Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Sleep

Today I am thankful for sleep.  Sleep is such a wonderful thing.  I am grateful that we have sleep as a resource to help refresh us and that it feels so good to go to sleep each night.

I'm thankful that when my kids are older I will have the chance to get more sleep. 

Sleep has been hard to come by for a few weeks because of work commitments and a baby who right now is a bit under the weather (and fussing every 5-7 minutes).  I'm thankful for the promise of a new day, one where sleep is a possibility.  So far this week I've worked about 4x as many hours as I've slept.  Think about that for a moment.  I've worked (not my "home" job, my actual paid job) 3x as much as I've slept while a typical 8 hr work/8 hr sleep/8 hr funorhomeorfamily schedule would have me sleeping equal to the amount I've worked.  Yikes.  Things are out-of-balance right now and its making me tired.  Like really tired.

And so today I'm thankful that I've slept before and that I'll be able to sleep again sometime.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Foster Parent Friday: Why Does it Take So Long?

Today we will be picking up our newest kiddos, baby baby's siblings, so they can finally come live with us.  In this process, several people have asked us something along the lines of "Why is it taking so long?" or "Why are you doing so many visits first"? Now that I think about it, it's for the same reasons it takes so long for people to get their first placement.

1 - Licensing.  The whole licensing process takes a while.  When we originally went through licensing we only asked to be licensed for 4, our bio-son + 3 fosters.  We thought that was reasonable and didn't ask for the 6 we could have asked for.  Looking back (and my advice to newcomers) I wish I would have asked for everything in the beginning rather than go through the extension process.  It started to become a problem when #3 was sent back to his parents who subsequently lost him permanently and then had to go to a shelter while waiting for a permanent home because our home was "full" with 4 kiddos at the time.  It broke our hearts.  Then it took several months to get approved for a 5th child when we were waiting for Summer's brother.  It was such an ordeal (especially when he never ended up coming).  Now we've been waiting 5 months for our license to be extended to 6 and that was the original reason we were waiting for the kids.  The county didn't want to extend our license to 6 until the caseworker confirmed they were going to place the kids in our home on a certain date.  The caseworker didn't want to committ to placing the kids in our home by a certain date until she knew our license approved.  Ironically these people work in the same building for the same county just with different focus areas.  THEN, even after the caseworker confirmed the plan to put the children in our home it took another 6 weeks to get to this point, primarily because of the licensing challenge.  It didn't help that our regular licensing (FAD) worker went on leave during all of this so we were dealing with a new (very helpful) replacement.

2 - Best Interest of the Kids.  Everyone wanted to prevent moving the kiddos more than necessary so almost all of the rest of the hesitation had to do with the best interest of the kiddos:
  • Court - The original 10 week delay was because we were all waiting for the court to make a ruling so that we all knew whether the kids would stay in care or not.  This ruling usually is immediate so the fact that it took 10 weeks was very unusual in my experience and everyone kept delaying moving them thinking the ruling was imminent.  The ruling was such that the kids would have been removed from my home at that time anyway.  THEN, another ruling kept them where they currently are.
  • Pre-placement visits - Visits with children before they're placed in your home is common when you are seeking an adoptive placement.  It is required for all other foster placements (where we are) except in a handful of situations including emergency (they were just removed and need a home tonight!) and with kiddos under a certain age (babies, for example).  Almost all of our kiddos have fallen under one or both of those exemptions so we've never had pre-placement visits before.  We've only had 3 cases where we *could* have had pre-placement visits and for a variety of reasons we waived the right to pre-placement at that time.  In this case, because we had time while waiting for the judge and our license and a few other specific things pre-placement visits were a definite possibility.  Considering the children's history this year alone in being moved around and some behaviors from some of the kids that apparently result from the moves, we all felt it would be best if we took 1-2 weeks to "get to know" the kids.  The thought was this would allow us to see what it would be like to have 6 kids, these kids in particular, to prevent us from backing out after they come into our home (as much as possible, anyway).  It would also allow the kids to feel they had some sort of voice in the process, to give them the chance to want to live with us rather than their current home, rather than being forcibly shipped off to yet another home in the middle of the night.
  • Timing - The end of the school year and other case-related factors had something to do with it but again they were things decided in the best interest of the kiddos, like not moving the school-aged kids until the end of the school year so they didn't have to start school at a new school with 1 week left and miss the end-of-the-year activities with the friends they'd built.

What are pre-placement visits?
In our case they worked like this.  We had 2 meal-time visits with just the 3 kiddos, my husband, and I.  We had a babysitter for the other children.  Then we had a weekend visit where we had the option whether or not to do an overnight or 2 days with a drop-off in between for the night.  We chose to have an overnight visit (so they were with us all weekend).  This visit was with the entire family so we were able to get to know each other, they were able to see our home and what it's like in our family, we were able to see how all of the kiddos interacted, and we had a bit of a longer visit with the kiddos to experience behaviors and what it's like to have 6 kids.  We had 1 final meal-time visit with all the family together, mostly because we were waiting until this weekend to take them in to stay and we didn't want to not see each other for a full-week. 

I'm grateful for the pre-placement visits and very grateful we're finally where we are today!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Quick Updates - Quickness is Necessary

Dear Friends - I'm busy.  Super busy.  I mean, a full-time working mom to 3 (or 6) children is busy.  But right now I'm more busy than usual and behind.  I'm simultaneously trying to catch up at work (and keep afloat at the same time), work on a special project, write a chapter in a book about foster care, celebrate kindergarten graduation, correct really bad 3 year old behavior through attachment-related and therapeutic parenting and extra time at school and extra prayer and tears, and finally say goodbye to friends who are leaving out-of-state.  OH YEAH, and go through the process to actually bring the children we've been waiting 5 months for into our home.  It's been busy.

*Logan had his graduation today.  Fun times.  He still has to actually finish school (weird) but graduation was fun and we were able to make a day of it.

*Summer is about to get kicked out of preschool for her behavior.  She's done GREAT this week though, which is encouraging after we've been working SO hard at reversing the trend she's been on but we really need a miracle here. 

*We ARE moving forward with bringing the kids to our home.  We had a couple visits last week with just the hubby, myself, and the 3 new kids to start the process.  Then this weekend we had them all weekend.  It was wonderful.  Much better than either of us could have planned.  We do plan to have them move in with us very soon and we look forward to the day when they start graduating from the child seats because it takes 8 minutes to buckle the 6 children, all of whom are in car seats, into the car not to mention getting them all (and their stuff) out there.  Amen.

*Today I took my forever kids to the water park to celebrate Logan's graduation.  Except, they closed 5 minutes after we got there for a private event.  I wasn't nice to the person at the gate.  Lord forgive me.  So, because I have a ton of time on my hands and I couldn't bare to let the kiddos down and it was perhaps the last time I might get a chance to go with just the two of them, I drove to the next closest water park 40 miles away (and got lost several times to add to the time).  We had fun.  Then I drove another 90 minutes home (accounting for a dinner stop and gas and such).  Summer peed in her car seat and spilt an entire bottle of juice in the one next to her.  We have 3 car seat (covers) in the washing machine right now.

*We booked our trip to Sea World this year.  For a family of 8 for a 5 day vacation we are paying $1100.  That is $27 per person, per day if you were counting, including entry to the park (for every day, if we wanted), hotel, and most everything else.  Best of all - if for some reason the kids don't come live with us, we're not out any money (though our hotel room will be bigger than necesary, I suppose).  Of course that would bring our average to $44 per person per day.  Yes, we'd be happy to have a family vacation for 8 to Sea World.  You judge if we're crazy or not.  You're going to anyway.

*I've received several inquiries over the last two weeks for new readers who would like me to contact them.  Welcome new readers!  I DO want to contact you.  I'm going to as soon as I possibly can.  I'm not trying to ignore you and you are important to me.  Hang in there.  I'll do my best, really.

I'm also not pregnant, in case you were wondering.  So there you have it.