Updates!

We have a new friend, we will call her Bow. Bow is a 12 year old female, she’s funny, smart, and extremely helpful. Bow loves words of affirmation and quality time. One of Bows best qualities is her communication; she is precise and very open. I definitely appreciate that, it makes parenting her very easy and she has proven to be very trustworthy as well. Welcome to the family, Bow! Bow’s case is very complex…I’ve never had a case like hers before, it’s both intriguing and saddening. I believe Bow to be a long term placement as things aren’t progressing with her case as they typically do. I’m excited to see who this girl is and what she’s capable of. Her goals are to establish friendships and to keep moving forward. (How amazing is that? This kid is resilient.)

Blink is doing well, I’m unsure if she is on the spectrum or not as I previously disclosed. I feel she may be a product of her environment because we have seen some amazing changes within her. Blink has shown tremendous growth and development over the last few months, she is understanding social cues and how to behave appropriately. Blinks case is teetering towards severance and she is navigating the system to the best of her ability. Blink is not an adoptive option for our family, Blink understands that and agrees. She has several siblings which makes it a bit difficult in trying to figure out her end game. Her goals as of right now are to finish the school year hear and play on the schools softball team this fall. It’s hard for me personally, when it comes to Blink. She’s a good kid with a heart of gold and seeing her flounder in the system is heartbreaking. Being 14 years old and having to endure this just sucks

Smile, oh our sweet Smile. This kid had a LONG honeymoon period. Typically during the honeymoon period it’s about 4 weeks at the maximum, Smile pushed it out for several months. Smile is currently falling apart, she’s had to move schools due to unsavory relationships and she’s had to modify her work schedule due to more peer conflict. She is a very complex teen and I cannot figure her out. I’ve seen self sabotaging behaviors before but this takes the cake. Smile does well with us, her parental units, aside from the chronic lying. She does well with younger people too, it’s her peers that get her in a tizzy. Smile can forget everything that she knows is safe and throw it out the window when she’s with people her age. She has lied so much within the community that she’s got herself an awful reputation, from drugs to extreme sexual behaviors. Sadly, very little of what’s been said about her is true. I’m not naive, I know she’s not a saint and I know she’s done some dispicable things. I also know that some of the things being said about her are so far fetched that it couldn’t be true. Husband and I are worried about her tremendously because she’s very immature and willing to do anything for attention, good or bad. Husband has a terrified that she’ll fall victim to sex trafficking and I’m worried that she could be engaged in consensual and dangerously careless sex. Smiles goals are to be able to communicate better, amen to that. Smile is 14 years old.

Boychild, holy moly. I’ve been cautiously quiet about him because he’s started off good then quickly plummeted in the past. This summer we had him read a ton of positive self help books to prepare him for the transition to middle school. I’m excited to announce that it’s been 3 weeks since school has started and I’ve not gotten one phone call, email, nor text about his behavior or lack of working in class! He has also decided that he’d like to participate in track this year. Boychild has been attending Civil Air Patrol meetings and really enjoys it. A lot of Boychild success is due to Blue, she has been spending a lot of time with him and encouraging him. Biscuit has also dragged him along on outings with her friends to help socialize him, it’s done him well. Yay for older sisters!

Bunny has shocked me with her skills at the gym, she has really stepped up her game and has been less emotional. Bunny is the crier, she cries for control and can minuplate situations with her emotions. Her coaches have witnessed it for years and shooed her off on a regular basis. This year she was told if she wanted to compete on the level 3 team she’d have to cut the crying out. Apparently she really wanted to work in her skills and be on that team because she has had just a couple of outbursts. That is amazing, she’s actually grown emotionally because of cheer. Bunny is doing well in school and is interested in playing volleyball.

Lemon is Lemon. She’s an avid reader and she cheers. She’s doing better on telling the truth despite the naughty things she’s done. Lemon put a sticky note on her brothers door that was inappropriate, when I asked her about it she told me it was her and why she did it. That’s a step in the right direction!

Blue is doing well, she’s found a new group of friends at school and continues to keep her GPA high. She’s currently #21 in the school with her weighted GPA. Blue is also participating in Civil Air Patrol and she’s involved in many clubs.

Biscuit can drive. Wild. She’s a junior in high school and she’s just made the date to get her permit. Biscuit is doing well in school and is very social, although I do wish she’d be more independent and not need an entourage to do things she’s hesitant about. She is coaching a cheer team and she really enjoys it, she has a sibling on that team and I’ve been told that coach Biscuit is different than sister Biscuit. Also, she signed up to participate in the Powder Puff football ordeal.

My older girls seem to be doing well, one is starting her second year at U of A and the other is living/working in Colorado. I’m proud of both of them, they’re turning into amazing women.

I’m stellar! I’ve did the weight loss thing via intermittent fasting, made my goal weight, and I’ve been going to the gym the last several weeks. I loathe the gym, exercise is NOT for me. I continue to go because I’m old now and health = longevity. I have all these damn kids and I bet I’ll have a herd of grandkids someday, I’d better be around to enjoy them.

Husband is doing well, he hasn’t got much time to do fun things lately. I appreciate him and all of his hard work, he’s pretty rad. We did take the time to go see a concert together, see pic below.

I’m starting to prepare for Christmas! I love Christmas, especially with my foster placements. I enjoy treating them to things and giving them our family experience. Obviously, I love it for my bio and adopted kids too. I’m a giver.

Adios, Tata!

Tata has left our home, she was moved in with her siblings out of our county. I was happy to see her go as she truly missed her siblings. I received a phone call yesterday informing me that her caseworker had changed AGAIN and that Tata would be picked up at 8am the following morning. Short notice… my favorite. 😯 I sent a bag of dirty laundry with her, I wanted to make sure she had all of her things. She came here with nothing and left with a large box and 2 duffle bags full of items. I’ll sure miss her, she was loud, obnoxious and constantly laughing. I hope one day she is reunited with her family!

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.

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.

Hair

I have not talked about Hair a lot, our 14 year old placement. In fact even locals didn’t know we had an additional foster child. It’s not because I don’t want to share about her… it’s because she’s a unique case. First, she isn’t like the other bubble gum princess girls in my home. She’s a little on the dark side, teetering emo, but not. She’s very smart and has had a bit of trouble sorting out her life; she’s short term and has an ICPC in place, after the school year is over she will be leaving our home. Second, she has to keep it on the downlow because of the type of case she is involved in, it could be dangerous to share anything about Hair and a slip up could lead to a shitshow.

I think my family offered her a glimpse into a ‘normal’ life and trust me when I say normal I say it very loosely. Normalcy includes family meals, chores, sibling responsibility and rivalry, other standard experiences that we typically overlook, sports and activities, loyalty, honesty, and forgiveness. Our version of normal includes howling down hallways, impromptu karaoke in public places, lack of pants, and acceptance despite differences.

I’m happy that we have helped her cycle through all the scenarios that are offered to her regarding her future, taught her that she has a voice, and watched her grow in many ways. I’m happy, yet sad, to see her go. It’s hard to let children borrow pieces of your heart, I always end up giving pieces away. My kids are forever even if they’re with for a short while.

Ah, the life of a foster family. They come, they go, they are forever in every aspect. Foster care is a weird thing…