Wednesday, January 28, 2015

11 Months

Today Little Man is 11 months old.  He is growing so fast, too fast.  He is so busy, so curious, so fast!

Yesterday he decided that it was time to walk with the assistance of one finger.  When he tired of that he learned how to go DOWN the steps.  He has been going up them since he was 6 months old and has been working on "feet first".



I told my husband yesterday that he would be walking within 2 weeks.  I should have said momentarily.  Today he decided to take his hands off of the desk and walk a few steps. He stood there totally unsupported and when he saw my excitement he grinned.  He knew he was doing something big. He has done it several times since but I haven't recorded his walking yet.  I wasn't prepared and was too excited to grab a camera.


He has reached so many milestones so quickly.  I don't remember my other kids growing up so fast at this stage.  I wonder if I was just looking for the next step instead of fully enjoying each step. After watching my older kids grow I realize that it is all so fleeting.  Today a baby, then toddler then off to school.

I savor the baby moments with this one.  I delight in his excitement and love of exploring.  I try to keep ahead of him, to keep him safe.  He does his best to keep me on my toes.  He has broken child safety locks, can open sippy cups and just about any food container (his 8 teeth help), knows how to open doors, and knows when the bathroom door is ajar so he can play in the water.

He knows no fear. When he decides to dive bomb off the couch he expects that mom or dad will have his foot.  When he wanders off to explore he will eventually call for us to come to him.  He knows that we will come.  He trusts us.  He has never had to go to sleep hungry, never cried and didn't get a response (actually he gets an overwhelming response of parents and siblings).

I have heard that babies that do not go home with their biological moms have separation trauma. They know their moms and know that they aren't with them.  I feel that it is true.  I could feel the day he decided that I was mom.  It wasn't immediate.  I would say it was about 2 months.  But, it did happen, he did accept us.  He loves us as much as we love him.  He belongs.

Monday, January 26, 2015

She's off!

I dropped Sarah off at college.  Sarah is now at Columbia International University, her goal to become a missionary.  This was her goal before she went on Teen Missions where she was bullied.

However, she says that God has been nagging her to go back to her original plans.  Last semester she made the decision to go, applied and was accepted.  I got a little sticker shock but got financing to cover what we couldn't.



Last week I dropped her off at her dorm.  She was so nervous.  


I miss her terribly.  She was my partner in crime.  We shopped, ate and spent a lot of time together. She is my late night cookie maker and company.  My husband tried to take her place as my late night company but all he did was fall asleep in the couch.  I sent him packing!

So far she is doing well.  Sometimes she feels like a fish out of water but she is making some friends. The students at the school seem to be very nice.

Sarah has had to work hard to get her good grades.  The normal course load at the school is 15 hours, I know she will have to work hard to do well.  Neurofibromatosis has made her a fighter.

Sarah is adjusting to college life and I am adjusting to being the only adult home all day.  Having adult company during the day sure was a nice treat. I love my kids but there is something to be said for adult conversation.

Is it possible to have Empty Nest Syndrome when the nest isn't empty?

Monday, January 19, 2015

No Guarantees

Foster care, To love a child knowing that they will leave, may leave, may not leave; it is hard.  It is agonizingly slow.  It takes forever for cases to be resolved.

I understand, parents need to be given all opportunities to get their children back.  But when the parent walks away and the case still drags on, frustrating.  Little Man's mom hasn't been heard from since July.  July.  He wasn't sitting up, crawling, clapping, investigating his world yet.  I seriously doubt he would remember her.  He has bonded with me, I am mom in his heart.

We are foster parents, we fully expected to support the parents and help to reunify Little Man with his mom or a relative.  We had open communication.  Gave out cell phone number.  Sent pictures. Encouraged mom to come to visits.  Pestered mom to come to visits.  Finally, we stopped because mom stopped..... and DSS told us to stop.  They wanted mom to come to them not me.

The case has now been changed to TPR.  Mom didn't come to court that day, her lawyer asked to be relieved from the case that day.  There is a waiting period before the TPR court date.  That day has passed and no court date is set.  We learned with Emma and Michelle that it might be a long wait.

Adoptions has been over to visit.  He has come under their radar since it appears he will get TPR. This child has only known our home and our love.  This is his home.  However, adoptions tells me that there is no guarantee that we will be able to adopt him.  There will be five other homestudies when he goes to the selection committee.

When we had two foster children who were minorities with mental health and educational issues we were told that the selection board was a formality, adoption was guaranteed.

When we wanted to adopt our teenager we were told that the selection board was a formality, adoption was guaranteed.

When we wanted to adopt two girls who had been in 6 other placements we were told that the selection board was a formality, adoption was guaranteed.

When we say that we want to adopt Little Man who has never known another mom, we are told that there are no guarantees.

No guarantees.



Another story from our county.  Two months ago, foster parents go to a TPR trial for their foster child who is 15 months old, they received him at birth.  They are all he knows.  At the TPR trial there sits another family with their lawyer requesting adoption of the child.  The foster parents protest, they have had him all his life.  The judge tells them that they can get a lawyer and be a party to the action. They couldn't afford it.  They let the child go to this family that stepped in and wanted the child.  I am curious to know how they knew to be there with their lawyer.  I have been warned by someone who is no longer at DSS to be prepared.

So we are preparing.  We have cancelled our planned cruise for this summer.  We may need the money.  We are changing our financials on our adoption homestudy paperwork, my husband is back at work and is making considerably more money than when we originally filled out our financials. We have prayed, asked friends to pray. We have told everyone that we will not simply let it go, we will fight.  Little Man does not need to have the trauma of losing his second momma.  He has already lost one. He has attached to me, to us, to his family.  We are all he knows.

They say that there are no guarantees.  However, I guarantee you that we will do all that we can to keep our Little Man in our home.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Catch Up

I have come to realize that when I have a subject that I want to talk about but am hesitant to do I stop posting.  Hmmm, I think that I will catch up and then talk about our current challenges with foster care tomorrow.

First, we had an IEP meeting for Larissa,  Honestly, we are all at the point where we don't know how to best proceed.  I do know that right before Christmas I told the school that Larissa was seriously struggling.  No longer reading for fun, no longer able to do dance, having more severe seizures. Right before school was out we changed her day to half days.

At our IEP meeting we did officially change her days to half days.  She gets out of school at 11:40. She goes to math in the resource classroom, does language arts and recess in her regular class and then returns to the resource room for writing.  She is not doing art, science and social studies at school.  Not sure how we will address this in the future.  They did discuss medical home bound for those subjects.  Problem with that is it would just extend her day which is what we are trying to get away from.  Also, some days she does well at home and some days she comes home and sleeps for hours.

The impact of shortened days is her return to dance and reading.  I find it interesting that her reading level increased after Christmas break.  When school started she was at grade level.  As the semester went on she dropped significantly.  After Christmas break it came up.  I think that her level of tiredness impacts her ability to concentrate and learn.  I am not sure what I will do next year.  I feel that I can teach her all the subjects she needs in the time that she does math and language arts at school.  I wish that we could find answers to her seizures.

Next, Larissa is back in dance.  She was invited to participate in a group number that will be doing entertainment for some local activities.  She is very excited about that opportunity.

She has also asked to do a solo at the recital, her dance of choice will be classical ballet.  She loves ballet.

Tell me, how often have your kids been out of school recently?  Our kids were off this Monday and Tuesday.  Then there was a 2 hour delay on Wednesday because the temperatures were too cold. They also have this coming Monday off.

So I took the kids to a place in Columbia called HiWire.  They loved it.


They were also exhausted.


After 15 minutes they asked if their time was almost up (each session is an hour long)




I had bought some discounted tickets, it can be pretty expensive otherwise.  Perhaps we will do it again on a cold, rainy day.

We have also been doing lots of school projects.  Honestly, these projects annoy me because ti seems like so many of them require parents to do them.  I already finished elementary school and don't feel the need to do these projects.

Anthony's latest project was on the telegraph.  He did the written part (somewhat) while I researched how to make a telegraph and bought the supplies.  I left that building to him and my husband. Anthony did most of the work and he loved it.  Now he is not satisfied with just pasting all the information on a poster board, I may have created a monster.  I was happy to see him so excited about a project (it worked).


We also attended a birthday party at the local skating rink.......where I tracked down a boy and talked to his mother.  Larissa was in tears because he was hitting her in the ball pit.  I just don't put up with that behavior.  We have been to too many places where the boys feel they can hit on her.  (Yes, they mostly are white boys and I don't understand it)  Luckily this mother took care of the situation and her boy apologized and stayed away from her so I didn't have to shadow her.


I have also been doing Mimi duty and babysitting one sweet grandbaby.  She is such a sweetie and is growing up so fast.

And finally, I am still working on my picture wall.  I struggle with working on it because it is outside of Little Man's room so hammering is out of the question when he is asleep.  When he is awake I have to be in the family room with him, this doesn't leave me much time to work.

Of course when working on a project (or two) my house gets trashed.  That would be the worst possible time to forget about a guardian ad litem visit!  Which I did.  She came in and said that this must be the normal way our house looks.  Actually, it was worse than the normal.  Sigh....

About foster care, we have been to court, been to another foster care review board, still haven't heard from Little Man's mom (since July).  More on that tomorrow.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Memories


I continue to go through my pictures.  I decided to pull out my external hard drive to put new pictures on it.  I hadn't updated it in years.  I still like to put pictures online because if a fire were to occur, the hard drive would be lost.  However, I think that it is more likely that my computer would crash so I am putting stuff on my external hard drive.

It is amazing how many pictures I have and the memories that they bring up.  I have many pictures of my foster children.  Some of them are now friends and I have been sharing those pictures with them. In one set I have a rare picture of a grandfather who has since passed away.  Pictures can be such a gift.  Some of my foster child pictures remain secret.  I wonder if I will ever be able to share them. Many are baby pictures.

I found pictures from Larissa's first road trip.  We went to Missouri to see Jason graduate from basic training and we visited St. Louis while we were in the state.  She did great and loved to travel.




Seeing her and not Anthony on that road trip reminds me of the early struggles we had with him.  He went into respite care for that trip.  His behaviors prevented us from travelling with him.  How far he has come!


He came to us when he was 2 1/2 years old.  He hadn't been parented in any way and had no language, ability to play or other skills that a child his age should have.  Actually we were told that he had intellectual disabilities.  They were so wrong.  He has challenges but not to the point that they told us.  IQ is not permanent, his increased every time he was evaluated.  

By time he turned 4 his behavior has improved to the point where we could take him on a road trip.



His first road trip was to Texas where he fell in love with all things cowboy.  He got his first cowboy hat, boots and shirts.





When Anthony and Larissa came into care they went to separate homes.  There were many kids in the home and they were struggling to just place them.  Larissa came to us and the plan was to move her to a black family with Anthony.  However, his behavior was so severe that no other black family was willing to take him and Larissa.  So he came to us.  Short term placement.  They spent 3 years as foster children, too long in my opinion.  As soon as the courts freed them for adoption we made them ours.


What a blessing they are to us, how I love those two.  They have made me rethink many things in my life.  Made me stronger.  Less concerned with what others think of me.

Some days my heart aches for them, the struggles that they have in life because of things that were beyond their control. Some things that happened even before they were born. But, I know that they are in a good place and have opportunities to achieve much in life.  Honestly, coming into care saved their lives.

And so our family was complete.....so we thought.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Meet Pickles

Meet Pickles. ''

He is a mutt with Springer Spaniel roots.  He should be a medium sized dog.  This is good since small dogs go out our cat door and end up on the road. He will also be a good companion size for George if he comes back home.  I mentioned this to Jason and he reiterated that George will not be coming home. George was easy to housebreak and so good with children, I hope that Pickles is the same.

Seems like our last few dogs have been trained by us and then the adult kids wanted them.  Notice to kids, I claim this one!


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It Started with a Closet

We have a very small coat closet close to the front door. It is really too small and the coats that sit in there have gathered dust. Actually many of them have gotten too small. That was a major gain for Goodwill. I decided to take everything out of the closet, put in a shelf and some hooks for the kids stuff.  Their backpacks and shoes gather by the front door.  With 4 kids it becomes a big pile.


While stripping the closet I found a bunch of frames.  I realized that I needed to update the pictures going up the stairs to include the new kids.


In the meantime Little Man made me realize that I needed to child proof some cabinets.  I am not worried about the pots and pans but some cabinets to have breakables in them.  Those are the most fun to get into!


Little Man is 10 months old and thinks that he needs to keep up with the other kids.  He is growing up so fast.




The closet isn't finished but some child proofing did get done.

I started going through pictures to get some prints for the wall when Michelle asked when they were getting their pictures done for the wall.  They knew that I was tackling that project. Michelle wanted pictures made at this place.......

So I made an appointment at the same place and called all the kids.  I told them to be there or they would be forever missing from the family picture.  Tasha's husband seemed to think that this was an old thing to do.  This may be true, but it is nice to have and seemed so important to Michelle.

Everyone showed up and we got some great pictures.....





Joselin made sure that she smiled!  She mentioned that in all the other pictures she was sulking, well, she sulks no more.

My girls



All the girls

The little girls

I got a picture of all the men but didn't block out Little Man so you can't see it.  Sorry.

Getting the pictures made was the easy part.  Working on the wall.....it is a work in progress. Actually working on my wall has made me realize that I need to do something with all of my pictures.  I have thousands of pictures from before the digital age.  I need to get them digitized but that will be a huge project.  I also have thousands of digital pictures.  I am contemplating making up some Shutterfly books.  Once again, another huge project.

Curious, where do you store your pictures?  Right now I keep pictures on the photo cards and just buy a new one once one gets a lot of pictures on it.  Also, many pictures are stored on my Google Chrome as well.

I have been digging up pictures from all over the house.  I didn't realize what a big project I was undertaking when I dug up those frames.



I could use a bigger wall...


Ever have a small project morph into something much bigger?!