Thursday, April 30, 2015

Adventures In Toddler Bed Land

So...this happened...

For clueless childless folks that don't understand what I am getting at with this picture...there are only three sides on that crib.


Just kidding.  Remember when I wrote in a blog post on day two of having the kids that they "might be the best sleeping foster kids in the state of Texas"?  It's true.  Except for some crazy months of ridiculous nights when I seemed to spend more time in Sister's room than in my own, our kids sleep like champs.  So much so that I had the following conversation with my friend Steph prior to her bachelorette party recently, concerning me and Tammy, the only moms attending and therefore getting a break from our kids:

Steph: I think you and Tammy will be the only women to ever leave a bachelorette party feeling rested and refreshed.
Me:'re talking to the lady whose kids go to bed promptly at 7:30 and don't wake up until...the next 7:30.

But here's the thing.  Our son learned how to climb out of his crib.  And being the independent, orderly boy that he is, he would toodle around in his room by himself, completely content to poke around in his closet or stare out the window at dusk.  There was just one problem.  When he wanted to actually finally go to sleep...he couldn't get back into his bed.  Now, he had the forethought (did I mention he is an orderly little boy?) to toss his pillow and blanket out of his bed each time before flinging himself over the railing, and rather than holler for mom or dad, he would resign himself to making a nest somewhere in his room when he actually tired of toodling.

We would listen for him to quiet down, then go into his room and put him back in bed for the night.  We'd find him curled up in the closet, in the tiny space between the end of his crib and the wall, or smack in the middle of the floor.  At this point I will remind you that there is actually a whole twin bed in his room as well that he could have easily curled up on, but, hey, creature of habit.

So we took the front of his crib off, with some trepidation and uncertainty.  Unmerited.  It has been a dream and he has rocked his new independence.  Sometimes we hear him get up and poke around.  Sometimes we peek in to find him standing at the window staring out.  Then all becomes quiet and we know he crawled into his familiar bed and went nigh nigh.  Even at nap time, he especially clunks around in there and at some point becomes quiet.  Later we hear the clunking begin again and wonder just how long his solitary contentedness will last before he starts hollering for us to open his door. It is surprisingly long.

Buddy boy is growing up!

P.S. For any worry warts out there, we okayed it with his caseworker that he can be in there alone with the door shut for logical periods of time, and there's nothing in his room that he can destroy or get hurt by.  Well nothing he can destroy any more...we learned that lesson the hard way with some ill placed baby powder...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Case [Not] Closed

I have become wary of the courtroom where we go for our CPS hearings.  It's an unassuming place, part of the local juvenile detention center.  The guard at the door looks bored as you walk through the metal detector, a contradiction to the fluttering, heightened emotions of birth parents, foster parents and other invested or overworked players entering the building.  The blah rows of gray chairs in the waiting area don't do a dang thing to offer privacy to the huddled confidential conversations happening outside the courtroom between parents, foster parents, caseworkers, attorneys...

And you never know what is going to happen inside that courtroom.  Even if you know what is supposed to happen, you don't know if it will actually happen or end up postponed and delayed.

In early December we expected the judge to tell our whole case to move in the direction of mediation and relinquishment, but then our kids' first mom ended up relinquishing her rights that day.

In early January, we expected to show up to sign the Mediated Settlement Agreement outlining post-adoption contact (more on that later) and have it approved by the court, but it was not even written yet, so we were postponed a week.

The next week, we expected to show up and take care of that, but, even though the document was written, it had not yet been signed by the kids' mom, who was not present.  We turned to "believe it when we see it" mode and somewhere in the following interim, the document was brought to our house for us to sign and was approved in court.  We didn't show up for that one.

At the end of March, we expected the parental rights of one of the kids' dads to be terminated based on sufficient period of nonresponse from him. That is literally the only thing left between us and an adoption.  We passed by the bored metal detector guy, sat in the blah gray chairs, pretended not to hear confidential conversations happening all around us, then entered the courtroom and waited our turn...only to hear attorneys tell the judge "we just need a postponement."    We were shocked.  The kids' caseworker was shocked.  We were angry.  I fought tears.  What the hell happened to termination and moving to adoption?!?

At the time, all we learned was that the one administrative task needed to properly terminate this dad's rights even with him not around to have a say, was not done.  It's a task that involves a waiting period of almost two months, so it's not something quickly corrected.  We have since found out that the District Attorney's office decided to try one more time to locate him and alert him to the CPS case via mail, or "serve" him, which was unsuccessful.  So now we must wait for them to carry out "service by publication", an outdated sounding practice where they basically post ads in newspapers where they think the person is that pretty much say "Hey, if your name is so-and-so and you think you have a child born on such-and-such date, you are party to a CPS case in this-n-that county.  If you are interested in this child, please contact so-and-so."   If the person is not heard from in a certain number of days, CPS can say "we tried" and the parent's rights can be terminated even though they may have no clue.

So.  Yeah.  Blah blah blah.  We thought we were waiting out that certain number of days in February and March, but apparently we weren't.   So it starts over now.  The court hearing to accomplish what was supposed to be accomplished March 31st is now going to take place mid July.  Our adoption that we thought would happen probably in May will now take place more like September.  Or sometime.

How do we feel about this?

Eh.  We're kind of resigned to it by this point, a month later, but at the time, we were shocked, then confused, then angry, then sad.  Then I cried on my way back to work, which apparently is just part of court days it seems since they've all been intense since December. Our babies don't know a thing about all this going on, but if this was a couple of ten or eleven year olds who thought adoption season was about to begin, they would be crushed.  I posted something sarcastic and angsty on facebook about drowning our sorrows and Uncle Joey made the best point of the day and set me (mostly) at ease.

"No sorrows.  They didn't stop calling you mama today."

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Takeaways & Tidbits Vol. 12

Make A Difference Monday: Tips For The First Night And First Week Of A New Foster Placement at The Forgotten Initiative 
Oh hey, that's me!


It's about avoiding one of the great modern-day financial pitfalls: allowing your expenses to rise to meet or even exceed your income.  It's about establishing a permanent standard of living, one that's both comfortable and affordable, rather than constantly chasing an escalating standard of living.  It's about not becoming dependent on a salary and lifestyle that might be unsustainable or, in the end, unsatisfying.   ...  Living within your means is only common sense, but drawing a line in the sand early in life - establishing a permanent standard of living for yourself and your family when you're still relatively young - is truly a life-changing power play.  Refusing to become dependent on an escalating lifestyle and income is one of the most valuable financial assets you can have, and it doesn't cost you a dime.  Whether it's forty thousand dollars a year or some other amount, or whether it's your lifestyle at age thirty or some other age, the important thing is to slay your Enoughasaurus by establishing a limit and sticking to it. 

The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map To True Riches: A Practical (and Fun) Guide to Enjoying Life More by Spending Less by Jeff Yeager


Me:  We just roll with you people's punches. :-)
Our social worker: As long as you aren't throwing punches.
Me:  No ma'am.  Only fist bumps. Lots of those.


After nap time...

Me: Good job sleeping!
Our son: Yep, I did it!


After a week when I was at the office a whoooole lot...

Me: I felt like a bad, distant mother last week.
Kristin: It can't really be helped. Well, I suppose y'all could be homeless.


Kristin: My Dove chocolate wrapper says "Daydream."  No chocolate! It is tax season! I don't need to do that!
Me: You need one that says "focus damn it!"
Kristin: Seriously.


Trent: I'm tired of reading about Niceao Chalcedonean Christology.
Me: That is too many words for 9:38 pm.
Trent: That is only three words.
Me: Yeah but they are big words.


Kristin:  Maybe you can do that when you are retired.
Me: Nope, I'll be too busy riding my Honda Rebel.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Hardest Part of Foster Care - Guest Post From Ashley

You may recall our friends John and Ashley, who have followed our foster care lead, been sweet friends as we journey together and burned up the text message universe with me about caseworkers, licensing, logistics, struggles and general foster care craziness.  Well, in way less time than it has taken for us to find out we are adopting our first ever foster placement, they have had four kids come and go from their home, including one respite placement. Four hellos and four goodbyes. Their emotional journey so far has squeezed them, crushed them, challenged them and strengthened them.  Many would bail after the experiences they have had, but they are determined to press on, for the sake of the children in this messed up system.  I applaud their perseverance and I'm so grateful for their camaraderie. Here are some of Ashley's own words, reproduced here with her permission, posted originally on their blog shortly after their most recent placement was plucked out of their home with little warning.


Foster Care is not easy, and no one said it would be. I think some assumed John and I were naive to this fact, but we weren't. Remember 9+ months of training. We knew it was hard. But the hardest part........

It isn't being handed a crying shaking confused child while your social worker wished you luck

It isn't being handed a child with only the clothes on their back

It isn't holding the child who won't stop crying because he is in a new scary place

It isn't watching your child be uncomfortable for weeks, because of their new environment causing them to be fussy and/or looking uninterested

It isn't all the doctors' appointments

It isn't trying to schedule all those appointments, considering your work schedule, your husband's work and school schedule; while the doctors and specialists couldn't care less about all those things

It isn't dealing with insurance

It isn't waking up 10 times in the middle of the night or sleeping in their room because they are scared and haven't adjusted to their new environment

It isn't the dealing with the aftermath of parent visits

It isn't dealing with various people coming into your home, constantly making sure you are a "suitable" parent

It isn't daycare telling you the odd things they notice

It isn't people staring and asking random (and sometimes inappropriate) questions because your kid is obviously a different ethnicity

It isn't worrying and trying to give your child all the experiences they need and deserve so they can catch up developmentally

It isn't learning their personalities and all the little tricks you can do to keep your child happy and calm

It isn't the slight panicking every time you take your child somewhere new because you have learned they have anxiety and these situations make it hard on them

It isn't trying to juggle discipline, understanding various behaviors because this is a a child from a hard place vs development

It isn't numerous people watching you 

It isn't the crazy questions you get about your fertility when people find out you are fostering

It isn't the trying to juggle what to pack and not pack in the weekend parent visit bag, because you don't want to offend the parent, but you want your child to have everything he needs for a wonderful weekend

It isn't knowing your child has become comfortable with you, but would still choose his biological parent if given the choice

The hardest, worst part is packing up and watching a child you love with all your heart leave your home, going to a place you may never know is truly ready and good enough for him. 

We can do our best as foster parents. We love these kids with everything we have. John and I truly love as if they are our own kids knowing full well they are going home. But we never know if these families have really done everything they can, if they are really prepared, if they won't relapse and end up in the same situation that caused them to have their kids placed in foster care. These families are from hard places and unfortunately that is always the situation they face. We have to watch these kids go back and pray like hell it works out for everyone without ever knowing the outcome. 

It is the hardest thing John and I have ever had to go through.

Monday, April 20, 2015

My Little Blog, How I Have Missed You

Oh, hi there.  I'm back among the living again.  Well, mostly.  I'm probably going to post this then go to bed before 9 pm because one does not recover quickly from a tax season like thissa one with 92 (ninety-two) hours clocked in the final week of it.   But hey.  I did my best and I survived.   I was a terrible mother who barely saw her kids for three weeks but, shocker, they still love me.   I was a ghost of a resident in our house, coming and going in darkness, but now I'm back.  

I took two days off, washed my van (did you know it is actually red??), made a dent in cleaning our house, wore out my washer and dryer, paid a lot of dollars for a haircut, refrained from wearing makeup and actually hung out with my kids and husband for once.  

I also had breakfast at Cracker Barrel with Kristin because we had the following conversation many, many times during tax season, while stuck in our cubes:

Kristin: Omg, all I want in life right now is Cracker Barrel pancakes.
Me:   Shut up. 

So we got ourselves some freakin pancakes on April 16th. 


I decided in February that I wanted to be a real blogger.  That was a ridiculous time to decide such a thing and of course it got back burnered along with the rest of life for 2.5 months.   Then this weekend someone told me "I want your writing to go viral" and I said "So do I" and then the wedding reception we were seated at literally blew away in a storm so that was sadly the end of that conversation.   

All that to say, I'm back.  And bear with me.   As I catch things up around here, all the way from buying a sofa to our CPS case getting derailed. As I stumble about trying to make my blog look legit.  As I try out ways to put myself out there.  As I get to know the writer in me once again.  She got stuck in a broom closet for a while hollering to get out but five bajillion tax returns were blocking the door.