Sunday, November 26, 2017

Cost of Fostering

I admit, I have been absent lately. I have been overwhelmed with life in general and not sure what direction to go in. I love fostering. I don't love having my life thrown so out of whack that I lose sight of why I foster. The reason we foster is to allow a child an opportunity to have a safe place to land. Somewhere where they are offered an opportunity to grow and to find security while experiencing life within a family, as crazy as we are. We really try to treat our foster children like our own as much as possible. It is hard when our foster kids have severe behavior issues that make it hard for us to function as a family. Seems like many of our placements that have come from meth homes have been that way.

When we talked to our licensing worker we told her that we were aware that we had other children in the home and our intent is to ensure their safety first. We are not in a position to accept children with severe behavior issues no longer. Yes, children as young as 3, 4 and 5 can come with such behavior issues that they should not be around young children Benjamin's age. They can be violent, act out sexually, destroy property, lie, manipulate, and blame others for their actions. They can make false allegations and put your family in harms way. Get them older and they may even call the police and make allegations. Scary isn't it?

Before we had Benjamin we were willing to accept children with many different issues. However, we do now have Benjamin. We have decided that we will no longer take children 3 and older. Our experiences over the last few months have shown us that even 3 and 4 year olds may have behaviors that are not safe for our son to be around. It is really sad that by that age they have already learned some very destructive behaviors.

Sometimes the cost of fostering is not financial. It can be emotional on so many different levels. Yes, there are the kids that you get attached to, the ones that break your heart when they leave. But there can also be the kids that you are relieved when they leave. When their path of destruction is so severe that you wonder if you are even doing the right thing. Then there may even be a level of guilt because you realize that you can't help all the children who come into your home. Because isn't that what you signed up for, to help the children. Then you learn to truth in the statement that love does not heal everything. You learn that, your close friends may have seen that or they may judge you for having a child moved. Acquaintances may judge you as well, it is amazing how many people will line up to judge you. Funny, those aren't the ones who will stand beside you, they stand back and watch for any sign of failure not understanding what all you have gone through. For me my biggest support has been those foster/adoptive parents who have given it their all and know what you are dealing with firsthand.

This has taken me back to why I started my blog in the first place. To educate those who are considering adopting or fostering. Perhaps even to educate those who might want to support someone else who is going through the process. I don't intend to push people away from fostering because we truly need foster parents right now. It is bad out there, so many parents are choosing not to parent. However, you really need to know what you are stepping into so that you are prepared.

When we started our journey most of the blogs I read were the ones where everything was rosy. That was a time when we were going through some of our greatest challenges. I knew we couldn't be alone. Not all of our experiences have been negative, we have seen some fantastic growth in some of our kids and we are heartbroken that others struggle to heal. In the end I guess we have roses with some thorns thrown. Real life.

Moved

First the 4 year old was moved to a therapeutic home and now the 5 year old has been moved to a therapeutic home as well. It was such a frustrating placement. We knew from the very beginning that they had attachment issues as well as other things going on. I messaged their social worker often explaining the issues. Our local DSS got me an appointment with mental health but they were useless. They didn't even give them a proper evaluation. They really needed to have a developmental evaluation. Someone really needed to listen to me! It is so frustrating when they don't listen to me. For that reason we are no longer taking any placements out of our county. The workers in this county seem to have a level of trust in us and our opinions.

After the 4 year old was moved the social worker called me and seemed surprised that the new foster mom was reporting the same behaviors that I had discussed with her for months. It wasn't until an emergency happened that they took action.

I continued to express my concerns with the 5 year old. Well, she finally found the behavior that I couldn't stand, pee. I am not talking about the bedtime peeing, the peeing to smell in bed so I am safe. No, I am talking about the you gave me a consequence so I am going to get back at you and pee on the carpet in my bedroom. She started in the closet then worked her way out. I tried not to let it show how much this bothered me. One night she was mad at me so at bedtime she went up and pulled off her underwear and peed on her bed! It was bedtime so I ignored it. I guess she figured I would clean it up. Well, I didn't, she slept on the corner of her bed. It was at that point that I decided that I had enough and I asked for her to be moved. For a week they kept telling me that they couldn't find a home willing to take her with her behaviors! I am not a therapeutic home. They finally had to move her to a therapeutic home.

She reacted just like her sister, all excited. Her social worker looked at me like seriously kids are normally crying about getting moved. I reiterated her lack of attachment and the severity. I don't even know all the times I asked for help to only be told that she was on a waiting list. We also never heard from the GAL, her advocate. I don't even know who the person is.

I think that this new concept of moving kids all over different counties is good for the children. What good does it do to get a placement if you aren't going to support the child out of county. Both girls are now in their county so I hope that they are getting what they need now. It is going to be a long road with those two, they remind me so much of Emma and Michelle.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Our Life in Pictures

We have been busy. Add homeschooling to the mix and I have been very busy.

We still take the time to go to our favorite restaurant. We typically go off hours because of your group size.





Emma was not interested in pictures.


Sarah and I tried out some hair dye. I have never dyed my hair before.



I have been rock paining some evenings when I am not too tired.


What else do you do with a pair of stained jeans? 


Benjamin wanted something painted on his pants.





Vaida comes every week and we do a lot of Chik Fil A


and dance


Sometimes I cuddle on the couch and nap while Benjamin takes pictures of me.


Sometimes I see faces in rocks, a problem I know.


We have also been checking out the sales ads, Benjamin wants a blue guitar.


Paint a few Christmas rocks



Midnight runs for milk. Best time for me to shop.



Cuddle with the new kid with attachment issues.



Celebrated Veterans Day


Measured kids to find that Anthony is taller than Jason. Jason claims it isn't true and that he has grown but he hasn't been out to disprove it yet.


Sarah did a school project with rocks.





Cooking too much country fried steak.


Playing with hair.


Enjoying the fall weather


more rock painting (I have a problem)


Next....updates on foster kids. Lots to say.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Meet Up

Not long ago one of Jason's friend posted a picture of a homeless man she was trying to help. I recognized him right away as Anthony and Larissa's dad. The last time the kids met him was a few years ago so I asked them if they would like to go see him.  They said yes so I started looking for him again. When I couldn't find him in his usual places I contacted the lady who was helping him, she took him to church sometimes. We coordinated a meet up time.

The meeting went well. He was very appropriate with them and talked a long time with them about their salvation, how everything turned out and how it was God's plan. He sang to them and sang with Larissa a bit.

Larissa was more open and Anthony was very quiet. I asked him afterwards how he felt about it and he said it was good to see him.







He is telling Anthony to watch out for his sister here, haha. 


He told each of them some little stories from when they were babies. He told them to listen to their parents, believe in God, do the best that they can do in whatever they do. They visited for about an hour. Listening to him I just had to wonder how life would have been for all of them if drugs had never entered their lives. He said many very appropriate things to them, seemed to really care that they do well. Hugged me and thanked me. Told them again to listen to me. Asked if they could meet up again in a year. He cried, Larissa cried.

It was good

Halloween

This is the dance crew, they dressed up in their costumes for dance.











I have never had so much drama over costumes before. Michelle wanted me to buy her a Mad Hatter costume. She wanted a very expensive one. I told her that I don't buy expensive costumes like that, but if she digs through the garage and comes up with an idea I would help her with it and buy small accessories. She was mad, said I spent money on Larissa's costume. I explained to her that Larissa's dress was a dollar, the gloves a few dollars and everything else was scrounged up around the house. Her shawl came from the material pile and permanent markers were used to make dots. Her jewelry was her jewelry. The whiteness in her hair came from the face paint in our Halloween box. I spent less than $10 on her costume. Michelle went hunting in the garage and came out with an astronaut outfit. I decided that I would buy a helmet to go with it since I could get one for pretty cheap on Amazon. Sad thing is that helmet didn't even get to be used. Michelle decided to seriously act out the day before Halloween. It always seems to be that way.

Anthony was the cheapest of all, he wore clothing he had and I painted his face.


We had the fewest amount of trick or treaters we have ever had. We ended up going to a trunk or treat at a local church and then just to our neighbors who were looking for the kids.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Update

I know, I have not been updating well. Basically because I have been busy and if it comes to holding a child or posting, I hold a child.

Missy, our 5 yeat old is doing well. Interesting to me is that she had some regression when the newest foster kid came here. She has since come back to her improved behaviors. Still she does not speak of her sister or her parents. She doesn't miss them and when asked about her sister she is fine with the separation. It is sad to see the lack of attachment to anyone. Her case has some complications so I have no idea where it stands. We haven't heard from her GAL yet but assume I will get a call before the next court date. Yesterday was the last day of the month and her social worker hadn't visited yet so I wasn't surprised when she texted me that she was going to the school to see Missy. I knew she had a 2 hour drive so I told her if she ran late she could come to the house. She did get to the school for a few minutes and then ran by the house to talk with me and get her Christmas wish list.

Fifi, my 2 1/2 year old is settling in. Babynet came by and evaluated her and said that she didn't qualify for speech services.  Because of funding they now only work with kids with severe delays, not moderate. Really quite sad because we don't understand most of what she says. I have a friend who is a retired speech pathologist and she has offered to come to the house and work with her. She came yesterday to assess her and will come weekly to work with her. ENT recognized her speech delays and that along with her ear infections and failed hearing test means they want to put tubes in her ears and take out her adenoids. We are currently waiting on the mom, she has to go up there to sign a consent form. Her attachment, or lack of it is quite obvious. Every woman who comes to our door is suddenly her mom and she is all over them and trying to sit in their laps. That is a work in progress. Her case is still too early to determine. Looking for family members.

The baby is still here. He is attached to us and cries when others want to hold him. He does have an aunt in another state who is currently doing a homestudy to get him. This seems to be a viable option so it is possible that he will move out of state in a few months. That process is slow. Honestly, if she will get him I would like for it to happen as soon as possible for his sake. He needs to be attaching to his family. We all are in love with him but have always felt that he isn't staying. It will be bittersweet when he leaves.

So my time is taken up with mother duties. I am homeschooling Larissa, I simply sit and watch TV to hold Fifi (I don't normally watch much TV) and Benjamin wants me to be in with him at night as he falls asleep. For me I continue to do rock paintings as I can. So, guess what my house looks like!? Yea, you can imagine. I just don't have that neatness gene.

Monday, October 23, 2017

One Week

A lot has happened in the last week. One week ago I went and sat at the DSS office. Over the weekend I was sent a message by one of my facebook friends asking if we had an opening for a foster child. She said someone was going to relinquish a child (non family member that she had through DSS family services) and she really wanted the child placed in my home. I told her to give them my name and if they called I would take her.

DSS did call me and asked me to be at DSS at 4:30, the child was to be brought in at that time. I was at the office but then had to wait for the police. The police weren't very keen on having the child come into care. The lady had to write that she could not take care of the child. Apparently they normally do this through court. The police took down my information and did sign whatever they needed to. This type of situation is foreign to me. Apparently her mother is in the hospital and this lady could no longer care for the child. I had Benjamin with me and he held her hand and walked her to the car telling her that she was going to spend the night at our house. He buckled her in and talked to her. She didn't cry a tear, an actual warning sign to me. The next day they did take the case to court, she is officially our foster child.

Immediately I recognized that she had a speech problem, I can't understand her at all. I talked with Babynet they next day and they fought with me about having them come out and doing an assessment. After talking with others I understand that this is a problem in our area, getting early intervention services. I wasn't willing to relent, they are coming out this week to evaluate her. She turns 3 in March so really they won't have much time before the school system kicks in.

The child also does not know who is mom. She calls everyone mom and goes to all women. She is pickier about men. She has not cried for her caregiver, mom or anyone else. That seems to be an ongoing problem these days, no attachments to anyone.

So we are full. We have a 6 month old from a county about an hour away, a 2 year old from our county and a 5 year old from a county 2 1/2 hours away. Three different social workers, three different GAL's (although I havent' met the 5 year olds one yet), three different court systems. It is a mess!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Our Shortest Placement

We just had the strangest, shortest placement. DSS called and asked us to take a 12 year old. They were having a hard time placing her based on her age and transgender orientation. We said we would take her. We had no idea that this would become one of our shortest placements.

She wanted to go up to her room and I could understand her need to process her day. Little did I know why she went upstairs. A little bit later a cop showed up at my door. He wanted to talk with me and her. We went out on the porch. Privacy is hard around here, Benjamin and other kids kept checking in with me and heading back in. She told us that she didn't feel safe in the house and that she found a white powdery substance in the bathroom. I was shocked. The cop looked at me, I looked at him, I said that she has been in my home less than 2 hours and obviously doesn't want to stay there. He told her to take it up with DSS and left.

We went inside and I called DSS to tell them what happened and to come get her because she is serious about not staying with us. This is all after hours so finding people in another county was a challenge. She said she was sorry but she just didn't feel safe and our neighborhood is sketchy. She really wanted to be with her nephew who went to a different home. She wanted to be with her family. I told her that I understood but this was not going to get her with either person. All she had to do was tell me she really wanted to leave, calling the police was not necessary.

DSS tried to convince me to let her stay until they found another placement. I said no, that I didn't trust her in my home and don't feel comfortable. After a few hours they came and got her.

What a crazy day. I feel bad for her, she did not want to be in care but had no choice. I imagine that she went to a group home.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Document

The written word, much more important than the spoken word when it comes to DSS and our children. When our child was taken for a new forensic interview and moved to a therapeutic home the activity was reported to OHAN (Out of Home Abuse and Neglect) per protocol. Abuse and neglect do happen in foster homes and group homes all the time. 

The girls have gone through several workers in the short time I have had them. My main communication has been through texting. On occasion I call and talk with them but I always make sure that behaviors are written down. I reported all behaviors for both girls to each worker. When you look back you can see that the behaviors that they pulled little miss for where similar behaviors that I have been reporting all the time, just escalated as she has gotten more comfortable in our home. I also copied my messages to my licensing worker.


I have always done this and this is the first time that I have needed that back up. If I had never written about my concerns with some behaviors that might have seemed minor then, it is very possible that we would be under investigation at this time. However, after a review of all the correspondence OHAN has closed the case without even calling me.


So to all you foster/adoptive parents out there; document, document, document.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Changes

The girls got a new social worker. Wow, this one listens. This one takes action. One child had a new forensic interview based on my reporting. It all happened so fast. Wednesday I texted the social worker about an ongoing issue, Wednesday afternoon she told me that they were going to move her to a therapeutic home but had to have an evaluation first. So she planned on getting her on Friday. Thursday I spent most of the day looking for clothing, I found three pairs of matched socks, many unmatched ones.

Such is this child's level of attachment that she was delighted to go with the worker to a new home. Her sister hasn't even mentioned her, such is her level of attachments. I have mentioned that they have no attachments. This social worker gets it, she says that they don't seem to care if they see their parents or not and don't mind leaving. I told her that this is my first foster kids who walk in the door after a visit and have no behavior changes. It was as though they had just taken a walk down the street.

I think I was more upset about her leaving, I knew it had to happen but I hate breaking up siblings. Not sure where this will lead to in the future but I think it is going to be a long term case. It is truly amazing how much quieter my house is with one less child in it!

Itty Bitty......I couldn't make it to the foster care review board. I texted the GAL and told her. She thanked me for reminding her because she had forgotten. She called me after the meeting to catch me up and to ask the question. Would you be an adoptive resource?  No, this doesn't mean the case is going towards adoption, they have 15 months to work their plan. It does mean that the GAL heard some things that lead her in a certain way. This will be a long case as well. It feels as though less and less kids are able to go home. Things are brutal out there.

Neurologist

We travelled to Charleston to see the new neurologist. Before I went I requested her medical records from her previous neurologist.

The new neurologist looked at her records and stated that there was no way that was all her records, that they were incomplete. They didn't have all of her sleep studies in there. He asked me when she had them done. Well, I don't remember! I pulled up my blog and put sleep in the search bar and up they came. How convenient.


Sleepy, her current status.


He wants all of her records before he decides how to proceed so I signed a bunch of forms so they could get them directly from the hospitals and off we went. He said he would call me in a week to discuss a plan of action. Thank goodness he is willing to do phone consultations!

We were able to have a nice lunch together.


Larissa slept on the way there and on the way home. It was a quiet drive.


I am working on patience. In the meantime she is on her same medication. I think it needs changed though, her dizziness is increasing.