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. ❤

And scene!

Our standard cheer season is complete! Our gym has 5 teams attending the Summit in Orlando in 19 days, our other teams aren’t eligible. Hello Disney World! Our last competition was in Las Vegas, all of our teams placed first with the exception of our mini team– they placed 3rd. It was an exceptional season and I’m proud of all of our athletes and coaches. All of their hard work made for a successful season, kudos! 

I’m excited to go on this trip with Biscuit, it’s a fun time for her and I to bond and have fun all while making memories. I enjoy the time we get to spend together because I know these times will soon be a thing of the past as she gets older and would rather be with friends than her weird mom. Biscuit has been fundraising for this trip and I’m proud of her for working hard, I’ve noticed it’s not something a lot of kids do anymore. Parents are burdened with huge expenses and kids often feel entitled; I expect my children to work for things in all areas of life.

Just as soon as this season’s ends another begins, it all happens quickly. It’s a blur. A lot of our coaches and athletes will be graduating high school and heading off to college, it’s bittersweet. 

My life is a Sitcom

Is this really my life?! Am I on Punk’d?! My life is hilarious. Seriously, our household is FULL of laughter and strangeness, I often think to myself “Is this even real?!” My kids say insane things out loud and I don’t think other families are like ours. I’m going to make up movie titles and a plot teaser to give you a sneak peek into my life that sometimes I feel isn’t real. These are all things discussed at the dinner table,  FYI.

The Dry Tampon: A story of self exploration and pain of removing a dry tampon before reaching puberty.

The Dirty Rap Song: A blossoming relationship based on singing a song with the word ‘p*ssy’ in a crowded hallway at school.

Pregnancy 101: You won’t get pregnant if you take it in the butt, but you can still contract gonorrhea and other life lessons from tweens.

Playground Battles: A story based on true events where a playground moniter has had enough of the kids crap and flips them the bird.

I Hurt my Vagina: A warming tale of a girl injured by her bike seat while trying to mimic her brothers ‘sick moves.’

Riding the Wall: An epic thriller where a toddler on a Strider knows no boundaries, is careless, and wants to die. She proves to her family that the gene pool is, in fact, shallow.

I Need a Bandaid IIV: A true story based on real life events. A blue eyed girl is on a mission, to gain grace. Bikes, mountains, and sidewalks always win in this award winning Sundance film. 

What is that Smell?: A horror film based on the smell if a young girls feet. PG13

My Penis Hurts and Other Boy Related Genitalia Stories: How often do your penis and balls get hurt? Not nearly as much as this young boys; an intriguing story starting with BB guns and ending with fence posts.

This is my life. This is real. This is hilarious. 

48 hours and Oreos.

In the last 48 hours every child in my home has cried. Pretty cried because she and her boyfriend broke up, Biscuit cried because she hurt someone’s feelings, Blue cried because she’s on a religious venture trying to figure out where she belongs, Boychild cried because he wasn’t allowed to play video games, Bunny cries about everything, and Lemon cried because she was left behind on the cheer floor by all her teammates. 

So. Many. Tears.

Imagine 3 teenage girls emotionally distraught, in my room/on my bed, while Husband and I are trying to watch 13 Reasons. We REALLY wanted to watch this…we were on the Clay episode, people! Husband was lost, he had no idea how to help with the emotional disturbance. You could smell the fear on him, he looked like a cat backed into the corner by a pack of hungry coyotes. We paused the show, begrudgingly, and dealt with our teen crisis.  

So. Many. Feelings. 

I love my girls, no doubt, but holy shit, estrogen overload or something. I hate to see them cry, hurt, or be uncomfortable. I want to protect them from everything and everyone…sometimes even from themselves. I want to protect them and steal their pain, even if it is petty. So, like any good parent I dealt with the crisis accordingly; cookies. Birthday Cake Oreos and standard Oreos. You’d be surprised how many problems can be solved with a couples of packs of cookies. Apparently the Birthday Cake Oreos are better than standard Oreos and that can be an ice breaker for teens who are falling apart emotionally. 

Lessons were learned, tears were shed, and forgiveness happened. All in a day’s work of a Mother of 6…sometimes 7.