Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Name Game Followup

The caseworker didn't understand the issue. Have him spell it Michlle like it is legally, and really what's the point of changing it when he's adopted. This is when I see the difference between someone who lives with and loves the child vs. someone who clocks out and goes home at 5pm. The thing is that she's not even a bad caseworker, but she still can't comprehend what it's like to be a kid in care who is different in so many ways but really wants to be normal. He doesn't stop being a survivor or scarred at 5pm when the DHS workday is done. Kids don't stop being cruel for federal holidays. This was something we could have fixed for him. I'm choosing not to let it bother me right now and maybe I'll still try to get the teacher to go with his nickname anyway.

The Name Game

I've posted before about our adventures in Foster Care concerning our children's names and the spelling of said names. This is currently an issue with Baby 4 right now.

Rather try to explain the name situation, I'm going to give you an example. Baby 4's name is not Micheal, but the idea is the same:

His parents always intended to pronounce his name Micheal, but decided to spell it Michelle. Then when Mom filled out his birth certificate she spelled it Michlle by accident. When his parents write his name now they always spell it Michelle, but pronounce it Micheal, although on every legal document- including school rosters and medical information it has to be spelled Michlle

He has always been called Mikey* and that is what we have taught him to spell/write since he came to us. We would have liked if his adoption became final so we could legally change the spelling of his name to Micheal before teaching him how to spell his name.

Everyone who reads his name reads it as the female version. Doctors offices call and remind me to bring 'her' insurance card to the appointment, well-intentioned pre-K teachers tried say it with an accent to make it sound less feminine and more exotic. Very bluntly, This is a black boy growing up with white parents and significant physical scars. He doesn't need a girl's name too.

Yesterday was Kindergarten orientation. Baby 4 went right up to his new teacher, who seems like a pleasant but set in her ways older teacher, and said, "Hi! I'm Mikey." She looked through her roster and asked me if we had just registered for school. I told her the name is Micheal spelled Michlle and she looked at me cross eyed like so you wanted him to sit alone at lunch. 

After we played in the room a little bit, the teacher approached us and said, "I hear you calling him Mikey. We'll be calling him Micheal here in school because he needs to know his whole name so he can be confident and certain who he is. Also so he'll learn to spell his full name." I smiled very politely and explained our name situation. She smiled politely and said that the legal spelling of his name is what every child should learn in Kindergarten.

Oh, kind of vital to the story- BioDad was right there this whole time.

I couldn't outright say, "Hey lady! I'm trying to adopt this kid and change his name in the coming year, so back off!" so I said, "Let me write down the various spellings of his name for you and we can talk about our plan before school starts."

I wrote on a slip of paper:

Michlle- legal spelling
Michelle- intended spelling
Micheal- post-adoption spelling

I handed her the paper and she said "OH! Well, maybe in this case it would be OK to let him be Mikey for Kindergarten.". I told her I would talk to the caseworker and see if there is a strong preference on that side.

Since Dad had heard the conversation, but had not chimed in, I asked him what his thoughts were on Baby 4 spelling his name. He seemed very shocked that Michelle would be pronounced as anything but Micheal. Then he said that he never wanted Baby 4 named Micheal, he wanted him named Jonathan Jr.*. I empathized on how that must be so frustrating to not have the name he wanted, but it's really too late to change 4's name now. He got it. We talked a little about making Johnathan 4's middle name "after he gets out of foster care" and that seems agreeable on all sides although I was really vague as to how he would be getting out of foster care and who would be changing his name. I asked again about the spelling of Micheal and he said he didn't know. I told him I would ask the caseworker and I emailed her last night to see what she thinks.

The caseworker is absolutely not going to tell me to just go ahead and teach him "Micheal" because we're not there in the case yet, but she might give the teacher a nudge to keep his name "Mikey" on his papers.

I just think if we can avoid name confusion for Baby 4, we should. It's amazing that our kids do so well adapting to a new last name when they are adopted. I can't ask him to learn a different spelling for his first name too. Likewise, I can't let him get picked on or forever have to correct people on the pronunciation/spelling of his name for the rest of his life either.

I want to know what you would do. Leave a comment!!

*Disclaimer: Michlle, Michelle, Micheal, Mikey, and Johnathan are names I made up to use as examples. Although they are not the actual names in our story, they prove the point quite accurately.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Monthly Magazine Break

That's pretty much all Family Court has been for us in the last 6 months- a time where I pick up a copy of "Celebrity Smut" magazine and spend a couple hours reading it in the lobby before heading home. We had court yesterday. The only positive thing I have to say is that we only waited 40min before being called instead of the usual 2 hours.

Relative Resource's attorney still has not received the ICPC denial letter that was sent to CPS. CPS could just fax over a copy of it, but that seems like it would be too easy. So we adjourned RR's portion of the case.

I've been a very good anonymous foster parent and described Mom's situation as "facility living" in past posts. I guess I'll continue that, but she's exactly where you think she is. She will be there until Baby 4 is a teenager. That pretty much makes it a termination situation for her. We all know that this is how the case will end, but we still come to court every month and talk about the goal of "return to parent".

Mom has asked not be present at court because it is a 6 hour trip to court. She has appeared via phone a couple of times,  but that's pretty useless because in order to take any action in the case, she would have to be physically present. CPS asked the judge to require her physical appearance for today. Then between last court date and today, Mom's lawyer asked the court to allow a phone appearance.

So Mom wasn't there today. CPS complained about that. Mom's lawyer said that her client is taking college courses in the facility and the time it takes to get to court and back would cause her to lose credits that she's working on.


I left my baby in the Intensive Care Unit the day after surgery to be here! No one is asking the judge to excuse me! The caseworker left all her other cases to be here. All these lawyers have better things to do. How is it that everybody else has to give more of their time and the only person who actually hurt the child gets to go on without the inconvenience.

If being here is really that big of a deal, just sign your surrender and you'll never have to come to court again. Problem solved!

So we adjourned again until September- Where I'll go a read the next issue of "Delicious Recipes You'll Never Actually Try" magazine and nothing will get done again.

For anyone who is wondering about where Dad was in this situation- We couldn't talk about him today. He was there, but his lawyer didn't show. Seriously?

I got the feeling that everyone has lined up and are all moving towards us adopting Baby 4. There are some disagreements as to the details of how that will go down, but I'm thinking it will happen...

... in about 20years

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How was your visit?

Hey Bud! How was your visit?


Who was there?


Did you have fun?

The girl did this to me **sticks up middle finger**

What girl?

The girl at the visit

(I love 5 yrs olds)

Was she little like you or big like high school? (As in high school musical. Don't judge me)

No! She was a grown up!

Do you know her?

Yes. She's at the visit with her kid.

She's a Mommy? Why was she mean to you?

Because she's mad at Daddy. He's going to fight her and punch her face.

I'm sure Daddy is not going to fight with anyone. He was probably mad that she was being mean, but we would never punch someone even if we're mad, right?

He said that he was going to spit on her baby if she did this **sticks up middle finger** to me again.

That's not nice. I'm sorry you heard the grown ups being mean. They shouldn't have said those things. How about when you talk about it, you say "she stuck up her middle finger", instead of actually doing it. That way you're not giving mean signs like she did. 

That's bad

Yes, that's a bad sign because it hurts people's feelings. What did the caseworker say about the lady that was mean to you?

She didn't see it

(It's a supervised visit)

Where was she?

In the hall with her friends

So what happened after Daddy said mean things?

We played basketball and I winned, then Daddy winned. We take turns winning.

Ok, Well I'm glad you had fun.

So I had Baby 4 tell this story to the caseworker when she came over for her home visit. She told me later, when 4 wasn't around that Dad and this Mom had met at the visitation center and started a relationship that has apparently ended. I could write an entire post about the absurdity of that set up, but I'll spare you. She said that the caseworker who supervises the visits is now just monitoring them so she watches from a distance and peeks in a few times during the hour. I expressed my discontent with the visits being monitored instead of supervised when the judge has not made that change. The feeling I got was that this is a staffing issue and there is not a caseworker who can devote the full hour to be right with 4 in the visit. They ended up moving the visit of the woman involved and 4's visit stayed the same. I don't know that anyone addressed Dad's behavior at all.

This makes me mad to no end. Our kids come into care because the situations in their family of origin are dangerous. I, as a foster parent, am supposed to keep him safe. No matter how good I do, though, if CPS doesn't do anything to protect him for the one hour per week that they are in charge, then how can he remain safe? AH!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Promise not to laugh?

This story is not funny. It's horrible and traumatizing and you should feel bad for me.

My husband has this cat that he loves and thinks she's so cute. She's not. Her name is Persephone. She thinks she's a panther. We got her as a kitten and she was happy to be an inside cat until last year when she decided to travel the world and find herself. She would sneak out the door when we let the dogs out, and when we stopped her, she would barrel through our window screens- breaking them on the way out. We finally gave up and let her come and go as she pleases now.

She's a little biger now, but still fopols people with that angel face

This summer, Persephone has invested her time in hunting for sport. We don't have any rodents for her to hunt at our home, so she goes to the end of our street where there are little league fields surrounded by woods. She brings home rabbits, birds, and mice expecting a round of applause and room on the mantel to display her work.

I have had pet mice. Furry little balls of mice-y cuteness that I am in no way afraid of. The mice Persephone brings home are not like pet store mice. they are HUGE and TERRIFYING and DEAD. Seriously, the stuff nightmares are made of. My skin is crawling just writing this.

Baby 4's caseworker came over for her bi-monthly visit last week. We spent some time talking about 4's respite weekend that started that Friday- which he wass super excited about. Then we talked about the fight that broke out at the last visitation- which I will blog about later. Finally 4 said, "Do you want to come see my rocket?", and we headed outside.

We are outside literally 20 seconds, when I see panther-cat in the corner of our back yard with a giant mouse. I immediately start internally chanting, "Don't look over there, Don't look over there"- thinking that the caseworker might be so enthralled with 4's rocket launching abilities that she wouldn't notice our little rodent friend. She probably wouldn't have noticed, but Baby 4 started pointing and screaming, "Persephone has a rat!! Caseworker, Come look at the rat!!!"

AND she obliged

AND Baby 4 told her about the last one we found in the yard that had bugs on it

AND he told her that Mommy is afraid of rats and so she left it in the yard until Daddy got home.

AND I was mortified

AND we look like dirty people with a mouse infestation

I want to send her a follow up email:

Dear Caseworker,

We really don't have a rodent problem. We have a wild cat problem. I will immediately give her away on Craigslist.

Love, Teresa

Thursday, August 2, 2012

First Day- August

I want to see your day!! Head over to Journey to Josie and check out what everyone did this month- then link up for September!!