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Showing posts from 2014

Annie

God love my brother and sister-in-law.  I say "hey lets take 8 kids who call us Mom and Dad and one of their biological mothers to see the refresh of the movie Annie and get pizza afterward" and they show up. It was another one of my crazy "hope for the best" moments that could have exploded. It ended up being a really amazing day! 
Some would question taking 8 current and former foster kids to see a movie about an orphan (in the refresh Annie is a foster child). In fact, the following question was posed on Facebook somewhere (I honestly can't remember if it was a Foster Care support page or a foundation): Should "Foster Kids" go see the movie Annie?  I think it was a valid question but one of the comments really stuck with me.  It was something to the effect of why do you have to label the kids as foster kids? They are kids. So what if they are in foster care. I think I finally landed on why the comment bugged me so much.

Similar to ethnic, racial, a…

A Day in the Life

A real life day of a Foster Mama:Drop kids off at daycare. You don't get breakfast because the dog helped himself to your blueberry muffin.
Drive to work. Call attorney's office to check on status of home purchase. At 2 PM remember to eat lunch. Leave work at 7pm.
Run errands for the remaining Christmas shopping. Arrive home at 10pm and be met with this:

And all the kids up and not dressed for bedtime. Corral kids into pajamas. Soothe Smey's meltdown over bedtime. Turn on music, spray pillows with monster spray. Kiss everyone goodnight.
Take 10 minutes to use the bathroom. 
Wrap and organize hifts until 1:00 am.
Get up, scold dog for eating another muffin, and get everyone to daycare.
Wait for 15 minutes to have the TB test read for foster care license renewal.
Merry Christmas!

Chilling Away

Having kids with a trauma and neglect background requires some really heavy lifting on a daily basis. The kids carry the weight of their long, sad, horrific, histories around and as a foster or adoptive parent your job is to lift that burden from their shoulders and put it squarely on yours. The children test and push make sure you will stick around.  And it is exhausting at times to try and teach them the things they should have learned from the start.

They don't know touch is supposed to be comforting and loving. They didn't learn that parents will take care of them. They didn't learn to use words and reasoning to solve problems. They aren't confident food will always be available. Children with this background need you to start over and parent them as if they are infants and toddlers in the bodies of school aged kids. 
Smiley and I are currently walking this path. She's trying to push me away because she is starting to attach appropriately and that is terrifyin…

Anxiety

Forgive the stress purge I'm about to have here. This isn't a post to garner sympathy. Rather, it an honest post about the feelings and emotions I'm having. 
Several years ago I was on a medication that caused severe depression.  I began having panic attacks. My anxiety was high and I felt this sick feeling in my stomach and a tightening in my chest all the time.
These symptoms popped up again at times over the years. Like when Jelly Bean was hospitalized and then when the Fab Four went home.
I often feel the anxiety on the way to, and during, court.  I'm usually pretty good about taking the medication prescribed to me prior to times I know are going to trigger the feeling of an elephant on my chest. But this week I found my self trying to take deep breaths throughout my day as a means to feel more comfortable and it finally dawned on me that the anxiety has reached a daily level.
Some of the stress is around good things. Finding a house is awesome and I'm excited but …

Hey People- Knock It Off

The Mothers of the world have a full plate and I would appreciate it if you could cut them some slack. Quit rolling your eyes at their child's tantrum in the mall.  While its interrupting your pretzel break, she's trying to teach her child by insisting on listening to directions and following through on consequences. 
And the Mom wrangling three kids through the grocery store? It was her first attempt at it and she's going to figure it out before she goes back to work full time.
And the Mom who's kid made a poor decision and broke your stuff? She leads the charge in helping kids and families that have suffered horrendous injustices so maybe you could give her a little goodwill and not added to the battles she has fought for her kids.
And the Mom who lost her cool at daycare when she discovered one of her four cherubs lied and didn't bring work home for a 3rd day in a row- she's trying to prepare for Christmas while also buying a house, working full time, and renew…

More Stress Please

We are headed out of town this weekend for a short water park getaway. We had scheduled it thinking it would be a nice break just before Christmas as it's such a busy time.  It's my busy time at work and we want the kids to focus on family and not stuff.
This week turned our lives upside down.
We've been looking for 2 years for a house and couldn't find the size we wanted, in the area near my parents and work, for a price in our budget. We spend at least 1 1/2 hours commuting (to the same town) every day for work. I feel like I live in my car.  
This week we finally found a house that met our criteria and as of yesterday, we are under contract!
I'm excited but totally overwhelmed by all that needs to get accomplished to pack and ready our current house for rent and the new house for us. And Grad school starts back up in January and I'm still running a 1/2 marathon in Disney in February.
This will be the last calm weekend we have for a while. This is the 1st time I&#…

No Elves Here

Oh the Elf on the Shelf. I love the idea of you but in my home- it's not happening.

I put the Elf on the Shelf in the same category as the homemade heart shaped crayons for the entire class at Valentine's Day and Halloween Goodie Bags. Those things are for those other Moms who have their act together. For those parents who aren't exhausted by life. Or who don't have four children, work full time and train for a 1/2 marathon while going back to grad school.
Then there is the trauma aspect of our life. Be good or no holiday would blow up on us like pouring gasoline on a box of fireworks and lighting a match. An elf to watch out for naughtiness to tell Santa who never consistently visited my children would bring out the holiday crazy  even faster.
If you are a Mom out there who has been able to give the Elf license for creativity in your home- more power to you. I think it's fantastic you have a fun tradition with your children. (This isn't a "I am way busie…

It's Not About Me

I've been having a rough week. We all have them. It's not surprising, especially during the holidays for there to be some stress  but I had some added stressors this week and so I need to remind myself that when my kid works on something really hard and decides to wrap it up and give it to his Biological Mom, that it's not about me.
The sting I felt when he said "I made this for my Mom" was real. I'm a person. I have feelings. Last week if he had said, "I made this for my Mom" I might not have even pondered it. But as I sat waiting for the four of them to wrap up therapy, thoroughly exhausted from all that transpired this week, it hurt my feelings.
Let me be clear- I am glad my kid feels they can ask me for help with something as important as a handmade gift for their Mom. And I want to support positive feelings, interactions and memories about their Mom. (And to be fair, I got a beautiful picture drawn just for me last week when I was sick.) 
And his …

Almost A Year

We are about to hit the year mark of the Quartet being in our home.  I'm not sure where the time went.  It feels like I blinked. Last December was a blur and to be honest I don't really remember Christmas. So much happened with the other foster family and getting the kids enrolled in school and incorporating the Fab Four and Maria into our plans.

The kids don't seem to remember much of last December either but tonight I reflected a bit on how much they've grown.  How their personalities and strengths and weaknesses have emerged.

Simon wrote a comic book this week about past Christmases where he got no toys one year and "one or two" the next.  He wrote about being cold and a new house.  He's in 1st grade and the story was pretty cohesive. Somewhat melancholy but a great tool to get his thoughts and feelings out. He read it to us in a strong, clear voice! I was so proud of him.  His intelligence always knocks me over.  What kid gives up TV (which is very…

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!  We spent the day with family. My grandfather bought a new house and so it was the 1st Family Holiday there. It was fitting that it was also the 1st Thanksgiving for all of us together.
We have been working on "claiming" in therapy. Claiming our family. Claiming traditions.  Creating new ones unique to this family unit and continuing traditions from years past.
Today my kids watched the Macy's Day Parade for the first time. They made pilgrim hats and Indian Headresses out of construction paper. They played with their older cousins and they tried new foods unique to our family.  (The family tradition of fried cauliflower (think potato pancakes but with cauliflower) were a huge hit.)
We sat at a table all together and enjoyed hanging out. We also turned on the Christmas music and listened to it all the way to Grandpa's house, a tradition I insist on. It was a really special day. 
What are your family traditions? Is there something new you tried today?

Court Postponed

The court hearing was extended to mid-January.  Which means the TPR trial date will not be set until then.  I'm not surprised. And I have no specific feelings on if this is good or bad- it just is.  I can't change it so I don't need to worry about it.
See how much I've grown in the last 4 years?
We saw the Fab 4 last week. I told Mr. Mohawk I missed him. He told me he mostly missed the dog.  Hey- it was honest.
Jelly Bean reported Maria hit her to a teacher so an investigation was opened. JB admitted she lied because she was angry at her mom. The other kids supported Maria's accounting of events (that JB lied) but it cause Gabby to have some pretty big flash backs to being removed.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think JB would falsely report and put her family at risk. Nor did I think I'd ever be in the position to doubt a reporting kid.  This all gets crazier by the week.
Can I call a time out?

Reader Comment Question

First of all thanks for reading!  I love questions so please feel free to leave them in the comments or on the Facebook page.

"Why wouldn't you want to go to trial to terminate rights? Why would the goal change be bad before year end?"
Illinois has something called a Directed Consent also known as an identified surrender.  (I believe most states do.) It's paperwork a bio parent can use to place their children for adoption with the adoptive resource (foster parents, family) that allows their parental rights to remain intact until the adoption is finalized. Once the adoption is finalized, the surrender is permanent.  If for some reason the adoption falls through, the children are not left orphans and the parents retain their legal rights. If after a year the adoption is still pending the parent can also change their mind and revoke the surrender.  (This is new. It used to expired after a year of being signed.)
A trial can be a lengthy process and it opens up the case t…

Stunned

I've been at this for four years now.  Not much phases me at this point.  Tonight I was making airline reservations while catching blood from someone's nose.  Just another Tuesday.  But I was stunned when I learned today that Bio Dad is not willing to sign the identified surrender paperwork.

What?

He missed over 50% of his visits.  He didn't even have his house approved for visits much less overnights.  He hasn't shown up to court but once in the last 2 years (and he was summoned).  He didn't take a single parenting class. He didn't participate in therapy or family meetings. 

But he wants to go to trial to terminate his rights.

I just don't get it. You were so disinterested before. Your kids were left to worry and wonder if you were going to show up for them.  And now you want to take it seriously?

I felt like someone punched me in the gut when Caseworker #3 told me that. 

And where are their attorneys?  Why are they not telling these parents that having …

Grief Too Big For My Little Guy

I've written about grief a lot in the past year.  Heck, I've written about grief pretty much the entire time this blog has existed. I still struggle to understand the best ways to cope and heal from it.  Currently, I am grappling with how to help my kids do the same thing.  It totally sucks. 

Everyone outside of Foster Care Land wants to paint this picture of foster care as beautiful and giving.  Yes, it is a good thing to have people who want to help kids and families.  Yes, those families are special. Yes, there is a tremendous need.  But the truth is that the day in and day out of foster care is messy and full of loss and its tough, tough stuff to deal with. And that's how it feels to be the adult in the situation.

Imagine being six. And really worried that everyone is going to forget you.  You watch everyone around you for signs that they are going to cut and run.  You wait for them to sit you down and tell you you're moving or your visit is cancelled. You wait f…

Are You On Fire?

I ran this morning and was excited to pee without interruption.
Sad, I know.  When we first became parents a friend told me to create the bathroom rule. If you aren't bleeding and the house isn't on fire, no one is allowed to bother Mom while she is in the bathroom. I embraced this kind of advice.
As of late, I've been trying to have more patience with where the kids are at in terms of needing to know where I am to feel secure. This is normal behavior of toddlers. That's where my kids are at emotionally.  I've been answering the knocks with- I'll be out in a minute.
This evening the knock on the door came after an hour of Sarah and Smiley fighting their way to the top of my naughty list. 
Smiley: Sarah hit me. Foster Mom R: Are you on fire? Smiley: 
I came out and asked Sarah if she hit Smiley.  She said yes but she hit me too.
Oh for the love! 
Was it on purpose?
I don't know.
Lord give me strength...
I went back to making dinner, trouble shooting homework and straigh…

Motherhood Is Full Of Choices

I've gotten really good at making decisions since becoming a mother.  As much as my world revolves around foster care and parenting kids with trauma, some of what I do just comes with the territory of being a parent. 
For instance, at 1:30am on Sunday I found myself standing in front of my washing machine trying to decide if the Urine/Fecees cycle or the Vomit cycle was more appropriate for the sheets that I had just stuffed into the machine. I went with vomit and hoped for the best.
When I got home tonight I had to decide if my 5 year old was being truthful that their class earned a prize and tomorrow is pajama day. Since she was excitedly telling me before I even got in the house I decided it was true. If it's not she'll look silly in front of her friends. That is what we call natural consequences and I use them often. 

Stay Busy With Me

This week was the first week of no Bio Patent visits and it was rough. We've shed buckets of tears. Sleep is scarce and everyone is helpless.
Reasons this week for crying: I'm scared of the toilet flushing. I can't reach my socks. You asked me to put my shoes on. My sister is in trouble. I can't find my toy. It's dark outside. We arrived home to our driveway. I didn't bring my homework home. I forgot my backpack.
We also played 20 bazillion questions with Mom as we held her hostage in the minivan on our way to and from everywhere this week. We covered all topics from ice to vultures. We asked Mom to turn the music up and put on a song only to talk over it each time. Even after we promised not to. Mom offered to rub our backs to help us fall asleep while we layed for 10 minutes with our eyes wide open. 
The therapists call this "Stay Busy With Me".  Because if Mom is staying busy with me, she can't forget me or leave me.
That's the root of the behavior driv…

Rentry

I have a post in the works about our trip. It was great. We had fun. 
Rentry has been tough. The kids have also started to realize the changes in phone calls and a lack of scheduled make-up visits means return home is not likely. Simon (6 year old 1st grader) actually asked "how come last time we went away and missed our visit we made it up ahead of time and this time we didn't?".
Um.....
I answered: Because this is the schedule right now. We will talk more about it in therapy this week.
Sarah then shared that she was sad because she "feels like she isn't going home to Mommy". She then sobbed in my lap for a long while. I didn't confirm or deny. I just tried to hold her and remind her that none of this was her fault. This was a big deal for my attachment challenged kid. 
Little Miss Smiley has continued with the crying over every.little.thing. Last night she went to bed because she was crying she had to wait for me to get up and help her with dessert. This m…

I'll keep telling you...

We are always working on reassuring the kids that they are safe. It's going to take years to overcome their experience with multiple and inconsistent caregivers. We had a moment this week that told me Sarah is hearing us say:
You are safe. We will take care of you. We will protect you and we will keep showing you and telling you until you know it.

Waiting in line for Buzz Lightyear she turned to me and said:
"You are the best Mom I ever had.  I'll keep telling you until you know it."
She was 100% sincere.  It was so sweet. And a little sad when I think about the fact that she has a list of Mom's she's had. She's hearing us say those words and that was a huge deal. 
******* I did get a text from Sheila. I didn't get it until a few days into our trip but she had texted asking me to set up a phone call since "no one told me that there was no visit this week and next week". Kind of hard to tell you when you walk out of meetings and don't attend ot…

Team Work

ACR

We had an Administrative Case Review (ACR) this week. In our state they are required every 6 months to go over the case plan with the caseworker, bio parents, foster parents, CASA, and whoever else might be part of the plan. It's a third party review that everyone is doing what they are supposed to and that the plan supports the goal.
When the Fab Four lived with me these ACRs would take 2 hours because everything was in both English and Spanish. The last one we had for the Quartet was about an hour and the reviewer really gave the case worker, Willow, a hard time about medical appointments.
This ACR was quick and painless. We were done in 30 minutes. It was a little goofy because the case plan we were reviewing was based off the return home goal. Since the goal changed to Substitute Care the plan pretty much goes out the window in terms of focus on the bio parents. This ACR was all about the kids. And I got to do all the talking.  It was the first time someone said to me, "do …

Time For a Break

18 months ago I write this post about dreaming of taking other children to Walt Disney World. Well on Friday, we leave to do just that.

It's kind of a crazy time for our family. We all really need a break. The kids think we are going on a long trip to Wisconsin Dells. Tonight we had a two hour crying jag from Smiley. It's the first time I've doubted we were ready for this kind of trip.  I am hoping getting out of our element will get us  unstuck.

The crying all the time is getting old. I tried silly, I tried dancing, I tried modeling breathing techniques. None of it worked.

Here's where it gets tough. How do you prove to a kid that knows you are going to leave her, that you aren't going to leave her. I hate that kids even have to have someone prove it.

So much pain. So unfair.

Smiling Faces

Gabby called me via Face Time this weekend.  We happened to be at my Parent's house so they got to see Gabby and Jelly Bean.  I was so happy they called.  It was great to see their smiling faces and I was even happier they had a chance to catch up with my parents.


Its a natural separation and I'm no longer worried about losing contact with them.  I know our relationship is important to Gabby and now that she's old enough to facilitate that relationship, I feel she will always keep track of me. Its good to see that we helped a family make lasting changes.  It makes all of the stress and fear a little easier to swallow.

I Miss My Other Mommy

The therapists mentioned that often kids have a sense about the goal changing to TPR even though they haven't been told.  This seems to be true for my kids if the conversations and big feelings we have been witnessing this week are any indication. We've had several nights of crying fits at bedtime by Smiley and Sarah.  This week brought on statements of "I miss my other Mommy" and "I'm worried my Mom won't call".


Smiley has been doing a lot of crying.  We've determined that this is mainly about her attachment to me and her need to make sure I will take care of her.  Its exhausting.  As of late, she's not been able to get her pajamas on, brush her teeth, or finish homework without my either doing the task for her or right next to her, step by step.  I made the mistake of responding to her cries last night reminding her that her Mom should be calling today.


This set Sarah off.  We had a long conversation about her worries that her Mom would n…

Fun With Microscopes

As a foster family we have been living under a microscope for the past 4 years.  Today the inevitable happened and a "concerned caller" reported an incident.  I don't want to put the full details out there yet (if at all).  But we did manage to find out (after the 2nd call from the department) that it was indeed Bio Mom that raised the issue.


It wasn't a hotline call, but the insinuation was that something inappropriate happened. There will be no investigation (at this point in time) and we volunteered a safety plan of sorts to ensure no future confusion. I could see how the phrasing of a beloved family bonding activity could have caused someone to raise an eyebrow if taken out of context. I actually said I'm glad someone cares enough about the kids to double check and I stayed relatively calm about the pseudo accusation.


Then I found out it was Bio Mom and I got really irritated. I get that she's angry. I also get we are the obvious target.  But if you were…

Gabby

Gabby is now on Facebook. She randomly sends me messages. Last night she said she made something for "dad" in art and she could wait to give it to him. So sweet. Such a relief.

Anatomy of a Permanency Hearing

If you haven't spent much time in court, you probably have no point of reference or what to expect at foster care related court dates. Our foster parent training came with a break down of what is supposed to happen at certain types of court hearings but I'm never really sure what to expect.  (Each state and county handle things differently and this case is a different county than the Fab Four.)
First off, Sheila was 30 minutes late again. And since court didn't start on time, she made it by the skin of her teeth. We walked in the court room and were seated. Foster Parents sit in the gallery with the caseworker and CASA worker. 
The judge references the case and names everyone in the room. We had the CASA attorney (GAL and kids' attorney), the Assistant States Attorney (ASA) for the county, the DCFS attorney, the caseworker supervisor, the CASA worker, us, and Sheila.
The ASA began by brining up some administrative stuff for bio Dad (who didn't show).  They were unable…

Permanency Hearing Eve

It's no wonder I'm blogging at midnight. We have the permanency hearing in 9 hours that might change our lives forever. I've been through 6 or 7 of these things but tomorrow (today) is the first time I'm walking into court  and expecting the goal to change toward termination of parental rights. 
It wasn't until this afternoon that I was sure the Department was going to be asking for a goal change as not all of their legal paperwork was done. The minute I got the email, I instantly felt nervous. The thought that I could be adopting 4 kids became very real. It's not some idea in my head anymore.
The kids don't know we have court so I tried to act normal and we ran some errands after work. I took the kids to look for a Halloween costume and Sarah had the daylight scared out of her when she peaked around a corner and saw a very realistic zombie (seriously, who puts that stuff next to the kids section? I would have preferred the Batman panties over the PTSD meltdo…

And So It Goes

I often listen to Pandora internet radio during my work day.  I read contracts all day and I do better when I can block out the other office noise around me. (And as I type, I realize some of that may be because I have no peace to myself outside the office!)


Anyway, a few weeks ago the song "And So It Goes" by Billy Joel came on.


I literally cried at my desk. Silent tears streamed down my face while I imagined this being sung by a Foster Mom and a Foster Child.  (Click on the video link to hear it sung.)


Foster Mom:
In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from loversMothers past
Until a new one comes along


Foster Child:
I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defense
And every time I've held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose
But if my silence made you leave



Foster Mom:
Then that would …

Progress

We made huge progress tonight with Sarah. I had noticed today that she seemed more sad than she's been. It could have been a number of things: visit today with bio dad, lots of time in the car, apple picking with lots of crowds and noises. 
At bedtime she came to give me a hug and I asked her what was wrong (again). I asked if she wanted me to guess and she nodded. I guessed she was missing someone and she broke down. Poor thing was holding it in all day. When she told me she was missing her former foster parents (the ones who decided no contact) I guessed that it was the Halloween costumes that brought up the loss. She nodded.
Poor kid got hit by the grief out of nowhere.
We talked through it. She felt better and went to bed with no issues. She still doesn't feel like she can come to us to talk about her negative feelings but today she at least shared them. That was a big step forward! 

Love and Loss

We got to the bottom of the crying fits at bedtime. Smiley told her therapist that she's had dreams of the dog dying and of us dying and getting lost. At 5 her concept of time isn't good and so this seems recent and continuous to her.
Poor kiddo. 
The Good Dreams spray has been important for her. Every day she asks me, well in advance, if I will spray her pillow. Like I'm waking her up for school and she's talking about bedtime. We've had a few nights of no crying so maybe talking about it helped.
This weekend brought a lot of foster care type experiences. We had an event at school that we included Sheila in. It took place during her visit and I supervised for the two hours we were at the school.  I think it went well.
It seemed hard for Sheila to speak to me. Perhaps it was awkward for her. I'm sure it's the first time she heard her kids refer to someone else as Mom. I'm sure she felt that I was taking away from "her time". There were also a few …

And of the Wednesdays

I think this is the part where we start to unravel. Perhaps the honeymoon phase is over. Perhaps they are attaching and therefore have big emotions. Perhaps it's just Wednesday....
I received an email about Sarah. She is having trouble turning in assignments (that she did) and her hand writing has turned "angry". Did I have any insight as to why?
God Bless her teacher. This woman had Gabby, Jelly Bean, Stella and now Sarah. 
I don't have to explain to her the trauma. She understands it. And my answer was: upcoming birthday, bad storms, inconsistent bio parents, and beginning to understand her Mom's issues with the therapists.
Received an email about Smiley yesterday. She seemed sad and tired. (Smiley's teacher had Mr. Mohawk. She is also amazing.) Was there anything going on? Umm well she started this thing where she throws a crying fit at bedtime. Nightly. Even after she's been calm and tucked in. She is complaining of bad dreams but hasn't woken me up o…

A Case of the Mondays

We had a day. A really exhausting day. Sarah was crying when I picked her up from daycare because the girl she fights with ripped her paper and then told the teacher it was an accident. I'm over the drama that these two bring to an afternoon so I can only imagine how the teacher feels. 
Then Smiley decided she couldn't handle Monday evening. She dig a stale French fry out of the seat in the car and tried to eat it, prompting her siblings to yell in disgust. Then the tears started. Any hint of disapproval and this kid looses her composure. 
Then it was time for homework. More tears. Then it was I need help in the bathroom. Tears. Then it was full on tantrum. Yelling, screaming, stomping, pounding limbs on the floor. We walked up and down the stairs several times until we could do it without sounding like an elephant. Then she screamed at me for another 30 minutes. 
I threw a dance party in the kitchen while making dinner. I tried to be as silly as possible. Even the dog got in on …

Emotions

The therapists looked at us tonight and said "you don't seem phased" in response to the recounting of the illness, post visit behavior, and big feelings that appeared this week at our house.
Sadly, we've had much worse. And maybe that's where the anxiety that I've been feeling all week is coming from. That and we are nearing closer to the permanency hearing and all the decision makers are saying goal change. Which inevitably means more behaviors, more big feelings, more fear and more grief. 
Grief. Such a tiny word for an enormous concept. And such a heavy burden for little kids. Adults struggle with losing loved ones. Now my kids are going to be losing an entire family, again. I know a little of what that feels like. And to be quite honest- I'm really scared about what that is going to look like for us.
Are they going to accept us one day? Will they love us like they love their biological family? And how often will our status as their family be challenged? …

Strep Throat

1/2 of my kids are on antibiotics for strep throat. Mine is a bit scratchy and that has me concerned because I don't have time to be sick.  I don't have time for the kids to be sick either but there isn't much I can do about that. 
Thank goodness my Mom was able to pitch in today and tomorrow. (Seriously, she's the one with the super hero cape!) 3/4 of them had a dentist appointment this morning so she ran them back to school for me.
The one who threw the tantrum yesterday had a much better day. Part of her consequences from the tantrum was to write sentences: I will use my words. She escalated it to 40 sentences during the tantrum, then lost dessert for the week. We will give her a chance to earn dessert back but I must say she wrote those sentences lightning fast when she had the opportunity to be watching the Frozen special on ABC tonight. Funny how that works.
Smiley was totally into the show. Gasping at the original renderings of the characters and singing along to t…

Fun Times

Everyone went to bed 40 minutes early tonight. We had several time outs and a full on tantrum that lasted over 30 minutes. 
Fun times. Even more fun when it's post visit. 
The kids had really strong reactions to visits this weekend. I can't figure out why. I don't know if it's because the therapy team has started to prepare them for news that the goal is probably changing or if it's school or if it's a birthday month. Or if it's because Dad missed his visit. But we had lots of not keeping our hands to ourself and lots of disrespectful attitude, even from our normally super sweet kid. 
Is it bad that I thought it was funny? Their little face all scrunched up with anger! The defiance right out in front. So serious from the kid with the mega-watt smile.
We also saw the Fab Four this weekend when they stopped by on a spur of the moment visit. School is off to a good start and they seemed well. My soul was lifted after hugging each of them. I was at a real peace ins…

Urine for It

I can't find the post about pee. Jelly bean peed on the floor and threw her bed wetting alarm at the wall and I'm pretty sure I wrote about it. I was going to link to it as proof to myself we've handled all this stuff before. Oh well. That's kind of the day I've been having.
I got up early to see Simon and Sarah off to their 1st visit with their Dad in a month.   Then my Mom called. My Dad was camping and ended up in the ER. He was fine, it was an overreaction on the camp staff's part, but he was in a neighboring state and my Mom needed to drive up to get the car home and pick him up from the ER. So I spent the majority of the day driving (through the town the Fab Four live in). 
Then I got home and discovered Sarah had let go of the dog's leash and she was so scared that she peed her pants. Hubby handled it great. No yelling. Praised her for coming to get him. But she was still nervous about telling me. 
We went to lunch and as we arrived home Smiley didn'…

Family

We've been talking a lot about family this week. One of the kids told me that Hubby and I being married was "a problem I have to fix". The kids haven't had too many examples of a healthy marriage. And we discovered, they don't really know what "married" means. 
And of course after a family therapy session all about families and family traditions Smiley and Sarah had total meltdowns. Sarah crying in the car and mumbling under her breath that she doesn't want is to be her family.
Poor kiddo.
And then it got worse as Sheila cancelled her visit.  I was really disappointed because I knew the kids were going to take it hard. With school starting it's already been a rough week.
Sarah took it the hardest. Crying for her Mommy. She looked like she was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. Simon then asked about visits with his Dad and how come they stopped. 
How do you explain to a kid whose parents keep letting them down, that once again, they a…

Proper Documentation

So Caseworker #3's supervisor called me back. She asked what was going on and I layed it out for her. I explained we wanted to make sure we were fulfilling our role as advocates for permanency for the kids and wanted to make sure that everything was on track for a goal change next month. We were concerned because Caseworker #3's first impression was one of apathy and unpreparedness. 
I fully admit that I told her supervisor she came into my house with nothing more than her cell phone and her business card. I also told her that if the CASA worker hadn't been there I would have ended the meeting.
The supervisor assured me she would discuss proper documentation and basic social work skills with her. And apparently she isn't new and should have known better. Oh and then she have me her email.
That afternoon I got a phone call from CW3 "just checking in". Hmm. Yeah you should have just given me the email in the first place.
In any event, I did learn that the legal scr…

Snark

This high road thing really stinks and this week I wish I didn't have to take it. I'd much rather use snark and sarcasm. I'm more fluent in those...
I followed up with Caseworker #3 on when the legal screen for the case would be completed.  This is a step the department takes to ensure that if they go for TPR, they don't hit any snags. We were asked prior to the last status hearing to submit paperwork that was needed for the legal screen that said we were an adoptive resource. 
That was April/May. The Permanency Hearing is scheduled for September. How many months should this process take? 
So I followed up with Caseworker #3. She responded she didn't know anything but stated that it would be done before the Hearing. Umm. Ok. But that's the same thing you told me last month when you sat on my couch with no paper and pen. And because that's my 1st impression of you, you'll have to forgive me for not really believing you are on top of things. 
So naturally I a…

Sometimes Its Really Just About Chips

Simon and I were in the kitchen. I was making dinner. He was putting away the dishes. He had just finished his phone call with his Bio Mom and he says to me, "Mom? Do you think we will be here next summer?"
So I stop what I'm doing and get down to his eye level. I can sense this is an important conversation and so I wanted him to know he had my undivided attention.
"Well Simon, that is up to the judge. But I can say I'm pretty sure that you will be here next summer. How do you feel about that? Is that okay with you?"
He answered, "Okay. Do you think next summer when I have field trips you can get the chips with the green stuff on them?"
Puzzled I asked,"The sour cream and onion kind?"
"Yeah! Those. Thanks Mom."

Back To School

Back to school time is always full of stress for kids in foster care. The Quartet have never finished a full school year in one school. Ever. 
Think about that. The school year is August through May. They have never been in one place long enough to experience a 10 month stretch. So even though they are going back to the school they went to last year, we have a lot of anxiety going on. 
This also brought on an offer from Sheila to buy the kids school supplies. So I gave her the link. Then she said she was only going to get 1/2 of the lists. Then she asked me what grade her kids were in.
I am trying very hard to focus on the offer in the first place. But I'm not going to lie. It's hard. You say you love your kids and you are working to get them back but you don't know what grade they are in? I have a hard time understanding this thinking. There is not a lot of connection and it just breaks my heart. For them and for her. 
Work with the bio parents is what they teach. Co-parent w…

Caseworker #3

The new caseworker, Number Three, came this week. In a moment of brilliance I had her and the CASA worker come at the same time. She walked in with her phone and two business cards. That's it. No case file. No pen. No paper. No calendar. The only reason I bothered to talk at all was because the CASA worker was there.
It took every ounce of restraint I had not to offer her a pad of paper and something to write with. I'm a very direct person and in almost any other situation I would have shoved note taking supplies at the person. This is a new office and I'm hoping to avoid a reputation. 
That's so sad. These people have so much control over the outcome of these kids and my life that I can't comment on someone coming unprepared to a meeting at my house. 
I gave the benefit of the doubt that she might have read the case file. No such luck. Now I'm hoping she has perfect recall or something. The only piece of information we got about the case was that the CASA (who ac…

Therapy Begins

So we began therapy. The practice we are going to only treats patients with abuse and trauma histories. They have very specialized certifications in attachment, trauma, and abuse. They did an amazing trauma assessment report that I feel will be key in the kids gaining permanency. The only downside is it's a good 45 minutes to get to at our appointment time. 
The first night we met as a family we set goals. There were some good goals that had Therapeutic value such as only the parents can parent. And one to work on bed wetting and the shame surrounding that. There were also some that could be viewed as silly but probably were ways to say scary things. Like more naps. Which I believe for that family member was code for "I'm not sleeping well." More trips was also included. I'm taking that to mean more quality time together. My goal was getting the kids to speak up. They talk very quietly at times and I cannot hear them especially in the car. These were all goals &qu…