It’s been 5 days

Five days since Loud has departed and let me tell you how wonderful these last 5 days have been. I’ve left my house with my family more in those 5 days than I have in 7 months. It has been wonderful to not constantly supervise one child, I’ve enjoyed my children as a whole, and I’m able to spend more time with my husband. We were also put back on the call list for potential placement. In any case, let me tell you about Sunday… our budgeting excecise. We all went to the Swap meet, Husband and I, all 7 of my kids, 2 of my kids friends, and my parents. Each child was given $10 for a game.

The game rules were as follows:

This is a QUANTITY over QUALITY exercise, very different from our usual quality over quantity teachings.

You cannot combine money with your partner, if you choose to shop with a partner.

You must barter at least once with a vendor or discuss a price reduction.

Bags of beans, a ream of paper, seeds, or other tiny items are not allowed. However, a box/bag/set of smaller items could be counted individually such as markers, doll shoes, or a socket set.

Food is permitted.

Free items are permitted and encouraged.

Children under the age of 12 had to have an adult to supervise.

He who has the most items wins everyone else’s loot.

This was a fun exercise! The kids were really thoughtful in their purchases. In fact we were surprised at the winning number of items; over 700 items. The older children had a better grasp of the ordeal and took it to the max! Some of the items purchased were baby tomatos, blackberries, decorative toothpicks with unicorns adorning the tops, Barbie dresses, polished rocks, pieces of candy, stickers, super glue, a bag of unknown electrical (?) parts, mouth pieces, and a pineapple.

The kids results were 700, 680, 350, 327, 280 189 and I can’t remember the other numbers, I believe the stopped counting when they heard the numbers above 500.

The downside? Now we have $90 worth of crap floating around the house. The winner was kind enough to give the younger girls a few trinkets they had purchased during the swap meet trip.

Also, we have a new placement arriving tonight. A 13 year old female not from our county, I haven’t met her yet but I’ve decided to call her Blink because she happened in a blink! Loud left us 5 days ago and now our adventure continues. I hope Loud feels loved and safe, while he isn’t here at our home I find myself thinking about him quite a bit.

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;

Open bed!

With Tata’s departure that leaves us with an open bed. I spoke with my licensing worker about the potential adoptive placement and it was an open and shut case, she needed to stay in the city she is currently residing in. I’m beginning to feel like this adoption stuff is for the birds! While I have had a successful adoption via foster care, it took long time to become completed. I truly thought that finding an adoptable child would be easy; older children need homes. I have jumped through hoops, sent my homestudy to various agencies (over 20 times,) and made it quite clear to my team that adoption was my motive. I enjoy foster care and I LOVE when kids are reunified with their bio families, but we’d like to offer a permanent solution to a child.

Loud and Lovely’s case is a mess, I’m unsure where it will go. We’ve got different bio dad’s, accusations, missed visits, behaviors, no contact with other siblings, a nonexsistant case worker, and more excuses than I can deal with. Lovely is a good girl, a hard worker and she is eager to please. Her bio family has instilled in her that excuses make everything better. All things, both big and small, there is an excuse for. It drives me batty. ‘My mom was a teenager when she had me, that’s why she doesn’t know how to take care of us.’ or ‘My mom asked me lie to the case worker so they could just get out of our lives, she doesn’t know any better.’ My favorite so far, and by favorite I mean it’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard ‘I can’t go outside with everyone, I’m allergic to grass and I’ll get hives everywhere.’ GUYS! We live in the desert, there is no grass in the vicinity of my home… not for miles. Also, she isn’t allergic to anything according to her medical records.

Loud had made some huge improvements in the last couple of weeks, now we are back tracking. He has started acting out again, I took him out into the community as his behaviors were improving tremendously… big mistake. Mohave County Mama learned a damn lesson. I think I had moved too fast, he clearly needs more time to develop the skills that we are teaching him. In addition; mental health continues to be a joke. I’m getting nowhere. I’m anxious about Halloween, how in the heck am I going to manage Loud? I’ll be brainstorming.

I’m doing surprisingly well, amazing actually. I had a blip in the mental health department a few months ago, stayed objective, made some changes, and I am officially an Overcomer! In fact, I’ve never felt better emotionally… physically not so much. I’m sorta fat. One thing at a time, right?! I’ll get less fat next, I mean… what else have I got to do? I’m not working, so yeah. Well, I’ve been toying with the idea to head back to school.

Husband has been stressed out and that brings on the snoring, WTF man? I’m trying to get my fat girl sleep here. All that snoring leaves me a bit cranky and irritable BUT, hey, there are worse things in life than a snoring husband. For example, a rabid Chihuahua backing you into a fire pit full of cobras or panties full of porcupine quills during a 5k. See, I’m an optimist. Snoring is legit. My Fitbit says I’m not hitting my sleep target, that’s all I’m saying.

In closing I’d like to say that I’m very upset that I did not with the billion dollar Mega Millions. Total crap.

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!

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.

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!

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.