Labels

ACR (1) acupuncture (1) adoption (30) Adoption; RAD; emotions; tantrum (1) adoptive families (4) Amazing people (2) anger (6) Anxiety (1) appointments (1) Attachment (4) Attachment therapy (1) babies (1) banging my head (8) Bed wetting (1) beds (3) bedwetting (3) behavior (25) bio families (2) bio parents (26) biological parents (5) Biological parents; adoption (3) Biological parents; adoption; co parenting (1) Bioparents (1) birth families (21) birth moms (1) birth parents (5) birthdays (3) blogging (5) Boundaries (4) CASA (1) caseworker (9) challenges (4) change (2) Changes (2) co-parenting (16) confessions (15) Consequences (2) Court (20) crafts (1) CW Visit (5) DCFS (9) decisions (3) diary (1) dicipline (1) drama queen (2) emotions (130) Fab Four (14) Fab Four: Post Reunification (2) faith (10) family (12) Family fun (9) family outings (7) family support (15) family therapy (4) feelings (7) fertility (2) flowers (1) food (1) foster care (25) foster parenting (83) Foster parenting; permanency (3) fun (1) Gabby (4) grief (9) healing (5) Holiday (8) Holidays (5) Homework (1) honesty (1) Hubby (2) husbands (3) If I'm being honest (5) illness (1) investigation (1) Jelly Bean (4) laughter (1) legal issues (4) licensing (2) Little Mama (2) loss (5) love (8) lying (1) marriage (1) meetings (1) meltdown (1) Mental Health (3) migraine (1) milestones (1) Mommy Humor (5) mother (1) motherhood (46) Movie review (1) Mr. Mohawk (7) music (2) names (2) Neglect (1) neurosarcoidosis (6) Nostalgia (1) nothing to do with foster care (8) Open adoption (2) organization (1) other people's reactions (7) Overnight visits (2) parenting (12) permanency (10) perspective (6) photolistings (1) photos (2) pictures (5) placement (1) Placements (23) Post Reunification (26) Post visit behavior (2) Post-reunification (5) PRIDE (1) progress (1) PTSD (5) puberty (1) Quartet (3) Questions (1) RAD (5) relationships (6) return home (1) reunification (11) safe haven (1) Sarah (3) sarcasm (1) school (10) Sexual abuse (4) shopping (2) sibling (1) siblings (5) Simon (6) sleep (1) Smiley (1) Social Media (2) Solana (5) Stella (1) stress (9) Suicide (1) support (5) tantrums (3) Team Work (1) Teamwork (5) Thank You (1) The Quartet (1) The System (2) Therapeutic parenting (2) therapy (19) TPR (7) training (1) Transition (10) transition plan (10) trauma (9) triggers (4) typical kids (1) Urine (1) verbal abuse (1) Visit behavior (3) visits (38) waiting (2) where to start (3)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

We made it....

Through Christmas. With no major tantrums or meltdowns. Through THREE DAYS of celebrations. To be honest it was the adults in my life I wanted to put in time out. Can I just say how much I love my mother? After all the support she gave me in the last month she spoiled these kids and THEN had them sleep over so my Hubby and I could have a night to ourselves. We opted for a movie at the theater and then another DVD at home.

I was surprised the kids didn't get sad about thier Mom. We had talked about it before And had given them the green light so to speak to let us know if they were feeling sad. Maybe it was distraction or maybe we will pay for it later but the kids and us had 4 days off from reality where we were this happy, adjusted family enjoying quality time together. We had lots of talk about "next year" and tradition from the kids. I hope we fulfilled thier wish of the best Christmas ever because it sure was mine (well second anyway to the Christmas my husband proposed on 7 years ago).

It's hard to go forward not knowing what the next few months will bring or take away. From us AND from them. But tonight my prayer will be one of thanksgiving. And wisdom - as I have no idea where we are going to store all of these gifts!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Really?

So JB came home Saturday. Sunday she struggled. Monday she got sent home from daycare. She spent the entire evening tantruming and at one point screamed at the top of her lungs while crying for 30 minutes straight and then fell asleep on the floor. Tuesday she was fine at daycare but fell to pieces at sibling therapy. Going as far as to call her sister an F*ing B*tch IN FRONT of the therapists.

We spent a great deal of time creating a support plan for the girls with the therapists. Since they were as much to blame for JB getting sent home as JB was. (Really? You cried every night your sister was in the hospital and slept in her bed and not 48 hours after she is out you exclude and mock her and kick her at day care. Really?) so they started thier sibling session late. At 9:45pm I finally got to eat some canned ravioli and by 10:00pm I was doubled over with severe abdominal pain. As I'm vomitting in my bathroom I hear the girls come upstairs and JB start to throw a full blown temper tantrum because my husband told her she could have any water.

I really thought at that point I must be in Hell. I must have done something really awful in a former life. Which continued in the emergency room when they gave me the pain medication that made me unbelievably sick that 4 hours later I was still throwing up.

So Hubby sent her back down stairs to the therapist. Called my brother and asked them if they could wait 10 minutes until he got there.

Wednesday they went to their visit. Which of course led to acting up at daycare. Then today rolled around we got a call that Gabby was having a meltdown and saying she wanted to kill herself. Really? I'm surprised the day care hasn't asked us to leave yet. Gabby may get her wish I might actually kill her when she gets home. The day care teachers felt this was all for attention and drama but we've made it clear that this is a serious thing to say. And after some one on one she was back happily playing.

Now I can understand wanting a break. But if anyone gets to check out of this family for mental health reasons it's me*

I have a mind to take her to the grave site of my friend who committed suicide when she was 13 to scare her but I have to clear that with the therapists so as not to traumatized her. I think she feels JB really wasn't seriously I'll and that she saw her hospital stay as a week off of school and away from the choas these kids create and time for everyone to focus on JB. Just more reason that I don't know how their Mom is going to be able to do this if I know it happens and can't avoid it despite actually trying.

*I know suicide is serious and that this kid could possibly be having these feelings. We checked in with her therapist who also feels this is attention seeking and not a serious threat and if it was serious I would be taking her for an evaluation but this is also my drama queen. Who will pretend to forget going someplace to "test" her acting skills.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Amazing Educators

Tonight was visiting hour for JB. Her teacher, principal, ESL teacher, reading teacher, and school social worker all came with. Bringing her books and Teddy bears. Can I just say how impressed I am with these people who truly care about this kid.

They gave up their Wednesday evening to spend an hour with my kid in a mental health hospital. They brought cards and notes from students and other teachers. They even checked on me. I have friends who are teachers like this but I had never run across them in a school setting. Sure I think she's special but I'm her "mom". They are worried and concerned and I'm so glad they care because transitioning her back in to school is going to be so much easier knowing they will support her.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

So not prepared

If they go home I'm going to need a serious time out- from life. Having JB gone just 6 days and I'm so sad. I catch myself starting to imagine what that would be like times 4 and without the phone calls.

She called me yesterday about an hour before we were to see her at family therapy. "Thats too long Mama." I know it is honey I know.

Family therapy was a lot of background. We scheduled a session with her sisters for Saturday. Well see if she's still there.

My heart hurts. But the duty of Mom never ceases as I'm home with Mr. Mohawk who has a fever and a stomach bug and was kind enough to share the bug with me.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Jelly Bean has been struggling for the last few weeks. I really feel this is due to an increase in time spent with her Mom. Her medication that was working wonders seemingly stopped working. And the meltdowns and tantrums began to become frequent Agian. Last weekend she made a statement about wishing she was dead. We got her calmed down and Monday she seemed fine. Tuesday the attitude returned and she threw a tantrum because she was afraid she wasn't going to see her therapist because I was talking to her. Wednesday I got a phone call from the principal that she bit a kid during reading class.

That night I was taking Gabby to see the psychiatrist to be evaluated for anxiety. It's the same doctor so I asked if JB could be seen since she was struggling. The doctor asked her if she felt like hurting anyone and she said herself. The doctor asked her how and she said a knife. And with that a call was made to the hospital next door and we were sent.

We saw two admissions evaluators who spoke to two psychiatrists. At one point partial inpatient was mentioned but it was decided full inpatient was the path we would be on. Some 5 1/2 hours later I wa s leaving her. She cried and cried when she figured out she wasn't going home. Telling me over and over she was going to miss me. That she didn't mean what she said.

If she wast serious on any level this will be a really hard way to learn about the boy who cried wolf. If she was we did the right thing and she's getting the help she needs.

The facility is specifically fo children and it's he only one in the state. I feel fortunate that it's only 20 minutes away from our house. They let Jelly Bean participate in out meeting yesterday about her treatment plan. They believe this may be a ton of anxiety and what to figure that out. She will be there at least a week, probably more. Her caseworker asked if her Mom could come see her if she provided a supervisor. The psychiatrist told her no. This would not be in her best interest. We need to gt her more stable. I asked if it was still ok for us to come and he said absolutely. I asked her if she needed anything and she said "I just need you."

Her sisters did not take any of this well. They are scared they are never going to see her. It reminds them of the 9 months they were separated. Everyone they love leaves or is taken away. Little Mama cried all day Thursday and when leaving her visit with her Mom Friday. She came home and cried and for the first time I can remember shared difficult feelings right when she had them.

Somehow I managed to get both of them to stop crying. It involved a lot of silliness and everyone sitting in an oversized chair all piled on top of me. Truth be told I needed them too. They weren't ready for bed so we watched A Christmas Story with hot chocolate and Marshmallows. I tucked them into Jelly Beans bed. I have a feeling they will both sleep there until she comes home. They even left the light that they fight about on in her honor.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Things going through my mind

I'm writing this post to hope Murphy's Law will work and the judge will call us in to the permanency hearing. I'm sharing a couch with my kids Mother after a really really crappy week. I was just going to write the thoughts popping into my rapidly firing brain. Then I thought well maybe I can use this time to learn some more of the kids history.

So I asked and she answered. And for a few minutes we were Moms sharing stories. Until we realized we were sharing stories about the same kids. I tried really hard to be kind. To nod when she was making comments while my brain was screaming SHE DOESN'T GET IT. I felt empathy as she shared some of her background. But that doesn't mean I'm going to just roll over and stop protecting these kids. I did bite my tounge when I could have said they are terrified of you. But it took a lot to do so.

Then we got called in. And the judge commended us on working together. She told us that she kept the boxes the girls decorated to bring their cupcakes to her. They are on her shelf. She also recommended the enter the court house artwork contest.

But it made me feel like a fake. Yes I work with Mom because I know is best for the kids but I do it grudgingly. I don't think very highly of ther Mom. I sometimes pray she disappears and then change my mind because I'd just have to pick up the pieces. I don't write nice things about her because I don't see her being able to care for thee kids.

This is perhaps the 2 mr worst week of my life. A close second to the week my Grandma passed last year. We had an ACR, family/team meeting, holiday concert, therapy, testifying against abusers, permanency hearing, licensing worker visit and on Wednesday the hospitalization of Jelly Bean for suicidal thoughts.

I'm a wreck the kids are a wreck and I sat and listened to the judge say that Mom was meeting the reasonable effort standard and renewing the goal of return home. She told her she has a long road. And she won't send the kids home until she is sure they are safe. And set a hearing for one month for results of the psych eval which rumblings I'm hearing are not positive in Mom's favor. She assigned a CASA worker to be another set of ears. I see they are crossing all the Ts. But I get the sense that the preference here is to drag this on. at least that's how it feels.
And I get to handle the fall out. I'm the one who had to leave the child at the psychiatric hospital. I'm the one who spend hours yeterday calming sisters down. I'm the one juggling these appointments. Somehow it feels like I am the one doing all the work.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yeah so I spoke too soon....

As if this week isn't going to be hard enough (administrative care review, family meeting with therapists, holiday concert, prep for testifying for LM, actual testifying for LM, remembering their uncle who was murdered, permanency hearing, and liscense worker visit oh yeah and our annual wine party for which I got nothing accomplished this weekend.) Jelly bean raged all day. Gabby raged for part of the day. I'm exhausted. The screaming and yelling and crying. The possessions that were confiscated are now sitting in my room. The new pair of jeans Jelly bean wrote all over are somewhere in her room. was assigned writing sentences and it took her all afternoon. She then threw a fit right before dinner and when she was finished eating was sent straight to bed.
I have no idea why today was such an issue. Too much family? Bad visit? Fear about the holiday concert tomorrow?

The other one? She was dealing with seeing Molly yeaterday. She ripped up her class picture and threw away a porcelian doll Molly gave her. She also could have been playing off JB. She desperately needed attention and everyone went about it the wrong way. Myself included. I'm tired of the amount of energy needed to settle everyone down after these visits. The kids seem truly scared and I can do nothing except write emails and watch them be in pain.

Yeah so I spoke too soon....

As if this week isn't going to be hard enough (administrative care review, family meeting with therapists, holiday concert, prep for testifying for LM, actual testifying for LM, remembering their uncle who was murdered, permanency hearing, and liscense worker visit oh yeah and our annual wine party for which I got nothing accomplished this weekend.) Jelly bean raged all day. Gabby raged for part of the day. I'm exhausted. The screaming and yelling and crying. The possessions that were confiscated are now sitting in my room. The new pair of jeans Jelly bean wrote all over are somewhere in her room. was assigned writing sentences and it took her all afternoon. She then threw a fit right before dinner and when she was finished eating was sent straight to bed.
I have no idea why today was such an issue. Too much family? Bad visit? Fear about the holiday concert tomorrow?

The other one? She was dealing with seeing Molly yeaterday. She ripped up her class picture and threw away a porcelian doll Molly gave her. She also could have been playing off JB. She desperately needed attention and everyone went about it the wrong way. Myself included. I'm tired of the amount of energy needed to settle everyone down after these visits. The kids seem truly scared and I can do nothing except write emails and watch them be in pain.

How far we have come

So I couldn't sleep tonight. I hade a Diet Coke at 11:00pm and well that was a silly thing to do after a 4pm nap. I'm sure I'll pay for it later. In my continued quest to build up my readership, traffic, and ego I was checking out my stats and noticed that this post is the most often viewed.
Reading it now nearly 8 months later I can't believe how far we've come. We barely survived that trip to Disney world but we are wiser now and are actually trying to plan another trip in June. Of course now our plans are dependant on where their caseplan heads. We have hit our groove of a family of six and I've almost gotten used to what that equates to in the amount of groceries and laundry. Almost. I no longer have a panic attack when going to Costco.
And while the first few months were rocky the kids have gotten over the shock of living together once agian and actually giggle together at times instead of constant fighting and yelling.
I don't regret my decision to say yes that day. Or my decision to say no the first time they asked us. And the kids like to hear how they each came to stay with us. Which is pretty cool. Clearly, I'm still not getting that much sleep but Hey - I'm a mother to 4. We still hear almost daily how crazy we are or how people don't know how we do it but I've learned to ignore that or smile politely. Most days I wouldn't trade it for anything.

You let me say all those mean things?

Last weekend we got together with Jelly Bean and Mr. Mohawk's 3rd foster family. We've seen them twice since LM and Gabby moved in. This was hard on them as they didn't understand why their first foster Mom (we'll call her Molly) had not made an effort to visit them. Well she had, but then cancelled last minute something she apparently did a lot. The girls also reported that she lied a lot skipping trauma therapy appointments telling the therapist they has ballet when they stayed home.

So after we met the 3rd family and had a great time at a moon bounce place and pizza pub Gabby had a little rant. She had been working up to it all day. My little actress who looks a lot like Tinkerbell when she scrunches up her nose was ready for her dramatic monologue which went something like this:

I bet Molly doesn't even care about us. I bet she never did. Why did we have to live with he anyway. I bet she forgot about us and hopes that we forgot about her. She lied all the time. I bet she lied about loving us too. She lied about coming to see us. Her boyfriend was always more important than us.

All true feelings. All valid. Not dissimilar to feelings she has about her biological mother. Now I knew we had made plans to see Molly. But I kept my mouth shut for fear that she would cancel and break their hearts all over agian. I couldn't do that to them. So I let her get it all out and said something like, "I'm sure she does care about you and thinks of you often how could you not? You're amazing."

Today Molly confirmed our meet up. I still didn't tell them. We walked into the restaurant and even though I had never seen a picture of her I knew instantly who she was. We turned the corner and the girls saw her stand up. Gabby started to cry instantly. In the middle of hugging this woman she called Mom for 7 months she turned around to look at me and she mouthed "thank you". And with that I started to cry.

My sweet sensitive Gabby knew that that moment was for her. She knew we put aside any feelings we might have about the choices this person made or the promises she broke because it was important for her to see her. To learn that people don't have to disappear from your life because you move on. That you can love others from afar and be angry at them but still care about them. And then she gave me a gift. She called her Molly instead of Mom.

At this point I have been one of her "Moms" for longer than Molly. I have dug in and done the hard work with her and LM when Molly wouldn't even take them to their appointments. And call me selfish or absurd but I feel that it counts for something. Now I would have been ok if she called her Mom. I have tried to put myself in that situation and if I was the former Mom I think it would be very hard for her to feel like she couldn't call me "mama" but something about the fact that she didn't slip- not once made me feel very self satisfied. That this jockeying to become the protector and care giver was finally over. I surpassed this first foster Mom and am now THE foster Mom.

This pails in comparison to actual Mom and I understand that. I live it in fact. Today when LM was raging about pretty much everything I knew it was because she was living with me and now with her Mother. And it was exhausting trying to stay patient and not say all the things I actually think about her Mother's inability to get it together for her children. To urge her to either speed it up or let them move on. Its hard sometimes to remember that what I would do if my kids were in foster care and not back in my custody after 18 months is not the same as a person who abused their children because they couldn't handle their situation.

Tonight as we were working on their first Christmas stockings Gabby asked me "How could you let me say all those mean thngs about Molly if you knew we were going to see her?" I explained that I wasn't sure she was really coming and that just because we saw her didn't mean that her feelings weren't real or true. "You really are always trying to keep us from getting hurt aren't you?"

Yes my sweet girl. Yes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Confessions

• I secretly wish for more followers and comments- I need encouragement too
• I wish my kids therapist were girl friends I could plan nights out with
• I wish their Mom would flee to Mexico so we can move on.
• I sometimes hide in my bathroom so I can catch up on reading.
• My children had cereal for dinner tonight because I didn't feel like cooking.
• My anxiety level is so high that I took an anti-anxiety pill today.
• I have several drafts of posts written but finishing means tapping into my emotions and I don't want to think that hard today.
• I was excited to learn that my kids don't have a visit this weekend maybe some peace for me.
• We scheduled a visit with the girls first foster Mom I don't have high hopes that it will go well.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving

As I reflect on the past year I realize how vastly different the list of things I'm thankful for this year compared to last year. The day before Thanksgiving last year my grandmother passed. I was thankful then that she was no longer suffering but that was pretty much it. I was angry and scared and I wasn't happy about much. The year that has followed brought me motherhood, a better relationship with my husband, a new job that I love and many new friends. I'm am thankful for all of these things.

As we spent the day with family my foster kids who were not with their family did pretty good. It was a long day and they held it together pretty much until the end. I only handed out 1 timeout which is a pretty good day for us. I'm bracing myself for tomorrow and Saturday's post visit behavior but hey I'll take for now. I'm glad they got to see how caring supportive families interact. And they felt safe and comfortable most of the day.

I don't know if this is the only Thanksgiving they will spend with us. I hope not but that isn't for me to decide. I remembered today that there are those who do not have what I have. My kids have taught me that. I pray for those who go without - without food, clothing, shelter, employment and especially those who went without family today.

Tomorrows adventure? Chopping down our own Christmas tree.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Oh the B word

This is the new thing in our house. Calling your sister the B word and then hitting her so she cries and attention is directed at the pair of you. Can I just say it's really getting old. So I tried a new tactic tonight.

We were having a tough evening to start as the girls had family therapy tonight. They go from 5:15 to about 6:15 every other Wednesday. This new therapist promised to keep me in the loop so I could be prepared for what is walking in my door. She has not kept this promise. In fact no one seems to want to even communicate who is supposed to be at therapy as she was expecting Mr. Mohawk tonight and no one picked him up for therapy.

We've had some false starts to family therapy as it is at Moms home and she insists on cooking. And therefor the kids get confused and expect to eat. They are to bring the food home but because of one issue or another they have eaten dinner there (during therapy) 3/6 times. So you know what comes home? Kids who act like they are coming home from a visit. Which lead to the fighting over the pencil (yes the flipping pencils AGAIN) and then proceed to use the B word and hit each other.

So I thought well maybe it's the prohibition of the word. So I gave them 10 minutes to swear as much as they wanted. You know what I heard? Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Cero. Nada.

I am so tired of this. We are increasing time spent with Mom to let her prove she can handle or not handle her kids but it might kill me in the process. I am sick of breaking up fights after time spent with Mom. I knew JB was angry the second she came in the house. But she spun out and had a tantrum before I could do anything to settle her down. Frustrated doesn't even begin to cover it. The case worker already got a text from me that we need to talk. The lack of communication and the behaviors are really driving me up a wall.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

We had quite the week. We had a mid-week visit that didn't go so great. We had a boatload of attitude and a lot of re-directing mainly because of the midweek visit. I also stumbled across the county clerk website and finally found the case listed for Jelly Bean's abuser. I felt like writing a post on this because child molestation and sexual abuse have been in the news all week due to the allegations at Penn State and their alleged cover up. To be honest I don't know all the facts. I can't read the articles about this because it makes my stomach turn. Which is also how I felt when I heard from the victim advocate this week when she told me Little Mama was going to have to testify at a pretrial hearing as this jerk isn't taking the plea they've offered him. So because he has a legal right my 11 year old who was also sexually abused now has to testify in open court. And if his creep of a defense attorney doesn't think she's credible enough my 8 year old will have to face her abuser in open court. The foster parent of the 2nd home she was in after she was taken away from her abusive mother.

I'm really tired of these kids being put through Hell and back to protect the rights of the people who have harmed them. And I feel even more weary the people like foster parents and teachers and coaches are contributing to the abuses the children in this country endure. To read about the assistant coach who WITNESSED a child being RAPED and did nothing to stop it makes me want to throw up. It makes my heart ache for the victims and their parents.

I've been parenting a sexually abused child for 9 months. When she first moved I to my house she couldn't sleep. She had nightmares. It took us hours and lots of reassurance before she would settle for bed. I don't think she fell asleep before 10 pm for the first 2 months. And I had to do all the work. My husband triggered her simply because he was a man. Then the other sexually abused child moved in and triggered the you get one and we started from square one. We have girls who are so afraid of anything remotely sexual they can't handle cartoon characters kissing. I'm told on a weekly basis that certain clothing on strangers is inappropriate. Even a routine trip to the doctor was filled with fear when she touched the lower back of a child to check on a mole.

The effects of any abuse are long lasting but sexual abuse is extra tough. I worry that my girls will head in the promiscuous direction when they hit puberty. I worry that they will never be comfortable in their own skin. I worry that they will seek out relationships with abusive men. And I worry that they will never enjoy intimacy with a loving partner.

I don't know what it's like to find out someone you trusted abused your child. Mine came with their abuse but as I head into the trial portion of what happened my mama bear is coming out pretty fiercely. I want this guy to pay for what he did to my beautiful daughter. And I hope he sits in jail while I try to help BOTH my girls recover from making sure his rights aren't infringed on. While they continue as foster kids waiting to make sure their Mother's rights aren't infringed on. (Who also to my knowledge has not asked what has happened to her daughters abuser and has no idea her other daughter has to testify.)

If there is one thing I hope the country learns is that their are countless victims of child abuse and them and their families struggle to heal. I hope the Penn State students carry out their message and promise to raise money for victims of sexual abuse and I hope that this breaks some of the silence.

*abusers are alleged and innocent until proven guilty
**this guy confessed at the DCFS office to what JB says he did but is claiming he was being held against his will. In a DCFS office. With an unlocked, open door.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Then why did she have 4 kids?

This is a question I get asked all of the time. Why did she have 4 kids if she wasn't going to take care of them? People ask me this as if I have some insight into what my kids' Mother was thinking when she kept having babies.

I've asked the question for 9 months and I promise I am no closer to the answer than I was 9 months ago.

But generally, it's not one of HER 4 kids asking me. Until tonight when Gabby got frustrated and broke down. I was trying to explain (Agian. For the 700th time) why it's taking so long for her to move back into her Mom's care. No longer do I try to be Suzy Sunshine about it. I support the goal, I don't bash Mom, but I do give her the facts in an age appropriate manner because she's too smart and protecting her isn't really going to help her. She's too smart. So when she started crying telling me she's been in foster care for over a year and she doesn't want to be anymore I responded that her Mom is still learning how to take care of them the right way she challenged me with "well why did she have 4 kids then if she didn't know how to take care of us?"

These are the moments no amount of Pride classes can prepare you for. No cheesy video teaches you the best way to handle a question with so much weight behind it. I told her that I didn't know. That maybe her Mom didn't know that she should ask her. That at least she's trying to learn. But that doesn't help her. I'm not the one she needs to hear an answer from. I can help her identify her feeling and let her talk through them and tell her she's loved but in the end she doesn't want to hear it from me. She wants to hear it from her Mother.

It's hard to play second fiddle when you do so much work and the other person does squat. Especially when your life is directly impacted by them. But you don't get to be upset about it. It's maddening sometimes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Just a regular Thursday night

Years ago I spent Thursday nights at choir practice. For 6 years I spent every 7-9 pm in a freezing cold church with people I loved singing my heart out. There was a time were I spent Thursday nights working late at a law firm and cramming for tests and finishing up papers. When I finished college and went back to get my paralegal degree I spent 7-9:30 studying legal writing and litigation.

tonight we normally would Have the trauma therapist who works with the oldest two girls. We've done some attachment therapy and lots of processing. She cancelled tonight. But we still had processing. In fact we had a trauma trigger tonight that we spent 40 minutes trying to get a child pulled back into reality and realize she was safe.

It was heartbreaking. In one movement of the hand to try and comfort the child we managed to trigger the fear of being sexually molested. I watch a normally affectionate happy child back away and cower and then cry because she was so afraid to tell us what she was scared of because she didn't want to hurt our feelings.

OUR FEELINGS!?!? Oh sweetie pie. No one has let you be a child and so therefor you don't know it's not your JOB to worry about our feelings. That's the job of parents. Parents who love you. Who want to protect you. Who did a good job of staying calm and parenting you through this evening with calmness and love.

And that is just a glimps into our Thursday night.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tricky Treat

Jelly Bean did her best to self sabotage Halloween. She tantrumed for the first time on Sunday since starting her new mood disorder medication. All day long she was in trouble. It's so sad that this kid has been so hurt that she tries to make sure nothing good comes her way. In the end we recovered and we went about the festivities.

She was a pirate which fit her very well. Little Mama was a pink kitty cat, Gabby a witch with a pink boa adorned hat, and mr. Mohawk was an Angry Bird. His costume matched mine. The dog was his usual pumpkin which is absolutely adorable. My Mom and I scooped up the kids from daycare (and my little guy was sad since we missed the parade but seriously? They are in day care because we work. Just because it's Halloween doesn't mean it's a half day for me.) and headed to Hubby's office for some cynical trick or treating. The place was a ghost town so it didn't take long. We got home took a few pictures and headed out.

Constant reminders of say please and thank you and help your brother and less than an hour later the kids were ready to pack it in. Then they dumped their haul on the table. Sorted out things they can't have like gum and things they didn't want. They traded and contributed to Mom and Dad's pity pile :)

It was awesome fun. No melt downs. Lots of smiles. No one in trouble. A good day. And I feel ready to handle more of the same. But tonight I'll be snapped back into reality when the therapists arrive and the kids go to family therapy tomorrow.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mama tell the story?

For whatever reason this week Gabby and LM have asked me several times to talk about what happened the day they moved in and the day JB and MM moved in. Gabby also started calling me Mama this week. She had been calling me Mom for the past 6 months. This week it's been Mama or Mommy. In foster parenting classes and adoption discussions the experts always tell you that the day kids come home is just like the story of their birh for kids who are not adopted.

Maybe it's the attachment work we are doing in therapy. I hesitate to call it attachment therapy since we will have to "break" the attachment if they go home but it's work to allow them to feel safe and loved and process through some of the things they missed.

Little Mama was only 3 1/2 when her 2nd sister was born. And by the time she was 7 she was left at home overnight to care for the two other girls. Part of what we are working on is letting her be mothered. Allowing her to be the little girl even though she is 11. Encouraging play with dolls and things that seem babyish so that she can work through these stages and not get stuck there emotionally.

Today we will be carving pumpkins- for the first time for at least 2 of the kids. We made a big deal about going to the pumpkin patch and they are excited to create their own designs. To be honest I'm excited too as I loved doing this as a kid.

Friday, October 21, 2011

You Member...

Mr. Mohawk says "Mama? Member when we went there? You Member?" at least 3 times a day. I love that he can remember outings and places such as the birthday party at the park near our house. But telling me the story EVERY time we pass by which is at least twice on school day assuming we are driving anywhere else- it gets slightly annoying. Also slightly annoying? A 10:30 am phone call from day care telling me he can't keep his hands to himself and they need someone to pick him up.

Thank God my Mom quit her job last week because I don't know what I would have done without her today. I was the only person in my department today and nada bunch of high profile projects to get done. (Guess who will be working while kids are at their visit tomorrow.)

Tomorrows 5 hour visit with their Mom should be real interesting.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Plan Ahead

I'm a planner by nature. Not so much that I had a strict timeline of needing to be married by 27 or having my second child at 32 but enough that I think to figure out what tasks I need to handle and what I'm going to cook for dinner. This week I'm trying to plan for next week and to be completely honest I'm scared. Not because it's Halloween but because my husband is going out of town. For a week. And it will be me and the kids....for a whole week.....by ourselves.

They ate me alive last week while it was just the 5 of us. I was crabby, tired, and angry. I'm determined lot to be this way this time around. I anticipated that any task will be hard so I'm working to get everything that could be an issue out of the way. Costume shopping for the girls was completed tonight. If they couldn't handle it on Sunday after their visit and with my husband home there was no way they could this Sunday. I also had to give up celebrating my Mother in laws birthday because a family dinner an hour away at 7pm on Sunday was going to leave me with cranky kids Monday morning. Not to mention the car ride fighting that could happen in 2 hours.

And all the grocery shopping will be done Saturday while they are at their visit so I can cook Sunday and have meals ready for the week. I feel just a little bit stronger and a little bit wiser. Perhaps I've learned something in the the last few months. Sometimes a SuperMom just knows when her cape is going to make her fall and stays on the ground.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My favorite word...

WHATEVER. So simple a statement and can be used in EVERY situation as evidenced by Jelly Bean and Little Mama. We had all kinds of attitude this afternoon post visit. We are a little heavy handed with the sarcasm in our house. Mainly because we have 3 highly skilled drama queens and the prince of theater living in our home. The best way to deal with them sometimes is mockery and overdramatization. Mirroring.

So today we were having a particularly challenging time breaking down LM's wall of silence when confronted with poor choice behavior. And when we asked a question we got whatever and I don't know (my second favorite phrase - because is third in line). So after we got through the stone wall and dealt with the temper tantrum over shoes by JB. We left to go to dinner with family. Since there were 6 adults to 4 kids we had no problems with competing for attention. But we did have several trip to the bathroom.

During the first trip Mr. Mohawk says to me while on the potty "Mommy your favorite word is whatever right? You said that at home. You said it sounds like a dying cow."

Oops. There was my mirror. "I said the way your sister was whining sounded like a dying cow."

"Oh."

Luckily there were no more questions or I don't know would probably have come out of my mouth...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Blissflly Unaware

At the beginning of the year I was ignorant. Blissfully unaware that I was on the same planet with pencils. I worked in a doctors office and only used pens. Then I became a foster Mom. Can I just tell you how much I HATE pencils? Firstly, there are NEVER sharpened pencils around. And those little plastic sharpeners - CRAP. My four kids step on them, break the pencils in them, leave them for the dog to find... So I solve the problem by buying an electric industrial strength one for $19.00. YEAH now I can have sharpened pencils in the house.

Not so fast Love. You have to be able to FIND a pencil to sharpen it. So I solve that problem. I hit the school supply sales with a vengeance. I stock up. I get a plastic 3 drawer container for the desk and devote an entire drawer to sharpened pencils. I congratulate myself for being organized and proactive. By week 2 of school there is only 1 little stub of a pencil with no eraser in my pencil drawer. I refill. 2 weeks later same problem. Then the kids come to me with "I need more pencils for school".

What is happening to them I wonder? I find an occasional one on the floor but that's it. I begin to wonder if they are building a log cabin with the pencils. Perhaps they are eating them for the fiber? Do we have a woodchuck in the house im not aware of? Seriously this is ridiculous. I mean for heaven sakes it's just a darn pencil.

Ahh but this attention seeking writing instrument wasn't done yet.

Sunday was a bad day. The kids were out of whack from my husband going out of town. (Because Dads in there life disappear with no explanation never to be seen or heard from unless of course it's to try to kill their Mom -but that's a post for another day) after a long afternoon I gave everyone a quiet time out in their rooms only to be interrupted 30 minutes later by the victim of a stabbing. The offending object? A flippin' PENCIL.

I go upstairs to discover that somehow the 4 year old found another pencil (seriously they must be squirreling these suckers way because I can never find oneet alone 2) and decided to add his own artwork to the wall. At least it was only a pencil.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The girls met the judge today. They spent nearly 2 hours with her. They brought her cupcakes they decorated in boxes they decorated. They brought a list of questions which included how much time do we have left, what happens if my Mom hits when we go home, and what's your favorite color? (Red) most of the answers were I don't know but the kids said they felt better having met her... I do too. At least now she can put a face to the reports and see how bright and talented they are. I don't know what happened I wasn't allowed in the room And I don't want to know. I wanted their voice to be heard and not mine. And I want them to know I stand behind them no matter what my heart says.

We had several breakthrough moments which included Gabby telling my husband that she needed "some time alone please because I'm really angry with you right now" during an argument. Little mama telling MM that he can put on his own clothes after months of trying to get her to stop mothering him, JB getting dressed, brushing hair and teeth and ready to go WITHOUT constant reminders and redirection and no yelling. She also apologized to the trauma therapist for the way she acted last time she was here ON HER OWN. I nearly fell over.

The Case Workers Supervisor was at court this morning (she had to wait in the hallway too). We were discussing the kids' behavior and I mentioned reading a certain parenting book and she was flabbergasted. "When did you have time to read a book while working full time parenting four kids, running them to appointments, and learning Spanish?"

On my Kindle App while in the bathroom :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My first birthday party

To attend as a Mom. And man was I a fish out of water. Even though I've been mothering for 9 months now and I'm shuffling 4 kids around which gave me a pretty fast learning curve but I've totally missed out learning the ropes of being a "normal" Mom on the sidelines with other "normal" Moms.

Normal not being a positive or negative term just descriptive. MOST parents in our area birth their own children. This party was for one of the kids in Mr. Mohawk's pre-k class. And some how I got in the huddle of the lady who just gave birth that works with my husband, two pregnant women. I had absolutely nothing to add to the conversation. I felt super out of place. And the whole time I'm thinking do these other Moms feel this way too? Is it awkward because it I'm not really his Mom? That I feel silly because I can't comment on my own pregnancy experience? What if they ask me how he was as a baby? These people don't know he's a foster kid. I don't want them to know.

In the end everything was fine. We went on a hayride, ate hot dogs, had cupcakes and went home. I realized a lot of this was my own insecurity. Most of the time I'm a confident woman secure in my ability to be a good mom and take care of kids who really need it but I'm just not used to being around other moms that got there the way I wish I could have. And perhaps that the grief of not knowing if I'll be able to have children or if these children will be mine forever. Maybe I was a little jealous today. All hard thing to admit but I'm putting them here in case any other foster or adoptive mom has felt this way. Feel free to comment and let others know they aren't alone either.

Btw Mr. Mohawk had fun and managed to be one of the few kids who didn't put cheese balls in their cowboy hats and put he cheesy hats on their heads. I'm doing something right. My kid didn't make a giant mess :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Notebook

So our CW suggested the moms of the kids start a notebook to help make communication more constant. I had flash back to junior high where my friends and I would pass a notebook back and forth. Let me tell you not much good came of these. One week into the notebook I'm already starting to feel this way. But hey I'm being asked to do it to help the kids so I will.

There is just one teeny tiny problem. Mom doesn't really speak English and she does not have much of a formal education in Spanish. I am not fluent in Spanish. I took it through junior year of college and despite brushing up on it I'm still pretty rusty. I started the notebook at our court date 2 weeks ago. I nicely wrote out the family rules and wrote several paragraphs in Spanish. The case worker was impressed but Mom asked me to print because she can't read cursive. The idea was for her to take it home and write questions in the notebook. The notebook was supposed to come back with the visit supervisor.

A notebook came back but not the one I started. Lord know where it went. And you could tell not much thought went into the paragraph she wrote. And I have to ask myself how badly does she want to learn this stuff? She is not parenting her children. It seems she is not working full time. Why on earth can't she put in more effort? It so frustrating. So I came home after working almost 12 hours today and wrote a full page in a language I'm not fluent in. I had to look up a bunch of words but I got the information down. But I can't help but feel annoyed.

After tomorrows visit I'm taking the kids to see their GAL before they talk to the judge Thursday. Should be an interesting week.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

She Yelled?!?

I have some thoughts to put down about the legal aspect of the case but I want to blog those from a real computer and not my iPhone. Since it's 6:30am on a Saturday I only have a few minutes since there is a reason I am up at this unsightly hour for the second day in a row. Apple picking today and friends coming over afterwards to watch the Bears beat the Packers and my house is not exactly in a state of clean.

Clean is the wrong word. Organized. But I have 4 children in a 2 bedroom/loft townhouse so really you can expect much but the clutter is driving me and the kids bonkers. So yesterday we cleaned and cleaned but still aren't 100% back to what my house looked like before it's occupancy tripled but we are close.

I got up yesterday to wake the kids so they could go to their visit which switched from Friday nights to Saturday mornings. Of course this was not a welcome change by them and they grumbled about it and came home saying their visit was awful. JB barometer for the group that she is had major attitude and broke out the swear words. At least she used them in the correct way. If my sister slathered mole sauce on me at the dinner table I would have called her a *itch too. Although not until I was an adult and probably not out loud. But of course she got caught and since Mom isn't understanding the dynamic punished only the one and not both.

We struggled at times all day. Nothing too severe but lots of eye rolling. Which is almost as annoying as "it wasnt me, I don't know ". At about 8:30 I could tell they were all done for the day so we sent them to bed but the girls had laundry to put away. I stood in the hallway and watched as LM kicked something across the floor that wasn't hers. I asked her why and she rolled her eyes.

So I shouted. And she shouted back. My wall of stoicism shouted back. Finally. I guess the attachment therapy is helping. I walked away but I was no longer mad. She let something out! And that's when you know your spending way too much time in therapy! Lol.

A little while late after we were done dealing with JB and another inappropriate comment LM came to talk to me. To apologize! She was so afraid I didn't love her anymore after she yelled at me she couldn't go to sleep. Aww my poor sweet lovely girl.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Over the Edge

I joke with the kids Tuesday therapists (two of them come to the house) that one day I'm going to write a book about this experience and I come up with new titles for this book all the time. This week I named it Pushed Over the Edge. Because this is how I feel. In the last week or two I have been pushed, poked, pulled, and pinned to the edge of reason, patience, common sense and my limit.

I have been asked to go against every hope and wish in my heart and help the woman who hurt these kids that call me Mom in order to HELP her get them back. And I did what was asked of me. And then I turned around and listened to one of the very same children accuse me of not caring or loving them for 8 hours as she tantrumed and acted out, threw things, and bruised her sister. Then I woke up and did it the next day. And while all I wanted to do was cry I instead laughed about it.

The Tuesday therapists asked for a shout out in my book. Anonymous of course. I told them I'd call them Night and Day (because despite their partnership they are totally different). So until I a) find the time to write a book and b) get a resolution to our situation the following will have to do:

To Day And Night thank you for everything. The late night texts helping us through the drama, the cheerleading for alone time with each other, the laughter, tears, and goosebumps while we tried to untangle the web of trauma and issues between this family. Thank you for always making us feel like we were doing a great job and that the state of our house was "normal". One day well get that drink and let it all hang loose.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

You know what they say about all therapists?

That they need their own therapist. Which makes me wonder what that means for foster moms with chronic illness and a psychology degree. For me it means I have 5 therapists in my life. My own. JB's therapist, LM & Gabby's therapist, LM & Gabby's trauma therapist, and the new family therapist. It means that I am CONSTANTLY talking about feelings and techniques and trying to analyze and figure out where feelings are coming from. It means that at every turn we stop and talk about the feelings even if its in the middle of Target.

Which was the case the day before school started. We finished getting the last of the supplies and sat down to eat at the Pizza Hut in the food court at Target. School starting was/is a big trigger for my kids. It is their big obvious marker of time (even though they came into care at the end of June). And it finally dawned on them that "oh hey I've been in foster care a year. My Mom said she only gets 2 years and that doesn't leave much time." In entered the anxiety and fear and along with them came rage and tantrums.

So Little Mama turns to me in said food court and says "Mom I have a really important question to ask you and I need you to be totally honest with me." Uh WOW. Can we just stop and recogonize how well she model this? So I said ok. And she says if we don't go back to my Mom would you and Dad adopt us. And no joke the food court lights were shut off since they were closing.

Its a good thing she asked me this BEFORE school started because the following week I'm not so sure I would have answered with conviction like I did. I said Yes if this was something the judge would allow us to do. And then of course reitterated that this wasn't the goal...Everyone's working hard.... But apparently this is something being given a lot of thought since Gabby asked if she "stayed with us" if she could still go to her doctor.

Unfortunately, the case worker doesn't see a clear direction for the case. We go back to court for an update next week. We are waiting for a pysch eval on Mom and to see how family therapy goes. This weeks adventure was unsupervised time eating and putting on makeup after family therapy when the therapist left and the driver/supervisor never came back in the house.

In an effort to calm the craziness I'm reading Beyond Consequences Logic and Control which talk a lot about being in touch with your own emotions. I've been made painfully aware that Jelly Bean is a trigger for me because she brings up my childhood issues. She is my brother living in my house agian. My ADD brother who was always getting in trouble which meant I was constantly being overlooked. It also meant I feel tremendous pressure to overachieve and be perfect as to not add to the yelling. Don't worry about Foster Mom she's so independent she can do x, y, z on her own. Which meant I didn't know HOW to ask for help or SHARE with others that they were hurting my feelings. And I spent the year prior to the kids arriving working really hard at overcoming and healing. And I have to admit I'm having a little trouble with that lately.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I have several spectacular post ideas

But at the moment I'm spent. The last two weeks have been exhausting. And though I have at least three posts on school starting, being confronted about adopting them, family therapy and an in school suspension.... I.just.can't.

Because these children have sucked the spirit out of me and I have a big project due at 10 am Monday and I'm not done due to the antics of my weekend. Which means I need to be out the door at 6:30am and it is midnight on Sunday.

I need a miracle here. And some sleep. Ooh and a vacation. With a spa. And a beach. And a blue drink with an umbrella...somewhere where I don't have to talk to A.N.Y.O.N.E.
The last two weeks have been incredibly stressful. I have to admit I've cried on more than one occasion out of sheer frustration and because I was feeling beyond overwhelmed. Like this morning after I lost it in the car after JB punched LM before 7AM and my plan to get to work early went right out the window. I cried pretty much the entire 45 minute drive.

School starting brought out all kinds of changes in these kids. NONE of them good. My guess is that it was a tangible marker of time for them. They know they came into foster care BEFORE school started last year and school starting up again means an ENTIRE year has passed. My suspicion was confirmed last night when Gabby asked me at dinner how long they've been in foster care. At one point their Mom made a statement that she "only gets two years and then the state takes you" so their anxiety level has increased big time surrounding the length of time it is taking for them to return home. This uncertainty is driving ALL of us crazy. Sadly, the kids don't seem confident that their Mom is progressing and us involved in the case don't see the progress either. Their case worker told us last week that normally at this point she has a pretty clear idea of which way a case is headed in the next 6 months. She doesn't see them definitely returning home and she doesn't see them definitely heading towards TPR. So Limbo land is where we get to stay.

Family therapy started up again the second week of school. It was decided that we could have a new therapist who was willing to drive to the family but that sessions would take place at Mom's home. I had a big issue with this as I think it has the potential to be super confusing to the kids. Additionally, the only time the therapist could meet them would not allow us to drive them so they need to have their visit supervisor drive them. So what happened at the first session? Mom made dinner and asked last minute if they could stay longer and eat since she went through the trouble of cooking. And would it be ok with me?

Umm no. No its not ok. Because once again Mom doesn't understand the concept of therapy or boundaries or structure. I told the case worker that the kids were prepared for therapy. Therapy does not include meals which is a major issue for them and a big trigger of bad behavior. And sure enough they managed to fool the new therapist into thinking everything went great and then completely fell apart in the car. To the point where the supervisor was near tears dropping them off. (Well except Mr. Mohawk, apparently he was a holy terror at the session and an angel in the car. Funny he's not a holy terror at my house.) So we gave the supervisor support and went over with her what she can, and cannot tell the kids. For instance not ok to threaten that if they aren't good they won't get to go to their visit later in the week. (Yep 12 years of this and she said that. ME? I have 6 months under my belt.) We offered her to call us in the future if the kids were acting up in the car. And our reward? The next 3 days was pure HELL. JB tantrumed about everything. She got so worked about her Spelling homework that I didn't trust her in the bathroom by herself. (She has some other stuff going on that I can't talk about just yet.)

Oh but then came Friday. Where my lunch was interuppted with a phone call from the principal. Who was calling to tell me JB got an in-school suspension for punching another student. Then I got a call from day care. MM had a fever of 103. So I called the supervisor of the visit to let her know that MM wasn't going and that JB had gotten in trouble. Then I left work early. (Did I mention I had a big project due Monday?)And on the way to pick up my sick kid I got a call from the supervisor.

Mom wanted to know if she should still take the girls out to dinner. This was the question the supervisor was asking me. Umm - not my place to tell you. You have to be the parent. I parent your children all but 4 hours of the week. You need to learn to parent your child, especially in instances where they get into trouble at school.

Anyone want to guess what Mom did? If you guessed completely ignored the situation give yourself 10 points. If you guessaed took her shopping give yourself another 10 points. Loaded her up with junk food - add 5 and toojk her to her FAVORITE resturant please add 50 points.

But get this. JB still couldn't behave. And at the resturant neither the supervisor nor Mom could get her to stop acting up so you know what they did? The supervisor threatened to call me. Then when that didn't work MOM, threatened to call me.

And I have to stop there because that puts me OVER.THE.EDGE.

I'll write tomorrow about all the things I found wrong with this parenting technique. Leave your comment to tell me how many points you scored :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Who are these kids and why are they calling me Mom?

We took a day trip to one of those little tourist towns with lots of unique stores that are way over priced today. It was for Little Mama's birthday. We took a boat ride and walked in and out of these cute little art galleries and stores. I LOVE the shabby chic signs that are colorful and distressed and have inspirational sayings. So I was happy to stumble across this entire corner of these cute frames, art work, door hangers, and magnets. The first one I came across was "A girl can not possibly nice and organized." Which is so totally me. Then I saw a magnet that said "Who are these children and why are they calling me Mom" To which my response was to laugh out loud. Hysterically. For two full minutes. Unfortunately we have a stainless steel refrigerator so I didn't buy it. But I found it funny. And then I wandered into the baby section of the store and I got instantly sad. LM came by and asked why I was looking at the baby stuff. Because I have two friends who just had babies and maybe someday I'll have a baby.

But do I really want that? Yes. No. I have no clue. I want these kids...most days. On the days that I don't I really just want a break and my life of no worries back. I want to be a mother. I love being a Mom. I enjoy being thier Mom. But in the end I don't really know who these kids will be and if they will always call me Mom. Or if I'll be Mom of that summer or the Mom who did X Y Z with us.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Daughter

This week there was shift in me. I know that I am a Foster Mom. These children living with me have no other connection than this. But THIS week I caught myself not clarifying for everyone that THESE are NOT MY children. Rather I let go for one week and just lived in the moment.

At the grocery store on Monday the well meaning cashier exclaimed:
C:Are all four yours?
M: Yep
C: They are so cute! I've always wanted to have a lot of kids.
M: It keeps life interesting.

On Tuesday when asked what I was doing later:
M: It's my daughter's birthday dinner.
O: Oh Wow how old is she?
M: 11.
O: Thats a good age.

On Wednesday at the State's Attorney's Office:
M: We will do whatever we can to make this guy accountable for what he did and we appreciate you trying to prevent unecessary trauma to our kids.

Today: I just simply missed them. And my heart broke when the little guy told me he missed his Really Mama. I cried on the phone to my Mom about how angry I am that these people have abused these kids and they aren't being held accountable to the fullest extent. The guy who caused one to have nightmares and fear hasn't spent 1 hour in jail and she will have to face him in open court if he doesn't plead out.
The woman who systematically abused them gets a 1-2 year break from motherhood and all of these support services to get them back and she's telling US that we aren't good enough from her perspective for them to live with because we don't speak HER language.

I knew that there were awful people in the world that hurt children but its different. These kids have become "my" children. And I just want to protect them. And in so many instances I can't. The law is the law. And even those these people who hurt them didn't abide by the law we have to. Because thats what we want OUR kids to learn.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Unfair

Wednesday I recieved what I would consider two major blows. The first was a phone call from the District Attorney's office. The Victim Advocate called to set up a meeting with Little Mama to prep her for a pretrial hearing in the case agianst the Monster that hurt JB in foster care. I'm sorry did I hear you right - LM has to testify? When is the hearing? 2 weeks? And I'm just finding this out now? Do you know she was abused also? And that guy is sitting in jail? And its a major issue with my kids as he was the father of another one of the kids? Luckily this was in time for her trauma therapist to prep her before the DA. To say I was caught off guard was an understatement. And man am I worried about the trigger this might be. After a year in therapy she still hasn't disclosed ANY of the details of her abuse to her therapist. This may just be the log that breaks the dam.

Then Case Worker came over for our monthly visit. We had emailed with some major concerns about visits. We were right they aren't going well. Why aren't they going well? According to their Mom its because the kids are in a non-Spanish speaking home. There is a law in Illinois that states that Spanish speaking parents are entitled to have the right to say whether or not their children can be in English speaking homes. They must sign a waiver if it is ok for this to happen. Our foster kid's mother did not sign it. And after all of the Spanish speaking placements for her 4 children disrupted they were placed in our home together after 9 months of being seperated.

According to everyone in the case they are doing wonderfully here. They are excelling at school, begining to heal in therapy, finally stabalized after 9 months of moves (5 other houses between them). And because of this their service providers and case worker are finding out more and more of the poor choices and abuse that these kids have suffered through. And as their visit time has increased so has their Mom's inability to handle the 4 kids that she has. 1) because there are 4 of them 2) because they don't trust her 3)they are acting out big time because they know she can't hit them 4) one of them is 4 and a boy 5) one of them has ADHD 6) she doesn't have a support system 7) she hasn't taken responsibility for her actions 8) she has had a therapist for a year that was a total idiot. (He's the reason family therapy stopped.)

And because she can't take responsibility and blames everyone else it is now OUR fault that her children are refusing to speak Spanish around her. And she wants them moved to a Spanish speaking home. And she has the power to do so even though it was her actions that caused them to be removed in the first place. Not caring that this will absoluetly traumatize them further. Not caring that finally her 7 year old is able to hug a father figure without fear. Not caring that her children can now read and are doing well in school. Not realizing that maybe if she stopped shoving Mexico down their throat they might stop rebelling. Or if she stopped telling them they will be moving to Mexico or that she will be moving to Mexico with or without them they might be willing to embrace their heritage. Not realizing that instead of ignoring her children at visits because their Spanish isn't where she wants it she could use the time to interact with them and teach them or speak to them in the English she does know so they weren't so darn frustrated and acting out. And perhaps learning English would help her land a better paying job so she wasn't so stressed about finances or dependent on boyfriends to take care of her AND her four children.

Now before I get flamed on my blog about my insensitivity to their Mom or what sounds like non-support of the reunification goal let me give you some background on our family. My husband is hispanic. 100%. My Mother-in-Law speaks fluent Spanish as does my husband's Step Father, and best friend. We support and encourage the kids to use their Spanish. They flat out refuse. And while I understand listening to music or forcing them to watch tv and movies in Spanish or conversing with our friends and family who do speak Spanish is a lousy 2nd to living with people who speak fluent Spanish it isn't like we are trying to take it away from them. Additionally, our support of their eduction, mental health, and other needs has been above and beyond as all of their service providers have told us. I'm not one to toot my own horn but when their bilingual trauma therapist looks be dead in the eye and tells me she rarely gives compliments but believes we are one of the best foster parents she's ever worked with and in her professional opinion thinks we are the best possible home for them I have to believe her. She also believes this problem with Spanish started way before they got put in DCFS care and this is evidenced by the fact that the youngest was given an evaluation in Spanish but answered everything in English. Why? because his older sister who was learning English in school was taking care of him.

But none of that matters. Because as hard as I try to help these kids heal their Mother is making more work for them.And the law gives her that power. And I understand there is a serious and real concern that the youngest won't be able to understand her when he returns home. And I take that seriously, I really do. So in order to prevent ANOTHER move we have to enroll them in Spanish classes. So between school, and three therapists, weekly visits, and perhaps family therapy starting they will have Spanish class. And to top all that off we may be required to speak to their Mom, in Spanish. This part is still fuzzy.

But as their therapist relayed this requirement to me it just seemed incredibly unfair. Because on top of caring for 4 children, working full time, and trying to keep my sanity I will now have to jump through several hoops when their Mother has not had to jump through a single one. And I cried in her office. With my foster children on the other side of the wall. Angry that their Mother doesn't understand that their well being and her issues go well beyond them speaking Spanish. Or how incredibly fragile her children are. And that to me there was no other option than trying to comply with these requests to protect HER kids. And knowing that at the end of this she is supposed to get them back and has the right to take them out of our lives forever. And because my husband did not not grow up speaking Spanish and actually didn't do very well taking it in High School I will now have to brush up on mine. So it rides on my shoulders. Luckily I took Spanish from 7th grade up through college. But its rusty. And I never thought I was very good. But I will do it because thats whats best for these kids. And when they complain and ask me why they have to go to ANOTHER appointment none of their friends have to go to I will lie and say because the judge made it a rule because that is also for their best interest.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

True in my Heart

I couldn't help but cry. After a long day and missing dinner with the kids I came home to find them busy qt work on their scrapbook from Disney World. They are very creative and love paper craft stuff and their therapists suggested it as an outlet for working together and to raise their self esteem. Little Mama can even be on a scrapbook club at middle school next year.

So I turned a table in our kitchen to a scrapbook zone. Since I gave up my workspace when the kids came I no longer had all my supplies in the same area. My husband hates where it is but for now it's good for them. And there they were all three girls working quietly when I arrived home. They were struggling with how to make the pages come alive and asked for my help but they made a really good first stab at it!

They had a picture of me with Belle my favorite princess and they wanted me to write this in cursive on the page "Mom with her favorite princess.". I paused. I struggled to find the right way to say it without hurting their feelings.

"I will write whatever you decide but I want you to take a few minutes to think about how you might feel down the road 5 years when you are living with your Mom and this book calls me Mom. Are you sure you don't want to put my name because either way would be ok with me."

Little Mama sitting next to me is shaking her head no. JB is looking at me like I'm nuts and Gabby, my sensitive little Gabby says "it will still be true in our hearts. You are our Mom and you were during this trip and so that's what I want to put." then she started to cry.

To which of course I started to cry. Somehow I managed to pull out something about how'd I get so lucky to have such sweet kids to love back. To make them think they were happy tears. But I was crying for all the reasons I cried yesterday. Their potential, their struggle to heal, their dreams, their fears and the fact that no one can tell us what will happen. My fear that they will leave and i will never see them agian and i will spend the rest of my life wondering if they were ok. And deep deep down in my heart I had to beat back the hope that the album we were working on would never leave this house. That it would be the first of many family vacation albums. All with pictures of me labeled Mom and them labeled my kids. Because if that hope surfaces and then gets crushed I'm not sure how I will survive it. Or how our family and friends will. And no matter how much I preface and prepare them for reunification their hope is the same and I never realize that I could be responsible for more heartbreak to be heaped on my family.

Are you sure she's not mine?

Sometimes it's hard for me to ignore the similarities of the kids' personalities to our own. I may have written about this previously but we had one such instance last night. It could also fall under the category "I could never be a child therapist because I wouldn't be able to keep a straight face".

Tuesday is home therapy day. Jelly Bean's therapist Jelly N. (they have the same name so we use name plus initial since big Jelly Bean and little Jelly Bean may have been offensive). Anyway at their last visit their Mom made a comment when Jelly Bean was acting up to the effect of "yeah and your foster mom said to the judge Jelly Beans a perfect angel".

So the kids come home and accuse me of this and since we've had issues with them hearing things that were not actually said or true I wanted to address right away. As is her nature to feel loyal to her Mom Gabby didn't want to have any part ofthis conversation until I explained that I'd rather her not be mad at me for no reason because that usually lands her in trouble for misbehaving.

So we discussed it and for Gabby (JB was not present for the conversation) it had her relieved when I told her I've never said that or spoken in court other than to give my name. But I had their therapist (Leena) address to make sure. So in talking about the exchange Gabby responds in the following manner:

L: So you felt better when your fm said she never said that?
G: (eye roll) YEAH! Have you MET Jelly Bean? (hear the incredulous sarcasm dripping with this statement)
L:Yes.
G: hand gesture that means: um hello? Shes a mess no need to illustrate my point with words.
L: Really no one is perfect, you aren't I'm not.
G:Well she's REALLy not perfect.

And I said when I heard this Wow she really is my daughter.
And when I relayed the story to my Mom- after she stopped laughing she said "Wow she really is your daughter!"

Now if only the kid liked tomatos I might be totally convinced she was stolen from me when I gave birth without knowing it.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pictures @ Disney

Jelly Bean on the Monorail. Mad at everyone for being in her
presence.



Mr. Mohawk and I at Epcot watching Illuminations.




Jelly Bean's toe. Because apparently this was more interesting than Disney Hollywood Studios.



Mr. Mohawk trying to find out where the bus was taking us.



Little Mama and Mr. Mohawk talking to Cinderella. Jelly Bean is hidden to the left.



Gabby with Pooh.

If I'm being perfectly honest....

I would grade myself as a D for Mommy today. I yelled. I was annoyed. I was tired. At one point I tried to hide in my room (which for anyone with kids probably knows is damn near impossible). I really wanted out of this commitment and this life I got us in to. And then I felt guilty for feeling all these things. I really just want to curl into a ball and cry my heart out. Have one of those long ugly cries with snot everyway and my face scrunched and then just fall to sleep from sheer exhaustion.

The thing is I know WHY some of today was the way it was. We had a day to do nothing and I didn't realize before my kids don't do "nothing" well. We had no structure in our weekend and while I was looking so forward to that I didn't remember they don't handle that well and this is really the first time in 2 months we haven't had a bunch of places to be on a weekend. We were also supposed to visit with Little Mama and Gabby's first Foster Mom this afternoon. This created all kinds of misbehaving from them that we don't normally see and I know they were keyed up.

And thus lays this slippery slope that we find ourself on in Foster Care. We are supposed to do the BEST we can for the kids and keep them in contact with loved ones but we get PUNISHED every step of the way. But we can't stop visits with these people because of the backlash we have to do it in spite of the backlash because its supposed to be the best thing for them in the long run. We must support reunification even if we know it means that these children will likely be robbed of a million opportunities due to circumstance or lack of support.

I know it will benefit the girls to see that this woman who had them moved from her home because of her biological son (and her disinterest in forming a safety plan with him regarding the girls) and still misses them and cares deeply. I try not to be angry for the hurt she caused and be grateful that she took this action because if she hadn't they wouldn't be here in my life. But it sucked big time today when I was playing referee ALL DAY. Wiping away tears and doling out time outs. And it sucked even more when I got a voicemail saying that her family had an emergency and she wasn't going to be coming. Watching these kids be let down (even though I was dreading the reactions and after math of her departure) was even worse.

In my heart I know we are doing good things. I know I wouldn't change it if given the chance but today I wished their Mom could get her act together and take her kids. I know I love them. I know also that they frustrated the Hell out of me today. What frustrated me more was my inability to control my own temper. And the guilt at all of the above. I had a gut check moment where I asked myself if I knew they would stay with us forever if I would feel the same way and the answer was no. If I knew that today was for healing and that it meant in 10 years we would be a family - not a foster family I probably would not have felt so overwhelmed. And by contrast I felt awful for questioning whether I would be feeling the same things if I knew they were for sure going home. I feel hopeless and helpless. And yet I know that no matter I much I feel these things these 4 amazing kids feel it worse and I know that means I have to pull myself out of this pity party and be better.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Crickets

I don't know how quite to set the scene for you so you understand how out of LEFT FIELD this statement came. Jelly Bean is my difficult kids. She has ADHD. She seeks out negative attention like a missle. She is loud. She is defiant and can turn tears on like a faucet. She has no concept of keeping her hands to herself. She wets the bed. She has serious flakey moments. And at the same time she can be giggly and girly and lovey and helpful. She can be funny and cute but these moods change like the wind.

Saturday she got in trouble. First for kicking her brother. Then for going up to their bedroom while writing the sentence "I will not kick my brother" 200 times and ounching her sister. For which more sentences were assigned and then some more for talking back and generally pill like behavior. She didn't get them done Saturday by the time we had company over so she spent Sunday until we left for a party writing and then wrote in the car and then wrote some more at the party in order to participate in the bounce house, wading pool, and Pinata. I had grounded all the kids from backyard tent camping with my Aunt and God daughter until my Aunt called and told me she had finished setting up the tent not receiving my message that we wouldn't be coming. Since the kids were being good and I felt bad that my Aunt set up the tent I ruled that they had earned the camping back and off we went.

As we were settling into the tent and the kids plus my 9 year old God daughter were settling down each of them was saying good night.

Goodnight Mommy. I love you.

Goodnight Jelly Bean. Love you too.

I wish you were my REAL MOMMY.

(Sound of crickets)
Oh Honey thats really sweet. But I'm your Mommy just for now.

Well its true. You should tell the judge.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Piece of Cake

Fridays are never fun in our house. Friday from 4-7 our kids have supervised visits with their Mom. They get picked up from daycare by the supervisor and then brought home. Friday mornings are usually pretty rough. Usually we have tears and purposeful disobedience like we did this morning when Jelly Bean was told by Dad to put on gym shoes and did so until he left and Mom came down to find she had put her sock covered feet in flip flops are was trying to sneak out of the house this way.

Friday evenings when the kids come home are a crap shoot. Depending on what happens their behavior can escalate or I can be dealing with tears. And I'm just going to put it out there. I. AM. TIRED. Of them coming home in different clothes, covered in candy/frosting/soda, with stained clothes, and hungry. Tonight Mr. Mohawk came home with blue and red stains on his face and pajama pants on. Apparently family tradition is to smash each others faces in cake (which of course he doesn't know because he was 2 last time he was there for his birthday) which Little Mama was happy to do. So he cried and then of course wet his pants. Why? Because he's scared and confused and afraid he's going to get beat. So she gave him pajama pants but didn't have underwear for him so she left him in wet underwear.

Our number one rule is keep your hands to yourself. This is something the kids struggle with as their first reaction is to ball up a fist and hit the other person. I think this should especially be enforced at a visit. And if it wasn't then she could have at least cleaned him up. Did I mention he also managed to pour himself a bowl of cereal without anyone noticing? And in our house he is to ask before having food because he sneaks it.

And so begins this cycle of getting back to normal and then unravelling it again. It was finally (and thankfully) decided this week by the therapists and case supervisor that family therapy with Mom's therapist was not going to work (like we said at the beginning) and that more harm was being done to the kids. So a neutral therapist is going to be found and hopefully they can wade through this mess and see that Mom cannot and has not taken responsibility for her actions and the abuse she inflicted on these kids. This week she told Gabby that she remembered hanging someone up by the hands in the closet as punishment but she didn't remember that it was Gabby who she did it to. To which Gabby explained it that it was so long ago (2 years) that of course her Mom forgot.

We'll see how they take this news as they know family therapy is key to them going home.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Super Hero

I couldn't help but giggle this morning when my little guy tied his Spiderman shirt around his neck like a cape this morning. Today is the big birthday party day and he is excited. Of course life happened yesterday which means that Jelly Bean will not be participating in the moon bounce at the party.

Here's the thing I HATE that she can't. I had this awesome picture in my head of all of us jumping in it together and some amazing candid shots for their photo album. I knew Friday would be hard as their Mom cancelled their visit. Whennpushed their case worker told me I could tell the kids she was sick. I don't know if it's true or not. She cancelled therapy Monday. An if it was because she was sick I would think by Friday night she would be better. Of course Little Mama pointed out that if it was her she would have has the visit anyway. Buy I digress...... So Friday morning Jelly Bean was having a great start. No issues getting ready and I reminded her on the way onto day camp that she needed to be good in order to go to the party. When my husband picked her up he was handed a report that she BIT another kid.

Seriously? You are 7. Were you trying to be funny? This is usually the case with her. She does seething outrageous thinking the adults are going to laugh and instead she gets in trouble. So my husband have her a choice: write 200 I will use my words and will not bite people or miss out on the surprise tomorrow. She picked the surprise.

Now because I have a family that doesn't always listen to me and the party is at my parents house I left a message for my parents that she would not be participating in the moon bounce. Fast forward to a phone call from my dad telling me he wasn't going to allow that child to be tortured at his house. Torture? Not letting her go in a moon bounce because she bit someone after being given the chance to choose her punishment Passes for torture? Well geez. What's he going to think when he finds out that I made her wear her hair in a pony tail all week because I was tired of yelling at her to brush it. Cruel and unusual punishment?

I'm sure it will suck for her watching the other kids play in the moon bounce. But hopefully it will sink in that biting is serious. As is hitting which she did earlier this week. And writing sentences and being grounded apparently were not effective enough. She made a choice and she will have to live with the consequences. It's a valuable life lesson and if she doesn't learn it now she will be stuck in the cycle of bad judgement and legal consequences like her mother.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

This is what my family looks like....

Blogger land has been EXTREMELY helpful to me this past year (my GOD its been a year!). I began following and reading some really articulate and interesting blogs by other Foster/Adoptive Parents and I can't thank them enough. I don't know any of the personally but none the less they have each helped me in some way even if it was just to know that there were other woman out there who go through the same things that I do. (Many of them have much, much more on their plates.) Jen over at A Nickles Worth of Common Sense is one of these wonderful people.

Race and ethnicity are sometimes complex issues but as Jen pointed out they can make life more beautiful and interesting. And despite having been with a hispanic (Puerto Rican) man for the last 10 years, five of which I've had a hispanic last name, I never really FELT the difference until my Mexican kids showed up. My beautiful dark haired, brown eyed, tanned kids who are a stark contrast to my fair Irish skin, Blue eyes, and light brown hair. The kids who speak an entire other language that I desperately wish I could remember from all of those college classes. And while there are times we are blown away by how similar they are to us I am well aware that they have lived in a world that is the polar opposite of mine.

They have been beaten and preyed on. They have been homeless. They have moved more times in 6 months than I have in my entire life. They have witnessed their mother being attacked and alcoholism in action. They have had family murdered and shot at. They have been on food stamps and shared 1 room in a house with 5 other families.

I have no idea what people think what when they see all of us together. My husband is hispanic but is most often mistaken for Italian. (I'm the Italian.) And I'm not sure I care what they think. But I do wish I could peal back the curtain and take a glimps to make sure they SEE that we ARE a family. We may not be from the same culture or socioeconomic status, or even cheer for the same baseball team but we are a family, even if it is "Just for now".

Saturday we are having a birthday party for Mr. Mohawk. He is turning 4 and we have invited the family and friends that have kids. In an effort to avoid any additional confusion or "kids say the darndest things" moments we talked last night about the guest list. This includes their previous foster family who's make up is of biological, adoptive, and fostering. And my cousin who's family is made up of a transracial international adoption.My Godchild who has half brothers who have half siblings and step siblings. It will be a mixed bag and as we were discussing it my heart was happy understanding just how much uniquness our family has. We aren't traditional and I wouldn't change that at all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Who do we see tonight Mom?

Ok. I knew being a parent would be crazy and demanding. But when I pictured the life of a foster Mom I never imagined we'd have so many appointments. The two oldest have therapy with their mom on Monday, Tuesday their support therapist comes and the two younger kids therapist comes. Thursday is trauma therapy and Friday is there visits with their mother.

So Monday when Mom cancelled family therapy (and what could be more important at 8 pm on Monday night when you aren't working OR parenting) I was relieved. I was tired and really just wanted to hang out with the kids instead of sitting in a waiting room for an hour wondering what information I was going to have to unravel and explain to the kids. I didn't want to deal with trigger behavior or attitude. So when Gabby asked me, "Mom who do we see tonight?" I said we have a free night. And while there was initial excitement it then sank in that they were not going to see their mom. I could hear her brain turning. Starting to worry that her mom had gone to Mexico. Or was hurt. Or didn't care. She asked why and I answered honestly that I didn't know. I added that I was sure everything was fine and that no one cancelled the visit.

But I had triggered behavior anyway as she started to seek attention in the dorm of very low tolerance of her ADHD sister.

And I am exhausted. I wish nothing more than a day to sleep in but between work and weekend birthday plans I don't think it's in my cards.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

I am writing this post on my new iphone. It makes me excited to be able to blog more frequently. Perhaps you are wondering how the permanency hearing went. The goal stayed return home in 12 months. A review hearing was set for three months to see how family therapy is going. (Currently the girls therapists are trying to stop therapy until Mom can admit responsibility and stop using the time for the kids to feel sorry for her and sharing with them that their Grandma was raped....Don't even get me started on it...wrong on so many different levels.)

So we celebrated Fathers Day with breakfast and handmade cards. It was nice to see the kids so excited. And before we get the day started with a BBQ at my parents house I just wanted to take a minute to acknowledge my husband.

I love him more today than I did when I married him. I didn't think it was possible. He is a fantastic Dad. He does dishes and laundry and takes time to explain how things work. He works hard to provide for us and pays the bills. He is fun and silly and he makes us all laugh. So on this first fathers day my prayer was that he gets to have lots more days where he gets to be a Daddy.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

We are both Writing

Currently I am hiding in my room savoring the last few moments of peace and quiet I will get this morning. We bought a laptop since the computer was in the little guy's room and we found it challenging to use it at night when we actually have time. And since we have 4 children and our dog in our 2 bedroom loft townhouse we are simply out of space to move the computer to.

I have already broken up an argument, doled out tylenol (for sore breasts), discussed puberty and growth spurts and downloaded videos from vacation.

My husband got up early to help Jelly Bean write the sentences she was assigned last night for 1)calling another boy on the bus a B**** and 2)Lying about it 2 days ago when confronted. Because her Social Worker at school had her call and tell me about it when he got the notice from the bus driver.

Our two major rules are 1)Keep your hands to yourself. 2)Tell the truth. Punishment is doubled if you break either of these rules. Because Jelly Bean has been "grounded" from a lot of things we changed tactics with this punishment. As we have a big Memorial Day weekend planned this weekend we decided keeping her from participating would be ineffective. And boy were we right because when we sat down to talk about it with her she jump right away to "I know I'm not going...." WE said NO, instead you are going to write sentences. 10 - I will not lie, and 10 - I will not use bad words. But she escalated into a tantrum and by the end of it she had 100 sentences to write. And by the end of that she had to start over and eventually asked to go to bed understanding that if she didn't get it done in the morning she wasn't going to see Kung Fu Panda in 3 D with the family.

Now here's the rub - the other kids had lots to say about this. Mainly, that it wasn't fair that I was going to stay home with Jelly Bean because then THEY miss out on me. So the solution we came up to that was when they got home from the movie I would take the older girls to the scrap booking store.

The evening ended up with me crying. Frustrated that I feel like I'm failing this little girl who obviously is crying for help. Angry that a 7 year old gets me so worked up. Tired of the unknown and understanding that these kids are tired of it too. Wondering if this was the right decision in the first place and fearful of whatever outcome comes our way.

I got a good nights sleep and pretty soon I'm going to walk out of my room and feed these children and start the day all over again.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Oh My Goodness.....

Am I exhausted. It could be from the tons of walking in the unseasonable warmth Orlando, Florida had this week or the 6AM wake up and 1AM bedtimes or trying to wrangle 4 kids in the Happiest Place on Earth. However, I believe it is the emotional exhaustion that I have from my 7 year old foster daughten from the past week. Because she pushed EVERY S.I.N.G.L.E. BUTTON that I have. Every one.

Now maybe it was naive for us to think we could take 4 children to Disney World and come back on speaking terms but my husband and I - Disney veterans- thought how bad could it be? Apparently, the answer is pretty bad. To th ep[oint I actually was on hold with Disney Babysitting trying to price out a day of services. I can't tell you how many times I said "Jelly Bean please stop (insert favorite annoying behavior here ie:jumping,bumping strangers, hitting your sibling,walking ahead/behind us, rolling your eyes, talking back, climbing on railings, asking me to buy things, asking to use the camera, complaining. And teh yelling came and I could do nothing to stop it.

How is it that a 7 year old could make me so gosh darn angry? It was like she did the opposite of everything I said. And she promised over and over that she was going to change her behavior and didn't. To the point where I couldn't believe her anymore. Even her siblings began to tire of her antics. But when asked at therapy today how her trip was and if she got in trouble? Awesome - and no trouble.

I'll write more tomorrow this week with more of the fun details and fun things that have been going on but right now I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

MOM

I haven't written a lot lately mainly because we are so busy. But I couldn't let my 1st Mother's Day pass without an entry.

First, I want to take a moment to honor my own Mom. While she wasn't our #1 cheerleader when we began this journey she has been the quarterback as of late. When she found out the older girls were moving into our house she dropped everything and came over. She took the next two weekends to come help us get organized and has formed special relationships with each of the kids. She is a Grandma in the best possible way and I love her more for her big heart than ever. (and she took us for pedicures which was awesome!)

I was missing my own Grandma and I admit that I cried to myself in the shower. I always imagined my first Mother's Day with my Grandma. Opening a special gift from her while she did this little smile/shrug she used to do. I hope I'm making her proud.

My kids and my husband made me VERY PROUD this past weekend. I was treated to a beautiful card lots of pictures as well as a new diamond anniversary band and breakfast in bed. Even more amazing he bought a ring for my MOM too.

The kids had a rough morning which I suspect had something to do with missing their MOM. They have had a couple of rough weeks regarding visits and I think they felt unsure about a lot of things. We've had relatives at visits that were not alllowed, being sent home 45 minutes early, being told they were moving to Mexico when they get returned home, and the kicker being told that if they don't learn to behave they will not be able to move back in with her. (Thankfully we are now bringing in a stricter supervisor who might actually be able to give us a clear picture of what is going on.)

I felt sad for them that they were missing their Mom. I felt sad for their Mom too. Here I was being spoiled rotten and she was by herself. But I really enjoyed being a Mom on Mother's Day. They awesome kids gave me something I don't know if/when I'll have the chance to have agian.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Love Should be Multiplied Not Divided

So when I can put down some cohesive thoughts I'll go into my theories about why this all happened. Regardless of the why - we now have all FOUR siblings in this sibling set. My foster kid's older sisters came to live with us last night. With 4 hours notice. I saw all the pieces come together - the bunk beds we had purchased the day before. The constant discussion about what if the girls needed to move? The capacity of 6 people for our hotel room for our trip to Disney. (Which was originally for my sister in law and her boyfriend's kids but they broke up.)(AND YES WE ARE STILL GOING)And so when at 3 pm yesterday the kids case worker called and told me their current foster parents gave notice that they wanted them moved by that night we were able to come to a decision.

I'll admit - I'm terrified. We as rookie parents, are now outnumbered 2 to 1. We went from a family of 2 to a family of 6 in a matter of 4 months. And as much as I'm sure that this is the right thing for these kids that I'm committed to - I worry we won't be enough for them to heal. All I know is my Mama Bear instinct kicked in and they were coming to live with us. I know we will pay for this decision in behaviors and tears and hard work. But I also know we will be rewarded in laughter and fun and love.

And of course it scared my little guy in a big way. He cried as he brushed his teeth last night that he missed his sisters (who were downstairs) and I knew that he was scared they would be gone in the morning. Because how is an almost 4 year old supposed to understand why his sisters are here but not his "really, real Mom"? And as I kissed the oldest goodnight I could see the fear in her eyes as well. Fear that she would be moved again. Fear that her siblings would be split again. Fear that we won't love her. And I looked her in the eyes and begged her silently to hear my heart and told her that everything was going to be O.K. That this was the right thing for them. And as tears welled in her eyes she nodded and then I saw her whole body relax.

And that was enough for me. I'm sure very few people save other foster parents understand this decision but at this point I. DONT. CARE. So do us all a favor and don't tell me you think I'm crazy because I now have four kids and did not get even that many hours of sleep last night and you don't want to set me off :)