Monday, September 29, 2008

I don't need medicine

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

"Daddy could cuddle me better."

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

Friday Mornings

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

By Request - Adoption Incentives

IRS Form 8839

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

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


Here are some of my friends' states

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More about Born of the Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hey Janes

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Finally some News

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

If Anyone Knew

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 12, 2008

Listen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Let's Make a Change



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

Monday, September 8, 2008

The best defense

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

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

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I wonder if it's coincindence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Traditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 5, 2008

Best Picture Ever

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

He Hits Me Back First

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

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

"A hit me."

"Did you hit A?"

"Yes."

"Both of you to time out."

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

"Nah nah na nah naaaaah."

"C time out for taunting."

A & B "Nah nah na nah naaah."

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

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

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

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

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

"MO-OM"

"you have to say sorry for everything."

"That's going to take too long."

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

"But he hits me back first."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Frightening

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

Never Mind- This Doesn't Concern You

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

Min

Princess and the Peanuts

Are They Really Brothers?



Thanks Christy for this.

Pro Trig Debate

I couldn't have said it better myself.

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

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

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The next BFF of me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They're Not Mine

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Teenage girls get pregnant?

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

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

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

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

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

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