Exhale

Things have calmed down a bit with the new placements. Loud is still working on self regulation, accountibility, and following rules. It is getting better, I feel like he is understanding cause and effect. Lovely is doing well too, she is kind and helpful. Lovely spends her time helping out around the house; picking up the bathroom or asking me if I need help. It’s awesome but I’ve been working with her to try and be more of a kid. I encourage her to play and give her praise for doing kid things. Tata is a well rounded girl, she could use a little help with her impulse control and she needs to work on her volume control.

Boychild spent the weekend with friends, doing boy stuff. He went to a birthday party/sleep over on Friday night and Saturday he stayed over with his friend from school.

Bunny has been hanging out around the house with Tata and Lovely. Today shes going to a birthday party, shes excited!

Biscuit and Blue went to Homecoming last night, they both look so grownup.

Lemon has been caught up reading this Emily Woo book, as soon as she wakes up she runs to her book and drives right in.

Pretty celebrated her 19th birthday a few days ago.

Flower is doing the college thing.

I’m going to make sure to get to the grocery store soon, I’ve still not gone. Although a friend of mine had mercy on me and dropped off a few cases of Diet Dr Pepper so I could still function. I’ve gotten my schedule worked out a little better, I’ve arranged to have my lost checks reissued, I’ve gotten some cleaning done at home, my Amazon Subscribe & Save arrived, and I’ve gotten a handle on my emotions. Now I’ve got to meet with the mental health team for my placements and get my CPR renewed, both of which are scheduled for Monday.

That’s a Dandy Lion, because I’m fine and dandy. ❤

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.

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.

Why hello!

We did the thing, we adopted our kid! Meet Blue!

In case you couldn’t tell…her and Biscuit are pretty close. In addition; Blue is the blonde and Biscuit is the brunette.

She’s been in the family for a long time but now we won’t need to get court orders to travel or anyone’s permission to cut her hair. Yay hooray hotdog!

Full speed ahead

Aaah. Blue’s bio mom decided to appeal the severance. This is an adoption setback. Seeing as both of her bio parents showed up to the severance trial, spoke to their lawyers, then left the court house without attending the trial…I thought an appeal was out of the question. I guess I was wrong. I think they’re just dragging things out. The bio parents had done only one thing required in their case plan when it was a reunification case. Severance was ordered after 1 year of Blue being in our care. Bio parents STILL requested a trial even though their participation was minimal. Then, as stated above, flaked on the trial. And now bio mom wants to appeal the decision?! This makes no sense at all; it’s bizarre. And for whatever reason bio mom is, presumably, lying about her whereabouts to Blue and boy does that make her angry. This is foster care.

Flower is doing well. At the end of this month the publication will be complete and she will be legally free for adoption. Luckily, I’ve got a rad lawyer in Phoenix and he is familiar with all of this foster care/adoption stuff. Let me know if you need a referral and I’ll hook you up with him, he comes to Mohave County regularly.

Pretty is well, she’s starting a new job next week and she’s confident. Financially she struggles and it terrifies me to send her off to college at the end of the summer. I know she is a survivor, I’ll pray for her. She’s also moving out in March, get it girl!

Biscuit is great, she’s doing her regular classes in high school and she’s also taking 2 classes online. She is on two cheer teams and doing a special performance with one team at a community event in a couple of weeks.

Boychild is well, he qualified for spelling bee at his school. He was very proud of himself, he ended up bombing it on the word ‘pesky.’ He said he added an extra ‘e’ after ‘k.’ Boychild has been playing basketball and football quite a bit. He had excellent grades this last quarter too. He spends his time playing the Switch, making remixes, and riding his dirtbike.

Bunny has expressed interest in football and volleyball. Unfortunately, gender roles are preventing her from trying out for football. Her friends think it’s a ‘boy sport’ and it’s definitely put Bunny on the fence about it. Bunny has exceptional grades and is ridiculously funny.

Lemon will be 5 at the end of the month, wow. The only thing that she talks about is being able to cheer again. She is an excellent reader, she enjoys make up, and is loud. Really, really, loud. All. The. Time. Singing, talking, playing, etc…she’s always at maximum volume.

Lemon’s reading skills.

We are silly.

Boychild’s jam station.

Husband recently had a procedure done, he’s had 6 inches by 1.5 inches of skin removed from his back per the dermatologists findings. Life is scary, just roll with the punches. He is still cute as hell and I love him more than I love air.

I’ve made a decision; I am doing the challenge. I’ve got an application and written the essay of sorts. Now, I’ll be making a video. I’ll post more about the challenge in the next few days. I’m a little apprehensive but I know, deep down, I need to make time for myself. This could be the push I need for a healthier lifestyle and help me get a handle on this self love journey.

Shift

Things are constantly changing. Freedom is having a hard time adjusting, she is stressed out quite a bit. Freedom will be leaving our home soon, it’s for the best. She’s not disruptive or mean; she’s a sweet girl with a fun attitude. However she needs a higher level of care, I cannot give her the time or level of care she needs. We have a large household and and I’ve only got so many hours in the day…when I’m using all of my time and resources on a single person it’s a problem. It’s not fair to my other children or husband. It’s not fair to Freedom. It makes me sad to know she’s leaving due to the circumstances but with this shift there will be serenity; she will get the help she needs and my household will go back into it’s normal orbit.

Pretty is having a tough time adjusting to her new schedule. Work, school, life… apparently it’s hard. She fails to have meaningful relationships with her peers and she’s been really disrespectful to me lately. She’s pushing, trying to get me to give her a reaction. I’m still going to love her no matter what…keep pushing kid, I’m not giving up on you.

Blue is hanging in there, her case is getting sloppy. She stood up for herself to her bio parents about what she wants and needs, I believe she feels proud of herself. Sometimes she has emotional days, as she should, and sometimes she has fantastic days.

Flower is screwing off at school. I’m disappointed. She had a presentation due today that she failed to finish, I’m hoping she’s completing it now. She is repaying debt and trying her best to move forward.

Biscuit is moody and happy. She’s still hot and cold. She’s struggling to be organized and balance extracurricular activities and school.

Boychild is well, he’s back on the responsibility train. His chores are done, his school work is solid, he’s doing great.

Bunny is well too. She’s an exceptional student and a super emotional kid. She knows she gets attention from people if she fusses, unfortunately between home and they gym…we’re onto her. It’s people like distant relatives, school personal, etc that she capitalizes on. Suckers!

Lemon is also well! Kindergarten is fun for her, she enjoys gymnastics, and she loves being with her BFF.

Everything isn’t always rainbows and butterflies around here, there are trials and tribulation. One thing that always remains is love, we’ve always got that.

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. ❤

We let it go, take the lead Elsa!

We had been hanging on to Bells and Shy’s personal items for several months. We had bikes, scooters, skateboards, and heaps of clothing that belonged to them. The kids had packed things quite early on and put the boxes in the garage; I thought I had packed all of their boxes in their transport vehicle the day they had left. I had also anticipated a better relationship with their family but something changed…I’m not sure what. It’s common for family members to believe whatever random things the kids tell them, I guess I just assumed it wouldn’t happen to me. Well, it did. I was shafted by the adoptive family and children. 

Yeah, it hurts but it comes with territory. 

I did donate all of their items recently. Their things had taken up quite a bit off room in the garage, I had kept it hoping the family would request their personal belongings and I’d be able to see the kids. The kids left in October, it’s February…If they needed or wanted their items they would have come for them or  asked a caseworker to facilitate a retrieval. I was bummed out because most of Bells nice jeans and Uggs were packed in those boxes and Shy’s Legos were also in there, those were important to the kids. 

I was told that their family could contact me but I shouldn’t reach out to contact them. I have all of their contact information and I’ve been updated on their current case standings…but reaching out is forbidden has it has been since November of last year. 

Just as one chapter finally closes, a new chapter opens. I’m excited about life and my community. I’m learning lessons everyday and feeling good, sometimes rotten things happen but it doesn’t define the future. 💋

Duel in the Desert 

The majority of the family, minus Blue because she wanted to see her family members over the weekend and Boychild because he loathes cheer competitions, went to Palm Springs over the weekend for a cheer competition. We all had a lot of fun. Prepare yourself for a l know of these photos! 

Jessa on Tiny Love, killing it with her jumps. 

Team Love. 

Bunny and her bestie. 

Biscuit getting zen.

Bunny and her bestie again.

Lex being a Smoed Fangirl. 

Lemon is a showstopper, naturally. 😂

My gorgeous Biscuit just before her J4 team started their routine.

Mini Dream and Tiny Love placed 2nd and were D2 champions. 

J4 Matrix placed first!

Lemon, Bunny, and Ren are silly!

J4 celebrating their victory. 

Biscuit and her friend, so cute!

Getting Bids to the Summit has changed this season, they no longer distribute them at the competition on awards day. They now have a team of people who review stuff and they post the day after the competition on the Varsity website. Although, last night at Duel the did award 3 Gold bids.

We had a great weekend with friends and family. 

I ended up missing my cousins wedding on Friday due to some travel restrictions and I am SO bummed out. We had planned on going to Phoenix to catch the wedding on Friday night then head straight to Palm Springs…but when placement happens and you’re struggling to get everything in order…you miss some things. I will continue to make sacrifices for children as long as I’m on this earth; I know where I’m needed and I’m certain my family understands the constant push and pull of foster care.