Friday, December 30, 2011

My New Year's wish

...is for Teresa at Foster Care: Our Love Story.


I want her to know that I miss her blog and hope that everything is well with her.


I wish she was still blogging.


Love and Prayers.



Friday, December 23, 2011

If you've ever thought about it...

Wednesday night while mindlessly flicking through the channels I came across "A Home for the Holidays" on CBS.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a whole program devoted to foster care and adoption on a major network.


I cried and snuggled Primo close as I watched.  I felt proud to be involved in foster care.

If you have ever thought of helping children through foster care I urge you to take the next step and look into process of becoming a foster parent.  It is easier than ever to find information thanks to the internet.

Foster care was something I thought about for years before we signed up for the training.


I truly wish that Mike and I had done our foster care training years ago.  


Foster care is not easy, this is true.  It starts with hours of training and literally inches of paper work, strangers in and out of your house and lots of time.  These are all relatively minor inconveniences as they allow you to care safely for some of the too many children in the foster care system who need safe homes and families to help them heal and grow.


I could fill this post with a long list of complaints about the foster care system, it is far from effective when it comes to serving children.  I can control almost nothing about this system with the exception of the attitude and willingness to work I bring to the system.


What I can control is the care that Primo receives in my home.  This care does not have to be perfect, it can be loving and creative. 

My home does not have to be perfect, but it must be safe and warm.  

I don't have to be perfect, but I do my best to be reliable, organized and present for Primo.

Foster care is hard work, but if you have ever thought about it or felt called to help children, take the next step. 



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

True Dat Tuesday

I took Finola and Vivienne to the dermatologist the other day.  Finola sat in the waiting room with Primo, who was sleeping in his car seat, while I went in to see the doctor with Vivienne.


When Viv and I came out of the doctor's office there was another teen girl with her Mom in the waiting room.


As soon as we were out the door of the waiting room, Finola started laughing and telling us that when the other girl and her Mom came into the waiting room she heard the girl say to her Mom, "She has a baby."  The Mom responded with: "It just breaks my heart."


Finola LOVES having these "teen Mom" moments, she thinks it is hysterical that anyone would think that she had a baby.


I always use these moments to remind myself not to judge a person or situation by appearances.  I know that most of us are just trying to make sense of the world around us and we therefore interpret and judge certain situations and our fellow human being's actions through the lenses of our own experiences, values and prejudices.


I myself have experienced so much judgement since becoming a foster parent.  This judgement happens on the way into the WIC office and on the way out of the WIC office (not at all in the WIC office),  and at the grocery store when I'm holding up the check out line using my WIC checks.


Almost every time I am out in public with Primo I get many questions about whether his is "mine" or not?  When I have my teenage daughters with me people ask if I am his grandma?  Some people are direct, others are more polite and searching with their questions, but I know what they are after, they want to know what such a pale skinned woman is doing with such a beautiful brown baby.


I have experienced judgement and questions before in my life about my own biological daughters.  Not anywhere as often as with Primo, but ridiculous comments and questions have been made and asked in public of me before.


Once I was out with Jordan, long ago, when she was a platinum blond, blue eyed toddler, and a strange man told me that Jordan could be the "poster child" for the third reich!  THAT was very uncomfortable.


Another time when I was Christmas shopping with all four girls, who were all under age eight at the time, an elderly woman stopped and asked if they were all mine?  This was a comment I received regularly, along with a "God Bless You!"  But, this elderly lady went on to add with great exclamation, "Oh, their poor father!" You can imagine how my daughters felt about that!


I'm sure I will never know why strangers feel so very free to be so inquisitive and judgmental about other people's lives?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Falling in love

That is what is happening to our whole family, we are falling more and more in love with Primo every day.


In the back of my mind I know this will make it more difficult for us when he leaves us.


Love is what every baby deserves and we are happy to oblige, even if we know Primo will leave us and will not remember our love. 


I am confident that our love for him will live on in his life whether he remembers it or not.  This love could be the foundation for all the other love in his life.  The love that unconsciously reminds him that he deserves healthy, unconditional love in his life.



Monday, December 12, 2011

Sleep: good news/bad news

The good news is that Primo has suddenly started taking real naps on a regular basis.  Gone are the days of 20-30 minute naps twice a day!  He now takes a 2 hour nap once a day and an hour nap later in the day.


The bad news is that Primo is still up three times a night.  After the initial few weeks of exhaustion I felt I had adjusted quite well to the lack of sleep.


Now I think the cumulative effects of waking up for 20-30 minutes every three hours is catching up with me.  I have had migraines for the first time in 5 years and a return of the vertigo I had 2 years ago, not fun.


The sudden change in napping habits has me hopeful that when his ready he will sleep through the night, I am hoping this happens sometime soon.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fostering infants

Mike and I chose to foster infants because we thought it would be an easy starting point for us in foster care.


We have A LOT of attitude in our house, the kind of attitude that comes from living with 3 teenage girls.  It is not just attitude, there is a lot of eye rolling, rebellion, complaining, confrontation, most of this can be the healthy behavior of future young adults who are trying to find their own way in the world, but it sure can get old fast!


Mike and I thought that fostering an infant would cut down on the chances of adding more drama to our lives, after all babies can't talk.


I thought this would be common knowledge, and I felt that I was not as much of a foster Mom as the foster Moms who take on older children and the trauma and fear these children may have in their lives.


While it is true that Primo cannot talk, it is not easy.  He is up three times a night and the sleep deprivation is not fun.  He needs 24/7 care and he is home all day every day.  He needs countless diaper changes day and night!  He does not like the hour drive to his weekly visits and there is not much I can do, while in city traffic, to calm him.  He goes to the doctor a lot, another long trip by car.


Recently while we were out to dinner for only the second time since Primo came into our care (click here to read about how hard it is to get a sitter when you are a foster parent in our area), I had the chance to talk with a few friends, one of whom is a foster mom of 6 years.


All these friends were unanimous in their feelings, they could not imagine taking on an infant at this point in their lives, but they could see themselves taking on a school aged child.  I was shocked.  I still think infants may be easier for me, but I felt a bit better that they didn't see me as taking the easy way into foster care.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gratitude

Primo's case has taken many negative twists and turns over the past month.  In reality things are not looking good for reunification despite the Court ordering unsupervised visits (which have not happened yet).


No matter what has been going on at court or behind the scenes, as it were, with Primo's parents, they have always been respectful and friendly towards me.  They thank me after every visit for taking good care of Primo.


I pray that all three of us can continue be bound together in our love and gratitude for Primo, and continue to leave all of the crazy dysfunction of his case and the foster care system at the door of our visits.  






Saturday, December 3, 2011

My tweezers

I have a pair of dark green tweezers that I cannot, will not, and never want to find out what it is like to live without.  They quickly and easily pluck out stray eyebrow hair.  Most importantly they pull that dark wiry hair on my chin before anyone can see it and when even I can only feel it.


These tweezers are magic!  I've had them for years, I don't remember where I bought them.  They have no recognizable markings or brand name, if they ever did these have long ago worn off from weekly use.


Last night on my way out the door to a PTA meeting I looked in my mirror and reached into the top left hand drawer of my bathroom vanity for my beloved tweezers.  They were no where to be found!


I called out to the general teenaged girl population of my home, "Where are my tweezers?"


Dolly responded that she had borrowed them but had returned them a few days ago.


"Not so," I yelled, "they are not here?!"  I was growing alarmed.


"I cleaned my room, and desk and found them there and returned them to your top left drawer," Dolly called out from the hall.


Now this made me suspicious.  The floor is not visible in Dolly's room, it smells like old socks and food that is just slightly rotted.  How could she have possibly cleaned her room well enough to even find something as small as my beloved tweezers?


Dolly came in to look in my top left drawer, no tweezers.


I am late for my meeting so I ask her to please find them and put them in my top left drawer for me to find on my return later.


No tweezers are in my top left drawer when I get home.


But three teenage girls are waiting for me, they want an advance on their December allowances for Christmas shopping.  I agree, but I add that I will be subtracting $20 from Dolly's monthly wad to replace my tweezers (this is the only thing I do remember about my beloved tweezers, they cost $19.99).


Dolly is not happy, she states over and over again that she KNOWS she put them in my top left drawer.  How can I charge her for the lost tweezers?  She accuses me of losing them!


Later Dolly comes back to remind me that she has paid me for some recent Christmas presents I ordered for all three girls from ModCloth, she is returning one item worth $15, so will I please only reduce her monthly allowance by $5?


I agree, go online and it is done.  Not one minute later she walks into my bedroom with my lovely dark green tweezers, my heart skips a beat.


"Where were they?" I gasp!


"In the hall bath drawer, Vivienne found them for me!  Now can I have that extra five bucks?"



Thursday, December 1, 2011

December

Despite my best efforts to delay this day, December has arrived!


There is so much to do to get ready for Christmas and I have a couple of December birthdays to prepare for too.


This December I have the added delight of having Primo with us for Christmas.  My girls are very excited about buying him little gifts and making sure he has a stocking to hang at the fireplace.


When I think about Primo's parents being without him and his siblings this Christmas I feel the urge to alleviate some of their suffering with gifts.  But, what to give?  I tend to go over board when I know someone is in true need during the holidays.  I send anonymous Christmas cards full of grocery, mall and gas gift cards.


Every Christmas I wonder, why shouldn't I spend the same amount of  money on families in trouble or in severe need of comfort, as I spend on my own family?


I also think it would be nice for Primo to give his siblings a gift for Christmas.


I'm not sure what the etiquette for gift giving and foster care is exactly, is there such a thing?


I'm thinking I will be best off giving a small personalized gift to Primo's parents, any ideas?  And what about his siblings?



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Liebster Blog Award



Liebster is a German word which means "dearest" or "beloved". It is also used to refer to as someones favorite and the idea of the Liebster Blog Award is to bring attention to blogs with less than 200 followers that deserve more recognition and encouragement.



    Below are the rules that come with the Liebster Blog Award



1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who 


gave it to you.
 


2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by 

leaving a comment on their blog.
  


3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
  


4. Hope that the people you've sent the award to 

forward it on to their five favorite bloggers and keep it 
going!                                                                                                                                                                                                     
I was nominated by Teresa at  Foster Care: Our Love Story , she is a young foster Mom who is wise beyond her years and I have learned so much from her blog.   


I absolutely love all of the blogs that I follow, but here are my top five picks right now:

1. Life with the Little, written by Jenn.  She is new to blogging, but not to foster care, she adopted her adorable son through foster care and continues to foster other children.

2.  Heather at ImmediateMom.com  Her blog is a wonderfully honest look into the world of adopting an older child.

3.  Attempting Agape is a beautifully written blog by the young, single, Christian, Foster Mamma. 

4.  A Shadow of Grief
    This is one of the first blogs I started following.  It is a very open and honest blog about   an emergency hysterectomy and the subsequent journey of healing that led to foster care along the way.


5.  Alison at for you {by love} , this is a fun blog that mixes foster care stories with DIY projects.
                                                                                           

Monday, November 28, 2011

Results from Court

I really should have known given all of the foster care court stories I have heard, but alas, my naivete won out.

I won't go into the nitty-gritty details.  The bizarre short version is that EVERYONE, all of the SWs, DHS and the GAL recommended termination (it turns out Primo's siblings have been in care for 3 years and are about to move to their 4th home, and they are actually 4 and 6 years old?).

What was the judge's ruling based on this unanimous recommendation?  Unsupervised visitation!

Next court date is in February, Primo will be with us until then, God willing, because let's face it you never know!


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Spoiled Healthy

When DHS came by to finish their safety inspection one of the workers asked me if Primo was spoiled?


This got me thinking about whether or not an infant can be spoiled?  I don't think so.

Every infant deserves to be kissed every time they are picked up.  They deserve to be told "I love you" many, many times a day.


Every infant deserves to be fed when hungry, changed when wet, bathed in warm water and snuggled in loving arms.  They deserve a warm safe place to sleep.


And most importantly every infant deserves a family who thinks they are a truly special, one of a kind baby.  A family who will defend and protect them, love and encourage them and stand by them no matter what.


I LOVE spoiling Primo healthy!







Monday, November 21, 2011

Foster care wall

I hit a foster care wall this weekend.

The only time I had alone this last weekend was when I went out to stock up on enormous boxes of diapers and wipes.  Because the last thing I want to be running out to get during the crazy holiday crowds are diapers and wipes.  (My goal this year is to do all of my Christmas shopping online.)


The lack of sleep, the hard foster care decisions, the Thanksgiving guests heading my way, and not taking any time out for myself this weekend along with Primo getting sick and then the rest of the family getting sick culminated in a super low point for me.

I felt like a zombie by Sunday night and went to bed early while Primo and Mike watched the Sunday night football game.

I woke up around 12:30 AM to find that Primo was not in his bassinet.  I was in a panic.  

I quickly realized that Mike was not in bed either, so I dashed to the guest/Primo's room to find both Mike and Primo snoring away.  Relief.

I was able to sleep straight through until 8:30, which has helped relieve my low.

But the bottom line is that Primo's chances of going home with his siblings are disintegrating before my eyes and it is extremely hard to watch.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

We decided we could not take Primo's siblings in at this time.  We have space constraints and I am just plain exhausted from getting up 3 times a night Primo.


It feels like the right decision for our family, but the wrong decision for Primo's family.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Siblings

2 hours after my agency called to let me know that Primo's visit with his parents and siblings was cancelled they called and asked me to take his two siblings, ages 2 and 4.

Cancelled Visit

Primo's parents did not call to confirm their visit today.


Their phone has been disconnected.


I am surprised.  Primo's parents clearly love their children.  In the past they have complained that their visits were too short.


I am not sure what to think. 


What I feel right now is a tremendous sense of rejection on Primo's behalf.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

True Dat Tuesday

I came across a quote yesterday that truly spoke to me about foster care.


I am growing a bit weary of most people's response to our starting foster care being the typical "I could never do foster care, I couldn't send those children back to a bad situation", or something about "the heartbreak of letting a child you love go".

I am sure you have had many similar responses if you are a foster parent too.

The truth about life is that we are never guaranteed a long life with the ones we love.  Couples divorce, beloved spouses die, children die before their parents and parents die when they still have young children.


Here is the quote:


“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either. For solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

~ Louise Erdrich (The Painted Drum)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Seeking Clarity

Primo's case has had many twists and turns.  It seemed straight forward in the beginning, but not so much any more.

I am looking forward to the court date after Thanksgiving.  Hoping it will give us some clarity as to where Primo is heading.

I am continually amazed by how little DHS, my agency, and Primo's worker actually know about the children in their care.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Time change

The time change has changed my schedule.  I don't like time changes.  I think we should split the difference and leave the time alone.


I mind the Fall Back time change less, but Spring Forward is a nightmare.


Anyway, Primo is still a fleeting napper, some days he takes an hour, other days a few 20 minute naps.


With the time change he has begun sleeping at night from about 10 PM to 10 AM, not straight through, he is still up every 3 hours.


I used to sleep in every morning with Primo to make up for the sleep I lost every 3 hours during the night.


Now I am getting up after the 7 AM feeding, it is wonderful to have that little bit of time to be by myself while Primo sleeps.


Never thought I would be thankful for a time change.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crazy

This week when Primo's visit ran late I was in the waiting room with a bunch of people waiting for their parenting class to start.


It was shocking, two women were obviously high.  One poor woman kept asking everyone if they had seen her twin boys?  She said they were with her mother and sister who were trying to keep them from her.  Her every other word was a !$%@ and she became very agitated and threatening.  She kept repeating that she had 5 children and could only find 2 of them and if any of us stood between her and her children...


The smell in the room was horrible and everyone looked uncomfortable.


I felt shell shocked when I left and cried most of the way home.


Drugs and alcohol are so devastating to families.


Can parenting even be taught?


I feel so depressed about Primo's future right now.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

True Dat Tuesday

"I thank you for being a foster Mom, I thank you for my two brothers who each adopted children who were in foster care with wonderful foster parents."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I am one of those women

You know, THOSE women?


They only realize they haven't brushed their hair when they look into their rear view mirror as they are backing out of the grocery store parking lot.


They go out in dirty sweats, and are constantly finding baby spit up on themselves.


They haven't worn jewelry in months.


They don't wash their faces at night anymore.


They do brush their teeth, on a good day.


 Make up? HA!


They drive to Petco without their wallets.


I am one of these women...




Friday, November 4, 2011

The first week

Primo is having a REAL nap right now.  He has only had a few of these over the last 6 weeks.  These naps lasting more than half an hour make my day infinitely happier.  Who knew I could feel happy about cleaning the kitchen, folding 3 loads of laundry and paying the bills, but happy I am.


The first week Primo was with us was beyond exhausting.  It felt a bit like I was in shock.  There was so many appointments, so many new things to learn, lack of sleep and the house felt like it was falling down around me.


As this is my first placement I am hoping the next ones may be easier.  But I think that any time you take in a child there will be an adjustment period.


Routine was my best friend, and there was not a lot of routine with a month old baby.  Luckily my kids and husband helped set up new routines.  Mike took over the food shopping and cooking in the evenings.  I napped every day.


Slowly we created a routine at night with me doing the feedings and Mike changing diapers.


I really could not get enough routine, and Primo could not be routine enough at his age.


Time helped.  I was literally bleary eyed tired the first week, I couldn't drive or do anything with the exception of napping whenever Primo napped.


The second week was a little easier and it has been getting better ever since.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Meet the Parents

If I had met them at a party I would have thought they were lovely.


But, knowing some back round on Primo's case colors how I view his parents.


I also met Primo's two siblings who are also in care and have been in 3 different homes over the past 2 years.


In my heart of hearts I want to believe that Primo's parents will get it all together and live happily ever after with their three beautiful children.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

True Dat Tuesdays...

I am going to be posting the touching, funny, awkward and crazy things people say to me about foster care on what I will call True Dat Tuesdays.


The first quote and one of my favorites is this winner: "He's just like a real baby."

Monday, October 31, 2011

In my last post I wrote a bit about money and some of the things you need to take care of an infant in foster care.

That post and the comments got me thinking about the motivations we all have for getting into foster care.   It seems to me that most people get into foster care in hopes of adopting a child or multiple children.

I did not get into foster care to adopt, but I do know that I think about what it would be like to adopt Primo.  It feels like a game changer.

Would as many of us be willing to do foster care if there was no hope of adopting?

It feels like adoption is just about the most powerful motivator for doing foster care.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Volunteer work

I was missing the volunteer work I gave up when Primo was placed with us.  I missed the adults and children I saw every week.

Then it occurred to me that I am still doing volunteer work 24/7.  Foster Care, in it's essence, is volunteer work.  I work every waking moment of the day and often during moments I would like to be sleeping without pay.  I have given over my life to the cause of Foster Care.


It is true that I receive money every month from my agency, this is for the care and keeping of Primo.  Even if I used NONE of this money to buy giant boxes of diapers and wipes and copious amounts of formula, I would be making an hourly rate of 90 cents an hour.

There is no money to be made in foster care if you are doing it right.  In my area of the country the cost of raising a child in the middle class is estimated to cost $37 a day, we receive $21 a day for Primo.

Let's not forget that I was out of the baby game for 11 years before I got into foster care.  So I needed to purchase many things for Primo.

He came with almost no clothing.  My agency gave me $150 for emergency clothing purchases.  Sounds like plenty, but some how I spent more on little onsies, outfits, socks and booties, sweaters and a winter coat, little hats, etc.

Included in Priomo's monthly check from the agency is $1 a day that must be spent on clothing.

I also purchased two bassinets one for upstairs and one for downstairs, a baby tub and towels, blankets, sheets, formula, pacifiers, bottles, a thermometer, changing pad and cover, diaper pail, nail clippers, bulb aspirator, baby Tylenol, diaper bag, a swing, play mat, bouncy seat, infant car seat, bibs, baby monitor, baby soap, ready to drink 3 oz bottles of formula for night feedings (yep, I am that exhausted).

Even as I write the above list it doesn't seem like all that much, I am sure I am forgetting things, but it all added up to hundreds of dollars.  I did two very big shopping trips, one hours before he arrived and one the day after he arrived.

If I were extremely frugal and organized (which I do hope to be when I am getting more sleep), I think I could take good care of Primo within the confines of the monthly check I receive.  But, for now the cost of some of his needs are coming out of my pocket, and I am fine with that.  I am supposed to care for Primo the same way I cared for my birth children and that is what I am doing, because let's face it, he deserves no less.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Foster Care Blogs

I have become a little obsessed with reading foster care blogs.  I learn so much and feel less alone in my own very green journey into foster care.

I crave the recommendations and guidance they provide and I enjoy learning from the good the bad and the ugly stories of the foster care experience.

The blogs I read are a priceless resource.  I feel blessed to be joining the foster care team in a time and place that allows for such an instant look into the shared experiences of a group of people I would have never known existed were in not for the internet.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An odd meeting

Primo has a GAL (guardian ad litem) who is a lawyer, I guess this is usually the case in foster care.  The social worker from this lawyers office came to visit.  There is a court date in November.

She was an hour late and very biased.

She came to do a safety inspection of our home and to get information about Primo's life  with us.

She asked if I had smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, but never asked to see them.

She told me flat out that she believes Primo and his siblings, who were in care before he was born with another agency (but share the same GAL) should be put up for adoption.

She went on to say that they have a few foster parents, and I quote, "of means" and it is always a "Fairy Tale Story" for the lucky kids who get adopted into those homes.  I was embarrassed.  But she still had not seen where Primo sleeps, she probably never would have, but at that point in our conversation I interrupted and asked if she would like to see where he sleeps.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Fewsh

Called Primo's doctor's office today and cleared up all the paper work HELL!

I feel so relieved.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Mistake?

I took Primo to his two month check up.  I think I may have made a mistake with his paper work.

At his first visit in the city I was not asked to sign anything, the visit was a mess because I had none of the correct paper work from my agency, but he had to see a doctor within 48 hours of being placed with us.

Let me digress here to explain again that Primo is my first placement.  I remember a lot of my training but not all of it.  AND....Primo's case worker is an intern.  I am not sure she knows any more than I do.  I like Primo's worker, she is earnest, honest, friendly and doing the best she can.  But sometimes it feels a bit like the blind leading the blind around here.

Anyway, I arrived late for Primo's doctors appointment at the new office he will seen at from now on, because I got lost.

I was checked in and was handed paper work, I questioned this because he was already  in their system from his first visit.  (Different office same network, practice or whatever)

They smiled and insisted, I was not sure what to do, did I mention I still do not have Primo's health insurance packet from DHS? 

I could not fill out family history, all I really have is Primo's name and birth date.  I didn't know who to put as responsible party for the bills, I had started to write my name due to force of habit...

I did not have time to complete the paper work before being called back for his appointment.

When the visit was over I was asked to sign two things electronically, something I had never done for any of my children in the past. 

By now you can picture the scene:  Me holding a hysterical Primo, who has just received 4 immunizations, staring a small electronic signature thingy, and being told I was signing some sort of HIPA thing and something else I don't recall at this point, neither of which I was asked to read first.

The moment I got Primo in the car, helped him settle down and started the 45 minute drive home I freaked out and remembered that there are some things I am not allowed to sign.

Maybe going to the doctor in the city was a better option they had a lot of experience with foster parents, not so much in suburbs.  (This was made supremely obvious when the doctor suggested we run a certain blood test given some of what we know about Primo's start in life, and because I really should know if he has this certain disease.  This was about the only right move I made, at the appointment from Hell, I said no.)  I don't think I am allowed to know that, right?

I tossed and turned all night worrying about what I had signed, of course my appointment was Friday afternoon, so nothing is open and my case worker is at home.

I am beating myself up right now.  I hate the thought that I may have screwed something up for Primo, my agency or myself.

I am back to hitting the Rescue Remedy real hard.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Smiles

Primo started smiling this week, he also coos and loves eye contact.

He has grown 2.5 inches and put on over 2 lbs since coming to stay with us.  Which is all good because now his height and weight percentages are much closer. 

Our boy is growing!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Posting

Half way through October and I have already posted as many times this month as I did in all of September.

You may wonder how this is possible when I have a new born asleep on me most hours of the day?

I took typing in high school, way back in the dark ages when we practiced on manual (non-electric) typewriters.

I have been forever thankful for that class as I am able to type without looking at the keyboard!  This combined with the fact that Primo is happy to drape himself over me leaving my hands free means that typing is about all I can do all day.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy baby

These little velcro swaddley baby blanket things have most definitely improved my quality of life over the last week.  And Primo's too, he can now sleep more than 20 minutes in his bassinet without startling awake every 20 minutes. 

Primo took his longest nap ever all on his own this afternoon, one and a half hours of hands free time for me!

He is finishing his nap in my arms as I slowly type this post with one hand.

I bought these after I had read halfway through the book:  The Happiest Baby on the Block.  I would recommend it to any one with a baby, even if they are not overly fussy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Primo's life book, how to start?

I ordered Primo a Baby Memory Calendar and a Baby Book, but I am having trouble starting.

Maybe I should have just started a more generic life book?

I adore the Baby Book my Mom put together for me.

My girls love reviewing their Baby Books every couple of years, there are memories written down in those books that would have been completely forgotten if I had not put pen to book for them.

But for every page with an empty family tree, or blank lists of gifts and "special visitors" and bare pages demanding details of baby showers I know nothing about,  I have no answers for Primo.

Should I ask his Mom to fill out those pages?

Or should I just remove those pages and fill out the ones I have information and memories for?

I never thought this would be so difficult.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sweet sleep

I slept through the night last night.  I slept from 11 PM straight through to 8 AM.

Mike kindly took a night with Primo.


(Deep sigh of relief)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Honeymoon is over, or is it?

If Primo has his way it will never end...

Will he sleep in his bassinet, oh no! 
Will he sleep in his swing, almost never! 
Will he sleep in his bouncy seat, not yet! 
In his car seat?  I'm sure you can see where I am going with this.

If I had more than two brain cells to string together today I may be able to turn this into a poem, but alas...

The long and short of it is that Primo's two favorite spots for sleeping are on me:

1. With his head right under my chin.

2. Tucked into my right arm with his little face turned toward mine while his lovely baby perfume wafts up to me.  A beautiful blend of Dreft and sweet baby sour milk breath.

So, it is me, not my sweet little foster baby who is trying to put an end to the honeymoon period of our relationship.

I'm the one growing a bit weary of the energy it takes to keep up my "good" behavior.

I love holding him and rocking him to sleep, it feels like he is part of me, that is how seldom we are separated.  I know this is best for him, he is still so young and tiny.

But, it is difficult to subjugate myself to someone so small, with his relentless need for feeding, changing and carrying.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Panic

A couple of times during the first week of Primo's being in our home I had sudden feelings of panic.

I felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for such a small child.  Not only that but by caring for another Mother's beloved baby boy.

When I am in the thick of it all, feeding, washing bottles, changing diapers, driving to appointments, cooking, cleaning, rocking and snuggling I don't even think about this huge responsibility.

I am in the moment, doing the best I can to care for Primo and the rest of my family.  I have never been a perfect mother, but I keep doing the best I can do, one day at a time.

But in those few brief moments of silence I felt challenged.  I am sure the lack of sleep that first week added to the feelings of overwhelm and panic.

Thank goodness I had some Rescue Remedy on hand to help me through.

I am looking forward to this all getting easier.  The first time I do anything always feels awkward to me.  Inexperience is hard, but the only way to gain experience is to go straight through my lack of experience and try to learn something along the way.

I have had quite a few firsts in the last two weeks, and managed to get through them successfully.   This builds my confidence: first Social Worker visit, first safety inspection, first doctor's appointment for Primo with no paper work, first WIC appointment, again without proper paperwork, first visit with Court Appointed Advocate.

And do you know what?  Even without the paperwork or experience I hoped to have had with me, Primo and I made it through all of the above successfully.

Now, if I could just get a little more sleep...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Boiling Water

I put a pot of water on to boil for Primo's formula this morning.

Then something magical happened, I put Primo down to sleep in his very own bassinet, and 5 minutes later he was still sleeping!

I was excited, I could not decide what to do first, clean the kitchen, take a nap, catch up on all the blogs I love to read...I ended up on the living room couch staring vacantly at the TV.

When I finally dragged myself to the kitchen to do a little cleaning, I found a large HOT pot  on the stove without a lick of water left in it.

The good news is that Primo napped for a whole half hour without me holding him!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Caffeine

Twice last week I drank a Coke for the caffeine of it all, and fell asleep half an hour later.  That is a new level of exhausted for me.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

When Primo's social worker came to pick him up for his first family visit she asked me if she should pull the car over if he started crying on the ride down town?  Then she quickly admitted she was really nervous because Primo was the first infant she had ever taken to a visit.

Her surprising honestly quickly transported me back in time to the night that Primo arrived.

We received the call from our agency around dinner time.  The only information the woman on the phone had to offer was that there was a one month old, healthy, baby boy who needed a safe place to land, in about an hour.

I had so many questions, there were no answers.

I said yes.

She called back 15 minutes later to let me know the baby's name and how much he weighed, and that he was coming directly from the hospital where he had spent his first month of life.

We would be his first real home.  And he would be arriving in one hour.

Finola, Dolly and Vivienne and I sprang into action.  We wrote up a list of items we needed to get through our first night with Primo and dashed to Target.

As I drove, with an eye on the clock, my thoughts began to race:  What have I done?  My life as I know it is completely changed, how will the girls respond if he is a colicky, sad baby?  I'm too old to get up every two hours at night, this is too risky!  I felt sick.

We pulled into the parking lot, I gave each of my daughters a list of things to find, and then announced that I would meet them in the "baby" section of the store after I ran to the bathroom to throw up.

I was nervous.

I have mothered 4 babies through good times and fussy times and everything in between and beyond.  My reaction was over the top.  I was completely petrified.

As soon as Primo came through the door my instinct and past experience kicked in.

I had never entertained the thought that a social worker would be nervous about transporting a 9 pound boy to visit his family.

I guess the old saying "practice makes perfect" has some truth to it.  I don't believe in perfection, but practice sure does calm the nerves.











Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What do you send or take to visits?

When we had E for respite care I would take him to his visits with his parents.  I packed a diaper bag of extra clothes, diapers, wipes, a bottle, finger food snacks and a toy or two.

I am not taking Primo to his family visits, because of a scheduling conflict, his social worker is taking him.

I packed his diaper bag with all of the things I mentioned above with the exception of finger food.  I also added a note card with some photos from Primo's first week with us.

It felt very awkward to write that card to Primo's family.  There were no scripted greeting card sayings that came to mind.  I completely over thought the whole thing.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would want if I were in Primo's Mom and Dad's shoes.  I LOVE photos, so I knew I would send those, but what to write in the card?

I kept it short, two sentences about his beauty and growth.

I was so relieved when Primo's social worker brought him home and told me it had been a great visit and that his Mom had really appreciated the photos.

What do you send or take to visits?  Photos, notes, gifts or food?  I would love to know.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Primo

This is the official blog nickname for our first official foster baby. Primo is the Italian word for the number one.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Be careful what you wish for

Whoa, am I tired.  I have not been up three times a night in a LONG time.

So many visits, social worker, DHS, (who have not shown up yet), Drs. appointment, WIC, advocate, family visits, and believe it or not I still have NO paper work for this babe?  Which made baby's doctors appointment a 4 hour ordeal.

We are asked to do a lot as foster parents.

The social worker at baby's doctors appointment told me straight up, and I quote, "You foster parents need a union.", and "Don't let them push you around, there is no reason you should be traveling an hour for doctors appointments, things need to be convenient for you too."

I love that woman.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The baby has landed

One month old baby boy, sweet, adorable and tiny.  Still have not met his worker, will have to call tomorrow, because I need to know what is going on with this little guy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Whiling away the hours

Still no call from my agency.  I think I am getting depressed.

I signed up for training with my agency next month.  Ordered lots of books about foster care from amazon.  I am reading away the time. Learning lots, getting ready, organizing the house trying to stay positive and WAITING!

I am bored out of my mind.  I still have volunteer work, the usual chores, the kid's stuff, but I miss caring for a little one.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Waiting For Superman

I just finished watching Waiting For Superman, I silently sobbed during the school lottery section of the documentary.  The dashed expectations and hopes were more than I could take.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Finola's story part 3

On that fateful day in August, the judge decided he would live with his Grandma.  All Brody's things were packed and he was picked up that afternoon.  I vividly remember waving good bye to him with tears welling up in my eyes, and his smiling back at me in his little batman onsie I had picked out for him a while ago.  I knew very well that would be the last time I would ever see him.

Reflecting back on that experience is when I learned the most.  Brody taught me to take whatever life had thrown at you and smile through it anyway, make the best of wherever you are.  One of the biggest lessons from those four months was that I have to love not only what's good for me, but what is good for the ones I love as well.  It's not all about me, it's about being selfless and knowing what Brody needed was to be with his biological family because they could love him just as much as we did.  And most importantly Brody being in our house helped me see that loving even when you know it may not be permanent is okay.  Life's about loving and learning to let go when it's the right thing to do.  It's about giving all you have to this world and living to the fullest.

I still walk up the hall quietly sometimes thinking I don't want to wake Brody up, and when 'Crazy for You' by Adele plays on my iPod, I still get teary.  But I could not be happier that Brody came into my family's life for four fleeting months.  I still can't believe a baby taught me life lessons, but that has made all the difference.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Finola's Story Part 2

July was a huge month for the family and Brody.  We got a call from the agency asking us if we would commit to being Brody's pre adoptive home.  This means if his Grandmother doesn't do what she needs to do to get custody of him, would we adopt him?  The world stopped for me.  It was all I could think about.  Will Brody be my brother?  I've never had a brother before, I have three sisters.  Can I be a good sister to him if I'm going to leave for college soon?  What if he gives Mom and Dad too much trouble when he's older?  He could have a great life with my family.  It might be fun to have a brother.  But it might be better for him to grow up with his biological family.  I felt very conflicted about the whole situation.  But as always I had my Mother as the voice of reason who would keep reminding us he will most likely go to live with his Grandma.

The rest of July and through mid August was spent with hanging out with Brody.  I had to remember to hide my cell phone or he would take it from me and suck on it, we ended up buying him a toy smart phone so he could have his own cell phone to safely throw around.  As Brody grew he became more vocal, almost like he was singing.  I myself spend a lot of time singing around the house so we would sing together, one of our favorites to sing was 'crazy for you' by Adele.  As I sang he would try to match my notes with his little 'oos'.  My love for him grew especially because there was a chance he would soon be my brother.  His court date was in the middle of August, and was swiftly approaching.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Finola's story part 1

Finola wrote a lovely true story for her first English assignment of the year.  With her permission I am putting it on my blog.  I will be dividing it into three parts over the next few days.


This is her first draft, I like her writing in it's raw form, so this is how I am going to put it out there.


One more note, of course E's name has been changed.



Finola's Story Part 1:


One of the most influential experiences of my life ran its course in four warm months.  Who knew one eleven month old baby could teach me so much about life.  My family's first foster baby came to us in May of 2011, smiling and unknowing of the impact he would leave within my heart and mind.  How could a baby teach a teenage girl about life, you may ask?  Well, let me explain.

Brody was placed in our house as a seven and a half month old baby in the month of May.  I was still in school so I would see him when I got home, but I didn't spend very much time with him since I had homework to do.  Brody was just an extra something in my life at that point, I would have walk up the hallway to my bedroom more quietly so I wouldn't wake him up, and play my music softly in my room because my room was right next to his.  I saw him at dinner and in the morning, but no real bonding was happening between us.  I was glad because I was afraid to get attached to him because I didn't want to get hurt, he was, after all impermanent; his grandmother was trying to gain custody of him so he could grow up with his family.

Summer soon came in June and I found myself at home a lot, as well as spending more time with little Brody.  I would hang out with him in the living room, feed him cheerios, and watch as he played with his little colorful toys on the floor and banged on his toy drum.  I think he'll be a musician some day.  Without even noticing, an attachment was being formed.  As the family watched Brody grow, June turned into July.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Car seats expire?

Who knew?  Not me. 

I bought a fabulous infant carrier type car seat that regularly sells for $179 for $50 at my favorite bi-yearly huge consignment sale.  This seat is the awesome kind that I simply clip into the small built in attachment bars for car seats in my back seat.  (Who knew my 9 year old car would be so incredible?). 

I always hated installing car seats back in the day, with their safety clips that were so hard to get on the seat belt correctly. It was overwhelming to move or take out the car seat lest I lose the perfect position of the hated clip that kept the whole thing safe.

These kind of car seats with their two mini seat latchy thingies are my new favorite things.

When I brought this new miracle seat home and was looking it over and printing out the user guide I noticed something odd on the inside of the removable base.  There was a "manufactured on" date and below that it said, and I quote: "Do not use after Oct 13 2014". 

Does this seat turn into a pumpkin in Oct of 2014?

I don't get it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pressure

I broke down and called our foster care agency's admissions guy today.

Dolly has been hounding me to call Mr. P (our admissions guy), she REALLY wants another baby in the house.

It felt awkward, but in all the months we have been doing respite care we have never gone over two weeks without a call from our agency.

I told them weeks ago we now felt ready for a permanent placement, in fact when I called Mr. P I don't think he remembered we had gone over this same information over two weeks ago.

So, we went over it all again.  Maybe he didn't put us in his database the last time we spoke?  I am not sure, but I felt so silly calling him that I did not want to go into the fact that he had called me weeks ago and therefore should already know all of our "stuff" already.

I am torn between "just letting it happen" and being confident that the a child in need will come to us when the time is right, and actively trying to prepare and pester my agency. 

I am not the pestering type, so this did not come naturally for me and felt just plain weird, but Mr. P did thank me for checking in.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Making money from things you find on your floor

My daughters leave many things on the floor: socks, shoes, backpacks, homework, food, dishes, hair clips and bands, and worst of all they leave straight up TRASH on the floor.

This problem has dogged me for years.  I have tried a few methods to alleviate this problem.

1. Lecturing
2. Yelling
3. Crying
4. Keeping their things in a bag for a week.
5. Sending their so called things to the local Thrift Shop.

All of the above have worked for about 3 days, but not one of them has stuck.

This week I warned them all to "please pick up your stuff from the floor".  Then I bagged up what was left and hid it in my closet.

I just made my first $5 from the things I found on the floor!  I am charging a dollar for each item they want back, and what they are unwilling to pay for goes to the Thrift Shop.

I was paid in quarters and dimes, but money is money. 

This is what I call a great opportunity for "making money at home."

Maybe I will sell franchises!? (insert maniacal laugh)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mixed Emotions of Motivations

When our agency asked us to be a pre-adoptive home for E it changed the way I felt about fostering.

We never intended to adopt via foster care.  We chose foster care to provide a safe and loving place for children while they are waiting to go home to their families.

I wanted a baby/toddler in the house again.  My kids (for the most part) were psyched about having a little one in the house.

Foster care felt like the best of both worlds, to be able to love a child, enjoy the fun part of parenting without having to go through thirty 18 years of ups and downs and work, work, work!

But, I have to admit when we were asked to consider adopting E it did a number on my head.  All of a sudden caring for E took on a whole new meaning.

There was a new level of excitement as we contemplated a whole life with E.  There was also a new level of anxiety, fear and second guessing.  The fostering experience was majorly heightened.

Then we were told that DHS and our agency was going to recommend that E go to his Grandmother, we fell off of a cliff.  We were back to just caring for him for someone else.

Doing all of the work with none of the pay off is what it suddenly felt like to me.

Crazy stuff, the bottom line for me is that as much as fostering a child benefits me and my family and any child we care for, it is also a sacrifice.  The same sacrifices I make for my own children I have to be willing to make for another Mother's children.


Talk, talk, talk... walk walk walking is the hardest thing.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Alone at last

My kids all started their sports camps this week.  The word camp is a bit of a misnomer, as they are only out of the house from 9 to 4, and sometimes they even come home for lunch.

BUT...it has allowed me to get a lot done around the house.

For some reason I find it extremely hard to work around the house when the kids are home.  Maybe it is as simple as disliking working my butt off while my ungrateful progeny sit on the couch watching TV and eating ice cream?

I'm not sure, but it has been a ongoing problem for me, when the kids are home during summer break I get almost nothing done.

I mean that quite literally.  I washed everyone's sheets yesterday, this was the first time since June they had been washed.

Whatever my problem is, it has been relieved by the kids leaving the house every morning at 9.

I finished cleaning out our foster care bedroom, I even hung a few pictures on the walls and moved the changing table from the living room to the bedroom.

The foster bedroom is completely finished, and looks great.  The cheerful bright green walls are perfect for a boy or a girl.  We have pink and yellow floral bedding and wall decals for a girl, and brown and orange sports bedding and wall decals for a boy. 

Now all we need is a baby.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nesting or back to school?

After getting the carpet SO clean in our foster care bedroom, I tackled the closets.  This room has two large closets, one is full of cubbies and the other is for hanging clothes.

Both were full of junk, stored items, packing supplies and other things that I "collect", to put it nicely.

I pared down the stuff in both closets and put all of my things in boxes and a filing cabinet in one closets, which left the cubby closet clean and ready for LOTS of baby/toddler things.

Feels a bit like I am nesting, but I often get this way during back to school time too, so much sorting, storing, buying and giving away.* 

Right now I am wondering why, after E--- being gone for over a week, we have not received a call from our agency?

One comical thing happened while I was waiting for E---'s DHS worker to to call about the results of his court date.  My agency called and asked whether I was open for a respite and was I now willing to take a placement?

 I explained that I still had E--- .  But I let them know that I was still interested in respite care and was now interested in a permanent placement.

We went over some details: we only want one child at a time and any child age 0-2 yrs. works for us, etc.

But still no call.


*I am eternally grateful that there is a wonderful thrift shop up the road from me.  This allows me to move things I no longer need or use along to someone else who can love/use them.  And I don't end up wasting space storing things I don't need but are too nice to throw out.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A boy

Mike and I have 4 daughters, we have never parented a boy.

This made it doubly exciting when E-- arrived in our home.  This was a whole new ball game for us.

This boy was a blessing in our home.

Our family rallied around him.  A new positive energy was springing up all over the place.

We had FUN with E---.  He was fun and funny, this helped create a common good for our family.

Interestingly Mike was the last one to fall in love with E---.  But, when he did he was all in.

E--- was the first one he said "HEY!" to when he came home from work everyday.   He bathed E---, played with him and watched "football news" with him every night.

Our first experience in foster care has been a good one.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Bringing in the big guns

During my attempts to get something, anything, useful done after E---'s leaving, I decided to clean the carpet in our foster care bedroom.

We had meant to clean the carpet in this room before we ever had a little guest, but our first respite came up quickly and stayed for a long while, in terms of respite.

This bedroom used to be Jordan's.   The carpet is deplorable!  Covered in make up, food and many other mystery sticky spots.  Let me tell you it is almost impossible to remove mascara from a carpet, and in Jordan's room that is multiplied by 60 spots where she apparently dropped her mascara brush.

As I was down on my knees scrubbing the mascara stains with mechanic hand cleaning wipes, I felt like calling Jordan and asking why she, a) wears soooo much eye make up, and b) was so completely uncoordinated with her mascara brush!!!

I then ran my sisters steam clean carpet cleaner over the first area on the rug and absolutely NOTHING changed?  I guess the stains were about 3% lighter than when I started, but this was not good enough.

So, I called in the big guns, bit the bullet and decided to pay for a professional cleaning of the carpet.

Before:





 After:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

To be honest...

I spent the first full day that E--- was gone lazying around the house, half way watching TV and half way surfing the web.

I did manage two loads of laundry, and made myself available to my youngest to try on her new school uniforms (believe it or not NOTHING fit!!!!).

Most of the day was spent trying to imagine "what is E--- doing now?"  And hoping he was happy and well fed, safe and loved.

I hope tomorrow will be a better day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The morning after...

It was difficult to wake up this morning to the same old same old.  Mike has gone into work early and I am the only one awake.

There is still a baby food jar on the counter waiting to go to recycling.

A baby spoon in the sink.

A highchair that needs cleaning.

One last bottle in the crib.

And toys, right where he left them on the living room floor.

But, no E---.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

I got the call around 11:45 that the judge had decided to send E--- to his Grandma's house.

E---'s DHS worker was going to have lunch and then pick E--- up at around 2 PM to take him to his Grandmother's house.

We knew that this was probably going to be the outcome of the E---'s court date, but it didn't stop me from fantasizing that he might, through some miracle stay with us.

I had him all packed and ready to go with two weeks worth of baby food, his favorite snacks and formula.  Along with all of his favorite toys and books, clothes, bibs, diapers, wipes, bottles, baby spoons and forks, diaper bag, a scrap book of his time with us, you name it, I packed it.

And then we waited.

3 PM:

3:30 PM: E--- can hardly keep his eyes open so I put him down for a nap.

4 PM:  not even a call from E---'s DHS worker, and I am beginning to worry about E---'s Grandma wondering where her grandson is?

4:30 PM:  DHS worker arrives, breezes in gather's E--- and his boxes and bags and leaves without so much as a "thank you" or "sorry I kept you waiting so long"

Meh.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why Foster Care?

Why did you sign up for foster care?

There are probably as many reasons as there are foster parents.

Many people get into foster care to build their families, others feel called upon to help children, these seem to be the most common reasons.

I feel that there must be many many reasons that foster parents keep to themselves as to why they became involved in foster care.  And probably many reasons that cannot even be articulated.

All I know is that over two years ago I felt called to foster care.  Now, by "called" I do not mean that God called me to foster care, although he may have, it did not feel like a religious calling.

Foster care seemed like a good idea to me.  Which was a little surprising to me because I had never been an over the top fan of babies and children.  I loved my children of course, but I did not seek out contact with other children or babies.  I was actually happier as my children got older and could communicate with words.

I very much enjoy my teenage children, most of the time.

For me to feel called to caring for babies came as a surprise, but the feeling was strong.

It took me a while to convince Mike to get on board with me.  The economy didn't help as we have lost 40% of our income over the past 3 years.  But once we went to training we were hooked.

We were finally approved in Feb 2011.  We decided to start out in respite care, but are now feeling ready for a placement.

The bottom line is that I am still not clear on my motivations for taking on foster care.  It feels good to give a child or baby a safe and loving home.  So far the good has outweighed the difficult.

Maybe I am just a stay at home Mom who wants more work at home to avoid going back into the workforce?

Whatever the reasons and motivations truly are my journey into foster care has felt like a huge accomplishment, a giant step outside of my comfort zone.  And I LOVE it.

I may need to revisit this topic when I am less of a newbie to foster care.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Slash and Burn

I have slashed my daughter's allowances by 1/4 today.

They won't like it.

But I am not one of those mothers who gives free money to my kids, my apologies to all of you who do, no judgement.

I am feeling justified today because a) they are not doing their jobs (imagine about 15 min a day of their precious time), and b) I just made my first monthly payment of $2200 for their so called education!

'nuff said baby!





Packing up


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fussy

E--- has been fussy this week.  He is teething, or is it something else?

There have been many changes for E--- since he came to us.  He learned to crawl, stand and walk 3 or 4 steps.

He moved from toothless to having a small toothy grin.

He laughs, babbles and makes spity raspberry noises and plays peek-a-boo.

Best of all about 3 weeks ago, after spending an afternoon at his first foster Mom's house to see DHS and his social worker, he saw me come in the door and put his little head down and crawled as fast as he could to me.

E--- is a very easy going baby, he doesn't cry when strangers hold him or carry him across the room.  He can be satisfied hanging out and playing with anyone who has toys and food.

We have been concerned that while his laid back ways are an asset for a baby moving around the foster care system and make visits easy for his parents and me, that it may not be normal.

It is hard to tell.  He doesn't seem to have had a special bond with his first foster Mom who had him full time for 6 months.

Now he sometimes reaches for me when he is being held by someone he doesn't know well, and once again he crawled happily over to me in a room full of social works and foster Moms.

I am feeling some relief in the fact that he will probably go home to Grandma next week.

I want E--- to settle in and truly be at home somewhere, so that he can start the important work of forming a loving bond with someone who will be there for him into his adulthood, his Grandma.

Has he been fussy because he knows that change is coming?  Can he feel us subtly withdrawing emotionally from him?

I hope not.

I hope he is fussy because he finally feels safe enough to give voice to his dissatisfaction.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

House Keeping

My house is a mess.

One would think that with 3 capable, intelligent and healthy daughters living at home I would have some house work support? (If you are the parent of teens you are probably thinking, she's joking right?)

If I am lucky enough to drag my teenaged daughters out of bed before 11 AM, they are zombie like or are drawn like magnets to the treadmill in pathetic, fearful last minute preparations for their up coming sports camps.

"How much running is there in volleyball and tennis?" I ask.

No response.

My answer: "I am slashing allowance this month! Not one of you has been doing your jobs consistently."

That should get me one good day of help.

My house is a mess.



Monday, August 8, 2011

What do you do with gifts?

What do you do with clothing, toys or baby supplies that your foster child's parents or grandparents give to you?

I know a foster Mom of 6 years who puts all of the above mentioned items in a box to be given back to the parents or grandparents when the child reunites with them.

I have this box.

I am going to give it to E--'s grandma at our next visit, because he is scheduled to go home in a week or so and his first foster Mom asked that I give it to his family at our next visit.

One less box or bag to carry to the transfer.

When I look in this box I feel sad.  There are brand new clothes, baby wash, blankets and shoes.

I know in a house full of kids it is hard to keep track of gifts from Mom and Dad and Grandparents; but I can't help thinking that if I gave a gift to a child of mine who was in foster care I would like to think he played with the toy I chose or wore the clothes I bought.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Finding help

One of the challenges that has been enormous for us during our first foster care experience has been finding qualified baby-sitters.

In my state on an average Friday or Saturday night we would be expected to have a sitter who has passed 2 back round checks, been finger printed by the FBI and spent 4 full days in PRIDE training, done over two months, is over 18 and trained in CPR and First Aid.  This is what my husband and I had to go through, along with about an inch of paper work to become foster parents.

Now I agree that we should have a well qualified sitter for our foster baby, but the above standards are almost unattainable for our family.

I have been surfing other foster care blogs and it seems that there are very different standards depending on the state you reside in.  I must say I am majorly jealous of some of you who are in states where the standards for baby-sitters are more realistic.

I would be hard pressed to find any sitter who would meet the above standards with the exception of another qualified foster parent.  I only know 3 other foster parents and they all have their hands full with their own foster children.  It is not easy for a Mom of 4 to come over to my house to baby-sit on a Friday night.

We have stayed home every weekend that we have had E---.  I feel such a sense of happiness and freedom when Mike is home on the weekend and I can do back to school shopping without a baby and stroller.

I was used to being able to leave my home whenever the need arose.  My children are all old enough be home alone, and more often they are out with friends or at the Pool or school when I go out to run errands.

So, this foster care baby-sitter requirement has stopped me in my tracks.

I have to say I don't actually miss going out on the weekends, what I do miss is being able to run to the bank, grocery store or post office with out a car seat, baby and stroller involved.  Although I do feel that for most single and married foster parents a night out every now and then is important to one's sanity and ability to be a loving, satisfied and happy foster parent.

It seems to me that these high baby-sitter standards are a deterrent to finding more foster parents.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Feelings

I ended up just straight up telling Dolly the situation with E----, she took it well and we were able to have some quiet time to talk about our feelings.

The interesting part of this process for me has been the feelings I have about foster care and adoption that really have nothing to do with foster care or adoption.  Let me explain.

When we were asked to be a pre-adoptive home for E---, we took a solid week to discuss it with our family, immediate and extended.  When I finally made the call to let them know we were "in" I felt sick.  I could not look at a photo of E--- (we were on vacation when we made this decision), I asked myself "what have you done? This is a lifetime commitment, you will be 65 when he is 21, this is CRAZY."  This feeling eventually wore off and after being back with E--- for a week I was in love and committed again.

Then, when I learned that DHS and his SW were going to recommend that E--- go to his Grandma I had feelings of not being good enough, of longing for him stay with us because I didn't want him to be with anyone else.

I am not sure these are feelings specific to foster care, I think they are natural human impulses, to want what you can't have and to have cold feet about the big decisions.

As a family we are working through our emotions and feelings about E---- leaving.

I don't know if I could have fostered when our kids were little, it must be difficult for small children to process the feelings that come with losing a sister or brother. 

As for my teenagers I think over all our first foster baby has been a big, exciting, fun, difficult and emotional experience.  Such is life!

Friday, August 5, 2011

A hard day

I am trying to come up with the best way to let Dolly know that E---- is probably going to his grandma in a week or so.  She is the most attached to him.  She loves E----.   She gets down on the floor and plays, she makes bottles, she cuddles and kisses, picks out clothes and most impressive of all she changes poopy diapers.

Dolly has been on vacation with a friend all week.

I did not want to tell her via text.

This is the hardest part of foster care so far.  We knew that E---- would probably go home to his family, but when we were asked to be pre-adoptive for him it made us all imagine him as a permanent member of the family.

But, now we know that Grandma will most likely take him home with her after his court date.

Dolly is on her way home now.  I guess I will just tell it like it is.  I abhor the chilling shock I feel when I hear bad news, and would like to spare her this feeling.

This is the life we have chosen as foster parents, and on days like this it really sucks.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Could he be the one?

Finola has the biggest mouth in our whole family.  This works out well for me as a parent of a 17 year old, as I usually know what is going on in her life.

Just the other day she announced that her best guy friend (a friend she has had since elementary school) was back from vacation.  She was excited to hang out with him and catch up.

When she returned from hanging out she declared that her friend, lets call him Stanly, had brought back scented candles and 5 different kinds of tea from his vacation, for himself.

"Isn't that great Mom?" she asked.  I must have looked a bit befuddled, because she continued to remind me:  "I've always wanted a gay guy as a best friend, and I think he may be the ONE!"

Monday, August 1, 2011

Visits

I have been taking E---- to his visits with his parents for a month.  They are an exhausting 2 hours of city driving and 2 hours of reading on an uncomfortable couch.

Being that I am technically only a respite foster Mom, I have never actually been introduced to E---'s parents.  Usually they look at me blankly and ask where J----(his foster mom) is?  I am determined to introduce myself this time, but I am naturally shy and his parents are very young, this makes for a quiet combination.

They show up late and leave early, making me nervous about leaving the building, what if they decide they want to leave before I am back, what happens to E---- then?

BUT, I am going crazy just sitting around for two hours, next time I am taking Finola and Vivi with me and we are going to strike out into the city and find something interesting to do.

After the initial adjustment to the news that DHS was going to support E going to his grandmother for kinship care at his next court date, I have been able to relax a bit and enjoy spending time with him without the doubt about his future hanging over my head.

I am taking it one day at a time, giving him has much love, play time and fun as I can.

When I tiptoed in to check on him tonight, he looked so peaceful and comfortable.  Feels  a bit like a miracle that he can be so trusting and sleep with such abandon in our home when we have only known him for two months.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Whiplash

Back from vacation and as usual the story has changed for our respite foster child's future.  This whole first time respite foster thing has been crazy, there is no other word for it.


When I started doing respite care I was told that E--- would be with his Grandma at the end of June.  Enter his new DHS worker, the first words out of his mouth upon meeting me were: "Do you want to adopt E----?"


This new DHS worker has been fighting against E----'s reunification with his parents, and against E---'s grandmother who wants to take over his care via kinship care.  He was doing this in the face of the court order for reunification.


Now DHS has decided to support his grandmother taking over his care.  While we will miss E----, I know that it is best for him to be with his family if there is a safe and loving option there for him.


It has been astounding over the last few months to go from "just respite" care, to doing A LOT of care for him, to "will you be pre-adoptive for him?" and now to "he will probably go home with Grandma in a few weeks.


What a dizzying ride this last 10 weeks has been.  To be honest I feel sad when I think about him leaving, but also relieved that I won't be raising another child (we did not choose foster care as a way to expand our family).


Am I up for this emotional whiplash...?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How did I get here?

I was on vacation for three weeks this summer and I gained about 15 pounds!  But that is NOT what I want to write about, I do have a few deeper issues in my life.


While on said vacation I found myself alone staring out at the water feeling such a sense of peace.  The warm sun on my skin, the cooling water at my feet.  The only sounds of wind and rippling water.  The subtle scent of blooming flowers, earth and water, it felt like HEAVEN. 


There was no one yelling "MOM!" and no one needed me to take them to court.


All of my children are getting older. 


The drama in our home has decreased by leaps and bounds since Jordy moved out and is taking responsibility for her life, financially and otherwise.


"Why?" I asked myself, "would you want to complicate your life now?"


Long story short we have finished the long process of becoming foster parents.  I know what you may be thinking, I am obviously thinking it myself. 


"What ARE you thinking?" sums up most of the raised eyebrows and disbelieving looks we have received from friends and family.  They are too polite to say it out loud.


 I have to say I appreciate those looks more than I do the usual somewhat condescending comments of others about my huge heart, or how can you send babies back to such horrible parents? etc.


Moving on, we started out in the Spring doing respite care (temporary care for overwhelmed foster parents, or more often vacation care).


This quickly turned into having the same adorable 7 month old in our house for half of May and most of June. (It's a long story)  The short of it is that we have been asked if we would be interested in taking over his care (after his Aug. court date), AND, get this, be a pre-adoptive home for him!


How did I get here?  How did I get to a place where I have to choose between the relative peace and ease that my life has become and the old stresses of having a baby in the house again?  The answer of course is in some ways very complicated while in another way is extremely simple.


As a stay at home Mom I felt that I had been promoted when all my girls were finally in school.  I had a little free time, the house ran more smoothly, I could cook dinner almost every night without tears. 


After two years as an executive level Mom ( all kids in school all day), I went back to college to finally make something of myself. That was when all Hell broke loose with Jordy.


I could not focus on homework and paper writing while court summons and fines began clogging up my mail box.


I was demoted back to entry level full time Mom.  It took about 3 years of counseling and hard work to help Jordy back on to the straight and narrow.


I enjoyed a year or so of peace and quiet and then I had this idea...