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Thursday, July 31, 2014

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 whenever possible. What does that mean? Does that mean suggest to Sheila that she avoid talking about back to school even though she dismisses it? Does that mean overlooking she missed 1/2 (52%) of her phone calls in the past three months? Does it mean invite her to Kindergarten orientation? 

My mantra over the month and a half will be- her time is limited with her children

What a sad thought. I actually care a great deal about Sheila. She gave birth to some pretty spectacular kids. But I'm just tired of watching them struggle.

I am also totally over bio Dad. And if I'm being honest, I could give two toots about him, his rights, or his issues. He missed 1/2 of his available visits over the last three months. How hard is it to show up to a fast food restaurant for two hours a week? Really how long should kids be subjected to parents showing up 1/2 the time? I'm thinking that 9 months is unacceptable. The point of the visits is to prove you are stable and can handle your kids. Why are we subjecting the kids to someone who clearly isn't interested?And why are we spending money that could be going towards other things like quality healthcare, mental health services, or activities for the kids and parents actually making changes? They are issuing a summons to the next court hearing because Dad has never shown. NEVER.

Simon asked me the other day why he can't have his visits on the same day again. He reasoning: because then he only has one day of visits. (Only one day of worry and inconsistency). I also tallied the days Sarah has been wetting the bed and they are always on days of contact or scheduled contact with her bio parents. 

People ask us all the time isn't it hard? My new answer is not as hard as it is on the kids. I'm an adult. I can manage the stress. The kids can't.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

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 acts as the GAL in the county the case is out of) is in agreement with the state that termination of parental rights (TPR) should be the goal at the next permanency hearing. Caseworker assured me that legal screening would take place before the next court date in September. I expressed skepticism as the paperwork was supposedly submitted in May. She of course blamed the transfer of the case. (In my head I screamed: These kids shouldn't have to wait longer because you people wanted to save money on travel reimbursement.)

We also found out that Dad is the Dad of both kids. I'm glad this piece is confirmed as it makes the termination process smoother. It does mean that the baby Dad's girlfriend just had is the sibling of my kids. (Assuming she isn't lying.) We have asked that if and when the kids meet their brother, that they be prepared with the therapists. The GAL is not in favor of them even meeting the brother as it is likely to be another loss. I'm not sure how I feel. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

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 "to make our family even more awesome".

Last week we did an exercise to see how we operated as a group. It didn't go as well as I thought. Our task was to draw on a giant piece of paper, our family, doing something together. Stella of course had ideas but the moment everyone else added to them and began drawing she shut down. She refused to draw. She kept saying she "didn't get it" "I'm confused". She was frustrated. I was frustrated. And then the panic attack set in. Tears, hyperventilating, and a totally helpless Mom. 

It was a new side of her. Of course a few minutes after we got Stella back on track (sort of-she then decided she couldn't draw anything to her liking) Smiley lost her confidence and had a meltdown. Meanwhile Sarah started to copy what Stella was drawing and Simon continued drawing happily.

I'm really hoping this week is individual talk therapy. Last week was exhausting.