Thursday, April 19, 2012

Nothing. And Everything.

The alternate title to this post is C'mon!! Really?!

First and Second: Baby Girl's surgery went awesome and we're home now. Brandon is in Texas with his BioMom and half siblings. It seems to be going well.

Third: I had a little pity party for myself because I am alone with 2 kids for a week with no hope of getting away for "Me time", and I miss my bloggy world- so I got a new computer!!! YAY for an intact keyboard!!

Yesterday was court. It was intended to be the day Mom surrendered her parental rights to Baby 4. Just a couple hours before court, the caseworker calls and lets me know that both my husband and I have to be there to sign the surrender as well. Unfortunately he's away- Thanks for the heads up CW!

Talk of a surrender started because Mom did not want a finding of severe abuse on her record. A finding of severe abuse gives CPS reason to remove any future children at birth. Mom wanted a neglect finding in the case of Baby 4 to protect future children from being automatically placed in foster care. The county said, "Sure we'll give you a neglect finding- as long as you sign an unconditional surrender at the same time". That was the deal, and it is a very good deal because the severe abuse case is rock solid should it go to trial.

First, Mom's lawyer said that they need time to think about which path they wanted to go. Then at the next court date, Mom could not come (not her fault, the court's fault). Yesterday, Mom's lawyer stands up and says they want the neglect finding and conditional surrender. See how sneaky? Wanting the cake and eating it too. Mom wants a continued contact agreement where I would send her pictures twice/year. In reality, pictures are not that big of a deal, but C'MON! You want something? You're the reason we're here. You shouldn't even be offered a deal and now you want more?! There are some legal details that make agreeing to pictures impossible, so the county and judge said she couldn't have a conditional surrender. Her lawyer said that they need more time now to make a decision. Court will be adjourned again. AHHH!

For those of you somewhat familiar with Family court/Foster care procedure- this finding we're talking about it the initial petition that was filed when the child was removed and placed into care. The original charge of abuse/neglect that all our parents face when their child is removed. There has been no finding in that petition in  14 months. I find that ridiculous. Further ridiculous-ness is that if Mom decides not to accept the great deal she was offered today, then we should have gone to trial on the severe abuse not allowed her to dictate what will be happening any further. You had a deal, you didn't like it, so we go to trial. Makes sense to me, and apparently only to me.

THEN  Mom's lawyer tells the judge that it's a really long commute for Mom to come to court, so she would like to attend the Permanency hearing in May by phone. Never mind that she gets FREE transportation and literally has nothing else/better to do since she's in a facility setting. Never mind that without her present there can not be a finding made or surrender (conditional or unconditional). Never mind that this whole thing should be about what's best for Baby 4 and not for his abuser. The judge is allowing Mom to attend by phone next month. To that I say, C'mon!! Really?!

So court is the Nothing part. Nothing got done and nothing will get done next time either.

The everything part happened in the lobby before court. Through some accidental word vomit, we (CW and I) found out that Relative Resource had a child removed from her by CPS and adopted several years ago. That seems to me like RR is losing footing in that custody petition.

Foster Care is super frustrating and sad and stupid and worth it- because in such a broken system our kids need at least on person who remembers them through the craziness. When I get totally overwhelmed by the injustice, it pushes me to be the one good part of Foster Care for my son. He'll never have nobody because I stand in his corner. I'm thankful for the chance to be that constant for my babies.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I'm not blogging a lot right now because Baby 6 plucked the O,G,and Y keys off my computer back in February. Brandon temporarily fixed them, but striking the key with any kind of speed made it fly off again. It is about the same cost to have my keyboard replaced as it is to buy a new laptop. While I'm working on it, it's super annoying to type without those keys.

I really wish I had the patience to blog, though, because I'm in new Foster Care territory right now. The court date for Mom's surrender is next week. Also next week is Baby Girl's surgery, and Brandon is going to Texas to meet his BioMom. They haven't seen each other in 20 years and have only recently reconnected on Facebook and by phone.

Yesterday Baby 4's Dad missed his visit and didn't call. He has not done this once in the year we've had 4. Baby 4 told me that he thought his Dad was in the hospital having surgery and that's why he missed the visit. Then today, 4 said he thinks his Dad is dead. I assured him that his Dad probably got very busy and forgot that it was visit day.

The statement, though, shows how serious this stuff is for our kids. How often they think about the condition of their family and how extreme their fantasies can be. It is KILLING ME not knowing what is happening in 4's case, how much so is it killing my son? To not have an answer when he asks me about forever? To have Dad and Relative Resource tell him he's going to live with them? To not understand what's so unsafe about his family that he can't even see their houses? To think that there is some sort of choice to be made, and they are choosing not to take him? That they are choosing to not come to visits?

The caseworker called me and said that she thinks bringing an attorney to court on Wednesday is not a good idea. She and her supervisor agreed that it will irritate the bios. I think they are afraid that my attorney will push to speed things up. Right now there is no plan to change the goal from "Return to Parent"- which is ridiculous. Remember ASFA and the 15 out of 22 consecutive months that we hear in training? It's crap. Kids can stay in care for years if someone doesn't stay right on top of CPS. Our attorney ended up calling me to let me know that he'll be unable to come to the next 2 court dates because he'll be out of town. I can't complain since we're not paying him for this, and now it looks to the county like I'm an obedient foster parent. But if he can make it to any court hearings, I'm certainly having the attorney come.

Baby 4 is getting restless as the uncertainty of his family and future lingers longer than I'd like. I'm getting restless as I search for new ways to tell him I don't know what's happening but he's still safe. Baby girl is getting restless because it has taken me so long to type this without those keys I'm missing.

I'll let you know how it all goes.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

God's still in the Resurrecting business

Last Easter was a rough one for me. Baby 4 was in the hospital, we were still in the early stages of bonding where he felt like someone else's child, and he was having so many health and behavior hurdles. I was missing Babies 2 & 3 something fierce, and it was unclear whether they would be a part of my life after reunification. Their Easter baskets sat on my dining room table untouched for at least a month before I let Baby 4 take the toys and I put everything else away.

This Easter is completely different. I can not believe it's only been a year. Baby 4 is in perfect health. Last year at this time, the Drs were predicting his time with the trach and surgery every 6 weeks would span over 2yrs- today I can say he's had complete healing. I am fully attached and committed to him as if he had been born to me. And we can't forget our awesome addition, Baby Girl is settled in and growing stronger everyday.

Want to know how things panned out with Baby 2 & 3? I grieved losing them as strongly as a death from March to August of last year. Then in September, some texts and pictures from Dad. October- Facebook friend request from Dad (access to more pics). December- We went to their house to see them and deliver Christmas toys. January- they come to Baby 4's birthday party. February- We get them for a whole Saturday at our house!! Then yesterday I took Baby Girl and 4 to the mall to see the Easter bunny, and we ran into 2 & 3!! Baby 2 actually recognized me before I noticed them. He yelled, "Hey!!!" and pointed at me. Made my day. I didn't see Baby 3 for very long. Dad has a girlfriend who does not like me. In our last conversation, she accused me of trying to steal Dad from her. She let me know, "He doesn't want you.". Obviously I was heartbroken. When she saw me walking towards them, she took off in the other direction with Baby 3 in the stroller while I talked to Dad and Baby 2. They both looked good, though. They looked happy.

I belong to an awesome church that's pretty large. It's not a mega church, because I'm too cool to belong to one of those, but some might use that term. We run 7 services in 3 locations every weekend to accommodate all our members, and there is a very large online campus that broadcasts our services. Today our church did one Easter service in our city's large arena so all our campuses could worship together. We had 11,000 people come and gave out 3,650 boxes of food. It was spectacular. Since the arena is in the city as opposed the suburb where we attend, I thought it would be something Baby 4's family could come to. I still ended up driving, but Dad said he wanted to come, and Baby 4 was so happy.

I love our church

Halfway through service, my Mom attempted to break 3 of my ribs by jabbing me with her elbow nervously saying, "Dad's crying. The Dad's crying. What should I do?". I told her stop assaulting me with her shockingly pointy elbow and leave Dad alone. He and 4 were so engaged in the service. At the end Dad stood up, with both hands in the air, and responded to the call for Salvation. He went down for prayer and left with a free Bible and a box of food. When we took him home, he asked if we would bring him to church next week as well. I cried all the way home because never in my wildest dreams did I think Foster Care would look like this. I'm a little ashamed to admit that the Bios salvation wasn't even on my prayer list- I'm always so focused on my kids. I stand amazed at what God did. I'm humbled that even though I did nothing to help, I was still able to witness a very lost man become found. I was there when another stake was planted in my son's spiritual heritage.

Today we remember and celebrate the Resurrection. Jesus was not found in that tomb 2,000 years ago, and He's not in that tomb today. Jesus is alive and still in the resurrecting business. He has restored my family. He has rescued Baby 4's Dad. And He's not done yet.

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness" Psalms 30:11 (ESV)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Accidental Lawyer

We met with Baby Girl's adoption attorney yesterday to start her paperwork. While talking, the lawyer asked me about Baby 4. I gave him a brief description of where the case is, and said, "So if we get to adopt, we'll be calling you abut him as well."

The lawyer was so nice- offering his opinion of our judge and her casual approach to Relative Resource. He thinks things look like they are headed towards adoption. He offered to come to our next court date to present himself to the other attorneys and see what they think about speeding up surrenders and getting this adoption going. He said he will not charge us for this, and would accept what the state reimburses for adoption as his total payment if 4's adoption does happen.

I got a little nervous that showing up with him would put everyone on edge and make it look like we were trying to circumvent the county. I called our homefinding caseworker and ran it by her. She said that as long as I give the caseworker a heads up that we are bringing our attorney and explain that we are still supportive of the county's plan to work with Dad, it shouldn't be a big deal.

It seems like a big deal to me though. While the county and law guardian knows we want to adopt, it hasn't been mentioned to RR or Dad as a real possibility. It could make this go a whole lot quicker or it could make the bios mad. It will definitely show the judge we are serious about adopting 4.

Maybe 2 adoptions this year?? Maybe 2 adoptions postponed until next year, in all reality- but still so exciting!

Monday, April 2, 2012

First Day- April

I've been obsessively stalking casually following Nicole's blog over at Journey To ... for about a year now. She is a Fost/Adopt Mom who has the CUTEST kids around, and she's a homeschool rock star. I've gleaned several cute craft ideas from her. I'm linking into her "First Day" post party. First day is a photo post documenting the everyday happenings in our lives. It will certainly be fun to have pictures of every month as my kids are growing.

So here's our 1st First Day: