Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Being a parent means feeling guilty

Nobody related to Niblet's case is doing their job properly (if at all). fostermama and I have been going above and beyond, because we love Niblet, and it's just not enough. We need the case worker and the legal guardian and the judge and the father's lawyer and the father's social worker to all do their jobs. Or at least ONE of them. And they're not. And, yet, I feel guilty. Yes, I know I shouldn't, but I do. So there's no point in trying to convince me out of it.

See, we've decided not to fight for Niblet to be placed with us for foster care. There was court today and nothing happened. The judge "decided" that she should remain in foster care, but didn't place her with the family members who want her, nor with us, nor make any decisions about her long-term plan. He basically just continued the case until next week. Lovely. So Niblet is still with the new foster parents. I'm sure she's happy there, because she's a happy, loving, friendly girl, but it's not like being with family or people you think of as family (like us). Eventually she's going to wonder what happened to everyone else.

What we're hoping for is that she get placed with her family members next week. We met them and they seem like sincere, good people. They want the best for Niblet and cried at the end of court when they realized they couldn't take her home today. We were going to call the caseworker's supervisor and whatnot and try and convince them to place her with us until she can go with her family, but then decided against it.

The thing is, this is driving us crazy. What happened to her, what's continuing to happen to her, the fact that the county will probably work for "reunification"...again...and that Niblet will probably languish in foster care for a long time again and then probably go back to her father. We just can't deal with that. Not with Squeak and ourselves to take care of. The stress of it the first time around was not-quite-bearable.

We're not totally giving up. We're going to call Niblet's father and talk to him. Ask him what he wants and, if it seems like he might be willing to surrender Niblet to us (he has some sort of beef with the other family members and has said he doesn't want them to have her), then we'll say whatever we have to (including some little white lies, if necessary) to make that easy for him. But he'll have to do it FAST, because we're just NOT doing temporary foster care anymore. If he wants to hurt Niblet by making her get attached to people over a long period of time and then ripping her away from them, again, I'm not going to be party to it. And we don't have any power to make sure it doesn't happen that way, no matter how much we wish we did.

Then, if her father doesn't want to surrender her, we're also going to talk to the legal guardian and make sure he understands why placing her with her family members is the right decision. We don't want her to stay with these unknown foster parents, really. The legal guardian is relatively useless, but apparently if we feed him information to help him look good, he might actually use it.

On the plus side, if her family members do get her (temporarily or permanently), they've already said we're very welcome to visit with her. So she won't lose us and we won't lose her. It really would be the best possible outcome for this little girl.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

There's no end to the way the system can hurt a child

She's not with us. They sent her to another foster home.

And they won't tell us why.

They verified that we are NOT being investigated at all regarding the injuries, so that's a huge relief, but they won't tell us why they "changed their minds" and sent her to be with strangers when she should be with us.

We are hurting for her so much that I can't even begin to explain.

Our only consolation is that she is safe. That is huge. She hasn't been safe for a year, apparently, and now she is.

She just should be safe with us. And she's not.

If this doesn't get resolved by next week, we're going to the media. The system is so f*cked up, there needs to be huge changes. It's not just Niblet.

Stay tuned.

Monday, November 19, 2007


She's definitely coming into care when she gets out of the hospital tomorrow. And the homefinder director (who used to be our social worker before she got promoted to head the unit) has made it so we're back in the system and we will be the ones getting her.

So she'll be coming to us tomorrow. Until at least early next week (with the holiday and all, they don't know when the court hearing will happen).

She is hurt. Her eye is swollen shut and has a hematoma ("she hit her face on a radiator") and she has extensive bruising and chafing all over her thighs and crotch ("they have no explanation for that"). I can't even begin to try and process that.

This is EXACTLY what we didn't want to happen - for her to go home all happy and "fixed", and then come back to us later on totally broken. We thought she was going back to a safe home. We weren't worried for her in that way. We knew her life wouldn't be the same as if she had stayed with us, but it would be a good life.

I feel like we failed her. We should have fought harder for her. I should have known that, if her parents were rough and yelled and her while we were there picking her up or dropping her off, then they must be even worse when we're not there.

But, of course, it's not my fault. It's theirs. I just want to turn back time. I want to give this little Niblet another go at the past year.

I don't want her back. It wouldn't be the best thing for our family - fostermama, Squeak and myself. But it *would* be the best thing for Niblet, so we'll do it if that's what it comes to. Her aunt & uncle have said they want her, so she may very well go to them if they check out. I'm feeling not-so-generous about that, as I'm sure they know more about what was going on with her than we do, but if they really want her and they're appropriate, then so be it. But if we get any inkling that they're NOT good for her, we're lawyering up. We'll fight for her. She deserves it.

Niblet back in care?

I just got a call on my cell from CPS. They want to talk to us because Niblet is in the hospital. Something happened on Friday, I don't know what, and she's been in the hospital since then.

Unfortunately, sort of, we saw her on Friday afternoon for a few hours. So, of course, they have to talk to us and see if we're part of the investigation or not. The CPS worker and a detective will be by our house this afternoon to talk to us. Mostly about Niblet's father, she said, but I know (gee, how do I know...?) that they'll be looking to see if we're in the wrong in any way.

She said Niblet will be released tomorrow, and may be put back into foster care. I made it clear that we want to take her if that happens, and she said that a few people have stepped up and that we'd have to go to court and talk with the judge.

Anyway, I'll keep you updated. Keep little Niblet in your prayers.

I'm shaking with the news. I don't know what to do or what will happen.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I wish she could talk

I wish we could ask Niblet what she wants, how she feels. I know that, even if she were talking like an average 2.5 year old, she wouldn't be capable of that kind of conversation. But I wish it anyway.

Lately, we've been not as anxious to see Niblet. We've skipped many weekends. Sometimes it's been because she's with other relatives and her parents forgot to have her back in time for us to pick her up (which is great, in that she's getting to be with various family), and sometimes it's just because we're too busy to see her. Or we really need to relax or get things done.
Being with Niblet is great, but it takes a lot of work.

It's becoming additionally hard as Squeak is getting older and more possessive. It's actually kind of cute. The last time she was over, Niblet and Squeak literally fought over EVERYTHING. Toys, our laps, the same square of rug, anything. And Squeak's not really old enough to win these battles, but he sure does try.

So to avoid possessiveness, and keep our sanity a little bit, we like to spend most of our time out of the house. Which, with the colder weather, is becoming harder. Especially since Niblet isn't really old enough to enjoy things like museums or other indoor kids' stuff.

Really, the main problem is our continued lack-of-relationship with her parents. It's getting easier to plan visits, but anything else - like talking about what new words she has, what things she likes to do, or how they keep her from throwing everything - is nearly impossible. So we end up with a 2.5 year old who we basically don't know anything about. Which is a hard thing to do, regardless of the situation.

From Niblet's point of view, as far as I can tell, she still adores coming to visit us. She pulls out every ASL sign we ever taught her (more, please, apple, food, light). She loves visiting with our friends. We'll usually give her a nap by laying down on our bed with her, and she just closes her eyes and goes to sleep. It's miraculous, considering our year-long sleep deprivation when we had her.

She still gets emotional when we drop her off, though. And often will start tearing up when we go to pick her up, as well. But everything is all-or-nothing with Little Miss Niblet, and I try to talk to her about her feelings, as best I can, so that's all there is to do.

I guess the thing I'm skirting around, is that it seems like it might be easier to stop seeing her. I don't think I'll ever be able to actually make that decision and follow through on it, but it might actually be the best thing. I don't know...

Our biggest goal at this point, is to make sure she gets into HeadStart as soon as possible. She'll be 3 in the Spring, so she can either start then, or in the Fall, I'm not sure how it works. Her parents just got an apartment "out of the ghetto" (as they put it) by a few blocks, but I'm sure it's still near a HeadStart program. If they're still here when it's registration time, we're going to bring them the information and forms and ask if they need any help getting her set up in a program. I think that's the best thing we can do for Niblet. So, I guess, in order to do that, we have to stay in her life at least until then.

It's just such a weird situation. And, to top it all off, I can't stop myself from occasionally daydreaming about the "what ifs". I would take her back in a heartbeat and really want to stop hoping for that, but I can't yet. It actually annoys me, but there it is.

Alright, that's it for now. I'd like to keep up on posting here, but I don't know what to write about. I almost signed up for NaBloPoMo, but it seemed like too much. So if you guys have any questions or would like elaborations on anything, please speak up. I know I have one request out there for an adoptive breastfeeding post, and I'll get on that, but what else?