Thursday, October 30, 2014

She Doesn't Know How

Evie is always drawing.  Or coloring.  Or playing on the MagnaDoodle.

I thought it was just that she likes to draw (which she does).  But now I think it is more than that. 

In recent days, I have decided that I will try to direct her play sessions more, rather than let her always choose to color.  That I will tell her during some playtimes that she has to find something to play other than coloring/drawing. 

Tonight I did just that.  I told her she needed to find something to play while I was cooking dinner, other than coloring.  She stayed in the living room for a few minutes, then came into the kitchen.  I asked her what she was playing.  She said, "Nothing."  I said she needed to go back and find something to play.  When I asked what she chose, she said some spinning tops that her mom had given her (that can only be done on the kitchen floor because the rest of the house is carpeted).  I said she needed to pick something else.  She has Barbies with furniture, clothes, and shoes; Ponies with brushes and hair accessories; a sandwich-making kit; babies with a carrier backpack and fake food/bottles; a dollhouse with people/animals to go in it, as well as a car that matches.  She chose the babies, and I went back into the kitchen to finish dinner.  When I came back, she was lying on the floor with the baby, but doing nothing with it.  ***LIGHT BULB*** She doesn't know HOW to play something by herself!  I'm pretty sure she is able to play with other kids; and has played things with me (although she usually chooses to play a game, rather than just creative play).  But she doesn't know what to do with toys when she is by herself. 

So we talked about what she could do with the babies.  And I told her she needed to stay downstairs and play while I went to give the baby a bath (she usually goes with me to hang out while he is bathing).  She FINALLY took the baby's clothes off, changed its diaper, put the bib on and fed it, and rocked it. 

I guess I have a lot of work to do to try to teach her how to play with toys.  And we will definitely have more structured solo playtime. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Tale of Two Caseworkers

One caseworker called me and talked to me within days of the child being placed.
The other I didn't actually speak with (other than voice mail-tag) until the child had been with me for six weeks.

One has given me her personal cell phone number, and calls me back within hours if she sees that she even has a missed call from me.
The other has only given me her office number so it is impossible to actually catch her; and it is always 1-2 days before she calls back, if she calls back at all.

I had monthly home visits scheduled with each of them last Friday.
One texted me to ask me the best time to schedule the visit.
The other emailed me to tell me what time the visit would be.

One told me she had checked with her supervisor and the child actually had to be there at the time of the visit, so we scheduled a time after school when the child could be there.
The other said I could go ahead and take the child to daycare because he didn't actually have to be there for the home visit.

One showed up exactly on time.
The other moved the time back by 30 minutes the day before, and then called at the last minute to cancel the visit because she just couldn't break away from the office.

One told me the visit had to be in my HOME, and that seeing each other at the daycare when she is bringing the child back from a parent visit doesn't count as the monthly home visit. 
The other told me that since she had already seen the child twice at daycare, that could count as the monthly visit. 

What made me realize the stark differences was the fact that I had visits with both of them on the same day, and the whole process and outcome was so different between the two of them.  I'm not saying that all of those differences are bad; and I don't know if one of them is better at her job overall than the other, but it sure seems that way from here. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Mother's Intuition

This morning I took Tank to the doctor to have him checked out.  I almost didn't go, because he was in such a good mood this morning.  But for three of the previous four car trips, he had cried for a good portion of them (and he usually falls asleep in the car - either immediately or after happy talking).  And for a baby who really NEVER cries unless he is hungry or tired, I just felt like something was going on.  Turns out he has an ear infection.  Mother's intuition. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Not Much to Report

There is not much to report at this point.  We are supposed to have home visits with both Evie's and Tank's caseworkers tomorrow, so maybe I will have more information then but I'm not holding my breath. 

We have been to the Pumpkin Patch with TT, Twin, and her new old foster daughter, G (I'll have to come up with a blog name for her); and TT's co-worker who is adopting a child out of foster care. 

 On the hayride
 Going through just enough of the corn maze to say they did it

G was with TT for about six months, and left in June to go out of state to be adopted by relatives.  Apparently that did not pan out, and now G is in our state custody again; and they called TT to see if she would take her back.  G is about nine months younger than Evie.  They also had a play date last weekend at TT's house, and G did NOT like sharing her toys.  Next time we will meet on neutral territory and see if they play better together there. 

We also went to my sister's house and made pumpkins with my nephew. 

My dad came in town, and Evie cried her eyes out when we left after spending the day with them, even though she has only met him one other time.  Foster care = unhealthy attachment.
My aunt and 91-year old grandmother stopped by last weekend to visit and meet the kids.  Tank's name is a VERY common one right now, but my grandmother said, "Tank?  What kind of name is that?!"   Just shows generational differences in name choices.  My aunt was holding Tank, and he promptly fell asleep in her arms... with his hands folded.  So cute!

My neighbor has lived next door since I moved in nine years ago.  But recently she has been having some health problems, so her daughter, son-in-law, and 10-year old granddaughter have recently moved in.  Evie has enjoyed spending some time with the granddaughter (blog name Zookeeper, since she has two dogs, a rabbit, a bird, and a fish) at their house, and Zookeeper has enjoyed taking Evie under her wing. 
I am loving having a baby in the house (and I really think Evie is, too!).  My cat Pumpkin doesn't seem to have even noticed; and Tank hasn't noticed him yet, either.  Tank has been a little fussy the last few days (fussy for him = crying at all at times when he is not hungry or tired), so I may take him to the doctor tomorrow just to rule out an ear infection. 
I will update after the caseworker visits tomorrow if I get any new information!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Court for Tank

Court for Tank's parents was last Friday. 

Called "trial on the merits," this is the first trial for the parents, to determine what the treatment plan is - i.e. what they have to do to get their kid back.  I have been told that sometimes this trial can drag out - be "continued" - for several months, if the parents don't agree with the treatment plan, request a new lawyer, etc.

The home studies of both Tank's paternal grandmother and his maternal great-grandparents (Mom is 17 so it's definitely possible they are around 50) were denied. Court started with Dad's lawyer asking for the judge to still consider placing Tank with the grandmother.  There was some discussion about if Tank should be placed with her that day, judge talked to grandma, and ultimately said, "I'm not inclined to place him with the paternal grandmother at this time." 

I would probably like to adopt one of these kiddos if the opportunity presents itself and if the situation is right.  I have read lots of blogs about foster care.  I distinctly remember reading one blog (I think from my friend Mimi over at I Must Be Trippin') saying that she was able to emotionally handle things much better once she started looking at each placement with the attitude of, "They are here for a time and I'll love them while they are here", rather than an immediate, "Based on what the caseworkers are saying, maybe I'll get to adopt this one."  I have tried to look at the whole foster care situation with this attitude.  It's been easy with Evie because I still feel certain she will go back with her mom at some point; with Tank it's been a little more difficult, but I still have really tried to look at it as a temporary situation.  But I have to admit that when they were discussing placing Tank with his grandmother "TODAY", I had a total moment of anxiety thinking, "Oh my gosh; they might take my baby today!" 

Mom's lawyer said that although the maternal great-grandparents were denied due to some issues with the house itself, they had corrected these issues and they were requesting a repeat inspection of the home.  So there is still a possibility that he will be placed with them.  (Although I don't know that DSS is under any time constraint to get this done, as they already did the initial home study within the court-ordered 10 days - due to Tank's age).  Obviously if they are approved, he would go with them at that time.  If they are not, then I would guess he will be here at least six months based on the list of things the parents have to do.  The guardian ad litem (GAL) seems to think that the parents are very motivated and will complete their treatment plan fairly quickly; but with a situation like this, I think you just never can predict...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

We Have a Roller!

Tank has rolled from his back to his tummy twice now, but I have been out of the room both times.  I've tried to get him to do it while I'm sitting there, but he won't. 

Court was yesterday to determine the treatment plan for the parents.  I'll post about that later when I have more time. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


If you know me in real life, you may know that I have some crazy dreams, that are sometimes associated with sleepwalking and/or talking in my sleep. 

I often jump out of bed in the middle of a dream and do something - like lock the bedroom door or move something around in the room - and then realize in the middle of doing it that I am sleepwalking.  Sometimes I obviously DON'T wake up in the middle of doing it, because there have definitely been times where I would wake up in the morning and something would be in a place that I know FOR CERTAIN it was not in when I went to bed the night before.  Once, I even (obviously at least half-knowing what I was doing while I was doing it) walked downstairs, turned off my house alarm, opened the back door to look for something/someone, then opened the front door to continue looking for something/someone, before I finally realized I was sleepwalking.  I have been known to loudly sit up in bed and gasp loudly in fright (with my heart pounding), waking up whoever is in the room with me. 

I have had a recurring dream for about the last 10-15 years.  It always revolved around being responsible for a child (usually an infant) in some way, shape, or form; and then completely forgetting about that child for the entire day or night.  For example, I would be taking care of a baby and then realize at the end of the day that I forgot the baby was in the bedroom and that I have not fed it, changed its diaper, etc since that morning.  I would completely freak out and run to check on the child, only to discover - thankfully - that he/she was totally fine.  (I did have a version of the dream about six months ago where the child was NOT fine - at least at first - it was totally lethargic when I got in the room, but turned out fine a few minutes later.)   (Am I completely crazy for admitting this dream on a foster care blog?)

FYI: The recurring dream that I had from childhood sometime until this dream started was that I was underwater, swimming, and breathing through lungs.  I'm sure that's related to my absolute fear of dying by drowning. 

I actually have not had that recurring dream since having foster placements.  But when Evie first got placed with me, I had the crazy dreams where I would freak out about something concerning her (that I forgot about her, that I forgot to give her her medicine which then caused her to be not okay medically, etc), and then run into her room only to find her sleeping peacefully.  Part of that was probably because she was waking up pretty regularly in the middle of the night during the first couple of weeks she was here; and then when she wasn't, I began dreaming crazy stuff. 

Interestingly enough, I didn't have any of those crazy dreams concerning Tank... until last Friday night, when he had been with me for exactly three weeks.  I don't remember what it was specifically, but I got completely freaked out and ran into his room to see if he was okay; and the dream left my heart pounding.  I don't know why it took so long to have one of those dreams with Tank - maybe because I was already getting up in the middle of the night to check on him.  Maybe because it was no longer my first child I was responsible for so I felt more comfortable.  Maybe because he was settled in well so I didn't have to worry about him like I did about Evie. 

I just hope that the crazy dreams decrease with each placement.  But with my history, I'm not putting any money on it!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Photo Journal

Tummy time is good.

Tank has been eating rice cereal pretty much since he came to me.  We tried jar food for the first time on Saturday, and after a funny face during the first few bites, here is what was left of the green beans!

Evie and I did a Color Walk the week after Tank came to me.  My mom coincidentally came in town the night before he came, and stayed for about 10 days, so she was able to keep him while we went to get color blasted.  (That was fun to get out of her hair...)

We went to a bounce house place last weekend with my sister and three-year old nephew.

The other day, we sat outside on a blanket in the beautiful day and decorated a pumpkin.  Tank loved the fresh air, and the spider pumpkin turned out so cute. 

Two-Kid Update

I've been meaning to write a post about how we are all settling in as a household of three, but it's a little harder to find a free moment to write now than it was with only Evie!  Overall, I am much more tired and things are definitely busier, but things seem calmer and more settled than they did with just me and Evie. 

Evie definitely enjoys having another being in the house.  She loves babies and often talks "baby talk" with Tank (like "look at your cute little toes, I'm going to get your toes!"; "look at Evie, she's taking her vitamin, do you see me taking my vitamin?").  I think it is good for her to have someone else in the house to interact with other than me.  She also loves to help with him - buttoning up his sleepers, putting his diapers in the trash can, dancing for him to get him to stop crying, etc.  She has been playing a lot more with her baby dolls, including burping them and putting them to sleep. 

Tank is adjusting well.  He is such a GOOD baby, and is so happy.  He really only cries when he is hungry (you can set your clock to his every-three-hour feeding schedule) or tired.  He doesn't need to be held all the time and is mostly content to play on the floor, or exersaucer, or bouncy chair.  I realize this may be a product of his not being held much in his home.  He has always been very smiley and interactive, but when he first came to me it was obvious he wasn't used to close human contact - he would arch his back when I would pick him up; and even though he would make eye contact and smile if he was lying/sitting down, he would immediately turn his head away from me if I picked him up and tried to look at him.  Now he is much more snuggly, loves to be held, and doesn't turn away when I look at him; but even so, is still not a baby that has to be held all the time to be happy.  His laugh is infectious.  I have a terribly cute video that I wish I could share - we were at a little carnival thing, which had a bounce house with slide, and I picked him up so he could see the kids coming down.  Every time they would come down the slide, he would yell (just like them)!  His development seems to be right on target.  He does definitely use his right arm and leg more than his left (always splashes the bath water with his right hand, kicked his right leg much more in the playground swing than the left, reaches for toys more with his right hand), but also uses the left a good bit to hold toys with two hands and pushes up equally with both hands when he's on his tummy.  I think it's something that I wouldn't even notice if I weren't a therapist and trained to look for those things. 

I met with his guardian ad litem a little over a week ago, who filled me in on a lot of things, including why Dad didn't get him several weeks ago and where Mom is currently.  I still haven't actually talked with Tank's caseworker since he was placed almost four weeks ago!  We have left messages back and forth on voice mails, but have never connected, which seems odd.  He also had a family visit (I'm assuming with dad) today, but I only found out about it when I picked Tank up from daycare, and the daycare workers said he had been gone for a few hours... so that has aggravated me.  Both sets of Tank's grandparents were going through the home study process to try to get him, but both were denied as of late last week.  So highly likely Tank will be around for a good while.  Court for mom is this Friday (to determine the treatment plan) so I should know more definite information after that. (Even though foster parents/children are not required to be at court in this state, I will definitely be there since I don't work on Fridays, so I can get the first-hand information on what to expect from his case.) 

Me?  Like I said, I'm sooooo tired.  And I hate washing/making bottles every night.  But we have settled into a pretty good routine, and it is so fun to have a baby in the house!