Wednesday, May 23, 2012

ICPC Denied!!

I emailed the caseworker last night about Relative Resource's call yesterday. Caseworker called me this morning and confirmed my suspicions; there is no new plan for Baby 4 to move anywhere anytime soon. The caseworker said even if RR and the bios have come together in some strategic plan, CPS and Baby 4's attorney are opposed to any moves at this time.

Then she knocked the wind right out of me. CW said, "As a matter of fact, RR is not a threat to 4's placement no matter which judge we see because *her state* has rejected her homestudy. ICPC has been denied.".


ICPC (Interstate compact) happens when custody of a child is being transferred across state lines. We had to have ICPC approval to bring our Baby Girl home from Cali, and Relative Resource needed it to bring Baby 4 home with her. So her county was responsible for assessing her home and background to determine if she was fit to parent then they report back to our county. They pretty much said she is not fit to have Baby 4. We'll find out in court why they denied, which I'm super interested to know.

I don't know if she knows yet that she has been denied. CW said the letters were being mailed to her, the Bios, the lawyers, and RR but she hadn't gotten it yet. I don't know what prompted her crazy phone call yesterday. And I don't care because it doesn't matter anymore.

The county is still pushing Dad to work the case plan and the goal is still "Return to Parent", but we're nowhere near being concerned about any of that yet. That means I can breathe a little before court next month. It also means I have a good reason to ask CW to tell RR to cut her calls down to once/week.

Thanks for all the prayers over my last post. I feel them and they're working!! Keep 'em coming!


I am terribly exhausted. It's not a "tired" that extra sleep can fix. It's emotional drain that may go away if there is ever an end in sight for 4's case and Baby Girl's adoption.

The adoption stuff is too complicated to even blog about. There are so many details and all of it is frustrating. I can only handle like 15 minutes of it per day so I make phone calls, shuffle paperwork, threaten government offices- then my 15 minutes are up and I have no energy left to fill you all in. Summary: We're trying to get Baby Girl enrolled in Medicaid and SSI because of her disability and extensive medical care (and costs). This is something that the agency should apply for (it's a common practice for special needs adoptions). The government programs won't accept an application from me- only the agency- but have said she would definitely qualify with her condition. We can not file our finalization papers in court until we have it (or we can never get it). The agency who did her adoption is refusing to apply. They literally said they won't do it. I literally said I will start with the clerk at the social security office and work my way up to President Obama until someone makes them do it. And I will. 15 minutes at a time.

The foster care stuff is RIDICULOUS.

 Baby 4 is acting out like a mad man at school. He's refusing to sit for lesson and is being nasty to peers and adults alike. At home, he is pushing every one of my buttons- partly because he's trying and partly because I'm a little testy lately. I got a note home from school today that he called his teacher "annoying" when she had to remind him not to talk during her lesson. He has also been saving his arguing with me until we are in front of another adult as a way to rally support. It hasn't worked, but it's super embarrassing. Baby Girl's Physical therapist, 4's bus driver, and the caseworker have all been privy to this ploy. He's testing to see if I will back down in front of company or if he can get away with stuff when someone else is watching. I've been saying outright, "So and So doesn't mind if you go to time out right now. Would you like to do that?". That works for like a minute before he starts whining that he wants to be good and wants to come out. He never does that when it's just us home and he absolutely can not come out of time out until he has stopped his whining and done his 5 minutes. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but he's been defiant literally 24/7 the past week, and it keeps me so on edge. I don't want to be constantly correcting him, but I can't let him make poor choices without guidance. It's hard to be on top of him all the time without reacting emotionally to his behavior. I'd be lying if I said my voice has remained calm all week. There's been some yelling and some threats about Santa Claus (yep, I turned into that Mom)

Visits started up again last week. I wasn't going to tell 4 until the day of that first visit back because I didn't want him to obsess over it for too long. Relative Resource let the cat out of the bag though when she called 3 days before the visit. Coincidence that the testing behavior started right then? Nope.

Back Story: The Saturday before Mother's Day was my Mom's birthday. We were going to a local festival and parade to celebrate. That morning I was painting my nails to coordinate with the festival theme and Baby 4 asked if I would do his too. I did them and he was so proud. We made some fun of him for being a "beautiful girl" which he thought was funny. He wore the nail polish to church on Mother's Day an school on Monday before I took it off him. He was bummed I didn't let him wear it longer.

On Thursday, Baby 4 had his visit with Dad. When he came back from his visit, I asked him how it went. 4 very happily told me, "Daddy's mad at you.". He proceeded to tell me that after 4 told Dad that I had let him wear nail polish, Dad got upset and asked Baby 4 to tell me that he's not allowed to do girl things. Baby 4 reported that Dad is going to call me and, "Get you in trouble". 4 thought it was funny, and I told him not to worry about it. Daddy and Teresa can talk later.

Dad did not call me. I brought the incident up to the CW and asked that any instructions from the Bios be given directly to me and not sent through Baby 4. The caseworker responded that I shouldn't have let him wear nail polish. It was one of those things where it wasn't a big deal until you told me not to do it. Why shouldn't he wear nail polish once to a parade when he asked for it? Why should he be limited to gender role activities? Is letting him wear nail polish going to turn him into a girl? a transvestite? a homosexual? Or is it just going to make his nails colored for a couple days until I take it off. Come on! Baby 4 probably did exaggerate Dad's response, which is why Dad should respond to me instead of to Baby 4. My complaint fell on deaf ears.

On Saturday (after a GREAT day on Friday including finding funding for Baby Girl's formula YAY! and Baby 4 getting a good report from school YAY!- it hasn't been all bad), I was getting 4 ready for his visit and he asked me to paint his nails. I said, "Didn't Daddy tell you no nail polish?". We decided that we need to obey Daddy. 4 went on his visit.

He came back 2 hrs later visibly happy. He said, "I get to go live with Daddy!" Afte asking him more questions about his information and source, it was concluded that Dad told 4 they would be living together soon. It was all he could talk about. I couldn't argue with him, so I just said that I thought it was great that they wanted to live together. He's talked about it everyday since.

Over the weekend, 4 disclosed some additional trauma that was previously only speculated by CPS. I called his caseworker Monday morning and talked to her about what he said and about the visit. With the disclosure, she had me call the child abuse hotline and make a report. A CPS investigator will interview 4 as well as the accused and will determine if the report is founded or unfounded. If the report is founded, it doesn't change much for Baby 4's case except putting an extra nail in the Mom's TPR case. As for Dad saying 4 could live with him, caseworker said she doesn't believe it happened. It's just Baby 4's wishful thinking. Annoying.

Relative Resource still calls 3 times/week. I started that schedule with her back when it seemed like hie reunion with her would be quick and I thought they needed to stay in touch. After 14 months, though, these calls are cumbersome and overwhelming for me. I never know what to say to her. She's clearly offset by me. Baby 4 doesn't have anything interesting to say.

Except for today. Today he told RR that he was going to live with Daddy. Daddy told him so. He asked RR if all the toys she's promised him will be at Dad's house when he gets there. She told him that he can have those toys at her house. RR asked to speak with me. RR said she was already told what is happening in court in June. Baby 4 will be moving out of our house. There has been a plan made with Dad. She said that it's not her place to tell me what the plan is. The caseworker probably won't tell me until after court. She wants us to be Baby 4's Godparents when he leaves. I kept myself together and responded very well: "We are just so happy to be care for 4 while he needs it.", "Our only goal is make sure 4 has everything he needs right now." Blah Blah Blah...

I didn't say, "Never in a thousand years would you know more about this case and the plan than I do, random out of state relative. The caseworker does tell me what's up and the plan is to keep 4 in care for another 6 months.". I didn't say, "No one knows what will happen in court because the judge makes the decisions and we don't even know what judge we're seeing yet.". So I get two gold stars for self control.

My guess is that RR's laywer found out about our judge's nose and Judge FPWN and called RR with the "good news" that she might have a chance at custody.

That call today left me a shaky mess. I can't take those calls anymore, and I can't stop them this far into placement either without good reason. I don't think," the calls make my stomach feel like I just got off a rollercoaster", is a good reason in the eyes of CPS.

I am desperately seeking an end to this madness. It's left me emotionally wrecked and completely depleted of energy anmd it's messing with Baby 4 even worse. I hate that he has problems I can't fix. A Mom should be able to help her child work through his feelings, but I can't give him any answers. I can't make his family stop promising things they can't control.

It's pure exhaustion. It's Foster Care.

Did anyone read this whole post? WOW, did I blabber on! I'm not offended if you just skimmed.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Never Once

I'm refraining from doing another "this time last year" post. But if you're interested,  click here

My entire adult life has been a crazy ride. From teen bride- to infertile wife- to foster mother- to Mommy of special needs kids.

Today I find myself in a season of harvest- reaping fruit from the struggle, heartache, and tears that the past five or so years have held.

I'm overwhelmed with thankfulness for my marriage and my children. I'm in humble amazement at the healing and fulfilling God has allowed me to experience and witness.

 Foster Care is hard and dark and twisted and beautiful. No other love story can match ours.

The ONLY way I made it to Mother's Day 2012 is because I have a God who has good plans for me and will not leave me.

I'm sending blog-hugs out to the women who are still sowing the seeds of heartache and fervent prayer waiting for their story to take an upswing. If you are spending Mother's day questioning your journey or grieving the Motherhood you've dreamed of YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

I used to read blogs of families who had adopted or had children placed in their homes who were thriving and I'd get this "Well good for them" attitude. I had started to think our season of loss would never end and we'd have to learn to live without.

Not even a year later, I woke up with my son calling me Mommy and dressed myself and my daughter in matching pink "Blessed by Adoption" Tshirts. We went to church and I sang this song at the top of my lungs.

Never Once- Matt Redman

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"You Can Just Tell Him"

Two weeks ago, the case worker came over for a homevisit and let me know that it had been recommended that one of Baby 4's parents voluntarily check in to a 2-3 week in patient treatment program at a local hospital. The Bio did not want to go, but the county had threatened TPR if they didn't follow all recommendations per the case plan.

This was confusing for me because addiction has not been a part of 4's case at all. It was actually my first case where there was no substance abuse involved. At the same time, though, it explained the unusual missed visits that had been happening in the past few weeks.

CW said there would be 2 visits between then and the time the Bio checked in. There was also still time for Bio to refuse treatment, so CW would let me know when we knew for sure the visits would be cancelled.

Saturday was the last visit before the planned Monday treatment check in. I expected Baby 4 to come home and say something about the cancelled visits for next week. Instead he said, "Bio told me I can ask you to send my remote controlled car to the visit on Thursday.". After that, I expected that the visits were not being cancelled and rehab wasn't happening.

I called CW on Monday morning to confirm the plan and she said that as far as she knew the check in happened as planned and the next 2 weeks would be visit-free. I asked her what the plan was for telling Baby 4.

"You can just tell him."

Oh, I can?! Fantastic. That's exactly what I want to do.

I told her it would have been helpful for 4 to hear it right from the Bio. CW said she told Bio to tell 4, but it never happened. She said just tell him Bio is in "program".

So here it is: **Dinner time sets the stage**

Me: Hey bud, let's talk about what's happening this week. Today is Monday and you had school, and after dinner you're going to swim class. Tuesday is school and Brandon's softball game. Wednesday is school and swimming. Thursday is school, but no visit.
Baby 4: Why?
Me: Well, Bio is at something called "program". That's a place where they can go and learn how to keep their body healthy. It's really important for the grownup taking care of you to be healthy so they can keep you safe. Bio is going to have a teacher and classes and they will live at program for a little while until they know how to be healthy. It's going to be sad to miss your visit,  but we can be happy that Bio is making good choices about being healthy.
Baby 4: I'm not happy.
Me: I know. You like to go to the visits, huh?
Baby 4: Why can't Bio come to the visit?
Me: The teacher at program has rules that say Bio has to stay there until they can be healthy. Everyone just wants you to be safe and Bio did the right thing to go to program. You can visit again as soon as the teacher says Bio can leave.
Baby 4: I wish I had a visit.
Me: I know. Thursday there is no visit. Then on Friday you have school and it's family day so Brandon will go to school with you. Saturday and Sunday you have your friend A and friend B's Birthday parties, so we can pick out a present for them after Family day. Does that sound OK?
Baby 4: Yea. **picking at his pasta** Do you remember I don't like tomatoes?
Me: Just eat around them. You like the meatballs.

End scene.

Somewhere in there I mentioned that Bio would have a bed and healthy food at program. 4's other bio is in a facility and he told me 6 months into his placement with us that he was sad Bio was hungry. After talking with him, I found out he thought that Bio was sitting in a corner somewhere with nothing to eat and nowhere to sleep. He felt much better after I told him there were beds and food brought to them everyday. Now I make sure to let him know his family has enough food wherever they are.

The missed visits did not have as negative an impact as I expected. He actually did not bring it up at all except when we were talking about Bio or when the CW came over this week. It made me hopeful that his transition to permanency might go better than we thought.

In training, we hear about "Partnership" between Bios, Fosters, and the CaseWorker. We hear about how it's important for the child to receive the same information from everyone to give them stability and easy anxiety. It has never been my experience that this happens for big changes with the children. I've always been solely responsible for prepping my kids for visit changes and moves home. Granted, they've been little guys, but it doesn't make "You can just tell him." any easier. The reality of partnership is when you do something for the Bios or CW, partnership is not everyone working for the child like the training teaches. Reality... and Rehab... I never thought I'd be telling my 5 year old about it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The bomb that went off in my chest

Permanency Hearing was last week. I didn't post about it because I was too annoyed, and it would have been a very short post.

When we go to court, we get scanned by security and take the elevators to the Family Court floor. You walk into a big lobby and check in at a desk with your judge's bailiff. Then you wait to be called into court.

Last week I walked up to that desk knowing full well that nothing was going to get done that morning. Mom had asked to teleconference in, so they couldn't make any big decisions on her end. Then the day before court, Dad checked into an inpatient program and wouldn't be able to attend, so the judge wouldn't have said anything concerning him. Still, these permanency hearings need to happen every 6 months and I felt like it would say something that I was the only one in court for Baby 4 that day.

I gave the bailiff the case name and she told me that the judge "was not in" today and everything had been rescheduled to June 4th. Really?! So I just paid $6 for parking and $30 for babysitting and put on pantyhose for the judge that "was not in"?

Turns out though, this week, I'd gladly go to court in pantyhose everyday as long as nothing happens.

Today, 4's caseworker came over for a homevisit. She gave me the date of the rescheduled permanency hearing to be sure we both had it right. I asked her if she knew what had happened last week. Turns out our Judge got into a car accident the day before our hearing and had to have reconstructive surgery on her nose (Read: I'm a terrible person for being mad at her last week). While she's recovering, all of her cases have been sent to Judge "Foster Parent's Worst Nightmare" 's court

And my heart exploded.

Judge FPWN has been in our county's family court forever. She is very openly anti-adoption. We have kids that she has kept in care for 7 years and then sends them home. There have been relatives who have never laid eyes on the child (who has been with the foster family since birth) and they've been sent to the relative resource. A friend of mine had a bio who wanted to surrender and let the foster family adopt, and Judge FPWN would not let her relinquish- wouldn't take the surrender.

Everytime I've complained to someone at the county about Baby 4's case, they've always laughed and joked, "You can be thankful you have your judge and not Judge FPWN!!"

And now we do.

She will absolutely send Baby 4 to Relative Resource if she hears the case. It would be huge win for her because when the case was in the media, the news reports made RR sound like a saintly victim. They also made Baby 4 sound like a paraplegic who would never walk or talk again- and that's the furthest from the truth.  All Judge FPWN would need is for Relative resource to get on a local channel and say that she's grateful to have her baby back after the evil foster system kept him away for so long, and Judge FPWN would definitely get voted in for another term. Because nobody fact checks- not reporters or voters- and they wouldn't know that 4 would be uprooted from everything he's ever known and moved into a new state, home, school, Dr, and culture if RR gets custody.

The caseworker said she thinks that Judge FPWN may just adjourn all of our judge's cases until she heals and gets back. I hope so. Even more than that, I hope our Judge's nose heals before June 4th- which I think is totally doable.

Foster Care never let's me forget to stay on the edge of my seat. At least we can relax a couple of weeks before getting nervous again.

I really do still love this blog even though it's been a bit neglected recently. I'm working on a post for later this week about telling your preschooler what rehab is... Stay Tuned.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

First Day- May

I'm linking in with Journey To... again for the first day post party!! Can I tell you how hard it is not to caption these photos?! I'm sure you're all very smart and can figure out what's what without my help, but I at least need to let you know that I'm growing out my hair and there's no attractive way to wear it at the moment. I did brush it, though, even if it doesn't look like it :) Here we go: