The post about the money

I hear the mutterings. Some in our very own families have been rumored to say we are “in this for the money.” If they think that is a possibility, maybe others do as well, so I wanted to take some time to address this head on.

We first considered becoming foster parents in the mid-nineties but were discouraged at that time because we had small children and the needs of kids in care can be very demanding. When a friend’s daughter’s biological sister was in danger of disrupting from her adoptive home in 2010, we considered taking her (and gladly would have if the adoption had actually disrupted) with the goal of keeping her in contact with her older sister. As 2011 began and we saw that the adoption was going to remain in tact, we started to discuss searching for a sibling group in our state. Our goal was to keep a sibling group intact. As a family, we had numerous discussions about what we had to offer. We truly enjoy each other and believed that we had enough love in our hearts to add to our family with he hope of changing children’s lives.

We did know that foster parents are paid a minimal stipend. We knew that foster children receive health insurance through the state. We learned during our trainings that our agency will assist with certain things like clothing, lessons, trainings and mileage. We also learned that most of these things go away upon adoption. None of these facts influenced our decision to pursue an adoption through foster care. We began this process with love and we hope to end the process the same way… with an adoption!

Our desire to add to our family has NEVER been about money. That said, I am not a fool. I am not going to turn down the stipend that will help defray the many expenses we incur parenting these 2 children. I am going to take full advantage of what our agency offers. I spend the monthly clothing allowance for the kids building up their summer clothes since they came with ZERO items for summer. I attend as many trainings as I can to make myself the best foster parent I can be. I will NOT be made to feel guilty that I accept these benefits for the children.

As for those that feel this could EVER be about the money, you either don’t know me or I don’t want to know you! And, THAT is how I feel!

[All names have (obviously) been changed to protect the privacy of our family.]

Wishes, Visits, Attachment & Testing

Sometimes I get so busy tweeting the little ins and outs of our daily lives, I forgot to come and blog.When nothing “major” is happening, it doesnt seem to warrant sitting down to write, but I know the little things are often more important so I am going to try to be better with posts! 🙂

A few things of note over the past few weeks:

  • Daffy asked her “Fairy Godmother” to grant her a wish… a picture of her and her biological Mom! Her Fairy Godmother was able to grant that wish and it was an amazing moment! Daffy opened the package, saw the picture and was completely overwhelmed with emotion. She told me later that night that she never cried from happiness before. She has been thrilled to show the picture to anyone who will look and is often analyzing it for little details and similarities.
  • Daffy saw Donald for the first time since being moved to the new residential treatment center. Daffy was “bored” within 5 minutes of being there and told me as we left later that she thought the place was “creepy.” I really didn’t know what to say because honestly, it IS creepy.
  • Donald’s former CW and I took him to lunch one day after a meeting last week. I was not happy when his new CW and our SW bailed on going because I had made it VERY clear that I did NOT want to go alone with him, but ultimately I ended up driving him both ways by myself. He scares me and he knows it. I try to put on my “game face” with him, but I know he can see right through it. (I have never really had much of a poker face, anyway.)
  • We received a copy of Donald’s Treatment Plan. I am happy that there are some very specific goals set for him over the course of the next year, but at the same time I feel like only Donald’s needs are being viewed. For example, he is currently physically attacking peers and staff an average of 1-2 times per day. The goal is for him to decrease the attacks by 90% before he moves in. Ummmmm, I am not really okay with my FAMILY (or anyone!) being attacked at a rate of even 10% of what he is currently engaging in. How can the state even ASK us to accept that???? If he were an adult, the state would pull my children for allowing them to be exposed to that kind of domestic violence.
  • Daffy has been sharing all sorts of things with me during our chats. She shared about the last visit she had with her mom and what it was like the day she was taken. Her therapist thinks these are signs that she is attaching. All this attachment talk boggles my mind. I mean, I GET what attachment is, I know why its important, I understand what causes issues in attachment, but what I dont understand is how I will know if Daffy is truly attached. I know *I* am attached to her…. the days that we thought she might be moved, I was paralyzed and physically sick over the thought of losing her. The more I search for answers, the more questions I find myself asking.
  • The process to get Daffy tested for ADHD is well underway. The school has sent home several forms for us to fill out and this morning I picked up additional forms from her pediatricians office for us and the school to fill out. We WILL get answers.
  • Tomorrow our SW and I will be meeting with a specialist to discuss Daffy’s sensory issues. While I dont think she has “major” issues, I feel she should be afforded the same close scrutiny that her brother received to best accomodate her needs. I feel she has been ignored for far too long already because her brother had the bigger (& more dangerous) issues. If one good thing can come from their separation right now, its the ability for us to focus on Daffy to allow us and her therapist to help her flourish.
  • Daffy got her new glasses. The eye doctor had told us the prescription was minimal and there was no need to get it filled unless she started getting headaches while reading. The school, however, wanted us to get the glasses indicating they couldnt test properly if she couldnt see,  so we got the glasses. I was SHOCKED when I tried them on to find how strong they are! She wasnt really thrilled to get them, saying they made her look like a “teacher”, but they seem to be growing on her, especially as people comment how “cute” she looks in them!
  • She had her first sleepover away from the house this weekend. The next day I asked if she forgot what I looked like since she didnt call and she said she was wondering if I was crying because I was missing her. I feel like the fact that I was on her mind was a good thing.
  • I have several trainings coming up in May. I love learning and I can’t wait!

-Minnie xo

[All names have (obviously) been changed to protect the privacy of our family.]

Team Meeting Update

Yesterday was our monthly team meeting and overall, it went well. The team One big boss decided that future meetings will still be held together so confidentiality for both of the kids is out the window. I had bigger fish to fry than arguing about meetings,though. My big concern for the meeting  was what Daffy’s visitation with Donald should look like. I have been hesitant to bring her because Donald has been so unstable. Her therapist agreed with me, but with a team of this size, you simply never know where they will go or what they will decide. Daffy wrote a letter to the team requesting that she see her brother once per month and be allowed to decide when she doesn’t want to go. Thankfully the team (& that one big boss) agreed with her request! I am sure this wont be the last discussion on the topic but at least we have something set up and agreed upon for the time being.

One of my favorite parts of the team meeting was when the GAL gave his report after meeting with Daffy last week. He told the team she was doing well and was “well placed” with us! It always feels good to hear that!

We also had our quarterly check in with the court. This is the first time I got to meet the judge. She asked me some basic questions about how Daffy is doing and thanked me for my commitment to both kids. I think the kids would really like her as she doesn’t have the stereotypical gruff judge appearance.

I also learned that the one-on-one aid that Donald had been with at our local school is on workman’s comp from an injury she sustained from Donald!!!! He hasn’t been at that school in more than TWO MONTHS and no one ever mentioned this! I am really frustrated that the school kept the seriousness of the situation from us when he was in our care. Furthermore, it might have been helpful for the next school to be aware of before they accepted him back! I was stunned to be learning of this only yesterday. I immediately reported it to both my social worker and caseworker. I don;t know if anything will come of it, but it was definitely not something I was going to keep to myself.

Daffy had therapy this morning. She was quite irritated that Mickey was taking her, but did finally go after I threatened to cancel weekend plans. Mickey talked to her therapist about last week’s throwing of the cat incident. When the session ended the therapist mentioned giving Daffy some goals to work on in regards to the cats. Hopefully we can get to the bottom if her pet issues, because its definitely a sore subject for me.

Thats all the scoop for today!

-Minnie xo

[All names have (obviously) been changed to protect the privacy of our family.]

Just a quick update!

I am happy I was last able to report that Donald had those 2 good days because every day since has been riddled with issues. Definitely a short honeymoon. He is right back to where he was throwing furniture, screaming, swearing, assaulting peers and staff and it doesn’t look like those behaviors will be going anywhere soon. I am pleased with the level of information I have been receiving from this residential treatment center including actual reports of the incidents each day. His case manager seems very thorough and honest- two things I will value as we go forward.

In the past week, I have dreamt twice about Donald trying to kill us. In the dream last night, he and a “cousin” had numerous weapons and there was blood everywhere. Goofy & I were locking ourselves in a bathroom to hide from the assault as Mickey went to try to stop the attack. I mentioned this to Daffy’s therapist in passing this morning saying maybe *I* need some therapy to work on my fear issues and she said it speaks far more to the level of his behaviors. She is suggesting that Daffy & Donald not have physical contact until he is stabilized. I hope this is something the team will support when we meet on Monday. I do not support the idea of using family as a “prize”, but at the same time, I can not watch her continue to be victimized by him in the name of biology. There are other ways for them to stay connected without putting her at risk.

I am happy to report that Daffy is doing REALLY well. Her therapist even suggested that by the summer she may move her back to every-other-week visits! I was surprised to hear that, but very warmed as well. I feel like this speaks volumes about how well Daffy is doing with us. When I dropped her off at school after her appointment, her classroom teacher happened to be in the office and commented about how the past couple weeks have been considerably better for Daffy, too. I am torn, wondering if we are settling into our “happily ever after” or if this is still a honeymoon and we are in the “calm before the storm”. I guess only time will tell.