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Sunday, May 31, 2015

My Apologies!

I worked on a book submission for a book about foster care this weekend and I need to apologize.

My blog is in need of some serious spelling and grammar clean-up! I'm so sorry for the "promise to write about it later" posts and the errors!  I do a lot of blogging from my phone and I don't catch the errors.

Going back and re-reading a lot of the blog made me feel like a total idiot.  Thank you for continuing to read despite the errors.  One day I will get around to cleaning up, but going forward I will put more effort into better editing.

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I don't know if my submission will be picked and in total disclosure, I missed the deadline so we will have to see what happens.  The book is by the same group that wrote Welcome to the Rollercoaster, and if you have not read this, you really should.  The book is by 14 foster mothers and each chapter shares a story about the children who have come into their homes.  If you found my blog, you likely found their blogs, and I hope you will support this book as the proceeds go to cover legal costs that were accrued fighting for permanency for some special children.

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Going back through this blog, was very sad for me.  As I re-read things I realized how upset and angry I was.  I wrote a lot of negative things, and that was hard for me to take ownership of because in real life, I am a very positive person.  (In fact, my Gallup Strength Finder puts positivity as my #2 strength, right behind belief.)  I imagine its hard not to react that way to foster parenting initially since you are giving up control of your life to others. 

I was recently added to my county's foster parent support page and I recognize the same frustrations in the very new, just starting out foster parents.  I find it hard to offer support to them because I feel like my advice comes across as possibly condescending or "know it all" like.  It isn't that, its just being in the trenches for a while, you learn that Bio Mom criticizing you feeding the children raw vegetables isn't something to bat an eye at.  I didn't want to hear that I was making mountains out of molehills at the beginning either because I was so fired up about advocating for the kids.  4 1/2 years in and I'm fairly jaded by it all.

I wrote about the Fab Four finding permanency with their Mom, and my relationship with Maria.  I spent a good chunk of time crying while I was writing.  I had forgotten just how bad the daily battles were and how much I wanted to adopt them.  I can't believe it was 2 years ago that they went home.  I feel like I've lived an entire lifetime since!  In some ways I have. I changed jobs, moved, added 4 new kids, ran 3 1/2 marathons, and started Grad School. I think handling them leaving was a lot of the jump start I needed to start living my life for me again.  (Which I had not been doing for a very long time before the Fab Four came into my life.)
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The writing exercise also gave Hubby and I chance to talk about some important things as well.  He never reads what I write (He's maybe read two posts ever...) but he asked to read my start of the submission.  He had forgotten that the day we got the call for Jelly Bean and Mr. Mohawk was on my Grandma's birthday.  Both of us stood in the kitchen and cried together, missing her tremendously.  It was in that moment that he told me that he agreed with my suggestion that Stella's new name will be in honor of my Grandmother. 


 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Worn Out

I'm feeling really worn out today. It's been a tough week at work and we had a really rough night at therapy. Tapping into those feelings for the kids was like lighting the fuse on a powder keg. 

I really just didn't have the emotional energy to be super positive silly therapuetic Mom today. I sat and listened to my kids read me the book "Maybe Days" and I just got so angry and so sad. And then my kids flipped out in their own ways and it made for a long night.

Just want to be done. We all want to be done.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Everything Happens for a Reason


We purposely invited family over this weekend for the Holiday so we would get the house in order. We are still trying unpack and get the porches finished. I plan on being outside but those coming haven't seen our new house yet. (They will only see the main floor. I didn't get upstairs yet...) 

So I was doing dishes in the kitchen about 10:30 when Smiley comes running through the room. Literally. 

Smiley? What are you doing? 

She turned. She looked at me and the. She then started to do the pee pee dance. I ushered her into the hall bathroom and she was a few feet from the toilet and just started to pee right there in her pajamas.

I got her on the potty and she still had not said a word. She was soaked. And asleep. She prefers this bathroom for some reason and in her sleep she sleepwalked past the two upstairs.

I'm pretty sure she was still asleep while I bathed her as the pee went everywhere.

I guess there was a reason I hadn't washed the floor in the bathroom yet! 

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Five Love Languages

When the Fab Four was going home I found my relationship with Hubby was in bad shape too. Neither of us was feeling very loved and so someone suggested I read the book The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. http://www.5lovelanguages.com

I was blown away by how much sense it made. The theory behind the book is that there are five basic languages that people  understand in terms of feeling loved. 1)Acts of service 2) Words of affirmation 3)Quality time 4) Gift Giving 5)Physical Touch.

At the beginning of a relationship people do all five but as you get into the relationship and you get comfortable you tend to relax and only "speak" your primary and secondary love language. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that the other person feels love because they may not "speak" the same love language.

Hubby and I are opposites in a lot of ways. We work because we compliment  each other's strengths. At the same time we come at most things from complete opposite directions which leads to conflict. So the idea that we were probably not feeling love the same way made a lot of sense to me.

My primary love language is words of affirmation which fits right into my personality which likes recognition. My secondary language is quality time. I found myself saying things like "you never spend time with me, you don't tell me how great I am" and his response was always "I should not have to. I show you I do."

His love languages are Acts of Service and Gift Giving. Clearly not the same as me. (I totally appreciate that Hubby does laundry but I'm kinda like-meh because that's not what love is to me. The key is recognizing that the other person is showing it in their own way and trying to provide love in a way the other person understands.)

The theory can be applied to most close relationships including your children. It struck me tonight that Simon is a blend of mine and Hubby's love languages. He loves to give and receive compliments and positive feedback and he loves nothing more than to be helpful. Tonight he happily sat on the floor ripping up cardboard boxes while chatting away about his achievements for the day, which gave me the opportunity to provide him with affirmative statements.

So as we were chatting away we talked a little bit about the meltdowns he had the day following the announcement that the papers didn't get signed at court.

I was mad Mom because I thought you were going to tell me the truth like you always do.

But I did tell you the truth.

But it wasn't like you said.

Oh you mean that I always do what I say I'm going to do.

Yeah! You and Dad always tell the truth.

I know honey. I really did think your Mom was going to do what she told us she was going to do.

Is it kind of like when she missed those meetings? It wasn't the right choice, it feels kind of like she lied.

These were conclusions he drew himself.  He trusts us to know that we are truthful with him and it felt like a lie when what we expected changed.

Let me tell you it was really hard not to say to him- yep. Your mother is a manipulative piece of work and I have no intention of givibg her the opportunity to hurt you ever again.

I responded with, I can see how you would feel that way, that must be hard. 

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I can't remember the last time I was this angry. (Maybe the time they denied permission for us to travel with the Fab Four. That was 2 years ago.) I was literally still shaking at 9pm after court. So tired of watching kids get hurt while the courts take their dear sweet time. 

And to add salt in the wounds we have the fall out happening. Sarah has wet her bed every single night and hid the pee sheets. Smiley had an epic day of tantrums this weekend. Stella has reverted to parentified behaviors.

I hate what this is doing to my kids. It's pointless. We need the courts to be looking out for the kids more than the parents. And no one who understands this has the energy to fight the system because they have been chewed up and spit out by the system.



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Short Lived

WARNING: This is not a bio parent or foster care positive post. If you don't feel like reading the honest truth about the emotional Rollercoaster that is foster care you might not want to keep reading.  

In all honesty, I'm really angry. I'm mostly mad at myself for falling for the manipulation that seemingly occurred today. I'm angry that the consequences of someone else's choice fall on me, and I'm angry that permanency is further away today than it was yesterday.

Last week Sheila asked us to come to the courthouse to support her signing the surrender paperwork. We made the 1 1/2 trek out there this morning only to discover that since bio dad (of Sarah and Simon) was not coming, Sheila was not willing to sign the surrender until they could sign it at the same time. 

I was pissed. I squandered 4 of my last 9 hours of vacation time only to learn that the TPR trial had been cancelled since the bios said they were going to sign and since the decided not to, the TPR trial would be rescheduled for August. 

Instead of being admonished for not keeping her word to us that she knew signing the paperwork was the best for the kids, she was rewarded with an additional three months of visits.

I couldn't handle it. I actually left the court room crying in the middle of the hearing. I felt lied to. I was angry. In my mind I saw weeks of behavior and bed wetting and the crushed faces of my kids.

The judge said she wasn't happy but she couldn't force her to sign and there was no time on her docket but this means  the baby will be born and the department could force the kids to have visits.

It also meant we had to tell the kids that the adoption part wasn't starting. They were frustrated and sad that the process is going to take longer. This also means that they will have to start school with their legal names and we will have to deal with their name change mid-school year.

Right now I feel like I was snowed. I bought into the idea that she would follow through on her word. It's moments like this where I forget about the crazy truly at work and give the benefit of the doubt only to be blindsided. She shot herself in the foot where we are concerned because we will not be fooled again. Any trust built last week was swiftly destroyed by this decision. 

I have no idea what bio dad had to do with this, other than she saw an out and a path to more visits. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's her right. And if she had worked at it we wouldn't be in this situation. 11 months from the goal change will have gone by before the TPR trial happens. They will have been in foster care 2 1/2 years this time. What about the kids' rights?  What about mine? We are being held hostage, in limbo, on the whims of a woman who looked me in the face and told me she was afraid I would cut off contact and she wanted a good relationship so that wouldn't happen.

Let me tell you, this was not the way to start out. At this moment I have no desire  to work with her because I feel like she totally wasted our time and hurt my kids.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Stolen Moments

I was able to steal nearly two hours to myself tonight. But Foster Mom R didn't you just go to California last week? Yes I did, but I was not alone and I worried constantly about my family and I ran a half marathon which doesn't exactly equate to relaxation. Tonight I was relaxed. I poured myself a glass of wine, got out my Kindle and read outside on the porch that Hubby just re-did while the fire pit glowed and the wind chimes jingled in the distance.

My mind was able to take a solid break from all of the things swirling. The grad school work, the million things that need to be fixed/put away/cleaned for the house, the family drama happening, the impending buy out of my company and the TPR trial next week.

The TPR trial triggers the next round of "stuff" that has to happen in order for us to officially adopt the kids.  The kids will have been in the phase between return home and adoption for 8 months, despite being in an adoptive home, and despite us signing the intent to adopt over a year ago. It's such a shame that the court stuff takes this long.

The kids knew we were meeting with their Mom and they were excited to hear they were getting adopted. Stella especially shocked me when she did a little happy dance when we told her, her Mom was going to sign the papers that would allow us to adopt her.

The identified surrender is better for the kids but this still has me worried about the baby. During the meeting the subject of missed phone calls came up and Sheila's therapist explained that she looses track of time and days due to her mental health.

If you can't make a 15 minute phone call, how can you take care of a baby?

Smiley said something interesting today. She said that in her other family, she won't be the youngest because her Mom is going to have the baby. I looked at her puzzled because she totally forget she already has a younger sibling in another state. 

At this point it does not seem that Sheila wants more contact with the kids than we are willing to offer. In fact, she really only asked that they be allowed to call her if they want. We told her we would send email updates at least 4 times a year and we would be willing to start with 2 in person visits a year.

We tried to convey we were concerned about her well being. There was a moment when I felt myself softening just a bit, similar to how I did with Maria. It was very much like being with my kids, and perhaps we can coach her in a similar way, that would allow her to parent the baby effectively.

She did have questions for us, all surrounding if we were certain we wanted to adopt all of the children and if we were going to have other biological kids.

When I shared that I couldn't have biological children without medical intervention or a miracle, she began to cry. It was a really odd moment. Maybe she realized how much her children were wanted? Maybe she felt sorry for me? Maybe she saw that I've always just wanted to be a Mom in whatever way I could.

I'm a better Mom when I take time for myself and today I was able to mother my four like a pro. Boo boos and planting flowers, misplaced socks and books.  This is my future, it is certain, and I could not be more sure that it's what I want.  A day full of giggling and playing and yard work and housework. And a lovely ending in which to recharge. This is what self care looks like. And right now, I'm doing a pretty good job of it!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Permanency

This was a long week. Some of it not bloggable. We have a lot going on in our household. We had the meeting with Sheila and she told us she intends to sign the identified surrender paperwork at next week's court date. Overall it was an ok meeting and a good first step towards building a relationship.

Monday, May 11, 2015

In Case You Were Wondering

I finished. I actually had a personal best and shaved 10 minutes off of my previous 1/2 Marathon time. I felt strong when I finished, despite a twisted ankle earlier in the week. I'm walking a little funny today and I can't wait to go to bed tonight. My watch said we ended up walking 23 miles in total yesterday- and additional 10 of walking to and from the race and then around Disneyland after. It was a really nice brain break, free of drama and while I'm not "recharged" I am ready to take on the TPR trial and meeting with Sheila.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

I Left Town

It wasn't intentional. Maybe a happy accident. But I won't be home for Mother's Day. I'll be across the country. And in essence, Mother's Day won't happen and I'm perfectly okay with that.

I'd rather not be in the vortex of emotions. The guilt and the fear that come with a day soley focused on Moms because my kids have many. And since I'm the safe Mom, I get to do the heavy lifting. I end up aggravated and they feel bad and so it's better. They can have a fun day playing outside with Dad and no one has to focus on Moms. I have ZERO guilt about being elsewhere.

I'll be running 13.1 miles to complete the challenge I gave myself a year and half ago. I started running to control something. It was an outlet. I'll have run a 2nd Disney race, and earn a special medal. I'll be dressed as Wendy Darling for this Tinker Bell themed race. Fitting that I'll be running as the stand in Mom for the lost boys, don't you think?

For nearly 4 hours I'll have nothing but time alone with my thoughts. Time to reflect on all that has happened on my journey to motherhood and all that's headed my way. I also use this time to pray. And I will pray for all of the Moms. The adoptive, biological, foster, aunts, grandmothers, friends and hopeful Moms. I'll say a special prayer for those Moms grieving and those Moms who are walking a hard path. 

Happy Morher's Day.