Friday, May 29, 2015

Welcome to the Roller Coaster - Review




May is National Foster Care Month.  I had planned to write at least a couple of posts about foster care, and just never got around to it.  So at least I will post a review of this wonderful book.  It can be bought on Amaz*n. 
 
received a complimentary copy of Welcome to the Roller Coaster to ...
 

This book was written by a group of fourteen foster moms, two of whom I am online friends with.  It's possible that I follow the blogs of some of the others.  I would guess that many of you reading my blog found me through one of those foster moms, in which case you already know about the book. 

But if you have not heard of the book, and you are considering fostering or are a new (or even seasoned) foster parent, you HAVE to read this book.  It would also be eye-opening and helpful to anyone who is in the support system of a foster parent.  Foster care is a whole different world, and this book shows all aspects of the system. 

I have only read a handful of books in the last few years (life has gotten in the way), most taking many months to finish. I read this one cover to cover in a week! I am a fairly new foster parent and can already relate to some of the stories and relationships. It was so great to hear the real-life, in-the-trenches, honest stories of foster care - some with happy endings and some with not-so-happy endings. I cried both tears of joy and heartache for these real foster moms when reading their stories. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Egocentrism Defined

Evie has had a little bit of a loose tooth for six or more months.  But apparently today, it got loose enough for her to feel it with her tongue.  The first thing she told me when I picked her up from daycare was that she had a loose tooth, and she almost literally didn't stop talking about it until she went to bed.  She said that she was going to tell her teachers and all her friends about her loose tooth when she goes to school tomorrow.

"I'm going to yell outside, 'Everybody!  I have a loose tooth!'  And then they're going to all stand in a circle around me and I'm going to be in the middle, and I'll go around and wiggle my tooth with my tongue for each one of them." 

This child certainly thinks the world revolves around her. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Just Meant to Be

When I first met TT last August, I was so excited to have another foster parent in my neighborhood.  (And when the licensing worker initially told me about her, although still excited, I was also a little unsure not knowing what kind of person this was.)  In one of my first blog posts mentioning her, I said that she seemed like a positive person - now I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that she is.  At that time, I had no clue, though, how beautifully this friendship was going to work out!

When I met TT, we both only had one foster child.  About a month later, I got Tank (although I actually got him from her, and we arranged all the details of the transfer and just got DSS to sign off on it).  Then about a month after that, she got G.  When we both had two children (and even when she had two and I only had one), we were limited in how much we could help each other out because neither one of us owns a car that holds three car seats.  But in the last two months since G left and we both have only had one child, we have spent a lot more time together - both hanging out and helping each other out. 

I was always glad that there was another single foster mom that I could be friends with.  But I didn't realize how rare that was until recently.  I joined an online support group for single foster moms, and there were multiple comments on a post from people saying things like, "I wish I knew a single foster mom here" or "If you [another single foster mom] move here, then you HAVE to contact me so I can have a single foster mom friend!" 

How lucky I am to not only have a single foster mom here in the area, but she's in my NEIGHBORHOOD!  And we've been fostering for about the same amount of time.  And we are around the same age and stage in our lives.  And our personalities are very similar - laid-back and thoughtful.  And we really enjoy hanging out with and talking with each other! 

If any one of those things were not the case, we probably wouldn't be nearly as good friends as we are.  But all the stars aligned, and it was just meant. to. be.

Little Update

Sunshine told me this week that Evie's mom has completed everything that she needs to.  Sunshine has requested a court date, but is unsure how backed up they are.  She said that she expects Evie's mom's lawyer to also request a date, and believes that it may get scheduled more quickly if that happens.  I would like to think that this case will be over soon, but we are back in the same exact spot we were four months ago - with a court date (almost) set, and DSS/Guardian ad litem recommending reunification.  At this point four months ago, I was feeling certain that Evie would be reunited three weeks later at that court date.  Today, I'm not feeling anything like that - I'm not counting on anything until the judge says those kids are going home. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

One Year Ago vs. Today


One Year Ago

 

·         Evie was placed in my home, and both of our lives were changed dramatically.

·         The placement worker that called said that the kids may be home by the time Evie’s brother got out of the hospital.

·         I thought Evie would be with me a few weeks to a month or so at most.

·         I was certain that Evie and J would be returned to their mom – it was just a matter of when.

·         Evie came in with a head full of matted hair.  It had not been washed much (if ever) and definitely had never been cut.

·         I had NO CLUE how to care for that hair.

·         Evie was scared to get her hair cut (read: freaked out and screamed because “it’s going to hurt!”)

·         She was scared to death of the Popo. 

·         Evie did not know any of her letters or numbers, or even her shapes and colors consistently.

·         She could not tell you what her first name started with, much less spell it. 

·         Her articulation of words was lacking in many different sounds. 

·         She was scared to jump into the pool.

·         She had no table manners and always ended up a mess when eating.

·         She had no manners in general, and burped and farted without saying, “Excuse me.”

·         She gorged on food and would just eat and eat.

·         Except for vegetables.  She cried when those were on her plate.
 
 
·         Evie was waking up before 6am when the sun barely started coming up.

 
·         She would sit outside my bathroom door while I was taking a shower. 

 
·         I knew very little about the foster care system – I had no clue what the terms “merit hearing”, “foster care review board”, or “permanency planning” were; I didn’t know what the standard protocol was for court hearings, parental visits, etc.
 
·         I typically got six hours of sleep a night with 10-12 hours “catch-up” on Saturday mornings.

 
·         I had no friends in the foster care world.
 
·         A scared four-year-old showed up at my doorstep.
 
 

 
 

Today

 

·         Evie is still here, and my life continues to be very different from a year and a day ago.

·         The caseworker and guardian ad litem are still saying the kids may be home in a few weeks.

·         I know better than to make assumptions about a case.  I’m still working on having less expectations.

·         It wouldn’t surprise me if Mom’s rights are terminated at some point.

·         Evie’s hair is healthy and she is comfortable having it washed.

·         I can now do lots of styles.  I am still experimenting with different products and the best way to care for her hair.

·         She has had it cut one more time and was still pretty anxious about the whole process.

·         The other day, she said, “The police help keep us safe.”

·         She knows all her letters and numbers, can count to fifty or more, and is beginning to read.

·         She can spell and write all four of her names – a total of 24 letters (she has two middle names).

·         She can say all her sounds correctly.

·         She has moved up very quickly to the next class in swim lessons, and the instructor last week said she was “phenomenal.”

·         She still has to be reminded to lean over her plate and chew with her mouth closed at times, but her table manners overall are TONS better than last year.

·         She almost always says, “Excuse me.”

·         She actually has recently started saying that she is full and not finishing everything on her plate at times.

·         She eats most vegetables without complaining, and said she likes broccoli.


 
·         She usually wakes up around 7:15, and, thanks to the “ok to wake” clock, doesn’t come get me out of bed until between 7:30-8:00. 
 
·         She will entertain herself while I get myself ready.
 
·         I now know these terms, but still have so much to learn about the foster care system
 
·         I now get 5-6 hours of sleep a night with 7-8 hours “catch-up” on the weekends.
 
·         I have made some wonderful friends IRL (including TT – my sounding board and many times saving grace; separate post to come soon); and online foster mom friends.
 
·         A mostly-happy, but still sometimes scared, five-year-old still lives at my house.
 

 

 

Monday, May 11, 2015

My First Mother's Day

My Mother's Day started out by Evie sleeping about 15 minutes past her "ok to wake" clock glowing, so I was able to be in bed until after 8!  Then we got up and got dressed, and TT came to pick us up for breakfast at a restaurant with her and Twin.  We had about a thirty minute wait when we got there but we were able to wait outside on the rocking chairs in a perfect temperature. 

We had debated going to the water park (but storms were threatening all day) or the indoor pool, but ended up settling on the sprinkler pad at the county park.  So we just came home, changed clothes, I switched out laundry, and we headed out while the rain was still holding out and before Twin got too cranky for a nap.  Both kids had a great time and pretty much entertained themselves, so we were able to chill for a while.  When we were leaving, TT said she was thinking about going to get ice cream and asked if I was up for that.  Ummm, I am always up for ice cream!  So we ended our Mother's Day festivities with frozen goodness. 

And then back to reality with laundry and cooking and fixing Evie's hair for the week! 

Tank's aunt texted me in the morning wishing me a Happy Mother's Day, which I thought was so sweet of her.  I actually had thought of her the night before with the reminder to myself that I wanted to make sure to send her a message. 

Evie had made Mother's Day booklets at school, and her sweet teacher made sure that she made one both for her mom and me. 

I was able to talk to my mom after Evie went to bed, and that is always enjoyable. 

I was surprised and thankful that so many of my friends included "foster moms" in their blanket Mother's Day wishes on Facebook and thought that maybe I had something to do with that.  If so, I was glad that I could open people's eyes to realize that there are so many DIFFERENT kinds of moms; and if not, I'm okay with that, too. 

I will admit that even though Evie has been with me for almost a year, I still don't REALLY feel like a mom.  Evie lets me know regularly in no uncertain terms that I am not her "real" mom (she actually has sometimes been calling her mom "my real mom" since she has started referring to me as "Mommy" occasionally).  Sunshine and the Guardian ad Litem both still feel that the children should (and will) be reunified with mom.  Maybe because of these things, I don't really feel a motherly bond with Evie, and I still feel kind of like I am babysitting her.  Nonetheless, I AM a mom and enjoyed my first Mother's Day.     

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

And By the Way...

Evie's mom is pregnant!  They had a visit today, and apparently she announced that she is due in November.  Evie did not mention this fact tonight after the visit (I found out from the caseworker). 

I guess these moms just figure if DSS takes their kids, they will just make new ones.  I do not understand how they are allowed to parent a new baby when their other kids are in foster care. 

Photo (and Video) Journal

We had a bird nest on our porch, and we enjoyed watching the Mama sitting on the eggs, feeding the birds, and the babies growing.  It was in a very precarious position, though, and as time went on the nest began tilting more and more.  Finally most of the nest fell down, and only the two much-larger-than-initially babies were left on a few strands of straw.  Since I hadn't seen the Mama in a couple of days, I walked over to make sure that the birds didn't need to be fed or anything.  One flew away, so I figured they were ok!


We have spent some time with my goddaughter.  I'm going to give her the blog name Boo - she looks like the character from Monsters, Inc.  She came over for a play date,

and we went to "Party at the Point," a local outdoor summer hangout with food and music, this week with a Journey cover band.  And the girls spent the whole evening building up this sand "castle."


One morning I walked into Evie's room and freaked out for a second because I didn't know where she was, only to realize that she was completely sideways in the bed!


Another hairstyle


This past weekend I picked up Evie's brother J for his birthday and took the two of them for a picnic lunch and then to a dinosaur event.  They had fun on the inflatables and dinosaur rides. 



Evie was doing so well in her swim class that she got moved up to the next class in the middle of her fourth session!
video

She is also (sight) reading so well... and sounding out some simple words. 
video
 


I watched Twin on Sunday morning while TT went to work.  And then she had an emergency last night so I got extra bonus snuggles in with that sweet baby. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Can I Call You Mom?

Evie stayed with a co-worker of mine, her husband, and their two kids (a little older than Evie) one evening several weeks ago.  Recently, my co-worker told me that that night, Evie said, "Can I call you mom since I'm with you right now?"  So sad that the concept of "mom" is no longer sacred to her.

I realize the last several posts have been kind of downers.  I promise to upload some fun videos and pictures for the next post!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Time Will Tell

I'm not sure what exactly is going on.  I talked with Sunshine yesterday, and she said Mom has (supposedly) been doing what she was supposed to.  And that she will be going out to the house to make sure it is still acceptable.  She said she anticipates a court date in the next few weeks.  Or that there might not even be a court date - that "they" (I'm not exactly sure who the almighty "they" are) may just be able to all sign off on the order to return the kids home.  And that she would let me know when she knows more so I can start packing Evie's things. 

Talking to Sunshine, you would think Evie is certainly going home in the next few weeks.  Me?  I'm VERY skeptical.  Considering what happened the last time at the last minute before the kids were supposed to go home, I don't know that Mom has it in her to keep it together for long enough to get her kids back.  I also don't think that anyone needs to be making the decision to send them back home without a court date and a judge hearing the situation.  I'm certainly not packing much before a definite decision has been made (both because there's only so much that can be packed before Evie realizes something is going on and starts asking questions - she's very sharp; and because I don't want to waste my time OR get my hopes up that she will actually be reunified).

Do I think the kids should be reunified with Mom?  I can see both sides.  Emotionally, these kids NEED their mom, and I feel that she can meet their emotional needs.  It is very obvious that she loves Evie and J, and she is very attentive to them.  But there are almost certainly some mental health issues, and she has not been able to meet all of their physical needs in the past.  I guess I think Mom should be given another chance to parent her kids, with some VERY close monitoring for the next 6-12 months. 

Foster Care Review Board is this Wednesday, and I'm sure they will recommend termination again like they did six months ago.  And I'm sure Mom won't be there again (OFM said that is what Mom told her).  But I'm very curious what new information I will learn there.  There were so many things that came up last time that I had no clue about. 

And then only time will tell what the end result of this case will be.