often think we need to), would they be so far along?  That is another thing I worry about being judged about also.

(Note:  I’m aware that no one else is nearly as interested as they seem in my head.  They have their own lives, too busy to worry about jugdging me!  They probably aren’t *really* thinking any of the things I attribute to them.)

But any time I get onto my kids, whether a look or a quick phrase or sending them to the corner or whatever, I worry what someone else thinks.  They don’t “see” the Mommy-shopping, just a charming, cute kid.  They think “oh their just kids.”  They may think I seem too easily irritated or wanting perfection.

And then….it goes ALL the way the other way:

PLEASE please please quit praising me regarding how well my children behave and how well I do with them!  I’m a fraud!

Yes, the children are usually *very* well-behaved.  This past weekend, we had the District Convention.  Three full days sitting in very uncomfy seats at the convention center.  I had five kids with me (the baby was at respite) plus bigs.  We sat in two rows so I could be within arms length of all of them, helping them with songbooks, Bibles, “looks,” giving them crayons, whatever.  The kids were AWESOMELY FANTASTIC!  I took ONE kid out ONE time to fuss at him (and it was a pretty major situation that no one would have NOT addressed).  In Three days, one kid, one time!  *I* was amazed and so incredibly thankful.

But though some of it is that I work hard with them, some of it is just that they are pretty good kids and for my three, they’ve had almost 2½ years to learn.  And then they are so much better behaved in public.  It is part of being charming and cute for other people.

But mostly, I just mess up SO much of the time!  Sure, I do some things very well with them.  I could list some great things about my relationship with them and my parenting.  But I make SO many mistakes every day.  I really don’t see how these kids are doing so well with ME as a mother!  So when people praise me, not just them, I feel like a fraud.

See, I really am nuts.  I worry about this stuff ALL THE TIME.  I want to do well by my kids and make so many mistakes.  I worry about what my mistakes say about me.  I worry about being judged.  I judge myself something awful.  And I feel like a fraud.  And every day, I hope I do a little better than the day before.  I keep hoping I can be half the mom my kids really deserve!

Hodge Podge

Wow, I’m really slacking!

Just busy busy.  To be honest, almost overwhelmed kind of busy.

I get online here and there, but that isn’t the same as composing a blog post.

But here are some pics 🙂

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OB: Do We Love Them?

Okay, the last (actually, originally it was the first) of the series.  My mom has gone home and a ton has happened.  I can’t wait to post pictures of the last couple days.  We also have some interesting stuff going on foster wise.  And I have another review to post this weekend.  Busy busy bees at the H-household 🙂  Again, this was from late March 2012, soon after Sweet Little M arrived here and while we were in the process of adopting our three.

 

The other blogger asked a series of questions in her blog post at http://looneytunes09.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/are-fosteradoptive-kids-loved-differently-than-biokids/.  I’d like to respond.

Do I love my foster daughter and soon to be adopted children like I love my biological children?  ABSOLUTELY.  Love is different between each person, of course.  How could it not be?  But it isn’t less or inferior with any child versus any other child.  I go through spurts of different feelings with each of them. That has been how it has been since I gave birth to the first one through now having accepted the foster placement of the most recent.

Do I have the same love for my foster children the minute I bring them in my family? Do I love them the same as the biological children I’ve had for 17 and 19 years?  Well, that is a bit unreasonable.  It would be unreasonable to say that I felt the same about my son the moment I realized I was carrying him as I did about my daughter whom I knew for almost two years by that time.  11 months later?  Yes, I love my soon-to-be-adopted children as much as I love my biological children.  That changed pretty quickly, but did I feel the same about them as I was filling out placement papers while they were playing in my living room?  Probably not.

But I definitely care about the children immediately.  For example, I got a call towards the end of February for a sibling group of three children.  I felt strongly about them.  I said yes immediately; and I called my agency back to ask what all they tell a caseworker.  I wanted to know if they tried to “sell” us a bit to the caseworker as I really wanted these children.  There was just something…. Anyway, we got the call saying that we were the chosen home.  Well, for two weeks, things kept being pushed back.  I asked about them, got more information, and worried about them.  Some stuff happened and I was truly concerned.  I asked on a message board for positive thoughts for them as I just wanted them to feel safe and secure in this time of things being so up in the air.  I cared before they walked in the door. They never did walk through that door.  I still care.  When would I feel the same love I feel for “the three” and “my bigs”?  I don’t know.  Probably in pretty short order though! My newest hasn’t been here two weeks and I’m smitten!

I know the blogger never thought she was loved.  That worries me especially as she has spoken fondly of a couple foster parents.  What *if* the caring I feel and show from moment one and the love I feel after the first few days doesn’t sound down into their hearts?  What if what I give them is *not* healing in the slightest, but actually another hurt?  Is it really possible that any, possibly all, of these children think we don’t love them in a parent-child way?  What can we do?  What should we do?  Is it possible for us to change it?

The blogger asked if claiming the child as yours makes a difference. I don’t know.  I generally claim children as mine pretty readily.  In fact, it is a big reason I quit doing childcare because it hurt to see parents do less than ideally (imo) with “my” children.  A foster child who walks in my door is *mine.*  But when you have to share them, it does cause you to have the slightest wall built up.  Honestly, my wall is awfully short and way too soft.  Every child has breached it in no time.  I am smitten with our newest though she’s been here such a short time AND is supposed to go with family eventually (months down the line as it is an out of state placement if those people pass the homestudy).

But I had noticed that there was a little remnant of the wall still there with the three.  It felt funny, for awhile, to say, “go give that to your brother” when I was saying it to the six year old telling her to give whatever it was to the almost 17 yr old.  Now it is natural.  “This is my son, {Swimmer},” is different now.  Thinking further than 6 weeks or 6 months into the future really does make a difference.  Did I love them before?  ABSOLUTELY.  But now the roots are digging deep and the branches can move up and out also.

Lastly, the blogger asks about how a child feels when she is unloved by her adoptive parents even a few years after the adoption.  I honestly can’t imagine.  I would gather that the adoptive parent must honestly care deeply for the child and show that in every way possible.   Because of my nature of attaching quickly and strongly, I can’t imagine being the parent in this situation. I have to wonder what they consider love because if they are behaving in a loving manner (love is an action, positive behavior comes from a place of love), it is very likely they DO love the child somewhere in them.  I wonder if maybe they don’t have up a wall that is blinding them somewhat in order not to get hurt?

But then we’re back to the blogger not FEELING loved. Can a parent show in everything they say and do how much they love them and a child not “get” it?  And is there anything I can do as a foster, adoptive, bio mother to let my children feel the love I feel for them and show to them in every way I can?

OB: Why These Children, part 1

The below post is from March 2012 (before the adoption of our three).

A post by  LT at http://looneytunes09.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/why-do-people-adopt-hurt-kids/ asked why THESE kids?

(as I’m typing, I can see this is going to be multi-part)

One motive is put forward: money.

It is cheaper to adopt from foster care.  This *is* a reason people go this route, at least at first and to some degree.  I recently inquired on a situation where a birth mother was asking for someone with very specific requirements.  Well, *extremely* few adoptive families meet her requirements; I do.  So I inquired.  I sent my reply to the agency as well as a “dear birthmom letter.”  The agency’s reply wasn’t about whether the birth mom would be interested in us or anything of the sort.  It was simply to let us know that the fees associated with this child would run about $36,000.  Seriously?  So what should this mother do?  She doesn’t feel she can raise the child and yet the handful of adoptive families who meet her requirements can’t afford to pay that sort of money before the child’s birth.

But with my three?  I won’t pay a dime towards their adoption.  The state will pay my attorney, the state’s attorney, the children’s attorney.  The state will pay for all the filing, paperwork, etc.  The state pays the adoption worker, her supervisor, the person who redacts the file, etc.  I don’t have a clue how much the actual costs are (though I’d guess a WHOLE lot less than $36K!), but my tax money and my neighbor’s tax money is paying for it.  And while they do?  I’m getting the foster care stipend that helps me take care of their needs whether their new suits and pretty dresses or their gymnastics and swim lesson or the new furniture and bikes.  They deserve the absolute best and I’m glad I had a year of a little more money to spend on them!  They came from so little.  The zoo, restaurants, fairs, pictures in the fields of wildflowers, homeschool programs, etc are so worth it.  They deserve anything and everything I can get them while the state is working out making them mine forever.

Okay, so the children come with an adoption subsidy also.  This is help after the adoption.  Some may call it a paycheck.  Well, maybe not.  Here, the adoption subsidy is a fraction of what the foster care stipend is. My kids’ needs aren’t changing any as we finalize their adoptions, but the amount of help we’ll get to care for those needs will cut down to less than half.

Subsidy also includes help with medical. THANKFULLY.  Seriously, a lot of these kids have additional medical issues as well as ongoing mental health concerns.  They deserve as much help as possible.  Having secondary medical coverage will help CONSIDERABLY in getting them the services that they need!

It isn’t all-inclusive though! For example, medicaid will pay for speech therapy for a child as long as they are under the 13th percentile (btw, in public school here, it is the 7th percentile).  A child’s speech has to be pretty rough to be so low!  For example, one of my children’s speech is at the 11th percentile.  He is 40% intelligible by strangers and 60% by people who know him.  Our agency worker speaks to him about 3 times per month and “can usually get the gist of what he’s saying” (her words).  Okay, so medicaid will pick up the difference between what our insurance will pay and what it costs to have our speech therapist out here until he gets over 13 percent.  Well, then? We either have to pay the difference (approx. $880 per month) or take him to a speech center where we can pay just a normal 10% co-pay.  Obviously, we’ll have to choose the latter despite the fact that that is very likely not best for him.

Subsidy also includes a number of post-adoption services.  We will get a small amount yearly towards summer camp (this amount changes yearly, but may be $100 or $300).  The children will be able to stay with their same therapist, a therapist who doesn’t take our insurance or the kind of Medicaid the state will give us.  The adoptive therapy/support group that costs $35 per session now will be free. Respite is offered.  Family therapy is offered.  Help finding information and services is offered.  I didn’t know all that was included in the subsidy, but I’m glad it is.

And then there is the Tax Credit.  Boy has this been something discussed a lot the last few years. See, the tax credit is an amount that would offset the amount of tax you were required to pay.  The amount varies yearly, but it is around $12-13K per kid.  Well, in order to get to offset $12,000 of tax liability, a married couple has to have a taxable income (adjusted gross income minus deductions and exemptions) over $79,000.  I don’t even know how to figure how much our income would have to be to take it for three kids in one year.  I don’t need to know as there is no way we’ll ever make that kind of money.  So the tax law allows people to take it over five years.  With seven exemptions plus the standard deduction, we simply will never use one child’s offset, much less three. Our tax liability was under $1000 for 2011. So over five years, we’re talking less than a couple thousand dollars of the $39,000 possible.

It may be worth considering who are the people adopting from foster care?  Are they wealthy people?  Or are they people like us who simply wanted to help children and families (fostering) while possibly building our own families (adopting)?  Are they more likely solidly middle class and working poor or people who are making $200,000 per year? It just seems the tax credit may not really be helping the people who need it the most who are adopting the children who have started out the furthest behind the eight ball.

Anyway, so that is the money side of it.  We aren’t getting rich by adopting from foster care.  We are struggling in lots of ways.  As I was filling out the adoption subsidy paperwork, I could see how poor we really are. That doesn’t make us a bad “placement.”  It means our love runs deeper than our wallets :)   I’m glad we’ll get a little help.  It makes it possible for people like us to provide a normal childhood as well as the care these kids need.

Really, money is really a very small consideration.  Yes, I can afford to adopt from foster care while I can’t pay $36,000 for a child.  Yes, I will get a subsidy.  But though those things may encourage people to look this direction, it doesn’t mean it is the reason for doing it.

OB: Why These Kids, Part 2

The below was posted originally in March 2012, prior to the adoption of our children.  It is, of course, still true about them as well as our foster kids (whose future is not yet determined by CPS. The current goal is reunification with parents.  They are also checking into family and some fictive kin).

More possible reasons why we would adopt these kids…a discussion jumping off of LT’s post at http://looneytunes09.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/why-do-people-adopt-hurt-kids .

1) We just didn’t know they would have issues?  Well, I seriously doubt that.  We do have to go through training.  And we watch movies too.  And we usually know a few foster kids.  In our classes, they were called “Baby B.”  Baby A got all the normal love and adoration all babies should get.  They were fed, kept warm, given medical care, kept in a clean environment, were safe, etc.  Baby B, on the other hand, often were given the short end of the stick one time after another.  Maybe they were born on drugs (cigarettes, alcohol, meth, cocaine, etc).  Maybe they were used as sex toys.  Maybe they were stuck in a playpen in their own excrement hours on end.  Maybe they weren’t fed.  Maybe they were hit.  Maybe they learned that crying didnt bring anything.  Maybe the TV was the only thing that talked to them.  Anyway, so it makes sense they have issues and may have issues for a long time to come.

2) Do we have a savior complex?  Honestly, I do think I thought I could help these kids faster and to a greater degree than really reasonable.  A good dose of love, a lot of discipline, some structure and predictability, safety and security.  Surely they’d come along in a few weeks.  At seven months, I was thinking, “what on earth?  It’s been seven months!!! What’s the deal?!?!”  After the TPR hearing, I came to realize seven months was NOTHING compared to what they’ve been through.  But sometimes, I still think, “it’s been almost a year.”  I have to remember that love and discipline and security from me isn’t a miracle cure.

However, throwing kids away simply is not an option.  And I don’t think these kids are ruining my life.  Will I think that occasionally?  Possibly.  But I will remember how great it has been also.  I hope they don’t have it too tough, of course, but I know that their life is theirs to make what they wish.  I’m hoping to give them every opportunity to choose healthy, even happy; but in the end, they will have to work through what they have been through.  I know it won’t always be easy.  But they won’t be thrown away.  We will be here forever for them whether they want it or not.

3) Because we “get” the hurt? Absolutely.  No one comes from perfection.  Some have closer than others.  I had some rough times.  I struggled with abandonment, mistreatment, poor choices, anxiety issues, etc.  It won’t come close to what my kids dealt with; but I have gained some understanding to a degree and feel able to pass on some good skills and tools they may be able to use.  Additionally, I get that people are all different, know the resources in our area, and know how to find more opportunities in time.  I’m dedicated to do so.  I’m not perfect, but I sure will be willing to try anything and everything to help them.  Will it work?  Well, I can’t promise that.

Why am I adopting my children?  I believe they deserve a good family.  I believe they deserve to be “kept.”  I chose to love them.  I feel love for them.  Honestly, I wanted to be a mom.  But I just didn’t need perfect kids.  Seriously, had I adopted newborns or birthed them myself, there was no guarantee of perfection.  Instead, I hope to be as good as possible a parent for the kids I actually have.   I’ll keep trying to do better and better with them and for them.  That is all I can do.  I have hope.  I hope to give them hope too.

OB: Even More “Why These Kids?”

This post was originally written March 2012, originally the third in a series of posts. 

(Still vaguely responding to LT’s post at http://looneytunes09.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/why-do-people-adopt-hurt-kids/).

I want to expound a little more.  These are probably more random thoughts than anything though.

First, I want to be honest that my primary reason for considering adoption originally was “selfish.”  I wanted to be a parent some more.  I wanted children.  I wanted to parent.  I want all the joys that come with parenting.  I was, of course, aware, that parenting isn’t all easy and wonderful and joyful all the time.  I also knew that kids aren’t perfect from the get-go and that they’ll have their own opinions, experience, fears, hurts, etc as they go on.  However, I also knew *I* wasn’t perfect.

When we went into fostering though unsure if we would adopt.  We waffled a lot.  First, it seemed we could help a lot more children if we just fostered.  Many kids would go home anyway and it’d be great that other people could adopt the kids we’ve gotten to enjoy temporarily.  However, though we entertained those thoughts, we really did still desire to grow our own family.  Fostering seemed like a way to do it.  We could, in essence, do both: help children and families who needed the help and build our family when it didn’t work out in birth families.

Well, the first two kids, we knew would go home.

The second set we knew weren’t going to parents, but we figured they would go to family members. But then that didn’t look too likely either. Then came some thinking.  We absolutely fell in love with them.  The thought of letting them go was miserable.  Add that we thought it the worst thing ever for them to have another disruption in their lives.  Is love enough?  Their issues seemed mighty tough.  They had been through a lot.  The had behaviors because of that.  We have had some moments of wondering if we were best for them.  We also went through moments of guessing what would happen if they left.

In time, the love won out.  Fact is, we are willing to keep trying and trying.  We may not be perfect, but we will try.  We’ll learn better and better.  We will make mistakes and that will probably be good for them also.  IF we aren’t perfect, they won’t have to be either.  ANd when people make  mistakes, they try to learn from them.  And if we made their lives absolutely perfect, they’d end up fragile.  So we’ll do the best we can, aim for even better, but appreciate our human-ness also.

And we’ll grow together, right?  I have already had to work through some things I thought I was past.  I get to work on my character traits.  I’ll get to practice the fruitage of the spirit.  I’ll gain all the qualities that go along with love (long-suffering, patience, kindness, etc).

So, realistically, we have some challenges now and in the future.  Will they be fixed?  I can’t say.  And sometimes, I think it is okay if some of them don’t or don’t for awhile.

So, it may be difficult to deal with a 3 or 5 or 7 year old who poops in his pants.  It certainly isn’t pleasant.  But what if it doesn’t stop until 9 or 11 or 15?  Will that ruin our lives?  I just don’t think so.  I don’t *want* any of them to wait so long.  I wish they all would stop yesterday; but I don’t think it is worthy of too much worry.  It is very unlikely they will be working at an assembly plant one day and their coworkers catch them with poopy pants.  It will stop eventually.  Or they’ll find a way to deal with it.  But in the mean time, maybe we would be a lot more successful helping them more significantly if we work to help them feel comfortable, confident, and capable.  We can try to learn more appropriate options.  And then the kids can make their own choices in their own timing as they heal.  If it takes 15 years, it does.

Certain behaviors are a bit more worrisome, usually because they are scary or the consequences so dire.  But again, would it ruin our lives?  Not most of them and we’ll do our best to prevent the ones that could really wreak havok.  It means we have stricter supervision.  I have heard people say and read people online that say they could never live “like that” with some of the measures we have in place.  I think they are wrong.  They *could* if they felt it necessary to help the ones they love.  It means we have to learn more ways to help our kids heal, to discipline, to show love for them for who they are regardless.

But I think people, when they think of foster kids, get hung up on these things.  Sure, they take up some time and effort, many times A LOT of time and effort.  I spend a good deal of time documenting these things as well as reading books, talking to other parents, working on therapies, etc.  I am determined to not hurt the children more by my responses.  I am determined to help them to the best of my ability (and keep reaching for the next ability level).

What people don’t think about are the opportunities.  So many times, I’ve looked back on old posts and though, “Oh goodness, she doesn’t do that anymore!”  Or I think back and remember that a year ago, he couldn’t do that.  I watch them grow, mature, heal.  Sometimes it is very slow progress.  Other times it is more significant.  It can be something more superficial or something more important. But I wish we could look at those things more.  Maybe it is the first real hug or being an inch taller.  Maybe it is accepting redirection or stopping thumb sucking.  Or maybe it is cooking a meal or getting an B in math.  Maybe it is the smile in the photo of her in the wildflowers or the first time he makes a goal.  Maybe it is not needing to cut himself or him being able to say, “I love you.”  Maybe it is the first school dance or the first Bible verse memorized.  Maybe it is the sweet thing she did for a sibling or the first time he doesn’t take the opportunity to hurt his brother.  Of course, this list can go on forever.  There are so many firsts I experienced with these children.  There are so many hurts we’ve cried over.  There are so many laughs we’ve had and will have.  It is truly a beautiful thing.

Again, beautiful, but maybe not always easy.  I think it is worth it.  Maybe it will get very tough down the line.  But I still think we’ll be able to look at the good stuff. If it proves to be challenging a couple years down the road, I’ll look at this post again.  I’ll look at these posts again.  I’ll look back at the weekly and monthly reports I make for them.  I’ll make a list of blessings.  I’ll make a list of progress.  I’ll make a list of positive attributes.  I’ll ask them for help if I have to.  But I will focus on the positive as much as possible through the years.

As I am writing this, a commercial came on.  It was showing some children being adopted out of foster care.  “Every child needs a family.”  Even the one neglected, starved, left in a carseat, deformed because of abuse, beaten severely, burned, sexually abused, drugged, sold out to strangers, scared beyond all belief, hurting himself, untrusting, and the list could go on unfortunately.

Children HAVE been hurt.  They are still hurting.  But they DO deserve families.  And families could choose to step up and care for them.  It may not always be easy.  But it is a choice.  And it is a choice that can bring great things to our (the children’s and parents’) lives.

Yes, I have many children, but…

This is still rubbing me the wrong way.  I really shouldn’t let what other people think bug me, but sometimes it does. Well, and this person has irritated me before with her mouth.  Just let it go!

The other day, an older woman (her grandkids are now adults) was sharing with me about some of her child rearing.  Her daughter piped in also.  It was neat.  Some of it was how “mean” she could be (can’t we all?) while part of it was how she balanced it out with nurturing, play, fun during chores, etc.

So then she pops off, “Well, I only had three so I could do things like that.  I guess with so many you can’t.”

Ummm, what?

All people are different.  Maybe *she* couldn’t have eight children and spend time with each one.  Maybe *she* couldn’t have gotten individual time with each child each day.  Maybe *she* couldn’t fix pancake muffins, make chores fun, chase them around on scooters, whatever.  Me?  I can.

In my favor are a few things.  First, I intentionally am WITH my kids.  I sit on the floor half the day with them.  They are usually in the same room as me, even.  I believe nurturing and playing with kids (let them lead, mostly) is healthy for them.  I can more easily discipline when I can easily tell what is going on.  And my kids are home.   Homeschooling gives me six or seven hours she didn’t have.

Anyway, all kids are different.  All people are different.  We have different goals.  We have different abilities.  We have different strengths.  We have different needs.

I *am* capable of taking care of eight children (two being young adults now so just the six littles).  We go to the park. They are involved in sports.  We have a lot of appointments to work around.  The school-aged children are advanced academically and *are* being educated well at home.  We do volunteer work, are involved in our congregation, etc.  They spend a LOT of time outside.  We simply are a very active family.  Our children’s play therapist, when describing us in an email said that we spend more time playing with the children than any other family she’s ever worked with.  We simply believe in it 🙂

It is important that we remember, I think, to support others, not tear them down.  I have looked at other families and thought, “I couldn’t do THAT.”  I don’t look at other families and think, “they can’t do what we do because they ___________.”  It is not for me to judge whether someone else can do what I can do.  Then there is a question about whether someone else even WANTS to do what I do.

Be nice Mamas.  We’re all doing our best 🙂

This week

So, I have news about Heidi.  She can become a service dog for PTSD!  Our trainer is going to work with us and we’re very excited.  I really think my one child especially is going to really benefit from this!

In other news, Heidi is four months old tomorrow.  Here is her picture from when we first got her:

photo 1

Here is a picture of her today:

20130604_132315-1

Yes, both were in front of the oven.  Can you believe two months makes such a difference?  She’s just growing by leaps and bounds!  She is extra smart also.  SHe started the intermediate class last night.  Instead of loose leash walking, we doing heel.  Step one and two last night.  Step one:  sit next to mom with eyes with my pants seam.  CHECK! She did it immediately.  Step two:  A couple “heel” steps.  She does well for 4 or 5 then gets a bit distracted by the other dogs and such.  Part of that is because turning is tough for her too.  But she’s FOUR MONTHS OLD and getting it.  She also does sit, stand, down, return (for life-saving come…I do use “come on” for minor movements), spin, shake, stay, free, push-ups, watch-me, etc.  She’s been fully potty trained for a full month (which amazes us as we’ve done really poorly at that in the past).

Okay, so other things.  Here are pics of the kids this week  from the field trip and swimming:

20130511_120835 20130511_120926 20130511_120943 20130531_100053-1 20130531_100617(0)-2 20130601_102750-1 20130531_094438

Homeschool Days Aren’t All Perfect

So, what do you think of when you think about homeschooling? I have a picture perfect day set out in my head. It includes lots of reading and laughing together. It has us sitting around the wall maps pointing out places and facts about those places. It involves activities such as pretend archaeological digs and making soups people may have made in the 1500s. The daily walk, playing with snails, practicing handstand push-ups, reading about dinosaurs, coloring, writing letters to grandma, and the like are sprinkled through the day. At some point, each child has a short amount of computer time, each having his/her own programs (abcya.com, EPGY, Reading Eggs, DreamBox, etc)

And many days seem just like that. We have great materials like Elemental Science and Story of the World History that include reading from books, art projects, hands-on activities, even getting a new pet (Elemental Science is why we got Diego and Eeyore, our bettas). I love spending all this time with my children living life, learning in a low-key manner, and soaring.

But sometimes, homeschool days aren’t perfect. Two of my children had a couple rough days a couple weeks ago which made the rest of our homeschooling experience less than wonderful. Getting into things, having attitude problems, intentionally doing work incorrectly (really people?), trying to control things not for them to control, keeping a nose in someone else’s business, etc. It has been an exhausting week.

Of course, even with some behaviors, even school behaviors, we still had nice moments. I’m hoping next week is a picture perfect homeschool week though, one with lots of the good stuff and little, if any, of the yuck.

Today was a great day, an excellent way to finish out a week. After the children were in bed, I texted a friend about how my life, some days, seems about perfect. I have a beautiful large family I can enjoy more often than not. How fortunate I really am!

OB: “Babying” Older Children

This is something I’m needing to focus on right now due to one of my children having significant trouble and having some newbie foster kiddos.  So it seemed like a good time to repost it 🙂

How we “baby” big kids (ages 3-8):

*I’m CONSTANTLY on the floor, making it easy for kids to come to me whether for a quick tickle or head rub or game of footsies or whatever.

*I rock them…a lot! When rocking, I pet them, run my fingers through their hair, tickle lightly, tell them what I would have done had I known them (or was their mommy) when they were a baby.

*We use dum-dum lollypops for a bottle for a few reasons.  The biggest was that I worried what the agency and caseworkers would think about using a real bottle.  But this has the benefit of being sweet also which is an attachment key.

*Softness, sweetness, warmth, closeness, etc are all good.

*BTW, my kids LOVE green smoothies. Goodness, a “milk shake” for breakfast? Mommy is the best! My three hadn’t even ever had watermelon. Again, healthy and anytime? AWESOME!

*My kids, especially one of them, have taken it further, such as: First words, first steps, first hop, baby sentences, etc. He does it even with mistakes. Like his first steps are wobbly and he falls down. I praise, encourage, help, fix (pretend) boo-boos, etc.

*We play lots of baby games (peekaboo, this little piggy, etc). A lot of finger 
plays and such are fun too. And reading is a very typical thing for parents to do with children. Our play therapist gave us other ideas like “close
your eyes” and then I lightly touch them with a cotton ball or we blow a cotton
ball back and forth (and you can even do that with more than one child). Just
sit close.

*Lotion and a “family scent” are good ideas also. I have multiple chemical sensitivities so I have to be careful, but….My kids started really responding to cinnamon. Well THAT is easy. I can put a small pot of boiling water with cinnamon in it on the stove. I can put cinnamon in muffins, waffles, pancakes, etc.

For me, having babies in the house has been SOOOOOOOO helpful! I’ve had my three since April 2011. I have had a baby/toddler in the house all but 4 months since I’ve gotten them. It helps me see all the fun, silly, touching, bonding, etc things I can do. We NATURALLY do those things with babies. It is a lot harder to remember with kindergarteners. Having those  reminders, I can turn around and do similarly with the big kids. Sometimes, it feels like I have septuplets rather than one baby and some bigger kids.

BTW, one other thing we do is MUCH greater than typical supervision. This was necessary due to behavior at one point; but even when it could be loosened, we didn’t go all the way to average. Having them close gives opportunity to for coaching, helping, guiding, etc. It also gives a lot of opportunity to touch,rub heads, tickle behind ears, quick kisses to the tops of heads, silly words, etc. 🙂

Everything They Do is WRONG!

So on a message board, a few people were talking about how everything a foster child does, when they go into a new home, is wrong.  They want the wrong things, say the wrong things, do the wrong things, think the wrong things, wear the wrong things, etc.  This really hit home for me because I really do feel like I’m correcting kids all the time at first.  And I know some of those things are just family preferences, not “the end of the world.”

  • speech, grammar – “Will I have some more? instead of “May I”?  being unintelligible to some degree or another
  • manners – please, thank you, yes/no instead of yeah/uh-uh
  • social skills (sharing, talking with others, etc)
  • aggression – verbal (name calling, cursing, etc) and physical (hitting, biting, pinching)
  • at the table – using utensils, sitting up straight, eating speed, eating real food
  • hair and dress – unkempt, inappropriate sayings, etc
  • LOUD, very LOUD, making noises CONSTANTLY, yelling, not even knowing HOW to whisper
  • self-care – pottying, dressing, bathing, etc.
  • bed – bedtime, sleeping through night, etc
  • cultural differences to navigate (not necessarily change)
  • defiance – blatant, hidden, passive, just hollering no over and over

Obviously I have young children.  I can imagine there would be other issues with older kids.  The amount of time on screens, inappropriate clothing, wanting to do things that kids shouldn’t at all (like drugs, be with an adult boyfriend, etc) or can’t in foster care, etc.

We have new children.  Ace is 4½, Champ is almost 3, and The Baby is 6mo this week.  These kids have fewer of these “wanna change them” things than most.  I am not worrying about how loud Ace is, for example, as I figure that is my issue right now.  And I kinda find Champ’s mouthiness cute (though I won’t let him know that!).  I do have to address Ace’s social issues as we have a lot of kids.  And we are gently working on both boys’ self-care skills.

Mostly, I want kids to know they are safe here.  Sometimes that heads off certain issues but causes others temporarily.

Anyway, I think the main takeaway is that even if I would like many things to change, that it is important the CHILDREN don’t feel like I want to change everything about them.  Can you imagine thinking that everything you say, do, think, want, wear, etc is wrong?  Can you imagine feeling nothing is ever good enough? Some things will need to be addressed in time.  Very few things need to be addressed the first week, be addressed in a punitive manner, etc.   In time, you’ll find that some things don’t need to be addressed at all as that is just how it is or will work out itself. But regardless, it is probably wise to be mindful of how much you’re trying to change “overnight.”