Thursday, August 29, 2013

Please Help Bring Miss E. Home

Dear Readers and Supporters -

I am here, completely vulnerable, begging for your help.  About a week and a half ago I told you about my dear friend who lost the little girl she was about 60 days away from adopting.  This little girl is as close as my niece.  She is my children's cousin.  As a foster, adoptive, and biological mom but also as an aunt my heart is desperately grieving for this situation that is horrendously sad and impossible at the same time.  A little girl, almost 2 with birthday presents waiting for her at her home with her family, was taken away based purely on lies and technicalities.  She had lived with her prospective adoptive family for 15 of her 22 months alive.  Her 3 siblings and mother are devastated.

Yet because we serve a big God and because I still believe that things like honesty, integrity, and "what's right" will prevail, we sit today with the good potential to get Miss E. back.  Unfortunately there is a great cost.

We need $10,000 in the next few days to make this happen.  This is on-top of the $2500 that was already paid to intervene that then needed to be diverted to pay for other unexpected legal fees that then resulted in a conflict of interest to continue fighting in the intervention so now the attorney has had to remove herself from the case.  Some work had been done and we're very grateful but a lot of the synergy was lost as well - it's almost like starting over.  That and the complications of this case lead to such a high fee, to be paid, by a woman who is newly single after spending the last 13 of her 30 years parenting her children as primarily a stay-at-home mom. 

We all feel that we can't sit by and not try.  We can't look at Miss E. in heaven and say "sorry, we just couldn't afford to fight for you".  But coming up with that amount of money in such a short amount of time is impossible on our own.  We're digging deep, pulling out whatever credit we can find, but still, the reality is that $10,000 by the end of labor day weekend is huge.

Our God is bigger.

I told Miss E.'s mom yesterday that we should ask for help.  She's modest.  She doesn't think she knows enough people that will give to help her.  I said if 200 people gave $50, that would be $10,000.  She said she doesn't think she knows 200 people.  I know I have 200 people a day who read my blog, at least (usually more like 300-500).  I'm going to post on Facebook for all of my personal friends.  Something is better than nothing. 

Our God can create something out of nothing.

The next steps for the case will be an attempt toward mediation to see if something can be worked out quickly.  This must happen by 9/9 and is why we're in such a hurry.

Can you help with $50?  If not $50, $25, $10, $5, or $1?  Something? 

Please pray for all involved as well.

I've created a donation button on my page and ask that you strongly consider donating to help us get our sweet girl back.  Please share this need as well.  Miss E has been gone for 2 weeks this Friday.   Maybe bringing her home for her birthday will be the best gift yet.

(This child is in the custody of the state.  Miss E's mom was a licensed foster parent until she was removed - she was removed on a licensing technicality and based on lies told intentionally to CPS to hurt her mom after she stopped enabling someone with an addiction.  I can't share pictures or exact names, even specifics of the situation, in order to preserve the chances to bring Miss E home.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Working Mama Wednesday - Not a Saint

Someone at work today told me I "just achieved sainthood in (their) mind".  I get that fairly often when people learn I have 6 kids, especially those I work with because they know how BIG my paid job is and how much work it takes to manage it.  That's enough to make me crazy (or saintly) but if I add that I'm a foster and/or adoptive parent then it sends them over the top.

Here's the thing.  I'm not a saint.

I know some people get sensitive about sharing htat their a foster parent.  While we're all sensitive about the needs of our kids, their privacy in particular, I tend to overshare with the intent to help people see that they too could be foster parents.  Those who haven't walked in our shoes may not believe it but we're just regular people who said yes to something that (usually) blesses us at least as much as we have to give in.  We're not saints...literally the only thing that makes us different is the willingness to say yes daily.  Do we have more patience?  If we do it's only because we've developed it out of necessity.  Can we go with the flow pretty well?  Again, something we've learned from necessity.

Foster parenting is something I've learned from necessity in three aspects.  First - it was a necessity to pursue adoption (specifically from foster care) if we ever hoped to have more children than our one and only biological miracle.  Second - everything that makes me a foster parent I've learned by being a foster parent.  I didn't come into this with extra skills.  Sure I love children and I believe that this is important but the reality is that on average, foster parents start out as individuals, couples, or parents whose skills match those found in the non-foster parent population.  Third - and this one is important - foster parents are needed because there are actually, real-live children who need parents temporarily (some of them, permanently).  It's not like society looks at the foster parent rosters and says "Yep, we've got foster parents out there, let's go find some kids that need to be removed from their families for no reason".  NO!  Children are removed from their families for a variety of reasons but I can almost certainly assure you the needs of the foster parents are not at all a factor.

For anyone who thinks I'm a saint, I wish I had a camera following mie today.  Check that - no, no, I'm sure I'm glad I didn't have a brain's memory is more than enough to remind me.  I was not a nice mom.  I fought with my husband all night.  I fought with all but 2 of my kids.  I was short-tempered, easily angered, and uglier than I care to be.  On one hand, I feel justified by saying that it was just a rough day, doesn't happen often, and basically was representative of the fact that I'd hit my limit for the day.  On the other hand, that's not the mom I want to be, at all, ever.

My point?  We all have bad days.  And, I'm not a saint.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Marriage Monday - Appreciating Your Spouse

Oh I want to break my pseudo-silence on my kids' case.  Really.  I really, really want to share more details that include things like heading toward reunification despite the inability to be responsible for ones children by doing things like finding a way to stay for a whole 2-hour visit (rather than leaving after 60 minutes), securing a car seat for your infant when you have 8 months (or at least a week) to plan (and you can get one for free from the county!) and making sure you have all of your other kids car seats more than 45 minutes in advance of the visit start time when it takes you 60 minutes to drive to your visit.  Oh, and showing up on time so you actually have a visit and it doesn't get canceled.  But I can't share details like that.


The recent very sad situation relating to a close-friends marriage disaster (and subsequent CPS disaster) has had one positive effect (that we're not talking about much because it kind of trumps in comparison to the despair we all feel about the marriage and the resulting adoption disruption). 

My hubby and I have taken the opportunity to have a renewal in our own marriage in part out of fear that we would ever get to that point, in part out of a need to feel close to each other to help counteract our feelings about the situation, and in large part because we've had the chance to see how genuinely grateful we are for each other.  We're not perfect, either as individuals or as husband and wife but gosh-darnit I love my husband and I am very grateful that he loves me and our family, that he continues to try to work through his issues (and forgives me for mine), that he comes home to me every night, and that he genuinely cherishes me.  I'm a really blessed woman.

Everything changed for my friend a week ago.  In that week her world (and much of mine) came crashing down around her.  Though I hope and pray against it, the reality is that if it could happen to my friend it could happen to anyone of us. 

How can you appreciate your spouse today?  I challenge you to find a way to show appreciation for your spouse (or other loved ones - best friends, parents, etc.) because you may not get the chance again...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Say What (?!?) Sunday - A new way to sell and things you're not allowed to do as a foster parent

My hubby and I attended BIT (Behavior Intervention Training) today.  It's a required annual training class that, if you're unprepared like us, is the same class over and over again.  You could be savvy and take it through the year when it is offered by different foster parent associations or school groups and end up taking different kinds of BIT classes, but we've ended up waiting till the last minute most years which leaves us taking the formal PRIDE BIT trainiang class with the newbie foster parents-in-training.  Honestly, I enjoy that because it reminds me of what it was like to be passionate and, well, new to this whole world.  It also gives me the chance to share my experiences with people in real life.  Wahoo.

They started the class with the list of things you cannot do.  Hit, slap, pinch, pull hair - these were all things on the list.

PRIDE Foster parent co-teacher: "You can't tie them to the tree or lock them outside without water". 

I actually snorted.  Did she really need to say that?

The class got out after 2 hours - we got 4 hours credit.  WHAT!  That was awesome and we took the opportunity to go grocery shopping alone, without our kids.  Yes we did. 

While we were at Target there was this really pushy (but with Southern Charm of course) sampling lady.  She was sampling cheese puffs.  You should of heard all the things she was saying of these cheese balls.  I'm not TOTALLY against cheese balls but these were the ones in the absolutely giant container that really don't end up on my "feed the kids this semi-healthy food" list.  Once in a blue moon, if that.

As I turned the corner to another aisle I heard her say:
Sampling lady: "And look at this great art-deco container"

She was dead serious.  I think. 

Y'all - this was the same clear-package with a red lid that cheese balls already come in.  Art-deco. 

It cracked me up. 

Too funny.  She was really trying.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rough Days Ahead

Hello everyone!

You all know by now I'm not around as often as I'd like to be.  My daily hits are taking a hit and it makes me sad sometimes.  I miss you all and want to be here for you but life is busy and I've always said the thing that helps me get through is putting the right things first (a.k.a. prioritization).  The blog hasn't been a huge prioritization.

Things in the case are not going well.  This is one of "those cases" that I feel no one is going to every feel completely secure about until adoption is final (long way away if ever).  It's one of those cases where all of the classes and rules and regulations associated with a case plan seem to be followed but reunification still doesn't seem right.  It's not just a gut feeling.  Minimally I'll tell you that it involves kids not wanting to be reunified, kids getting lost on visits, arrests on visits, "mommy they didn't bring me enough food", and lots and lots of missed visits.  All of this (and more) and yet there are still no line-in-the-sand reasons to terminate. With that in mind the judge feels compelled to push for reunification even though I'm told she doesn't like it. 

That means beginning this week, baby baby will have a 4 hour unsupervised visit with bio parent #1 along with his siblings.  Due to the way visits have worked out (many missed visits), bio parent has spent about 28 hours with this child in his whole life -- that's just more than a day's worth of time in nearly 8 months.  To him, I am his mom.  His face lights up and he does a little dance when I come to pick him up.  He has no idea who his bio parents are, which is just a fact added to what I mentioned above about how the visits with the siblings were going.  It appears to me that adding baby baby is going to just make it worse.

This, apparently, may be the plan of all involved.  The phrase "if we give a longer rope they'll likely hang themselves with it sooner rather than later" was actually used to describe the situation to me.  "Hanging themselves" though means that the kids who have been working so hard to heal and have made so much progress will face something so drastic that it causes the "line-in-the-sand" where repetitive drug use, disobeying court orders, recent legal activity including arrests and warrants, inability to hold a job and/or rent, and losing your kids doesn't count as "line-in-the-sand".  In other words - someone has to physically get hurt.  Everyone agrees this will happen if/when they go home or spend more time with birth parents.  Apparently we need to stand back and let it happen.

I am devastated by all of this.  Letting "my baby" go to the visit this weekend is nearly going to kill me.  It will be all I can do to not burst into tears as I hand him over.  I honestly don't know what I'm going to do about it.  This on top of the kids being increasingly oppositional to visits so much so that at the last one two kids loudly protested with major tears and one actually held onto the shopping cart I had saying "I'm not going".  Really.  Those kids have not changed their mind since the last visit.  I try to encourage them that they'll have fun but at the same time I feel like I'm breaking their trust forcing them to go with someone they don't want to go with and I can't promise them they'll actually be safe.  This is going to be very, very hard.

I don't write about this case much because on one hand I feel the need (for whatever reason) to keep this case as private as possible.  On the other hand, I also write pages and pages of notes for the caseworkers and CASA each week.  I think I'm just spent writing about it.  I'm really hoping this all works out for them to stay but in my heart I've already prepared to lose them.  Either way, my hubby and I have talked about this being our last case.

On top of all of that this week I found out that someone close to me is going through a sudden divorce.  This person is a foster parent who was in the middle of an adoption.  Out of spite, one party in the divorce called CPS to say the other one abandoned the family (didn't happen) and they needed to come pick up the kids right away, including the child they'd INTERVENED to adopt after parenting for nearly 18 months, most of this child's young life.  Divorce is hard enough.  Ripping a child out of a family forever, not only from the parent but also the siblings who are now going through the divorce AND the loss of the sibling is reprehensible.  This child knows no other family and she is loved greatly by (one) parent and all of the siblings. 

My heart is overwhelmed with this right now.  Both situations appear to be something that cannot be fought and won.  Hopeless is the right word in this situation.  And yet - we serve a God who is all powerful and good.  He is here, in this situation, loving all of his children through this pain.  The situation is not hopeless for He who holds the world in His hands.  I pray somehow this situation is turned into something that brings great glory to God and in the meantime I can comfort and be comforted.  Amen.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Thankful Thursday - A hodgepodge

There are so many things I'm thankful for today.

  • Dual air conditioners to keep part of our home cool while the other part waits for a unit to be fixed.
  • Approval to take one of my kids off the anti-psychotic they were placed on before coming to my home.  Life is easier now in so many ways, including for this child to control behavior.
  • Getting my dissertation edits done!  It's a long story but I finally submitted my final final final (...) draft to the graduate school so I can be done.  They've already put a hold on my transcripts because it took so long to get them done but in all reality they took 4 months to get the requirements back to me in time and I had to move on with my life.
  • Getting other work-related stuff done that was hanging over my head.  YAY!
  • A supportive FAD worker who provides encouragement and support.  Our last FAD worker was good but left us alone, something I'm also thankful for. This one is more involed but provides good feedback and is easily relatable.
  • All of my kids - they really are wonderful and are all growing and making progress in their lives.  I love them even when the actions required to care for 6 children can be draining.
  • Understanding family and friends.  Our kids are not always good.  We're not always the best parents.  People who understand and provide support are a huge help.
  • Allergy medication.  One of my children was bit on his sensitive man area and it is now swollen like something I've never seen before.  Doc says put allergy medicine on it and take allergy medicine.  I'm thankful I have all 3 of the ones she recommended.
  • My hubby who continues to work on our family and marriage after all these years, being patient with me as I too grow up. 
  • My new shoe club memberships.  Totally frivolous and unnecessary but very much a fun break from life as a working mama.
  • Progess in my childrens' cases.  They deserve permanency.  Their cases have been going for nearly 8 months.  Please God bring them permanency with us soon.
Happy Thursday everyone!