Remember this?

I last shared, prior to getting my placements, that my interest was piqued in regards to a 12 year old girl that was seeking a large family and that I had been contacted regarding to placement and adoption. Well, that was complete crap. It it a pretty shady ordeal, they can only disclose very small pieces of the case during the inquiry while letting you get emotionally involved. During a 6-8 week process they can pick you apart as the family who wishes to adopt but you get minimal information… but not medical or behavorial stuff.

I indicated to the the CSR specialist to call my licensing worker and disclose all of the information to him as there is a loophole in the process. Although he isn’t allowed to disclose any information to me, he can get the nitty gritty. I trust him to make the call for me, he knows my family dynamic and what I’m willing to have in my home in regards to placement. The CSR specialist called my licensing worker, disclosed all the things, he knew it wasn’t a good fit and it was closed down. I hope that anyone who is looking into a CSR child can find this information helpful and time saving, not to mention avoiding yet another emotional rollercoaster.

It was a CSR ordeal which pretty much equates to kids that are EXTREMELY hard to place due to behaviors, multiple placements, etc.

I’ve learned enough about photolistings, CSR’s, and adoptive searches in general. The masses are correct; it is a waste of time and pointless. Despite my initial feelings about everyone else failures being a personality flaw or getting emotionally attached to a picture of a child, everyone was right. It is complete garbage. I’m objective, even during my emotional bit during this journey.

I don’t like being this pessimistic but the proof is in the pudding.

TL;DR

Don’t bother looking at photolistings ot CSR’s. It’s a lost cause or a trap.

Whirlwind!

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that we have been on the quest to find another family member, someone looking for an adoptive home. You’ll also know that the search has been an emotional, and fruitless, adventure. I’ve sent out more than 20 homestudies and I figured my door would be beaten down by all of the responses. But…no. Recently, I dealt with the disappointment by fooling myself into thinking the ‘1st and 15th’ rule (homestudies are typically reviewed the 1st ans 15th of each month, not as they trickle in to the DCS caseworkers hands) applied to us. The 15th came and went, in the last week I had only received 2 calls, both in Arizona. WTF. The first child was not a match per my criteria and the second one was a courtesy call letting me know the the child would only be placed in the Phoenix Metro area. Oh, and shortly after this disappointment I was notified that my agency would begin charging me a flat rate or or per word rate, depending on which option I chose, to send out my homestudy to other states. Fabulous. Now I’m being penalized for attempting to find a child a forever home. This whole adoption search is a pain in the ass.

I am no longer seeking out a child via adoption listings or CSR’s. I feel like it is emotionally drained me, changed my outlook on adoption via foster care, and made me more of a pessimist that I’ve ever been in my adult life. In fact, I feel a lot of negative feelings regarding the foster care system and how the adoption sector is managed in general. I found myself saying, for the first time since I’ve become a foster parent, some things negative about foster care. That’s unheard of! I’m a huge advocate for children, how the foster system works, etc. And there I was, bad mouthing something I truly believed in.

I believe that a successful foster parent will always let the child in their care know that they are supported, care about their feelings, and truly want them to go home. A successful foster parent will fight for what the child wants (older children) or what is in their best interest (younger child.) A successful foster parent will never badmouth the system, the immediate working staff, nor the parents of the child…despite how much we dislike their parents choices or treatment of the child in our care.

Foster care works, reunification happens. Oftentimes parents don’t do the things required to regain custody of their children; adoption via foster care works too. Family is family, blood or bond. I need to remind myself of these things because I feel sad and let down about this adoption photolisting ordeal. Maybe this is part of my plan, God is pushing me elsewhere because it’s where I’m supposed to be. Maybe I’m not to be adopting via photolistings and God has called me to only provide temporary care for children in need. I hate to be a pessimist, but I should have heeded warnings about photolistings and other people’s personal experiences. For some reason I thought I’d do better… I was wrong. I didn’t do better, I am not better.

Onto a brighter note! My licensing agency forwards me CSR’s (adoption flyers from in state and in house) I have struck out there too. I’ve inquired and gotten responses fairly quickly BUT often times the children in these CSR’s have severe behaviors or are sexualized in some way/shape/form. I’m not equipped to deal with that, or a plethora of other things that our household had deemed unacceptable. Anyway, our homestudy had been dropped onto a desk, a desk of a coworker within our agency in the Phoenix office, and we received a call about a child. A child that has not been listed yet on any adoption sites, that currently lives in a group home nearby. I had played phone tag for a week or so with a stranger, unfamiliar number = no answer. There was never a voicemail left, I never thought twice about it. That is until Husband had called me and let me know that this adoption recruiter was looking to communicate with us regarding placement.

Placement is the operative word. This child is not legally free for adoption but the state and case team anticipate rights to be terminated. I was given very little information regarding the child and then a host of proceedings, including a 2 hour phone interview set up for Monday evening.

The information I was given is as follows: female, 12, wants a large family. My interest was piqued, I like kids and I have a large family.

Once the phone interview is completed and they feel we could be a potential match they will disclose all the information regarding the child during the same phone call. I wonder if they’ll let me see a picture of her? Not that it matters much, I’m merely curious. After the interview and information exchange my homestudy and interviewers opinion will all be presented to a board of people who decided if it’s a good match. If it is a good match we can facetime/phone chat with the child then move onto meeting her in person shortly after. If things go well transition to our home happens.

I also received a placement call around 1am regarding a sibling set. Naturally, I was sleeping at 1am! I returned the call this morning and the on call placement person referred me to the DCYS, I’ll likely hear from them tomorrow unless they’ve found placement already.

What a ride it has been.

Five.

5. 5. 5.

Soon, I’ll have only 5 kids at home. Biscuit, Blue, Boychild, Bunny, and Lemon. I’m freaking out, how do I cook for only 7 people?! What will we do with the copious amounts of leftovers?! There will be extra time, room, and finances. Weird. There will be less stress, chatter, and traffic.

We will enjoy our time together until we are needed. I love my community, I love children, I love foster care. There are lessons to be learned about humility, compassion, and pain. My kids understand the importance of helping people and also, witnessing me fail, has shown them that even though you can desperately want to help it’s okay to say ‘enough’ and have a child removed. My kids have helped transition foster kids to our home and comforted them in times of need. They have also disagreed and fought with them. It is all give and take, understanding others circumstances and remembering how blessed you are to be taken care of in a standard in which society deems normal. My kids don’t take much for granted these days because they understand that things change in the blink of an eye.

I’ve been sifting through adoption listings, looking for potential matches. I’ve sent in several inquiries and have gotten very little feedback. Our system is flawed; caseworkers are busy prioritizing and adoptive kids are being pushed to the backburner. I understand that the removal and reunification are high on the totem pole, they are critical to child safety, but having a child wait in limbo for months or years just isn’t right. My licensing worker has assured me that my homestudy has been sent to all of the inquiries that I’ve sent in and even he says he has gotten very little feedback. It shouldn’t be this hard to find an older child, in the United States, who is legally free for adoption, to find a match. It shouldn’t be this hard to help.

On the other end of the spectrum I’ve gotten leads on some foster placements. Unfortunately, they weren’t a match for our home. I do have a strict criteria that I follow as my children are my number one priority. I do not want to expose them to some things nor have them possibly become victims in any way. It’s hard. Often times it breaks my heart but I’ve developed a firm understanding during my years of foster care of knowing when to say yes to a placement and when to say no.

Luckily, when you seek out adoptive children via photolistings or through your agency you can get every detail of their case/life since being in the foster care system. That makes finding a fit easier for families and agencies. I’ve gotten a few responses stating we weren’t a good fit for a child and I’ve sent responses saying we wouldn’t be a good fit for a child. I’m okay with that, I’m all about the best interest of the children. My older girls have taken an interest in looking at potential siblings online, Blue loves to watch the videos and Biscuit wants to see their faces.

Only God knows what will happen next, we may stay with the 5 kids and be done. We may foster more. We may adopt. Until then…we wait.

Living that concert life.

A couple of weeks ago Biscuit and I went to Stone Temple Pilots concert in Phoenix, it was cool because it was just us. It was in a small venue and it was packed!

On Friday I let my 3 older girls go to a festival in Phoenix…solo. Flower, Biscuit, and Blue went to the Pot of Gold Festival in Chandler to see Russ and a series of other artists. Flower drove, Blue was given the task of sending me a play by play of texts during the trip, and Biscuit did whatever. The girls stayed with my cousin and drove back the next morning. I’ll tell you it was scariest, longest, overnight trip EVER. Well, for me. The girls had a wonderful time!

And then there were 10.

We recieved new placement over the weekend, a 14 year old female, we will call her Hair. This girl has the longest, thickest, hair ever. She is outgoing, an excellent student, and okay with the extreme change in her life.

At the end of the we month Pretty is moving out at the end of the month, she’s grown up! Pretty recently had a job change and it seems to be a good fit.

Biscuit is doing wonderful, she’s going to be 14 in less than 2 weeks. She is doing standard high school and online school, cheers on 2 teams, and wants to get a job.

Flower has been accepted to 2 colleges, she is interested in bio medicine/Neuro stuff. She is working and finishing high school and will graduate with 18 college credits. We are taking her to Thailand for graduation, she is elated.

Blue is doing exceptionally well, she has started tumbling and is super close to her back handspring. I’ve got great news! The recent appeal by bio mom has been dismissed and our adoption is underway! I can’t wait until she is ours forever, I can’t imagine a life without her.

Boychild celebrated his birthday, he is officially 11. He had been wanting a new dirt bike and we came through for him.

Bunny is a stellar student, a great helper, and is getting better at regulating her feelings. We are experiencing WAY less crying, thank God.

Lemon is big. She isn’t liking the change from toddler to kid. Now that she is 5 she has more responsibility.

Husband and I are doing great, I do get annoyed with him when he doesn’t take care of himself. This whole skin cancer thing has been dragging on. He had his stitches removed then the incision site reopened, ugh. And he STILL won’t stay still.

Teaching is cool, I’m happy. Staff meetings are less cool, I deal with it. I took a huge pay cut when I quit my job in Prescott… but, I’m significantly happier with my job flexibility. My kids come first.

5 things for Blue

Dear Blue, 

     I hate getting documents in the mail regarding your case. I wish I could hide them from you and act like they don’t exist. I understand that you have a deep desire to go home, I want that too. It hurts me to give you details of your case and see your eyes well up with tears, you don’t deserve this. I will find a positive, I will reassure you that there is still a possibility that things can change, and I will always say positive things about your bio parents. I know that your parents love you and I hope you know that too. People make mistakes everyday and we can’t define people by their mistakes, I know you have mixed feelings about your case and you consistently ask me ‘Why did this happen to me?’ Blue, this didn’t happen to YOU, it happened to your parents. Your situation is a direct result of their choices. Sometimes when we make choices and don’t think through the consequences are atrocious, it happens to me often. In fact, I’m sure it happens to everyone regularly; we get impulsive. I know how hard it is on you to fit in at school, I know that you often feel socially isolated, I know that you struggle with maintaining relationships as you fear of establishing bonds with people because you fantasize about going home and don’t want to hurt anyone when you leave. I get it, I respect it. Everyone has a life story, some have easy lives and others have hard lives…you get what you get. These things are what shape our character and make us who we are, don’t feel isolated, every person you have ever talked to has had their own series of struggles and victories. 

Here are 5 things I want you to know:

1. You are beautiful, inside and out. You’ve got a bubbly personality and you are a complete knockout, boys and girls alike notice how gorgeous you are. You make people smile with your silliness and you are on the fence of being hyper conservative and mildly liberal…we can tell and it makes you genuine. You are helpful and kind, your talents are amazing, and your klutziness is cute. You are worthy and I know you’re going to do great things with your life. 

2. Your family loves you. Yes, they do. Your siblings, your parents, your grandparents, all of them love you more than you know. I understand that you get discouraged sometimes with the changes happening within your family, love never fades. You parents will care deeply about you forever…no matter what. Please remember that when you feel like your siblings are slipping away.  You are loved.

3. MY family loves you. You offer this calming and reasonable personality that our home needs and respects. You are so bright and glittery; you make my day better just seeing you in the morning for that brief 3 seconds when you tell me goodbye on your way to school. All of the kids constantly tell me how great you are, you play with them, and they remind me that you’re nice to them. Husband often tells me how much he adores you, he says you are funny and super smart. To be honest, we’re going to be devastated when you go home. You are a wonderful young woman and we are all honored to know you. 

4. You can achieve your goals here or with your parents. Just because you’re here doesn’t mean you can’t move forward. You aren’t betraying your parents by having fun, experiencing new things, or working toward your future. I hope you know that I want you to successful just as much as your parents do. I will help facilitate any dream you have, I’m here for you. 

5. You often feel like your world is crumbling right before your eyes, right now your life is in shambles and you just want it to go back to normal. I want you to remember that this will be a small, insignificant, blip in your life. Once you’re an adult you will reflect on this time and realize what you’ve taken from this process. You will realize that you had 2 families who cared about you, you will realize that I was right about a lot of the stuff I talk to you about, and you will learn to be thankful for this time period of your life. I know you don’t see it now, you will someday.   

Work on your confidence, Blue. Someone as awesome as you should shine like a diamond, shimmer and sparkle, and take this world by storm. I believe in you. You are worthy. I know you can do anything you put your mind to. ❤

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. 

It’s a dog vs dog household. 

Would you look at those itty bitty puppies?! These a lab puppies and they are ridiculously adorable. You see, at our home we have been kicking the idea of a dog around…but we simply couldn’t agree on a type of dog. Husband wanted a menacing looking type of dog, German Shepherd or a Doberman. I wanted a a family dog, approachable and fun. 

Seeing as we simply couldn’t agree on the type of dog we wanted we put the idea on the back burner. We named our hypothetical dog, we talked about how our dog would fit into our family, and we knew we wanted a puppy…some day. I’ve always spoke wonderful things about my old dog, Duke. He was an asshole sometimes but overall he was smart, he learned quickly, and he was a family dog. Man, I loved that dog. I’m not quite sure what happened to Duke, when I divorced I left the dog and took the kids. I often wonder if I should have gone the other way…take the dog and leave the kids. Haha, I’m kidding. Mostly. 😉

Well, we have exciting news. We’ve decided on a dog! Can you believe it’s taken us nearly 4 years to work this out?! Guys, we are getting a dog. Not just any dog, we are getting our hypothetical dog that we’ve talked about for years! Wanna know our dogs name?! Her name is Murphy. She’s not born yet but she should be soon! Can you tell how excited I am by all the exclamation point usage?! We’ve placed a deposit on a pup, now I know it’s the doggy lottery and we may not get the color we want between the two expected litters and that’s okay. We can wait. 

Silver labradors, guys there is a lot of controversy over these dogs. But they’re cute as hell and they look a bit meaner than the traditional labrador (at least that’s what I’ve told my husband!) Come on, look at its little face. So, I guess it depends on who you ask but people get real worked up about silver labrador. Some say they’re a crossbreed, labrador and weimarner. Some say it’s a chocolate lab with lighter markings. I don’t care. 

This guy looks chocolately. 

This guy looks silvery. 

This is a weimarner.

I totally see why some people think it’s a crossbreed. Makes sense. I don’t even care, I’m puppy nesting. I’m buying dog collars, and leashes, and dog food, and custom tags, and I’m having a decorative kennel made. It’s like having a baby…but not. I’m psyched Husbands brother told me about these dogs!

Hopefully I’ll get news soon of our pup being born. Until then, we wait. Geeze, our life is a lot of waiting.