My Brain is in There Somewhere… I Think

I know my heart is bigger than my brain, especially when it comes to kids. When that call comes from children’s services, it doesn’t matter what they say on the other end of the phone, I just want to say yes and bring them home. “You say you have a family of 10 complete with a pack of rabid dogs and a herd of llamas? Okay, send them over, we’ll make room!” Luckily I have enough brain to get their number to call them back, before making a decision… Oh and run it by Hubby.

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The call was for two medically fragile brothers, ages 3 and 1. The oldest had a seizure disorder and the youngest had fluid behind his ears and they had been neglected. I asked a bunch of questions, but information is always limited (and often wrong). I called back after talking to hubby (the voice of reason). I said I had more questions for her, but if we were to take them we would need until Monday. The homefinder stopped me right there; she needed them placed that day. The family support center was full and they needed to be placed immediately.

I had no time to get another bed, get a mattress for the crib (Buddy is using it in the toddler bed), get car seats, etc. Not to mention, our reservations are already paid for to go camping this weekend for the first time with Buddy. I sat and cried.

I know… If it was meant to be it would have happened. Not to mention all the pain and anguish we all go through in foster care and dealing with the very flawed system. Do I really want to go through that again? I just thought how perfect it would be for Buddy to have another boy his age, plus a baby. It seemed perfect, but was bad timing.

Children’s services called again today. They were looking to place a 6 year old girl. That, I knew we couldn’t do. We’re outgrowing our house and don’t have a room for her (our third bedroom is more nursery size and serves as an office currently). It would have been a tight squeeze for three boys in one room, and if one woke up, I ‘m sure all three would be up. Plus… camping.

The thing I know though, is that it means that we’ll be getting another call soon. More importantly, next week brings a big day for us. The judge said she would have a decision on the TPR! Plus we’re going camping… with a three-year-old? What was I thinking?? Lol, I’m sure it will be awesome!

Why?

I thought we had skipped over the “why?” stage because Buddy has been in the “what’s that?” Stage for at least 6 months now & I figured that pretty much covered it. Uh….no.

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The other day I hear my husband very patiently answer a half dozen why questions before he threw it the “because I said so!” Now it was my turn. Buddy will play with anything that has a character on it, it doesn’t matter if it’s a sticker, a pez dispenser or a plate. When he saw that he had a Spider-Man plate when his pancakes were finished he started to play with it. I told him no. “Why?” Buddy asks. Because it’s sticky. “Why?,” he retorts. Because we had maple syrup. “Why?” Because that’s what you put on pancakes. “Why?” This time I just stared at him. In a silly, mocking voice he says, “because I said so!” Ha!

So, I called my husband right up at work and said, “Guess what your son just said!” Now, whenever my husband gives that response it’s, “Because Mommy said so!” Gotta love it!

One Year Ago Today…

One year ago today we opened our home and our hearts to a little man who has forever changed our world. Our Buddy came in with his bright blue eyes, long eye lashes and a head full of blonde curls. He immediately got out some toys and quietly began to play. We were smitten immediately.

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I didn’t think that I could ever foster again after the pain of losing a previous foster baby. Yet my heart longed for a child so badly that I was willing to risk the pain one last time. I’m so glad that we did. Buddy had already spent six months in the system with another family in another county, so he was half way through his year. We have had some rough moments, but there have been plenty of good and I know that it’s a combination of his past and just being three years old. Now, in 10 days we go back to court and hopefully bio-mom will sign the surrender and he will forever be ours.

I love you Buddy, and even though I think of you as my son already, I can’t wait for the day when it’s official and we can celebrate your adoption! Happy One Year Buddy!

My Love Has Attitude

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I was warned about the “three’s.” My friend said, “They are sooo much worse than the two’s, didn’t I tell you!” Buddy is all attitude! Holy cow!

Sometimes the hardest part about being a parent is keeping a straight face. I got this at the dinner table the other night: “PUT-MY-MILK-DOWN-RIGHT HERE!,” said in a very punctuated and matter-of-fact tone. Eye’s blinking, stifling a smirk, I said, “Don’t talk to your Mommy like that young man!”

Then, after my house was suddenly littered with toys, I told Buddy he needed to clean up and started singing the clean up song. “Don’t sing, don’t sing! I won’t clean up my toys, I don’t know how!” Yes, you do know how. You will clean up or we can give your toys to a little boy who doesn’t have any!

My husband was trying to talk to me about his stressful day. He travels for work and the roads were horrible. “Shhhh Daddy! You need to quiet down, I”m watching TV!” We can turn the TV off if it’s going to be an issue.

Another time, when we were at the grocery store, I let him play some of his games on my phone. “I HATE this game.” OK, then play something else. Again a few minutes later, “I HATE this game!” No problem, and the phone went back into my pocket much to his chagrin.

Of course there are plenty of sweet moments. The other day we went upstairs to use the bathroom. While I was washing my hands I heard a crinkling of a package. “What are you doing?,” I asked. “I have picnic Daddy’s snacks on your bed!”

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Then there was another day where he had my leopard-print snuggie wrapped around him. “Oooooo, I’m a scary ghost! Ooooo!” How can you not eat that kid up?!

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Anyway, despite the attitude (I’m really hoping it’s a phase), I love both of the men in my life with all my heart and am so grateful to have them as my Valentine’s.

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The Waiting Game

I so wish you could see the expression on his face! This boy has swagger!

I so wish you could see the expression on his face! This boy has swagger!

Our TPR court date was postponed again. We don’t know why this time. The caseworker just got an email saying that the date was pushed back to March.

At our last home visit, she also told us that, even if bio-mom relinquished her rights, the adoption probably wouldn’t be finalized until around November (so much for my hope of summer). I figured it would happen right away. So much for what I know. I guess I can always keep my fingers crossed for a really efficient adoption caseworker.

I don’t know about other people, but my earliest memories in life are from when I was three years old. So, with Buddy turning 3, I just want all this to be over for him. I want him to have happy memories. I don’t want him to remember jail visits and having anxiety from different workers coming to the house. I just want him to be “our” kid and not a “foster” kid.

We also found out that bio-mom’s felony charges were reduced to misdemeanors and her sentencing is running concurrently, so she won’t get more time. What that teaches her; I don’t know. It made me sick to my stomach, but it is what it is.

The most ironic thing has been the visits. I was really upset when this program started, and now he’s only had to go once and we got a different worker! So, things have really worked out in our favor as far as all that stuff is concerned. Which is great! How crazy is it that we have had snow days on 3 separate visits (the program follows the school districts)?! Fingers crossed, the last scheduled visit can be a good bye visit and we’ll be done!

We have a call in to Buddy’s lawyer asking him to persuade bio-mom’s lawyer to go talk to her about relinquishing her rights. The caseworker said that her lawyer is lazy and probably wouldn’t see her until five minutes before court started. Buddy’s lawyer is awesome and said that he’d do whatever he could to help the process, so we’re hoping he has some influence.

So, more waiting until next month.

Super Birthday

ImageLast weekend was a special one for us all. It was Buddy’s 3rd birthday and the first one we’ve gotten to celebrate with him. We decorated the dining room with a big Avengers backdrop. There were Spider-man balloons and a banner that said Happy 3rd Birthday. I made a big 3 and decorated it in red, white and blue. Silver spirals hung from the ceiling with dangling stars.

ImageI made him a shirt with his name and superheroes inside a big 3, with a cape (see pics). I requested that everyone wear a Superhero shirt if they had one to go along with our theme. Buddy always calls me Wonder Woman and I actually found a shirt (with a cape, he, he!) on sale at Walmart. Daddy was Batman (of course, that’s his favorite). My sister outfitted the whole family with super shirts; it was awesome!

ImageBuddy requested green frosting for his cupcakes that he brought to daycare the day before. I decorated them with Spider-man faces and wrappers. They played birthday games and sang to him. We invited some friends to the bounce house and played for a couple of hours. He jumped, ran, maneuvered through obstacles and went down the slide to his heart’s content. Then we all came back to the house for pizza and salad and a chocolate (his request) Avenger’s cake. Still not understanding how presents work exactly, he came into the room singing Jingle Bells thinking that Santa had brought him his birthday gifts. We got him a train set and a play set that’s interchangeable with a workbench, school desk or kitchen. He got lots of super heroes and more. It was a great day.

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I Need To Watch What I Say

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The other day Buddy & I got some lunch out. When we were done, I put his container of milk in the cup holder of his car seat. Then I put him in and the milk, of course, went flying. “Sshhiiittt!!!,” I exclaimed as I reached for the bottle with little success. Then Buddy repeated, “shit, Mommy my milk!”
Why can’t he repeat something I say that’s profound or about his listening skills (which are obviously just fine). No, of course not!

Happy Halloween everybody!

Mommy’s Little Shopper

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Buddy is very independent. He likes to do everything himself: change his clothes, put on his shoes, get into his seat, etc. (except eat for some reason, I’m still feeding him the majority of the time). Shopping apparently is no exception! He always asks to go to the mall. What two-year-old does that? I guess with video games (we let him sit on the car & motorcycle ones) and the carousel, what’s not to like?

I’ve had a lot of anxiety lately with the upcoming jail visit and I don’t know if Buddy senses that or if he’s just going through more of his terrible two’s, but we’ve had some meltdowns lately. We had to go to the grocery store last minute last week to pick up some apple cider that was on sale & mozzarella cheese to go with our dinner. Of course this store has car carts (the top looks like a car complete with steering wheel), so Buddy wanted to sit in one. Well, being that it was almost dinner time and the store was bustling, the two car carts the store has were being used. Buddy refused to go in a regular cart. Needless to say, there was a major meltdown with him lying across the aisle kicking & screaming when he saw a little girl sitting in the very cart he wanted.

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So, when I had to go to the grocery store yesterday, I was really dreading it. We went to a store without the car carts, but they had little kid carts that they could push themselves. Buddy insisted that HE needed to go shopping. I begrudgingly let him. He really surprised me because he did awesome! He was quite the little shopper! He looked at the ads (upside down!) & pushed his cart. We put in the food that we needed. He helped me put the groceries on the belt at the checkout and he even helped me pay.

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He was a champ at the visit with bio-mom today too. I told him we were going on an adventure and Miss B, the caseworker was going to take him to see Mommy M. He didn’t really remember her, but looked forward to going. We told him that Mommy and Daddy would be waiting for him to come back and he could tell Miss B if he was scared or wanted to end the visit. He lasted a good half hour and did way better than his Nervous Nelly Mommy. We took him to dinner to get his favorite, burgers and french fries and he fell asleep on the way home. He’s such a good boy.

The caseworker said that our TPR hearing will most likely be the 1st week in December with it concluding in May or June. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it does not get dragged out any further than that, especially since we don’t know if bio-mom’s other charges are going to extend her stay or not. In the meantime, I’m going to take a cue from my little man and try to chill out and look forward to us being a forever family by summer time.

Anything But Ordinary

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It was supposed to just be an ordinary permanency hearing… continue with foster care. I told my husband that he didn’t have to take off from work. I was fine going by myself. He’d gone to a couple before and this was my first one. I didn’t mind. This is one time I can honestly say that I’m glad he didn’t listen to me!

Our first surprise was when we were told that bio-mom was on her way from jail. Ummm, what???!!! I didn’t know she even knew the hearing was going on and I didn’t know that they moved her from the justice center to the jail yet (read about jail in my last post here). Apparently she was moved the evening before.

When we got into the court room, bio-mom actually looked presentable (besides being shackled, in an orange jumpsuit and escorted by prison guards). Her hair was clean, neatly brushed and she didn’t have any of her facial piercings in. Then she actually thanked us for taking care of Buddy! … Then she lied to the judge’s face!

She said that she could have gone to rehab through drug court, but decided that she needed to take some time for herself. In actuality, she skipped out on rehab, a warrant was issued for her arrest and she was sent to jail. So… what was the past year that he was in care for if not to take time for herself? She didn’t have to take care of anyone else!

Then she went on to say that she joined NA (after being in jail for less than 24 hours) and will be out in March for good behavior (instead of the year she was sentenced to serve) and everything will be taken care of! Really? You think they’re going to get your kid back in five months because you went to some meetings in jail? Also, she has two felony charges pending. Hopefully she doesn’t just get a slap on the wrist for those, but has to serve some hard time in prison.

To make matters even worse, the judge was a jerk. A month ago when the court papers were filed for the hearing, we didn’t know where bio-mom was. She was MIA and there haven’t been visits in six months. Now, she’s here in court and when the judge asked if she’s getting visits, the answer was no and he flipped out. He said that she is entitled to get weekly visits since the plan is reunification (he didn’t know about the TPR). When the caseworker said that she had been missing and visits were being offered to her on a monthly basis, he didn’t agree and said that she deserves to see her child and he hopes that it’s more than once by the next hearing. The bio-mom spoke up and said to the caseworker that she read in a handbook that she can have the kid on her lap and play with him by herself too! (I guess there is a Head Start program where this could be a reality, but chances are she won’t qualify, fingers crossed).

Oh yeah, and court was rescheduled for a month from now because she wanted a lawyer.

I kept it together for the 15 minutes maybe that we were in court. It seemed like forever. Then when I got out I started to cry. Why was the judge all for the bio-mom who’s in jail and not for Buddy? Where are his rights? Why should he be tormented by visits in jail with some woman he’s barely seen over the past year? He does see his mom, it’s me and I’m there for him every single day!

Our caseworker is awesome and she put some things into perspective for me. Even though the judge was a big jerk and wanted to make sure the visits were happening, it’s actually a good thing because he’s making sure that all the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted. DSS is required to offer visits and if they don’t, it could hurt us at TPR. Also, if Buddy has a hard time with the visits, we can make an appointment with the psychologist. The psychologist can then write a letter stating that the visits are negatively impacting Buddy and submit that to the judge. If Buddy has a REALLY hard time and say, screams bloody murder during a visit, the jail officials will kick him out and say that it’s not a good environment for him anyway.

So, I could go to the jail visits with Buddy, but since I could barely hold it together for court, I probably shouldn’t be there with him during a visit. Part of me wants to go, because she doesn’t like me very much and even the caseworker said she might try to attack me. She went off on me at a doctor’s appointment before (read here) because I referred to myself as Mommy. That would suck for her if she did that since they probably don’t like prisoners fighting with visitors.

The caseworker is going to update the hearing paperwork so that the judge has more background as to what has transpired recently, that the TPR is scheduled and also what behaviors Buddy has as a result of visits with bio-mom after not seeing her for so long (which are inevitable).

Needless to say, it was a rough morning. To make me feel better, Hubby took me out to lunch and then we went shopping. What would I ever do without him?

Pray for my little man that the visits aren’t too horrible for him. Since the behaviors are starting already, I know it’s not going to be good. Buddy is an amazing two-year-old little boy who deserves normalcy. He should be worrying about what toy to play with next, not about jail visits and memories of abandonment and neglect. I just want all of this to be over with and for him to be ours.

I know the last couple of posts have been pretty intense. Thanks for listening to me vent.

Photo credit: SalFalko / Foter / CC BY-NC

Babies Behind Bars

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A couple of posts ago I mentioned that Buddy’s bio-mom resurfaced and is back in our lives (see it here). She made a deal with the court to go to inpatient rehab instead of jail. Well, that didn’t last long.

I’m not even sure if she was in there for a full two weeks before she screwed up. I was told that there are only two ways to get out of rehab: get into a fight or have a relative that’s also in. Well, she found a loop hole, because she did #3: say you’re sick. She was sent to the hospital and it apparently was not the hospital she requested, so they discharged her. She didn’t check in with the rehab facility, so they issued a warrant for her arrest. Instead of turning herself in, she ran.

Needless to say, she found herself back in jail. Now she has to serve a year and has more charges pending. What does this mean for us and Buddy? He gets to visit her in jail once a month.

Now, I have no experience with jail, so I looked up how visits are conducted. I initially wanted to go with Buddy for the visit, but my husband is going with the caseworker instead (more on that in the next post). I will go to the jail, sit in the waiting room and be there for him before and after the visit. Buddy and bio-mom can only have a quick kiss and hug at the beginning and end of the visit, there is no contact allowed besides that. He has to sit on my husband’s lap during the entire visit. Now, he’s a very busy and active two-year-old. How is this going to work? I’m sure he’ll probably sit the first time because he’ll be scared out of his mind. I guess her face is covered in spiky piercings now, so that alone will do it, not to mention the weird, new place that he has to go to. After that, good luck getting him to sit still for longer than five minutes.

I’m assuming that bio-mom will probably be at the court hearings now as well. The TPR was filed on October 1 and all the paperwork should be ready for court to be scheduled by the end of the month. Before she went to jail, I figured we’d get Buddy by default because she wouldn’t show up. Now, she’ll have people to remind her of her upcoming court dates and it’s a good excuse to get out of jail for the day. She also has a lawyer. I’m 90% sure that Buddy will be ours, but it will probably be drawn out because I’m sure she’ll appeal if her rights are taken away.

Buddy knows that something is up. I’ve mentioned before that he’s very intuitive. He bites at his fingers and occasionally grinds his teeth during the day. Now he’s screaming at night. No, not crying, but a real scream, while he’s sleeping. Now just imagine what’s going to happen with him once the visits start. Think of my little guy next Monday when he visits jail.