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!

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Hurry Up and Wait

I wrote this after last month’s court date, so here it is, better late than never.

We all filed into the court room with nervous anticipation of what the day could bring. Would we be celebrating the end of Buddy’s 18 months in foster care or disappointed when we’re strung out until another court date?

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When the judge asked the court appointed lawyer about bio-mom’s intentions, he commented that despite having sent her a letter at the jail, he received no response from her and had only met with his client moments before court. He was however, able to find out that she wants Buddy back when she gets out of jail in June.

I know bio-mom will not get Buddy back. It’s too late for that. I’ve been told numerous times that this is a really solid case. I also see her side of things and realize that the closer we get to her release date, the more she thinks she can get him back. Gone are the days of sentimentality surrounding the Christmas holiday and any hints to the possibility of surrender. The lawyer for DSS said that they would offer her a picture and a letter on the condition of a surrender, but had no incentives for her. The judge set up a pretrial date for April to give her one last chance to surrender. She also set aside two full days for the TPR hearing in May.

So, not surprisingly, we were strung out for more court dates. Yes, I’m desperately hoping for a surrender, but I will try not to keep my hopes up. The part that bothered me was actually before court even started. I like Buddy’s caseworker and lawyer. They’re probably among the best, however they are not without their faults. While waiting for court to start in the little waiting room, my husband and I are on pins and needles in anticipation of what the future holds with our little man. Buddy’s lawyer was more concerned with a criminal trial he had to get to and pick a jury for. The caseworker was shooting the breeze with the court police officer. I know it’s just another day for these guys. I’m sure that they have to distance themselves in order to keep sane. However, I couldn’t help but feel that it was all really unprofessional to do in front of us. We felt like nobody cared about Buddy. It was just another day for them.

My husband decided to call an adoption attorney. There are only two in our city that specifically deal with adoptions. I met the woman attorney twice before and wasn’t impressed. She fostered teenagers and basically just let them run the streets. She wasn’t in it to be a “mom.” The other attorney came highly recommended. However, I’m still not working, and the thought of having thousands of dollars in attorney fees just didn’t appeal to me. However, Hubby said he’d work all the overtime he had to, to make sure we had a voice. As it turns out, there is actually a grant available and the costs will be minimal if anything at all! This was good news.

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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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.

Conversations on the Toilet

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Conversation with Buddy as he’s sitting on the toilet…

Buddy: Mommy, I’m going to go to school?

Me: Next year you’ll go to Pre-K.

Buddy: I’m going to take the bus?

Me: No, not until you’re bigger; when you’re five. But then Mommy will be sad because you’ll be so big.

Buddy: You’re going to be mad because I ride the bus?

Me: No, I’m going to be sad that you’re so big and I want you to stay little.

Buddy: You’re going to be mad that I’m going to school?

Me: No, I’m not going to be mad.

Buddy: You’re going to be mad that I’m big?

Me: No! No! I’m not mad, I’m happy, I’m very happy! Go potty!

 

Photo credit: ben110 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Apples, Pumpkins and Bounce Houses, Oh My!

ImageI love the fall. The weather is cooling down, the leaves are changing colors, there are fall festivals to attend and apples to pick. This year is even better because we get to do it all with Buddy!

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A few weeks ago we went apple picking. Some people like to just go to the orchard, pick their apples and be done with it. Well, this was our first time with our little man, so went to the place that is all about the kids. It had bounce houses, a tractor ride, horse rides, train ride, petting zoo, etc. By the time we were ready to pick apples, both of our phone’s died and we didn’t get any pictures of the main attraction! Now Buddy asks, “can we go apple picking bounce house?” As if they are one and the same.

ImageLast weekend we went to the apple festival and he spotted the rides right away. We told him he had to wait until after we looked around a bit. So we checked out the big tractors and huge pumpkins, visited the craft tents, had some lunch and then he got his turn at some fun. He absolutely LOVED the Ferris wheel! So much in fact that he wanted to go on it twice. Then he rode a pony, but in true Buddy fashion, he is Mr. Independent and was mad that I was walking next to him on the pony. He kept insisting that I go stand with Daddy!

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Buddy is excited for Halloween and decided to be Ironman! He loves to dress up, so he’s more than prepared since he also has costumes for a pirate, dinosaur, Woody, Batman, Spiderman, and Captain America. No, I didn’t buy them all new, I’m a thrifty shopper, remember? I picked some up at garage sales and others at thrift shops. He also has various hats (fireman, soldier, construction worker, etc.) and masks (Optimus Prime, Darth Vader, etc.). Yes, the child is spoiled, but when I can pick things up for a couple of bucks, why not?!

ImageWe also picked up some pumpkins at the dollar store and got crafty making a spider, mummy, monster, super hero and a kitty (big pumpkin bought at the thrift store for 99 cents!). Buddy said they needed lights, so I got some candy corn lights and put them out on our front porch in front of our window decorations.

ImageI wanted to take Buddy to a pumpkin patch, and maybe we still will this weekend if the weather isn’t too yucky, but I saw a sign for “U-pick Pumpkins” after we left the apple festival. There was a little country store and they had an apple orchard. After paying for our pumpkin, it turns out that picking your own, was from the bunch they had out in front of the store. Not exactly the experience I was hoping for, but it’s a nice pumpkin for us to carve up together. (Not quite like the witch below though, cool huh?! & Spiderman pose!)

ImageSo, we’ve had some great times and have really enjoyed getting out and enjoying the fall weather. Hopefully it will continue on since I’m really not looking forward to winter and snow.

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I love the fall. The weather is cooling down, the leaves are changing colors, there are fall festivals to attend and apples to pick. This year is even better because we get to do it all with Buddy!

A few weeks ago we went apple picking. Some people like to just go to the orchard, pick their apples and be done with it. Well, this was our first time with our little man, so went to the place that is all about the kids. It had bounce houses, a tractor ride, horse rides, train ride, etc. By the time we were ready to pick apples, both of our phone’s died and we didn’t get any pictures of the main attraction! Now Buddy asks, “can we go apple picking bounce house?” As if they are one and the same.

Last weekend we went to the apple festival and he spotted the amusement park rides right away. We told him he had to wait until after we looked around a bit. So we checked out the big tractors and huge pumpkins, visited the craft tents, had some lunch and then he got his turn at some fun. He absolutely LOVED the Ferris wheel! So much in fact that he wanted to go on it twice. Then he rode a pony, but in true Buddy fashion, he is Mr. Independent and was mad that I was walking next to him on the pony. He kept insisting that I go stand with Daddy!

Buddy is excited for Halloween and decided to be Ironman! He loves to dress up, so he’s more than prepared since he also has costumes for a pirate, dinosaur, Woody, Batman, Spiderman, and Captain America. No, I didn’t buy them all new, I’m a thrifty shopper, remember? I picked some up at garage sales and others at thrift shops. He also has various hats (fireman, soldier, construction worker, etc.) and masks (Optimus Prime, Darth Vader, etc.). Yes, the child is spoiled, but when I can pick things up for a couple of bucks, why not?!

We also picked up some pumpkins at the dollar store and got crafty making a spider, mummy, monster, super hero and a kitty (big pumpkin bought at the thrift store for 99 cents!). Buddy said they needed lights, so I got some candy corn lights and put them out on our front porch in front of our window decorations.

I wanted to take Buddy to a pumpkin patch, and maybe we still will this weekend if the weather isn’t too yucky, but I saw a sign for “U-pick Pumpkins” after we left the apple festival. There was a little country store and they had an apple orchard. After paying for our pumpkin, it turns out that picking your own, was from the bunch they had out in front of the store. Not exactly the experience I was hoping for, but it’s a nice pumpkin for us to carve up together.

So, we’ve really been enjoying getting out and enjoying the fall weather. Hopefully it will continue on since I’m so not looking forward to winter and snow.

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Out of the Mouth’s of Babes

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Some of the things that come out of Buddy’s mouth are hilarious. It really makes you wonder where he comes up with this stuff. Other times he’s very endearing.

One day he says to me, “I want a monkey!” A monkey! Where the heck am I going to get a monkey?

The other day, out of the blue, he says to me, “I want a bike for my birthday!” Huh? You already have two bikes, I said. Plus, your birthday isn’t for three more months. “No, my birthday’s coming!” Okay, okay.

Another time, he gave me a mask and said, “you be Spiderman.” So, I put on the mask. He takes it off me and smugly says, “Hi Peter Parker,” and proudly walks away.

Lately he’s been saying “my mommy.” I didn’t know if he was referring to his bio-mom since we have been talking about her lately since she recently popped up. So I asked him. When you say “my mommy” are you talking about Mommy M? He looked at me and said, “You’re Buddy’s Mommy!” and gave me a big hug.

So, then yesterday I gave Buddy a quick shower before bed and then he had to use the toilet. As I went to put the towel around him, I knocked over a hand-held mirror and it shattered on the floor. My husband came running up the stairs. I reassured him we were okay; I’ll just have another seven years bad luck on top of the last mirror I broke. When I went to put Buddy to sleep he asked me why Daddy came upstairs when the mirror broke. I said it’s because he loves us and cares about us and wanted to make sure we were okay. He looked at me and said, “He’s a good Daddy!” Yes he is baby, yes he is.

We just love that boy!

Sing The Nerfs Yah, Yah Song Mommy!

My husband and I take turns putting Buddy to bed each night. He has sleep issues, so it can be a daunting task. We have a routine of bath, books, songs, then some cuddle time in the chair before being put in his crib.

One of his favorite songs for me to sing is Bah, Bah Black Sheep (he doesn’t even let Daddy sing him that one), but he had another request last night. He said, “Mommy sing the nerf yah, yah song!” The what? “Nerfs! Yah, yah, yah!” Oh, the Smurfs, La, La song!

The kid cracks me up! The Smurfs is one of his favorite movies, so we’re going to take him to see Smurfs 2 tomorrow. I’m sure it will be just Smurfy.

ImagePhoto Credit: http://scottbrownscerebralcaffeine.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/who-hates-the-smurfs/

You Can Take The Girl Out of the Burbs, But…

ImageOur trip to DC was good. We all had a nice time, especially Buddy, which is what is important. It was just TOO MUCH!

ImageI’m very much a suburban girl. I like that I can drive just about anywhere I need to go within 15 minutes. I like that I don’t have to deal with subways and traffic and when I walk somewhere, it’s for pleasure, not because it’s the only way to feasibly get from here to there. DC is very much a city and is overwhelming to me.

ImageOur hotel was divine. We had a nice suite with a living room area, a mini kitchen area and a bedroom. They had awesome breakfasts where we got made-to-order complimentary omelets and a delightful manager’s reception in the evening with (very strong) adult cocktails and snacks. ImageHowever, we were on the go everywhere in between. Walking to monuments and museums (sometimes 3 in one day!).

ImageI thought for sure I must have lost a few pounds walking, but I must have made up for it with the drinks and snacks! The food was extremely expensive and the choices were less than ideal. I paid $18 for a salad one day! A (disgusting baloney tasting) hotdog for Buddy was $6!

ImageWe had beautiful weather and it was fun to see segway tours zip by us or the silly duck boats drive down the street. Buddy enjoyed riding the Metro, seeing the dinosaurs, rocket ships and animals.

ImageHowever, I was so overwhelmed by the last day of our vacation that we skipped the last museum and I cried on the way home in frustration. I was glad to sleep in my own bed.

ImageThen our next task was a garage sale. Our attic was so packed with things that we needed desperately to get rid of. My awesome husband did 90% of the work and lugged box after box down two flights of stairs. We only made about $400 and a whole mini van’s worth of stuff went to the Rescue Mission, but it was nice to purge it all.

ImageI think I brought a lot of my own grief on what was supposed to be a nice family trip. I still don’t have a job and felt guilty for spending our savings while I’m not working. Yes, we deserved it, but it was hard to justify. I am just getting more and more nervous about not getting something as the school year rapidly approaches. I do have an interview on Monday and I plan on killing it! Keep your fingers crossed.

ImageIn the meantime, Buddy’s mom has not made contact with DSS since June, but has a very public Facebook page that she updated last week with new pictures of her and her latest girlfriend. It’s too bad that her priorities are not in the right place, but she has 47 short days until the TPR paperwork is filed. The caseworker said that the paperwork is already done, she’s just waiting for the magical 53 week mark to submit it.

ImageI need to start doing some yoga or meditation and slow my ever running brain down… one day at a time girl, one day at a time!