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.

A little of this a little of that

The cheer season has been going full speed ahead, Biscuit is on two teams (she is filling in on a third team as well) and Blue, Bunny, and Lemon are each on one team. I’m forever thankful for my friends who help drop off my oldest girl after late practices; they’re the real MVP.

Football has started for Boychild and Bunny.

Tata, Lovely, and Loud have been participating in various activities when time permits. I’m still working on getting visits and mental health lined up, after that is squared away I can get them into something more scheduled.

Loud continues to have emotional outbursts resulting in calls/requests to pick him from school, clubs, and extracurricular activities.

Boychild had some difficulties at school a few weeks ago and is no longer involved in Student Council. Fistfighting is frowned upon when you’re representing your school. He is involved in Foreign Language Club and a kindness/anti-bullying club; he is currently making bookmarks with words of affirmation.

Bunny had some issues earlier this week as well, she wrote something naughty on a table with a special blacklight marker. She spent the remainder of her evening doing community service (cleaning various parts of the facility where the crime took place.)

Between the vandalism, tantrums, and fighting there are good things to report as well. Everyone has been doing splendidly on their chores and keeping their personal space clean (except me, pfft.) Everyone is doing fairly well in school, I have decided to take a break in regards to teaching (OMG, my mental health loves me for that one,) and I’ve managed to get a nice routine in play with all the younger kids in the household. Also, I have been seeing Husband more and that is a real treat. For a while I felt like I had only seen him in passing and that was not a good feeling; I’m fixing all of the wonky parts of my life right now. Self care is the poo, y’all.

I have been to multiple job interviews and I’m not sure working is in my cards right now; I may take a hiatus.

WELL…

Unless, I can get the ‘perfect’ job, working for a non profit regarding youth with an excellent benefits package. I’m dreaming! The job market in my area is minuscule and then add in my criteria and that pretty much returns a big fat ‘0.’

I went to a foster care support meeting this week, it was nice. I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere, it seems like the foster families that I meet are the polar opposite of myself. The families that I met were fostering the younger age range 0-2, kinship aged 2-4, and one family who had 8-13 in their home currently. Obviously, anyone within earshot that hears me say I’ve got 8 kids automatically dies a little on the inside. Their minds are filled with instant pandemonium. Foster parents see it WAY worse, they understand the fortitude of foster children. Foster parents have experienced a plethora of behaviors, both good and bad, and when they hear about how many kids are in the home they tend to freeze. You can see it in their eyes; they’re judging. They don’t do it to be jerks, no no. They start by thinking ‘great, they’re in it for the money,’ it is a natural thing to do. (I’m not offended because I know why I provide foster care, I’ve got nothing to prove to anyone.) Then, after that fleeting thought… it moves towards insanity. Foster peers think we are out of our damn minds. Shortly after those two processed thoughts are hashed through, the real deal moves to their frontal lobe and they get those big dumb heart eyes. In any case, it was nice to vent with other peers and get an inside look of what other people in my position go through. I’m unsure of what Im supposed to gain from these meetings but ideally I hope to find some friends, supports, and respite care.

And, last but not least… I need to take the boys to get haircuts. Ah, the life of me. Glamorous. Don’t be jealous.

It’s almost that time again…

October is Fall Break, that means a trip is usually in order. We go to Knott’s Berry Farm and the ocean every year during fall break time and this year it may be a little different. Loud is still experiencing behavorial difficulties and I simply cannot take him into the community without any outbursts. The variables are insane; today he was tantruming because he couldn’t make a paper box until tomorrow at school as scheduled, another time while playing a game in the car involving yellow cars and calling out ‘Juicy Fruit!’ because another child called it out first, and again when when he attempted to lift the couch for unknown reasons and was unable to do so. Those were just three examples, I assure you that there were at least five more outbursts since dinner. It has been exhausting to say the least. I understand that he has experienced trauma, I understand that he is unable to regulate his emotions, I’m concerned that there may be something more than the standard ‘I’m in foster care and my life has turned upside down, I don’t know how to deal with it’ type of thing going on. I’m reluctant to say that he needs a higher level of care because he is a sweet boy who tells me he loves me and he shows me that he wants to please me by doing other things that are helpful. I need to stay objective, when I let my feelings justify behaviors I can sometimes make the wrong call. Foster care is hard.

What do I do? Do I cancel our yearly trip to accommodate one child or do I find respite for just him? There is a piece of me that cannot fathom sending him to respite because I NEVER use respite, I strongly feel that my placements are a part of my family and no one gets left behind. And only sending one of my placements and not the other two, it feels wrong. On the other hand… do I penalize my other placements (who have never been to the beach or Knott’s Berry Farm) and my family who anticipates this trip every year? I am torn. I don’t know what to do and I’ve got only a week or so to decide, help?

Tata and Lovely joined a fishing camp and reported catching fish! Both girls are adjusting well and have had minimal issues. They both reported that they’d like to try gymnastics but I’ve got to sort out therapy and family visits before I can add anything else to their agenda. Tata has had a few emotional nights as she misses her siblings, rightfully so. Lovely has been opening up quite a bit about her personal life among other things but only while we prepare dinner together, she never initiates anything regarding her case or family life otherwise.

Blue has a boyfriend. I’m dealing with it much better than Husband, haha! I want to share with you my epic mom-fail today. Blue had been asking be for over a week to get her posterboard so she could make a sign for her boyfriend as he is a football player and I guess that’s what girlfriends do to support them and it had slipped my mind time after time. I suck. Today was game day, I still hadn’t gotten a posterboard. On the way to drop my older girls off at school I made sure to get his jersey number, the correct spelling of hisname, and an idea to focus the sign on. I went to work and I found a posterboard in the supply closer, I decided that I would complete the sign for her as an act of redemption because she had cheer practice today and right after she planned to go to the game.

Nicely done, mom! Your kid is going to be psyched because you’ve got the sign complete; glitter and color coordinated. NAILED IT! I was running a few minutes behind when I picked the girls up but I decided that she would be overjoyed that she had a sign afterall. Blue gets into the car and I proudly hold up the sign and she lights up! She loves it! But… I put the number 17 on the board instead of 7, her boyfriends number is 7. *insert profanity here* I dropped Blue off at cheer practice and did the ugly cry as soon as I got home. I was on top and quickly fell to rock bottom. After my ugly cry session I started the brainstorming session…white duct tape was the answer. Long story short, we got the tape and doctored it up and eventhough I wasn’t able to get her to the game on time (not because of the sign fiasco) she happily bounced out of car with the sign an hour late.

Speaking of late, I wasn’t able to get everyone where they needed to go, I missed my class, and I fed my kids Lunchables for dinner. Life is peachy!

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. ❤

Ode to Blue

It’s hard to imagine life before you, it seems as if you’ve been here all along. You were ment to be part of our family, although, I wish it weren’t in a such traumatic way. You may not have seen the trauma but everyone around you did and you, Blue, are resilient. You have flourished into something spectacular, and I hope you feel as proud of yourself as we all are of you.

You were clumsy like a fawn, when we met, and now you are this graceful giselle who walks with pride. Despite all of lifes challenges you continued to excel in school and figure out who you were as an individual. You tried new things, you made friends (yes, I’m aware that I overstepped my boundaries as a mom when I match-made you a friend and I’m truly sorry about that,) and you learned to accept all of the flaws that made you who you are. In addition; you stopped with the mac n cheese comfort food thing. Thank God, I swear you only ate mac n cheese for an entire year!

Blue, you are wise beyond your years and a compassionate person. You have the ability to make each person in our family feel special every day, what a gift! You do it nonchalantly and with a smile, it’s your natural state being. I love that you’re eager to help in every situation and I’m forever grateful for you being the ying to Biscuits yang. You are a gift and I love you.

Thanks for choosing me to be your mom, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Just breathe.

Tomorrow we will officially be a house of 7. Then we dwindle down to a family of 5 as Biscuit and Blue are leaving on their trip to Colorado too! I’m going to be lonely, I think. Husband is going to suffer because he spends a lot of time with Biscuit and Blue after our younger kids are put to bed, every night it’s a full blown chatter fest topped with ‘bean dips.’ 🙄

Flower is off to college; its bittersweet. Hopefully this move can help with her maturity level, the whole entitlement thing is not my favorite. Flower doesn’t think she is anything other than perfect in her eyes, I’m just going to roll with it because I can’t stand any more guilt trips. No matter what I say or do she thinks I’m mad at her, it stinks. I’m all about living and learning; tough love. If my kid can’t get out there and learn by trial and error she will end up being 25 years old, living at home, expecting me to take care of her. Experience matters, failure matters. I do these things because I love her and expect greatness from her, I am not an enabler… I am raising the future leaders of the world.

Hair is moving in with relatives. That was to be expected and this is exactly why I do foster care. I want my placements to go home and if they can’t to home I want them to live with their extended families. If that’s not an option I always support whatever decision my teen placements want… sometimes it’s to be emancipated, move to a group home, or even moved to a different foster home. I don’t always agree with what the older kids choose but I always support them; that’s my job. I want kids to be happy, safe, and feel loved. I am relieved that she is moving tomorrow as recently she has had behavioral changes that I’m not keen on. No one in the home is keen on them, to be honest.

In other news, I’m seeking out recipes for large families. Do you have any great dinner recipes that I could double for my army of children? I truly feel like we live off of chicken and avocados at this point. I’d like to switch that up.

Adopt Us Kids

In the last 10 weeks I’ve inquired about 20 children.

9 states

3 of them we weren’t a good fit after reviewing our homestudy.

2 were listed as no longer available.

2 I was never responded to at all.

13 have had my homestudy sent to them and I’ve yet to hear anything from them.

I understand that many adoption units review homestudies the 1st and 15th of each month. I’m not sure why but it has been very common across the United States. In any case, in 10 weeks I’ve got nothing but air silence. In mid April I inquired about a child and the case worker has been on vacation 3 times, I wish I were kidding. I’ve gotten automated responses bounced back to me 3 times and the 3rd was just last week letting me know that the case worker would be back July 30th. I will cease contact, I can’t keep trying with no one trying in return. This reiterates the broken system post I wrote several days ago.

The hardest state has been Pennsylvania; they have an entire division that is sends information to you instead of the child’s caseworker. BUT first you have to send paperwork that you download off of their site, fill it out, send more paperwork to your licensing worker, then you both send in your paperwork to the unit. It is a pain in the ass. I still haven’t completed it all and honestly I’m at the point where I don’t want to jump through hoops anymore. Why can’t they just accept a homestudy sent from a licensing agency like everyone else?!

In addition to using ADOPT US KIDS I’ve made inquiries to individual profiles in various states too. I’m striking out, y’all. This isn’t doing good things for my self esteem. I’ve got 2 theories; 1. God is making me wait for the right kid or 2. I really suck and my homestudy is shit.

A friend of mine works with the state (WA) and she has let me know that she is very thorough sending her potential adoptive parents’ homestudies to supervisors, therapists, interns, etc and manages to have a turnaround in less than 3 weeks. Can I get a round of applause for this hardcore caseworker?! I love hearing that children are priorities, are truly being looked out for, and have excellent teams to help find them permanent homes. It helps because I was feeling really down, about the system in general, and this friend of mine gave me a glimmer of hope. Insert ‘faith in humanity restored’ meme here.

I need to keep my chin up, remain optimistic! I’ve got a broad range of ages, no racial preference, and a big heart. Our family will be expanding again…we just don’t know when. Don’t hold your breath friends… we certainly aren’t.

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.

Hair

I have not talked about Hair a lot, our 14 year old placement. In fact even locals didn’t know we had an additional foster child. It’s not because I don’t want to share about her… it’s because she’s a unique case. First, she isn’t like the other bubble gum princess girls in my home. She’s a little on the dark side, teetering emo, but not. She’s very smart and has had a bit of trouble sorting out her life; she’s short term and has an ICPC in place, after the school year is over she will be leaving our home. Second, she has to keep it on the downlow because of the type of case she is involved in, it could be dangerous to share anything about Hair and a slip up could lead to a shitshow.

I think my family offered her a glimpse into a ‘normal’ life and trust me when I say normal I say it very loosely. Normalcy includes family meals, chores, sibling responsibility and rivalry, other standard experiences that we typically overlook, sports and activities, loyalty, honesty, and forgiveness. Our version of normal includes howling down hallways, impromptu karaoke in public places, lack of pants, and acceptance despite differences.

I’m happy that we have helped her cycle through all the scenarios that are offered to her regarding her future, taught her that she has a voice, and watched her grow in many ways. I’m happy, yet sad, to see her go. It’s hard to let children borrow pieces of your heart, I always end up giving pieces away. My kids are forever even if they’re with for a short while.

Ah, the life of a foster family. They come, they go, they are forever in every aspect. Foster care is a weird thing…