Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy Dirpay Nathalia

We had the privilege of parenting you for about a month, although we had the adventures of a lifetime that month. I'm sorry for the way it all ended but quite frankly you scared the heck out me. I understand that you were not stealing just collecting things that you might need for later. I am sorry for all that you had to go through to get to the point you were at when I knew you. I understand that after all of that it's scary to be a girl. I still have the card that you made that says "I love you," I hope that we made a difference in your life. Please understand that I had six other kids to protect. I am hoping that you found a place where you were safe. I'm praying that as you become an adult you've learned enough to live the life that you've always dreamt. I know that most of what you have been told in your life has been a lie. I have been in the system for a small amount of time, I cannot imagine having it be the only constant in my life. I am hoping that they have provided you with what you need to get started in life. I am hoping all that I can for you.
Happy Dirpay

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Random experiences from my life.

Who said there was no such thing as a dumb question?

Princess asks Booger "Why are you naked?"
Booger responds "Because I don't have any clothes on."

Lil Middle asked me "Mom, how come some girls don't keep their boobies in their boobie holders?"

The kids caseworker, who is a boy and a parent and should know better asked, "why do you wear your underwear backwards?"

Lil Middle said "if the picture's not in front your penis falls out."

Should we REALLY have to make this a rule?

No farting on your brother's head.

Apparently we do. Or how 'bout this?

Don't burp when you kiss me.

Or, Please don't lick the following:
The dog
The floor
The bathroom floor
Anything that has been in the bathroom
Any brother or sister

We are now at the stage where the four year old thinks that he can't get in trouble if he tells the truth. Which is a yea/boo. Yea! Telling the truth is a good thing. Boo! We have to make the aforementioned rules, because he "didn't know" that was a rule. Actually the first rule was for the big boys.

In your house, is every trip to the bathroom treated with all the pomp and circumstance of an African Safari? Since we've returned from vacation I have not been able to leave the room without multiple hugs and kisses and pathetic pleas like "but, I'm going to miss youuuuuu."

We have trouble distinguishing between mortal wounds and blackberry stains. Of course a quick lick will reveal if a trip to the ER is necessary. We also forget why we so desperately needed that bandaid we just asked for, no worries, we'll put it heeeeere.

As I've mentioned before we "don't have an adequate amount of toys" for our children. Apparently whomever wrote that didn't have to pick any up. Can't wait to find out what she writes about the last visit. The kids spent the first 20 minutes of it "hiding" in the front closet, which they had locked. (I had the key, they just insisted on hanging out in there.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I want my mommy

I remember, very distinctly, the day I walked into my kitchen and looked at a boy torn between holding back and letting loose. He'd lived with us for a year and a half, the previous weekend he "lost it" over a game boy. We are very limited in how we discipline our borrowed children, but the level of disrespect shown that day had to be dealt with. We packed him up and sent him to Camp Alston. Ms. Alston is the worlds best respite provider. She was an officer in the Army for 20 some years and no kid was going to get the best of her. I am a lot more nurturing than she, and at times dreaded leaving my babies with her, although I knew it was best for all involved. Even as I type this I am worried about where my hands are, I was scared to walk down her hall unless my hands were firmly at my side.

But, back to the kitchen. He'd returned home that morning, and we were off to a debriefing with the counselor. He stood there so wounded and hurt, but unable to overcome the compulsion to be the man he'd had to be since he was born. He had it all together, he was in control and he needed a mommy. I let him down. I let the hurt and anger and rage and confusion and crap that had been hurled at me for the past 18 months keep me from giving him what he needed at that moment. A mommy. I walked right past him, probably sealing his fate. He would not be vulnerable again.

At the debriefing he held back. He went to stay elsewhere while a team of professionals, most who'd never met him, decided that this wasn't working. Within a week I had to pack up his things and the things of his siblings and wait for them to come home from school. I had to look a little eight year old boy in the eye and tell him, something he'd been through a dozen times before, that we were no longer his family. I watched helplessly as he allowed himself one tear before he wiped it away, along with his hope.

Then an hour later I had to tell their sister. She had worked so hard to be with us, and now we were letting her go. The next couple of weeks would bring her at least three moves.

If I had it to do again I wouldn't have walked by him that day in the kitchen. I would put away my hurt and emotion and be the mommy he needed me to be, but I can't undo that. So, I have to use what I learned there, and apply it to my life today. I don't know if it's just the fact that the preschoolers out number me and it's the age that they are, or if there is something more sinister lurking, but there are very few days that this season doesn't completely exhaust me. I've been advised to tell the state that we are done, and if they don't get their stuff together they can have the kids back. I'm wondering where they learned bargaining. When you can't walk away you can't threaten to.

The state isn't concerned with their welfare. Maybe as a collective, "I believe in education" kind of way, but when it comes down to these three children living in our home, no one cares. No one, but us, and somedays it is tempting to stop. We are truly giving our life to do this. And Satan would like us to believe that we have received no benefit from it. Just think of all we could do if we weren't doing this. But when they are feeling alone, or scared or hurt and they scream "I want my mommy" they are speaking of me and I have to be a mommy like I'd never imagined, no matter what I'm feeling.

Monday, July 28, 2008


A word that was not in my vocabulary ten years ago. Now, I'm considering which body part to tattoo the word to. Even during my foster orientation classes I laughed at the absurdity of "respite" I mean really, once you take them in they are yours, deal with them. This came from all of my wisdom as a parent of children raised from conception in a "stable" and "normal" environment. Although I thought, probably correctly, that there was some disfunction going on in my family tree, I had no idea that a lot of life is like a Jerry Springer episode.

We muddled through the first long term placement for five months before the thought of respite crossed our minds, of course we had a sitter or two, but for the most part, they were with us. When the, much more experienced in the foster system, kids started sabatoging their placement, we decided that it was respite or eviction.

Although we've had several placements, we really only had two that were of any length of time or consequence. #1 was MMT and #2 was ARM. MMT was an older sibling group, 6-13 when they came 8-15 when they left. ARM a young sibling group, AM placed at birth, R at 18 months(after living in at least 6 different homes).

We tried several respite providers with MMT, T would always be shocked when we returned to pick him up, he had a finely honed defense mechanism of moving on, immediately. I kid you not when I say if I left him at your house for an hour while I ran to the grocery store, he would have forgotten all about me. You were his new parent, he loved you, you were the nicest most bestest mom or dad on the planet. I was evil for abandoning him, and he wanted nothing to do with me.

Until we found what we lovingly refer to as Camp Alston. Ms. Alston was in the Army for 20+ years and she ran a tight ship. I was afraid to walk down her halls without my hands firmly planted on my thighs as not to dirty her walls. She was a loving Christian woman who clearly understood the dynamics of caring for children in foster care and if it was respite, they would not be attaching to her in any way shape or form. Our children always came back singing our praises and knowing we were their parents. She has since moved on, and we miss her, although even if she were still here she would not be appropriate for our current situation.

With all of the kids we've found it works best for us to have the respite provider come here when possible. It's a good excuse for hubby and I to run off somewhere and the kids still feel at home. Also with the born of the body babies, someone needs to be here anyway. We have gotten lax with our respite since the born of the heart babies are in Mothers Day Out. We've recently recommitted to one weekend a month. Our born of the heart children will have us all to themselves for six years once our born of the body babies all leave, and since our B.O.B. children didn't choose this life, we feel we owe them a little one on one time.

Which brings me to my dilema of finding someone. I want someone with a little initiative, someone who can follow simple rules, yet not need me there to hold their hand thru the whole weekend. Sixteen sippy cups of whole milk is not a meal replacement. I want someone who can watch them at our house or at their house. Depending on what I need. Do I hire a parent who knows that the ER isn't necessary if they bonk their head, or do I hire someone who isn't jaded by kids already and will watch them just a little more closely? I can't wait til they all have friends and they can start having sleep overs (at other peoples houses), I am currently forbidden by law to have more than six children under the age of 18 sleeping in my house. Darn. Of course I'll probably have to ask the parents of their friends to submit to an FBI check and random drug tests or something, that shouldn't be too awkward.

I guess what I'd tell me ten years ago, and any other parent for that matter, is take a break. Often, parenting is hard work, and it's nice to be a person who isn't called mom 24/7. I don't want to wake up in 20 years wondering who is sleeping next to me. So, respite, here we go again.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I brought them all back

Somewhere between Lubbock and Albuquerque he lost it. By it I mean any semblance of sanity. We had experienced his psychotic breaks in the past, but never at 32,000 feet with hundreds of others who showed no sympathy for our situation and us with no place to go. It resembled a violent convulsion, with screaming, lots and lots of screaming. Of course I could do nothing but hold him and try to keep him from hurting someone. I'm sure we made it on some sort of watch list, just in case I called several caseworkers upon landing. And the psychiatrist.

That was Sunday. On Monday he was overcome with anxiety in the restaurant, he hyperventilated until he nearly barfed. As the week progressed the insides of his elbows went pure white. The pediatrician says that this reaction happens to post menopausal women after they lose their husbands, he is "dumbfounded". I did not get a return phone call from the psychiatrist until Wednesday, he informed that there were no medications safe for a four year old with these kinds of issues. Maybe I should try talking to him.

Really, I hadn't thought about that. We've been preparing for this trip for months. We've gone over the check in process and the boarding process. We've talked about getting on the plane, getting on the train, getting on another plane, getting on the bus, renting the car and going to the hotel. Apparently all the talking in the world does not override the fight or flight response to the unknown.

The first class we took on our journey to foster parenting spoke of the unknowns that kids come with. Even when placed at birth they may come with issues. Unknown prenatal exposures, unknown genetic histories, unknown psychiatric issues. Unknown unknowns. In a perfect world CPS would sit down before each foster placement and go over the childrens histories, their behaviors, anything that could affect your household. Truth of the matter, a lot of the time it's four in the morning and they just want to get to bed. They may not even know anything more than the adults in the house were arrested and the kids had no place to go. The only known will be the unknown.

I would like to say that I have done it all perfectly or that I have learned something that I can pass on. I haven't. Last week I was in a doctors office with the little boys and one of the assistants asked me what I did for a living, I told her I was a professional parent, I don't think she believed me.

We are home now, and it's like last week never happened. The boys are already asking to go on another "baycation", hurricane Dolly may the answer to their prayers. I'm praying she prefers Mexico, some remote part, I'm not that insensitive. And if another person tells me that next time will be easier, I may need bail money.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Suitcase Anxiety

Lots of drama happening here. It happens with little middle whenever the suitcases come out. Us being the seventh home he's lived in, packing in general brings him a lot of anxiety. Of course, so should taking out the trash, as he came to us with all of his stuff in trash bags.

I don't think he'll believe it 'til we're back, I'm hoping he'll chill as the week goes on. He will be well worn this week, so hopefully we'll all be able to sleep.

So as far as the anxiety medication experiment has gone with the trip, if it is working I'm thankful because if it were worse than this I'd need my own. And this coming from the least anxious person here.

As far as everything else goes, I'm thankful that Brandon and Elisa are staying at my house whilst we are gone, it is truly a mutually inclusive blessing that we are sharing. I'm thankful I thought to ask my friend Donna for a carryon bag instead of going to buy a new one. And that she said yes:) And as always that our dog will be able to be Bailey Bailey for a little while. He so loves it there.

I'd try out twitter but I'd be afraid you'd all get texted at some unGodly hour, since we are going west. So, mobile blogging it is. Be prepared......and btw mobile blogging goes to my other site

Not on Dateline

We've known about our upcoming vacation for a year, we finalized the details in April and asked the state for permission to bring our Born of the Heart babies with us. Well as one would expect, no one at the state asked the judge. Not in April, or May, or June, or the first week of July. Hello, people, we're leaving in mid-July. So, there we were less than a week before vacation, tickets in hand, and they aren't so much cheap anymore, and no court order granting us permission to take the kiddos out of state.

We were scheduled to leave for the airport at 9:00 a.m. on Friday. By about Thursday I was debating whether to take anymore calls from the department. Well, not being paranoid by nature and not feeling the need to screen my calls, I accidentally answered the phone on Thursday. Of course it was the department asking all sorts of details. He was going back and forth with the judge and mama's attorney. He could get permission if the following conditions were met.

1. Hubby couldn't take baby girl to the men's room.
2. Worker had to lay eyes on children before they left.

1. Fine, girls don't need to be in the men's room, they were going to Grandma's, and while in the airport she could go on the plane. Annoying but doable.

2. Fine, come up Thursday night and see them. No, has to be Friday. Keep in mind that it's a 2.5 hour drive between the worker's office and our house. I told him that he had to be there by eight, we were leaving at nine. Got of the phone with him, called my agency's worker and got permission from him. They ok'd it.

The worker did show up, a little after eight. I had to go get my shoulder worked on so hubby was there to present the kids so they could be seen. We have not had much face time, he was our worker for months before I actually even knew his name. He's a fresh out of college, going to save the world type. Or at least he was before he got assigned this case.

Whatever it is that usually takes a year or better to suck the life out of the newbies has happened. He no longer wants to save the world, only his behind, and he's sick of getting it chewed on by everyone. The rest of the department is in the same boat. They are unclear on the law, everytime they quote it to me they get it wrong. While I am not an attorney, I have the ability to understand it. I would not make a good attorney, at least in the court room. There's no crying in the courtroom, by the attorney anyway.

So, three new projects for when we return. Pile up the rest of the hiring a pitbull money, and hire a pitbull. My impression is that the department there will gladly give up jurisdiction to here, and that would be good. The pitbull we've found seems to be personally offended that the laws she defends are being so blatantly broken. The final project, making the department look competent.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Don't give me a break

When we enroll the babies into a school type setting I usually tell the school that the kids are in foster care, because that is what I'm supposed to do. This is something that I neglected to do when I signed them up for Mother's Day Out for the summer. I didn't do it intentionally, I just keep forgetting that this is our situation still.

Our little middle boy can be quite challenging at times. It wasn't long before the teacher pulled me aside to discuss some of his behaviors. It happened to be the week of a visit, which tends to escalate undesirable behavior and I relayed this to the teacher.

This additional information has changed her perception of the little middle boy, as if his behavior should be excused because of his life's circumstances. We've had to deal with this since day one. M.E. can't do that, she's had a rough life. Well, if M.E. can't get higher than a 40 in English, M.E. should do summer school. As it turned out the letters won that battle, they gave her a pass because her life was hard. My argument that if I'm the owner of the Acme Corporation and I need someone there to make me some widgets, I don't give a flying flip what's going on in your life, get your butt here and make me some widgets or I'll find someone else to do it.

We have not had to deal too much, with these kids, with attachment disorders. I am anticipating some issues in the future when they realize genetics, but for now we are all happy with the fact that we are a family. In the past, however, attachment was the running theme of our household and I am well versed in it.

Typically you run into issues in attachment when your needs as an infant are not met. They've done studies so those of us who educate ourselves will not feel guilty letting them cry it out every once in awhile. Just so you know, if your needs are met 13% of the time as an infant, you are less likely to incur attachment issues.

That is not a typo people. 13% a little more than 1 out of 10 times that your baby cries you need to take care of that need.

Other factors are length of stability. If your child has spent 72% of their life in one family, they are less likely to have issues with attachment. In our case, the oldest current placement was made at 18 months, so at 3 years post placement it should appear normal. We're almost there. So, if you get a child placed at the age of six, it will take 12 years post placement for the situation to normalize.

Of course, God can override any of this, I believe that to be their only hope. Since most kids aren't picked up from their families until they or an older sibling reach school age when we are talking about neglect. Earlier if there is significant criminal activity or violence.

While I'm not asking you to forget or ignore what these kids have been through, please don't give either of us a pass because of it. These kids can and will bounce back and become normal if we treat them as such. We need to require as much, if not more from them as we would a biological child. Also, please don't require less of us as parents because we are dealing with special needs. We are not saints or special in anyway, God gave us a heart to do this and that is the only difference between us and most parents.

Foster kids will lie, cheat, steal. My foster mom friend and I have a code we used to use when we were both getting regular placements. On a scale of one to ten, how many of the commandments were broken today? Five or more is normal. Nine for some on most days, ten on Sunday's.

The thing about parenting from birth is that most of us get to screw up, repeatedly. After about 18 years we have it figured out and all is well. The thing with parenting inside the foster system is that you may only have days or weeks or months to undo the years they have already endured.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Whine not

It isn't much of a secret that I hate my current job. I hate the paperwork, and the intrusion and the second guessing, and the "I just smacked my kid because he had a ginormous mosquito on him, I'm going to have to go write that down" part. There is a court hearing on Tuesday, I can't get any information. I'm supposed to be notified in writing as to every court proceeding, yet I rarely even get a verbal hint that there is one. This is the part I hate.

I don't hold out much hope that the court hearing will change the current situation. Every single state and federal law regarding length of time in care has been violated. Why should Tuesday change anything?

Even without court I have about a hundred pages of paperwork to do before the end of the week if I'd like to get reimbursed for my time and effort. I have to write down what we did every hour of every day, in triplicate. I have to write down where we went and who's had contact with the kids, in triplicate. I even have to, in triplicate, write down all the things we didn't do. We didn't go to the doctor, or the dentist, or the psychologist, or the psychiatrist. We did not spend the night in any home not currently licensed by the state, nor did we spend more than four hours with anyone who does not have a background check on file with our agency. No persons, without a background check, regularly visit our home, nor has anyone spent the night in our home. We have not had more than six kids sleeping overnight in our home at anytime during the month, and any play time activities held at our home had no less than a 6/1 kid/adult ratio. I have to account for any "suspicious" marks on the children. Also have to explain why I kneed one of them in the head, just in case. BTW - he bent down where I was stepping, kapow.

This has been going on for three years and four months. I know I should be thankful that they are in my house, safe and sound and asleep. I know I should be thankful that I am getting paid, however poorly, to take care of them, every little bit helps. I am, all of the above. But I still want to whine. I, don't want to have to ask permission to take my kids swimming, or out of town, or out of state.

It wouldn't bother me quite as much if all sides were treated equally. If I don't complete all of my assigned tasks on a regular basis, they come and get the kids. If the other side quits their job, refuses counseling or parenting classes, no big deal. If I miss my parenting classes, not only do I still have to do the class, I have to write a response to my citation as to why I couldn't make it. Well, here's my reason for everything I can't do - I'm parenting three preschoolers, two teenagers, and a grade schooler. I cannot find childcare because no one wants to pay $120, submit to an FBI background check and take 20 classes so that I can pay them very little money. $60/day does not provide for much quality childcare.

So cite me, often. Cite me for improper restraints when I keep a kid from running into the street when there is no car, or that I won't let them drink coke whenever they want. Cite me for letting friends sleep over, and going to the pool. Cite me for not taking the medication class for the 6th time. Cite me for not having my fridge cold enough to freeze the milk, or for telling the children "no". I understand that telling a child "no" damages their spirit, but Jesus said "let your yes be yes and your no be no", it doesn't say "let your no be 'guns are not for shooting'". Um, yes they are, but I was actually told, by a play therapist, that I should never tell little middle "no", even though he was pointing a gun at me at the moment. Maybe I should have gone back to discuss what my parents told me about playing with guns. They were old school, I don't know if it was spoken, but it was implied that if I ever played with a gun, always loaded never locked, that I should hope that it kills me, because it would be better than my punishment.

Thus concludes my whine. I will be thankful that I get to hug and kiss them everyday. I will be thankful that they are unaware that I am not legally anything to them. I will be thankful that I am their mom. I will also say a prayer for all of the mothers who are without their children tonight, whatever the reason. May they be conceived, born, relinquished, available, returned soon, or may they rest in peace.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

4th of July Fun

We woke up to a LOT of rain, much needed, but why is it on a day when we need to get out of the house?

For the most part we did nothing all day, it was wonderful, kiddos got a little wacko but we all survived.

I did let the kids have a snowball fight. What? A snowball fight on the 4th of July in Texas? Yes, we finally found a use for those pink coconut balls of frosting and chocolate. The kids had fun, baby boy was laughing so hard. During the fight, no one actually fought, it was nice. An unexpected twist. The pink parts are gelatinous molds, they stay in one piece until someone mushes them into a giant pink ball. Gross. They make a popping sound when they hit a body, it sounds like it hurts, but the only near injury was coconut shavings in the eye. The chocolate and frosting washed away with the hose, the seagulls and dog took care of the coconut molds. I have video, but it's sideways and I don't have time to figure out how to right it just now.

After that, I took a very good nap, dreaming of something wonderful until 'WGLAHAAAAAAAAA" from a little one. Which kept me grumpy until we left for fireworks.

I didn't realize until about 10:00 last night that a visit for Monday wasn't arranged. I know these things aren't my responsibility, and suspending visits usually improves behavior, I just don't want the other side to have any excuses. I think we all know that the department is not doing their job, I would hate for that to be the reason they don't terminate.

Again, please pray they ask for termination next week. I, you'll be surprised, have not gotten a time for court. I don't think they want me there. Hmmmm? That's ok, I'll send God to fight my battle for me.

To clarify the complexities of the proceedings. The department can ask that they proceed towards termination on Tuesday. If that request is granted they will set a trial date. If they don't ask for termination, we will begin the process to sue the state to do so. We believe that either way we can get this resolved this year, but if the department asks it won't cost us a new car.

Also send some love over here

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

She got her baby back, baby back, baby back....

Go wish her well, as they get back into their own rhythm.

Also, pray for us, our court date is 7/8 - the only thing we are hoping for is termination. Although not throwing our vacation plans into a tailspin would also be nice. We asked for permission to take the kids with us waaaaay back in April, the CPS worker just asked the judge about a week ago. We bought plane tickets in May, and should be able to take kids we've been raising for three and a half years on a family vacation. You think?

Also, there have been new developments involving Mama's family with more kids being removed into foster care. So, we are hoping that enough will finally be enough. Maybe I need to get me an Oprah Vision Board?????

Just think Johnny Cochran 7/8 - terminate