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Friday, February 27, 2015

Delay

The good news is our foster care license has been renewed for another four years and our new home passed inspection.  The licensing worker tried to get me to add another two beds for a total of six. 

Umm...that's a no. In fact, its a not on your life.

But what about the baby? If you want to take the baby I will have to come back out. 

You have to come back in 6 months anyway.  We'll just call it that visit.  (And the last time they extended our license for siblings no one came back out so I'm not really sure that was correct.) And I'm not getting all those phone calls.  I will only possibly take the sibling.  We haven't discussed it yet.

The bad news is we still do not have a trial date.  The status hearing that has been continued since October was re-set for April. 7 months since the goal change.  Additionally, Sheila wants to have their next monthly visit at an arcade which is 1 1/2 hours from our house.  That makes their visit a 7 hour ordeal.

For months I have patiently took the approach that this is a few last visits and not commented other than to suggest their life books be worked on.  But the last visit in the community was pretty stressful on the kids and created a situation where old behaviors resumed and haven't left. But now that we have at least another 2 visits before the next court date I can't bite my tongue.

I called the CASA Worker.  Calmly expressed my concern over the speed of permanency and the type, length, and location of the visits.  She can spend 3 hours in the car.  They aren't working to return home so it makes no sense as to why the visits have to be near her community.  Transport her or shorten the visit. They therapists are also not in favor with the current visitation plans.

Caseworker #3's response is this is Bio Mom's time to do with as she sees fit as long as it is appropriate. Banging my head on the wall.

No one cares about my opinion.  I know that.  Nothing will change.  I know that too.  But I also demanded that a Family/Team meeting be scheduled.  That at least, I can make a stink about.

To be honest, I'm feeling pretty over being in the system. The limbo in which the kids are stuck is pointless and it makes me angry.  They can't really attach until they are sure they are staying.  They also can't process anything until we can tell them that adoption is officially the goal.  The "you aren't working on going home anymore but we are waiting for the judge" is a confusing concept. Smiley's version to my Mom was "there is a Judge now and she says my other Mommy didn't take care of us."

I just want to be done. Put my house together, work on running and school and raise my kids without the input of others. 




 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

In A File

I imagine it was the feeling a Mother gets when they hand your baby to you immediately after giving birth. When Caseworker #3 handed me the six photos I instantly felt love and began crying. There in the picture was the baby face of my Stella. My one year old Stella with a bowl haircut and her classic smirk.

Behind it was a six month old Sarah. She had her angry face on. She was clearly not pleased to be doing whatever it was that moment captured.

The evidence labels, yellowed, are on the back. The photos were hole punched to affix them to the file folder. By some miracle, the eight year old photos were still attached and Caseworker #3 brought them for us to keep.

Then the tears turned to sadness that the only baby photo my kids have is from a file documenting their abuse. That 8 years later, the file is still their source of history. I known these photos are more than most kids in foster care get so I'm not complaining but I'm outraged for all kids in this situation.

What an amazing gift we were given tonight.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Baby Mine

I love my mother dearly. I am grateful for everything she has done to help us in our journey. She has been my rock many times and has filled in and picked up kids, took them to appointments, and got them organized when I had my hands full with something else. But she isn't always the best person to be my sounding board. She has a very hard time being neutral. And my Mother does not hold back her opinion. Ever. She doesn't do it to be mean or hurtful. I think she's really aiming for honest and open but it often feels judgemental and critical.

Over the years I've learned to consider her statements and then go with my gut even if she thought what I was doing was wrong.

When we first told her we were going to be foster parents she tried to talk us out of it. She relayed a horrific story about a friend of hers. We of course proceeded anyway and tonight she sat surrounded by her grandchildren that she truly adores.

My Mom has heard me cry on a number of occasions about my infertility. She's reassured me that the pain I have felt as I have watched all of my friends have babies didn't make me an awful person. She has listened as I've questioned why it is that mothers who hurt their children can continue to give birth but I can't.

I know she would love on a grand baby and it wouldn't matter her if the child was biologically mine or not. When I told her about Sheila being pregnant she got all excited. Tonight she made several comments about how she thinks we should take the baby. "I would do it."

I know my Mom would help. She's offered to provide the first year of daycare. She's an amazing grandma but at the same time it wouldn't be her doing it. It would be me. And that's when it hit me.

In my heart, I don't think I could be the mother to this child. I wish I could explain how helpless that thought makes me feel. No one likes to admit their limitations. In fact, I pretty much walk around pretending I have a cape on my back. And I came head on with the fact that when I signed up to take these four forever, I shut the door pretty tight on any other children much less an infant. 

I appear to have my act together but most days I feel like I manage by the skin of my teeth. And my kids have a background of trauma. Sure we are doing fine now but we haven't hit puberty yet. How on earth could I have 4 teenagers and a kid in 1st grade?

We just bought a house and have another house we need to find a renter for. I'm in the middle of Grad School and I work full time. And while Hubby is a great Dad his work schedule is unpredictable and it would be up to me to provide consistency for a baby with a schedule.

The therapists encouraged us to make a decision before we were actually asked to take the baby. But it seems like such an awful choice to make. Will a baby topple us? And if we don't open our arms then what happens to this child? This sibling of my kids. Will my kids resent me for turning my back on their brother or sister? Will they resent me for taking on their sibling (because I will be in over my head)? 

And after all of the prayers and tears for a baby how could I be such a hypocrite when there is the possibility of one? Seriously for more than four years I've written about wanting to be a Mom and I turn my back on an innocent baby? But where do we draw the line? What about the next baby?

Now I'm crying because there is a baby? And what about Sheila? Does she even know that her baby is likely to be taken? 

It's so confusing. It seems like it should be a simple choice. But I feel like either way is wrong. 


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

They are just Happy

I don't know how to describe it other than, the kids just seem happier. The 1st day of school went really well. No tears at drop off. Excited chatter on the way home. They like their teachers, they made friends, and apparently the new daycare rocks.

Both Hubby and I noticed they just seem to be in a better place. No bedwetting, no tantrums at night. Everyone got up and got to school today with no issues. 

Even the dog seems happier.

Is it because we final have some space? We kept our promise that we were all moving? They got to pick out their paint colors? We have less of a commute?

Everything is still in boxes as we still have some work being done in the house but my kids seem, dare I say, relaxed. I have not heard a peep about missing anything or anyone. No fighting or whining.

I know it will be short lived but this has been a great week so far. (At least kidswise, I threw out my back and have a head cold so I could be better but that's how it goes.)

How is your week going?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Very Hard Day

I knew the last day of school would be hard.  I planned it so that it was one hard day instead of a string of them.  We said goodbye to school. We said goodbye to the daycare teachers. We had our visit with Sheila and then we came home to the new house.

There were tears.  The finality of the new, empty house was a lot to take in after such a long emotional day.

But today Smiley, who had a death grip on my neck when I lifted her out of the transport car last night, has been chatty and excited.  She's all about the new house "we are going to live in forever".  Yes sweet pea. Forever.

Because your Mother is never moving again.

I have a feeling I'm going to be living out of a suitecase until March.

At least the chest pains have ceased.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Super Woman?

People ask me all the time how it is that I can work full time and mother four kids. I always joke that I don't sleep and run on Diet Coke. But that was a pretty accurate description of my day. I was at work until 11:30. I was so tired I asked Hubby if the kids got their homework done only to have him tell me today was a snow day. 19+ inches of snow in Chicagoland and I forgot about the snow day. 

I'll maybe get 5 hours of sleep tonight after I wind down and then get up and do it all over again tomorrow. I have a 6 pack of Diet Coke waiting under my desk at work...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Simon Why Are You Crying?

I had two kids totally out of sorts today. Smiley basically woke up crying and kept going until after lunch. Simon began the water works once we went over to the new house. The meltdown was over Stella being bossy and not listening but the tears were really about moving. Being in the new house and knowing we only have a week left at our old one was definitely hard for my kid with major anxiety. He began crying when we were leaving because "he just started to play". This is not like my normally happy go lucky kid.

Stella was also stressed and reverted to her parentified behavior of being bossy and not listening to Simon. We've worked hard in therapy to give Simon a voice with his family and every once in a while we take a step backward. 

I was also not having a stellar day. Last night I had a very really panic attack about the tile we ordered being switched to a different color and I was so worked up Hubby volunteered to drive us over to the house at 10:30pm at night. I've been having anxiety pains all week and the stress took its toll in the form of losing my voice, a pinched nerve in my back and the beginning of a migraine. By the end of the day my migraine was in full force and effect and by 6pm I was in bed with a muscle relief and a cold wash cloth.

At 9pm Hubby sent the kids to bed. Each of them came in to say goodnight and Simon started crying again. I asked him why and he answered "I don't know". Then he asked if I was going to get better. I asked him if he was worried about me and he started to cry harder.  

It's rare that my kids see me down for the count. The few times I've been ill, they have been at school or I didn't share I was sick. Mom in bed at 6pm is unusual and I imagine it triggered something about Sheila. I tried to explain what a migraine was and reassured him that it would go away eventually. But how scary it must have been to this child who is trying to attach.  

As Smiley said goodnight she said "Mom I feel bad about you." For a 5 year old it was a very powerful feeling to share. I marveled at how far we've come. 

At about 11pm the combination of Aleve, caffeine, cold wash cloth, muscle relaxer and nap allowed the pain to ease up. But now I'm wide awake from the caffeine and nap!