Thursday, September 29, 2011

Acts of Love

Sometimes it is easy to look at our foster children and get hardened against the biological parents.  We take in these children and see the effects of the abuse or neglect that they have endured and it is easy to see the bad in folks.  However, I have also seen some parents show their children small acts of love.

I had one mom write me a book on her children; their likes and dislikes, routines and such.  She snuck it in the diaper bag on their first visit.  She loved her children and wanted to make sure that they were taken care of.  She showed them an act of love.  I reciprocated and sent her updates and pictures through the diaper bag.  At some point I actually meet with her and later we would meet with her and extended family at McDonald's.  Extended family could not come to visitations but they did come to McDonald's.  They came out of love for both the biological mom and her children.  She did complete her treatment plan and got her children back.  We still talk to this day.

Today our baby received an act of love from her parents.  They took her lovey (a stuffed dog) up to DSS so that she could have it to sleep with tonight.  She is sleeping with it right now.  This always give me hope that the children will go home.  I received a call today that a great aunt should get the baby on Monday when they go to court.  A family member stepping up.....I actually don't see that too often but I think that it is great.

On the other hand, my two children Anthony and Larissa never received anything from their biological parents in three years of foster care, no extended family ever asked to see them.  Interesting how that seems to work.


Larissa lost a tooth at dinner tonight. 
 She was so excited.
She put her tooth under her bed for the tooth fairy.
I promptly forgot about it.
My teen K messaged me on Facebook and asked if I had left the money yet.
Oh, yea, I remembered....just now.
Success....the money is under her pillow and her tooth is in my jewelry box.
(Really I am getting too old for this, the memory is going!)

Do you keep your kids baby teeth or throw them away?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Today was gymnastics day. Seems like on Wednesdays DSS likes to call me. So went went from this......

To this.......................

and we pulled out these.................

We had a two year old brought to us at gymnastics.  Our foster teen K was brought there as well.  She wanted to go today to meet the new foster kid.

I don't think that we will have this little one with us for long.  A family member is supposed to take her on Monday. 

So, how did it go......I got the child, a piece of paper called a foster parent contract and a small bag of supplies.  This piece of paper allows me the ability to seek medical care and take care of educational needs.  The bag had some diapers, one pair of shoes and a few outfits.  Since the little one is expected to leave us on Monday (and the clothing smelled) I left the clothing in the bag and put it in the garage.  I have clothing on hand that will fit her and will just use that.  I do appreciate the diapers.  It helps to know what size diapers she needs without guessing (although I have gotten good at guessing).  All I picked up today were diaper wipes.  I have a lot of little girl clothing and can cover that very easily.  If they ever call me for a little boy I would have to go shopping for clothing.  I go to garage sales quite frequently and I wonder if I should start picking up a few boy items. 

So, how is it hard......I know nothing except for the child's name and date of birth.  I don't know if she has any allergies, if she has any medical conditions to worry about, what foods she likes, what her bedtime routine is, if she has a lovey she sleeps with.  Imagine trying to but a little one to bed and you don't know if they normally sleep in the dark or with a light; with a sibling, alone or with a parent; with silence or with noise; with a favorite blanket or not; with a book or not; or do they even have a time that they are put to bed or just allowed to collapse when ever and where ever; do they even have a bed.

So, why bother......tonight after a meal, bath and bedtime routine I laid the little one down.  She cried, put her arms up to me and cried mommy.  I know that she doesn't see me as mommy but as the one who can offer her comfort.  I picked her up and swayed back and forth with her (I really need a rocking chair).  Slowly I felt her body relax.  Within 5 minutes she was sound asleep and I laid her down.  I was there, I was there to offer comfort.  That is part of what we do as foster parents.

I can also tell you that she is developmentally on track, her speech is good and she is well fed.  If she were to stay in my care my only concern would be to see if her lazy eye issue had been addressed.  Assessing children who come into our care is also a large part of what we do.

Our day started with my early bird Anthony all chipper and my night owl wanting to go back to bed.....

It ended with another little one sleeping under our roof and lots of toddler toys scattered all over the floor. 

How was your day?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My One Fall Decoration

I don't usually do fall, I don't have time.  However, I found a wreath at Goodwill so I decided to make a wreath.

First I went to the yard to gather some supplies.

First I had to stop and check out the baby gecko that Sarah wanted me to see.  (Sarah wouldn't allow me to take pictures of her)

I also had to avoid the spider.

I gathered some help.

It needed something so I went out and pulled some sticks off of my Harry Lauder's Walking Stick bush.

There it is, my one fall decoration.


Getting Larissa's nocturnal seizures under control has not happened.  The neurologist in the big city close by just kept adding med after med and increasing the dosage.  She was still having seizures.  Six months ago I took her off of all the meds and tried to find another pediatric neurologist.  There are not many choices in the state of South Carolina.  We found one in Augusta, Georgia, yes, the next state over.  Insurance issues......  Yesterday we travelled there.

Naturally they had a McDonalds right in the entrance.  Yes, Larissa asked for McDonalds.  No, we didn't get any.

You know you are in for a LONG wait when they hand your kid crayons and coloring pages.

(She dressed herself in the long sleeve shirt and shorts...)

Guilty grin.

Yea, Larissa left some artwork, she even signed it.  I didn't notice it until we were walking out.

Her neurologist wants to do a sleep study.  He wants to see precisely where her seizures are originating from.  He also wants to look at her MRI she had done a while back to see if they missed any legions.  It should be interesting.  We really don't know how often she seizes at night because we haven't stayed up all night to count.  I do know that she has quite a few.

Hopefully we will be able to get this issue under control.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Merits Hearing

Merits Hearings

A merits hearing is a proceeding in which a judge hears the facts and determines whether there is sufficient evidence to conclude a child is abused or neglected. DSS, the child’s parent, and the guardian ad litem may present witnesses and other evidence at a merits hearing.

Friday we had the Merit Hearing for our teen K.  John and I went to tell the court how she is doing in our home.  We were told she was a runner, she is still here so I am not so sure about that.  K is doing great. 

I did ask her the other day if she felt that she needed to move to a different foster home since all the drama with Joselin is also impacting her at church and school.  She told me that she does not want to move and is happy where she is.  So, here she stays. 

We will be doing some rearranging of the girls bedroom and find a fullsize bed for her.  She shares a room with Sarah and they are both happy with that arrangement. 

John leaves for Fort Huachuca tomorrow so I will be a single parent for the week.  He will get a week break from driving to Augusta which he needs.  Last week he applied for a job at Shaw AFB .  Please pray (or offer good wishes) for him to get that job.  Shaw AFB is so much closer.

Church tomorrow, I pray for peace.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Warning: Final

On Wednesday when we realized the extent of abuse that Joselin had inflicted on Larissa and her willingness to go to church activities and intimidate our teen K we panicked.  Yes, panicked. 

Tasha, who has had the most stuff stolen, texted Joselin and told her that if she comes near us at home or church then she will file theft charges against her.  I also texted her to stay away and told her that Larissa was now talking to me and I was looking at filing charges. 

I didn't get a chance to see what she packed because she left when I was at school.  I do know that all three of the girls; Sarah, teen K and Tasha, are missing clothing.  Joselin actually wore Sarah's jeans to the church.  She knows that we found our stuff in the boxes she packed for picking up later.  Perhaps we were wrong to not pursue legal actions when she stole from us before.

Honestly, at this time we just want her to stay away.  We have not heard from her since we sent the texts to her on Wednesday night.

Today we talked to our social worker and she suggested having Larissa talk to a therapist to get the incidents documented.  We may do that.  We are still looking into it as a safety measure.

Now our habits have changed.  We make sure we lock the door all the time.  We lock the separate garage, something we have never done. 

Many people believe that if you love a child enough then they will heal.  I have learned that love is not enough for some kids.  Some will not respond to love and stability.  Some will never accept their new family. 

Sometimes I wonder if I even really know who Joselin is.  She presents to everyone who she wants to be.  None of the kids in the home have formed a relationship with her.  All of the children are relieved that she is gone.  That says something.

Final thoughts, I am both sad and mad at the same time.  I remember well the day we met Joselin. She was to be our daughter.  We offered her all that we had.  Unfortunately, it was not enough.  She was not able to make the changes necessary to flourish in our home.

How does it make me feel about adoption?  Yes, I will adopt again.  The actions of one child should not deny another child of the opportunity to have a family.  Every child should have that chance.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Warning: Part 2

I didn't post about yesterdays issues because honestly I was still mad about the events of the day.  I am still mad today but not quite so much.  I don't get real mad very often.  I am pretty patient and forgiving.  I wasn't feeling it yesterday.

It all started with a car trip to gymnastics.  Just Larissa and I were in the car.  She asked me if Joselin was going to come home.  I told her no.  She then proceeded to tell me all about the times that Joselin hurt her.  About the time she pushed her down the stairs, pushed her down onto her face and she needed a band aid on her face (I remember the band aid), the times she shoved her off the swing, on and on.  All little incidents that were quick and hard to notice.  I just listened.  I wanted to cry.  I was so mad that my kid was hurt in my home when I thought she was safe.  We never left Joselin in charge of Larissa.  We never knew this was going on. 

Larissa never said a word about it.  However looking back I think that she was telling us.  Last fall when I attended school she was fine.  Joselin came home in December.  I started school in the spring and suddenly Larissa was having 2 hour long tantrums.....yea, I think she was telling us.  I feel so guilty about the abuse.  It was probably a good thing that Joselin was already out of my home when Larissa decided to tell me about the abuse.

At that point I had no doubt that she could not live in our home.

That incident was followed by the church incident.  Joselin showed up at youth.....wearing a pair of Sarah's jeans.  She showed up to cause problems.  She has a few friends there and was able to manipulate them into following our teen into the bathroom to intimidate her.  Youth group is not the place for this type of thing.  Sarah loves this youth group and has been going there longer then Joselin.  Allowing Joselin  to take that away from Sarah is not an option.

I have started speaking up and telling the truth about Joselin and the struggles we had in our home.  We had already talked with the minister, youth group leader and DSS about her issues when Joselin returned home.  We didn't broadcast her issues because we always hoped and prayed that she would make better choices, that she would decide to follow a different path.  However, she has not done so.  Staying quiet only helped her to find new unsuspecting prey. 

The following is a list of characteristics that I have been reading on lately.  All of them except for the last few do fit Joselin: 

Glibness/superficial charm.

Grandiose sense of self-worth.
Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
Pathological lying
Lack of remorse or guilt
Shallow affect
Callous/lack of empathy
Parasitic lifestyle
Poor behavioral controls
Promiscuous sexual behavior
Early behavior problems
Lack of realistic, long-term plans
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
Many short-term marital relationships
Juvenile delinquency
Revocation of conditional release
Criminal versatility (Hare, 1986)

So, how are we going to deal with this?  We live in a very small community.  She has already told me that she does not intend to leave this area.  She has already shown us that she wants to intimidate the girls. 

The answer is....I am still working on that one. 

Part 3 tomorrow

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Warning: Not a Feel Good Adoption Story Part 1

The above note is from Joselin's journal.  OK really it was Larissa's and was found in Joselin's stuff with Joselin's little notes inside of it.

All day I have thought about how I was going to blog about our challenges of the last few days.  Should I sugar coat things and just give some hints of what is going on or should I be brutally honest.  The events of today made me decide to be brutally honest.

Honestly....sometimes adoption sucks.  Sometimes in spite of all your good intentions, all your efforts, all of your prayers........there isn't a happy ending.  Am I at the end of this adoption story?  I am not sure, but it sure feels like it.

Bottom line...I kicked Joselin out of our home.  She left on Monday.  The end was near on Friday.  Sarah and I were planning on going to see The Help.  Larissa heard us and realized that Sarah would not be home.  She assumed that Joselin would be babysitting her alone (we have not allowed this since she came back).  Larissa grew panicked and scared.  She was in tears!  When I told her that Joselin was not going to babysit her she was relieved.  The fear on her face will be forever etched in my mind. 

That same night Joselin decided to lie about something and she tried to drag the foster teen into it.  Our teen wasn't willing to lie for her so her entire story came crashing around her.  Being herself Joselin immediately tried her manipulations and tried turning everything around on everyone else.  I told her that it was really time for her to leave. 

Sarah got panicked because she fears Joselin.  She asked for better door locks on her bedroom doors until Joselin left.  Sarah really thought that Joselin would try to kill her.  By Monday things had deteriorated so much I told Joselin that she had to leave NOW.

She left with a girl from our church.  The girl really wanted to help.  She thought that things would blow over in a few days.  Joselin immediately started texting me trying to get me to second guess my decision.  She is good, I did second guess it.  Kicking her out was the hardest thing that I have ever done.  I am used to welcoming kids into my home, not sending them away in such a way.  However, that look of fear on Larissa's face made me determined to stick with my decision. 

Joselin told me that she couldn't believe that I would kick her out because of one lie. I told her that it wasn't the one lie...or the 1000th lie she told.  It wasn't because of the things she stole from us.  It wasn't because of her promiscuity.  It wasn't because of her STD's....or her manipulations....or, or, or.  It was because she is an adult and my minor children are in fear of her.  I must protect my children.

Today was a very hard day.  More revelations from Larissa and conflicts.  Some of it is still in progress and we are looking at our options. 

I will continue tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


We are having some problems right now.  Yea, surprising.  I am trying to decide how much I will tell and how to write it.  I do feel that it is a story that needs to be told.  Hard decisions have been made in the last few days, decisions for the health of our family.

Tomorrow I will take the time to write.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Larissa is 6!

Waiting is so hard when you are six!

Larissa tends to get shy when all the attention is on her.  Singing Happy Birthday.

Great set of lungs.

Trying not to smile but not quite getting all the facial muscles to cooperate.

Being a Princess is such hard work.

waiting in line at Moes, her meal of choice today.

The cheese dip......why she picks Moes.

Happy Birthday to my baby.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Project

This wall used to have a window.  When we added our Florida room this window got drywalled.  I have been wanting to remove the drywall and put shelving in.  It was only a thought until the folks at Wood You Like to Craft featured shelves and wanted links. 

Naturally it was about midnight last night when I decided to remove the drywall.

After dropping the kids off at school (and having a nice little chat with Anthony's teacher) I went to Lowe's for supplies.  You know that you go to Lowe's too often when you are greeted by name and asked what project you are doing! 

I brought my wood home, measured my opening and built a simple box.

Thankfully the box fit into the opening.  I didn't do a dry fit which could have been a problem if I hadn't measured correctly.

I put trim around it and painted everything.

I am happy with the results and wonder why it took me so long to tackle the project.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Today Anthony came home with bookfair books and change from the $20. Only one problem.......I didn't give him any money! Guess who gets to go to school tomorrow to return some books and money?  Apparently a friend gave him the money.  Sticky fingers are a problem so he is not allowed to take any money from any friends.  Actually, he is not allowed to take anything from friends.  It keeps it simple.

After talking with his teacher today I realize that even though he just got his first yellow yesterday, she has been having issues with him.  Ah, nice to let me know.  If he thinks he is getting away with anything he will escalate.  I guess I need to have a meeting with his teacher to get on the same page.

Sigh....looks like the school year has begun.

Another Two Wheeler

Larissa has been wanting to ride without training wheels all summer.  However, after we took the wheels off she was terrified of falling.

She has conquered her fear.  I do wonder if her anxiety medication helps with that. It doesn't really matter why, it just matters that she is so proud of herself. Of course my husband has to mention that she is growing up. Ugh, I am not ready for that.

I think that her bicycle has gotten too small for her.  I do believe that she can wait for Santa to bring her a bigger one. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Organization Leads to Pet Peeves

I decided that my cabinets needed some organizing.  Too many folks have been stuffing too much food into them for too long.  They were a mess!

For the moment they look great.

So what are my pet peeves for the day? 

I bet they are shared by other moms.......

My child Noone keeps leaving empty boxes in the cabinet, making it appear as though we have the items in stock.


When my children claim that there is nothing to eat in the house!

Argghh....I am not even showing the other food storage areas and the two fridges (they are still a mess).  Seriously, no food! 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Never Knew

I never knew that I could bring a 16 year old into my home and really like her. 

Feel a need to protect her. 

Be willing to advocate for her.

Song she sent to me today....

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Why don't they listen?

Our teen is the first child who has come to our home able to speak, able to tell us about her life.

We knew that our younger foster children had been neglected or abused.  One came from the burn clinic.  Others came with extreme delays and attachment issues.  They came with clues that they were neglected or abused.  However, they could not tell us specifically what they endured.

Our teen is now opening up to us.  She is telling us about her life.  I will not share it because it is her story. 

I will say that it has made me realize why I do foster care.  It has made me realize that there are many other children out there hiding their pain yet hoping that someone will notice.

They don't know what to do.  They don't know how to get out of the situation.  They feel alone.

However, what happens if they finally seek help?  You would think that they would get it.  We are a society that is supposed to protect our children.

That isn't always the case. I will say foster child had to call the police three times to get help, three times.

So.....why don't they listen when a child speaks up? 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Selective Mutism on Meds

We have always known that anxiety medication can be prescribed for selective mutism.  However, we had been hesitant to put Larissa on anxiety medication because of her age and seizures.  After visiting a new doctor and agreeing that her long tantrums while I was in school may be separation anxiety we decided to go ahead and start the medication.

The tantrums have stopped.  Even better she is talking.  The other day at San Jose she decided she needed a spoon.  She actually got up and went and asked for one.  True, we eat there so much that it is like a second home.  But, that was such a huge step for her.  Her teacher also reports that she is talking to her.  She is still not a chatterbox but she does speak up for herself.

Today she had gymnastics.  She was working on doing her handstands.  From the other side of the building, behind a glass partition I could hear her yelling to her coach, "look at me, look at me".  Her coach rewarded her with a positive reaction and a high five when she got up.  I was shocked that she was so loud.  I loved it.
She is also sleeping in her own bed.  We moved the mattress from our room to her bottom bunk and there she stays.  She has come into our bedroom only one time in the last few weeks.  I do miss the cuddles but am glad that she is able to be secure in her own bed.

At the end of the month we will be visiting her neurologist.  I hope that he doesn't want to change her anxiety medications.  We actually haven't seen any negative side effects....only positive. 

All is good.


Do you see that weed in the center of the picture?  It is over 6 feet tall.  Yep, I grow weeds real well.

I really don't know what happened to my summer.  I didn't even have any foster kids.  Seems like all I did was build a castle bed and go on a cruise.  In the meantime all my weeds grew to fantastic heights. 

It is not only weeds.  My other plants grew with great zeal.  I don't even know what to do with these bushes.  I didn't realize that they got so big when I planted them.

I did attempt to trim them.  I am not sure if that was much of an improvement.  That plant in the middle is mighty interesting.  I have no clue what to do with that thing.

I even got out the round up and attempted to kill some random stuff growing in my islands.  Weeds and grass both grow well in my islands.  I just wish that the grass would grow as well on my lawn!

I wish that I could say that the yardwork was a top priority.  Honestly, it is not.  I guess I need to do some work on the front yard so the neighbors can stop talking about us.  I won't even show pictures of that.  Well, maybe I will after I have done some work. 

Anyone love to do yardwork and want to come for a visit?

Monday, September 5, 2011


Well, everyone survived the sleepover.  Teen had her first sleepover and wanted to invite more then one friend.  All you experienced moms know how that can be a problem.  We know how that can be a problem.  Teen got to experience how that can be a problem and has decided that from now on she will only invite one friend at a time. 

Can we say "drama" on hormones.  I think that my teen spent more time downstairs with us then with her friends.  She says that they are annoying.  I had to laugh.  I told her that I thought that all teens were supposed to be annoying.

I think that in some aspects it was good for her.  I had tried to talk to her before about one of her "friends" who wasn't acting like a friend at all.  She didn't see it before but she really saw it last night.  This is really a friendship she needs to let go.  I hope that she is able to do so but part of me feels that she won't.  That would just be another least I know she won't be back to spend the night.

Teen and one friend are now in the kitchen making chocolate chip pancakes.  The rest are asleep. 

On to the next adventure.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


OK, fostering teenagers is hard.  Babies....well you always know where they are.  You have more control over the situation.  Of course once they become mobile then you have the worry of them getting bumps and bruises.

Teenagers do stupid things.  Unfortunately for some teenagers in foster care others are watching them waiting for failure.  Even when they do things that a typical parent would simply give a correction for.  My phone ran off the hook today because of some small mistakes on my teens part.  Things that I had already counselled her about.  Well, I got to talk to her again to reiterate what I had already told her.......and to let her know that many eyes are watching her.  She needs to be aware of that.

Friends!  Geez!  I knew that girls could be mean.  Really, Sarah is doing schooling at home because of bullying.  But to tell a kid who just went into foster care that you are mad at them "because they have changed"....seriously.  Who needs friends like that? Apparently teenage girls do.  Realizing that some of your friends are really not your friends is a hard thing to do.  I have been amazed and saddened by what I have seen among the girls.  Attempts to sabotage and add drama.  Crazy.

On a good note, my teen is preparing her very first sleepover this weekend. She spent time today cleaning up her bedroom and going through her clothing.  We will make a snack run so that we will be well stocked.  It is strange realizing that at the age of 16 she is having her first sleep over.  I am glad that I am able to give her the opportunity.

Other then some small glitches our teen is doing well.  She continues to be respectful in our home and is very pleasant to be around.  I hope that if this is a honeymoon phase that it lasts a really long time!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In Other News.....

Sarah finally decided that she wants to drive.

Two boys we knew were involved in fatal car accidents two years ago and Sarah wasn't too keen on learning how to driving.  She turns 18 in November and she determined that she was ready.

She passed her test and grinned for her learners permit.  Watch out, a new driver will be on the roads in South Carolina. (Anyone want to come over and show her how to drive?)

In adoption news, I received an email from our adoption worker today.  After spending months sitting on her supervisors desk, our homestudy got signed off on Monday.  I won't even tell you how many kids we are approved to adopt, it may make you faint!

We are in full swing with our schedule.  Larissa in dance and gymnastics.  Anthony in Boy Scouts and gymnastics.  The only time I really need a twin is on Thursday when I really need to be in two places at once.

John is still working in Augusta.  I worry about his long drive and really wish that he could find a job closer to home.  At some point he may do something drastic and quit.  That would make our budget really interesting.  I am going to school but feel like I can't finish quickly enough.  Some days I just want to quit school and find a job so he can just come home and not travel.  It gets so frustrating.  I know that we should just be glad that he has a job, but his safety is more important.  I fear that he will fall asleep on the drive.

Sarah is doing well with her online school.  Joselin is struggling but still trying.  Today we had an IEP meeting for Joselin.  The email I received said that we would meet today.  Silly me assumed we would meet in person so we drove in to the big city only to find out that we were supposed to meet online.  Like I said, silly me.  So we are rescheduling that meeting.

Anthony and Larissa are doing well.  So far no calls from the school regarding Anthony.  This is the longest period of time he has not gotten in trouble.  Of course, I am probably jinxing myself here and will receive a call tomorrow.

Jason is in college and honestly I have no idea how he is doing.  Tasha is in training in Texas.  She will get back and then have a short period of time before she has to leave for her deployment.  It will be a long year!

The new teen is doing well.  Tomorrow John and I are going up to the school to see where she stands in her classes.  We want to ensure that she is on target and if not how we can get her there. 

We are encountering some issues that we hadn't thought about which I will discuss in more detail tomorrow.

That is us in a nutshell.  Maintaining life and trudging along.