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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

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 "R" to them for that long.

The kids should be comfortable. I believe that. And I won't force them to call me Mom. (I will refer to Hubby as Dad and secretly hope that they change their minds.) I know often the argument is that "Mom" may have a negative connotation but they really seem to love their Mom and they call her "Mommy". 

I guess I just feel like if I'm doing all the heavy lifting of a Mom, it would be nice to get the credit.

Although yesterday at day care one of the kids called me by the Fab Fours' last name. Hi Mrs. Four! Which was kind of funny to me. These kids all have different last names although one of them is the same as ours! (It's been interesting to be back at day care. The kids who were friends with the Fab Four have been cute. Telling me how much they miss them. The parents not in the know seem puzzled. Like i look familiar but aren't sure why. Everyone else wants to know how I shrunk my kids! LM came with me to pick them up tonight and she told people these kids were her cousins and siblings!)




Sunday, December 29, 2013

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. Everything else was always laid out for her. She is 7! The 4 year old is able to do it so should the 7 year old. 

The crying at the drop of a hat is getting old fast. Simon did this tonight when discussing the hate mail he sent his Mom at his visit today (he told her he hopes she eats dog food- which I can't even fathom coming out of his mouth much less written on paper). But he did calm down quicker than previously and mentioned to me that Hubby told him he was proud of him for being able to calm down. The positive praise is really important to him.

And my little Smiley. She's whip smart. And she's funny. She cracks me up. Tonight she told me I could go to bed and she would watch TV with Hubby. Gee thanks kid!




Saturday, December 28, 2013

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 time we were accused of being hurtful regarding our lack of contact compared to the other foster mom- even though the kids hadn't moved in with us. My last kids had a saying. Nunya. As in Nunya business.) She can go also. This is one of those times where I wish being the petty, vindictive person was an option. I'd really enjoy telling her where she can stick her thoughts about this situation. BUT, I was not raised that way, I wouldn't want that to be the example I set, and I do understand where she is coming from. So I will put on my big girl panties and allow the kids to call her if they ask. And delete the equally forward and not very nice email I prepared in response to hers.   And repeat to myself that I will kill her with kindness and be the more fabulous foster mom because this isn't about me. It's about the kids. And the kids might need her still. 






Friday, December 27, 2013

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....

Saturday, December 21, 2013

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.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

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.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

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 away from spending holidays and birthdays together (I did make a stink about an overnight visit starting on Christmas but the judge agreed and I suggested they just have a long visit that day instead.). I did not learn of a family celebration and demand that the kids be late to it.

This person has said I've made plans and extended invitations, when in fact, I did not. I'm not sure if she's trying to convince herself, or convince me she's not heartless, or what but she went so far as to tell me she could have filed an appeal to keep the kids but she believes this is best for them.

Seriously, it's exhausting keeping up with the up and down. And I really bit my lip because I came very close to telling her, no way on Earth would you have won that appeal. You've had the kids less than 6 months, don't meet the cultural requirements for the kids, and are not willing to take their siblings even though you've been asked time and time again.

I don't have time for her bullying and I can't be responsible for her emotions. If you have to keep apologizing to me for your behavior then perhaps it's time to evaluate how you are acting. You can't ignore someone in person and then call them up the next day and act like their best friend. And she's not even the bio parent. I refuse to put up with it from another foster parent.

But if she can't land in one space where she can at least suck it up an pretend that I'm an ok person to spend time with for the sake of the kids, we are really going to have to evaluate if a continued relationship is the best for everyone. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

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 now. I simply said, further contact can't improve the situation. I want to be the bigger person here and I let the  case worker handle it. 

I can't believe what perspective I gained this year. Reunifying the kids really allowed me to step back and learn what it means to our them first. Hubby and I did a great job this week of making it about the kids and not us! Yeah us!

The transport service will be bringing the kids for the weekend instead of the foster parents as originally planned. Court should be real interesting on Tuesday. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

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 separated and had a history of sexual abuse. If they moved the kids so they were together, they wanted it to be their last move in foster care. (We will be their 3rd and 4th homes (yes, again).)

I cannot go into this with the idea of adoption in my head. It was a mistake I made last time. Actions were taken the wrong way and I believe that being honest about our wish to adopt may have hindered others to see our legitimate concerns. 

I am glad that the other families could see us as a forever family for these kids. It allowed them to be placed together. No doubt we will make the same promise as before, our house or her house. I signed up as a foster parent and my job is to protect, advocate, and support the goal.

If I'm being honest, I am also guarding my heart a bit. I couldn't think of these kids as only mine if I were to be working with these other foster families or their biological families. I spent a great deal of the previous two years thinking of another Mom as my enemy and in the end that did me more harm than good. Maybe I feel like I owe it to Maria, with all she has taught me, about what it's like to be in her shoes. Quite frankly, I might still be worn out from all of that. Arms length of the thought that these could be the Final Four is much more comfortable right now. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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 for those kids if it wasn't in the cards for her to adopt them. And that she gave our family a really big gift, if it turns out that it is in God's plan for us to adopt them.

We felt it was best for the girls to spend Christmas with them. Coming to our family Christmas would have been overwhelming for everyone.  The next few weeks will be a flurry!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

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! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

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 Maria as much as we can. I feel comfortable moving forward because I believe that they have enough resources and done enough healing that me as foster mom, will not be necessary. It's time for me to open my home and my heart and help a different family.

And how are the Fab Four? They are doing ok. The girls have hit the teen attitude phase. LM got some tough love from me and an evaluation from a psychiatrist for depression and that was enough for her to adjust her attitude. JB is doing great at school and is slightly more stable in her mood swings. She is still tantruming but not as frequently. Gabby included us in her school concert this week. She is as moody as can be and hormones are to blame. MM is on meds for ADHD and he seems a little more focused. He is still not always listening but he doesn't seem to be in the middle of every issue anymore. Maria got hired full time at her job and will begin accruing vacation time. She was actually paid for Thanksgiving off this year. I told her how proud I was of her and that now, I see that she did work hard to get her kids back and she shared the judge sent her a letter to the same effect. We get to seem them every couple of weeks. They still call us Mom and Dad. We are still important in their lives and I have a feeling we may always be. 

As we move into this other case I feel wiser. We've really come a long, long way in a shorter period of time than I expected. I feel like I have a lifetime of foster care experience and I'm prepared to put it to use. In 2 weeks we will have kids living in our house again. And I'm sure this case will have quite a few blogable moments.