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…

Case plan changes

Blue’s case plan was changed a few weeks back to Severance and Adoption, it is no longer a reunification case plan. I don’t know what I expected to happen after the case plan change…but I was waiting. Blue recently had another court date, which I missed due to a miscommunication with her DCYS worker. Apparently during the court hearing they arranged a pre trial. Wait. Reverse. Trial for what? I still wasn’t clear on the whole thing; I reached out to my DCYS worker–she was unavailable until later this week, luckily I was able to speak to her supervisor. Apparently a TPR is happening.

A TPR (termination of parental rights) is one of the last legs of being ‘legally free.” Once a child is legally free they can be adopted. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, first we have a pre trial. My understanding is that during the pre trial the teams get all their information squared away and prepare for the trial THEN you go to trial on a separate court date. I now have 2 court dates set and maybe by Christmas the trial and appeal will be completed. Yes, bio parents will have the right to appeal whatever is decided during the trial and I’m sure they will as they’ve made the case very difficult by taking every opportunity to drag the case out. In addition; they’ve not been complying with a majority of their requirements to reunify their family.

During the trial the judge typically powers through a number of things, first it’s pretty much facts about the case. What’s been done vs. what’s not been done in regards to the bio parents. Then lawyers will chatter on about what’s in the best interest of the child or children. Sometimes the judge will deem adoptive families during the trial, if you are deemed an adoptive home then the child or children will not, cannot, be removed from your home as your intent to adopt has been discussed during the trial. This can also happen at a later date.

Do I know if the TPR will be successful? Nope. I’ve learned to never get my hopes up for anything or anyone in regards to foster care. I know what Blue wants, I’ve encouraged her to speak to her attorney about it and he can help her get everything she desires. I want her to be happy even if it hurts me. I will support any choice she makes, to stay here with us, to move to another adoptive home, to live with relatives, or even to go home. I love her, I’ll fight for her.

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. ❤