A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. --Forest E. Witcraft

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Feeling Helpless

Sweets called tonight.  First, she was happy to talk with me and saying how much she missed me.  Then she was upset because she didn't want to wait until Friday to see me, and she is worried her dad will change his mind about letting her come to my house on Friday.  Finally, she started whining about being sad that I couldn't attend her assembly at school tomorrow afternoon, because her 4th grade class is singing a song that she really wants me to hear.  The phone call deteriorated from there with pleadings to come live with me.

Originally (last week) she thought her assembly was this Friday afternoon, so I told her to tell me what time and I would come early when picking her up after school.  I don't have to work on Friday.  She was excited; I was excited.  Then Monday she found out the assembly was Thursday.  I have to work, and besides that, 40 miles across town for an assembly to hear one song, well...

But boy, was it hard to feel her frustration and know that she is hurting and not be able to help her feel better.  I really wanted to skip tomorrow afternoon at work and just drive over, but it's just not realistic.  I was finally able to calm her down and talk her into going to bed (keep in mind this occurred after 9pm on a school night and her dad was outside with friends).

Aarrgh!  Yes, I'm feeling a little helpless at the moment.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Loving Lemons

BB loves lemons!

He makes a sour face, but he continues to eat it.


He eats the entire lemon wedge,
rind and all!

If I peel the rind off,
he throws the pulp part.

I guess some lemon rind never hurt anyone!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Foster Friday - Maintaining Sanity

Today's Foster Friday contribution is an answer to the following question:

How do foster families maintain their sanity (or at least attempt to)
in this crazy world of Foster/Adopt Land?

Here's the short version of my answer:
  • Pray
  • Take time for me
  • Pick my battles
  • Ask for help
  • Stay organized
  • Be involved
  • Give permission to cry
  • Schedule vacation
Click on over to Tammy's blog to check out the rest!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Two Minutes

This evening Buddy came into my room as I was reading from a textbook to prepare for tomorrow's first class.  He wanted us to play together with his Lego men. 

I initially said that I was doing homework and suggested that he go play with his Legos.  He asked how long before he could come back and play with me.  I almost told him not tonight, thinking I still had over 40 pages to read for my first class and another book to crack open for a second class tomorrow.  BUT, I caught myself.  I told him I would play with him for two minutes, and then he needed to go play on his own.

We divvied up his 8 Lego men.  He wanted to play war.  So I started marching my 4 men, singing "Onward Christian Soldiers".  We marched the men to an imaginary little town with all poor people.  Then we decided we had to march back to get them some food.  His 4 men became the providers of the food, and all 8 men took it to the poor town.  We asked God to bless the poor people and told them Jesus loves you.  Then we marched away. 

I told Buddy that two minutes were over and I had to study some more.  He was happy to go off and play on his own.  But before he left, he asked if we could play for two minutes again tomorrow.

I'm SO glad I caught myself.  Those two minutes meant so much to BOTH of us!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pre-Teen Conversation

Tonight at dinner there was a discussion
about adults and children.
May declared she was a pre-teen.

I said I didn't know what I was going to do
when she turns 13 next year.

Her answer...

Love Me,

Feed Me,

Never Leave Me!

I so love my daughter!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Detour to the Merry Go Round

or whatever it is called.

On the way to choir camp this past weekend, we ended up taking a major detour.
Ultimately we had to kill three hours in a tiny town,
because the highway was closed due to a fire.
After eating dinner, we found a park where the kids could play.
Luckily, the weather cooled off and there was a nice breeze,
so it was very pleasant outside.

At the park, the kids found a merry-go-round, similar to this picture.

The LOVED it!  They had never seen one before!

All the parks and schools in our area have removed them for "safety".

This one was in great condition in a very well maintained, privately funded park.

Since being home, the kids are asking if we can go back to the small town,
so they can play on the merry-go-round again!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Choir Camp

I took my oldest three to choir camp this weekend.  It is the kick-off for the year of Children's Chorus in which they are members.  Choir camp lets the almost 300 kids in chorus get together in one place for the weekend to start getting to know each other and the expectations of the directors.  It is an awesome experience and a great group of kids!

Miss M stayed with BB at home.  I talked to her on Saturday afternoon, and he was fine.  She shared that Saturday morning, when he first got up, he went looking around the house, as if trying to find us.  When he didn't come out from my room, she went in and found him sitting in my shower, just waiting! 

I talked to BB on the phone, and Miss M said he started kissing the phone.  I guess he really noticed we were gone!  Although he did just fine while we were away, he was really happy when we returned!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Foster Friday - Birth Family Relationships

Today's Foster Friday topic about dealing with birth families is near and dear to my heart.  Unlike many foster parents over a decade ago, I tried to build a relationship with birth parents for two reasons.  First, I wanted to smooth the transition home for children who would be leaving me.  Second, I was selfish and hoped to maintain a relationship with those children.  In most cases it worked, but it was not always a pretty picture.  For the first part of my story and to read other contributions on this subject, go check out Birth Family Relationships.

Now, here is the rest of my story about my relationships with the families of May, Sweets, and BB.  Unfortunately, there has been no contact possible with Buddy's family.

When May's case was proceeding to TPR, mediation was held with her dad, the only active parent in the case.  Although he was not able to care for a toddler, he loved her and attended his visits reliably.  She had a bond with him.  I told him I would still let him visit her on occasion if I adopted her.  Nothing was ever formalized, but I meant it.  May's GAL later told the judge in the case that he was convinced I would maintain this relationship.  Why he said that, other than to convince the judge to pursue me as the adoptive parent instead of following a lead on a blood relative who came up late in the case, I'll never know, because he barely knew me.  The GAL later offered to be a go-between when the adoption was final, because I was uncomfortable giving dad my contact information at that time. 

About every six months, I would try to call dad to setup a visit with May in a public, neutral environment.  Sometimes I couldn't contact him for over a year, but eventually he would call the GAL to pass along a new phone number for me to contact him.  We went to McDonald's, pizza, a park, a movie, or a restaurant for dinner.  Eventually, I invited him to meet us at one of May's choir concerts.  About three years ago, dad really turned his life around.  We have now exchanged email addresses and cell phone numbers.  Visits are two or three times a year, but May might call him once or twice a year as well.  The relationship May has built with her dad has helped her self-esteem and grounded her to her heritage.  Her dad truly appreciates May's life today and my role in it.  I am thrilled at how this relationship has turned out!

When Sweets was transitioning to her dad toward the end of her case, the situation was very unpleasant.  Sweets didn't want to go.  There was a major language barrier between her and her dad who primarily spoke Spanish.  Having spent almost four years with me, she couldn't understand why she had to move to his house when she was starting kindergarten.  Her dad and I marginally communicated in English, but I was not allowed to interact with him without the case manager present during the transition.  They broke almost every rule in the book to return her home, and I think they were worried about me sabotaging the transition.

Amazingly, after the move was complete, Sweets' dad allowed me to come visit her for a couple hours every other weekend.  Eventually, he let me take her to do something for most of a Saturday.  Finally, on Thanksgiving, he allowed Sweets to spend the night with me.  At Christmas, she spent a couple nights.  The case closed in January.  After that, Sweets started coming to my house for some weekends.  She was allowed to go on vacation with us that summer.  Now she spends almost every day she is not in school at my house.  Dad's openness to me remaining in Sweets' life was unexpected by all.  He was discouraged by the case manager and his own family.  I praise God that he listened to Sweets and her cries to see her "mom". 

Sweets has now lived with her dad longer than she lived with me.  He recognizes how much I love her and how much she feels part of our family.  He has now met my parents and sisters and understands that Sweets has them as family too.  We have had good times and bad times over the years.  If you have read this blog for very long, you have heard the struggles.  It is not an easy relationship, but it offers Sweets the best life I can give her.

BB's birth mom never participated in his case.  On the other hand, BB has two maternal aunts who have been there since the beginning.  When mom did not show for visits, CPS cancelled them, essentially cutting off contact between BB and his aunts.  After asking the case manager if it would be acceptable, I exchanged email addresses with the aunts and arranged visits with them about once a month.  This continued until BB was about nine months old and the case was moving to TPR.  Since then we have had visits about every three months.  We have now exchanged cell phone numbers as well. 

My plan is to continue these visits, even after the adoption is final.  Both aunts are very appropriate and enjoy time with BB.  One aunt has two little girls close in age to BB, so it will be great for him to grow up knowing his cousins.  Additionally, I have learned information about mom and extended family that I would not have otherwise known.  I have even indicated to the aunts that if mom gets her act together, I am not opposed to her visiting BB.  Unfortunately, that seems like it will be a long time in coming.

Foster parenting involves birth families.  There is no way around it.  Some birth families appreciate you.  Others can't wait to leave you behind.  I have been blessed that in most of my cases, I have been able to have a meaningful relationship with a birth parent or other relative.  This has also allowed me to remain in contact with many of my former foster children.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First Day of School

May and Buddy returned to school today.  Buddy is in 3rd grade at the same Christian school he has attended since kindergarten.  May moved to 7th grade at the associated Junior High campus of this Christian school.  She has a ride in the mornings from her beloved teacher, whom she has had for the last two grades.  In the afternoon, she rides the bus back to the local campus. 

Buddy has an outgoing, fun teacher, and he loves his class already.  There are 16 students.  What a wonderful learning environment!  His butterflies have worn off, and his only remaining adjustment is to adapt back to a decent bed time.

May was very nervous, as change is quite difficult for her.  But she did a fabulous job today and seemed to enjoy herself.  She had no problem with her locker, a major accomplishment.  She also seemed to be comfortable changing classrooms and meeting her teachers.  I'm so proud of her; I can't believe how quickly she is growing up! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Tale

We happened upon a story being told at Lego.land on Saturday.

It was a tale of a Princess

and a Jester protecting the castle treasure

from a selfish, arrogant Blue Knight

and a stinky, devious Black Knight.

Volunteer "townspeople" were selected for sword fights

and jousting competitions.

The kids had a ball watching!

Buddy and Sweets loved their special parts!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Last Hurrah!

This weekend we took advantage of our last chance to get away before May and Buddy start school this week.  I was able to pick Sweets up after school on Thursday, so she could go with us as well.  It was nice to enjoy cooler weather in San Diego.

We spent a fabulous day Saturday at Lego.land with good friends!

In the morning we went to the water park.

There was a great water play area for young children.  BB had a blast!

After lunch the kids rode some rides in the main part of the park.

Even BB rode one airplane ride.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture, but he loved it!
His main ride all day was the stroller.  He did VERY well.

He even played his favorite game peek-a-boo!

We saw a cute show late in the day.  Both Buddy and Sweets were picked as volunteers.
More on that episode tomorrow!

For now, everyone is home safe in bed after a wonderful weekend away!