Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday, Monday...

I posted last Monday that a new week felt like the start of another window of waiting.

I did get a text update from Anna early in the week, but it was one of those "nothing to report" type of updates. She said she still didn't know the planned discharge date and would try to find out why the baby was being kept so long. (Is something wrong? Is she actually having withdrawal issues? Does she just need more "growing" time?)

That was all I heard all week.

And, now, it is Monday again.

I do have some school meetings this week that will be easier to do sans baby, so part of me is selfishly hoping things continue to drag out. But I that baby alone in the NICU? Is anyone visiting her, holding her, loving on her? I know that NICU nurses are fantastic and loving people, but they have more to do than just hang out with one patient all day.

Lucy spent 5 weeks in a NICU. But that time, I didn't even know she existed until I also knew that she would be coming here in a few days. 


Friday, August 28, 2015

Academic snobbery

This post has nothing to do with foster care.

In fact, it has nothing to do with anything that I can discuss with anyone outside my nearest and dearest family members, and even then I have to be careful with whom.

But, I really, really need to vent right now.

In high school, I was one of those "best and brightest" academic kids. You know the ones. GPA over 4.0, taking all the AP classes the school offered back then and complaining that there weren't more of them, winning all the academic awards, offered academic scholarships from schools that I hadn't even applied to yet.

I went to a largish, private liberal arts university in the midwest. US News and World Report top 25 back then; I think it's ranked even higher now. There, I was surrounded by other students who were Just Like Me and I still did pretty well -- graduated with honors in 4 years with a double major in two areas that do not overlap at all.

After about 2 decades out of academia, I am now taking graduate school classes, working towards a Masters degree in an Education field. I am enrolled in a 100% online program at a smallish liberal arts school in my southeastern state's public university system. (Not the big flagship institution, one of the little ones with a directional description in its name.) Let's just say the admission requirements are not as stringent as my bachelor's program was.

I really, really don't want to be what my university professor uncle once described as "an academic snob." But.

The readings are killing me. Not because the material is difficult or there's a lot to cover or any of that. But because the assigned readings...we're talking about required reading assigned by an individual with a doctorate who is supposed to be teaching me to be an educator...are full of grammatical errors. Some of them are relied-on-spell-check typos: "the issue you as a perspective teacher face." Some of them are subject-verb agreement! One text (a published book that I had to pay for!) had a sentence with no verb phrase of any kind!

It makes me want to scream.

I get that typos happen. I'm sure I've made more than my fair share in the history of this blog. There might even be some on this post. And I can ignore and brush off errors in something posted on the message board about the next assignment. I will cringe, but can even let go of errors in the syllabus. But when the instructor chooses a text and assigns it as required reading? I expect it to have been thoroughly and professionally proofread. My blog is not an academic publication; these texts should be.

There's no way to complain about all of this to friends (and certainly not to classmates!) without sounding incredibly full of myself. I may sound that way to anyone reading this as well, but at least it doesn't burn any relationship bridges. But, oh, it is making me crazy. I want to break out a red pen and mark up the readings. Maybe I should. It might be therapeutic.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A New Week

Not long after I posted my last update, I got a text from Anna. She told me there wasn't any real update; C is still in the hospital, DFCS hasn't taken custody yet, but she still expects them to do so.  She also said she still didn't have any sense of a timeframe for C's expected discharge.

So, we went about our busy weekend baby-free...and kind of relieved about it. (Mr D was out of town all weekend so I was parenting solo, Peter had a cross country meet that was over an hour away, Susan had a school project to work on, I had a church committee meeting....all things we could have managed with a baby, but it was for sure simpler not to have one.)

And today begins a new week of waiting. I do feel that nothing surprising will happen on a weekend, so I was able to put the question mark of when she was coming out of my head for the past few days. But, now, it is Monday morning. And I will spend each day this week wondering when the call will come. And will the call be an update -- with a window of time to prepare? Or will it be, essentially, "so, I'm on my way..."? I'm hoping for the former, because we haven't told the kids (or anyone else). And since we haven't told them, we haven't even begun to set up baby equipment or pull infant clothes out of storage boxes.

I think it will be an update first. We had a few days advance notice with Lucy. Which stretched into a few more days as the hospital decided to keep her a few extra days. So, that could happen again. But what I don't know is what the county caseworker is thinking. Were the extra days notice with Lucy available because the caseworker was working on making sure she had a placement ready? And does she think she already has that this time? We shall see, I suppose.

Still have Dreft, but it's getting very low....

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

No, it isn't. Not this kind of waiting, at least.

But it's the hard thing I'm doing right now. I've heard nothing from anyone since the last update. I left a voicemail for Anna earlier in the week, commenting that I was trying to determine whether I could commit to doing something this weekend, but have heard nothing. (This is highly unusual behavior for her to leave me hanging like that after I've called to follow up. Either something has exploded in another case or she never got my message.)

For now, I'm assuming C is not coming before this weekend.

I don't know what to assume beyond that. Is she doing OK? Is she coming here at all? 

The only experience I've ever had like this in foster care was the second case we were asked to be a part of. Those were kids that needed an adoptive home because they were split across more than one foster home. Since the children were in safe and stable places, the county was being very careful and deliberate about picking an adoptive placement....and also dropping the ball to schedule meetings with us. We waited a month, thinking we were going to take on 3 children as a foster-to-adopt placement, but we never even met the kids. We never did another case with that county, either.

This is a completely different situation, but it feels very similar. There is no other foster-to-adopt home competing to take in C. The only question is whether she needs a home at all and when she will be healthy enough to leave the NICU. At the root of it all, though, I'm just waiting.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Some More Info

We know Baby Sister's name now. I think I'll call her C.

Anna talked to Kayla. So, consider the source. But the latest update, all according to her:

  • Kayla has been regularly attending a methadone clinic and staying clean. (She gave the hospital permission to discuss her with the clinic to confirm her story.) It was the methadone that Kayla and C had in their systems. 
  • C was born at a healthy birth weight, although we still don't know how early she was. (Based on the birth weight of over 6.5 pounds, I'm assuming not very early.)
  • C is still in the hospital. Kayla claims something very confusing about C's withdrawal and medications. According to Kayla, the hospital has put C on some medication to prevent withdrawal and will try in a day or so having C go without the medication to see what happens. In Anna's experience, this is not how hospitals handle newborns with prenatal drug exposure. In past cases she's had, they've only started medication if the baby shows signs of withdrawal, usually severe.
If (big, giant, flashing neon "if") this is all correct, then DFCS should be -- at a minimum -- working a case plan with Kayla. (That's my and Anna's opinion. No idea yet of the actual county caseworker's opinion.) It seems to me that confirmation of this story should mean that Baby C might even go home with Kayla and DFCS would just do some more "monitoring" to ensure she's continuing to make her clinic appointments.

I'll be interested to hear what the county caseworker says when we get an update there. Anna is not sure the hospital would even tell Kayla if the drug screens on the baby contradict her story until DFCS is ready to actually take custody which has not yet happened. She's also not sure if C being on medication actually means she did show signs of withdrawal and Kayla either doesn't understand or wasn't told the full story.

This particular county runs a staffing model where there's an "intake" caseworker who handles all the front-end stuff and then an "ongoing" caseworker who takes over at about the three month mark. The caseworker who called Anna is the intake caseworker. She has been the intake caseworker for the cases involving all four of Kayla's children. There is no chance of her not getting the history. There is a chance of her leaping to an assumption that this is a "here we go again" scenario. There is also a chance of that assumption being correct. The three previous children's cases all had the same judge, although there is more than one judge available for these cases in that county. It's way too early to know if C's case (if there is a case) will have the same judge yet again. I hope so, as this particular judge has an excellent reputation for working with biological families but not being easily fooled or manipulated.

I suppose it's still possible I could run out of Dreft before C is actually placed. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My Superstition Was Wrong

Well, I still have Dreft left, but I got The Call today.

"Anna" (our agency caseworker) called. She started out with pleasantries -- How's Lucy doing? Did your big kids start school this week? -- but quickly moved on to "I guess you know why I'm calling."

We're not sure exactly when she was born, but sometime in the last few days. We don't know her name yet. For now, I'm mentally calling her Baby Sister.

She was early, but we don't know by how much.

She (and Kayla) tested positive for substances that they should not have in their bodies right now. (Kayla is claiming it must be the meds given her in the hospital for labor pain, which is exactly what she said when Lucy was born, too. That's because the drug that she finds the most hard to give up is a prescription painkiller, but what she fails to understand or remember is that the drug she abuses is part of a family of drugs that is never given to laboring mothers.)

At the moment, Baby Sis is staying in the NICU. She's showing no symptoms of withdrawal yet (a good sign), but the hospital plans to monitor her for a while before considering discharge. Also, since we aren't sure how early she is -- or how big she is -- there may be preemie reasons to keep her in the hospital as well.

Anna got the call from the county caseworker as a professional courtesy and a feeler. Caseworker didn't know exactly when they'd be looking for an actual placement -- they don't know yet when Baby Sister can leave the hospital and they don't usually even start looking for a foster home until they have a discharge date -- but she knew our agency had a family that recently adopted a sibling. Would we be available and/or interested? Anna was able to say we might be, but wise enough to ask for more information.

So many things we don't know: Are there any concerns about her development? What are they? (That may or may not be a dealbreaker; it honestly depends on what the concerns are.) Will the county even attempt reunification this time? (Again, may or may not make a difference, but would be nice to know.) Is it the same father? How early is she? What was the drug? What hospital? Can we come visit if she's in the NICU for a while? When are we looking at placement?

Anna is waiting for a call back with those answers and will call me when she gets them. She doesn't expect to get them quickly -- this is pretty low on the caseworker's priority list until she has a discharge date. Meanwhile, I'm in a bit of a nesting, cleaning frenzy and mostly feeling excited at the idea that Lucy might get to grow up with a sibling near her age. I haven't told anyone except Mr D who is feeling a bit like we're having a surprise pregnancy. We still plan to tell no one until we have more details and know for sure she is coming. Or as for sure as foster care gets.

Monday, August 10, 2015


There is still nothing going on in fosterland around here. Our best guess at Kayla's due date (based entirely assuming the "she's about 5 months pregnant" in late April was correct) would put it later this month. There's been no update to her Facebook page since the pictures and I can't find any new information elsewhere online either. That means I still don't know what happened in her court cases. Part of me hopes she was convicted and sent to some sort of in-patient rehab program. (One of the cases involved a DUI, so that seems like a reasonable consequence to me. She has failed over and over at out-patient rehab. Maybe she could succeed with in-patient?)

School is starting. (Our schools run a schedule that allows them to complete all of the first semester before Christmas break...but it means starting school in early August.) Susan and Edmund are both in middle school this year, so it's been good having them on the same schedule to get out the door in the mornings. So far, morning shower times are staggering successfully. :)

M -- who I think I'll begin calling "Lucy" with this post -- is a busy, active little 18 month old. She's a climber in ways that the Originals never were, so you can't take your eyes off her for a second. On the other hand, she's pretty content in the mornings to play with her blanket in the crib, so I'm hoping I have at least a little while before she figures out how to scale the walls and get out of it all by herself.

My first semester coursework went well and the next semester will start in about 10 days. I'm hoping the start of the semester doesn't coincide with the arrival of a newborn, but I don't have control over that.

Slowly, the school year routine is falling into place with our not-so-little forever family. It remains to be seen if we're adding a "bonus child" this year or not. I can go hours without ever thinking about it, but mostly the uncertainty nags at me, especially as I try to plan for things that are weeks or months away. I also find myself wondering about inconsequential things: will the baby be a boy or girl? What's the baby's name? Will Kayla work the case plan this time? It's not as stressful a mental itch as limbo is when there is a child in my home whose future is uncertain, but it's still there, niggling at the back of my consciousness. In some ways, I wish I didn't even know Kayla was (might be?) pregnant, but then I remember that we would be closed if that were the case.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Silly Superstition

When M first came to us, she was tiny and fragile. A 5 week old baby born 9 weeks early, straight from the NICU.

So, I washed all her clothing, bedding and blankets in Dreft. We're members of one of those big warehouse clubs, so that's where I generally bought the Dreft, meaning I have a giant tub of it sitting in my laundry room.

It's been a long time since I bought the last one, and I don't think she needs her things washed separately from the rest of us anymore, but I figure I might as well use up the Dreft on her things rather than washing everybody's in it.

Recently, I've developed a superstitious feeling about the tub of Dreft in my laundry room. I think I will hear nothing about the new baby's birth or need for placement until after I've finished it. I'm not sure whether that makes me want to use it up faster or stretch it out to last longer.