Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Folks.......It is Going to Break My Heart

Seven months ago he came into our home. Many days our house looks as though a toy factory had exploded.  The best toys make a lot of noise and batteries are bought in large quantities.

The carpet had to go, we can't do carpet.  Kids running through it after being in the pool, wet dogs, spilled food that isn't allowed all conspire against me.  Yes, we have exercise mats in our family room.

Little man does not like to sleep.  He likes to go, go and go.  His favorite thing to do is to climb these steps.  He can climb them VERY quickly.  He is sneaky that way.  We have learned that we can not close the door at the top. A closed door is not a deterrent to him.  He will stand at the top leaning against it.  I fear that he will fall back. I am looking at options for gating off these steps.  Tile on the floor and brick steps and walls make it a challenge.

He is growing up so fast.  He wants to walk so badly. It won't be long and he will be running.  I wonder if I will be there to see it.

He has also learned that I am mom.  He looks for me.  He cries for me when others are holding him.  My kisses are magical and clear up tears promptly.

I know him.  I love him and I know that when he leaves it will hurt. 

My fear is that it will hurt him more and he won't know where I have gone.  I call myself his mom but I am not, I am his foster mom.  His mom hasn't seen him since July.  Since she last saw him he has learned how to sit up, how to pull to a standing position, how to cruise, how to feed himself using his pincher grasp, how to cough socially, how to open drawers, how to climb steps.  When she decides to show up I wonder how he will react to her.  Will he remember that she is his mom?  Will he fuss to come to me?  I know that happens, it did with Larissa.

His mom has not contacted DSS since July.  I talked with her in August but since she never contacted DSS I have been told to stop contacting her.  Once I stopped initiating contact, she has made no attempt to contact me. She has not asked me how he is doing, to send her pictures or videos or whether she plans on showing up.  In all our foster cases this is my first one in which the mom just stops coming.  Every week we wait for DSS to call. I no longer take him up to visitation only to turn around and go home.  I now wait to see if she shows up and if she does I will take him in.  I have not received a call yet.

But, I know that next week it could change.  Right now mom has all the power.  She could start visiting and finish her care plan.  She can still get her child back.  It is all up to her.  All I can do is wait.

In the meantime, her son is growing up.

Monday, September 29, 2014

School Struggles

Larissa is struggling in school, especially in math. This is how she feels about math homework.....

Anthony has challenges with math but his isn't quite as severe. He also has an IEP with gives him extra support in school. I feel that Larissa's seizures and sleep issues are having an effect on her processing abilities.

Sometimes Anthony offers to help her with math and we allow this because it give him confidence and he understands her struggles the best.  She wants to do well but always feels that she is failing.

One day Larissa came to me after school and told me that she cried in class that day.  I asked her why and she said that the boy in class who is supposed to help her got mad at her for it and was mean to her.  He didn't want to help her.

I called her teacher and asked about the incident.  She knew that Larissa was crying in class but didn't know why.  I asked why a student was given the responsibility to help her.  If she has such issues in math she should be receiving services.  It is crazy to put that responsibility on a child who should be learning himself.  I don't think that it is fair for either child. 

Her teacher also told me that she is confused because Larissa had 100 in science last week but then this week she got a zero on a test.  Then she talked about Larissa being tired in class and how she has to wake her all the time.  It is frustrating for me because I could tell when she wasn't functioning well and adjust our schooling around it.  Her teacher has to wake her all the time and then wonder why she can't function.

My next call was to the district psychologist to ask when we were going to meet to get Larissa some services.  I told her that having a student helping her in class is not an appropriate response.  Thankfully I was able to get the wheels rolling and we have a meeting the end of this week.  This week I have to get her to her doctor to get yet another letter of all of her diagnosis's.  I sure hope that this meeting has a better outcome than the last one because I am about ready to pull her out again.

Oh, and Larissa took this selfie and wanted me to share it.  She says that she isn't always pouty.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

How to Lose a Friend in Six Months

I was going through my pictures file and realized that the last trip of any kind we made was in February.  That was a small day trip to Charleston.  In March we had friends move in.  I had no idea at that time what a mistake we were making.  This is someone we have known for 10 years, we have a lot of history together.

There were 4 of them and we were relieved when they went to go live with her mother.  I knew that could be a huge problem and it was.  In less than a month they were back with an extra adult.  So three adults and two kids moved back in.

Let me tell you, their family of five out ate our family of eight.  They were in the back shop and had their own refrigerator.  They had food stamps but they only lasted about a week.  The rest of the time we were feeding them.  It got to the point where I only bought what I needed.  They ate all our food that had been sitting in the pantry for a long time.  They ate stuff I bought to make meals so I didn't buy food unless it was needed.  I shopped on a daily basis.  We had our own stash in our closet of snacks and a refrigerator in our bedroom and started cutting the milk in the main refrigerator.  I put my moms special foods in her bedroom.  We spent thousands on food and other items such as toilet paper.  We were going through several rolls a day.  I think that their dog even ate more than our dog.

The bills got extreme.  Folks, we had $700 utility bills.  We even had the utility company call us to see if we had a problem.  Our bills had never been higher, we tried to conserve but they didn't do the same.

Their dog destroyed a lot of stuff with his chewing and their kids did their own damage. We have damaged furniture, lighting, toys, and such.

Finally one day I had a panic attack.  I had never had a panic attack before.  Our budget had been fine for our family but supporting 5 more was breaking us.  My husband left his job 2 1/2 years ago and we were prepared to live on military retirement income and savings for a long time.  Slowly the purchasing power of our income had been diminishing with increased cost of food and gas.  However, we still did fine until this summer.  While we went nowhere our boarders made it to the beach.  They could afford fireworks when we couldn't.  Their kids got a lot of back to school items and ours got one item.

We finally gave them an ultimatum, get out by October.

In August I found a trailer for rent within their budget.  We went and looked at it and they actually knew the owner.  However, they had no money saved.  I don't understand how they expected to ever get a place of their own.  They were able to get a special grant to pay for their utility deposit and $300 of their first months rent.  We paid $900 for the deposit and the rest of the rent.  It is supposed to be a loan but I expect I will never see a dime.  However, it was the best $900 we ever spent.  We were broke the rest of the month but that was OK.

Then came the complications, from the beginning we had given them Sarah's car to borrow.  Well, they drove it to death.  It died several days before they were to leave.  In our area you have to have a car to get around.  We lent them the truck for 2 weeks, gave them a cut off date.  On the cut off date we had to go and get it.  It was damaged and required a new tire and alignment. 

They lived with us for 6 months and never saved a dime.  Never made a serious attempt to get a car.  Never paid us a dime.  Used as much of our resources as they could.  Almost seemed like they were intent in driving us to the ground. 

One argument we had ended with her telling me that she didn't have the opportunity to live a privileged life like I do. I realized then that she was jealous.  I offered her as much as I could but it wasn't enough because I still had more than her.

They still call us for things, for rides, for help.  However, our support has ended.  I can no longer use our families resources for their family. Sadly this experience has cost us our friendship.

In the short term this experience hurt us financially. However, we are rebounding and will be fine.  The loss of a friendship was more painful.

Oh, the dog....they got rid of him within a week of leaving because he was chewing up their stuff.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Being a Caregiver

Jason has moved back home. George is so happy, he is so in love with Jason.

This weekend Jason decided to make a hamburger for lunch and made one for his grandma as well.  Jason, Tasha and Sarah remember my mom before her strokes, the younger kids were not here yet.  I wish that all of my kids would have had an opportunity to get to know my mom when she was healthier.  Other than my mom they don't have any grandparent relationships and I find that kind of sad.

When I was lifting my mom into her wheelchair this weekend I realized how much lighter she has gotten.  I also found a small sore on her arm.  Sometimes I worry that I am not doing the right thing by keeping her at home.  She slept on her arm all night and in a nursing home they might have turned her in the middle of the night.  Well, maybe not because I hear of bedsore problems in nursing homes.  Either way, she now is sleeping with a neck support on her elbow to prevent her from laying on it. I worry about her getting sores while in my care.

Taking care of a parent is a huge responsibility.  At night before I go to bed I always go in and change my mom.  Sometimes I get surprises, not pleasant ones.  Sometimes I would just as soon head to bed without that responsibility. I am the only one in the house who can change my mom so this means I have to do it whether I am sick or not. Every night I will say to Sarah that I am going to change my mom and head to bed.  Sarah always responds that she hopes she never has to say that.  I sure hope she doesn't either.  I don't know that I would want to put that responsibility on any of my children.

Sometimes I do feel a smidgen of anger at my mom.  She had a stroke because she stopped taking her high blood pressure medication.  Her stroke was totally preventable.  If she hadn't stopped her medications I feel that she would still be living in her own home.  Anyone out there taking high blood pressure medications don't stop taking them!  My older brother did and is now on a kidney transplant list.  High blood pressure is a serious medical condition. Everyone in my family has high blood pressure except for me.  I get it checked often and can't believe that I don't have it.  Strange but I am not complaining.

Being a caregiver for my mom means that we always have to consider her when we want to go out of town for any length of time, even just day trips.  She can't be left alone, if something were to happen and the house caught on fire she couldn't get out.  She can't get up and feed herself and needs changed throughout the day.  We have to arrange and pay someone to be here.  We can't make last minute plans to do a day trip.

Long term community health care has been a huge help.  Charlotte comes out 5 days a week and relieves me for a few hours.  She bathes my mom and feeds her lunch.  This is a huge help for me and Charlotte has become one of the family. We plugged along for a year waiting to get to the top of the list for the program.  At one point I was told to just put her in a nursing home, it is easier to put them in homes than get help to keep them in their home.  That is what has happened in our society.  People consider it a huge burden to have to take care of the elderly.

For now we are doing well.  Medically my mom is stable but I know that can change at any time.  We have supports in place and someone to hire when we have plans out of town. My mom is eating well and stays hydrated.

I hope that she realizes how much she is loved.

Oh, for the curious, Jason's burger......

Play Time

Summer is quickly coming to a close and the kids are trying their best to squeeze every bit out of it before winter sets in.

I purchased one of those pop up tents used.  The poor thing is slightly bent out of shape.  However, that did not take away from the kids fun.  As soon as they saw it they set up house and asked to spend the night in it.

The weather was warm enough that they swam most of the weekend.

Apparently the objective of this game is to stay on top of the ball, not an easy thing to do.

Sometimes I wonder what their memories will be of these days.  There are times that they fight terribly and times that they play together so well.  Will they remember those times when they cooperated fondly?  At the very least I have pictures to prove that there were times of great joy and cooperation!

It surprised me that they actually spent the night in the little play tent.  They ate, slept and played in that little $5 play tent.  I am tempted to search for a used tent to keep on the porch for the fall.

When I was little I remember sleeping in the yard in a tent.  Anyone else do the same?

Saturday, September 20, 2014


For Sarah.....

Anyone familiar with neurofibromatosis?

Sarah has NF1.  She was diagnosed when she was 5 years old.  We knew for years before that diagnosis that we were dealing with a neurological issue.  From the time we knew we made sure that Sarah knew (we gave different information depending on her age).  We wanted her to be aware that there was a reason why she was struggling in school, getting so many MRI's and seeing doctors who wanted to see her café au lait spots. 

She has joined some online support sites and over the years has developed some opinions.

First, she wants everyone to know that neurofibromatosis is not the same thing as Elephant Man's disease (also called Proteus syndrome).  We have been to some doctors who still believe that they are the same disorder, they are not.  Proteus syndrome causes an overgrowth of skin, bones, muscles, fatty tissues, and blood and lymphatic vessels.  Neurofibromatosis affects the nervous system. Not the same. At all, don't even go there.

Second, don't tell her that she has a disease.  Sarah says that she has a genetic disorder.  She believes that calling it a disease gives it a socially unacceptable meaning.  When you hear someone has a disease what do you think?  Do you think it is contagious?  NF1 is not.  Do you think that they are suffering?  Sarah is not.

Sarah says that she is not an error, that she has a genetic make up that is all her own.  It makes her a unique individual as we all are.  Do not tell her that she has a disease.

I agree with her, she has been wonderfully and beautifully made and is not a disease.

For those who are interested, from the National Institute of Neurological disorders......

What are the neurofibromatoses?

The neurofibromatoses are a group of three genetically distinct disorders that cause tumors to grow in the nervous system.  Tumors begin in the supporting cells that make up the nerve and the myelin sheath (the thin membrane that envelops and protects the nerves), rather than the cells that actually transmit information.  The type of tumor that develops depends on the type of supporting cells involved.
Scientists have classified the disorders as neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1, also called von Recklinghaus disease), neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2), and a type that was once considered to be a variation of NF2 but is now called schwannomatosis.  An estimated 100,000 Americans have a neurofibromatosis disorder, which occurs in both sexes and in all races and ethnic groups.
The most common nerve-associated tumors in NF1 are neurofibromas (tumors of the peripheral nerves), whereas schwannomas (tumors that begin in Schwann cells that help form the myelin sheath) are most common in NF2 and schwannomatosis.  Most tumors are benign, although occasionally they may become cancerous.
Why these tumors occur still isn’t completely known, but it appears to be related mainly to mutations in genes that play key roles in suppressing cell growth in the nervous system.  These mutations keep the genes—identified as NF1, NF2 and SMARCB1/INI1—from making normal proteins that control cell production.  Without the normal function of these proteins, cells multiply out of control and form tumors.

What is NF1?

NF1 is the most common neurofibromatosis, occurring in 1 in 3,000 to 4,000 individuals in the United States.  Although many affected people inherit the disorder, between 30 and 50 percent of new cases result from a spontaneous genetic mutation of unknown cause.  Once this mutation has taken place, the mutant gene can be passed to succeeding generations.

What are the signs and symptoms of NF1?

To diagnose NF1, a doctor looks for two or more of the following:
  • six or more light brown spots on the skin (often called “café-au-lait” spots), measuring more than 5 millimeters in diameter in children or more than 15 millimeters across in adolescents and adults;
  • two or more neurofibromas, or one plexiform neurofibroma (a neurofibroma that involves many nerves);
  • freckling in the area of the armpit or the groin;
  • two or more growths on the iris of the eye (known as Lisch nodules or iris hamartomas);
  • a tumor on the optic nerve (called an optic nerve glioma)
  • abnormal development of the spine (scoliosis), the temple (sphenoid) bone of the skull, or the tibia (one of the long bones of the shin);
  • a parent, sibling, or child with NF1.

What other symptoms or conditions are associated with NF1?

Many children with NF1 have larger than normal head circumference and are shorter than average.  Hydrocephalus, the abnormal buildup of fluid in the brain, is a possible complication of the disorder.  Headache and epilepsy are also more likely in individuals with NF1 than in the healthy population.  Cardiovascular complications associated with NF1 include congenital heart defects, high blood pressure (hypertension), and constricted, blocked, or damaged blood vessels (vasculopathy).  Children with NF1 may have poor language and visual-spatial skills, and perform less well on academic achievement tests, including those that measure reading, spelling, and math skills.  Learning disabilities, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are common in children with NF1.  An estimated 3 to 5 percent of tumors may become cancerous, requiring aggressive treatment.  These tumors are called malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors.

When do symptoms appear?

Symptoms, particularly the most common skin abnormalities-café-au-lait spots, neurofibromas, Lisch nodules, and freckling in the armpit and groin-are often evident at birth or shortly afterwards, and almost always by the time a child is 10 years old. Because many features of these disorders are age dependent, a definitive diagnosis may take several years.

What is the prognosis for someone with NF1?

NF1 is a progressive disorder, which means most symptoms will worsen over time, although a small number of people may have symptoms that remain constant.  It isn’t possible to predict the course of an individual’s disorder.  In general, most people with NF1 will develop mild to moderate symptoms.  Most people with NF1 have a normal life expectancy.  Neurofibromas on or under the skin can increase with age and cause cosmetic and psychological issues.

How is NF1 treated?

Scientists don’t know how to prevent neurofibromas from growing.  Surgery is often recommended to remove tumors that become symptomatic and may become cancerous, as well as for tumors that cause significant cosmetic disfigurement.  Several surgical options exist, but there is no general agreement among doctors about when surgery should be performed or which surgical option is best.  Individuals considering surgery should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of all their options to determine which treatment is right for them.  Treatment for neurofibromas that become malignant may include surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.  Surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy may also be used to control or reduce the size of optic nerve gliomas when vision is threatened.  Some bone malformations, such as scoliosis, can be corrected surgically.
Treatments for other conditions associated with NF1 are aimed at controlling or relieving symptoms.  Headache and seizures are treated with medications.  Since children with NF1 have a higher than average risk for learning disabilities, they should undergo a detailed neurological exam before they enter school.  Once these children are in school, teachers or parents who suspect there is evidence of one or more learning disabilities should request an evaluation that includes an IQ test and the standard range of tests to evaluate verbal and spatial skills.

What is NF2?

This rare disorder affects about 1 in 25,000 people. Approximately 50 percent of affected people inherit the disorder; in others the disorder is caused by a spontaneous genetic mutation of unknown cause.  The hallmark finding in NF2 is the presence of slow-growing tumors on the eighth cranial nerves.  These nerves have two branches:  the acoustic branch helps people hear by transmitting sound sensations to the brain; and the vestibular branch helps people maintain their balance.  The characteristic tumors of NF2 are called vestibular schwannomas because of their location and the types of cells involved.  As these tumors grow, they may press against and damage nearby structures such as other cranial nerves and the brain stem, the latter which can cause serious disability.  Schwannomas in NF2 may occur along any nerve in the body, including the spinal nerves, other cranial nerves, and peripheral nerves in the body.  These tumors may be seen as bumps under the skin (when the nerves involved are just under the skin surface) or can also be seen on the skin surface as small (less than 1 inch), dark, rough areas of hairy skin.  In children, tumors may be smoother, less pigmented, and less hairy.
Although individuals with NF2 may have schwannomas that resemble small, flesh-colored skin flaps, they rarely have the café-au-lait spots that are seen in NF1.
Individuals with NF2 are at risk for developing other types of nervous system tumors, such as ependymomas and gliomas (two tumor types that grow in the spinal cord) and meningiomas (tumors that grow along the protective layers surrounding the brain and spinal cord).  Affected individuals may develop cataracts at an earlier age or changes in the retina that may affect vision.  Individuals with NF2 may also develop problems with nerve function independent of tumors, usually symmetric numbness and weakness in the extremities, due to the development of a peripheral neuropathy.

What are the signs and symptoms of NF2?

To diagnose NF2, a doctor looks for the following:
  • bilateral vestibular schwannomas; or
  • a family history of NF2 (parent, sibling, or child) plus a unilateral vestibular schwannoma before age 30; or
  • any two of the following:
    o   glioma;
    o   meningioma,
    o   schwannoma; or
    o   juvenile posterior subcapsular/lenticular opacity (cataract) or juvenile cortical cataract.
 When do symptoms appear?

Signs of NF2 may be present in childhood but are so subtle that they can be overlooked, especially in children who don't have a family history of the disorder. Typically, symptoms of NF2 are noticed between 18 and 22 years of age. The most frequent first symptom is hearing loss or ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Less often, the first visit to a doctor will be because of disturbances in balance, visual impairment (such as vision loss from cataracts), weakness in an arm or leg, seizures, or skin tumors.

What is the prognosis for someone with NF2?

Because NF2 is so rare, few studies have been done to look at the natural progression of the disorder.  The course of NF2 varies greatly among individuals, although inherited NF2 appears to run a similar course among affected family members.  Generally, vestibular schwannomas grow slowly, and balance and hearing deteriorate over a period of years.  A recent study suggests that an earlier age of onset and the presence of meningiomas are associated with greater mortality risk.

How is NF2 treated?

NF2 is best managed at a specialty clinic with an initial screening and annual follow-up evaluations (more frequent if the disease is severe).  Improved diagnostic technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), can reveal tumors of the vestibular nerve as small as a few millimeters in diameter.  Vestibular schwannomas grow slowly, but they can grow large enough to engulf one of the eighth cranial nerves and cause brain stem compression and damage to surrounding cranial nerves. Surgical options depend on tumor size and the extent of hearing loss.  There is no general agreement among doctors about when surgery should be performed or which surgical option is best.  Individuals considering surgery should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of all options to determine which treatment is right for them.  Surgery to remove the entire tumor while it’s still small might help preserve hearing.  If hearing is lost during this surgery, but the auditory nerve is maintained, the surgical placement of a cochlear implant (a device placed in the inner ear, or cochlea, that processes electronic signals from sound waves to the auditory nerve) may be an option to improve hearing.  As tumors grow larger, it becomes harder to surgically preserve hearing and the auditory nerve.  The development of the penetrating auditory brain stem implant (a device that stimulates the hearing portions of the brain) can restore some hearing in individuals who have completely lost hearing and do not have an auditory nerve present.  Surgery for other tumors associated with NF2 is aimed at controlling or relieving symptoms.  Surgery also can correct cataracts and retinal abnormalities.

What is schwannomatosis?

Schwannomatosis is a rare form of neurofibromatosis that is genetically and clinically distinct from NF1 and NF2.  Inherited forms of the disorder account for only 15 percent of all cases.  Researchers have identified a mutation of the SMARCB1/INI1 gene that is associated with the familial form of the disease but don’t fully understand what causes the intense pain that characterizes this disorder.

What are the signs and symptoms of schwannomatosis?

The distinguishing feature of schwannomatosis is the development of multiple schwannomas everywhere in the body except on the vestibular nerve.  The dominant symptom is pain, which develops as a schwannoma enlarges, compresses nerves, or presses on adjacent tissue.  Some people experience additional neurological symptoms, such as numbness, tingling, or weakness in the fingers and toes.  Individuals with schwannomatosis do not have neurofibromas.
About one-third of individuals with schwannomatosis have tumors limited to a single part of the body, such as an arm, leg, or a segment of the spine.  Some people develop many schwannomas, while others develop only a few.

What is the prognosis for someone with schwannomatosis?

Anyone with schwannomatosis experiences some degree of pain, but the intensity varies.  A small number of people have such mild pain that they are never diagnosed with the disorder.  Most people have significant pain, which can be managed with medications or surgery.  In some extreme cases, pain will be so severe and disabling it will keep people from working or leaving the house.

How is schwannomatosis treated?

There is no currently accepted medical treatment or drug for schwannomatosis, but surgical management is often effective. Pain usually subsides when tumors are removed completely, although it may recur should new tumors form.  When surgery isn’t possible, ongoing monitoring and management of pain in a multidisciplinary pain clinic is advisable.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Larissa is 9

Larissa is now 9 years old and it is hard for me to believe that she has gotten so big.  She received everything that she asked for and had a great day.  Her requests were for Monster High dolls, Easy Bake Oven (bought used for $6!) and American Girl Wheelchair (bought used on Ebay).

This year we didn't do any big birthday parties.  We had small family and close friends gatherings.  Each child got to pick where they wanted to eat, pick their cake and within reason receive what gifts they want.  Larissa picked Wild Wings this year, looks like the days of McDonald and their play space are over.

She requested a strawberry cake.

(Birthday 8 years ago)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I Asked

Over the last year we have been taking a lot of short term placements waiting for our adoption homestudy to be completed.  Some placements were as short as a week or two.  They were short because a family member had stepped forward and DSS had to do a quick homestudy on them before they would allow the child(ren) to go with them.

We had two little ones for two weeks.  After they went with their grandma I asked DSS for a specific placement.  I don't normally do that but I was having the itch for a baby.  I asked for a bitty baby who would be a short term placement.   A baby who was waiting for a family homestudy to be completed.

I just wanted to have a few weeks cuddling with a little one and then allow him to go with family.  We aren't looking to adopt a bitty baby.  We are looking to adopt a school age child or sibling group.

I got what I asked for a very short time later.  A bitty baby at the hospital.  Sarah and I had to go and take a pediatric CPR class before we could bring him home.  We sure loved cuddling that little one.  Tasha and Ethan came to town to get some baby cuddling practice.  Then two weeks passed.  Then a month.  Then we were told that the family member was not approved.

OK, this would be a little longer as we wait for mom to do what she needed to do.  So we wait.  Almost 7 months later we are still waiting.  This short term placement is not turning out to be so short term. 

We have all fallen in love. 

This little one is going to be a hard one to let go. 

Our hearts are going to be broken.

I really need to be careful with what I ask for in the future!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Why We Receive so Many Placements

I have been asked why we receive so many placements. Sometimes foster parents get licensed and then receive very few foster children.  Sometimes it is just the area you are living in but sometimes it isn't.

First look at your restrictions.

What ages are you willing to accept?  Is it too narrow?  We accept children ages 0 to 18.  Originally we were only open to younger children but when they called and asked us to take a teenager we did, they were able to raise our age in a few hours.  That teenager later became one of our daughters so you just never know what life will throw at you when you are open.

What other restrictions do you have?

Are you open to all races?  What is your comfort level with this and how will your family accept the children who come into your home.

Siblings?  We aim to keep siblings together, our largest sibling group had three children.  Very manageable for us but maybe not for others.  Keeping siblings together is very important to us.  I realize that it is not always possible with every sibling group.  Sometimes they need to be separated.

Medical conditions?  What can you deal with?  We are not a therapeutic home yet we have picked children up from the burn clinic and the NICU. We have dealt with heart issues and asthma.  We have learned many new skills to include how to tape a heart monitor to the back of a very active baby.

Look at how involved you want to be.

Are you willing to transport?  We transport our foster children to all visitations and all appointments.  This relieves the social worker of that responsibility.  Some areas have people who transport but our county does not, it falls on the social workers.  Imagine having to place a child and seeing the name of a family on the board that you know will do all the driving.

Are you willing to work with and encourage the family?  We try to maintain a positive relationship with our foster children parents.  We encourage them to work their plan and maintain a healthy relationship with their child(ren).

Will you evaluate the children and seek out all services that they need?  Services can include Baby Net, therapy, IEP's, speech therapy, OT, PT, to name a few.  Get educated on child development so that you can recognize that there is a delay that needs addressed.  This can require more transporting or just being available when therapies come to the home.

Do you want a baby?  Do you work?  Our heart baby needed a stay at home mom.  We had a  toddler sibling group was very short term so child care was not planned for since grandma didn't work.  Sometimes it is just easier to place children who are not school age into a home with a parent who is home full time.  This is not a requirement but does make life easier for the social workers.  Besides, most day cares won't accept a baby until he is 6 weeks old.  Who will watch the baby until then?

How flexible are you?  If it is the last day of the month and the social worker realizes that they didn't make a visit to your home, are you willing to allow that visit with little notice?  When family visits are cancelled, changed, shortened, lengthened, can you go with the flow with grace?  When you are called about a 2 year old boy will you accept the 4 year old girl instead?  Will you answer the phone at 2 am and say yes?

How patient are you?  Patience is necessary when dealing with the behaviors.  It is also necessary when dealing with the system!  Someone who is impatient will cause problems.

Are you prepared financially?  If you receive two toddlers are you prepared to dress, clothe, feed and purchase necessary car seats and such on s short notice?  Will you treat the children who come to your home the same that you do your other children?  Include them in family activities, take them out to eat, involve them in sports, buy them clothing that helps them to fit in with their peers, pay for their entertainment.

Do you know when to be quiet?  I have seen foster families get black listed based on things that they have said.  Sometimes it is best to just keep things to yourself.  There is a time and place for griping.

There are many factors that are considered when placing children.  Often they are looking for a good match for each child because they try to avoid frequent moves because of bad placement. Social workers are human, they will look for a family that will make their lives easier.  Someone who is easy to get along with, someone who is accommodating, doesn't need much hand holding, is able to manage medical/services appointments without the need to the social worker, someone who they know will take GOOD care of the child while causing minimum drama.  Over time they learn which families are best to place children in. 

A good reputation will keep your home full.
Notice I didn't say who will love the child the most.  At the time of placement love is not a factor.  If all you have to offer is love then I am afraid that it is not enough.  When the child is placed they may not even want your love, they have their parents for that.  However, they do need all the patience, stability, knowledge and understanding that you have. Love may come later.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

One Project Completed

I finished painting a piece of furniture for Vaida. Gray, yellow and a little purple with a little elephant on the side. 

I realized that I forgot the eyes.  I will have to add that next time I go to Tasha's house.  This is not an original design, I found it on the internet and loved it.

Little Vaida is expected any time now, her room is ready and waiting for her. We are all ready to spoil her.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Emma is 8

Emma requested a puppy cake. Not sure exactly what she wanted but she was happy with what I made.

Singing Happy Birthday!

Commercial ad score one.  She asked for this snack cup several times.  I said that I don't buy that stuff on TV, they had it at KMart. She also requested Barbie and Monster High dolls.  I also got her a Barbie comforter set and a fingernail set.  She was pretty happy with her gifts.

She requested the eye and she got the eye.  Cake was pretty tasty with too much frosting.

For her birthday dinner Emma picked Moe's.

It is hard for me to believe that Emma is 8 years old.  Why does 8 seem so much older than 7?  Once again my baby is growing up and although it is a good thing, it is also sad for me.  These kids of mine just seem to grow up too fast. 

For a long time I have said that Emma was emotionally much younger than her age.  This year she has closed the gap, I'd say that she is only about a year younger emotionally, she had a huge growth over the summer.

Interesting to me is that she recognizes that she is in a happier place as well.  Her crying fits have decreased dramatically and her willingness to cooperate has improved so much. She loves to follow her dad around in the garden and help him.  She is my only child who liked to pull weeds.  Perhaps she needs a little garden of her own next year.

I look forward to what the next year will bring....Happy Birthday Emma Rose.

Friday, September 5, 2014


In the past year we have had 12 foster children enter our home.  One remains, several went to family members, some to parents.  We still maintain a relationship with three children who went home to their parents. 

Some came as singletons and some as sibling groups.  We had all ages from newborn to teenagers.  Most of the time we received calls for sibling group preschoolers.  Not many foster parents can afford to have a stay at home parent. 

Each of those 12 children needed a safe place to land.  Each child came with their own fears, needs and challenges.  Many came with only the clothing that they were wearing.

We calmed fears, evaluated for services, provided clothing, school supplies, toys, understanding, patience, a stable environment and love.

Some of the children we had for very short periods of time.  Some longer.  When a child comes we don't know if it will be a few weeks, months or years.  It makes planning a little challenging.  DSS gives their opinion but it isn't always accurate.  Some of the children we have adopted were short term placements.

We are tired.  Our children need stability.  Children coming in and out of the home is difficult for them.  We love fostering but fostering has lead to our adoption of 5 children with their own challenges. 

We have an open adoption homestudy but have not been able to take an adoptive placement because we constantly have foster children in the home. 

Recently we had our quarterly visit from DSS and told them that our current foster child will be our last foster child.  We are open to one last adoption but do not want more children who come and then go.  It is hard to say if we will ever receive another adoptive placement since we have other children to consider.  Our first objective is to make sure that any placement is safe for our children.

After more than 10 years of fostering it seems strange to stop.  We feel that there is a strong need for good foster homes but we need to concentrate on our kids at home.  We will continue to foster our current placement until he goes home.  This temporary placement has now lasted 6 months.  I am not quite sure how long temporary is!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Showering Love

We have been quite busy. We had a baby shower for Tasha this last weekend and my procrastination caught up with me.  I found this frame at Goodwill and thought it would be great for creating a sign for my grandchild, Vaida.

Great price.

All those scissors seem to cut hair great (per Emma) but they sure don't cut fabric too well.  Tasha's colors are gray, yellow and purple.

I worked on the sign while making cupcakes with Sarah.

Pineapple with homemade frosting frosting topped with toasted coconut.

The start of chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes.

With peanut butter frosting.

Key Lime pie in cupcake size.

Strawberry in angel food cake with homemade frosting.

We also made regular yellow cake with chocolate frosting cupcakes for the traditional eater.

I finished my sign...

We loaded up and headed off to celebrate with family and friends.

Five of my beautiful daughters and granddaughter.

Beautiful, glowing mom to be.

(Vaida got lots of shoes, a girl can't have too many!)

I still have a piece of furniture to paint for Vaida's bedroom, I should finish this week.

We are all so excited to have a new child in the family, she will be one spoiled little girl. Now we wait, I estimate that she will be born one week before her due date.