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.

New placement

Yay! I love getting new placements. Smile is 13 and she is adorable, tall and you guessed it… smiley. I got her enrolled in school before she arrived at our home, I’ll likely keep her home for a couple of days before throwing her to the wolves at school, give her a little break. This kid had earned a break, no doubt!

That’s all I’ve got for now, toodles;

48 hours and Oreos.

In the last 48 hours every child in my home has cried. Pretty cried because she and her boyfriend broke up, Biscuit cried because she hurt someone’s feelings, Blue cried because she’s on a religious venture trying to figure out where she belongs, Boychild cried because he wasn’t allowed to play video games, Bunny cries about everything, and Lemon cried because she was left behind on the cheer floor by all her teammates. 

So. Many. Tears.

Imagine 3 teenage girls emotionally distraught, in my room/on my bed, while Husband and I are trying to watch 13 Reasons. We REALLY wanted to watch this…we were on the Clay episode, people! Husband was lost, he had no idea how to help with the emotional disturbance. You could smell the fear on him, he looked like a cat backed into the corner by a pack of hungry coyotes. We paused the show, begrudgingly, and dealt with our teen crisis.  

So. Many. Feelings. 

I love my girls, no doubt, but holy shit, estrogen overload or something. I hate to see them cry, hurt, or be uncomfortable. I want to protect them from everything and everyone…sometimes even from themselves. I want to protect them and steal their pain, even if it is petty. So, like any good parent I dealt with the crisis accordingly; cookies. Birthday Cake Oreos and standard Oreos. You’d be surprised how many problems can be solved with a couples of packs of cookies. Apparently the Birthday Cake Oreos are better than standard Oreos and that can be an ice breaker for teens who are falling apart emotionally. 

Lessons were learned, tears were shed, and forgiveness happened. All in a day’s work of a Mother of 6…sometimes 7. 

The dirtiest word in Foster Care.


Can you guess it? Nope, it’s not the ‘F’ word or even the ‘B’ word. it’s actually the ‘D’ word, disruption. What is a disruption? In short; it’s when a foster placement isn’t working out in your home and you ask your agency or DCYS worker to remove the child from your home and place him or her elsewhere.

Oh  my  goodness, there is so much negative sigma associated with the dreaded ‘D’ word. I have heard about foster families being blackballed from fostering children, I’ve heard of licensure removal, I have heard that foster families have been gossiped about by their peers, and so on. To be honest, I had been terrified that I could one day have a disruption and my dreams of helping children in my community would be crushed, it seemed like that was what always happened…I had read stories upon stories about how a foster families were in trouble because of disruption and the threads online in forums didn’t make me rest any easier. Simply put, if you have a disruption then your foster career was over. 

Well, I’m here to tell you different. I have experienced disruption first hand and I am not feeling victimized in any way. First, let me tell you that having a disruption is absolutely devastating. I had self doubt, I felt like a quitter, I felt like I failed my community, I felt like I failed that child. It hurt, it hurt like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I wish I could explain it but there aren’t words that can fill the void of emotional despair I had felt. 

I felt like a child in my care was a danger to himself and others, I had absolutely no help from the mental health provider as he wasn’t yet enrolled in my area yet. I had reached out to my DCYS caseworker trying to get help expediting the child’s mental health care, she suggested I call and start enrolling him myself and I did. The entire case was a hot mess, there were wrong case workers, wrong names, wrong cities, it just wasn’t right in so many ways. I had gotten my placements set up for an appointment 9 days away. This was after calling and making several pleas to help, I specifically said ‘I need help, this child is out  of control.’ That wasn’t a big  enough cry for help, they pretty much told me to wait until his appointment. Unfortunately, 3 or 4 days before the appointment there was an incident and I requested to have the child removed. That was the hardest phone call I had ever made to date. I  cried, I begged for help, I demanded that the child be picked up immediately. I am extremely thankful that my DCYS worker was quick to help and quick to have the child removed. I suggested that the child needed a higher level of care and the DCYS worker took me very seriously.

After a series of phone calls, interviews, papetwork, I met with my licensing workers through AZCA. I was terrified that they were coming to meet with me to revoke my license, to scold me, to lecture me on how I had done everything wrong. I was terrified. Was this it? This one incident is going to rip my dreams away…I was incredibly nervous. I didn’t like feeling this way, even though I knew I had done all the things I had been trained to do, sheesh, I still felt like a kid in the principals office. I dreaded seeing my AZCA workers. 

When AZCA had come to my home a few days ago, I was an emotional mess. I tried to keep my composure but I failed, I ended up a crying blubbering mess. They weren’t there to scold me, they weren’t there to take my license, they weren’t there to point the finger at me. They had come to educate me, to make sure I knew I had done all the right things, and give me extra resources. The most important and critical thing they had told me was to always use the key word “CRISIS” when dealing with mental health providers (because begging for help, explaining the situation, crying, and saying a child is out of control isn’t enough.) Per Jacobs Law the mental health providers are to see anyone in crisis within 2 hours, but if you don’t say crisis…it doesn’t count. Mental health providers are required to asses mental health within 7 days, in addition; they’ve got 21 days to set up a service appointment.

Mohave County Mental Health Crisis: 928.214.2370 or 877.756.4090

When mental health fails you, call the Tattle Line (a/k/a Member Services): 800.640.2123 or 800.867.5808

Would you rather email? DCS@azahcccs.gov

I asked what was the definition of crisis, unfortunately it’s a case by case/person by person definition…however there are some red flags that should always be considered:

  • Increased anger outbursts
  • Withdrawn behavior
  • Inappropriate bed wetting (wtf?)
  • Nightmares 
  • Harming animals
  • Refusing to eat
  • Acting sexually towards others
  • Threatening self harm
  • Self mutilation 
  • Frequent tantrums 
  • Starting fires
  • Talking about death
  • Aggressiveness towards others

These are things I’ve taken directly from the paperwork I’ve been  given from AHCCCS. I know some of it seems bizarre but it’s been outlined so I’m sharing.

In addition to all of these services for the children there are services offered to foster families that will be covered by the child’s insurance. 

  • Family support services assist the  family who are caring for the child.
  • Individual, family and/or group counseling; including trauma informed practices.
  • Respite services 
  • A broad range of in-home supports bases on your family’s needs.
  • Assistance in dealing with a family loss and separation when a child leaves your home.
  • Referrals to peer run organizations, support groups, community services and workshops.

In other news, I’m currently on hold. I’m not ready to have any other placements just yet. I need time to re-enter my family and heal emotionally. We currently have one placement and late December we will think about reopening our beds. 

I hope this post is informative and helps someone, had I known that these things were avaliable I would have used the key words and possibly could have avoided a disruption. I’m happy that the child now has a level of care that he needs, that’s the only thing that helps me feel better about the situation. 

Hopefully I won’t experience any long term affects from the disruption, I have been assured I wouldn’t but I won’t know until after I reopen our beds. I’ll definitely keep my readers updated as the process continues. 

Have a wonderful day!

Christmas

It looks like Christmas barfed everywhere. I have two trees; one in our family room and one in our living room. Until the beginning of next year they will be referred to as Red Room and Blue Room. Yes, I am that woman… I color code and get all matchy-matchy with everything. My Blue Room has blue and silver decorations and wrapping paper and the Red Room has red and white decorations and wrapping paper.

I’ve lost my train of though.

I just had to deal with Bunny in crisis. Her and Biscuit were playing and somehow managed to pull about half of Bunny’s big toenail off and bent backward. GROSS. Do you have any idea how difficult reasoning with a 4 year old about the clipping of the toenail process is when she believes it’s factual that it will hurt? Based on her reaction one would think that this child had never had her fingernails nor toenails clipped in her life. Drama.

We have a series of things that we do when the kids get hurt, first we decipher the cry, survey the damage, and then we ask a simple question such as “What is your favorite color?” If we can get through the series it usually means no trip to the hospital. However the system fails from time to time… especially if there is nerve damage.

Now that I have no clue what I was talking about, I’ll just go now.