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Name Calling

LM is spending the week with my Mom. I met them for lunch and while at the salad bar she said, "Mom, what is this?"
I hate to admit it, I got teary eyed. It felt so good to be called Mom. Even over something as silly as a spinach. 
It was never a question for the Fab Four. We were Mom and Dad before they moved in. It was easier to remember than the myriad of care givers they had in foster care. It didn't have any special meaning. It came to mean the same thing as the rest of the world knows it: love, protector.For these kids it's different. The foster mom of the youngest two prefers her name. The other foster parents used Aunt and Uncle.
I hate it! Last night I got called "Miss R". In my own house. Ugh! I'm the Mom in this house. I take care of you every day. I handle all the bodily fluids and bath time and dinner and homework. And since I have a feeling these kids are going to be here at least two years, I'm having a hard time adjusting to being "…

Now Starring

So I'm going to call the oldest of the new brood Stella. She is a dreamer. Her mind is always in the clouds. This child has the biggest imagination of any kid I have ever met. As in, if she could have one wish it would be to eat Santa so that when she dies all the gifts go to heaven. Yeah, we are going to have a tough time reining this girl in and channeling all that creativity.
The next eldest is going to be known as Sarah, as in Sarah Bernhart the actress. This child is all drama all day. And for a kid who acts timid and shy most of the time when she wants to throw a fit she really puts on a show.
I'm hoping these two fall into the fold of our family as quickly as Simon and Smiley. They fit right in and haven't had much trouble adjusting. I think coming from a home with very similar rules was a big part of that. Sarah fell apart tonight when I asked her to get her pajamas ready for her shower. She told me that she only ever had to get her panties out of her drawer. Everyth…

Riding a bike

Oh.my.goodness. I seriously just had a flash back to when Gabby and LM moved in and Gabby fell apart at the dinner table. This time though, it was my new oldest middle kid and she went full on Jelly Bean. As in, stomped up the stairs. Told me no and then screeched at me that she needed tissues. Yes darling. I can see the snot coming from your nose but screeching is not going to be how you get what you want. Neither is stomping. It will, however, get you sent to bed earlier than your siblings. 
Apparently therapeutic parenting is like riding a bike. This time around I don't have to ramp up to the skill set so that's a plus. I am however hoping that the crying at the dinner table is a short lived thing. One of my favorite parts of the day is sitting at the table talking with my kids about our days. The eldest dropped into tears instantaneously when she was teased about a boy. Yeah. The tears at dinner need to go.
Oh and have that pesky Foster Mama Drama going on. (Yes still. This …

Tears on Christmas Night

These big brown eyes looked up at me. The bottom lip quivered, she bit down on it. What's wrong I asked? Are you missing someone? A nod. Who?
The tears spill and she says in this small voice, my sisters.
Two more nights kiddo. Two more nights. 
************* Tomorrow my sisters are going to live in my room, right?
Yes sweet pea, tomorrow.
*********** Tonight my sisters are going to live with us? 
********
She may have asked Santa for a princess bike but I think her real gift comes tonight.
I will remind her of this when she complains about having to share a room with said sisters....

Official

When Willow handed me the paperwork for Simon and Smiley this week I got teary. It was pretty surreal that 11 days before the year was to end she was sitting on my couch. I really thought when the Fab Four left in April I would never see her again. And yet, there she was handing presents over to me. Meeting with the kids. Discussing a Mom. 
I have know for months now that the Fab Four were not going to come back into my home. That's what I wanted. I wanted them to succeed. Their Mom is doing well. But actually filling our beds up, still shook me more than I was expecting. I instantly missed them. 
I feel myself being a little guarded. This new case is going to be a long road due to the history with the System. So far we've had some tears and normal pushing boundaries stuff. We've slipped right back to being parents.

A New Take

A friend and foster parent posted the following on my Facebook page:
I know it gets old hearing "you guys are amazing", so I'll just say: you guys are on the good side of average.
Made me laugh.

Grrrrr

So this week I was the target of another adults emotions. I don't enjoy that role. In my personal life if that happens one time too many, I just avoid you. In this instance though, I can't avoid that person for a few weeks.
One of the foster moms of the kids is having a really tough time with the decision her family made to 1) not take all 4 kids 2) have them move sooner than later. And while I am glad that she came to the decision to move them sooner than later to my home, I'm really tired of hearing "we would have gotten there eventually" "I really wish we could have taken all 4" "had you not come along" and variations on that theme.
Now, I get that she is grieving. If you've been reading my Blog you have an understanding of how hard I grieved this past year. But I did not take that grief out on the mom my kids were going to. I did not lash out at her and tell to stop pushing me into letting them go too soon. I did not try to take them awa…

Growth

Often times we talk about progress and growth in terms of our kids. Being able to cope with a birthday or an outing. Today I have my own progress in mind.
Yesterday was a tough day in terms of transition planning. The other family came back and said they wanted to keep the kids longer than Christmas. As their new request made it hard to give the kids a good chunk of time to adjust before school started we presented a plan that we felt was accommodating and fair to everyone.
Apparently, that was pushy of me. And it went on from there and got pretty ugly. I took the high road. I didn't take the bait of an argument. We calmly asked the case worker to make the decision and despite the fact that she still threw what I would equate to a temper tantrum, we still offered up the fair version of the plan.
Three years ago I would have been the one throwing the tantrum. I would have written this long email about how unfair this woman was being. I would have made a demand, given an ultimatum. But…

Not Legally Free

Anonymous asked: Are the kids legally free for adoption? 
The answer is no. The goal is reunification. They are still visiting with bio parents. 
There was talk of expedited termination a few months ago when we were first approached. I don't know if that was looked at yet. I do know that this family has already been reunified once by the same judge and that intact services were in place and failed. I also know that Mom does not seem to be doing much and missed her last court date. Dad is only showing up 1/2 the time to his visits. Both were involved in DCFS previously with their kids. And in our state before termination can be discussed kids need to be in an adoptive resource home.
The other foster families are convinced this will lead to adoption. There is a greater chance that it will, given the history. We were chosen as a good foster placement because if the case turns that way, we are willing to adopt all four children. We've also brought back together children who were sepa…

Today is Brought To You By The Number 4

Two years ago today, I was having what I believe to be, the 2nd worst day I ever had with the Fab Four. JB was being admitted to the mental health hospital and LM had to testify at a pre-trial hearing. 
Today just may go down as one of the best days I ever have as a foster mom. I learned today that all four children will be coming to live with us by the end of the month. The foster mom of the oldest two decided it was in the kids best interest to move them now and not risk a mid-semester move. Her only request was that they get to spend Christmas with their family. 
I recognize the difficulty in making the decision she did. It's a heartbreaking thing to say: these kids need to be together and they are not meant to be mine. I know because I made a similar decision last March. I said the back and forth is insane and we have to do what is right for the kids. 
It was an act of a mother. My prayer today is for that mother. That she can find some comfort knowing she did the best she could …

My Mom

I need to brag about my Mom for a moment. Because not only did she drive over an hour to see Gabby's band concert this week,she also exchanged a dress for Maria, and picked Gabby and LM up.
I remember very clearly the week before the kids went to overnight visits for a week my Mom swearing up a storm that there was no way she could ever forgive this woman. She called Maria every name in the book and prayed for her to fail. She  told me she had no idea how I could be in the same room with her. And I told her I needed her to at least talking about that around me because it wasn't helping me move forward.
Now look at her! My Mom is amazing. She shows up for me no matter how crazy my idea. Walk a 5K with 2 new foster kids in the freezing cold? Pick me up at 7 am. Dinner with 6 kids? As long as they are showing the hockey game. Quality time with a woman who speaks a different language? What's the word for good, is all she has to say! 
My village is pretty amazing!

FAQ

The questions I've been getting often are- What about the other kids? And - How are they doing?
What about the other kids is in response to us taking on a new placement. And it's becoming annoying pretty quickly. It's annoying because it implies that somehow we've abandoned or forgotten the other kids. It's a different twist on the "don't you get attached comment". Kind of like, "didn't you get attached?"
I know the question is well meaning. I know it's mean to be of concern. But it comes across as a dig at times. I want to say, "What about them? They have moved on. I need to do that too. This is how it's supposed to work. What am I supposed to do? Quit because my feelings got hurt?" But I feel like I owe it to the kids to give a better explanation.
The other kids are excited for us. They've met the new kids and had a great time with them. We are still here to support them as much as we can. We are here to support Mari…

A Very Good Day

Here was the order:Little Mama, Simon, Mr. Mohawk, Gabby, Smiley, Jelly Bean, Maria, Me, and Hubby. All nine of us at the movie theater. It might have taken two cars and three booster seats to get us there but we went. And even though all six kids were seated next to each other, no issues.
I missed the initial meeting but I guess all the kids were excited to meet each other.   It was another of our "either this is brilliant  or this a spectacularly stupid" ideas. Brilliant was the consensus.
After the movie we went to lunch. Split an egg nog milkshake between us girls and then headed back to hang out at our house. 
If you had told me last year that in 364 days I would have driven 40 minutes to pick up the gang, happily paid for a movie and lunch and then invited everyone back to hang out at the house and eventually end up watching the Blackhawks game with us nine plus my parents, I would have told you, you were out of your Ever. Lovin. Mind.
I was blissfully happy today. Everyon…

Hubby

I don't write much about Hubby here because, well because he doesn't really get my need to purge my thoughts and divulge my feelings to the world. So I respect that and try not to share about him.
However, last night while we were checking in and discussing the new case and trying to understand the differences he said something pretty great.
"A wall full of pictures of families we've helped is not a bad way to spend a life."
I love that man.

Media Part I

Have any of you seen the online commentary about the Brooke Mueller/Charlie Sheen DCFS case? 
Take away the celebrity and it seems based in the media reports this is a pretty common DCFS case. Divorced parents, both with addiction and domestic violence histories, a concerned relative caregiver who has other siblings of the kids in care living in their home. 
Seems Mom is having issues getting clean. System isn't allowing the foster caregiver to get the supports she needed she gives notice. 
Could you imagine if you were the foster parent who got the call to take Charlie Sheen's kids?
What strikes me as most interesting is the commentary from the public. The outrage. The total misunderstanding about the timelines. The complete bafflement that an ex-wife would take in her daughter's half brothers. The disbelief about a phoney hotline call against the foster parent. A birth parent not taking active interest in their case plan? Doing just enough to get visits but not enough to get…

Search

It amazing how much information you can find out about people using a search engine and Circuit Court Records. Was able to find out that one of the older sisters does indeed have the same last name as us and shares the middle name of one of my nieces.

Simon & Smiley

So Simon is the name I will bestowing on the little guy who is coming to live with us. He has glasses and is very smart and reminds me of Simon from the Chipmunks.
The kids were real troopers today but I can tell that the road will get bumpy as these kids are sensitive! Smiley likes to freeze up when you ask her a question but is also capable of being quite loud. Today I heard about last weeks visit with Mom and that she was mad because her sister took her food. I mean the outrage a week later was impressive.
Simon burst into tears at nap time today because he didn't answer a question truthfully. He wasn't lying. But rather trying not to be a burden. When I called him out on it (and nicely, as in its ok if its nit dark enough in your room) the tears came quickly and it took a while for him to calm down enough to talk about it. He was mad at himself for lying. Poor kid! 
We are going to have to work on feelings for sure.

Random Thoughts

Gabby called today! Inviting me to her band concert. I so love that I get to be included still. And she called me Mom! It felt good to hear.
I'm not sure if the new kids are going to call us Mom and Dad. They seemed hesitant last weekend. We shall see.
I think I've landed on a blog name for the caseworker and the little girl.
Officially caseworker shall become Willow and my new little girl will be Smiley.

1st Weekend

We survived having new kids in the house! They were a joy. They just smile all the time. I see these kids just sliding right into our family.
We had only one meltdown per kid, and they found out we will follow through. (And that both Hubby and I will react the same way.) Their foster Mom thanked me for giving out time outs! And We've decided we must be personality twins! 
I can't help but compare and contrast. I know all kids are different and at their own level but these two seem so much more advanced to me. And so giggly and so sweet. It was so much easier with these two at their meltdowns than with Jelly Bean in a "good" day.
I feel like my heart got bigger. All that pain made room for more joy, more love, more kids. Who knew foster care would mean I'd get to fall in love over and over again.

Preperation

When the Fab Four came I had no time to prepare. We were out of town when we got the call for the 1st two and had 4 hours notice for the 2nd two.
This time I'm going to have 6 weeks and potentially 6 months. We spent this week continuing to purge and re-organize. I can't believe how big the rooms look without the added furniture. And the boys bunk bed got put back up with the bedding originally bought when foster care was a big unknown. We happen to have two bunk beds set up at the moment and a spare twin bed frame in the basement. This will allow at least one more bed for when we have visitors. At some point I expect the Fab Four to spend the night and I'm going to need to put 8 kids some place!
There are three girls and one boy in this family also. The two youngest are coming to live with us and they're ages 4 (girl) and 6 (boy). I'm still not clear on the exact ages of the oldest two but they are around 7 and 8.
These kids will be moved in by Christmas. Which I am …

Ready, Set, Go

I was standing in the birthday card aisle at the grocery store. Hubby squeezed me with excitement. I said, "Who would have thought this would be our life seven years ago." 
We were picking out a birthday card for Maria. We had just come from meeting two of the most adorable kids I've ever laid eyes on, who I will have the good fortune of mothering. We were on our way to spend the afternoon with the kids I never thought I would see again, just six months ago. It was surreal. 
Crazy. Amazing. Beautiful. Foster Care.
We did meet all four kids and it went fairly well. We made a photo book about our family for the kids to take with them and that was a big hit. (Not a sponsored post but we did a 1 Hour book from Wal-Mart for less than $16.00. It was awesome.)
The younger kids were excited to meet us and seemed happy to spend time with us. The older two didn't spend much time with us as they were chased away from the table and told to play, but they weren't really aware of …

As It Unfolds

So after receiving one of the most passive aggressive texts, ever, I found out we will be meeting all four kids this weekend.
And the more I think about it, the more I feel like the kids should be together on the holidays. Sure we are strangers but isn't that better than not being with your siblings? I'm really torn on this. I would be pretty ticked if I were the every day care giver but if there is anything I learned this past year it is- it isn't about me. It's about the kids. And if they could be together with their potential forever family wouldn't that be best case scenario?
It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds. I didn't take the bait of the passive aggressive text. I sent a cheerful reply as I am determined to rise above. It come from a place of grief and the unknown. I get that. But it irked me anyway. Luckily, I have experience with passive aggressive personalities. I'm going to plaster on the smile and kill them with kindness. 
Repeat af…

Foster Care Land

This was an interesting weekend Foster Care-wise. Friday the caseworker called me to ask if she could share my information with the other foster families that have the kids that we agreed to take.
Lets just say the transition with these two different families is going to be very, very hard. If the initial conversations we've had are any indication. And we are all going to need lots of prayers of healing and patience. And I feel really bad for the one foster mother because she would really like to be the resource for these four kids but her family  situation prevents it. And today I really feel like she took it out on me. I'm very worried about the current plan to leave the one half of the sibling group in that home to finish the school year.
On the other hand the other family with the kids who will be transitioning to our home first said, "No I don't think they should be with us for Christmas and Thanksgiving. I think they should start making those memories with their f…

Dear Kids

Dear Kids,

I missed you today. I though of all the fun things we did on our trips to Disney World. I pictured your reactions to the new things we tried and brainstormed a way to afford for us to do them all again. This time with your Mom included. 
I took a step towards healing today. I realized that I no longer refer to you as my kids. You are now Maria's kids or The Kids. I spent a good amount of time wondering what the next kids will think when they join our family and if they will enjoy our trips as much as you did.
There is a place in my heart that still longs for you. But mostly it hopes that you are alright. While I am confident that you are where you should be I still worry that you are ok. That your Mom is ok. I wonder if that will ever really go away. I had no idea how deeply I could love. I no longer worry that I don't have enough to go around.
Love,
Foster Mom R

Sadness

This was a rough weekend for me emotionally. I found out my friend passed just as I was sitting down to lunch with one of the Fab Four's former therapists. 
It's awkward to cry in the middle of a Cheesecake Factory. 
My friend was an amazing person who shaped the lives of many many people through her musical gifts. She's one of the people who influenced the Mom I became. My heart hurts when I think about her son and her husband. 
I also struggled with some jealousy regarding those around us who are expecting. I try so hard to push those thoughts away but I'm really having a hard time with it this weekend.
Patience is not my virtue today. And all I really wanted to do was curl up and cry.

Busy Week

Two months ago we got a call about a sibling set of four that have the same caseworker as the Fab Four. (She really needs a blog name.) I got an email last week from the licensing worker and asked if we'd heard from the CW. Apparently the Spanish speaking foster home that was going to take all four (they have been separated two different homes for 6 months) fell through. 
So the email was circulating that the CW was looking for a place that would take all four. So our liscensing worker got in touch. And we had another discussion about taking the case.
The goal is return home. However, this is the Mom's third go round with the system. And has lost custody to at least one other child. (There is a 2 year old with a friend that isn't in the system.) that's a total of 6 kids. And a failed reunification and failed in tact services.
One of the current foster moms got in touch with me and gave me the scoop from her perspective. When the two move out of her house the other sibling…

Losing Isaiah

It's been a long time since I've seen the movie "Losing Isaiah". I remembered that it was a movie about a black child being raised in a white foster home. 
Since I became a foster parent movies like this are seen through a different lens. I have a different perspective of the characters, the children, the circumstances. I was reminded of this when I caught the last 15 minutes of Losing Isaiah tonight.
WARNING SPOILER ALERT:
The scene I caught was the birth Mom taking the baby home. Then the foster parents are shown in their home. The foster dad tries to put a toy away and the foster mom tells him to leave it. He wants to move on, she wants to stay stuck in a world where she doesn't have to move.
And it felt like someone had stabbed my heart. I had lived several moments just like the one on the tv. The emotional reaction to the scene was immediate.
Hubby wanted to move out all the kids' stuff and I wanted to hang on to it. Deep down my hope was that they would come…

Reach Out, I'll Be There

I got a phone call from Maria this evening. She asked to talk to me in person because she is having some issues with the kids. 
It was a little hard to understand her because it was on the cell phone and her English,when talking about emotions and relating events, is hard to understand at times. Just like I use the wrong tense in Spanish, she uses the wrong tense in English. 
For instance she will say "the child say me" instead of "the child told me" or "she said to me". 
For the beginning part of the conversation which started with her telling me she had to call the police on Monday because the child wouldn't go to therapy, I thought she was talking about Jelly Bean. Then I picked up some details and I realized she was talking about Little Mama. 
Recently, LM told my Mom that she wanted to come live with me. That being at her Mom's house was hard. I think she had some unrealistic thinking about the way things were going to be when she returned home.
T…

Support

Through this wonderful blog-o-sphere I have been able to connect with some local women who share the hills and valleys of parenting traumatized children through adoption, foster care, and guardianship. 
I was fortunate to get to meet with some of them on Sunday. It was great to know I'm not alone in real life. It was great to be able to hug another Mom who "gets it". Who wasn't going to tell me all kids "act like that" or try to urge me to "try IVF" as if it was a new nail polish color. These were strong women who have been battered at times, just like me. These are women who have cried buckets of tears and fought long, hard battles for their kids. 
And I was able to share where I'm at, without tears. Without getting choked up and without feeling phony. My intro to the one Mom I had not previously met went something like this:
I'm a foster parent. We had 4 kids who had been with us for 2 + years who were returned home in April. We are support…

Moms

When I signed up to be a foster parent I agreed to help families. I had no idea that in a few years I'd be sitting in the audience of a school musical of a former foster child. But tonight that's what I did. My Mom and I each drove nearly three hours round trip to see a 45 minute show.
Why? Because I agreed to help families. I agreed to support reunification. I agreed to love these children like my own and that doesn't stop when their address changes. And also because her Mom couldn't be there. 
It was quite a beautiful moment for me. While I was sad that Maria couldn't make it, I was happy to be her stand in. I am still a Mom. Perhaps not THE Mom, but "A" Mom, at least at this event. 
As I sat there watching, her worried face turn to relief when she realized she had people in the audience. i sat there thinking how lucky I got. Not only to have this awesome responsibility of being a support for this child and her family but also that the woman sitting beside…

I'm Rusty

I forgot how stressful redirection can be. It was constant this past weekend. Jelly Bean just could not get it together. Over and over and over and over again.

The minute they got in my car Friday we went over the house rules. We went over the activities and then I answered to Mom a gazillion times. But that didn't matter because she basically broke every.single.one. And I know its testing. But it was exhausting. I mean been there. Done that. Bought the T-Shirt. There were no major incidents just a constant need for negative attention.

The really big thing was she left the door to the garage and the house wide open. So of course the dog got out. I have no idea how long he was outside and thankfully he stuck close by because when Gabby went outside to look for him he came right to her. But I was so upset I told the kids they needed to find a separate corner of the house where I couldn't see them. Ok. I yelled it. So the oldest two were crying and I couldn't find the younge…

Unprepared

This weekend was the first time we've taken the kids to a non-family party since they moved home. A friend was having a house warming and we ran into one of her friends that stood up in her wedding like I did. And she asked me when did I get so many kids.

Folks. I was totally caught off guard. In five months I have not had to think about how to answer that question while near the kids. And I honestly wasn't sure how to answer. Since the kids have introduced us as "their Foster parents they used to live with" I decided to tell the fluffy version of the truth.
Well, we are foster parents and these four used to lived with us for two years but are now living with their Mom and they get to visit. Their Mom has been great about letting us see them and she has been so gracious. Really we've just become a big extended family.
Thankfully, she didn't ask why they were in foster care. She just kept saying I couldn't imagine. That must have been so hard. Which is a …

Fab Four

So I picked up the kids last night. Maria told me that since the kids were not helping her clean this weekend they were to be put work and help at my house.
I might love this woman!
She also told me to call more. She doesn't want me to be worried about calling. "You are family. The kids ask when you will call." 
Point taken.
The 45 minute drive was just a constant stream of Mom, Mom, Mom. Giggling. And a discussion about who gets to massage Dad's feet. The answer was me because "you married him". 
And that dog of ours. Happy as a clam.

Follow Up Call

Yesterday was a bad day. Tough day at work. Tough day when I got home. I had an unusual crying jag that lasted several hours. So I welcomed today which seemed to be much better.
Until 5:15 PM rolled around and my phone rang. It was the case worker from a few weeks ago who had the three kids who needed an adoptive home. And true to his word he called me back. (Which is interesting because just this morning I wondered about them.)
He told me that there was family across the country that they were working in moving them to and that the kids were going to be placed in a short term foster home a few towns away, that was willing to take all three. He told me he knew we weren't looking for a temporary placement and so he felt this was best.
It was nice that he called me back. And he has such a positive vibe to him. "It just means someone else's babies will be in your home! Great foster parents are always in demand!" 
But I was pretty deflated. Another phone call to tell me some…

Hey Grief! Haven't Seen You In A While

I forget sometimes that I am still grieving. And it whacks me it of nowhere.

Hey Foster Mom R! Haven't made you cry in a bit. I think today would be a great day to remind you that you are no longer a mom, have no real prospects at becoming one, and oh yeah foster care sucks.A friend of mine lost her foster children of more than 2 years this week. I watched in horror and heartbreak as the Facebook updates came in after court. And unlike the Fab Four, there is no birth mother who has earned custody back. There is no hope that she will get to keep quality contact with them. They left the same day within hours of the court decision with no transition.

My blood boils that we live in a world with a court system that seems to consistently fail children. That chooses to create more heartache where there is already so much. That asks strangers to lend a hand and then walks all over them, time after time.

And I found myself sad. Bummed out. And then I arrived home tonight to an empty house…

Lost in Translation

Working with biological families can be hard. Doing it in a language you don't speak fluently adds what I like to think of as "expert level" challenge.

I usually text Maria. I write fairly well in Spanish and there is always Google Translate to help. I also will call to confirm before I head out to the kids as its a good 40 minute drive. When we speak its mostly in English.
Here was the exchange Saturday:
I call Maria's phone- it goes to voicemail. I call LM's phone-
Me: Hello? 
LMP: Hello?
Me: LM? It's Mom. Are you guys ready for me to come get you?
LMP: Actually, it's Gabby. Mom? I think my Mom forgot. We are all still sleeping. 
Me: Can you put your Mom on?
Maria: Hello? Foster Mom R?
Me: Morning Maria. Are the kids ready?
Maria: I thought you were coming next weekend. 
Me: I suppose I could.
Maria: Oh. OK. That would work better for me.
Background: Kids screaming and yelling yeah! Next weekend.
Me: OK. I'll come get them Friday night at 6:00 afte…

Working With Birth Parents

If you have followed my blog you know that I have not always been easy on birth parents. In fact, I have been critical, judgmental, tough, frustrated, and angry. And then this amazing thing happened: I learned to work with and form a relationship with the Birth Mom of my former foster kids. I would NEVER in a million years have believed that I could do that with any birth parent, particularly this birth parent.

I thought I would share how I got enough perspective to reach this point. It was not easy. And it was definitely a process. And I'm not sure if I read someone else's story that I would have followed their advice. But I did read about other foster parents who had openness with former foster placements and I found it helpful to know that others managed to make it work (even if I thought they were crazy).

1) Realize that the Birth Family comes from a completely place.
Not just a different city or county but a different culture, set of experiences and lifestyle. I know th…

Murphy's Law

I sent Maria a text to ask if I could get an item I lent her back next weekend and if I could see the kids. Her response was that the kids had asked if they could spend the weekend at our house.

Hubby and I discussed. My first reaction was no. I have things I want to get done and I felt like the kids would hinder that. His response was I really want them to come stay for a night. Then was also considered that maybe Maria needed a break and didn't feel like she could ask. So we said yes.
Of course this means Murphy's Law will kick in and we'll get a placement call this week. Especially since I've now put it on the Internet and sent it out to the universe today during an earlier discussion with Hubby.

9/16/13 UPDATE: Got a placement call tonight. Missed the actual case worker but the message was there was a child he was trying to place.

Sarcoidosis

It's been five months since I've had to juggle appointments and deal with doctors. But those were for others. I hate to admit it but I have not been a good patient. Being Mom allowed be to focus on something other than my chronic illness and I believe motherhood played a big role in my illness becoming stable.
But last week I had a scare that sent me to get checked out. And while what sent me there turned out to be ok, my blood work came back and seems to indicate a "flare up" of my Sarcoidosis. Here's a tip: if one test is abnormal that usually means there are more tests in your near future.
I didn't do much about my disease while the kids were here. I didn't have time and my symptoms were not bothering me. Well, things bothered me but they were not Sarcoidosis related. And there isn't much I can do about it aside from take pills. Doctor have always said stress is bad for my disease but foster kids or not, life is stressful! Is it a coincidence that th…

O'hana

O'hana means family. It's also a way that families live in Hawaii. Extended family in one house. We did our own little family trip and lived as one family for a weekend.

We own a timeshare (This is how I can afford to travel as much as I do. Afford being a relative term as if we didn't have a time share I wouldn't have to work.) and all of our resorts are set up like condos. Separate bedrooms, kitchen, laundry, living room. It's a great way to travel with friends and family and we often will take family with us when we go places. 
Hubby had long suggested that maybe we would get to the point where we could go up to Wisconsin Dells with the kids and their mom. I always thought he was crazy. (I think my exact words were: Are you on crack?) She hated us. We hated her. She would then tie strings to letting the kids see us. I just felt like it was too risky. 
Maria (I've landed on a blog name for the Fab Four's Mom!) really seemed to reach out. And as she was g…

Stop Mailing Me Marketing Products

Normally, I'm a sample wh*re. I LOVE sample/travel size anything. Hand lotion, lip gloss, cereal, shampoo, etc. I even purchase the gift with purchase products from Mary Kay (even though I don't do classes any more) for my personal use. 
But a while back I started to receive American Baby magazine and infant formula samples in the mail. Monthly. 
I suppose that IF I were expecting/nursing this would be welcome. But I'm not. In fact, I lost my children this year. It was confirmed that I have a fertility problem, and people keep calling me about kids for adoption then call me back to tell me someone else was chosen.
Someone sending me formula was just further reminder that my minivan is empty. And it really irritated me when I came home today. Why couldn't it have been a sample pack of chocolate or razors. Something useful?
I will be donating said formula. And in the grand scheme not a big deal. I'm going to have to get over the pity party.

My Prayer

All weekend I was in this beautiful place. A place I ran to when I couldn't bear the memories within the walls of my house. A place healing began for the Fab Four and their Mom. And as I laid in a hand-woven hammock and looked up at the trees and sky I prayed.
I mean really prayed. Prayed to let go. Prayed to be open. Prayed for my kids to find me.
Then at 4pm the next day I got a phone call from a case worker. He'd heard great things about my family from his supervisor. He worked with the Fab Four's case worker. Would we be interested in 3 kids who he needed to move back to Illinois as legal screening was complete and the department was going to be terminating rights.
Yes. A non-legal risk pre-adoptive placement. 2 boys and a girl ages 3,4 and 7. No abuse history. And while that does not mean no trauma, it probably means less degree of trauma than I am used to.
The only hesitation we have is that the kids are African American and we previously had not felt prepared to handle …

Classifieds for Placements

I got a call this evening from a case worker looking to place a 5 and 8 year old brother set. Again probably not what we were looking for (kids removed because Mom failed to adequately supervise them) and we are busy for the long weekend. But she picked me out of the list because she lives in my neighborhood. (Easy monthly visits and initial drop off.)
Which got me thinking about how much I wished I could post a foster parent classified: Committed, Experienced foster family seeking sibling set of up to 4, age range 4-10ish. Will accept Hispanic, English speaking children. Hoping for long term potential adoption placement. beat time to call 3pm. Available after 9/2. At County Line and State Line roads.
I realize there is some pleading and guilt tripping required but if we started this way wouldn't the matching process be a little more efficient and perhaps cause less disruptions? 
I said no but told her if she had a similar placement next week to put me at the top of her list.

So how'd it go?

I realized today that I didn't blog about the Fab Four's visit. In short, it went well.
It was funny to listen to Mr. Mohawk discover that his room had been completely cleared out. His exact words when he went upstairs were:
Whoa! Hey guys, you gotta come check this out!
None of them took the changes poorly. Which was good. We hung out. We went to my Mom's house and saw family and then Sunday went to the movies. Aside from a sugar crash/worn out episode with Jelly Bean and a mystery item that was found in the grocery cart there were no issues. 
We returned them to their Mom's with no tears and everyone happy.
I'm so grateful that we have worked to get to this place of mutual respect and extended family. For once, it's the best case scenario and I couldn't be happier about it.
I also got the test results back from the doctor. The doctor did confirm that I have a medical issue and referred me to a specialist. While I was bummed about the diagnosis, it also confirme…

Sibling Calls

Anonymous asked: How old were the kids and commented that we get a lot of Sibling Group calls.
The kids were 9,12 and 13. Which was out of the range we are looking to be placed with but it sounded very temporary. 
We have four open beds on our license. And can have up to 3 kids in the one room and though not ideal, we could put another in the loft if we had to. 
My understanding is that not a lot of foster homes can take more than 2 kids at a time in our area. We are only one of two foster homes in our town. 
We firmly believe kids should be kept together if possible and so we are willing to take a group of kids. A child with siblings in care in our state is considered special needs simply because those kids are harder to place together. I would hate to take one child in and then have a sibling group placed separate. That would break my heart.
That being said though, it's been suggested we take two sets of kids to increase our chances of being able to adopt. And while I understand that…

4:15 AM

These all hour placement calls really bother me. And while I was annoyed that my cell phone was buzzing at 4:15 AM, I was more worried about the three kids sitting in an office somewhere that needed a home. Neither of us could take today off of work. (My Mom was already coming to wait for the delivery people for our new bed. No way I could surprise her with watching three kids as well!)
I laid awake for a good 40 minutes wondering about the kids. Praying for their Mom who was in the hospital.

There has got to be a better system than going down a list of people. Like a text alert or email blast (similar to the school district) with a link to check if the kids had been placed. And 4:15? I would imagine waiting two hours until 6:00 when some people would be getting up for work or to get kids off to school would have been more effective. 
One of these days the phone will ring and it will be a placement we can take.



This is what other Mom's Blog about?

Since stumbling into Foster Care Land three years ago, I've been plugged into the Blog-o-sphere. I had dabbled in Blogs at the suggestion of a friend while going through an illness. I didn't find many blogs devoted to my condition and I manage an update on that blog maybe once a year. (Sadly...)

When I began this journey into researching adoption and adoption through foster care, I pretty much stopped reading blogs that didn't pertain to some facet of the adoption triangle. 
The other day a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to Mommy Blog. Ya know, a blog written by a Mom. That's it. Not Trauma Mom or Adoptive Mom or Foster Mom or First Mom. Just a Mom. With good advice about focusing on the important things. And as I read I thought, huh? What would life be like just being a Mom, no additional title. Would I have a blog? Would I have enough interesting things to say as a Mom without a Pre-Fix? I concluded- probably not!
I've not written very much about ferti…

Hubby

As I was making dinner tonight for Hubby and I, it dawned on me that today felt normal. Like how it felt before we became foster parents. That somehow in all the stress and loss and sadness we managed to find us again. Perhaps a better version of us, but  us. A couple who loves each other. Who quip with silly one liners simply to make the other person laugh. Us who have clearly divided chores that the other appreciates. Us that have grown together in the past 12 years to adults who can communicate and compromise.
Today did not feel sad or empty. In fact, the only trace of the past two years and the kids was us getting in the minivan to go to a BBQ. And on the drive home we had a great "check in" conversation about how we are feeling about some decisions we will need to make. 
I guess I wanted to put it out into the universe how grateful I am for my husband. And how much I love that he does laundry and dishes but pretends not to know where the Tupperware is kept. And how hard h…

Friday Night Visit

I took LM shopping for her birthday last night. There was a misunderstanding and I think I let her down because she didn't get to spend the weekend with us. She did manage to thank me several times and I think she enjoyed the one on one time. As did I. 
When I arrived at their house JB was in the middle of a tantrum. She instantly tried to get me to see things her way and complained loudly that her Mom was ignoring her. When I told her her Mom was doing the right thing she tried to escalate the tantrum.
Somehow, my magical meltdown powers were still intact and after a few minutes she calmed down. She tried 1) you are not my mother (to which I replied, "Correct but I am an adult and you will be respectful to me.") 2) My Mom doesn't want me to learn about God ("You can't learn about God while you are crying") 3) No one listens to me ("I'd be happy to listen and help you talk with your Mom when I come back but I have some rules. 1- this mess you mad…