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.

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.

Time doesn’t stand still.

We’ve got new placement. Another teen female, surprise! We are headed to Thailand at the end of the week and once we return our new foster daughter will arrive. There was talk about her coming before we left but I feel like it would be tough to hop into a family when your parental units are gone. Our new placement is called Trambi, she’s band girl who has excellent grades and a sunshine-y disposition. She has a good head on her shoulders and is a lot like Hair, she is serious about school and her future.

Hair is currently trying to decide if she wants stay here or move away to live with family members. I’m okay with whatever she chooses, I’m here to help the kids in my home. While Hair may be different with her emo-goth facade…I don’t care. I’ll teach her the best that I can and help her achieve her goals. She wants everyone to believe she is different and interesting; hair color and dark clothes will not define you nor set you apart. You aren’t a special snowflake, you are YOU and once you accept that you will go as far as your allow yourself. I get it, I WAS the goth kid in school. If I could go back and tell myself one thing in High School it would be ‘Drop all this I’m special and different bullshit, you’re making life harder than it should be.’

Biscuit is having an amazing summer so far, she is taking the summer off. She has cheer and she’s happy. She isn’t doing summer school, college prep, camp, etc. She is currently considering studying abroad her junior year in Switzerland. I fully support this choice, I’ll happily pay for boarding school. Biscuit really wants to Colorado this summer and has asked to visit California as well.

Speaking of boarding school, Boychild wants to attend school in Hawaii this year and attend a boarding school. What?! He wants to learn Hawaiian culture, surf, fish, and paddle board. I’m on the fence about this…I was considering retaining him in the 5th grade and switching him to a private Christian school this year, I enrolled him earlier this year. Then I talked to a friend who has raised 3 successful, and amazing, children into adulthood who all went to public school. I’m on the fence about education at this point. Boychild has no interest in theater, karate, nor swim this summer. He wants to play Fortnight, hike, and ride jet skis. He is attending a Glorietta camp next month.

Bunny is excited about next school year, she knows a lot of kids at the private school. Again, I’m on the fence about education. Do my kids REALLY need private school? Parenting is hard. Bunny is participating in cheer and will soon be in a hip hop dance class to see if she likes it. Bunny has joined a bowling league this summer and a ballet camp. She will also attend Glorietta camp next month.

Blue has recieved her birth certificate, it’s SO cool! It lists me and Husband as her birth parents. I feel really good about that. In addition to this news, Blue is attending summer school so she can take the same math class as Biscuit next year. Sisterhood, it’s the real deal. Blue is on evaluation for a cheer team and we hope she makes it. If not she enjoyed participating in track and is open to other sports next school year.

Flower is trying to adult. She struggles continually when it comes to family, loyalty, and the future. Unfortunately she’s put too much time into her boyfriend (of one year) and prioritized him. It’s not uncommon for young girls to do this; I thought she was smarter, she almost had me fooled with her self hype and responsible actions regarding bills and such. I anticipated that she would cultivate her family and deticate more time to her family, family is forever. Instead she’s practically dragging her boyfriend along for HER journey and completely disregarding his ambitions. She’ll always be my daughter even if she wants to be absorbed in her herself and new love life, I get it… love is exciting and blinding. Flower is an arrogant girl, she believes what she wants and whatever we try to tell her it’s preposterous. It’s the struggle where she wants adult privileges but lacks the mature mindset. As parents typically are, we are the bad guys…we have the experience and want to teach our kids but they’re reluctant. She’s a stubborn girl and I haven’t got much time left to teach her. The entitlement is REAL with this one. She’s attending U of A this fall and then I have to sit back and watch her figure it out. I believe in her, undoubtedly.

Pretty is moving to Colorado in the fall. I’ve got mixed emotions as I want her to follow her dreams, I’m scared that she’s leaving me. She will ‘cultivate’ her dreams one way or another. I will support her in every endeavor…even if she wants to be a hippie and potentially live in a VW Bus.

Lemon is back into cheer, she’s on the same team as Bunny. Lemon is truly excited to be back on a team; she feels helpful and big. Lemon is attending a theater camp and a Glorietta camp.

Me? Nothing really new on my end. I’m anxious about leaving my humans for a little over 2 weeks, I know they’ll all be taken care of but my mom anxiety is through the roof. I’m a bit fearful about this Thailand trip because last time I had gone somewhere with Flower I didn’t see her except for a few hours at an event and at cerfew. Is it going to be like that again? I hate feeling this way. I feel betrayed, used, not worthy, and not like a mom. Yeah, you read that right, Mohavecountymama is vulnerable. Moving along…I’m taking the summer off, as teachers usually do. I’m going to see if this ecommerce thing takes off and then become a millionaire. 😘 Ha, if only! I’ll presumably spend the remainder of the summer shuttling my kids to all their activities, parties, fundraisers, etc.

Husband, well, he’s a Type-A personality. He wants to plan, plan, plan, this trip to Thailand and I’m more of a go with the flow type. I’d say he is a bit stressed about leaving his business behind, leaving the kids home, and trying to plan an itinerary. I’m screaming ‘Husband, focus on the 18 hour horror flight and wing the rest.’ Husband is not concerned with the flight…not one bit, hes got to be some sort of sociopath. I really love and admire this guy; he has the patience for all of our kids and rolls with the chaos. I’m lucky we have eachother.

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…

Placement and photolisting news.

Good news, everybody. I recieved a call today about another placement. I’m still on the fence about it and I’ve got to talk to Husband about it. She’s a short term placement, 2 months or so until she’s 18. We will see.

I also recieved a call about our photolisting inquiry, Red. She will think over some things and our agency will contact us about her final decision in a week or so. It’s got to be terribly hard to leave your home state and move into an adoptive home thousands of miles away. In addition; think about moving into a home full of strangers and a group of teenage girls. It’s crazy. I’m going to leave this to God, he’s got my back. God knows what and who should be in our home. Deep down I hope she’s my daughter, but I understand how these things work. I’m not going to go weird again, totally promise. <—— I realize that already sounds weird. 😂

I also inquired about another young girl, several weeks ago but I’ve yet to hear anything regarding her. There were only a few girls out of the 80 that would be a good match.

I’m sad

I’m sad because there are many children and teens in foster care.

I’m sad that sometimes their parents cannot overcome the obstacles to regain custody of their children.

I’m sad that there are many children looking for their permanent homes and families.

I’m sad because I cannot begin to imagine how that feels, it’s impossible for me.

I want every child to have a safe home to live in, safe doesn’t mean the cleanest or fanciest it means just that…safe. My parents didn’t have a fancy house, they didn’t have a lot of money, in fact I believe that my family is profoundly (and irreversibly) screwed up. But we cared for one another, we never went hungry, and we always had some sort of home.

I heard about people being investigated by the Department of Child Safety unjustly all the time, how stressful and debilitating it can be, and how violated people feel. I’ve heard cases of children being removed from their homes for asinine things such as: dirty shirts worn to school, torn shoes, and a rogue bruise. That could easily happen to you or me, we could be investigated at anytime. I’m so torn; how can I support something so fiercely but be on the fence about it too? There are children being removed for things that simply don’t make sense. There are children being removed for all the right reasons too.

I’m mostly sad because I, personally, cannot help every child who needs help. Who needs a family. Who needs to feel loved. Why can’t I be the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe? I’ll tell you why; I can’t help my kids at home feel loved, valued, cared for if I’m hung up on helping everyone else. I need to do better in my family, I need to make sure my kids know they are loved (and by who) instead of being selfish. I can do better. I will do better.

In the meantime please consider adoption via foster care or even foster care in general. It opens your eyes, your heart, and your mind. At the very least you can become licensed and foster family members or close friends children in the event it arises. Be prepared because we simply cannot predict the future.

Hug your kids, your spouse, your family, your best friend, your pet…love someone or something. Most of you reading this probably understand what love and being loved feels like. Don’t take that for granted.