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Friday, September 28, 2012

Sometimes, You Need Your Mom

Thirty one year old women are no exception. After a very, very trying week where everyone took a piece out of me I reached my breaking point. And at lunchtime I called my Mom.

I really just needed a hug. The warmth if her cheek next to mine. Hands rubbing my back, reassuring me that I was not alone. I needed encouragement that I was doing good. That I was serving a purpose. That this feeling of unbelievable helplessness would go away at some point.

She was nearby my office and her and my Dad met me for lunch. The minute I pulled into the parking lot and I spotted them I started to cry. It was like a dam broke loose. All of the feelings came pouring out. The fear right at the very front.

I'm watching everyone around me start to break apart and close off and I don't have the luxury of doing that. I'm not built that way.

After listening to my Dad telling me I have to approach it simply and understand the kids are going home and remind me that no one would blame me if I decide to move on without them because "you've done a thousand times more what most people do"and my Mom tell me I'm a much better person than her for my commitment to not vilify the kids' Mom, I felt a little stronger. But still I was questioning all of the decisions we've made.

My Mom, in her infinite wisdom, reminded me to rely on my faith and listed all the people praying for our family. She suggested I "go back to church". Even if to "just sit in the building and meditate."

Feeling that perhaps that would help, I decided first to journal and soul search. I had no intention of blogging it because I felt that this would be a personal moment just for me. However sometimes you have to share how God works.

I have a Devotional Journal that has daily writing prompts, scriptures, and poems. I never keep up with daily journaling on paper. So I've used this journal on and off for 9 years. I only write a few sentences and leave space in case I happen upon the same date in the future.

September 28th was blank. The page was titled: It Can't Be Done.

The passage was Galatians 6:9:
Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

God's way of telling me not to give up. To give it some more time. Acknowledging that I feel weary. Everything I needed to hear so that I can continue on.

Nicely done God. Nicely done.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


How do you explain to a 5 year why his other Mommy was asking him where he wanted to live when he doesn't know living anywhere else?

How do you clear up his explanation that he can live with you because "your babies got lost"?

How do you reassure him that people are trying to protect him and won't send him anywhere until they are sure he will be safe, when you, yourself, aren't convinced?

How do you give him e a hug goodnight and ignore the death grip he has on you because now he is worried that his safe Mommy is going to send him away?

How do you explain to a 12 year old why you are sitting in the basement crying alone wen she comes down to talk to you?

How do you explain to her how proud you are of her that she could come talk to you, especially since the very thing she's going to tell you is that she couldn't talk about what was bothering her with her "real" Mom a few hours before?

How do you respond to being told that she's not ready to talk to her Mom about living with her when you know everyone is pushing for that to happen and to happen quickly?

Where do the words of reassurance come from? How on Earth was I able to look at their worried faces and do the right thing?

How do you put yourself together when your heart is cracking daily?

How do you reconcile your ultimate commitment to a return home goal when it goes against ever instinct to protect you have?

How do you handle wanting the very best for them while also praying that they get hurt so that this entire thing can be over? (I'm not wishing it - I believe it's a matter of time and I'd rather that time come now.)

I got nothing. All I'm left with at the end of this day is tears. Lots and lots of tears.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

When Failure Makes the News

The following watchdog article was posted in the Chicago Tribune this past Sunday Fatal Flaws.

It is an investigative article on how DCFS failed properly intervene in the deaths of at least 8 children.  I cried as I read the article. Discussion of how investigators found claims unfounded.  How time after time people in positions of power told those who questioned that everything was fine or checked out.

I will say that I don't think our caseworker has falsified any information or acted negligently. However, the system HAS failed my kids. It hasn't protected them from further abuse or harm. The length of time in care is entirely too long. Everyone is fatigued. By the number of providers, appointments, people, issues.....So now the approach is push it until it works or it breaks. Which still isn't the best way to go about things but no one wants to continue on in this manner for the next 5 years.

My biggest fear is that these kids will go home and I will read about them in the news.  The only thing they have going for them is that they are older and so more than likely will survive any additional harm or at least be able to tell someone about it.  But not for one second do I believe that if they return home - they will remain safe. The stressors are still their. Their needs are higher. Just by virtue of their age they are louder.

As I made dinner tonight I pondered the noise level.  I must have heard "Mom" at least 100 times.  I cherished the laughter and the squeals of silly as I know they can be fleeting.  And I paused to think "am I trying to take this away from her?" And I came back with the answer that I was trying to keep it for them.

Please pray with me that they safe in the coming weeks and months.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday Morning

So Gabby did go to the visit this morning. I could tell she was nervous but she said her stomach was fine.

Jelly Bean woke up in a foul mood and then dragged, and I mean dragged, in getting ready. I have never seen someone take so long to tie their shoes.

Mr. Mohawk seemed happy. He was the first one ready. I hope he doesn't kick her today like he did Wednesday.

Little Mama was finding reasons to be angry at me. She asked to take a board game knowing full well I would say no. My standard: "Your Mom is working on being prepared. That's a great suggestion. You should tell her that's a game you'd like." only served to provoke the silent treatment.

I'm not responsible for providing entertainment for 4 children at an in home visit. In the past, I might have considered it but the training wheels have to come off. The kids have to adjust to what life without me is going to be like. What life with her will be like. She doesn't have the capacity to plan ahead or draft a schedule. Despite the request to do so. Despite the kids need for rigid structure. This will likely be to their detriment in the end but I can't stop it. She has to learn what works for her. And she can't do it with me interfering.

She has no desire to enter into a co-parenting or mentoring relationship with me. We are the same age. She has been a Mom for 12 years. I've been a Mom for 18 months. She doesn't believe that the kids I describe or talk about are the same that she sees. She still views the incident that brought them into care as isolated. This is a belief system that she's created in order to protect herself. I understand it. It sucks. We had hoped to build a relationship. And perhaps down the road we can but right now stepping back feels right.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Things I'd love to say

I'm sorry. I'm not picking up your call because: I worked 60 hours this week while juggling disregulated kids, principals calling, teachers calling, meetings interrupted by meltdowns, a visit, therapy and court. I've sat down for the first time all week with my family and they are actually calm which may only last for the next 15 minutes.

I realize you are calling to check up on the kid who missed her visit today because she was sent home for throwing up. I'm pretty sure she's just fine and that her throwing up had more today with her visit today and the plan to start unsupervised visits tomorrow since you haven't really convinced her you're a safe parent. Don't worry. I'm sure she'll be there tomorrow because if she isn't she'll have to miss a birthday party and I'm fairly certain she really, really wants to go to the birthday party.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Goal Change

So we had the 2nd 1/2 of the permanency hearing today. The goal was changed from return home in 12 months to return home in 5 months. Apparently, this qualifies Mom for some housing grant. The state is concerned that in light of her not currently being employed (yep) that she will be unable to maintain the housing.

The judge didn't seem convinced as she shot down the departments request to be able to grant Mom custody down the road.

Thankfully, it was pointed out that 1)the kids need room and that is a concern with her history of sharing a room in a house 2) the kids are not the same that lived with her previously - their expectations are WAY different 3)the deserve to know that their supports will stay in place.

We left court feeling a little more comfortable that perhaps the state sees that there isn't a long term solution here an they are trying to document it. And we know that they will probably be here for Christmas.

We have another hearing in November to see if she's been able to get the housing and employment figured out. Considering this is at least the 5th job and the 6th home I'm not real confident that this grant will be the magic ingredient to turn it all around.

Plus we get the sense that everyone believes they will implode before then. Which, if the kids behavior transfers over to her home (I had a kid punch someone today and another who chose bad words then raged at day care) shouldn't take too long.

And despite taking 4 hours off work today I ended up being there 7 hours. I am wiped. I feel like I got hit by a truck. My anxiety medication wore off about 2pm and then my body crashed from the adrenalin. I sooo need a break. Saturday morning can not come soon enough!

Monday, September 17, 2012

If you teach a man to fish

Hubby was going to use the "teach a man to fish;feed him for life" phrase when trying to clarify why the team was going to gather the resources for Mom to find homework help for the kids but figured it would get lost in translation.

It was a good call considering that Gabby tattling on Jelly Bean to her Mom about the "kick me in the balls" post it note resulted in an email to me and a therapist that JB was telling boys to hit her in her privates...

Today we actually went fishing. We caught nothing but plants but we had a nice time. The kids made really good decisions. Everyone had fun.

Days like today I cherish.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Apparently Yelling Worked

As did my no nonsense email about MY expectation regarding homework- it will be done on Wednesdays if it is not I will direct the teacher to the caseworker who can work with Mom.

I remember reading advice from somewhere (I can't remember or I would credit the source.) that case workers don't change until they feel your pain. Seemed like having the caseworker potentially contacted by 3 teachers would be a great way to spread my pain.

Because it prompted a call from the case worker's supervisor to "do damage control".


And I vented. Expressed that we are tired of being the doormat. Not sure how long we can continue like this.

She stroked my ego. You are doing a great job. Don't know how you do it. Yada yada. But we need to push them if we are going to get them home by Christmas break.

As in three months from now.

So I've gone back and forth between being grateful for finally having a date to work with and understanding what the Department has been thinking and being scared and angry.

I've landed at resolved. Resolved to help them push us to an end point. If she can do this she should be able to do it by now. If she can't we need the proof so we can move on.

What is meant to be will be. If I'm meant to be their Mom- that will happen. If they are suppose to move on and go back to their family then we've accomplished what we set out to do. Perhaps God ha to move them for other children we are meant to help.

So today I sent an email requesting that the group take advantage of some upcoming days off school to add time with Mom. Solid blocks of time. The email came back- a large chunk would have to be unsupervised. How do you feel about that?

Umm. Well the kid who was the most anxious is now feeling more comfortable. If she feels ok with it and Mom feels ok with it, it doesn't really matter how I feel about it. I won't be there. It's not my goal. It's theirs.

She has every piece of paper and approval stating she's ready to parent unsupervised. I can't stand in the way of a moving train. I've done all I can to help heal and take care of these kids and their family. It's time to let them go for it.

Do I think she can do this long term? No. Does that matter to anyone? No. Will it help me to keep saying it? No. You can't keep doing the same thing and expect to get a different result.

Am I scared? Yes. Terrified, in fact. Terrified that they will go home and I will never see them again. Terrified they will get hurt in the process. Saddened by the fact that it's now best for me to step back and let them feel what living with their Mom will be like. (For instance, the conversation about Halloween tonight and if their Mom will take them or not.) But they have to get comfortable with the differences in order to not implode when they do go home.

And if all Hell breaks loose, like I suspect it will, then at least we all gave it our best shot and hopefully the state will have the proof they need to give the kids permanency. I always said if they stayed I always wanted to be able to tell them I did EVERYTHING to help them keep their family in tact. And we are confident we are doing just that.

It's time. It's past time, actually. And at least this way we will be out of limbo. It will hurt no matter what happens but we have to work through that too.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

In a Dark Scary Place

I soo totally want to throw in the towel. I want to protect my heart. I want to bottle up the happy memories, forget the ugly ones and walk away knowing I gave it my all.

I'm in a place that scares me. And I'm not sure if I'm more scared that their Mom CAN actually do this or if she's going to do "good enough" to get them home and we'll have to start all over.

And really I'm not mad at her. I'm ticked off at the casework and family services something fierce. There is a major lack of respect for us as equals and I'm just tired of being the doormat.

I was already pretty ticked Friday when Mr. Mohawk came home with a haircut (it's not about the haircut) and found out no one told me for the last two years that I need a bioparent's permission to cut foster children's hair. When expressing my frustration the caseworker texted me to "hang in there" "she knows it's hard" and to "not be so negative".

And I'm being honest when I admit that yes, I am negative lately.

Try having someone call you every other day and TELL you what you have to do and when and it's different from what you discussed.

So Saturday as I'm shopping for my birthday with my Mom I get a call from the transport service- Jelly Bean is claiming she didn't take her pills today and is being aggressive. We will not transport her when the visit ends in 2 hours and you will need to go get her.

So the assumption was that I didn't do MY job and give her medication (which I did) and that Mom was handling everything perfectly fine.

Oh really? Because if she was she should be able to calm her down in the next 2 hours. And the medication is not magical. She is perfectly capable of raging fully medicated. So something must have set her off.

And I'm sorry it's not my job to transport. I'm not driving an hour to go get her and possibly put myself at risk. Get another driver or call the caseworker.

Apparently, the caseworker actually made the call and the decision (without our input or consent) go get her. Easy for her. No thought whatsoever about is.

This was the last straw. We will be consciously stepping back to prevent further burn out. You want to know what's going on- you will have to call me. You want to see them - sorry I need 2 weeks notice. I will not be going on extra visits with Mom or participating in family therapy. We will be taking time out to breathe.

Sorry if it makes your job harder. The kids have all lived with us for more than a year. You want to try and take them away because I'm going to become a pain- you will be discussing that with my attorney.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Not Enough Words

Lord, have Mercy. There were not enough words to express my frustration today.
- Apparently, expecting homework to be completed when the kids come home from their mid-week visit at the library is too high of a goal and unrealistic. Guess who was asked to find them a tutor to be there with their Mom during HER visit?
- I got a call from daycare that LM told the teacher "I don't give a shit , what you said."
- the email from JB's teacher said she got a red card yesterday for writing "kick me in the balls" on a post it and sticking it on a boy's back.
- a bunch of stuff happened at work too.
-hubby is working late tonight.
-there is a therapist here tonight so opening up a bottle of wine is out until she leaves- then it might be too late to be worth my while.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Random drug store adventures

Returning a lice comb tonight I bought the following: diet Pepsi, Funions, 3 Carmel Milky Way bars, and a box of pregnancy tests.

The more time I spend as a mother the more random this stuff gets. Interestingly, the lady checking me out struck up a conversation about what I do for a living.

I almost said- buy random sh*t at the drug store 10 minutes before closing.

Seriously, almost as bad as the night I purchased condoms, butter, and Hormel Chili No Beans.

And I'm sorry, can someone please explain to me how on earth pregancy tests can cost so much. No major break throughs in the science and I'm peeing on a stick and a single generic test costs at least $9?

I'm pretty sure they are manufactured in China for like 50 cents. Is it so you can get used to paying through the nose for your future children?

I'm not pregnant. Apparently, my period has gone MIA for 45 days with no sign of returning. Which is good because I drank whiskey yesterday and I Sony want to feel guilty about it.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Little Help From My Friends

I started this journey two years ago. Ironically, just as my kids were beginning it. They came into care on 6/30/2010. I called the Illinois Center for Adoption on 7/1/2010. I wrote this post about the photolistings we were stalking reading. And here we all are, nearly 26 months later, living a life of answered prayers with kids who pretty much found me. And as questioning and hopeless as my last post was, I feel a heck of a lot stronger than I did at the beginning of this journey.  And while our life looks nothing like I pictured, (Where are all the sundrops and rainbows?) I wouldn't change it for anything.

I didn't get here by myself. I have a whole cast of people to thank for helping me along the way.  The funny part is that I have not met a S.I.N.G.L.E. one of them in person.  I care deeply for their families. They have made me laugh and cry and hope. They have made me a better wife, woman, and most of all mother. But none of them exist in my "real" life. They only exist in my computer. I have scoured their blogs and forum posts to absorb the wisdom that they have. I use their advice and remember how they have handled situations daily.

I spent some time today updating my blog.  I've added some blogs I read.  This is not a comprehensive list and I will continue to add (so please don't feel bad if you aren't up there yet).  I started with those blogs that have been the most influential in my foster parenting journey. Those who write often or who helped me the most at the beginning of my journey.  (Also if you'd prefer not to be linked please let me know and I will take you off the list.) Please visit these bloggers and support them. I owe them so much. A shout out was the least that I could do.

Happy Reading!

J's blog - Stellar Parenting was the first blog I read about adoption.  When I began reading, she was dealing with poop issues with her boys. Now she's added a third child, a much searched for daughter and I'm so excited for her. I've gained so much from her and use some of the discipline techniques she's blogged about.

Jen's blog over at A Nickle's Worth of Common Sense is all about her family which is made up of interracial adoption, biological children, and a guardianship. She's also battled cancer and is hilariously funny.  Her explanations and view points of adoption have helped me tremendously. While she doesn't write as often she's a fantastic resource.

Diana over at From Survival to Serenity connected me with some local Mom's who have adopted children with trauma.  She has had a hard road and still manages to make sure to help others.

I read Last Mom daily.  She's a talented writer and her Princess is so very much like my Jelly Bean that sometimes I think she has a portal into my living room.  Her ability to help her daughter heal has given me soo much hope. Go check her out and while you are at it send some colorful socks to help foster kids!

Rebecca at Fosterhood in NYC is single foster parent who is supporting a former placement post return home. Her commitment to co-parenting as much as she is allowed is inspiring.  Plus she's freaking funny!

 Cherub Mama is a great support. She's a frequent commenter on my blog even though she's had a hellish summer!  She's come out the other side of a false allegation and is a special needs foster Mom who has an even crazier court system than me.  She loves her kids and you can tell.

Jen over at Dreaming With A Broken Heart suffered the heartbreak of losing a child, adopted an older child, and is now expecting a child. Her writing is beautifully honest.

Sophie writes about her NINE children at Hope Love Acceptance.  Seriously, I don't know how she does it.  Her faith and love are amazing. She shares her heart whenever she can and she reminds me that I can too.

Mimi will crack you up! Go check her out at I Must be Trippin . Another great support of a post reunification family. She's writing a great "Foster Fridays" series with guest writers and everything. A great resource for all of us.

Lisa at Life In The Grateful House has seriously changed our life introducing us to tapping.  Videos, scripts, and help for anyone who would like to feel more calm and relaxed.

Mary the Mom Mayhem writes Muddling Through Mayhem . She adopted older children in addition to her biological children and has shared the realities of what that can mean for a family. Her honesty about mental health has helped me through some of the darkest days at my home.  She just posted a bunch of great reviews on books an techniques for parents. Trust me - you'll want to check this out.

Christine Moers Welcome To My Brain has a fantastic blog. She also has You Tube videos that will change your life.  No joke.  She's artistic and fun and beyond creative. She also does parent coaching. People pay her to tell them what to do. You can't go wrong reading her stuff.

Finally, the last two links I have included may be considered a little controversial.  Don't read these blogs at work due to their honest content and graphic pictures.  That being said, these women are incredibly brave writing so honestly and openly about their lives after suffering many, many abuses.

LT, is a young woman in her early 20s who aged out of foster care. It can be hard to read her posts because she has really struggled. Her ability to put you in her shoes is uncanny. I Was A Foster Kid

Butterfly is a mother who is a victim of incest and sexual abuse. Her marriage recently ended and she is writing about navigating the changes in her life. Reasons You Shouldn't %^*^ Kids can offend people but as she explains - its meant to shock and grab your attention.


Hear my Heart

Lord, please help me? Please give me the strength to keep going. To  remain patient. To stop yelling. To be calm. Help me figure out how not to be frustrated by homework and projects and socks on the floor.  To ignore the bickering.

I would love to have this knot in my neck go away. And the fear in my stomach to disappear. Because as tired and sad as I sometimes am, the thought of not having those feelings is worse. Way worse. How long can we hold out? How long can we all carry on like this? In limbo. In wait and see. In permission and appointments and visits. And behaviors after visits and cancelled appointments. In between court dates and case reviews and updates.In asking others if, how, when we can live our life.

When CAN we live our life? When CAN we know if they can plan for next year? If we can plan for next year, next time. Someday.  Have we made a difference? Can we make a difference. Is it enough? Should there be more?

I am enough. I have to be.


Sunday, September 2, 2012


I was telling someone the other day about all the things you hear about as foster parents that you think you will not have to deal with. Until you do, and then you realize you should have paid closer attention.

So there I was at 10:30pm last night frantically looking for lice advice on the forum while sitting outside the drugstore. The 24 hour one 15 minutes away because the one on my corner closes at 10pm.

We had gotten the note from daycare. I didn't think much of it. Then as I was helping Mr. Mohawk dry off in the shower I noticed some stuff in his hair. I'm not 100% sure but I wasn't taking any chances.

Poor thing was up until almost midnight while we deloused his head. Then he had to get up and go to his visit. He had a bad dream- he was left alone outside.

I will never let that happen my sweet boy. Never.