Monday, August 27, 2012

Who They Are - S

S is a 3 year old girl.

She's chatty and bossy and absolutely adorable. She already has Mr D wrapped around her finger.

She has no noticeable delays, no major behavior issues that have shown up so far. She's afraid of the dark and doesn't want to go to sleep, but she's 3.

She melts down if you try to close her bedroom door with her alone in there. So she naps with the door open. At bedtime, we leave it open and explain that we will close it when we go to bed. She's OK with that. When I leave her room at night, she asks where I'm going. She's happy to hear something as simple as "I'm not leaving the house."  

She is going to be the case that breaks our hearts. Either way. Because Mr D has already commented that he could see adopting her if her case went to TPR. (So has Peter, oddly enough.) It is way too early in her case to even begin to guess how likely that is. We are afraid that she will be that one that was "so hard to let go" when she goes home. And yet, we can't hope for her family to fail her either.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Who They Are - D

D is a 5 year old boy.

He was due to start kindergarten the day after they were taken into care, so he missed his first day. We live in a different county, so he started here about 2 weeks into the school year.

He adores his "momma." When his grandmother talked to him at court before they went before the judge about going to live with his daddy, he told her he wanted to stay with me. Since then, however, he has declared that he wants to go to Daddy "until Momma gets out of jail."

He does not like the rules and boundaries that we have set in place and is fighting them with every fiber of his being. He is aggressive and angry. In his first week of school, he came home with bad behavior marks on 3 out of 5 days. He says he doesn't know why he does things like push people or not listen to his teacher when she tells him to quiet down. He screams and cries when I try to talk to him, no matter how gently, about a behavior that needs to change.

He told me he wishes he was with his momma, because "momma don't care about school." He also says he "hates this house" because Momma doesn't have rules. (We often explain our rules in terms of "at this house, we....don't hit .... use nice words.... sleep in our own beds.....")

He is shocked and angry when I enforce the consequences that I warned him would result from certain behavior. I say, "If you can't walk with me in the parking lot, you will have to hold my hand." Within 3 minutes of my saying that, he is dancing over the cracks in the middle of the road, about 10 feet from me. I call him over and take his hand, and he tries the whole way to the car to twist it away from me, crying and screaming the whole time.
He reacts to the simple homework from Kindergarten with anger and frustration for about 10 minutes..."I can't! I don't know what to do! It's too hard!"....then, when I don't let him give up, settles down and does it all. Usually correctly. In a very short amount of time.

He is just so angry and so scared. He hits and bites himself when he melts down. I've already sent in a plea to hurry up his assessment for counseling because it is so obvious to me that he needs help figuring out how to handle all those big feelings. More help than I can give him alone.

The caseworker thinks it is likely that he will be sent to a family member at the 10 day hearing. (Might be Daddy, might not.) I have mixed feelings. Although I don't know how long I can handle the aggression and the anger and the lashing out....I want to see him in a stable environment. With counseling. And I don't know if he'll get that in a family placement. But maybe there would be less anger and lashing out with a family member? I don't know.

Trying really hard to hand this over to God and trust that He will guide the people making those decisions. Praying those people are listening to what God wants them to hear.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Beginning again


These two are both much more like what I was expecting when we started fostering --
They came to our house with literally nothing but the clothes on their backs.
They had watched Mommy get arrested.
They were talking freely and calmly about how Mommy is in jail right right now.

And what I was under the impression "wasn't done", at least in my state --
They are not related. At all.
Their cases are distinct and separate, which means...
Separate visits and....
One could go home (or to a family placement) and the other stay.

We'd forgotten how rough the first few days can be, especially at bedtime, when scared little children are trying to go to sleep in a strange bedroom, without any familiar people or things to make it easier. 

I also had to take them to court the day after they came....because they are from a different county than the last set, and this one requires them to attend court hearings. They aren't allowed in the courtroom, however. They just have to be there. In a little tiny "playroom" which has some toys (half of which are broken) and a TV (which I could not get to work). We saw several extended family members -- some of whom are potential placements -- when we first arrived. Some of them were...not pleasant .... about the fact that the children were wearing clothes that were not their own. Because somehow it was wrong of me that I gave them something clean to wear. (When it was pointed out to said relative that they had only one outfit and had worn it for two days, she demanded to know why I hadn't washed it. When? While they were not-sleeping?) The caseworker had me and the children escorted out "the back way" by a deputy when court was over.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Or maybe so?

Another call today. Another pair of children looking for a place to be safe.

This pair is 5 and 3. They are coming tonight.

I don't really have time to say anything else right now.....

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Or maybe not

So, yesterday I said yes to a 2 and 4 year old partial sib-set that turned out to be not yet in custody because they have to be found first.

Today, the same caseworker called and asked me about taking a 1 year old and 4 year old instead. "It's an inadequate supervision case; they were found playing in a sewer."

I asked about the other two and she said she wasn't sure they were coming. They still haven't found them. And there might be a family that would take the whole sib-set.

While we were talking, she got tapped on the shoulder. "What? Oh. OK." Today's pair have been placed somewhere else already....

Monday, August 13, 2012

What's a break?

After L and O drove off with their mom for the last time, our agency caseworker said she wanted to schedule a meeting with us. (And I really mean, right after they drove off, she said this. She was there at the handoff. We were standing in the parking lot and she wanted to schedule a meeting.) She wanted to talk about how long a break we wanted before we took more kids, about whether any of our restrictions were changing (age, gender, race, behaviors, etc), about whether there was any feedback for the agency about how they handled the case.

We tentatively scheduled a conference call meeting for about a week after L and O went home. It fell through at the last minute when other calls (for her and for us) interrupted the time we were supposed to talk.

We played phone tag for a few days, trying to arrange another day or time to talk.

She tried to call me this morning and got my voicemail. I called her back about 10 minutes later. She laughed and said that she really had been calling to schedule that meeting, but in the time since she called...they had a case come in and she thought of us.

Sibling group of 4 that will be split up --either 2 and 2 or 1 and 3 -- all 4 years old or younger. She doesn't want to burn us out, so if we're interested, they could arrange a respite plan for a week or two to give us more of a break before we jump back in. What did we think?

I spoke to Mr D, but I knew what we were going to say.

We offered to take the two older ones, and I said I was uncomfortable with the idea of making these kids go somewhere else for 2 weeks and then move again. I would need a good bit of babysitting help the first few days, and tomorrow I have a gynecologist appointment, so if we can wait til after that, that would be great.

Agency caseworker called the county back -- different county than L and O, so hopefully visits will be closer -- and got back to me. My well-woman visit is safe because the kids haven't actually been picked up. It'll be Friday at the earliest before they'd be being placed. Turns out that BioMom has taken off with the kids and they have to find them before they can send them to me.....

This could be interesting.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Gone Home

L and O are gone.

We took a goodbye tour of the school for L during teacher preplanning -- she got to say goodbye to her teacher and some of the staff. She saw the new spirit wear going up on display and got very clingy and whispered that she wished she was going to our school again next year.

O took a walk through the house before we left for the last time, saying goodbye to every room.

When we got to the meeting hand-off location, L was cool and calm with us. Excited to see her mom, with a big hug and grin for her, L climbed in Mom's car very quickly and had to be told (by Mom) to get back out and say goodbye.

O made the rounds of last hugs and I was surprised to see tears welling up. It started when Peter told him goodbye with a big hug, and then O turned to me to say goodbye. I didn't think he would understand how "forever" that goodbye is likely to be, but he sure seemed to!

After that, it was much harder to let O drive off with BioMom than it was to see L go. L was so clearly done with her goodbyes and ready to go before she even got in our car that last time, but O seemed to struggle with it a bit more. I hope he's been OK since, but I'll never really know, will I?

In the time since they left, we've had a family debrief of "how it all went." My house is almost thoroughly clean again and I'm caught up on the laundry. School has started and the house is quiet for long stretches of the day. We've repaired the things L broke in his room. I touched up the paint on his walls, as well.

I'm enjoying the little things. The ability to leave Peter, Susan and Edmund home alone while I run to the grocery store for a short list; it's a 30 minute absence where I'm never more than 5 minutes away, but I can't leave a 12 year old in charge of foster kids of any age. The luxury of knowing that the kids will be thrilled at getting a book from the bookstore. The fact that we can go more than 2 meals without needing to run the dishwasher. The general quieter noise level in the car and around the table. The idea that I can keep up with the laundry on less than 2 loads a day.

Throughout all this, I've been itching to dig into my boxes of "extra clothes", wanting to reorganize it all. I keep telling myself that I have to get all the "needs to be done" things finished first. Then, I'll tackle the project that is reorganizing my hand-me-downs, so that I can pull out a certain size and gender on a moment's notice again......