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. ❤

Oops. I did it again!

New placement! Tata has moved in with us, she is a pretty sweet kid. Tata is 8 years old and was in the same class as Bunny last year. We have a full house! With Tata, Bunny, and Lovely sharing a room it’s comparable to a itty bitty sorority. They’re a great group of girls and my only complaint is my aching wrists from all of the braiding in the mornings. It’s really great for me and the girls, the morning hair bonding. Both Lovely and Tata have told me that their bio mothers never did their hair and they let me know how pretty and happy it makes them. It truly is the little things that we do for one kids, like their hair, that let them know we care about them. Please, don’t take that for granted. It’s something that most parents do for their children daily and never think twice about it, it’s just what we do. Many children don’t have that luxury, bizarre… right?

The new placements are getting along well, Boychild is really doing exceptionally guiding Loud into making good choices. He is taking his job as big brother very seriously, it is wonderful to see him being compassionate and understanding. I’m incredibly lucky to have taught my children to be kind and helpful when we have new placement. Speaking of Boychild; he has really stepped up his game lately. He has been responsible, he has wonderful grades, and he has improved quite a bit overall. He is a sweet and sensitive boy and 6th grade is doing him well. Although he had a minor setback for fighting at school (he did not start the fight, another child hit him first) he took full accountability for his actions and accepted the consequences with no fussing. The most important thing about Boychild is that he is no longer medicated for his ADD. We had a rough couple of years but the hard work and dedication is paying off. He is a good boy who loves to skateboard and ride his dirt bike, protect his sisters, and read. Yes. I said read. Holy shit.

I’ve received progress reports for all of the kids, all 8 of them. I’ve got some bright kids as they’ve all got A’s and B’s. Yes, it is the begining of the school year so it’s a given that they all are doing well. I hope I can keep them all on track and keep it up, we all know that a childs success starts at home.

I’m ready for the whirlwind of life, let’s see where this group of kids leads us!

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.

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.

Time doesn’t stand still.

We’ve got new placement. Another teen female, surprise! We are headed to Thailand at the end of the week and once we return our new foster daughter will arrive. There was talk about her coming before we left but I feel like it would be tough to hop into a family when your parental units are gone. Our new placement is called Trambi, she’s band girl who has excellent grades and a sunshine-y disposition. She has a good head on her shoulders and is a lot like Hair, she is serious about school and her future.

Hair is currently trying to decide if she wants stay here or move away to live with family members. I’m okay with whatever she chooses, I’m here to help the kids in my home. While Hair may be different with her emo-goth facade…I don’t care. I’ll teach her the best that I can and help her achieve her goals. She wants everyone to believe she is different and interesting; hair color and dark clothes will not define you nor set you apart. You aren’t a special snowflake, you are YOU and once you accept that you will go as far as your allow yourself. I get it, I WAS the goth kid in school. If I could go back and tell myself one thing in High School it would be ‘Drop all this I’m special and different bullshit, you’re making life harder than it should be.’

Biscuit is having an amazing summer so far, she is taking the summer off. She has cheer and she’s happy. She isn’t doing summer school, college prep, camp, etc. She is currently considering studying abroad her junior year in Switzerland. I fully support this choice, I’ll happily pay for boarding school. Biscuit really wants to Colorado this summer and has asked to visit California as well.

Speaking of boarding school, Boychild wants to attend school in Hawaii this year and attend a boarding school. What?! He wants to learn Hawaiian culture, surf, fish, and paddle board. I’m on the fence about this…I was considering retaining him in the 5th grade and switching him to a private Christian school this year, I enrolled him earlier this year. Then I talked to a friend who has raised 3 successful, and amazing, children into adulthood who all went to public school. I’m on the fence about education at this point. Boychild has no interest in theater, karate, nor swim this summer. He wants to play Fortnight, hike, and ride jet skis. He is attending a Glorietta camp next month.

Bunny is excited about next school year, she knows a lot of kids at the private school. Again, I’m on the fence about education. Do my kids REALLY need private school? Parenting is hard. Bunny is participating in cheer and will soon be in a hip hop dance class to see if she likes it. Bunny has joined a bowling league this summer and a ballet camp. She will also attend Glorietta camp next month.

Blue has recieved her birth certificate, it’s SO cool! It lists me and Husband as her birth parents. I feel really good about that. In addition to this news, Blue is attending summer school so she can take the same math class as Biscuit next year. Sisterhood, it’s the real deal. Blue is on evaluation for a cheer team and we hope she makes it. If not she enjoyed participating in track and is open to other sports next school year.

Flower is trying to adult. She struggles continually when it comes to family, loyalty, and the future. Unfortunately she’s put too much time into her boyfriend (of one year) and prioritized him. It’s not uncommon for young girls to do this; I thought she was smarter, she almost had me fooled with her self hype and responsible actions regarding bills and such. I anticipated that she would cultivate her family and deticate more time to her family, family is forever. Instead she’s practically dragging her boyfriend along for HER journey and completely disregarding his ambitions. She’ll always be my daughter even if she wants to be absorbed in her herself and new love life, I get it… love is exciting and blinding. Flower is an arrogant girl, she believes what she wants and whatever we try to tell her it’s preposterous. It’s the struggle where she wants adult privileges but lacks the mature mindset. As parents typically are, we are the bad guys…we have the experience and want to teach our kids but they’re reluctant. She’s a stubborn girl and I haven’t got much time left to teach her. The entitlement is REAL with this one. She’s attending U of A this fall and then I have to sit back and watch her figure it out. I believe in her, undoubtedly.

Pretty is moving to Colorado in the fall. I’ve got mixed emotions as I want her to follow her dreams, I’m scared that she’s leaving me. She will ‘cultivate’ her dreams one way or another. I will support her in every endeavor…even if she wants to be a hippie and potentially live in a VW Bus.

Lemon is back into cheer, she’s on the same team as Bunny. Lemon is truly excited to be back on a team; she feels helpful and big. Lemon is attending a theater camp and a Glorietta camp.

Me? Nothing really new on my end. I’m anxious about leaving my humans for a little over 2 weeks, I know they’ll all be taken care of but my mom anxiety is through the roof. I’m a bit fearful about this Thailand trip because last time I had gone somewhere with Flower I didn’t see her except for a few hours at an event and at cerfew. Is it going to be like that again? I hate feeling this way. I feel betrayed, used, not worthy, and not like a mom. Yeah, you read that right, Mohavecountymama is vulnerable. Moving along…I’m taking the summer off, as teachers usually do. I’m going to see if this ecommerce thing takes off and then become a millionaire. 😘 Ha, if only! I’ll presumably spend the remainder of the summer shuttling my kids to all their activities, parties, fundraisers, etc.

Husband, well, he’s a Type-A personality. He wants to plan, plan, plan, this trip to Thailand and I’m more of a go with the flow type. I’d say he is a bit stressed about leaving his business behind, leaving the kids home, and trying to plan an itinerary. I’m screaming ‘Husband, focus on the 18 hour horror flight and wing the rest.’ Husband is not concerned with the flight…not one bit, hes got to be some sort of sociopath. I really love and admire this guy; he has the patience for all of our kids and rolls with the chaos. I’m lucky we have eachother.

The waiting game, foster care continues to move forward.

I’m less emotionally distraught about the whole photolisting thing; if it’s supposed to happen… it will. The choice is Red’s and only God knows what will happen. I’m truly at peace with the entire situation, it feels pretty damn good too. The rollercoaster of emotion associated with foster care/adoption is asinine.

We recieved a new call a couple of days ago, a 16 year old girl who needs a home, and the said teen was not a call from my agency. Typically, all calls are filtered through your licensing agency but I’m sort of a naughty foster parent and I often get calls from mental health workers or lawyers who have worked with my family in the past or present. These people know my family dynamic, they visit my home at least once a month or communicate via email/phone weekly. These people talk with every person in my family and I trust them, undoubtedly.

My licensing worker is a cool guy and I am incredibly lucky to have him, he gets my family. But, licensing workers don’t like being side stepped because it makes them look like idiots to their supervisors. Don’t be a jerk foster parent. If for whatever reason you side step your licensing worker be a nice person and send them a text briefly explaining what’s going on, don’t make your licensing worker look like he/she cannot do their job. DCYS is to contact the licensing workers and the licensing worker is supposed to call the parents in an ideal world. However, I have directly contacted via DCYS directly in some cases too.

In any case; I said yes. Hear me out! I know some of you are shaking your heads ‘More kids?!’ Hush. Hair will be leaving shortly as she is moving to her adoptive home when school is out. Flower is going away to college shortly after Thailand (she hasn’t really saved any money so she could be home all summer which is fine, there is no rush for her to go.) That means I’ll have open beds. Also, my licensing worker has an enormous amount of faith in me as he has made the comment if it were needed I could change my licensing to ‘group home’ and accept more kids if we were in a bind. It shouldn’t come to that. Husband and I have a solid number, we will abide by our set rules otherwise I’ll be the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.

Our new placement will be moving in the first of next month. I believe we may be having a meet and greet this weekend…which doesn’t happen in foster care, not in my experience. It’s new but I’m all about it, whatever makes the transition easiest. Honestly, I feel good about it because if either my family or the girl think ‘Hell no!’ It’ll easy to opt out. Test driving. Man, this sounds extremely screwed up.

Foster care is the unknown, it’s taking chances, it’s rebuilding something that’s been broken. It’s teaching trust, normalcy, and loyalty. It’s about overcoming and growth too. It teaches my family to love unconditionally, to never take life for granted, and to give cheerfully. My family is continually growing both emotionally and in size, I couldn’t be happier. I’m aware that I’m not the perfect parent nor person, I’m just like anyone else…trying to make it work and learn from my mistakes. Oh boy, do I make mistakes. I’m working on talking without bad intent…this is hard. Self growth sucks but it is essential.

I played the yes card today!

If I’ve learned anything from fostering children I’ve learned that even if we do say yes to a child or children it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re actually coming to our home. Apparently, there is a lot of DCYS underground stuff that happens, I still have no clue how they decide which home will be best for the child at hand. I used to think that they called down a list of homes with open beds and waited for the ‘yes.’ I don’t think that’s how it works…if it is I’d be amazed. Sometimes I think they call everyone on the list and when they get a certain number of people to say yes DCYS plucks a random person from the yes list and the others remain backup just in case it’s not what they thought it would be. 

Well, in the middle of writing this post DCYS called.

Looks like we will have 2 new family members! We will pick them up tonight, it’s a very strange case but I feel like it will be a good fit. I know that they’re siblings, the girl is Biscuits age (12) and the boy is 6, I know that they’re pretty solid kids per the DCYS worker, and I know that my family is going to be eager to meet them! 

In other news, Murphy’s first night home was terrible. After about 4 hours in her crate she whimpered and howled loudly for the remainder of the night. She seems to prefer it outdoors and has spend all day outside playing with kids and laying on the pool decking. Murphy seems to be pretty bright; she’s not had any accidents inside the house or her crate. She loves praise a has the cutest little puppy face ever. We all adore her but I think Boychild really, really, has connected with her. 

And then there were 9!

We have a new family member, her name is Minnie. Minnie is 16 years old and my family knows her personally…otherwise we would not allow an older children into our home. We all agreed when we had started to provide foster care that the children who were to live with us wouldn’t be older than Biscuit (she’s 12.) There are exceptions to every rule, especially when you’re a foster family. Trust me when I say that I’ve learned to fight a few battles instead of EVERY battle, I know where to bend and to hold strong. 

Minnie is good girl, she gets good grades, she’s had a job, and is a wonderful helper. I’m happy to have her in our home…even if it is for a short time. Now, we’ve got to get all the paperwork sorted out so I can enroll Minnie into school, get her a primary care physician, and have her see an optometrist to have her eyes checked as she’s experiencing some blurriness. Then we find a club or an extracurricular activity, I’m really leaning toward the Rainbow Girls. Yeah, it sounds like a floofy girly-girl type club but in all actuality it’s a group of girls who encourage and build each other up and give back to our community. You should check out their website ->HERE<-. Obviously, her and I will talk about it more in the coming days. She may want to be a gymnast, or play soccer, or even softball! 

Our household is buzzing wirh happiness, we are all excited to have Minnie here with us. I’m hoping and praying it will be a short stay as we all anticipate. Ha! Only words to be said by a foster parent! 

Wish us luck as a family of 9, we are overjoyed and excited. 

The bad part?! Two seperate state workers and my favorite licensing worker from Arizona’s Children’s Association has resigned. That means having a new person during this big add on. Boo to that. 

They’re coming!

The DCS caseworker called to let me know that they’re on their way! I’m excited, scared, anxious, and happy. How can it be that I can feel that wide range of emotions collectively?! All of a sudden I feel ill prepared, what should I be doing right now? Clean? Pace? Make a sandwich? We’re going to be a family of 8 again! I’m still not sure about how long they’ll be here but when the caseworker arrives in about 30 minutes I should have some answers. Just this morning I was being a cotton headed ninnymuggins and now this… this is an epic ride!

Breaking news, God has a sense of humor.

As soon had I had pressed send on that last blog post I received a call from DCS and the caseworker filled me in on what was happening with the two kids from out of the area. ‘Sup God, I know you’re listening. A huge shout out to the Lord this morning, I know I was being a brat…further proof that God is good even if you’re behaving like an ass. In any case, I was told that it’s a pretty good chance that these kids will be coming here. This is the furthest we’ve gotten to a ‘real’ placement. Also, I’ve decided to stop whining, I knew what I was getting into… mostly. I better let Jesus take the wheel but I’m still hoping he drives a Ferrari.