Exhale

Things have calmed down a bit with the new placements. Loud is still working on self regulation, accountibility, and following rules. It is getting better, I feel like he is understanding cause and effect. Lovely is doing well too, she is kind and helpful. Lovely spends her time helping out around the house; picking up the bathroom or asking me if I need help. It’s awesome but I’ve been working with her to try and be more of a kid. I encourage her to play and give her praise for doing kid things. Tata is a well rounded girl, she could use a little help with her impulse control and she needs to work on her volume control.

Boychild spent the weekend with friends, doing boy stuff. He went to a birthday party/sleep over on Friday night and Saturday he stayed over with his friend from school.

Bunny has been hanging out around the house with Tata and Lovely. Today shes going to a birthday party, shes excited!

Biscuit and Blue went to Homecoming last night, they both look so grownup.

Lemon has been caught up reading this Emily Woo book, as soon as she wakes up she runs to her book and drives right in.

Pretty celebrated her 19th birthday a few days ago.

Flower is doing the college thing.

I’m going to make sure to get to the grocery store soon, I’ve still not gone. Although a friend of mine had mercy on me and dropped off a few cases of Diet Dr Pepper so I could still function. I’ve gotten my schedule worked out a little better, I’ve arranged to have my lost checks reissued, I’ve gotten some cleaning done at home, my Amazon Subscribe & Save arrived, and I’ve gotten a handle on my emotions. Now I’ve got to meet with the mental health team for my placements and get my CPR renewed, both of which are scheduled for Monday.

That’s a Dandy Lion, because I’m fine and dandy. ❤

Remember this?

I last shared, prior to getting my placements, that my interest was piqued in regards to a 12 year old girl that was seeking a large family and that I had been contacted regarding to placement and adoption. Well, that was complete crap. It it a pretty shady ordeal, they can only disclose very small pieces of the case during the inquiry while letting you get emotionally involved. During a 6-8 week process they can pick you apart as the family who wishes to adopt but you get minimal information… but not medical or behavorial stuff.

I indicated to the the CSR specialist to call my licensing worker and disclose all of the information to him as there is a loophole in the process. Although he isn’t allowed to disclose any information to me, he can get the nitty gritty. I trust him to make the call for me, he knows my family dynamic and what I’m willing to have in my home in regards to placement. The CSR specialist called my licensing worker, disclosed all the things, he knew it wasn’t a good fit and it was closed down. I hope that anyone who is looking into a CSR child can find this information helpful and time saving, not to mention avoiding yet another emotional rollercoaster.

It was a CSR ordeal which pretty much equates to kids that are EXTREMELY hard to place due to behaviors, multiple placements, etc.

I’ve learned enough about photolistings, CSR’s, and adoptive searches in general. The masses are correct; it is a waste of time and pointless. Despite my initial feelings about everyone else failures being a personality flaw or getting emotionally attached to a picture of a child, everyone was right. It is complete garbage. I’m objective, even during my emotional bit during this journey.

I don’t like being this pessimistic but the proof is in the pudding.

TL;DR

Don’t bother looking at photolistings ot CSR’s. It’s a lost cause or a trap.

Whirlwind!

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that we have been on the quest to find another family member, someone looking for an adoptive home. You’ll also know that the search has been an emotional, and fruitless, adventure. I’ve sent out more than 20 homestudies and I figured my door would be beaten down by all of the responses. But…no. Recently, I dealt with the disappointment by fooling myself into thinking the ‘1st and 15th’ rule (homestudies are typically reviewed the 1st ans 15th of each month, not as they trickle in to the DCS caseworkers hands) applied to us. The 15th came and went, in the last week I had only received 2 calls, both in Arizona. WTF. The first child was not a match per my criteria and the second one was a courtesy call letting me know the the child would only be placed in the Phoenix Metro area. Oh, and shortly after this disappointment I was notified that my agency would begin charging me a flat rate or or per word rate, depending on which option I chose, to send out my homestudy to other states. Fabulous. Now I’m being penalized for attempting to find a child a forever home. This whole adoption search is a pain in the ass.

I am no longer seeking out a child via adoption listings or CSR’s. I feel like it is emotionally drained me, changed my outlook on adoption via foster care, and made me more of a pessimist that I’ve ever been in my adult life. In fact, I feel a lot of negative feelings regarding the foster care system and how the adoption sector is managed in general. I found myself saying, for the first time since I’ve become a foster parent, some things negative about foster care. That’s unheard of! I’m a huge advocate for children, how the foster system works, etc. And there I was, bad mouthing something I truly believed in.

I believe that a successful foster parent will always let the child in their care know that they are supported, care about their feelings, and truly want them to go home. A successful foster parent will fight for what the child wants (older children) or what is in their best interest (younger child.) A successful foster parent will never badmouth the system, the immediate working staff, nor the parents of the child…despite how much we dislike their parents choices or treatment of the child in our care.

Foster care works, reunification happens. Oftentimes parents don’t do the things required to regain custody of their children; adoption via foster care works too. Family is family, blood or bond. I need to remind myself of these things because I feel sad and let down about this adoption photolisting ordeal. Maybe this is part of my plan, God is pushing me elsewhere because it’s where I’m supposed to be. Maybe I’m not to be adopting via photolistings and God has called me to only provide temporary care for children in need. I hate to be a pessimist, but I should have heeded warnings about photolistings and other people’s personal experiences. For some reason I thought I’d do better… I was wrong. I didn’t do better, I am not better.

Onto a brighter note! My licensing agency forwards me CSR’s (adoption flyers from in state and in house) I have struck out there too. I’ve inquired and gotten responses fairly quickly BUT often times the children in these CSR’s have severe behaviors or are sexualized in some way/shape/form. I’m not equipped to deal with that, or a plethora of other things that our household had deemed unacceptable. Anyway, our homestudy had been dropped onto a desk, a desk of a coworker within our agency in the Phoenix office, and we received a call about a child. A child that has not been listed yet on any adoption sites, that currently lives in a group home nearby. I had played phone tag for a week or so with a stranger, unfamiliar number = no answer. There was never a voicemail left, I never thought twice about it. That is until Husband had called me and let me know that this adoption recruiter was looking to communicate with us regarding placement.

Placement is the operative word. This child is not legally free for adoption but the state and case team anticipate rights to be terminated. I was given very little information regarding the child and then a host of proceedings, including a 2 hour phone interview set up for Monday evening.

The information I was given is as follows: female, 12, wants a large family. My interest was piqued, I like kids and I have a large family.

Once the phone interview is completed and they feel we could be a potential match they will disclose all the information regarding the child during the same phone call. I wonder if they’ll let me see a picture of her? Not that it matters much, I’m merely curious. After the interview and information exchange my homestudy and interviewers opinion will all be presented to a board of people who decided if it’s a good match. If it is a good match we can facetime/phone chat with the child then move onto meeting her in person shortly after. If things go well transition to our home happens.

I also received a placement call around 1am regarding a sibling set. Naturally, I was sleeping at 1am! I returned the call this morning and the on call placement person referred me to the DCYS, I’ll likely hear from them tomorrow unless they’ve found placement already.

What a ride it has been.

Ode to Blue

It’s hard to imagine life before you, it seems as if you’ve been here all along. You were ment to be part of our family, although, I wish it weren’t in a such traumatic way. You may not have seen the trauma but everyone around you did and you, Blue, are resilient. You have flourished into something spectacular, and I hope you feel as proud of yourself as we all are of you.

You were clumsy like a fawn, when we met, and now you are this graceful giselle who walks with pride. Despite all of lifes challenges you continued to excel in school and figure out who you were as an individual. You tried new things, you made friends (yes, I’m aware that I overstepped my boundaries as a mom when I match-made you a friend and I’m truly sorry about that,) and you learned to accept all of the flaws that made you who you are. In addition; you stopped with the mac n cheese comfort food thing. Thank God, I swear you only ate mac n cheese for an entire year!

Blue, you are wise beyond your years and a compassionate person. You have the ability to make each person in our family feel special every day, what a gift! You do it nonchalantly and with a smile, it’s your natural state being. I love that you’re eager to help in every situation and I’m forever grateful for you being the ying to Biscuits yang. You are a gift and I love you.

Thanks for choosing me to be your mom, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Three.

I’m suffering this weird partial empty nest syndrome. Flower has left for college, Hair has gone to live with family members, and Biscuit and Blue have gone to Colorado. I have 3 kids at home, it’s really eerie around here. After 8pm it’s a ghost town… no teenaged girl nonsense makes a boring evening. In addition; watching TV has gotten significantly easier as there are less interruptions when the younger kids go to bed. Husband and I watched an entire movie last night with not one interruption. I can’t remember how long it’s been since that’s happened. It was a pretty good movie too, the plot twist was insane! If you’ve got some free time watch Extinction on Netflix.

Husband and I went grocery shopping today. Less people equals less food, it was hard for me not to buy massive amounts of food. Our grocery bill was significantly less than usual and I left the store feeling like I was forgetting something. AND unloading the car was a breeze, I had less than 25 bags. I did buy 100 granola bars because they were on sale and old habits die hard. The kids typically go through about 100 granola bars in 2 weeks. I wonder how much it’ll change?

Today I went back to work, that was fine.

I’ve dropped 7lbs, that’s pretty cool.

I stole a lipstick out of my daughters bathroom today. It feels good to be bad. 🤣

In closing I’ll leave you with these few pictures, one of Lemon hogging the bed lookin’ 10 kinds of cute and the others of Blue and Biscuit in Colorado. They’ve been there 2 days and they’ve already found boys to hang out with. Damn kids.

I love my life. I love my family, undoubtedly. Things are changing constantly and I’m excited to see what the future holds for our family. Until then… hasta a la pasta!

Just breathe.

Tomorrow we will officially be a house of 7. Then we dwindle down to a family of 5 as Biscuit and Blue are leaving on their trip to Colorado too! I’m going to be lonely, I think. Husband is going to suffer because he spends a lot of time with Biscuit and Blue after our younger kids are put to bed, every night it’s a full blown chatter fest topped with ‘bean dips.’ 🙄

Flower is off to college; its bittersweet. Hopefully this move can help with her maturity level, the whole entitlement thing is not my favorite. Flower doesn’t think she is anything other than perfect in her eyes, I’m just going to roll with it because I can’t stand any more guilt trips. No matter what I say or do she thinks I’m mad at her, it stinks. I’m all about living and learning; tough love. If my kid can’t get out there and learn by trial and error she will end up being 25 years old, living at home, expecting me to take care of her. Experience matters, failure matters. I do these things because I love her and expect greatness from her, I am not an enabler… I am raising the future leaders of the world.

Hair is moving in with relatives. That was to be expected and this is exactly why I do foster care. I want my placements to go home and if they can’t to home I want them to live with their extended families. If that’s not an option I always support whatever decision my teen placements want… sometimes it’s to be emancipated, move to a group home, or even moved to a different foster home. I don’t always agree with what the older kids choose but I always support them; that’s my job. I want kids to be happy, safe, and feel loved. I am relieved that she is moving tomorrow as recently she has had behavioral changes that I’m not keen on. No one in the home is keen on them, to be honest.

In other news, I’m seeking out recipes for large families. Do you have any great dinner recipes that I could double for my army of children? I truly feel like we live off of chicken and avocados at this point. I’d like to switch that up.

Ode to Boychild

(*Before you were born I was told that you had Edward’s Syndrome (Trisomy 18.) I was upset as your middle name was supposed to be Edward and after that moment it seemed cruel. I had gone to Albany and New York City to talk with specialists about the condition and had extensive testing done. Children with Edward’s Syndrome often die during utero, birth, or within the first year of life. I was given 2 options and both options were morbid; I opted to keep you in my belly for as long as possible and ride it out for the long haul. About 2 months prior to your due date I went to a routine visit and during the 3D scan the doctor said that the fluid around your brain had filled in and looked pretty good. I brushed the doctor off, you had a diagnosis. I knew your fate. I booked a flight to California and met with some doctors on a military base and figured out my birth plan.*)

You came into this world hard and fast, so fast that the epidural was null. You were bright red, wrinkly, and had no visual deformities. There wasn’t a single thing wrong with you…you were healthy and had no signs of any chromosomal abnormalities.

However, you had a penis. I’d never dealt with a penis when it comes to child rearing. It was terrifying. I’ve since come to terms with having a child with a penis… sometimes I giggle when I revisit my thoughts about a baby with a penis. In retrospect a tween with a penis is WAY more concerning than an infant. You’ve taught me that you can injure your penis, and balls, in a variety of ways among other things.

I was set up for failure as I had high expectations that you would be like your oldest sister who was a boarderline savant. It took me a long time to figure out that your sister was advanced and you were my ‘textbook’ kid. You walked when the books said you would, you talked when the books said you would, you played the way the books said you would. BUT you were potty trained early, near your second birthday. That is EPIC in the mom world and I’m very thankful that you weren’t textbook in that area. Time carried on and you were a textbook student as well, I couldn’t be more proud.

You became your own person, you liked things a certain way, you were great when it came to motor skills. While you’re sensitive and sometimes shy you can also be boisterous and annoying. Boychild, you have this uncanny desire to make me proud all the time. You are loyal and forgiving when sometimes you shouldn’t be, especially after I’ve lashed out. Make no mistake, you are a pain in my ass but you’re my favorite pain in the ass. HA! I thought your sister taught me patience, boy was I wrong. YOU DID.

You can assemble and disable all the things! You have a knack for motors and how things work, it’s awesome because I can count on you to fix just about anything that needs any type of handyman service. In fact you just taught your sister how to use a ratchet the other day and that’s pretty cool. As you get older your impulsive and argumentative nature is slowly diminishing, thank God. You are learning to be a man, responsible and thoughtful. You will make an excellent husband someday as you have so many sisters in your life. Husband makes sure you know how to treat a lady by showing you positive ways to interact with me and your sisters. Keep shining, my star. I love you.

Adopt Us Kids

In the last 10 weeks I’ve inquired about 20 children.

9 states

3 of them we weren’t a good fit after reviewing our homestudy.

2 were listed as no longer available.

2 I was never responded to at all.

13 have had my homestudy sent to them and I’ve yet to hear anything from them.

I understand that many adoption units review homestudies the 1st and 15th of each month. I’m not sure why but it has been very common across the United States. In any case, in 10 weeks I’ve got nothing but air silence. In mid April I inquired about a child and the case worker has been on vacation 3 times, I wish I were kidding. I’ve gotten automated responses bounced back to me 3 times and the 3rd was just last week letting me know that the case worker would be back July 30th. I will cease contact, I can’t keep trying with no one trying in return. This reiterates the broken system post I wrote several days ago.

The hardest state has been Pennsylvania; they have an entire division that is sends information to you instead of the child’s caseworker. BUT first you have to send paperwork that you download off of their site, fill it out, send more paperwork to your licensing worker, then you both send in your paperwork to the unit. It is a pain in the ass. I still haven’t completed it all and honestly I’m at the point where I don’t want to jump through hoops anymore. Why can’t they just accept a homestudy sent from a licensing agency like everyone else?!

In addition to using ADOPT US KIDS I’ve made inquiries to individual profiles in various states too. I’m striking out, y’all. This isn’t doing good things for my self esteem. I’ve got 2 theories; 1. God is making me wait for the right kid or 2. I really suck and my homestudy is shit.

A friend of mine works with the state (WA) and she has let me know that she is very thorough sending her potential adoptive parents’ homestudies to supervisors, therapists, interns, etc and manages to have a turnaround in less than 3 weeks. Can I get a round of applause for this hardcore caseworker?! I love hearing that children are priorities, are truly being looked out for, and have excellent teams to help find them permanent homes. It helps because I was feeling really down, about the system in general, and this friend of mine gave me a glimmer of hope. Insert ‘faith in humanity restored’ meme here.

I need to keep my chin up, remain optimistic! I’ve got a broad range of ages, no racial preference, and a big heart. Our family will be expanding again…we just don’t know when. Don’t hold your breath friends… we certainly aren’t.

Five.

5. 5. 5.

Soon, I’ll have only 5 kids at home. Biscuit, Blue, Boychild, Bunny, and Lemon. I’m freaking out, how do I cook for only 7 people?! What will we do with the copious amounts of leftovers?! There will be extra time, room, and finances. Weird. There will be less stress, chatter, and traffic.

We will enjoy our time together until we are needed. I love my community, I love children, I love foster care. There are lessons to be learned about humility, compassion, and pain. My kids understand the importance of helping people and also, witnessing me fail, has shown them that even though you can desperately want to help it’s okay to say ‘enough’ and have a child removed. My kids have helped transition foster kids to our home and comforted them in times of need. They have also disagreed and fought with them. It is all give and take, understanding others circumstances and remembering how blessed you are to be taken care of in a standard in which society deems normal. My kids don’t take much for granted these days because they understand that things change in the blink of an eye.

I’ve been sifting through adoption listings, looking for potential matches. I’ve sent in several inquiries and have gotten very little feedback. Our system is flawed; caseworkers are busy prioritizing and adoptive kids are being pushed to the backburner. I understand that the removal and reunification are high on the totem pole, they are critical to child safety, but having a child wait in limbo for months or years just isn’t right. My licensing worker has assured me that my homestudy has been sent to all of the inquiries that I’ve sent in and even he says he has gotten very little feedback. It shouldn’t be this hard to find an older child, in the United States, who is legally free for adoption, to find a match. It shouldn’t be this hard to help.

On the other end of the spectrum I’ve gotten leads on some foster placements. Unfortunately, they weren’t a match for our home. I do have a strict criteria that I follow as my children are my number one priority. I do not want to expose them to some things nor have them possibly become victims in any way. It’s hard. Often times it breaks my heart but I’ve developed a firm understanding during my years of foster care of knowing when to say yes to a placement and when to say no.

Luckily, when you seek out adoptive children via photolistings or through your agency you can get every detail of their case/life since being in the foster care system. That makes finding a fit easier for families and agencies. I’ve gotten a few responses stating we weren’t a good fit for a child and I’ve sent responses saying we wouldn’t be a good fit for a child. I’m okay with that, I’m all about the best interest of the children. My older girls have taken an interest in looking at potential siblings online, Blue loves to watch the videos and Biscuit wants to see their faces.

Only God knows what will happen next, we may stay with the 5 kids and be done. We may foster more. We may adopt. Until then…we wait.

The waiting game, foster care continues to move forward.

I’m less emotionally distraught about the whole photolisting thing; if it’s supposed to happen… it will. The choice is Red’s and only God knows what will happen. I’m truly at peace with the entire situation, it feels pretty damn good too. The rollercoaster of emotion associated with foster care/adoption is asinine.

We recieved a new call a couple of days ago, a 16 year old girl who needs a home, and the said teen was not a call from my agency. Typically, all calls are filtered through your licensing agency but I’m sort of a naughty foster parent and I often get calls from mental health workers or lawyers who have worked with my family in the past or present. These people know my family dynamic, they visit my home at least once a month or communicate via email/phone weekly. These people talk with every person in my family and I trust them, undoubtedly.

My licensing worker is a cool guy and I am incredibly lucky to have him, he gets my family. But, licensing workers don’t like being side stepped because it makes them look like idiots to their supervisors. Don’t be a jerk foster parent. If for whatever reason you side step your licensing worker be a nice person and send them a text briefly explaining what’s going on, don’t make your licensing worker look like he/she cannot do their job. DCYS is to contact the licensing workers and the licensing worker is supposed to call the parents in an ideal world. However, I have directly contacted via DCYS directly in some cases too.

In any case; I said yes. Hear me out! I know some of you are shaking your heads ‘More kids?!’ Hush. Hair will be leaving shortly as she is moving to her adoptive home when school is out. Flower is going away to college shortly after Thailand (she hasn’t really saved any money so she could be home all summer which is fine, there is no rush for her to go.) That means I’ll have open beds. Also, my licensing worker has an enormous amount of faith in me as he has made the comment if it were needed I could change my licensing to ‘group home’ and accept more kids if we were in a bind. It shouldn’t come to that. Husband and I have a solid number, we will abide by our set rules otherwise I’ll be the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.

Our new placement will be moving in the first of next month. I believe we may be having a meet and greet this weekend…which doesn’t happen in foster care, not in my experience. It’s new but I’m all about it, whatever makes the transition easiest. Honestly, I feel good about it because if either my family or the girl think ‘Hell no!’ It’ll easy to opt out. Test driving. Man, this sounds extremely screwed up.

Foster care is the unknown, it’s taking chances, it’s rebuilding something that’s been broken. It’s teaching trust, normalcy, and loyalty. It’s about overcoming and growth too. It teaches my family to love unconditionally, to never take life for granted, and to give cheerfully. My family is continually growing both emotionally and in size, I couldn’t be happier. I’m aware that I’m not the perfect parent nor person, I’m just like anyone else…trying to make it work and learn from my mistakes. Oh boy, do I make mistakes. I’m working on talking without bad intent…this is hard. Self growth sucks but it is essential.