Labels

ACR (1) acupuncture (1) adoption (30) Adoption; RAD; emotions; tantrum (1) adoptive families (4) Amazing people (2) anger (6) Anxiety (1) appointments (1) Attachment (4) Attachment therapy (1) babies (1) banging my head (8) Bed wetting (1) beds (3) bedwetting (3) behavior (25) bio families (2) bio parents (26) biological parents (5) Biological parents; adoption (3) Biological parents; adoption; co parenting (1) Bioparents (1) birth families (20) birth moms (1) birth parents (5) birthdays (3) blogging (5) Boundaries (4) CASA (1) caseworker (9) challenges (4) change (1) Changes (2) co-parenting (16) confessions (15) Consequences (2) Court (19) crafts (1) CW Visit (5) DCFS (9) decisions (3) diary (1) dicipline (1) drama queen (2) emotions (129) Fab Four (14) Fab Four: Post Reunification (2) faith (10) family (12) Family fun (9) family outings (7) family support (15) family therapy (4) feelings (7) fertility (2) flowers (1) food (1) foster care (25) foster parenting (83) Foster parenting; permanency (3) fun (1) Gabby (4) grief (9) healing (5) Holiday (8) Holidays (5) Homework (1) honesty (1) Hubby (2) husbands (3) If I'm being honest (5) illness (1) investigation (1) Jelly Bean (4) laughter (1) legal issues (4) licensing (2) Little Mama (2) loss (5) love (8) lying (1) marriage (1) meetings (1) meltdown (1) Mental Health (3) migraine (1) milestones (1) Mommy Humor (5) mother (1) motherhood (46) Movie review (1) Mr. Mohawk (7) music (2) names (2) Neglect (1) neurosarcoidosis (6) Nostalgia (1) nothing to do with foster care (8) Open adoption (2) organization (1) other people's reactions (7) Overnight visits (2) parenting (12) permanency (10) perspective (6) photolistings (1) photos (2) pictures (5) placement (1) Placements (23) Post Reunification (26) Post visit behavior (2) Post-reunification (5) PRIDE (1) progress (1) PTSD (5) puberty (1) Quartet (3) Questions (1) RAD (5) relationships (6) return home (1) reunification (10) safe haven (1) Sarah (3) sarcasm (1) school (10) Sexual abuse (4) shopping (2) sibling (1) siblings (5) Simon (6) sleep (1) Smiley (1) Social Media (2) Solana (4) Stella (1) stress (9) Suicide (1) support (5) tantrums (3) Team Work (1) Teamwork (5) Thank You (1) The Quartet (1) The System (2) Therapeutic parenting (2) therapy (19) TPR (7) training (1) Transition (10) transition plan (10) trauma (9) triggers (4) typical kids (1) Urine (1) verbal abuse (1) Visit behavior (3) visits (38) waiting (2) where to start (3)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Are You Sure?

Love all the comments! So interesting to see how everyone handles the name change aspect. True Story, Sarah asked me how to spell her new last name tonight. And her first.....(Face Palm)

One of the questions I got was why we didn't need to be at the final court hearing.

Each county in Illinois does their adoptions differently. In theory we could have filed the adoption in any county in Illinois. From what I can tell each requires two hearings. In some counties the family goes in person to the 1st, in others you go in person to the last. Some counties only do adoptions two times a month, others four days a week.

The county their case was out of was almost 2 hours away and very small county. Our attorney wasn't familiar with their procedures but offered to file in that county if we wanted to. We liked the idea of the same judge handling the adoption but by the time we got the point we could actually petition for the adoption we decided it wasn't worth the hassle.

The county we live in has a bit of a lag between petition and hearing dates, but would have had us go in person on the day it was final. The drawback was there would be no cameras allowed at all. No phones with cameras are allowed in the building. So we decided not to file there.

The other county we live very close to is very big and they do adoptions nearly every day of the week. There was virtually no wait time for a court date and they allowed pictures in the hallway (not in the court room).  The drawback was we had to go to the 1st hearing and wait on the finalization date to be communicated to us.

So that is how it happened that we weren't there. So we have two adoption days. The day we went to court and told the judge we wanted them to be ours forever. And the day that it was official.

I asked the kids last night about their feelings about the adoption being final, final. Simon said he forgot it happened this week. Smiley said "It feels like my birthday. I don't feel different than six even though I'm seven." Stella said it didn't feel different and when I affirmed her feeling Sarah spoke up that she felt the same way but was worried that would hurt my feelings. "It's a big deal but it doesn't feel that way and I thought that would hurt your feelings. It just felt like a regular day."

I told her that I completely understood and that maybe it meant that we handled the transition so well as a family that we didn't need a piece of paper to tell us what we already knew. They all agreed and then went back to eating their dinner.

But I have to admit I'm a little weepy this week about it. We were at a baptism today and the priest was giving his homily (sermon). He was from Uganda and was talking about traveling to his homeland to visit and his journey back to the US. He talked about being "home" and how we all just want to feel stability and safety, no matter where "home" might be. We want to belong to one single place. 

It was a moment where I felt like the words were meant only for us. Meaning in the message for sure.

A little later a friend of the family member who's child was Baptized was reminding me we had met before. After finding out we had 5 kids, she was all "I think the last time I saw you, you were pregnant."

I was like- "Nope, don't think so!" She was all "Are you sure?".

A little later I told Hubby that I should have said "Nope, just fat." And he was like I was going to say that as a joke but I wasn't sure how you'd take that. 


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Reader Question: Did You change their names?

Yes we did. We actually started using their new names shortly after their good bye visit with Sheila last August. So the only name that really changed this week was their last name (kind of, one of them actually had our last name). We had started using them so we wouldn't have to try to do a name change mid-school year. Plus the kids had only been in the school the last 1/2 of the year so they didn't know everyone yet. The school was great about going with the new first names.

At some point Simon spontaneously asked his teacher if he could change his name tag on his desk to our last name. He was tired of waiting on the legal stuff. He started to write Simon Almost Last Name on his papers. So we asked all the kids and they asked for the same update. Their report cards and benchmarks still had their legal names. 

The name change was a bit cumbersome at first. We sounded like owls because someone would ask for a person by their birth name and we would all answer "Who?". Within a few months the slip ups were less and less. And now it almost never happens unless we have to use the old name for a reason. 

Each of them kept part of their birth name. And in various ways each of the kids had input into their new name. Stella was the one most resistant. She kept "Stella" as her middle name (her request) and we gave her the name of my Grandmother. Sarah had two middle names and picked one of them to keep as her middle name. We gave her a new first name and then argued abut how to spell it. My argument was if she spelled it the shorter non-traditional way people would mis-pronounce it her whole life. I lost. Sure enough on adoption day the judge made that very mistake. (Moral: Mom is always right.) Her middle name also is the same as my BFF so there is a family connection.  

Simon's nickname stayed the same because that's just who he is. I couldn't picture calling him something different but didn't like his first name. So we named him a more formal name with the same nickname (think Nickname Rob changed from Robby to Robert). He also had two middle names and picked the one that is the same as my brother's name. He now insists on being called his formal name which breaks my heart. (But also his nickname and Sarah's name rhyme so that causes some confusion that I didn't consider.) Finally, Smiley had her birth middle name become her first name and she was given my Mom's name as a middle name. I really disliked her first name. It was cute while she is little and all dimples but when she turns 23 going for her first job no one was going to take her seriously. 

I had to rattle their legal names off at the pool the other day (despite being full siblings- Simon and Sarah had different last names) and Simon asked me how I remembered all of that! I told him because I was his Mom. :)

We met some opposition in family members about changing their "real" names that their "real" mother gave them. We explained the new names were an important part of the claiming and bonding process. Especially since there were multiple kiddos. And as parents we have a right to name our children. We also reminded them that we are in fact, real parents.

Name changes are something that every family needs to decide for themselves. I've been asked if we adopted Solana if we would change her name. I actually like her first name and our nickname for her. I have a longer version of her name I call her when I'm being silly or stern so maybe we would go with that. I wouldn't keep her middle names though so maybe we would give her a new first name like the other kids but keep her nickname similar to Simon. But that's a lot of hypothetical. 

To her credit Sheila has made an effort to use their new names since we changed them. We had a lot of discussion on what they would call Sheila at the visit. We have introduced the idea of "Birth Mom" as a term that others will recognize. The kids never referred to their other foster parents as "Mom" so First Mom didn't go over well with them. I suggested we call her Mommy Sheila since they used to call her Mommy. (They don't really refer to me as Mommy, I'm just Mom.) I'm probably the worst at remembering to refer to her as something other than "your Mom".  They used Mommy, or Mom or didn't call her by name. I could tell when the kids were talking to me instead of her so it wasn't a big deal. I'm sure with time this will get more comfortable.

Did you change your kids' names at adoption? Do they call you something  different? Share your experience.

That Time My Kids Were Adopted And No One Bothered To Tell Me

So after the whole "we need to continue the adoption finalization date because we forgot to put one of your kids' names on some important paperwork" thing, the judge didn't care and entered in the final order of adoption on the date originally scheduled.

Except no one called to tell me until the next morning. So while I was having my 2am Pop-Tart meltdown, my kids were actually mine.

But that's foster care. Critical information (Hey your names changed! And you are now financially responsible for day care.) but no one bothers to give it to you.

Our attorney called at a really frantic moment as I was trying to get myself and the 5 kids out the door to drop off at two different daycares and I was totally caught off guard when she told me it was final.

Let me tell you, I couldn't really enjoy it because I was so frustrated by the chaos they all created just days before in messing with my schedule. I had no sleep, was late, and totally overwhelmed by the idea that it was over. Final. Done. And no one felt it was necessary to tell me about it. 

So after 1,170 days in Foster Care my kids were adopted. 

Thank you to all of you readers for your support for all of these years! We so appreciate all of the kind words and prayers. 

I announced the news yesterday on Favebook. You can find me there at @lovesastateofmind or https://www.facebook.com/lovesastateofmind/

~ Foster Mom R

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Can't Sleep

We talked about famous adoptees in family therapy tonight. I can't sleep so I went from looking for lists of famous adoptees to searching on the Adopt Us Kids website. Did you know JC Chasez (From 'NSync was adopted from foster care? By his birth mother's former foster family.

I need to start running again to help manage some of this stress/emotion. And probably get back into therapy for myself. The one therapist I had started seeing last summer didn't have kids and practiced Mindfulness. That's not what I need. What I need, is a safe place to cry for an hour a week. Someone who has walked this same path who will just let me talk and cry. Otherwise I am sitting in the dark eating a pop-tart at 2:15Am while typing on my iPad and wiping away tears with a paper towel.

The call with my Mom yesterday was really triggering for me. It brought me back to just before the Fab Four went home. I feel like we barely survived that. There is so much more complexity to our current situation. It feels like drowning. Lots of fear and anxiety.

Could this be the adoption depression I've heard about? Or am I just now coming back up for air after taking on a 5th child? Have we normalized enough that my psyche has decided it can take a beat to review all that is going on?

On the one hand my kids are doing fabulous. I mean really, really, healthy and great. And on the other, I'm struggling. Maybe because they are doing so well and any change with their sister could send us into a tailspin? It's probably all of these things combined. It's like that scene in the movie Juno where the new adoptive mom asks the birth-step grandma "How do I look?" And the grandma replies "Like a new mom. Scared shitless."

Monday, June 20, 2016

Permanency

My nerves are fried today. Mostly because I'm just tired of living in foster care land. I fully recognize that we have had a better experience than a lot of people, but I'm just ready to be done. 

I had over an hour in the car alone with my thoughts on the way to Solana's permanency hearing this morning. That's a long time to be alone with your thoughts. Especially with very little sleep because a certain 10 month old decided she was going to scream the house down from 12:30 until 1:30 when I decided she and I both needed to be in my bed asleep. 

Today was her 1st permanency hearing even though next month marks a year she will have been in foster care (her whole life). Neither bio parent showed up. 
Which doesn't reflect well on them except all the reports were positive and showing progress being made towards the case plan. This of course meant the judge only had Caseworker #4 and myself to talk to. (Neither attorney had heard from their client.) So when he asked me if I had anything to add I just asked the court to keep in mind the sibling relationship when she returns home. It was my way of reminding him that I'm adopting the four siblings. The judge then sang our praises and asked how he could clone me. Then he granted permission for us to go out of the country on a cruise with her. 

But you know what? Solana deserves better. Why the hell wouldn't you show up? And if you aren't serious about gaining custody (because how can you be if you didn't show up to court (which started an hour late)) just sign the surrender now so we can be done.

I'm definitely having flashbacks to when the Fab Four were leaving and all of the pain and this time it's not just myself and Hubby that will be crushed. There are four more kids and all the others who fell in love with this beautiful baby. And I'm the one who has to somehow keep us together and lead the way through the pain. And I'm struggling with that right now. Setting the record straight that we aren't adopting her. And every time I say it, I feel like I'm abandoning her. 

But her biological parents couldn't even show up. 

The goal was set for return home in 12 months which means a very long road. A lot could happen in that time but today the goal just exhausts me. I mean for heaven sakes I've been working on finalizing an adoption for 11 months. 

So I may reset with a trip to the pool tonight. My and the kids. They won't be able to tell if it's the chlorine in my eyes or tears. (I know, I'm a little dramatic today.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Open Adoption- Visit

I had reached out to Sheila to let her know the adoption would soon be final and to set up a visit so she wouldn't have to ask us. We were a few months away from the year mark of last seeing her and I thought it would be better if she could see all that we are trying to do to keep our children connected to their birth family. She of course put the ball in our court to plan the visit, so we did. 

We picked a garden in her town that the kids enjoying going to. It's the type of place you can only spend a few hours at so there would be a natural break in leaving. It's about an hour away so we also planned on getting lunch at a habachi resturant we really like.

Overall, I think the visit went well. We had prepped the kids at family therapy about things we wouldn't want to discuss (like Solana's permanency) but things that we were sure she'd want to hear about. School, camp, swimming. The kids were really nervous but afterwards they told us it was easier than they expected. Sheila respected our request that she let us parent Solana during the visit and towards the end I asked her if she wanted to hold Solana for a while, which she of course said yes to.

We tried to give her some space with the kids, letting them wander through the paths without us and taking pictures of them together. She also asked me if it was ok if she took their picture and I agreed. I thought is was nice she asked. She brought stuffed animals for the kids and also let each of them pick something out from the gift shop. 

We hadn't really set an end time so when we reached the visitor center we invited her to lunch if she was free. She said she had a prior commitment and we began saying our goodbyes. Then she asked if she could get a picture of us with the kids and I suggested we take one all together. As she hugged the kids she asked if she could hug me as well and thanked me again for letting her have the visit. I told her we would try to do another one before school started. 

I think she did genuinely appreciate the chance to see them. The kids had a hard time conversing with her about anything other than the activity we were doing so there were moments of ackward silence. Sarah was upset about Sheila not coming to lunch. I can't figure out if that's because it felt like rejection to her or if her love language is quality time. Maybe both. Lunch ended up being chaos because the resturant was closed and then other places were busy. So it's better she didn't come with! 

All the kids were happy they saw her. Felt it went better than they expected and we managed to continue on with our day. We even managed to run a few errands with no issues. And dare I say, we've not had any fallout. We've also had a busy week so that probably helped.

Sheila did text to thank me yesterday and also let me know she found lice in Smiley's hair during the visit. It annoyed me but also exemplified the reason why she can't parent. It didn't dawn on her that I would need to know right away to take care of the problem. (Again.) (I actually researched salons that do the lice treatments and not picking for you last night. Either I missed some nits from the last outbreak or there is someone at camp that still has it. I didn't find many big/live bugs so I suspect this is a new infestation. But it was interesting bonding time for hubby and I as he was "helping" me look through her hair.)


Friday, June 3, 2016

Damn Disney Decals

So back during one of trips to Disney with the Fab Four we bought those stick figure decals for the minivan. I never put them on the car for fear Maria would see and take offense. When the kids went home I sent their stick figures with them and hung on to mine, Hubby's and the dog. 

On a subsequent trip, we bought new stick figures for the final four. They've been sitting in a drawer for at least year. Well when Simon puked in my car two weeks ago I had justification to spend the money on a detail service. (I'm a little spoiled because they actually come to our office parking lot each Thursday.) And since the car was freshly washed I though it would be a good time to apply the stick figure forever family to the window.

Wrong move. The kids were like "what about Solana? Where is her's? Is there room for one? Can we get her one?

With their permanency seems to come a harder time remembering that their sister is still in foster care. Or maybe they just have more bandwidth to think about it. But we've had this conversation every other week recently. And it sucks.

"Remember? Solana's goal is return home. Both her Biological Dad and your Biological Mom are working on their homework from the judge."

Which is of course followed by, "How is my Mom doing?"

::sigh::

It's hard to balance answering truthfully, appropriately, and in a way that doesn't make them completely anxious about losing their sister. On more than one occasion Sarah has cried during this conversation. She adores her sister. And Solana adores her. 

I say that I don't really know for sure. I tell them I know their Mom is doing some of the things that the judge and Caseworker #4 have asked. I tell them So is her Dad. I say that people are concerned about Mom's past choices and inability to keep them safe and so they will be extra careful with Solana's safety.

"Will we get to see her if she goes home?"

So hard for adults to cope with these questions as foster parents. Here my kids are asking them too.

I'm trying to remember not to "borrow trouble" but that's really hard when you get these gut wrenching questions from your kids and you have no good answer.