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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Confessions

My email got hacked this week and I heard from lots of people. ALL of them said in some fashion- Hey! I'm here for you. And I have to say it was really lovely. ALL of them asked about the kids. And what could I say? And tUmm still in limbo. Not really sure who will be living in my house full time. In a few weeks I might fall to pieces again.

If I were really honest I would say: I shield the majority of all thats going on away from you because you wouldn't understand. Because I'm afraid it would mean that we live in such different worlds and that you will be so turned off and confused by mine that you may not ever ask again and I'm too afraid of loss right now to trigger that reaction. Even if you don't understand everything I'm going through the fact that you asked is enough for me to feel supported and loved. Which I did and I cherish. But I also don't share the entire truth because I can't carry you while I do this. I can't hold your hand and explain why I'm not spit fire mad like you at what's going on with my kids- because I'm past that. Way, way past it and I don't have the energy to go back and rehash it. Although it touches me you are angry on our behalf. I only have enough strength for myself and my kids. I hope you understand.

And you know what I need? An invite. Time away from my crazy life. Ask me to go someplace and reconnect with the person I used to be. While I love the fierce Mom that I've become I miss the carefree days and parts of my life I deem unimportant but shouldn't. Don't discount my offer to help because you think I'm too busy "with the kids". I realize I used to be a people pleaser and never said no but I've been through therapy and have learned to realize my limits. I say no all the time! Ask my kids!

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I read two great posts along this topic today. I will link them when I can because they were very well written and definitely worth reading.



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hope Floats

Really trying very hard not to let the hope creep back in. It doesn't sound like Mom took responsibility when the kids confronted their lack of feeling safe. Only repeating that she's changed and what does she have to say for them to believe her.

Meanwhile I'm over here handling all kinds of attention seeking behavior times 4 plus the 5th grade changes in your body talk. I had to explain what a "boner" was tonight. How did I get here again?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Therapeutic Parenting

So since the kids have been here so long sometimes I forget that healing is active and sometimes it takes work. It's been a while since I really needed to pull out my therapeutic parenting tools on More than one kid in the same hour. (usually they take turns.) Maybe it's the snow. Maybe it's the fact that therapy got cancelled tonight. Maybe it's family therapy tomorrow I don't know but all the kids were wacked out.

LM was just quiet. Although in an odd moment of kindness she did the dishes for JB. I was surprised but I think she wanted to be near me while I was making dinner. Something is up there but I'm not sure what it is.

Gabby came home upset. She was complaining about her sisters and brother and just couldn't keep it together. Hubby did a nice job of taking her aside and giving her a chance to talk. She couldn't identify what was making her cry- just a bad day. We asked how we could help. She didn't know. Hubby suggested a shower "to wash away the day" and she did just that. By the time dinner was ready she was back to her old chatty self.

Jelly Bean was working hard to get some attention. Interrupting Hubby and I talking behind closed doors, leaving notes on scrapbook paper. Wanting to read to me. So I took her aside and told her I understood she needed some time with me. Reminded her that all she had to do was ask.

I think we are starting to see the fear coming through. Visits are unsafe and there is a big unknown of if and when for going home. We took several steps backward and the kids know it. And I won't know what is happening until next week. I just have to remember to stay calm and help them heal and stay regulated as the anxiety comes through.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Odd Life

So I was going to write about how the judge on my foster kids' case just made the front page of a major newspaper because she was assigned to a high profile case (featuring the relative of a well known political family). Then we watched The Odd Life of Timothy Green.

And since BOTH Hubby and I were reduced to tears I decided to share that instead.

Caution: I may spoil some of the movie for you. Stop reading if you want to be surprised.

I didn't really know what the movie was about. The kids had wanted to see it and so we grabbed from the Redbox Rental (Redbox is my new favorite thing). Of course it starts with a loving couple trying to start their family. They are in an adoption office and begin to tell their story.

The same day as they receive the news they are out of fertility treatment options they go home an dream up their "perfect child". And they bury their ideas in a box in the garden.

Gabby asked why they were doing that. I explained it was a lot like in therapy when you write down the hard stuff and destroy the paper. "Sometimes you have to do that with dreams in order to move forward."

And oh man are we there. We just got to a place where we buried the dream of this and started to move forward. And did we get kids who fit exact? Please! It's like 4 miniature Foster Mom R and Hubbys.

And then this little boy shows up at about age 7 and he calls them Mom and Dad. And it took me back to the first time I heard someone call me that. It was Jelly Bean. And it melted my heart.

Then the sister shows up and makes some really rude comments about getting a "real kid" one without "problems" and I cringed a bit. Because well meaning but ignorant people have said the very same thing to me. And daily we dodge some sort of question or comment that could take a negative turn.

Even Sunday, the girl at the mall asked LM and Gabby if they were 1/2 Hispanic because they looked Hispanic. I was in the fitting room eager to hear what they said. When she asked if they looked like their Dad I almost giggled. So when Gabby asked me what percentage Hispanic she was I was a little puzzled. She didn't quite understand that nationality is genetic and it's not something you acquire by living with someone. Of course when the sales girl asked what kind of Hispanic their Dad was they answered Puerto Rican instead of Mexican.

So Timothy Green lands in what would be a really fantastic foster home and starts teaching the people in the story about life and what's important. And the parents learn that they are not perfect and have to deal with how others react to their choices.

Timothy has leaves growing on his legs. They have to decide how to work with this difference. Just like we had to learn to work with Jelly Bean's differences. I had to get over other people's reaction to my 8 year old in the shopping cart at the grocery store. I had to give up the idea that my kids would be honor role students and be ecstatic that they were passing tests.

And all along the family turns into a "real" family. And by real I mean one of love and laughter. One that works together. And it doesn't matter that he didn't come from their DNA. He was just there and they loved him.

Until the day that he was done teaching them about being parents and it was time for him to leave. The universe mysteriously sweeps him away and the parents are left without any answers except that possibly they had learned what they needed to know to pass the adoption interview so they can become forever parents.

This same though has crossed my mind. Maybe the kids are teaching us something we need to know before they move on. Maybe we are supposed to help other kids. Either way the Universe has a plan and I'm not tuned into it. And it may very well sweep them away with little explanation.

So we watch a the family gets their older forever child and Hubby and I were left crying. In front of the kids. I think they were shocked to see Hubby moved to tears and when they left the room to get ready for bed we sobbed in each others arms.

We are back to limbo. The space of the unknown plan and I have no idea how to feel about it. I don't want to get my hopes up and I don't want to let go again. And I'm really, really tired of all this being on the whim and choices of someone who doesn't really understand the impact she makes.

Hopefully we'll have some information about next steps this week. This is an odd way to live. Life plans changing weekly....

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Consequences

Finally! Finally, a consequence to thumbing her nose at the rules. Overnight visits got pulled this week an next. And the schedule didn't revert back to what it was before them - Friday night visits were cancelled altogether. And she had to tell them that she was losing time with them because she broke the rules.

This week and next just Wednesday and Saturday visits with pop-in supervision. And then I'm not sure. I was told she's out of chances. We'll see what the judge has to say. The judge was very clear- no visitors, transparency in what's happening at the visits.

Of course this meant a relieved Gabby, a sad LM and a scared JB. All of them seem scared about their visit and the dynamic between the kids has shifted again. None of them are getting along.

And gosh darn it of she didn't tell them about the April move date! So of course now we have to go back and make the kids understand the reasons why that is now out of the question.

Strangely, I'm feeling steady. I thought I would feel upset about this but I really don't feel much. I'm trying not to get my hopes up but also feel validated in my thoughts that she is way overwhelmed. I just pray that the state stops the madness here. 2 years 9 months in foster care is too long.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Rules Don't Apply

So the kids came home today from another 2 night overnight. Their behavior was fine but their report of the goings on at the visit was alarming. Mom violated two major rules- no one else at the visit per the court order and she took the kids to pay the bill on the emergency cell phone- she has no license and is not allowed to drive them. The worst of this was she told the kids not to tell anyone she broke the rules and discouraged them from calling the case worker.

I have to say I'm not surprised but I'm really disappointed in her choices. I don't know if she really doesn't care what the court says or if she's self sabotaging but either way I was just like 'c'mon. These are not hard rules to follow. For your kids' sake you can't keep it together? Do you have any idea what this did to them? The fact they know you totally disregarded the rules is shattering whatever trust you have built.

Worse was their anger and grieve over Mom breaking the rules. They are very scared she crossed a line and they won't be going home. How scary to have been abused by all these people who told you not to tell, participate in therapy 2-3 times a week and have it drilled into your head that safe adults don't make you keep secrets that you don't feel right about and then have everyone tell you your Mom has changed and then she does the same thing!

I just held them. Praised them for telling us (still worried about the lack of emergency phone use but they told us) and reminded them our job is to keep them safe. We encouraged processing with their therapists and then got out of the house for dinner and then watched a funny movie as a family. It was almost as if there was no visit that's how calm and peaceful they were.

I have no idea what this means, if anything. The judge was pretty clear about the no visitors and this is the second time she has broken this rule. The therapists are going to have a fit over her telling them not to tell anyone. But no one has ever held her to the fire before due to ignoring visit rules so I don't think much will happen. Maybe they will scale back to one night again. Really though, what is that going to do except drag this out and keep the kids in care longer.

I'm angry at her. Just as I got comfortable with saying goodbye and moving on without them, she does this and I feel like I just got belted in for another ride on the crazy train. I don't even know what to do with this. Do I hope this is the end, that visits stop?Do I hope they do nothing so that the process doesn't slow again? I don't think I have another 6 months of this in me. When is enough, enough?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Visitation Post Reunification

So we had a meeting with our case worker and her supervisor tonight. We expressed our concerns- stressed that Mom needs to get on the ball with setting up doctors and therapists and issues we are seeing. (Gabby throwing up 2 Mondays in a row, LM dissociating, Jelly bean refusing to eat school lunch, MM back to having behavior issues at school.)

Ultimately, all we an do is put it out there. So then the supervisor asks us- "So if given the option what kind of visitation, if any, would you want to have with the kids?"

Huh?

I guess since DCFS will be involved for a while they have away and will actually plan visits with us when the kids move home.

I was honest with her and told her I don't trust Bio Mom to follow through and wouldn't want us to loose each other twice, but of course we want to see them. She gave me an example of a situation of a foster family who didn't feel the kids would be safe returning home, had the kids for 2 years, no trust between the adults and the kids spent the night every Saturday. She also gave us examples where the foster parents were day care providers for the kids post reunification.

I'm not sure how all that feels. To be honest, even though its my deepest fear, I'm not sure I want to allow myself to hope that this is a possibility. To see the kids every few days or weeks? I guess the therapists are really working with her to see this is best for the kids.

Then the kids came home which of course was chaos. I'm glad she got to see them in full force and effect.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

In Her Shoes

So I had kind of an aha moment today. In between my crying jags I thought this must be how Mom feels at times. And for like 10 minutes I felt true empathy. Then I felt anger.

Angry that she hurt kids at all. Angry that it took her so long to progress through her case plan. And angry that the big difference between her pain and mine is that she always knew that she would get to see her kids.

So I was super annoyed when she texted to talk to LM who came home with a headache. You couldn't notice when Gabby was throwing up but LM has a headache and now you're concerned was all I could think. (And I'm a chronic headache and nerve pain in my head sufferer. I am one of THE most sympathetic people when it comes to headaches.)

But my earlier empathy had me change my tune. When I got home I had LM call Mom and tell her that her head still hurt. It was my olive branch. In less than 60 days I'm going to wonder how the kids are and I'm praying to God that I'll be allowed a phone call. I'm hoping Mom sees me trying to be giving.

I have some theories as to why her head hurts. Stress gives me headaches that knock me out. I can imagine that this weekend was stressful. It could also be hormonal. Or depression. Because as cheesy as the commercial is; depression hurts.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Life with No Kids

So the kids started their weekends of 2 overnights with Mom. From here until Spring break they will only be home Sunday, Monday, and Thursday evening. They will be here Tuesday nights but they have therapy and Wednesdays they will come home at about 8pm in time for bed.

Hubby and I celebrated Valentines day early yesterday. Going out for dinner and a movie and we are headed to a martini party tonight.

I came home from our night out yesterday to a message from LM's teacher. She didn't turn in a paper. I sent a text to Mom and ended up talking to LM via text. It broke my heart.

Today hubby and I spent a great deal of time talking about our next steps. We have come back to being able to consider foster parenting in the future. We've considered that maybe our time helping these kids is over and it's time to help new kids.

And we took a look and said, look at all the gifts we have and were given during this time. Look at all the good. But then feeling was, well then why does this feel so bad?

Because love is often painful. It's messy. It's rewarding and wonderful but it can hurt. Like hell.

But we'll be ok. Because it is better to have loved an lost than to never have lived at all.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gaining Strength

I've not written as often lately because I feel like all I'm doing is complaining. I feel like I'm depressing my readers. I'm so appreciative of the comments and support and honestly I'm not trying to break everyone's heart.

I did set out to honestly document our journey and this is definitely part of it. I honestly though the hardest part of this journey was going to be battle behaviors and trauma. I had no idea that it would take 10 times the amount of energy to prepare for it to be over. Or maybe because I know it will be over I'm allowing myself to pull out of survival mode.

I catch myself in little moments- tearing up. And I recover quickly but I feel like I need a good hard cry. On more than one occasion I've done this in my car on my way home. And then other times (like Saturday afternoon when the kids came home and every.single.one.of.them needed me for the most basic things) that I want the time to pass quickly and be alone with my husband and our pain.

Hubby is very practical in his approach. He's sad and been more emotional about this than anything else ever in the 12 years we've known each other. But he can really look at this situation and feel like this isn't what we signed up for and be ok with it changing. He's excited for what the future might hold.

I'm over here scared that the future might hold nothing. No kids. No joy. No happy. And of course I know that's totally irrational and unlikely but that's going on in my head.

I've graduated to pretty much holding it together when people as how the kids are. I'm not reduced to a puddle of tears, more like a light misting. But the responses of some people really boggle my mind. I hope I was never as ignorant about what to say to someone who was watching their hopes die.

I was really irritated the other day at work when someone overheard me say how much my Mom loves being a grandma. She actually jumped in the conversation and said- well then you'll just have to get to making her some grandbabies then.

I hope the shock registered on her face when I said, "Don't you think I would have if I could?" Normally, I keep things like that too myself but I really wanted her to feel bad. It doesn't work like that. You can't replace one set of children with another!

And while I'm not at the point of seeing a specialist, I am slightly disappointed that in fact, it might not be in my cards to have a baby. And while its not crushing to me yet (I've admitted I'm not a person who falls apart at the sight of a newborn, I do love being a Mom.) it still makes me sad. And as all my friends have children it makes it a little harder.

Maybe it's my twisted sense of humor but I had to laugh when Hubby brought the mail in yesterday and there were two packs of marketing mailers for a parenting magazine with babies all over the cover. I was like, ok now even the mailbox has to rub it in my face! (Seriously, shop till you pop was a headline.)

I'm working from home today as the 4th kid decided she also needed to be sick this week (the other 3 took their turns already). I suspect that she needed a mental health day similar to the one I need so I made the executive decision to let her stay home and to stay with her. Sometimes you need a break and that includes the kids.