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.