Friday, June 24, 2011

Repite 8

Respite 8 came today. He's a 7mo old vacation placement who will be with us until July 12th. He's so easy going and LOVES baby 4. He's a ball of precious and we are excited to have him. I just swaddled and rocked him to sleep. I missed that since Baby 3.

This is a long respite, and it's going to be hard to give him back- I can already feel it. Baby 4's got big plans for him and 8 this week. He told me they're going to ride in the wagon to the park and play trucks. Best friends!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sweet as Strawberries

Our week as been as quiet as foster care can be. Our respite baby didn't come, and Lifebook training got cancelled. Brandon took the week off from work and we spent our time enjoying each other.

We decided to go berry picking today
Baby 4 ended up with a basket of bitten strawberries and a shirt stained with drips.
I love watching my boys together. They have bonded differently than we have. 4 wants to be a man like his Brandon, who he calls Dad sometimes. Brandon is a great example for 4. He works hard, loves us, and is genuinely a great person. As much as I'm honored to be a Mom to a kid who needs one, I'm even more blessed to see Brandon give my kids a Dad when they need one.

Life is sweet.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Recently I was filling out a developmental milestone survey about Baby 4. I was marking down all the concerns I have about his wide gait when running or balance on the stairs, his inability to consistently name colors or count to 10, and my observations that his speech is not understood by people who are not familiar with him. The very last page of the questionnaire read What is your favorite thing about your child?

Could I even pick one thing? I love that he dances to the Value City Furniture commercial that comes on during the 6:00 news. I love that he always uses his best manners when he's trying to get out of chores- "No thank you, maybe tomorrow". I love when I tell him to smile for a picture and he makes this face that looks like he's being held captive by savages. I love that he kisses my arm every time I buckle him into his carseat. I love that he tells me exactly what food he has digested before he goes to the bathroom- "Teresa, I have to go poop my eggs from breakfast."

It's easy to get caught up in 4's needs and behaviors. I can spend days talking about his case and medical condition and trauma. What all of that boils down to, though, is love. I love him so much that I can recite his medication schedule in my sleep and make calls to advocate for his educational needs daily. My heart wants to see healing for this angel, but focusing solely on our "To be Improved" list doesn't help either of us. Right now, as he is, Baby 4 brings so much fun, laughter, and love to our home.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Surgery, Relatives, and Court- OH MY!

We started off the week with a bang- 7am surgery for baby 4 on Monday. I had started prepping him for the hospital 4 days before. Everyday we went through, "You're going to put on pajamas and watch TV in bed while you wait for the Dr. The nurse is going to give you a poke like last time, but I'll hold your hand. Then the Dr will give you a ride in the bed to the room with big lights on ceiling. They'll do a nebulizer mask before your nap and when you wake up, I'll give you your present!".

Since 4's parents have custody of him, they have to sign all consents for medical care. I was able to get consent from Dad at last weeks visit, and didn't I leave it in the kitchen when we left for the hospital? So Brandon had to rush down to the hospital with it before they could take 4 to surgery.

Baby 4 wakes up really cranky from anesthesia, so that spurred my idea to bribe him with a new train set for after surgery. When he woke up, he was still really belligerent, but he was yelling, "Where's my train set?!" instead of trying to jump off the bed like last time.  He did so well in recovery, we were able to come home by the afternoon. After an episode of Thomas the Tank Engine, he was up- playing, and eating like normal.

I was expecting 4's bio-family to come to the hospital. I had been told they would call me on Friday to find out the time and would be staying throughout 4's procedure. I wasn't thrilled about being responsible for supervising their interactions with 4, but I could understand their desire to be close while he was in surgery. I had told 4's out of state relative resource that she would need to contact one of the family members who would be present to find out how the surgery went. When no one called me or showed up on Monday, I felt bad relative resource wouldn't know what happened. I called her after 4 was tucked into bed at night. She was very indifferent about 4's medical condition and instead wanted to know if I would be shipping his stuff to her on Wednesday when he is discharged from foster care. I held myself together answered vaguely and nicely like a well-behaved foster parent.

I hung up the phone with relative resource and immediately emailed the caseworker a eloquent version of, What is going on?!? I got a response Tuesday morning that went something like relative resource has a lawyer who is working overtime to get 4 placed out of state. On Wednesday at court, we'll see what happens. Nice. No one had told me about court on Wednesday, and I have a sneaking suspicion I would have never known if I hadn't made that call. There are so many concerns I have with 4 moving anywhere right now, especially with someone who has no idea how to care for him and hasn't even seen him since his medical condition. I definitely let everyone who would listen know every single one of my objections.

Wednesday night, I got a call from the caseworker. She hadn't gone to court, but her supervisor had and told the caseworker nothing happened in court and any decision about relative resource is probably going to take a while. That was all the info we have. I know for sure relative resource wasn't happy about what happened because she didn't call on Wednesday and today she didn't say anything about court. So I got all riled up for no reason.

This is the first case where I haven't been going to court. I never missed one appearance for Babies 1,2, or 3 and their caseworkers have always been very forthcoming with information about times and dates of every hearing. Foster parents have the legal right to attend any and all court dates pertaining to a child in their home. Until the child has been in the home 12 months, foster parents just sit in the gallery. At any point, the foster parents are allowed a lawyer (that they pay out of pocket), but that lawyer would charge $225/hr to sit in the gallery with the foster parents. I like going to court because it gives me clear first hand info about the case, a little face time with the family and law guardian, and shows the judge that normal, committed people love the child. When this case came up, and I was getting resistance from the county about attending court, I thought it wouldn't hurt to step aside this time and skip court. My homefinding caseworker agreed. Was it worth it to rock the  foster care boat? I have the right to be there, but not the obligation. Another consideration was the difficulty in getting a trained babysitter for 4 so I can do anything, much less sit in court for hours. After this, though, I think it's time to start getting involved.

That's our week in foster care- never a dull moment. We also turned down two Hallelujah calls for kids over our age range, and I was offered the chance to become a foster parent trainer and co-teach the certification classes in our county. I'll be going to "train the trainer" classes in July.

Next week we're getting respite 8, a seven month old boy, and logging some training hours at a Lifebook seminar. I'm also hoping to get a blog post or two going.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Foster Care Campout

Yesterday was our county's foster care campout. Last year they did a Zoo day where they reserved the whole zoo for our county's foster families. We had such a good time with 2 & 3 last year.

It feels great to enjoy an outing where you know that everyone there "gets it". I loved going an entire day without someone asking, "Is he yours?". Instead I answered, "How long has he been with you?", "How are you settling in with him?", and "What judge do you have?".  I also got a lot of stories from other Moms who have been in the same boat as me- losing kids and having a medically frail children. It gave me a healthy dose of perspective. I spoke to a Dad who told me about holding his son for the 1st time when he was 4mo old, and is now sending him home in July after nearly 2yrs. I also met a Mom who nearly quit fostering after saying goodbye to her first baby, but stuck it out and now attends these foster care outings with her beautiful adopted daughter and new baby boy.

Baby 4 also had a great time. He was able to see families like ours everywhere he turned and he was able to just have fun without many questions about his appearance or trach. 4 even had a boy play with him who was very proud to show us the small scar where he used to have a trach.

The campground the county reserved this year had a splash park and pool, playground, sandbox, and some hiking trails. We had lunch, listened to music, and played all day with the other families in our community of lovebirds all living their story.