Category Archives: Foster Care

End of an Era

We have decided after much thought and prayer to close our foster license. We have adopted our last two foster children that we knew were meant to be ours, and fost/adopt was one of the main reasons we had detoured from the road of biological children to  international adoption and then to foster care. I knew we had two more girls who were meant to join our family and after searching for many years at a plethora of waiting children–none of which were ours–God told me to take a chill pill. I was frantically hunting because after all I was not getting any younger with each passing year. One night as I knelt in prayer and pled one more time to be able to find my daughters, he clearly told me in my mind, “I will bring them to you.”

All of our other adopted children I had found by searching Waiting Children lists. I just naively assumed that hunting would always be part of the process and although I didn’t really enjoy it, I accepted it as a necessary evil. Instead, however, the Lord gave me the knowledge that my daughters would be here in the United States.

When we considered doing foster care back in 2006, it didn’t feel right. Being the slow learner-or stubborn fool-that I am, I still went to hand in the paperwork to an agency here in town, and felt like I was going to vomit. I sat in their parking lot and then decided I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t meant to be. After we backed out of fostering, was when we found Caleb on a waiting children’s list. Clearly, at the time, we were supposed to adopt one more time from China rather than from foster care.

Fast forward to 2009 and I felt myself being drawn to foster care. So we started the training and application process and it felt 100% right.  I knew it was right as the Spirit confirmed to me that we would find our daughters this way. Funny thing is, Peanut was one of our first placements, and my husband was the one who said “I think we will end up adopting this one.” I thought he was crazy. I was the one who usually knew first which child would be ours when we adopted, and it usually required convincing Jeff over a few months’ time that said chosen child really was meant to be ours.

Blessing came to our house two years later as a fost-adopt placement and after staying with us just over a year, her parents rights were severed and we applied to adopt her. We decided to only do respite for other foster parents at this point, but it led to lots of children in and out of our home on weekends, and then one final 6 month placement of two foster sons who had FASD.  They were sweet boys and I loved them, but their behaviors, severe allergies and extreme cognitive delays nearly led me to drink myself. They were the only placement we ever asked to be rehomed, and typical CPS removed them in a traumatic way from our home with only 45 minutes notice.

With that, I decided I was done, and now four months later, as our license has come up for renewal, we have decided instead to close it. We need a break from CPS, from court reports, from attorneys and social workers in our home, and from having to fill out an incident report to cover our rears every time a child might accidentally fall and get a bruise. We just want to be a family with no other children coming and going. Part of me is sad as I know there is a dearth of good foster homes…and I know we were a good one. We loved the children who came, we made them a part of our family while they were here, and we grieved when they left. It’s time to move on, however. Time to go on a family vacation without having to get permission to take a foster child out of the state. Time to dote more on grandchildren. Time to just be a family. Just us. What will the future hold? Only God knows, but I am excited to see the plans He has in store for us.

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Filed under Adoption, Foster Care, Parenting, Uncategorized

It’s alive!

Well it isn’t Easter Sunday, but this blog is being resurrected after being in the blogworld grave for the past year. I refrained from blogging last year as it just seemed impossible. How do you write about your life when you aren’t allowed to write about your foster children or post any pictures of them? Not to mention the pain in your heart at having some removed from your home against all of your wishes! I didn’t want to blog a year of whining, so I chose to write nothing at all.

Thankfully that problem is being resolved. We adopted one of our sweethearts last month, and the other will be adopted by us this month, leaving me free to post and write just about anything I dang please without the state stepping in and shaking their finger at me. The one who is being adopted this month? Peanut! Yes, she indeed came back to us!

For Christmas a few years ago, my daughter scrapbooked my entire year of blogging for me. It is a gift that I treasure. Just last week, she gave me a few last pages from that year that she had not finished, and as I read over them, they inspired me to start writing again. So, I guess I’m back. As my kids are my favorite topic, they just might want to run for cover while they still can. 🙂

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Filed under Adoption, Foster Care

My baby girl is coming home!

The Sunday before Easter my phone rang at 6 a.m. I was not amused since weekends are my only time to sleep past 5:45, and my alarm was not due to go off for another hour. I groggily answered it only to hear, “Are you awake? I know it’s early still out there but I need to talk to you.”

It was Peanut’s cousin and she told me she had been up all night with Peanut who had a tummy ache and who had cried all night. She had also thrown a two hour tantrum the evening before and her cousin said, “I have been trying to tell myself that I can do this, but I can’t. I just can’t. Besides that, she loves you, you love her, and she needs to come back to you.”

With those words, I was suddenly wide awake. Did I actually hear what I thought I heard? Yep, she said she was sending her back. I wanted to shout “Hallelujah! Thank you God!”, and a variety of other praises of gratitude, but instead I just tried to calmly listen and empathize with how she was feeling. After all, she was hurting inside and it took alot for her to call me and tell me honestly what she was feeling. She said she had not told anyone else yet, but that just by telling me the weight of the world felt like it had been lifted off of her shoulders.

I have hesitated to post anything for fear things would not work out. After all, the agency handling the out of state adoption could still place her with someone else if they insist on keeping Peanut with her brother. I cannot take him. I have pondered and prayed about it and he is just not meant to come to our home.

This week, however, a plethora of prayers have been answered as we found it is pretty much set that she will be rejoining our family in early July. Her brother’s previous foster mother has consented to take him back as well so both children will return home to familiar places and routines.

Six months ago I wrote this as my heart was breaking:
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.

If the caseworker doesn’t end up flying to get the kids, there is a chance that I might be flying them home. So yes, my dear Peanut, after you have stayed there for a very long time, I would be willing to do almost anything to get on a plane and come get you. Thank you, God, for allowing my baby girl to come back home!

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Filed under Family, Foster Care, Gratitude, Uncategorized

Catholic school drop-out

Well, I am sad to say that Peanut only lasted a day and a half in Catholic school. Not surprising since she is only 4 years old and her cousin put her in kindergarten. I can’t imagine going from a special needs preschool for children with language delays to a kindergarten classroom in the middle of their school year. I mean, these kids are starting to read and write and she struggles to even write her name. Have no idea what her cousin was thinking, but I feel like Peanut was set up to fail before she ever walked into the classroom.

When Peanut doesn’t like the way things are going, she lets others know. This time she did it by biting her teacher. I know, not funny, but I have to confess I chuckled when I heard the news. She used to bite my other kids quite regularly when she first came to our home so I know biting is often her M.O. for saying “I don’t like this”, or “I am quite ticked off at the moment.” She hasn’t bitten in our home for quite a long time, however, so I know she must have been feeling very overwhelmed.

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Filed under Adoption, Foster Care

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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Filed under Foster Care, Uncategorized

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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Filed under Foster Care, Funnies

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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