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So Long 2015

I have this quote on my desk at work and it sums up how I feel about heading into the new year. There are years that ask questions. 
This year we asked where will we live, what will the goal be, should we take the baby, no really should we take the baby, and what will happen with our jobs, why is my face on fire?
Not much in my life looks the same as it did a year ago. That's not a bad thing. But it did mean quite a lot of stress. But you know what?
We survived. We are stronger. We are together. And we have a bonus kiddo too! 
I think 2016 will be a year that answers questions. Or at least closes a few chapters. I say bring it on! We got this.

Zen...

I'm trying really hard to stay calm through the chaos that is: 1) Christmas 2) Christmas Break 3) Christmas Shopping 4) my busiest time at work when 1/3 of the things I worked on in a year are due back signed and everything is an exception and on fire 4) we added a baby 5) a move anniversary.
Oh and Hubby- he's doing a consulting gig for a company he hopes to get hired for and so he's getting paid hourly and can't take random time off. So I'm trying to stay calm with him also.
So last week when at 5:22pm he called and asked me to get the baby from her daycare instead of him, I agreed. Then I picked up the other four kiddos and we ran home to let the dog out. Hubby was still now anywhere close to being home, so I decided to take the kids to the store for the errand I had to run because I needed some addition teacher gifts for today. (This is the part where I kick myself for not going the night before after a work function, but I didn't want to deal with the larges…

Loss

I finished reading the kids' adoption subsidy packets and flipped over to Facebook to vent about it. In my feed was a post from a friend of mine that is going to the hospital tomorrow to have their baby who has a genetic disorder and will not survive very long after he is born. I'm so sad for their family. And it makes me even angrier that people are able to have multiple babies that they neglect and abuse. My Mama Bear is roaring under the surface. So wrong. So unfair. 
Will you say a prayer for my friends? Their entire family is about to go through a loss that many of us understand all to well. Pray they get supported through this and have space to talk/or not talk about the loss of their son.

What the Kids Understand

Smiley's teacher let me know that she told her "we adopted a baby but I don't know why" last week. So we sat down to talk about Solana's placement again and then the next day in family therapy.
I forget that the kids need to hear information over and over. So even though we explained the day she came why she was coming, they need us to repeat it. We also needed to correct some of their assumptions like: she's getting adopted, she's leaving soon, her arrival will slow down their adoption, she lived with Sheila.
We did explain that Solana is in foster care and that the judge in her case has made the goal return home to "Mommy" or Solana's Biological Dad. We did tell them that when Solana was in Sheila's tummy she made some choices that were unsafe like being in a relationship with someone who hit her and not doing her "homework" that the judge gave her so Solana never lived with "Mommy". We told them that Solana's Bio…

Family of 7

This year has been full of change. New house, new jobs, new names, new baby. And while I was worried that the baby would send us over the edge, (that I felt very close to tumbling over during the emotionally charged summer months) everything looks different now. Despite 5 kids and change still at work, there is some calm. There is peacefulness. There are happy kids and a sense of everything being as it should.
We didn't do stockings with names on them last year. To be honest, I did very little decorating because of the move. So I filled generic stockings with stuff for the kids and added a name tag. This year I decided it was going to be coordinating ones that were personalized. So I ordered some from Walmart.com and I was pleased that when they came they were actually from Personal Creations (which was twice the price). So the quality was great. (I'm overlooking the fact that they messed up the color of one.) they of course came the week before Solana arrived.

So when I hung th…

What's the longest river?

Answer: Denial.It's ok. You can chuckle. Forgive the slap happy humor of a Momma with 4 sick kiddos who is sick herself.
But denial is where Sheila is living. I sent Solana with her visit bag and the notebook today and she wrote nothing and sent nothing back. She made a bunch of noise to the driver/supervisor about her stuffy nose and how she wonders if we have pets because Sheila herself has pet allergies.
When the daycare relayed this message I actually laughed. Um her other kids have been talking about our dog for 2 years. She bought the dog treats previously. She knows we have a dog. It's not dog allergies, it a cold. A cold that 4 other people in the house have.
I shared this with Caseworker #4 and he was like, the previous home had dogs and there is nothing in her medical records that indicates she has allergies.
I'm not surprised by Sheila's lack of response to our reaching out to communicate. But it is still disappointing. You still want the Bio parents to show up …

Week 1

I announced our new addition on my personal Facebook Page yesterday and I may need someone to knock me down a few pegs because I'm being accused of being "amazing" and an "Angel" and it feels really uncomfortable... Just doing my job as a Mom and a person who has a passion for kids. And honestly, if you could see Solana's face, you would not have said no either.
We survived the weekend and our first few school/work/daycare day. She is sleeping between 4 and 6 hours and we have been able to stick to our routine pretty well.
There is a cold going around the family and I think Solana has caught it too. Simon, Stella and I all have it and Smiley thinks she might be getting sick also. Swear to God I walked into the daycare and 4 hours later my throat was sore....
So far no regressive behaviors. Simon and Smiley have been bickering but that's been happening. Sarah was stuck like glue to Solana and when I finally said to her "she'll be here tomorrow"…

And Then There Were Five

After the last 48/72 hours (my brain is fried and I have completely lost my ability to do math, which was pretty shakey before...) I feel like I officially earned my Foster Mom stripes. I got the call about 11:30am Thursday that she was coming that afternoon. I was a ball of nerves. My Mom dissolved into tears. Hubby had already made plans for that evening and since we were about to take on a 5th child I told him not to cancel. 
And it was Caseworker #4 who was handling all this, not #3 as I stated in my last post. So Caseworker #4 called and was like "So can you take her today? Foster Mom is not happy and I'm heading over there to remove her now."
He had paperwork to do and they had at least a 45 minute drive so I told him just to call when he was like 30 minutes away and I would leave work. At about 2 pm he said he would be at the house about 4:30pm.
Somehow I managed to finish a large chunk of my work. I had purposely worn a "career" outfit to help me feel like…

Phone Calls

Sometime early afternoon I got a call from Caseworker #3 calling to follow up on some adoption paperwork and my email about Stella's concerns over her sister, Solana. I tried to get information about the progress that was being made in that case to help us decide if introducing her would be beneficial or long term but he was like "it's too early" "can't really say". Boo. 
A few hours later he called back. "I have some news. It looks like the foster mom is giving her 14 day notice. It's not official yet but it's very likely to happen. So you are my 1st call. Will you take the baby?"
We've gone over and over this scenario and decision. All the reasons we said no before are still true. She could go home. She will have visits my kids won't. This is a foster care case and could be years before it goes to permanency. She's 4 months old and we have 4 kids.
But...
We don't have TPR looming. The adoption is under way. And the likeli…

Alphabet Soup

I was late. This is not unusual but I try very hard not to be late to pick up my kids because their experience is that Moms and Dads aren't reliable and sometimes don't come back. I was complaining to Hubby that is had a really hard day. I was anxious about all the new changes at work. I had a bad headache that was turning into a migraine and I was really tired. He told me I should bow out of therapy and escape to our room for the night and he would handle life. (I did that for him the day before as he was starting a new job today and he was feeling anxious.)
When I pulled up and saw the fire truck outside the building I knew it was going to be a rough night and there would be no break. I was right.
The fire alarm went off at daycare. The firefighters and police showed up. The kids were ushered to a safe place and there was no danger but that doesn't matter to the brain of a kid with PTSD. Nope. She was terrified. The minute I showed up I could tell she was still in dissocia…

Baby Mama Drama

Just when I'm all "openess is awesome, I can work with bio parents" reality trips me and I fall on my face. 
So Sheila failed to make the phone call we scheduled. 12 hours after the scheduled time I got a text asking if I forgot or if she was supposed to call me. 
I responded the following day that I expected her to call but if she wasn't sure she could have called anyway or texted. I reminded her the importance of consistency. 
Her response was of course to say I called last time (so of course I screwed up) and that she couldn't remember (say what?) and it's not like she doesn't call on purpose (refreshing). Oh and the gem at the end stating that she's "trying really hard to keep things good between us" (because of course I'm trying to be difficult by setting the boundaries). 
It's my own fault really. Once again I bought into the facade that she's going to do her part. 
How do you tell me you really miss your kids and you want a rel…

I Said Screw the Secret Santa

Every year my family does a Secret Santa. We usually set the limit at $20-25 and each of the adults picks another's name. We have a smallish family so we usually end up with someone we are already buying for (like my sibling) or the same person year after year. It often ends up like a gift card exchange and there have been years that people forgot who they picked and someone got left out (no fun). Since we have an ultra competitive family, a gift swap would be hazardous.
The past few years the Secret Santa felt more like a chore. And I thought maybe we could put our money to better use. I suggested we screw the Secret Santa and pick a cause! 
We decided to do a Sweet Case drive with Together We Rise, a great organization that supports kids in foster care by providing bicycles, wish lists, and trips to Disneyland. They also provide Sweet Cases, or duffle bags filled with goodies for kids in foster care so they don't have to travel with trash bags. And as a super fun element, they…

November- National Adoption Month

It's November! Which means it's National Adoption Month. The President signed a proclamation and everything. But I'm struggling with how best to honor "adoption". I'm especially struggling with the "Happy Adoption Month" sentiment.

If there is one lesson I've learned about adoption- it's that it isn't the happy greeting card commercial our society likes to view it as. And it's a deeply personal experience. What might make one person feel happy and grateful might make another experience shame and rejection.
Sure it's a good thing to give children permanency and fulfill the dreams of people who want to be parents. But there is pain and grief behind that joy. A sense of loss- of roots and connection and sameness that we all crave. Both child and parent alike. 
Adoption has come a long way from where it was - secretive, shunned, hushed, coerced. There is more openness and dialogue about the impact of adoption but we still have a lon…

My Dearest Stella

The other night we were talking about college and you were asking about schools for singing. I said "but I just got you here, I'm not going to rush you to leave for college" and you responded, "I know."

Oh I hope you do. I hope you know how much I cherish whatever years we have with you here at home because they don't seem to be enough. I feel like we were cheated. I weep for the little girl who spent so much time in an uncertain place with scary people and sub-par care. 
But I cheer for all that you have achieved inspite of those experiences. My helpful, kind girl, with an imagination and slow, sure smile. Though you be little, you are mighty.  You are brave and courageous.  You jump at the chance for new experiences and I love that about you.  I love you.

Mommy

Like a fix to an addict...

Information. Information is to a foster parent like a fix is to an addict.  They need it. they crave it. its never enough. You always want more. It makes you do crazy things.

Stalk stranger's Facebook, My Space, Instagram, Twitter.You learn the circuit clerk on-line records search, checking it multiple times a month.Comb through stacks of papers hoping something was missed in the sweep for confidentiality.Read the caseworker's notes upside down.Scribble down everything the judge says in court as if you were the court reporter.
At the most recent ACR, I was handed the kids' current case plan. I usually have to beg for these and it's usually several months after the ACR that I receive it. Normally the case plan is redacted and pages of information are missing as it deals with the "family history".  I think that kind of makes it hard to take a team approach and generally creates more issues. Personally, I don't think that everyone should get to hide behind &…

20 Thoughts I Had During the Homestudy

1) Sh*t she's early. Oh well...2) A redacted birth certificate? It's their birth certificate. They should get to know what was on it. 3) Sexual abuse history!? WTF.  4) Changed placement due to sexualized behavior? WTF. 5) No, this was their 4th placement. You are DCFS. Shouldn't you know this? 6) Need to move this information. The redacted birth certificate is making me angry.  7) Why is the mental health n/a box checked? Um they have PTSD and RAD. I think that's applicable. 8) You are missing a sibling in the listing. 9) You want me to fill out a sibling contact agreement but you won't tell me their names? But you give us their birthday? WTF? 10) Did she seriously just ask Hubby his weight?  11) "You can describe me as curvy". 12) Perfect, another maternity leave to hinder my kids' permananecy.  13) Did she really just ask me to explain the difference between foster care and adoption? 14) Do people get that wrong? 15) How do I know I'm attaching to the kids?…

20 Random Thoughts Prior to a Homestudy

1) I probably should clean the bathrooms. She might need to go if she will be here 1.5 hours x 4 kids. However long that is. I don't multiply decimals.
2) Everyone has told me that's a way overestimation. Maybe I don't really need to clean them. 3) Holy Hell, yes I do.  4) Good God children, how do you get pee under the seat? How is this possible? I don't even know how to lecture you about stopping this because I have no idea how this can happen. 5) Next week I am giving bathroom cleaning lessons and you are all going to take turns on a weekly basis. 6) Gross.  7) Still not as gross as lice. 8) Do I need to serve treats? Would baking something be too contrived? 9) Definatley. The kids would tell on me. "This is the first time Mom has made cookies in our new house! ever!" So would Hubby. 10) Why do I care? She's already been here.  11) Because it's foster care and crazy sh*t happens and how many horror stories have you heard? It's not final until the order…

Can he use your last name?

That was the gist of the email I got from Simon's teacher today. Can he use your last name? He wants to change his name tag on his desk to read his adoptive name. He told his teacher he wants it to say "new last name". 
I love that my kid has grown so much that he can articulate to others his feelings about what is important to him. 2 years ago he couldn't tell me what he wanted to eat for fear he would offend me or it would be something no one else wanted to eat. He acquiesced to everyone. And don't get me started about the way his sisters pushed him around. (This is only slightly improved. He's still incredibly patient with his sisters- way more than me.)
So for him to ask to have the name he feels is his- is HUGE. 
My response was - if he feels this way, we should listen to him. Change it in the yearbook too. 
He has claimed our family as his own. He is demanding to be included in it. Court delays be damned. Legalities don't matter to him. In his heart he …

Am I Really?

I had Sarah's 504 plan meeting last week. It was the annual meeting to qualify her for classroom supports based on her PTSD diagnosis since it had affected her in class. (Which Caseworker #4 actually said he was "surprised it was necessary for her to have a 504 plan"....let me clue you in- don't say sh*t like that.)
Her amazing therapist came and reminded everyone just how far my kid had come. Somewhere along the way I missed actually hearing her diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder but it's in a report somewhere. While she has basically fallen off that spectrum (not exhibiting signs) her therapist reminded us that we must keep working with her as if she still had RAD as to not backslide in our progress.
When the meeting concluded the very well meaning staff applauded our family for being a foster family and adopting. It was the usual - you are amazing/the kids are so lucky.
And as I got in the car I thought, am I that amazing?  I was 5 minutes late to the meet…

Foster Care Land

I've had foster care on the brain the better part of this week. I know, I know- "well duh!? You ARE a foster mom." 
Some days that fact barely registers. With no visits I can sometimes get away with "forgetting" that we are in this weird limbo place where we are a family but not quite legally. We handle school, work, dinner, and bedtime. Rinse. Repeat. At least on days where trauma doesn't rear its ugly head....
I've missed the Fab Four tremendously this week. I found out that Solana's (baby sister) bio dad accepted a plea deal and got out jail. So I'm wondering about the case plan and visits. Sheila texted me and I read another book by Ashley Rhodes-Courter, Three More Words. It's the sequel to her memoir about growing up in foster care. In this book, she shares her experience as a foster parent navigating the system and also incorporating her biological family into her life. 
I feel so helpless to help the other 400,000 kids in foster care. W…

Adoption Coordinator

We met with the Adoption Coordinator that was assigned to our case. Caseworker #4 and CASA were also there. I was pretty frustrated by the end of the meeting because some of this process seems very inefficient to me. The entire meeting could have been handled with a brief phone call and paperwork in the mail. Why she had to wait nearly a month to meet with us is beyond me. 
I was hoping to hear- you guys have been waiting so long and we dropped the ball so we are going to do everything we can to expedite this process. Instead I heard- I have no idea why it took so long but this could take 6 months because there is a lot of paperwork and there are four kids. 
Then the taxpayer in me got frustrated because part of the process is to hire ANOTHER GAL to write a report in support of the adoption. Um they have one. She is sitting next to you. The best interest hearing resulted in a judgement that adoption by the foster parents is in their best interest. Why on Earth do we need yet ANOTHER per…

Viral Videos

One of my friends shared a video to their Facebook timeline today that was recorded by a parent while she was being investigated by Indiana CPS. 
Apparently CPS sent a male investigator out in response to a hotline call made after the parent "whooped" her 10 year old daughter in front of the police officers who brought home from school after she was expelled. 
The parent is clearly upset. The entire 13 minutes she is ranting at the CPS investigator and the 2 additional female workers who show up to examine her daughter after she requested a female.
She goes on to tell us that she is aware that she can't leave a mark due to a previous case is slapping her child in the face because she beat up her brother. We find out that her son is also not doing well at school. Meanwhile, she blames societies' problems (specifically children murdering each other) and a lack of respect for authority on the fact that she is "not allowed to beat their ass" because they can call …

$100,000 Worth of Sick?

I've been wrestling with where to put this blog post. Here, my anonymous blog aimed at foster care and adoption or my public one aimed at my health. For two reasons I've decided here. 1) This one has more readers. 2) I think that ultimately it falls under the fertility issue and reason we went into foster care.
I have a chronic illness. An immune disorder called Sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis can affect any organ and there is no known cause and no known cure. There are treatments that can make the disease go into remission but I will always have it. For some people it flares up over and over. This is true for me. Most people get it in their lungs-which I have had. Other people get it in their eyes, skin, liver, and heart. About 10% get it in their brain. I'm the lucky 10%. 
Sarcoidosis causes granulomas (hard cells) that, over time, can cause scarring. My sarcoid or Neurosarcoid (since its in my brain) is on the trigeminal nerve. It's a bad place to have it since that's th…

More Time

We are on a family vacation this week and Stella was watching Hubby running around and being silly with Smiley. At 10 1/2 she feels too old to do that kind of thing. Stella and my Mom were having a conversation and my Mom said something to the effect of "you were meant to be a part of this family".

Stella replied:
"I know Grandma, I just wish I had come to you when I was younger so that I could have more memories with you."
So powerful are her words. How safe and attached she feels. The longing to have more of our family. The sense of belonging and identity. Some powerful emotions being shared easily. 
The loss and regret. And my own feelings from a few days ago reflected by my daughter. 

Listening Circle, My Foot

I received an email yesterday (10/9) with an invitation to "join the rapid response team to give valuable feedback" about how better to serve Foster Parents. The "listening circles" as they are being called are scheduled for 10/14 from 9-11 or 11-2.
I shot back an email to the person who sent me the invite- "it would be great if there were times when working foster parents could attend."
Seriously, on top of all the time off I have had to take off for court and ACRs not to mention umm mothering 4 kids who could easily eat up a week of vacation because the share all their germs with each other....now I'm supposed to take a 1/2 day to participate in "a listening circle" with 5 days notice? Seriously who has all this free time? And I need like 2 weeks notice for meetings like this- I need to dig my sit-upon I wove in girls scouts out of storage.
 I desperately want to give feed back but this is just silly. Makes me think this is one of those - we …

Right before the deadline...

You know how when a court date is coming up and a bio parent does aome stuff to make it look like they are working their plan but they really only did the stuff so that they can point and say "I'm making progress! I did x! (Because there is no y or Z. Let's be real.)
Well the Department did that to me this week. We had our Administrative Case Review or ACR which is where a 3rd person looks at the case plan and rates the progress on each action item as satisfactory or unsatisfactory. They happen every 6 months and at our last one the reviewer was like why don't you have an adoption worker yet should have been assigned 6 months ago ( I'll do the math for you- that's 12 months from today).
I've been blabbering on about no adoption case worker for a while. Everyone was like- I know? So slow. Shrugged their shoulders and promised to follow up. I believe they did follow up because following up means no more blabbering on from me....
So we had the ACR and just as I&…

Stella

My Mom took Stella and Smiley shopping for pants yesterday. They came home with some cute things and as my Mom laid the items out in the couch to show me, I was struck with an unbelievable sadness and yearning.
The jeans looked so big.
A reminder that the kids grow a little more every day and I feel like I missed so much of Stella's childhood. I feel like she missed her own childhood and I started to cry. She is going to be 11 soon and I just feel like we got short changed.

Forgive Me, My Face Hurts

I have not written as frequently as 1) there isn't as much foster care/adoption related stuff to report 2) the kids are doing pretty good (shsssh don't tell the Universe that because then it will come back and bite me) 3) my face hurts.
My autoimmune issue has flared up with a vengance in recent weeks and my latest symptoms go beyond the nerve head pain and have spread to my face. My whole left side of my face feels like I've got really bad sunburn. My hair brushed my cheek today and I almost cried. The neurologist prescribed some medication but it's the kind that makes you incredibly drowsy. It's also a mood stabilizer so maybe not all bad....
I can barely keep my eyes open at times and have gone to bed at 9:30pm this week which is VERY unusual for me. I'm hoping my body will get used to this medicine but my online research tells me most people experience this level of tiredness for 6 weeks or more. 
The kids have been really great. Tonight there was a social eve…

Caseworker #4

So we met with CASA and Caseworker #3 who introduced us to Caseworker #4. The new supervisor never showed - something about a miscommunication. 
Whatever.
I actually cleaned the house. So I guess the supervisor missed it. (Like up until 1 am type of effort.) I NEVER clean for DCFS people so I guess the bonus is a cleaned house before the weekend. 
Anyway, Caseworker #4 was just as young as I imagined him.  If he was 24 I'd be shocked. He also happens to be good looking and have tattoos. Bio Mom is going to eat him alive. Exactly the kind of guy she goes for. (Except this one is employed and presumably has no criminal record.) He seems smart so I'm hoping he is. As long as he protects my kids we will have no issues.
Smiley was smitten. "I'm going home with Mr. Caseworker." Not until you are 30 kid- go get your pJs on.
The monthly visits are kind of silly. We are fine, no one has anything to add. No news on the adoption or the baby. The kids are doing fine. We would hav…

Dear Fab Four

Dear Fab Four,
I think of you often. Probably daily but so entwined in my heart, you are, that I don't notice the thoughts as special. Today Sarah said something just like Jelly Bean or Gabby would have and we told her so. 
Our visits are becoming less frequent. I think that is okay. I think that's how it should be. Maybe the reminder of us is painful at times, LM has said as much. We will be here for you always, whenever you need us. We love you. That will not change. We look forward to fulfilling our promise to your Mom to become your God Parents. 
But I think it's time for me to let go a little more. When we moved I packed everything away as it was. The moments of your time with us frozen in frames.  2 1/2 years of pictures that decorated our home to make sure it felt like yours. As the Quartet came we added to what was there. 
But those walls are not the walls in this house. The home that belongs to the Quartet. This is their forever home and their pictures should hang on …

Birthday Call

The call with Sheila went pretty well. She told each of the kids she liked their new names and made an effort to use them. She told each of them she loved and missed them. When she said that to Smiley, Smiley looked up at me and said "I don't know what to say". I told her just to say I love you back. I think their conversation maybe lasted 2 minutes. 
We have to come up with some talking points because asking the kids if they like school and what there are doing produce one word answers and "standing in the kitchen talking to you". 
Sarah was happy to be remembered on her birthday. Simon smiled the entire conversation but also didn't say "I miss you" back. Stella was most excited but when she actually got on the phone, she was laying on the couch and mumbling and acted like she didn't care all the much. Sheila said to her she could go back to playing if she wanted and Stella said "I don't want to, well I kind of do". Which surprise…

More New People

Let me say this- as much as Caseworker #3 and I had a rocky start, I actually really like her. She laughs at my comments, cares about the kids, and tends not to be up my ass about stupid rules.
I'm sure she found my snark funny. After her response that she understood and we set the date, she emailed back asking if we could schedule another week out because Caseworker #4's supervisor would like to come meet everyone.
(Insert forehead smack here.)
Apparently this was a supervisor on the case when they had Caseworker #2 (which I didn't know and at the same time, it doesn't surprise me.) I suppose it's good that she wants to meet us but I can't figure out why. In 5 years I think we've only ever had 1 supervisor meet with U.S. And that was on our request because we were having issues. 
I'm trying not to read into it too much. But it did cross my mind that maybe they want to see if we really are serious about being an adoptive resource for the sibling. Let's …

Snark

I maaayyy have been a taaadddd too snarky today. I actually sent a response to Caseworker #3 to the question "When can I come this month and introduce the new worker" that read:
How about never because I don't want a new one.
Then I realized that could be construed as unproductive so I sent a follow up: 

Under protest because really this is ridiculous seriously 4 caseworkers in 2 years for kids waiting for adoption? It's not their fault Mom got pregnant again by some dude who doesn't fluently speak English. 
It may have been a tad too honest. Even what I sent was somewhat censored because I really wanted to write "knocked up".
It's just like come on! 
So of course then I go to my therapy session all riled up. I'm seeing this therapist and giving commitment and acceptance therapy a try.  As I understand it, it's similar to cognative behavior therapy except that instead of trying to move past feelings, you acknowledge them and sit with them and let …

Worry Monsters

A few months ago when the kids were really anxious due to Sheila not signing, they made Worry Monsters in therapy (we do a ton of art during therapy).
I thought I'd share because they are so easy to make. The kids can write their worries on paper and feed it to their Worry Monster. You can decide together if they want you to clean them out or if they want to.
Materials: Empty Kleenex box or small box googley eyes, feathers, magazines, foam, glue, paint, permanent markers, string, stickers- whatever you can use to decorate.
Simon made teeth out of green foam and added a bunch of eyes. The feathers are hair.
This is Sarah's.

Tears, tears, and more Tears

Buy stock in Kleenex people....our household is using it up. Partly because the kids are all out of sorts and partly because despite my tutorials on how to blow your nose more than once per tissue, it has fallen on deaf ears....
I can't figure out if it's the start of the school year, the one month mark of saying goodbye to their bio parents or something else.
But the crying about everything is getting old...fast.
Did you do your homework?
Tears.
Did you feed the dog?
Tears.
Why is the backpack on the floor?
Tears.
What shoes do you have on? 
Tears.
Oh.my.word.
A reader on Facebook asked how the kids were adjusting. 
I think ok- except the tears. Could be that they are letting some of the walls come down and they are letting us in more. I know the therapists would tell us tears are a sign of attachment. 
But it sucks. 
Everyone seems to like their teachers. The school social worker has been in touch about Sarah's 504 Plan. We've hit curriculum night for the 3rd and 5th grader and nex…

Holy Meltdown Batman!

We came home from curriculum night to a Sarah who could not stop crying. And of course now we were armed with the information that she has a spelling test tomorrow and she has to read 15 minutes everyday and have her assignment book signed.
Bad combination.
The tears were quick. The snot was spraying. Even grandma when trying to say goodbye managed to make her melt down further. (And I'm over here trying eat my salad and through bites of spinach I'm calmly like- she thinks you are making fun of her when the crying got louder and my Mom's face turned worried.)
Hubby was trying to help her but she just kept crying harder but kept trying to do the work. So I called a time out to try and do guided deep breathing with her.
FAIL- because apparently when I say close your eyes and relax your face that means blink your eyes exaggeratedly and scrunch your face. And when I say deep breath in and blow out that means hyper ventilate- but whatevs.
By some miracle I managed to stay calm and k…

Fictive Kin

Illinois recently passed some legislation that makes expands the definition of "fictive kin". Fictive Kin allows people who are close to a family but not related by blood or marriage to be considered a placement and adoption resource for kids who come into care. A non-relative God-Parent or step-parent are examples of fictive kin. 
The baby sister, Solana, is placed with a friend Sheila named as a "God parent" and is considered fictive kin. She isn't a licensed foster parent but she is in her 40s and has biological children of her own. I have no idea how they met but I looked up an address for her name and she lives very close to Sheila. (And the Alcoholics Anonymous building is at the intersection. You'd think it would be easy for Sheila to get there...)
The legislation also expanded the definition to include adoptive families of siblings. In fact, because siblings are higher in the pecking order we would have standing to adopt before biological family would…

Name Update

I sound like a gosh darn owl.  I'm asking "who" said this, "who" did what? All.the.time.

Who, who, who.

I don't know a (fill in the original name here).

We keep checking with the kids. They keep telling us there are excited for their new names.  Its just hard to remember. 

Its especially hard to use their new names when speaking about past events.

We will get there. 

Stella and I had a long talk about being able to tell me its sometimes hard for her to remember her name.  She was afraid I would be upset.  I reminded her I understood, I changed my name when I got married.  I had been Foster Mom R Maiden Name for 25 years. 

Then I shared the story about Hubby sending me a postcard from Europe to my Maiden name a few years after we were married.  And Grandma having my Momagenda personalized with my old initials.  The lesson being that name is always apart of us.  We just need to make space for the new one too.

The school was great.  They added their new …

Open Bed

When we moved, our license was upped to 5 beds for children 0-18. We didn't ask for this. The licensing worker did it because of the baby and because we have the space but we had asked her not to. 
I decided to leave it because secretly I had hoped that the baby would come to live with us. Since that isn't the case, we have 1 open bed which means we are still getting placement calls. Right now the calls are coming to our home phone. Since we are rarely home, the calls are mostly messages asking us to call them back. I simply delete them. We haven't had any that we would be willing to take due to age and also we have our hands pretty full. 
Tonight I knew there was a message waiting for us when we got home as a plea had been posted in the county foster parent Facebook page.
A 3 year old Romanian girl who need a place until her Dad was able to get here tomorrow from out of state. She doesn't speak English and she needed a place until Monday in case the Dad didn't get he…