A 7 Year Old’s Insight

Mary has completely turned her behavior around.  We started a pretty neat reward chart for her, and she gets cool stickers on the chart when she completes the task.  Thing like brushing her teeth and washing her face twice a day, tidying her room and making her bed, cleaning her station after dinner, and listening to the adults in her life.  Going on 2 weeks now and she hasn’t missed a sticker.  It has a section that says “Things to Work On This Week”.  Usually we try to keep it positive, like instead of saying “not lying”, we say, “always tell the truth”.  Instead of saying “not being rude and fresh” we say, ” Having a positive attitude every day”.  Every week there is a “prize” or a privilege that she has gained back.  Last week, she got to attend my nieces pool party, and have chips and cake and candy, and hang out with all of her cousins.  She had a blast!  What does she say in the car on her way home?  “It’s fun to have my privileges back!”

This week, she was allowed to ride her scooter, and last night at the outdoor concert, she had ice cream for the FIRST TIME this summer!  Yeah, we’re evil!  Whatever!  When she wasn’t brushing her teeth everyday, we refused to help her rot her teeth out, so last night, she ate that ice cream so fast, mmmmming, and ahhhhing for 15 minutes!  This week, her prize?  Family Movie night!  It used to be our every Friday night weekly routine.  We would be showered and pj’d by 7:30, all on the couch with hot chocolate and our own private bowl of popcorn.  We would let Mary pick her favorite movie, all get cozy under the blanket, and have 1.5+ hours of silence, while we all cuddled and watched together (usually something Callie and I loved when we were younger and wanted to introduce to Mary like “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” or “Teenwitch” or “Ferngully”).  Then we would have her wash her face, brush her teeth, and both Callie and I would tuck her into bed.  This hasn’t happened since June.  You have NO IDEA how excited this kid is about Family Movie night!

I think this reward system is really working.  I think that she can see what she has done and has something tangible, like seeing 7 stickers on her board at the end of the day.  Also, it’s helping to teach her multiplication!  She’s also been a lot better behaved and a little calmer, and I think the fact that we are giving her back her privileges incrementally gives her something to work towards.  She still doesn’t have her electronics privilege back (TV time, iPad time, and computer time), but this Friday will be the first day she has seen TV (aside from sneaking it in for a few minutes at my parents) since the beginning of July. We’ll slowly add 30 minutes of TV a day after school to unwind before she has to start homework.  HOLY CRAP!  In 6 days, I will have a second grader!  That’s just wild!

I’m also wondering if Mary not seeing her mom for over a month could also be helping in her feeling safe and secure again.  The therapist said that she feels (because she has seen it in other cases) that Mary acts out because she actually LIKES being in trouble.  Well, not likes likes, but that when she was with her mother she always had to play the adult.  She always felt like she had to take care of her mother (she still says it now…”If you adopt me, then who is gonna take care of mom when she is older?”), so us reprimanding her and “putting her in trouble” makes her feel like a child in turn making her feel safe.  (Psychology is so interesting and totally not black and white at all!)  And also, you know, attention. So we have changed all of the negative attention to positive attention, and when she does something that we don’t necessarily like, instead of going berserk, we just redirect and try out best to ignore the negative behavior.

Yesterday, Mary and Callie were home and having a conversation.  Mary came out of her room saying, “I have a lot of feelings today..” so Callie asked her if she wanted to write them down, or if she wanted to talk about them.  Mary wanted to talk about them.  Mary’s mom is pregnant (well, was pregnant), and she was due on Aug 29th.  Mary doesn’t know that mom had the baby because we haven’t told her yet.  The main reason is, mom knew they were going to remove the baby and was supposed to call the case worker when she went to the hospital to give birth.  She never did.  She gave birth 2 weeks ago, and didn’t let the worker know until last Wednesday, via EMAIL, and gave them 2 addresses where she could possibly be, and hasn’t been at either for the past 2 weeks.  They have a private investigator looking for her.  So, we have no answers for the hundred questions Mary will ask.  We can’t say “I don’t know” to everything.  So when she was talking to Callie, she was asking about her mom.  Where is she?  Is she going to show up to the next visit?  Is the baby born yet?  Where is the baby if she IS born?  And the main emotion she was feeling?  Fear!  She is scared that her mother is going to run away with the baby (go figure!) and that no one will find her.  She wanted to know if mom was still making bad choices, and that she was worried that her sister wouldn’t be safe.  She was scared that her sister would learn to make bad choices too and maybe go to jail when she is older.  She was petrified that her sister would be taken away and go to another foster family.  She mentioned that she wished her sister could come live with us so that we can teach her “the right thing like you are teaching me!  So she could learn to be a good girl and make good choices and not bad ones.”  She is still being the adult, worrying about the choices that her mom will make and the consequences that follow.  This kid hangs on to that so tightly!

What really amazed me was that Mary is really and truly processing her life.  She understands that her mom isn’t bad, or a bad person, and honestly not even a negligent asshole of a parent.  She’s just a young girl who has made some really bad choices and is suffering the consequences.  She loves her mom, and we tell her that all the time.  We encourage her to draw and write and think about her mom, and we never say anything bad about her. Mary is making these distinctions on her own.  She knows mom makes bad choices and that those bad choices lead to mom’s privileges being taken away.  I think she is really making the correlation now.  And the more Mary grows and understands the world, the more I am in awe of the little woman she is becoming; pondering, processing, and persevering….

TPR Hearing #1 and 12 Weeks!!!


So yesterday was our first hearing for the termination of Mary’s mom’s parental rights.  It was, well…interesting I suppose.  We showed up at 1:45pm for a 2pm hearing.  We were hanging out and talking to another foster mom that we are great friends with who had a permanency hearing that day, and also to out Caseworker K and her attorney about what this court date would entail.  A whole lot of nothing was the short answer.  And for the most part, they were right!

We get called in at around 2:45. It was the caseworker K, her attorney, Mary’s mom, her new attorney (the one she had before fired her! Imagine!?!), her sister (LAWD!  There are too many and also not enough words in the English and Latin based languages to describe that tragic mess woman), their friend (who the hell brings a friend to the beginnings of a court case determining whether you keep your child or not!?! Seriously, who does that?!), Mary’s lawyer, Callie, and myself.  Also in the room, the judge (she’s NO JOKE, at least that’s what we hear from everyone…totally no nonsense judge) and the stenographer.  They call the case number, and ask everyone to list their names, and the relationship to the child or the respondent.  Mary’s mom is asked to give her full name, address, and a telephone number by the judge, which she sort of mumbles under her breath.  The caseworkers attorney says that it’s just a mailing address and that she doesn’t have a residence on file.  “You need to understand Ms. C****, that in order for the department to get pertinent information to you, you MUST provide a telephone number and address that will allow them to be able to contact you,” says the judge.  Mary’s mom straightens up, claims to be living with her new baby daddy, and states the new address.  She also states a new phone number and pens go flying to jot down all this new information that they have been trying to get from her for months.

The judge’s next question was if the parents have both been served. Since Mary’s father signed an affidavit when she first went into care stating that he basically didn’t want that responsibility, he only had to be served a notice that they were having the hearing, and they had tried to get it to him 5 times.  Since they were unable to, the judge stated it was ok to serve him via mail.  So that’s getting sent out.  Since Mary’s mom had never provided the address to where she is residing, they served her, right there, in court!  Callie and I nudged each other (somehow both knowing it was silent laughter!).  Then they spoke to Mary’s lawyer for a second and asked him he had spoken to her, to which he replied that he had and that she stated that she missed her mom and wanted to see her more often, but that she wanted to live with us.  **He spoke to her last Thursday after I had called him (he hasn’t spoken to her since about a month after she moved in with us) to makes sure that he was representing her and what she wanted.  He spoke to her and asked her a ton of questions, and she responded with wanting to live with us, but that she loves her mom, so he stated that in court**  At this point, mom and the aunt made this ridiculously annoying face as if this was news to them!  PssshhH!!! Girl, bye, ok!?  They’ve known this!  At some point the judge asked why they were pushing for termination, and the caseworkers attorney stated that mom has been inconsistent in the past year (something like 5 visits out of 20 since January), failing to turn up for drug tests, and not completing the requirements set forth by the court since the beginning of Mary going into care.  Here goes mom’s attorney! “As you can see, my client is visibly very pregnant and has been on bed rest for a high risk pregnancy the past 4-5 months.”  The 4 of us (Callie, myself, K and her attorney) looked at her incredulously. C’MON LADY!  It’s been a month, 2 at the most, and what about the other 18 months that Mary has been in our care?

To make the shenanigans that went down, a long story short, Mary’s attorney stated that he thought it would be in her best interest if we tried to settle on a conditional surrender (parent signing over their rights with conditions, like visitation and photographs).  Mom has always said that she would never sign her rights over.  So we’ll wait and see.  In the meantime, we go back to court in November, and Callie and I will have decided what we are willing to give her.  It’s tough because we know Mary loves her mom and loves spending time with her, but we also know that her seeing her mom is so detrimental to her.  She gets loads of anxiety and has verbalized that she is scared that she will have to go back with mom.  So we left court with no real indication of which way this case would go.  The good thing is that once we get down to the disposition portion of the trail, we will be allowed to have a lawyer and fight for Mary.  We are SO ready for that part.  And what was moms reaction to all of this?  Having her hot mess whore of a sister fight for custody in case the do end up terminating her rights!!!  BA! Yeah, OKAY!

What’s the most we would consider for a conditional surrender?  2 visits per year (not Christmas or Christmas Ever, New Years or New Years Eve, Thanksgiving, Mary’s birthday, Mother’s Day or Other’s Day (traditional fathers day and usually my birthday) and quarterly pictures.  Any other visits or pictures are at our discretion.  Also, if she shows up to visits and is even mildly intoxicated or high, no visit will happen.  If she misses two consecutive visits, we end the visits all together permanently!  We know she probably won’t agree to that, and that’s ok, but we aren’t bending on that.  And the truth is, if we take the case all the way to the end, chances are very likely that they will terminate her rights, and we will “win” to adopt Mary, and she won’t have to get anything, and that’s the best case scenario for us.  So yeah, court was court and it was not much of anything, and now there is another hearing in November that we are anxious to get to.


I really can’t believe we are at the 12 week mark already!  Seriously, it’s going super fast.  More than a quarter of the way done with this pregnancy. I always consider doing one of the pregnancy survey things, but then I’m always like, nah!  So I figured I’d just update you my own way and create my own sorta survey, if you will….

How I’m Feeling this Week: EXHAUSTED! Like, super exhausted.  Every time I mention going into our room for something Callie says, “To take a nap right?!”  Perrrr..hapssss…

How Big is Biscuit: Well, about the size of a half eaten corn dog!  YUM!  That sounds amazing!  Gotta get me one of those!  Or the size of a small measuring tape or the size of a lime.

Baby Bump News?:  So, I’m not showing AT ALL, but my mons pubis is starting to mesh with my muffin top, so there ya have it!  Fluffy piece meet, well, other fluffy piece!  You’re welcome!  Pants are a little tighter and I have used a pants extender about 3 times now:

Frequency of Everything:  I’m one of those people who can go a whole day at an amusement park without using the toilet once, despite the fact that I have downed about 120oz of soda!  Now, I can barely go an hour without running to the restroom. Meeting my Fitbit goals much sooner!  Also, I have been eating every 2-3 hours, but find myself snacking much more in between.

Sleep:  Yeah, still have as much of that as you can have with two 7 month old buddies, one of which is teething, and waking up once a night besides that to go to the bathroom!

Food Loves/Hates:  If there is any piece of lettuce around me, get that ish the hell away from me!!!  For whatever reason, I can’t even look at it!  Not that it makes me sick or anything, but the consistency and the texture and the taste just haven’t been kind to me these past 2 weeks.  And I know it sucks but if I have to have another 835471216461oz’s  of water, I might just have to kill someone.  Still absolutely loving ice!  It’s just so good once it hits your lips!  Also, PB&J.  I’ve had one at like 11pm every night this week.  I will wake up from a dead sleep and say, “OOHHH!  Peanut Butter and Jelly”  in my Homer Simpson voice…

Symptoms:  Nothing yet besides the tiredness. Thankfully all that nausea has gone away, and I’m just getting through every work day hoping my boss doesn’t catch me dosing.

Next Scan:  Our NT Scan is on 8/27, and we can’t WAIT to see Biscuit.  It’s not easy waiting for these once a month appointments!  We were spoiled (if that’s what you want to call it) seeing the boys almost weekly for most of Callie’s pregnancy.  We have tried to hear her (I’ll keep calling her her because I can’t help but feel like we have a little lady on our hands!) with our doppler, but there is just so much stuff going on in there, that it’s hard to hear.  Or maybe it just can’t penetrate the 4 layers of my winter blubber that I haven’t shed yet.  Who knows!  But we’re excited to see her and rule out any of the “bad” stuff.  Still not sure if we want to find out the gender.  Leaning towards no, but the excitement of knowing and connecting to Biscuit sure is driving me in the other direction!

Sex:  Yes please!  Thanks to Meredith over at Counting Chickens, Callie and I have started re-watching the entire series, and there is something about 2-3 lesbian sex scenes per hour that can sorta get things going…so thanks for that friend!

Overall Feelings:  It’s been a pretty emotionally draining month, with my sisters wedding, Aunt Brit passing, Mary being a royal pain in the arse, teething babies, sleep deprivation, and Termination Hearing, i’ve been feeling just that!  DRAINED.  Also, I absolutely hate the summer, so being uncomfortable and the 90+ degree heat for weeks at a time, and I’m just ready for Autumn.  For Marcos’ foot to heal so we can go on a few hikes before I get too big and it gets too cold.  For Mary to start school and soccer (I’ll be coaching her team in all my pregnant splendor!).  For Biscuit to be safe and to let me feel her.  For babies to be more mobile (I’m sure I’ll regret this statement as soon as they are).  For everything to just slow down for a little while!  I’m happy as shit, but just so tired and need a little break.  I’ll be so excited when we go on our Babymoon/5 year anniversary/1 year wedding anniversary trip.  Planning is officially in full effect!

Something I Didn’t Expect:  Holy Crap!  The amount of stomach cramping!  So, at first, I was all concerned because I was like, “This can’t be normal!  Something is wrong!”  But Callie thought it might be gas.  So I sneaked off (turns out “snuck” is not even a real word! WTF!?!) to the bathroom, waited until there was no one in there, and let out the MOTHER of all farts!  I kid you not!  Even I had to look around and say, “WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT!!!”  Sure enough, relief!  Now, I let them out everywhere (except my work desk).  I walk through Grand Central Terminal and just, let them rip!  IN bed?  Yup, you guessed it!  At my mother’s house while everyone is eating dinner! Can’t stop me now!!

Almost out of the first trimester.  Let’s go Biscuit!  Keep on growing little one!

Dolls, Ankle Socks, and PJ’s: A Foster Mama’s Frustration

We are having a serious issue, and I don’t know how much longer we can keep our cool.  We consider ourselves to be reasonable people.  Respectful women.  Kind folks.  When we are asked to do something (within reason) we comply.  That’s just who we are.

For weeks (months really), we have been communicating with Mary’s case worker about the amount of gifts that Mary’s mom has been giving her.  We have also spoken to the Parenting Counselor and Mary’s individual therapist as well, and all three have touched base with mom about the incessant gift giving.  They have given her the reasons as to why this could be detrimental to her development. 1) She doesn’t learn to value and appreciate things 2) When we have a reward system in place, it is difficult to discipline her if she continues to receive weekly gifts from mom (every Tuesday) and twice biweekly (every other week she sees mom Tuesdays and Thursdays).  And 3) Our apartment simply isn’t big enough to have 52 two foot dolls (one for each week of the year and those ridiculously scary looking Disney princess dolls).  All of these conversations were simply not heeded and Mary has continuously received gift after stupid freaking gift.

Finally, we had it!  With Christmas quickly approaching, we wanted to make sure that the holiday season with out family was a special one.  We normally buy gifts for each other, wrap them and promptly put them under the tree.  Not this year though.  We are teaching Mary all about the true story of Christmas, as well as the story of Old St. Nick.  We have wrapped her gifts and placed them in our closets and won’t be putting them under the tree until she is fast asleep Christmas Eve.  We decided that since mom hasn’t been listening to the workers that maybe we would reach out to her via email.  So Callie wrote her a very  nice letter explaining to her all of the above reasons as to why she should refrain from purchasing gifts, with the added, “And it’s the holiday season, so to avoid duplicate gifts, as well as making Christmas extra special for her.”  We also sent her the pictures that we took of Mary in her Christmas outfit in case her mom wanted to get cards made to send out to friends and relatives.  This was approximately a week ago.  Added to that email was a list of things that Mary doesn’t need (sneakers, short ankle socks, toys/dolls, pajamas, hats, gloves, winter jackets, t-shirts, house slippers) and things that she does need, since mom has felt so inclined to buy her things (longer winter socks, thermals, sweat suits, and winter boots).  Not that we can’t purchase those things for her, but since mom is going to buy her things every week, we might as well give her some clues for the things that she’d be better off buying.

Yesterday, when Mary returned from her visit, she came home with a bag full of stuff.  What was in the bag, you ask?  Welllll, you guessed it! Everything on the “DO NOT BUY”.  Ankle socks (It’s f*cking winter lady!), hats and gloves (last week she bought her 3 sets), house slippers (because the other 4 light up pair that she bought her obviously weren’t enough), another freaking princess pajama (because the 2 drawers full of pajamas that we have accumulated in the past 8 months certainly aren’t enough!), and a freaking Baby Alive doll that pees and poops, which we got Mary as a gift from Santa to help her in being a big sister.  That was the gift that we were most excited about.  That is the gift that we waited on freaking line for, refreshing the screen for hours on cyber monday in order to make her Christmas extra special because she wanted it so bad.  Needless to say, we were freaking PISSED!  Our case worker texted me on my way home from work to let me know that Mary’s mom had bought her a doll.  We knew it would be more than that because otherwise she wouldn’t have texted us.  We did not anticipate a bag full of crap, again, for the 4th time this month!  I let the case worker have it! When are they going to step in and tell her mom that it’s inappropriate and disrespectful to not respect the wishes of the foster family.  Does she not know that we hold all of the cards in our hands right now?  We can cancel visits when we feel like it.  We can cease all phone calls (we let Mary call mom whenever mom cancels a visit for something ridiculous like rain!).  We don’t ever have to send her another picture of Mary in a school play, or catching her first fish, or bouncing at a bouncy castle, or showing her face of wonder when capturing her first firefly ever. We have been nothing but kind to this woman, and nothing but understanding of her situation.  We speak highly of her to her daughter and encourage Mary to share her stories about her mother with us.  We have Mary write her cards and I put DVD’ together of Mary at her school functions.  We are the ideal foster parents and get blatantly disrespected like this!?!?!  How is it that we can comply and work with her and all of the multitude of requests, but our simple one is not even considered?  I can assure you, from this point on, we will be changing.  We will not be so accommodating.  It’s unfortunate, because Mary is ultimately the one who will suffer, but how do we make it clear that this behavior from mom is unacceptable?  How do we get her to understand, that her selfish behavior (the need to assert herself as “mom”) is not in her daughters best interest?  How do we explain to her that this is a partnership and that we should all be working together to do what is best for Mary?

On Tuesday, despite Mary’s tears and tantrums, we will be sending all of the stuff back (with the exception of the doll, which she loves, and makes us sad because we wanted to give it her) to her mother with a note indicating why it was all being sent back.  We will speak to the case worker and the therapist, and unless there is a valid reason as to why we will be receiving any more gifts, they are not to send Mary home with any more uselses crap unless it is pre-approved by us.  Is it a bit extreme?  Perhaps.  But we have rules in our home, and we expect them to be followed.  If Mary’s mom wants to have things handed to her by her sugar daddies and her stripper friends, so be it, but we will not be the parents that hand things to our children so that they expect everything to be handed to them in life.  They will work hard and earn them.  They will do chores for allowance, and learn the value of a dollar.  They will take pride in their achievements.  Those are the children that we will raise.  This situation has gotten out of hand!

Drama for a Foster Mama

Being a foster parent has its ups and downs.  It teaches you so many things, but also challenges you in ways that you didn’t expect or anticipate.  Take everything you learned growing up from your parents and basically, throw it out the window, because this is new.  It’s a whole new process and a new learning experience.  Lately, I have been struggling with my role as a foster mama.

I have been having a really difficult time relating and being patient with our 6 year old Mary.  I’m not sure if it’s my lack of sleep, my swing shifts at work, a new baby at home, not spending enough time as a family, Mary attention seeking (she’s been an only child her whole life and a new baby is really throwing her for a loop), Mary seeing her biological mom once a week and twice bi-weekly, or a combination of all those things.  These past 2 weeks she has been insufferable, and I have been less than my usual gentle and tolerant self.   I have to remind myself that it’s a lot of change very quickly for her and to step away and count to 10 before I lose it!

She’s very cheeky and sassy, and usually I find it to be pretty funny (I don’t laugh in her face though, I swear it.)  Lately, it has been less than funny.  It’s been downright rude and disrespectful.  She has made it her business to get the last word in even when we tell her that the conversation is over. “Mary, that’s enough thank you” “I know, but I was just saying that blah blah blah”.  “We understand honey but thank you, that’s enough” “But I was just saying that…” ” MARY! ENOUGH!” ::mumbles::”I was just saying, god!”  She blatantly disregards us and pretends not to hear us, but we know she does because she makes a slight flinch when you call her, but catches herself and turns back to what she was doing.  It’s beyond annoying because we KNOW she hears us! Lately, she has gotten into the habit of sucking her teeth if we ask her to do something and she is busy with her crafts or playing wit her dolls.  This is what we have been dealing with since they updated her visiting schedule with mom.  It’s like dealing with a teenager and she’s not even half way there yet!

The visits are a whole other problem on their own.  We consider ourselves to be pretty strict and have a strong grasp on the proper discipline of a 6 year old.  It basically comes down to losing her privileges like, no playground after school, not helping with cooking dinner, no feeding the baby, no electronics time (about 30 minutes of her choice of TV, iPad, or computer), or a half hour earlier to bed where she can read or lay quietly in her bed.  When she wants a new toy, she first has to raise the money herself by doing her chores (this consists of making her bed every morning which she does a great job with, cleaning her station after dinner, and making sure to scrape her dish and put it in the dishwasher). Then she has to donate one of the toys that she no longer wants to make room for the new one.  We also have a strict “candy is for special occasions” rule.  We had a few issues with her stealing and hiding her candy and now she does a lot better about asking for it, so we’ve eased up a little bit to reward the positive behavior.  It makes it incredibly difficult to implement these rules for good behavior when every Tuesday after parenting sessions with her momher mom sends her home with a black deli grocery bag FILLED to the top with junk food (which we promptly confiscate when she gets off of the bus and yes, exactly! Parenting sessions!). Sometimes it’s a buttload full of toys.  Or bags and bags full of clothes and new sneakers, that I have to bring a shopping cart down to be able to carry it all into the apartment. Or my new favorite, a brand new Little Mermaid school backpack over a month into the school year, when the one that we bought her cost us quite a bit of money and she chose herself because it was “OMG! SOOOOO cool!”  I understand that mom is trying to assert herself as the parents, but there are other ways to do it, like slicing an apple with peanut butter instead of Doritos, or split some carrots and some ranch dressing (Mary’s favorite snack!).  Maybe instead of telling her you’re going to buy her a ferret, a cat, a dog, and sugar glider for when you get to go home and be together (God knows when!), get books to read together about those animals.  Weigh out the pro’s and con’s of owning each.  Ask her how her school day was or if she made any new friends.  Ask her about her new teacher.  That’s what we do! Make her earn her toys.  “If you read 10 books from now until next Tuesday, and Callie and Sammie write me a note, then we can talk about getting you a little something.” That would be most effective.

Maybe I’m just being salty because I’m taking it personal.  When Mary goes to visits she comes home in different clothes or a different hairstyle or different shoes.  Are the things we bought her not good enough!?  Are WE not good enough!?  The case worker simply stated, “Different strokes for different folks” and I totally get that, but does it have to be every week?  I’ve actually thought once or twice in the past week, “Are they making progress with this aunt in Connecticut or what?!?!”

Ultimately, I know I don’t mean it and that I’m just frustrated.  I know birth moms that at some point have said, “Where is the nearest church so I can drop this damn baby off on the doorstep because I CAN’T!”  If my Mary left, I would honestly and tragically be devastated.  My heart (whether due to the lack of sleep, sensitive painful breasts, and all the emotions for the impending birth of our twins has made me a sappy mess!) can’t handle it.  I would cry and cry and cry for quite a while, but I’m human.  I’m allowed to be pissed at a kid who doesn’t listen, or is fresh, or is rocking my last nerve! My parents keep saying, “Remembah gwen jew wus a 6?” “No dad, I don’t” “Well, we do, and we gwanna forgot becoz jew was a pain in de ass!” “Thanks a lot dad!” Wise words from my dad again. (If you need a translation let me know!)  I’ve come to the realization that this too shall pass. It just seems to be crawling this week…

We MUST Be Crazy!!!

Tuesday afternoon, 1:47pm, my cell phone rings.
I don’t recognize the number, so I let it go to voicemail.  About a minute later after hearing the message, I was ringing Callie at work as quickly as I could.  She was busy but I couldn’t wait.  “I need to speak to her NOW!”  So her assistant found her in a flash and before you know it, I was returning the phone call to our county’s CPS offices.

A beautiful, 9 month old little girl! As if our lives couldn’t get any crazier (and richer at the same time)! How could we say no?! Well, we could have, but why?  This baby, who has no fault in any of the shenanigans that her parents have put her through (domestic violence, mental health and drug abuse issues), needs a home full of love and a nurturing environment. We can totally do that! So we will! We went from a family of 2, to a family of 4 in less than 6 months.  And in less than 4 months we will become a family of 6, if Mary and our new little addition, Laney, end up staying with us for a little longer.

Will it be overwhelming? Of COURSE it will! Will it be scary? Petrifying! Will we be on the verge of loosing our minds? Every damn day! Can we handle it? You bet your sweet ass we can! We’re super moms, and we have each other, and love, beautiful families and amazing friends.  We have everything we need to know that we can do this and make a difference.  A handful of people think we are crazy, and that’s fine, because well, maybe we are, but at the end of the day, we know what we are doing is right, no matter how crazy it is.  Life just got a whole lot more interesting…

Freaking AWESOME and Are You Freaking KIDDING Me!?!?

Freaking Awesome – Callie thinks she has been feeling the babies move for a little over a week now.  Initially she thought it was gas, but her gas is usually accompanied by this “gremlins in her gut” sound.  For the longest we have been calling it “aliens”.  She’s been having this feeling, but without the sounds, so we kinda figured it might be the babies.  As she was driving home on Thursday from work, she felt that strange feeling again.  By the time she got home though, she wasn’t feeling much of anything except exhausted and panicked (the phone tag with the nurses from the last entry).  But last night, while we were preparing our favorite lazy Saturday night dinner of chicken nuggets and tater tots (Mary loves it, but we love not cooking more!), I saw callie’s face change. I asked her, “What’s a’matter? Are you ok? Are they moving or something?” She grabbed my hand and put it on the lowest part of her belly.  After about 15 seconds I felt it! The tiniest little push! One of those babies was in there kicking up a storm.  We left the chicken nuggets on the tray and the tater tots mid seasoned (try some olive oil, rosemary, and garlic-AMAZING), and all 3 of us laid on the couch to feel them kicking away.  It was freaking INCREDIBLE!!!! The more I pushed them, the more they pushed back.  The 3 of us giggled and giggled until we realized that 40 minutes had passed and the food was still sitting on the counter where we left it.  So we got up, finished seasoning the tots and put everything in the oven.  We watched Disney’s Maleficent, brushed teeth, tucked Mary into bed, kissedher goodnight, told her we loved her, and retreated to our bedroom.  They didn’t move any more after that, at least not that I could feel, but that was more than enough for me.  I slept and dreamt of my 2 glorious babies trying to use Morse Code to communicate with me!

Are You Freaking Kidding Me?!?!?-  We have been having a pretty difficult time with Mary the past couple of weeks.  She currently has one hour bi-weekly visits with her mom.  The case worker must supervise them.  I’m going to assume that because the summer is a really busy time with families taking vacations and court dates and things like that, she hasn’t really had the time to dedicate to her visits.  The past month (2 visits) have been supervised by a random case worker who has no clue what is going on with our case.  Mary’s mom has been told on several occasions by our worker that she is not say things about Mary’s placement.  For example, stop telling her that she is coming home soon. She is not.  Stop telling her that you are going to buy her whatever animals she wants (like freaking ferrets and sugar gliders!!!) so that she can have them when she comes home. You are not.  And please don’t discuss her moving with her aunt in another state and that she has tons of kids and a huge house.  She does not!  Mary has been coming home from these visits completely bent out of shape and uncooperative.  Her attitude has been the pits, and she is back to her sneaky behavior.  We have a few rules in our home that are non-negotiable.  You MUST make your bed every day.  You MUST brush your teeth in the morning and at night.  You DO NOT go into our room without asking (everyone has that drawer that they do not want ANYONE going in, let alone a kid.  There will be a lot of ‘splaining to do), and no gum chewing in the house! Gum is a special treat.  Her teeth aren’t so great and we have spent time getting gum off of the floor.   We don’t use the negative way of saying it, obviously. So last week, I went into her bedroom to put some of her jewelry away in  her jewelry box.  What do I find inside?



7 GUM WRAPPERS!!! This isn’t even all of them!!! I found the other half stashed in a toy box.  She got in trouble and was not allowed to watch TV or play computer that day.  2 days later, I was looking for my pack of gum all over the place.  I couldn’t find it.  Callie, her best friend Jenny and I are sitting on the couch.  Mary was in her bedroom.  She came over to the living room to give us hugs and Callie smelled the delicious tropical fruitiness that is my favorite gum.  When she stopped, looked and her and said “Open your mouth”, her face turned beet red and she was CAUGHT! Rule #1 broken – no chewing gum in the house.  “Where did you get the gum?” I don’t know! Rule #2 broken -freaking lying!.  I’m gonna ask you again and you better tell the truth. “Your Room” – Rule #3 broken! Take your behind to your room.  No dessert after dinner.  She was not allowed electronics that day.  So today, I’m at work, and I get a text from Callie. “She’s at it again!!!!”  Callie gave her breakfast, went to lay down, and about 25 minutes later, she went out to the living room to watch a movie with Mary.  Mary Surprised to see her, and dove onto the couch, put her face in the pillow and claimed to be sooooo tired.  Callie found it quite curious, so she made her sit up.  As she was sitting up, it was blatantly obvious that she was trying to park the gum in her cheek.  OH MAN!!!! That was it! Callie was furious! “WHERE ARE THE WRAPPERS!!!!!!!!!!”

BEHIND THE FRIDGE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

BEHIND THE FRIDGE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Starburst wrappers, fortune cookie wrappers, Hershey kiss wrappers, gum wrappers, every kind of freaking wrapper you could think of.  Yup, it’s back there.  Needless to say, no electronics for the next 2 days.  And she better not ask me for a treat when I get home from work! I think I’ll lose it! How does a 6 year old get so sneaky, because it was obviously well thought out! Correcting this behavior is gonna be so challenging.  Might have to pull out the parenting book for this one folks! Wish me luck!

Foster Mama – Part 2

Being a foster parent is broken up into 2 parts:
1)The Easy part
2)The Hard part

The Easy Part – Callie and I have worked in childcare for a ridiculously lengthy amount of time.  She’s been the Director for a childcare center for about 13 years, and I have worked as a preschool teacher on and off for over 10 years.  Loving the kids, caring for them, teaching them right from wrong, nurturing them, helping build a positive self image and self worth, those things  come effortlessly.  We figured fostering would be similar.   We were made to have children, to care for these tiny humans.  Choosing to foster (foster to adopt actually) was something we both knew was in the cards for our family and something we both felt strongly about.  In the past 6 months we have had 2 placements.  Our first was a set of 3.6 year old twin girls. We loved them.  From day one, we loved them.  Our hearts took them in so quickly.  We held them at night when they cried for us.  We potty trained them and made them feel secure enough to get rid of their pacifiers. We sang songs in the car on the way to daycare.  They called us mom.  They loved us too.  Now we have Mary.  She’s our spunky, rambunctious, sassy, quick learning, very expressive 6 and a half year old.  She came to us and didn’t know how to read, had horrible manners, and lots of trust and control issues.  And again, We loved her, From day one.  4 months later, she’s reading everything her eyes come in contact with (even the super long hard words on the ingredients on the cereal box), she’s drawing pictures of rainbows and butterflies instead of dying flowers and crying and rainy clouds.  We rub her back when she’s tired, we put band-aids on boo-boo’s and kiss them better, we give her foot massages while she eats ice cream and the 3 of us cuddle on the couch for Friday Movie Nights.  We read bedtime stories with different voices for every character.  We teach her to fish and to say please and thank you. To wash her hands after potty and to say her prayers for all things good.  Hugs and kisses, hand holding, Loving them, that’s always the easy part.

The Hard Part – When we decided to become foster parents we had to take a 10 week course that trains you for the challenging but rewarding experience that is fostering.  You go to a 3 hour class once a week and you touch upon topics like child abuse, gains and loses, managing behaviors, teamwork and partnership with the birth family, and a whole slew of other things. Being well aware of how to handle many of these situations (through many years of mandated training with our childcare jobs), we felt like this class would be sort of boring and redundant.  We were pleasantly surprised when we left there with a better understanding of how it all worked, and how many different circumstances lead up to children being removed from their homes and entering the “system”. You never really stop to think that maybe a dad lost his job and became very depressed. That he could have gone out with some friends for a few drinks and ended up with a DUI and mom had to post bail but spent all their bill money.  That their 9 year old was hounding them because they promised to take her and 2 friends to the amusement park and now cant afford it.  That they went to the ER for 2 separate incidents in a 3 week period because first mom lost it and ran out of the house as their 2 year daughter chases her, tumbling down the stairs and breaking her collar bone and a week and a half later dad pops the 9 year old in her mouth for being fresh about that damn birthday party and she pulls back and splits her head open on a wall corner (true story). Sometimes, they aren’t horrible parents, just a product of circumstance.  Taking all of this into consideration, you remember that fostering is only temporary, and our main goal is to support the families and the children and do our best to reunify them. We were ok with that.  We were prepared for that.  But after you’ve nursed all those boo-boo’s, dried hundreds of tears, cuddled and loved them when they lost everything they had and you became their new everything, you look at it differently.  You know that they aren’t  yours and that usually (sadly more often then not) they go back to the places that they came from, whether they are half way decent of hardly livable. They go back.  They leave you and take a piece of your heart with them.  You find a left over sock under the bed, or it falls out of your shirt sleeve where it’s been living since your last load of laundry.  You have to let go, and letting go is the hard part.

Mary has been with us since March 28th, 2014.  In the short time that she has been with us she has learned so much from us, but we have learned so much more from her.  We have learned to communicate effectively not only with Mary but with each other.  We try to model appropriate behavior and try our hardest to show her the proper and effective way to communicate your emotions.  We use “feeling” words, like “I’m feeling very sad today” and provide explanations for those emotions, “because someone at work hurt my feelings”.  We try not to raise our voices.  We have sit down dinners every night AT THE TABLE and not in front of the TV.  We try and limit the use of electronics when we are doing family things.   She’s taught us to see the extraordinary in the every day.  Catching fire flies and looking for starfish has never been so fun.  We have more open and honest conversations, and we ask more intimate questions.  We used to ask, “How was your day?” but now the questions are more along the lines of, “So did you laugh till your belly hurt today?” or “Did someone say something that made you sad today?” or “Did you do something today that made you feel good about yourself?”  These are the real questions worth asking.

Mary and her mom have a great relationship.  We know most of the details of the placement, but aren’t really sure what mom’s consequences are for her behavior.  They don’t really give us much info on moms progress.  They did let us know though, that mom put in for an interstate transfer to have Mary moved to an aunt’s house (who she has only seen a handful of times in her life) in CT.  When we spoke to Mary about it and asked her how she felt, she said, “My heart is confused.  I love you guys and I love the babies, but I love my mom and my family too”. My heart is confused…that’s the kind of stuff we like to hear.  We know that so far, in the short amount of time that she has been with us, we have instilled enough confidence, courage, and self worth that she will always do her best to voice what she is feeling and how she is doing.  They say  it can take anywhere from 2-6 months for the transfer to go through, and it usually does.  We asked the case-worker if there is anything we can do to advocate for her.  We believe that Mary going back with her mom is the best option for her.  Her mother isn’t a horrible person.  She isn’t even a bad mother! She’s just someone who made some mistakes and deserves a second chance, provided she comply with everything she was told to do. We aren’t those people that believe sabotaging a reunion could mean an adoption for us.  It’s never been about us. It’s always been about the child, but transitioning her to another home is crazy! She’s adjusted so well and made so much progress socially, academically, and emotionally that taking her away would just create more attachment and abandonment issues and probably send her into a place similar to the one she was in when she came home to us. Mom really likes us, a lot actually, but we aren’t family and that’s where her child belongs (even if it will tear her apart).  Callie and I have been having dreams that they are gonna remove her from our home, and it’s terrifying.  We’re feeling like this day is coming soon, and we’ll have to say our “See you later Coo-Coo”‘s and our “Remember to wash your hands cuz you have all those yucky germs”.  For now, we’ll just keep loving her and teaching her and helping her create some of the best memories she’ll ever have.  The easy part is over, but the inevitable hard part still awaits.