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.

Economy of Foster Care

As you may or may not know foster care pays (not very much). Here are my money saving tips for those of you who haven't figured it all out yet.

First, I charge them for all services I provide. I will tuck them in at night, but it will cost them an ear wiggle. At certain times decided by the phase of the moon or tide schedule tucking in will go on sale. During sale times the change due for an ear wiggle is a tickle. Tickles are like pennies, they cost more to make than they are worth, but to them it feels like a real bargain.

I save all ear wiggles until I have enough to buy earrings, I purchased my last April.....2007ish, or maybe it was 2006. But my husband did buy me a pair for our anniversary in 2007. They were made from volcanic ash, cool huh? I figure I've got about enough to buy new pair unless there is another sale and I have to cash in some ear wiggles for tickles.

Next I only feed them hot dogs, and most of the time cold ones. What is it about three year olds and cold hot dogs? This strategy does save us four cents a year on electricity that would have been used heating them up, it's more of a tortoise than a hare road to riches.

Next they are only allowed one outfit. Booger has chosen a car shirt, that has 47,000 miles on it, he pairs it with a fancy pair of "black" shorts that are actually tan. They are not dirty, he just insists that they are black.

The four year old likes to cook which saves us a ton of money on our chef services. He also likes to sweep and we have since let go of the maid. He has also shown a proficiency for decorating. We like to call his style "Early American Childhood." We are expecting Oprah to replace her cutie pie with ours, I think it will all the rage in households across America with children under the age of five.

Booger enjoys doing the laundry and Princess likes to "wash dishes", actually all three like that one. Washing dishes almost always entails "mopping the floor" thereby combining the two jobs into one. Another creative work combo is bathing/mopping bathroom floor.

My next big tip is to take them out to eat often. The big box warehouse stores often offer samples around lunchtime, we practice our "pathetic orphan" faces during the week and can usually get out of there spending only $100 - but with a free "lunch". This also applies to the snacks offered at church, I have taught them that if they "spill" theirs they can get a replacement, but while the church worker is preparing a second cup of goldfish to hurridly eat the original fish off the floor. Our church also has fruit and granola bars, if they are fast and snappy they can stuff their pockets with three or four granola bars while I am "socializing" and we are covered for snacks.

I saved hundreds of dollars on swimming lessons, I taught them myself. This has worked well for me as I am also lazy. I no longer have to practice my tennis spectator head jerks while I am alone with three little ones at the pool.

I of course get paid quite heftily for the other services I provide. Playing outside always nets me flowers. When I tell Princess how pretty she looks she responds with "no, you look pretty", they always, and I mean always say "thank you mom for making dinner" and I didn't teach them that one.

I would also point out again that you can claim your orphans on your taxes, but that seemed to upset some people. I know I should be doing this out of the goodness of my heart, but Walmart isn't hiring right now. When they do, that will be my big money break. I can work 8 hours for more money. Wahooo. At that time I will dump them all at the nearest state office and buy myself a convertible. For those of you upset that I'm claiming the foster children on my taxes and not caring for them solely out of the goodness of my heart, rest assured as soon as the state gets their act together and terminates their parents' rights, I won't change anything other than their last name. And I urge you to check out what the irs says on the matter. Don't google it, you'll get more opinions of people who know nothing about the tax code. Don't ask your case worker, it is out of their realm of expertise. - that's all I'm saying.

So, what money advice from me would be complete without the following, tithe and stop using credit.

Friday, August 15, 2008

My Wrist Has an Attachment Disorder

Ten to twelve years ago I tweaked my wrist, ever so slightly. I dislocated a bone, I remember it happening, my arm fell instantly asleep. When it woke up it was hurting. I went to a doctor and was given prescription strength Naproxin and a wrist brace. After a couple of weeks it felt better.

Eight or so years ago it started to hurt again, baby carrying wrist. More Naproxin, wear the brace, on with life. Off an on throughout the years it has hurt, Naproxin would make the pain go away and soon enough it was sore so often I forgot that it was.

A month ago while visiting a doctor about my shoulder he was trying to discover how far down my arm the problem went. He was feeling down my arm and got to just below my elbow and asked, "what did you do to your wrist?"

"Oh, that..." and I told him the whole story. He told me that it was likely that my wrist problem caused my shoulder problem. We addressed the wrist problem and my shoulder pain has gone away. My wrist is so used to being all jacked up that it hurts to be normal. I go and get my wrist adjusted to normal and it hurts like crazy, hours or days later when I hear it pop out of normal it feels better, but I know it only feels better, it is broken.

How many foster kids are out there all jacked up, but have numbed themselves to the pain? Sure it used to hurt that their parents didn't care about them, that nobody bothered to feed them or change them, but eventually it became normal. Occassionally something would remind them that the broken nature of their relationship was not normal and it would hurt for awhile, then the hurt became normal.

Our job as foster parents is to adjust them back to the correct position. There is nothing we humans like better than feeling good, even when we are broken. We had a girl who would go door to door in our neighborhood asking for food and money. She had all she needed at our house, but it felt more normal to beg from strangers than it did to ask her "parents".

And like my shoulder tried to protect my wrist and then became the more noticable problem, these kids protect their broken normal and end up with other problems. In the seventh grade no one can recall if they were left for days at a time in soiled diapers, but their brain knows it. Their brain protects them from trusting too much, or relying on others too much, and then they develop the social disorders. They become Oppositional Defiant, or get a Conduct Disorder. And because we can't get the brain to let go of what happened twelve years ago we try fruitlessly to what appears to be the problem, but isn't the problem at all. If we could correctly identify what the problem was, then the compensating problem would go away.

I know that my wrist, after being out of place for over ten years, will not be better tomorrow, or next week. It may take years for what is normal to feel normal again.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

If Princess Twittered

Today's tweets

I'm scratchin' my butt.

Can I put koolaid in milk?

Who took my cheese?

Where is my blanket?

Where are my shoes?

My friend is here!!!!!

Ooh package man.

Lil Middle is standing on the window.

SHUT UP!!!!!

I don't want to take a nap.

When are we going to eat?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

AG's email to me

Thank you, blah, blah, blah, we appreciate you contacting us.

Here's some other people you can contact.

The NORTHWEST legal aid, committed to helping non custodial parents with their legal matters, in the counties located in the NORTHWEST part of the state. Last I checked, we were SOUTHEAST, and the custodial parent. They will assist me in getting visitation for kids that LIVE WITH ME. Locating my children, WHO LIVE WITH ME, and help me get my child support obligations reduced. But only if I live in the NORTHWEST part of the state, which I do not.

Also referred me to a father's rights legal website, that will assist me in determining who the legal father of my babies are.

And finally, to my local CPS office. Hey, I think that's who I'm complaining about, my local CPS office who isn't doing their job. "Hey will you actually start doing your job? Thanks" apparently I just have to ask.

Well, AG, I appreciate you contacting me. I will try getting some help from the guy who replaces you.

The Church of the State

My born of the heart babies are eligible for all sorts of government programs. They can receive WIC, Medicaid, Headstart, and various other things. We were turned down for Headstart because we knew we'd be absent at least 18 days and the director believed that our slot would be better utilized by someone who would be more likely to be there. I can't say I was disappointed. I have my BOTH babies in a church program, I know what they are learning, even though it costs me $600/month.

They do receive Medicaid. Which is good, I guess because of all the things I'm required to get for them medically. Things like psychological evaluations. And Princess has a heart condition, so keeping up with that in the beginning would have been quite costly without the aid. The more dangerous of her conditions righted itself, and the other condition is being monitored on a three year basis now. And there may come a time that she is inelligible for private insurance. But let me tell you it's a pain in the butt.

With WIC, I go back and forth on. The kids receive 7.5 gallons of milk, 2 dozen eggs, 2 pounds of cheese, 36 ounces of cereal, 18 ounces of peanut butter, and 4 gallons of juice each month. The problem is because they are in foster care, I have to go to the WIC office each month to receive the checks, they might move and then there would be all these checks out there.... Regular WIC clients get three months of checks at a time. Now I know I shouldn't complain, it works out to about $60/hour and it's "for the kids". My problem is taking money from the government that I don't need.

My husband have been quite blessed financially these last few years. My husband taught himself a valuable skill and is compensated quite nicely for it. Also, we tithe and God has kept his end of the bargain by flooding our storehouse. Our annual income is greater than our mortgage balance, and the mortgage will be gone shortly. So we don't "need" government assistance.

I wish all Christians would revolt against government assistance. Get rid of food stamps and WIC and Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Get rid of government housing assistance, and job training program, don't even get me started on education programs. And last but not least FOSTER CARE. Now, that you're all upset, calm down. I'm not saying that the poor need to get it together or die, I'm saying that it's not the government's job to take care of them. It is the job of the Church to take care of the poor and the widows and the orphans.

The problem with us delegating our job to the government is two fold. First, it hits us where it hurts, the pocketbook. Higher and higher taxes and the results of such programs are marginal at best. If you think that your goverment is more capable than your church of handling your money, then maybe you should find a new church. The ones who are utilizing these services have to make it a way of life, the government says $x makes you eligible, make $20 more and you no longer qualify for hundreds of dollars worth of assistance.

Secondly, when people are hurting and in need, they don't need to cry out to God, they just have to fill out a little paper work and the government will take care of it for them. They can thank their Uncle and not their Father. We become complacent and ticked off, we excuse ourselves from doing our job, because the government will and we can look down on the poor for not being able to get out of the trap.

Maybe you think the government needs to be involved so they can provide oversight of these programs. I don't believe that would be a problem if you were personally handing over your money. You'd provide the oversight. Times that by 100 million people and the government can go home.

I do take the WIC most months, I give almost all of it away to other foster parents who have older kids and don't qualify because I know how much the government is paying for their fostering services. I do think I'd feel better just buying them a few things and leaving the government out of it.

I'll let you in on another little secret, as I said before we make more than the average American, but unless it's a year that they impose the Alternative Minimum Tax on rich people, (this year it's $45,000 married filing jointly. Yeah if you make less than the average American you can still be considered one of the "rich".) we don't pay taxes. Oh, but you're rich you should pay taxes. Well, tithing and taking care of orphans, which are tax deductable if they live in your house six months and one day, gives us enough deductions that our taxable income is a couple thousand dollars, which makes us poor on paper, and therefore income tax exempt.

Ask any teacher how the government is doing with education, or any foster parent how well the government is taking care of orphans. Of course we're all too busy trying to keep our head above the regulations to be able to change any of it. Let the teachers teach and the parents parent. Let the church care for the poor and the widows and the orpans.

Instead of sending all of your money to the government give it to a charity. We choose to give it to our church, but give it to any cause you believe in. It doesn't even have to be a church thing, just a duty as an American, take care of YOUR house, help out YOUR neighbor. If you can't personally care for an orphan, help a family that's already taking care of one. If we would all take back our job from the government then the government could stick to what it does best, defending us against terrorists.

Monday, August 11, 2008

My email to the AG

I've changed the identifying information, but other than that, I sent this to our Attorny General. Here's to hoping that someone in the state actually upholds the law.Mr. Attorney General,

We have had three children placed in our home as foster children since 2005. We are getting no resolution at the county level, and need assistance in getting this case resolved. I will provide as much information as I think may be pertinent and you can contact me at any time regarding this matter either by email or by calling me at MY CELL PHONE NUMBER

The case is out of XXXX County. I have had no contact from them regarding hearings or any legal matters throughout this entire case. I do not know who is presiding over this case, nor do I know the name of the Ad Lidem for the children. The ad lidem has never contacted us.

DFPS has permanent managing conservatorship granted 5/26/2006

The mother's name is MAMA- her dob is X/XX/84 and her social security number is XXX-XX-XXXX in the past year she has been arrested and spent time in jail for smuggling immigrants.

The father's name for the children that are in my care is NOT RELEVANT I do not have a dob and have two ssn's XXX-XX-XXXX AND XXX-XX-XXXX- his rights were terminated in 2006 as well as all unknown fathers.

The children that have been in my home are:

PRINCESS - dob X/XX/2005 placed 2/28/2005 thru OUR OLD AGENCY in OUR TOWN - we transferred to OUR CURRENT Agency in 2006 when OUR OLD AGENCY closed their OUR TOWN office.
BOOGER - dob X/XX/2005 placed 2/28/2005 BOOGER AND PRINCESS are twins
LIL MIDDLE dob X/XX/04 placed 9/30/2005 thru OUR OLD AGENCY IN OUR TOWN

LIL MIDDLE, as far as we have been able to document was taken into care in September of 2004 when an older brother was treated for a spiral fracture at the ER in MAMA'S HOME TOWN. At that time he was placed with an aunt who was caring for her own children as well as an older brother of LIL MIDDLE. The twins were placed with the same aunt at birth, but were removed in late February due to the aunt not honoring the safety plan and allowing the children to stay with their parents for extended periods of time. On February 28, 2005 the twins were placed in our home, and have been with us ever since. LIL MIDDLE and his older brother JM dob 10/XX/98 were placed in another foster home at the time. Between 2/28/2005 and 9/30/2005 LIL MIDDLE AND JM were placed in at least four different foster homes. They both came to live with us on 9/30/2005 but we could not care for the needs of JM and he was moved to the home of SUPER DUPER FOSTER PARENT OF THE YEAR on 10/11/2005 - where he has remained since that day.

Aside from JM there are two other children.
NANO IV dob 1/XX/2002
LIL GIRL dob in late November or early December of 2005

MAMA has been living with family members off and on, and recently two children from that home have been placed in foster care due to neglectful supervision. The boy has been placed in the home of SUPER DUPER FOSTER PARENT so that he and JM could be placed together. The girl, is placed in another foster home here in OUR TOWN.

There have been three different case workers involved in this case

We get conflicting infomation regarding this case. One time we will be told that this is "mom's last chance" to complete her service plan, then we'll find out they gave her an extension. It is my understanding that CPS would like to terminate the rights, but the DA in THEIR County feels they resolved this case when they were granted Permanent Managing Conservatorship. I have not spoken to anyone officially, just what I can gather from talking to the Grandmother who is caring for NANO.

It is my understanding that Permanent Managing Conservatorship should never have been offered in this case. According to Texas Family Code 263.404
as none of the qualifications for granting it apply to the children involved.

I also feel that the court should terminate her rights as she has directly violated § 161.001. (O) failed to comply with the provisions of a
court order that specifically established the actions necessary for
the parent to obtain the return of the child who has been in the
permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the Department
of Family and Protective Services for not less than nine months as a
result of the child's removal from the parent under Chapter 262 for
the abuse or neglect of the child;

At this time she is unable to provide all of the children with a safe and permanent home. As I mentioned earlier, two kids were removed from the home where she is living in the last month or two. It is my understanding that she continues to change family counselors and has not completed any items of her service plan.

Also 161.003 (3) also applies as the department has had permanent managing conservatorship since May 2006 and has made reasonable efforts to provide services to the mother that would help in her ability to care for the children. At this time, 2 years and 2 months after the PMC was granted, the mother is still unable to care for her children.

We have been told by CPS in THEIR TOWN that they are unable to pursue termination after it has been denied. We feel that 161.004 covers this - it is in the best interests of the children in that the children have now been in a stable environment for over three years and there are no immediate plans for reunification.

We would very much appreciate any help you or your office could be in resolving this case. This is the only home the three children we are caring for have ever known. At this point it would be in their best interests to remain here. We will do anything in our ability to make sure that they remain with us, but until this matter is resolved in a legal manner we are at the ultimate mercies of the department.

We would also ask that should THEIR County refuse to terminate the parental rights of the mother that the jurisdiction be moved to OUR County as the children have lived here well over the six month requirement as stated in§ 155.203. DETERMINING COUNTY OF CHILD'S RESIDENCE. In
computing the time during which the child has resided in a county,
the court may not require that the period of residence be continuous
and uninterrupted but shall look to the child's principal residence
during the six-month period preceding the commencement of the suit.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, § 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

Again, we have three children that we would love to adopt and remove from foster care. There are now five other children in this family in foster care. Two more that would be adopted the moment this case is resolved. And would really appreciate your help in this matter, as we have gotten no where with the county.

Thank you

my husband says it's time for me to go to law school

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Does This Sound Like Anyone You Know?

His dad said he wouldn't have wished his child on his worst enemy. His dad goes on to explain how his son drove him crazy, from sun up to sun down it was non-stop action. Every day was a million questions. They could not do anything as a family because they were always out searching for this kid. He was never where he was supposed to be, he wouldn't sit still in school, his parents contemplated renting office space at the school because they were there so much. Know what I'm saying?

The mom of another child said that her kid drove her nuts. He had so much energy and she couldn't keep up with him. He too asked question after question. Boundless energy.

Another mother said her son was exhausting. He had too much energy. He would even fidget out of his clothes at school.

I know how this ends, and seeing both sides of it I think they are humorous stories from their childhood. But living it everyday is another story. We have a boy that is 100 miles an hour or he's fast asleep. He literally climbs the walls, runs in circles, inquires about anything he sees, or hears, or thinks of.

Our stated goal as foster parents is to socialize our foster children, and make them fit in and become normal. This is why most of them come with medication. It is not just in foster care that we are trying to chill everyone out. Now, I can only imagine what 10 boys like I described would do to a classroom. I don't advocate allowing them to be disruptive because ADD worked out well for others. I do think that we as parents, teachers, coaches and other involved adults need to find more constructive ways to deal with their energy than Ritalin.

The first kid I described was the late Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. No surprise there that he was a little out of control as a child, he was out of control as an adult. Can you imagine trying to keep him in the boat as a child. His dad's worst enemy wouldn't have taken him. Steve's dad did say in the very next sentence, that as an adult he wouldn't have traded him for the world. He just had to channel ALL of that energy into something that his child was passionate about.

The second kid I described was Michael Phelps, his mom said swimming was the only thing that slowed him down a little, and he's competing in his third Olympics and trying to get 8 gold medals this time around. Again, his mom found some positive way to channel his energy.

The last, is every body's favorite, Ty Pennington. He appears on TV every week, yelling and jumping around like he's on fire. And that's on medication. Can you imagine how crazy he'd be without it? Again, he found a passion and channeled his energy and he's done ok for himself.

I struggle everyday to keep up with the four year old in our house. I know it would take little more than a phone call and he could be medicinally under control. I don't want that for him. I just need to get him in the pool, or chasing crocodiles, or maybe he can start repainting all the walls that he's already decorated. I need to find something that will slow him down so that I can keep up with him.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Post Adoptive Services

It amazes me the number of people I talk to who are not aware of post adoptive services. I don't blame them, I blame their agencies. Even if you never plan on using them it is urgent that you get approved for them prior to consummating an adoption from foster care. Once the adoption is consummated you cannot go back and get approved.

One of the post adoptive services provided is Medicaid. Regardless of whether you have your own insurance or not, it is important that you get approved for Medicaid post adoption. Should your child ever become uninsurable in the private sector, Medicaid will take over. Medicaid will become your second pay insurance, and will cover any co-pays or deductible. Please keep in mind that you will have to include the children on any insurance that is available through your employer in order to be eligible, this may mean a bump in premium. Medicaid may also come in handy should you need psychiatric services for the kids as they become older. Many private insurances have a lifetime cap that will only cover 2-3 months of inpatient care. Unfortunately that may not cover your needs.

Another post adoptive service is a subsidy. There will be a monthly payment to you, it is not considered income, more like child support from the state. It will be based on the level of care of the child at the time of adoption. I hesitate to use the word "trick", but a trick that is used here locally is getting the childs level of care dropped once they are put in adoptive placement. The governing body insists that the child no longer has issues. But if you've had a "specialized" kid for three years and when adoption is an option they suddenly become "basic", please appeal.

You will also be eligible for respite reimbursement. However, where I am you have to attend the post adoptive support group. It meets around 8:00 on Thursday nights. This is not a convenient time for my family, and I believe you are limited to 12 days a year. This is not something that we will probably use.

Post adoptive services are available to anyone adopting a special needs child from foster care, as defined by the Federal Government. You might be saying, "my child isn't special need", but the legal definition is a child over the age of seven, or a minority over the age of 2, or a sibling group, or a child joining a sibling group.

Should you qualify for post adoptive services, you will also qualify for a tax REIMBURSEMENT of $10,000 per child. It is available for up to five years post consummation. So, say your tax due the year of adoption is $3,000 - you will get that REIMBURSED. Just make sure your tax preparer is aware that you have adopted a child from foster care that meets the special needs requirement.

If you are not adopting your child from foster care you are still eligible for a tax credit for expenses occurred relating to the adoption, I believe there is a $20,000 limit. This means if your taxable income is $50,000 and spend $12,000 in legal, medical, and travel fees you reduce your taxable income to $38,000 - Please remember I'm an not an accountant and can offer no legal or professional advice.

Hope this helps someone, this takes up a lot of room in the brain, and along with everything else that has stuck, it's rejecting some short term memory. Just kidding, I remember everything, just ask me, NOT MY HUSBAND, me.


Our church is making some changes, we are a Megachurch, and we are trying to fill up some campuses. This means that some of our volunteers will be making the shift to different campuses leaving openings at the main site. Which means they are going to ask me what I'm doing to serve..........

I will not be doing childcare, I know they need it, but I need ten minutes away from children a week. Besides, I don't much like other people's children, yes, that's ironic.

I won't be greeting, I'm not a happy cheery type. I can't direct you to the children's area any better than the 400 square foot signs hanging over our heads.

I won't be directing traffic in the parking lot, we have 100 acres, I'm sure you can find a spot. You may have to walk, but that shouldn't be a problem. We have plenty of Handicap and Pink parking, leave it for those who need it.

I'd sing, if you'd let me, you won't. Plus I'm tired after one service of singing, let alone practice and four services, no probably not a good idea.

We've got a home team, which meets when the planets align. Our core group is five plus children, try coordinating five families with a combined total of 30 some children, all of whom have activities and other parents, and all the stuff kids come with. However, we do get together, and it is fun. We're going to stick with that.

Also, my husband has a men's group and I have a women's group. My group doesn't officially meet, but I'm here to answer any foster or adopting questions people may have. We had our first adoption last week, and because of the group I was able to inform them of all the stuff the state and their attorney had left out.

And we're raising other people's kids, I know parenting isn't an get out of serving card, but parents raising their own kids don't have the hassle factor we do. How many times do you have to drop your kids off with drug smugglers for a couple of hours? Do you have to drive three hours each way for the privilege? How much time and effort do you then have to put back into the children so they don't have night terrors for a week? How many reports do your kids generate on a daily basis? How many strangers come into your house each month to inspect the quality of care you are giving to your children?

I know everyone has jobs and kids and maybe it's a priority, but my first ministry is to my family, and right now at least one of them needs mom all the time. He's making up for lost time. So, when your glancing down the aisle to see which box I check on the serving card, don't strain too hard, I won't be. I will be home practicing how to be a functioning human being with a four year old.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Attachment Book

Several years ago when we had MMT we dealt with attachment issues on a daily basis. It's not going so bad now, getting them early has its advantages. I promised Sugar and Spice I'd give her this info, it is the best book I've read on the subject.

Attachment, Trauma, and Healing: Understanding and Treating Attachment Disorder in Children and Families by Terry M. Levy and Michael Orlans Currently running about $25 on Amazon.

It has a chart in the back that explains the similarities and differences between ADD, ADHD, Bipolar and Attachment Disorder. They are all remarkedly similar, but you'll find most "professionals" treating foster children for ADHD or Bipolar, and disregarding Attachment issues.

It also helps the secondary caregiver, understand that the primary caregiver is not completely crazy. As well as things to look for that may seem harmless but are very power strugglish.

I'll be buying another copy, as I can't find mine, as well as Terry Levy's other book Healing Parents. Anyway, here's to hoping you don't need this book.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Open vs. Closed

Today I overheard a conversation. Despite it causing me great distress I chose not to interrupt it. I found that strangers offering unsolicited advice to be annoying, although I'm sure they would have went "Wow, what a revelation, we are so wrong, and you have shown us the way." Or something similar.

There were four women talking. One complained that "cheap" agencies always pushed open adoption. They were not open to open adoptions because they did not want their kid to be confused as to who their mommy was.

My born of the heart children see their mama at least twice a month and talk to her on the phone almost daily, sometimes 10 or 15 times a day. They know her as "mama" but when they want their mommy, they want me. I don't think in most cases that this is an issue with the kids, but rather a fear of the parents to be. I had two grandmas as a child. I called them both "grandma" I had two very distinct relationships with them. It was not confusing.

Had you asked me five years ago, I would have voted for banishing the bio family and never speaking of them. I was so much smarter back then. Like it or not, we have an open adoption, but without the adoption part.

Ask me now, and my biggest worry would be that the kids not get to know her as a person. I cannot compete with the imagination of a child. I do not want the kids wo conjure up the perfect mama in their mind. One who is not the person that actually exists. I know a lot of families of divorce have to deal with the absent/Santa parent. They disappear for months or years and all of a sudden it's Disney World, then nothing again. I know the kids extend extra grace on those parents, not wanting to believe that their parent may be less than perfect.

So be warned mama, the kids will know you. They will visit you, we will take your calls. But you will be responsible for the information they get about you. If you love them, you'd better tell them. I cannot, nor will I speak for you. If you want to see them, you will be allowed for as long as they are safe doing so. I will take your calls when it's not interfering with our life, if it does, we'll call you back. If you call me and tell me that you can't call because you are in jail, when they ask why you aren't calling I will tell them that you can't call them from jail.

I can't decide for anyone whether an open or closed adoption would work for them, I would just like for everyone to really think about the unintended consequences of both options. Don't let fear of the unknown prevent you from a great thing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

It's Apparent You're a Foster Parent When...

...your four year old asks for his "meds". contemplate not swatting a 14 pound mosquito because someone might mistake it for abuse.

...the door bell rings you make sure the meds are double locked before you answer. have to write reports on all of the stuff you didn't do today. We did not take child A to any medical appointments. We did not take child B to any medical appointments. We did not take child C to any medical appointments. see your child doing something dangerous and you contemplate which report/investigation will be worse. Improper restraint/Improper supervision.

...your kids play "caseworker" and they ask each other "where do you sleep?" and "how does that make you feel?"

... they ask if you remember which mom was it that....

...this is a problem

...people ask, "are you babysitting? Are they ALL yours?" get the "knowing glances" (judging)that others give you when you have several children of different races, and they alternate with the kids that match you on the outside and they all call you mom.

...You have a 5th grader, a 6th grader, a 7th grader, an 8th grader and a 9th grader. 3 of them are 14 and 2 of them are 12 and they go to four different schools, because some have special needs that can't be served by your neighborhood school. need the police to get a child into or out of the house. have to practice waking up without screaming with a two year old.

...your bio kids know more about attachment disorders than a psychologist, because they live it everyday. are perplexed when the receptionist asks for payment after a bio kids doctor visit.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Show Thyself Anonymous

So I woke up to a comment posted on my last blog entry, at first I was like wow, somebody is cranky. By the time I got to the point where they told me I was "stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid." I was laughing.

I know there is a great debate as to whether or not to allow anonymous comments or not, I will, an anonymous commenter on my blog later accepted Jesus. Worth the other crap one has to deal with.

I do want to make a few comments regarding this particular comment.

1. It made no actual criticism of the content of my blog. Through sitemeter I discoverd that they had searched in Blogger for AMY GRANT. I said nothing awful about Amy Grant, in fact I raved about how I love her Christmas Album. My thought is that Amy Grant is the only Christian anonymous has ever heard of and figured before they signed off for the evening they would do their part to dissuade someone who liked Amy Grant. Somebody who likes Amy Grant, must be Christian oriented and therefore must be stopped from expressing themselves on the internet. Not likely. Anonymous hails from San Fransisco, not a place whose opinions I take seriously.

2. A puzzle with seven pieces - they are math retarded.

3. My Wal-Mart clearance panties? - You really know nothing about me. I spent more on panties last year than you made. Before taxes.

It may sound like I'm taking this too much to heart. I'm not, I just want to encourage others who may have gotten an anonymous comment similar to this that they likely didn't even read a word on your blog. Something relating to Jesus, or Christianity caught their eye and they decided if they can take you out, "that's one less thing" to quote Forrest Gump.

I have gotten other Anonymous comments that I reject straight out, for some reason there is a group of people organized against Quizno's. I don't get it, but whatever. Were they to have read my posting containing the word Quizno's they would find that it was not even about Quizno's, but a guy that worked at Quizno's. That should get them all in an uproar, how many times did I just promote Quizno's? Doesn't a hot sandwich sound good right now? MMM HHMMM. I do like the Quizno's.

Also, the person who first anonymously commented and later accepted Jesus. If that is the only one I ever get, this whole venture will have been worth it. My main goal was to make it on to IMDB biographies someday. With all of the children being adopted by movie stars these days, someone is bound to take up the Born of the Heart movement. Just as long as they stop saying "Am adopted" or "is adopted" the correct terminology is "was adopted" like "was born".

So, people. Do not take anonymous criticism too much to heart. Get some entertainment out of it, or reject it at the first harsh word you come across. If it becomes too much of a bother turn it off. You have something to say, and to someone it will be important. It maybe something interesting for your family to look over in the future. Or it will bring back memories you have forgotten. Or God will bring another of His children home, because they found Him in your heart.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I'm So Nervous and Happy and It Turns into a Music Review and Lecture

We hired a new sitter, I hope she likes us. I'm so glad I don't have to date.

Here's a real shocker for y'all. Our kids don't like it when strangers show up at the house and we let them in. They turn into little hellions, (that is a word, I've used it). You'd think kids who've been taken out of their homes by strangers, sometimes repeatedly would just get over it. I kept reassuring her it would get better when I left. It either did or our new sitter is a liar, either way I enjoyed myself.

How could I not I went to see him how much do we love him? How many people are going to be lining the streets of Heaven to welcome him home? I'd say come early it'll be packed.

Just for fun I'm going to call him Mike, like we're long lost friends. Back in the day when we'd go on trips with the church group and you could only bring Christian music it was him and Amy. I don't care who you are, if you were alive in the '80's you know every word to Friends are Friends Forever.

But anyway, he was kind enough to be a "crossover artist" during my prodigal years. Even when I wasn't in church every week, Mike and Amy and Rich and Steve kept me company. That's Smith, Grant, Mullins and Taylor. I'm glad Mike is still making music, it still rocks. I will play Amy Grant's first Christmas Album all year round forever. Rich is gone, but could we handle anymore awesomeness? I think not, and Steve is over working for a little band you've probably heard of, The Newsboys. they're pretty cool, you should check them out. Although I LOVED him as a solo artist. But I can understand that Christians don't want to hear music about adultery and fornication and suicide and teen pregnancy and "values clarification". Singing about abortion clinics will apparently cause rioting in the streets.

Guess what we talked about tonight? Meth addict turned Jesus freak and the prodigal years. Sound familiar? And we talked about grace and unconditional love. My two favorite things.

I've said it before, but why can't we extend a little more grace and unconditional love? The Jesus I know is not the Jesus I hear about. I believe that Jesus is the ONLY way to Heaven. Why? Because he said so. Now, what I can't believe is that those of us who also believe that get all worked up about songs, and smoking and beer and whatever else it is that gets us all worked up. Giving Satan a perfect opportunity to preach to the world that goodness counts. There are a LOT of good people going to Hell, and we're over here fighting amongst ourselves about the unholy things that go on in a fallen world. There are a LOT of good people looking at us and deciding that their goodness trumps our JESUS, and that ain't right. And the reason I'll take a meth addict over a church goer anyday is that the meth addict understands grace. They grab onto it and ride it where it takes them. And tonight it took one to a little concert hall where she opened for Michael W. Smith.

So, thanks be to God for His grace and unconditional love, I'm sure I've offended someone.

*****Update***** I did offend someone, check the comments.

Friday, August 1, 2008

My Mansion In The Sky

I've heard that the work we do here will be reflected there by the size of our mansion. I don't know what sound Biblical principle that's based on, but it sounds good. A friend mentioned that should people from a certain government agency that I'm dealing with make it to heaven, they should have to mow my lawn. Here's to hoping.

Here on this side of the veil I'm looking at a lot of flip houses. I can see the potential but have gotten too good at estimating the cost. I wonder what happened to that first flip attitude. Well, I know what happened to it, reality. I was going to buy the place for $5,000 - put in about $5,000 and sell the place for about a million. Course these houses come as is and you don't really know what the foundation is like til you get into it.

It's also become apparent to me that the more potential is in a flip the more problems come with it. I gave up trying to get it all done in six weeks, I try to identify the next big problem and deal with that one only. Of course some other work has to go by the wayside. Who cares about the landscaping when the sewer's backed up?

I guess that's Satan's way of trying to get us off course. I know a lot of people drive by and pity the fool who purchased that one. I gave up caring what others think. It's an investment, and I may lose some money, but I can see it in all of its glory, somedays. Somedays I take the day off, somedays I'm going to hire a subcontractor, somedays somebody runs off with all the copper pipes. Somedays it's a property dispute. It's a process. I know it would be a lot easier to get the houses turnkey, but being a builder is just one of the ways God made me special.

Child O' Mine

Most of the fostering questions I get, is how can you let them go. Luckily we have not had to let go of too many. The ones we did have to say "Good bye" to hurt a lot. We let them go knowing that they were not in the right place.

We do not have any legal closure on the three children who have lived with us for over three years, so I do know how it feels to wonder if you will see this child grow up. Most of the people whom I know who foster, got into fostering primarily to adopt. I believe that everyone who adopts is looking to make the world a better place for the child/ren they do adopt. We all know, and are all told, that these foster children might go home. We sign on knowing that. But knowing and feeling are two very different things.

We know that these children "belong" to their parents, regardless of what their parents did or did not do. We take in these children knowing they could leave at any point along the way. We fall in love with these children. We are hardly ever given adequate information on where they came from or why they were removed. As time goes by we learn more about the parents. The persons that they have allowed themselves to become. We do not like these people, and are indignant that merely reproducing gives you rights.

My hard learned advice is that we must learn to care for these parents as the humans that they are and not the people they've become. We have more grace for the strangers on the street than the parents of our children. I started praying for my baby Mama not because it was the right thing to do, but because I could no longer stand to hate her for what she had allowed to happen to our babies. I was so mad the day we went for a visit that was being monitored by her family counselor. Me and the counselor behind the two way mirror, watching Mama sing the songs, and play the games that I had taught them. The counselor making comments on how well she interacted with them and how smart and well behaved they were. Of course no one had mentioned to the counselor that this was only the fourth time she'd seen them in six months. It was that day that I decided for my own benefit that hating Mama did no one any good, least of all me. I was still mad, but knew I had to change.

Could I not have sympathy for her situation? I tease that I was raised by wolves, but not the kind who eat their young. She was parenting the only way she knew how. Could I not see that she had gotten herself into quite a situation? How would I deal, if I had to deal with her life? This does not excuse her choices. We've all know, or have read about people overcoming amazing obstacles, but would I overcome or be overwhelmed? If I woke up in her shoes, what would I want?

She is the mother of half of my children. How can I not love her for giving them life? How can I not pray for her to overcome? How can I not pray for her to find God? Where is her Jesus?

Several months ago the kids and I started making scrap book pages for her. Here's what we're doing, pictures, drawings and what not. I don't even scrap book for myself. I don't have the time, but I'm making time for her. This is way out of my comfort zone, but I have to tell myself that this woman is an important part of my life.

She recently gave me a note thanking me and God for being there for her babies. It is a note I will always cherish. It means to me that we have a mutual understanding that we will share the mothering role, regardless of where they live.