Monthly Archives: December 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Outlaws out West

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The pain of foster care

My baby girl is gone. She flew out this morning and for the most part I have been able to feel the love, prayers, and support of friends and family and realize that in spite of how hard this is, we will get through it. Other times, like tonight, the pain washes over me in such intense grief that I feel like I can hardly breathe. I understand why so many authors describe the pain of grief as coming in waves because it does… and tonight I feel like I am drowning.

The hardest part was knowing she didn’t want to go and there was not a dang thing I could do about it. She begged me on multiple occasions to stay, and yet I was powerless. For almost two years I told this little one that I would keep her safe. Led her to feel that at least I was in control when she felt she had none. But now when she asked me to change her situation, to not make her go, I had to tell her that I could do nothing about it. And we wonder why these kids act out? Of course they do. They are terrified.

As foster parents we are the ones who know these children. We live with them 24/7, we love them, sing to them at bedtime, nurse them back to health when they are sick, and yet when decision time rolls around, CPS comes in like a Commandante and says “this is how it will be.” Our input is ignored. Was CPS there when she had night terrors that could last for an hour or two? Were they there when she had croup and we spent the night trying to sleep in the huge bean bag chair we moved into the bathroom to lie on together as I repeatedly steamed up the room with a hot shower so she could breathe? Do they truly know this child in order to make the decisions that would be best for her emotionally? Of course the answer is “no” to all of the above.

Even worse, the input of mental health professionals is often ignored as well. She was diagnosed with PTSD over 6 months ago and the psychiatric nurse practitioner’s newest report after her latest evaluation 2 weeks ago, said it would be a huge mistake to move this child from our home and family ; the only place she has ever felt safe, the only home of which she has active and positive memories.

Peanut’s attorney got a copy of the report. Totally ignored it. Her caseworker got a copy as well. Her reply was to tell Peanut’s bio Mom to tell me to back off. Oh yeah, that is reeeaaally professional. Have a problem with a foster parent’s advocacy, so go to the mom whose rights have already been severed and tell her to tell the foster parent to back off.

I know how vindictive CPS can be. I’ve seen them move kids from homes just to spite a foster parent and I surely don’t want that to happen for our newest placement, but I also know I could never live with myself if I didn’t advocate for Peanut up until the day she left. Knowing I might not be real professional if I called myself, I asked my licensing agency to contact the attorney and caseworker for me. The reply from the caseworker’s supervisor was that no matter what was written about this child’s emotional health, they would not be changing any aspect of her move.

So, I watched my baby girl get on a plane this morning. She looked back with sadness as she went through security. She had to carry her own backpack and pull her own carryon behind her because her father was in a wheelchair and her brother was sick with a temp of 104. Dad supposedly fell down last night when he was drunk and now can’t walk due to back pain. But hey, he is perfectly capable of escorting these kids across the country…acccording to CPS.

As angry as I get about this situation and as much as I want to quit sometimes, I know there will be other children who need me and so I continue to foster. There will always be children who arrive frightened and alone, who need a safe place to go and a place to feel loved. At least for now, I will continue to provide that for them.

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Spell check anyone?

This is a comment I received on my blog last week:
Most of the times i visit a blog i get disappointed. Regarding your blog, I could honestly say that you writting is decent and your website solid.

“You writting is decent”? WordPress deemed this comment to be spam. I think I would have to agree.

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Specimen time…again

One of my foster daughters came to me with GI problems. From constipation to stomach aches, the poor little one has always manifested stress through her GI tract and is constantly saying, “My tummy hurts.” She tested positive for H. pylori, the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers, and we did the massive rounds of meds that supposedly killed it all.

Lately, however, she has complained of stomach aches around the clock and also has had bad breath, so I wanted the pediatrician to rule out anything new or obvious. We have tried dairy free with not much change, so today the dr. decided to order a second H. pylori test just to be on the safe side.

Since a stool specimen can’t fall into the water, I did the Saran Wrap under the toilet seat thing so we could catch it. She told me she needed to go on the same day we got the doctor’s order, and I was thrilled because last time it took us about a week before we could get a specimen. Problem is, I got distracted by a two year old who needed a diaper change so I left the bathroom. Next thing I knew, one of my kids was hollering, “Mom, she got the poop sample herself!! With her bare hands!!”

Sure enough, she brought it to me proudly in the specimen container. When I asked her how she got it, she said, “I just picked it up!” Horrified, I ran her back to the bathroom to scrub her hands, all while wishing that autoclaving hands was an option!

Next problem was that stool samples for H. pylori have to be frozen. The pediatrician never told me that. I discovered it the hard way last year when they rejected her first sample. So, not wanting to be rejected again, I promptly put it in the freezer until we could leave in an hour for the lab. Yes, if you truly cannot believe your eyes, that indeed is a photo of my foster daughter’s specimen. Right there next to the frozen carrots! I spared you the graphic details of what it really looked like because the cup frosted over! You can thank me for the blurriness of my cell phone camera later.

Time to head to the lab so I dutifully packed the specimen bag on ice. Grandiose thoughts of being a flight nurse transporting a life-saving heart transplant crossed my mind, but then I remembered that what was packed inside that ice was one of the reasons I didn’t stay in the nursing field longer. Buckled all the little ones into their car seats and drove out to the lab only to find that it closed at 4 p.m. It was now 4:15.

So, time to head back home and put it back into my freezer for the night until we could get it to the lab the next day. Don’t say you haven’t had fair warning should you ever come to my house and look for a snack in my fridge or freezer. Honey, that ain’t no Häagen Daz.

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Talking in the Dark

One of my children was really acting out tonight. I know that all the leavetakings that are happening soon are going to be very hard on her so I tried to talk to her tonight about what she was feeling. This is a child who has walls 10 feet high and 7 feet thick when it comes to discussing feelings. She very seldom gets angry and almost never cries. At least not where anyone can see. Not surprisingly, she refused to talk. So I turned off the bedroom light. Not having to look at someone always makes it a bit easier when my kids need to discuss the pain in their lives.

She still refused to answer any questions I asked, so I said a prayer and dove in. I have been reading a book on stories that help children heal from trauma and loss, and so I told her a claiming story. I spoke of my awareness of her pain of being abandoned as a baby; of not looking like the rest of her adoptive family; of knowing how her heart aches to see her birth mother again but not knowing if she is even alive after the earthquake in Haiti took so many lives.

But then I also shared how I KNOW…and I mean I truly KNOW that she was meant to come here. She was meant to be a part of our family and I knew that before she ever arrived. I prayed for her and dreamed about her before I ever even found her and once I did, all it took was a look at her photo to have God whisper to my heart, “There is your daughter. Go get her.” God has a way of making sure that children end up in the families where they are supposed to be. I told her all of this.

Lest those of you doubters blast me about children being born to abusive parents or into Third World countries where they die of starvation or disease, I do not know what God’s plan is for every child on this earth, but I do know that He does indeed have a plan whether we understand it or not. I know in my heart that the foster children who have been placed in my care came to our home–and not another foster home–for a reason. I know that in spite of the pain and anguish my foster children have experienced, that they have angels watching over them. I also know that no matter how badly it hurts to have them leave, perhaps staying in my home is not part of God’s plan for their life and they need to move on to gain the life experiences they need.

With this one, however, I told her that God wanted her to be here. Yes, it hurts to have to experience so much loss at such a young age, but without the loss, she would not be here today. The loss was part of her journey here and something that can contribute to her growth and strength, or something that can attempt to break her. The viewpoint is all up to her. Does it take away the pain? No. Does it give her a stronger sense of “rightness” –for lack of a better word–about why she lives here in this family? I think it did.

Part of the walls around her started to crumble a bit tonight. In a good way. Usually when her feelings rise to the surface, no one is allowed to share them. Tonight she let me in and even allowed physical touch that she usually resists when she is feeling defensive. She fell asleep in my arms with contented sighs. It’s only the first leg of a long road ahead of us, but at least for the moment, we are sharing the journey together.

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Filed under Adoption, Foster Care

What would it take to make me blog again?

I have pondered that question for over a year now. Every time I think I will blog again I hesitate for two reasons. First, I don’t want to share too many private details about my family on the internet and I worry that perhaps I have shared too much in the past.

Second, I am a foster mom, currently to 3 little ones. Confidentiality rules say that I can’t share their photos or any real identifying information about them on the internet. Since so much of what they do fills my daily life, it doesn’t leave me much to say without sounding like a soundtrack that has words bleeped out.

Since I last blogged, we have celebrated many birthdays, the return of my son from his mission in Texas, the marriage of that same son, the birth of a granddaughter, and many other fun and exciting events. I chose to write about each of those in my private journal instead of blog about them, because that is where I can share the true feelings of my heart. After all, by the time my kids and grandkids read what is in my journals I hopefully will be dead and gone. If they want to kill me after what they read, it will be too late. 🙂

There IS something that has caused me to want to start blogging again, however…Child Protective Services. Why they are called that is beyond me. They should be renamed Parent Protective Services because with them it never really was about the kids. All of the caseplans are parent driven and/or money driven. If the parent succeeds, the children go back whether they want to or not. If the parent fails, CPS often looks for an adoptive home with extended family even if the child is firmly attached to their foster family and begs to stay. Don’t forget the money factor. Yes, foster care costs money. But so do adoption stipends to extended family members who often were not interested in the children until they hear a stipend is involved.

It’s pretty much what we are going through right now and it is ripping my heart out. How do you tell a child you love with all your heart that you wish she could stay when she sobs on your shoulder that she doesn’t want to leave? You do just that. You tell her how much you love her and how you always will and then you go in a private room and sob into a pillow so she doesn’t hear how much it hurts you. You tell her you will never forget her, and you won’t. And then you pray to God that she will never forget you and the love and laughter you have shared for almost two years.

Trust me that she has given us her fair share of grief. She came non-verbal, with angry fire in her eyes at times as she spit, bit and kicked, but it only took me a little while to realize that more of that venting came from fear rather than anger. Now that she will be leaving soon, we are seeing many of those same behaviors again, and they are very clearly fear based.

She comes in each night to my room by midnight and crawls in bed with me. She tosses and turns and cries out in her own bed, but once she is snuggled up in mine she goes into a deep, deep sleep. She feels safe. And loved. And CPS is taking all of that away. They are ripping a child out of my home whom I dearly love and who dearly loves me. All because of what they call “family.” A cousin who hardly knows my foster daughter and her sibling says she wants to adopt them. She lives 3,000 miles away.

The kids visited her in October and thought it was just a great vacation. No one told them that they were testing the waters on how they would do permanently there, but that’s a joke anyway. Kids on vacation are nothing like kids who are permanently moved to a new home. The cousin said they were wonderful and couldn’t understand why the other foster mother and I have ever had any trouble. Does she know what “honeymooning” is? Has she ever raised kids with ADHD, PTSD, ODD? Nope. But she will be soon.

Will she let my little one crawl into her bed in the middle of the night when she is frightened? Will she sing her the songs we sing before we go to bed each night so at least her bedtime routine is familiar? Probably not. Everything I have suggested to ease this transition has been openly rejected.

When our little one leaves in a few weeks it will be like a death in our family. And CPS didn’t even have the heart to allow her to stay through Christmas as we had pleaded. Nope, she needs to leave beforehand. CHILD Protective Services indeed. Just don’t ask them to ever protect a child’s emotional health. They see the case as a success because they are placing a child with “family.” Ugh.

Meanwhile, our little one doesn’t understand the permanency of this move at all. She still thinks she is coming back even though I have tried to gently tell her that she will be staying there for a very long time and that she will have a new mama to take care of her. She tells me she doesn’t want this cousin as her new mama and that she doesn’t want to go. Does CPS care? Nope. Does her worthless, court-appointed attorney care or do anything? Nope. He doesn’t even have the decency to return any of my phone calls.

She asked recently if she can have a Dora cake for her birthday and I reminded her that she won’t be living here when her birthday rolls around. Because she found that so upsetting, I gave up on trying to reinforce the idea. Now when she asks if she can be a cat next year for Halloween, I just say “We’ll see.” She seems happier with that answer. Tonight at dinner she said, “Mama,I will miss you when I am gone. After I have stayed there for a very long time will you come get me?” Oh my dear one, if you only knew how very much I wish I could.

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Filed under Family, Foster Care