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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fear

The craziness of the week left me in it's wake this morning as my husband went to the office and my kids left to see their mother. I have 5 hours to myself. 5 whole hours to do whatever it is that I want and need to do without interruption. However, when finally given the alone time and silence I needed to check in on myself I found I was bowled over.

I've always thrived on choas. And it should come to no surprise to me that I had set up a life filled with it. And to be honest I'm a little lost with silence. Maybe thats why I fight so hard to prevent the inevitable. I read a quote on Sophie's Blog from a book she read Control is a survival mechanism, and we only try to exert control when we are scared.
I have to admit I am scared. Scared that my kids will get hurt. Scared that they won't. Scared that they will leave my home. Scared for what life will look if they do. Scared what life will look like if they stay. Scared for them. Scared for us.

I can't live in fear. Most days I don't. But some days I let this fear over take me and I go into control mode and it does me no good.  Normally, my big reminder that I don't have any control is my illness.  The way that it hit me and took over my life with no sign of relenting.  But here I am 3 years later and I'm just fine.  This week it was the realization that my kids have to get "hurt" in order for them to stay or our lives will continue to be fear filled because of the unknown and others making decisions for us.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Stopping A Moving Train

So a change was made to the visitation schedule to start giving Mom more opportunity to parent her kids. We were going to put all 4 children together and have them do family visits 2 times a week. The first group visit was supposed to be for this Saturday for 3 1/2 hours per the conversation on Tuesday. The kids were prepped by their therapy team. The two oldest being very concerned about the amount of time.

Wednesday I get a call from the transportation/supervisor company. Can the visit be moved back. Then she tells me it's scheduled for 5 hours with them all together.

I flip out. Time and time again we prepare the kids and something else happens. The adults are loosing credibility fast and it's not helping the anxiety or behaviors lessen in our home. And you know what? I'm tired of being the one having to pick up the pieces when someone decides that the kids and us can handle the damage being done.

So even though we had an opportunity to keep things as they were I got a call this morning from case worker telling me that the visit will be all 4 kids for 5 hours and if Gabby needs to she can decide to leave early. WTF?

So I can be the scapegoat? So Gabby can outwardly show Mom she picks me over her? So Mom can have ANOTHER reason to dislike me? And what about the other kids. Don't they get an out if they need it? What's the message there- start having the runs or throwing up and you too can get out of the time with your Mom? And what happens next week? Does she get the out then?

I think it's official complaint time. I can't live like this. I can't keep them moving forward in their healing if others ate going to run right over me.

I don't think that I've ever really grasped the whole it's hard to stop a moving train phrase prior to now. Perhaps I need to just lay down on the tracks and watch it wreck.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Peek Inside my Head

Inhale. Exhale. Grrr.

Patience.

Liquor? I have to work tomorrow...

Pep talk: she isn't doing this on purpose. Her approach the problem is to keep her job. Your approach to the same problem is to protect the kids and keep your sanity. It will get fixed tomorrow. The therapists agreed. They have some say. At least you know before it happens. And if it doesn't get changed that's 6 hours to yourself. Maybe Catch a movie. Go in and get caught up at work. Take a nap. Scrapbook Disney.

Time to tap. This will get better.

Happy Birthday Mr. Mohawk

Dear MM,

Wow! I can't believe you turn 5 today. While I have only known you for 18 months you have stolen my heart forever. I wish I could share with you the story of the day you came into this world. What I can share with you is the day you came into my world. How I anxiously waited for the phone call from Daddy that told me you had arrived. I know you were sad and confused that day. You missed your Mom. You missed your Really Really Mama. And here I was this other Mom who couldn't understand a word you said.

But that was short lived. Partly because we tried very hard to make you feel safe and loved and partly because you are such an easy going kid. You pop up every day with a smile on your face. Your eyes light up when you get excited and the stories you now tell me have detail and structure.

I cherish our talks at night when you tell me where we are to meet in our dreams. Your extra tight hugs make my day. And oh do I love the moments where I get to pretend you are my little boy forever and always.

And you are. You will always have a piece of my heart. The first child who fell asleep in my arms that called me Mom. The first one to knock on my door asking me to scare away the bad dreams. I fell in love completely that day I met you and no matter where you are I will always love you.

Happy Birthday!

Love,

Mommy R

Minimum Parenting Standards

Rebecca – I am sorry if you feel “attacked” in any way. That isn’t my intention and I don’t believe the intention of your comment to be negative and I wish I would have been able to see your response. Learning that you are an attorney does give me an insight as to why you responded as you did. I agree with the comments that it is fantastic that you are trying to learn about the different sides of the triad. In fact, I wish Mom’s attorney could meet the children. I think it would give her some insight into how better serve her client. I’d like to invite you to be a guest post if you are up for it. Please email me if this is something you are interested in or if you’d like to respond privately and not on the blog.
*****************
A great point was made about the difference between the legal requirements and actually living them out. Much work needs to be done to bridge that gap. I’m not saying that biological parents shouldn’t be given chances or that parental rights shouldn’t be fiercely protected but it shouldn’t be at the cost of children’s mental health because it perpetuates a cycle of trauma and in the end it doesn’t protect the kids (which is the idea in the first place). Especially, when time is dragged out and then the children are too old or have too many issue to be adopted and get the help they need. (The families that would adopt four, Hispanic children, with a history of sexual abuse, mental health hospitalization, and probable RAD ages 12, 8, 10, 5 is a very small number. And the foster homes that can parent them therapeutically are just as small. It took 5 other families before us.) Right now in this case, Mother’s rights trump the kid’s right to healing and that doesn’t sit right with me. Of course it is subjective and very, very complicated and there are more factors and details than I can blog about.

We actually did an exercise for the team where we identified specific issues that we felt needed to be addressed in order for Mom to parent full time. The “Good Enough” rule was applied to the minimum parenting standards. In our state the definition of those standards are:
Minimum Parenting Standards - Adequately fed, clothed appropriately for weather conditions, provided with adequate shelter, protected from physical, mental and emotional harm and provided with necessary medical care and education as required by law.

Someone who has not lived in our home wouldn’t necessarily understand why the mental and emotional piece is so important. We have 4 fun, bright, excited children on the outside with deep rooted sexual, physical and emotional trauma on the inside. If you have not lived with traumatized children I think it is very hard to understand the importance of keeping structure and equality. We also have a Mom who is traumatized and not emotionally healthy who has a ton more work to do to protect herself from emotional harm.

Truthfully, if I were on the other side of the table from me – an educated, very direct, passionate personality who wants to adopt – I’d doubt what I had to say too. I’d be thinking - this woman just wants these kids to be hers and she has no issue picking on Mom or making a bigger deal out of these “emotional” issues. Until I saw the video of Jelly Bean raging and then I’d listen to what that person was saying because any person who could go with days of that kind of thing would impress me.

I thought I’d share an excerpt of what we as the foster parents presented to the team. I love seeing how other bloggers present things to professionals and perhaps this will be helpful to others who may have to consider the same type of question. If the kids could handle moving I would have left out adequate shelter but they can’t and they have trauma surrounding it and it is something Mom does a lot. (In fact I learned this week that she is moving in with a sibling of hers. I have no idea if he is in the same town as us still or if she is moving 45 minutes away again.)

It was a hard exercise because we did have to step back and say not how we would do it – how this standard applies. I have to give Hubby some credit as he did a large chunk of the editing back from being critical and comparing to how we run our home.

******

Concern is primarily around adequate shelter and protected from physical, mental and emotional harm.

Mom needs to understand that it will take lots of time and consistency for the children to believe she has truly learned what she has done is wrong. They also don’t feel that she has apologized for her prior acts. It is with this in mind that the following need to be met in order for parenting will be effective:

· Apologize for her actions

· Stop trying to excuse her actions…the kids feel that she really isn’t sorry for what she does.

· Understand that any physical action on her part (even a hand motion) will be triggering to her children

· Be consistent with discipline

· Meet the children at their level – not at where she thinks and/or wants them to be

· Connect and bond with the children in other ways beyond food and gifts

· Respond appropriately to the children’s anger – so as not to make it all about her



From a parent’s perspective, Mom will have to learn to put aside her own fears in order to advocate for her children. She will need to learn to work with others even if she does not feel they are supportive of her. She will need to learn to put her own issues aside so that her children can get the support they need.

1. Provide Adequate Shelter

The children need stability in a home. Mom has lived in several different homes in the past 15 months. Moving every few months will worsen their feelings of instability and concern over if their Mother can provide for them. Her current home is very concerning to the children, especially Little Mama. Little Mama stated that there were other people sharing the home. The children will need to be in a home without roommates in order to feel safe. It will also be important that if a move to a new home is necessary that the children attend the same school. Jelly Bean receives a great deal of emotional support at school and remaining in the same environment is important to her mental health.

2. Equal Parenting

The children do not feel that Mom is equal in her love, affection, or attention to them. She will need to find ways to connect with each of them while also maintaining a balance within the group. This is challenging with the age gap between Mr. Mohawk and Jelly Bean, Jelly Bean’s mental health needs, and Gabby no longer wanting to participate in the goal to reunite the family.

- Little Mama: When Little Mama feels that she is not treated fairly she will either become physically aggressive towards the offending sibling or emotionally “shut down.” Mom needs to learn how to prevent this from happening and diffuse the resentment created.

- Gabby: When Gabby feels she is not being treated fairly she will remove herself from the situation. Mom needs to learn how to show Gabby the attention she needs. Not being able to do this then causes Gabby’s anxiety around not being loved to increase and she begins vomiting.

- Jelly Bean: When Jelly Bean feels that she is not treated fairly it often results in at least a 10 min tantrum which can escalate into a full blown rage. Mom needs to learn how to appropriately handle these fits from Jelly Bean. At this point in time, Jelly Bean is too fearful of her Mother to allow her any physical contact if she perceived Mom to be angry.

- Mr. Mohawk: When Mr. Mohawk feels he is not being treated fairly he will strike, steal, whine, or cry until he gets his way. Mom will need to learn how to say no and stay consistent in her decision despite the crying, whining, and aggression Mr. Mohawk may show.

3. Establish Appropriate and Consistent Parental Boundaries

The role of parent and child needs to be maintained.

- Little Mama: Little Mama was a very parentified child when she came into care. Recently, she has reverted to this behavior as it gives her a sense of control. Mom will need to make sure that she does not pass her responsibility on to Little Mama as the oldest. Little Mama mothering her siblings creates a lot of tension and often ends in aggression between the children.

-Gabby: Gabby is very opinionated and very fair. She will be the first to tell the parental figures about what is going wrong. She will do this for almost every situation which is detrimental to the family dynamic as she will be deemed a “tattler.” Mom will need to prove to Gabby that she has a hold of the situation and that she does not need this “help” from Gabby. She was also need to be careful not to push Gabby away as she is very sensitive.

- Jelly Bean: Jelly Bean’s perception of the current situation is that her Mom won’t change. She still reports being fearful that her Mom will continue to hit her. Mom will need to work to be able to establish a parent child relationship in which Jelly Bean feels she can ask her Mom a simple question without her Mom becoming angered and hitting her.

- Mr. Mohawk: Mr. Mohawk needs to be disciplined consistently each and every time he is in trouble, even for small reasons. Mom will need to establish her place as a figure of authority.

4. Establish Trust

The children do not trust Mom’s word. They feel her actions don’t support what she is telling them. Mom will need to pass this test over and over again in order to earn back the trust of her children. The children also need to trust that Mom will take care of them and make them the priority in her life. Little Mama, Gabby and Jelly Bean have all stated that they don’t feel that they are their Mother’s priority. In order to build this trust she will need to:

· Focus on their needs at visits

o The children report Mom focusing on visit supervisors over them

· Make them feel she cares about their needs and wants

· Understand the trauma they have experienced

· Acknowledge and understand the experience the children have had since coming into foster care

o The children feel that Mom does not want them to like their foster family and they purposefully avoids the topic of what goes on in their daily lives because of this.

o Understand the fear that multiple placements has created

· Address the children’s fear regarding the men she has brought into their lives

o The children believe that Mom will still associate with people that hurt them

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hard on mom?

I have to say Rebecca’s comment really stuck with me over the weekend. When you put yourself out there you take the risk that someone is going to judge you as wrong and that’s what happened here. I questioned why the comment stuck with me. Was it because I was being hard on Mom or was it because I felt misunderstood? The answer I landed on was a little bit of both. The questions in the comments that Rebecca left lead me to believe that she isn’t a regular reader of my blog or that she has only recently read some of my posts. And she had no information on her profile so I’m not sure how or if she fits into the triad of biological, foster, and adoptive parents. This is a point that NewishFosterMom raised when coming to my defense. I appreciate that someone cared enough about me (at 5:45 in the morning!) to take the time to point out that perhaps the comment pointing out I was being too hard on someone might also have been “being too hard on someone”. So ladies thank you for reading and caring that I’m doing my job right. I appreciate both points of view and I'm thankful I have readers!

This blog is a safe place for me to vent my frustration. We parent 4 traumatized kids. We work with 3 individual therapists for the kids, a psychologist, case worker, her supervisor, a family therapist, and we’ve had 2 clinical people overseeing the case as well. I also work full time. My girlfriends all have babies and I can only vent so much to my family due to confidentiality and not wanting to further strain already strained relationships. So I do say a lot of things here so I can let them go and not continue to carry them with me. Plus, I want others to know that they are not alone. That there are other people out there attempting to keep their sanity while on board the crazy train that is foster care. And this case is CRAZY. Seriously, have you ever heard of a trauma therapist having to participate in a family session with a Mom she’s only met in person twice because the Mom perceives that she’s been intimidating and mean? The word ridiculous has come out of my mouth more times in the last 18 months than it did in the previous twenty some years combined.

Sure it’s unreasonable to expect Mom to plan her visits around children being grounded – especially if she didn’t know they were grounded. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t irritate me. The rest of the family missed out on a movie because that child was grounded and here she goes to one anyway. It’s annoying. It’s like being divorced and sending the kids to Dad’s for the weekend where all rules are abandoned and the kids come home with gifts and sugar. I spend a gigantic amount of time each week trying to get this child going in a direction where she acts appropriately and does not disrupt everyone around her and then the message gets reinforced a few times each week that those rules don’t apply because my real Mom doesn’t follow them and the goal is return home.

Had I know that the plan was to take her to the movies I would have informed her Mom what she did that got her grounded and let her Mom make a choice. If she chose to take her to the movie anyway then this would be something we could discuss when we start our family therapy sessions on co-parenting. But the fact that a child was grounded and got to go to the movies wasn’t really the point I was trying to get across.

The commenter stated that a movie sounded safe. Yes. A movie is a safe activity on the surface. But when you dig in deeper and you learn that after 2 years Mom’s parenting skills are seriously lacking and that is exactly what she is supposed to be learning with these visits in order for the kids to have a safe environment to return home to, a movie is not a good choice. Mom did have visits in the home. She was up to 5 hours (supervised) with all 4 children weekly and 1 individual 2 hour (supervised) visit with each child a month. At these visits she would feed them, put on a movie, and paint nails. When we introduced homework it wasn’t accomplished and when the children began testing Mom’s ability to handle conflict we had an incident that led to visits being suspended and a court order separating the children into pairs with visits having to be out in the community because the (5th) home she is living in is not suitable for them. Mom is supposed to be working on having these four children full time, as a single parent. She is choosing a movie because it is the easy choice. The appealing choice. The choice that she is sure that she can handle because it requires no interaction. And making this choice is not safe in the long run. After 2 years we should be working on the long run.

This frustrates me for many reasons. The first is that it leaves these kids in limbo. We have no return home date in sight. Imagine for 3 years you weren’t sure who your parents were going to be or if you were going to get moved tomorrow or if your Mom was going to move to Mexico and never see you again. That is the reality of these kids’ life. We are headed into 3 years of foster care. ½ of Mr. Mohawk’s life. ¼ of Little Mama’s. This type of stress leaves lifelong marks on children and the more time they are left in flux the harder it will be for them to heal. The 2nd is that she has promised the kids that she is fighting to get them back. I see no fight and neither do they. I see some effort and I will give her that she has done more than a lot of biological Mom’s in her situation have done but I see no fighting. The only fighting she is doing is with the trauma therapist and since she has a tendency to file complaints everyone is afraid to push her or give it to her straight because they don’t want the hassle or give her the opportunity for an appeal.

The 3rd reason is that it leaves me in limbo. My life is tied to her choices and I have NO say in it. She goes against the advice of the team and it is me picking up the pieces that she leaves her children in. It is me scraping the stool sample into the vials to prove to her Mom’s attorney that her diarrhea is from anxiety surrounding her Mom and not some misdiagnosed virus. It is me listening to hour long tantrums from an 8 year old every day for 3 weeks because she feels unsafe. It is me making the trip to the emergency room to stop the allergic reaction to the make-up, and me answering questions on why birthdays were ignored. I’m not complaining that I am doing these things for the kids but rather I’m doing them because of someone else’s choices.

Yes. I am being hard on her here because everywhere else I have to tread carefully and rise above. And that exhausts me at times. I have to listen to a team of people who have never met these kids that I love so deeply suggest that they should have a mother that is “good enough”. And then sit silently as they explain to her that her children “care” for me but will always love her. I have to watch as she alienates her children in a span of 1 hour but put a smile on my face and act as if this was just a peachy afternoon despite the fact that the fallout from it will last the better part of a week. I have to find a way to nicely respond when she tells me she wants to do it again next weekend when all I want to say is “You are out of your ever loving mind if you think today is going to happen any time soon lady.” Because despite my frustration and anger at the situation I really do want a good relationship with her. It’s important to me. It’s important to the kids. I want her to find happiness in life and I would love her to prove me wrong in my assessments of her choices and the motivation for them. But two years in that’s not a likely scenario and my preference would be for us to all be able to move forward and heal before more damage is done that isn’t fixable.

This post is probably coming across as defensive. I mean it as more explanatory. It's good for me to be reminded that sometimes my standards are above what she is capable of but that doesn't always mean that my feelings change because of it. But perhaps someone else read the post and felt the same way and so thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain further. And for giving me the opportunity to see a reader come to my defense and feel as if someone else really gets it!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Connections

The kids have started individual visits again. These individual visits began last year before Jelly Bean's Hospitalization and the incident in February that caused visits to stop.  The purpose of this time with Mom is to allow her to re-connect with her children since she hasn't lived with them for 2 years.  One of the "theories" as to why this case had not progressed to return home was because Mom wasn't receiving enough time with her children and therefore could not bond with them. (In reality, she has trouble juggling all four of them at once and was not able to bond with them at family visits.)
Two days a week the kids will alternate 2 hours of alone time with Mom. I was hopeful that this time around with the direction of the team and the family therapist she would really try to use this time to connect.

Mom has a lot of work to do where attachment and bonding are concerned.  If the court could ruled on termination based only on "where the children feel love from" we would be in adoption proceedings. Mom's own attachment and trauma don't allow her to connect to her kids in a way that they understand. And because of her defense mechanisms she does not see that they don't connect to her.  She also seems to lack a desire to learn about her kids as she often does not remember details about them such as their favorite colors or likes/dislikes in food. It is my opinion that this individual time should be used to learn these types of things. But as we all know is that my opinion is never heard and no one cares (until a bunch of professionals get in a room months later - say the same thing I did and then its a brilliant idea.....)

On Jelly Bean's first individual visit her Mom took her to see a movie... That's right a movie where you sit side by side in silence. Did I mention that Jelly Bean was grounded?

And yes, the caseworker was aware that this was the plan.

So the kids come home from family therapy and tell me their Mom is taking them on their visit to a movie Saturday. She wants to take them to see Girl in Progress. A PG -13 movie about a Hispanic single mother and her daughter. Which the family therapist apparently explained to Mom what PG-13 meant when Little Mama said to her "My foster parents don't let me see movies rated PG-13 or R".

I had sworn to myself I was going to stay out of the movie thing. If she thinks movies are the way to connect to her kids so be it. If she would rather spend the 2 hours a week she gets alone with her child not speaking to that child then I was going to let that speak for itself.  I realize she's attempting to provide fun for her kids but I just want to shake her and say - You can take them to a movie every weekend if you get them back.  Fix whats broken, build the trust, BE A MOM. All Mother's want their kids to have fun but parenting isn't all about fun.  The majority of the time it is hard, uncomfortable work. Sadly, her children understand this and when they see that she can't handle or attempt the mundane parenting they see me and my husband do they continue to reject her efforts.

But of course I couldn't let it ride when I pictured them coming home from seeing a movie with their Mom about a hispanic Mom and Daughter with a rocky relationship where the Mom chooses Men and the daughter trys every angle to get her Mother's attention. The desire to not have to pick up the pieces of a trigger like that won out over the potential to document more poor parenting choices.

So I texted the case worker. After explaining a little she texted back that she agreed it wasn't an appropriate movie. It will be interesting to see what they actually end up doing.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Confessions of a Foster Mom

- I considered taking the kids to see a movie tonight just so their Mom can't take the opportunity away.
- Sometimes I wish I could agree with the kids' assessment of their mother instead of simply acknowledging their feelings and trying to help them see the good in her.
- There are days I prefer to spend time with one particular child because that child is fun to hang out with.
- There are days I want to tell the child being difficult to go ahead and call their old foster parents and have them come get them if they were so great.
- Ditto to their Mom.
- Sometimes I dream about dropping the chaos off at their Case Worker's house to watch how fast her tune changes. (Bet those bright ideas about working together and not being given notice about anything would disappear.)
- Ditto to the judge.
- I confess that sometimes when my Mom suggests buying their Mom a one way ticket I could join in instead of shush her.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

You Have a Nice Family

Sometimes the hardest part of losing my Grandma is that she didn't get to meet my kids or see me be a Mom. Its hard to explain what an amazing woman she was. She was never alone because she made friends everywhere.  She had a Facebook page. She was notorious for not knowing how to work ANY of her cameras...like ever. She had a laugh you could hear across the house and she had a quirk about sharing utensils. And man she could make the smallest get togethers totally special. She worked hard to make sure her family knew she loved them for being them. Even when we failed, sometimes miserably, she always gave us the encouragement or the kick in the ass that we needed.

I know I'm doing a good job of telling my kids about her because in moments when I admit to them that I wish they could have met her they say to me, "Mom I feel like I love her even though I never met her." And that warms my heart and makes the loss slightly easier.

For whatever reason, today was a day I missed her incredibly. Its been almost 6 months since I've had a dream with her in it and I'm afraid that means I won't have one again. I'm afraid that I've lost the spiritual connection to her. I know I will see her in Heaven but I'm impatient. (One of the lessons I know that God wanted to teach me was patience when He showed me the path of Foster Care.)

I think maybe I was missing her so much because we were near her house today and decided to eat at our favorite pizza place. And when I say our, I mean our entire family. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins this was the place we always went to (and still do). The majority of birthdays, to celebrate an achievement, Father's Day, Mother's Day, Friday.....Any opportunity we could we'd meet up in this tiny little dive pizza place that only sells pizza, has no delivery, accepts only cash or check, and has seating for maybe 40 people, maybe. The place has been there for more than 50 years and hasn't changed much over the years. As I sat down at one of the tables with my family I was hit with tears. Continuing the legacy as it were.

Within minutes our pizza was set on our table and we proceeded to inhale the deliciousness. We ate pretty much in silence because the pizza is that good. We joked a bit as we slowed down on the chewing and enjoyed the time together. A rare non-eventful day where there were no tantrums, no tears, and everyone was getting along. As we were getting up to leave the elderly folks at the table next to us were leaving too. One of the woman who had a smile like my Grandmother touched my arm and said to me,

"You have a very nice family. I was watching you and you just have such a  lovely family."
I smiled and said, "Thank you. Thank you for noticing."

Its is very much the kind of thing my Grandma would say to a family sharing our space who seemed nice and had well behaved children. And crazy as it might seem I really think my Grandma was working through that woman.

And if it wasn't, it was a good reminder that at the end of the day we really are a nice family. It was also really nice to have someone who doesn't know our back story see us as "normal". To not be the instant family, or the foster family, or even have someone question if we are related. To not have someone tell us we are nice because we became foster parents but rather because we are nice to each other and had a nice time and it showed.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stole the Show

I'm not even sure what to write about this week. The fall out from the park has carried over and resulted in attention seeking behavior at it's best.

True Story- Gabby had diarrhea (no surprise) this morning. After determining that she couldn't go to school or day care I had to figure out other arrangements. It looked like I was going to take a sick day. I get the other 3 into day care and by the time I have signed them in JB has managed to spill an entire water bottle on the floor and ignore the teachers direction to get something to clean it up. So I repeat the instruction and direct her to the sink where the towels are. Towels in hand she runs across the room and gives her friend a hug. Then comes back across the room and starts sopping up her mess.

Me- JB did you really just run across the room to hug someone when you had his mess to clean up?
JB- yes
Me- I can see you are already struggling with good choices please adjust your attitude. If I get a phone call today about your behavior there will be consequences.
JB- ok

No joke. 5 minutes later I get a call she has already 1) broken the rules 2) called the teacher an idiot for correcting her 3) swore at her sister

So I asked them to hang in there 30 minutes until she left for summer school.

Every.Time. She has to test me. And I know she was upset because Gabby who accused JB of stealing all of their Moms attention at the park on Saturday was going to get my attention.

My boss was happy I made it in instead of a sick day so I guess there was that.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The "Talk"

I was always grateful that my Mom was open and honest with me about sex. I always felt I could ask her questions and not feel embarrassed.

But I don't remember being 12 when it happened. LM and I had a fairly candid conversation about sex this week after discovering JB was talking about it at daycare and at bedtime. It was a huge trigger for LM as she was raped by one of Mom's boyfriends. (JB was pretty graphic when discussing such as "you know when the man gets on top of the woman and puts his thing inside her".)

Her question to me was if she could have gotten pregnant if she had her period.

So I explained reproduction. I explained that I hope one day sex is a positive thing, enjoyable even, between her and a committed partner of her choice when she is an adult. I went over hormones and what peers may start to talk about and that she can always come to me with questions.

I stopped short of discussing birth control methods (beyond abstinence) because I'm pretty sure that physical relationships are not in her near future.

I wish I had five minutes in a room with her sexual abusers. I'd inflict as much damage as I could so that at critical junctures in their life they would feel the pain I inflicted on them over and over again.

I let JB's therapist handle her. I'm just not really sure how to approach all of it the best way.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Permanency Hearing

It's not a good thing when the judge's first words are something along the lines of we have slow progress and I'm not sure if we are going to get there at all... The state asked for a ruling on progress. GAL told the judge the kids are manifesting anxiety physically. Judge ruled there was progress and therefore no grounds for termination. She did encourage the group to consider other alternatives such as guardianship.

Normally when I leave court I feel defeated. Hopeless. And even though this means that we are likely in for another 1-2 years of foster parenting that at least DCFS, the state, and the GAL all see that Mom won't be able to parent her kids (she's too busy trying to blame everyone else to put the energy into dealing with her own issues and learning how to be the Mom her kids need to be). I feel validated. And I feel that the court is not going to send the kids home until they feel safe.

The new strategy is to give Mom the time with her kids that she's asking for to prove that she can parent them. We know what happened before and at this point I'm pretty sure the kids are going to test and test and test her until she breaks.

And while we had said at one point if there wasn't an end in sight at this juncture we would disrupt - we have changed our minds and decided these are our kids. (And while we do not get enough stipend to cover all their expenses it would be nice to have day care paid for until they are all in school full time.)

Guardianship would allow her visitation and the right to consent to adoption and that's not the permanency that the kids or us seek. And the case worker didn't think Mom would go for that.

The kids were granted a meeting with the judge in a month. Then we have the 2nd part of the permanency hearing. In September. Perhaps with more time and more bond between all of us we'll be at a better place.

We spent yesterday at a psychiatrist appointment for Jelly Bean and the park with Mom and all 6 of us. She asked some basic questions about Jelly bean medications but it seems she think JB will "outgrow" her mental health issues. This alarms me because I'm fairly certain her issues will be life long.

At the park she had a very hard time keeping an eye on all 4 kids and giving them the attention they sought. JB fell and played the martyr and Mom was all concerned poor baby. I said Gee JB if you are that hurt maybe we need to go home. With that she popped up. Mom look startled. She had no clue she wasn't really hurt. JB also hung all over Mom the entire time. Smothered her as if to say I love you more I'm affectionate. It actually made me really uncomfortable and I'm not sure why. It managed to really tick off her sisters. And I suspect this is going to create an issue shortly.

But we had to stand back and let her try to handle it. In the end the kids were very worn out. So it was really fun getting the up at 5:30 this morning for a graduation.

But as I'm sitting here at the graduation here is the dream in my heart: The year is 2022. And we are anticipating Little Mama's name being called to watch her receive her college Degree. Gabby is 2 years away from hers and JB just graduated High School and Mr. Mohawk graduated from Junior High. I'll be beside myself with pride while I sit with my Mother on one side and their Mom on the other.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Team Meeting #3

So here we are 3 months of "team meetings" and still discussing Moms ability to work with the girls' trauma therapist. LM told Mom at family therapy last night that she doesn't want to live with her because she doesn't trust her but that she trusts the trauma therapist and once again Mom brought up the fictional statement to the girls. This woman is not doing herself any favors. This just served to make the kids trust her less.

So now trauma therapist and Mom are goon to have a family session. Without the kids. And then a session with the girls.

I kid you not. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. Wait... It gets better.

Family therapists says to trauma therapist - is it ok if I tell the kids this is going to happen.

Where is the duct tape when you need it? Seriously someone has got to tape her mouth shut.

No you moron. You do not tell the kids. Did you not hear what everyone said about a need to keep certain information to the adults only and the kids on a need to know basis? Why on Earth would they need to know that possibly in 4 weeks that they are going to have a session with the trauma therapist? And what happens when Mom refuses? What are you going to tell the kids then?

A bunch of other really ridiculous stuff happened. Like the gem from Moms attorney implying that someone must have told the kids it was Moms fault trauma therapist was leaving the case. Umm no. 1) Mom told them this information without the trauma therapist even knowing her exit was being discussed 2) the kids see their Mom as all powerful - most victims view their abusers this way 3) they are painfully aware that their Mom does not like trauma therapist. It's not a hard leap for them to think this was Mom's doing. Can we give the almost 12 year old and 10 year old a little credit?

Hubby it's Wednesday!

This was my response to the reprimand JB was getting this morning. Inevitably while I'm drying my hair and I can't hear a darn thing someone is getting in trouble. Usually, her. His response was I don't care what day it is.

She kicked a sibling. I'm not sure which one. Seriously child? You've been up maybe 20 minutes and you have to start. You can't wait until you get to daycare where it is someone else's issue?

The other 2 girls were nervous and withdrawn. LM promised her therapist last night that she was going to tell her Mom she doesn't want to go home today. Apparently, she's made up her mind and ready to get the show on the road. I just hope it helps with the staffing tomorrow and the permanency hearing on Friday.

My cynical side has kicked in. No one wants to poop or get off the pot so to speak in this case. Here we are at 2 years the federal time table kicking in and we have not heard much about what needs to be accomplished for a return home OR a goal change.

The kids aren't even at visits all together. They have said they don't feel their Mom is ready for unsupervised visits. And no one wants to answer my question of what learning/assistance/steps/therapy is goon to take place in the next 6 months to make the goal realistic or change. I've been asking it frequently and it is ALWAYS met with silence. Other than when we were asked to co-parent. Cuz ya know that's going to fix things...

We'll see what kind of mis-steps happen today at family therapy.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hubby it's Wednesday!

This was my response to the reprimand JB was getting this morning. Inevitably while I'm drying my hair and I can't hear a darn thing someone is getting in trouble. Usually, her. His response was I don't care what day it is.

She kicked a sibling. I'm not sure which one. Seriously child? You've been up maybe 20 minutes and you have to start. You can't wait until you get to daycare where it is someone else's issue?

The other 2 girls were nervous and withdrawn. LM promised her therapist last night that she was going to tell her Mom she doesn't want to go home today. Apparently, she's made up her mind and ready to get the show on the road. I just hope it helps with the staffing tomorrow and the permanency hearing on Friday.

My cynical side has kicked in. No one wants to poop or get off the pot so to speak in this case. Here we are at 2 years the federal time table kicking in and we have not heard much about what needs to be accomplished for a return home OR a goal change.

The kids aren't even at visits all together. They have said they don't feel their Mom is ready for unsupervised visits. And no one wants to answer my question of what learning/assistance/steps/therapy is goon to take place in the next 6 months to make the goal realistic or change. I've been asking it frequently and it is ALWAYS met with silence. Other than when we were asked to co-parent. Cuz ya know that's going to fix things...

We'll see what kind of mis-steps happen today at family therapy.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Die it dye it diet

Mr. Mohawk- Mama what color is my hair?
Me- Brown
Gabby- (Rather sardonically) Until it turns Gray.
Jelly Bean- Gabby I think that won't happen for a hundred years. He could dye it though...
MM- you mean kill it? You are going to kill my hair?
Me- no Buddy. Dye it. As in make it another color.
MM- That sound like Diet Coke

Note to self- stop discussing salon appointments in front of the kids and cut back on the pop.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Homesick

So we had all kinds of meltdowns and tears last night. Grandma and Grandpa took the 4 kids to the Kennedy Space Center for the day. I tried to warn my Mom that Jelly Bean wouldn't be able to handle it. That she would drive everyone nuts. So it was absolutely no surprise to me that when we met up for dinner Gabby and LM told me "Mom? Today wasn't the best day."

Mr. Mohawk told us his wish in the car was that Jelly Bean could make good choices and we could then all see the fireworks. Together. He's not yet 5.

Jelly Bean continued to try her hardest to needle me and I finally said to her- I'm on to you. I know it's Friday. I know your afraid of what's waiting for is at home. I know you were away from us all day and that was scary. Talk to me about your big feelings the right way or I will not respond and let me remind you I ALWAYS follow through on my consequences she went to bed.

Then it was Gabby and LM's turn. Gabby mentioned he felt LM was mad at her because she name called. LM admitted she was scared. I told them I thought they were both scared about the coming week. LM triggered to her dissociative place. Gabby cried as she watched het sister get trapped there.

We discussed they wanted to go home. What did home mean? Where they live. Where they want to stay. Where they have structure an consequences. Where they feel safe.

And we told them then you need to speak up. At this point the team doesn't seem to believe us. We tell the people how you feel but because you don't tell them they don't think we are being truthful. Speaking up will be hard but it's the shortest way out of foster care.

And they miss the dog. Which cracks me up because I am forever reminding them that the dog lives with us and we need to feed him and take him out.

So in a move that shows we made the right decision to drive 18 hours to Disney Works we are leaving early. Not hitting a park like we planned and heading home. Hoping to be home so that we can prepare for the coming week.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Wishes

So after seeing the magical Wishes fireworks show we headed home. While almost on the ferry back to the parking lot we witnessed a shoving match between two women.

It got ugly. Men stepped in to separate them. My Dad happened to be next to the shoving and was trying to get them to be reasonable...

As you know you can't reason with crazy.

Of course Gabby, LM and Mr. Mohawk were with me. (Hubby took Jelly Bean home after she told me she was in trouble because she was a B**** or I was...I'm not sure. Doesn't matter swearing is not acceptable. Swearing in Disney World gets you sent home early. With Dad. By yourself.)

So there we are right behind the cat fight that breaks out and grown people are going at it and kids are crying because they are scared and all I can see is what my kids see.

Grandpa near a screaming woman who is pushing people. And I knew it was triggering. So as we get in the boat my Dad starts discussing (loudly) what happened. And I ask him to please talking about it. And he challenges me on why.

And my childhood is triggered.

"Because I have children with PTSD from domestic violence that's why!"

And there is Gabby shaking. She later told me why she was scared wasn't going to make any sense- that the lady was going to hit everyone. But there we were on the boat trying to get the trauma brain to calm down.

I wish my kids could enjoy Disney World without the triggers of abuse. I wish I didn't have to worry about waiting in line being traumatic. I wish everyone in my life understood what that's like for us and the kids.

I wish I may I wish I might.