How Busy Are We?

I lost ¬†half of this post and now it has been three extra weeks so I’m going to try to write this another way. Hopefully it gives the information I want to give ūüôā

So three weeks ago, we got new kiddos.   Their official blog/board names are Professor (the 3yo boy), Doc (the 2yo girl) and Little Lamb (who turns 4 months next week).  So what is it like at the beginning of a placement?

First, obviously you have the children.  These ones seem so young, but being advanced probably actually makes it harder for them.  Where preverbal trauma of being removed from mom and dad may be worse in some ways, especially long term, it seems that children like these struggle the most because they can understand some aspects, but not enough to make sense of it.  They tend to be more verbal about it, more questioning, more anxious.  Or maybe it just seems that way because they can verbalize it.  But behaviorally, these kids also tend to be a bit tougher.  At least that is my experience so far.  Obviously comforting the children, giving them what they need, helping them the best we can is duty number one.

But unfortunately, in the first days, there is a TON of work to be done.  Let me outline some of that.

First, I have to put together folders for each child for all their documentation.  I start with placement papers and medical consenters.  I got a few other documents with these kids.  Some kids come with a lot. For example, I had a whole folder worth with my (now adopted) children.  Some kids come with court papers.  Others come with nothing extra.

When children come with medication, that has to be dealt with also.  Medication logs are printed out and filled out with pertinent information.  All I have to do is initial and put the time for each date for each medication after the paperwork is set up.

Whether they come with any items or not, inventory needs to be taken. ¬†Most of the time, that means going shopping in order to have the minimum requirements of things like socks and shirts and pajamas. When kids come with a bunch of mis-matched stuff that doesn’t fit, it makes it a little tougher because all that has to be documented but they still need the minimum requirements of what they *can* wear. ¬†So right away, you’re trying to give them a wardrobe and document it.

We also have to have, posted, a schedule and home rules for each child. ¬†Now, of course, we have general rules such as “respect property” and “respect others,” even more detailed such as “use polite words” or whatever. ¬†But for each child, there has to be personalized rules. ¬†Well, except you’ve known the kids 24 hours at this point. ¬†How do I know whether we need to focus on polite words or keeping hands to self?

Then there are appointments:

  • Placement exams are scheduled as soon as possible. ¬†In these children’s case, I needed in to see the doctor regarding the one immediately because I was worried she was eating and breathing well enough! ¬†Turns out there was a lot regarding that but we did beautifully. ¬†Also, one child needed a “sick child” exam right away. ¬†
  • Dental exams are also scheduled as soon as possible. ¬†The baby won’t get hers until 6 months old. ¬†The 2yo will have one every 3 months. ¬†The 3yo is on the regular every six month schedule.
  • The placement worker at the agency needs to come out immediately.
  • Our home’s agency worker needs to come out about day 7.
  • The CASA sets up an appointment to come out.
  • The children have a lawyer so needs to come out
  • ECI does evaluations for all children under 3 years old.
  • A psychologist does an evaluation for all children three years old and older.
  • Visits with parents start as soon as possible (investigators here are supposed to give the parents at least one visit and they often will do a second in order to make it easier for the regular worker after the 14 day hearing).
  • Any appointments that are child specific have to be taken care of. ¬†This is where we got hit bad this time. ¬†The baby already had a team of doctors and appointments set up. ¬†Additionally, because the parents didn’t make their last visit, the surgical team set up a team meeting for us a few days into care so she would still be able to have surgery on time (next week).
  • We waited this time, but we ended up setting up play therapy also. ¬†Oftentimes, I set up play therapy before the children even walk through the door though.

Add that we actually had 8 hours of training set up for the week the kids got here too.

I had to, also, do end of care documentation for the last set of kids since they left the same day these kids came.  For example, that meant I had SIX monthly reports to do (one for each of the three who had left and one for each of the new three).

Additionally, supervision and discipline is a little different at the beginning of a placement as kids have to learn how we do things, we have to learn how they do, etc. ¬†These kids didn’t listen AT ALL at first. They still often need you to be ready to help them comply (or at least pay attention so they can comply). ¬†The older two put a LOT of things in their mouths A LOT. ¬†The 2yo also puts stuff in every other “hole.” ¬†We also have never had two kids bicker as much as these two do. ¬†And then they weren’t potty trained so we had to do that which went really well until visit last week when Professor started having issues with it.

And of course, don’t forget we have a life. ¬†I have two young adult children. I have six children under the age of 7. ¬†We have to play a lot. ¬†We homeschool. ¬†We enjoy the park a lot and gymnastics. ¬†We still have to cook and clean like anyone else (well, actually, I guess it is really more than most families, huh?).

And on top of all this, I got sick the weekend the kids got here. ¬†Now, ideally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but it has turned into one. ¬†I am hoping that the doctor figures out what is wrong soon. ¬†I actually do think I feel a little better this morning. I hope! ¬†I did set up for Doc and Professor to go to another foster home for today. ¬†I’m hoping that helps a little both during and after Little Lamb’s appointment. Maybe one more day of rest before I get on with our week will work well for me.

So I have a couple more partially written posts too. ¬†Hopefully I’ll start getting them posted.

Advertisements

Strike that :) A call to change things up

Okay, strike that last post. ¬†Not completely, but….

Friday at 3pm, Ace, Champ, and The Baby went to fictive kin (a neighbor of the paternal aunt).

THEN, at 8:32, I get a phone call. ¬†It was a number from out of the area, so I didn’t answer it. ¬†So then at 8:33, I get a text from the number. ¬†“This is K*******, I have a sibling group of 3 for you if you’re interested.” ¬†I call her back. ¬†3yo boy, 2yo girl, and 3month old girl. ¬†The only information was that the baby had medication for reflux. ¬†Because the children were from a little bit away AND would have longer visits because of the baby, I asked about transportation responsibilities. ¬†That information wasn’t available. ¬†K******* asked me what I could do in regards to that so that she could respond to Central Processing that I would accept the children under the condition that I could transport for visitation no more often that X times per month. ¬†I hate to do that, but I do have five other children (though two are adults). ¬†I have to do what I have to do.

About 10 minutes later, I got an email from our old program direction, J (now in some other supervisory position in relation to licensing us, but I’m not sure what all she does). ¬†She sends me the short apps on each child. ¬†Again, looks fine. ¬†I said, “yes.”

A few minutes later, I get a call that Central Processing accepted us, just waiting on the caseworker. ¬†She gets back shortly and they said they’d be here between 11 and 11:30 (it was almost midnight).

So we have:

Professor, the 3yo boy who is smart as a whip and really a neat kid. ¬†He seems five in many ways. ¬†He isn’t as fearless as his sister but he won’t be shown up by her either.

Doc (as in McStuffins) is the 2yo girl.  Again, super smart and cool kid, also seeming older than she is, actually, older than her brother.  She is fearless!

Lastly we have Turtle, the 3month old. ¬†She’s such a good sweet baby. ¬†She sleeps way too much, but when she is awake, she’s all smiles.

Would it surprise any foster parent out there that we didn’t get all of the known information? ¬†For example, it was known that the baby had a cleft lip. ¬†You can’t look at her and not notice that. ¬†So why wasn’t it shared? ¬†She also has another condition. ¬†Now, CPS may not have known what that condition was, but they certainly knew how it presented, as well as that it would scare a caregiver something awful. ¬†Add a feeding issue (not related to the lip), reflux, failure to thrive including hospitalizations. ¬†Then certain aspects of why the children were removed to consider should have been disclosed also. ¬†Because of their ages, I probably would have still taken them; but two of the issues are those I would have preferred to have had the choice about taking.

THEN, I take the baby to the doctor and find out something REALLY scary, like, “ummm, I’m not sure I can handle this, or WANT to” scary, like, “What if she dies on my watch?” ¬†It really is a tempered fear and one with warning signs, but STILL!

So again, a situation where more information was not disclosed in order to get the placement.

The investigator was actually told they wouldn’t be able to place the children together. ¬†So maybe that was part of the reason for down playing the issues a little. ¬†However, the children were coming from two days in a kinship placement. ¬†And what if I didn’t feel like I could deal with the issues (on top of normal foster kiddo and individual stuff)? ¬†That would really stink if the kids had THREE placements in less than a week in care!

But we sure will be busy!  Really busy!

OB: Reality Check

The following post was written in the fall of 2011, about six months after we were licensed. ¬†Much of it is still true though I don’t think I’m nearly as irritated or dysregulated or overwhelmed by it these days. ¬†It just is. ¬†

Okay, there are some things you simply do not think of when you go into fostering.

  • It is not the baby that keeps you up all night.¬† It is the 4 yr old, the 19month old, the 3yr old, and the 5yr old…rarely the 7month old.¬† I put these in order of who keeps me up, wakes me up, challenges me most at 4am.¬† As you can see, the 7month old who has slept through the night since the 3rd week she was here is not why I’m so tired.¬† It’s the rest of them (primarily the toddler and the 4yr old though).
  • Poop happens.¬† Really.¬† Of course, you expect it with the baby and toddler.¬† You may be less thrilled with it, but you expect it while potty training.¬† But potty “accidents” (quoted because they are rarely, if ever, not done on purpose) are not exactly rare.
  • Paperwork galore.¬† If you thought the 153 pages of paperwork you did during training and¬†the homestudy process was a lot, don’t think you’re going to be done with it anytime soon.¬† Some paperwork you’ll deal with:
    • medication logs
    • weekly/monthly reports on each child (mine run 4 to 8 pages single spaced)
    • documentation of every doctor, dental, vision, psychology appointment
    • fire drills
    • training – it was 40 hours to get licensed and 30 per year to stay licensed. BTW, you do it the first year also so will have about 70 hours within the first 12 months.
    • court papers
    • school binders – each child gets a separate binder with their school related things such as report cards, attendance reports, ARDs, as well as things like their birth certificate, social security card, and immunization records.
    • incident reports (accidents, behavioral situations, etc)
    • emails to teachers, caseworkers, agency workers, licensing worker, doctors, therapists, etc
    • updated records (background checks, etc)
  • Behavior.¬† Seriously, there is a LOT of behavior from some of these kids.¬† I think I’ll stop there for today.¬† Please be ready to deal with what may be a lot of behavior.¬† Some will be serious. Some will be dangerous (or worse). Some will be annoying.¬† Some will be constant.¬† There is a LOT of behavior with some of these kids!
  • Visits galore.¬† You’ll have:
    • Visits with parents
    • Doctor visits (includes dental, vision, medical, specialist, etc)
    • parent-teacher conferences, probably more than the average parent
    • caseworker visits (and in our case, a visiting caseworker because the official caseworker lives so far away)
    • Therapy visits (speech, occupational, physical therapy as well as play therapy, behavioral therapy, etc)
    • agency visits (licensing, agency worker if you have one, etc)
  • People’s rude comments:
    • Are they all yours?
    • Do you run a daycare?
    • You asked for it.
    • Is it worth it?
    • They have such significant issues (this is usually not said this way.¬† It is usually said in regards to a specific situation or because you were dumb enough to vent to a family member or friend)
    • derogatory comments about doing it for the money
    • hurtful comments about the children’s parents

This post isn’t to complain.¬† I am sitting here at 6:30 in the morning having been up since 4 with children.¬† There has not be a ten minute break in those 2¬Ĺ hours.¬† I guess I can be thankful for enough two and five minute ones to write this post.¬† Yesterday, I got¬† court papers that surprised me.¬† I had to send in approximately 20 pages of documentation yesterday and I’ll do at least 5 more pages this morning. ¬†I did 3¬Ĺ hours of training yesterday and will try to do similarly again this weekend.¬† No doubt there will be behavior (probably extra since they refuse to sleep). And I really want to get through these books and videos I believe will make a huge difference for the kids long term if I can implement it well.¬† I gotta keep trying!

I think I glorified what the days and weeks would look like before I started fostering.  I pictured parenting during the day and having from 8pm to 6am free for my time and sleep except for an occasional illness.  I pictured some hard work, but mostly happy fun-filled days.  I never dreamed of so much stress, lack of sleep, mountains of paperwork, or rudeness from others.

Is it worth it?¬† ABSOLUTELY.¬† I have five little people whose eyes I will gladly look into when the sun comes up who definitely make it worth it.¬† And then I’m hoping for a nap ūüôā

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 2¬Ĺ 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!

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 ūüôā ¬†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

So, I am sorry I have delayed so many posts. ¬†You should see all the posts swimming in my head. ¬†It is just very difficult for me to get time to write some days. ¬†I started off this placement with extreme grief about Monkey. ¬†In no way were we really ready for more kids. ¬†I thought we were, but….Or maybe we are ready as it has worked out fine, just had to get over a major road block to do it.

Anyway, it is working out.  The children are awesome and most days with them have been fine.

Ace is 4¬Ĺ years old. ¬†He has been quite a mystery to me. ¬†He came with extreme delays and some interesting “symptoms” of *something.* He tested MR with hints of this mental issue or that. ¬†I poo-poo’d that idea right away. ¬†Someone mentioned, “maybe autism spectrum” with the reminder that milder forms may look different. ¬†Hmmmm. ¬†That suggestion made me wonder if it is all trauma as we’ve now seen several examples of PTSD that seem like autism in times of stress. ¬†I would guess that coming into care would be a time of stress. ¬†I still haven’t figured it out. ¬†I know that some of his behaviors were learned (and unlearned). ¬†I know that some behaviors (and lack of skills) were due to circumstances. ¬†I know that he is an extremely quick learner if you can find what he needs for you to reach him. ¬†Anyway, so he has been a mystery in terms of what is going on with him. ¬†The psych report done at the children’s shelter is useless. ¬†My agency agrees with my want of a full psychological/developmental assessment by a certain psychologist. ¬†They aren’t so keen on me waiting til August to give the little guy a little more time to settle in, relax, etc. ¬†It’ll also be easier to show the insurance why they should pay again if we wait.

So Ace started preschool last week. ¬†He went only two days and he’ll have two days this week. ¬†Next week, he’ll start Monday, Wednesday, Friday. ¬†He has done well there, is playing with the other children. ¬†We’ll see how it goes. ¬†He likes the duplo blocks the best. ¬†Of course, balls are great. ¬†He was very capable on the playground so I was a bit surprised when he seemed so awkward on the balance bike. ¬†I told him once he can do it “like Swimmer” (with example), I’ll buy him a bike. ¬†He likes the idea of a bike of his own. He is testing a little, just little things, just a “what will happen if” thing. ¬†What will happen if I look at you and push the button on this thing you told me not to touch? But considering how he was when he got here, that is nothing; so we’ll take it ūüôā

Champ is a Mini-Ace. ¬†It is really a weird relationship. ¬†It is obvious they’ve relied on each other for protection, comfort, companionship. Of course, that would be normal for brothers close in age anyway; but this is to an extreme. ¬†What we’ve found interesting is that it goes both ways. ¬†In some ways, possibly because Champ is developmentally closer to typical, Champ seems like the big brother. ¬†But then there is the toddler/preschool learning aspect where Champ is following his big brother’s lead. ¬†In many ways, it is very similar to the unhealthy relationship my three had with one another, especially the part where they keep other people out. ¬†One big positive is that they do recognize they are separate people.

Anyway, Champ has really taken to me and I to him. ¬†Honestly, I think he is probably the reason I pushed through at very first. ¬†He’s a beautiful child with the most endearing smile. ¬†We had to work a little to get it at first, but now he regularly uses his cuteness to engage people. ¬†He loves to mini-trampoline (it is a kids’ one with handles). ¬†He mostly stays back and watches people. ¬†He’ll take toys they hand him though. ¬†He likes cars though and will regularly carry one around. ¬†He doesn’t talk much but when he does, it is full understandable sentences. ¬†I think he was honeymooning though as the last couple days, he’s had a lot more tears and behavior.

Then there is The Baby. ¬†She is the sweetest baby ever. ¬†Had I ever had a baby like this, I probably never would have said, “no more babies!” ¬†Seriously. ¬†She’s a good good baby. ¬†She is always checking things out. ¬†She seems wise beyond her years or something. ¬†She draws you in, engages you in conversation and play. ¬†It is really neat. ¬†She does have some stress reactions. ¬†For example, no one else sees how wonderful she is but us. ¬†She goes “flat” for an audience. ¬†For my son? ¬†He’ll lean his head into her and she’ll tap his head with hers. ¬†I was really surprised she learned to do that so young! ¬†She is most attached to me, making it clear she’s not happy if I leave the room (“I’ll be right back. ¬†I’m gonna go get…”). ¬† Oh, and she is addicted to tv. ¬†I have never seen a baby who watches tv! Monkey wouldn’t watch anything on tv except Sparkabilities at 20 months.

She really is delayed. ¬†We have feeding therapy and the developmental specialist currently. ¬†The Dev Spec comes for communication and mobility. ¬†THis week the physical therapist is coming out for an evaluation. ¬†The OT said she didn’t qualify when she was in the children’s shelter, but will come back out in June for another eval. ¬†We also have a private speech and physical therapist coming for evaluations. ¬†We’ll have to choose who does the services depending on availability. ¬†Typically, I choose private because they give significantly more time to us. ¬†However, I’ve been around the block a time or two so can work with her as we’re in this inbetween time. ¬†This past week, I got her to do a “barely-assisted” roll one direction (she can’t do it the other for whatever reason). ¬† ¬†Mostly, she is just a happy baby ūüôā

So recently, we decided to take the kids fishing when a town not too far away had a fishing event for children.

This is the only thing caught.  It was caught by Ace.

20130518_093133

This is my crew.

20130518_101024-1

A local “family” I thought were cute:

20130518_103753-1

We weren’t the biggest family there!

20130518_104111-1

Actually, we weren’t the biggest family anyway though. ¬†First off, my two big kids didn’t go. ¬†Second, when I was registering my crew, the guy told me one lady registered nine children. ¬†I only registered five (the baby didn’t count).

So hopefully I’ll get some of these posts from my head to the blog. I have exciting news about Heidi. ¬†Homeschooling has taken a back burner on my blog but should get more press. ¬†I have three reviews (two for Mosaic Reviews, one just being a product I’m glad I bought) to post soon. ¬†Crossfit and diet have slipped, but…

Of course, blogs have periods of more and less activities as life goes on. ¬†Hopefully, I’ll be able to document a little of it though! ¬†I have rarely wished I didn’t post something. ¬†I’ve often wished I would have recorded X when it happened, especially when it is about kids who then progress to Y.

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 ūüôā

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. ūüôā

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 4¬Ĺ, 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.”

Two Years Ago Today

It seems like so long ago, yet not very long ago at the same time.

We moved into this house April 3rd.
We got the call for “the three” on April 6th.
On April 11th, we got a call saying that they wanted to set up delivery of “the three” (we hadn’t known we had been chosen!).
On April 13, 2011, our lives changed forever.

Now, when I got the call for “the three,” it was early in the morning on the 6th. ¬†I had already gotten another call that day and several calls that week. ¬†They were determined to fill up my house, it seemed. ¬†I really thought there was something about this sibling set though. ¬†Basically, I was only told a few things:

  • cute, blonde little 2yo
  • brother and sister were 3 and 5
  • all three had some delays, mostly speech
  • the one had a particular behavior many foster families won’t consider
  • they did share what a previous foster family did in order to minimize that issue
  • one required a pill daily forever more, but was stable
  • they were being moved because they foster family kept using inappropriate discipline

Now, anyone who has fostered more than a month (remember, we got licensed March 3rd that same year) probably could see a few places they should have asked a few more questions. ¬†For example, why were all three delayed? ¬†Any diagnoses? ¬†Specialists? ¬†Therapies? ¬†So they’ve had at least 2 foster homes? ¬†Why did the other not work out (story a few posts down, btw)? ¬†I may have asked what behaviors were associated with the inappropriate discipline because though there are people who simply use unacceptable (for fostering) discipline, they usually do so in response to inappropriate or misunderstood behavior. ¬†What was that behavior? What reason were the children in care? ¬†Any other suspected issues?

But they were my second set of kids (though I do have previous experience with foster kids also).

So I got off the phone with my agency worker after the initial call just thinking a lot about these kids. ¬†A few hours later, I had talked to a friend who I thought could help me with the one particular concern’s fix. ¬†I mentioned them several times to my hubby and daughter. ¬†The next day, I figured we hadn’t been chosen; but the kids still didn’t leave my mind. ¬†Were they okay? ¬†What kind of home did they get? ¬†Wonder if they’ll come back up one day.

And they did. ¬†As I said, April 11th, the children’s worker called the agency to see if I could accept the children on the 13th. ¬†My worker confirmed I still even wanted the kids. ¬†I expressed the slightest concern about the one issue, but said we’d work it out. ¬†We were told to put the 2yo in with the 5yo (we had four boys and “the girl” at the time so to even out rooms that is what we did. ¬†In our state, for children under six, you can put opposite gender in the same room).

Anyway, so the 13th came. ¬†We picked up the house, enjoyed the two boys already living here, and waited. ¬†A phone call said they’d be delayed as they had forgotten something so had to turn halfway back to meet someone to get it. ¬†I don’t remember what that was. ¬†So they were going to be a little late. ¬†Okay. ¬†It was a long drive as it was. ¬†The children are from a town about 2¬Ĺ hours away.

The kids got to the house and my first reaction was that they were so cute. ¬†They were tiny, outgoing, energetic, and precious. ¬†My second thought was that I couldn’t understand a single word any of them said! ¬†Between their speech issues and their accent, we were going to have some difficulty talking with them! ¬†Third thing that came up with the sheer amount of stuff they brought. ¬†The other foster home had decided to close (though the agency had suggested they simply take only one child at a time, one with fewer issues); so they sent all the stuff they had accumulated to foster (table and chair set, outdoor toys, blocks, etc). ¬†We put it all in the garage til I could go through it.

Mostly, at first, they played and watched tv with my other boys while I did paperwork. ¬†My daughter helped “babysit” so I could focus on getting through everything. ¬†It was A LOT. ¬†I found out that the children had been in care a LONG time, with many cases. ¬†I was given previous “common apps” (the paperwork CPS uses to get homes for foster kids), court documents, medical forms, birth certificates, IEPs, etc. ¬†I got names and numbers for CASA, GAL, therapists, doctors, etc. ¬†It was information overload really. ¬† The worker said she’d send more more in email as she found it.

Note to new foster parents:  This is a situation where the state had a LOT more information than they let on in the common app.  They just wanted a home for these kids.  Thankfully, they found a good one that worked out.  But in order to protect yourself, ASK QUESTIONS!  Also, in a situation like this (a foster placement disruption), you could ask to speak to the foster parents, agency, or worker directly to get more information.  

So the PLAN was that a family member would adopt them. ¬†The parents hadn’t seen the children since removal. ¬†There were no visits. ¬†CPS was D*O*N*E with giving services and returning the children. ¬†A case closure in the past was supposed to make it where the kids had never gone back anyway! ¬†So there were family members who wanted the children. ¬†As soon as they were cleared, the kids would move to them. ¬†Cool. ¬†Hopefully another short term placement. ¬†I was thinking short term placements at first might be good for us to get our feet wet. ¬†The boys would be going home “soon” and these three probably wouldn’t be here very long either.

During the rest of the day, I had a lot of learning to do about the children.  It took time to get to understand them.  And the 5yo kept trying to be mom to the boys (wiping noses, asking about diapers, etc).  I kept taking over, but she was determined to take care of them.  She was in charge. That night, Tumbler helped my daughter and I take inventory of all their stuff.  She was too incredibly cute.  That let her brothers play without her hovering for awhile also.

At bedtime,¬†she said something about taking care of the boys and I responded, ‚ÄúHow about *I* will be the mama and YOU be the five year old?‚Ä̬† She smiled and turned away to let me do so.¬† When I put her to bed (she went last as it worked out best in order for me to get each kiddo in with some personal attention), she started talking about checking on her brothers and such.¬† John, my then 16yo, was in the hallway and asked what was wrong with the boys.¬† I was sure he wasn‚Äôt asking about developmental delays or health issues, so I was a bit stumped.¬† He says, ‚Äúwell, she says she needs to check on them.‚Ä̬† I told him that at her home (and probably, to some extent, previous foster homes) she had to be mama to them.¬† And I detailed some of what I had been told.¬† He got it. How I wish *I* had truly understood what was going to happen regarding all this (let’s just say that she didn’t, later, just smile and let me take over).

Here is a picture from April 17, 2011 (the Memorial for Christ Jesus that year). ¬†To give you an idea how tiny they were….The boys were about to turn 3 and 4 years old (within the month). ¬†The clothing each is wearing is size 12-24month!

1st download of pics 111

Today, in 2013, we did family day. ¬†It just worked out that it was on the 2yr anniversary of their arrival. ¬†It wasn’t really planned that way. ¬†It was a very nice day with presents and a beautiful fruit tart. ¬†20130413_145213-1At various times, we talked about how much they’ve changed and stayed the same. ¬†We talked about how neat it was for them to be here. ¬†And that two years is a big deal. ¬†We talked about forever family and when they could/might leave (grown, married, have kids of their own). ¬†One said he was staying. ¬†The other said he was leaving as soon as he was grown. ¬†Tumbler thinks married is a good time ūüôā ¬†As I learned with my first two, plans change. ¬†We’ll just hope for the best regardless.

Tonight we put the kids down for bed.  Two years.  Wow.

OB: What’s a boy to do?

Given: Child better not leave bedroom after being put in there or he’ll be beaten severely.

Given: Child will be beaten severely if he wets on himself, in his bed, etc.

Given: Child has to potty more regularly than most children (ie, he is not going to make it through the night).

So what on earth was he SUPPOSED to do?   Did his first parents ever think of THAT?

I actually remember a situation like this from when I was a child.¬† My dad was very strict.¬† Usually, I was able to stay within the standards expected.¬† But one night when I was four, we went to my grandmother’s home.¬† My dad had told us not to eat anything over there.¬† My grandmother, of course, offered us food immediately.¬† I told her Daddy said no.¬† She said she’d worry about Daddy, eat.¬† So now do I disobey Dad or Grandma?¬† I was stuck.¬† My brother and I got spankings that night.¬† 30some years later, I still can’t imagine what I was supposed to do.

My son was in a predicament one day. I had started a diet and made a chart of how many servings of X and Y.¬† I made each kid one also.¬† Why not?¬† I remember a checklist as a school assignment in elementary school so it seemed to make sense to teach nutrition (there is controversy about whether this was “good nutrition”).¬† Well, one of my categories, I had put something like grains: bread, cereal, etc.¬† There were three boxes next to it.¬† My son ate¬†cereal for breakfast (this was before we stopped doing that).¬† Later, I had told the kids to get something for lunch and I had gone upstairs for something.¬† I came down and J was eating cereal!¬† What on earth?¬† Since when do we eat cereal twice in one day?¬† I fussed at him briefly, sighed, and fixed myself something for lunch.¬† Later, J comes to me telling me that he doesn’t understand why he “got in trouble” when the chart says cereal and has three boxes.¬† Poor kid.¬† He was just confused!¬† Thankfully, in our home, “we don’t eat cereal twice in a single day” and a frustrated sigh is considered discipline enough (though maybe not my best parenting, go figure).¬† Thankfully (even more, imo!) my son could come to me later so we could work it out! BTW, yes, I beat myself up over the confusion and fussing at him.

See, my son knew I was reasonable.¬† He could come to me and we could fix the problem.¬† And the discipline wasn’t harsh anyway though I apologized of course!¬† And the issue with my father was not an ongoing thing.¬† I remember it well since I felt I was wronged, but I didn’t live my life in such turmoil.¬† But *this child*?¬† There are several things the children expressed being similar.¬† They just couldn’t make “good choices” because no choice *was* good enough.¬† Now, we’re still working with them (8¬Ĺ months after they last saw their parents…update: 25¬Ĺ months…) to see that things are different here.¬† They will not be disciplined harshly; and regardless, we can always work to clarify things because I want it easy for them to not have to be anxious about the boundaries.

Another OB (with some commentary): TPR Trial

The following parts were originally written in November 2011, just after my children’s first parents’ TPR trial. ¬†Obviously, things were considerably emotional. ¬†The day of the trial, I wrote:

I am thrilled that the children finally are safe from their biological parents and have a chance for permanency.  I am thrilled that we’ll be able to pursue adoption.

However, today was NOT happy day.  Three beautiful, wonderful, special children lost what could have and should have been their most precious relationship as youngsters.  Two adults lost the relationship with three awesome, lovely, incredible kids.  Today’s decision will allow for some beautiful things to happen; but it also was the culmination of six years of neglect and abuse ending in yet another hurt for these very young children.  We would be kidding ourselves if we didn’t consider the gravity of the situation even though we are excited about the joy that will come from it.

So a couple things happened during the TPR trial that made me  feel good.

The first is that as I was walking off the stand, the children‚Äôs caseworker turned to her supervisor and said, ‚Äúshe is amazing.‚Ä̬† Okay, so I got the big head for a moment.¬† Of course, then I went straight to beating myself up over two things not mentioned, one of which could have opened the door to certain other discussions.¬† Obviously, it wasn‚Äôt a fatal error.

Second ‚Äď Note to Defense Attorney:¬† Don‚Äôt mess with Mama.

I may not yet be the children’s legal mother, but I most certainly *am* their Mama.  Maybe the defense attorney missed that as he was preparing for this case?  I don’t see how.  Everything I say and do oozes love for these children.

So basically, my testimony was just to say the children are thriving, growing, and developing well since being put in my home.  I put hard numbers to prove the point.  I had clothing sizes, weights, heights, speech (and OT) evals broken down, a list of changed behaviors, a list of new abilities, a list of changed beliefs/feelings/thoughts, a list of new experiences, etc.

The defense attorney gets to me and says dismissively, ‚Äúokay, [T-lo] has gained under a pound per month and [Swimmer] has gained just over a pound per month?‚ÄĚ

Mama Bear was ready :)

‚ÄúSir, average growth for a 2-9year old child is 4-5 pounds per year.¬† [T-lo] has gained that much from April 13 to Oct 11th. [Swimmer] *doubled* that in the same six months. That is catch-up growth.‚ÄĚ

Mess with me!

So this came about because the caseworker had called and asked me if I could *prove* the children were thriving in my home. ¬†I said I could; but to be honest, I was a little worried about if I really could. ¬†Everyone who has known these kids during those seven months (and in the case of some CPS workers, family members, and the like, it was five years) could see that the children had taken off. ¬†But could I *prove* it in court acceptable ways? ¬†And to be honest, I was also worried of offending anyone while doing it. ¬†Honestly, a LOT of people had dropped the ball in terms of caring for these children. ¬†The court gave them back to their first parents. ¬†So did family after a “case closure” which was supposed to protect them from ever living with their parents again. ¬†Foster parents and caseworkers hadn’t made sure that certain care was given to them. More importantly, these first parents had severely neglected and abused their children. How do I say what all we had done without offending all those who messed up?

But I’m so glad I did the work to show the children really were progressing so beautifully:

 I sat down with their folders (They each have three: one for school, one for history, and one with current case/health related items) and got the FACTS.  I then typed them up.  What I had was gold, hard proof my children were flourishing.  I think this was much more important than being able to put a lawyer in his place.  It allowed ME to see awesome progress.

One lesson that hubby and I learned is something we have to be reminded of many many times since that day in November 2011.  Here is how I wrote it the day after TPR:

Another big thing came from yesterday in Hubby’s and My hearts.  Sometimes 7 months seems like a short time and sometimes it feels like plenty long enough for certain changes in the children.  Yesterday, hubby and I learned why seven months is NOTHING and why it may take us a few years for certain things to happen for our Littles.  Those few years will probably be hard work for us in terms of attachment, teaching, and loving.  We are up for it :)

Yes, 7 months was nothing. ¬†15 months wasn’t anything either. ¬†Next week, we’ll be at 24 months. ¬†Some days are still *really* hard. ¬†Some issues come in waves. ¬†Others slap us in the face because things were going so well just before the issue comes up again. ¬†The “power of three” (I’ll write about that another time) drives me batty. Many days I’m scared for them. ¬†Most days there is some hope though. ¬†They’ve come so far. ¬†They may or may not ever fully heal from what their first parents and the system did to them. ¬†But we will be there every step of the way, here to love them, help them, and hope for them. ¬†With God, all things are possible….in this system or the next ūüôā

Semi-Open Adoption and Wow

I’m on the verge of tears right now. ¬†It has been such an emotional few weeks! ¬†However, this morning’s tears are positive.

As I mentioned below, we have an open adoption.  How open depends on the family member.  Additionally, I expect that it is an evolving relationship that will change over time as the people involve mature, have different needs, etc.  And some of it is just getting comfy in our new roles.

Well, yesterday, I facebook messaged my children’s first parents. ¬†It was maybe 3 or 4 sentences, nothing huge. ¬†I didn’t expect an answer at all and was half expecting that if I did get one, the answer may even be hostile though I was careful in the wording and being humble, lowly. ¬†So imagine my surprise when I received a heartfelt thank you message back within seconds! ¬†I was even more surprised as the conversation continued over two hours!

I really didn’t think this day would come ever, much less so soon. ¬†All I have to go based on regarding this woman was a couple court appearances where she was “on something,” ¬†paperwork (investigative reports done half-way by an overworked CPS worker, a couple psych reports, etc), and testimony (from various CPS workers, reports from people the state hired to help her, her now ex-husband).

I also have the COMPLETE lack of discussion about her by my children. ¬†Yes, really. ¬†The *only* thing I’ve *ever* heard is “I miss my mommy” or “I miss my first mom.” ¬†There is not ONE story of her. ¬†There is no discussion of the mundane things in life or some special activity (whether once or regularly). ¬†There is not one time of “my first mom XYZ.” ¬†There is some about their first dad. ¬†There are even some “my first parents….” ¬†The closest was something like the story of my daughter being spanked for helping her mother up when her father pushed her down.” ¬†But nothing specifically about their first mom….at all.

I really came to believe that this woman was just a shadow of herself.  She was probably in there somewhere; but the pain, the grief, the alcohol, the abuse, whatever has just overtaken her.  And in my head, she was the hurt inflicted upon my children.

This was not the woman I spoke to last night. ¬†Her life is still a mess; but she was coherent and able to think about anyone but herself. ¬†And yet, she was open to something more. ¬†Like I said, we spoke for over two hours. ¬†We discussed spiritual matters, the children, pictures and letters (not just from me!), etc. ¬† I let her know that we’re hoping the best for her (something I’ve done many times, but I could be more detailed in our discussion). ¬†I let her know that God cares and that she can gain peace (something she desperately wants and is so incredibly true).

Last night, my children’s first mom became a real person to me.