Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This is scary, but not "boo" scary

A couple of weeks ago we started Christmas shopping. We saw something for Princess we HAD to had to get. It was a princess set where the princess bore a remarkable likeness to our own princess. Well, we got it home, tossed it up into the attic and forgot about it until today when I went to wrap a few items. While I was taking this picture.....





I noticed something else. Not only could our own princess have been the model for the toy, THEY HAVE THE SAME NAME. Now I don't normally disclose the names of any of the kiddos on this, don't want anybody Googling us and finding out our dirty little secrets. But if the name in image is a problem, hubby will let me know.


And like the princess toy, our own little princess can sit, stand and hold things in her hand. But is that brush not ridiculously large? I thought so. When you share it with her pony I guess it has to be.

We also got her the castle to go with her princess, but the castle comes with a blonde princess wannabe, I was going to kick blondie to the curb. Hubby thought it might be better that blondie became the bff. What is it with us girls and our jealousies? So, she get's a Madame Tussaud like replica of herself, a prince, a pony, but also a skinny blonde. What more can a girl ask for?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Anything you say can and will be used against you ....when you least expect it

My oh MY, did we have an eventful Urgent Care visit this evening. As you'll recall, Princess was suspected to have a UTI, and with Felpsy's arm reset, we didn't have time to get to the pediatrician during office hours, so it was left to Urgent Care. Thank you God for inventing that little gem, nine hours in the ER is NO FUN.

Felpsy and I got back from the bone doc, his biggest fear? Not that his severed bone would pierce his skin, that's mine. No, that Bob would be mad at him. Bob wasn't, of course Bob gets paid twice. Bob being the surly man who has been doing this for 30 years and only seen someone take off the plaster "a couple of times." Felpsy, use your powers for good.

Anyway, I walk in the door, tag Felpsy out and Princess in. Of course Booger is feeling left out, so he and Daddy joined us, leaving Big Girl and Big Boy to watch Radical and Felpsy.

I signed in the heir apparent and while waiting was doing the monthly paperwork, and the paperwork from the numerous medical visits. Princess and Booger took turns for a moment on the fun things they had to offer, then began to fight over them, jump off the furniture and other naughty kid things that drive us all crazy. Daddy offered to stay with her while I took Booger home, then I reminded Daddy about collecting the urine from a three year old girl part and he decided we'd both stay. Well, Princess had to go before we got in so we got a sample cup and biohazard bag from the receptionist and headed for the bathroom. We returned moments later with Princess proudly holding her bagged and cupped urine waving it around for all to see. Announcing to the world that she got to pee in a cup and here it is, look. See? Receptionist didn't want it so we got to keep it. Woohoo.

Before during or after this, an ambulance pulls into the ambulance bay and Princess starts screaming, "he's dead, oh no, he's dead, oh my goodness, oh my goodness." I informed her that they don't send an ambulance when you die, which set the 12 year old girl with the broken nose into fits of laughter. Which was good, because she had NOT been in a good mood.

Daddy and Booger had left for a walk and returned. And put down the coffee, send the children into another room, this is where it gets good. Princess climbs up on her dad's lap and says in her loudest quietest three year old voice "Daddy, what's that in your pants? Daddy, what is that? It's not your phone. What is it? Daddy, WHAT IS THAT in your pants?" For the record everyone, it WAS his phone. We and the twelve year old nearly died laughing.

The rest of the evening, yawn. She doesn't have a UTI, but she has something, which means.....you guessed, another doctor visit. Yippee. When do I get a raise? My last one was $0.24 a day, two years ago. I'd sell out to TLC, but I don't have video consent privileges, yet.....

If I Stop Laughing, I'm Going to Cry

Yesterday, bright and early we were off to see the orthopedist to get Felpsy's arm set. 2 hours I will never get back. Frustrating that the receptionist would not give me the medical report which needs to be turned into CPS within 24 hours of a visit of this nature. "I'm not sure Foster Parent's get these." OK then I can't consent and you just treated a foster kid without consent you bad girl. She informed me that I could get a copy from medical records later this week, if I had the correct paperwork. Blug- referred to my agency, no longer my problem.

We were to go back in ten short days to get it off, but Felpsy took care of it last night. I'm sure I've told you all that he has a nervous habit of scratching the insides of his elbows until they are whiter than I, kind of hard to do when you have a plaster cast on. But if you pull out all the stuffing you can slide that puppy right off. So, here we go again.

Well, in the midst off all of this, daycare called, Princess needed a change of clothes. I had left some there as is policy, well she had not one but two accidents today. Of course, once the twins saw me, I was taking them home. We got home about nap time, had them go potty and hop into bed. Princess was going potty and screaming bloody murder. UTI. So, back to Urgent Care later this evening, once we get back from the orthopedic reset.

Thank God that Big Girl is home this week. She was able to sit on the ones staying home so I didn't have to take all three to what will have to be the least exciting events of my week. Medical waiting rooms.

We have five doctor visits in less than a week, and now Big Girl thinks she may have a sinus infection. Goodbye flexible spending account, we'll miss you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The best fourth hand information available

So, I have a friend who has a friend......Seriously though, my babies have an oldest brother, who has a foster parent, who has a caseworker who went to court today. She reports that the judge has suspended visits, imposed a time limit of six months (gasp, I know....) and told Mama that if she would like to show cause for resuming visits she will have to have her ducks in a row and petition the court. The attorney for Mama did not show today, and Mama appeared for herself, first time in over 15 months that she has even attended court.

Now, I am not sure if this six month limit is a hard and fast, reunify or terminate six months, or if it is the point at which they start the termination proceedings. I am hoping that it is termination due to the fact that Felpsy is going in to Kindergarten next year and I would like to keep him in a private school setting for as long as we are able. This would not be possible, because foster children are not allowed to attend private schools. Boo. Hiss. He has been eligible for Early Head Start and Pre-K and I could save $$$$$. But we are really enjoying his preschool experience and today when we stopped in to tell his class that we were not coming due to his broken arm, his teacher stopped the class so they could all pray for him. While I know there are many Christian's in public schools, they cannot stop class to have everyone pray.

Anyway, I've asked the attorney to give me an official report by end of biz tomorrow, so if any of this information changes, I'll be sure to let you all know.

Thanks for your prayers.

BTW - We saw the pediatrician for the broken arm, and he forwarded all of the info to an orthopedist. We have not heard from said orthopedist, and the ped says not to be concerned if it is Friday or next week before we get in. So, ok, good thing we rushed him in. Apparently, poorly healed fractures are only bad if there isn't thousands of dollars of tax payer money being redistributed to not get urgent care. My rant for a different day. I am thankful that the state is picking up the bill on that, I just wonder how many people couldn't afford to take their kid in on something like this, who are later deemed bad parents. This obviously isn't emergent, and no one seems surprised. Felpsy was not in agony, and has only taken one dose of Ibuprofen, and only because he heard the doctor say "if he needs it" and of course he did. Nothing has been said today about any pain. Anyway, like I said, we'll save that for another day.

Again, thanks for all your prayers.

Court Today

No big changes expected, but it's at 2:00 central time, send up a little prayer about that time that all goes well for our babies and their siblings.

Also, Felpsy and I will be fixing his funny bone today, he broke it just below the shoulder last night.

Thanks so much for your prayers, they mean the world to us.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Socially Active Teens

She always has the best stories. One such reminded me of this.

Our pediatrician is an American by choice. Austrian by birth. His bedside manner as well as his english have a lot to be desired, but I can call, get in, see him, get a prescription filled and be home in under an hour. This with three kids under five, I'll deal with the heavy accent and the gruffness, time is something you never get back, and sitting three hours in a waiting room is not how I choose to spend my life. As an added bonus, he seems to know everything and has diagnosed many things that others have missed.

He is quite accommodating to the scores of children I have, trying to see them all at once so I don't have to make multiple trips. One day, we had the entire posse in his big room. Getting all of the preliminary background on all of them before taking them off to examine them more closely in the small room. One by one he asked me if the born of the heart babies were adjusting well, were "socially active" knowing all about their psychological issues and such, these were relevant questions for the BOTH children. Then he gets to my BOB girl. A teen who will remain nameless. She being the oldest he asks if she is "sexually active". I replied, "no, I don't think so." Big girl then chimes in with "I AM TOO MOM. I HAVE LOTS OF FRIENDS." Then starts naming them one by one by one, girls and boys with which she hangs. Indignant that I would see her as unpopular. I shot her a look and mouthed "sexually" at which point she died. Luckily we were in a doctors office, but that poor girl has not gone back since.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Am OH So Tired of This

Can I just say that they should not call it anything close to CHILD Protective Services. It seems that the only thing the department has protected our children from is a loving, stable, and permanent family. Thanks guys, really dodged that bullet kiddos.

Today we had a visit, and I don't know if it's the transporter's job to upset everyone, but she has a knack for it. I do a dump and run, because I don't want to be accused of hovering over Mama's time. The other foster parent stays and then gives me the run down. He pulled me aside after the visit and told me that the kids that were placed in the same town as Mama had been going on weekend visits, and they are planning on starting weekend visits with ours after the next hearing on 12/3. He told me a bunch of other things that the transporter said.

I called the ex-mother-in-law who has one of the kids in the sibling group. She confirmed that the local kids were going to unsupervised in home visits every Saturday. She also told me that mama's psychiatrist had recommended weekend visits, the department said no visits, and the judge compromised and made the visits Saturday only.

Ex-MIL told me that she has also been told, like myself and one of the other foster parents, that the department is going to ask for termination in December. What we don't understand is that if they are less than six weeks from terminating, why are they starting in home unsupervised visits? The kids have been in care for over four years, there have never been any unsupervised visits, why would they start unsupervised visits less than six weeks before they terminate rights?

I spoke to CPS this week and they told me that there were no significant changes. Wait, unsupervised visits aren't significant? Of course, I haven't even seen my CPS caseworker since July, and the only reason I saw him then was that he was forced by the judge to lay eyes on the kids before we took them on vacation.

I have long since concluded that the department is either dishonest or incompetent, or that there is a larger criminal force at work here. Remember this is the department who couldn't find a criminal record on someone who was sitting in jail on a probation violation. Why, because they forgot that one can also commit federal crimes. Oops. It frightens me that the welfare of my children are in these hands.

We have been cautioned by our attorney to not distinguish our kids from the sibling group, as that might leave the sibling group vulnerable to reunification. It is easier to reunify three than six. Yet, I am at the point that I don't care. I need to look out for my children, and my family.

I MUST remember that God is in control. I would like it most if we could sit down and speak Mommy to Mama, but it has been forbidden. So, this is something that I will have to leave to Him. I hate it, I want to be able to do something. This is not what I envisioned when I took that call four years ago. This all must stop, and soon.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Great Love

And here is how to measure it - the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends. John 15:13 NLT




I may be more familiar to you in the NIV


Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.




I had always assumed that this meant to die for someone else. Our orientation into foster care gave me a different perspective. I'm sure you probably have an idea of what your family will look like when it's complete. Well groomed, well behaved smiling cherubs on your annual Christmas card. What about the other 364 days?




What happens when your perfect scenario come up, but comes with three siblings? What happens when one sibling in the group is not right for your situation. What if you're married to the problem child's father or mother?



I will admit that I've failed many times in the department of giving up my life, so there is no condemnation here. But I being the bigger person literally, shouldn't I have been the bigger person figuratively? How would it have changed my life to love them anyway? How would it have changed theirs? It's hard to weigh, but we've always tried to go with what was best for the whole. It's only easier on paper to have to give up on a child in foster care. It's still a child that you were given to love, and it's difficult to admit that love ain't always enough. When you married into it, biblically there isn't much choice. I don't have step children, but know many step parents, and from what I hear, it ain't easy.


I had to lay down my vision of the perfect family. I know my husband laid down his. And every day, we lay down a little more of our life for them. It's not because we are better, or stronger or have it more together, we certainly don't. I would like nothing more than to wave a magic wand and finalize this adoption, and yet I have to lay that down. New opportunities, in new places we have to lay down. Our lives are not our own, and tomorrow, we will lay them down again.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Can't Wait 'Til That Frontal Lobe Gets Done

Sometimes I just don't get the teens. Last night Big Boy wanted a bottle, so he emptied an entire, new mind you, bottle of dish soap into the sink. We have a soap dispenser not 10 inches from the sink he could have easily emptied the entire contents of the bottle into, but noooooo.

His reasoning? I had not spent any money out of pocket for it, therefore it didn't cost me anything. Therefore, it had no value.

I took the real cost of the soap out of his allowance. My reasoning, he hadn't yet received the money, therefore it had no value to him. I was wrong, it did have value to him. I still don't think he gets it, maybe in six years.... I won't hold my breath.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dear babies

I hope you are having fun at Hannah's house. I understand the purpose of respite is to allow us time to get caught up on things, but it's awfully quiet around here. Last night during dinner, I sat down the entire time. When bedtime rolled around, there were no blankies to find, no drinks to fetch.

I don't think that God intended mommies to sleep until 9:00, I got bored and restless, despite being sick. I could handle it no longer, I got up and cooked breakfast for the boys.

The garbage man came and went, and no one cared. The big boys did not fight for a prime window seat to watch him do his job. I noticed, but again, no one cared. I will say it's not nearly as exciting here without you.

So, we will enjoy the quiet here today, but will be so happy when we can see you again.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Dear Fire Department

To whom it may concern:

A 5 lb fire extinguisher? In the kitchen? Mounted? Really? You saw my kitchen. It's gorgeous. Where in the decor would that fit? I've looked diligently for a decorative container to keep it in, there aren't any. Having just remodeled my kitchen, had I known these stupid new requirements, I would have factored that into the decor.

Also, I have had many fire inspections, this being my seventh. Why is it that each inspector has a different opinion as to the placement of smoke detectors? And aren't detectors BOTH in and out of the bedrooms a little redundant?

My last, but certainly not least issue....our dead bolts. If there is a window near the door, the police insist that we have a keyed lock, you however insist that we have a non-keyed lock. Which inspector am I supposed to listen to? Am I supposed to keep my family safe from home invasions or fire? Which is more likely? Also, if there is a fire, I will have a 5 lb extinguisher close at hand.

And for convenience, you might have your brother Joe come in right behind you selling enormous fire extinguishers and smoke detectors out of the trunk of his car.

Sincerely,

Annie

Court

We've got a hearing in our case coming up on December 3rd. I haven't gotten word from our paralegal as to what is going to transpire. He just tells me that it's a placement hearing and he's waiting to hear from the other attorney. If I ever got to speak to the actual attorney, I'd see if she'd try to push mediation. I HATE THIS.

Also have other friends, one is in court today, please pray for a positive outcome. There are some INSANELY BAD things going on there.

Also Hannah's attorneys were in court on Thursday filing her appeal. It could take up to a year for an answer. The prosecutor was on tv last night saying something I'll misquote here, "we offered her a deal, she wanted to go all or nothing on capital murder" no I think she didn't want to plead guilty to committing a crime that she didn't. I admire that, I probably would have pleaded to stay out of jail and with my family, but I totally get it. They probably wouldn't let her plead "nolo" which is, "I'm not saying I'm guilty, but I concede to the fact that you will probably convict me anyway."

Just keep all of these things in mind when you wish the government would do more. It's not their job and they don't do it well.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Attention Grocery Shoppers

I hope you all enjoyed our shopping experience as much as I. I would like to apologize to everyone who was annoyed by Felpsy shouting "mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom." Some of you were kind enough to point out that I should "just answer the boy." How kind of you to offer your advice, I had not thought of answering him, oh wait, I did answer him, the first time, and the 400th time, and the 2000th time. How much more annoying would the experience have been had it gone "mom, what, mom, what, mom, what, mom, what." I might even have thought to stop what I was doing and look him in the eye and ask him "what?" the first time, oh wait I did.

I apologize for trying to socialize a traumatized child, he really should be locked away until he can handle outings and disruptions to his schedule better. Or better yet, I should just realize that after three years I am unable to fix him and send him back into the system that broke him. Wouldn't it be a grand experiment to see what he'd be like in 14 years after switching homes every six weeks his entire life? I do want to apologize for parenting in public, but until the government outlaws it you will have to endure my second hand parenting. Just shut your eyes and ears and walk by quickly, and I'll try not to blow my smoke in your direction.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Tad RADish

What was reported to have happened.

I was swinging higher and higher and I could see over the top of the house. I jumped out of the swing and hit my chin on the roof. It didn't even hurt.

What really happened.

I was running out of the house, trying to beat my brother and sister to get the newspaper even though I had volunteered for another job, the first job offered, before I waited to see which would be the most preferred job. In my rage to win, I tripped over my own two feet and scraped my chin on the sidewalk. I cried inconsolably for the better part of an hour.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Never Mind

Two weeks ago, you'll remember that we had an issue at McD's. I would like to rescind my thank you.

Guess who had a great social building experience today? Yes, that's right, my not so much babies. Yes, last time they were all yelling and screaming and testing boundaries, and you all thought I was a mean ol' mommy who was both over reacting and not reacting enough.

Well, today, we walked in. No parking lot issues. We went straight to the play area. No stopping to flirt with customers and beg for food. No crying at the soda machine. No crying on the floor regarding the Happy Meal toy we had to have. Just a nice orderly duck waddle to the back. Shoes off, neatly stored. Followed by a briefing on everyone's expected behavior.

"This is the boundary.
You will not scream, you will not take your food away from the table, you will not push each other."

And for 1.5 hours they ate appropriately, stayed where they supposed to, played with four other kids, Boog had to be reminded once that there was no taking the food in the play land. We had only a slight issue when it was time to leave. But again, we walked quietly through the restaurant and through the parking lot without histrionics.

So, there! I did have a plan all along. It just took two weeks to see the results. Of course you weren't there. And the parents who were there today, had no idea I was a horrible parent. Of course I am fully expecting that there will always be issues. Next time might go well, or it might not. The rules will remain the same, even if it means I look like a permissive tyrant to all of you. I would like to reconvene this meeting in the year 2025 and compare the results.....

Saturday, October 25, 2008

20/20 Rant

First of all my rant isn't with 20/20, I think they reported the story accurately, which is something that has been missed by the local media. First off, let me say, that I do NOT know this family. I know people well, who know them well.

That prosecuting attorney really irked me. "I did the right thing in convicting her." What the crap? You didn't even give the jury proper instructions. They found her guilty of omission. Guilty of not getting medical help. What you failed to tell the jury is this, in order to find her guilty of capital murder you have to know BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, that she withheld medical treatment knowing he would die if she did. One of the jurors they interviewed kept saying "we'll never know" when asked that very question. DING DING DING DING DING, we have reasonable doubt.

If you go to http://freehannah.com you'll see in the appellate papers that at least one juror has issued a statement to the fact that they were unaware that the standard to be met had to be that Hannah knew the boy would die.

As for the camera in the bedroom. I have been asked by many a caseworker to put them in our bedrooms. We've always refused, but they particularly urge it when room sharing is going on between children not biologically related.

In my opinion Hannah is the scapegoat for the incompetence of our system. Both the foster system and the legal system. People were outraged that a child died while in foster care. More importantly, the biological family still had legal rights to the boy and you can bet they were filing lawsuits left and right, convicting Hannah alleviated some of the liability of the state.

The local media focused on Hannah's emotional state in the Urgent Care Center. She was performing CPR when they arrived and wasn't upset enough. So had she been too hysterical to perform CPR that would have been better? Apparently she didn't think he was going to die.

Something else they tried to put out in the media was that Andrew had cigarette burns all over his body. Turns out they were mosquito bites he'd picked at obsessively, and if you've ever been on the south coast of Texas in September you know all about mosquito swarms, they are quite literally the size of house flies.

I hate this whole case. I think that the prosecutor needs to become a foster parent for about five minutes, her whole attitude will change. I think someone needs to bring her a baby that lived for two years with a meth addict and then two years in the foster system.

and another little tangent here, the former foster parent saying "he didn't act like that when he lived with me." Yeah, he was probably attatched to you, but since you didn't want to adopt him, you perpetuated the breaking attachment cycle and amped it up a notch or two. I know attachments can be transferred but neither the state nor most foster parents want to take the time to do it properly. Especially to a family who has never fostered before. It takes four to six months to do it properly, four to six months of the caseworker working with two families for one child. Four to six months that the foster family has to deal with another intrusion in their life. Four to six months seems for ever when all you want to do is bring your child home, but no one explains this to the adoptive parents. When Felpsy came to our house, I specifically begged that they do it as weekend respite for about a month then more frequent visits. They wouldn't do it.

Sorry this is so poorly written and non objective, but I'm emotionally involved here. I'm stuck on the fact that she'd have gotten off with probation had she been driving through the neighborhood and had "accidentally" killed him by shooting 20 rounds into his house. It makes me sick.

But, from what I can gather she is making the most of her time in prison, her husband and church are standing behind her. Let's all pray that in two weeks they'll agree to accept her appeal. I'm also going to find out where I can send her some cards and letters. Her website is asking that you submit your letters online in the contact us portion, they print them out and deliver them to Hannah that way. I'll contact someone here locally and see if we can send actual cards and letters. Let me know if you are interested. In the meantime let's all pray for them.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Local BOTH Family on 20/20

20/20 will be running a story on this family tonight, catch it if you can. Also go over and read their story. They tell it much better than I could.

The Overton's were adopting a child from foster care, the child died and the mom was sentenced to life without parole, leaving five bio children, one of whom was born after the incident but before her conviction.

This case makes me crazy, from the detective who investigated the case that was married to a CPS Supervisor, can you say conflict of interest, to the inconclusive autopsy reports, to the lies reported by the media. Throw in poor jury instructions and take away the option of lesser included charges and you have injustice at its best.

This mom, barring legal relief, will spend the rest of her life in prison. Gang bangers don't even get that for shooting up houses and killing multiple kids. I encourage you to read their story and watch 20/20 tonight.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

But it's the best invention since boobies

I was waiting in line at Target today, Princess and the neighbor girl decided last night that they HAD to be cheerleaders for Halloween. So, Princess and I went out on a girl date to Target, where else, in search of the ever elusive cheerleader costume. Found one. This is when I realized that Princess had no clue what a cheerleader was.

"NOOOOOOOOOO, that's gross."

$20 bucks saved. Apparently her version of cheerleader is a $4.00 tiara and necklace set. With "bootiful jerls".

So, back to the line, there was a very new mom behind me, complaining to her mother that there were no convenient ways to pack formula while out.

But there are, those little preportioned packs, or better yet the tupperware type containers with the flip top that is the exact right size for dumping premeasured portions of formula. I turned and offered my advice.

"I have those and I don't like them."

Well, I'm sorry, but they are the best invention for feeding a child since the boobie, but if you'd like to haul $30 of formula around in a flimsy topped formula container, be my guest.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hello? Is there anybody there?

I got the kids' case file from our attorney today. Mostly the court reports, psychological's boring stuff.

Starting in October 2006 every court paper had the finding that "the children are available for adoption". It repeats that once more in 2006, at least three other times in 2007, and in February of 2008 there is an initial placed next to that finding, and that finding is absent from further filings.

So, one of two things have happened. Either the kids have been available for adoption for two years and no one knew. Or the court and the county attorney, the parents' attorney's, CPS, the ad litem and the fostering oversight department missed a crucial finding for at least 16 months.

I don't know which would be worse.

Also, for those of you who don't believe there are adoptable babies available from foster care, I met a foster parent at the dentist today that has been caring for a child since birth, he is now 18 months. She has no intention of adopting as she is in her early 60's, but they cannot find a home for him. Sad news is that he's bonded to this woman who will not care for him his entire life, because there are people who are too afraid to take the chance on at risk babies.

Now, I know that everyone has to come to terms with what they can handle, but statistics are on the side of adoption if a child stays in care past the initial hearing. There are a lot of kids who are available for adoption. A lot that leave the hospital in foster care. There are also a lot of parents who cannot, for whatever reason, check the box "at risk placements". Fact of the matter is that all children in foster care are placed at risk.

Anyway, with the incompetency that is running rampant in the foster care system, it's amazing that any person would sign up for it at all.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thank You

To the Mothers at McDonald's today,

I would like to thank you all for the wonderful advice you all gave whispered to each other while rolling your eyes today during our visit. Regardless of the fact that Felpsy looks normal, he is in fact NOT. What you may call "over reacting", I call setting a rule for the conduct I expect and sticking to it. While you saw a kid running past a boundary to tell his Mom "I love you so much," what was really happening was he was testing that boundary and my commitment to it. While I can see by the way your children conducted themselves today, that you are exceptional parents, it takes some of us a little longer to get things right. I, along with many of my friends here, would be interested in attending your next class on dealing with disorganized attachment and intermittent explosive disorder.

And yes, a four year old yelling "shut up I hate you" may need more severe punishment than "we can no longer play here," I cannot, nor would I, take his food and spank him. Getting such an emotional response from me is what he was looking for, we set up the rules and I followed them. Next time, or the next, or the next.... he'll understand that the rules also apply to him. Had I had him for the first 18 months of his life, I'm sure we'd have covered it by now, but he has very ingrained trust issues, and I am not perfect.

Again, your kind comments and empathy have made my day, and I appreciate your loving support.

Annie

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Good Parents

So, over here we were discussing all of the things we would never do as parents. I for one have never notgiven in to whining and such things, nor have I eaten candy while forcing vegetables on the kids. I would be the first to say that I may be the worst parent ever, just ask the teenagers, they'll agree. When it comes to some things anyway.

I was always concerned that my kids were perpetually bruised and scratched, but having seen ER photos of kids who are really bruised and scratched, I know that there is definitely a difference. My kids are at the age where they can wander off to the next room and play. Of course one of them is shrieking right now, is this just trying to get someone else in trouble, or do I need to go check? I've found that when there is blood involved it will find me so that I'm not running to the back of the house every 14 seconds.

There are times when I feel that I'm putting a little too much energy into my current project and neglecting the kids. Of course when neglect hits the radar of the authorities, it's usually because the kids spent the weekend locked in an apartment alone with a remote, 10 sippy cups filled in the fridge and two bags of family sized chips, if they are lucky. I also know that being present does not necessarily mean being present.

I don't read to the kids every single night, I don't bathe them every single day. They don't always get 11 servings of bread, nine servings of fruits or vegetables, one hour of exercise and some days spend too much time in front of the tv. Sometimes they have to wear dirty socks, and mismatched shoes. I loathe the PTA, and soccer. So, does this make me a bad parent?

I sure hope not. My eldest just came home for the weekend from college. She seems to be a functioning adult. If not for the food we are serving here, she might be content to never hang out with us oppressors again. Stark contrast to the other adult children on the block. When we moved into our house six years ago, there were two men living with their parents. One parent quickly told us it was temporary, he's still there, with his kid, who is 11. The other "man" just moved out, but not without stealing all of his parents power tools.

So, I guess I'm at least an ok parent. I won't be winning any awards for being the best, or pretending to be. Who knows what really goes on behind closed doors? But I'm hoping that my children will be functioning members of society when they grow up. I'm hoping that they are healthy about their eating and exercise habits, without being obsessed. I hope they can put the first things first. I hope that I never have to change the locks and install extra security measures to keep them from ripping me off. I guess I won't know if I really am a good parent until I can look back. By then I'll probably Monday morning quarterback the whole thing and see where I went wrong and what I could have done better.

Well, I guess I'll just love them, and do the best I can every day. I'll teach them the things I know. I'll live my life knowing they are watching, and leave the rest of it up to God.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I don't need medicine

Princess was running a little bit of a fever and I asked her to take some Ibuprofin to help it. She said she didn't need medicine because,

"Daddy could cuddle me better."

How cute is that. If only I had the power to cuddle everyone better.

Friday Mornings

On Friday mornings my husband gets up to attend the men's breakfast Bible study. He leaves super early. This morning about 2.5 seconds after his feet hit the floor the disturbance in the force was felt and three small children came a running. (No "foster children" were involved in this story, only my children. Foster children always sleep in their own beds by order of law) But anyway there they were, piling into bed with me to keep me company, because there is nothing worse than stretching out in a big bed all by yourself....

It was nice, the boys weren't fighting over anything. One offered to share his pillow with the other. The girl asked nicely for me to scootch over and we all cuddled up.

Of course now we're paying for the lost hour of sleep. But this morning it was nice.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

By Request - Adoption Incentives

IRS Form 8839

In english now...This is the form that you MUST file the tax year the adoption is finalized. If you are not eligible for the tax credit the year the adoption is finalized, for example if your adjusted gross income is greater than $210,000 (give or take), you have up to five years to claim the subsidy. I'd pay a CPA to figure this one out. Private adoption subsidies are "reimbursements" for actual costs related to adoption, home studies, travel expenses, adoption fees, etc. If you adopt a special needs child from foster care, you can claim the entire $11,390 regardless of your out of pocket expenses. Explained here. If your tax liability for the year is less than $11,390 you must also fill out a carryover form.

Federal Title IV adoption assistance - here it explains that most children in foster care are eligible for this assistance.


Here are some of my friends' states

OH
AR
TX
To find yours go HERE and type in the full spelling of your state and "adoption subsidy".

Note that the amount listed for adoption subsidy is for the legal expenses related to adopting the child. Most attorneys who regularly work within the system will direct bill the state and you will not have to pay the attorney nor will you recieve the check. But this is what triggers the IRS adoption incentives. If you qualify for this state assistance you automatically qualify for the IRS assistance under "special needs". Even if you do not receive further assistance from your state. *****legal disclaimer****I am not a professional consult a CPA in your area, don't sue me, you won't get anything.

If you have already adopted prior to this year, you can appeal to get credit for previous years if you were not informed that these incentives existed. Most agencies I've dealt with don't cover this, but I'll bet they have you sign something that says they did, just being cynical. But worth it to look into.

In my circumstance, when we adopt we will be eligible for special needs subsidy, even though our children are normal and healthy. They qualify for several factors, being they are of a minority group and over the age of two. They are part of a sibling group being adopted together. When the children are placed in adoptive placement their Medicaid cards will change from the state's budget to the fed's budget. We will also begin to receive a monthly stipend, based on the level of care the children are receiving when placed into adoptive placement. We will also be eligible for respite and other things. We will not be able to receive those because there are certain hoops we'll have to jump through to receive them. We are not going to be jumping through any more hoops, but each child would receive 50 respite days a year, that could be used for day camps and sleep away camps and respite respite. Our kids would also be eligible for full tuition at any state college. Some colleges even offer room, board and books.

Also note that if you have a child currently placed in foster care once they transfer over to adoptive care you will stop receiving foster care money. Your adoption subsidy will kick in the first day of the next month, so tricky dick accountant says "Don't accept an adoptive placement until the last three days of the month." This will limit your losses. I know we're not doing this for the money, but take advantage of all the programs to their fullest extent.

So, I hope that was helpful. I do just want to remind everyone to check and see if their children qualify as "special needs" generally speaking kids in foster care do regardless of their mental and physical capabilities. Check it out with your CPA - we generally pay about $200 - $400 a year and we have a corporation and many other facets so, investing a couple of hundred bucks to see if you qualify for several thousand may be worth it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More about Born of the Heart

Several years ago, when my husband and I decided to foster, we knew no other foster families. The more we got into the fostering, the more we met other families. Of course, not all of them shared our beliefs and values and we found that hanging out at agency functions were tolerable at best. So we fostered alone for the most part.

The only fairly sane foster family we knew had parented several of the children in our house. Being severly RAD, this caused a LOT of conflict when we would socialize. So, we didn't. Again, we were doing it alone, with the help of one sane SW. We dealt with many a SW(social worker) but for the most part, they were no help at all.

So, year after year of not having a mutual understanding with anyone. Yes, six year olds can lie about whether or not they've eaten today. You don't have to declare a state of emergency at the school so that he can eat alone, in the cafeteria, with the lunch ladies, and get extra attention that reinforces the fact that he has a mean foster mommy. I decided that I needed more, and there was no more out there at the time, so I made it up.

That's how I got Born of the Heart. I wanted to substantiate that these children are labored into our families just as painfully as laboring a child from your womb. Different, but the same. Yes, maybe the actual acquisition of a child is 'pain free' but there is so much else pain involved with adoption that goes unrecognized and unsupported.

Whether you decide to adopt because of fertility issues, or because there are kids out there who need it, you are going to have things come up that others just don't understand. Also, as women, we like to talk about it, hash out every little detail, mull over what we did, how it worked, how it didn't, what we'd do better next time, and on and on.... I found that my husband doesn't. Not that he's distant and disconnected. He just doesn't feel the need to. So, I figured a women's group would be the perfect avenue.

Also, our church is a mega church. There are many, many adoptive families. Our pastor has adopted internationally. Worship leaders and small group leaders, we are just a church that is very touched by adoption, and sharing that experience is something that I wanted. So, last year I started this group, the blog followed because it was a good way to communicate our happenings to the group. Then I found the joys of bloggy world and got a whole new community in addition to our group.

One of the other foster mommy's is a frequent visitor here, but we had not met until this past weekend. Another foster family was in a legal battle for their son when we met. I don't know how helpful we were, but we were there to support them through getting the child who'd been with them for 18 months returned to their home and adopted. Another thing we've helped people with is educating them on the different 'incentives' that are available to them as adoptive parents. With private and international adoptions you can write off the actual expenses, when you adopt through the foster system, you get a rebate whether or not you incurred any actual expenses. Many people have not been properly educated on this matter. Many know about the Medicaid benefits and decide not to take them, not realizing the long term implications. That is something I've researched and have helped others with.

So, this is why we're here. To support each other through our journeys as parents of children who didn't come out of our bodies. Be it the paperwork, the legal matters, the parenting issues, or just having someone understand that you are not a crazy foster mommy who doesn't "ever" feed her babies. And to share the joys that are unique to us as well.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hey Janes

At our local church we had our women's ministry fall expo this weekend. For those of you 'out there' in bloggy world, this blog was started as part of that ministry. For those of you coming from the Janes expo, first of all welcome, second of all this is where we 'meet' to discuss all of the aspects of raising children who we bore in our hearts. This may mean step parenting, or fostering, or foster/adopt, or domestic or international adoption. And, when I say 'we' meet, I mean that I write and you stop by, commenting if you want. Venting if you need to. Ask questions, there are at least four other people reading this blog on a regular basis. Someone will know your answer.

Also, Janes, we meet......sometimes. A lot of the time we are emailing, or calling, or whatever is needed. I am looking forward to meeting one of my Janes tomorrow when she stops by to help me with my booth. We've communicated so much we both find it hard to believe that we've never actually met. Another BOTH Jane and I see each other often, others not so much.

I am the designated leader of the group, but in no way shape or form the boss of it all. If you need something call me. All of my contact information is on the Janes website. If you got info about our group from a satellite location, let me know you're out there.

Another question posed this evening is the ages of the kids in our group. We have all ages. Babies to teens and everything in between. Should we ever meet I will warn you there is no formal child care. Many of the families have numerous children and finding someone to watch 25-40 kids, Yikes. If you aren't comfortable with the free for all run amokedness that comes with 40 kids in a house then you will need to arrange for your own childcare.

So, whether you adopted 15 years ago or are in the beginning stages of your home study, there is someone here who is going through the same. I will be contacting everyone who signed up at the main campus at some point during the week. And we are so looking forward to hanging out with you. Please don't be scared by what you read or hear here, it's really not that bad. Well, actually it is that bad, but that is why we're here. To help each other through the rough spots.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Finally some News

So as you'll all recall, several weeks ago I sent a letter to our Attorney General. I complained that the County Attorney was not doing their job by allowing our children to wallow in foster care for the last 3 1/2 to 4 years. He kindly told me he couldn't help me, I understand that he cannot take sides in a court case, but had he told me he'd light the fire under the butts of the people who were supposed to be looking into this, that would have been good.

So, after contacting the AG, I was contacted by our local representative's legal counsel. He looked into it for me, said that the county attorney was content with it being 'finalized' back in 2006 when the placed the kids in Permanent foster care Managing Conservatorship. He suggested that we hire an attorney, which we already had done.

Our attorney says that a sufficient fire was lit under the butts of the people there and they are sometime in the next 90 days going to 'begin' proceedings to terminate rights. She's going to pester them once a week until they do. We'll have to go there, but at least we can maybe finally get this done.

So, you want to hear the excuse reason they have been unwilling to pursue termination up until this point? Mama was depressed. Mama didn't understand the process. Mama couldn't emotionally handle having her kids taken away. Well, then maybe Mama should have gotten her act together. Mama doesn't appear to have the Mama bear instinct that is a major component of mothering. I think we all know what I'm tired of....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

If Anyone Knew

So, we all have things we don't necessarily like to share. Truth be told, there are very few sold out Jesus freaks from the cradle to the grave. Sometimes, but more often than not the emphasis is more so on the freak than Jesus. I think when you find a true freak from birth that you will find some Jesus freak parents whose lives were a little more scandalous. Or that the freak has been set apart for their role. Those of us who led scandalous lives know the true power of Jesus, yet we hide.

I have always loved Jesus. I loved going to church as a little girl. Loving the church didn't last, but I always loved Jesus. I found that the church was full of people who were pretending to be perfect, because if 'anyone knew' ....(fill in your own blanks). So all I saw were people who acted perfect, because they wanted to be perfect, missing the point that because of Jesus they already were.

Our current election is very divisive on the issue of "choice." Should there be choice? Should the government be involved? In what cases do we deem a choice to be acceptable. I have my opinions but am still quick to say that I never made 'that choice.' I shouldn't be so quick to praise myself, set myself apart from the millions of women who do. I've spoken to women who are only slightly younger than I, who grew up thinking that it was merely a medical option in the event of an untimely pregnancy. They thought that way, because they were taught that way. They thought that way, until they knew exactly how wrong they were. Women need to hear this, before it's too late.

I understand 'choice' I first got pregnant when I was 18, in college, and of course not married. There was no thought as to what I would do. By that time in our history one out of wedlock baby was acceptable. Three years later, I found myself in the same predicament, with another guy. There I was attempting college for the second time, pregnant with my second out of wedlock child, late for my first day of class because of morning sickness. I sat next to someone close to the end of an isle who didn't seem scary. Before we even had exchanged pleasantries she had pulled two things out of her bag. She asked me if I needed either. I told her it was too late on both counts. Too late for the condom as I was already pregnant, and didn't need the Bible because it was just too late.

I, in my naive little mind, could not grasp that God could do anything with my life. I was about one poor choice from a Jerry Springer highlight reel. Luckily, God had other plans. He was able to use even my own rebellion to weave a beautiful story for my life. He has knit together a not so perfect family where this scandalous woman gets a primary role.

My adult life has identified mostly with the woman caught in adultery. Naked and a mess at the feet of Jesus, too ashamed to ask for the grace and mercy that only He can give, and unaware that the crowd has gone. They, too afraid of their own exposure have retreated into their own lives, hoping that know one really knows that which they are too ashamed to speak of.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Listen

Do you hear the angelic choir? Do you see the 'Touched by an Angel' light. We had a huge breakthrough today.

We were watching Jumanji. For those of you who haven't, the kids in the story have recently lost their parents and come to live with their aunt. Later they meet up with Robin Williams' character, who also grew up without his parents. At this point Felpsy verbalized that 'this movie makes me sad.'

Yes, I get that, but I am so happy that he gets that. I'm not happy that he's sad, rather that he

a. Has emotion other than anger
b. Can recognize emotion
c. Can verbalize emotion
d. Displayed empathy for others
e. Allowed a follow up conversation and was able to work through his emotion.

I asked him why the movie made him sad. He said it's sad that kids don't have parents. He finished our conversation telling me that it makes him feel better when he talks about feeling sad with me.

This is without medication or therapy. He finished the movie without any further problems. We had some other behavior issues later in the night, but I attribute that more to the possibility of an overnight storm and a lack of schedule the last few days, rather than any residual sadness.

He has been sleeping in his bed the last few nights. I'm so excited about all of these break throughs. Further indication that the 75% of life theory has some credibility. We are 12 weeks away from that point. He was placed at 19 months, he'll have been with us for thirty six.

Also proud that we've been able to teach him how to handle his emotions. Guess I'll have to start on my own. (Let's see, I have about 50 more years til I've been here 75% of my life)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Let's Make a Change



And vote for someone who values life. (Had you worried there for a minute didn't I?) Thanks to milehimama for this.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The best defense

This irks me. Don't read it if you can't stand babies dieing at the hands of their parents.

When did "I'm too drunk to remember" become a valid defense? Especially when it comes to the care of your child. I have been known to have an occassional drink, but as far as drinking around the children goes. Hardly ever. If I am drinking, my husband is not. If my husband is out of town, I am not drinking. There should always be one competent, sober person in the house with children. Don't you think?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I wonder if it's coincindence.

For a year or two, I don't know it all runs together, but for a long while Felpsy didn't sleep in his bed. He has a bed, he has always had his own bed in our house, and it was never used. If you asked him it was because of "all the blood" that he would rather sleep on the hardwood floor than on his bed.

When he was first placed with us at 19 months he didn't talk. Unless you count "MOM" as the worst swear word you've ever heard. Other than that he didn't talk. And when we put him in his bed he cried, and cried and cried. Ferber didn't work with him. When he did sleep in was short, and he always woke up screaming. Always. It was not until this year, two and a half years after placement that screaming did not greet us with the rising sun. Every day.

We practiced many hours how to wake up. We would "sleep," we would "wake up," we would "look around to see where we are," and we would say "good morning mom." We did this day in and day out, and we would eventually hear "good morning mom," but only after the initial screams.

He finally learned to wake up without screaming. He eventually found his way into bed. He's been there for awhile, without much anxiety. Until recently. He's back on the floor. Because of all the blood.

As it would turn out, and he couldn't know this, the anniversary of his removal from his first family is rapidly approaching. He couldn't know this because the last time he lived with his first family he was six months old. I've found that six month old children do not keep a close eye on the calendar.

So, I wonder if it is just a coincidence that he is back on the floor tonight. Snuggled up safely between his door and the baby gate that we no longer need.

Traditions

About this time three years ago, we had a disruption. A very difficult time. We had hoped from the very beginning to adopt the three kids. They came ranging from age 6-13 and left ranging from 8-14. They were TPR so that situation was different from the situation we are currently going through.

I still have a very broken heart for the three of them. The oldest was fourteen and had never spent two Christmas' in the same house. Each family has their own Christmas traditions. They may follow the same basic time line of dinner, Christmas Eve Service, etc, but each has its own unique twist to the basic. Christmas doesn't feel like Christmas because the calendar says so, it feels like Christmas because we get in our jammies and drive around town looking at Christmas lights.

Traditions can be done at any time or any place. Making wherever you go feel more like home. Tonight we had macaroni for dinner. Before the kids could talk I would sing "Yankee Doodle" whenever we made macaroni. I'd sing up to the "and called it..." part and then try to get them to say "macaroni."

We hadn't done this in awhile, so tonight when one of them asked what I was making, I told them and then Felpsy said you can't say "macaroni" that's our job. So, we went back and did it right. Up until now, it was our own little secret family tradition. I'm quite sure that I'm not the only person on the planet that does that.

When I was young we would dress up, gag and go across the road to my grandmother's house. Our local extended family was all there, we ate soups with little tiny crackers, and got one gift. The giver had been determined when the entire clan from my father's side gathered at Thanksgiving, immediately after our post turkey hike, and right before the pie. Each year my uncle would build some very elaborate box that required tools to open for the gift his family got our grandmother. I think that we were more excited about the box than our gift. The only gift I ever remember receiving at a Christmas Eve celebration was a watch when I was in the second grade. Because we ALLLLLL got watches in the second grade. Because it was tradition. At precisely 10 o'clock we scattered like the house was on fire, because we all knew we had to be in bed by midnight or Santa would fly by our house and we'd miss out.

I have been lax at the family tradition thing. Probably because I had my kids so young I didn't see the importance. At eighteen everything was still lame. Although I have anxiety to this day when I see stockings on someones mantle before Christmas
Eve, and even worse if the stockings don't match.

I've started a few new traditions lately. We were going to have a first day of summer sno-ball fight. You know, the grodiest pink coconut covered hostess snacks that aren't fit for eating. Well, I couldn't find any around summer time, so I waited until the 4th of July. It was hilarious.

For the past couple of years we've had people from church over for Christmas Eve dinner. It hasn't ever been on Christmas Eve though. We go to a megachurch so Christmas Eve services might start as early as the 22nd. But it's awesome, ham balls, potatoes and gravy, rolls, I love it and hope it continues for years to come.

I've been wanting to start a new one for Christmas ever since my friend told me that their kids only get three gifts for Christmas, because Jesus only got three. It's hard though. You want to get the kids everything. But you can't, so why not get them three special refrigerator boxes things? So, we are going to try to exercise a little self control and limit our gifting this year.

And, I hate to admit this, but for the last three years, my post New Year's tradition has been to take back all the banned substances from my house. Since the kids are still wards of the state, people feel the need to get them things. I appreciate the sentiment, but three small children with 10-15 noise producing toys, can you imagine? So, yes, I Annie, take gifts intended for orphans and trade them in for gift cards and buy other things.

Here is a cry for mercy tip for those of you who would buy gifts for foster children. MOST foster homes have LOTS of children in them. There are the exceptions, but for the most part six is normal. Now take the popular gift items such as Lego's, building blocks, story books that sing, cell phones that ring, 100 piece jewelry sets, Barbie and her entourage, crayons. Multiply that by six and scatter them about your house. That's what I would be dealing with. So, I very lovingly pick out a couple of nice things, and donate what would be useful to another family of many, or exchange them for something that would be useful to our children.

So besides stealing gifts from orphans, what are your family traditions?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Best Picture Ever

It's at the very bottom. The one of Sarah Palin and her daughter, too cute.

He Hits Me Back First

Am I the only one who has to deal with this?

Child A slights Child B in some way accidental or otherwise. Child B then hits Child A. Then A hits B back, then B comes crying to me,

"A hit me."

"Did you hit A?"

"Yes."

"Both of you to time out."

While they are heading to time out, Child C does the classic

"Nah nah na nah naaaaah."

"C time out for taunting."

A & B "Nah nah na nah naaah."

Which gets C to lunge at A and B and the fists start flying again. It's like trying to save a mouse from three cats. You're just trying to get out of their with your eyes in their sockets.

"All right you three, I know you haven't started school yet, but at this rate you'll be in time out during Prom."

They would rather stay in time out 'til Christmas than apologize to their sibling.

"I already said 'sorry' to A today."

"Yes, for taking his crayons, this is for something else."

"MO-OM"

"you have to say sorry for everything."

"That's going to take too long."

"Maybe we should work on being nicer to each other."

"But he hits me back first."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Frightening

I've been waiting for the Follower Gadget to become active on Blogger. It's here. I'm activating it. I hope there are more than 2 of you.

Never Mind- This Doesn't Concern You

OK - I love you all, some more than others. I really like most people, well that's not true. I have my share of visitors, and I am glad that you feel blessed by stopping by. This post is strictly for my own personal use. I wanted to create a link for all of my private blogs because they disable the RSS on invite only blogs, (as least as far as I can tell) and this seemed like a good place to post them. So, no worries this will disappear into history in a few days, but it will be useful to me. Don't bother clicking the links, they are all private blogs. (Although for you Princess and the Peanut fans, this is your link from my page.)

Min

Princess and the Peanuts

Are They Really Brothers?



Thanks Christy for this.

Pro Trig Debate

I couldn't have said it better myself.

I don't know if you saw the RNC on Wednesday night or not. If not you missed a moment in history. The speeches were great, but better than that, little Piper Palin holding her baby brother Trig and looking at him like he was the greatest creation on the planet. Smoothing his hair and loving all over him.

90% of his Down Syndrome counterparts never make it out of the womb. They have gone ahead to Heaven, but what have their families missed by sending them on? Probably their greatest creation.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The next BFF of me.

I wonder if it's just me or if all the dirt being dug up on Sarah Palin is only serving to make her more likable. We of course know that Hillary has never had a problem a day in her life. Good for her, but ever since most of us first heard the name Sarah Palin on Friday we hear that she has problems.

First, she cannot control her kids or her husband. Not that they are out of control mind you, just that she doesn't have them on the shortest leash on the planet where she can control their every action. Even on a very short leash, one can find trouble if they are looking, right Mr. Clinton?

Everyone is up in arms today that Mr. Palin got a DUI twenty some years ago. Of course there are men in the Senate who, years ago, have allegedly driven drunk, and allegedly caused the death of their companion, how is Mr. Kennedy hailed and Mrs. Palin (who is not the drunk driver)railed?

My take on it all is that she sounds like someone who has the same problems as I. Someone who wouldn't be out of place at one of our barbeque's. I wonder if she's ever given her kids milk that expired the day before? Or forgot to put the laundry in the dryer before she went to bed, and had to send one of the little Palin's to school in dirty socks. I would not bring up the cost of gasoline with her,

"Yeah, Governor Palin, it costs about $48 more a month for me to fill up my tank, what are you going to do about it?"

"Shut up, I have to fly to work."

Seriously folks, the more you find out about her the more I like her, and I can't be the only one. I think this is as close to "we the people" as we're going to get for awhile, especially if the Republicans lose. If this does work, maybe we should completely clean house every couple of years and see what change is all about.

They're Not Mine

Oh - they are mine in the sense of I feed them and clothe them and yell at them in Target to stick close. But they're not mine.

I would like to think they're mine, but they're not mine.

I would like the state to acknowledge they're mine. But they're not mine.

They came from my body, they should be mine. But they're not mine.

Whether they came from your body or came from your heart, whether they were with you for minutes or hours or days or years they are not yours. They are God's, He saw fit to allow you the privilege of being their parents. I need to remember this, as we get a little closer to all the fur that is sure to fly over these next few months. I do believe it is time for these children to have some parents in the legal sense, but it will not make them mine, per se. I continue to thank God for the privilege of being with them every day. But they're not mine.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Teenage girls get pregnant?

OK first and foremost if we were discussing Joe Biden and not Sarah Palin, would we even be discussing this? NO. That's right if you aren't going to say it about a man, you shouldn't say it about a woman. If one of the men running had a pregnant teenage daughter this would be a non-issue. And on one side we may not ever even know, there are safe and legal ways to avoid this type of "embarrassment".

Of course we've all seen the Youtube of Obama saying that if one of his daughter's made a mistake he wouldn't want them punished with a child. Yes, that's right, we hand out children to punish people. Some of us get that, others haven't fostered. Yes, please email me, I love to hear what you say.....

Secondly, you cannot control your children's "loins", don't we love that word. I have enough problems with my own loins for crying out loud. Anyone who says that they could control any action of a teenager has never had one. This is also true for children of any age. If your six month old decides it's time to cry, it's time to cry. Even if they've been crying and you have to go to Target, and you can't wait any longer, you can do everything you can to figure out what the problem is, but short of a MacGyver inspired muzzle, that kid may just keep crying. How you choose to deal with it is up to you.

Would I freak if my teenager came home preggers? Yeah. Of course I would really freak if she came home with some post choice regret. I shouldn't be surprised that the libs are using this as more proof that Sarah should be home making some tasty after PTA snack and not governing the state of Alaska, but I am. You supposedly want us out of the kitchen, but only as far as it suits your needs.

Let's not forget that Biden himself missed his own swearing in because he was attending his young bride's funeral. He was being hailed last week for balancing his work in D.C. with his family in Delaware. And if he could do it alone, how is it that Palin can't do it with the help of her husband?

So let's decide how we're going to live this century, are we getting out the chastity belts and aprons or are we going to discuss what's really going on?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Goodbye Glass Ceiling

Yesterday Senator McCain announced that he had picked the Governor from Alaska, Sarah Palin, as his Vice Presidential candidate. Of course almost everyone in the country went Sarah who?

Immediately the news starts reporting on her Downs Syndrome baby and her Pro-Life stance. The right is celebrating the possible end to Roe v. Wade and I'm sure Planned Parenthood is getting ready their phone campaign to let us all know that our reproductive rights are in danger.

I remember when I lived in Montana, and there was a contentious race between a pro-life guy and a pro-choice woman. I got called and they asked who I was voting for, I told them the guy. They immediately started lecturing me about reproductive rights and telling me if we lose our choice then we lose our selves.

First, I totally believe in choice. Of course I believe it happens well prior to pregnancy. We as women have the right to choose to have sex, and whether or not we would like to protect ourselves from pregnancy and disease. I know that this is not always the case, but I believe that it is now protocol to be given the option of the "day after pill" when you report a rape at a hospital. The problem is that we as women don't choose. We have to assume that any sexual encounter can lead to a pregnancy. Even though my husband has been surgically altered, it's in the back of my mind that we could be the one in a million where it fails. Believe me when I tell you that a pregnancy at this stage in our life would be unwanted, but we would welcome the life.

We have to teach our girls to be the gatekeepers. We need to teach our boys to wait. Even the most Godly young men, I assume, will have a hard time with this, but life is tough. Our girls need to know that you don't find love in sex.

My husband told me that he read a poll that only 3% of the likely to vote population feel that abortion rights are the most important issue in the election. I would venture to guess that the "glass ceiling" vote is more than 3%. I think at this point in our history more women will take the chance on losing their "reproductive rights" than losing the chance to put a woman in that position.

Our pastor often tells us that there are only two other times in recorded history that killing babies was done on such a mass scale. When Moses was a baby and when Jesus was. I'm wondering what is on the horizon that is causing our enemy such fear. I also have no doubt that God's plan will prevail. I don't doubt that our enemy will continue to lie to our women that safe and legal also means without regret. I have not met a post abortive woman who would agree.

I think that the choice will be with us for awhile. This is an area where I think that the government needs to stay out of. I do not believe that it should be legal, but I am also aware that making it illegal will not get rid of it. I also believe that if we make it unnecessary it will matter little if it is legal.

So regardless of whether or not you agree with Sarah Palin's belief on reproductive rights, I think this is a great opportunity for women. From all that I do know of her I absolutely love her for all the same reasons that some of the news outlets hate her. I love the fact that she has not given up her femininity for the sake of fitting in with the men. I love that she adores her husband and he adores her, not just a political media show. I love that she loves guns and wants us to get our own oil. I love that she willingly and knowingly gave birth to a special needs child, and if anyone would have the excuse that a pregnancy and special needs child would be inconvenient it would be a governor. I know that we can't talk about it, but she goes to church every week, and you can't make the case that attending church in Wasilla, Alaska is helping your political aspirations. So, while I was at best lukewarm about the top of the ticket I am totally on fire for the bottom.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yeah for Attorneys

I know they get a bad rap, but they sure are nice when you need them. We hired an attorney last week, today was an informational gathering meeting. Everyone finds it so hard to believe that this case is going the way that it has.

They're like, "I can't believe it."

and we're like, "I KNOW."

So, some things to keep in mind when you are talking to the big guy,

This case needs to be heard in OUR county. (Megan stop rolling your eyes....)

We need to never have to appear in court in THAT OTHER county. Having an attorney and a paralegal drive six hours and appear in court, even for ten minutes is about the cost of a car.

CPS needs to roll over and give it up immediately. (which we feel they will do)

And our family needs protection from spiritual attack, Every time we move closer to getting this ball rolling we get hit with something. Apparently us claiming some children for God is upsetting in the spiritual realm and we need some gatekeepers to stand and fight for us while we stand and fight for our children.

Also keep Mama in your prayers, this will be a horrible time in her life, and we had to choose the children and their well being over hers. She is still the mother of half of our children and we do honor her for that.

Thanks for all of your kind words of encouragement, we will let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Foster Care In Texas

Since I first reported to y'all that we had to hire an attorney regarding getting our kids out of foster care, people have been emailing me their stories. Let me tell you, it's a stinky place to be in foster care. We have babies living in drug treatment facilities, babies going on visits and ending up in the ER, and CPS getting Permanent Managing Conservatorship (PMC) on babies. Now, I know most of us aren't lawyers but read this:

(b) In determining whether the department should be
appointed as managing[0] conservator of the child without terminating
the rights of a parent of the child, the court shall take the
following factors into consideration:
(1) that the child will reach 18 years of age in not
less than three years;
(2) that the child is 12 years of age or older and has
expressed a strong desire against termination or being adopted;
(3) that the child has special medical or behavioral
needs that make adoption of the child unlikely; and
(4) the needs and desires of the child.

Does this allow for CPS to take PMC on babies. NO!!!!! I see 15 or older, I see 12 or older and not wanting to be adopted, I see unlikely to be adopted. I don't see babies anywhere.

I think we need to start reporting judges for going outside the law. This clearly states that PMC can only be granted under these conditions. If it is granted for other reasons. We should complain.

Do it here

Monday, August 25, 2008

What's a Parent to Do?

We dropped Big Girl off at college. We are trying our best to let her be a non-child anymore. It was tough. Roommate showed up with a man. Not an older boy, or a young man, but a man man. Not an uncle, step parent, friend of the family. A man she met at the bookstore who offered to drive her six hours to school. CREEPY. But I didn't say anything.

First call home.

"I can't hear you, are you riding in the back of a truck or something."

"Yeah, why?"

We all know why, but I didn't say anything.

We were at her on campus apartment for about 45 minutes total after she moved in, two guys had already come calling. And during another call home there were three over watching movies.

I'm still quite sure that God has her covered, but golly it must be hard sometimes for Him.....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Christians and Orphans

According to this there are more Christian families in the world than orphans to care for.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cute Kid Moments

Knock, Knock.

Who's there?

The doorbell.


"Mom, can you put my blankey in the nice maker?"

What's a nice maker?

It's hot and smelly.

Can you show me? Oh the DRYER.

Best Interest

The Department of Family and Protective Services. Interesting title. No longer Child Protective Services, as we are all about reunification these days. Which would be great, but it is not possible in all cases. The department is supposed to protect the needs of the entire family. What the kids needed originally was a safe place to stay. That is about the last thing the department did, and that was three and a half years ago.

Since then they have allowed them to stay with a family that they have bonded to. The department will say that they need to stay with us, but on paper is the word, reunification. And we all know that legally paper trumps speech. Ten years from now, should mama have her act together and go into court and say, I want them. Not I want them back, because the kids in my house have never lived with her, but I want them. Will the caseworkers who told us they'd like for the kids to stay with us be around? NO. All the judge will be able to go on is what is on paper. And what is on paper? Reunification.

Almost every clause in the family law statutes dealing with children will have the phrase, "best interests of the child/ren". Right now we are not the ones deciding that. We are, on a day to day living kind of way. But anything that doesn't involve food, clothing and shelter needs to be run through the department. There is a pool fifteen minutes from our house, it's in a different county. Each and every time I would like to take my kids to a pool 15 minutes away I am supposed to call and get permission from the department, caseworker not around? Can't go. Every time my husband and I want to go to dinner by ourselves we have to hire someone who has been approved by the department. If we want to go on vacation we have to get permission from the court. When we were going on vacation in July, we asked for permission in April. It came down to one hour before we were supposed to leave for the airport. We had to provide them every detail of our trip including flight numbers and hotel information way back in April, and yet two hours before we left we were not legally able to take them. We cannot save for their college. I'm just wondering where their best interests are right now.

This morning we paid an attorney to find out for them. We get to present our side, they get to present theirs. Since it is a civil matter we go with preponderance of evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt. The scales only need to tip ever so slightly in our favor. I think that was what went wrong when the state tried it two years ago. They thought they needed reasonable doubt. If that were the case very few people would be allowed to even have kids. Can every parent prove legally that they are, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the best interests of the kids are always foremost in every decision. I think not, I can say that my husband and I always try to keep each child's best interest in mind, but somewhere along the way what is best for each child may not be what is best for the entire family. It may be best that for Big Girl that we buy her $10,000 worth of photography and computer equipment so she can have every advantage in pursuing photography as a life. It may be best for Felpsy if we move to Baltimore and have him trained as a swimmer by the best. As a family unit, those decisions might not be best. I think that what is in the best interest of our BOTH children is that they have a family who can decide.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Name Change Alert

I know there is a whole controversy on whether or not to change the name of a child of adoption. I know families who have, and I know those who haven't. I fall on the side of not doing it, but in cases where the kid is named "baby boy" or all the boys are named Larry (seriously, four boys named Larry) and when joining a family where everybody has the same initials buy ME, I'll allow. Actually, it's your kid and your decision. I for one was named one thing and called another my whole life, we call all of our kids nicknames, a habit I picked up from my father. I seriously thought my name was Anabel Lea, until Kindergarten when I went to class and told the teacher my name was Annie, and she said it wasn't. She asked my real name, I replied Anabel, nope. When they finally called out my Grandma's name, they decided that was me, it wasn't. It was my Grandma. That story for another day.

I did want to tell you that we are changing the online moniker of Lil Middle. Originally they were all Big Girl, Big Boy, Big Middle Boy, Lil Middle Boy, Little Boy and Little Girl. Their names have evolved at just the right time. Lil Middle's time has arrived. After the great 8th medal, the swimmers were saying that people with big flipper feet would no longer be referred to as Spitzfeets, they would now be Phelpsfeets, we knew that Lil Middle would forevermore be known as a Phelpsfoot, due to his freakishly large feet and love for swimming. Although, since I wrote this about Michael Phelps, I need to change it a little so that there is the proper homage to him, without being stalker creepy. So, Lil Middle will now be referred to as Felpsy.

In other business, we are paying the attorney this week to get started on finalizing the whole deal for us, and possibly changing all three of the kids real names to our name. Please pray for God's favor on us, and that the money goes a loooong way, or that it doesn't need to and it will be super easy and be the easiest money the attorney ever made. It would work out great if we could finalize this when they are all four next year. It gives us six months and some change.

This is the day...: ...Dexter Season 2 on DVD

My favorite fictional foster child - read what I said here
This is the day...: ...Dexter Season 2 on DVD

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Former Acquaintance and New Friend

I've found a new friend, in a very strange place. Right under my nose, and in what seems to be a theme for me, for some reason, she is now gone. I met her a couple of years ago as we went to same church and frequented the same Bible studies and play groups, and yet we never became friends. Despite all of the time together it never got past the "Hey, how are you, the kids? Good, good. Have a nice day." portion of the program. I knew people who ADORED her. I didn't get it. I would often think to myself "what are they seeing that I'm not?"

On paper it seemed possible that we could be good friends. She had a boy the same age as mine. Her family had adopted. She had teens and tweens and had to deal with multiple kids at multiple stages and BOB children and BOTH children. But there was never a tipping point.

Earlier this year God called her family away from our little corner of the world. I know that God brings people into your life for a reason. There is no one in your life that God hasn't allowed to be there. I wondered why God had her in my life. In the past I will admit that she annoyed me. OM Gosh, there I said it. It was nothing that she did, she didn't pull my hair when people weren't looking or repeat everything I said in a sarcastic nasal voice, there was truly no reason for me to be annoyed by her. I knew there would be several times this summer where our paths crossed. I wanted to know who she really was.

So as the summer went on I would notice that her friends really adored her. I began to see her as very caring friend. I saw her love on her kids and if she was ever annoyed by them I didn't see it. (Except for the txting of the person sitting next to them which I don't get either). And the closer she got to leaving the more I got it.

Here's another area where we are probably more alike than I'd like to admit. As she started to let me in a little, I realized I don't let people in very easily. Sure I will let you in on the foster thing because most of the time there is a crisis brewing and I need people around who are aware of what's going on so if it ever hits, I don't have to go through the whole back story, I'll just have people showing up and loving on me. But other areas of my life are off limits.

So now that there is a gulf and a state between us I see even more. I can see that us girls all see a major move as more than a checklist of

Pack the house
Pack the truck
Unpack the truck
Get on with life

For us girls it doesn't work that way. Even when we know that we are exactly where God wants us, we miss our stuff. Yes there will most likely be a Target where we go, but it's not our Target, sorry Sohlgal. Which Starbucks is the best? Will our kids adjust, will we? Are we going to be able to find a non scary church? And knowing that right now there is no place we can go and curl up in the fetal position and ugly cry and be reassured by one of our girls. And one day our emotions find us in a strange place and we just want to feel at home.

So, I thank God for living in the age of the Internet, where friends are as close as we are to a computer. And that we can find understanding with people we may otherwise never know. And for my new friend who has let me in and reminded me that I need to let others in as well.

But Most People Do Not

The following is from a tv show called State of Mind. The show was set in a counseling practice. This episode dealt with the child counselor who was seeing a ten year old boy recently adopted from Russia. His parents wanted to get him evaluated to see if he was "broken". They were thinking that it was not a good fit. The counselor at one point asked where this boy would fit. Not the country club. He'd spent seven years in an orphanage, cold and hungry and probably had allowed himself to be sodomized for dry socks. Thus ending the parent/counseling relationship.

Later in the tv world wrap up where it all ends nicely this is what was said: (sorry for the punctuation errors)

"It's not brain damage, it's anger and he's terrified and he's had ten bad years and it will take that long to make it better. And you can get the most elaborate work up in the world and what no one will want to tell you, because no one would want to hear it, is that this boy is going to spoil your family vacations. He's going to give you headaches at school, he's going to break the toys you give him, and probably even though you are decent people you are going to get to know the police a lot better than you expected.

We were hoping you could help us avoid all of that.

There is no avoiding, there is dealing with it. There is preparing for it and working hard so that he only gets picked up for a B&E at 14 and not armed robbery at 16. But it is so much work. The world, schools, orphanages, people like me. We have no right to expect you to work this hard. No one loves without expectation, no one gives without wanting something in return. To keep this boy, there is no reason for you to choose this.

People do. Some people make the hard choice.

Yes, they do, and a few, they feel blessed. The kids and the parents because they have done what most of us never do. They have given all they have without expectation. They have persevered and loved when love made no sense and they have saved a life. But most people do not."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

This Week In Review

My actual interactions dealing with foster care this past week.

Phone call: Mrs. (so and so), this is (someone) from CPS. I was wondering if you still had (Lil Middle) in your care?

I thought they had some way of keeping track of these things.......

Letter: Foster Parent,

Please verify whether Booger and Princess are receiving services from ECI. (Early Childhood Intervention)

My Email Response: No Booger and Princess are not receiving ECI services, ECI is not available to children over the age of three.

Their Email Response: We need ECI to provide a written statement as to why Booger and Princess did not receive their services.

My Email Response: Booger and Princess were never evaluated for ECI services. Their pediatrician never referred as they exhibited no occupational delays.

Their Email Response: Please forward to us a statement from ECI stating why Booger and Princess never received their services.

OK Dear ECI Please send me a letter telling me why you never provided services for children you never knew existed.

Our med class revealed that Lil Middle's anti anxiety medication has a side effect of "anxiety, agitation". That's helpful.

Our sitter for next weekend flaked on going to training. That means we cannot leave the kids alone with her while we are out of town. That seems inconvenient. This also rules out our September trip and possibly our October trip. Or take the kids. Nothing says romantic getaway like five kids.

The other foster parent in my life notified me that there will be a visit on Monday. I was not informed of this, although the CW for our children did not notify him either. The CW of the other child he has (mama's minor brother) notified him. Luckily that CW understands that I cannot personally transport six kids 3.5 hours by myself and that CW has set up transport for the family to come here. FINALLY. To be clear about that I did offer to transport the kids to visits. THREE YEARS AGO, when the visit was maybe once a month and only 40 miles away. 18 months ago they called and said they were picking up the kids because they weren't able to see mama enough. At that point I agreed to take my three and their brother. I did not EVER think that three and a half years into this I would be expected to take every minor child associated with this family wherever they needed to go, whenever they needed to get there. I guess I'm just too nice, bet you'd never have guessed that.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Unwanted Children

I came across this it appears to be a site maintained by an adoptee. She refers to herself in many places as an unwanted.

My experiences with adoption are not limited to wanting to become an adoptive parent. My first husband (whom we'll call B)was adopted as a child. He was initially placed in a foster home, but went home with his parents at two weeks of age. He knew that he had been adopted his entire life. His birth parents were teens and decided they were unable to properly care for a child. They provided a lot of information as well as gifts. This does not indicate to me that he was unwanted. He did not feel the same.

B blamed himself for his parents divorce, what kid doesn't, he would often say 'my real parents left me, my adoptive parents left me, you're going to leave me' he beat me to the leaving.

I frequent a lot of blogs written by parents who want so badly to have a child. I know several people personally who have adopted. If there is any child in the world that should feel loved and wanted it should be a child of adoption. Biologically speaking having a child can take almost no forethought. Not so with adoption. There are no adoption "accidents". Oops we adopted.

At the very least there are hundreds of papers to sign. Travel is often involved. Someone is writing a check somewhere along the way, and at the end of it all you have to raise your right hand and promise to be the parent forever and ever amen.

So, I guess I want to know where these very wanted children get the message that they are not wanted. Is it innate? Is it conveyed? Is it that they like so many other kids have parents that are human and cannot fully convey the love they have for their children?

If you asked me today if my parents loved me I could answer a thousand different ways. Yes. Period. I don't know. Who knows what is in anothers heart? What I do know is that there are times I felt loved, and times I did not feel it. I do know that my Dad worked about a thousand hours a week and didn't do the hands on parenting of the house. I know that my mom hands on parented seven kids who aren't in prison and for the most part are productive members of society. All of us have great potential. I would suspect that there were times that my dad would have rather been in our warm, loud, crazy home than on top of an oil derrick in the middle of a Wyoming winter. I know that my mom went to bed most nights alone. I know that I had breakfast everyday, a packed lunch when I wanted it and dinner around the table every night. I suppose that more care could have been taken in some matters, but also realize that my parents meant me no harm. I would say my parents love me the way they know how. My feeling it or not does not take it away.

I also know that being a parent is exhausting, whether it is one or eight. I've done both and both are hard. There are some kids I connect better with than others. Sometimes Princess and I are oil and water. Oedipus maybe, who knows. I also know that I don't understand why Radical is at times so emotional. I don't always know what to say to Big Boy when his MySpace emotican is blue or mad, or when he loses a robot fighting match, or when he wins one for that matter. I know that Lil Middle announces that he sometimes loves me and he sometimes doesn't. Big Girl is leaving for college on Thursday, I don't have a lot to say. Booger is the most giving of love and affection and also the most receiving.

You can feel love, you can feel the absence of love. Can you feel love that is not there? Can you not feel love that is there? That is the problem with feelings.