Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Liebster Blog Award

Liebster is a German word which means "dearest" or "beloved". It is also used to refer to as someone's "favorite" and the idea of the Liebster Blog Award is to bring attention to blogs with less than 200 followers that deserve more recognition and encouragement.

I was nominated by Jess over at My Notes On TTC and Life . She is a strong Christian woman who courageously shares her journey through fertility treatments

There are certain rules that come with the Liebster Blog Award
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Hope that the people you've sent the award to forward it on to their five favorite bloggers and keep it going!

I have so many favorite blogs, but the ones who stand out currently are:

Mama Foster - Mama Foster has been a huge support for me. She goes through some very difficult things with her children and their families, but maintains a Christ-like love that I admire greatly.

Cherub Mamma - Another Christian Foster Mom who has also been blessed through adoption! She has the experience of bringing new children into a family that already has kids. She also has a special needs child who requires a lot of extra advocating and patience. Cherub Mamma holds no punches when describing the difficulties and joys of Foster Care and reading her posts always gives me the extra oomph to hang in there with my own cases.

I Must Be Trippin' - Tammy is a single Foster Mom who has had the sweetest little ones placed with her. She maintains an excellent post-reunification relationship with one of her children, and reading about it inspires me to dig deeper with our bios. She's also hilarious and can joke about the frustrating things in Foster Care.

Read The Books, Make Up the Rest - Daphne and her husband are just beginning their story with their 1st placement of 2 boys! I love peeking into their excitement as they navigate Foster Care as newbies.

Inside the Parent Trap - Mitzy is also a new foster Mom with her fist placement of a baby boy! Mitzy has bio-teens as well, adding a little spin to her foster experience. 

Thank you for the award Jess! and Congratulations to all the other Liebster Blog Award Nominees!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


They don't make sufficient words for how thankful I am

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!" Psalms 107:1

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Just Like That

This is why sane people don't do Foster Care

Because on a Wednesday, as you are holding the most perfect baby ever made, a caseworker can call and tell you that the paternity results have come in and she wants to move baby as soon as possible to someone he has never seen before.

Just like that
You get up and plan your next couple of days: You are going to pretend to enjoy Thanksgiving- telling yourself that these last few moments are precious and not devastating. Then you are going to call this person- that has never held your child, but can come in after 4 months and take him away- and try to tell them that baby gets overstimulated easily, but if you let him go in just a diaper and walk around with him facing out he will calm down. He likes rocking, but not bouncing. He always needs a diaper change 10 minutes after  bottle- even if you just changed him before feeding. He loves blowing kisses and funny faces. Black Friday won't be about finding great deals on toys, but on plastic totes for packing toys and clothes.

The agency is closed until Monday, so you have to call your caseworker now.

She asks, "How do you feel about all of this?"

You don't want to cry on the phone with the person you'll be begging for a baby from in a couple of weeks. So you say, "I expected this, but saying goodbye is never easy."

The honest truth is that doing foster care is THE most painful thing someone can do. You have to fully invest yourself in a child. Be their parent- defend that role viciously- and root for someone else who wants to tear them away from you. You know it'll hurt you if they leave. You know it'll hurt them either way. How am I feeling about all of this?! I'm feeling broken to pieces.

This is why sane people don't do Foster Care

Because on a Wednesday, as you are taking inventory of little jars of veggies and cans of formula that you'll have to pack soon, a caseworker can call you and tell you that Dad refused to visit with Baby and anything could happen next week at court.
Just like that
You settle a little bit. Someone who doesn't even want to see their child surely won't get custody, right?

Then you get mad. How could ANYONE say no to this perfect baby?!

Sad again- The system fails all the time, and your son could still be sent to live with someone who has never seen him and refused to visit. The judge may never even hear about that anyway.

I'm not sane.

Baby 5 could be sent to his Dad as early as next Friday when we have court. Or Dad could skip court and 5 can stay with us through the end of the year. Or the judge could be distracted by the Christmas season and adjourn our case again until January. Or she could insist visits happen first.
On December 2nd at 9:30 (probably more like 11:45) a judge will decide how our story goes.

Just like that

This is why sane people don't do Foster Care

Monday, November 21, 2011

20 Year Old Me

I took some time today to read through my journal from 2006. I was 20yrs old, married 1yr, working my 1st real job teaching preschool, and just becoming aware of our fertility issues. Ironically, I was also becoming acutely conscious of Foster Care, but never thought it would touch my family so directly.

5 years ago this month I wrote:
"Found out that the parents of 2 boys we have at school died in an accident today. The police had to come to school and tell the boys. They were foster parents and the brothers were taken to a new foster home from school. It makes everything I go through seem so trivial"

"I took a pregnancy test today."

"I took a pregnancy test today."

"Maybe God is just waiting to bless us with a baby and we won't have fertility issues forever"

"I took a pregnancy test today." - Yep- I'm a home pregnancy test addict, 2yrs sober :)

"Went to the wake for Mr. and Mrs. Foster Parent. I found out they wanted to adopt the boys but never got to. They set up a fund for them to go to college and all the gifts and donations that come in are going to be for the boys. They changed these kids lives even after they died. It's so sad."

I had no idea what Brandon and I were really getting ready for. All the frustration and sadness brought us to a place where we could take the direction to switch paths. God wasn't waiting to bless us with A baby, but several babies. I've never carried a child in my body, but I've birthed a legacy bigger than any dream I ever had. We went from a world filled with doubt and disappointment to a world of hope and purpose. I never thought for a second I could help a child who needed a Mom. I was willing to settle for normal and expected. It never crossed my mind that ordinary people can affect extraordinary change.

20 year old me was really innocent and genuine. If I could go back and talk to her. I'd say, "Hang on, it keeps getting better from here. Oh, and you'll save enough money to take a lavish vacation if you stop buying $12 pregnancy tests twice per week.". I wouldn't change a single experience, even the negative ones, because I needed to learn how to heal after loss and deal with disappointment. I needed to long for a dream to make me thankful for the blessings that I have. Even though my intentions were good 5 yrs ago, if I would have gotten what I wanted I would have missed everything that I cherish today.

These past five years went by so fast and ,WOW, did they bring a lot of change. The decision to post this was really rooted in reminding myself how fast life moves and to trust the process. Today's pain and frustration may just become tomorrow's great treasures. I appreciate 20 year old me for learning all the hard stuff, and writing really funny journal entries that were intended to be "deep".

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Long Story Short:

Baby 4 is staying safely where he is until May.

We waited 3 hrs in the lobby before being called in for court. I sat with everyone who was there for the hearing. We were the most awkward little group, but we made great small talk about stuffed peppers and school pictures. It wasn't nearly as bad as I expected.

The actual time spent in court was around 20min. The county proposed keeping our goal of return to parent and the attorney's of 4's parents agreed to that. That basically extended the county's custody of him for another 6 months while his parents work on their case plans.

Foster Care Fun Fact- Parents who are incarcerated or otherwise detained (like mental health institutions) for extended periods of time are still expected to work a case plan and get their kids out of foster care within 15 months before termination. So being in prison for the next 20 years is not a reason for the county to stop working with you to get your child back.

After that was settled, the judge asked if anyone wanted to be heard about the relative resource situation. RR's lawyer said they wanted him placed with her. The county said that would be detrimental to his well being because of all his medical needs. The judge said she agreed with the county and we will come back in May to see if Baby 4's stay in care needs to be extended again.

We had our last Relative Resource visit today and she will be leaving on Monday. She called me "Mommy" to Baby 4, which took me off guard. She also didn't bring him the present she promised, and instead gave me $10 and asked me to take him to the store to pick out a toy. Again, it's not about the item, it's that she broke a promise to him that I'm upset over. She should have just never said anything about a gift if she didn't intend to get him anything. At least it's over though.

Now I get to breathe. This is in no way an end to the drama with relative resource or 4's case in general, but it's a little oasis where we can know Baby 4 will be celebrating Christmas in a safe place with a stable family who loves him.

I'm so thankful for all the prayers and encouragement we've received as we prepared for the worst. Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's here

November is here.

How is Thanksgiving next week? It was August like 4 seconds ago. This month is full full full of foster craziness.

Court is here.

We had court for Baby 5 today. I was running late and rushed around like a maniac to get there 10 min. late, wait for an hour and a half, then go into the court room for 3min. This is an alarmingly detailed account of what happened:

Judge: This docket number blah blah blah concerning the welfare of the blah family.
(To Mom's Lawyer) Do you need time to talk to your client about blah blah blah or are you ready to address this now?
Mom's Lawyer: I would like an adjournment
Judge: Ok, so we'll come back on December 2nd

Frustration is here.

Then we left. No talk of THE CHILD because that would just be silly.

I'm pretty sure we could solve this state's budget issues by eliminating all of the unnecessary court hearings. I wish court appearances like this were unusual, but it has been our experience that they are all too common.

I tried to grab Baby 5's attorney (Guardian Ad Litem), but she buzzed out of the courtroom without even looking up at the crazy woman waving her down. She hasn't tried to contact me about meeting 5. I find it ridiculous that she can speak to the best interest of a child without ever seeing said child.

Relief is here.

No moves for Baby 5 at least until December 2nd and probably longer than that.

Changes are here.

Baby 4 had his first supervised visit with Relative Resource today. I was waiting in court, so Brandon transported to the visit. From what we can gather, 4 is handling it well. We saw regression in him in the past few weeks as we've prepared him for this. The visit today was right before Preschool, and I thought for sure he'd act up. He did OK, though.

I put together a picture book of Baby 4's stay with us to give to Relative Resource. It included pictures of every hospitalization and celebration we've gone through together. I wanted her to see how much love and support he has had. I wanted her to see how much he has really gone through and what change that has caused in him. I wanted her to have all those pictures just in case Baby 4 is ordered to live with her. Those pictures will be the most accurate description of these past 8 months as he grows and needs to remember.

Baby 4 painted a clay heart and made a playdough sculpture for her as well. He told her last week when she called that he had a present for her. He was so excited. She told him she was bringing him a present as well. She didn't.

Aggravation is here.

Really? It's not that he needs a gift, but this person wants to be his legal guardian and primary caregiver and the 1st thing she does to establish that connection is make empty promises?

Fear is here.

Court is tomorrow for Baby 4. They are deciding if he will go to live with Relative Resource out of state or stay in care with us.

I got the court report that was written by 4's caseworker and was sent to his parents, relative resource, the law guardian, and the judge. This report listed all the scary things that could happen if 4 gets taken out of our house right now. It spoke of how well he's doing and how fragile that progress is. DHS is not recommending his move, but the judge has ultimate say and our judge is known for leaning heavily in favor of maternal bio-figures.

So when he gets sent to her, I'll have official documentation of what I should be fearful of. Excellent.

Nausea is here.

Tomorrow I will be meeting relative resource and we will almost certainly have over an hour together while we wait for court. This is awkward and tricky. Acting experience is a great prerequisite for Foster care. Smiling through nervousness and listening to people who are saying ridiculous things without showing your emotions and opinions all over your face are tough skills.

Just the logistics of packing this kid up in a hurry is upsetting. The amount of stuff he has accumulated is almost comical. I don't know how they are going to get it down to where she lives.

I have felt like I just got off a spinning carnival ride since Monday morning. They don't make a pink liquid to ease foster care tummy troubles.

God is here.

"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”     Deuteronomy 31:8

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." John 14:27

I have to believe. I have to stand firm on faith because if I thought my child's fate was in the hands of DHS and Family court, there would be no point in any of this.

It's here.

Either everything changes or everything stays the same. We'll see tomorrow.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mortifying Mommy Moments

So... kids are embarrassing, right? That's not a foster care thing- it's just life, I guess.  Baby 4 has a great way of bringing the most obscure story into the most inconvenient moment. I love him and all, but if the county permitted muzzle-ing a child- I would consider doing it :)

I should have known to watch myself when 4 announced to a church children's wing full of people, "Teresa has a tattoo on her butt!", after someone complimented his temporary tattoo. For the record- I have a tattoo on my back- it's my back.

Apparently I learn slowly, though.

First- a little back story. Baby 4 is fully potty trained during the day, but still wears pull ups at night. I'm of the persuasion that kids will night train when they're ready. We haven't had any problems until about a month ago. Baby 4 started waking up between 3am and 5am. He would take off his pullup, and come downstairs. I would then remind him that we wake up at 6:30 and send him back to his room to play or look at books. He would then fall back to sleep and wet the bed

After this happened 3 or 4 times, I walked Baby 4 through his new morning routine. I told him he can go potty in the morning and leave his pullup on or change his pullup when he wakes up (something he has the skill to do). I really stressed that he keep  pullup on while he's in his room because he might fall asleep and it's hard to remember to use the potty when you're sleeping.

Then it happened a couple more times, so I took him through it a different way. I took 4 by the hand into my bedroom and said, "Ok, so if I'm sleeping and I feel like I have to pee, what should I do?". We went through it- I should go potty but sometimes it's hard to remember so I might wet the bed. That would make me feel yucky. I'd smell stinky and so would the bed. Brandon would NOT be happy at all about it. I'd have to work hard to clean the bed, my clothes, and myself. Then if I want to go back to bed I should put on a pullup so it doesn't happen again.

He seemed to get it and we haven't had any issues in around 4 days.

Baby 4's caseworker comes over today for her bi-weekly homevisit and she takes 4 upstairs to speak to him privately. I'm not sure exactly what they talk about, but I'm pretty sure she wants to make sure I'm not chaining him to the radiator and feeding him only saltines and water. Somehow during this conversation baby 4 reveals that he doesn't pee in the bed anymore, but Teresa still forgets to wear a pull up, so Brandon has to sleep in pee and he's NOT happy about it.

The caseworker came downstairs and asked me about it. SO.EMBARRASSING!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Hangover

I'm not big on Halloween. We never celebrated when I was growing up. I never picked a pumpkin or dressed up until Baby 1's first Halloween. My impression is that preparing for Halloween is 10x's more fun than the actual day. I love buying costumes and picking pumpkins. I love making Brandon tie cornstalks around our porch. I love having a reason to wear my makeup really heavy and eat snack size skittles. I could do without carving pumpkins or trick or treating in the cold (it snowed last year while we were out!!).

I'm really glad that our kids have always been little enough not to care if we miss some steps on Halloween. This year was no different. We picked and carved pumpkins, bought super cute costumes and skittles, then trick or treat-ed at one house- my Dad's. Baby 4 had a party in his classroom that his Dad came to- which was really nice.

I have to say I'm glad it's over. I'm make-up and skittled out. Today we ate vegetables and put the costumes away.