Friday, October 26, 2012

Reader Request... Help for RADlet?

I just received the following email from a fellow foster momma at her wit's end, and wanted to get feedback and advice for her from those of you experienced with therapeutic parenting techniques and in dealing with young children with RAD.

I have a 3-year-old RADlet.  I was told they were going home today, but the judge said otherwise.  We could have them only another week or so, but the SW seems to thing they will be here for many more months.
I have NO IDEA what I am doing with him.  Nothing I'm doing is working and things are only getting worse.  The SWs either don't believe me that things are as bad as they are, or don't want to have to deal with it.  So I'm on my own here.  There is no one that will take him as a client being so young, so I have no help there either.
 What I need is to either connect with another momma that is dealking with a child with RAD, or even just some really good books that can teach me more effective ways to deal with him.  I won't disrupt the placement, but I also can't spend every of his waking minute pissed off or upset at something else he has done.  It's  gotten to the point that I feel I am failing his brother (the one he takes out his aggression and rages on).  I can't ever let them be alone together.  It's really hard when I'm alone with them most of the day and also have a 5-month-old to take care of.

I know this momma would appreciate any and all resources, support, and advice she can get right now, so please chime in with whatever you have!  :-)

Thanks so much, ladies!!!

Giveaway Winners!!!

Thank you to everyone who entered Trippin's "Foster Favorites" Giveaway!

Between FB and blog comments, we had 18 entrants!

Congratulations to Our First Three Winners:

Phoenix said...
I don't have a lot of favorite anythings yet. (Other than my favorite blogs, that is.)

We don't really have to do/keep a lot of paperwork. I have binders for each kid that pretty much sit empty. But I LOVE books, so reading about "favorite" books is always something I love. Thanks Tammy and crew for another good post!

OpenID theheartofamama said...
My absolute favorites are my Ladybug, Lovebug, Doodlebug, and Buggie - all sibs (from a group of 11) that came to me at different times and in different circumstances. As each joined our family, my organization methods changed, my housekeeping changed, my sleep patterns changed, and I changed, but I wouldn't go back for anything in the world! Adoptions should be final on the first 3 in the coming weeks, with Buggie following up in the Spring. I can't imagine my life without them! But I do wonder how things will change when their newest sib makes his/her appearance in the Spring.....

Carrie said...
Foster care blogs and forums have been something I couldn't do without. Just to know that there are people out there that understand-ahh!

Also, my favorite time of day? Naptime ;)

Winners may check out the Giveaway Post for a complete list of prizes to choose from!  Simply email me at with your selection.


(Stay tuned for further details on potential additional entries/winners.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Secret Info, Decisions, and a Crossroad...

Big changes are a comin' in my personal Foster/Adopt Land over the next several weeks.  Earlier this month, my agency director (formerly "New Girl," now known about the agency as "The Anal-Retentive Paperwork Nazi") sent out an email that one of our Case Managers had resigned.  I immediately went into panic mode praying that it wasn't Nice Lady because we only have two CMs at the agency.  Fortunately, it turned out to be our newest CM (who is also super-sweet, but Nice Lady has been the best foster care professional I've ever worked with, so I couldn't lose her!).  Thank goodness!  I was completely relieved, and all was well with my world until the following Monday morning when Nice Lady came by the house to do my Quarterly Inspection.

I could tell by the look on her face that she wasn't going to be sharing good news, and my fears were confirmed when she told me, "Well, I just put in my notice."  The first words out of my mouth were, "So where are we going?"

I feel bad because apparently New Girl and the Agency Owner are fuh-reak-ing out.  They are just certain that there will be a mass exodus of foster parents from the agency (and rightfully so).  During the hour and a half long visit with Nice Lady, I learned that New Girl has taken it upon herself to require all foster parents to submit yet another required monthly piece of paperwork.  I'm all for documentation, but this is out of hand!  We are now required to submit:
  • Weekly Progress Reports for each child in the home (regardless of age)
  • Monthly Recreation Logs for each child in the home (regardless of age)
  • Monthly Medication Logs for prescription meds for each child (whether they take them or not)
  • Monthly Medication Logs for over the counter meds for each child (whether they take them or not)
  • Monthly List of Visitors in the Home Over the Age of 14 along with background check information for anyone over 14 who enters more than one time in the month! (that's the newest little diddy)
  • Quarterly Extermination Reports
  • Quarterly Carseat Logs listing all carseat/booster seat information
  • Quarterly Fire Drill Documentation/Results
And that is just what we are supposed to keep up with on a regular basis!  It doesn't include all of the necessary forms for doctor/dentist/therapist appointments or occasional "Incident Reports" for injuries or other problems.  But I think the thing that really put me over the edge and solidified my decision to move to the agency that Nice Lady (and I later found out that our Newest CM) is going to was when Nice Lady told me that New Girl still wants me to submit half of this paperwork even though I don't have a placement!

Since finding out that Nice Lady was leaving, I've kept pretty quiet.  She was told that she wasn't supposed to announce it (except on a one on one basis if necessary), and they apparently aren't going to announce her departure to the foster parents because of their "everyone will leave us" fear.  I talk to Nice Lady quite often, so I know all of the ridiculous behind the scenes stuff that is happening right now, and we are all contemplating our next moves.  

I knew from the second that she told me she was leaving that I would be following.  I'd even told New Girl and the Agency Owner that very thing about six months ago when they insisted all foster parents complete additional written evaluations of the Case Managers.  They have to know what's coming, but New Girl is certainly trying her hardest to bribe me into staying before I put in my transfer request.  

I got a late night phone call from her the other night that I completely avoided because I knew what was coming.  Yep.  Checked the message, and it was for a 4-month-old baby girl...  Emergency placement...  If I said "yes" she'd be coming that night.  I didn't return her call.  The thought of having to do all of that paperwork again and being saddled into staying with the agency when I knew I would be miserable just didn't sit well with me.  So no baby girl (my dream placement right now!) for Mimi.

I called Nice Lady the next day to tell her what had happened, and she said that New Girl has been going placement crazy trying to get homes filled in order to try to keep everyone there.  I did find out that even if I do get a new placement before I transfer, any kiddos in my home will be transferred with me, so that's good to know!  If I get another call before my agency finds out that I'm leaving, I'll take it!

In the meantime, I've been in contact with what is going to be my new agency (just got off the phone with the owner about 30 seconds ago actually :-).  Nice Lady has worked closely with them in the past and has nothing but good things to say, so that makes me feel better.  She's told them all about me too, and they know that I chose them because of her, so it's already written in stone that she will continue to be my Case Manager at the new agency.  :-)  They'll be coming out to the house on Friday the 2nd... And get this...  IN THE EVENING so I don't have to miss work!!!  I am in love already.

I'm in the process of filling out all of the initial applications and agency transfer forms.  They won't send anything to my current agency until after the 2nd so if I do get a call between now and then, my agency won't have a clue.  Sneaky?  Maybe.  Do I feel bad?  Not so much!  They're being just as sneaky by not telling me that Nice Lady resigned.  Two can play at this game!  :-)

So...  The massive piles of initial applications and paperwork required to change agencies has begun, but I've been assured that the new agency's "regular" required paperwork is no where near as completely ridiculously overwhelming as my current agency's nightmare.  I've got the checklist going of everything that I need to send over there, and busted out the highlighters for my own personal OCD pleasure.  Definitely excited for a change!  (But not too much of a change because I get to keep Nice Lady (and even Newest CM! :-).

Wish me luck!

*** And if you happen to be in contact with my current agency, mum's the word!  You don't know nothin'! ;-) ***

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Foster Favorites" Giveaway!!!


As promised in yesterday's "Foster Friday" panel post, it's time for a Giveaway!!!
Who doesn't like free stuff, right?!?
This giveaway is inspired entirely by our "Foster Friday" panel members' personal "Foster Favorites, and will have at least three winners (possibly more!).
To Enter:
1.  Read yesterday's "Foster Friday" Panel Post entitled "Foster Favorites" to see what fostering items, supplies, books, blogs, videos, moments, services, etc. that our panel members absolutely love.
2.  Leave a comment on that post, this giveaway announcement, or on Trippin's FB page sharing what foster care favorites you personally have.  Not a foster parent?  No worries!  Just leave a comment about something that struck you as interesting or unexpected about any of our panel members' "favorites" to enter!
3.  All comments must be received by 12:00am CST on Thursday, October 25th, 2012.
4. Initial 3 winners will be announced on Friday, October 26th!
Simple as that!
Prizes to Choose From:
1)  Based on one of Heather's picks, an Expandable Pocket File Folder with elastic tie similar to this one.  Choose this prize, and I will send you a list of style and color options.
2)  Also Based on one of Heather's picks, a large 22" x 17" Monthly Desk Calendar.  Choose this prize, and I will send you several styles to choose from.
3)  Choose one of the following books based off of Debbie's favorite foster/adopt children's books:
4)  Based off of MamaP's reading list...  "Kids Need to Be Safe: A Book for Children in Foster Care (Kids Are Important) by Julie Nelson
5)  Inspired by Andrea's self-professed status as an "office supply junkie" and Cherub Mamma's awesome binder organization system, you may choose a $15 gift card to the office supply store of your choice!

6)  Also inspired by one of Andrea's "favorites," a $15 gift card to Walmart, Target, or any store that sells cleaning, food, or bathing supplies.  ;-)  Her comment about her "favorite" things to do after receiving "the call" cracked me up because I do the same thing!  Clean, shower, and cook!
7)  Inspired by Mie's "goodbye family portraits" and a recent scrapbook made for her son's school project, choose a $15 Electronic Gift Certificate to or the craft supply vendor of your choice.

8)  Based of my personal love of photographs, photo books, and photo gifts, you may select a $15 gift certificate to or to any other online photo store of your choice.

9)  Choose to receive my personal choice of daily planner, the 2013 Mom's Weekly Planner (18 Month Calendar).  (Several designs to choose from)

10)  And because all of our favorite moments involve spending quality time with our families, choose a $15 gift card to the family-friendly restaurant, movie theater, amusement park, etc. of your choice (provided they offer gift certificates and I can easily purchase it! :-).

Lots of great prizes to choose from!

At least three winners...  Probably more!

Can't wait to read your comments and see what you choose as your personal "foster favorites!" 

Friday, October 19, 2012

"Foster Friday" Panel - Foster Favorites

Anyone who has fostered for any amount of time tends to discover their "foster favorites."  Books, people, moments, items, and other resources that we just can't imagine our lives without (or that we actually do remember our lives without and are eternally thankful that we discovered them :-)...

For this week's "Foster Friday," our panel has compiled their own lists of "favorites."

*** Pay close attention, and check back on the blog tomorrow as I announce "Trippin's" latest Giveaway consisting of items inspired by our panel's favorites! ***

Heather ("Us")

My favorites:
*A strong support group.
*At least one person that will still love you when you say "I don't like my children right now."
*A big "desk calendar" to put on your wall or fridge,that way anyone can tell what is on the agenda for the day. I also save my pages so I can look back if I need to.
*Car seats that go 5-100 pounds and are easily adjusted. These have changed my life!
*A comfy chair that rocks. I have found a lot of our kids crave the rocking motion, it also make for perfect cuddle times.
Order This Here
*A closeable expandable file "thinger" like this. I have found I prefer ones that tie or use an elastic because the snaps break too quickly for my liking. I have one for each placement that stays in the car or diaper bag with all the papers I always need, health visit report forms, medicaid forms, caseworker info, all those MOUNDS of paper we need to present at a moments notice.

My favorite moments are when you hear that first REAL laugh and when the twinkle comes back in their eyes, it is what really keeps me going moment after moment.
I received a new book recently called "A Family for Eve."  My 4 year old and I sat right down to read it.  It was a little bit too long for her (she got a little antsy towards the end) but as soon as I was done she asked to read it again.  And a few minutes later she said we could read it every day.  So it was a hit with my 4 year old.

Like many kids' adoption books there is a point where my eyes started to fill with tears.  For me it was this line;
Cleo felt it happen.  Her heart grew bigger once more and she knew that she wanted to be the chick's mommy from that moment on.
Cleo is the cat and she has two biological kitties and has adopted another kitty, bunny and a duck.  I love how it mentions her heart growing bigger because that's what I've been trying to tell my daughter.  That when a new child comes our hearts grow to make more room.

After Eve, the chick, sees another member of the farm, the goat, pregnant she starts to ask questions. And her mom answers her questions and shares the poem she wrote especially for Eve.  Sweet poem that ends with;
There's room in your heart for all kinds of love, even your birth mother you may never know.
We have an open adoption with her birth mother so I asked her if she knew her birth mother.  She said yes but got shy when I asked who.  But it was a very easy way to just start talking about her birth mom.  It also says that it's okay to miss her birthmom and even cry.  I think that's really important right now with my daughter's understanding of her story.  We need to let her know that it's okay to be sad and miss her if she does.  And that it's okay for her to tell us that.

And now that we are fostering with the hopes of adopting this book will be perfect to read to our next child as well.  I have a feeling we will read this book often.  Seems like it will be a good one to have conversations with.

A couple of my other favorite adoption books for kids are:

Rosie's Family: Adoption Story LINK
Beginnings: How Families Come to Be LINK
Maybe Days (great for explaining foster care to kids) LINK
My Adopted Child, There's No One Like You LINK 


One Day, MamaP WILL Send Me a Pic!
This topic was hard for me to write!  I love everything about foster care, even the drama that is brought upon our families by DHS.   Besides being a loon, this is because I believe in the Bible, and the Bible tells us to count our sufferings as a joy (Romans 5:3) because it builds perseverance.   If a foster family doesn't have perseverance, then no one does.

My *very* favorite foster care moment was the day we celebrated our very first foster son's first birthday at his home where he had been returned his biological family.  He was with us from six weeks until he was just about seven months old.  We worked very closely with his biological father to reunite this family that had been broken by some poor choices of the biological mother.   On the day that we showed up at his family's door and were welcomed with hugs and love as part of their family, I looked around and was blessed to have our first foster care placement be the one example of exactly how foster care should be between biological and foster families.   The dwelling was beyond unacceptable for my own standards, the clothing "our" baby was wearing is something I'd have never chosen, and the food was... well... typical Southern unhealthy fare (AKA Koolaid in a bottle).   There may or may not have been a roach I had to pretend like I did not see as I squashed it with my foot.

Then it dawned on me.  They laid out their very best for us.  They trusted us to open their home to.  They welcomed us as well-loved members of their family and felt comfortable enough to treat us as such.  There was no air of uncomfortable.  There were no awkward silences.  There were no judgemental glances from either party.   The only thing in that moment was a mutual love for one very special little baby boy whose first year had been uncertain and hard on all involved.

One more favorite of mine is a book.  I picked it up at a foster care conference I attended, and I love reading it to the kids.  It has also been very useful in explaining foster care to our friends' children who frequently visit our home!

"Kids Need to Be Safe" by Julie Nelson

It is geared toward very young children and speaks in brief, unelaborate terms.

I wish I could say I had a favorite foster care "organization" tool, but in *OurState* we are not required to keep any paperwork or log books or anything.  It is very sad for our children that no one cares to have basic standards of documentation, but at the same time it makes this ADD-unorganized mama's life very easy.  I have impressed our workers with the few documentations I do make when I pick them up from the wonderful blogs I read!  I definitely would not be able to maintain the organization that Tammy does.

Melissa ("Fostering Love") -

Foster care is often referred to as a “roller coaster.”  Oh can it be!  The tough times tend to get vented and documented on a lot of blogs (including mine!) but then….OH THEN…there are those moments when you know it was ALL worth it!  These times have happened for me in different ways.  A few examples would be when a child that has not slept through the night because of sheer terror and what is happening to them FINALLY sleeps through the night feeling secure where s/he is.  Another time for me was when I did respite for a 2 yo girl.  She had difficulty with bonding/connecting with her foster mother.  I had her for 5 days and her foster mom was sure that “C” would care less when she returned.  Much to her surprise “C” jumped into her arms and yelled “mama!”  It was the sweetest thing!  It’s also when we get those rare “thank you’s” from birthparents where they recognize you are doing this for their child.
By far my favorite moment of foster parenting is when you realize that never again will you have to say goodbye!  As much as we try to guard our hearts as foster parents there is no holding back when you have a child for as long as we did/do (over 2 years).  Our Michael was with us for 2 years and 3 months before his adoption was final.  That moment when I realized that I never would have to say goodbye again or worry about the next court hearing was an indescribable feeling!  The next morning when he called me “mama” my heart sang!
We have not yet had a reunification situation, but I imagine that when the parents do what they need to do to be great parents and work hard to get their child back that would be a great feeling too.  We have had 4 placement s in 3 years.  1 has joined our family forever and another is headed that way!  Our hearts are full of love for our children and that by far is the best “high” of foster care!

Andrea ("Live With Laughter") -


My favorite physical item for foster care is my leather 2 inch binder.  I have tabbed sections for each child, making it easy to flip from section to section.  Each child gets tabs for their medical papers, their doctors' notes, their court papers, and their foster care agreement.  It has pockets and a page to keep business cards.  I was given this binder at a foster care appreciation dinner.  Some people laughed, but as an office supply junkie, I love this binder!!!

My favorite support system is Facebook!  Wow, all the moms I've met in my groups are amazing.  While my real life support network is, well, supportive, they don't always understand or have advice.  Having a network of people that understand our vocabulary, situations, and frustrations, it's the best!

My favorite thing to do after "the call..."  I'm not sure this is a favorite, but I've done it every time.  I speed clean.  I fold the laundry pile.  I throw dinner on.  And the strangest, I feel the need to shower.  As if I will never shower again.  I don't know why.

A favorite that I don't have that I wish I did.  A freezer full of meals.  Oh, how nice it would be that first week or two to not have to worry about dinner while I'm getting used to a newborn or a crabby two year old.

My favorite foster care moment is equally terrifying and just the best news I've ever gotten.  After raising M from 35 days old to one day shy of his first birthday, we said goodbye.  We said hello to Carleigh just one week BEFORE M left.  When I called to check on M's status, our social worker asked if he could come back to our home.  I was initially horrified, what had gone wrong, was he okay, for how long, can he stay, 5 kids, 5 kids, I can't say goodbye again.  While these thoughts ran into my head at warp speed, I said yes.  And now we're weeks from adoption.  So that is my favorite moment for now.  My favorite moment for always will be the day those papers are in my hot little hands and M will be my son forever.  (not to mention I will blow up Facebook with photos of his adorable face!)

Cherub Mamma ("Cherub Mamma") -

Cherub Mamma has a houseful of out of state family this week, but she has written a few posts in the past about some of her personal foster care favorites, and was kind enough to allow me share them with you here as well.

* 3-ring Binders - Cherub Mamma wrote a fantastic description of her binder system and organization method that I shared with you before, but I know that this is also one of the things that Cherub Mamma couldn't live without.  Her area of her state is extremely strict when it comes to documentation and minimum standards, and I know her binders tend to become additional "limbs," and are especially helpful when she has special needs placements with tons and tons of medical conditions and appointments.

Find This Here
Vaultz Locking Letter/Legal File Chest - Another of Cherub Mamma's "favorites" are her locking storage boxes.  Her area is very strict about keeping everything potentially hazardous under lock and key (or double combination as the case is here!).  These storage boxes are the perfect size for cleaning supplies and other larger items.  She wrote about them here.

* Christine Moers, author of the blog "Welcome to My Brain" - Cherub Mamma (along with many of my foster/adopt parent friends of children from hard places) has always highly recommended Christine's blog and videos on therapeutic parenting.  She wrote a great post earlier this year talking about some of her favorite "Christine" techniques and links to some of her favorite "Christine" videos.  Great stuff!!


Foster care gets a (much deserved) bad rap. There are so many things that can absolutely suck, like having to double-lock the medicines so the kids don't get into something they're not supposed to or not being able to have a trampoline in our backyard for our kids to play on. But it's worth it for so many reasons. The great things FAR outweigh the problems (most days). 
One of the hardest things about foster care - we have to be ready to change our family routines on a moments notice and usually no one in the system really cares. It's what we signed up for I guess - that's what some people say. In all honesty though, this is the source of my favorite thing about foster care. 
My family has taken so many shapes. As a mom, I've had the chance to raise 14 kiddos, at least temporarily. I've had boys, girls, babies, toddlers, and preschoolers of both genders. I've had "twin" sister toddlers, boy girl twin babies, twin girl toddlers and twin boy preschoolers, and plenty of stair-step combinations most recently 0, 2, 3, 4, and 5, one of my ultimate dreams (yes, I'm crazy).
You see, in normal parenting situations, you usually get what you get. When you're pregnant you get the chance to be excited about what "could be" for however long you wait to see what you're having. Then, that's it. That's what you get. In our world we get a (much) shorter time to be excited, while we're waiting for a call and then waiting for the kiddo(s) to arrive, but it's enough to wonder and enjoy the excitement. While the normal parent does that 1, 2, 3 or in "large" families 4-6 times, we've done it 14 times and with it brought at least as many sibling group combinations.
For a mom who as a girl could never imagine my last pregnancy, the endless possibilities of what my family will "look" like really is one of my favorite things about foster care. We recently made a scrapbook for my son for a school project and included a section for our family. I loved going through all of our "goodbye family portraits" - the picture of our family taken right before a child left - and reminiscing about all of our families. Its an experience that not many get to have in their lives and we're definitely blessed with the experience. 

aka. Mimi -

When I think of all of my "favorite" foster care things, so many come to mind!  After four years, I have a good list of "must haves" and resources.

  • - It might sound crazy, but I use Snapfish at least once a month when I have a placement.  It's a great place to upload and organize photos.  Inexpensive prints and lots of good photo gifts.  I always make it a point to send monthly prints to my kiddos' parents as well as try to send photo books with all of their children's milestones and fun moments.  I'm a little frustrated because I used to get free prints and photo books by using MyCokeRewards, but they recently stopped partnering with each other, and now my "freebies" will have to come from Shutterfly.  Hopefully I'm just as happy with them as I am with Snapfish.
Buy It Here
  • My Online Bloggy/Facebook Foster Mom Friends - I have no idea what I would do without all of you ladies!  I have "met" and developed friendships with so many of you, and really am thankful for each and every one of you.  It's so nice to have a core network of women who completely understand the emotional roller coaster of foster care and who can offer practical advice and support because they've "been there" themselves.
  • Local Organizations That Support Foster Children/Families - Over the past four years, I have learned about multiple non-profit and volunteer organizations that specifically help support local foster children and their foster families.  I can't post the specific ones that I use here because they would narrow down my location too specifically, but they are out there!  Organizations that provide winter coats and shoes...  One that provides Christmas gifts and books...  One that helps with initial placement "emergency" items like diapers...  One that helps with the costs of summer camps... etc.  Ask your children's CASA, caseworker, or agency.  Search specifically for "organizations for foster children in *** County."  You might be surprised what all you can find!
  • Children's Consignment Stores - I don't know how I could afford to provide multiple children with complete wardrobes several times a year without my local children's consignment stores!  Always make sure you get on their mailing lists and use their frequent shopper cards if they have them.  Several of my local stores also offer discounts for foster parents!  It never hurts to ask!  My "big shopping sprees" usually occur when my stores have their huge "Grab Bag Sales."  All of the clearance clothing that you can fit into a bag for $10 or $15!  It works great for foster parents because we aren't totally limited to genders, sizes, etc.  I sift through all of the racks for clothing with the original tags still on them, and usually get out of the sales with about $250 worth of clothing for $30!
But, of course, my absolute favorites have to be the amazing moments and the awesome family that I have only because I chose to foster.  Not every person can say that their "core" family consists of blood relatives, current and former foster children, their foster children's blood relatives, their foster children's step mom, and their foster children's step mom's extended family!  I love how my honorary family embraces and loves each of my foster and even short term respite children from the moment they come through my door.  I love that my honorary daughters call my foster children their "brothers" or "sisters" and that Booger, Banana, Monkey, and my nieces and nephews consider themselves "cousins."  I love that I have a "son-in-law" in Booger and Banana's daddy.  I love that my parents, sister, nieces, nephews, grandma, and some of my extended family love my kids (almost) as much as I do.  ;-)  

For me, there is nothing better than experiencing the love that foster care has brought into my life in ways that I never could have imagined.  In short.  It's my personal "favorite!"  :-)

What are yours?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mommy, WOW! I'm a Big Kid Now!

Okay...  I know...  I am officially one of those annoying parents who brags way too much about their adorable, smart, funny, affectionate, absolutely perfect child.  I can't help it!  Monkey is just too darned cute!!!  :-)

Over the past week or two, Monkey has suddenly outgrown the "toddler" and is turning more and more into a "big kid."  He's having a huge word boom and talks and sings up a storm.  He is beginning to have actual "conversations" with me now.  Last night's bedtime conversation went a little something like this...

Monkey:  "Juice?"
Mama:  "Not tonight, baby.  It's bedtime."
Monkey:  "Noooo, juice!"
Mama:  "You can have your milk tonight.  You can have your juice in the morning."
Monkey:  "Juice in the morning."  (Clear as day!)
Mama:  (giggle) "Yep.  Juice in the morning."  :-)
Monkey then spent the next five minutes singing "Juice in the morning...  Juice in the mooorrrrnnn-iiinnnggg!"
He laid his head on my should and went silent for about thirty seconds.  Then Monkey popped his head up, smiled that "I'm gonna be super-cute so I can hopefully fool Mama into giving me what I want" look and said, "Good Morning! (pause) Juice?"
Little stinker!  :-)

He's developing quite the sense of humor and loves to make people laugh.  He's learning how to crack me up by altering his "normal" voice when he wants me to laugh to the point of crying.  He totally exaggerates his usual laugh by making it very low, very loud, very deep, and very gruff.  What used to be a relaxing bedtime routine every night is now a thirty minute Comedy and Song Fest as Monkey tries his hardest to stall bedtime by requesting every song in our arsenal and cracking "jokes" to make me laugh.

REAL men wear cowboy boots, drink juice from a sippy cup, and love on their stuffed puppy dog with pink bunny ears while snacking on Gerber Puffs in their highchair.

Monkey is quite the accomplished singer.  He's surprisingly on pitch for a 19-month-old, and I can usually tell what he's singing even from another room.  He also loves songs with motions and dances that accompany them.

His favorites right now are:

"Old MacDonald" - recognizable by "EE-I-EE-I-EE-I-EE-I CAT!  Meow!"
"If You're Happy and You Know It" - "Happy!  Stomp Stomp!  Smile!" (clap clap, stomp stomp, point to face)
"Thomas the Train" theme song - "Choo-chooooo...  Away...  It Thomas!"
"Little White Duck" - "Duck...  Quack, quack, quack!"

But the one that completely makes my heart melt is hearing my baby boy over the baby monitor singing "Jesus Loves Me" before he falls asleep at night.  "Aahhh...  laaaa...  hummm...  Strong...  Yeah...  Bible...  hummm..."  Oh. My. Heart!!!

I love that I've been able to watch this little guy grow since he was 2 months old.  I love seeing the changes in him as he changes from newborn to infant to creeper to toddler to big boy.  I love watching as his personality develops more and more and he turns into his own "person" with his own ideas, opinions, and plans.  I just love everything about this kid!  But more than anything, I love that I am still his Mama.  :-)

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Foster Friday" Guest Post - How Foster Care Has Touched Me: Part Two

When I asked for non-foster parent volunteers to share how foster care has touched them for last week's "Foster Friday" Guest Post, I received an amazing response.  I decided to post a "Part Two" for the topic and allow more people to share their stories this week.

Karen (Biological Daughter of Foster Parents and Social Work Major)

     I am the biological daughter of foster parents.  I’m 20 years old, and I am studying social work in university.  I have 3 biological siblings, I’m the second oldest.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved babies, and have wanted another younger sibling.  For years, my little sister and I would beg our parents for a brother or sister, and when they told us it couldn’t happen anymore, we told them “You could adopt!”  Then eventually we learned about fostering - we had friends who fostered, and many of their babies changed our lives forever- particularly one, who our family baby-sat quite frequently.  We eventually succeeded in our attempts, and about a year and a half ago we were opened as a foster family for infants.  It has changed my life. I have gained 2 “sometimes sisters” who are not always in our home, but will forever be in our hearts.  When most people think about fostering, they think about the loss and the grief.  And yes, while those are major parts of fostering, I can’t begin to imagine all the things I would have lost out on had my parents not made the decision to foster.  My parents’ fostering is preparing me for the day when I will hopefully be a mother- hopefully with a handful of foster or adopted kiddos in the bunch.  It’s preparing me for being a social worker one day.

     When I started my first year of university, my family was in the middle of the home study process.  I remember thinking on several occasions that the knives, cleaning supplies, etc. in my dorm at school were not safely stored.  I can’t count how many times I turned pot handles into the middle of the stove without really thinking about it.  When I started my second year, back home was a 5 week old baby girl we had had since she was 36 hours old (we had her until she was 10 months, but still have a great relationship with her and her bio parents, somewhat comparable to Tammy’s relationship with Monkey).  I remember waking up several times in the first few weeks that I was back at school, at about 3am - which is when Piglet would wake up for a feeding.  I remember having several dreams where I was baby-sitting her in my dorm. Then I took my second semester off, and spent time at home - instead of mixing chemicals in a science lab, I was mixing bottles in our kitchen.  Instead of learning about social work in a classroom, I was living it every day - especially as I went with Mom to visits, and as I learned some details of our girls’ cases that allowed me to see how the agencies and government work.  Foster care ruined my future plans - I had wanted to be a doctor, but when I returned to school, I switched to an Honours Social Work Major. 

    I remember this summer, when my sister and I went with my mom to drop our second foster sister, B, off for a visit at her mom and grandma’s.  B’s family lives in city housing, so it was an area of the city where we had never been before. We joked that “you may be a child of a foster parent if you don’t need a passport to travel to other parts of the world”.  Foster care ruined my unrealistic view of the cities around us.  And now, I’m in my last semester of my second year at school, and I can’t wait to get a phone call or text message from my mom telling me that I have a new baby brother or sister back at home. This morning I had a “foster care affects me” moment.  I was in a health psychology class and we were talking about the definition of one alcoholic beverage.  I don’t drink, so when the professor was talking about how many ounces of wine, beer, etc. is considered one drink, in my head I was picturing ounces of formula in a bottle J

     It hasn’t all been great.  I know I begged and prayed for years that my parents would foster, but I didn’t realize that at age 19, it was still possible to have feelings of jealousy when the new baby arrived.  It certainly happened when Piglet came.  I think it was made worse by the fact that she was our first placement, and I was just about to head back to school, so (even if it seems childish) there were times when it felt like I was being “replaced” - Mom was often busy with Piglet, which was nobody’s fault, it just “was”, but it meant that there were often times we’d be talking on the phone and she’d have to go because Piglet needed her.

     If you’re thinking about fostering, but you wonder if it will affect your other kids - it will.  Their “all about me” view of the world will be ruined, and they may need to have more responsibilities around the house (we often help with baby laundry, washing/making bottles, and a whole lot more).  The increased responsibility will probably be good for them.  They will learn new skills (maybe your two year old learns how to be gentle with babies, maybe your sixteen year old learns how to prepare a diaper bag before a visit or day trip).  Yes, they may learn about the big, bad world - including drugs, alcohol, abuse, and neglect. You know what? They’re going to learn about those things one day.  Instead of learning about how “fun” drugs are from some kid at school, maybe your child will learn what a baby born addicted to crack looks like. Yes, fostering may “ruin” your child’s life.  And it probably won’t be a bad thing.

     You can follow our journey as we “love them like we’ll have them forever, knowing we probably won’t”, over at

Anne (Foster Care Gave Me My Family)

     First of all, I have always wanted children.  There was never a time in my life when I didn’t want to be a Mom.  When I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed with a rare Chromosomal abnormality that resulted in my being infertile.  Since I was so young when I was diagnosed, I didn’t really understand or think about the implications of this for many years.  As a teenager, I babysat frequently, so I could get my “baby fix.”  In college, I was busy doing the college thing (partying, even sometimes studying J) and didn’t think too much about having children then, I knew I wasn’t ready.  When I did think about it, it was in kind of a vague way. I knew I probably could not get pregnant, but I wasn’t positive.  I knew I wanted children, but I didn’t think too much at that time how I would get them.  

     It wasn’t until I was in my late 30’s that I really became serious about becoming a Mom.  I knew by this time that I would not be able to have a baby biologically.  I loved the idea of adopting, but felt that it was out of my reach financially, and that I’d never get approved as a single parent.  It was also at this time that I had a job working with children in the Foster Care system.  I would go to their Foster homes and do developmental screenings with them.  I fell in love with these children, and often with the families who cared for them.

     For me, I knew I wanted a child, but I was scared to adopt on my own.  I wasn’t sure I could be a good single parent. So, I decided to become a Foster parent.  Somehow, that seemed like less of a commitment, and less responsibility (not sure how I figured that…???)  I took the Pride classes that the county required, and in April of 2006, I became a licensed Foster parent. 

     I waited eagerly for a placement.  Finally, on June 2nd, while I was at work, I received a call about a new born baby girl who had been born two days earlier and needed to be picked up from the hospital.  They weren’t sure how long she would stay with me, maybe two weeks, maybe 6 months.  I immediately said yes, and frantically ran to Babies R Us to stock up on everything I thought I would need.  Then I went to the hospital and brought home this sweet little girl, who I called “Molly” and of course fell in love with her, and with being a Mom.  I knew she would not be reunited with her mother, so I started to hope that I would be able to keep her.  She ended up staying with me for 6 months, and then went out of state where she was adopted by an amazing, wonderful family that already had Molly’s older brother.  I was devastated when Molly left, but deep down, I knew she was exactly where she was supposed to be.  I knew that I was not Molly’s forever mother.  I grieved for several months, and then decided that I was ready for another child, but this one was going to stay.  I could not say goodbye to another baby.  So I went through the process to get approved to adopt from the Foster Care system.  

     I was officially approved on August 1st, 2007. This time around, I waited even more impatiently for “the call.”  And in early November, it came.  My social worker called to tell me about a 4 month old little girl who had been in a foster home since birth, and needed a pre-adoptive home, since it was likely her parents’ rights would be terminated.  CPS was still providing reunification services with the parents, but the prognosis was poor it would work out.  So I was what the county called a “concurrent placement” - if reunification didn’t happen, then I would get to adopt the baby.  Kind of risky, but I said yes immediately and never looked back.  Two weeks later when I met with the social worker, and she showed me pictures of the baby, I was even more of a goner.  Nothing could have made me say no to taking home this sweet little baby girl.  

     On November 30th, 2007, I finally met my daughter Elizabeth.  Her social worker brought her to my apartment, and my little girl was sound asleep in the car seat in the back of the social worker’s car when I ran out to meet her.  I gathered her up in my arms, and haven’t let go since.  The adoption was finalized on March 4th, 2009.  Elizabeth and I are a little family.  Life is just so much better with her in it.

     Learn more about my family at

Kylee (Foster/Adopt Sibling and Social Work Major) 

     I will always remember the first foster placement that we brought into our home, just two weeks before my 8th birthday. She was only three-months-old and had twelve fractured ribs due to severe abuse. The first time I held her, her ribs popped with each breath she took. She had a huge fear of men, and her big brown eyes grew wide with terror every time someone approached her. I was young and knew very little about physical abuse, but I clearly remember questioning why any parent would hurt his child.

     In my young mind, I tried to imagine the scene that took place on the day she was hurt, based on snippets of information I had overheard our caseworker tell my mom. I tried to imagine an 18-year-old father who was so mad at his infant daughter that he abused her in such a horrible way. Even in my young mind, I knew this was not fair; I knew she deserved better. I now, years later, know that I was feeling empathy for the injustice this young child was experiencing.

     Throughout the next ten years, we had several young children come through our home from various backgrounds. They all had heart-breaking stories and mothers who loved them, yet often times did not make appropriate life decisions. The world I saw of drug-addicted babies and neglected children is one that motivates me to pursue justice. The statistics are mortifying, but when those bleak numbers are children whom I loved, cared for, and grew up with, that passion is even greater.

     One area of foster care that impacted me greatly was the parent visits and opportunity to meet the families of my foster siblings. It is really easy to love an abused baby, but meeting her family on Christmas day, so that they can celebrate the holiday with her, is much harder. As a child and teenager, it was so easy for me to judge these families because of the way they had hurt the children I had grown to love. I have struggled over and over again with forgiveness. As I work through these feelings, I am reminded of the deep love these parents have for their children, despite the way their lifestyle portrays that love. These encounters I often had with the biological families softened my heart and gave me greater empathy toward many areas of the social system.

     So here I am, sitting in my dorm room with a Social Welfare Policies midterm hanging over my head, and the steps of a client assessment cycling through my brain. My motivation is based off of the love I have for my many foster siblings, and the four young siblings who were adopted into our family…the children I now know as my forever siblings. Through this career path, I desire to pursue justice by advocating for the rights of children and vulnerable people and populations. I believe that if those who are oppressed can have a voice speak up for them, then vast changes can happen for the bettering of our society.

     Follow my journey at Learning to Abandon 

Nana (My Mommy and Best Nana Ever in My Completely Impartial and Unbiased Opinion ;-) -

     Ever since my daughter Tammy was a teenager she has wanted to be a mom.  She has always been great with kids and loved being around them so it didn't come as a surprise to me when she reached adulthood and she said that wanted to adopt her children one day.  Though the idea of being a mom has always been #1 in her mind the idea of pregnancy and giving birth was definitelty NOT something that appealed to her.
     As Tammy got into her 30s she started investigating what her adoption options would be.  Trying to adopt as a single person ( unless you are a rich celebrity) is almost impossible!  She has a good, steady job but, unfortunately, doesn't have an extra $25000+ to put towards the possiblity of an adoption!  So she started investigating the foster to adopt option.  After much thought and prayer she decided this was her chance to be a mother.

     I have to be honest and say that I had very mixed feelings about Tammy becoming a foster parent.  I didn't know that much about CPS and the whole foster care program.  The few things I did know scared me to death!  What condition would the children come to her in?  How can she ever give the baby back if the situation was temporary?  There is NO WAY!!!  How can MY child who has so much love and devotion to give a child put herself in that situation?  I can't stand the thought of my child having her heart broken.  So many things went through my head and I was filled with fear.
     When Tammy said she wanted to take the required classes to get her license to be a foster parent she was nervous about going alone so I volunteered to take the classes with her.  Anyone who knows me knows that I have always done whatever I can do to help and make my kids dreams come true.  I also knew that I would have to take some of the classes to be an approved respite care provider for her if and when she got her child.  The classes were hours and hours of information and, to be honest, filled with a lot of stories meant to scare the prospective foster parents out of doing foster care.  If I had been considering doing foster care myself it would have worked!  But Tammy wanted this so much and she wasn't deterred.
     It took months for her first placement to arrive.  When the caseworker arrived with an 11 month old little girl "with a broken leg in a cast"  my heart fell through the floor!  The poor baby was in a full body cast from under the armpits to her feet!  There was no way Tammy would be able to care for the little thing!  After days and nights of sitting up holding the baby Tammy told them she couldn't do it.  She has learned a lot since then about the fact that if they misrepresent the case to you you dont have to accept it. 
     Then Tammy got the call for a little 7 month old boy that totally changed our lives.  Booger made a giant leap into my heart the moment they carried him through the door!  OMG!  He was just the sweetest thing you can imagine.  Little toothless grin.  I took him into the bedroom while they were filling out the paperwork and I was hooked.  He was MY grandchild from that moment forward.  AND the caseworkers told Tammy that they were pretty sure that he would have parental rights terminated and she would be able to adopt him!  As most of you know that didn't happen.  The most devestating time in our lives was when Tammy went to court and they told her THAT DAY that Booger was going to live with his Daddy immediately!  We were to have no contact after that.  She didn't even get to say goodbye to him.  I have never felt such a feeling of loss in my life and having to see the pain that my daughter went through is something I never want to see again (even though I'm sure I will at some point). 
     We didn't have any contact with Booger for about 6 months but then we were reunited with him AND his new little family and now we love them as much as him.  So this story has a good ending.  I'd love to say that it wipes out all of the pain from that time but I can't honestly say that.  Because of the way that Booger was taken so suddenly it has really put a fear in me.
     Tammy had two baby sisters for a few weeks and I really didn't get the chance to know them well or get as attached to them.  They were placed with their father and grandmother pretty quickly.  But during the time that she had the older girl the transformation was amazing!  You could tell the little thing had been neglected and didn't trust people.  She didn't smile.  By the time she left she was laughing and was in love with Tammy. 
     Then just a few weeks after my other daughter had the Mini Munchkins Tammy called and said she was getting a 2 month old baby boy!  Crazy, crazy timing!  I was so busy helping with the baby twins and the big twins that for most of the first year I didn't get to spend much time with Monkey at all.  Of course I suffered from tremendous Mama Guilt because I knew that Tammy needed my help but there is only so much Nana to spread around!  So I lived with a huge feeling of Nana Failure.  Because I hadn't had the time to spend with Monkey I really didn't bond with him as much as I would have otherwise.  I loved him but I just hadn't been with him as much.  The strange thing is that I didn't bond UNTIL he went back to live with his daddy!  At that time we worked out a plan for me to watch Monkey 3 mornings a week so his daddy could get some sleep since he works nights.  That has given us time to really get to know each other.  Monkey is an awesome little guy and very funny.  We have now "bonded."   But I have to admit I'm still terrified of the day when Monkey's daddy will decide he doesn't need our help anymore and I pray that he won't take him and disappear from our lives.
     I haven't admitted it to many people but I still have a huge fear of the foster care system.  I'm so proud of Tammy for being the wonderful mom that she is and giving these little ones all of her love without holding back.  People don't understand how hard it is being a foster family.  Knowing that you are opening yourself up for heartbreak that can come at any time.  But when you hold these little ones and they give you those sweet slobbery baby kisses and hugs it is so worth it.  I will say that I'm still praying that the day will come when Tammy will get to adopt and we will never have to say goodbye.  But I also know that God has called Tammy to be a Mom to as many children as she can.  Even if it is only for a short time and I will be their Nana and love them, too.

(My mom's a blogging slacker over at Nana's Notes ;-)

*** Foster care touches everyone...  Whether you work with someone who foster, work with children in care, volunteer as a CASA, or are simply inspired by a fostering family or foster youth.  Ultimately, we are all connected in some way through these children who need us.  How has foster care touched your life? ***

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