Christmas Past Collides with Christmas Present

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The jail visits continue to be difficult. Buddy is a good actor. He’s very brave as he gets into the van with the transporter, dutifully goes to the visit to see his bio-mom and then returns to daycare a little wild but himself. Once he gets home the meltdown begins. There has been screaming at the top of his lungs, flinging ornaments off the Christmas tree, rice and corn flying through my dining room, tantrums about getting dressed and terrors in the night. But we’re complying with a court order, so it’s ok (say the people who don’t have to deal with the damage that’s being done).

We met with the caseworker today and she said that the judge cannot make the decision of giving bio-mom another chance with Buddy just because she is doing the programs in jail. So that was good to hear. It was up to social services to say that rights should be terminated. Now when we go to TPR on the 7th, bio-mom can either do the right thing and sign over her rights or go to trial. We will most likely go to trial. The hearing would be around March. There are only a handful of people to testify, so hopefully that will move quickly. Also, by that point Buddy will have been with us for over a year and we can hire a lawyer to speak for us. I still have fingers crossed for adoption in the summer.

During the good times, Buddy and I made Christmas cookies and wrapped some presents. We’ve been singing Christmas carols and watching the specials on TV. He’s still a little unsure of the logistics of how the whole deal with Santa works, but he’ll find out soon enough. My family will be coming to our house Christmas Eve for dinner and gifts. On Christmas Day we’ll go to my aunt’s and see the Great Grandparents. Hopefully he won’t be too crazy with all that’s going on over two days. Change in routine + overstimulation = meltdowns & getting up multiple times during the night.

To all the foster parents out there, I wish you the best through this joyous but difficult time of the year and to everyone a Very Merry Christmas!

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Taking the Good with the Bad

This is our lab mix Frannie, who is completely mortified for having to wear antlers.

This is our lab mix Frannie, who is completely mortified for having to wear antlers.

I have been busy, as I’m sure everyone has, with the holidays. Thanksgiving was wonderful. I was able to eat freely for the first time in 2 years, my mom is healthy and my little man was with us. He got to play in the snow with the cousins.¬†Great times all around.

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The reason why I blog is because I want others to know the truth. I’m not one to sugar coat anything. I tell it how it is. So, more times than not, my blogs are negative. It’s not how I want to be as a person, it’s just reality sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, every day is a blessing in it’s own way, but a lot of the times the bad outweighs the good. I don’t want to seem like I’m always down on the foster care system, but it does nothing to help itself. If it wasn’t for Buddy’s amazing caseworker, I would think that there was nobody in his corner.

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He is supposed to visit his bio-mom in jail. The first visit went fine, the second visit was pure torture and we had to force him to see her. That still kills me. Now, he’s going to this program that bio-mom got approved for, and with every word I hear about what it entails, the more I hate it, and the more I wish I could say NO!

Buddy will go for 1-1/2 hour visits with bio-mom at the jail in a pre-school type setting, where I’m told, that she will teach Buddy a lesson in an effort to reconnect. Yes, reconnect with the woman he hasn’t regularly seen in a year. Then, twice a month a worker from the program will come to our home (more than even social services) to teach us the lesson, so that we can re-enforce it here. This is just what I gathered over the phone. Tomorrow someone is coming to the house to tell us more. What exactly bio-mom is going to teach him, I can’t even imagine. I’m so beside myself about it.

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I keep trying to think of the positives. Buddy is the most resilient little man I know. Somehow he always manages to do alright. It’s only 3 hours a month. If TPR goes through it will end.

However, the negatives creep in: there will be behaviors, there will be anxiety for him and me, there will be night terrors, there will be things we have to deal with because she was so selfish and enlisted in this program (by selfish, I mean thinking of herself and not how it will impact Buddy). I don’t think that this will end at TPR because she is so disillusioned that she thinks she’s getting him back when she gets out of jail. So, she’s going to drag this out further, and confuse Buddy some more.

Since the jail visits have started, Buddy has started to hate going to daycare. He’s fine once he’s there, but getting him up in the morning is another story. Once he gets home, he clings to me or my husband and is afraid to leave our sides.

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Anyway, for the good days that aren’t anxiety ridden… Buddy doesn’t like the way I play superheroes with him, so I’ll try to do fun activities he likes, whether it’s going out somewhere, playing a game, play dough or doing a craft. We made a gingerbread house. Buddy liked putting the candy on and putting it all together with icing and some of his leftover Halloween candy. Most of the candy went on the house as oppose to his belly, but he really liked the icing and kept taking swipes of it off the roof. He was proud of himself when it was done. He didn’t quite get that it was just to look at and not eat (not as fun).

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We took him to the mall to see Santa and get his picture taken. We talked about this for quite a while and Buddy was pretty scared. When you think about it, who wouldn’t be? You want a child to sit on some strange man’s lap? You wouldn’t go for that in any other setting. So we practiced at home and my husband pretended to be Santa. We practiced what he would say. We went to a small mall near us where I knew there wouldn’t be a ton of people and he was a champ! It took a little effort to get him to smile for his picture, but he did really great. He said he wanted Ninja Turtles and still doesn’t quite get how the concept of Christmas works, so when I’ve gotten packages in the mail, he asks if those are his turtles from Santa. “Not yet, Santa will leave them under the tree for you to open on Christmas morning. You have a few more weeks yet.” Then he said, “No, Santa’s not going to leave the presents under the tree, there is no room.” “Okay, okay, you’re right, so he’ll probably put them next to the tree,” I said. “No, he’ll put them AROUND the tree,” Buddy says very matter of factly. He is going to be three years old in a month after all, so he should know!

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One afternoon I asked him if he wanted to help me put the tree up and he said no that he was watching Avengers Assemble. Him and TV (insert eye roll here!). So that night I brought the tree down (yes artificial, I never realized how much effort my dad put into a real tree. Plus pine needles! Yuck!), sorted out the non-breakable from the breakable ornaments and left the latter up in the attic. The next morning he came down stairs and said, “who did that?” I said, I brought down the tree; I thought we’d decorate after breakfast. He did awesome. He picked out ornaments and hung them on the tree. Sometimes multiple on one branch, but not bad. Then once we ran out, he asked for a couple back: a cat, a soldier and a ship and he took them on the couch to play with (not breakable, see, thinking ahead!). I told him that they needed to stay on the tree, and that was that. He hasn’t touched an ornament since. I also have this big Sesame Street Snow Globe (about a foot and a half around) that I have in front of the tree and he will turn that on and it will snow and play music, so he’s been happy doing that. Of course, he did it continuously when I was trying to make a phone call to see where one of my Christmas gifts was that was on back-order (I wasn’t paying attention to him you see).

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The other day we made salt dough ornaments. It was my first time making them, so they didn’t turn out great, but he had fun helping me roll out the dough, use the cookie cutters and make them into designs. Then he “did the dishes,” which consists of him rinsing off already washed dishes from the dish rack, getting really wet and drinking from the faucet with a spoon, but he had a good time doing it!

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So, while I’m not always the most positive person, I hope that at least someone else out there can go, “wow, she had to deal with that crap too!” and feel a little bit better that they’re not alone. I have really taken solace in reading other people’s blogs and thank my lucky stars that I’m not the only one going through this. If any one else has stories about jail visits, I’d love to hear them.