Pluto’s Story

This is the second in a series of Guest Posts by other Cast Members here at Foster Adoption. I asked our son, Pluto, to share his version of events from the time we decided to pursue foster care through the hearing on Monday when we finally determined an adoption date for Daffy. 

The first day I met the kids they seemed ok but I think that was because they didn’t know us. When we visited them they would be on edge and fighting with eachother but could keep normal. Once they started staying with us over the weekends at our house, Donald would get crazy. One time I was on the computer and could hear yelling but then saw my mom restraining Donald. It got worse after he moved in. Right before the kids moved in Donald wasn’t listening to my mom my mom sent him to go out side and play in the snow. He was still mad and I think that might have made him more mad. He then hid one of the sleds that we were using and found a stick and put it in the dogs butt. After we all came inside he seemed less tense but if someone said something he didn’t like he would have probably freaked out. Another moment when he freaked out was after he met his teachers at school. In the car Daffy and Donald were suppose to be sharing the game boy but Donald didn’t share. When we got home he didn’t want to get out of the car so my dad stayed there with him. That was the first day I heard him swear. There was a few really scary times. The first really scary time was when he was in his room screaming and swearing. He came out near the balcony and starting throwing some bag with books in it at the dogs and cat. I was near watching and saw him throw it I got the animals and put them on the basement to be safe. Once he said “the basket is coming down next” he turned around and my mom restrained him. The other scary moment was when Daffy and her friend were playing in the closet and Donald was in there. He got mad for some reason and started punching a window in there. He grabbed a doll Daffy was playing with and she got out and was sitting on the couch and he threw it at her and hit her. She says, whenever we talk about it, that she passed out for a second. Now we all have been happy that he has been gone. I have only seen him once since he left. But when my parents told him that we are adopting Daffy, he was very angry, he didn’t answer any questions. He threw books and ran. Now everyone in the house is excited and cant wait for Daffy to get adopted in October.
-Pluto

Expectations

I recently talked to the pregnant respite teen‘s foster mom. She casually mentioned that the teen was pregnant (Duh!) and said “this isn’t what we bargained for“…. really? A 17 year old girl in foster care who has been in the system since infancy and disrupted from her adoptive home and placed in residential care? You couldn’t fathom that she would be pregnant at 17 years old by her abusive boyfriend? Really? Its almost predictable in my book.

That said, “An 11 year old boy, beaten brutally by his father on numerous occasions (requiring hospitalization), followed by 13 placements in 8 years with multiple disruptions?” And you thought you could handle that? Really? It should have been predictable.

The demons that we face as foster parents are unimaginable. There is no “perfect” foster child. Each comes with their own trauma history, their own set of negative behaviors and their own pain. They also come with their own hope and their own strengths. As foster parents, they need our guidance. They need our nurturing. They need our advocacy.

I am not sure that any amount of training could have prepared me for this journey. I came into this process filled with hope, and while I have learned an immeasurable amount and have faced countless challenges, I am no less hopeful today than I was on that very first day. Maybe it’s better that we didn’t know what was in store for us. If we had been scared away, we would be missing one of the greatest blessings of our lives!

Tink’s Story

This is the first in a series of Guest Posts by other Cast Members here at Foster Adoption. I asked our daughter, Tinkerbelle, to share her version of events from the time we decided to pursue foster care through the hearing on Monday when we finally determined an adoption date for Daffy. 

From the beginning and still to this day, I am in love with the idea of fostering and then adopting children. Everyone needs a loving family. Not just with the people they are born to, but when things don’t turn out right, they need the next loving family to take them and love them the way a child should be loved. I remember the first day that I was told about the idea of becoming a foster family; I was so in love with the idea. Words couldn’t describe how happy I was. I had always wanted a younger sister. And then the day my mom showed me the picture of Donald and Daffy, I fell in love. I cried with tears of happiness because I was so happy that we could help these kids. I couldn’t wait to meet them and for them to move in and spend their lives with us.

My parents met Donald and Daffy before I did, and I remember them coming home and showing us all the pictures they took and told us all the stories from the night. They told us about the other children living there as well. The day that I first met Donald and Daffy, I wanted to take them home with me and never bring them back. They kept a smile on my face the whole time. But along with all the happiness, I had fear because you could see in their eyes that [they thought] we were going to hurt them, which we never would. I also remember meeting all of the other kids and falling in love with all of them, because I felt so bad for them and how long they had all lived there [in the group home].

When they first started having sleepovers with us, it was still fun. I loved sharing a room with Daffy, even though she was a slob. Both Donald and Daffy were always testing us. They wouldn’t eat food, they were always fighting with each other and all of us. The day that we went to pick them up to move in officially, I bawled my eyes out so hard because I was so sad for the other kids still there that still do not have a family. That day was so hectic but it was still one of my favorites and will never be forgotten.

Since they moved in, Donald is now gone to a different foster home [rtc] because he was a monster and continually tried beating the girls up in this house. Daffy is the sweetest little sister anyone could ever have. I feel so connected to her. It was so kind of her when she told me that every night she reads the poster I made her saying “I love you lil sister” that she hung above her bead. My favorite memory I had with her is when we went up to my grandparents lake house for the 4th of July weekend, and she fit right in on the boat. It was so adorable when we all connected while I painted everyone’s nails and toenails. I love when Daffy lets me paint her nails and do her hair because I feel so close with her. I loved the day when she let me dye the underneath of her pink because it was something I did in the past, and I thought she did it to copy me.

We found out that we are adopting Daffy on 10/11/12 and I cried so hard because I was so happy that she will finally be in a home where everyone loves her. I can’t wait for her to become a part of our family. It is a great feeling to help previously neglected kids. I know when I get older, I will definitely want to adopt kids with my husband.

-Tinkerbelle

The Day After

This morning a slew of emails began. The team members who left the meeting early (or at the end, depending on how you look at it) were wondering how things had gone and those of us who attended…. ok, ME….. needed to process what the hell just happened.

Its been more than 24 hours now and I still dont know if I can wrap my arms around yesterday’s events.  Donald’s clinician believes that he had a PTSD reaction and truly doesn’t remember the events of what happened after we told him Daffy would be adopted. Initially, I believe he understood and simply wanted to kill his sister, but after talking to him tonight, I am not  so sure.

Below is an email (edited for the purpose of making it less searchable) that I sent to the team after talking to Donald tonight:

I had a great chat with the clinician this afternoon [Dont even go there…. I am pretty sure I still disagree with her on most points, but I do feel that somewhere deep down she cares about Donald even though she isnt the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree] and she suggested that I follow through on our nightly phone call to Donald. I am really happy that I did and wanted to update you about some things he said on the call…. These are sort of in random order….

First I asked how he was doing and he said not so good. I don’t know that I have ever heard him sound so “down”…  The only other time that comes close was when he was heavily medicated at the PSYCH Hospital in February. He talked far slower than usual and his voice was, well, depressed. I asked if he was still upset about yesterday and he said yes.

He asked me if we were adopting Daffy, to which I replied “Yes” and he said he thought she was getting adopted by a different family. I am wracking my brain trying to think about what I said yesterday that might have given him the impression that it wasn’t US that was adopting his sister and I cant think of anything. It could just be his poor memory, disassociation, or confusion, I suppose.

He asked if his sister could come on Saturday’s visit and I told him “No”…  I said I thought things needed to cool off, but said that they would see each other [in the future]. I also reassured him that even after adoption, Daffy would still be his sister. Adoption doesn’t change that.

I reminded him that we told him yesterday we would help him work to be ready for adoption, too. I  further explained that he and his sister are 2 different kids with 2 different needs and that the team is making choices that are best for each of them. I told him that Daffy still hasn’t seen their birth mom because the time isnt right for her (which he seemed to love and said “I am“, very proudly), and then took the opportunity to say that she is ready for adoption and he isnt yet. I then hammered home the point that “different kids do different things” when the time is right. He seemed to accept that, at least for the moment.

I told him that at the meeting yesterday I advocated for him to be able to see his birth Mom on an ongoing basis and reminded him of a conversation we had when he lived here when I told him that I would help him locate her when the time was right for him. He seemed to remember and I reminded him “I kept my word”… Then I asked if he wanted to continue to see his birth mom and he said “Yes, like I see you” [ugh, heartbreaking] and I told him that’s why it was important for him to speak at the team meetings about what is important to him. I told him that I knew it was scary, and if he wanted, he could sit with me at the next meeting. I reminded him that its important for him to be honest about his feelings.

He asked again if Daffy could come Saturday and I reminded him that now was not the right time. I said “Are you still angry with her?” and he replied “Yes” and I said “We need to wait for things to cool off a bit and work through some of the big feelings” and again reminded him that he WILL see her, just not right now. He seemed okay with the fact that Mickey & I would come alone. I told him that I wanted him to be safe between now and then and he agreed to try. We chatted a bit about what the RTC’s weekend event might be like. He said if they had a bounce house (and it was okay for adults to go in) that he would go with me. I also told him how he was a great photographer and asked if I brought my camera if he would take some pictures for me and he agreed. He then paused to tell a peer about how when we met he took hundreds of pictures with my camera. I suggested that taking photos might be something he would like to do for a job when he grows up. (I don’t think he believes he has a future, sadly, so I took this chance to remind him.)

Overall, its probably one of the most intense conversations I have had with him (outside of maybe the time he disclosed sexual abuse when he lived here in January). I felt like he was genuine and at least somewhat open to talking about scary feelings more than most days we have talked with him.

In closing, I am sad. Like I said to the clinician today, when we began this journey we purposely sought a sibling group with the goal of keeping siblings together in a system that often does whatever is easiest. We believed this was our calling and our strength in foster parenting. It’s ironic that because ofthe siblings we were matched with, we ended up fighting for the very opposite. The clinician mentioned hoping we would be a resource family for Donald in the future and I could say without hesitation that we ARE in this for the long haul with him. He & Daffy may not be able to live together but they will ALWAYS be connected and ALWAYS be siblings and we will do everything in our power to preserve that relationship and help them to achieve a healthy relationship going forward. Although we may not be the best match for Donald and may not be able to best meet his needs, we ARE connected to him and that will not change.

Sadness overwhelms me tonight. I ADORE Daffy and cant imagine my life without her, but leaving her brother behind was never part of the plan.

July Team Meeting

Yesterday was the treatment team meeting  for both kids. The RTC hosts the  meetings on campus every 3 months and this just happened to be their turn to host. The agenda was not sent out by the clinician until just hours before the meeting. All items on the list pertained only to Donald. I wrote back with a couple of things for Daffy I wanted to included (as well as a few additional things for Donald they were overlooking) and was told by the clinician that she added them. Guess which parts she added…. yep, just the stuff pertaining to Donald! I totally understand that Daffy is not on her case load, just as Donald isnt officially on the case load for our agency, but we would NEVER overlook his needs. Pissed me off, but not worth the argument since I am going to get Daffy’s needs met one way or the other, anyway.

Mickey, Daffy, Goofy & I headed up to the meeting. Goofy (age 14, almost 15) has actually attended quite a few meetings and even attended the consult earlier this month. He really likes to know whats going on and I support him knowing since the decisions made at these meeting greatly effect his life as well.

Despite numerous reminders on my part to keep Donald and Daffy separate before and at the meeting, that didn’t work exactly as planned. Thankfully there was no great fall out as a result, but having them attend the meeting didn’t go as planned. The team didnt ask any questions of them and they were both clearly stressed at having so many pairs of eyes on them, but I will get into that a bit later into the narrative.

The meeting began with a report from Donald’s residential director. She said that he was doing pretty good, though easily influenced by peers (one in particular that he knew from a previous group home). She then described a situation where she had taken Donald shopping for new sneakers. Upon arriving at the store, he wet himself. The team seem surprised to hear this (I know I was, as he never had any accidents in the time we knew him) and asked about it. The residential director dismissed it as a matter of him waiting too long to go, and then added that he wet himself about 2 weeks ago and that currently all of his bedding and rug were in the wash for “unknown” reasons. Hmmmm, thats a pattern if you ask me and definitely an indicator of a problem for a child who has been potty trained for years without accidents and is now ELEVEN years old!

Next, we received an educational update. We were all told that Donald is doing fine and that he easily met all objectives for the first quarter. The adoption specialist asked for clarification to share with the birth mom and his teacher couldn’t gush enough about him. It was completely bizarre considering how far behind we were told he was when we first went in March. They had told us he was at a first or second grade level but are now saying he is at grade level for most subjects and only behind by one year in Math. One set of facts is clearly wrong…. either he didnt try during the initial testing or they are overstating his abilities now.

We received a “medical update” which included the fact that labs were taken with no results back yet (not very helpful). The RTC is looking to put him on a low dose of ADHD meds and the team began debating the need for such medication saying that historically he has been no better behavior wise ON meds than OFF. I have to say that I see no difference, but at the same time, if a low dose of ADHD meds would help HIM to be able to feel less anxious and function better within his own mind, why are people so resistant to trying it?

For the rest of the meeting the topics sort of muddled together as we discussed Donald’s concurrent plan, the nature of future visits with his birth mom, what type of therapy would best help him and how to tell him (and the birth Mom) about Daffy’s adoption.

The team decided that the clinician and I would be the ones to meet with Donald following the meeting to tell him about Daffy’s adoption. While I had wanted the news to come from the TEAM because it was a TEAM decision, I did understand that it might be overwhelming for Donald to sit in a room full of adults to hear that kind of news.

As we discussed the concurrent plan, it was decided that its much too premature to consider adding the birth mom to the plan. The adoption worker (who knows the birth mom best) has many reservations about her appropriateness. The team also decided that the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids worker will resume recruitment of a family for Donald… one that does NOT include pets… does NOT have any children…. and most definitely does NOT contain his sister. The team did not seem hopeful that it would be easy to find such a family looking to take in such a troubled child with such a dangerous history. It  was decided that any potential family also needed to be made aware of Donald’s disclosure of sexual abuse in January (although an investigation still has not happened). There was talk about how Donald’s biggest trigger is attachment and how to keep a family safe should he ever be placed with one. Its a really discouraging case. No one wants to “give up” on an eleven year old but continually placing him in families and putting them in danger and then disrupting is not helping ANYONE, Donald or otherwise.

After the meeting our case worker gave us some questions to get answered for the Adoption Home Study Update. I told her we would have them wrapped up by the end of the month and her goal is to get all paperwork to the state offices by the end of August to ensure everything gets over to the court on time. She is AMAZING at what she does and is very organized, so I can’t imagine any issue with making that happen.

So the meeting dispersed and we were left to meet with Donald. The clinician, caseworker, Mickey & I took Donald back into the conference room and sat him down. For what seemed like an eternity, no one spoke. I took that to mean that the conversation was mine to lead, although I really didn’t want to. The decision to proceed with adoption for Daffy was a TEAM decision and I felt that the TEAM should take responsibility for that. I started by saying “Donald, I have some news I want to share and it might not be news you are happy to hear, but I want to be honest with you. Daffy is going to be adopted.”…. from there I stumbled through trying to explain that Daffy is ready now and he still has work to do on his “big feelings” and that we would be there by his side to help him work towards adoption. He did not speak a single word the entire time we were in the conference room. We asked him if he enjoyed visiting with birth mom and he gave 2 thumbs up. We asked if he enjoyed visiting with his former foster mom and he made a so-so hand sign, then changed to thumbs up. We asked if he wanted visits to continue with us and he shook his head yes. We sat in silence with him a long time in the conference room after giving him the news and then coaxed him to join us in the foyer. To try to describe the looks he was giving his sister are beyond works. It gave me the chills and the cw was quick to step in between them, sensing the same thing we were. The clinician tried to get him to the leave the building by sharing that it would be closing soon but he would not budge. Eventually I sent Goofy and Daffy out to my car with an excuse to put something in the trunk. Still no luck in getting Donald to move. When the kids came back and knocked at the school door, we all moved towards the exit and were able to get him outside. We stood out front for just a few moments. Donald threw the books he was holding and bolted. The cw suggested we leave at that time for Daffy’s safety. The clinician followed Donald and the cw followed her. Donald was wailing at that time.

As we drove home, Daffy asked “Did you have to tell him today” to which I responded “Yes, we did” and clarified that it wouldn’t have mattered if it were yesterday or tomorrow or next month. He would always accept the news in the same way.

About 20 minutes into our drive home, the cw called. She told us that as Donald had continued to freak out, more staff had joined in following as and she fell back. Donald was stung by a bee. Its hard to believe that a bee sting could ever be a good thing, but this jolted him from his dissociative state and he began whaling further, but this time from pain. This allowed the staff to bring him into the building and provide him with more Benadryl (which I previously mentioned is used to calm him down).

I spent the night feeling intensely overwhelmed for him and wondering what might have happened next. I guess thats a story for another blog post.

The Words We Have Waited to Hear

Our social worker let us know on July 3rd that our case worker was to be meeting with the higher ups to discuss the results of the consult and to request that we be able to move forward with Daffy’s adoption. We sat on pins and needles until finally an email came in the early evening from our social worker letting us know the conversation had not happened. It was extremely disappointing but not unexpected. (We have learned many times over that the road to adoption is FILLED with long waits and unanswered questions.)

With the 4th being a holiday, our soonest hope to hear anything was July 5th. Shortly after noon on that Thursday, I received the email we have been waiting for since the moment we decided to begin this journey. Our case worker wrote:

I just got off the phone with XXXX, who is in full support of moving forward with permanency for Daffy. 

I was on the phone at the time I received the email with only Daffy’s initials in the subject line. My body instantly went numb. I would have expected I would have cried, but instead I sat in shocked silence. I continued the conversation for a few more minutes, hung up and went to the bathroom to cry. Alone. The first person I told was Tink (because she was in my room), then Mickey and finally the boys. Each of them wanted to be the one to tell Daffy, but I insisted we wait until the next morning. The caseworker and social worker already had a visit scheduled and they were able to coordinate with the family support specialist to attend as well.

I immediately tweeted our news and texted all of my close friends. It was very difficult to look at Daffy throughout the day without giving away my excitement. My heart felt like it might burst open. The next morning, we all sat down together at the kitchen table and shared with Daffy that the adoption was moving forward. She smiled but had little reaction. To her, this was not news. From the moment the original caseworker told her in November that she was meeting with a new family, she knew that it was for adoption. While at the group home, she dreamt that God told her we were finally the “right” family for her and that satisfied most of her worries. When the kids moved in and Donald’s behaviors began to escalate and become more dangerous, she indicated that she was worried they were going down the same path [to disruption] and that she would have to move, but once he was hospitalized and then moved to residential care (twice)- and she stayed- she really settled in and began to believe this would be her forever home.

We have been talking about  the future since before she moved in (heck, before we even MET her!) and about adoption since shortly thereafter. She hasn’t known about a lot of the obstacles that we’ve faced along the way, so the news we shared felt as common to her as us saying we have another team meeting scheduled.

Once she left the room, we talked a little bit about the process. The caseworker asked our social worker to send over our background checks and home study. The ball was officially rolling!

At this point, all we know is that the target date is sometime between mid-October and mid-December. The fact that our agency is closing is turning out to be a blessing in disguise as the state is motivated to wrap up certain cases so there wont be a need to transfer them.

We still face many challenges in our journey- telling Donald that his sister is being adopted, a face to face meeting between Daffy & her birth Mom, intensive therapeutic work for Donald and many difficult decisions about his future, but for now, I am relishing the thought of Daffy being ours forever!

I can hardly wait till Adoption Day!

The Consult

Last week we finally had the long awaited consult with the trauma specialist. The goals for the call were to get recommendations for placement, determine the role the birth mom should play in Donald’s life and to get treatment recommendations. I had hoped to leave the call feeling like we had definitive answers and a clear course of action, but the call ended leaving me no more certain that the team was making the right choices than before we started.

A few thoughts the specialist shared:

  • There is “nothing to lose” by Donald “trying out” a relationship with his birth Mom. Donald should have some control about their relationship and he shouldnt feel that he is in the role of protector with her. He should be allowed to be the child in the relationship.
  • Donald should be in residential care right now, have “another layer” of trauma work done, but she has no prediction of how long that will take or how effective it will be. She commented that given his age and dilemmas, its very limited what can be done about his attachment issues.
  • She doesn’t feel we (as foster parents) should be involved right now, that its confusing for Donald. She said its premature to make any decision about adoption for him.
  • There is no reason not to move forward with adoption for Daffy and she should not be “punished.” She deserves the opportunity for a happy life.
  • She feels that if sibling work is done, it needs to be after the dust settles from Daffy’s adoption and Donald’s trauma work in conjunction with his birth mom.
  • Both kids should be have the “freedom to be their own people”. Contact between the two needs to be safe and she wouldn’t insist on a lot of visits. Their relationship can’t be forced and they should be allowed to have their own feelings about what they want and about each other.
For Daffy’s permanency, the call was positive…. the specialist supports her being adopted (and, of course, we couldn’t be more thrilled!) and supports her being able to make choices about the nature of her relationship with her brother with an emphasis on safety.
For Donald, the call was far less positive. His plan is no more clearly defined now than the day he left our home. The idea of “trying out” a relationship with his Birth Mom is horrifying to me. If the specialist had said confidently that she believed it was best for him, that would be one thing, but you don’t “try out” reunification 4 years after TPR.
In a “mini” team meeting following the consult, it was discussed that Donald needs answers about his future and that the unknown causes him much anxiety. I agree with that whole heartedly, but how do you give answers that you don’t have? There is not one person who can say what Donald’s future holds. The clinician suggested that she and I have a meeting withDonald during our visit scheduled for that afternoon. I agreed and said I would tell him whatever the team decided he should know… which is really nothing. So, at my suggestion, we decided he would be reminded that the program at the RTC is a year long and that the soonest he would be leaving would be March 2013.
The adoption specialist and clinician had already tentatively scheduled a meeting between Donald and the Birth Mom for this week, so we discussed whether or not that was really in his best interest and no one objected even though this seemed very rushed.
The case worker said that she would be contacting her boss’s boss the next day to discuss the consult and discuss whether or not the state would support a recommendation for Daffy to be adopted. (As a reminder, this EXACT situation played out for the kids 3 years ago at this very same time of year and the decision was made to move Daffy out of the pre-adoptive home and to a group home to be with her brother.)
The visit with Donald following the consult was probably one of the weirdest to date. Apparently before we arrived he was in seclusion for running ahead of the group, not following directions, screaming and telling a staff member he was going to “cut his head off.” It would have been nice to have a heads up on the situation before I blindly entered it. The clinician was on hand when we arrived and asked Donald if he wanted to talk to which he shook his head. He was sitting at the counter eating an apple. He was smacking his lips, chomping loudly and generally letting us all know with his behavior that he wasnt interested in chatting. The clinician told him that we would chat when he finished his snack. He got up to get some water from the water dispenser, spilled it, talked to the dispenser, rolled on the floor, crawled around growling, cleaned up the water, sat back at the counter and tossed his dish. The clinician told him he needed to put it in the sink and he said no. She said nothing. She brought up his birth mom and he responded by smashing his head onto the counter. She then asked if he should be sitting at the counter because those chairs were for staff. He told her he could sit there. She said nothing. He heard someone come in and hid under the counter growling. We were eventually able to share with him the reminder about not leaving before 2013. The clinician, assuming he would be angry, asked him how much contact he wanted to have with us to which he replied “more”. He said we should continue to call every day even though he often doesnt want to talk and that we should visit him more to take him out to restaurants. When the official “talk” was done, I asked if he wanted to play a game, to which he said no, but went and got a game anyway. We played Clue and he remained on edge the entire visit.
The incident report came through the next day. The clinician shared with the team that Donald was “completely composed” from the incident by the time we arrived for our visit. What?? Are you kidding? Growling, crawling on the floor, smashing his head on the counter, being defiant are all “composed” behaviors?? I’m telling you, that woman makes me NUTS and I am so glad the rest of the team sees it!
Anyway, the waiting for the “official word”  from the state began as soon as we left the visit. Would Daffy and Donald’s needs finally be viewed separately? Only time would tell.

Birthday Wishes

Daffy recently shared a story with me, one that I feel compelled to document here. During our chat time, she told me that on her last birthday (while celebrating her birthday for the 3rd time at the group home), as she blew out the candles, she wished for a family. She said “And then a couple months later, there you were!” If only life were really that simple… if only kids in foster care could wish to go home, or wish their parents would not be addicted, or wish they had not been abused. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Each team meeting that I sit in reminds me of this fact. Daffy is encouraged to write letters to the team and attend meetings herself, but at only nine years old, not much weight is given to her voice. The team- consisting of foster parents, former foster parents, social workers, case workers, therapists, Guardian Ad Litems, bosses and more- makes choices for her. They decide where she will live, where she will go to school, who her therapist will be, what programs she can enroll in, what medications she can take, what evaluations can be done and what sibling and birth family contact will look like. Sure, the team, cumulatively, has a lot of experience, but the one thing they lack is a crystal ball.  They have no way of predicting the future and no way of saying whether those choices are the very best ones for Daffy. And historically, if you look at the decisions of Daffy’s team, their decisions have kept Daffy in care 4 years longer than necessary.

As Daffy’s 10th birthday approaches, it gives me a measure of peace that she is safe and loved knowing she can finally go back to being “little girl” who wishes for things like a horse or a diary with a voice protected password or a trip to Disney or the latest Littlest Pet Shop set!

The End Of The Road… Or Is It?

Monday night as I was laying in bed (trying very hard to fall asleep), the 11 o’clock news came on. I didn’t pay much attention until I saw the logo of our agency flash on the screen with a voiceover sharing that the agency is closing. Saying that I was stunned doesn’t begin to describe my feelings. I had to blink several times to be sure I was actually awake and not in some horrible nightmare. How could our agency be closing? I immediately grabbed my cell phone and emailed our social worker, quickly followed by an email to our case worker. I felt hurt and betrayed that the first I heard of this life-changing information was on the news. My mind was racing… How could this have happened without warning? What would this mean for Daffy? Who would do the 3-5-7 work? Who would be our social worker? Which agency would we go with? Who would do Donald’s TF-CBT work? How would this impact the decision of the state about Daffy’s permanency? Our agency has always been in our corner and always fought for Daffy’s best internet. I felt very small and very alone.

Within minutes I heard back via email from our social worker sharing that she herself had just learned of the news that day. It was at that moment, that I realized how selfish I had been in my thoughts. How could I be thinking only of how this would effect our family when hundreds of people were now losing their jobs? Our sw did her best to calm my fears assuring me that our license would be transferred to another agency and promising to make her recommendations on our case loud and clear. As tears streamed down my face, we emailed for a little bit longer and then she suggested we meet the next morning. I happily agreed. From the start, our social worker has had a way of being able to calm me and to sooth my fears. She is extremely well educated and experienced. She doesn’t sugar coat things but still has a way of being kind and reassuring. (Note: How quickly I heard from our sw is just one tiny example illustrating her commitment to our case and how she has always been there for us.)

Tuesday morning our sw and the family support specialist from the agency both showed up with coffee and we sat and chatted. It wasn’t like our previous meetings. It was more like 3 old friends chatting (albeit about something sad) and I loved that feeling.  Our sw shared that cases that will wrap up by December will remain with the agency unless there is reason to believe the cases will go into 2013. She is fighting hard to keep our case and get Daffy adopted by the end of the year. This has always been our goal, but now the stakes are even higher.  If the state decides that Daffy can not be adopted without her brother, that would mean moving to a new agency and a new sw… more changes for kids have already had way too many disruptions in their lives. There are still so many variables, so many things that could derail us from our goal, but knowing that things did not change over night was somewhat helpful. During our meeting, the sw and family supoirt specialist were particularly open about their feelings about this case and am really excited that they will be able to be more vocal and honest going forward now that their agency does not need (or want) referrals from the state. This could really be a game changer. It didn’t remove all of the political obstacles in this case, but its definitely a win for us. Ironic, isn’t it? Our agency closing may turn out to be a blessing in disguise? Weird.

There is still a chance we will be transferred or that our sw will get another job and leave the company before the end of December. That scares me, but no matter what happens, we will march on in this fight. I feel like we are LITERALLY fighting for Daffy’s life and I will NOT give up, but it will certainly be easier if our agency is on board to see things through to the end so I am keeping my fingers crossed and saying my prayers!

Donald’s Bad Weekend

Wow! What a weekend! When Mickey called Donald on Sunday, he said that he had run away and got poison ivy all over his body. Before Mickey could ask for details, Donald said he didn’t “feel like talking so long” and hung up. I promptly emailed the clinician and asked for details.

The next morning we received an email about Donald’s weekend. Apparently Saturday started with an altercation with a peer and some [quote] “awkward” behavior following. Next, he pulled an apple peeler on staff with the intent to do hard. Finally, he and another peer decided to run away. They were apparently brought back by the police an hour later.

A few of my feelings on the above events:

  1. If we are considered his family to the point that the clinician has been pushing for home visits, why would staff NOT have called us to let us know that Donald was missing??? And furthermore, why would they not have mentioned it before putting him on the phone Sunday night? Its completely inappropriate for us to learn of this type of information from Donald himself.
  2. It’s Tuesday night and we have yet to see the Critical Incident Reports from Saturday’s events. The clinician told us yesterday she was still trying to get ahold of the staff that was on duty during Saturday’s incidents. Ummmm, communication break down, much? Tomorrow will be 4 days since the events that took place and his clinician doesn’t even officially know what happened?  How can she have already taken him off the safety watch without all the details? I swear, as long as I live, I will never understand her.
  3. He pulled an apple peeler on staff and you think he is ready for home visits??? Fat chance. I have said from the start that we were not willing to take him back here until he was safe. We do NOT expect perfection, but we DO expect to be safe. That is NOT too much to ask. Clearly the  2 weeks that he has been “on level” do not indicate safety. Pretty sure I said that at the last team meeting, but the clinician just ignored it and continued to push her own agenda. God, I hate her
There are lots of discussions to be had as a result of this weekend’s incidents. In addition to the consult we have scheduled on Monday, we have added a “pre-meeting” to discuss the questions for the trauma specialist and a post-meeting to discuss the call as well as have another team meeting before our quarterly court check in later in July. There are so many things changing and happening right now. Literally within each day there enough ups and downs to make me feel dizzy!
Praying that one day soon this ride will stop and we can all get off and live happily ever after.