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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Court

So the judge signed off on the return home plan. The kids are slated to move home the first week of April. She actually addressed us more than Mom. With the exception of telling her NO ONE is to be at the visits.

She told us we have excelled as foster parents and she wanted to make sure that we were considered in all of this. She even commented that DCFS liked our plan better than their own. But she commended the caseworker for slowing down the start of overnights. That she was glad that she made that decision as it allowed the kids to prepare.

I about fell out of my chair. If she had only know the original plan....that had no preparation. But whatever.

Then the bombshell. DCFS tried to change the caseworker. To a male caseworker 60 days before the most complex case returns home. Well the judge had none of that. She ordered the caseworker remain in tact and then said the department could come in and tell her she didn't have jurisdiction. She actually stated several times that no one was thinking when they made that decision.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A State of Confusion

It's a good thing I sell Mary Kay products (well I used to...parenting my kids leaves little time for that anymore.) and can get skin care and anti-aging products at cost because the lines from this permanent look of puzzlement on my face are becoming deeper.

I got a call from caseworker this evening. She wanted to let me know that at family therapy Jelly Bean threw a fit because her little brother attended. She hit him, and hid under a table and then refused to come out or participate. Caseworker had all kinds of questions about her medication and if that could be the culprit and wondered if a hospitalization trial assessment was in order. But she said she calmed down enough to go to her visit.

The first question I asked was - How did Mom handle the behavior at the session?

The answer- "I didn't think to ask."

Apparently my suggestion that this was situational and a result of Mom's lack of structure and discipline was not appreciated. Nor was my reminder that a few weeks ago everyone wanted me to take her off the meds. And that blaming the medication was perhaps misguided given the changes the kid clearly isn't handling.

What are we doing here if we aren't asking ourselves the question- how did or can she handle? And sure let the parent who has handled be the one to set up the evaluation and psychiatrist appointment. (Which Mom got of this week because she wasn't "clear on the visit expectations".)

If you were so concerned then why did she proceed to the visit? And if we are so concerned then why isn't Mom participating in her mental health care? In 60 some days she will solely be responsible for these appointments. And if you didn't want my input then why did you ask me?

I didn't think to ask her.

Of course not. And not thinking is what has us all here the night before another status hearing 31 months later.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Night 2 Down, 22 To Go

Yuck. That's all I can say. I'm so over the poor choices an ignorant behavior that I'm at a loss as to how to trudge forward.

The kids came home impossible Saturday. JB in the same clothes she left in on Friday morning but somewhere took a bath (with other clothes on) with her brother. I have no words for how that happens.

I've said all along I'm concerned that the sexual abuse history and tools to parent such have been minimized. If the tub incident isn't enough to highlight that, I'm not sure what is.

It also seems there is a serious lack of supervision going on in that these fights and tantrums are occurring and escalating to kids throwing objects at each other. I can appreciate ignoring the drama but you have to keep the kids safe too.

And because there wasn't much left of me last night and I told JB I was saying goodnight downstairs and not tucking her in - she threw stuff at the dog and escalated her behavior to the point of ripping her pajamas.

I want my kids back. These kids described above, can go home.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fair Warning, I'm Totally Blogging This Conversation

So my Mom is having trouble with all the change. She loves the kids dearly. From the moment she first saw their picture she was hooked. Her heart is breaking because she is loosing them and because she is watching her own daughter's heart break too.

I call my Mom nearly every day. Usually, from the car. Tuesday was no different except I hadn't talked to her since Friday. I was lamenting that I'm tired of being angry and tired of yelling at the kids for their misbehavior because really its not their "fault". It is their choice but if I were them I'd be acting the same way. And heck, I probably am to some degree.

So she was telling me that I needed to find another way to let go of the stress.

"Maybe you need to take up smoking!?"

An then she kept talking.

"Mom, wait. Did you just tell me to start smoking? Was that actually your advice?" I said in disbelief.

And then I cracked up. Because boy do I love my mother. Sometimes the things that come out of her mouth astound me. And while I think she was 1/2 serious (she is a past smoker and turned to it in times of stress, I've never smoked anything, ever) she said, "well, at least I made you laugh".

"Mom, fair warning. I'm totally blogging this conversation. I can't believe that of all the pearls of wisdom you've given me over the years, we've resorted smoking in this situation."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Taking Care Of Me

My resolution this year was to take more time for myself. I know going into the next few months I'm setting myself up for another battle with depression. I spent a year in therapy trying to climb out of the black hole that was my depression and I'm really trying to avoid repeating that experience. That was, of course, several years ago but the pain  of that period can still feel real if I think about it.

So on New Year's Eve I started a Smashbook with my goals, affirmation, and log to track my success. Just writing in this book fulfills my "scrapbook more" goal. And like many Moms who are too busy, I'm also focusing on slimming down. I always feel better when I make healthy eating choices and I know that exercise can help boost endorphins.

A preemptive strike of sorts going on over here. I hit the gym two days in a row and my total aggravation with the darlings dissipated by the time I got home. (Instead of getting ready this morning someone decided to sit inside the laundry hamper and yell at her siblings.) and for every 10lbs I lose I am buying myself something I love that I normally wouldn't shell out for, or if I did I would feel guilty about it. Like a manicure. Or a new book. Or a pair of shoes.

I'm already imagining all the fun I'm going to have dress shopping for my sister-in-laws wedding in May! I've already written about the time Hubby and I are spending together which is also part of taking care of me. This weekend I'm going to start a t-shirt quilt for myself. Since I need to clean out my drawers it's time to start this project as I've held on to stuff I don't wear, for that purpose.

My challenge to you readers- leave me a comment with the 1st reward you would want to give yourself for any accomplishment. Weight loss, sticking to a new habit, a great job at work, whatever. Full disclosure: I might borrow your ideas :).

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Night 1 Down, 24 To Go

The transition plan we created has 25 nights with Bio Mom. We start with 1 night a week and work up to 2 and 3 nights and then we hit 8 nights during spring break. All in its about 25 nights that they will sleep at Mom's house before they officially move in.

Friday was tough. I cried when I left them at school. MM asked for me to write down the police's phone number for him. LM dissociated the night before when talking about her concerns. Then Gabby cried because she still wants no part and Jelly Bean started asking if she could just be adopted.

I kept it pretty much together. Hubby and I went to a fancy steak dinner and mostly talked about non-foster care and non-children things. It was nice to connect. When we got home and there beds were empty that was hard. And the poor dog was so confused. He kept going to their room to find them.

They came home mostly ok. Actually much better than I thought. Jelly Bean did cry in the car on the way to the psychiatrist. She said she didn't want to move.

We tried not to ask too much and let them talk. Instead of no one being at the visit as was discussed with their therapists. They took a trip to the store with their aunt and cousin in which not all children were belted and no booster seat was used and Mom didn't notice. Then the cousin (the same one who told LM that foster parents try to buy love) spent the night and slept in her bed while LM slept on the couch.

Which yes- family is great. It's great she has a support system but the kids need to trust in their Mom and mom has to show SHE can do this and that's hard to do with all of these other people around.

Ultimately, this really isn't our concern. We know Mom has trouble handling all four on her own. It's one of the reasons I'm concerned that this isn't a long term plan for the kids. At some point she's going to have to do this on her own and if she can't, then she's likely to chose an unhealthy person to help her. (The two ex boyfriends that abused her kids and the four that abused her are why I say that.) The fact that on her first overnight she allowed a 17 year old to stay with her makes me raise my eyebrows. The fact that she didn't notice her youngest wasn't buckled and that the driver of the car didn't notice also makes me raise an eyebrow. All in all nothing major.

I'm glad for the kids sake that it was successful. As we continue on though, it will be interesting to see what happens. If there are visitors every weekend I think that will be very telling. And maybe it's an issue of confidence. But as Mom to four kids you need that in order be in charge. She'll need to practice that if she is to be successful.

We've made peace with the fact that the kids will be getting permanency that doesn't include us. And we've started letting those around us that our time with the kids is going to be limited. And I know everyone means well, but it's really hard that their response is usually to tell us they hope that's not the case. It's also hard to be told what a wonderful thing we've done. It's uncomfortable. It's almost like it minimizes what the kids have given to us. I've gotten to the point where I just don't want to talk about it. And I can't handle the emotions that hit me when people ask.

But at least the end is near and that's what we've been longing for.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Can't Sleep

It's nearly 1 am and I just can't fall asleep. I even took some anti-anxiety medication to help me wind down. No luck...These days of crazy at work and then crazy at home leaves me so tired I can't sleep.

If I could charge per question I get asked I'd be a very rich woman! Between work, the kids, and Hubby with the questions, I'm wiped. Seriously, I tried to make dinner tonight and all I heard was Mom, Mom, Mom. I e would come in ask something's and then the next would try to interrupt.

Then the therapists arrived and the kids amped up. All of them shut down about the overnight this weekend. They are so anxious. And LM is really ticked that the emergency cell phone they are going to have will not have our phone number. Gabby flat out stated she won't call any of the numbers, including the police.

They have another family therapy session tomorrow. I guess last weeks was total chaos. Hopefully this week they will actually tell their Mom they are afraid she will become overwhelmed and hit them. And hopefully Mom will give an answer the kids can accept.

DCFS signed off on the transition plan. Thy actually said that while their plan was similar, they liked ours better and were going to use it. The therapists feel this will help is grieve since we got a say in the plan. And I guess that's true since we have some control but it still isn't what we want to be doing.

And really I don't want to grieve. I've been doing that for two years. I had a moment last night that really felt the same as when my Grandma died. The ache in my heart. I'm hoping that this will lessen as we get used to having them somewhere else.



Monday, January 14, 2013

Tears

So Hubby and I sat down to put together a transition plan of overnight visits for the kids - you know if you want something done, you need to do it yourself? If the team and the judge sign off and the visits go well it looks like they will return home on April 6. Just a week shy of us being a family for 2 years and a few months short of the kids being in care for 3. Since DCFS will follow them for a while it will be 3 years of the case being open.

So there I was yesterday bragging about our communication skills an then here we were tonight getting aggravated with each other. Emotionally charged topics tend to do that. I started to cry and then I noticed Hubby was also wiping away tears. It's hard to pick the day you lose your kids. I decided I don't want to be the one to take them to their Mom's for good. I want their case worker to come and pick them up. I don't want to leave them. And we will probably take that Friday before off of work and go do something fun.

I feel crushed. And it didn't help that Jelly Bean claimed a headache and stomach ache at school then have me the excuse in the car when I challenged the validity of the illness that seemingly came and went that she "wanted to make sure I spend enough time with you before I leave."

A Night Out On the Town

My parents took the kids Saturday night for what will likely be their last sleepover, since overnights with Bio Mom start next weekend. Hubby and I headed to Chicago for a mini-getaway. We celebrated a friend's birthday at a sushi fusion restaurant and then headed to another bar for a night of cocktails and conversion.  The birthday girl asked for two words to describe how we were feeling. Mine were relaxed and happy. And they couldn't have been truer. I was dressed up. I had on new heels and a fabulous dress that made me feel sexy and by some stroke of luck, I was able to apply faux eyelashes and make them stick for the evening. I had an afternoon of primping, a new haircut and color and a husband who voluntarily wore dress shoes. (Hubby is a T-shirt, jeans, sneakers kind of guy.)

It was the first time all week that I didn't feel like someone was going to come at me with another problem. From the moment I rose to the moment I fell asleep last week I was trouble shooting and triaging and man did it suck the life out of me. But there I was in this really nice restaurant with cool lighting and funky serving platters having grown up conversation.And you know what? If I'm going to have to give up motherhood for a while I want more of what I had Saturday night.

The drive into the city also gave Hubby and I a chance to talk about all that was going on. When we started this journey in July of 2010 we were not in a great place in our marriage. In fact, we were very close to calling it quits because we were so unhappy (like we need to go to marriage counseling because I can contest a divorce filing if we don't). But through this process of becoming parents (times 4 and to very challenging children) we somehow became stronger as a couple. The best part is that BOTH of us recognize this. And when Hubby verbalized this in the car, it felt great to hear. Our communication has improved tremendously. We realize that we really are in it for the long haul. And we've gotten to a place where both of us can recognize when the other needs to have some space and/or support. Our communication got 100% better. And so I know that as we head into the next chapter that we'll be ok. As long as we are in it together we'll be just fine.

I have to admit, I'm looking forward to some more time just the two of us.  We didn't appreciate that time together when we had it. We had no idea what we would feel like we missed out on. And we recognize that with the next placement or other children that we need to make that time a priority. With the overnights starting, we will have Friday nights free.  And we will be planning our next vacation just the two of us - which is a bit unusual but something both of us have said is important. 



 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Reset

So here is the interesting thing: If you were able to wipe the slate clean on your path in life what would you do? What would you keep and what would you never want to do again if you got to "reset" your life?

This is the question we are now asking ourselves as we prepare to let the children go in our hearts. Do we foster again? Do we only look for children who are legally free for adoption? Do we take a break and focus on our careers for a little while? Do we take advantage of having no responsibilities and live it up? We started this process to build a family. And in a few months we will likely be childless again.

Right now we are just going to let life happen but it's an interesting to ponder. If I had no kids- how would I occupy what is left of my day?

We want to travel so when they return home we will be booking a nice vacation just the two of us. No family members. No friends. A second honeymoon of sorts. Hubby and I have learned so much about each other an communicate so much better that I think we might enjoy a trip more than we did then.

I'm also looking forward to getting in shape. Hitting the gym and focusing on making healthy changes. Including sleep. I got a text from a friend the other day: "Good Lord woman when do you sleep?" Saturday mornings I get up with the kids to send them to their visit. I'm very much looking forward to sleeping in next weekend.

This is hard and sad but its a necessary part of foster care. It's the purpose. And at the end we'll be able to say we helped keep a family intact. We helped kids heal and we have given them tools to use the rest of their lives. And we learned what it was to love, really love. And know what the sound of giggles does to your soul. If I could bottle that up I would.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Feeling Slightly Steadier

The meeting with the caseworker and her new supervisor wasn't that productive although I did vent quite a bit. Hopefully, she'll get it and I don't have to keep beating the dead horse. She tried to fall on the sword and say that she was slowing this down due to the departmental changes.  Sorry sweetie. Not going to work. This has been going on for 2 years.

We did get out of them the following:
  • The first overnight will happen. Then they will have family therapy and then have another overnight visit the next weekend.
  • Typically from the 1st overnight visit they look at moving them home in 60-90 days.
  • We are to receive a plan for how often the caseworker shall be touching base.
  • They are not inclined to try to find another foster home so if we can't finish teh transition they would likely move the kids home sooner provided the judge allowed.
She also tried to tell us that this is normal for fosterparents to feel frustrated because its painful and you are grieving.  Which I get but when you have no idea what is supposed to happen after next week and the kids are totally out of whack it doesn't really help to hear that. "Oftern foster parents find its too hard and so they ask us to speed up the process". You live week by week lady with 4 bickering screaming children and tell me what you'd be asking other people to do.

Grrr.

Then the CASA worker came over and she tried to talk us off the ledge too. Put things in perspective. Which was nice of her. But she also gets to see the big picture and so its easier for her to put all the pieces together and feel better about it.  In any event, our request for communication and a plan will be well documented.

So best case scenario the kids will return home right after their break,  Which makes this a little easier to deal with. Which makes me feel bother better and stronger. More equipped.

But man, it still hurts like hell.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Post Didn't Publish...

So I wrote this great post about the conversation Hubby and I had over the weekend, and somehow it got lost...

We arrived at the decision that we just need information in order to decide if we can do this. If they can't give us the information then WE will give them the date.

So I drafted an email expressing that it was clear the communication issues weren't taken seriously. In light of that and the behavior we are dealing with and the lack of plan I needed the dates for the transition by the end of the week so that we can decide if we can continue "to be advocates for the children and remain a healing environment". I expressed that without the support of the system I wasn't sure we could continue.

Yeah. The possible disruption of the 2 year foster home got some attention. The new supervisor of the caseworker called to "talk about the case". We set a meeting for tomorrow morning because she wanted to make sure "you have enough time". Then the CASA worker emailed. First a "it'll get better" email. Then she asked to set up a meeting to "hear our concerns". She has only met with us once and only the day she met the kids.

I meant my email. I need the information because I can't live like this and neither should the kids and I need to decide if I'm going to stick around for the matinee performance of the circus. Luckily, the kids therapists witnessed firsthand as one was greatest with wailing of a trantruming child while walking up to our door. And the others directions were completely ignored.

We'll see what everyone has to say. In any event, we out going out in the city this weekend and are even going to spend the night so no one has to drive home. I got a new little black dress (well a black dress anyway) with a sassy red and rhinestone belt and a hair appointment.

If you don't feel good you can look good. That's my motto.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Broken Glass

I lost it today. We came home last night to a broken mirror while the babysitter was here and tonight I had a shattered piggy bank that was a Christmas gift.

Now I know they were accidental. No one threw anything but seeing the broken pieces of the pig caused me to loose my sh*t. I unraveled. In a big way. And after my meltdown there was processing. And honesty about the fact that this is it. They either speak up and fix the issues with their Mom and do so by being honest and real or they go home and there are still major issues.

I took a major time out. Then I made dinner and made it movie night so we were all together. I think one of their big things is they feel I haven't spent enough time with them because they have spent so much time with their Mom and I worked late a few nights this week.

We watched Singing in the Rain and Mm kept asking if they were going to sing the song but did so by actually singing the lyrics. An then I sent them to bed and the girls managed to fight and try to engage me in policing it.

I didn't. I calmly said that I had sent them to bed and it did not involve breaking up a fight over jewelry an that the jewelry should have been ignored and if they wanted to continue to tattle to me about the jewelry I was going to make the jewelry unavailable for discussion. (The way this happened though was JB coming downstairs asking for a notebook to journal her feelings in. Ooh Mr. Masked Motive how I've missed your wiley ways.)

Then Gabby came down asking for a second hug complaining about her hand. And then told me she slept a good chunk during her 5 hour visit today which explained why she was wide awake at 10:30pm.

I'm hoping that school starting back up next week will lessen the craziness we have. In reading the comments in the last post, I realized that I do need a date and a plan presented to me or I will be giving them one. Hubby and I just need to get on the same page about what that date would be.

Sadly, the "if" they go home has been replaced with "when" they go home. And it breaks my heart a little each time I say it. Like the shards of the Piggy Bank. But with anything hard, the more you repeat it, the easier it becomes. Or it least I'm trying to convince myself of that. And then I whisper to my heart the same thing I whispered to LM the first night she lived here: "It will be, ok." And I wish that I could have as much strength and resolve in that, when I say it to myself, as I did when I said it to her. It hard to feel resolute when tears are streaming down your face.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

If I'm Being Honest

I started this blog to document our journey but also to help others. Often times I feel stronger just by knowing someone else has been down the same path or had the same thought. The remainder of this post is brutally honest. It doesn't not mean I've stopped caring for or loving my foster children but is where I am at and I think I'll feel better if I let it out.
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I really want to be done. I'm worn out. I'm sick. I'm tired. And if the kids are returning home I want it to be soon. Like tomorrow...Because we've worked so hard to correct and heal and redirect over the last two years that its heartbreaking to watch it all be undone in a matter of a week.

I went through the months and months of struggling with these 4 to be identified by them as their parent and it frustrates me completely to have to start over again. And I just don't want to do it. I'm not interested. I stuck through it because I thought I was helping a family. Because I was holding on to hope that these kids would be mine. And now with the world telling me the overnights are starting and the kids flip flopping daily on where they want to live I just want it over with already. Let me rip the frickin band aid off the wound and give it a chance to heal. And do it quickly because I don't want to be the superstar foster mom anymore. I don't want to soothe raging children or redirect nonsense questions or clean up pee from people who are toilet trained. I no longer want to contact 5 sets of people when a kid gets a headache at school or be the emotional target practice for a birth parent and her children.

If its over, can we just please let it be over? And soon? Because at this point I really want to focus on myself and planning my next trip to someplace where I'm not responsible for everyone and everything. And I don't need written permission to go from some person I've never met.

I am sick to death of analyzing everyone's words, actions, and behaviors. I'm tired of having to process every event or slight perceived or real. And I'm really tired of before and after visit wackiness.

Everyone says she's ready. Let her deal with it. And let me be. I just want to be - with no one and nobody to question or comment on it.

2012 Began and Ended in the ER

A year ago on 1/1/2012 I spent the day in pain in the ER. I was having stomach pains and to help me they have me a drug I'm intolerant of and I spent the next 6 hours throwing up while they tested me to fin nothing wrong. (Stress was the final diagnosis.)

In trying to be funny I said I hope the year doesn't start in the ER again. In yeah... Nice work big mouth.

About 7 pm JB came running into my room and said thAt Gabby needed me in the bathroom. Now this kid is FASCINATED with medical issues. Every spec of potential additional bodily fluid is analyzed. So I'm thinking- oh God I hope it's not her period. I just can't handle that today. Then I open the door to find her crying and immediately think she threw up as she had just returned home from a visit.

Nope. The kid decided to use a knife instead of scissors to try and open a toy (that I told her we were returning since we already have one) and sliced the part if her hand where your thumb attaches.

Let me tell you- the period would have been a blessing compared to the next 4 hours.

Fortunately, the wait to get to a bed in the ER was not long but we managed to watch 1 1/2 movies before we were discharged. It took several hours to get the numbing medicine from the pharmacy and less than 10 minutes to actually stitch and wrap her hand.

Her resolution: no more hospital trips.