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.