Friday, June 30, 2017

Court Continued

We had Elmer's TPR Hearing court date on June 16.  The week before, his caseworker asked if I had heard anything from his mom, and said that when they tried to serve her at the address on file, someone said she didn't live there and they didn't have a current address.  (The address is her mom's house, so... yeah, right... they didn't have a current address!  And then when the caseworker finally got in touch with mom a couple of days before court, she gave the exact same address they already had on file!) 

So court was already continued (cancelled for that day) because they were unable to serve the mom.  But then there was also an issue with the state-appointed lawyers of mom and dad, so they had to get that straightened out as well.  So I think that court would have been continued no matter what. 

Mom ended up showing up about 15 minutes after court was over.  We talked, and she wanted to know if I would let her see Elmer if I adopted him.  I told her that as long as she was clean, sober, and safe, that I would allow contact.  She also asked if I would change Elmer's name.  I did not want to discuss this before the actual adoption, but I wasn't going to lie to her face, so I told her that yes, I would probably change his name.  (Separate post about the name change to come.)  She mentioned that bio dad says, "That's my Junior" but I mentioned that even if I didn't change his first name, his last name would change and so either way he would no longer be a Junior.  Mom also told me the street she lives on and a pretty good description of the house, and it is about five minutes from my house, so I am going to drive by and see if I can get an alternate address for Legal to use to serve mom next time. 

So now we wait... again... for another TPR Hearing date.  And I anticipate that parents will contest the TPR at that hearing, which would mean that we would have to go to a TPR trial.  Such a long process for a case where the parents never had a treatment plan!


Monday, June 19, 2017

Life is Hard Right Now

These two sure can be cute! 
Snack break in their matching swim trunks at the pool

Banging on my bedroom door

But in reality, THIS is a more accurate snapshot of what life is like right now:
Elmer sing-songing "pizza, pizza" on the way home from my friend's house because we had had pizza there for dinner... and PB screaming intermittently the entire twenty minute drive home. 

Overall PB cries and tantrums a lot throughout the day.  He does not like the car - he intermittently screams every minute or two on most car rides, and is usually pulling at the shoulder straps of the seat, or pulling at his shoes when he does so.  I think he was probably rarely in a car seat - whether that be because he never went anywhere in a car, or whether because he was in a car but not made to be in a seat. 

He has no words other than "mama," "ball," and "uh-oh."  (And I am not convinced that he hasn't picked up those last two words since he has been here.)  But even more importantly, his attempts at non-verbal communication are virtually non-existent.  For example, we were at brunch yesterday and I took a fork out of his hand.  Just to get it out of the way, not because he couldn't have it.  He did not resist my taking the fork... but he did turn around in his seat and start screaming and having a tantrum.  Obviously he wanted the fork. But he made no attempt to communicate that before having a tantrum.  Most kids would first resist the fork being taken, then reach for the fork, then maybe fuss about it, and finally have a tantrum if they were still not getting the fork back.  He just jumps right for a tantrum.  Maybe in the past that was the only way that he ever got anything.  Maybe he knew that if something got taken away, he was never going to get it back so he might as well have a meltdown. 

If PB doesn't get what he wants immediately, or if I provide any direction whatsoever, he screams and throws out, including at times jumping, throwing his head back (and hitting it on the floor if I don't protect his fall), head-banging, or throwing himself into a wall.

A lot of his screaming centers around food.  If he sees food and is not getting it (like when I am trying to put leftovers on a plate and heat them up for dinner), he screams.  Or if I give the boys a snack in the car, PB devours his quickly but then gets mad and screams when he sees Elmer still with food and doesn't have any.  I assume that he probably didn't get food regularly, so when it was available, you better eat it fast because you never knew when the next meal was coming.

I have tried to take them outside, but it is stressful for me and usually not safe.  PB will run away and think it is funny when I try to get him (even if I just walk casually over to where he is rather than chase him).  And he is FAST, so it is not ok to let him wander too far just to see how far he would go, and I do usually end up having to run after him by the time it is all said and done.  (He was taken into DSS custody because he was found wandering, so I really don't think he would care about where I was, and would just keep going without any regard for me.)  And then when I go to get PB, Elmer usually thinks it is funny to run in the opposite direction.  I live in a townhouse so there is no fence, so it is just not safe to have them outside when they do that. 

Bedtime is rough.  I used to be able to just put Elmer down and he goes right to sleep.  But PB does not self-soothe well, and screams off and on, while tossing and turning for usually 20-30 minutes, and usually ends up crying straight for several minutes and I have to go up and help him situate himself before he can go to sleep. 

And they fight!  But not just toddler fighting over toys.  PB is very aggressive - bites, pulls hair, and/or tackles to get the toy he wants.  (I am realizing Elmer is pretty aggressive, too, but not to that extent.)

PB has had upper respiratory congestion pretty much the whole time since he arrived, and has coughed so much in the night that he has thrown up at one point.  Other nights he has not been able to go back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night, for up to 2 hours.  And the two have woken each other up at times (because of the coughing or otherwise).  Sleep has been hard to come by pretty much the entire last two weeks.

Things have already started to get a little better in some areas, and I'm hoping that as he is here longer, things will start to smooth out even more.   

Friday, June 9, 2017


Last Wednesday at around midnight, I received a voicemail for a placement of a 1-year old and 5-year old.  I called the placement worker back on Wednesday morning and said that I could take the 1-year old if she hadn't found placement.  She had found someone to take them for the night, but was still looking for a permanent place for them.  She said the plan was for me to take the 1-year old if she couldn't find a permanent place for the two together, which she ended up being able to do. 

But when another one-year old came into care on Thursday, I think I was probably one of the first people she contacted since I had just said I would take a one-year old the day before.  I said I could take him, and around 5:45 that afternoon, "PB" (for "Peek-a-Boo" because he loves to play peekaboo and just laughs when he does) arrived from a county 1 1/2 hours away.  He is three months younger than Elmer but just as active. 

When I was getting the boys ready for bed, he climbed INTO the pack n play, which I figured did not bode well for him staying in it during the night.  And when it was bedtime and I walked out of the room, as suspected, he immediately climbed out of the pack n play and tried to open the bedroom door.  I did end up getting him settled that night into the pack n play, and he slept all night, but decided that even though he was only 17 months old, he would have to go into a toddler bed the next night.  One of my patients' moms had just given me a toddler bed a week or two before, so I was able to get it set up the next day.  He has mostly stayed in the bed, although getting to sleep has been a little rough (he usually tosses and turns for about 20-30 minutes, and often cries off and on as well). 

The boys have gotten along pretty well.  The first few days, they REALLY fought over toys, including some pushing, hitting, hair pulling, and biting; but this has improved in the last few days. 

PB didn't cry (except for bedtime) for pretty much the first two days.  Now he cries A LOT!  He is very easily frustrated and angered when he does not get his way (or even when he does not get something he wants IMMEDIATELY when he wants it), and jumps and throws himself on the floor.  This morning it was because I made him back up a little so I could get the gate open at the top of the stairs for us all to be able to go down them.  He doesn't say any words, other than "mama," so I'm sure this has something to do with his frustration level. 

He is really really cute, and smiles and laughs at times (especially when playing peekaboo), but is also very emotionally labile (totally as expected for this age). 

This Tuesday, PB coughed in his sleep so much that he ended up throwing up a little, so on Wednesday afternoon I took him to the After-hours pediatric clinic.  They said there was fluid on his ears, but no infection - yet.  (And then when we were at the pediatrician's office this morning, he said the ears were "about" to get infected so wrote a prescription for antibiotic.  Elmer was also checked on Wednesday (because he had had a low-grade fever on Tuesday afternoon), and both ears were infected again! First in 2 1/2 months, but still very frustrating.  So we have had a rough couple of nights sleeping-wise!

Overall, we are settling in!  I talked to the caseworker today, who doesn't have a whole lot of information.  But I have a feeling he will be here for a good while.