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Showing posts from January, 2014

Explanation

We've had a few great days with the Quartet. We seem to be a little more comfortable with each other and the lack of cohesiveness is a little less noticeable. The hardest part has been that they don't "feel" like "our" kids. And of course they don't. They've had 3 and 4 different families in the past year. It's just hard to remember we have to work at it too. But we spent some quality time talking and hanging out the last few days and its helping. The kids have some great personalities and its fun getting to know them.

Sarah asked us directly tonight if her former foster parents were coming to our party on Sunday. As a rule, we don't lie to kids in our home. We adjust answers to be age appropriate but we never mislead the children in our care. (This doesn't score you points. If the kids find out that you were not truthful it can sabotage what little trust you may have.) we told her that they weren't invited. Stella of course pushed an…

Fab Four Update

I spoke with Maria today. We had invited her and the kids over for the Super Bowl. They aren't going to be able to make it but we caught up in what was going on. The kids are in a mentor program and seem to be doing ok.
The week with my Mom seemed to really help LM and JB's medication has been adjusted and seems to be working better. Maria asked if my Mom could take JB to an appointment next week. My Mom readily agreed. That's what grandma's do! I love that she still can support the kids and that Maria feel comfortable enough to ask.
I then spoke to Gabby for a few minutes. It made me really miss her. I actually got teary eyed. She stopped by day care and met the Quartet last week. She commented that they were really quiet. I asked her if it was weird or made her sad and she said no. She's a good egg, that one. I love her so much. 

Loss

This week brought another sad situation to the kids. The former foster mom of Sarah and Stella cancelled her visit with them and asked to no longer have contact with the kids.
I'm totally heart broken for them as when they figure it out, they will be devastated. We aren't going to tell them exactly what was said but the kids are perceptive and they are going to realize that the calls and visits aren't happening.
The day before she cancelled she was requesting an extended visit for the weekend they were schedule to see her. I'm not sure how you jump from "I want to have them two nights" to "I don't want to see or talk to them any further". 
I really believe this was more about her inability to put her emotions aside and her stance that she and I had a "personality conflict" than it was about her reasoning that the visit was going to be too hard on the kids. (Because even if it was hard on them, then you modify the visits or contact not cut…

Confession

People ask me all the time how I can work full time with four foster kids.
My usual answer is: a) we have a wonderful support in my Mom who loves being Grandma and we couldn't do it without her  or b) all I know is four kids.
But there are days like today where my answer would be: c) I don't.
This morning was one of those mornings where I wasn't my best. Wasn't a great Mom and a less than stellar employee. And because of that I'll probably be a nagging wife later.
Lets review, shall we?
1:30 AM- Finally fall asleep.  6:00 AM- Alarm goes off 6:55 AM- Realize I hit the snooze more than once and now need to bring kids with me to oil change appointment instead of dropping off at day care beforehand. 7:30 AM- Leave house for oil change appointment at time appointment is supposed to start. 7:40 AM- Arrive at dealership. Traipse children into play room. 9:00 AM- Hassle service desk because the kids have officially missed breakfast at day care and now I need to feed them. 9:15 AM- Le…

Denial

I sent intake forms for Simon and Smiley to their visit this week. The forms are their  family history to help asses their trauma. 
I don't for one minute believe what Mom wrote on the forms, except for maybe, their weight at birth.
Q: Was there any stress on Mom during her pregnancy? A: No
No? Really? You had one child already removed from your care. The other two were in foster car. There was no stress?
Q:Was there any drug use? Alcohol use during the pregnancy? A: No
Yeah, we won't count the arrest for DUI and possession of an illegal substance. That's inconsequential.
I might as well have not sent the form at all. She even got the number of homes wrong. Totally in denial. And no idea that this stuff affects her kids. I want to yell and scream- GROW UP and understand what your kids need!
My heart is sad. These beautiful kids deserve better.

Simon

Simon turned six this week. Sheila (Bio Mom) is allowed a weekly call. It happened to fall on his birthday. Sheila didn't call. 
We had changed the day of calls to accommodate her* schedule, choosing a day she didn't work so that the timing of the call wouldn't be an issue as she had said the previous missed calls were because she didn't get her break at work. We discussed that if she knew ahead of time her schedule was going to change she could contact me to move the call. (*Never mind that I am working full time, commuting 40 minutes each way, and caring for four children.) 
Luckily, the kids are not aware that Sheila has a standing call. Sadly, Simon didn't seem to miss or think of his Mom on his birthday. He grinned the entire time we sang Happy Birthday at 6 AM. He was excited to bring treats to school and he really enjoyed the frosting that turned his mouth so blue it looked like he ate a Smurf.
Happy Birthday Simon. I'm so glad you have brought your energy …

The Cart

This week has been tougher. We still have not yet had a full week of school since before winter break due to weather related school closings, teaching institute day, and holidays. I would love it, if we could get a routine down. While these kids do not have the behavioral issues that the Fab Four did, they do have a listening problem, as in they don't listen. They completely tune me out. It doesn't matter if I'm using a calm voice, a frustrated voice, or a yelling voice. It is as if they just can't hear my voice at all.


It is sooo frustrating. We stopped at the grocery store tonight. Now I realize four kids is a lot to traipse through the grocery store. So when the kids are with me I try to only get a few essentials and get the heck out. I don't know if its sensory or attention issues or lack of attachment but these kids would not stop walking right in front of the cart. You know, as in: the cart is moving forward so I'm going to pick now to walk in front of i…

3 years

It's been three years since we first met Willow. She was at my house today for her monthly visit with the kids. I'm not sure where the time went. I seemingly blinked and I'm knee deep in foster parenting, I've since changed jobs twice, and I've lived through some of the hardest moments of my adult life.
We talked a lot today about the attachment issues we are seeing with the kids. They are very much keeping us at arms length and so we have to work harder to overcome that. We also got some more background on the case and are a little closer to getting all the providers in place. She shared some info that makes me feel like they are really looking to hold Mom responsible for her actions this go-round. That made me feel a bit better. (Although, I still feel like this is going to be a long road.) 
If I could go back and tell myself one thing, it would be the same advice I've given my LM and Smiley: it's going to be ok. 
 Three years ago, I didn't even know the…

Heartache

I just spent the last half hour on Pintrest pinning baby shower ideas. My sister-in-law announced she was expecting on Christmas and our best friends are expecting this summer. June and July babies.
I had to stop pinning. I was getting sad. And I don't want to be sad about new babies in our family. I'm so excited for our loved ones and I'm a pretty terrific Aunt. But their joy reminds me of my pain and I'm struggling with that today. 
We had court this week. It was a status update. And while we learned some new information about what Mom is going to be required to do, there was nothing that indicated that she will have to work harder since this is her 2nd go round with this judge. I've already been told she will work her case plan. All I gathered from court is that this will be a long road to return home.
We are committed to helping these kids gain stability and healing. We are already witnessing progress in our home. But my heart literally aches to be a Mom. And I…

Anger and Honesty

So this week brought Sarah's therapist to have her last session with her. She had only seen her six or seven times and they hadn't gotten very far. 
She brought up the foster mom who struggled with the transition and mentioned that she's been touching base with her to help her figure out her role. I truly wish her peace but I've pretty well reached the point where I'm tired of hearing about it. 
This woman took every bit of her grief and pain out on me. I'm sorry. I'm a person with feelings too. She made it so much harder on us and the kids then it had to be. And I just am struggling with forgiving for that. Seriously, this was the hardest part of transitioning four kids into my home the week of Christmas: dealing with another foster parent. That shouldn't be the case.
I really hate having to take the high road sometimes. I really hate that I'm the one who often acquiesces in order to do the right thing and be the better person and keep things from exp…

I Believe

I firmly believe in car dancing. I may drive a minivan but my sound system rocks and you are likely to find us belting out tunes and wiggling in out seats. If we make you chuckle at a stop light, even better.
I believe it's perfectly acceptable to have cereal for dinner. It is also acceptable to force your kids to listen to the music you did in high school. One day they will have fond memories of you singing to Getting Jiggy With It. 

I believe in working hard and playing hard. I work my tail off so that at the end of the year people write things like:
Foster Mom R is dedicated. She is organized and efficient. Even on the craziest days she has a cheerful and helpful attitude.
This also means that if we have a chance to go watch a hockey game as a family I will chose that over staying home to take down Christmas decorations. I will care less about putting away laundry (ok I really don't  care about perfectly stored laundry. I want clean laundry but if its in a basket and its not wr…

Exhausted

We are in the thick of the hardest part of being a foster parent. Dealing with the system. Make up visits, missed calls from Mom, finding therapists and doctors.
I actually forgot we had a rescheduled appointment tonight until one of the kids reminded me. (I'm not back in the habit of carting my MomAgenda everywhere yet.) and while talking to the therapist who came to our home tonight the kids let the dog out of his crate and he helped himself to my hamburger on the table.
I'm daunted by the task at hand today. I know how much good we can do. I know how much the kids need us to do this good. I just want to call a time out.
I hopped over to an online retail store tonight to look for inspiration. A search of books and foster care, left me even more depressed about how much overhaul the system needs. It should be this hard to get what the kids need, what our family needs. I actually had to point the transportation company contracted by the state to the state safety belt laws today. 

Goal:?

In response to my post on the Quartet: AnonymousJanuary 9, 2014: Oh! Didnt know you were open to foster care as well....Thought just adoption.
Well we are kind of open to foster care. If a legally free set of kids had come our way we would have likely said yes. However, in the eight months our license was open for new placements only one sibling group came close that termination was happening on. They ended up going to an out of state relative and it would also have been a transracial adoption which isn't necessarily our preference.
It wasn't like we didn't get calls. I guess we said no to at least 50 kids. At first it was too soon and then we were waiting for a more likely termination scenario.
Interestingly, the same week Simon an Smiley moved in, an email was circulating looking for a family to take a sibling group of four under an identified surrender. This means the biological parents would be signing their rights over to an adoptive family. That particular case would als…

The Quartet

So I will begin referring to the current placement as The Quartet. (And if I'm crazy enough to take a 3rd set in the future you all will have to help me brainstorm!)
The Quartet consists of the following:
Girl- Smiley (4)  Boy- Simon (5) Girl- Sarah (7) Girl- Stella (9)
The goal is return home. A reader asked if there was a concurrent goal. This means that in addition to the case goal of return home there is a goal for another form of permanency for the case such a adoption. In our state, there is almost always a concurrent goal of adoption. Although, in my experience its not often focused on until much later in the case. 
The kids have not lived with Mom (27) for 11 months. They have been in Foster Care for nine months. The details are fuzzy. I've asked several times how the system became aware of them and I've not been given a straight answer. I am going to leave that to the therapists to piece together and ask them later.
We are the concurrent plan. Willow (case worker) and her…

1 Week

We have officially made it a week as a family of six. We even survived having LM as a house guest for two nights (she spent the week at my Mom's house). And by survived I mean there were 7 people in our house and everyone was fine. Mostly.
Sarah is struggling with her emotions. From what I've been told she doesn't "connect" with them. I think she connects but doesn't know how to verbalize. And I would put her emotional age at 4/5 instead of the 7 she actually is. I've had to tell her to use her words pretty often during her meltdowns. Rationalization isn't there. And she imagines she's in trouble even when she isn't. She does seem to be able to draw and journal her feelings. She drew a picture of a heart with a happy face and a sad face on the other side. When asked about it she started crying.
The speed with which these children start to cry is like nothing I've ever seen. We are going to have to choose words even more carefully. The percep…