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. ūüėĮ 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!

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.

What are we going to do?!

Fall break is coming and it will just be our bio kids with us…we should do something! But what?! The options are endless and that’ll give me something to day dream about during the weeks coming. Husband and I are going to Chicago at the end of this month solo, how wild. What are we going to do?! I have no idea. 

In other news, Minnie’s caseworker from DCYS was supposed to visit us today. The new one…have I named her yet? Well, we’re going to call her Mrs. Late because she made an appointment to see Minnie today knowing that a transportation service would be picking her up 30 minutes after after the scheduled appointment time with her. You guessed it. Transportation came and went before Mrs. Late arrived. Great. 

The upside? I learned than you can ask transportation services to wait up to 15 minutes before they leave. That’s all fine and dandy but I’m not taking any time away from Minnie that she could be spending with her bio family. I’m here for my kids, not for some ill timed caseworker. Needless to say, I’m not impressed with Mrs. Late. 

I need a vacation. 

The case changer

Ass sent me an email saying Minnie’s case will be transferred to a new DCYS case manager. I’m relieved; I was a total jerk and there is no recovery from my snatchy emails. I’m pretty sure she hates me now. She did provide me with pertinent information regarding Minnie’s case and I do appreciate that. 

 I REALLY hope our new case worker from Bullhead City is J, he is my absolute favorite case worker EVER. He is my other two foster placement’s case manager. He gets his stuff done, he is kind, he is funny, and he cares about his case kids. Yeah, he has a huge caseload but he still rocks it. I like J so much that I would actually go out of my way to talk to a supervisor or send a letter to his superiors praising him. People, there are life changing people within the system! Do not be afraid to make connections and when you need help, ask them. I’ve learned that it is critical to have like minded people around you and that goes within foster care too. You will need help, make personal connections with trustworthy people. <—That’s solid foster parent advice, write that down. 
Also, did I mention that my absolute favorite licensing worker resigned and moved out of state?! Well, she did. I’m butthurt. Arizona’s Children Association is now missing a critical person, this chick was rad and good at what she did. Damn her for leaving me. I’ve not yet met my new licensing worker; I’ve dreamed up all sorts of stuff about what he or she will be like but no matter what the case…I still miss my Rockstar licensing agent. Well, I did dream up that my licensing worker was Elvis and we had jam sessions, that was pretty rad but highly unlikely. 

My foster life is in shambles. Ha! I hope I get a solid group of people soon, I depend on them for my placement’s livelihood. I need people who get me, the ones who understand that I’m pretty damn objective and like to get things done the right way AND quickly. 

And, I’m reminding you all, my wonderful blog readers…send some positive thoughts into the world for Joanna! In case you’ve forgotten who she is; Joanna was involved in a terrible car accident and remains unconscious. Storms don’t last forever; I’m hoping for news soon.

Want to know what’s cool?

That was sarcasm. Sarcasm that’s so heavy it’s dripping, it’s saturated everything, I’m effin’ drowning in it. Minnie’s caseworker is a piece of work, Bullhead City’s Department of Children and Youth Services ought to be ashamed of her. Imagine getting a call from the caseworker, we will call her Ass, while she’s on vacation saying that Minnie will be dropped tomorrow. Awesome, right?! This lady took time out of her personal vacation time to work out a child coming into our home. I’m feeling really good about her, how kind of her. EXCEPT, Ass had Minnie dropped off with nothing except her personal items. No paperwork that I’m am supposed to recieved upon a child’s arrival. Seriously, this is bad guys. If for whatever reason Minnie wanted to run off  and I needed to file a police report or if she wanted to be spiteful and tell someone I wasn’t her placement I had no proof, no rights whatsoever, to do anything about it. 

Simply put; that’s freaking dangerous. 

I had to wait until she was back from vacation to request pertinent information. She sent it over but only after sending an email saying it was hard to get an emailed copy or some B.S. Oh, it gets better. Minnie tells me she has an unsupervised visit with her bio family over the weekend. That’s fine and dandy but I wasn’t notified, way to go Ass. I was told by Minnie what date and time it was and it conflicted with our plans. Seeing as I wasn’t notified of the visit…I just sent a snatchy email to Ass requesting that transportation be cancelled as we would be in the visitation area. Crisis averted. 

Today, Minnie informs me that she has a family counseling appointment via phone, no problem! I toss her my phone and head out to drop kids off at activities. When I arrive home Minnie tells me it wasn’t a family counseling call, it was a CFT (that’s a meeting where all the people in the case chat about goals and such.) That’s not her job to have to keep track of all this crap…she’s a 16 year old girl.  That’s something I should have been notified about. Good ol’ Ass is still slacking off. Naturally, I’m irked. I sent yet another mega snatchy email, I was was a total jerk in retrospect, and requested any important dates in a not so nice way. Hopefully Ass and I will get through this but, man, we are off to a rocky start. 

On a positive note, Minnie has joined a youth group with our church on Tuesday nights! Biscuit goes so it’s less of a scary thing to just pop into. 

One last thing; can you do me a favor readers?! Can you send positive thoughts or a prayer for Joanna? She was in a terrible car accident and has been unconscious since then. We are all pulling for her and every last prayer, thought, idea…anything helps. Thanks!

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” 

[Psalm 56:3] 

They’re coming!

The DCS caseworker called to let me know that they’re on their way! I’m excited, scared, anxious, and happy. How can it be that I can feel that wide range of emotions collectively?! All of a sudden I feel ill prepared, what should I be doing right now? Clean? Pace? Make a sandwich? We’re going to be a family of 8 again! I’m still not sure about how long they’ll be here but when the caseworker arrives in about 30 minutes I should have some answers. Just this morning I was being a cotton headed ninnymuggins and now this… this is an epic ride!

Breaking news, God has a sense of humor.

As soon had I had pressed send on that last blog post I received a call from DCS and the caseworker filled me in on what was happening with the two kids from out of the area. ‘Sup God, I know you’re listening. A huge shout out to the Lord this morning, I know I was being a brat…further proof that God is good even if you’re behaving like an ass. In any case, I was told that it’s a pretty good chance that these kids will be coming here. This is the furthest we’ve gotten to a ‘real’ placement. Also, I’ve decided to stop whining, I knew what I was getting into… mostly. I better let Jesus take the wheel but I’m still hoping he drives a Ferrari.

Things I have learned about foster care in the last week.

First, let me tell you that the children from out of the area did not come to stay with us, instead they had them sleep in an office for two days before placing them in a home in the area.¬†I had also gotten another call yesterday asking if we would take two females, 10 and 6. Based on what little information they provided, I was comfortable taking the girls. I requested more information. I was told the case worker would call me. Humm…haven’t I heard that before? If I remember correctly EVERY case we had been contacted about, and asked if we would take children,¬†I had requested more information about. I was told that the case worker would contact me and fill me in on the children. Cool, right? Wrong. I have NEVER been contacted by any case worker.

You see, I’ve noticed a trend…if you ask too man questions you get skipped. I’m beginning to think they just go down the list of homes and ask in short, “yes or no,” and if you say no or request more info you get skipped…too much work is my best guess. I am going to conduct an experiment, next time they call I will say yes, despite the amount of information (within my comfort level)¬†they can provide. I am willing to be big bucks that children will be placed immediately. I know that this is the name of the game, I know that there is a lot of unknowns in foster care. How hard is it to tell me which school they attend, what medical conditions (if any) the children may have, and why they’re being placed into care? These are the questions I am asking; I am not asking what their favorite foods are, what color hair they have, or if they ever got beat up on the last Tuesdays of the month at Bible Camp. I am not being difficult.

With all this negative stuff flowing freely,¬†I feel the need to update with the positive side¬†too. I recently spoke with an on call worker, she was a complete joy. She kept me informed on the children who were from out of the area, even after they were placed. I really appreciate her following up and understanding that I am, factually,¬†emotionally invested in children…even if they are strangers. I felt relieved when the children were placed and appreciated the text messages. If I knew her name I would speak praises but I cannot remember. I have her number saved in my phone as Nice On Call Lady so I can remember.

What’s next? More waiting. I know this is all part of my plan, I know this is a lesson I need to learn, I know. I don’t like it but I know. You got me God, go you. I’ll continue to wait.

4 days, just 4 days to get all my stuff done.

Oh goody, my case worker is STILL ignoring me. She wanted to schedule a meeting tine to sign all of our papers BUT she doesn’t return my phone calls nor my emails. Both husband and I are available today, I called her and left her message before 8am. I’ve still not heard from her. In addition; I supplemented that¬†voicemail, around 11a.m.,¬†with an email requesting a meeting today at 2:15. Still nothing. This is SO easy. Thank you for being supportive and helpful during this time. NOT.

 

My biggest hang up is Lemon’s birth certificate. I applied for it and now I just have to wait to get in within the next 4 days. We also need to get physicals but honestly, seeing as my caseworker cannot give me the time of day (with the exception of demands to be met within a 10 day period) it makes things difficult. You know what, I bet my deadline INCLUDES weekends…because why not? What could possibly make things harder for us? That. So I bet I have less than 2 days to complete the paperwork.

 

I am bitchy.