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.

Inner turmoil

There’s always something. It seems like everything fell apart all at once. I’ve got 2 of my girls (Blue and Smiley <—- is that what I named my 13 year old placement? I can’t remember) in a Tuesday night intervention group at home that the girls lovingly call Talking Tuesdays. We pretty much have a personalized self help/enrichment meeting in our bedroom, it’s really been eye-opening and helpful when addressing behaviors. It forces the girls to be held accountable for said behaviors. It’s a self exploratory that’s guided by us, the parents!

My difficult placement continues to spiral out of control; there was a school threat and things have escalated quite dramatically. The child is becoming more and more volatile; school, home, and after care have all noted the concern, it is unsettling. Imagine being stuck in a current fight or flight status, how awful this poor boy must feel. My heart aches for him… I’m pushing harder than ever to have him placed in a therapuetic environment, he needs help. This boy is exhausting himself emotionally, I simply cannot imagine his inner turmoil. I, too, am emotionally drained and I’m done repairing things this child has destroyed. From holes in the walls, writing on walls, breaking dresser drawers, ripping a ceiling fan from ceiling, drawing with a permanent marker all over his bedding and bed frame, constant supervision is 100% necessary and my lack of supervision is to blame. This child is not a typical 8 year old boy, oh no. This sweet child has endured years of trauma, trauma overlooked by everyone that he trusted in his life. Again, my heart aches. I simply cannot imagine being in his shoes, why do parents neglect their children? How could anyone purposefully treat a child in a way that could damage them? This is the shitty side of foster care. Defeat.

I’m not a perfect mom. I’ve screwed up quite a bit during my years as a parent, I still screw up. No on really knows what they’re doing when it comes to parenting but if you truly care and are doing your absolute best; hats off to you! Educate yourself, ask for help, read books, YouTube, anything and everything could be used as a parenting tool. My favorite educational tool in regards to raising children is parents I admire, they’re always keen on giving their parenting tools to anyone who’s interested. Seeing as I’m struggling with half my gaggle of children it’s hard for me to hone in on better parenting techniques. It’s extremely difficult to parent anyone in my home when I’ve got a full time job with my difficult placement, I feel as if I’m unavailable to parent other children because I’ve exhausted myself on every level tending to the troublesome child.

I’m less of a mother.

Talk about a painful realization. I’ve got less time to police Boychild’s homework, grades, and video game time. I’ve got less time to help with Honors English papers, ask about peer relationships, and recent accomplishments with Blue, Smiley, and Biscuit. I’ve been completely unavailable to my older, grown daughters who are living away from home. I’ve got less time bonding with my other placement who I’ve not written about in so long that I cannot remember her alias on my blog. I’ve got less time to read with Lemon and less time to wrestle with Bunny. I noticed last night as I had all of the kids leave the kitchen while preparing dinner, that used to be a time when we came together to cut vegetables and learn about nutrition. I had to ask them to leave as my difficult placement is my shadow and simply cannot operate within groups. My family is suffering without a mother. I am responsible for this. These reasons are precisely why I’m pushing for a therapuetic home for this young boy, I simply cannot give him what he needs and I’m no longer willing to sacrifice my family dynamic.

It’s not up to me where this child goes, the case team will find something on their time and that’s just fine. I simply need a light at the end of my tunnel, a simple ray of hope to keep me going. I’ve been in the dark for such a long time. Just because I’ve asked for a move doesn’t mean it’s going to be granted; however there is the option of my volunteering a disruption via my licensing agency. I’m not quite there… where I throw my hands into the air and quit, I’m pleased that the case team finally heard my words and is considering moving the child. That’s just enough for me right now and I’m choosing to make the best of it.

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!

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.

I’m pleased to report that the newest children, we had agreed on taking into our home, from out of the area have been placed with family members. That makes me feel happy; the less trauma the better. But, I’ve learned a little bit more about how foster care actually works versus how the PSMAPP ‘taught’ us it would work. We had been taught that the caseworkers reach out to family members first then when they’ve exhausted family options then they call foster families to see if they can place them in their homes. It seems as of its the exact opposite, they call foster homes until they get a ‘yes’ then they call family members using the foster family as a back up plan. That is absolutely fine with me but I figured I would let you In on this ‘secret.’ I’ve decide to keep it up with a yes answer when my licensing worker calls with a placement because I can always retract my yes after speaking with the case manager. The more you know, cue rainbow.

In other news; I’m pleased that members of my community have reached out concerning foster children, placements, adoptions, etc. That makes my heart happy. I got word this morning that some of our cheer girls were involved in a serious car accident last night, one of the girls is Bunny’s coach, luckily they’re all okay. They’re still going to the Summit tomorrow, viva Florida. Go Sonics! Tonight is our weekly date night, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve made sure to have the seven most recent pictures from my Instagram account show up on my sidebar on this blog. Boy, this was one hot mess of a paragrap

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.

Check please.

Something must have really screwed up the cosmic balance in my household, this morning EVERY. SINGLE. CHILD. has decided to act out in a way that is just unbelievable. I love my babies, I do…I just wish I had a shred of sanity left this morning. I think I have the bad behavior contained…for now.

I am finishing up the winter closet clean out with my babies today, Biscuit has proven to be the hardest. She insists on keeping shorts and tank tops because ‘they’re sooooo cute!” Um, it’s winter and those shorts you decide to keep will be skanky booty shorts next summer. Not happening, kid. Biscuit is a complete pack rat, she keeps papers, ripped clothing, and every piece of schoolwork she has ever completed.Luckily for us she is a very organized pack rat…until you look in her dresser and see everything crammed in there. Dresser drawers are, clearly, her kryptonite.

Luckily all of the other kids have been a breeze, they happily welcomed me into their rooms and enjoyed me helping them clean out their clutter. Sadly, I realized Lemon has very little winter clothes. You see she must be a mutant; she is HUGE. I purchased winter clothes in the 12 month size, but they’re all too small. Lemon is 10 months old and wear 18-24 month clothing. All of the 18-24 months are summery clothes. UGH. 

Boy Child is playing with Lemon, LOUDLY, where I am attempting to blog. Lemon is screaming with glee, Boy Child is laughing.

Bunny is in the next room playing with an empty Christmas wrapping paper roll, beating it loudly on various items and singing the most ghastly and annoying song ever.

Biscuit is still upset about clothing and is trying to ‘defuse’ by watching some preteen movie on Amazon Prime and she is coming back and forth into my blogging area asking if she can purchase this or that and how to do so. Now she is huffy and crying because I said I didn’t want to purchase some teeny bopper drama.

This is my life. I am ready to add more chaos. I must be stupid. The truth is, I get anxious if I am not directing a child or if I hear silence. When my babies aren’t here I am constantly wondering what they are doing. I call, I text, I email to be in the know. My babies are my everything and I would do anything to protect them. I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with adding one or two more children. I have room in my heart, in my life, in my house, and in my car. Bring it, Foster care.