What a day!

At the moment, I am eating, sleeping and now BLOGGING foster care. It’s oozing out of every pore!

The day started out with a planned visit between Daffy & her birth mom. While planned, I hadn’t mentioned it to Daffy. The weeks leading up the last visit (and the delay of such visit) were stressful for Daffy, so I thought I would try something different this time. I’m really pleased with how that went. No stress before hand and a very nice visit today. In the future, I may give her some notice, but certainly not a lot. All it does is give Daffy time to worry.

Anyway, we met at the mall around ten. Birth Mom’s mother (Daffy’s biological grandmother) drove her. I know that birth mom and her own mother have had many conflicts over the years so I was a bit nervous, but that turned out to be for no reason. Daffy’s Grandmother was very reserved but very supportive of her daughter and Daffy’s visit and did a nice job also including me in the conversations as well. I was very impressed with her ability to see his situation for what it is, and honestly, grateful that she didn’t see me as the villain. I think that she and Daffy must not have had a close relationship as Daffy showed almost no reaction to seeing her and did not hug her upon seeing her again.

Overall, Daffy seemed very reserved and quiet herself during much of the visit. When she wanted to point something out, she would call “Mom!” and every time I responded by habit and every time she was talking to me. I KNOW that still stings for birth mom to hear. I couldn’t help but wonder if Daffy was doing it on purpose because of the frequency she said it during the visit while otherwise staying quiet. Maybe that was her way of reinforcing roles? Maybe it was just coincidence, I don’t really know.

We stopped at Cinnabon for a snack at the end of our visit. We chatted about all sorts of things. Birth Mom told us about her new house and showed Daffy a photo. That led to a conversation about Donald’s transition. Birth Mom shared that Donald will be seeing the house for the first time this week. (His clinician will be taking him.) Weekend day visits will begin after that with the first overnight being Easter weekend (don’t even get me started….) Daffy totally zoned out, far enough to the point that Birth Mom even noticed and asked her if she was okay. Daffy replied that she was fine and Birth Mom accepted it at face value. I should probably take some time send an email to birth mom and use this as a teaching tool for her to sense Daffy’s reactions to conversations about Donald. She seemed to miss all cues at the last two visits.

Anyway, goodbyes were easy, Daffy gave hugs and we happily went on our way. This is certainly a complex open adoption, but I have to say I have been very blessed that Daffy transitions from visits so easily. Its so clear that she knows her role within our family, she is one of us.

We came home to learn that Mickey had been hired for a new job (PRAISE THE LORD!), but that he needed to go for a 3 hours training/orientation…. TODAY! I still needed to log time for work myself and we have the 5 year old twins (Simba and Nala) here for repite too! Goofy and Daffy were very helpful with the twins while I got some work done.

I spoke with the twins case worker this afternoon and left the conversation feeling less than confident for the family (thats a blog post for another day, if we stay connected at all to this case). The cw did give us permission to go forward with visits this week with the twins birth mom.

Tonight, I received a call from the Respite Teen (I really should give her a blog name at some point, huh?). She had recently signed herself in for a voluntary hospitalization. Within 2 days of admitting herself, the foster family whom she had been living with changed their minds about caring for her baby while she was hospitalized and asked the state to come take the baby, effectively putting her baby in foster care. I’m unclear what “charges” the respite teen faces…. abandonment maybe? She said she has a court hearing tomorrow that she can’t miss… yet she is currently hospitalized. She has no license. No car. No boyfriend (recently got a retraining order against him at the state’s encouragement). No friends. No family. No foster family. No attorney. Nothing. All she has is the state who watches over her. The same state who is now fighting AGAINST her to take her baby. How can this be right???  She said she hasn’t heard from her own case worker. I offered to email the cw tonight (which I did) begging for the cw to update the respite teen. She deserves to know what is happening! I feel helpless. This teen has nothing.  In a perfect world, we would take her in and help her raise her child. This isn’t a perfect world. Daffy would never survive. The rest of my family would kill me. And hell, I am barely on stable ground myself. I KNOW I can’t handle that, but I can’t sit by and do nothing. I have an obligation to her. She is supposed to call me tomorrow morning to update me.

Tonight I spoke with Simba and Nala’s birth mom and set up a visit for tomorrow, including driving the mom several towns away to run an important errand of sorts (will share more if this case stays ongoing, as previously mentioned above).

It’s like the cosmic forces of foster care have all collided in my life today. So, yeah, I have had my FILL. On one hand, I feel overwhelmed with helplessness, but on the other hand I feel filled with a renewed sense of purpose. I chose this path. I knew it was messy, but I wanted to make a difference. This is my chance. Now is my time.

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Depression Sucks

Depression SucksI have suffered from depression for as long as I can remember. My first diagnosis came during my teen years, but I had been in therapy long before that. My depression has been well managed for more than a decade with anti-depressant medications. Each year at my physical, the doctor has suggested that maybe I come off them. I have tried. It doesn’t work. If my prescription runs out and I go a few days without them, I feel it… and so does my family.

I’m coming back from a bad place. In the past month, I spiraled down as low as I have ever been. Like not-leaving-the-house-can’t-get-out-of-bed-cutting-myself-suicidal low. I couldn’t stand myself, let alone anyone around me. Especially Daffy. Once I realized that and started to accept it for what it was is the exact moment when I was able to start the long journey back from this dark place.

I’m no expert and I have not seen a doctor for this particular bout with depression, but my money is on Post Adoption Depression.

It makes me sick to even write those words. How could my depression be triggered by the very thing that brought me so much joy? I feel an incredible amount of guilt for even admitting that. Even more than that, I HATE sharing this in such a public way, but my goal of this blog is to be transparent about our adoption process. I would be doing myself and my readers a disservice to only post the rosy parts of adoption, keeping the dark parts a secret.

I have spent hours contemplating how I got to my lowest point. Sure, there were the stressors of this thing we call “open adoption“…. and it’s been very clear to me (and everyone else) that Donald’s case has caused an exorbitant amount of stress in my life over the past year. Is that it? Is that all? How could I jump from my anger toward’s Daffy’s birth family and the state to anger towards by beautiful daughter? My best guess is that I resent her denial of what they have done to her. I know, I know…. its her birth family. OF COURSE she loves them. I’m adopted myself. I get that. I really do. But somewhere deep inside myself, my rage boils for what happened to my sweet little girl. I have spent a year ignoring how I felt. I spent a year focusing on moving FORWARD for Daffy. I need to process my anger. I need to process the neglect, the abuse. And somehow, I need to accept it. For my sake. For Daffy’s sake.

My battle is not over. I still don’t feel entirely like myself, but I do see glimmers of the person I was. I am going to keep working hard, and being honest, to get through this. Depression will NOT rob me of my happily ever after.

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End of the Road

This is the letter I sent to Donald’s team on Monday:

Dear Team,

With the team meeting coming up Wednesday, I wanted to get some of my thoughts out to you all ahead of time. I understand that my opinion carries very little weight but I can’t in good conscience say nothing. I care very much about what happens to Donald. I want permanency for him just like you all do but after reviewing Donald’s most recently monthly report and all the recent critical incident reports (which have clearly increased since the fall), I am extremely concerned with the current plan moving forward.

Last summer when the team discussed the idea of reintroducing BirthMom into the kid’s lives, there were several comments made that BirthMom would need counseling for months if not years before being ready for face to face visits (rather than just letters or phone calls). Its been less than year and no one has been able to secure counseling for BirthMom. You have asked an extraordinary amount of her with nothing but the HOPE that one day Donald will live with her. You have offered her NO training on how to deal with a foster child and the unique needs of a PSTD/RAD child. You have not assisted her to get the counseling she needs to accept responsibility for her actions leading to the kids coming into care to begin with. Yet you have watched as she moved her grandmother into a home that the division believed was unsafe. You have encouraged her to move away from the only support network she has. You have her jumping through all kinds of hoops yet are giving her NO tools to deal with the very real situation of Donald being transitioned into her life and that of her family.

During the team meeting in July, the team agreed that Donald should not live in a home with pets or any children. The team decided that Donald needed two parents in that home. These were not only for the safety of a potential family but also to avoid Donald being triggered. How has that changed? How will BirthMoms pets be safe? How will stepsister be safe? How will BirthMom be safe when new husband is away at training for 2 months this year?? If you look at Donald’s monthly reports, you will see a severe spike in the number of physical assaults over the past few months (up from 3 per week in July to 24 per week in January). What indicators do you have that his physical assaults will decrease after transition? History tells you that Donald will blow through the glass ceiling upon being placed in a family. His behaviors are confirming that right now. BirthMom does not have a padded room. BirthMom does not have a team of staff with which to “change face”. BirthMom has not been trained in safety holds. How could you possibly expect that she will be able to keep her family OR Donald safe without these tools?

Furthermore, can you be sure that Donald will not harm stepsister? That he will not project his feelings for Daffy onto stepsister? I beg you to read through the reports of the harm that Donald has done to Daffy over the years. I implore you to talk to all previous foster families about the level of rage he had towards his sister. From Daffy’s “accidental overdose of medication” in June 2006 where Donald gave her the medication to kill her, to the Oct 2006 ER visit with the foster family indicating Donald choked and punched his sister, to the day that he tried to drown her in the lake (as reported by Daffy) and the attacks he raged against Daffy while living with the former pre-adoptive family in 2009 and here in 2012. Not to mention the potential sexual abuse issues. Donald’s anger runs very deep and he is dangerous. Do you have measures in place to protect stepsister from this abuse?

I truly believe that BirthMom being a part of Donald’s life is an asset to him. Its obvious that she is willing to do whatever it takes to be a part of his (and Daffy’s) life. She clearly loves him. My concern is that she is being set up to fail and that someone will be seriously hurt as the end result. This is a process that can NOT be rushed simply because Donald reports that is what he wants to have happen. I’m obviously not a social worker so I can’t make any recommendations about how to balance Donald’s needs and the safety of BirthMom and her family, but these safety needs can not be ignored.

If I sound frustrated right now, I am. I have made several of the above points numerous times along the way (and have emails to document). The divisions involvement with this family began in 2002. Its been ELEVEN YEARS with almost no progress for Donald. This is unacceptable. Putting your heads in the sand about the seriousness of this situation will not make it go away.

At this point, I feel I have nothing left to offer the team. I have provided my history with Donald. I have expressed my grave concerns for BirthMom and her family. There is nothing more I can do. As for Daffy’s relationship with Donald, I am working under therapist’s guidance for what is best for Daffy, which happens to align with what was recommended during the conference call last summer. I am letting Daffy guide their relationship. (Donald is also making his own choices in the relationship as well.) I am not forcing Daffy to call or write, although I do suggest it weekly. I am no longer forcing her to have visits. Daffy has a right to work through the anger she has about the abuse she endured at the hand of her brother. I can not place his needs above hers any longer. He has you all to worry about his needs. My focus has to be on Daffy.

Minnie Mouse

Only one member of the team responded (and I swear she is on crack). I am considering whether or not to share that here . I feel comfortable sharing letters *I* have written, but a little more nervous to share something someone else has written due to the sensitive nature of the case and privacy issues.

The team meeting is today. I’m not going. It will mark the first meeting I have missed since we began this journey in October 2011. While I do have quite a bit of guilt about pulling back, there truly is nothing else I can do to advocate for Donald. I did what I could and its cost me a lot. It’s time for the professionals to do what they can for him. The blood will not be on my hands.

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52 Lists | A Few of My Favorite [Famous] Adoptees

famous adoptees
Did you know that six out of ten Americans have been touched by adoption either as a relative, friend, or member of the adoption triad?  Its inevitable with those statistics that there are some “famous” adoptees! Here are a few of my favorites:

Do you have any favorites to add to my list?

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