Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What if they don't?

Generally, I love PBS Kids programming. We happen to get two different local PBS stations, so when my pre-school kids watch TV during a school day, their choices are PBS1 show and PBS2 show. (Generally this means I'm saying things like "you can watch Dinosaur Train or Super Why, which do you choose?" If they don't like either of these, well, I guess we'll do something else then.)

This usually works well, and we love us some Super Why and Curious George at this house.

S has taken a liking to the new Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood as well, which has been fine....until today. If you've never watched the show, there's always a short sung tag line that's the "lesson" for the day. (There's been things like "Making something is one way to say I love you" or "When you feel so mad that you want to ROAR, take deep breath and count to 4!") The song gets repeated several times as the character has to practice that lesson during the story.

Today, the story is one of those stories that sounds like a great idea . . . to people who've never had foster kids.

The premise is that Daniel's parents went out for the evening and he had a baby-sitter stay with him.

Today's theme tag song was "grown-ups come back."

Oops. We, um, obviously didn't watch the whole thing. I "remembered" that we were going to make muffins today and we did that instead.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Same old, same old

Not much has changed here, which has caused me to have little to write about.

Finally met S's newest caseworker. She did ask to see S's room and attempted to talk to S at least a little bit (but S is still 3, so it will take time before much can really be accomplished there). She took notes about my concerns and frustrations. It remains to be seen if she'll actually do anything about them. She was new to this county, so didn't know a lot about "how that works here" when it came to some of my questions, which was frustrating. I couldn't tell if she was also new to foster care in general (just from a different county) or whether her previous social work experience had all been in a different area. I got the impression she had worked in the past investigating complaints -- deciding whether to remove children or not -- but may have never actually followed a case through to the bitter end. Why does S keep getting newbies? Is it because her mother is working so hard and the case looks "easy"?

S's rages are escalating. I'm pretty sure they are made worse by two things.

One is the recent return of her BioDad. He was in jail at the start of the case, out briefly enough to see her once, then arrested again and now out again. To his credit, he wants his time with her and he wants it to be a positive interaction. However, he is the classic example of a "Disneyland Dad" who shows up with sweets and presents and lets the child do whatever the hell she wants and calls it awesome bonding time. So, I get back an overtired, overstimulated, oversugared little tyke who melts down all over me.

Two is BioMom's recent use of some unfortunate phrasing. In an attempt to help her daughter understand that progress is being made, she has told her that she's finished some of her "homework." And continued to promise that she'll be able to come to Mommy's house "soon." The problem is that Mommy doesn't yet have a house -- and that's the one part of her case plan that is really still hanging to be completed. She has gotten a lot done -- many classes completed or nearly so, months of clean drug screens, employment obtained and kept. But until she finds herself a new place to live, S isn't going anywhere. And "soon" to a 3-year old? Does not mean "in a few months", which would be the best case scenario at this point. So, after one of these conversations, I get a emotionally, traumatized little girl who just wants to go home to Mommy and doesn't understand why I won't let her.

Oh, and throw in the fact that her preschool has some events coming up to which they invite family members. And her teacher informed me (with a great deal of embarrassment) that when she told the class that "their Mommies and Daddies" would be coming, S lit up and asked if her Mommy was coming. (She's not. It's held during one of the times she's in her required classes and the preschool is about 1.5 hours from where she lives. And she doesn't drive.) I'll be there, of course, but that's not the same.

We attempted to file our taxes, only to discover that the SSN for one or more dependent has been filed under someone else's account. We suspect it's L & O, who lived with us for more than half of 2012, then were with their mother for a few months, back in foster care (with another family) for at least a few weeks, and spent the remaining month or two with a different family member. For some reason, the IRS is not able (or willing?) to tell us which SSN is causing the error when we attempt to efile. So, we have to paper file and wait for it all to be sorted out.

So, it's been a lot of fun around here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I'm trying really hard to pray for S's parents.

It's easy to pray for her mother. To pray that she continues on the path she has started. To pray that she feels support and encouragement from God and from those around her. To pray that the parts of her case plan that are out of her hands are resolved quickly. To pray for her healing and her spirit and her grief. To pray that her path to reunification may be smoothed. I can see S's mother working so hard to be the parent that S deserves and I want her to succeed, so it's easy to focus on the good things she's doing and thank God for them and to ask Him to help her with the rest of the steps.

It's hard to pray for S's father. In the last 6 months, he has had 1 visit with his daughter, because there was only one that fell during the brief time he was out of prison. He's out again now and will have another visit with her in a few days. So I am trying to pray for him and it is so, so hard. Although I can intellectually imagine that he also has grief at having lost her, I don't see it. What I see is an angry man insisting that nothing is his fault. (According to him, S's first caseworker was out to get him. Right. Her concerns with him as a placement had nothing to do with his history of arrests for violent behavior, the pending criminal charges on him, or his refusal to ask the "friend" with whom he was living to submit to a drug screen and background check.) I see a man who wants to play with this little girl, not parent her. I know that God sees more than I do -- that it is not my place to judge him -- but I am struggling to translate that knowledge into prayer for him. It's not that I don't want him to be the parent S deserves -- it's that I don't see him trying and it's hard to pray for his success at something he's not trying to do.