Friday, February 27, 2009

House Rules

Today I started going through all of my foster/adopt paperwork... I thought I'd go ahead and try to get a filing system going now before I get too bogged down with receipts, forms, etc. That's when I found one of my required assignments entitled "House Rules, Rewards, and Consequences."

I've mentioned before some of the total ridiculousness that is required of foster parents. The whole "no foil" thing... The "double lock your medicine" thing... You can't even have dish soap on your counter! Yet hand soap and a clean towel have to be "readily available" at all times. A little confusing, but whatever. At this point, I'll agree to just about anything if it means I'll get to be a "mom" sooner. The "House Rules" assignment, however, was one that I kind of had a problem with.

These "House Rules" must include about ten firm rules of the house, several possible rewards for good behavior, and several consequences for breaking the rules. While I think it's a great idea to establish house rules and have consistent rewards and consequences, the next step in the foster care requirements insists that these House Rules be "prominently-displayed in the child's room for easy reference." I'm fostering infants, for crying out loud! What three-month-old is going to think, "Hmmm... I wonder if this is acceptable behavior... Let me consult my House Rules!"? For that matter, what kind of rules does one give a baby?!?

I was at a complete loss, but then my niece and nephew came over for a visit, and I had one of my oh-so-brilliant ideas. Why not get "Buddy" and "Ka-Diva" to help me come up with some good House Rules?!? Let's see what a couple of (at the time) three-year-olds think is important when it comes to manners, good behavior, and safety! They felt very important helping Aunt Tammy with her "homework." And my sister and I had a blast listening to their answers. Some were really insightful, and others were just downright HILARIOUS (especially because they were said in all seriousness. :-)

Here's what the twins came up with. In the end, I took their answers, consolidated them a bit, and turned it in for my assignment. (But I also added their original answers so the case workers could have a little chuckle.)

Mealtime Rules
  1. Always say, "May I please be excused" after you finish eating.
  2. No elbows on the table.
  3. Chew with your mouth closed.
  4. It's not 'good manners' to burp.
  5. Try all of your food to find out if you like it, and eat however many bites Mommy tells you to eat even if you don't like it.
Playing with Others
  1. Share your toys.
  2. Don't hit.
  3. Don't kick.
  4. Don't take toys from other kids.
  5. No fighting.
  6. Don't be bossy. ("Princess" and I are working on this one. It's not that we're "bossy" really. We just know how things should be done. :-)
Safety Rules (They've been VERY into safety lately.)
  1. No jumping on the couch.
  2. No breaking glass.
  3. Don't touch fire.
  4. Don't open the door by yourself.
  5. Don't go with strangers.
  6. Always wear a lifejacket by the water.
  7. Don't go outside without a grown-up.
  8. Always hold a grown-up's hand in the parking lot.
My Personal Favorites
  1. (Input from Buddy) - "Turn on your ears and listen when Mommy is telling you something." (There's this thing called "Mommy Deafness" where a mom can be screaming in her child's ear, but he can't hear her. However, he can hear the trash truck coming from five blocks away over his mother's screams.)
  2. (Input from Ka-Diva) - "Always say, 'Excuse me' when you burp or toot."
  3. (Then added from Buddy) - "It's not good manners to burp or toot, but if you have to, you have to do it so no one can hear." (My sister and I got a great lesson on this in the Chick-Fil-A dining area. The twins were "just soooo gassy" as Princess put it, and were having a contest of sorts. Christy sternly told them to stop it, and a minute later my dainty little niece loudly exclaims, "You didn't hear that toot, Mommy!!!" We might not have heard the toot, but everyone in the restaurant heard her exclamation. :-)
  4. (Also from the Ka-Diva) - "Don't go outside in your socks or you have to go into Time Out!" (I'm not entirely sure where this rule came from, but she is extremely adamant about it. She is constantly giving my dad and brother-in-law "time outs" for going outside in their socks.)
  5. (Input from both of them at the same time) - "Always brush your teeth or you will get 'cabities' and they'll fall out, but the Tooth Fairy doesn't come if your teeth fall out from 'cabities' so always brush your teeth. :-)
  6. (Also from both) - "It's not 'good manners' to wake up Mommy and Daddy when they're sleeping. You're supposed to go in the other room and be quiet."
So those were the most important rules that the twins could come up with. Not bad for a couple of three-year-olds. But before we ended the assignment, I asked them what they thought a good reward was when they did something good. My nephew's immediate response was so sweet... He thinks the best reward is "hugs and kisses." How cute is that?!? :-)

Monday, February 23, 2009


Today was rather eventful day in the foster/adopt realm, with absolutely nothing to show for it in the end. I was out to lunch with my mom, and I heard my message tone on my phone. I was half-expecting Katie to text me because I knew she had taken Colton to the doctor, so I glanced down to read what I thought was a text from her only to discover that I had missed a call from Pathways (my agency)! I went to listen to the message, and all I got was, "Hey Tammy. It's Stephanie from Pathways. I put in for a 4-week-old baby for y..." AND THEN IT CUT HER OFF!!!

I immediately called her back and found out that she had put in my name for a 4-week-old baby girl who had just become available. She said that the broadcast would be open until 1:00, but that she'd let me know by 2:00 if I'd get to have her. Apparently, the State sends out a broadcast email to all of the participating agencies in the county every time a child needs a foster home. The case managers constantly monitor their email, and immediately submit the information for matching foster parents, and I guess the State chooses from there. Unfortunately, once again, I didn't end up getting the baby.

I'm SO FRUSTRATED! I've wanted to be a mom for so long, and it seems like every time it looks like I might be getting closer, something always stops it. I've been trying seriously to make this happen for about five years. I've always had the feeling that I was going to adopt because I'd had so many "girlie" problems, but private adoption is so expensive. So when I first started thinking about having a baby, I tried my OBGYN first. This was about four or five years ago. I just wanted to see what my chances were of being able to get pregnant. We ended up doing another laparoscopy to try to clean everything up, and he was going to check to see if my tubes were blocked at the same time. It turned out that the chances of me ever getting pregnant without in vitro were pretty much slim to none, and even then chances weren't great. So the "getting pregnant" option was pretty much out. Four months later, I ended up having a hysterectomy anyway, so the pregnancy thing was definitely out at that point. On to adoption...

After the hysterectomy, I started seriously searching for an adoption agency for a domestic adoption. This proved to be EXTREMELY frustrating. The Christian agencies won't even consider singles. I guess in their eyes, you have to be married in order to be a good parent. I did find a good agency that I planned on using, but who can honestly afford a full year's salary to adopt and also pay all of the birthmother's living and medical expenses?!? So I looked into international adoption, and decided on adopting from Guatemala. They accept single mothers. Most of the babies are in private foster homes, rather than orphanages. And you can usually have the baby home by the time they are 6 months old (extremely young for international adoptions). It was still going to take quite a while to save up the money (about $20,000), but it was a doable plan. ...Until new regulations in 2007 made it just about impossible to adopt from there. There are actually people who were matched back in 2007 who are still waiting to bring their children home! So much for Guatemala...

That's when I decided to look into fostering to adopt. I'd always stayed away from the idea because I know how attached I will get, and having to give the babies back will be horrible. But most foster parents do get to adopt within the first two to four placements, and it's only around $1,500 as opposed to $30K or more. But after the past five months, I can see why they "bribe" hopeful parents with the lower cost. You have to jump through more hoops than the dolphins at Sea World! They place completely unrealistic expectations on you and what they feel a "good" household should be. I mean, seriously! Who honestly double-locks their medications?!? How many of us haven't put a box of leftover pizza in the refrigerator?!? (Note to all you parents out there. If you do that, you're BAD! You have to put it in an airtight container. "Good" parents don't use foil, you know!) A what normal person doesn't leave their shampoo in the shower?!? That's where it needs to be, for crying out loud!!! It also seems like they constantly tease you with, "We have a baby for you!" "Oops! No we don't!" It's already happened to me twice in three weeks!

I just get so frustrated because here I am, wanting to be a mom so much, and knowing that I'll be a great one, but I have to constantly "prove my worthiness" to be a parent and have complete strangers judging me on a daily basis by my little biographical sketch in my homestudy. There are people out there who have NO BUSINESS having babies popping them out like pez dispensers (ex. Octo-Mom with her 14 kids). No one is making her prove her worthiness as a parent! Oh NO! They're paying her to exploit her children while she asks for handouts and gets plastic surgery for herself! (Sorry... But that woman makes me MAD!)

Anyway... As you can tell, I'm having kind of a rough day. I know everyone keeps saying that "my" baby will come soon, but with fostering, I won't even know if it will be "my" baby when I get him or her. Chances are, I will only have them for a year, and will have to give them back. I just hope that I will be able to have my own family soon... That I will be able to adopt eventually and won't have to continue to "prove myself" forever... and I pray that I'm strong enough to get through all of the ups and downs that come with this foster/adopt train, and that my heart doesn't get completely shattered in the process.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I'm So Ashamed...

It was a fairly uneventful day today. Paid lots and lots of bills, fixed all sorts of messes that came up while I was sick, and "saved lives by making transfusion possible" seeing as how that's my job and all... I did, however, get my name on the board for talking too much (Thanks a lot, Katie!). There was NO ONE at work today, so I was on the phone a lot while I was coding the 10,000 invoices that I get every week. I'm very talented at multi-tasking. Apparently though, I talked too much, or I didn't use my "library voice" as stated in the Cubicle Etiquette Handbook, thus resulting in what I believe is my third demerit for the month of February.

My first "implied via ESP" demerit was most likely bestowed upon me when I neglected to give proper two week written notice of a completely unpredictable illness. I say "implied via ESP" because no one actually said anything to me about it, but I am almost certain there were discussions while I was bedridden for nearly a week. I doubt I will hear anything at all until I have hit demerit number five, and am sent to trial do determine whether or not I am to be publicly flogged in the breakroom.

I think demerit number two was thrown my way yesterday when I failed to get a potty pass. Again, no words were spoken, but I did receive "looks" when I arose from my chair, left the confines of my cubicle, and exited the department without announcing in a loud, clearly enunciated voice that I "HAD TO GO POTTY" and putting up my big orange sign that says something along the lines of "Tammy is in the 3rd stall on the left in the upstairs women's restroom if you want to hound her before she comes back in no more than two minutes." I'm not really sure what happens at two minutes and one second, but I think they come to the stall and request your badge so they can go to the timeclock and clock you out until you return to be shackled to your desk.

I just can't wait to see what they come up with next! It's always so exciting! I should probably go ahead and tell them now that I do plan to retire in 30 years. I just hope that's enough notice! I just love my job. It's so rewarding, and it makes me feel so good to have an actual grown up career. Not at all like when I was 18-years-old and had to make a mad run to the timeclock at Mervyn's to clock in before 9:07 or I went on the "Naughty List." Oh! Wait! It IS like that! It is exactly like that! Too bad Mervyn's went bankrupt. At least I got a shopping discount there!

So Katie... If you call me tomorrow, be sure to whisper so I don't feel the urge to talk too loudly... "Library voices" and all, remember... I think if I get a fourth demerit, I have to give up my firstborn. And seeing as how I'm going through quite a bit to get my firstborn, I really don't want to have to give him or her up just yet! :-)

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Journey Begins...

Well, I guess today is as good a day as any to start an actual blog site. I tend to have random pieces strewn about my desk, the computer, and various networking sites. I thought I'd compile everything here, as well as try to start blogging regularly. I did a lot of blogging over the past couple of years when I was going through all of my "craziness." Looking back at things that I'd written, I can definitely see the change in me. It's good to be able to go back and see how far I've come. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to start blogging about my whole fostering to adopt journey.

The past four days or so have given me my first little taste of what a roller coaster ride this whole fostering to adopt thing is going to be. I found out last Friday that I was going to be a temporary respite provider for a 2-month-old baby girl whose foster family was going out of state. It was only supposed to be for 5 days, but it was going to be my first taste of having a little one in the house. I spent the weekend getting prepared. I lined up childcare (my mom and Melissa are going to be my lifesavers during this whole process!). I arranged the nursery. I started allowing myself to get really excited, only to get a message today that the judge had ordered that the baby and her siblings be permanently placed with a relative. Great news for the baby! Total letdown for me. :-(

I think this is good for me to experience though. It's a great reminder of how minute-to-minute foster care can be. It's a great reminder of the fact that I'm going to need to be constantly open to change and adaptable to whatever comes up. And it's a great reminder of the ultimate goal of foster care... to keep families together whenever possible.

I'll have plenty of opportunities to be there for the children who need me. Hopefully, I'll have the chance to give many little ones the love and security that they need while we figure out what is best for them in the long run. It's not about my wants, it's about their needs. And when I am finally able to adopt, it will just be an added blessing. I guess I'm just back to waiting for Foster Baby #1, trying to remind myself to stay flexible, and remembering that everything happens for a reason. We might not always know what that reason is right away, but we can always see it in hindsight. So until then... I guess I'll just wait and see what tomorrow has in store!
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