Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The house, she ain't empty no more.

On Friday, we got a call from The County asking if we'd take a placement of a 13-month-old for 3 weeks. Seems that her mother is 9 months pregnant and has no family or friends to help her out or watch the older child, so she's voluntarily placing her in foster care for the first 3 weeks so she can recuperate and get settled in with the new baby.

We said yes, obviously.

It wasn't certain when the placement would begin, but her due date was this weekend.

So on Sunday we had Niblet over to play, which involved us not getting a lot of sleep because she still wants us to give her a bottle and snuggles when she wakes up at night. Monday we went to work, but both planned on taking a nap the second we got home. fostermama picked me up from work and said "so now we go home and wait for the baby!" (She hadn't even gotten there yet and we were losing sleep over her!)

We went home, cleaned up a bit, started some laundry and muffins, and waited.
Finally the call came that they were on their way, and there they were!

fostermama and I had been taking guesses as to what race the little girl would be, as they hadn't mentioned it to us on the phone. That fact, alone, led us to believe she was white, because when it's not a white baby, they usually say "is that okay?" or something else stupid like that.
We're just used to our babies being not-white. But, anyway, when I saw them getting out of the car, I saw her little hand poking out and, sure enough, she's white.

She was a little hesitant at first, but once we got her interested in the cats and the toys, she didn't even notice when the case workers (one of whom she's known all her life) left. It didn't take her long, though, to start objecting if we got out of her range of vision. She figured out that we were "her people" and, though she doesn't know why, she's okay with it.

The evening went pretty well. She worked on getting to know all the toys. She drank her sippy cup like it was going out of style. She wouldn't eat much food, but we got a little bit into her. Then we decided it was time for her bath and bed. There's where the fun ended. She saw the bath and started crying. She didn't seem to dislike the bath, actually. I think it was just the "hey! where's my Mom! Why are you doing Mom things?!" She became very clingy after that, and developed a slight preference for fostermama, so she put the kiddo to sleep. She went down really easily, with slight fuss, and was out like a light.

Then, an hour later, she was up and screaming and there was no calming her. We brought her out with us and she lay on fostermama, sipping her cup and occasionally crying a very angry cry. Poor little chicken. There was really nothing we could do. She wanted her mom. She doesn't understand where her mom went or why she's with us. She was willing to be comforted and would start to fall asleep, but then she'd come awake a little and scream anew.

It went like this for about an hour. Then, after standing by the crib, rubbing her back while she cried, I left the room again. It seemed that having me there was possibly unhelpful because she would look at me and scream louder.
She cried for what seemed like an hour (but was probably more like 15 minutes) and finally fell asleep. She slept straight through until a little after 8am.

I feel so bad for this little girl. She likely has never spent the night away from her mom and isn't old enough to understand in the slightest. We're hoping we'll be able to visit her mom in the hospital soon, and then there will be frequent visits home during the rest of the time, but I suspect that each night will re-open this new wound and she'll have to go to sleep without the one kiss and hug she really wants.

Monday, February 26, 2007

AA Culture Question

I'm shy, but I'm going to try to get up the nerve to ask around about this more than just online. I love our group of friends in this area, it's the strongest I've ever had. But we're all white. I'll probably ask this of a co-worker, but I'd like to get more than one perspective so I'll ask it here as well in case anyone has anything to say:

Niblet's dad is a Northeastern African American man in his late 60's. When I drop her off after a visit, as I did this morning, he asks, "How did it go?" or "How was she?"
I tend to say something like, "Oh, she fussed a little yesterday, I think she's getting a new tooth, but she did fine and she had a fun time."

In Jewish culture, if you don't complain a little then something is wrong.
In mainstream Midwestern culture, even a small amount of complaining is quite taboo.

So, obviously much is personality, but if I say the above to him - what is he likely hearing?
We have never had friends from Niblet's family's background(s) before. I suspect that having a personal relationship with folks like us (white middle class lesbians) is pretty new to them too. And we're all shy. So things can be a bit awkward and we almost always feel like we don't really know what they're thinking or what they want. So while this appears to be a pretty inconsequential conversation, it's a good 1/3 of our total communication with them and I'd like to make sure I'm coming across as saying what I really mean.

Thanks for any input.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Here they are....

Cute Niblet stories!

Niblet was with us this weekend for a bit, including an overnight. We haven't seen her in 3 weeks and WOW did she mature! She's way more interested in looking at the actual pages of books (instead of just listening to the story and flipping the pages as quickly as possible).

Two of her new words this time?
"Oh ge ga!" (translation: Oh my god!)

She's still the kissingest, cuddliest kid on the planet. You ask for a kiss and she puckers up and plants one on you, complete with kissing noises ("mwah!")

And, as I predicted, she is full-on into "NO!"
As of last time we saw her, she would say "no" when she was about to do a "no-no" thing and she would shake her head when she didn't want something. Now she knows she can say NO and she says it!
Of course, she doesn't always mean it. She just really likes the way it sounds.

Luckily for her, one of her favorite books has the word "No!" in it. She already has a few parts of the book that she "reads along" with, and now she's added this part. She loves it.
Reader: "Shall we stay in and play?"
Niblet: "NOOOO!"
Reader: "No! It's sunny outside, follow me!"

A lot of things have been clicking for her, language-wise, it seems. I'm totally psyched for her to learn more words and be able to communicate with us even more.

She has matured a lot in other respects, as well. I don't know if it was the 3-week-lapse or what, but she no longer freaks out when one of us leaves the room. Or even if we both leave the room. We're even working on getting her to sleep through the night for us, and our first night went very well!

I really think that it just takes a long time for a child to adjust to a transition like she had. She's 20 months old and she's only been back home since October. It's definitely a good thing that we're still in her life (she was sooo excited to see us), but I think there was a lot of confusion in her little brain. It's not suprising that, on some level, it freaked her out whenever we left the room. Of course, she was like that before she started transitioning home, soooo.....

More likely, her parents took a harder line on that kind of behavior and ended up teaching her that the world won't collapse if your caretaker pees alone. We were the suckers who would continue to take her in with us, so she helped herself to our hospitality for as long as she could.

Either way, I'm glad that she's so secure in her world. She's growing up, but the same smart, loving, strong personality is still there.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The waiting game

I know you're waiting for a post, but really I have nothing to report. That's the way it is when you're on The List. And we're on 2 lists! We're waiting, ultimately, for our adoption agency to call, but we're also waiting for the county to call. Honestly, I could do with a foster baby to take over my life and help the time pass more easily.

Shouldn't I be enjoying this time to myself? The time to reconnect with fostermama, deep clean the house, have adult conversations with friends, see movies...shouldn't I be relishing this break? Well, I'm not.

I'm probably preaching to the converted, but let me tell you - I'm bored! I don't do all those other things because what I really want to be doing is parenting!

We took ourselves on a little vacation to try and get our minds off of babies and all that. But it didn't really help. And since we're doing adoptive breastfeeding, and had to keep pumping on vacation, it was a daily reminder that we don't have a baby.

Anyway, all this to say that there's no news.
We haven't seen Niblet in 3 weeks, and are planning on seeing her this weekend, so I'm assuming she's talking in sentences and gained 10 pounds. We're going to have to ask her parents if she has any new words, because we won't necessarily be able to figure out what she's saying if they don't tell us.

Oh, one cute thing for you:
We used to teach Niblet ASL signs. She recognized a few of them during her time with us and actually used a few on and off. She's a big fan of the sign for "more". We're pretty sure her parents don't use signs with her at all, but we still use them with her when she's with us. Last time she remembered/learned the sign for "milk" and the next morning, when I went into her room to get her from the crib, she sat there signing milk at me. It was super cute, and of course I immediately got her some milk. She just looked at it like I was crazy - she didn't want milk, she just wanted to show me her word!

She actually does a good job of remembering signs from one week to the next. She has 3-4 signs that she uses regularly with us. She has forgotten the finer points of the signs and mutated them to her liking, but we know what she means.
I was worried that her language skills weren't "up to par", but when we counted up her signs and her english words, she has about a dozen and her receptive skills are really good, too. So she's fine.

Hopefully I'll have a cute Niblet story for you next week. All in all, this waiting game would be much worse if we didn't have her to fill in the gaps.