Friday, August 01, 2014

Foster Parent Friday - Between Fosterhood and Adoption

We are currently in that awkward stage between fosterhood, where everything is by the book and you don't know what is coming around the next corner, and adoption where you move on with your life as a forever family.  We've had a termination trial, had a final order signed (after a random 3 1/2 month wait), and waited out our 90 day appeal period.  This puts us in the place where the department (CPS) has permanent managing coservatorship of our kiddos (in other words is the permanent parents and legally responsible party) and biological parents no longer have any parental rights (and, theoretically in most cases would be out of the picture at least in a far distant corner of the picture).

While there is "no chance" the biological family can come back around and try to regain custody somehow, we are still not their forever, legal, family. Technically, we are still foster parents and will remain so until the adoption is finalized.  This is such an awkward place to be because in our heads and hearts we are their parents, we are a family, and nothing will change that.  The decision to adopt these children has come and gone.  The kids call us mom and dad.  They are all siblings.  Generally, day-to-day, our life is now normal as if it will be after adoption.

There are some things, however, that are still not normal.  We no longer have to deal with parental visits but we do still need to schedule time for CASA visits 2x per month (or more because she also likes to spend time 1x1 with the kiddos), monthly with the children's caseworker, and now monthly with our family's caseworker because they changed the rules from quarterly to monthly on us.  We no longer have to try to fit in court regularly, worrying about whether the judge will send them home, but we do have to arrange for "263 hearings" on occasion.  We aren't dealing with weekly supervised and unsupervised visits but we are still managing monthly contact with their birth father per our agreement (this will continue post adoption).  Birth mother doesn't get to see or talk to them but that doesn't mean she doesn't try regularly.  I am happy to report that we've been told (in writing) we no longer have to worry about cutting their hair but I'll tell you, after having chopped off 8 inches from one of my daughter's locks, I still worry about whether they'll approve of my choices or not.  These things are all manageable nuisances that I understand and deal with but look forward to getting rid of.  

Then there is the category of things that really grates on mie.  I still cannot make decisions on my own for
"my" kids like I can for my forever kids.  I can't take them on an impromptu weekend vacation (though it wouldn't be too hard for me to get permission).  I can't let them camp out in my room one night to watch a movie as a family before we go to bed.  I can't let them camp out in the playroom together one night either, for that matter.  Technically I can't let them go spend the night with their cousins or let their cousins spend the night at my home and I still have to worry whether we'll get a surprise inspection by licensing and have a friend over who hasn't had a background check.  Though we have "safe" places for "not-too-dangerous" medication that our 1 year old son needs several times a day,  I still have to double-lock it on the off-chance someone will stop by and go digging through our cabinets.  And I still can't have a trampoline.

Then we have our awkward situation with names.  We're only kind-of allowed to call our children by their new adoptive names.  This is ok for our younger kiddos (one of whom insists her name is her new name anyway and handles that for us) but it is difficult for our older kiddos who are starting new classes this next year and need to know how to read, write, and respond to their new names.  Their names aren't legally changing until a couple days after school starts so we can't technically call them by their new names and I'm ok with that except for the fact that they need to be used to responding to their teachers and writing their new names when school comes.  Plus, I'd like to purchase some personal supplies and I don't want to be accused of pushing the lines.  

Finally - the thing that is most challenging for me during this time - still being foster mom.  Generally this is not a  problem for mie (see above list of annoyances).  But there are those times I'm asked the dreaded question, usually by people in an official capacity:

"Are you his foster mom?"

I don't know why this gets at mie so much and I can't let it roll of my back but I've had a seriously hard time holding my tongue, especially when it comes to Baby Baby, the one I hear about it most.  He's a great kid with several medical challenges so I see a lot of specialists, nurses, and other staff who don't know anything about us except for what they see in the medical file.  They ask harmlessly but it seriously strikes as a knife when I hear it particularly because at this point in the case I'm forced to answer yes.  Yes, I suppose I am still his foster mom.  Oh and every time I hear it the Mama Bear in mie comes out and I want to scream to them through the phone...I am his ONLY mom.  I have raised this baby since he was 4 days old, since he came from the hospital.  He would not know his birth mother from anyone else.  I have been there for every moment with him, through hospitalizations and breathing treatments, through the milestones and celebrations. To HIM, I am his mama and he would tell you nothing else.  It is evident in the way he lights up and runs to mie when he sees mie (though daddy is the clear favorite right now).  In a crowded room I  am the one he runs to for safety.  But yes.  I am his foster mom.  Just foster mom.

Oh how I long for the day when I can say, without any sort of reservation, I am their mother, just plain mom, forever.


Annie said...

Hi! I hope you don't mind my commenting. I write a blog and always feel rejected if no one comments. I am an adoptive mom and former foster mom (our foster son lives with us, even though he's 21); he's ours.

Anyway, I can't understand why you can't let the children transition to their new names as school begins. That would save them so much embarrassment and "explaining" - plus, there might actually be some sort of chance to really transition to them.

As a person who never, ever was called by my actual first name, I know that it is totally possible to have one "legal" name and a totally different one that you're called by. Only rarely would someone call out my actual first name and I'd usually sit oblivious for several seconds (and callings) until it would click in. Then I'd just tell the other kids that "I don't go by that name." easy!

HATED foster care. HATED it! I took the "parent" part of the title far too seriously, and stumbled into weird rule that one on overnights. Really? Not let a HS boy go on a mission trip, or to the church lock-in without having EVERYONE background checked? It was so absurd, it never even occurred to me. My other kids are all from Russia. International adoption is MUCH, MUCH, MUCH easier than foster care - and however brusque those Russians can be, they are at least straightforward and capable, unlike most of the zillions (way too many) of foster care workers we had!

Mie said...

Hi Annie! Welcome to my little home here and thanks for commenting!

I'm hoping the schools (I have 6 kids in 4 schools) will let just work with us. I called them all today to let them know but the people in charge of that were all in some sort of training. Thankfully it sounded like they were willing to work with mie.