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.

Three.

I’m suffering this weird partial empty nest syndrome. Flower has left for college, Hair has gone to live with family members, and Biscuit and Blue have gone to Colorado. I have 3 kids at home, it’s really eerie around here. After 8pm it’s a ghost town… no teenaged girl nonsense makes a boring evening. In addition; watching TV has gotten significantly easier as there are less interruptions when the younger kids go to bed. Husband and I watched an entire movie last night with not one interruption. I can’t remember how long it’s been since that’s happened. It was a pretty good movie too, the plot twist was insane! If you’ve got some free time watch Extinction on Netflix.

Husband and I went grocery shopping today. Less people equals less food, it was hard for me not to buy massive amounts of food. Our grocery bill was significantly less than usual and I left the store feeling like I was forgetting something. AND unloading the car was a breeze, I had less than 25 bags. I did buy 100 granola bars because they were on sale and old habits die hard. The kids typically go through about 100 granola bars in 2 weeks. I wonder how much it’ll change?

Today I went back to work, that was fine.

I’ve dropped 7lbs, that’s pretty cool.

I stole a lipstick out of my daughters bathroom today. It feels good to be bad. 🤣

In closing I’ll leave you with these few pictures, one of Lemon hogging the bed lookin’ 10 kinds of cute and the others of Blue and Biscuit in Colorado. They’ve been there 2 days and they’ve already found boys to hang out with. Damn kids.

I love my life. I love my family, undoubtedly. Things are changing constantly and I’m excited to see what the future holds for our family. Until then… hasta a la pasta!

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.

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. 

The wait continues

We have recieved news of the judges ruling, it is bittersweet. Isn’t always bittersweet in the world of foster care? The good news…severance was granted. The bad news…there will be more waiting; we have another court date in the middle of summer. There is also appeals that could be made by the bio parents. Waiting, it’s the foster care way.

We had Bells birthday party last week, she picked her decorations, cake, and 4 fish! She asked for fish for her birthday gift, sweet girl. We had a fun pool party and invited some of her bio family to come celebrate. It was a nice day, everyone had a great time. Bells enjoys her gymnastics class and reading.

Shy is still working on his party plans, he mentioned having a party at the lake and eating cake. He hasn’t even given me any birthday gift ideas! He has expressed interest in football, however he is’nt keen on commitments. I really want to get him into an activity or sport but only time will tell what be will choose.

We. Are. Moving. It is NOT fun. The kids help a lot, the boys are working hard and effective. I am proud of them. I wish the girls would help out more; what can you do? The kids will all stay in their current school district, that is a relief and after we move into our new home we will have a pool party and invite all our friends over.

We are currently fundraising to help pay for cheer travel costs, we are going to Florida in April. Heeeey, the Summit! Biscuit is excited about this trip, I am too, she is psyched. Biscuit is working on her full, she gets frustrated and cries. She keeps going through this cycle; new skill, crying and ‘I can’t do it!,’ success. Let’s hope she successfully conquers it soon!

Boychild has turned a new leaf, he is being responsible! I am very happy to see this change, our whole family is. He completes his chores independently, he tidies up his room independently, and he gets himself ready in the morning without any prompting. It may seem small to you but to us this is a huge milestone! I am proud of him. At our new home we live close to the open desert so he will be out riding his dirtbike more, he is happy about that.

Bunny has been naughty, she is pushing the limits and learning the hard way. It sucks BUT she is a fast learner and has been working at making good choices. She really enjoys drawing/writing, playdoh, and coloring. She is my artsy kid! Bunny has been perfecting her back-handspring and loves cheer!

Lemon is learning new things and being a typical toddler. Recently she has taken an interest in reading! We will begin sight words after our move, things are hectic right now. She attends preschool and goes to tumbling classes, she wants to be a cheerleader like her sisters.

Tonight is date night! Wednesdays are my favorite days, no dinner to make! I get time to hang out with the husband and often other friends too! Adults only time is wonderful and anyone who says anything different is crazy. Oh, one last thing. I recieved some Younique liquid foundation and I will be doing a review on it soon!

March second is going to be cool

There is this resident badass in Lake Havasu, he’s a writer for Today’s News-Herald locally. His name is Buck, Buck Dopp. Google him, he’s rad (he’s a published writer, y’all.) Buck is doing a foster care story and guess what? I’m going to be a part of that. AWESOME.

Buy a paper on March 2nd, 2016. Between Buck’s awesome writing and my epic quotes…it’s going to be great. Mark your calendars people!

Things that are hard #1

It’s hard to talk to your foster care kids about what’s going on in their case or what could happen. It’s a lifetime full of carefully orchestrated blows to the gut.

“You’re not allowed to see your bio parents…”

“Your family members missed their visit again…”

“Court is next week, they’re terminating your parents rights…”

“Your attorney said…”

“The DCS worker wanted me to let you know…”

“Your therapist recommended…”

“They’re seeking out other family members who may want guardianship.”

“I can’t post these pictures of you on Facebook or Instagram because it’s a violation of your rights.”

“We have to push through paperwork to take you out of state and there isn’t enough time…”

“I don’t know how long you will be here.”

“No, you cannot have your picture printed in the newspaper even though you did a great deed in the community.”

These are my words, my pain, my shame. It’s absolutely awful to explain to a child any of these things. Children should never have these consequences because a parent(s) their epic failure. It breaks my heart everytime I have to let my foster babies down, when I don’t know the answers. Because, in real life, I don’t have the answers. Apparently a judge does.

My foster kids have a team of people trying to figure out what is best for them. Sometimes it’s a pain in the ass but I know they’re all focused on the best interest of the kids. It seems like so much for kids to navigate through, it’s painful for me that they know that foster kids have all of these services and they know how to navigate the system. It’s very odd to hear childten talk about services offered by the state for foster children. They often educate me!

This Friday is a big day for us,  I’m not sure what’s in store but I know big things are happening in Bells’ and Shy’s lives.  I’ll be taking all of the kids out of school for this event; I’m hoping things that are uncertain will become clear after it is all said and done.

Every painful memory, every painful conversation, every bad day is nothing compared to the loss and suffering these kids experience. I often feel guilty venting about my feelings…but, it’s raw and real. This is foster care. I can easily sort through my emotions and be objective; children can’t afford those types of luxuries.

For every bad thing there are 50 good things, it’s not all bad. It feels nice to be loved and trusted by children who have been mistreated or abandoned. To be hugged, to share joyful accomplishments, and watch them grown. I love what I do, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I it is absolutely amazing to see positive changes in little humans lives and to know I’m shaping our societies future in a positive way.