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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

No News

I haven't heard anything from the Caseworker (if she's going to be around for another year we must give her a blog name). She did tell me Monday she had another potential lead in a Spanish speaking foster family so that would trump us as the placement. So I guess we just wait. Meanwhile, I'm painting over the walls Mr. Mohawk ruined. Makes me a little sad.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Scoop

So Tuesday, our Licensing worker reached out via email. Let me know they were looking for a pre-adoptive home for a sibling group of four. It's their 3rd involvement with DCFS:
Bio Mom lost custody of 2 kids to Grandma in another state.
The oldest 2 were in foster care in Illinois for a year and returned home.
Intact Family Services were put in place a period of time later, risky behavior going on so kids were removed and all 4 taken into foster care.
In April they were placed with Godparents. They had their own child and were young so 5 kids under 8 didn't work out.
The youngest two went to one foster home. The oldest two went to another and were removed from there while the foster family was being investigated.

Now it's time for the Adjudication Hearing (legal term for proving the kids need to be in care) and the state is seriously considering concurrent planning of adoption and is therefore looking for a home that would adopt all four together if given the option. They don't believe there are any other services they can give the Mom that she hasn't already had and had proven she will just return to her old ways.

This is where we come in. 

Oh and the Caseworker is the same as the Fab Four. Which was a huge hesitation for us.

So we had what I call a "Come to Jesus  Meeting". 

And even though she had no answers to my questions, I did get a follow up email. It's a good start. 

We are going into this very cautiously. Even if they can get the DCFS attorney and the States Attorney to file an expedited termination, we are still looking at a year of Foster Care. Since they can't do any of the filing without the kids in a pre-adoptive home. (Circular thinking, I know.) There are still visits. The county the case in is fairly far. There is a Bio Dad in the picture (of two of the kids) and he's about to lose visitation as he's stopped showing up.

Aside from the youngest needing speech therapy and a case of recurring lice for the oldest two - the kids are healthy. 

We've asked to meet them. DCFS offered to check with the attorneys about the strength of the termination case. We shall see. School starts August 12 but the foster families are supposed to get 14 day notice before the kids get moved so I imagine we should find out more next week.

Luckily, I'm off next week I between starting my new job. So I will be painting and arranging the rooms to at least be better prepared than last time.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

So I called daycare...

Me: Hi Miss S, it's Foster Mom R!
Miss S: Hi!! How ARE you? Have you heard from the Fab Four?
R: Yep. They are doing really good. Saw them earlier this month. Excited for them. So listen, we were approached about a potential placement.
S: You were? Oh how exciting.
R: Yeah. So I was calling to see if you'd have room?
S: What are their ages?
R: 4,5,6, and 8
S: Four!?! You guys are amazingly crazy! God Bless you. So glad there are people like you but you are crazy!
R: Yeah... I wouldn't know what to do with only two kids. I tried to order a pizza for an emergency placement and I totally got it wrong.
S: Well anything for you guys. Even if we didn't have the room we'd figure something out.

A potential Pre-adoptive legal risk placement. Three girls and a boy.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Maria Found A Job

If I'm being totally honest, there was a point when I rooted against that in hopes that I would become a permanent mother. But when Maria called and asked if any of our babysitters would be interested in watching the kids when her new job started, I couldn't have been more excited.

I was thrilled! Good for her! 

I hope the child care comes through. That's been my prayer. In fact, I had a bigger reaction to her getting a new job than my own. 

I'm so glad I am having this version of the return home goal. Makes me see why it's a good goal to star with. (Someone remind of this if later I'm having the opposite feelings!)

25,000 Views

Wow! I came here to work on my post about our co-parenting weekend and realized I've had over 25,000 page views! I can't believe it. I remember when I was creeping up towards 100 and I was excited.

And people are still reading even though I'm not actively parenting kids! I set out to document our journey, and we are definitely still on it, but I'm so excited I still have readers! I would say this, I would have liked to have read more about the in-between time that people experienced. Hopefully, I'm writing about what you want to know. If not speak up! 

Seriously.

And thank you for giving me an outlet. I appreciate all of the comments and feedback.

Love my Blog friends!


Friday, July 12, 2013

Literally the High Sign

For weeks I've been asking my Grandma to come to me in my dreams. I miss her terribly. And last night, the day I gave my notice at work, she did.

I dreamed I was describing a dream with her in it. But very clearly I could see her face and I reached out and touched her cheek, which felt soft. The entire time she was smiling. We were going from house to house and I can only take that to mean she's helping us find the right house to move to.

It was incredible. The last time she came to my dream was the night before the verdict was read in the Jelly Bean trial. I so appreciate the acknowledgment from above, the High sign, if you will.

Clean Sweep

Boy when we make changes- we really make changes. This week I was offered and accepted a job with a new company. Funny thing is is I started my current job two weeks after all 4 kids were living with us. Now I'm leaving 4 month after they left us. 

It's a great opportunity and I'm excited to start something new. But I'm going to look back a year and not recognize any part of my life. Hubby had a new job. No kids. Possibly a new house.

Maybe we just don't do subtle...

Monday, July 8, 2013

So Sad

The girls did get picked up this morning as promised. I don't think they found a placement for them because at 4:15 pm I got a call from someone asking me if I would be interested in taking an 8 & 6 year old. She didn't know I was the one who kept them over the weekend. When I explained they had left my house this morning she said, "Are you sure you don't want to keep them?" 

Yes, I am sure.

As sweet as they were the case was not likely going to end in adoption and that's what I am looking for. Also we are working on moving.

Truthfully, I wasn't sad to see them go this morning. I was sad for them; the path ahead of them is a tough one. But I wasn't sad as in worried and feeling connected. I couldn't picture them as "my kids". And that was good for me to experience. I could see us doing an emergency placement again or weekend respite. 

I tried to really focus in on giving them a safe place during such a confusing time. I explained that there were people who were going to ask questions, no one was in trouble, and you had to tell the truth so everyone can be safe and get help. I read  "Maybe Days". And I reassured them that they would get to see their Mom and that she missed them too. I'm not sure how much thy understood but at least it will be familiar the next time someone talks with them.

I said prayers for them and their Mom. I can't imagine how scary that would be. Well I can, but how I imagine is probably not nearly 1/2 as scary as it actually is. I hope that if the Mom isn't the abuser she stops covering up for whoever was living in the house that is.

Forgotten

How exhausting it is. These poor girls fell apart at bedtime. 5 trips back to bed after story time. They finally are both sleeping. They miss their Mom. It was a good experience but not sure we are ready. 

God love the dog though. He went in and slept on the end of the bed just like he used to. The fluffy protector.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Child's Perspective

This is a picture one of the girls drew for me. It's a picture of our house, Hubby is in the purple (apparently in an entire show box of markets not one blue one). 

It's good to know our house comes across with so much love.

New

So the girls arrived at 2:15 AM. They were wide awake at 3 AM. Finally settled and then slept until about 9:30. I woke up to find the youngest up, dressed, bed made, shoes on. She was ready to go.

The older one (who the abuse happened to) was still sleeping. She slept until about 10 and then had a bloody nose. Poor thing.

I can tell they are smart but the oldest is doing a lot of baby talk. A dramatic difference from Jelly Bean and Mr. Mohawk. They were bouncing off the walls, these girls are calm and well behaved.

Hubby who several times said to me before they arrive- this is temporary, was the first to comment on how adorable they were. He got them set up with Mary Poppins and made us popcorn.

I love that man.

She called me back too...

Just as I was calling game over and heading to bed DCFS called me back. Headed my way are an 8&6 year old pair of sisters removed because one was diagnosed with an STD. I was clear. Caseworker needs to be at my door 8am Monday as I have an appointment I can't reschedule.

We'll see how this goes.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Messages

Ok. From now on the Fab Four's Mom shall be known as Maria. 

Maria did eventually answer the phone. And it worked out because she ended up having a dental emergency and so we took the kids while she went to the dentist. 

Part of me was just hoping she would cancel because I was pretty tired. (We ended up at a karaoke bar last night and got home pretty late.) Seeing the kids has been emotionally draining and I wasn't sure I was ready to deal with my own issues today.

They still seem to be doing good although they seemed a little dull. Like their spark was kind of gone. I know bedtime isn't always consistent but it seemed like they were tired and almost depressed. Maybe it's hard on them to see us too. Although, there were no I miss you tears or goodbye tears. I barely got a hello hug.

Jelly Bean did tell me when I finally got ahold of Maria (her phone was charging and the ringer was off) that she had to sit out 30 minutes of playtime. She said "I'm really disappointed in myself Mom." 

I said well, we'll have 30 minutes to discuss it! (I'm so mean!)

We've seen them 8 times over the almost 3 months they've been gone. And they are attaching to Maria in a healthy way. As we run into people who we haven't seen in a while like teachers from daycare and friends we've been asked a lot of questions about this process and its allowed for some further processing.

It seems a lot of people are afraid to ask about the kids and how we are. I'm glad they've asked. It means they care! 

I've been surprised by my own answers. We were asked tonight if we though the kids would end up back in care. 3 months ago my answer was unequivocally yes. Now it's: I'm concerned from a financial standpoint. Not that they can take kids away because of homelessness but rather, are they in a safe alternative environment. LM's phone being shut off and a lack of certain things in the home suggest that Maria is struggling more financially. Since she has not been working due to the childcare situation I'm worried she will lose the apartment and DCFS was step in as that was a return home condition.

The friends we saw tonight are expecting a baby in a few months. They kept asking about how we handled such a big change to parenthood and then back. My answer to that is we didn't have time at the beginning to stop and wonder how we got there. And while from the outside it looked like we handled everything with ease, the truth is it was hard and there was a lot of crying. We made lots of mistakes and learned quite a bit. 

How did we handle the transition back? We ran away. We left the house every other weekend for 2 months. We are still trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. We are living up our free time because we didn't do that before we no longer had the option.

Hearing ourselves talk about the last 2 years in summary was kind of surreal. I can't believe some of the stuff we handled. I think I understand why people want to give us the sainthood. It sounds crazy! But seriously when you are in it and you are a decent human being - you would have done the same things I did. I promise you could have. 

The most asked question as of late: will you foster again? Yes. But we are going to wait still.

Although while I was writing this post I got my 3rd call this weekend from an investigator for a placement. This one happened to be up the street at the local office. Since we hadn't talked about it I asked Hubby if he would ever be interested in an emergency placement. For instance it's 11:15pm on a holiday weekend. While we wouldn't be able to take on a case this week we could give some frightened children a welcoming place to sleep tonight. 

I didn't know if I was just feeling bad or if it was because we'd been processing foster car all night but we both landed on- we have no plans tomorrow we'd be open to offering our home for a night. 

I called back and left a message. We'll see if goes anywhere.

More Calls

Our licensing worker came for our 6 month visit yesterday. She hinted ever so slightly about how much she'd like to fill our home. No joke within 10 minutes I got a call from a an investigator about an emergency placement of a 14 year old girl. I felt bad that I had to say no. She must have been having a rough day because she thanked me for at least answering the phone. Then I got a call at the baseball game we went to. Those calls always make me nervous. A few beers in and I'm afraid I sound like an irresponsible parent. Plus I said no to a child in need because I'm at a baseball game.

I can't save them all though. And I need to remember that. I also have to remember that we have a plan to improve our situation so that we can dig in and help the next group of kids who will live with us.

We see the Fab Four today. We have plans to go to a bounce house place but I haven't confirmed the time with Mom. LM's phone is shut off. And so far my Facebook message has gone unanswered. It wouldn't be a big deal except my parents and brother were planning on coming too. Fingers Crossed she gets my message.




Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I Blinked

And 10 years went past. This week marks ten years that my husband and I have lived in our house. Well, ten years ago it was his house and I was moving into it against my parents' wishes, but we've both lived here since day one.

We spent that night on the futon in our loft while a thunderstorm raged. I had no idea that time would go by so fast. That was:

1 Dog
2 Air Conditioners
3 College Degrees
4 Foster Kids
5 Cars
6 Jobs
7 Anniversaries
8 Trips to Disney World*
9 Arrangements of Furniture in our living room.
10 Wine Parties

*8th trip schedule for October

Ago.

If you had told my 21 year old self that ten years from then I would still be living here, I'm sure she would have laughed at you. Full of dreams and ambition I'm sure she would have said, "that isn't the plan". 

It's funny how time can change dreams and ambition can become different. 

We've talked a lot about selling this house lately. We had only "planned" to live here 5 years. Sure that some exciting job or higher education would take us elsewhere. As ready as I am to live closer to my parents and work, I'm feeling a little sad today thinking about all we've experienced within this home.

We took MM and JB's bed to storage last night. MM's bed was put in the same spot the futon once occupied. 

Seeing the space empty was hard. When we saw the Fab Four last Saturday we took the rest of their things to them. I have to admit, I tried to delay that process. The longer their stuff was here the more chance there was that they needed me. Ridiculous, I know, but part of my process. 

And now the loft where the futon once was and a twin bed once was- is empty again. I wonder how the next family will use that room. I wonder if it will hold special memories; moments of firsts. 

It will be hard to close this chapter. It will be hard to move on from here. But it's time. Time to move forward. Time to let go. Time to start a new adventure in many ways.



Monday, July 1, 2013

Twitter

I joined Twitter in an attempt to write more. Find me @FosterMomR