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!

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.

Update!

The Husband and I had a wonderful time in Chicago. It was a nice little retreat, it was deserved. We went on a treetop adventure course and zip lining and spent the rest of our time wandering around the city. We ate fancy food, drank lots of beer, and slept in. Best. Trip. Ever. 

Now we are gearing up for Minnie, Shy, and Bells to move out. Tomorrow is a big day, our sweet Bells and Shy are moving into their new home! We love them and we are estatic that they’ve got a forever home, their new home is amazing and their new family is exceptional. They will have a great life; I’m sure of it.  Minnie will be with us another week but she will be hopping back and forth between our home and her bio parents home. I’m really happy all of our foster babies are leaving and moving on in their lives. 

We’ve already got placement possibilities! I’ve got calls and emails, I love that we are already on the minds of case workers, licensing workers, and such. I love my community. I’m proud to be a part of something! I love being a foster parent. Speaking of being part of something…I had go to Chicago for 4 days and when I returned I had to take the girls to gym to practice. When I walked into the gym I was greeted by several girls who said they had missed me and wanted to know where I had been and what I had been doing. I was hugged a lot too. That is a beautiful feeling. I love, love, love, that I’m part of something. I am part of a family that’s pretty big and downright splendid. Guys, community is something that is irreplaceable and has such value; community is everything. I can only wish for everyone that they’re part of something, have a solid network of people they can count on, and feels supported and loved. 

We are gearing up for our trip to Knott’s Berry Farm, we leave tomorrow! Yay. The kids are excited and I’m happy to be spending time with them. Once we return from our trip we are going camping, Boychild is excited. Husband took Boychild’s dirtbike to be serviced today and it’ll be ready for the camping trip. The boy lives to ride, I love him! Speaking of Boychild, he is doing exceptionally well in school. He’s never been an A type of student, he’s a B and C kid. That’s okay with me, he does his best and it’s perfectly fine. Well, he pumped up his grades and definitely exceeded our expectations. We rewarded him with a TV and an Xbox in his room. For most people their kids have a TV in their room…ours don’t. We have only one TV in our home and it’s in the family room. This is huge! He feels really good about his hard work and we want to convey that excellent grades will pan out in a positive way. I’m proud of him, he’s doing good things and working on making good choices. I simply cannot sing his praises enough.

Holygeezebestnewsever!  In just 5 short days we will pick up Murphy, our dog! I’m excited, kid-on-Christmas-morning, excited. Husband and I had gone to pick our puppy 2 weeks ago, we were under the impression that there just 2 puppies to choose from but when we arrived there were 6 gorgeous silver lab puppies to choose from. We knew if we took all the kids we would have never gotten out of there…heck it was hard to get me out of there. Imagine this: 6 playful puppies rolling around in the grass, jumping, playing, biting. Now imagine yourself laying down on the grass and having those cute puppies all over you. Bliss, people, complete bliss. It took me about 2 hours to decide which puppy was mine. She’s got a big head and a dopey disposition. She bounds instead of running and she was circling the parameter. Even after I picked our newest family member…I stayed to play with the puppies. It was a dream come true. Technically, I was rolling around on the ground with over six thousand dollars. Ballin’! 

Don’t you just want to boop her snoot?! I’m in love; the kids are going to love her. 

A whole mess of things.

How is it that I have 5 young children, who all get the same brand of clothing, and two of them are physically hard on things that they last only a couple of months? I’ve got a couple theories but first let me give you a couple of examples. Example 1: I bought brand name shoes for all the kids, brands that I know/trust and have had exceptional results with personally, Guess-Keds-Uggs, etc. School has been in session nearly a quarter and two of my kids have destroyed their shoes. Example 2: I bought backpacks, canvas backpacks of various brands and had their names put on them. Once child has completely destroyed their name on their backpack. Example 3: I bought an American girl doll for a child at Christmas and it’s since been beheaded and the hair ripped off. 

That third one still has me on fire, for real. BUT, I have come to understand that some kids never understand the value of things. Some kids never had anything new, some kids simply just don’t give a shit and think you owe them something. I’m sure that you’ve guessed by now the culprits are foster placement’s. 

I don’t understand, all of my kids go to the same places and they typically participate in the same activities. They attend the same school and have the same group of friends. I buy them all the same brands of clothing, the same coats/shoes, and the same school supplies. But I’m pretty sure only one kid in my house goes out of her way to destroy things, it’s Bells. Bells told me that if she screws her stuff up I have to buy her new stuff because she’s a foster kid. Newsflash kid, nope! I don’t know where she’s got the idea that she’s this kid who deserves this or that because she’s a foster child, in fact this hadn’t been the first time she’s used to foster kid guilt on me. In my house you aren’t a victim; you’re part of a family and special treatment isn’t an option. She once told a few of the bio kids in our house that they were no longer allowed to play games with her and her therapist who visits once a week because she is a foster kid and it’s for her only. I started loading up the car weekly to go on ice cream trips and told her ‘I’m sorry, you’ve got therapy and you’ve asked that the kids not join you anymore; we now get ice cream on Tuesdays while you have therapy.’ Oh boy, that made her upset…for several weeks she complained to the therapist about not getting ice cream and the therapist explained that she made a fuss about it and brought it on herself. Later, she mentioned that ‘foster kids should get more that regular kids.’ Ugh, can we not go through this again?! In any case, guess who was unhappy about their Faded Glory jeans? After wearing only Justice jeans…I hope this works. 

Shy is a culprit too but I believe a lot of his stuff is innocently destroyed, he climbs trees and rides bikes. Of course his stuff will get rugged while playing hard outdoors; I get it. But he wants to hang onto it and not toss it in the trash where it should have gone. Shy understands brand recognition as he’s older and his friends talk about it. He values the higher end items I’ve bought him and he truly takes care of the ‘important’ stuff. He is much harder on all of his things but it’s a mixture of just being a boy and carelessness. Funny thing, Boychild usually accompanies Shy in most things and Boychild hasn’t had a ton of destroyed things. Kids, what can you do?!
I never have any problems with Minnie, she’s older and understands the value of things. I like to buy her treats, new clothes or bathing suits because she truly values both the thought that went into the purchase and the items in general. She’s such a great kid, I’ll definitely miss her when she moves home with her parents. 

Biscuit has requested to join both Renaissance Club and Interact Club. She’s really into getting into the National Junior Honor Society this year, she’s putting in volunteer hours at the gym, she’s joining clubs, and she’s keeping that high GPA.

Boychild is a Webelos Cub Scout! I volunteered to be a scout leader or assistant leader, I think we’re going to have a lot of fun. He was supposed to go camping at the beginning of October but we are working on being responsible and listening (aren’t we always with him?!) and get failed to get the information he needed so he cannot go. Eventually he will be sick of missing out on stuff he wants to do and will start focusing. 

Bunny is missing SO many teeth. She’s also going to need quite a bit of dental work as she gets older. Bunny has had a crossbite for as long as I can remember, her adult teeth are growing in a jagged as her baby teeth. Bunny has passed all this school years benchmarks, for example the say her reading should be at a 15 now and a 53 at the end of the year…she is at 64. All across the board, she’s got it! 

Lemon is enjoying preschool. She officially knows 28 sight words and is working on writing her names. She recently kicked ass at the gym, she can do a standing bridge kickover. Other than that…she’s three and doing three year old things. Listening is not her strongest attribute. 

Let’s recap; cheer, tumbling, gymnastics, AWANA, Homework Club, tutoring, Good News Club, Renaissance Club, Interact Club, youth group, and Cub Scouts. Ah, to be the mother of seven kids. 

Husband and I have date nights, well adult nights. We meet up with friends at various places and engage in child free conversations. It’s beautiful. Husband and I are going on a little get away soon, viva Chicago! And when we return a family trip is planned; we’re going to the beach and Knotts Berry Farm. After these trips it’s going to be lots of cheer traveling, I’m excited. 

One of these pretty ladies is our puppy, Murphy!

I gave Lemon $5 to buy anything she wanted at Goodwill, she bought a chair. This is not a joke. 

Biscuit bombs my instagram with stuff like this. 

I’m going to attempt to add a few videos to share with you!

Big news! 


Big and great news! Crazy happy news! Minnie will transition to her bio family’s home during fall break AND Bells and Shy will start transitioning to their adoptive home this weekend. I’m so happy for my foster babies. This pretty much means that in the next 4-6 weeks we will have a new group of kids on our home. Exciting. Happy. News. 

I’m ready to say goodbye to our placement’s. I’m ready for them to move on to the next chapter of their lives. I feel at peace with them leaving; I know Minnie’s bio family and I know I’ll be in contact with them no doubt. I am friends with Bells and Shy’s adoptive home and I know I’ll see them regularly too. It’s really great, I am so happy. No tears…just the boot and see you later. There won’t be any goodbyes. 

This is the good stuff guys. This is what it’s all about. Permanency, love, family. 

In other news…Boychild is a Cub Scout. Tonight is his first meeting. I’m pretty psyched for that. Boy, what a great day. 

Our sweet Minnie

Being a teenager in foster care is difficult, I’m proud of Minnie. She tackles obstacles like a pro and has a thick skin. She tells me stories of her friends at school who bad mouth their parents and it genuinely hurts her, she wants to be home so badly that she would LOVE for her mother to punish her or make her angry…she just wants to be home, no matter what. She tells me stories about how people take their families for granted. She tells me about how much she misses her mom. She tells me fun stories during her 2 years in the system. She also tells me devastatingly sad stories involving family and her life on general. I want her to go to home, more so than I’ve ever wanted a child to go home. That sounds abrasive; ‘I want her to go home.’ It’s not. I mean it in the purest and most loving way, Minnie is a great girl who has been in a crappy situation. One day she will do big things, I just know it. And I hope it’s soon. I’ve never wanted a child to leave our home as much as I want her to, I want her to be with her family who has overcome so many obstacles and jumped through every hoop that they’ve been presented. Her family wants her. Her family has learned important lessons. Her family loves her AND her siblings. Yes, Minnie has siblings. She has 2 teenaged siblings in a group home and a younger sibling in a different foster placement. 

Minnie is a great girl, she works very hard at all things she involved in. I’m proud to be her foster mom, her aunt. 

Everything is going swimmingly!

School, sports, clubs, church, therapy, doctor/dentist/optometrist’s,  CFT’S, licensing workers, case managers, PAT…it’s all in action and we are scheduled. It’s a really tight schedule but it’s worked out. I’m in my car a lot moving these kids around and I don’t mind at all. I’ve got a great group of friends that help with carpooling, with overnights when I need a breather, and very sound support group. This is my home and these are my people. I’m blessed.

I’m thinking that next month Bells and Shy should be moved into their permanent home! I’m really excited for them, they deserve to feel safe and secure. And I’m pretty sure that October is a good month for our teenage foster child, reunification is SO close. She’s started having overnight weekend visits, I’m psyched for her. What does this mean for our home? It means we will soon have new little faces in our family! October is going to be a great month, I can just feel it. All of our foster babies will be transitioned to their homes, this makes me feel incredibly happy. I feel proud of the parents who worked so hard to regain custody of their children; kudos to you bio parents on our teen! I’m also feeling full in my heart knowing that Bells and Shy have a forever home. 

Seriously, reunification can be beautiful. Sometimes it can be bitter and unjust, but in this situation…wow. Also, a church in our community is starting up a Foster Care class! If you have any questions, concerns, or comments please reach out to me  I’d be happy to help anyone. 

My heart is full! 

Well, that was unexpected.

On our car ride to court today, 60 miles away, I discussed with my foster kids what we were doing in court today. I reminded them to speak their minds, tell their attorney what they wanted to do, and where they wanted live if they weren’t allowed to live with bio parents.

Bells had ideas of family members who she hadn’t seen in several years, and if they couldn’t be located or take care of her she expressed that she would like to stay with Husband and I. Shy had told me in the car that he maybe wanted to stay with bio dad, but once we started to talk to the attorney he changed his tune. He told his attorney that he’d like to stay with us! I didn’t see that one coming.

Unfortunately, there were several instances where the biofamily interrupted the judge, spoke out of turn, and made a fuss about things that weren’t relevant to the current hearing. It was crazy, I’ve never experienced anything like that. I was sweating uncontrollably, I was anxious, and things were out of order. I felt out of control as legal terms were thrown around, the judge raised his voice, I felt like a child in the principles office. I can’t imagine what was going through my foster kids minds…I could barely wrap my mind around it and I’m a grown adult.

In the end the judge didn’t make a ruling, he said he needed to review the entire case before making a decision. The attorney broke all the legal terms down and explained to the kids what happened on the courtroom. I spoke with the attorney alone, without the kids, and the attorney was candid and filled in a lot of what really was going on. Oh, boy.

Here we are, in limbo. We are awaiting a phone call from the attorney letting us know what the judged ruled. I’m guessing sometime next week we will get the call. Until then…we wait.