Sunday, June 18, 2017

questions I'd like an answer to

I sent the following as an email to the director of our licensing agency:

In order to best prepare for a kiddo like Daisy, I am hoping that someone from CPS could answer these questions for me.

fully realize that the placement is not guaranteed!! But in order for the potential transition to be a smooth one, the more I know about Daisy, the better. Also, there is the issue of moving a child with severe special needs to all new medical providers.

And maybe none of these questions can be answered unless the placement is going to happen for sure. It would be helpful to know sooner, though. I honestly have to go into this knowing as much as possible. Daisy was a very challenging child when we had her before. Her neurological needs were not being met. And as a result, she had a lot of sleeping and behavior issues. (I didn’t sleep for 10 months. I honestly can’t do that again.) I will need to know if I have to drive to a neurologist in Central Texas or if I can get her on the waiting list for the pediatric neurologist I want to see here (where we live).

1. What medications is she on now?

2. What doctors/specialists does she see regularly?
(Names and addresses would be helpful so I can start updating her files on my end.)

3. What therapies is she currently receiving?
Would it be possible for me to see her most recent evaluations or talk with her therapists?

4. What procedures, if any, has she had in the last two years?

5. Has she had any vaccinations? (I wasn’t allowed to vaccinate her at all when she was in Care the first time.)

6. Since coming back into care in May 2016, how many placements has she had? I was told she had at least two foster families and now she’s with fictive-kin. Were there more placements?

7. Will sibling visits be required with her half-siblings?

8. Why is she leveled “specialized”? Is it due to medical needs, behavior needs, developmental delay, or????

9. If possible to describe, what is her sleep like? Please be honest here. I need to know exactly what to expect so that I can arrange the best bedroom placement for all the kids in my home.

I appreciate any information that CPS can pass on to me.
Thank you!!
Cherub Mamma


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I'm not honestly expecting an answer right now. I'm betting they won't tell me anything because the placement is not guaranteed - it's only something they are "strongly considering". 

If that's the case, I'll do my best to make sure that someone does answer these questions before I officially agree to take placement of Daisy. I mean, I've said "yes". But like all things foster care...they can't just bring her to my home. They'll have to talk to me about this again before she is moved.

If at any point in time I'm met with hesitation toward answering my questions - or pressure to move quickly to adoption - I'm going to take a LONG HARD pause before I agree. I will not destroy my family by deciding to do anything without getting the proper supports in place. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

a slightly more official call

The director of our agency just called me.

"Um...Cherub Mamma...do you know a child named Daisy?"

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Whoever Martin called yesterday must have listened to him. It seems there might be a special court hearing called concerning Daisy's current placement.

I was asked, on a more official level today, if we would take placement and consider adopting Daisy.

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I said yes.

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That is all I know for now.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

interesting phone calls and texts

A couple days before we left on vacation, I got a phone call from Ricky. We don't talk a lot anymore. He's a 20 year old man doing his thing. He knows our family is always here for him. But really, he lived with us for just about six months. We served him for a season in his life. I'm not going to push for extended contact for the rest of his life unless he wants it.

Anyway...Ricky's little brother, Michael, has gotten himself in some trouble. Ricky wanted to know if we were still doing foster care.

I told him yes.

And then, without going into detail...because my gut says nothing is really going to come of this...I said we could be a resource for Michael if he needs us. It would HAVE to be through the foster care system because I would need the financial assistance and structure that foster care brings to the party. But he could give the people involved our information.

Ricky knew we were going on vacation. I haven't heard anything new about Michael since that phone call - and the one that followed from Ricky's older brother, Peter. They know we'd help. But the people in charge of Michael haven't called.

I have no idea what will happen. I'll check in with Ricky when we get back home.

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Whiz and Rex's mom and dad finally learned that we were on vacation out of state. This information was not taken well. Auntie Carla sent me a text letting me know her brother is not happy!

I know that CPS told Mom before we left. But, it was somewhat indicated that Mom might not have been in a mental state where she would remember said information. I really wish CPS would have called Mom back and discussed it again to make sure Mom and Dad understood.

Either way - Dad is PISSED. He also now knows that the babies have been doing video chats with his sister, Auntie Carla. He's not thrilled with that either.

Auntie Carla doesn't think that Mom and Dad fully grasp where this case is going.

I'm not really looking forward to the next visit drop off after we get back from vacation.

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I got another out-of-the-blue phone call today.

Remember Daisy?

Well...things are still a hot mess with her case. She's still in foster care. Mom and Dad have barely started their criminal trials - despite the fact that Dandelion was killed over a year ago.

I "follow" both the CPS case and the criminal cases online by looking up the public information that their county publishes. It's definitely not all the details. But it's enough. I also may or may not have used some other resources to figure out exactly where Daisy is living right now.

But Martin, the caseworker that Daisy had when she was reunified the first time, just found out where Daisy is currently living. And he's not pleased!! In fact, he said ever since he heard it yesterday he hasn't been able to rest or focus on anything. He's super angry.

Daisy is currently placed with Kori's husband.

Kori never divorced her first husband. She just hooked up with Daisy and Dandelion's dad without officially ending her first relationship. Her legal husband is also the parent to Kori's older two children.

Kori and her husband have a unique relationship. Kori told me after the first RU that she was leaving Daisy's dad and going back to him. Seemed strange at the time.

Anyway...Martin does NOT think it's good for Daisy to live with Kori's husband.

And for what it's worth, neither do I.

Martin is no longer with CPS as a caseworker. He's now moved to the adoptions unit. However, when the TPR trial actually happens for Daisy's parents, Martin is going to have to testify as a witness. That's why he's still involved.

And he wants to get further involved. He asked if we would still be an adoptive resource to Daisy if the State could get things straight and get Daisy into a better home. He wants to move her away from Kori's husband and place her with us. He indicated that he'd do whatever it takes to move her as soon as possible.

I said, "yes," we'd take placement. I indicated that we would need support from the State. I'm quite confident that her neurological needs have not been met for over two years.

Again though, much like with Michael, I'm not holding my breath that anything will happen. Martin told CASA, and the lawyers, and anyone that would listen about us a year ago - right after Dandelion's murder. No one from that county has ever contacted us. Not once! So I'm not holding my breath that they will now.

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We're still on vacation for a couple more days. Here's to praying Rex gets to feeling better. He just woke up from his second nap of the day. I offered him a bottle and he drank four ounces. He then proceeded to throw up most of it all over me.

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Oh the joys of foster care.

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For new readers...
You can click through the labels on the actual blog page to read about Ricky and Daisy. They joined our family in December of 2013 (totally separate cases). Ricky stayed for about six months. Daisy stayed about ten. I'm still in contact with Ricky. I haven't spoken to Kori, Daisy's mom, since Daisy and Dandelion were permanently placed with their aunt. CPS let me know about the murder of Dandelion somewhat off the record. But because it happened in a different county, we have never been formally contacted in any way.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Thank you!

The other day, my brother-in-law walked into my mom's house, where we are staying for vacation, and handed me this.
If you know my brother-in-law, it won't surprise you when I say he didn't know much about the card.

I think I'm supposed to thank someone named Courtney.

If it's you, Courtney, thank you! I'm not sure who you are. But I'm thoroughly touched by your generosity!!!!!! If it's someone else, whop my brother-in-law over the head and tell him everything so I can thank the right person or people.

The pork tenderloin I bought with the card was delicious. Going to Goldie's is a MUST every time we come home. In fact, I have to go back because I still haven't had my annual ice cream from Goldie's yet.

Trips home to Iowa need to generally include: a trip to Pizza Ranch, a taco pizza from Casey's, ice cream from Goldie's, and donuts from Casey's. It just is what it is. These items can't be found in Texas.

I am very touched that someone went out of their way to give me this gift card. It's little things like this that totally boost my spirits. I still smile when I think about the case of diapers that was sent to me when the Neverland Kids came. (I never did find out who those were from either.) Local friends have bought outfits for my kids. I've had people send gift packages. They're small things. Things I could provide for myself. But it's nice to have that help and support. It really does lift my spirits! On nights when I'm up all night with babies, or days when I'm so incredibly tired of changing diapers, it's nice to know that people are thinking about us and supporting us in the ways that they can.

Thank you again, Courtney!! I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and generosity!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Daily Media Dice

My kids LOVE their screen time. TV, Kindles, Xbox...they love it all.

It's hard in the summer to restrict it completely. With temperatures climbing up into the hundreds for days on end, most kids don't play outside much. (And really...can you blame them?!) Neither of my middle schoolers have developed friendships where they call friends and get together with anyone outside of school. They either hang out with kids in our immediate neighborhood or they are alone.

I tend to allow more media than I should.

There are all sorts of ways that people restrict screen time. I know some people make their kids do chores first. I've done that plenty. Others make their kids earn media by reading. These incentives have the potential to work well.

But if I'm honest, I totally suck at managing systems like that.

I could give you all my excuses. I'll spare you.

I hate being the bad guy, too. Because I really despise the Xbox most of the time. I need days where there is NO media. But I don't like being the mom that says they don't get any media that day.

I'm just being honest.

So we're going to try something new this summer. Each morning one of the boys will roll the dice for the day. Whatever number comes up will correspond with the type and amount of media they will get for that day. I've said that I'm going to play along, too.

The boys helped come up with the system. I'm completely surprised that they're OK with "none" being an option 25% of the time. I know they're hoping they roll an "any media - two hours" every day.

Just knowing that there will be some days with zero media makes it easier for me to handle stuff. And I'm not being the bad guy when they roll a "none". It's all on the dice. (This is a good tactic when you've got kids that love to negotiate and bargain all the time.)

This is what they came up with:

DAILY MEDIA DICE
2. Kindle only - one hour
3. Kindle only - two hours
4. NONE
5. one hour each - any media
6. NONE
7. two hours each - any media
8. movie only
9. NONE
10. one hour each - any media
11. two hours each - any media
12. NONE
  • Movie only =  must agree on movie to be watched together
  • Any media = for one hour….you may play separately for one hour each or you may play together for a total of two hours. Kindles will be surrendered or blocked after your media time is consumed.
  • Any media = for two hours…the maximum amount of time any one child shall be on the Xbox is two hours. Time may be shared – but shared time counts toward your total. Kindles will be surrendered or blocked after your media time is consumed.
I'm hoping I've got all bases covered. And I just might allow a re-roll after lunch after they do chores and/or read. I'm not telling them that yet, though. I'm sure this system will evolve over the summer.

The last day of school is June 2. I love having my kids home! I hope this system cuts down on the begging for screen time.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

getting a babysitter

Yesterday, a new friend that I met in B.A.C.A. came over to the house to visit. (Let's call her Butterfly.) We sat around and just talked for a few hours. (It was soooooo nice to have some adult interactions!!) Not only is this woman wanting to get involved with B.A.C.A., but she's also a CASA volunteer already. She really understands the complexities of child abuse and foster care.

She also volunteered to do whatever it takes to become a babysitter for us.

I figured I'd share with everyone what that REALLY means.

If Butterfly is going to become a "legal" babysitter for any of my foster children, she has to be willing to:

  1. get complete background checks done including FBI fingerprints (at her cost)
  2. provide a copy of her driver's license and social security number to my licensing agency
  3. get tested for tuberculosis
  4. have CPR and First Aid training
  5. take a class in restraints that is held at my licensing agency
  6. read a study guide about supervision of foster children and take a test
  7. read a study guide about childhood development and take a test
  8. read a study guide about the Medicaid Health Passport and take a test
  9. read a study guide about transporting foster children in vehicles and take a test
  10. take an online class about psychotropic medications
  11. take an online class about trauma
  12. take an online class about being a medical consentor
  13. take an online class about disaster response
  14. take an online class about identifying and preventing child abuse
  15. take an online class about infection prevention
  16. take an online class about shaken baby syndrome
  17. take an online class about sudden infant death syndrome

I barely know Butterfly. But I'm really not comfortable asking her to do ALL that just so I can legally go out to dinner with my husband for a couple hours. Even if Herman, my son...age 20, is to babysit, he has to complete all of those requirements.

I haven't decided what I'm going to do. I'd like an opportunity to go out with my husband every now and then. But that's a lot to ask of anyone. Especially a causal friend. Especially when that friend is already a licensed nurse. But she still has to prove her knowledge for my agency. Especially when that friend has already undergone background checks and trainings to become a CASA volunteer. And did I mention, I barely know my new friend?!

Foster care sucks.

Monday, May 15, 2017

you have to give them permission

I'm going to speak like I know what I'm talking about. I'm going to give demands and say things HAVE to be done.

Please know that I'm flying by the seat of my pants almost 100% of the time.

But this...this I feel pretty strongly about. I feel this way based off the, albeit limited, conversations I've had with adult adoptees. I feel this way based of off writings done by adult adoptees. And I feel this way based off the reaction my son has when I do it.

As an adoptive parent you HAVE to give your adopted kids PERMISSION to not like you.

Mother's Day pretty much sucks. The media gives it entirely too much hype. So even if I told my kids we weren't going to celebrate the godforsaken holiday, they would still be bombarded with messages that they are supposed to.

And that's rough for kids in foster care or ones that have been adopted.

Sometimes it manifests with negative behaviors from our kids.

I'm not going to speak about the negative behaviors going on in my house. My kids are older so know that they are older "nasty" behaviors that parents don't like. But it's not my place to embarrass my kids by putting all their life out on the internet forever. So I'll be vague.

I got an opportunity to practice some therapeutic parenting yesterday.

Out of the blue, I grabbed my adopted kid and took him for a drive. I showed him irrefutable proof of some things that had happened. I gave him an opportunity to tell me what's been bugging him in his life. I gave him an opportunity to fess up for the wrongdoings and to get whatever he needed off his chest.

He was embarrassed. He was angry. He did not want to talk.

He's also 13. This is pretty normal.

As we drove, I did some talking. He did some talking. And there was a lot of quiet.

Then, I told him I was pretty sure what had been behind some of the recent negative behaviors. I used my words to give him permission to be mad at me because of Mother's Day.

He doesn't have to be grateful. He doesn't have to appreciate me. It's totally OK for him to be angry on Mother's Day and to hate the whole thing. I told him that out loud.

He has spent his life trying to understand why his mother chose not to parent him. Why did she give him up? Why didn't she want him?

Yes. I call her his mother. Not his birth mother. Not his biological mother. I just call her his mother. Because she is. She carried him for nine months and then she made a decision I'm never going to understand. But that doesn't make her any less his mother.

And it is NOT my place to say that my presence makes it all better.

He didn't want to hurt my feelings though. He never does.

So it's 100% my job to tell him it's OK to have those feelings.

What I told him yesterday was basically that the behaviors are NOT OK. But if he's got words he wants to use, I have to suck it up and hear them. I have to validate them. I have to tell him there's nothing wrong with him for feeling that way. It has to be OK for him to be mad at me for adopting him. It just has to.

Because out of the adoptive triad - HE is the only person that had NO SAY in the matter.

My kiddo cried some. I begged and pleaded with him to just let it out. I offered up counseling services. I offered up everything I could think of. He doesn't want to talk to anyone but me about this stuff. So, once again, this drive was all I could do to help him. We talked about him wanting to meet his mom. I told him, again, that I was never given much information about her and his dad. They wanted a closed adoption. (At least that's what I was told. And I will forever regret being too inexperienced and naive to ask for an open one.) I told him that I "found" her on Facebook years ago and I look at her public posts. (I show them to him sometimes as well.) I haven't "friended" her because I wouldn't do that without his blessing. I offered to friend her. I talked with him about how I could send her a private message that she may or may not accept. I told him that he could start a Facebook account and message her. But that's about all I could do. I don't have an address for him to write to or a phone number for him to call.

And that was that. He didn't want to talk any more. He made no decisions about trying to contact his mom. He told me he was going to make repairs for the things he had done wrong. He went inside and it was like nothing had happened the rest of the day.

I can only imagine how hard this is for him. And it doesn't really get easier. It is different. His feelings will change. But I don't expect him to ever love the fact that he was adopted. He can love me. He can love our family. But it has to be OK for him to hate being adopted.