Thursday, December 21, 2006

Off-topic: The WWW is cool.

The ClustrMap on the right side of the blog tells me that there were 25 vists to this site yesterday. And almost 1700 visits since 10/20/06.
I assume this is not unique visits, but also I think it's not counting when one person refreshes a million times (I do this all the time....)

So Chez FosterMoms has been viewed by people from all over mainland U.S., plus Hawai'i. We're big in Edmonton (I think), and have a hit from either northern Manitoba or southern Nunuavut (which is pretty darn cool). Someone likes us in western Australia, as well as somewhere in the U.K.
There are scattered hits from Portugal, Spain, Japan, New Zealand, various other European countries and somewhere in southern Asia...I'm not good with my geography around there and the map is pretty darn small.

I'm just impressed that so many people, all over the world, seem to be relatively interested in what we have to say here at Chez Fostermoms. Hopefully we can continue to write posts of interest, including, but not limited to, the emotional rollercoasters of foster care and private adoption. I've got a few ideas percolating.
If y'all have any requests, please let us know and we'll be more than happy to write about whatever you'd like to read.

And, please, keep writing on your own blogs. I learn so much from everyone else, all over the world.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Brand new rollercoaster!

We got a call from our adoption agency this afternoon!
They're presenting us to a potential birth mom (and possibly dad) tomorrow morning. The baby was born yesterday! They were calling to make sure we're ready - we just got on the list last week!

We're READY!

Okay, so the house is kinda messy and it would suck if I had to take maternity leave from my job right now, and all that kind of stuff, but...BABY!!

I have no idea how long it will take for the family to make a decision, so each hour is going to be excruciating.... And they might not choose us, obviously. That's fine. It's just sooo exciting to be being presented!!

By next week, we could be coming home with our baby!
(In our state, the surrender isn't final for 30 days, so the baby wouldn't be ours until after that 30 day period, but we're happy to take that risk. It's like having a foster baby for 30 days.)
Update: The mom decided to parent. Now it's back to waiting. I suspect this could happen a few times before our baby finally comes to us. I hope it's soon, though.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

We called to confirm, and were able to see Niblet this weekend and for an overnight. She had a great time. We had a great time. She gave a big squeal of delight when she saw us come to pick her up, which always makes me feel good. Her parents seemed pretty happy to get a break, as well - gee, Niblet, a handful? Never! :)

She's still doing really well, overall. Her babbling is different everytime we see her, and I can only assume that's a good thing. Practicing different sounds and all that. She still uses the signs that we taught her and I assume she uses them with her family, because I doubt she saves it all up for us. She's 18 months old, so everything is "MORE!" Her parents still haven't sent her with a change of clothes, so we had to send her back in her dirty things, but that's not so horrible. They probably change her when she gets home, anyway. We did have to send her with a fresh undershirt, because she had a blowout in her diaper and we didn't have time to run a load of laundry - ick!

The only thing we've slightly worried about is that she seems to be losing weight. It's very, very possible that she's just in a growth spurt and she's gotten taller, and she just hasn't plumped out again. She's very thin naturally and she eats constantly, so it's probably really hard to keep her fed enough to accommodate a big growth spurt without getting a thin time. Or she's just not getting enough to eat.
Fortunately, she has a doctor's appointment today. Hopefully they have her old records so they can see if her growth curve is healthy. Her parents are caring towards her, so I'm sure they're not feeding her too little on purpose or anything like that. The doctor will tell them to feed her more, and hopefully give her another prescription for vitamins, and she'll be fine.
She also drank 12 ounces of water from a sippy cup in the first hour we had her at our house...and didn't pee until 7 hours later...but overnight she had a hugely wet diaper, so she's not dangerously dehydrated. And it's not something we can really talk to her parents about, so that's that. I'm sure they give her juice and water and milk. It's just possible that she had salty food for breakfast before we picked her up. Or didn't have a bottle overnight. Or any number of things.

It's just very hard to not be in control. While we had her, we filled her up with as much food as she wanted, we gave her tons of liquids, and we made sure her food was high in good fats. Less than 24 hours of that isn't going to be enough if she's lacking, but it's better than nothing and all we can do.

To top it off, she wasn't particularly excited to see her dad when we dropped her off. She fussed at our leaving and I gave her a final kiss and left. She was fine, but obviously wasn't ready to go back home. It's really hard to know that she's still very bonded to us. We could take her back permanently and she probably wouldn't be very upset about it at all. It also didn't help that she decided that I was the one who wasn't allowed to leave her sight this time. Fostermama was great and wonderful, but it was okay if she left the room. If I left the room and was caught doing so, she cried at me until I brought her with me. So she watched me pee, went with me to fetch things, etc, even though fostermama was available to play with her. It's sweet and loving, but it doesn't make it any easier to bring her back home to her family.

So hopefully we'll get back on an every-week visiting schedule. And hopefully we'll be able to schedule around Christmas and New Year's. Though we'd certainly be happy to take her for New Year's. We're not the partying types, and often have trouble staying up until midnight, so it probably would be more fun to have Niblet over and go to bed early.

It's hard not to assume a future with Niblet, in some way or another. But, really, losing her to begin with is the worst disappointment I could have ever had, so if I plan for things that don't end up happening, it's not like I could feel any worse. That's the spirit, right?

Happier Week

We saw Niblet yesterday!! Yay!!

We 3 had much much fun.
I called her dad to confirm on Saturday, and he was more coherent and relaxed than he's ever been with us, and when we picked her up on Sunday he and her mom were joking around telling Niblet "now don't come back" and saying "good riddance" - in other words, "yeah, we're ok with you taking her and it's helpful for us to get a break - see you all tomorrow." :)

We hung out at home and played and played and then went out for a walk to the grocery store for apples for saucing. It was latke night at our weekly potluck, so we brought home-made sauce. I've never seen people eat that volume of sauce in such a short time! Yay! Of course, Niblet ate like 1/3 of it! She was a vacuum!

We are a bit concerned because she seems lighter/skinnier, and she was dehydrated when she showed up. Drank like 12 oz of water in less than an hour, and she's never been much of a water drinker in the past. But, her dad mentioned when we picked her up that they were taking her to the doctor this morning so hopefully she's getting her 18 month check-up and she'll get weighed and everything. She's not skin and bones or anything, and she's actually got less of a cold than she's had for the past 2 months, so that's good. And we'll keep an eye on her and say something if we have to.

She took a good long nap, and then we went to potluck and she totally loved seeing all her peeps and eating tons of lots of different foods. She was SOOO sleepy when we left, and cried most of the way home (luckily only about 10 minutes) and once we got home because all she wanted was to be asleeeeep. She fell asleep fast but it was 30ish minutes before I could successfully put her down, especially cuz when she first fell asleep she pooped! :P

This morning we got her up and dressed and breakfasted, and she was all grinning and sweet, and we dropped her off at home and then went off to work.

I was smiling big as I walked away down the street (I work 2 blocks from her house). Yay for a good visit!

Monday, December 04, 2006

How it's going at Chez Fostermoms

Today, not so well.
This weekend was supposed to be our regular, weekly visit with Niblet. We showed up at the set time and her father seemed surprised to see us and said that Niblet has a bad cold and couldn't visit with us. He did say that next week is fine.

It was very disappointing. I wish he'd called. I wish we'd thought to call. I think I'm scared to call ahead of time because I feel like it gives him an out. Like we would call and say "just confirming for tomorrow" and he could say "oh, actually, don't come."

It's silly, in some regard, because although he does seem to not be clear on the "every week" thing, he's never been evasive or seemed like he wanted to call it off. And if he did, he could call it off whether or not we called him first.
Since Niblet's mom is back in the picture, we're also afraid that she'll decide that Niblet shouldn't see us anymore, or as often, and that will change things.

Really, of course it's fine that Niblet's sick and of course she should stay home and feel better. It's just that it brings up everything all over again.
She's not our baby. We don't get to wipe her nose and help her get better. We have to wait for her parents to let us visit with her.

And it just sucks.
So fostermama and I fell into the hole. The hole filled with grief and depression. The hole filled with "it's not fair!" The hole that hides the alternate world where we adopted Niblet and raised her ourselves. The hole where we hide all these feelings and wait for them to disintegrate, slowly.

On the bright side, we're now on the list with our adoption agency. We're ready to be presented to prospective birth mothers. And, probably next week, we're going to get on the foster care list. One way or another, we need another baby to love up 24/7. And soon. We've enjoyed our time off, but now it's become more often painful instead of relaxing, so that means it's time for a baby.

Another ride on the roller coaster, I guess.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

It's an illness!

This foster parenting thing, that is.

Almost every day I think, yeah, maybe we should get back on the list earlier than we had thought we would. As if 3 weeks of good sleep, time for cooking and cleaning and hanging out just too much (or enough) and we should mess it up with a new foster placement.

Since we're doing the private adoption route, too, I should KNOW that once we get that placement, that's it. No more sleep. No more "just us" time. Parenthood 24/7 for infinity.

Why do I want to mess with this special time we have now? Why do I want to take in some unknown baby sooner?

Because they're CUTE! and CUDDLY! and, for the time they're with me, MINE!

It really is so very weird to be parents without a child. I spend time trying to figure out what it was that I did with my free time before we became foster parents (2 years ago). I truly can't remember. It probably wasn't anything all that exciting.

Really, we're enjoying our time off. We're cooking, baking, cleaning, reading, visiting with friends, helping out our friends with kids, etc. It's really great.

But we will be ready for our adoptive placement starting in mid-December. And if we don't have one yet, we'll be getting back on the foster placement list around Christmas or New Year's. That's not very far away, really.

I just want to snuggle a baby, dress it up, sing it to sleep, play on the floor.

I guess I'll have to make do with our cats. Who really enjoy all those activities...except the dressing up.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Riding the Grief Train

So it's been almost 2 weeks since Niblet was legally returned to her dad. We've seen her once a week since, on the weekend. The first day was just the afternoon and we brought her back after dinner. This weekend we took her for the afternoon and overnight.

She is wonderful and continues to amaze us with her constant learning and her extreme cuteness.

At first, we were very happy to have the whole process over with. Her dad finally has her back and the county doesn't dictate little Niblet's life any more. It's a good thing. Her dad is very willing, even happy, to have us in her life, and we don't lose out on seeing her. It has really gone as well as could be hoped for.

But (and you knew there was a but, right?) it has still happened. We have still lost our baby girl. We have still lost the dreams we had. Lost the right to have her 24/7. Lost the right to be her moms. We will always have had that and we will always have lost it.
This apparently takes about 2 weeks to settle in and now that it has, well, it hurts.

We are sad. And since there's really nothing we can do about it, it's kind of aggrevating to be sad, so we're upset that we're sad. Helpful, I know.

I certainly don't want to cut off visits with her. I love her and want to see her as often as possible. It's just very hard to be with her and not be her parent. To put her to sleep and know that, in the morning, we'll be bringing her back to her parents.

Oh, yes, I said parents. Because her mom is back in the picture. Released from jail, I'm assuming, and seemingly living with Niblet and her dad. We have no idea what to think of this and can't figure out a way to ask someone if it's a good thing or not without it getting back to the parents and having them cut off our visits because they think we're narc-ing for The County.

The best thing I can come up with is asking the counselor here at work who the dad worked with. She has no connection to the county at all. But confidentiality really keeps her from saying anything to me. I just imagine that if I went to her crying and asked her to just tell me if she thought Niblet was safe with her mom around, she might tell me the truth. And, really, I want the answer to be yes. I think that it would be a good thing for Niblet to have her mom around. She's way younger than the dad, more "with it", and it reduces the chances that he'll get fed up with her. Sharing the load is always better.

Anyway, so this adds to the stressful feelings regarding Niblet. Not helpful.

It's just hard. I've never really had anything like this happen and I don't know how to grieve and move through it, while still maintaining a relationship with Niblet and her family.

There's no Wikipedia entry for this. No book I can get from the library. Hopefully time and friends will cure all. Until then...this sucks.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Visits for us!

On Saturday morning I called Niblet's dad and asked if we could visit with her some time soon. Turned out he was going out during the day on Sunday, but we could take her for the afternoon. We did, for about 3 1/2 hours. And it was awesome! I was afraid there would be some weirdness, being with her but not being her parents. And there was not. It was perfect in every way.
And afterwards, fostermommmy asked him if we could set up regular visits and we all agreed that we'd come pick her up every Sunday at 2pm, and then either bring her back that night or keep her overnight and bring her back Monday morning.

We are so lucky. And so is she, to have a dad who seems to be doing a great job taking care of her and isn't too threatened to let her keep this strong bond that she's had for the past year.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Court happened and Niblet's dad got full custody. Yay for Niblet and her dad!
We're even pretty relieved for everything to be over. No more "what-ifs". No more county f'ing everything up. Even the lawyer called her dad a "rare commodity" because he stepped up and did what he had to do.

We had Niblet for one day this weekend and she seemed really fine. She was happy to see us when we picked her up, but not super-clingy or anything. We get the impression that she still thinks of us as her primary parents, even though we only see her once a week. She doesn't mind being with him, but I suspect that she thinks of him more like daycare - eventually we'll come get her again.

He made a point of making sure we have his number and said we can take her whenever we want, so we're glad for that. We'll see her at least once a week for a while and then maybe regularly, or maybe just occasionally. We could take her for a weekend, or just go to the park one afternoon or something. I'm looking forward to seeing out it all pans out. Really, we could probably take her camping with us next summer, if we wanted to. As fostermama has said, it's kind of like being non-custodial parents. We didn't have a divorce or anything, but as far as Niblet's concerned, we are her parents, too, and she'll be happy to spend time with us!

Now we're on hiatus. No foster babies for a while. We're off the list.
We're signed up with our domestic private adoption agency, but we're not accepting a match where the baby would be due before mid-December or so. We need some time for ourselves.

I wish I could post a picture of Niblet for you guys. She's so freakin' cute. And the difference between when we got her and now is so huge - almost a year! We got a nice picture of us, Niblet and her dad outside the courthouse. He even asked for a copy of it. We have a photo album for him that we've already put a bunch of pictures in, so we'll print that one and some of the recent ones, and then they'll have a nice album full of her baby pictures.

We have hundreds more, too, that we'd be happy to share with Niblet when she's older, if we're all still in touch. And videos. She's just the cutest thing.

Okay, well, this post is all over the place, so I'll stop here. We're doing okay over here in FostermomLand. We're happy that we're not worried about Niblet and we're looking forward to what's coming up next in our lives.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

If the camel's back weren't already broken...

...this would do it.
This morning, fostermama dropped off Niblet with her dad. We had her for 2 days. Next week we get her for one more day and then that's it, officially.
Niblet's dad mentioned the court date next week, on the day we're supposed to have her.

Um, what court date????!

He says he's known for a week. We haven't heard anything about it.
So fostermama gets on the phone to all and sundry to find out what the heck is going on. Obviously, it being the county, nobody's at their desk.

Finally, she gets a hold of another one of the foster parent case workers, who does the legwork for us and finds out that, yes, there's court scheduled for next week, on the day we're supposed to have her, at 11am. She obviously didn't know why we hadn't been informed.

This has been a problem before. Because of this, we specifically asked the baby's case worker (who would be the one to know about court first) if she would make sure to let us know as soon as possible when a court date is set. We knew it could be any day. It's her fucking job to let us know. She's federally mandated to do so, in fact. But we asked her politely. And she agreed that, of course she'd let us know. There were many witnesses.

And what did she do? Not tell us. Again.

Fortunately, Niblet's dad had no problem with fostermama asking if we could have Niblet the day before so we could have our last day with her be a full day, not cut up by stressful court proceedings. We'll bring her with us to court, put her in the court daycare, and then he'll take her home from there. Very likely, legal custody will actually be transferred to him that day, as well. So it'll be a great day for the 2 of them to have together to celebrate.

So, really, it's all fine. We left another message for the Bad Case Worker saying that we have the info and she needn't call us back, we'll just see her next week. We'll see if she even mentions it. I'm guessing not.

Once Niblet is officially out of foster care, we'll be filing a complaint against Bad Case Worker for neglecting to inform us of the court dates. All she'll get, I'm sure, is a "inform foster parents of court dates" from her foster-parent-hating supervisor, but that's better than nothing

Friday, October 20, 2006

We've changed our tune? Really, we've just changed.

Niblet's transition to her dad is going really, really well. Last week he had her for 4 days and she came back happy to see us, but not crying. Her first night back with us wasn't unusually hard. She had a cold, so really it was just the congestion that was bothering her.

Now she's with him for 5 days. We get her back for 2, then she goes back to him for 6 days and comes back to us for 1 final day.

Fostermama was saying the other night that Niblet doesn't live with us anymore. Some of her stuff is here, and we are here, but she really lives with her dad.
It's such a change from 1 year ago.

1 year ago, her parents had missed 8 visits in a row and had their visits cancelled.
1 year ago, chances were high we'd be able to adopt her.
1 year ago we took her into our house with the intention to raise her/think of her as our own almost from day 1.

Since then, so much has changed. Her mom "disappeared", her dad decided to "try" and get her back himself. We didn't feel positive about this at all. Obviously we wanted to raise her ourselves (really, if you ever met this kid, you'd want to, too), but we also felt scared for her. We felt like it would be a huge mistake for him to raise her himself.

But even that's changed, lately. He's not going to raise her like we would, but he loves her and isn't stupid (which was questionable at times) and does want us to be in her life in some way (at least for a while).

We were at our foster parent support group recently and were talking about how it's not a horrible thing that she's going to live with him. How that's really the *goal* of foster care and how everything really did work out the way the system says it's supposed to. Yes, the dad was given too much time, but not more than is federally allowable.

One of the other parents there commented "wow, you've really changed your tune". And I suppose that's the case. But, really, we've just changed. Period.

We are not the same people, the same parents, we were 1 year ago. Raising Niblet, helping Niblet, fixing Niblet, and letting her go...have all been life-altering.
Now we're looking forward to moving along with a domestic private adoption AND continuing fostering as often as we can. 1 year ago we were committed to adopting through fostercare (and hoping to adopt Niblet).

We're planning on taking a breather once Niblet is fully gone. No placements. Just adult time to relax, sleep, get to know each other and ourselves again, spend time with our friends and our friends' kids more, etc.

But we both know that we're going to miss having a baby around, miss fostering, and if they call us with a placement in that first month or 2, it will be very, very hard to say no. After that, I'm not sure what we'll say....

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In a parallel universe...

We decided this summer that we're not going to count on foster care to build our family. Adopting through foster care, though our blog title, is just not possible in our county right now. We do know of some people who have recently adopted or have kids who are going to be TPRed, but that's few and far between. Kids are going home.

What we've decided to do is go through domestic private adoption. We will continue fostering, after a break of undetermined length, but we will get our first forever baby through private adoption.

We've picked an agency and started our homestudy last week. We're working on all the paperwork and are hoping to get our fingerprints tomorrow and get everything rolling asap. We'll be going to meet with the agency in October (it's out of town).

It's very weird to be talking about adopting and our future baby while we still have Niblet. She'll be playing on the floor and we'll be sitting there discussing what kinds of babies/situations we're willing to accept, etc., and it's just SO WEIRD. Niblet really was meant to be our child. Sometimes what's meant to be just doesn't happen. I can accept that, but it's still really hard.

To top it off, the social worker who is doing our home study (a friend of ours) told us the other day that she was talking with the head of the agency and that she said they have a birthmother in mind that they'd like to match us with, so they're hoping we get our stuff in soon. Or something like that.
I can't even wrap my head around that. Realistically, if it's true, if the baby is due anytime in the next few months, we would have to pass on it.
We need time to recouperate. To clean the house (we never fully unpacked, as we moved in 1 month before we got Niblet). To have time to ourselves, time together, before we commit to being parents 24/7 for the rest of our lives. 4 months is the minimum, I think, but a little more would be good too.
Of course, we don't want to wait too long, but the agency said that, given that we want a situation where we wouldn't have to pay very much for the birth mother's expenses, we'd probably have to wait 9 months for a match. If we were willing to pay anything, it'd be much sooner. This is mainly because we're open to any race and gender. Most of their clients want white girls. Whatever.

Anyway, it does feel good to be on this path. Having Niblet leave will be the worst thing in the world. Welcoming my first permanent child will be the best. Being on both paths at once somehow feels right.

Transition's Upon Us

It's been a while, but there's been nothing and everything to say.
We had another case review meeting (probably the last) a couple of weeks ago.
Niblet's case worker was actually civil to us, but only because we forced *our* case worker to come to the meeting to back us up, if need be.

The meeting was to be about planning the transition from us to Niblet's dad. Instead of a conversation, the case worker came with a calendar all laid out. It had been set up by her supervisor and wasn't up for discussion. Fortunately, it's not too bad and she did agree that if Niblet wasn't handling it well, that we could revisit it.

Basically, we're adding one overnight per week. This week it was 2 nights/2 days. Next week 3 nights/3 days, etc. So that by the end of the month, she's coming back to us for one day and then back to him for good.

I counted it up today and we have 16 days with her between now and the end.

Looking at it on a calendar is so painful. It makes it so real that she's leaving. She's really not ours anymore.

The dad has filed for custody, so it's possible that the judge will call us all to court and give immediate custody back to the dad before the end of the month. We discussed this possibility during the meeting and everyone seems to be in agreement that, regardless of who has custody, the transition should proceed as planned. We don't want to traumatize Niblet.

If there's one thing we are FIRM on, it's that this little girl is NOT going to end up with an attachment disorder because of the County's fuck-ups. We don't care what kind of trouble we cause, we will work with her dad to transition Niblet as smoothly as possible.

He's said numerous times that we're like family and that of course we will be welcome to visit Niblet after the transition. He's said that we could take her for overnights; that he'd probably welcome that. (Of course, this wasn't said in complete sentences, but that was the gist...I think...)

Our pipe dream, as of now, is that we'd be able to set up with him a weekly overnight. That we'd be able to have her Sunday morning until Monday morning. Give him some time off, give Niblet the security that we haven't abandoned her. I don't know if he'll go for something structured like that, and I don't know how long we'd want to keep it up. But, really, I'd be happy to do it forever. We kinda think of it as us being the "non-custodial parents". We can stay in her life, be a resource for her, and only see her once a week or whatever. Who knows how it would play out, but it's our hope right now.

She comes back to us tomorrow morning. I hope the extended visit wasn't too hard on her. I hope she continues to be as brave and strong as she always has been and starts seeing him as a parent. She's really the one who is going to make this work. I really do think she'll be okay.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

There really needs to be some sort of competency standard for birth parents who're getting "their" kids placed with them/released from foster care. I realized the other day that her dad is older than the babysitter who we don't use anymore because she's totally wonderful with Niblet but her mental faculties aren't as sharp as they once were. And he's all drug-addled (past use we hope), too. There's no way it's actually safe to leave a child in his care.

But, she's going to live with him.
And he's eventually going to get an apartment, despite his total incompetence, because enough social services folks are working to get him a place. It might happen this Friday. Not holding my breath, as that would be the 4th time it "might happen" so far this summer. But once he gets a place, the transition was supposed to start in earnest. Only now her County Caseworker (evil one) is saying that any changes in her visit schedule will have to wait til the next meeting, which is not til 9/20. When at the last meeting, 8/9 or so, everyone was saying that once he got a place we'd revisit the visits even if it wasn't the next meeting yet.

So she might be in total limbo for 3 more weeks than necessary because this caseworker is so lazy and evil.

I'm feeling like for everyone's sake, I have to intervene. Today I called the placement supervisor to see if we could maybe get a CASA worker involved in facilitating the transition. She's on vacation til Friday. If she doesn't come through, or if the CASA thing can't be done, I think we should call the private agency caseworker's supervisor and see about getting her to advocate for a sooner change. She doesn't have the power to make the decision, but the County caseworker does see her as a little bit of a higher-up and if she pushed for something it might well happen. She will SO not want to get involved, but she's not stupid and will see that this is important so she might.

I'm torn about fighting for Niblet and possibly burning bridges vs. letting things go a little longer and allowing everyone to pretend things are OK. I'm tempted to file a formal complaint about not having been alerted to the court date and see if we can get the ruling changed to include a mandate for her father to attend parenting classes in order to get her back. There's no good reason it shouldn't have included that from the very beginning. And they SAY they're trying to get him help in that area but you know the County isn't gonna pay for anything if the court doesn't require it. :P


Huge mess.

All I want is someone in the system to stick up for her. There's a person whose job that is. Her "law guardian." But he doesn't do it. Not even a little bit. Won't even talk to us, even though it's in his job description to do so. Nods at whatever Evil-Caseworker says to the judge, without knowing thing 1 about whether it's true or right.

So awful....

Friday, August 25, 2006

Argh, part deux.

The Caseworker called yesterday, but fostermama was putting Niblet for a nap, so asked if she could call her back later. She was going to be in the office for an hour, and by the time fostermama wrestled the baby down for her nap and took a breath, the time was gone and I was home from work and she had to scurry out the door.

So I was going to call the cw back this morning when I got to work.

Well, as I was leaving for work, the phone rings. It's the Caseworker's Supervisor. Who has previously proved to be reactionary and not a huge fan of foster parents.

My initial thought had been that the CW was calling to, at the very least, let us know what happened at court on Tuesday, right? Maybe even apologize for not telling us about it (giving some excuse that clears her, obviously.)

But no.

The Supervisor starts in on the schedule we sent with Niblet to the overnight. The schedule that was recommended and looked over prior by the OT. The schedule that was, I assume, seen by the dad's caseworker last week. But now the Supervisor is telling me that it's inappropriate for the dad to have to fill that out like homework and hand it back to us. I didn't ask if she'd like it simply returned to her... She talked about how we were "overstepping our boundaries" and took the opportunity to let me know what the role of a foster parent is. Which is highly hysterical, given that the Caseworker has proven many times that she's not all that clear on that concept.

I did not apologize. I did not agree that it was a bad idea. She claimed that the dad felt "insulted" by it, but I somehow doubt that. I told her that it was only a tool and that he had requested a schedule and that the OT suggested this format and thought that, by filling it out, it would help him keep track and learn the baby's cycles. I told her that everyone else who had seen it had either liked it or not made mention of it.
I told her that what we do need to know is the last time Niblet ate and slept so we know when to next feed and nap her.

Fostermama was in the background trying to tell me not to engage this person, but I didn't need that warning. I listened to what she said, said "okay", and hung up.

WhatEVER. Do I think it's ridiculous that we were the ones keeping track of how he was doing feeding and napping her? Yes! Do I think it's ridiculous that we were the ones who suggested he start overnights before he has a permanent place? Yes! Do I think it's overstepping our role? YES! But if nobody else is going to do their job and do these things, and they seem happy for us to, then that's what happens. They want us to stop - fine.

So next week we'll send a note, like usual, and outline her regular schedule, let him know when she woke up and ate, and ask him to write down when her final nap and food is before we pick her up. (oy, my tenses are getting all out of whack!)
If "they" have a problem with that, then they can stick it up their patooties, because that is NOT overstepping our role. That's taking care of the baby as long as she is in our care. Which is our only goal.

I really have no problem with the fact that they want us to stop having him fill in the form. However, there are respectful, non-accusatory ways to approach this and she chose not to take that route.

At this point, when we decide to start taking foster babies again, we're going to pick and choose our placements based on who the caseworker is and who his/her supervisor is. We've had enough run-ins with this Supervisor to know that she poisons her team again foster parents and we don't need to deal with that extra aggravation.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


What do you do with a problem like Maria our caseworker???

Yesterday was Niblet's first overnight with her dad. She was gone from yesterday morning until noon today. Except that, last night, we picked up a message from the secretary saying that the dad's caseworker won't be available to drop off the baby at noon, so it would have to be 10:30am or 1:00pm. Did they call our cell? No. So fostermama calls this morning and leaves a message saying that she'd be glad to pick up Niblet at 12:00pm.

The secretary calls back. Nope. The dad has some kind of appointment so can't bring the baby at 12:00. After some confusion, it turns out it's some kind of CPS appointment that he only found out about yesterday, so it's not like he made an appointment during his visit on purpose. Fine. So fostermama will pick up the baby at 1pm.

Now it's 1:25pm and she calls me and says:
"The appointment today was Court."

Meaning, the court hearing where the judge could take Niblet out of foster care, speed up her transition, or any number of other things. We were told it could happen quickly, but we were also told that they'd CALL US AND TELL US ABOUT IT. Because we have a RIGHT to be present at the proceedings.

The person I'm pissed at is the baby's caseworker. She's the one who would have first found out about the court date. She's the one who has ALL our phone numbers. And she's the one who has been so f'ing rude to us for months on end for no good reason.

Fostermama was told that the judge "continued Niblet in foster care for 6 months". Fortunately, the One Good Person happened to be in the office at the time and explained that that's a technicality and that the transition plan is still on course and she should be back with her dad within the same timeline we'd originally thought - within a month.

To top it off, the baby wasn't there to be picked up because the dad's caseworker was on her way to drop her off at our house! They just arrived back at the office when I got off the phone with fostermama.

We did a really good job of not getting too upset about Niblet not being at home last night. We actually enjoyed ourselves and saw a movie. We were looking forward to finding out how the visit went, how did she overnight, etc. Now, since the dad's already gone home, fostermama won't get to talk to him about it, and we have this added fun of dealing with the fact that we were cut out of the court date.

The upshot, it seems, is that nothing has changed. Which is good.

I just didn't need this added f'ing stress!!!!

Friday, August 18, 2006

She's a big girl now!

Niblet took her first tentative steps a few days ago. Just 2 of them at once. Last night she went further and took 9 whole steps by herself. Okay, I was bribing her with food, but so what?

She's grown up so much since we've had her. I mean, obviously, 9 months is a long time in the life of a baby, but she was so delayed when we got her and now she's not.

She's "graduating" from early intervention. She had been gettting OT twice a week and they're stopping her services in a few weeks because she's "too much on target". Whoo! Go Niblet! Her OT said that it's very, very rare that they get to graduate anyone. She's had OT for 6 months and she's done! She finally rolled over a few weeks ago, she's been crawling for a month or so, and now she's walking. Talk about leaps and bounds!

We had another case review meeting last week. We found out that there are papers in the works that, once they get to the judge, will mean a court date and Niblet could get sent home with her dad that day. So she's leaving foster care anytime from next week to next month.
Her dad is having his first overnight with her next week and then we'll go from there. Hopefully the judge will be apeased by the overnights and keep with the suggested transition plan.

Really, I'm glad this is going forward. Her dad is doing pretty well - she eats and sleeps well with him. Fostermama asked him at the meeting if he'd allow us to see her after she went to him and he said "you're part of the family!" and that we could see her "whenever". He even mentioned us taking her for weekends or overnight or whatever. That's such a relief. It's been hard to tell how he feels about us, and to find that he doesn't hate us is wonderful.

Now, I definitely don't want to disappear from her life, and I won't, but I'm not sure exactly how much involvement I want to have with her and her new family. We'll take it step by step. Whatever is best for her and feels right to us.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Quick update

I went to pick up Niblet after her visit. Her dad and his case worker were there. She pulled out the book we write stuff in and checked where he'd written (properly, even!) what he'd fed her and when she'd slept.
He actually fed her a good amount of solids, put her to sleep at the right time (and she slept for 2 hours!) and even though she only drank a little of her bottle before her nap, he gave it to her again later so she ended up drinking an okay amount.

This is huge for him, so far, and I'm happy. I don't know if the OT gave him some more advice/help this morning, or what, but the fact that he can properly feed and nap her is very good.

On the down side (isn't there always a down side?), the public housing that they were all counting on him getting hasn't come through yet. He was offered a studio apartment, but he needs a 2 bedroom, so that's not all that helpful. He's starting to look on his own, but finding something he can afford won't be easy. Hopefully something will come through by the 15th, but what this means is that he's not starting overnight visits next week. Can't do that until he has his own place.

Now I'm crossing my fingers and toes that the convince him to delay taking full custody until end of september at least, because 2 weeks of an overnight visit or two is not a proper transition for her age.

Yes, it does seem that it's not 100% up to the case workers. There's some legal thing or another against him that expires in September and then there's nothing allowing the county to keep Niblet out of his custody. It's all complicated and stupid, but there is it.

She's cute. She's leaving. Nothing new.

Nothing new to report today.
The days click by and we're simply getting closer to that day when she's gone.

There's another case review meeting next week and that's when the visit schedule will be changed. We're hoping that they'll go slowly and start with one overnight. Currently he has her for a good part of one day and then a couple of hours the next day. What would make sense is for them to just connect those 2 visits, so he has her from 9am one day to 12pm the next day. Another overnight would be too much, too soon, in our opinion.
They could do that for a couple of weeks and then have another meeting, if they really want to fast-track it.

On one hand, I'm hoping that they'll keep it slow and delay his getting her back 100% until maybe late September or so. For her good, really.

But on the other hand, again for her good, she really needs to go as soon as possible. She's getting more attached to us, if possible. She's happy to go be with other people, but when snuggling time comes around, she prefers us.
Of course, really the best thing for her is to go as soon and as slowly as possible - both. So that it's seemless to her. So she has a chance to learn her dad, to get used to sleeping at his house, so she starts to think of it as normal to be there.

She's also starting to learn that words exist, and is starting to communicate a little bit with us. That is going to be delayed with the move, but there's nothing we can do about that. Once she gets comfortable with him and his family, she'll start up again. Hopefully the OT can suggest speech therapy if there's any kind of reason for it.

We're going to be leaning on the OT a lot. She knows the baby AND the father better than anyone does. Depending on how the long visit goes today, we're probably going to be asking her to write a letter to Niblet's case worker to advocate for a longer transition time and, hopefully, more parenting skills/classes for the father. It's not our place to discuss his parenting skills, but it is her place, so hopefully they'll listen to whatever she has to say.

Hopefully the visit is going well today. I'll find out in a couple of hours.

Niblet is getting cuter everyday and it's just getting more painful everyday. For my own sake, I really want a *date*. To know when she's leaving. I don't know what good it will do me, but not knowing is one of the things driving me crazy, and I just need to shorten that list.

We need to print up more pictures and get her copies of her favorite books so she can take them all with her. I want to know how much time I have to do that.
It's the little things.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

This F-ing Broken System (and world at large)

So her dad had his first long (6 hour) visit with her today, unsupervised.
He was super proud of himself when fostermommy went to pick her up, because "she ate well and she slept well." Well, when pressed for details, fostermommy learned that she had slept for one hour in the middle of the day (she usually takes 2 hour-long naps during this time period). And when looking through the remaining food, she discovered that she'd been fed one jar of carrots and a small amount of green beans, and nothing else. None of her formula.

She just made a very hard small poop, indicating possibly being dehydrated. How could she not be? It was in the mid-high 80s today. He mentioned that she liked the a/c wherever it was that he took her, but a/c is drying, too. And we specifically mentioned in our note to him that she needed to drink the bottle, how much she should drink, how often. And that she needed water offered every half hour or so if it was hot. He was so pleased that she'd drunk some juice (that he brought).


Unfortunately, that's not what I'm most upset about right now.

I think I've figured out why he's doing this.
For a while when he first started fighting to get her back, it seemed to me like he was an old man trying to win one fight against the system after a long life of losing them.
Then I became convinced that he was doing it out of love for her, because he said something about "more time with my daughter" at the last meeting and on "my daughter" he got a bit choked up.

Today I came up with a new theory I feel is stronger than the other two: He's doing it for the approval of his ex-girlfriend. She's the mother of at least two of his adult children, and I believe he was somewhat estranged from her before this, but one of her daughters got involved in helping him, and she has now inserted herself forcefully into the middle of it. We know from comments by his counselor at the last meeting that he has issues that indicate that this is a likely motivation for him.

He seems so totally uninterested in learning anything about her daily life or her care from us. He seems annoyed when I try to tell him when she will need her next nap, or give him fostermommy's work phone number to call if he had any trouble during the day today. I feel like he has *no* respect for the role we have played and continue to play in "his" daughter's life.

I suspect he's going to ditch everything he's heard from us, from the case-workers, from the occupational therapist, and everyone else involved, so that he can follow to the letter whatever she tells him to do. And she is so not a good influence.


It hurts.

And there's nothing we can do about it.

And it's just one more piece of a really broken system, a piece of a really broken world. :P

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Not our baby.

Well, that's that.
We had the case review meeting this morning and, unless lightening strikes or her dad totally messes up somehow, he's getting her back.
Probably in September.

He's doing everything he's supposed to be doing. He's on track to get an apartment in the next few weeks. They've increased his visits to unsupervised, with a long one (6 hours) one day a week. More of his adult children are coming out of the woodwork to say they'll support him and help him out once he has her back.

Her mom has popped back in a little bit. She's headed for jail and treatment in the near future, and said outright (to one of the case workers) that she knows she's not up for taking the baby at this point, but she knows the dad is working on it and she's happy about that. So she's probably going to be TPRed and have some sort of restraining order regarding the dad and baby. Whatever.

I know this is the plan. I know I have had no reason, lately, to think that she would stay with us. That doesn't help, though. I want her. I love her. She's becoming such a little person lately, and her personality is coming out so much more. I *like* her.

We have to work with her dad so the transition is as smooth as possible. That's what we can give her. We've given her so much so far and it will help her for the rest of her life, yadda yadda...I just don't care. I want her to be my baby forever and nothing will ever make it okay that she's not.

I don't know what to do now.

Friday, June 16, 2006

I'm such a liar.

Did I really say "it will be okay" if she leaves?
No. It will not be okay. It will be horrible and worse than I can even imagine. And the only way we will get through it is with a good therapist, our friends and family, and each other. We *have to* get through it, or else it will ruin our lives and our future family.

I spoke with our social worker a few days ago about all the communication problems we're having with Niblet's caseworker, and she asked about how the case was progressing. When I told her that the dad has 2 visits a week and just has to find an apartment and continue his counseling and that I'm pretty sure he has nothing legal against him (and they have no legal reason to drug test him, so they just assume he's clean)...she said "I don't like the way that's all sounding." Meaning that she knows that that means he's going to get the baby back. Unless he messes up royally.

And I recently attended our foster parent support group and heard stories of other FPs and how their foster kids went back to really horrible situations, with parents who said to anyone who would listen that they didn't actually love or want their kid, but case workers poo-poo these things and just hand them back the kids anyway. If these people got their kids back, then there's no way that Niblet's dad isn't getting her back.

Our only hope is for him to mess up or for the judge to rule in our favor for whatever reason.

I still think that she'll be safe with him, which is more than other foster parents can say when their kids go home, but of course I want to keep her.

I feel like I'm wasting my time. What I want is my forever family. I do love fostering, and we'll most likely continue doing it, but now I'm antsy for a baby who will definitely stay.
And now we have to wait until her next court date (most likely) to be able to move on with our plans. That's not for another 5 months or so.

The plan now is to forget about trying to adopt through foster care. In this county, at this time, hoping for such a thing is a joke. Kids are going home and that's that. I'm not spending another year of my life babysitting a child who I will love like my own only to have her be ripped from me and handed back to the parent(s) who abused her in the first place - especially since the county has very little ability to make sure these babies are safe after they're returned.

Unlike most couples, fostercare was our first choice, so our "plan b" is to try to conceive. Plan C is private domestic adoption through this non-profit in the midwest that only does AA and biracial infant adoptions. Of course, we keep going back and forth about whether we want to try adoption first or conception first. We keep coming back to conceiving, so that's probably where we'll go.

The plan is that I'd try first. Fostermama has never really felt like being pregnant, and I kinda do, so there we go. It just makes me feel weird and sad to think that, a year from now, I could be pregnant and not have Niblet at home with me.
And now I'm back where I started. It's very important that we properly grieve and workthrough everything after the baby leaves us, or else we won't be able to properly celebrate whatever comes our way next. The fact that we know this is heartening, but, from this distance, it's so hard to believe we will ever get through it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


So I met with her.
Turns out, she hadn't been aware that I was the FP for her client's child.
She just became aware of this last week and, since she's been invited to the next case review meeting, she wanted to make sure I was aware that she was working with him and that she was going to be at the meeting.

Makes sense. If I had thought that she might be invited to these meetings, I would have given her a heads-up as well.

She was very compassionate, saying how, if she put herself in my shoes, that this can't be anything but a hard situation. Either way it turns out, she said, someone is going to have some strong feelings.
I don't know if she was trying to tell me something or not, but what that says to me is that the bio-dad feels very strongly about not losing this baby. Which is obvious, given his desire to "try to parent her". It also points strongly to him, if the time comes, choosing surrender over TPR. Which is heartening.
I just hope someone tells him when that time is, because I'm not sure he's able to read the writing on the wall.

And, by way of a happier update, the baby is doing very well. She's working on her crawling, doing well with her OT exercises, and just becoming more babbly, interactive and loving every day.

Long shot, overactive imagination

I work at a non-profit that does a lot of different things, including providing counseling services of all types.
I'm not a counselor, though.
I got to work this morning and had an email from one of the counselors in a different department from mine asking me to see her when I have a moment.

We never interact in a professional way, so this is probably not work-related.

I happen to know, however, that this counselor is working with Niblet's bio-dad. This information has come out in bits and pieces over time, mostly during the case review meetings.
And I know that he knows I work here, because I've seen him more than once.

The only thing I can think of that she'd want to talk to me about is him and our foster daughter. My mind is racing with the possibilities. Maybe he likes her more than he likes his case worker and he wants her to organize a meeting between him and us, to talk about surrender?

Sure, it could be work-related, or totally about something different. Or it could be a negative thing regarding the bio-dad, like that he's uncomfortable working with her knowing that I work here, too. Or something else.

But I can't help hoping for something wonderful and I hope she gets into work soon so we can talk and get it over with!

I don't realize how much I hope her parents will just up and surrender until the *teeny* possibility of it pops into my head.

Monday, May 22, 2006

I wish there were something I regretted doing.

This was my wish a few nights ago.
I was wracking my brain, trying to find one thing I regret having done in regard to fostering/adopting/etc.

There isn't anything.

  • Deciding to adopt as a first choice
  • Deciding to do fostercare instead of private adoption
  • Deciding to take temporary foster babies
  • Deciding to take "possible adopt" foster babies
  • Deciding to treat Niblet as "our own"
  • Deciding to start calling her by the name we'd give her if we adopted her
  • Asking our family and friends to treat her as permanent, with the knowledge that she could be temporary
  • Deciding to have kids at all
  • All the other things that have happened that I didn't have control over, but could wish that they didn't happen all the same.
I can't even pretend to want to take any of these things back.

I'm a big proponent of "things happen for a reason". I'm not all that religious, but I am spiritual. I feel the bigger picture. If nothing else, the past 2 years have taught me more about "things happen for a reason" than I ever knew.

What this amounts to is that, as much as I want Niblet to stay with us forever and ever, it might not happen. And it will be okay if that happens. She will be okay. She will be safe. We will grieve and cry and curse and eat french fries and milkshakes for dinner for weeks, but we will recover. We will go on to the next step, we will move on with our lives, we will eventually have the family we are meant to have.
I don't think there's a "master plan", really, but I do think there are many paths that our lives can take and that all of them end up with us having children and being happy. I really do believe that.

I just wish I could find the branch of the current path that leads to Miss Cuteness sleeping through the night.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Oh, and...

Of course, my anger flares up occasionally.
Like tonight, when Niblet took over an hour to fall asleep. Everytime I left the room, she freaked out and would not calm down.

I left the room and told Fostermama: "I can't do it anymore. I fucking want him to come and take his broken baby now. I'm not doing it anymore."

It's really hard to be a long-term babysitter for such a high needs baby. It sometimes only has seemed worth it because "this too shall pass". If she leaves, then that's not true. We'll have gotten all the hardest months and he'll get the rest of it. The fun. The raising her. Fuck that noise.

I want to call him everytime she wakes up and keep him on the phone until I get to get back in bed. If I actually had his phone number, it'd be hard to stop myself from doing it in the middle of the night.

I think she's teething currently, but it's so hard to tell because there's no normal to compare it to.

I love her so hard. He doesn't love her like I do. He loves the idea of her. I know he will love her, but right now, I win. I love her more. She loves me more. None of this is fair to her.

Rollercoaster much?

Although there are no definites in this world, especially when you're talking about foster care, today it seems like our little Niblet's dad is going to get her back.

He's working on it. He's getting an apartment. He seems not too scared about her needs. He managed to get her to fall asleep at the visit (although she only stayed asleep for 15 minutes).
He even seems to have heard what the judge said last week and asked for more visitation. He's getting a second visit per week for 3 hours, which will be moved to his home once he gets a place and it's approved.

Niblet's case worker is being obnoxious. Now that reunification is seeming more possible, she's distancing herself from us because she assumes (I can only assume) that we're going to be pushing to keep the baby and her job is to follow the laws and make reunification happen if at all possible.

WE UNDERSTAND THIS. We know that our job is to keep the baby safe while she's in our care. We know that part of this job is to help her dad learn about her and help transition her to him.
We also know that many foster parents do fight it and don't understand how things work. But little miss case worker (who's been in the job for about a year and is probably 25 years old or so) doesn't want to listen to us and doesn't want us to talk to the dad. Ever.

She's commanded that we not talk to the dad's case worker about anything except the visits. If we want to talk to the dad, she has to be there, and she's made it clear that she's not willing to facilitate that.

Which is horrible. We learned in our foster care class that it's our responsibility to make an effort to have a relationship with the parents of our foster children. The case workers, however, have no idea what our training entailed and apparently don't like us asserting ourselves.

We're, surprisingly, taking it relatively well. I feel like what's meant to happen will happen. Her dad is a good man. She will be okay if she lives with him. She won't be who she would be if she stayed with us, but she'll be safe.

We still want our own baby, though. If Cuteness leaves, we're probably going to abandon foster care as a method of growing our family. We'll still be foster parents and we'll take temporary kids at some point, but we're either going to try to get pregnant or go domestic private adoption.

Hopefully her dad will figure out what he wants and if he can have it as soon as possible. Twice a week visits for 2-3 hours should give him a good idea of what she's like. I hope.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Relatively boring court, but there's always some fun!

This is a long post, so maybe you want to grab a snack. :)
So the upshot is what we expected. Given that she hasn't even been in care for 15 months yet, there was no way the judge was going to TPR on either parent. The lawyers all requested a 6 month extension, and the judge granted it.

So at least nothing weird on that front.

The dad was there, with his lawyer, and the mom is AWOL - possibly "detained", possibly just hiding out because she doesn't want to be forced into in-patient rehab. Or whatever. She still has time to come back in the picture, though.

One of the father's many adult children came to court (with her mother) to support the father. She's pretty young and, we think, has child of her own, but she has expressed readiness to "help" the father get the baby back. We don't know what that means at all. She was told that she needs to talk to the county CW if she wants to do kinship foster care or adopt the baby herself, and so far she hasn't done that. She kept trying to speak up in court, but everyone pointedly ignored her.
If she does officially come forward and go through the small steps to get the baby, she'll get her, no question. So our goal is to make sure that she and the father know exactly what they'd be getting themselves into. What the baby's needs are, what her future needs will probably be, etc. As I think I've said before, we don't want to "scare them off", we just want to make sure they make an informed decision and that the baby grows up with someone who accepts her and takes good care of her.

Anyway, got off track there!
It was really great that we were at court. At one point the judge asked the county attorney a simple question:
Judge - "Are the current foster parents ready to adopt the baby if the father doesn't succeed in getting her back?"
Attorney - "Well, I wouldn't say it that strongly, your honor."

Um...WTF?! It was a question that just required a yes or no answer, and the judge was assuming it was a yes, as that was half the reason she was switched to us! And the CW didn't say anything, either!

So the judge looks back at us, in the rows, and says "you're the foster parents, right? Why don't you come join us up here."
We grabbed a chair and joined them at the "big table". He asked us what our intentions are and Fostermama (bless her heart) managed to say very quickly and succinctly something along the lines of:
"We are happy to work with the county on whatever the goal is. If the parents are working toward reunification, we will do everything we can to help facilitate that. If the parents don't succeed, we are ready and willing to adopt the baby."

The judge said: "That's what I meant", looking very pointedly at the county attorney. The judge pretty much was in an "everybody's an idiot!" mood that day.

The last somewhat enjoyable part was that the judge really let loose on the dad. He obviously has no love for this man and was not particularly happy that he was required by law to give him 6 more months to get his act together. Some great quotes were:
"Sir, how long does your daughter have to wait for you?"
"You currently have 2-hour, supervised visits. You're not even on the level of a teenage babysitter. Anyone would allow a 16 year old to stay with their child, alone, all evening. You have a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it in."

And the father blathered incoherently at each opportunity he had to speak. He really dug his own grave where this judge is concerned. He couldn't even give his current address accurately, and ended up giving a totally different one than he had given the county CW 15 minutes prior in the hallway. Who knows what he's, ineffectively, trying to cover up? We heard that this particular judge is unpredictable. Apparently, in this case, he's not on the parents' side. Which is appropriate, in my opinion, at this point. It could have easily gone the other way, so I guess the baby got lucky.

Oh, also the parents' CW got to see us quickly put the baby to sleep and have her stay asleep in the busy court waiting room. So there are no more excuses for the dad not to give her a nap during his visit. We will teach him how to swaddle her and cover her face and everything. He has to do it. The CW had said that the visit room isn't "conducive to sleep", but it's quiet and has no more than a couple of people around, nothing like the court!

The adult daughter and her mother, who've seen the baby 3 times in her life, came and grabbed her away from us when they got there and started playing with her. They had, at the last visit, made some disparaging remarks about the baby's mother, and in the court waiting room I overheard them saying something to the effect that they had stayed away from the baby because the mom was in the picture. Now that she's gone, they're interested in the baby again.

Which is problematic because it's not like the mom's in prison for 50 years - she's just keeping her distance for whatever reason. She could pop back in at ANY point. And she would have the right to see her baby and try to get her back. Then what would the dad's daughter (and her mother) do?? So we need to make sure the case workers know how the daughter feels and let her know what would happen if the mom came back. I'm hoping nobody wants to give the baby to people who are going to keep her from her bio-mom unnecessarily.

So anyway, the baby is still in our care. If the adult daughter comes forward to adopt her, that could happen within a matter of weeks. If she doesn't want to adopt her, we'll more-likely-than-not be able to keep her, as it seems to me that the dad will have a hard time getting her back on his own. That's a big IF, though. And anything else can happen, too, in the next 6 months.

The next hearing is in 6 months and we managed to get it scheduled for a few days after the anniversary of her being placed with us. This is important because, after 12 months in our care, the judge is allowed to consider us equally as a permanent family for her. So the judge would be allowed to *choose* if she should stay with us or go to the dad or whoever else. And we'd be have a lawyer at that point and be able to have way more standing in court than we would if it were before 12 months. Yes, we want to keep her, but mostly we want her to be safe. We have a better chance of helping that happen if we have standing in court. So, yay for that.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Permanency Hearing

Tomorrow is the "every 6 months" permanency hearing for our foster daughter. It is her first such hearing, I think. She'll be 1 year old in a few days, but she didn't come into care officially until she was released from the NICU, 2 months after she was born. So it's a late 6-month-hearing.

Fostermama and I will be there, and the baby will be with us, though during the actual court proceedings she'll be in the court daycare. In answer to Julie's question, no, we've never been to one of these before. This is our first. Our other foster babies had court proceedings, obviously, but we weren't involved enough to feel the need to attend. There's no real reason for us to be there, except that we want to know firsthand what happens.

We have been told, and have no reason to expect otherwise, that all that will happen is that the judge will continue the baby in foster care for another 6 months. Especially since the dad has recently begun to step up, but isn't ready to take custody yet.

A few weeks ago, we received a copy the case worker's report that gets sent to the judge. It was, in our opinion, overly gracious towards the parents. Didn't mention at ALL that they skipped out on 2 months worth of visits in the fall (which was the reason that she was moved to a pre-adoptive home), and didn't make it clear enough that the dad *just* started the steps toward getting her back. The steps that were clearly marked out quite a while ago.

We're hoping to be able to convey this to the baby's advocate, so maybe s/he will be able to let the judge know. It would be inappropriate and uncomfortable for us to let the judge know this, but we really need him to know.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll have more to say after tomorrow. Cross your fingers that it's a completely boring proceeding.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"When I hit a rut, she says to try the other parent."

Ok, so that's a Dar Williams quote that doesn't particularly apply, but it popped into my head while I was thinking about writing this post.

There's a permanency hearing next week. It will, most likely, be rote and the judge will just continue Cuteness in care for 6 more months. The mom is MIA and doesn't currently have visits and the dad *just* started getting his act together.

He's become a kind of dark horse. He's not currently living with the mom, because of circumstances beyond both their control, but he's taking this advantage to decide that maybe he wants to try and get the baby back himself. This might just be a big push before court and it may peter out afterwards, but we just have no idea what he's likely to do. Nobody ever thought he'd leave the mom or try to get the baby himself. He's quite old and likely wouldn't live to see her graduate high school. He probably has grandchildren older than this baby. He doesn't have a place to live. There are plenty of reasons why it's kinda crazy for him to try and parent her himself, not the least of which is that neither of us can imagine parenting her alone! It's not a one-person job - she's TOUGH.

From stuff the caseworkers have said, it's very likely that he just doesn't want to "lose" to The System. He doesn't want to "lose" the baby.

There are a million steps he'd have to go through before he'd be able to get her back, and all he's gotten so far is that he's starting 2-hour visits this week. This is good, in a way, because it's important that she naps during the visit, so he's going to have to try to put her for a nap. Good luck, buddy.
It's totally possible that she'll be so exhausted (the visit *starts* when she should be going down for a nap) that she'll pass out once he gives it a shot, but that won't happen every week.
Likely, she'll come home at 12pm not having slept and she'll be screwy for the rest of the day, as she usually doesn't take a very long nap right after her visit.

It's never been 100% that we were going to be able to keep her. Not even 50/50, if I'm honest. But mostly I've been blaming that on the fact that the judges tend not to really look at the case well and just do what they feel like doing. And we have the "worst" judge of the 3.

Somehow, having the dad say he wants to get her back and making some steps toward makes it worse.
I don't know what his drug history is like, but he's the one who was with the mom during her whole pregnancy and knew she was harming the fetus and just let it happen. If he was sober during all that, then all the more blame falls on him. If he can't stick up for his baby before she's even born, how is he going to stick up for her now? And she'll need it to get all the services and respect she deserves.

They visited her in the NICU a handful of times in the 2 months she was there. They went to a couple of visits after she was released and then skipped the visits for over 2 months, which is why she was transferred to us from the temporary foster home.

I'm really glad that she has a good case worker and that there's a long process of transition that has to happen before he'd be given her back. If he really wants to parent her, he needs to learn what that means. I'm not letting her go until I'm sure she's safe with him. And, of course, I'll never know that for sure, but I can hope.

Of course, mostly I'm hoping that he'll realize that he doesn't want to parent her. We're going to do our best to let him know that we want him in her life and that, if he surrenders, we'll work with him on what that means. Pictures, visits, meeting her siblings and other family - that's what we WANT for her.

So this is where my brain is today. Fragmented, as that's about all I can muster with the kind of sleep I've been getting for the past 6 months. How is it coming across to my 1.2 readers, I wonder? I'd love to answer questions or hear your experiences.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I wrote this whole, great post using the Firefox extension "Deepest Sender" which I use for my other blog all the time...and it ate the post. I hit "post" and it just never made it here. Damn. Well, I'll just start over. It sucks to try and recreate something and it'll come out crappy if I try.

Anywho...since this blog is marginally anonymous, I'm going to use it to talk about stuff that I wouldn't necessarily want on my other blog. This time it's anger. Specifically anger towards our FD's parents.

Even more specifically, in this post, anger towards her mother.

Now, I can understand that she's had a rough life. I can theorize all the reasons that she's become who is she. I can rant about the lack of good, accessible services for people who need a hand. I can even hope that she and the father will surrender their rights rather than have them terminated, just so the baby will have the opportunity to know them before she's 18.

What I can't handle is the pre-natal drug use. I know, I know, addiction is a disease. But she's had 3 other babies who tested positive at birth and she's not raising any of them. Faced with #4, who she seemed to want to be able to keep, why not go into treatment? Why not do something, anything to save this helpless creature from the ravages of her disease?

I know it's hard. Probably harder than I can even imagine.
But you know what's hard? Raising the baby she SCREWED UP. That's HARD.

I don't think I'm a better person than she is. I just think I'm a better mother at this point.

How can I not look at that perfect little baby and not, occasionally, see who she might have been if not for the drugs, the premature birth, the 2 months in the NICU?

How will I look at her when she's 15 or 20 and tell her the full truth of her past? What will that day be like for her?

I would give anything to go back in time and give that woman the services she needed, the support she wanted, anything to get her clean.

Then Little Miss Cute could have been born full-term, without drugs in her system, without the need for the NICU...and without the need for foster parents.

And I would agree to that in a heartbeat. I would give her up in order to give her the body and mind she deserved.

Because I'm her mother.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Where to go from here?

So now we've gotten to the point where y'all are reading, but we're not posting! I'll just jump in and make a post.

It's been busy, busy in the Casa de Moms. Holidays, Early Intervention appointments, etc.

Our Cutie-Patootie is going to be 1 year old soon. It's craziness. She's been on a huge growth spurt lately - the girl's all legs!- and we had to sort through the 12-18 month clothes. Much of it is still slightly too big, but a lot of the 9-12 month pants are too short. Whatcha gonna do?

She was very premature, but for her adjusted age, she's above average for height. And near the bottom of the chart for weight. This is due, I'm pretty sure, not only to her probable genetic body type (which I'm pretty sure will be tall and thin), but to her feeding issues. And these are related, we're pretty sure, to sensory integration problems.

When we first got the Little Booger, she was 6 months old (chronologically) and eating 2 oz of high calorie formula (with rice cereal) every few hours. (3-4, I think?) She would spit up a lot of it, though, so who knows how much she was actually digesting. We took her off the rice cereal (it was waaay too early for her sensitive digestive system) and put her on a goat milk formula. Her reflux seemed to improve. She was still taking about 2oz every 3 hours. After a month or 2, she was up to 3-4 oz and we were thinking we'd have to start using the bigger bottles, cuz she'd start taking 5oz at a time. Wishful thinking. She hit an eating lull, then got a cold, and now she eats between 15-20oz/day. She's growing and gaining, but it still feels like too little. She's probably around 15.5 pounds, so she should be averaging 30oz.
Really, the main problem is that she often seems very hungry, but then stops after 1-2 oz. And then she's hungry again very shortly.

The other main weirdness we found with her was sleeping. It took her forEVER to fall asleep when we first got her. She'd fall asleep, then her arm would flail and she'd wake herself up. Or we'd get her totally asleep and she'd wake up the second we moved her to her hammock. We FINALLY though of swaddling her and that first night was bliss! She still took forever to get to sleep, but the transition to the hammock was smoother and she stayed asleep for longer. But now, at 11 months old, she still has to sleep swaddled with a light blanket over her face. Total sensory deprevation, or else her eyes pop right open and she's AWAKE.
At this point, she's to the point where we can get her to fall asleep in 5-10 minutes, no problem (usually). She'll nap anywhere from 45minutes - 3 hours (with a daily minimum of 3 hours of naps), and she gets tired after 2-2.5 hours of being awake. She sleeps around 12 hours/night and we put her to bed between 8 and 8:30pm. However, she usually fusses after 45 minutes or so for another bottle (because she drinks so little while she's awake), and then she gets 2 bottles overnight. Besides the bottles, she fusses for her binky at least twice a night and usually many more. She never sleeps for more than 2 hours at a time between fusses. It's exhausting.

She's also very high needs. For the first few months, she wouldn't nap for more than 20 minutes unless she was in the sling, cuddled up against one of us. We couldn't put her down for more than 5 minutes until she was big enough for the exersaucer - about 2 months ago. Now she'll stay in there for 10 minutes at a time. But if we leave her line of sight, watch out! She just wants to be on our laps all the time. Or playing on the floor with us. Occasionally, I can get 15 minutes alone if I put her in the crib (she sleeps in a hammock, so the crib is for playing), turn on the mobile, and give her a bunch of toys. But as soon as she can pull herself up on the side of the crib and reach the mobile, I'm thinking that'll be over. We'll see.

This is long-winded, but what I'm getting to is that, many months ago, an online friend mentioned that the things we were describing about Her Fussiness sounded like "sensory integration disorder" of some type. Bingo.

When we went to the developmental pediatricians, they said that sensory integration wasn't something they could evaluate and wasn't something that you could get early intervention for. Fortunately, at her last appointment with them, they referred her to EI...because she's not yet rolling over. Yay for that!

The Early Intervention rep TOTALLY understood the sensory stuff and even brought it up herself when we were talking about the baby's issues. We got the evaluation and the area for which she qualifies for service is "Adaptive Skills" - e.g., self soothing and sleeping. They recommended she get services from an Occupational Therapist trained in Sensory Integration. Yay!
and, sure, they'll work on her gross motor delays and get her rolling and crawling like a champ, but really the most important thing in my opinion, is to teach her those self-soothing techniques.

Her Royal Cuteness, however, would like for them to teach her how to walk, please! She has increased tone, which causes stiffness and the flailing that kept her awake, but also gives her muscles of steel. She has been standing with assistance since before we got her, and is now able to stand holding onto something (the couch, for instance) all by herself. She is learning how to "cruise" a little bit, too. Unfortunately, she can't sit down and get back up, so if she wavers, she falls and she doesn't like that one bit. We're pretty sure that, once she learns to crawl and stand up/sit down, that she'll get working on that walking thing. And then we're in BIG trouble!

We were supposed to get a call about the OT by yesterday, and we didn't, so we'll be following up on that. Hopefully she can start the therapy by next week. She'll be getting it twice a week and we're hoping that we click with the OT person. We know the baby will love whoever it is. She makes friends wherever she goes and if someone wants to play with her and give her their full attention - she's all for it!

Monday, March 20, 2006

So there is some initial interest in our blog. Yay. :)
Here's a little background...
We have been foster moms for a little over a year. We're signed up to take babies under 1 year old, and we've had quite a few. Three for long periods of time and then a handful of 1-2 day stays. We've really enjoyed each and every baby.

Since our goal is adoption, even though not all the babies were available for adoption, we called them "practice babies" and, whoo boy, have we gotten some practice!

We've had colic, reflux, milk allergies, crying jags, babies who wanted to be held 24/7, babies who wanted to play 24/7, and on and on and on.

Our friends and family are very supportive and that's been really important.

Our little bundle right now has been with us for 4.5 months and we'll have her for at least another couple months. She will possibly be available for adoption. This is the outcome her case worker is hoping for, at least.
It's hard for me to really hope that we can adopt her - I mean, yes, I love her with all my heart and want to raise her - but hoping to adopt her means hoping that her parents fail at their goal of reunification. That's a hard place to be in for me.

Realistically, I know it's up to them and if they really are at a place in their lives where they can do the work and get her back, then that's what will happen and that will (hopefully) be the best thing for all of them. And if they can't do that at this point, for whatever reason, then here we are ready to adopt her. Win-win for her. [And then there's the issue of the judge and how he can do whatever he wants, basically, regardless of what the parents have been doing...but that's another post...]

If she does leave us, however, we'll be completely heartbroken. Because you can't not hope and dream. We have to live our lives as if she'll be here always. It's the only way we can provide her with the best care. And I'm willing to do it, I just know it'll suck big time if she leaves.

None of the other babies we had were this close to being freed for adoption, so we've never gone down this road before.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Looking to meet other folks who're trying to adopt through the foster system. It's a bit lonely to be doing things this way. There are so many uncertainties and stresses that are specific to this situation. Our friends who are having babies in different ways are sympathetic and supportive, but we don't know many people who're in the same boat as us.

I already have a blog where I write about this stuff, and lots of other things, on LJ, and it's friends-only to protect the identities of the kids. I'm not sure how I'll use this blog, but a couple of people have pointed out recently that having a public anon blog is a good way to connect with people in similar situations.

So if I get interested and interesting comments to this post, I'll probably start writing some stuff here.

Oh, and right now we have a baby placed with us who we've had for 4 months. She's cute! :)