Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Working Mama Wednesday - Austin & My Career

Yesterday I told you about how I left my husband and kids for 4 days for a business trip - something I haven't done in years.  When I left I was anxious and absolutely hated leaving my family.  I felt awful.

In the back of my mind I was excited about the trip and the potential this team could have to change the course of the organization I work for.  I can't talk too much about what we're working on, but it is big.  I've been with this organization for 10 years now and have a strong passion for where we're headed and the opportunity to forever change the course.  In my mind doing so will also give mie the opportunity to forever change the lives of people I work with.  Commerce will come and go - the important thing (to mie) is to positively influence the lives of people in the workforce with commerce as the common thread linking us together, giving mie the opportunity to speak positively into their lives and hopefully that in turn will inspire greater lives outside of work for all of us.

That's my idea anyway.

As we arrived in Austin I found myself busy helping my coworkers prep for dinner - a nice fajita-themed meal with grilled steak, chicken, and shrimp.  I lucked out - as my peers detailed and deveined the shrimp (ugh!) I took on the task of making a ginormous bowl of guacamole with fresh ingredients.  I think after 12 avocados I had the base for what turned out to be a wonderful  bowl of guac.  Later in the week when we went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant some of my coworkers even asked the waiter if I could make the guac we'd ordered because it was that good.  (Honestly I thought it was just average...).  In any case, making the guac, helping to prepare the rest of the food, and doing the dishes that night really helped fulfill my need to be mommy since I wasn't with my kids.  

Of course - this view and weather in the 70s helped too.

The rest of the week really smacked mie in the face in terms of my career and where it is headed.  The honest truth is that I don't really think of my "career" often.  It pays the bills and gives mie an opportunity to do what I talked about earlier in motivating people, but I don't have specific career aspirations beyond having the most impact I can.  Now I find myself on a team of bright people hand-picked to make these projects happen.   They talk about the end result "making a dent in the universe".  I am proud to have had a hand in starting this movement and in being chosen to continue to work on the team to see it to completion.

And yet my insecurities have been stirred as a result of various aspects of this project.  I'm not a direct member of the team but a supporting member from another department.  My internal voice screams "you weren't REALLY chosen to be part of the team".  I'm the most tenured member of the team by 6 years.  My internal voice screams "you're old and outdated".  Some people said things like "so, you've only worked for (our organization)".  Most of the people on the team have only a year or two with the organization and have had a broad background making an impact in all sorts of other places.  Me?  I started working here two weeks after I graduated with my B.A., which I received when I was 20.  I'm 30, almost the youngest on the team (because someone beats me by a couple months), and yes, I've really only worked here.  Of course that doesn't count the 5 years I worked with a franchise pizza company in increasingly responsible positions, the time I spent with a large department store who asked mie to stay on to work for them in corporate positions, and the time I spent in real estate - when I was in high school.  It also doesn't count that I've been promoted 8 times in 10 years.  Nevertheless my insecurities are raging about how much "less" I am than the others.

No one said that or treated mie that way.  I do believe I'm highly respected where I am and have maintained my "up-to-date-ness" through external partnerships, writing opportunities, professional organizations, and of course through projects I've worked on through school.  And yet I find myself questioning my own value in the workplace.

It stems from 2010 when I went through a really hard time professionally.  After having always been recognized by people I worked with, teachers, adults when I was a kid, etc. for being bright, advanced, and a leader, through a variety of crappy circumstances found myself in a position of being broken and vulnerable.  (Need a refresher?  Check out the "1 Year Ago Today" series here.)  On top of everything going on in my personal life I had significant changes professionally that led mie to working with someone who was not at all supportive of mie and my career.  This person made it very clear that she did not respect mie at all and didn't believe I was a leader.  (this is not my internal voice - the exact words were "I have not seen any leadership behavior from you this year").  

I sat with my husband on Monday and cried.  I explained to him how broken I am regarding my confidence in my career.  Wouldn't you know I had my performance review on Tuesday with my boss and though it went well I cried in there too.  I have a good relationship with my boss and we started talking about my confidence.  He had no idea I felt the way I do - no one really does because on a daily basis I appear to be a very confident person.  So I cried (very mildly) as I explained to him how 2010 really impacted mie.

Sometimes this all feels permanent.  I wonder if I've peaked in my career already.  I wonder if I'll ever really know what 2010 was all about for my career and for mie as a person.  I wonder if I'll ever stop second guessing my perception on how valuable I am compared to what this individual said of mie, whether this person was right to say what was said or whether it was just a learning experience that I had to go through to make mie more refined.  I wonder if other people involved in hearing the things she said will ever know how many things were un-truths and how it has impacted mie.  I wonder if it really matters....

I pray that God will use mie.  I pray that God will show mie direction.  I just want to know His will for my life and if not the entire picture at least what the next right step is.  Should I stay?  Should I be satisfied where I am at this moment?  Should I sit back and rest or continue to drive forward?  

I don't know the answers yet.  The Austin trip made mie cry personally for not being with my kids but also drummed up some professional sentiments that made mie cry as well.  I'm hoping at some time in the near future I can write another Working Mama Wednesday post where I'm able to tell you where God has taken mie so far in this journey.  I know something's coming.  I'm just not sure what. 


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday's Tears - Going Away

Last week I mentioned I'd be unavailable for a while.  For security reasons, I didn't want to say where I was or why I was going away - you know, just to be on the safe side.  Now that the trip is over I can give you the details.

For the first time (I can remember) since being a foster parent, I had to go on a business trip.  Pre-kids  I traveled much more than I do now.  Even when Logan was young I had a job where I traveled more extensively (3-5 trips per year).  Since then I haven't traveled much, both by function of my job and by necessity.  Traveling just doesn't work well in our schedule.

Nevertheless I'm working on a project that is in its infancy stages and required us to get away as a project team to gel and get some initial project work done.  We traveled to Austin, TX and stayed at rental vacation property on Lake Travis.  We all live close enough to Austin that it meant we drove down there but far enough away to keep us from returning home every night.  I ended up leaving Monday morning and returning Thursday afternoon.

When I initially heard about this trip I had a mini panic.  Even though our new schedule provides more time for us all to be together as a family there are still major times when only mommy or only daddy are available to be there with the kids.  Taking mie away from the family for 4 days is no small challenge and finding someone willing to help in the hours we needed, with 4 kids, meeting CPS requirements, on weekdays, was no easy task.   When I used to travel when Logan was little I'd fly my mom in to spend a few days with us and she loved the chance to come out to visit - it was a win-win.  Of course, my parents anniversary was right smack in the middle of my trip and I couldn't even ask for her to consider it, even if she would have said yes.  So I tried to devise plan B, C, D, E, and F.

Wouldn't you know God knew all along that I'd need to go out for this trip.  About 6 weeks earlier my husband had mentioned that he had to do some training for work which required him to change his schedule.  Wouldn't you know that coincided exactly with what eventually turned into my trip.  He was able to be home and we needed only minor help with the kiddos one morning and one evening that my sister happily provided.  Logistics solved.  Kids cared for.  Mommy's free for a trip.

Only it wasn't that easy to leave.  The logistics may have been handled but my mommy heart despised leaving.  I was desperately worried about leaving my hubby in charge of all things household management while I was gone, not because he is incompetent but because I know how much work it can be.  I hated dropping all that in his lap.  I feared that no matter how much I thought through and documented what needed to happen while I was gone I would miss something critical and somehow miss providing the role my kids needed me to fill.  I know how much work it is.  I know how much has to be juggled.  I know how difficult it is to make sure it all happens right (or close!).  I just hated making my husband do all of that.  Not to mention, he hadn't been alone with the kiddos for that long.  Again, not that he couldn't handle it, but 4 kiddos is a lot of work and it's nice to have someone to tag team with when you need a quick break to refresh.  He wouldn't have that while I was gone.  I worried his patience would grow thin.

Then I worried about how my kids would be without me there.  Would they miss me?  Mommies and daddies are both important to kiddos, would there be something missing for them while I was gone?  Would they get enough hugs and kisses?  Get told enough how important they are and how much they are loved?  Worse yet, we have a family used to loss.  Foster children, especially at this age, can be sensitive to trips like this where someone goes away for a while.  They may have a hard time understanding that mommy is coming back, but not like visits like their other om, they wouldn't be moving to a new home, mommy isn't leaving them.  I worried how #9 would handle it.  I worried how Summer would handle it.  I knew Logan would be ok, but I worried he'd feel sad missing mie.

So when I left on the trip, though it provided mie with an opportunity to get away "for myself" for awhile I was sad and extremely anxious.  As we drove toward Austin, all I could think about was jumping out of the car and running back to my family. (Lest you worry, I didn't seriously think about jumping out of the car, but you get my point).  I wanted to be with them.  Nothing else mattered.  Not the adult social time.  Not the extra rest.  Not the career potential of the project.  Nothing.  I just wanted to be home.

And that was the first night.

To be continued...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Say What (?!?) Sunday - Random Musings

Here are a few things I heard around the house recently:

As she sat on the stool at the island eating her afternoon snack:
#9 - Mommy.  Mommy.  Mommy.
Mie - Yes #9?
#9 - Mommy, can you clean my pan-tees.
Mie - Yes.  Why do I need to clean your pan-tees?
#9 - Because I went poopy.
Mie - Then no, I can't clean them.  We are going to throw them away.
She's fully potty trained.  I guess it happens but I assure you it was nasty.

As we sat watching Monster Jam this past weekend:
Logie - Mommy. (he leans in trying to whisper)
Mie - Yes Logie
Logie - Mommy.  I'm going for whichever one is going to win.
Mie - Got it.

We had this next conversation several times yesterday:
#9 - Mommy.  Mommy.  Mommy.  (this is common).
Mie - Yes #9.
#9 - I like cats.
Mie - You like cats?
#9 - Yes.  Is she coming over?
Mie - Oh, you mean Ms. Kat (the babysitter)?  No she's not coming today.
#9 - Why not?
Mie - Because we're going to stay with you.
#9 - Why?
Mie - Because we love you.
#9 - Are you going to go to big church?
Mie - No, we already went to church today.
#9 - Are you going to big church again?
Mie - (this is weird...we never call it big church) - We'll go again but not today.
#9 - Is Ms. Kat coming?
Mie - OH, you mean "big trucks", monster jam?  No we're not going to go today.  We're going to stay home.
#9 - Why?

Sheesh.  We then went on to talk about how we were staying home with her because we love her and proceeded to quiz us on whether we love everyone else in the house too.  It was cute.

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Foster Parent Friday - Stalking

Q: Do you KNOW the parents?

A: I get this question a lot.  It's one that used to stump mie, not only because I didn't know how to answer it but primarily because it never occurred to mie that people would wonder about that particular thing.  After nearly 2 years as a foster parent it still throws mie off when I think about it.

No judgement though - I'm happy to answer it.  I say - anything that helps people understand that we're normal people doing a thing that more normal people could do, all that better.

I wrote about a similar question before.  In fact, "Do the parents know who you are?" was one of my first FPF posts.  In it I discussed how we like to partner with the parents whenever we can to help them have a better chance of success and, of course, for the sake of the kiddos.

This post will take a slightly different approach.  Clearly.  It's called Stalking.

It shouldn't be.  Before I go further, though I will quickly admit to what I affectionately call "stalking", I am not ACTUALLY doing anything remotely similar to stalking as in, the crime.  Personal privacy is important to mie and therefore I'll give that to others as well.  Plus, I don't want to go to jail.  So, don't worry.  I don't really stalk anyone.  But that's what I call it.

It really should be called in-depth investigation.  But that's not as fun as "stalking".

Here's the thing - I have someone else's child in my home.  I am very well aware that these kiddos have had a mother and father prior to joining our family.  I'm very well aware that these mothers and fathers also have families out there.  I know that if my children were somehow not in my care or any of my relatives kids were not in their care I would stop at nothing to get them back and I'd be overwhelmingly devastated in missing them in the process.

As a foster parent I'm not necessarily privy to ALL the information in a case, only that which particularly relates to the care of the children.  So, I should know their medical history and why they were removed.  I don't necessarily need to know the thorough arrest history of the parents to care for the children well.  That being said, having foster children in our home make them part of our family and missing a huge piece of their history does affect our family.  For example, a child might come to us by way of neglect because of parental drug use.  They may not have qualified family to go to.  That may be all we "need" to know about their history.  However, they may also be gang members.  They may not have been able to go to family members because of their gang ties and history of retaliation, murder, etc.  Yes, I could care for the kids without knowing all that information but frankly I feel I need to know if there is a very real possibility that the family members may be trying to find ME at any given moment.  (P.S., I haven't actually had that scenario, but you get my point).  Not to mention, it's helpful to know as much as I can find out about how the parents are doing in working their case.  The only updates I actually get on this is when I befriend CASA and the caseworker and they let things slip OR when I attend the infrequent hearings (court, permanency conferences, etc.).

So I have found myself doing in-depth investigations on parents from time-to-time.  This often involves Google searches with the names of all family members that I know of.  I've found arrest records, charges, court hearings (recent and past), and family cycles of abuse and criminal behavior this way.  I also have found that some counties publish their court documents online so that I can see more about the active court case without having to rely on sometimes-unreliable caseworkers.  It's also helpful to keep track of cases of kids who've left my home ;)

Parents with good attorneys often will counsel them to be very careful about what they put online, particularly regarding social media.  This is frustrating but clearly good advice (I'll give you an example of why in a minute).  The result is that I can often see that they have a myspace or Facebook account when I do a search on their name but I can't see anything they might have posted unless I friend them.   I am NOT going to friend them.  That would be nuts.  So, I'm usually left wondering what is on that profile and wishing I could friend them.  Sometimes, as with cases that have ended already, I really really want to friend them just to keep encouraging them but I know it wouldn't be a good idea in the long run.  I do have a Facebook account based on my anonymous Gmail address that I've used with #3 when they wanted to friend mie so we could keep in touch, but the problem with that is that I think it might expose birth parents from different cases to each other and I'm not all that comfortable with that.

Anywho - I have found that the mother in one of my cases has both open myspace and Facebook profiles.  The myspace account is old, which means it gives mie good insight in how she used to live.  There are also a lot of pictures on there of when the kids were babies.  Some are really cute, others are shameful.  Nevertheless, I now have baby pictures of some of my kiddos which comes in handy since I don't know how cases will end until they actually end and by that time it may be nearly impossible to get them baby pictures to go along with them in their journey.  (I have no baby pictures of Summer - only those I started taking when she arrived in our home at 9 months).  The Facebook account is updated on a regular basis so I get to see how things are going, today.  Assuming the case was closed that would be cool for mie to keep up with the kiddos without formally intruding on their privacy (I mean, they are posting it publicly).  Assuming the case is open it would help mie to see how the mother is living without her kiddos, how much she writes about missing them (or not), and how much she is or is not working her case plan. 

Of course, all of this action could go against the parent too.  In this particular case whether the case is an existing one or if it is one of my previous kid's parents there is stuff on both accounts that is highly questionable and certainly goes against the case plan set up.  I'm not going into specifics on purpose, but I felt I had no choice to let the state know the information that I had so they could investigate it.  I warned them that if the mother knew about their ability to see the information on the account they would probably find it blocked soon and then let them to their business.  It really is none of my business what they do with the information.

Sure enough, the once regular updates slowed WAY down, as in none at all.  The account is not closed, but all of the "incriminating" posts are no longer there.  This tells mie that someone involved in the case must have confronted her on the content that she was posting and she changed it.

Thankfully she didn't eliminate the account altogether or lock it down for friends only.  Though if I were her that's what I would do, it would certainly squash my curiosity and ability to do more in-depth investigation in the future.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't try :)

Alright folks - who's willing to admit they stalk too (in the totally legal way, of course)...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Moolah Monday - Absentee Mie

Yo Friends!
(If you knew mie IRL you'd know I answer the phone in one of two ways.  Either "This is 'Mie'" or "Yo", depending on who it is and what I'm doing in the moment.  I thought you needed to know that".)

My schedule this week is a bit odd.  I know I will tell you about it after it is over.  For now, please know that I may be sparse here for a few days.  I will do my best to post as regularly as possible, for all of you if not for my own sanity and need to feel connected to my normal life.  If you get a moment, please pray for my family with the odd schedule this week.  Nothing is "wrong" per se, but as you may know with the already crazy life we lead having a change to that schedule, one that directly affects mommy's normal role in the family, can cause more chaos.  It can also cause a wealth of emotions in a mommy's heart when she's not with her babies 24/7, or at least "like normal".  It can also shift more work on daddy who loves his babies but may not be used to all the roles mommy usually fills.  And, it can be hard on kiddos who have experienced abandonment in some form to not see their mommy quite as much as they usually do.

In other news, since it is technically Moolah Monday - I have set aside some time during this crazy schedule week to at least start my taxes.  I owe that to my hubby.  Stay tuned.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Foster Parent Friday - Medicaid

Q: Do you have to pay for their medical care?

A: I think I've answered this type of question before, but because it's on my mind today I feel like sharing again.    It's on my mind today because I'm getting close to the point at which I need to make a dr. appointment for #10 I still have yet to pick a primary care dr. for him.  Or #9 frankly.

To make matters worse, ECI is asking for the NAME of the primary care doctor.  Out here we have something called the REACH clinic at the Children's Hospitals and they usually have a side-clinic specifically for foster care.  This is SO cool.  Not only is Children's the place to go if you have a serious illness or need a specialist, but they are so experienced with foster care and confidentiality.  Clearly, the foster care clinic is even MORE experienced with all the challenges of foster care and it's so nice to have that back-up.  Anywho, when I don't have a primary care doctor identified yet I usually just write Children's or the REACH clinic at Children's on various forms that ask for the primary care physician.  That'll do in an emergency anyway.  But, now I'm being asked for a specific doctor.

I don't have a specific doctor.  The doctor that I kind of sort of liked sent us notes that said they were having a dispute with medicaid and they thought it would be resolved in November 2011 (for all of our foster children, by the way, whether or not we had them any more...and I don't blame them I just thought it was funny).  I haven't needed a doctor since then for the kiddos and so it hasn't been a problem.  I called in Novemberish or maybe December when the kids came but they never called mie back to tell mie if they now accepted medicaid.  To be honest, I'm not all that eager to go back to him, he prescribed Summer a lethal dose of medication once and misdiagnosed her several times, but he was the best that I could find.

It's not easy to find a doctor that accepts medicaid.  In Texas, all foster care kiddos are on one specialized medicaid plan that is only for foster children.  Again, this is cool because they are familiar with working with foster children.  It is not cool because of the way the medicaid/dr system works.  It's just like any other private health insurance - doctors are signed up with certain plans and if they take yours great and if not then you can't use your insurance there.  Actually, private plans usually will do an "out-of-network" rate for doctors who do not accept their insurance and then the patient/guardian can decide if they like that doctor enough to pay the extra cost.  With medicaid, there is no "out-of-network" care, at least not that I'm aware of.  So, you can only go to a doctor that accepts medicaid and only the plan that you have.

That usually isn't a problem with private health insurance - most doctors take most plans.  With medicaid it's different.  Doctors tell mie that they lose money when they accept medicaid.  I wouldn't doubt it.  So, what they'll do is take one plan of medicaid as a charity to the community.  I think I've figured out that the other plans are generally regional based and so they'll kind of pick the major one in the area.  Most of them though are not aware of the foster care plan.  They're not aware that foster children receive medicaid and certainly not that they have a separate plan.  If you ask about it, the office will tell you to switch to the plan that they accept - that's not possible - foster children get the foster children plan.

So, then you're stuck with whoever accepts the plan, and there aren't that many.  Within 10 miles of my home there are about that many doctors who are in the healthplan's doctor directory.  I've called all of them. None of them are accepting patients (granted, it's been a while and I need to try again, but still).  They only accept so many patients with the plan because it costs the doctor's office too much to be profitable.  I don't blame them, but that puts mie in a bind.  If I look beyond the 10 miles I do get more options, but then about 9/10 of them are full so it takes forever to find one that will accept our kids as patients.  These offices are usually what I call medicaid/medicare factories - that's pretty much all they accept.  I've been to them out of necessity.  You wait for hours.  You get minimal bedside manner.  They aren't usually familiar with foster care either.  They are surprised you speak English (I wish I were kidding).  They prescribe too many medications.  And they take forever to get an appointment.  I'm talking months.

That doesn't work in foster care when you're expected to get a new placement into the doctor within 14-21 days.

This is frustrating.

So I signed my kiddos up for my private health insurance this time.  I haven't done this before basically because I didn't know I could.  What I figured is that I can take them for their annual/baby healthy child appointments and then there should be minimal/no co-pay, especially because I have a health-savings account.  If a specialist is needed, there is an emergency, or I run out of those HSA funds, I can always go to Children's at a moment's notice with the medicaid.

We'll see how this goes.  The good news is that Logan & Summer have THE BEST doctor ever.  He's great.  He's seen Logan since Logan was born.  He's written lots and lots of books.  He writes for  He's got his own pediatric website.  And he's wonderful in the office.  He's also offered to jump through hoops to accept the foster care medicaid plan and told mie "why didn't you tell me?  I would have done it a long time ago".  Seriously good.

I'll keep you updated on how this goes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

VALENTINE'S DAY at Mie's House

Before I get started, yesterday I forgot to add the link for Valentine's Confetti.  I seriously worried about it all night.  So, here it is.  I will tell you that I highly recommend checking that recipe out because if you can find M&Ms that match your seasonal colors (and you can) then you can use this recipe for any occasion.  I will also tell you that the hardest part for mie was microwaving the popcorn, I sadly admit.  I burnt 2 1/2 bags of popcorn trying to get the timing right.  That's shamefully embarrasing and yet proof that I usually cook on the stove and in the oven.  

And yes, I did get all my V-day stuff prepped, except for the gift for hubby.  Still thinking that through. 

My husband and I celebrated Valentine's Day yesterday by going out to lunch.  We went to Genghis Grill for some Mongolian BBQ - he had a traditional teriyaki bowl and I had a seafood dish.  Yum!  We even got a discount, presumably because they noticed my husband's "official"ness though he tried to hide it.  Awesome.

Then he offered to take mie to Starbucks.  This is a big deal because he doesn't do Starbucks.  He doesn't do coffee.  He doesn't do warm drinks.  But he offered to take mie there anyway.  I didn't feel quite like Starbucks so instead I suggested ice cream.  It was about 37 degrees outside and raining, but ice cream it was.  They still had some pumpkin flavor they were trying to get rid of so they were discounting it to 99 cents for two scoops.  I didn't need that much but it was only 99 cents afterall.  When I was nearly finished with both scoops I noticed a poster on the wall that said "1/4lb dips".  I was hoping that meant for a double scoop and not per scoop because that was just nuts.

We joked about how you couldn't have a REAL date without going to get ice cream.

He gave mie a gift.
I assure you this is a wonderful gift for mie.  I used it last night.

I still owe him a gift.  I have no idea what to do for him.  I'm stumped.  I do have a Reese's Heart king size candy waiting for him but somehow think I need to do more than that.  Argh.

Last night I finished all the V-Day prep for the kids.  I didn't take any pictures because when I was done I had 4 plastic bags from Kroger, each containing the stuff that was needed for each respective kid.  They each had a drink of some sort (bottles of juice or Capri-Sun waters), Summer & Logan had goldfish crackers for their parties, each had a paper lunch sack with their valentines - all signed and everything, and each had Valentine's Confetti bags in there for their teachers.  This prep was super helpful.

After I got all that mess cleaned up I prepped the gifts for the kids from mommy and daddy.  I didn't go all out this year because we're trying to be frugal and furthermore they'll come back with plenty of stuff from school - how much candy does a 1, 2, 3, and 5 year old need afterall?  Yeah, so here's what we ended up with:

Each kiddo had a shirt to wear and it was attached to a little bag that had a valentine's heart stuffed with candy, some Kit-Kat valentines, and a toy for their age (Logan had two Batman books, the girls had sunglasses, and #10 had a ball).  Fun times.  

I put it up on the fireplace hoping they'd see it when they came downstairs and they'd get all excited.

The reality is that in my home the kids all wake up pretty groggy.  So, they had no idea about the gifts until later.  

What they did notice were these:

That's right, I woke up "early" to make them pink, "heart"-shaped pancakes.  I even offered to let them put strawberry syrup and whipped cream on them.  They were already kind of freaked out that #9 got to eat breakfast with us (she usually eats at school and gets dressed while the other two eat) and that the pancakes were in fact pink.  So, they settled on their usual - peanut butter and syrup.  

Except for Summer who won't get peanut butter and syrup until she neatly eats with a spoon or fork and stops putting it in her hair.  Syrup and PB in her hair on Saturday's is one thing - before school is a whole nother thing mommy isn't ready to deal with yet.  She received whipped cream instead.  She wasn't thrilled about it.  She picked it up with her hands and said "EWWWW".  Then I told her it was ice cream.  She was good.

My hubby and I even ate the pancakes together with the kids.  What fun.

While the kids were eating I pointed out their gifts.  "Did you find your gifts yet?" I said.  Then they did.  Logie was totally excited about it.  I reminded him of the fit he threw at the store when I asked him to pick out gifts for his brother and sisters and instead he wanted stuff for himself.  "I told you I had a plan for you", I  said.  Then I kissed his forehead.

They didn't get to open their gifts until they were done eating.  They loved them.  Of course they wanted to immediately eat the chocolate inside.  I wanted to immediately take the stuff away and get them dressed.

I won.

Then I realized Logie wears uniforms and couldn't wear his special shirt.  *Hand to forehead*

SO, I told him he could put it on under his uniform shirt and if his teacher said he could take off the uniform shirt he could do that at school.

Fun times was had by all.  Especially mommy who danced around this morning (not usual) making pancakes (especially unusual), with red food coloring trying to get them to turn into hearts.  Too fun.

Tonight we don't have plans.  We'll eat dinner together and maybe we'll make ice cream sundaes. 

That strawberry syrup and whipped cream has to be used sometime.

Monday, February 13, 2012


I have been sick friends.

For the past 5 days I've had the cold that won't quit.  I received this blessing of a cold from Summer Rose who also is sick.  Of course she's not the only one, but she has it the worst.  In fact, this cold has blessed her with an ear infection too.

As usual, a mom with 4 young kids can't quit either.  Especially when her husband works a crazy schedule and can't easily (or even with moderate difficulty) assume extra parenting duties while mommy rests.

That is, unless her husband comes down with a stomach bug.  Said stomach bug has been shared by daddy, Logan, Summer, and #10.

#9 appears to be the healthiest, though her eye yesterday was showing signs of pink.  I was hoping that it was out of tiredness because the night before she had gotten less sleep than usual.  So far I think I am right.  I'm hoping.

So, daddy took the weekend off.  This helped mommy to get not one but TWO long naps this weekend.  That seemed to do the trick.

I'm not yet healthy but I'm sure trying to get there.

This means that all my Valentine's day preparations have been pushed off to tonight when I get home from work.  How exciting.

No really, it is exciting.  I have 40 valentines for kids + the 8 Logan will do + the at least 8 teacher valentines + the 2 for Logan & Summer (they do something special at school) to fill out.  I also have 30 more bags of valentine's confetti to make - I did manage to make 10 bags yesterday and it came out fabulous though word to the wise - add the M&Ms in AFTER the chocolate is hardened.  I also have to make/put together the stuff for my kiddos that we will give them tomorrow morning.  That should be fun.

And, maybe I should do something for my husband.  I'll have to think about that - the what, not the "maybe I should".

Though he is on his way now to come pick mie up from work to take mie to lunch.  This is going to be our V-day time out together since our children have activities tomorrow night that will keep us from going out.  And seriously - though we love each other greatly we're not really into this whole going out on V-Day thing.

We'd rather celebrate our love daily.  Or, at least a few times a week.

Especially when we get the chance to hang out together all weekend.

Even if one of us has a cold that won't quit and the other is valiantly fighting a stomach bug.

Though it would be nice to pass off the kids to a babysitter for a few hours.  Diaper blowouts and all.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Say What (?!?) Sunday - Daddy's Job

Logan has been attaching to his dad recently.  He loves his mommy for sure and has typically leaned toward mommy most of the time, even secretly whispering in my ear most anything he wants to say before he says it to anyone else, including daddy.  He often whispers to mie - "Mommy, I still love daddy but I love you MORE".  We've worked on that.  But Logan is getting older now and NEEDS his daddy - good thing daddy's new work schedule allows for much more daddy time.  It's perfect timing to go through this change in our home if you ask mie.

One night this week Logan wanted to cuddle in bed - with daddy, not mommy.  Several times recently he's told mie not to worry, he still loves mie, but he loves his daddy more.  All of this makes my little mommy heart twinge a bit, but mostly I'm happy for the relationship that is growing between him and his dad.  I think it's great, even though part of that relationship is centered on Modern Warfare 3.  I mean boys bond differently and all right?

Back to the Say What (?!?) piece.  While we were all cuddling that night daddy had to get up and go do something.  It gave Logie and mie the opportunity to have a conversation.  We love conversations:

L: Mommy, I don't want my daddy to be a police officer.  Or a fire fighter.
Mie: Ok Logie, but why?
L: I want him to be able to cuddle with mie every night at bed time and to sleep right - here - next to me.
Mie: I see.  Well what do you want him to be instead?
L: I want him to have two jobs.  I want him to work for Coke and to work for Sprite.

You all see where this is going right?

L: That way, he could bring mie home drinks.

I didn't bother to tell him that Coke and Sprite were the same company nor did I point out that we wouldn't let him drink Coke and only would let him drink sprite on occasion.  It was a moment too cute to spoil with mommy lectures.

Alas, daddy works where he works and it is not in any way related to Coca-Cola.  Nevertheless, a kid could dream!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Thankful Thursday - Courage

Did I mention I'm so thankful for all of you?  Over the past couple weeks my subscriber list has grown by more than 20%.  Too cool.

Yesterday Tuesday I told you about how foster care (and adoption for that matter) always involve some sort of loss and how that loss has affected our family over the past couple years.  I'd say that for us the overall sense of loss hasn't been devastating but it is there.

I also told you about how I wanted to contact #7 & #8's birthmom so that we could get the kids together but that I thought that wouldn't go well, that she'd ignore mie like she did when I asked for her kids' social security numbers.

Well yesterday I mustered up the courage to contact her.  I asked how things were going, asked her if she'd like to meet up so the kids could play, and told her that I had a few things for her that the kids had left at our house before they left, including #7's beanie that my mom made him that was really important to him at the time (because she had also made Logan one and my mom went out of her way to make #7 one to match, except in his favorite color).  Logan has been very concerned that #7 doesn't have his beanie and keeps telling us we need to give it to him.

She replied right away.

She thought we were sweet.  She suggested that instead of mie mailing the stuff we get together and Logan could give #7 the beanie himself.  She said that they still talk about us all the time and would love for us to get the kids together to play.

I'm so glad I had the courage to try.

We haven't found a time yet where we can pull it off but by golly I'm going to keep trying.

She also told mie that they now have a peanut butter spoon everyday.  They told her that I made them as a snack and that they missed those yummy peanut butter spoons and she decided to start giving them one.

I tell you, this is why it is all worth it.  I can't control whether or not those kids will have the best life ever with their birth parents or if they'll ever come back into care.  I can't control whether or not we will ever see them.  But as with foster care I can do my part and am rewarded in many ways - like knowing that there are two kids out there who will forever like peanut butter spoons and will remember that they used to get them at our house and now their mommy can give them a favorite treat.

How cool is that.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Tuesday's Tears - Lost Relationships

Foster care is full of loss.  No matter how a case ends, even if it's the "best case scenario" someone will lose.  Someone will lose the kids they've cared for.  Sometimes foster parents don't mind sending certain kids home.  Often times when a case ends and we don't adopt the children we can at least squint and get excited for their future.  We can justify it with "they're with family", "they love their mom", "they will be provided for", etc.  Of course we're equally aware of times when TPR happens and we know there are parents who despite demonstrating a lack of parental ability to the degree that they've lost their children love their children and will be processing the loss.

And the kids.  They have no choice in the matter.  They always lose.  Yes, they may have a chance at a better future but they usually still love and miss their birth parents or family of origin no matter how bad the environment.  Or, they may be able to reunify and are happy about it but they lose the foster parents they'd grown to trust and love too.

In our case we also have our forever kids to consider - they and the foster children lose those surrogate sibling relationships that were as real as any to them.

Yesterday I was in a snooping mood.  I don't know how it started - I think it had to do with trying to find the social security numbers for #7 & #8 so I could do my taxes but then I ended up looking into all of my past cases. (BTW, this morning when I woke up my husband had laid out all his hidden receipts for mie on the kitchen island.  I told you I couldn't wait much longer.  Good thing too because after I wrote a fairly nasty letter to their caseworker for not getting back to mie in 6 months I asked my FAD worker and he had it to mie in 20 minutes...yes!).

#1 & #2 breaks my heart.  They were supposed to be adopted by their relatives and shortly before the adoption should have taken place the family acknowledged they couldn't afford to adopt (or assume permanent managing conservatorship - PMC).  So the kids bounced around to different family members and finally ended up being placed for adoption through the state.  I thought we were ok with losing them until this all happened.  They loved these relatives and I knew these relatives loved them.  We didn't have a choice so we had to be ok with it.

When they came back up for adoption we were asked to adopt them.  Of course when we said yes they basically said "just kidding".  That sucked.  Even more so though it got me thinking of this loss and what the kids are going through.  Before I thought I knew what their life would be like.  Now I have no idea.  Worse yet, when they kids left I didn't send them with all the pictures I had of them.  I had A LOT of pictures.  I had given their parents some during the case and so since they were staying with family I didn't think it would be necessary to print them all out again.  These kids should have had pictures of their childhood maybe missing the two months they were with us if their mom and dad didn't keep the ones I gave them.

But now they are with a new family.  A family like us who didn't know them from any other kids prior to accepting their placement.  A family who knows that we exist because these kids were in foster care so they must have had foster parents but they don't know who we are.  I'm not sure how much they got regarding pictures from the birth family.  I don't know if #1 and #2 will have anything to hold onto from their past.  Will they have any pictures from when they were young?

I contacted the caseworker when I found out they would be adopted by another family.  I asked her to work with me to get these pictures to them whether that meant giving the adoptive family my contact information, having me print them all out and the social worker sending them to the adoptive family, whatever it took to get them these pictures.  I would love to have a relationship with that family ongoing but even if they couldn't have that at least we could give them the pictures.

The social worker never contacted me back.

It breaks my heart.  These kids are losing some of their past and it doesn't have to be that way.  These adoptive parents will one day be asked to provide pictures of these kiddos when they were young and they won't have them, I do.  And yet I don't have any way to give them what I have.

We have a loss story with each of our kids.  We thought we'd have a long-term relationship with #3 and ended things with that in mind - we haven't heard from them in just shy of a year.  We not only lost the relationship with #3 but with his parents too who we'd grown to love.  Our son is most affected by this one as well - he brought it up just this past weekend.

#4 is forever ours but we have lost her brother with very little hope there will ever be a relationship.  Through no fault of the kids.  Furthermore, birthparents have informed mie they will not make their visit in April and that means they will have missed two consecutive visits - technically they will lose the right to have any contact with her moving forward.

I wonder what ever happened to #5 & #6.  We didn't have a bond with them like the others, but I wonder what happened with their case.  I wonder what happened with their brother who was being hidden in OK, out of the jurisdiction of the state of TX.  I wonder if they were reunited.  I wonder if they were adopted.  I wonder where their case is now.

#7 & #8's mom has had less and less contact with mie.  I want to ask her if we can meet up to let the kids play, but she's already ignored a few of my previous messages and I'm afraid that she'll ignore this one too.  I don't want that for my kids.  I don't want that for her kids.  The reality is that's what we've already got.

And now, due to my snooping, I have a glimpse into #9 & #10's life due to open access to myspace and facebook pages.  There is some pretty incriminating stuff on there and some of it is hard to see (like #9 drinking from an "empty" beer bottle when she was an infant) but at the same time I'm glad to have those pictures so she has something as she gets older (there are nice ones too).  I'm also glad I get to see the play-by-play from mom's perspective because it helps mie remember that she loves them and whether or not she gets them back I know this is hard on her - she is facing a loss now and may in the future.  It's a sobering thought and helps mie keep my mommy attitude in check (when I see things like her posted picture admittedly drunk holding her baby but "it's ok").  You know, its easy to judge when I'm not faced with the fact that there is a real human behind these kiddos.  A woman who needs help making good choices.

And then there are stories like this that make mie burst into tears and remind mie just exactly why the foster care system is needed no matter how imperfect it may be.  Because there are people like that out there who really should never ever have contact with their kids.

And for some kids it's too late, so I have no guilt for acting on the side of caution in being a foster parent.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Moolah Monday - Tax Time

It is that time of year again. My husband always starts talking to mie about doing our taxes at the beginning of January and I am always able to hold him off until the beginning of February by reminding him that the various documents we will need aren't required to be mailed out until 1/31, which means they won't all be here until at least the first week of February, which means I can't do taxes until then.

I've always loved doing our taxes.  It's a brain puzzle for mie that frankly I enjoy.  Weird, I know.

Unfortunately, in the last couple years our tax situation has become much more complicated.  Our income has increased so that we're usually in the graduated percentage bracket for various deductions and credits.  We now own a rental property and that in itself comes with a whole balance sheet (of sorts) that I need to prepare. And, we're foster parents which also adds a bit of complexity to the situation.

By complexity I mean papers.  Lots and lots of papers.  Papers that are hard to keep track of - not during the year (there's a folder for that) but during the actual tax preparation period.  Receipts.  Lots and lots of receipts, both for the house and for foster parenting.  Receipts of all shapes and sizes, some of which are difficult to read because they have faded in the last year despite being in a file folder sealed from the elements, including heat.


I haven't started sorting through all that paper, but I know I need to start otherwise the hubby will start asking about it again.  Which has already happened.  To which I've already replied that he needs to bring mie all of his various receipts and such that he's placed in spots other than the designated folder o' organization.  He argues that his workshop is a perfectly acceptable spot for his workshop-y receipts (tools, materials, etc.) for the other house.  I tell him I agree, however that is not the spot I will be looking in when I start to do taxes - if it's not in my folder I will not be searching the house (or the workshop) to find it.

That will buy mie some more time.

I also will be given more time (but not a whole lot more) because I still have not received the social security numbers for my other two kiddos.  You know, the ones I had for more than 6 months last year but no longer have.  I seriously should have held them ransom until I got their social security numbers.  Well, not seriously because that would have been illegal but when they asked mie for their medical papers (shot records) I should have held those ransom.  Of course I wouldn't do that because even though their county apparently doesn't care about us and our needs I'm not going to be petty enough to put their medical needs ahead of my tax needs.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, let mie fill you in.  (So you know, I first typed FEEL you in...nice). Foster parents can claim foster children as dependents but only if the children were in the home for at least 6 months.  I guess by setting that limit it helps everyone know very clearly whether the child is your official dependent or not - the person who had the child the longest in the year wins and if you've had the child more than 6 months there is no way someone else had the child longer than you.  Of course it's not necessarily that cut and dry.  The bio parents could have had the children for the first 3 months, then they could have gone to another foster home for 4 months, then they could have gone to your home for 5 months and the year ends - who gets to claim them now?

I don't know the answer to that.  I would think the correct answer is no one, but that seems really sucky.  Either way it doesn't really matter - whoever claims the child FIRST is the one who wins in the eyes of the IRS whether or not they did so legally.  Let's say Summer's parents decide to claim her (because they have her old SSN and we haven't gone to get her a new one) and have already done their taxes because they have a less complicated situation and I'm sure qualify for some sort of indigent preparation, when we go to submit our taxes it will be rejected because they have already claimed that SSN (just another reason to get a new SSN after adoption).  We can complain to the IRS and they may or may not follow up with it, but more than likely they will tell us it is a civil matter just like in a divorced parents' custody dispute where the non-custodial parent claims the child.  We would have to get a lawyer and take them to court which in the end would find us winning, but it would be such a hassle.

This is why hubby is so keen on getting taxes filed.  That and wanting to see if we get a refund.

Unfortunately we can't claim them if we don't have the correct SSN.  Last year when #3 left I simply texted his mom and asked for it and she quickly and kindly obliged (for which I was shocked).  I tried that this year with #7 & #8 but that was unsuccessful.

Here's hoping some calls today will get it taken care of.  I have this idea that if I call the medicaid office they might give it to mie.  We'll see.  Wish mie luck!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Say What (?!?) Sunday - Only Child Schmonly Child

Logan had a few rough points this week.  He's generally sensitive.  He was tired.  It led to a few melt downs - you know, the huge sobbing kind.

One night I took him on a date.  We went to Baskin Robbins.  We both had pink lemonade ice on sugar cones - his with chocolate dip and sprinkles.  During the date we talked about how he liked going on dates, what his favorite mommy/son date is, etc.  We also talked about what he likes doing with his daddy.

Mie: We don't go on very many dates, just you and mie, any more do we?
L: No (he said casually)
Mie: Yeah, that's because we usually have the other kids with us when we go out.  Do you remember when you didn't have any brothers and sisters?
L: Yes.
Mie: Really?  Do you remember the first time we got (#1 & #2) and you went to bed one night and the next morning they were there?
L: Yes, I remember.
Mie: Would you like it to go back to having no brothers and sisters, where you are the only child?

He thinks about it for a minute.  I was afraid he would say yes.  But this is Logan we're talking about.

L: shaking his head indicating I'm crazy - No, mom, we ADOPTED Summer.  We couldn't do that.
Mie: Yes Logie, that's right....

Dear son, sometimes mommies and daddies are smarter than they seem.  We don't always ask crazy questions for no reason.  Sometimes we know that what we are asking sounds utterly ridiculous but we are curious as to how you will react. I'm sure that makes brains like yours crazy.  And it makes you think we're not so smart.  I understand this.  When you are older, I pray you have smart kids too.  Kids who give you a run for your money like you do for us.  Who else would be there to keep us on our toes?

Friday, February 03, 2012

Foster Parent Friday - Permanency Conferences: A Foster Parent's Voice

Q: True/False - Foster parents do not have a voice in the future of their kids cases?

A: True. And False.

I haven't actually heard anyone ask this question.  I've found this often comes up as new foster parents become experienced with the system and begin learning some very hard lessons.  If you come from a family that generally functions well and who has never dealt with the social services system you are probably shocked to hear how some of these things go.  That is true of foster parents as well - they often don't realize how the system works until they're part of it.

Generally speaking - aside from the day-to-day business of foster parenting, foster parents don't have much say in the actual cases of the children and therefore what happens to them.  This is especially true of foster parents who aren't very involved in the cases - those who for whatever reason do the bare minimum participation.  It's now wonder so many foster parents feel like they don't have a voice on behalf of their kids - they really don't.

That being said, there are opportunities for a foster parent to influence matters of the case if the foster parent is willing to get involved.  The more the foster parent attends meetings, staffings, conferences, hearings, and generally sticks his/her nose into the case the more often he/she will have the chance to get information.  Therefore, if a foster parent really wants to say something, there is often a way to get it done.  Of course that's not to say that you will be heard or considered and it is almost guaranteed that you will not get as much priority as other people in the case like CASA, caseworkers, and family attorneys, but I've found it's still worth the shot.

Any type of visit is typically the best way to get involved in the case.  I've talked about many of these visits before, but generally they include caseworker home visits, CASA home visits, ad-litem home visits, and of course the kids visits with their parents.  Obviously when the caseworker, CASA, or ad-litem visits the home there is the opportunity to ask questions and provide input.  I don't wait for them to ask mie questions...I simply  make statements about my opinions and take it from there.  I ask lots of questions - about whether parents are working services, about the timeline of the case, about potential kinship placements and the timing of their homestudies, and generally whatever I'm interested in knowing.  Usually the more I ask the more information I'll get.  The worst thing that will happen is that they'll say "I'm not supposed to share that", but even more often they'll say something like "I'm probably not supposed to say that but ..." or "I think it's ok for me to share that because they said it in a public forum...".  So, I take my chances.  I also try to take my kids to visits myself when I can rather than using an aid transporter.  This helps me to have an extra chance to talk to the caseworker and, even better, the parents.  When I form a relationship with the parents I get to learn ALL SORTS of things.  This relationship can also be beneficial if the parents are considering terminating rights - I've had several where they have dropped the kinship request so their kids could stay with mie during the case and having that type of relationship gives you a better advantage if they end up looking for a permanent home outside reunification.

Outside of visits, there are 2 other types of case events that a foster parent typically has the opportunity to attend.  These include hearings or court dates and staffings or permanency conferences.  Generally in a hearing the foster parent has no voice.  In my experience, a foster parent might be invited to be available to testify by CASA or the state, but generally they won't call you and then you have to state your name for the record - I'm not going to become unanonymous to just stand before the judge and not have a chance to say anything.  So, though I try to go to court cases I typically sit in the gallery and listen.  I usually have a chance before and after to talk to all the people in the case, including any extended family that might be there and that is very helpful.  Alas - during hearings you honestly have no voice before the judge and many foster parents don't usually go.  I usually "amaze" the caseworkers, attorneys, and CASA when I show-up.  Especially when it's an hour away.

The other event is a staffing or permanency conference.  These conferences are usually mediated by a 3rd party and are more informal than court.  Nevertheless the same parties are typically involved with the addition of random people from the state or agency.  Usually you'll see the caseworker's supervisor and then some other people.  The most recent one I attended had members of the county's advisory board and the program director.  In a permanency conference, any one with significant interest in the well-being of the child is invited to attend including the foster parents and any extended family members.  I've seen this happen well (#3) and not at all (#4).  I've also seen it happen part-way as in the most recent one where CASA, the kids ad-litem, mom's attorney, and dad didn't even show up.

I love PCs.  The purpose is to do a formal update on the status of the case on a regular interval outside of court.  Typically they happen within a few weeks of a permanency hearing (at court) but that's not always the case.  They usually happen at a child advocacy center or the county CPS offices.  Everyone sits around the table and they follow a predictable pattern:

  • Discussion on the reason for removal
  • Presentation on required services 
  • Discussion on how mom and dad are doing on the services
  • Discussion on permanency goals & potential kinship placements
  • Update on the kiddos
  • Next steps (hearings, etc.)
With this format, I get to sit and listen to all of the "gossip" of the case that a caseworker or CASA might not otherwise share.  A foster parent is allowed to know the reason for removal and other information pertinent to caring for the children but as it comes to the parents and how they are doing there is a level of confidentiality that the CW's try to adhere to when dealing with foster parents.  Things like medical diagnosis, mental health issues, substance abuse issues, and criminal history (often found online) in addition to the history of extended family are all usually off limits to foster parents except during a permanency conference.  Though I admit this information fulfills an inner desire to be nosy similar to reading a trashy magazine or watching TMZ, more importantly it helps mie to get a better feel for what REALLY is happening in the case and if the case will REALLY be heading toward reunification, kinship placement, or TPR with adoption.  That helps mie to prepare myself and all the kiddos for what may be coming in the near future.  Because there is no judge involved it is nearly impossible that the kids would be leaving THAT DAY even if they decide they need to be moved.  This stuff is important for foster parent sanity.

After you get to hear all the juicy details it then is time to discuss the kids well-being.  This is the time to share not only how the kids are doing currently but also how they've changed (good or bad) in your home.  Also, now that you know about the history of the case you can also present how their history has affected them.  For example, I've had kids who struggle with food issues and I can talk about how previous parenting has influenced their current struggles.  Because it isn't a formal hearing, there's less stringent rules on what you can and can't say and I have no qualms about sharing my "expert" opinions on things.  This is where I take every opportunity to advocate for my kids in the system, no sugar coating.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Thankful Thursday - Found!

First of all - you'll be happy to know that we cleaned up our Christmas stuff this past weekend.  We even put it all away in the attic. 

I did not find my car keys.  They weren't in the tree.  They weren't in the tree skirt.  That was the last place I could think they might have been misplaced.

Saturday morning I was getting the kids ready to go out of the house.  I was getting one kiddo ready at the bottom of the stairs while Logan was "getting dressed" upstairs.  That's what he was supposed to be doing anyway.  Instead, he comes running out and stands on the bridge at the top of the stairs excitingly screaming about what he'd found. 

That's right - after nearly a month my keys were found.  He'd found them on his dresser in his room.

He'd hidden them there.

I was so excited about having my keys back that we focused on congratulating him for finding them rather than being angry that they were hidden from us.  He did get the memo not to do that again, but in general we had a big ol' celebration.

They are now found, safe and sound.  (And I'm vindicated for blaming the kids :) )

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Update on Court

As usual, court today was uneventful and dramatically eventful all at the same time.

Of course, I wouldn't really know that because I missed it.  I thought I was told 9:30am - apparently it was 8:30 am.  If you know anything about court with CPS cases you know that arriving an hour late doesn't necessarily mean you missed your chance, but in this case I did.  Not only that, I was sent to the wrong place first.  Thankfully it was a small town in the south and they were very helpful in pointing mie to the right place.  Of course there were two potential right places and luckily the one I went to first was the right one.  Except that I tried every courtroom before finding the right one and these courts are quiet and well controlled unlike the ones I'm used to.  

Thankfully the CW and CASA were still there so at least I knew I was at the right place.  When we had a chance we went ahead and left the courtroom to talk where they broke the news that the hearing was over.  Then we had a great conversation about how the case was going.  Here are the highlights:

  • The ICPC was denied.  In the state they reside in (not my state) these people are too far removed to count as kin so they'd have to be approved as licensed foster parents not a kinship placement.  Apparently also in that state they don't license openly homosexual people who are in a cohabiting relationship.  Therefore, these people are no longer and option
  • Parent still in the picture would like to relinquish to a relative.  Normally that would be acceptable except these relatives have a criminal history that has resulted in denial for placement multiple times.  It appears we will be heading down that road again and we'll find out what the judge says at some point.
  • The state still believes reunification may be possible.
So, as you can see these are huge developments and yet we're still roughly at the same place in the case as we were before.  That's how it goes!  Until things are final they are still very uncertain.  I suppose that is always true but certainly characterizes the situation of foster care. 

It will definitely be interesting to see how this case progresses.  I'm praying that we can have an opportunity to minister to the mom in this case because it sounds like she could definitely use someone in her corner.

In other news, as I left I got a text message from Summer's birthparents and they will not be able to make their first of two visits this year.  I have no reaction to that.  It is what it is.