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 Biscuit

You have been one of lifes best teachers; you were my first born child. You had toughest lessons to teach and one of the crappiest pupils. You taught me what unequivocal love is, how to be patient, and how to mother in general. Without all of the trials we have been through, the mistakes I had made, and the amount of times I cried…there is no doubt that I wouldn’t be half the mother I am today without you.

You’ve always set the bar high, walking at 7 months and being potty trained by 18 months to being an early reader and starting school early. Everything you set your mind to you have conquered, you’re a badass. You may cry, fuss, and say you’re going to quit but you always muster up the courage and strength to push forward. I’m envious of this gift as I’ve never had any feeling like that, well, with the exception of mothering. Prior to being a parent I was blaisé.

I was always told some version of ‘You always fuck up the first one.’ comparing a child to a pancake of parenting. Luckily for me you were an excellent first child, full of character and lessons. You made parenting easy as you have this personality that made it fun and interesting. I always seemed like an over braggy mom when I talked about you, casually, to other mothers. All of your achievements at an early age made me seem like a bold face liar, I wasn’t. You were a little hulk baby that was so fat that you looked like a busted can of biscuits. 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.

I said no.

I’ve always struggled with saying no when I get the call from my agency trying to place a child. I’m the yes woman, I always want to help. Short term, yes. Out of my age range, yes. Possibly permanent, yes. Both Husband and I agreed when we first started providing a home for foster children that medically fragile, sexual behaviors, or extreme anger just wouldn’t fit in. We want to keep our family safe and we want to be mentally sound and not constantly stressed out. Oddly enough, the case that was presented wasn’t any of those things. You see, I’ve learned about family dynamics, I know that taking on this case could potentially take something from my current placements or my bio children. I wanted to say yes but that would be selfish of me. I wanted to say yes, my heart hurts.

I’m feeling sad right now, I wanted to say yes but with the case presented I knew it just couldn’t work. I feel more sad that I was specifically requested by my agency to take on this child; I said no. I feel like I let a child down, I feel like I let my agency down, I feel like I let the DYFS down. Deep down I know what I chose was the right choice; it still hurts. I want a third placement, I want to help my community, I want to help a child.

This is not part of the training, no one said I would feel these ranges of emotions. No one told me I would feel like a failure. No one told me that I would feel like I personally let a child down. Foster care is hard.

I’m going to try to hang onto some positive feelings, I’m going to build a blanket fort with my kids. I’m going to laugh, smile, and play, with them and try to remind myself that I did what was right. I hope we get another call soon.

Contacts!

Biscuit went for her exam on Wednesday and she is a good candidate for contact lenses. That’s exciting, unfortunately on Wednesday she got quite worked up because she couldn’t get them out during the contacts lesson, she cried and rubbed her eyes a lot and we were sent home because he eyes we’re irritated. We were asked to return Thursday to try again. Thursday morning she popped them in and out like a champ and wore her lenses to cheer choreography. This morning she popped them in like a pro and went to day two of choreography. I’m proud of her! I also ordered her a new pair of glasses…even though her insurance didn’t cover it. This kid breaks glasses at a ridiculous rate, she had her last pair of glasses for a whopping 2 months. Biscuit is feeling really proud of herself about her contact lenses and her ability to place them and remove them.

I’ve never been so excited for it to be Friday as I am today. I’m completely burnt out. Bells and Shy skipped summer camp today and none of the other kids have activities expect Bunny, she has tumbling. It’s busy around here. I’m trying to squeeze in some work related phone calls but it’s quite difficult with 6 children constantly hovering. I didn’t want to work today anyway…yay, it’s the freaking weekend. Maybe if I just lounge around today tomorrow I will be inclined to do some school shopping.

Things on the home front are back to normal, kids are back on schedule and behaving appropriately. Biscuit is still off a bit, she is really sensitive lately. This kid cries everyone she is frustrated and cries when she doesn’t get her way. The most concerning; she has conflicting feelings about hurting people’s feelings that’s she’s told me that she’d rather lie to them. For example: a friend called her the other day and she looked at her phone and groaned ‘uhhh, I do NOT want to talk to her.’ She didn’t answer her phone, no biggie. My phone rings a short time later and a girl asks for Biscuit. I call out to her and remind her to have her friends call her at her number. She asks who it is, I tell her I didn’t ask. It turns out it’s the same girl who she ignored and she shakes her head at me and shoots me a glare. Then, she let’s put this high pitched I’m so happy to talk to you ‘Hiiiii!’ and she has this peppy conversation with the girl. She then asked me is they could hang out while violently shaking her head and mouthing the words ‘no.’ I tell her not tonight. She hangs up and I ask her why she did that, why not tell her the truth and let her know how you feel. Biscuit goes on a tangent about not wanting to hurt her feelings and avoid bad feelings. This isn’t the first time I’ve witnessed this and it doesn’t always involved her friends. What happened to my confident and previously confrontational daughter? I guess I ought to be pleased thst she’s typically honest with me, she never has a filter and sometimes surprises me with her input.

Bunny is stoked about kindergarten, she is ready to buy folders and pencils. Boychild is ready to go back to school too, he likes learning new things and reporting back to me. Biscuit is pumped about school, junior high is a big step. Bells is going to need some help in the school area, she is behind a bit and I’d like to get her into speech therapy and tutoring. Shy, I’m pretty sure he is substantially behind, maybe even a grade level behind. Once school starts I’ll see if I can get him evaluated and see what types of services he needs. I could be wrong about them both, they were both in school for two weeks before it was summer break. I guess I will just have to wait and see! Lemon will start attending a preschool 2 or 3 days a week starting in August, I feel like this school year is going to be a great one. There are so many changes!

I recently had a visit with our licensing agent, she is a complete joy. I love that she answers my questions and if she hasn’t got a clue…she is honest about it. I asked her about adoption during the visit and how to go about that while still providing foster care services. She explained it quite simply and now we’re on a list as prospective adoptive parents. It’s a slow process and I’m very much okay with it…I’m just now able to handle a household of 8-10 effictively. The kids always have friend’s over, the more the merrier, right?!

We should be getting emails soon of avaliable children,  it’s not that we are being forced to pick or anything of that nature it’s basically so we can see avaliable children and decide what our criteria will be. You know, no extreme behaviors, no medically fragile, yes to physical disabilities, yes to sibsets, etc. Our licensing worker wants us to see what’s out there, to look over profiles, to decided what we are capable of, and probably redefine our yes/no list. The examples listed above seem simple but it’s not often the case. Just because a child once exhibited extreme behavioural issues doesn’t mean they’ll be that way forever… imagine be taken from your family, who you thought were normal people and treated you okay, to be placed in a completely different environment. Wouldnt you flip out? Kids get labeled in the system and I think it’s our responsibility to reevaluate situations and children, people change and people recover from trauma. I often think about what labels I would have attached to a case file if I had one, I bet no one would want to adopt me if my life were documented like some of the foster kids.

Bring on the weekend!

I smashed my finger and I didn’t even curse!

Take that super moms around the world! I smashed my finger in the sliding glass door and didn’t drop the F bomb or any other obscenities.

I feel like I don’t even now who I am anymore.

Last time I had smashed my fingers, yes apparently I do this often, I dropped the F bomb, and my kids came dashing into the kitchen to check to see if I were okay… I sent them away because I was bleeding horrifically and I knew I would snap at them with all of the questions they were asking OVER AND OVER. 

No children were home when the incident happened. No one to pat my head and tell me ‘good job’ for not being a total spastic mom.

 

Boo to that. In other news, my finger appears fine.

I don’t like waiting!

We have turned in EVERYTHING. Husband and I even went to Arizona’s Children’s Association, our licensure place, to drop off some stuff in hopes of seeing our caseworker yesterday, but no. Nada. We haven’t heard from her at all.

 

I know she is busy.

I know it takes something like 40 hours to write a Home Study.

I know she has a whole other caseload that doesn’t revolve around me.

I just wish she would communicate SOMETHING. “Hey, I am doing _______ and when I am done with this I will be doing ______. I’ll be in touch if I need something.” That would suffice.

 

In other news, school has started. That means afterschool clubs and birthday parties in addition to the extracurricular activities/ carpooling and school. Bunny and Biscuit participate in competitive cheer, that means 4 days a week I am at the gym. Boy Child has karate twice a week but that kid cannot get his three simple tasks (clean his room, take out the trash, and complete homework) done in time to go most of the time. For real, that kid is super slow, mega lazy, and it drives me nuts. C’mon! Who cannot complete those three tasks in 2 hours?! He chooses to do his homework half assed; instead of correct. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Second grade homework isn’t hard, he is distracted and bored, and hungry, and tired, and thirsty, and needs to use the bathroom, and needs to help his sister pick up Cheerios off the floor, etc. I love that kid buy he really gets under my skin sometimes.

Lemon is addicted to Mickey Mouse. This little girl is always talking about Mickey or Minnie. And potty training sucks. She has peed on my floor more times than I can count.

I am tired. I wish I could, just for one day, hide out in a dark hotel room and catch up on sleep. I wish I could blame the kids but they all sleep wonderfully, I have such a hard time trying to fall asleep and stay asleep. Last night I went to bed at midnight, later it was storming and it had woken me up around 3am and I had such a hard time going back to sleep. I feel like I feel asleep as the sun as coming up and woken up by an alarm 3 minutes later. I need some ZZZZZZ’s. No sleep + PMS = ugh.

 

 

 

BULLETS. Random information.

  • Both Husband and I got our TB tests today, we get them ‘read’ on Friday.
  • Our physicals are scheduled for Monday.
  • We have officially put in our profile that we are accepting children from ages 0-10.
  • If I have to hear a song from Frozen one more time I will stab my eardrums with a Q-Tip.
  • It is monsoon season and I do not like it. I don’t like storms.
  • I have yet to complete the carpool list for cheer, I suck at being a mom today.
  • My boy child missed karate yesterday, I sucked at being a mom yesterday too.
  • I still do not have an official copy of Lemon’s birth certificate, those clowns in Kingman can blow me.
  • I did, FINALLY, paint my fingernails last night. My toes need help, please send a pedicurist ASAP.
  • Biscuit is being a pain in my butt, being in the 6th grade is tough…apparently. You’re 10 kid, it gets worse.
  • Bunny had an epic meltdown last night because I refused to help her type in her password on the PC as she was being rude to me. I sent her to her room and she proceeded to scream and yell and have this nuclear meltdown. It took everything inside of me (seriously, I was counting to ten, praying, reasoning, etc) not to got go into her room and swat the hell out of her with a flip flop or whatever was close. Luckily; we both survived the incident.
  • I am anxiously awaiting to hear from our caseworker to see whats next.

Adoption subsidies in Arizona

SAY WHAT?!

 

I have been reading about subsidies and how they work, it seems a lot of the information is black or white. How come no one wants to talk about this? Is it because no one wants appear in it for the money in the foster care or adoption system? Is it because people are too proud to admit they need help? WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?! Personally, I think this information is crucial!

 

C’MON, IF MORE PEOPLE KNEW THAT THEY COULD HELP CHILDREN OUT BY GIVING THEM A LOVING ENVIRONMENT WITH FINANCIAL HELP, MORE PEOPLE WOULD DO IT. Honestly, most people who are currently fostering aren’t doing it for the money, sure you get a stipend but you still will have a lot of out of pocket expenses. People who foster do it because they love people, they want to have a positive impact on society, they have a personal drive to help, whatever it may be. Many foster parents adopt a child who has been in their family for a extended time. Yes, the state will financially keep you afloat during the entire adoption, they pay for everything. I mean, why wouldn’t they? You want to love a child, as your own, that someone else didn’t want.

 

Okay, lets get to the stipend part. Everyone is hush-hush about it, and it’s driving me wild. I have found a few people willing to talk about it but I was informed that it was really taboo to ask about adoption stipends. Uh, why?! How are the newbies like me supposed to understand it? 

 

In Arizona we have the handy dandy adoption subsidy handbook CLICK HERE to check it out. When you’re all done reading that; lets just hit the high points, shall we?

 

Special needs isn’t what you think it means, is it? No, special needs children fall into age, race, siblings, and whether or not the child could be placed with his/her family. In addition, to avoid any confusion, legitimate special needs (emotional and behavioral, physical, etc) children get subsidized too. Amazing. What I understand is, everyone could potentially get an adoption subsidy if they were interested in adopting a foster child.

 

Word on the street is that adoption subsidies are hard to get, but if you educate yourself you can acquire it. Read. Ask questions, even if it is taboo. Ask your caseworker. Ask your fellow foster families and friends. I have been asking and asking, and asking, and most people say that if you are upfront about it during the adoption process things will generally go in your favor.

 

Don’t let financial burdens scare you from adopting a child via foster care. Again, you WILL have out of pocket expenses BUT an adoption stipend can help you with most major things. In addition, children who are adopted via foster care will have medical and dental insurance (state provided) until their 18th birthday. GET INVOLVED!

Long Gone Days…

Without getting to personal; I had to take a hiatus. Things have been busy and to be honest, I have been angry. I have decided to let it go, a la Disney’s Frozen, and move forward. So, here I am!

let-it-go

I am back aboard the blogging train, moving toward our goals, and going full steam ahead. Husband and I were slacking with our paperwork and I finally sent it all in. Now…we wait. Waiting is NOT my favorite part.

I am taking the steps to make myself happy, to do something for me, to build my family, to teach, to learn…everything. Today, well, today is a good day.