Friday, June 29, 2012

"Foster Friday" Funnies - Caseworker Speak 101

The Social Work Dictionary...

It actually exists!!!

Granted, this particular publication is probably a legitimate professional reference book for many in the field, but having had numerous convoluted conversations with social workers over my past 3 1/2 years of fostering, I'm beginning to suspect there is a "secret" book out there that caseworkers reference...  A book that teaches social workers how to embellish the truth by taking what actually is and spinning it to suit their needs.

While I have yet to locate an actual copy of said manual, I am fairly certain I can guess what might be included.  For this week's "Foster Friday," I will pass on what I suspect is included in the "caseworker speak" manual to all of you.  :-)

Caseworker Speak 101
Introduction -
As professionals in an extremely stressful industry, we often find ourselves overwhelmed and exhausted.  We suffer burnout at a high rate, and turnover in our industry is at an all-time high.  We must do our best to manage our high-pressure jobs by finding ways to alleviate the untold stresses that are thrust upon us.  We must create and live by our own unique rules, and not be tied down to society's ideals.  This manual will assist you when searching for responses to those pesky questions we often receive from foster parents, birth parents, CASA workers, attorneys, judges, and other professionals and interested parties involved in your current caseloads.

Chapter One:  Turning Back the Clock - Defining "Time" in Foster/Adopt Land

People new to Foster/Adopt Land have certain expectations when it comes to time.  They expect timely responses to emails, phone calls returned within hours, and progress regarding their children's cases.  It is our job as social workers to "school them" on the realities of "time" when it comes to foster care.  Time and deadlines are all relative to foster care caseworkers.  More of a suggestion really, and something that can be easily manipulated to fit our needs...

Fun and exciting ways to choose deadlines or answers to direct questions regarding how long something will take are:
  • Throw a dart at a wall calendar.  No worries on whether or not you actually follow through.  Simply providing an answer will get them off your back for the time being.
  • Change your response multiple times within the same conversation, and then become indignant when the other party fails to meet your deadline or questions why you didn't meet your own deadline.
  • Give a date that falls in the past, and then be certain to penalize them for not turning in their paperwork on time.
Remember that your time is more important than anyone else's.  Feel free to schedule a home visit for 9:00am, but arrive at 10:40.  They should know that you don't live by the clock, and be flexible.  Don't do anything to make progress on your children's cases until the day before court.  Then hound everyone incessantly because you need information and paperwork by 3:00pm.  That deadline is a must, and anyone not adhering to it shall be punished.  When you don't get your own reports written before the hearing, don't worry about it.  It's foster care...  The judge will always grant an extension.  Your time is what is important.  It is up to everyone else to get used to that.

Chapter Two:  "My Dog Ate My Homework" - Handy Excuses for Your Inability to Do Your Job 

Everyone knows that caseworkers are some of the most overworked, over-stressed, and underpaid workers around.  They should understand this and cut us some slack, but when you haven't made any progress on a case in three months and everyone starts ganging up on you, feel free to use any of the following excuses:
  • "We're short-staffed right now." - No one is going to argue with that.  If you go on to tell them how you are working 23 1/2 hours a day, they'll start to feel sorry for you and might even bring you cookies and a Diet Coke.
  • "We're going to have to staff that." - Use this when you want them to leave you alone for several weeks.  Everyone knows how long it takes to get all of the key players together for a staffing (especially when you're short-staffed!), and they can't argue with the fact that you need to get approval before allowing something.
  • Blame it on someone else. - You can't go wrong with that one!  It's not your fault.  It's theirs!

Chapter Three:  "It Should Only Take Two Weeks" - Standard Responses to FAQs 

In this field, we receive many questions from people involved in the children's cases.  Generally, these questions tend to be the same for every case.  In order to prevent mass confusion and to keep expectations low, we encourage caseworkers to utilize the following responses to these Frequently Asked Questions:

Q:  "How long will it take?"
A:  As a general rule of thumb, your standard response to any question regarding how long a task will take should be "two weeks."  Or, simply refer to Chapter One.  It really doesn't matter what answer you provide anyway.  Your time is your time.  They'll have to take what they can get, when they can get.

Q:  "Can we...?"
A:  If the question involves a foster child (ex. get them a haircut, take them on vacation, etc.), just say "the parents said no," regardless of whether or not they actually did.  It goes into the "Blame It On Someone Else" category, and will take the heat off of you.

Chapter Four:  "Little Timmy Has Excellent Leadership Skills" - Helpful Synonyms So As Not to Frighten Away Potential Foster/Adoptive Parents 
(But it COULD be in "Caseworker Speak")

One of the most important duties you will have as a caseworker is that of locating suitable foster homes for children.  Many times, some of these children can have behaviors that make them difficult to place if you are completely open with potential foster parents.  The following is a handy list of synonyms for those common difficult behavior types:

What You Say:  "Little Timmy has excellent leadership skills."
When What You Really Mean Is:  "Little Timmy is overbearing, domineering, and bossy as all heck!"

What You Say:  "Jenny is extremely inquisitive and intelligent."
When What You Really Mean Is:  "RUN!!!  TURN AROUND AND DON'T LOOK BACK!!!  Jenny is one smart kid who likes to conduct her own science experiments with matches, bleach, and power tools."

What You Say:  "Laura is an active, athletic ball of energy who is constantly on the move."
When What You Really Mean Is:  "Laura needs Ritalin.  Desperately."

What You Say:  "Michael loves expressing himself through art."
When What You Really Mean Is:  "Michael smears his own poop on walls when he's mad."

The most important thing to remember is that even the most undesirable qualities can be portrayed in a beautiful light.  You're not lying when you say that "Johnny is a talented storyteller."  He is!  That kid can lie his way out of anything!  It's all about the synonyms!

Chapter Five:  Flattery Will Get You Everywhere! 

Occasionally, our play on words, odd perception of time, and ability to embellish the truth end up frustrating the people we must interact with on a regular basis.  Watch carefully for signs of impending explosions on their parts.  Avoiding confrontations and future strife can usually be headed off at the pass if you simply remember that flattery will get you everywhere!
  • "You are the best foster parent I've ever worked with!" - Being a foster parent is an endless, thankless job, so complimenting them on a job well done will usually go a long way in getting them off your back.
  • "You're so good at documentation!" - Some foster parents will nearly do your job for you if you compliment them on their organizational and documentation skills!  Upcoming hearing?  No problem!  Simply compliment a motivated foster parent on their skills and copy word for word any correspondence that is relevant to your case.  The judge will be super-impressed with your detailed analysis, and the foster parent will be pleased to know their words are being heard (even if they're passed of as your own).
  • "I'm sorry I haven't returned any of your phone calls over the past three weeks, but you're one of the few people who I never have to worry about.  I know you can handle anything!  You should be worried if I do call." 

Conclusion - Your words are powerful tools.  The key to success as a caseworker in Foster/Adopt Land is to choose those words carefully in a way that will benefit you to the fullest.  Keep this manual in a safe, secret hiding place and tell no one of its existance.  They won't know what hit them! 

(At least, that is what I imagine is in the Caseworker Speak 101 manual... ;-)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guest Post at "Attempting Agape"

My latest guest post over at "Attempting Agape" is part of a series on debunking myths about birth parents.

This post is about foster care in particular and touches on the "myth" that all foster children are better off being adopted, rather than returned to their birth parents.

This is my second guest post for "Attempting Agape."  Check out my post in the Mother's Day Series here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Foster Friday" Panel - Letters

As foster parents, we ride a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs with a wide variety of other passengers...  Some join us on the journey willingly...  Others are paid to be there...  Some are dragged onto the ride kicking and screaming...  And the smallest passengers are there due to circumstances completely beyond their control.

Often times, it is easier to express feelings in writing than to voice our thoughts aloud.  This month, our "Foster Friday" panel joined me in writing letters to people we have (or will) encounter along our foster care journeys.

Heather - Dear Mom and Dad,

Thank you!  You supported us through it all!  When you didn't understand you asked questions, and you actually listened to the answers.  You took on the role as grandparents flawlessly and you gave them that love and taught them lessons only a grandparent could.  Your hearts broke right along with ours, and likely even more because you saw our hearts breaking too.  When we asked if it was too painful for you and if we should stop, you looked at us like it was the dumbest question ever.  You were the first phone call we made when we got new kids, and I think you were always the first to meet them as well.  You listened to my frustrations even though you didn't understand them or know how to fix them.  You celebrated all of the accomplishments and hurdles that were knocked down.  Because of you we had the strength to carry on when our hearts were broken.  I won't ever be able to express the gratitude we have for you.  Thank you!

Heather and Blaine

Diane - Dear GAL,

Here we are, almost ten years after my daughter's adoption, and I owe so much to you.  You had faith in me, and you didn't even know me.  You cared about my daughter, and you had barely met her.  You were committed to your job, and you truly wanted to make sure that this child had permanency in her life and would be raised well and given a chance to succeed.

I remember the day we went to court when an aunt was trying to become the placement after it became clear that the case was moving to termination of parental rights.  You stood up that day and said that you had met this foster placement and were 100% sure that I was the best home for this child.  You told the court that you knew I would continue visits with the father even after adoption.  You supported the case manager, who was going against CPS policy and her supervisor, in recommending a non-family permanent placement.

Just days before, at a Foster Care Review Board meeting, I sat in the waiting room with my daughter's aunt.  I was initially open to a family placement, but after meeting the aunt, I was concerned.  By the end of the meeting, when the aunt's focus was clearly on how fast the move could occur and how much support she would receive, I was sure this was not the right place for my baby.  Not once was there any question about her or how she was doing.  I truly believe that your recommendation and reputation in court drove the final decision.

After the adoption was finalized, you agreed to be the intermediary to pass messages from the biological father to me, as I was concerned about giving out my contact information.  That offer was used many times as father changed phone numbers and ended up in and out of various housing, rehab facilities, and even jail, where you helped me locate him once.  Luckily those days are now over and father has stabilized and remained so for about four years.  We are now able to communicate directly.

I thank you for the times you have seen me at court for other cases and asked about my daughter.  I look forward to giving you positive feedback each time about her father and the positive relationship developing between them.  It was a joy to be able to re-introduce you to her at twelve years old last year!  She has grown into an amazing young lady, and I'm so glad you allowed me to be her mother.

You are one of the gems in the system.  You care about what you do, and you do your best every day.  Thank you for all of your hard work.  Thank you most of all for believing in me and taking a stand for my daughter!

God bless you,

Joy- I have always wanted to write a letter to one particular family who adopted a child from overseas and then sent her into a life of foster care - because she didn't "fit in" like they thought she should.

Dear Family,

You have missed out on so much.  You brought this sweet girl across the world.  You rescued her and then when she didn't fit in at your country club, you threw her away - all of four years old.  Despite your neglect of her, she overcame.  Not once, but twice has she been without a family.  But today, she has a family of her own.  She is smart, beautiful, successful.  She is strong.  She plans birthday parties and kisses fingers and toes.  She sticks around through the hard.  She doesn't give up.  And you, you have missed out on her beautiful life because your friends down at the country club didn't want to come visit when your child looked a little different than the rest of the neighborhood.  How terribly sad.  I hope one day, you will see what you've missed out on and come back to make amends in the end.


Mama P - Dear **MyState** Department of Human Services,

I'm fed up with you!  Stop riding your power trip that makes you feel like you are something important just because you can lie to a judge and get away with it.  Stop doing favors for bio families because they are the CASA volunteer on your case and you want them to recommend reunification in your other cases, so you fight to get reunification for their family member.  Stop standing up in court like you know the child, when you have only seen them twice in six months.

Just stop.

Unfortunately for you, I am not an ignorant foster parent collecting a check and minding my business so that check will keep coming.  I am a financially stable child advocate who will fight for what is best for my children, regardless of what stupid contract I signed saying I would do whatever you want me to.

I won't.

You can threaten, call and tease me with placements, hold the finalization of my adoption over my head, and continue with the surprise unannounced home visits.  You can even move the children in my home and crush my heart.  No matter what you do, I am not going away.  I will not stop until SOMEONE sees what is going on and things start to change.  I will not stop until every one of you are without a job, or forced to do it right.  Even if it means no more foster children in my home.  I am on to you, and I know that it is people like you who are keeping these children from having good foster homes and adoptive homes because everyone is scared of you and what power you have.  Foster parents give up their licenses every month because they are scared.

I am not.

There will be change.  When, how, where, what, and why, I do not know.  My eyes have been opened, though, and I will not close them again.

You are sinking your own ship.

That crazy foster mom who gets too involved

Marie (aka. "Mie") - (To our son, Logan, who was 3 at the time we were licensed.)


We're about to embark on a crazy journey.  Your bright little mind will be able to understand some of what we're going through but I know that not everything will sink in at the time. I want to take a minute, before our lives change forever, to tell you why we're doing what we're about to do and remind you how much we love you.

Logan you are a blessing from God - you really are.  When you were born we called you "the one we waited for" - and we did.  At the time we thought we waited a lot - we waited to start trying for 3 years.  We waited another 9 months before God placed you in my tummy.  We waited another 9 1/2 months to meet you.  It seemed like we waited forever.  After you were born we decided not to wait so long before we gave you a brother or sister.  We wanted you to have at least a couple of siblings that you could grow up with and we didn't want to wait too long.  God had other plans for us son.

For 2 1/2 years we were forced to wait for a sibling - believe us we did our part, but God chose not to put another baby in our tummy.  Mommy and daddy went to a lot of doctors to see if something was wrong.  We expected the doctor would be able to fix us right up.  One day the doctor called mommy at work and mommy cried.  She cried a lot.  The doctor said that mommy and daddy probably would never be able to have more children.  As it turns out, mommy and daddy have a medical problem that the doctors can't cure.  The doctor told us that you are a miracle.  Someday you'll learn what a big deal it was that you were able to grow in our tummy - you'll see that God is real and HE wanted you to be born at least as much as we did.

Mommy and daddy prayed.  We talked to each other.  We talked to friends and family.  We still wanted you to have siblings.  We wanted to be mommy and daddy to more kiddos.  You are more than enough for us, Logan, and we would be happy if we never had any more children but Logan we strongly believe that your life will be better with siblings.  And you want them too.  You talk about your brothers "Benjamin" and "Charlie" all the time.  We don't know who Benjamin and Charlie are, but we know you want brothers.  And maybe a sister - but definitely brothers.

Logan there are some children out there who don't have parents to take care of them.  Some parents get sick.  Some parents make bad choices.  Sometimes God decides to take parents to heaven.  For many, many reasons there are children who don't have parents and mommy and daddy have decided that we want to help these children have a family when their parents can't take care of them anymore.

Sometimes the other parents just need to get better, like when they're sick or they're learning to make better choices - then we can be foster parents and only take care of their children for a little while.  Hopefully, these brothers and sisters will get to go home to their mommy and daddy one day so they can be a happy family.  Logan - this is going to hurt our hearts.  We are going to love new brothers and sisters.  You're going to learn to share.  You're going to learn to play.  You're going to learn to love them and be a great big brother.  But then one day, Logan, some of your brothers and sisters might leave and you won't get to see them again.

Logan - you will NEVER leave.  You will always stay.  You grew in mommy's tummy and you will always stay close to mommy and daddy.  We will take care of you for as long as God will let us.  Even when your brothers and sisters leave, you will always stay.

I know this is going to be confusing at first but you will be great at it!  You will learn to be patient.  You will learn to be kind.  You will learn that family comes from many different places.  You will learn that people make bad choices but they ALWAYS have the chance to make a good choice next.  You will learn forgiveness and love in a way that many kids never get the chance.

You will also learn what it's like to lose.  That is hard.  Mommy and daddy will always be worried about how your heart will hurt when your brothers and sisters leave.  Someday you'll tell mommy and daddy that you "don't want brothers and sisters that leave.  (You) only want brothers and sisters that stay."  We know that with your 3-4-year-old little boy words you're trying to tell us that you don't like it when they leave, that it hurts and makes you sad, and you don't want to do that anymore.  We understand Logie.  We don't like it either.  At all.  But we're going to protect you as much as we possibly can.  We're also all going to learn what it's like to trust God and learn to love, even when it's really, really hard.

Someday you'll have a sister - her name will be Sophia when she comes to us.  She won't be much fun to you at first - she's a baby who is hurting.  But someday that little girl will become your sister.  You'll get excited about all the cool things she's learning to do, like walk and talk and give you love.  We'll start to call her Summer.  One day - you'll finally get your wish - Summer will be a sister who stays.  You will love her forever.  You will protect her, just like a great big brother does.  You will call her your forever sister.  The four of us will be a core family.  You will love that.  She'll start to go to YOUR school and you'll be so proud and show her to all of your teachers and friends.  You'll tell them that this is YOUR sister.  You'll meet up with her on the playground.  You'll tell us about all the stuff you see her do on the playground and how she comes to say hi to you through the fence that separates the little kids and the big kids.

Mommy and daddy are going to continue to pray that God will show us what to do in our lives.  We believe God wants us to be foster parents and for you to be a foster brother, at least for now.  This does scare us a little bit - more than anything we don't want you to be sad or get hurt.  We wanted you to have a couple brothers or sisters and we'd be a perfect little family.  But God wants something more than that.  You'll have at least 10 brothers and sisters - not many kids can say that!  You'll love having a big family.  You'll get annoyed at times with the crazy things some of them do, but Logan you'll amaze us with how compassionate you can be.  We want you to know how proud of you we are.

Logan, mommy and daddy don't know if we're ever going to be able to show you what it's like for you to have a brother and sister who grows in your mommy's tummy.  In fact, that will kind of be a weird concept for you for a while.  We would love to let you have a brother or sister that way and maybe God will let us someday.  We also don't don't how many brothers or sisters that will stay.  It may be a whole lot.  It may only be your sister.  Either way, you'll have a sometimes crazy, mostly wonderful experience that many, many children don't get to have.

We will always love you.

You will always be the one we waited for.


Andrea - Dear M's Biological Mother,

I will probably never speak to you.  I'm not sure I'd ever want to.  But my oh my do I have things to say to you.  I will never understand what you did.  There is not a single excuse on this earth.  It's not up to me to judge you.  I try hard not to.  I slip and I judge.  I see this precious little boy that YOU brought into this world.  I feel sad for what you are missing.  I pray you will never see him or his sister.  I do not give you any credit for the amazing child that he is turning into.  He's been with us since he was 35 days old.  I am his mommy.  I am the one there in the middle of the night.  I am the one that sees his "firsts."  i am the one at dozens of appointments and therapies just to make sure you didn't do any more damage to him than what we could see.  You gave birth to him, but that doesn't make him yours.  It does not make you his mommy.  Yet, from behind bars (where I pray you remain) you fight termination.  You lay claim to him and his sister.  You fight letting them be adopted.  You fight letting them have the family YOU denied them.

There are many people who wish you death, who wish you eternity in hell, who wish you lethal injection or a firing squad.  There are those who wish you the same treatment you bestowed on your children.  I do not wish you those things.  What I wish is that you remain behind bars all your life.  That you are denied access to your children, forever.  If they one day choose to see you, then I want it to be on their terms, and I will not deny them that chance.  If they ever choose to seek you out for an explanation, I want you to have to look into their eyes and know what you missed because of the horrid actions you chose to make.

However, in the midst of all my anger towards you and what you did to those precious souls, I have to acknowledge that you chose to give birth to them.  Without you, I wouldn't have him.  Without you, they wouldn't have A.  Without you, these amazing souls wouldn't exist.  You were not a mother to them.  You were cruel beyond words in ways that horror stories can't compare.  Yet, without you, I wouldn't have tight hugs in the morning, laughter, first steps, drooly kisses, and the most amazing little boy.  Thank you isn't the correct phrase.  I don't know what is.  Because as much as I love that little boy, I wish you would have been his mother, that he and his brother and sister would have never suffered their awful fates.  That they would never have known harm at their mother's hand.  I would trade having him, knowing him, and loving him if it meant that they would never have known harm and hurt.  Yet, they did.  Now they are safe and loved and cherished beyond words.  The way they deserve to be.

M's mother.

aka. Mimi - (a letter to myself when I first started on my fostering journey)

To Pre-"Mimi" Me,

You did it!  You put on your "big girl panties," conquered your fear, and decided to become a foster parent!  I will tell you right now that your fears were valid.  Being a foster parent is going to be the most difficult, heart-breaking thing you've ever done in your life.  But I promise you...  It will also be more rewarding than you ever dreamed possible.

Right now, you are leaning on the hope that you will quickly be able to adopt one of your foster children.  You want to be a mom, and you just know that adoption through foster care is the answer.   Your trainers in class play on that dream for you and the other "hopefuls," and talk big about how "most foster parents get to adopt within the first few placements."  You will probably be discouraged to learn that four years later, neither you nor your other foster care friends from that initial training have been able to adopt.  

You will probably also be surprised to learn that you are perfectly okay with that!   You have become a full-time "mom," a "grandma," a "mama," and a "mother-in-law" to more kids than you ever thought you'd have in just four short years.  You have an amazing family because of foster care...  A family that you chose...  A family that chose you.  Your life is filled with love, laughter, smiles, and joy.  Your cup runneth over! 

Remember this on your most difficult days.  Remember this when you drop Booger Bear off at daycare on the morning of court, only to find out that he's not coming back.  Remember this during the following weeks when you go into hiding and think that you can't possibly produce any more tears.  Remember this in the following months when you think you're learning to move on without him and you dream that you are holding him again, only to wake up and find your arms empty and the loss renewed.  Booger Bear will come back into your life when you least expect it, and he will bring with him your familyRemember this!

As time moves on, you will find that your focus will change.  You will no longer be desperate to adopt.  You have your family!  You will be there for other babies who need you, and you will become "Mama" to a little Monkey who will stay in your life even after he goes home to his daddy.  You'll learn that helping these children is what you were meant to do, even if it is just temporary.  You'll also learn that you have a gift for developing relationships with birth families (under the right circumstances), and when you do, they tend to stick around for the long-haul.  ;-)

As you begin your foster care journey, know that you will often question whether or not you can continue.  There are so many obstacles...  So many heartbreaks...  So many hurdles to jump and red tape to break through...  My advice to you?  DON'T QUIT!!!  Without that perserverence, you could miss out on loving some amazing children.  After only four years, you have a life so full that you can feel like there's not enough of you to go around.  But you wouldn't have it any other way, and you can't wait to see what this journey brings next!

Hang in there!
"Mimi" Me

I would love for all of you to write your own letters and link up here!  The possibilities are endless:
  • foster children (current, past, or future)
  • bio families of your foster children
  • yourself (past or future)
  • your biological or adopted children
  • your extended family (ex. parents, siblings, etc.)
  • professional workers involved in your children's cases (ex. caseworkers, judges, therapists, attorneys, etc.)
Just write your letters on your own blog and use the link widget below!  (First time trying this, so I'm hoping you'll participate! :-)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Haven't Forgotten!

I totally haven't forgotten about you guys!  I promise!  :-)

I'm in the new place, and I absolutely love it!  Unfortunately, the cable company couldn't quite get my Internet hooked up correctly, so I don't have access at home until this Friday when they send out a more knowledgeable service tech .  :-(   I will totally update the blog this weekend though!  I have a few weeks of "Foster Fridays," a guest post for Attempting Agape, and a few other posts in the works.  In the meantime, I leave you with this:

My daughter has RUINED ME!!!

I could have gone my entire life knowing absolutely nothing
of the perfect combination of sweet and salty,
yummy, deep-fried goodness that is...

Chicken Express' Corn Nuggets!!!


Heaven just had to go and tell me all about them,

"Corn Nuggets.  They're what's for dinner!"

That is SO wrong...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Update Time...

It's been two and a half months since Monkey was returned to his daddy, and our arrangement couldn't be working out any better!  His dad is finally loosening up a little and starting to realize that I really do mean it when I say he can call me any time he needs help.  After Monkey gave his dad a horrible upper respiratory infection that put him out of commission for an entire week and he had no choice but to do what I told him and bring Monkey to me so he could rest, he seemed relieved to hand him over and trust that I would just be Mama and take care of things for Monkey while he got well himself.  I think he knew all along that I would do it, but he was afraid that I'd look down on him for not being able to take care of Monkey.  I think I finally convinced him that I completely understand how hard it is to be a single parent because I've done it on my own for the past three years.  I reassured him over and over that I understood, and that he just needed to take the time to rest and get well and that I'd handle everything for Monkey in the meantime.  Since that week, Monkey's dad has simply sighed a relieved "thank you!" any time I offer to keep him longer when I know his dad needs help.  His dad had the opportunity to get in some overtime this week, so I am currently on Day Four of 11 straight nights with my Monkey man!  :-) 

LOVE that I can share him with you now!
At 15 months old now, Monkey is a full-fledged toddler and continues to crack me up and melt my heart every single day.  He is finally taking an interest in walking (although he still prefers the speed of his aerodynamic crawl).  He loves the applause and praise that he gets every time he attempts to walk, so his "routine" tends to be:  Stand up, clap, walk a few steps, clap, sit down, stand up, clap, repeat.  He is talking up a storm and will repeat just about anything you ask him to when he's in the mood.  His favorite phrases at the moment are "Uh-oh...  Where'd it go?" and "It da cat!  It da kitty cat!"  His morning conversation with Mr. Bunny tends to go something like, "Doh doi took-a took-a.  Uh-uh-uh (his version of "choo-choo" for Thomas the Train).  Mama.  It da cat!  Dada. Cough cough.  Nana.  Bugga doh doi.  Duck!  Quack! Quack!"

I'm moving into my bigger place on the 15th, and am super-excited about being able to open my home back up for new placements!  It's going to be an adjustment having more than one little one, but it feels too weird without CPS controlling every aspect of my life.  It's pretty bad when your "social life" is having your agency worker, caseworkers, CASAs, etc. come for their monthly home visits.  Now that I think about it, my house stays a lot cleaner when I have placements too.  :-)

I never heard back from the GAL about the girls.  I can't say that I'm shocked.  I've learned not to expect too much when it comes to these things.  When she started our conversation with "I'm probably overstepping, but..." I was pretty sure it wouldn't go very far.  She probably called the girls' caseworker who I'm sure got mad that the GAL was trying to do her job for her and just refused out of spite.  (Gee...  I don't sound jaded at all, huh? ;-)  I'm going to call again after I get moved into the new place and tell her that I'm going to open back up for new placements if it doesn't look like there's a chance the girls will end up with me.  Hopefully she'll at least return my call this time!

So that's where things stand right now...  Monkey is awesome.  Monkey's dad is awesome.  Moving on the 15th.  Licensed in the new place on the 18th.  Calling GAL about potential adoptive placement after that.  Opening back up and awaiting "The Call" after that!  Might be a busy summer!  :-)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Not Smart Enough, Apparently...

I might be a fairly intelligent person.
National Honor Society...
Graduated 5th in my class...
In "Gifted & Talented" programs all throughout school...
Proud rider of the short bus and all that...

But I swear these stinking collapsible sun shades 
get the better of me

Friday, June 1, 2012

"Foster Friday" Guest Post: GOOD "Goodbyes"

GOOD "Goodbyes"
By: April Loomis

There is a time to laugh and a time to cry (Ecc. 3:4), and in foster care a time to say hello and a time to say GOODBYE.  Lately, my heart has been lingering on the placements that don't work out or those that end in reunification before we are ready.  Often adoption is our hearts' desire as we approach each placement.  Today my goal is to focus on GOOD "Goodbyes."  Sounds like a contradiction to some folks - I KNOW.  I am sure if you have told any random stranger that you are a foster parent then you have gotten the all too familiar response, "Oh, I could never do that.  I just couldn't let them go."  I have been tempted to scream back, "Oh yea, well if you spent a week in my shoes you may BEG the caseworker to take them back!  They are not ALL sweet and cuddly and anxious to be loved!"  Of course, I say something a bit more political and polite as I am sure you do.  However, I do know exactly what they mean.  As I tuck my foster son, whom I have cared for and loved for 19 months, into bed each night I wonder what his future holds and IF I will be the mommy to take him to T-ball, graduation, his college dorm, etc...  He is an adorable 2 1/2 year old blonde haired, blue eyed ball of ENERGY.  We are only two weeks away from sitting before the judge to see if he will become our forever child or if he will head back to a biological mom he doesn't know.  We do hope to adopt him before the year ends!

Now, on the flip side, adoption is not the only happy ending in foster care.  I was reminded at a seminar recently of the goal of foster care - to REUNITE families after they have met their goals.  I DO realize this is not even a remote possibility in MANY cases.  Our job during the process is to love and protect children whom we did not birth.  Often we do so without reserve and then hand them back over to their parents or a relative.  This is the side I want to focus on today, GOOD "goodbyes!"

I have had the awesome experience of seeing the JOYFUL side of this process in my own placements as well as those of friends.  Of course, I have shed tears over others, but that's another story.

I recall the first time I experienced a GOOD "goodbye" was with a friend who had fostered a sibling group.  After 6 months, and hours of debate at court that day, they went home to an aunt and uncle who loved them and had been very active in their lives in the past.  I remember well the excitement as we picked up the 6-year-old from school.  She rounded the corner with a look of terror on her face and waited to hear the news.  I have never seen such sheer delight on a child's face when she realized there was good news for her.

Our first placement was filled with many tears and much sorrow, but for one of the girls I was elated to be able to say goodbye.  I couldn't even feel sad as I packed up our little Angel.  She was a well adjusted 10-year-old (which is a rare find in FC) who had been in her grandparents' custody for 9 of her 10 years of life.  That is, until mom took her out of state in the middle of the night and made many bad choices.  The grandparents eagerly drove through 4 states for each of the 4 trial dates to be able to take their baby home.  I was thrilled to be able to wrap my arms around that grandma and assure her that her angel was safe and protected until she could take her back home.  It was beyond a GOOD "goodbye" when they came 4 months later and I was able to pack her up and send her HOME where she belonged.  It was an experience that I am afraid few of us get to experience as foster parents.

Now on a different note.  What about those of us who are fostering a child that is stretching our family beyond its limits and we cannot imagine the life we had before they entered it?  Days seems like months with this child in our home.  There is no peace and we feel like if we give up we have failed.  NO!  It's okay.  Not every placement works out.  Sometimes the stress is too much for you and your family.  That particular difficult child may very well be another family's answer to prayer and their "forever child!"  He/she deserves to be loved and cared for with tenderness and compassion, not just duty and pity.  It is a painful decision and may be a tearful departure but it CAN be a GOOD "goodbye."  You are not alone.  Many of us foster parents have battle scars from such mini wars within our hearts.

Being a foster parent takes great courage and sacrifice and sometimes the ability to know when to let go.  The cost is high to our families and rewards sometimes few, BUT you are making a difference.  Never underestimate the influence you can have on ONE CHILD.  Make each "hello" and each "goodbye" the best you can.

The next time you have to say "goodbye," I pray that you can relate to the JOY I feel when I think back to the happy reunions and GOOD "goodbyes!"

Thanks for letting me share my heart.
April Loomis
Related Posts with Thumbnails