Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How Yesterday Went

  • Got a text telling me he was signing surrenders.
  • I replied asking about the DNA sample
  • Responding text said they were doing that "right now."
  • Anna brought C back to the house.
  • She said "you were right; she does hate the car."
  • Learned that they had taken C's DNA sample.
  • Anna did not actually see biofather's sample given and she said she "hoped he didn't leave."
  • There is a rule (law? policy?) that states the child has to be in the home for 6 months before finalizing an adoption. I understand the logic behind the law, but Anna says she'll see if they can get it waived for this case on the grounds that we are already the adoptive parents of the sibling.
 Pending DNA results (which should take 2-4 weeks, but last time took closer to 6) and also pending the window of time biodad has to change his mind and revoke his surrender (highly unlikely -- he declined a final visit), C is "legally free." She's not quite 2 months old.

We've contacted the lawyer and started the process rolling.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Court Today

We learned late Friday afternoon that C's case would go to court this morning. She's required to attend. (I asked for notice so I could arrange childcare for Lucy. I guess I got the weekend.)

Biodad is supposed to be there and (we're told) will sign surrenders. No idea if he's given his DNA sample yet. (Apparently last year's sample given for Lucy's case is "no longer good." I guess they don't preserve them for long term storage.)

Awesome agency caseworker (Anna) has rearranged her schedule so she can go to court and volunteered to take C. So, she is picking her up early this morning (with a fully stocked diaper bag) and will bring her back when it's all over.

Normally, I like to go to court, if possible. But, for this case, I wasn't so sure. I don't know if the biological parents know that C is with the same people that adopted Lucy. I don't know how they might feel about that. And I, selfishly, don't really want to see them. Mr D has work commitments this morning and can't go. (We don't think they'd recognize him.) Also, this particular court has a tendency to decide on the day of court to "just meet in chambers" instead of in the courtroom. When they do that, there's a limit on the number of people who can come in the room (due to space) and the foster parent never makes the cut. When that happens, it means I juggled childcare and drove (an hour) to court to just sit in a waiting room all day.

So, C is off to court with Anna. I'll be giving Lucy some intensive one-on-one Mommy time, although right now she's still asleep. And around mid-day, I should learn what happened and where we go from here. Will biodad show? Do they have the DNA sample? What does the time-frame look like moving forward?

Interestingly, I got a call last night from the person writing the Child Life history. I think things behind the scenes are moving pretty fast.

Waiting is always a big part of foster care. At least this time, I know I'll get some answers today because Anna has to bring C back to me....

Friday, September 25, 2015

Where Things Stand

A bullet point update, because I am Always Too Tired right now.
  • The SwaddleMe swaddling blankets (pictured to the left, although ours are shades of pink) have been a life saver. C needs to be wrapped up tightly a lot of the time, especially to stay asleep. Her withdrawal symptoms include a lot of jerky flinching, which wakes her up. Mr D and I have realized that we are both very, very bad at swaddling a baby in a blanket. These things, though? Fantastic. 
  • At first, the blankets were only saving my sanity while we remained in the house. C hated the car and, of course, I had to unswaddle her to put her in the car seat, didn't I? But, then! I realized what the little hole in the back of the blanket was for. I CAN SWADDLE HER WITH THESE WHILE STRAPPING HER INTO THE CARSEAT. Answer to prayer.
  • Birthmom's surrender is official and final and done. There does not appear to be any plan for a final visit.
  • Birthdad has stated his intent to surrender, but has still not actually been seen by the caseworker. I doubt he will want a final visit, even if offered one, since such a visit would also be the first time he's seen her.
  • Caseworker seems very thorough and on top of things. It makes me happy when they actually want to see the child's bedroom and check under the baby's clothing; I know I'm not hurting this child, but it's the caseworker's job to ensure it.
  • I used up my Dreft on the second load of her laundry. I'm not buying more. She's doing fine with her clothes washed in our regular detergent.
  • Daytime sleep is still a bit of challenge. 
  • Every day, I see a little bit more happy baby time and a little less screaming, miserable, withdrawing-from-drug-exposure baby time. Hooray!
  • Lucy is equal parts proud of and jealous of her baby sister. She points her out to people -- "Bay-bee!" -- and insists I go running if she hears her over the monitor. On the other hand, she's gotten very clingy to me and begun to resist letting Mr D or Peter doing things for her, especially when she's tired.
  • Tho Originals are still being big helps, although I try to limit what I ask of them, other than being more responsible for their own things. (I no longer make school lunches, for example.)
**Disclaimer, in case you're wondering: I have no ties to the makers of SwaddleMe and purchased these with my own money.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Early Days

C arrived during Lucy's naptime on Friday and then it was the weekend. Today is the first time I've really had to be alone with both littles awake. That's fun. (Well, no. No, it isn't. Hopefully, it will be fun. Later.)

C seems so tiny -- although she's a healthy weight. We're still working on figuring out the best bottle/nipple combination for her. She has a very strong suck, so she gets frustrated with store bought "infant" nipples with their slow flow because she wants the formula to come out faster! This is the learning curve that happens with every baby, of course.

She has no issues with night/day confusion, thankfully. She'll usually take at least one long sleep overnight. We've haven't discovered a consistent daytime nap schedule yet, but I'll take that over night time sleep issues any day.

She's generally happy if held, which is where the challenge this morning came in. I can't just hold her all day, as much as I might want to do that!

To answer Emily's question, the big three are being big helps right now and are completely in love. Edmund held her (sitting carefully on the couch) for me the other day when I needed to go clean Lucy up from a diaper explosion. Peter came home from a run and immediately invited Lucy outside to play with him on Sunday evening while Mr D was out doing the grocery shopping. (He'd thought he could get back before Lucy got up from her nap. He was wrong.) Saturday afternoon (while Lucy napped), I was trying to get a screaming C to settle down and Susan came down from her room to ask if there was anything she could do to help me. I'm well aware this spontaneous helpfulness won't last, but I'm using it while I can!

Lucy is fascinated, but a little clingy. She calls C "Bay-bee." It's adorable. Except when she screams it at the top her lungs when "Bay-bee" has just started to drift off to sleep....

Saturday, September 12, 2015

She's here!

Kayla went to the court date and signed the surrenders.

Biodad didn't show up. The caseworker still hasn't actually seen him. And she was at the hospital when C was born. He wasn't there then and the NICU reports that he has never visited. Kayla keeps telling the caseworker he's at work. When the caseworker told me that, she made little air quotes with her fingers.

So, the case goal is unofficially adoption, but the caseworker (who only does the intake) isn't sure if the county will have to assign us a foster caseworker first until they can get biodad into the office to sign his paperwork. We are irritated by the delay because we're so spoiled by Lucy's case that we let ourselves wonder if another December finalization was possible. (Lucy was legally free in mid-August! If C is legally free in early September, maybe....?)

She is already off the one medication that she was still on. She's tiny -- I'd forgotten how little 9 pounds really is! -- and beautiful. She seems to be doing OK. Mostly, she got held a lot yesterday and spent the night in the swing, waking to eat and settling back down pretty well.

Friday, September 11, 2015


When things finally move in foster care, they can move very, very fast.

I got a text Wednesday night saying that DFCS was filling out the paperwork to take custody on Thursday and would set things up so we could go visit Baby C.

Mr D and I plotted and planned to go Saturday afternoon when Peter could watch Lucy since NICUs don't allow children into the unit.

Then I got a call on Thursday from the county caseworker. C was going to be discharged "today or tomorrow" and the nurses would really like us to come visit so they could go over everything with us directly.

We ended up at the NICU yesterday with Lucy in tow and just took turns visiting with C.

There is court this morning, at which both parents are expected to officially surrender their rights. After court, the caseworker will pick C up from the hospital and bring her here. If court goes as expected, we are already looking at an adoption case.

She was born with quite the cocktail of drugs in her system and it has been a lengthy withdrawal and weaning process. But, she is off of all but one of the medications used for that and on a "tiny" dose of the remaining medication.

She's about a month old. She is smiling and cooing at the nurses and they clearly adore her.

She sleeps best while rocking in a swing, per the NICU nurse, which for sure simplifies the whole "where does she sleep" question I was stressing over way back when. (She sleeps in the swing because that's what the medical staff told us to do. We are working on assembling an assortment of swings and swing-like objects to keep all over the house. When she gets big enough to not need to do that, she will move into Lucy's room. )

Mr D and I went out to dinner last night because we could. And soon, we can't. Word is starting to spread. (We told the church staff, he told some co-workers and (biggest source of spreading) the players and parents of the team he is coaching right now.)

Here we go.

Bracing ourselves.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tuesday is Monday this week

Yesterday was Labor Day, so I knew I most likely wouldn't hear anything until today at the earliest.

We got a tiny bit more information on Friday afternoon along with something that sounded like a promise of more that never came.

C was not premature; she was full term. But she is withdrawing. A NICU nurse told me once that Lucy's prematurity may have actually benefited her health in the long run since it meant less drug exposure time. That didn't happen with C. That's all I know about her health. I don't know how bad the withdrawal is or how they are treating it. At this time, she is not placed with us (officially) so I have no rights to information and have to wait for caseworkers to share.

There is still no estimated discharge date.

Biomom does still indicate a plan to surrender rights, but it appears nothing will move forward on that until CPS actually takes custody of the baby. That won't happen until the hospital tells them when they expect to discharge her. At that time, the caseworker can give the hospital permission to talk to us about how she's doing and what's going on.

No one has talked to biodad about his plans. Tom had the impression that biodad was "not interested" and even might not know about the baby. I don't think that's right. The photo shoot from Facebook indicated that he knew about the pregnancy and the county caseworker commented that his contact information was the same as Kayla's so they are still living together. A message has been sent to him to go talk to the caseworker this week. If he does, we will hopefully know his plans; if he doesn't, that will hint (to me) at a plan to surrender, because wouldn't you make sure to go see the caseworker if you thought you wanted to work a case plan? Of course, it might also hint that Kayla never passed on the message.

We still do not have permission to go visit her in the hospital.

The last conversation on Friday ended with the caseworker saying she was going to call the hospital for an update and would get back to me. I haven't heard anything since. 

We went ahead and told the kids and did some furniture rearranging in bedrooms to make things work better with two little ones sharing the room that is currently just Lucy's. Lucy, of course, has no idea what is about to happen. It'll be interesting to see how she reacts.

We still don't know so much important stuff. The biggest being WHEN?

Friday, September 4, 2015

I Called Him Again

I'd actually managed forget in the months since Lucy's adoption was final. I forgot how much a foster parent has to bug a caseworker to get any answers.

So, I called Tom again. (That's the supervisor of my agency caseworker who is out on medical leave, remember.)

I got his voicemail, so I left a somewhat rambly message. The part that I think got across was when I said that we haven't even told the current children yet that this baby is coming because we just need a few more concrete answers first so we can have that conversation with them without it being full of "I don't know" statements. We don't know when she'll be here. We don't know if she's doing okay. We don't know if she'll be an adoptive placement. We don't know, we don't know, we don't know.

He texted me back that he'd called the county caseworker after he listened to my message, but got her voicemail. He asked me to text him a list of the questions so he could be sure he got them all answered. When I sent him all 8 or so of them -- in one long text -- he responded that it was "perfect!" and said he would email that list to the caseworker as well in case she would respond better to that.

Later, I got only the briefest of updates. CPS is holding off on taking custody until they have a more firmed up discharge date -- so I guess it's not early next week? The other questions were being forwarded to yet another county caseworker who supposedly knows more. Oh, and they were going to see if biomom would sign a release so we could come visit her in the hospital.

We're heading in to a holiday weekend. I'd love to spend this time rearranging furniture and setting up cribs everywhere I think C might sleep. But I don't want to do that and then spend another 3 weeks waiting for her to show up. Or, even worse, do that and have something cause her not to come at all.

I don't think it's likely that she doesn't come at all. Unless...I'm almost afraid to type it. Unless she dies.

I don't think that's likely either, but I've heard no health updates since the very beginning. And no one who talks to me seems to know why the hospital doesn't know when they might be ready for discharge.  Part of me wants that permission to visit so that I can talk to the NICU nurses. Maybe they would tell me something. Even if it's vague. Actually, I expect it to be vague. I don't expect them to tell me that she'll be released on a specific Tuesday and stick to it; I just want to know what improvements she needs to make to be released. Is she breathing okay? Eating? Maintaining her own body temperature? Does she need medication on a regular basis? Does she need to put on more weight? Has she lost weight since birth? Gained? I just don't know.

I also don't thoroughly understand biomom's position. (As I type that, I think: probably biomom doesn't either.) We heard she was planning to surrender, so CPS was going to take custody and we would be given permission to visit. Now, we're hearing they are asking her to give us permission. Does that mean she changed her mind and now plans to work a case plan? Or does it just mean that she can't surrender until they take custody?

So many questions. So much waiting. We're back in fosterland, for sure.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Foster Care Pregnant

I'm stealing my title from one of Cherub Mamma's comments.

Being "foster care pregnant" is wierd. I think it's striking me especially this time; we've known for months this might happen, known for weeks now that she was here, but are still waiting for "delivery day."

It's also extra poignant right now because I have two ladies of my close acquaintance who have been pregnant all summer as well. One of them delivered about a week after C was born; the other still has a month to go until her due date. I've been to baby showers for both of them. I've prepared meals for the family whose baby is already here. And I've stayed silent about my own "pregnancy" because of the chance it could all fall apart and the confidentiality issues involved.

It's kind of like being in those first few months of pregnancy (the ones where you don't show yet and you aren't telling because you don't want to have to tell everybody if you miscarry). But we've stayed there for months, and will probably be giving birth suddenly.

Part of me is mourning the fact that this baby -- like M and like so many other babies in the foster care system -- doesn't get to have the big celebrations of her birth. There's no crowd of church ladies eagerly awaiting her arrival so they can fight over who gets to hold her in the nursery; there's no band of friends plotting to shower her with adorable, useless (or useful) baby items; there was no adoring squad waiting at the hospital while her mother labored. It makes me sad that her birth story doesn't get to include all that tangible evidence that she is loved and wanted and precious.

And yet...the rational side of me realizes that none of that matters. When she does arrive, she will be showered with attention and love from her "family" for as long as we are blessed to keep her. (It's looking like that's forever, but I'm trying to guard my heart a little bit until I know for sure.) She is blessed in that she is too young to know the deprivation she suffers.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

It's Tomorrow

I waited almost all day and heard nothing. OK, that's not quite fair. I got a text response to my question about biodad and the need for a DNA test, but it was pretty much a generic "how these things work" type of response, not a case specific one. (CPS prefers to have DNA, but there are other ways to TPR if the father is unknown or uncooperative. Well, I knew that.)

Finally, I called Tom at almost 5pm and asked if he'd heard anything from county caseworker. He said he hadn't, in spite of leaving a message for her, but had assumed that no contact meant they hadn't taken custody today. He said he would try again to reach her right now.

I waited again. For about 30 minutes.

And got a text from Tom. Saying that the county caseworker decided "to wait a while" before taking custody and would let him know when they did.

So, today's update -- which was supposed to tell me so much -- told me nothing different than what I've been hearing for almost a month.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It begins. Finally. Maybe?

I got a text this evening from Anna.

She's in the hospital. She'll be having (relatively minor, but unplanned) surgery tomorrow and will be out for about a week. She wanted to tell me what she knew and give me her supervisor's contact information as her supervisor will be covering for her while she's recovering from the surgery.

What she knew: C is expected to stay in the hospital for one more week. Kayla plans to surrender rights (already!?), so CPS may take custody tomorrow. (They usually wait until discharge to take custody, probably for budget reasons, unless they need to prevent the parent from visiting the child in the hospital.) If they do take custody tomorrow, we might be approved to go visit C in the hospital between then and discharge. The supervisor (let's call him Tom) will be talking to the county caseworker tomorrow to get more information.

I responded thanking her and telling her to quit worrying about us. (Can I just take this moment to say something that I hate hearing? I could never do Anna's job. I can't imagine being in the hospital and having to contact a bunch of people individually to tell them about it because my job required personal connections with so many and was so time-dependent that it wouldn't work to send out a blanket email: "I will be unavailable from x date to y date for personal reasons. Contact my supervisor if you need something before I get back.") She asked me to keep her posted.

I just texted the supervisor because I had one question I wanted to ask before he talks to the county caseworker. Kayla is surrendering; what about biodad? I'd be shocked if he makes a different decision with this child than he did with Lucy, but you never know. Regardless, do we have to wait out another DNA test?

My plan is to wait until about mid-day tomorrow before calling Tom to follow up. Until then....I'm feeling kind of...frozen. I want to leap into prep work with energy -- get the beds set up, pull out the baby clothing, put our support network on notice. But I don't think I can really do that until after we hear tomorrow's update. We haven't even told the kids yet.

So many questions. Surrendering already...does this mean no visits? No case plan? Do we go straight  to an adoption worker? How unheard of is this?!

Lucy's case was fast. This one? Sounds like it could be even faster.