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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

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 person who knows even less about the kids to write a report except to spend money? What is the purpose.

Then I had to laugh because she asked us if we wanted to take the subsidy. Why would you decline the subsidy? And it wasn't "you are entitled to receive the board rate until the turn 18 or graduate high school which ever is later." It was "did you want to decline the subsidy?"  It's my tax dollars coming back to me. Of course I want that payment.

We went round and round about orthodontics- first it was we don't pay for them. Then I pushed and it was well if you can find someone who takes the medical card. Then she felt the need to inform me that college isn't covered either. Then she laid the "Post Adoption Sibling Contact Agreement" on me.

(I'm a paralegal. Specifically, I am a commercial contract paralegal. I draft contracts in the tens of millions of dollars range. On a daily basis. Sometimes several 100 million.)

So she hands me this blank form with questions about sibling contact and a place for signature. So I of course ask- what is the purpose of this agreement? How will it be used and who will see it? Who are we agreeing to contact with? 

Well, it's so DCfS can document that we've talked to you about the importance of sibling visitation. It has to go in your packet.

Ok. But how will it be used? 

It goes in their file.

For what use?

It's just part of the packet.

So Bio Mom won't see it?

No! She has nothing to do with the adoption. The Agreement isn't legally binding.

How are you defining sibling? They have several.

Whatever siblings they have a relationship with.

This went on for a while. It was misleading and frustrating and I was assured we could change our minds later and that if we put no contact we would still get called if the baby came back into care (if she were to go home). 

It's a form for the sake of a form and that drives me batty. The fact that they call it an agreement and nowhere state it's not a legal agreement makes me angry. (I googled it and found a better explanation for the form and it's uses.)

At that point I had trouble keeping the negative thoughts out of my head and teared up as she talked about the process. It seems like this is going to take so long. And I'm tired of limbo land. 

She left without meeting the kids which disappointed them. I am trying to focus on the fact that we at least are in the adoption unit and the process has started. But I didn't get warm fuzzies and that makes me worry about potential mistakes. 

It is what it is and this is outside my control and so I have to let it go. I'm allowing myself one more day to stew about it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

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 CPS and they will intervene. She later admits to using a belt on her child. 

She tells the investigators that only one woman can examine her daughter and when they announce there are no marks (and can therefore leave) she refuses to sign the safety plan.

I'm not linking the video because I'm appalled.

I agree that sending a male caseworker to examine a 10 year old girl is not right. But 13 minutes of shouting obscenities at CPS investigators is also not right. 

All I kept thinking was: your children are learning their lack of respect for authority from your actions. Your children are getting expelled at 10, how about you spend the energy you are spewing at CPS to figure that out. Maybe the fear they feel at home is driving their behavior? Because if she is willing to beat them with a belt in front of the officer what is she doing when no one is there? 

The scary part- she claimed to have a degree in human sciences and said that she had the same degree as the investigators....

The CPS investigators remained calm and professional. As I was watching I was thinking- dear lord I hope the kids are safe but I pity the foster mom who has to attend a team meeting with that parent. 

Disciplining your child should never be accompanied by the following descriptive words: belt, whoop, beat, whipped.

I hope this family gets the interventions they need not to prevent an incident that does result in a major CPS finding.

Even worse, the comments on the 4.2 million views advocating for a parents' right to beat their children.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

$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 the most painful nerve branch to aggrivate. Right now if I have active Neurosarcoid or permanent scarring is up for grabs.

This disease is what lead us to foster. Like most autoimmune diseases the medications to treat have harmful side effects and patients are counseled to use birth control while on them. 

I went to see my specialist after waiting 2 months for an appointment and she again counseled me that the treatment of my symptoms mean that I need to be on birth control.

My heart sank. I felt really, really tired when she said it. I'm tired of fighting with everyone for everything. I fight for my kids and my family and my job and my relationships. And then I wait and I wait for those things that everyone promises with their "you're such a good person good things will come your way" speeches. And then I wake up to my face on fire and I have to fight to be well again.

If you've never been ill or had a chronic illness it's hard to understand how exhausting it can be to be the sick person. I walked out of the office with orders for all kinds of tests so that we can do more tests based on the 1st tests' results. I have to do the testing before I can go on the medicine. 

There are some new treatment options. One of which is a $100,000 drug. The brochure says they will help you with copay assistance up to $25,000. I was blown away. Am I $100,000 worth of sick?  Could I actually inject myself with a drug that costs that much? I'm not dying. I'm in pain. Is pain prevention that necessary? It seems so extreme. Couldn't that money be used for other things? 

It's an option down the road and I guess it's good to have options but that freaked me out quite a bit. And then of course I got the "no babies for you" speech and my heart cracked just a bit. 

Meanwhile I'm surrounded by pregnant women and had to give the 2nd oldest in a sibling set of 7 a talk about puberty today.

I really just want to say f-it and go to a beach by myself for a few days where I can cry as loud and long as I want to. 

This is one of those moments where becoming an adoptive mom seems like a never ending process. And if I'm being totally honest, today I resent it. All of it.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

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. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

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 offered you a chance but made it impossible for you to attend scenarios. 

You want to help foster parents- make these meetings meaningful. Give us an actual chance at providing you with some great ideas. I have a long held believe that foster parents and their resourcefulness could solve a lot of the problems in "the system" if given a chance. But I can't do that if you schedule meetings 1) at the same time my children have to be dropped at school and I have to be at work or 2) in the middle of the day at an office nowhere near mine. Have one in the evening and when I say evening I mean like 7 PM not 4:30pm because that doesn't solve my problem. Oh and have child care there. You have all of these extra drivers and visit supervisors, pretend I'm a bio parent and give me some extra help. (A little mean spirited but the gazillion chances and the exceptionally high standard I'm held too are making me kind of salty.)

I'm going to email the organizer anyway. You know in my free time....

Thursday, October 8, 2015

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'm getting ready to tell another person about no adoption case work, I'm informed one was assigned in the last 48 hours. 

Just in the nick of time where the Department was going to have to rate themselves unsatisfactory....

We scheduled the next ACR for the end of April. The hope is it gets cancelled because the adoption should be finalized.

Who wants to take bets? 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

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. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

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 event at school but a parent had to stay with them. I came home and the kids were like- it's ok Mom I didn't really want to go. I got pretty lucky in the awesome kid department!