Sunday, December 30, 2012

Second verse, Same as the First!

I haven't had much chance, or maybe much will, to write about foster care.

We had court before Christmas and I was hoping we'd walk out with a surrender. Instead we walked into the twilight zone.

First thing I was hit with was the accusation that we are allowing 4 to use vulgar language. I have never heard 4 use a certified swear word- he usually slips up with little boy "bad words" like shut up or stupid, but nothing serious. Dad told the law guardian that 4 said G**D***It at the last visit and then, upon questioning, told Dad that we taught him that word. Dad ignored the fact that he uses expletives in front of 4 all the time, and the fact that 4 is in school and rides the bus with kids 3-4years older than him, and in general is a 5 year old boy exposed culture through normal daily activities. He instead felt that us teaching this language was probable. The law guardian asked if we ever used profanity in our home, and I said no. She said it wasn't a big deal to her, but since Dad was complaining it probably means he's not planning to sign anything today.

Sure enough, When we went into court, his lawyer said there is no chance for a settlement in this matter and they are asking to go to trial. The judge scheduled that for March and alluded to a "suspended judgement"- which means she will do the trial and then give Dad one more year to get 4 back before issuing the TPR. After court, all the attorneys said that is what they think will happen.

The county attorney and the law guardian wanted to get something done that day, so they brought up Relative Resource's custody petition and asked for it to be dismissed based on her not passing the homestudy. The law guardian said that the judge could not legally send 4 to RR without an approved homestudy. The judge said, "Well, I'm ordering a new one now.".

So basically the judge bumped us back to the very beginning of the case. Dad will get another year to try, RR will take a year to get her homestudy done. Then we'll have to go to court to dismiss her petition. Then the judge will terminate parental rights. Then Dad gets 2 appeals. Then we can adopt.

And Baby 4 will have been in foster care for 5 years by that time.  I love Baby 4, and I'm scared about his future.

I'm not nervous about 4 leaving. I'm nervous about what 5 years in care- with no answers, no certainty, no true family- will do to his sensitive spirit. I'm scared that his spirit will learn not to be so sensitive anymore.

I've been having really honest conversations about foster care and adoption with 4. I don't know how my agency would feel about it (or maybe I do), but it can't get me in trouble because I'm being honest and age appropriate. We've talked about why 4 is in care. He remembers the big incident and injuries that happened before he came to live with us, but Dad had no part in that. Dad has never hurt him at all, so it's confusing to 4 why he can't just go to Dad (it's confusing to Dad too, I think).

We've been talking about what it takes to keep kids safe. The parent needs to be healthy in their bodies so they can take care of the kid. They need to treat their body well. They need to have a place for the kid to keep all of their things and get showered and dressed for school everyday. The parent needs to take the child to the Dr. and make sure they take their medicine. It's really hard to be a parent.

I'm also doing some bubble-bursting in terms of this fantasy life that is waiting for 4 just across the bloodline. There are rules in every house. There is homework at every house. There are vegetables at every house. The big thing is that living somewhere else means not living here anymore. Baby 4 doesn't get it. He says he wants to live someplace else, but when you push him he says that he'll still sleep here and his toys will still be here. I felt like it was important for him to know that's not how it works.

These conversations aren't about swaying him to want to live only here, but they are helping him understand that it's a big decision to choose where a kid should live so it takes a while to get answers.

That's that. This is the part of our story where the system fails. Everyone keeps saying that at least 4 is safe and not going anywhere, and it's true. The system isn't a complete failure, it just could work better if it wanted to. Which is actually not so comforting.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

First Day- December

Angela saved the blog!! Thank you!

December 1st was spent decorating and taking Christmas pictures for our cards. I have purchased Christmas cards for the past few years, but this year I will actually mail them out... probably...maybe...

Blogger Help!

Blogger won't let me add any pictures to this blog unless I pay $2.49/mo. They said I have used the free allotment. I'm refusing to pay to blog. Is there any way to get around this? Are other bloggers paying to post pictures? I'm bummed about this! I would so appreciate any help you could give me. Thank you!

Quick Update: No hospital stays for Baby Girl. Baby 4 has gotten 2 concussions at visits in the past month. We had to spend the night in the Intensive Care Unit after he barfed all over my house and stopped speaking and walking. We have 1/2 a surrender. BioMom signed a surrender this week, and we anticipate Dad doing the same later this month. The surrender with Dad includes visits with him and Relative Resource out of state (at their expense). It's very unconventional and the county is having a hard time with it, but I would rather risk him leaving the state once/year than staying in foster care for 2 solid years with visits twice/week. It helps that I'm pretty confident these visits won't happen when they realize how much it will actually cost to pull it off. We are looking forward to having a Christmas with 2 forever babies.

When I figure out how, I'll be posting First Day photos and I have a great adoption story shared by a good friend.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

First Day- November

November!! We've officially been hospital free for the longest stretch ever since bringing home Baby Girl!! This month I'm thankful to have a crazy rollercoaster exciting and full life taking care of my babies. Today I stocked the freezer with homemade baby food and Cat tested it out during feeding therapy. Baby 4 came back from his visit and told me "Daddy wants a big booty girl for his birthday". There is nothing this kid and his Bios won't say. Here's our 1st day:

Friday, October 12, 2012

I Quit

Ok, not really. I feel a little bit like quitting, though, because this fostering stuff is hard work. You know what else is hard work? Trying to write anonymous posts when you really just want to tell the world every crappy thing that foster care has done to your child and family. But, Alas, I am neither quitting foster care or blogging. I'll find a way to make it work.

I wanted to let you know that "update Love Story" is on my To Do list. There has been so much going on with Baby 4, and it's all so frustrating and crazy. But we're here and still moving along. This is what you can expect from the next couple of posts as I get the chance to write them:

Relative Resource came up for court last week and had a visit with Baby 4 where we met at a public place. 

Nothing happened officially in court.

TPR has been filed and we go for the 1st appearance next month

My homefinding caseworker single handedly took on CPS to get 4 the therapy he needs. It turned really ugly

BioDad has decided he doesn't like us and feels it's OK to voice that to Baby 4 at visits.

Relative Resource plans to come back for court next month

We got Baby 2 & 3 for the long weekend and it was awesome.

I'm not prepared to ride this case out for 2 more years, though I think it may take that long to adopt Baby 4

It's our love story, but it's not all lovely.

Messy and difficult? Yes. Totally worth it? Yes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

First Day- October

We've been home for 3 weeks now. Baby 4 is doing really well. There is bound to be some court excitement tomorrow, but today was pretty quiet except for an impromptu cardiology appointment that turned out to be okay. Have you fallen in love with Nicole and her adorable kids on Journey to... yet? You should check out everyone's first day and link up for November!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Court and Kindergarten

Read my magazine today. Who is surprised that nothing happened? I'm personally shocked we accomplished what we did:

Adoptive Families- just for the irony

 I got BioDad to sign the emergency contact and field trip permission form for school. I'm annoyed that I can't sign any of those things because it's an inconvenience for me to get Dad to sign every little thing that comes from the school. I know other workers who let the foster parents sign everything but consent for services, but 4's worker doesn't want my signature on anything. I still have to fill everything out, though, and just have Dad sign at the bottom- which he always does without question.

I have to say that we are fortunate to be working with a parent who is so trusting of us. He's pretty passive which makes me mad on behalf of Baby 4, but also so grateful every time I take 4 for a haircut knowing there will be no fallout.

When we got into court, Mom's lawyer made me furious with some crappy petition asking that the judge not allow her to be accused of severe abuse, but just neglect. She cited a case where a Father took boiling water from the stove and poured it over his child's head and it was not found to be severe abuse. She said that 4's injury was not as severe as that case, so why would this be considered severe abuse. I wanted to scream. Obviously this lawyer has not seen pictures of 4 when he was in the hospital. His injury was not "less severe" than anything. I had to scrub and dress his wounds for months while he cried, and this lawyer has the nerve to call an intentional act that has been punished in criminal court neglect? Using a case where the judge obviously made a bad call and trying to use that as precedence turned out to be futile and our judge didn't buy it. We are continuing to plan on the trial in October.

Dad's lawyer did not show up for court again. I hate this for Dad and for us, because we need to get his side of things moving if anything will ever be done for 4. As mad as I was about the asinine things Mom's lawyer was saying, at least she was attempting to represent her client. Even guilty people deserve proper counsel.

The lawyers confirmed that they all had gotten the copy of Relative Resource's homestudy denial. The county asked that RR's petition for custody be withdrawn and the judge told them they needed to ask that in writing. So we scheduled another date in 2 weeks to do that. RR's lawyer insinuated that Dad would be moving in with RR out of state and they would be pursuing custody together. We couldn't talk about it any further because Dad's lawyer wasn't there.

Baby 4's lawyer stated her support for the severe abuse finding and for denying R's custody petition.

The judge dismissed as RR piped up over the phone and asked to address the court. The judge asked RR's lawyer if he recommended that and he literally shrugged his shoulders. RR proceeded to snarkily tell the judge that she and Dad had no part in the incident that caused 4 to be placed into care. She finds it unjust that they would have to be checked out by the county and approved to parent the child that is their family. She continued to talk about Dad's side of the case and made it look really bad for Dad even though that wasn't her intent. The judge had enough after a minute or so and told RR that they are following the law to ensure 4 is safe and cared for.

Then we left. We'll go back in 2 weeks and do nothing, then hopefully the trial next month will give us a platform to file TPR.

On our way out of court, the caseworker said the petition for TPR has been written for both parents and is being reviewed by the supervisor in Foster Care Management. She also said that new relative resource has been identified for Baby 4 by Dad. They have to look into her. She is Baby 4's Grandma's aunt. She has not made any contact with the county  or with 4 at all in the 19 months he has been in care. I'm really not concerned about her at all, but crazier things have happened, so it's on my radar.

Even though that's a lot of talking, we are still in the exact same position we were in before court.

I'm a terrible blog-Mom and didn't post about 4's first day of Kindergarten. I missed it because I was in the hospital with the baby, but my husband was there and it went great! 4 loves school and has kept his behavior in check. I'm really proud of him.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

First Day- September

I almost posted this as the 1st day of August. I can not believe fall is here. While Baby Girl is totally worth it, I'm sad we spent our entire Summer in the hospital. This last stretch has been since Aug 6th and we're either 1 week or 3 weeks away from discharge depending on whether they decide to do heart surgery now or in the Spring. Anyway, Here's our 1st day:

Head over to Journey to Josie and see how everyone else's September started. I'd love to see you join in as well!