Saturday, July 21, 2012

Don't let the silence fool you

Where to start? It's been so long since I've been able to stop long enough to gather any coherent thoughts. This blog-pause is in no way a sign of peace in foster land. It's more of the illusion of calm water when there is a forceful undercurrent. I'm going to throw a lot at you right now then we can move on with everyone all caught up.

Baby 4 helping with his little sister

Here's a re-cap of what you already know:

  • Baby 4 has been with us 17 months. 
  • It seems very unlikely that he will be reunited with his parents and we would like to adopt him. 
  • There is a Relative Resource who has petitioned the court for custody of Baby 4. She had a homestudy done by her county and did not pass it. 
  • Baby 4 and RR have 3/week phone calls that I set up and moderate. These phone calls were my idea because I was scared that Baby 4 would be sent to her without having any contact beforehand since she lives out of state. These calls were never ordered (or even discussed) by the court or CPS. 
  • We adopted a beautiful baby girl in March through traditional agency adoption. She is medically frail and was hospitalized May 28th-June 6th and June11th-June30th. I blog about her story over at Adoption: Our Miracle Story . The reason for 2 blogs is: when we were going through our early foster care experiences and I came across a "foster care" blog that was all about the family's happy adoption or unexpected pregnancy, it would all but kill me. I also feel that Baby 4's case will keep this blog plenty interesting on it's own.
Our county hosted all the foster families at the zoo in June.
Fun times!

Got it? OK... Go!

  • We had court in the beginning of June to talk about Baby 4's Mom surrendering her rights and RR's custody petition. Neither parent was there. Mom's attorney said that now they want yearly pictures sent to Mom AND the right to send a yearly letter from Mom to Baby 4. This violates the order of protection between them in a bagillion ways. The county said no to that, and told the judge that RR's ICPC was denied. RR then said (through teleconference) that she had been approved. Neither side had any documentation to back them up, so we rescheduled.

  • We had Baby 4's Educational meeting to discuss him moving out of the Preschool Special Ed system into Kindergarten in September. I had initially told the county I was going to advocate to put him in General Education for Kindergarten with no services and I planned on putting him in a private school for fall (since most small Christian schools can not accommodate special needs, and you can not homeschool kids in care). After hearing his teachers' reports, I decided to advocate for classifying and placing him in an integrated Kindergarten classroom in our public school. It is evident that while he is of average intelligence, his trauma affects his success in the classroom. I have questioned that decision everyday since, but ultimately it had to be done.

  • I asked to have RR's calls moderated by the visitation worker who sees 4 on Thursday and Saturdays at the county building. The county was agreeable to having 4 call RR after his visits and this helped out with our crazy schedule when Baby Girl was in the ICU. 

  • RR's lawyer wrote letters to the county attorney and Baby 4's attorney demanding RR's 3 calls be catered to. He also questioned our ability to care for Baby 4 when our daughter is in the hospital.

  • I got very emotional about that. How dare you complain about me tending to my sick daughter for 4 weeks when I spent the same intensive attention on your relative child for 10 weeks when he was in the same PICU. You never even came to see him through his 8 surgeries!! You don't deserve calls or any say in what kind of adequate I am.
4 graduated from Pre-K.
The cutest thing I've ever witnessed

  • The county asked that I moderate one call/week to appease RR's request for 3 calls. They just don't want to fight with anyone. Cowards.

  • I agreed- even though there is no way they could have made me. I just don't want to look unsupportive. Coward.

  • The county started Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) for both of Baby 4's parents.

  • We had our recertification inspection. We told our worker that we now keep firearms in the house- locked up, of course- and she took our word for it without checking. I feel like that's the opposite of thorough. Either way- we're official for the next year.

  • I started teaching MAPP for a new group of Fosterlings and scared off 4 of them in the 1st two weeks. This life is not for the squeamish.

  • Our county got the paperwork confirming RR's homestudy was denied. It was mostly financial reasons that disqualified her, but there are so many other things that don't add up- like she didn't include her husband in the homestudy. They then offered her the choice to pursue kinship care- which would financially support Baby 4 in her home. The catch is that she would have to care for him 6 months in her home before she could apply for foster care board rate (how could she do that if expenses outweigh her income already?) and she would have to have an approved homestudy to become a certified foster parent (how could she do that if she already was denied?).

  • There is no reason the county should be offering her anything. It would be devastating to move 4 out of state at this point. They've done everything they are required to do to keep this family together, and it just doesn't work.

  • We had court again on July 13th. The county attorney put an end to the crazy caseworker offering RR endless homestudies and options. The official court position from the county is that RR is not an option. They are continually unsupportive of continued contact with Mom after surrender, but the judge is still letting that drag on without taking it to trial. Basically we adjourned again.

  • Baby 4's attorney heard RR's attorney saying the only way RR has a chance is to move back to our county. I don't think that's realistic.

  • We go back to court in a couple of weeks. I expect more nothing to happen

  • I asked for respite for Baby 4. I haven't ever used respite for any of my children, but we both need a break. He is jealous of all the attention that the baby requires- which legitimately is all of our attention and I'd be jealous too. I am sympathetic to his plight, but still find myself nagging at him too much and wanting space even when I clearly see he needs closeness. I am hoping a weekend filled with fun and kids his own age, in a home with no sick babies getting breathing treatments every 2 hours, will perk him up a little. I think getting some stuff around the house done and doting all over the baby knowing 4 is fine will allow me to start fresh when he gets back. 

So that's where we are. I think the most important thing is that TPR has been started. It seems very surreal to me and I have no idea how long it will take to actually get it filed then have it addressed in court. Our judge seems to take her time on everything. Adopting a 5 year old (maybe even 6 or 7) boy is different from the babies and toddlers we thought we'd be adopting- not better or worse, but different. I love Baby 4, and want to be what he needs. With an older child who's been subjected to so much loss, though, it's a big role to fill.

What do you want to know more about? Do you want to hear more about what we're experiencing or general foster care knowledge? I want to post more and I think life has settled down enough to accommodate that. I could elaborate on any of our happenings if you have questions. Leave me a comment!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

First Day- July

How crazy is it that it's July already? We were in the hospital with Baby Girl June 1st, and I was sure we'd still be there today. Fortunately we escaped at the last second and got home June 30th!! We spent today doing absolutely nothing and loved every second of it!

Do you want to join in on First Day Fun? Link up with Nicole over at Journey To... Be sure to check out what everyone else does on their first day!