CPS Hurts Children (Do They Care?)

Less than two hours ago, I got an email from the children’s caseworker.  It basically said that it was determined to be in the childen’s best interest to move to fictive kin.  Uh, duh.  You already made that decision despite the ongoing concerns.  Anyway, it goes on to say that the children will leave for their visit tomorrow and just never come back.  Uh, wait.  Say what?

I actually suggested such a thing and the therapist agreed.  However, to give me less than 24 hours notice?  I’ve loved these children as my own for the past five months!  You don’t have therapies set up.  You don’t have daycare solidified.  The kids didn’t get the chance to have time to process that that is what was going to happen and understand it. NOTHING.

I called the emergency number for the agency.  Otherwise, our worker and the intake worker, neither, would have known until tomorrow morning at earliest.  I vented.  Part of the email from the caseworker was talking about how wonderful I am and how much I had done to help the children (who have gained at least double the months developmentally than they’ve even been here).  Yeah, blow smoke up someone else’s booty!  If you respected my family or me or my children (bio, adopted or foster) at all, you would have given us a proper notice!

So what I would have done had I been given the chance:

  • Let Ace pick out supper
  • Buy cake and ice cream for a going away party
  • Talked to the boys about going over there and that this time they wouldn’t come back
  • Had the boys help me pack their things
  • Done something fun with them before they left
  • Done their paperwork correctly
  • I would have let my children say goodbyes in their own ways (drawing pictures, talking to the therapist, buying gifts, whatever they wanted or needed to do).

I absolutely hate CPS.  Not one single thing they do after removing the children from their birth families has ANYTHING to do with their best interests.  It has been THREE MONTHS that fictive kin has been in the picture and you couldn’t give us even 24 hours notice?  Seriously?  RIDICULOUS!

And this on top of another email from the fictive kin who took Monkey.  Another email about how well she’s doing while outlining how hurt she is attachment wise and emotionally.  Never taking responsibility for that.  Now, I know that Monkey’s biological parents are what CAUSED the wheels of motion in her situation.  I know that meth didn’t help.  But that little girl had what amounted to a sprain when she was here.  Now she’s an amputee, why?  Because CPS is ridiculous and will not even consider the best interests of the child.  And because a selfish, prideful, and naive couple who wanted another child didn’t care how much they hurt the child to get her.  And who pays the consequence?  Monkey.  Great job CPS.

And thanks CPS for treating us like dog poop too.  We are just people taking “placements” huh?  We are just “beds,” huh?  Tough on us if we or our children get attached to the people we care for day in and day out, huh?  Tough on us if your plans don’t fit in with our needs or schedule.  Too bad you chose to be the dirt of this operation, foster home.  As long as you keep the soap and medication locked up and the potatoes off the pantry floor, we don’t give a hoot about you.  You’re nothing and you’ll deal with that fact or else.

I really don’t care as much about that though, at least in how it pertains to me.  I have a lot harder time when I hear the pain in my daughter’s voice or all my boys go nuts within seconds of hearing the news.  But what really gets me is how much the children are hurt by some short-sighted people in a system that doesn’t care at all about what would be helpful, much less best, for the children.  Young children at the mercy of a system that causes just as much, often worse, harm as the families they came from.

And then, what about me?  Am I just part of the problem by being part of the system?

Is what I give them on a day to day basis REALLY so much better for them than the abandonment they feel when CPS rips them away?  Do the children feel we’ve lied to them as we tell them we love them, that they are safe, that we’ll help them?  Does what we give them help them trust and grow or does being ripped away from what we give them cause them to never trust even the nicest, most helpful people?

What good am I as a mom when I cannot protect my children?

I talked to Ace tonight.  I told him about going to his “other mom and dad” (as he’s been calling them).  We talked about their children M and J.  We talked about their dogs, D and D.  We talked about his room and scooter.  We talked about his Aunt who lives closeby.  We talked about how we love him and will miss him and will pray for him each and every night.

I’ll try to talk to the kids a little more tomorrow.  And hope it is enough to counter CPS’s stupid plan.

ETA:  I do not disagree that these children may do well to go with this other family.  There are some real concerns; but I think it could be a good placement.  I have spent the last few weeks fully supporting this new family that is forming.  I have a problem with them changing the plan on a dime in a way that isn’t best for the children.

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Busy Bees of the H fam

So as you can imagine, we’re extremely busy.  Here is a little update:

  • First, this past weekend we had a special three day convention we attended.  It was absolutely wonderful.  I took my two big kids (18 and 20) and five of the littles.  I left the baby with another foster family (respite).  The children behaved beautifully all three days despite how uncomfy the seating was at the convention center!  My son was baptized.  My littles paid attention at times.  It was great!  I will probably share a little more in later days because we learned so much.  Awesome!
  • Monday, we had our area’s Not Back to School Party.  It was HUGE!  It was nice seeing so many other homeschoolers in the area.  So part of what we do is take a huge group picture.  So we got all the kids together for that.  Well, someone was sneaky and smart and took a picture of all the moms taking pictures!  No way they would have gotten all of us to stand together, ya know!
  • Last night, I found out that my three little ones are transitioning to fictive kin.  In their case, it is a neighbor of a relative.  We have been asked and asked and asked about adopting from placement through earlier this week and it has taken two months from the first “meet you” visit to talking about transitioning.  We really thought maybe these were our children.  But I feel a real peace about them going to these people.  I wish them all the very best.
  • Homeschooling with six children seven years old and under takes a LOT more time than you’d think.  We are constantly going off on rabbit trails, being distracted by a diaper change or what have you.  It is fun, but takes a LOT longer than it would with fewer children.  Of course, maybe it is just preparing us for when they are older and it will take more time for the actual work.
  • The six month mark passed regarding Sweet Little M being taken halfway across the country to strangers, to her fifth home where she is now in need of professional help to deal with the trauma of what has happened to her because the state and her “new parents” had other interests, not her best interests, in mind. I am still angry, bitter, sad, scared, worried, fearful, disgusted; but actually, all of these have died down a great deal.  Now I simply love my little girl from afar and believe more than ever that our Heavenly Father is more than capable of helping her for now and forever.

Hopefully, I can keep up with my blog a little better in the weeks to come. I do know I have a review I’ll put up this weekend.  I would also like to share a couple pictures and thoughts from the convention.  We have all sorts of pictures of our school days also.  And the children have made amazing progress.  Tons of stuff to post if I can just find time to post them.

That is it!

Okay, this is not the post for today because I have too many I want to write this week; so this is a bonus from yesterday rather than a new one for today.  Okay?

And you may get further if you read yesterday’s first.

Okay, a woman just wrote that she had lost a baby years ago and that she worried something awful about her.  And that now she feels peace, that the child has just what she needs with the family she is now with six years later.

And it hit me that this is exactly why I do not have peace!   I simply do not trust the people who have my baby to do what is right by her.  How could I?  They already have proven they won’t put her needs ahead of all else!

BTW, this is just the opposite of what happened with my three.  The aunt and grandmother for my three could have fought for the children.  They likely would have won as the “concerns” were not legally significant.  But they saw how much they were loved and cared for.  They saw that they were getting their developmental needs met.  They saw that they were getting the opportunity to live life.  They saw that we were willing to do WHATEVER to help them emotionally, mentally, socially.  They saw that we valued education. They saw they looked healthier.  They were happy they were doing so well.

So they backed out and let us be a family.  It was so incredibly hard for them.  But we had already given the children so much and could give them forever.  And they put the children’s needs rather than some idea of “blood” and “they’re mine” and selfish desires in the forefront of their thinking.

These people were much further removed than my three’s aunt and grandmother.  They also had never met her before, much less had a relationship with her.  They didn’t even have a relationship with her biomom.  And when they heard what all we had done, nothing.  When they saw how much we adored her, nothing.  When they knew how much it would hurt her, nothing.  Nothing was going to deter them from getting this freebie daughter no matter what it did to HER in the process.

On top of that, they are doing things known to exasperate attachment issues though they were warned ahead of time that those things were problematic.  Though they were asked to learn more about attachment.  Though they went through classes that at least touched on attachment issues.  Though they had spoken with the bio-grandmother who had raised Sweet Little M’s mom who had attachment disorder (adopted as an older child).  But they still just do whatever they want to do rather than what is best for M.

So how am I supposed to trust them?  They’ve proven over and over and over for the last year that none of this is about M.

I will say that I do have the slightest amount of hope through all my fears (and there are even more than listed on my blog so far).  I know that their love for her grew over the 14 months they waited to get her in their home.  And no doubt, some of that has grown even more in the 5 months they’ve had her with them. Also, they DO seem like good people in general from everything I can tell.  I even LIKED them as we were texting, skyping, visiting, etc.  So my hope is that their love outweighs their imperfection at some point and they really DO help my sweet baby heal and thrive.

But based on their track record, I cannot trust them to do it so I get no peace about it now.

Oh, except one thing.  As I struggle with all this, I have my faith in God.  I don’t believe like so many others want to that God is controlling and perpetrating all these bad things on people.  However, I do believe that he can work with and fix anything we mere humans throw at him!

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?

Update on Sweet Little M

So this has been a particularly bad week for me.  I have been so worried and upset, downright depressed.  I miss my baby and fear for her being okay with every ounce of my being.

Raising kids with attachment issues, that isn’t going to go away.  I know how this works.  Plainly, my kids are beautiful and awesome and fun and wonderful; but not everything is as great as it can look when you’re posting about an accomplishment or a trip or whatever.  With one child these days, much of the day is absolutely awful; but I can still get a handful of good picture regularly also.  No doubt Sweet Little M’s grandparents have nice pictures of their daughter, M’s biomom, also, despite that she had and still has severe issues.

BUT, up until last night, I didn’t have a great picture of Sweet Little M in her new family.  The pictures were cute; but in none of them, did her personality show through.  None of them had HER smile.

Thankfully, last night, that changed.  Several pictures with her enjoying the activity she was doing were sent along with a very basic update.

I don’t know that anyone could understand what these mean to me.  Though I will always be angry and worried for Sweet Little M, I need to know that she is at least EVER okay.  I’m assuming that these people are sending me some of the best pictures they have of her.  Why would you not especially if you’re trying to convince someone that all is okay?  So by them sending pictures of her “just there” or whatever, I just worried so incredibly much.  So whether her smile is just because she was doing something cool or is because her personality is showing through much of the time, I may not know; but her being ABLE to smile big or make a silly face is very important, imo.

Never will I be okay with what the system or these people (who, again, I generally think are great people) did to her.  Sweet Little M has been through way too much in her little life; and THIS shouldn’t have happened to her even if it does work out okay for her.

But for today, I’m going to be thankful she has at least some good times.

Why?

WARNING: Just letting everyone know that this is a depressing post.  I’ve been crying for hours and…just…

DISCLAIMER: I also want to say that I am not against moms working outside the home though it may look that way in this post.  Please remember that I’m hurting and angry and sad and worried.

So…so though things are really good around here in a lot of ways, Sweet Little M has been on my mind a lot.  Seriously, could ANYONE just forget their precious toddler daughter in less than two months?  Why am I supposed to just move on?  Would anyone else?

Those bluebonnet pics?  A family member was missing.
The fair Saturday?  A family member was missing.
Supper last night?  A family member was missing.
The visit to the dog park yesterday?  A family member was missing.
Going to the Christian Meeting Sunday?  A family member was missing.
Putting the kids to bed?  A family member was missing.

Every single thing we do, a family member is missing.  We use the smaller van these days because without Sweet Little M, we don’t need the big one.  When shopping, I don’t pick up things I got just for her (or primarily for her).  When looking through our area’s “garage sale” on Facebook, I still think about how cute M might look in that or how she would like this.  We got a new puppy.  How M would love Heidi.

And why?

Why?

WHY?

Why is “fictive kin” (for anyone who doesn’t know, that means someone the family knows, not related by blood or adoption; can be distant relatives by marriages or friends of the family or anyone else that has contact with a family member)…why is fictive kin the child and even her biological mother has never met a better placement for a child than the family who absolutely adores her that she has been with since before she could even sit up steady?

We were willing to do an open relationship with the family.  We do it with the other three’s family.  We would have done it with M’s also.  We could have visited this summer.   I already proved I would do texts and calls and skype and pics.  All of that was MY idea AND I followed through.  I wouldn’t have cut them out.  In addition, I would have included the family here in our area also, the grandparents who only gave her up because of a severe health concern who now have lost her altogether as she is across the country.

Why was going to the family she went to better for her?

It wasn’t.  I don’t know ANYONE who thinks it was.  No one believes a child should have five homes in 20 months.  No one believes a child should be passed around.  No one thinks a child should move unnecessarily.  No one thinks a child should leave the only family she really knows as family.  No one thinks she should lose her mama, daddy, and siblings she thought hung the moon.  Anyone who thought about it for a second wouldn’t think it was best for a child with attachment concerns to be taken from her family to a home across the country so she can go to two or three additional caregivers each week (again, not against moms working, but THIS child needed to work on attachment, not spend most of the week, waking hours wise, with several other people).

I have NO doubt that family is often a good placement for a child who can’t go home (or can’t for awhile).  I have NO doubt that sometimes fictive kin can be a good situation.  Why not have a child with someone related to the family in some way if that is a healthy place?

But why can’t ANYONE use their brains about this?

Why did Monkey *really* move?

I know the answer.  It looks good for the state’s statistics.  It was better financially for the state. It got a kid off the caseload.  The people who got her wanted another kid.

But what I’m getting back from the family is that my little girl has struggled.  And pictures, unfortunately, speak a thousand words.  I think it is reasonable to guess that they are sending the best they have.  The little girl they have is not the little girl I had.  I got new pics last night.  I was so sad looking through them.  As I went to bed last night, I looked at the “wall of [M]” as we call it.  The difference in the pics I have of her versus what they have sent of her is NIGHT AND DAY.  She isn’t the same little girl.  There are no huge smiles and obvious personality coming through.  She’s forlorn.  Desperately so.

And I’m here absolutely useless, unable to help her.

I miss my little girl so incredibly much.  I love her and just want her home where she truly belongs. But more than that, I hurt so much for what she has to go through in this process.

I’m sure the people she’s with love her and want her.  I just wish they would have thought about what was best for HER instead of what they wanted.

Awesome Blessing and The Call

Saturday night, after I had already gone to sleep, I received a series of texts from the biological grandmother of my three. MeMe sent a number of pictures.  One was of her late husband whose resemblance to my middle son is uncanny.  Several were of the children with their cousins.  A couple were from when they lived in another foster home.  About that last one, I texted and asked if she knew those people’s names.  She said yes, gave me the names and then gave me their email address!  WoW!

So the next day, I email PFM (previous foster mom).  After a brief introduction, I said, “the children have had so many homes.  I have just been trying to piece together a timeline, pics/stories of their past, etc.   If you have time, I’d love anything you can offer.” I ended it with, “Thank you so much for taking care of my children before I could.”

The next afternoon, when we were playing quietly, “resting” a bit, I got an email response.  The fostermom was incredibly happy to hear from me, would be happy to send some pictures and stories, etc.  She said I could call her.  Well, immediately, my email box starts receiving emails with 15-23 pictures each!  I opened them up showing the kids.  As far as I could tell, the children didn’t remember much. When I talked about them, I said their first names.  Swimmer did pop off with “Daddy PFD.”  I thought he was saying “daddy” and then correcting himself.  However, when I called the PFM, she said they called them “Mommy PFM” and “Daddy PFD”  Hmmmm.  So maybe he remembered?

Anyway, so I did call her almost immediately.  She was thrilled to hear from me.  I was thrilled to hear from her.  A few keypoints:

  • They had my kids from June 2009 through March 2010.
  • T-lo showed signs of attaching well at that time.
  • Swimmer cried A LOT, most of each day and night.  It was exhausting and they almost disrupted placement because it was so extreme (reminded me of a certain little girl I miss).
  • Tumbler had some significant issues and concerns (we saw the psych report from that time period so knew most of what she said).
  • The children were their first placement.
  • They had hoped to keep them forever.
  • They fought reunification blacklisting themselves from that county’s system forever; so when the kids came back into care, no one would even consider them.  This is something I have a HUGE issue with.  It wasn’t in the children’s best interest to be reunited.  No, we can’t fight RU as foster parents; but they were just trying to advocate for the children!  And when the kids came back into care, it most certainly would have had positives to go back to a family they knew well!  But again, CPS isn’t for the children past removal from the home. Sad.
  • Because of that, the family almost quit fostering.  Their hearts were broken.  They had also learned the truth about “the system.”

Anyway, so there were stories good and bad.  There was obvious love in her voice.  She was so happy they were now somewhere permanently, safe and doing well.  Also, they are a homeschool family also enjoying it for many of the same reasons we do 🙂

One more thing.  They didn’t quit fostering.  And last year, they welcomed two toddlers into their home forever.  They also had another  “tummy baby.”  Here are some pics she sent me of Tumbler, Swimmer, and T-lo:

102_0209 102_0208 102_0172 102_0149 102_0144 VEH Feb. 13, 2010 086 Feb. 13, 2010 042 102_0494 edited four 102_0136-1 102_0493

After I got off the phone, I thought about how I should have asked her how she got from her anger at the broken system and sadness of losing “her children” to continuing to foster anyway, eventually adopting.  How do you get back on that horse knowing full well that you may not be able to protect later children from what the system decides to do against the children’s best interests and that you’re going to hurt like crazy when that happens?

Fast forward about twenty-four hours, I’m sitting in the Starbucks parking lot as my son ran in to get coffees.  I read the email from the people Sweet Little M is with.  When I felt the overwhelming sense that she isn’t coming back and that she is doing better (I *knew* she was struggling!), I also thought, “so now we have to decide if we, like my children’s PFM and PFD, will continue on, giving children the best chance we can give them while they are here until we find our forever children.”  Hmmmm.

So get this.  We get home and as I’m talking to the speech therapist, I get a call that says our old agency worker’s name.  I ignore as I’m talking but I then listen to the message.  They are calling about a placement, a 4yo girl and a 2yo boy.  Please call back.

Wait!  Wait a minute!  Hey!!!!  Wait!

My head is spinning.  Hubby and I have talked about fostering more; but because we were unable to take any children in the last month, we hadn’t made a final decision.  As far as we knew, we still couldn’t take children due to this other situation so didn’t HAVE to make a final decision.  Well, and we’re grieving and can take as long as we want.  Little M is not replaceable and trying to “fill that hole” with another child is a BAD idea in many ways.  We have to take children with the understanding we are ready to move forward….if we are.

I call hubby.  He was much more sure than I was.  I try processing my feelings with him.  I might be there.

I call the agency. I first tell her that I’m not sure we’re able to take kids yet.  She says she’ll check.  She then tells me about the kids though it was an alternative app, not a full app, because they called our agency specifically. See, the kids had been in care about two years ago and in one of our agency’s homes.  In fact, as I learned in the follow up phone call, I had actually met these kids at the home of a foster parent who lives in our subdivision two years ago!  I asked several questions.  It seemed contrived.  I told her that my head was spinning as I didn’t think I *could* take kiddos AND that we’re still grieving so trying to process taking children yet.

Well, the kids aren’t coming.  Our agency worker emailed and asked what children we would like to consider and what we would not consider.  My reply:

  • Ultimately 0-7 girl, possibly with a younger sibling.
  • Better if 18m-4y girl, again, possibly with a younger sibling.
  • I would consider most combinations of infant, toddler, preschooler (for example, 15mo boy and 4mo girl was one we had in 2011)
  • One or two children, prefer not part of a larger sibling group.
  • No severe developmental or medical issues.
  • Out of region is cool (love our iseeyou worker).

So, I guess we’re back on the list.  I’m going to be extra careful.  Do I feel it?  I’m not hesitating saying no, even if I have to do it 1400 times.  When we are fully ready and it is right, we’ll say yes.  Regardless, the core members of this family, especially “the three” MUST come first.

But secretly?  I’m hoping.  I really think that the combination of the update about Sweet Little M and the conversation with my children’s PFM made all the difference in the world for me.  It may not be perfect, but it might help me move on, honoring Little M in healthier ways and with happier memories 🙂

Struggling

I am struggling significantly (as is the rest of my family) with the loss of our Sweet Little M.  Many people cannot understand; but we feel as if we lost a daughter.  To make it worse, we fear for how she is doing and how she will do long term. Unfortunately, what information we’ve gotten has made it worse, not better. And so then there is the guilt that we couldn’t find a way to protect her from this.

I am so thankful for my online and IRL support.

I just wish the pain didn’t hurt SO badly and SO constantly.  For all of us.

I hope one day I stop crying so much. 

WODs

Coach Cliff: “I’m not going to take it easy on you anymore.”

Me:  “You call what you were doing taking it easy?!?!?”

Okay so Thursday’s LifeFit:

  • 1200 m row
  • 90 jumprope
  • 800 m row
  • 90 jumprope
  • 400 m row
  • 90 jumprope
  • 200 m row
  • 90 jumprope

I started having to hold back tears within the first couple hundred meters of rowing.  I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to push through.  You know, I used to think that the people on the Biggest Loser show were….something.  I mean, they had time to talk to others, talk to their trainers, etc.  But they choose working out time to break down, cry, quit, etc?  Why?  Now I know.  Seriously.  I can feel fine when I walk into the gym but then get going and feel tearful.  It isn’t until AFTER I’m holding back tears (or crying) that I start thinking about what is making me sad, angry, etc.

Lately, a great deal of it is related to Monkey.  I’m worried sick about her and miss her so incredibly much.  Then add other stressors, life, etc.  YuCK.

Friday we did the active workout with the group.  I really struggled with it.  Did you know I can’t long jump?  Wild.  Well, start at the bottom and enjoy the progress, right? Anyway, then we did the 13.2  with modifications. We did AMRAP in 10 minutes:

  • 5 shoulder to overhead
  • 10 deadlifts
  • 15 box jumps (or step ups in my case)

Now, in 13.2, the majority of people got to do the deadlifts with the same weight as the s-2-o.  This was a good thing for them because it meant a lighter weight than normal for deadlifts.  However, my son, daughter, and I did what we could so we had handweights for overheads and heavier (much heavier) kettlebells for deadlifts.

Monday we did LifeFit:

  • Work for 20 minutes.
  • On even minutes, do 7 pull-ups (I do rowing pull ups on the rings)
  • On odd minutes, do 20 wall balls

Now, we hadn’t done wall balls yet.  Somehow we had skipped that workout.  So we had to learn how.  THat wasn’t too bad the first several times.  We focused on form.  We had fairly light balls (I don’t know what “not light” is).  Anyway, I did very well at first.  Then I started having issues with my left shoulder.  Then my left elbow.  I started paying attention to not throwing my arm, just the ball.  Then my right elbow.  After the next set of pull-ups, I did this wall press with my elbow my physical therapist showed me in 2006.  That worked.  Next set of wall balls felt good.  But the next one I was done.  The last couple of wall ball sets, I did it ball-less.  I really had to still work to not throw my arms locked, hurting them more though.  They hurt for about an hour after I got home and are fine tonight though.  I do plan on discussing the issue with the coach before doing them next time though to see if there is some modification I can use to maximize the exercise while minimizing the issue.  I think, mostly, though, it’s going to take time.  I have very loose joints.  I think I’m just going to have to build the muscles to stabilize them a bit.

And then Tuesday, the warm up was THREE rounds of 10 pushups, 10 situps, 10 squat hops, 10 lunges, 10 back extensions, 10 mountain climbers.  IMO, that is not a warm up, but a workout!  LOL  Anyway, then we had to do five rounds:

  • run to the double white mailboxes (I don’t remember how long that is supposed to be)
  • lunges down the mat and back (about 20)

So I thought I was going to die.  Then I thought I was going to puke.  I did find out that I was doing my lunge walks wrong.  Doing them right is actually MUCH easier in the moment as well as longer term.  I didn’t fall over one time today!  Go figure 🙂

System Insanity

These are more thoughts I had as I was forming my first post in response to Cindy over at Recipe For a Family.

Sometimes, we need a bit of reality about fostering. Unfortunately, the reality isn’t just the awesome parts of parenting children.  I wish it were.  Can you imagine getting to experience first steps, first words, progress in speech or physical therapy, the funny things kids say and do, etc all the time?  And if you have a special age group you especially love, you can do it 20 or 60 times!  Seriously, if it was about loving, playing with, parenting children, fostering would be absolutely awesome a lot of the time (the other side of that coin may be another post because I do think it is important also).

However, not only is there the good (and bad) of parenting all these children, there is the system itself.

Since I just started my blog, there isn’t a ton on there about my Sweet Little M (there was more on the other blog).  Basically, we had her for 11½ months, being her fourth home.  She had attachment and developmental concerns when we got her as an infant!  We worked with her and still had some concerns, but she had progressed SO far.  M was the first child who we felt was OURS when the state had different plans. For 14 months, fictive kin (that can mean friends of the family, family by a marriage or two, etc) wanted to get her.  They weren’t very proactive and the cps worker made some mistake that cost everyone months.  Well, so once this toddler was bonded to us, developmentally on target with supports in place, etc, the state moved her to these people on the other side of the country.  This despite her needs being known, her doctor writing in her behalf, etc.  Fact is that the agency’s quotas, state’s statistics, and money were more important than the best interest of this little girl, my little girl.  And I couldn’t protect her.

Case ridiculousness –  Two little kids, a baby and a toddler.  Mom put the children in danger by refusing to stay away from their father during exchanges of custody.  Honestly, I’m not sure that warranted the children being taken when you consider how damaging removing a child from his mother is (remember, I read the case information.  Obviously, in some cases, it would most certainly be warranted). So these beautiful children went to a foster home.  A couple days later, they were moved to another foster home, mine.  Mom worked her plan as quickly as she could.  She never missed a visit.  I sent short letters and pictures to her which she greatly appreciated.  She wrote back the nicest notes.  CPS said she worked her plan too quickly.  SAY WHAT!?!?!  They made her wait and wait again.  The next time, the supervisor told me they were going to make her wait one more month.  Seriously?  They wanted to move the children to the aunt for the final month.  I thought that was a *really* bad idea.  You’re gonna move the kids just to give them back to their mother a month later? The only good part of that would have been that the mother could have seen them more. I offered to supervise a 2nd visit each month which we did gladly.  That was the best thing ever in such a dumb situation.  I was amazed at how the children were for her.  There was a special bond between them.  I’m so happy I got to experience that last month with their whole little family.  The day the judge granted her getting her kids back, I set it up for her to pick the kids up at our home.  Mama L came back to the house after strapping the children in the car to thank me yet again and hug me.

One major issue is children bounced around the system.  This is pretty normal actually. The children above….

  • Sweet Little M has now been in FIVE homes in less than 21 months.  Those first two years are soooo important for a child to learn to attach.  It would be better for a child to have one strong healthy attachment and have it broken than to have multiple short attachments, learning instead that adults are unpredictable and won’t be there tomorrow or next month.  Sweet Little M left eight days ago.  She thought she would be gone a couple hours just like she did to go to visits to see her biological parents.  Instead, she has not heard our voices, seen us, been held or comforted by us, had our family rituals, etc in eight days.  At 21 months old, she has lost FOUR sets of adults, including a family she loved and who adored her for 11½ months.  My heart aches for her.
  • The infant and toddler?  They were given to one couple.  A few days later, these people decided they couldn’t handle them; so we got them.  Now, there is no way for the system to know how long a parent is going to take to get their children back so I understand looking for kin.  This is probably best a lot of the time.  It certainly saves the state money and allows the child to have a family culture more similar to their own.  Many times, it also allows a parent to see the children more often (which can be good though it isn’t always).  Once the kids were with us for a few months, moving them when the plan was to move them home soon didn’t make as much sense.  Thankfully, CPS agreed with me and the family and mom did also. Otherwise, these children, who went home at 9 and 20 months would have had three placements during their short stint in care, a recipe for issues with children so young!
  • And my third example are my children.  My children came to me at almost 3, almost 4, and 5 years old.  We were their ninth home (we thought it was eighth until we learned of another placement).  Their parents were given way too many chances and each time they left the home, they went to another family.  There was six weeks between the final time they were taken and when we finally got them. I guess it wouldn’t surprise anyone that they have attachment issues, huh?

Unfortunately, I could continue on about foster parents rights being stomped upon (even those that keep us from advocating for the kids in our care), by the threats to keep us in line (yes, actually spoken ones), things like caseworkers not visiting the way they are supposed to, etc. What about child in a foster home for 15months, the case going to adoption, family having been ruled out, then the child being given to another adoptive couple?  What about corruption in a system of quotas, statistics, and $?

So why should we consider continuing to foster?  Why do I still suggest it to other people?  Because the system is so incredibly broken and so actively hurting children, there is a need for good people who can love the children, help them gain skills they need for a lifetime, to celebrate their progress and development, to be parents on a daily basis.  What we do counteracts all the baloney, maybe not perfectly, but a lot better than they could without all we give to them.

Well, and let’s be honest, there may be a few benefits for us too (but that can be another post – though there were a few hints in the first paragraph).

Thursday Thinker: A Response (part 1)

Cindy at Recipe For a Family posted  Thursday Thinker: Foster-Adopt.  Here is what she asked:

What do you know about adopting foster kids? Have you considered it as an option for building your family? Do you have a program in your county that is specifically for couples that are interested in eventually adopting a baby from the foster care system? What are your concerns with foster adoption?

Well Cindy, I may know a thing (or three?) about adopting foster kids.  I have adopted three wonderful children from foster care.  I have several friends who have adopted great kids from foster care.  There have been some negative stories as well as positive ones.  For most, it has been a mixed bag.  Of course, that is the case with parenting in any way right?

We are at a cross-roads ourselves, trying to determine whether it is the way we want to continue building our family.  Well, actually, we’re even wondering if we *want* to continue building it further.  We think we do.  However, we really hate the system in many ways and are unsure about being part of it.  If we continued, we would continue to foster (support reunification) until our child(ren) come to us.  We would not limit ourselves to adoption from foster care.

So I would think that would be a major discussion for your family.  What age children do you want?  Only a baby?  Or do you consider 5yos babies also?  Would you only want a single baby or would you consider a sibling group?  Do you want only children who are legally free for adoption?  Or would you take a chance on a legal risk baby?  Would you foster, sending children on, until your child(ren) came to you?

Though your answers to some of those questions may change in time, it is wise to have some idea of what you would like before you start calling the county, agencies, etc.  You want to make sure that the people helping you on your journey handle what you would like to do!  Also, here, all 96 agencies in our region get the broadcast for the children as they are available (assuming that the worker doesn’t have someone in mind).  However, I know in other areas, people with the county get first shot.  If you wanted teens, that wouldn’t probably matter much, but if you want babies, especially caucasion, not drug addicted, few health issues, it would matter if you were in an area where county folks get first dibs. See, there is a lot more to it!

My biggest concern for the intention to foster to adopt, primarily is whether the foster parents can support the goal of reunification for parents and/or family.   Sometimes, it really isn’t best for the children to be sent back to parents or to their relatives.  However, a lot of times, it is good for them.  However, it is *hard* for us.  Even in the perfect situation of a parent who works hard to get her kids back, it is *hard, hard, hard* for us.  We love these children we take care of for these 2 weeks, 5 months, 16 months, whatever.  We’ve been fostering a few years.  We have agreed with the plan well enough for each child/set of children.  It still was really hard.  What if we had thought each of those kids was our forever child?  It would have been so much worse on us.  But worse, it would have been wrong of us.   Most of these children *had* forever families to go to, they just needed a loving home for a little while.

Of course, even we have had our situation where we feel *our* child was stolen from us, that the plan wasn’t in our baby’s best interest, that we lost a child we cherished dearly. Worse than the loss *we* felt was the fear of what it was doing to our baby girl!  So sometimes it will happen.  But can you, when you’re in that situation, still work towards the goal?  In that situation, I volunteered to talk with the people getting our child.  I volunteered to provide access to the child.  I texted, emailed, skyped, etc.  I had them visit in my home from out of town!  IF they were getting my little girl, an idea so foreign to me as it isn’t natural for a parent to just hand over her toddler!, I wanted my little girl to get to know them, even if it wasn’t in person.  We looked at pictures of them.  We talked about their toddler daughter.  We skyped for 20-30 minutes many times.  I wanted her to be as comfortable with them as she could be from half a country away.  Additionally, I wanted *them* to bond with her.  On top of everything we did with Little M, I would send cute stories via text, emails of facts, pictures.  I still advocated for her, but I worked towards the goal also.

Major question – If you accept children not legally free for adoption, can you, will you, support the state’s goal until it is no longer the goal?  It is tough stuff!

 

The Dance and My Baby

It is strange how songs somehow take on different meanings when you are in a situation where the words (mostly) make sense. I was bawling to this song earlier. I was so privileged and blessed to be Little M’s mama for 11½ months. I wish it had been forever. I am heartbroken for both her and us as well as worried about her. Could I saw I wish she had never come? Absolutely not! I wish it had not be NECESSARY for her to come; but since it was, I’m so incredibly glad I had the gift of being her mama.  I’m so thankful for the dances, looking at the stars, watching her grow and learn, serving my little royalty.  Holding her, I really did hold everything.  I love you so much Little M.  Your family in Texas will think of you every single day forever more.

Swept Away

Sometimes dreams are so obvious even without being regarding the subject matter you know it is about.

It is pouring down rain.  In no time at all, the yard is flooded.  The water keeps rising.  Soon it is up to the windows on the house, ours raised up on pillars.  I look out the window, over the water, and see the storage building (very large shed) almost covered with rushing water.  It collapses into the water, sweeping our stuff out into the neighborhood and beyond.  Books, personal items just GONE.

My alarm went off.  I turn it off and roll back over.  The next part of the dream had to do with shopping and feeling desperate.  Basically, it was like I had to go on despite being so terribly upset over the loss of a lifetime (of stuff as far as the dream was).

Tomorrow morning, at 5am, my littlest daughter, a sweet toddler I’ve loved as my own, seriously thinking she would be a forever member of our family, will leave our home, get on an airplane, and fly across the country.  The system is a force too strong for us to fight.  Like the stuff swept away in my dream, it isn’t best for my little girl.  I realize that they can’t take our memories and the foundation we gave Little M; but taking HER is a loss I can barely fathom right now.  And as much as I can imagine hurts like crazy.

My heart and mind won’t even give me peace in sleep 😦

Another Big Loss for M

M (20months) will be leaving our home soon, as per today’s court hearing.  She will go to her fifth home, fictive kin, halfway across the country. She will be losing the family of seven who have absolutely adored her for the past 11 months. Hopefully she’ll heal despite the concerns (attachment, particularly) she’s shown thus far. Though the first two years are critical for a child’s ability to bond and trust, hopefully, somehow, she’ll overcome this lesson – that adults, regardless of how they treat you, aren’t trustworthy and won’t stick around – sounded so firmly down into her by this awful broken foster care system.

I’m sad for myself and my family as we’re losing the little girl we love so dearly.
I’m absolutely devastated for my sweet little M.