New Year’s Resolution Time

family resolutionsIt’s that time of year… New Year’s Resolution Time!

Last year, we created some Family Resolutions. I am sad to report that the only one we achieved was running 3 races together as a family. We only had one specific game night that I can recall and that was in January. We did inquire about working with a local food pantry, but they didn’t seem interested in any new volunteers so we didn’t get far with that either. I plan to ask the kids if they want to set new family goals, but something tells me they won’t be all that interested, so I am planning my own resolutions.

  1. Run twelve races in 2014. I ran 10 races in 2013 so this isn’t a huge stretch, but I’m adding it to my list to keep myself accountable and consistent.
  2. Take a class. I’ve been stagnant in 2013. I crave expanding my mind. I haven’t decided what kind of class I will take just yet, but I will definitely take at least 1 class in 2014.
  3. Cross something off my bucket list. Whether it be traveling to somewhere new or playing paint ball, I am determined to cross something off my official bucket list this year.
  4. Create something. Whether I create a scrapbook or sew something, I MUST create something in 2014. I really miss the sense of pride and accomplishment I received through scrapbooking.
  5. Read more books. For pleasure, for education, simply doesn’t matter…. I enjoy it and I don’t do it enough so I’m adding this one to my list so I can do it guilt free!
  6. Get control of our finances. Not really sure what this will look like, whether it means creating a budget or finally pay down some debt, but one way or another, I need to make some forward progress.

[List subject to edits over the course of the next week]

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This Feels Wonderful

momentThere are countless posts that I should have written to catch things up to current… like a post about how we just had our 60 day team meeting and have only met with our lead social worker twice because of all the changes and internal issues at the agency… or a post about Daffy meeting with two of the post adopt workers to discuss what she thinks is appropriate for visits with her birth Mom and Donald.

But for right now, THIS is all that matters. Tink’s son Andy has arrived! He was born Sunday 12/15 after one of the most calm labor and deliveries I have ever seen. Tink blew me away with how she trusted her body to birth her son and she even did it med free! Later that evening Tink was talking about how wonderful it was to have her family all around. Goofy commented that Pluto was not there (we didn’t have time to pick him up after Tink’s water broke at home)… and Tink replied “And Daffy.” Whaaaaaaat? I was FLOORED… almost to the point of being speechless. Tink requested that Daffy come to the hospital the next day. I contacted one of our social workers and asked if we could move our Monday evening meeting from our home to the hospital room and she agreed.

I have to admit, I was pretty nervous the next day. We had never discussed a hospital visit with Daffy, as Tink had said there was no way in hell she would allow her. We had never even asked Daffy if she WANTED to come. I mean, I’d assume she would want to, but with Daffy, you never can be sure. She has been unhappy about this pregnancy from the start. By the time this whole plan came about, I was almost AFRAID to ask, fearing that she might say no. I also didn’t want to make it a huge deal when this is what NORMAL families should look like.

So, anyway, Daffy and I talked a little bit Monday afternoon about what the birth had been like before we headed out to see Tink and Andy in the hospital. I was explaining how they placed the baby right on her chest the second he was born to promote attachment, etc. Daffy commented that it was like ducks… the first person they see is who they attach to as their mom. She also commented about how the cat was going to feel really displaced by the baby (yes, I could easily read through that to know she was talking about herself…. unless, of course, she was just looking for an excuse to be able to touch the cat.)

When we arrived at the hospital, the potential “baby daddy” and his mom were in the room which was quite uncomfortable (but not relevant to this particular story so I won’t go there). The social worker was already there as well (got to be the first time she has ever been on time, LOL). We encouraged Daffy to go have a look at the baby and she did so, somewhat reluctantly…. or maybe hesitantly is a better word, it was hard to tell.

Daffy sat back down and the social worker later commented that Daffy seemed to fill the space with stories of little value about her homework and other such things. (Daffy’s need to constantly chatter drives me crazy, but seeing it from the perspective of anxiety made it easier to understand.) I felt like Tink might be ready for more so I whispered to her that maybe Daffy was ready to hold the baby, espcially in such a controlled environment. She agreed. The moment Tink handed Daffy the baby, my heart swelled. It was history in the making for our family. A truly life changing moment.

I snapped a few pictures (and Snapchatted one to Mickey who was at work). Daffy’s arm quickly tired (or maybe she realized just how boring it is to hold a tiny human who does absolutely nothing?) and she gave the baby back to Tink.

I remained mesmerized long after. Heck, I’m still in awe of that moment. I don’t want to get my hopes up that we have turned a corner… I don’t believe that any of this negates what we experienced over the past year or the risk that Daffy poses to animals and potentially Andy… but for right now, I just want to enjoy this time with my family for what it is. Oxytocin from Tink’s birth? A Christmas miracle? Finally the beginning of positive change? No matter what the reason, the past 5 days have been amazing and it feels WONDERFUL!

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2013 Family Resolutions

family resolutionsAs I created my personal resolutions for 2013, I realized many were family related, so we sat down to come up with our first ever set of family resolutions! We decided that 3 resolutions would be a good starting point.

  • Family Game Night We have committed to participate monthly in a family game night. Weather permitting, some of our family game nights will include outdoor activities. We plan to purchase the board games Apples to Apples and HedBandz for sure. We also plan to get the Wii hooked up again and do at least one video game night this year!
  • Races We will be running our first race as a family on New Year’s Day. We have decided to set a goal of running 3 races as a family in 2013. We are really hoping to run The Color Run as one of our races, depending on the cost. (Anything times 5 is always a lot.)
  • Soup Kitchen Our goal is to volunteer at least once in 2013 at a local soup kitchen. Mickey is, by trade, a chef so this seems an appropriate way for us to volunteer our time and talent.

Daffy was quite worried that since we set only 3 resolutions that we would not be doing the “usual” things we do as a family. I reassured her that all traditions will continue and that these are NEW goals for our family to achieve. Honestly, I can’t wait to get started!

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So, Is She Like Breaking Up With Our Family?

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that our family has faced some challenges in the past month. Towards the end of September I tweeted about a conflict that we were experiencing with Mickey’s oldest daughter, Belle. Before I get into the thick of it, though, let me back track a little.

Mickey and I met in August of 1993. His daughter, Belle, was not quite four years old at that time. Belle and I have had an interesting step-parent/step-child relationship over the years. Initially, we were very close. Mickey and I even considered fighting for custody at one point when Belle was about 6 years old… when we went to court, his ex-wife made up crazy allegations of abuse against me which spawned an investigation of appropriateness and safety. A GAL was assigned to our case and was supposed to complete this review within 6 months. Two years later, the GAL finally wrapped up her report with glowing statements about the model parent that I was and how I should absolutely be a part of Belle’s life. The damage was done, though. Being kept apart from Belle in such formative years put a huge strain on my relationship with her. Though I wanted to parent her equally with my biological children, I never did. I was afraid to upset her in any way for fear her mother would again make up lies preventing our relationship at all. We saw Belle weekly over the years and always included her in all aspects of our lives. In fact, there were many things we missed out on as a family because we wouldn’t do “family things” unless she was included. The teen years were fairly typical. Belle struggled with friendships and her mother was extremely over protective. Belle would often complain to me, more as if I were her friend than a parent figure, though. During her junior year, Belle invited me to see her off to a formal school dance. I was extremely apprehensive to attend as I hadn’t seen or spoken to her mother in YEARS. Despite my desire to ignore the whole thing, I decided to go in support of Belle.

Surprising, things went very well that night. Despite the fact that Belle’s mom was taking us to court just 2 days later (to increase child support), we got along very well. It was the beginning of a friendship that lasted nearly a half decade. As Belle prepared to go into the armed forces, her mom & I got closer and closer. While Belle was at boot camp, her Mom & I spoke every single day. It’s been four years since the summer Belle went away. I thought we had beat the odds… that we were the model for how ex wives and new wives should interact.

All of that ended last month. Mickey & I learned that Belle is not his biological daughter. Belle’s mom knew that from the time she conceived. She never gave Mickey’s medical history at the doctor’s when she took Belle because she knew it had no bearing. When Belle was 15,  her mom tricked Mickey into giving a hair sample saying that it would help match Belle should something happen while in the military. In fact, she was using it to confirm (or rather, deny) paternity with a DNA test. She never said a word when she received the test results confirming that Mickey was not Belle’s biological father. In fact, she continued to accept child suport payments and even took us to court for an increase. She allowed me into her life and built a friendship with me, all based on lies.

As much as learning that biologically Mickey and Belle are not related was a punch in the gut, it really wouldn’t have changed anything for Mickey or I. Mickey has always considered Belle his daughter. I have considered her my family for 19 years. Biology could never change that….. but Belle could.

Belle called Mickey from oversees and confirmed the entire story. She then called me and left a nasty voicemail making threats and telling me that come January she will no longer share our last name. She had decided to end her relationship with our family.

There we were just a few weeks away from adopting Daffy, telling Daffy how we would be her FOREVER family, yet facing the very idea that families are NOT always forever. I met with our sw and discussed how I could share this with Daffy. I am a very honest person and knew that Daffy was feeling the stress in our family. I like to deal with things head on. Our sw suggested that we explain that OUR love for Belle will never change and that she will always be welcome in our family, but that Belle is old enough to make different choices. As I explained to Daffy about Belle’s choices she innocently asked “So, is she like breaking up with our family?” *sigh* I suppose she is, Daffy, I suppose she is.

10 Reasons We Want To Take Daffy To Disney

It goes without saying that I am a huge Disney fan. I use Disney characters as names here on my blog and I have more than 1 Disney tattoo. I really hope to have the opportunity to share with Daffy my love (and our family’s love) of Disney!

Here are the top 10 reasons we want to take Daffy to Disney:

  1. Every little girl should have the chance to be a princess! More than anything, we want to get Daffy a princess costume and take her to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique so that she will have the opportunity to feel like the princess that she truly is!
  2. Every child should have the chance to wear Mickey Ears at Disney at least once during their lives. There are so many new styles available, I can’t imagine which Daffy would choose!
  3. Our family wants to beat our 2009 goal of being photographed with FIFTY different characters and we can’t imagine anything more magical than Daffy being a part of that quest and accomplishment!
  4. What a great way to disconnect from the rest of the world- no tv, no news, no email (well, I am sure I would stay connected on my android, lol)…. a chance to focus on our family & simply enjoy each other!
  5. We want to see her when she walks down Main Street USA and witness the magical moment when she sees the castle for the first time!
  6. We want to teach Daffy the art of finding Hidden Mickeys!
  7. A family trip would help create a deeper connection for our family. Shared memories are what families are built on. And what could be more perfect than to have our first family portrait with Daffy as a member of our family taken at Disney?
  8. We would love the opportunity to expose Daffy to the many different foods at Epcot!
  9. We want Daffy to experience all the little Disney joys…waking up Tinkerbell and getting a certificate, seeing the parades, pin trading, riding the monorail, the fireworks, the infamous turkey legs, hugging Princesses, eating Mickey shaped pretzels and waffles, swimming at the water parks and so many more!
  10. Most of all, we feel Daffy deserves this opportunity to live out her childhood dream. Her life has been filled with chaos, trauma and uncertainty in foster care. She deserves the truly magical experience that only Disney can provide!

We are hopeful that we will be able to come up with the money for a Thanksgiving 2013 trip! With Mickey having been out of work for the past 8 months and potentially starting our own business, this could be a real challenge. But, hey, I think we have proved we do pretty well with life’s challenges, right? 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

Connecting Through Humor (Lunch Note Jokes)

I am always looking for a new way to connect with my kids… one thing that I started doing in the past few months is emailing and texting them silly jokes! I follow Ellen on Twitter and she has a fantastic #ClassicJokeMonday series. At random times when I think of it, I hunt down a joke and text it to the kids. Goofy, the most sarcastic of all the kids, like to tease me about how dorky this practice is, but he has also admitted to sharing a few of the jokes with his friends.

While looking for more jokes to share with the kids, I stumbled on these printable lunch note jokes that are perfect for lunch boxes or back backs! Head over to Peonies and Poppyseeds to download these super fun printables!

Want even more printable jokes? I’ve found lots more at these sites:

Feel free to add your own link in the comments!

My Adoption Story, Part III: The Reunion

This is the third in a multi-part series of posts sharing my personal adoption story. If you haven’t already, read My Adoption Story, Part I: My Adoption and My Adoption Story, Part II: The Search before reading the post below. 

I stated “My name is Minnie. I was born October 12, 1973 and I was given up for adoption.” I paused and she practically screamed “Oh my God! I always knew this day would come!”

So there I was… speaking to my BIOLOGICAL grandmother! It was a life defining moment for me! She shared that my biological mother had 2 other children who didn’t know about me, so she suggested that she be the one to call her and that she would put her in touch with me.

That evening she called my biological mother every 1/2 hour to see if she was home yet (remember, verge of the internet here, almost NO ONE had cell phones at the time). My biological half brother kept answering the phone and was alarmed at the number of times his grandmother was calling. He thought for sure that something had happened to his grandfather. When my biological mother finally got home, she returned the phone call and was stunned to learn of my call reaching out to find her. As soon as she hung up, both of her children stared at her, waiting for an explanation.

In an ironic twist of fate, my biological mother had been thinking a lot about me the weekend prior (the very weekend that *I* was searching for her) and had decided to tell her children about me. My biological brother did not answer her page, but my biological sister had sat down with her and listened to the whole story from start to finish. As my mother explained the reason for their grandmother’s call, my biological brother was IRATE that this was the first he was hearing of this. She explained to him how she had been 19 and had made the choice to give me up for adoption. My biological brother’s first reaction was that of anger as he yelled “Does she have the same father as me??????” She replied “No, her father is Baloo Bear!” This did not impress my biological brother and he called her a whore.

My biological mother called me the next afternoon. I don’t remember a lot of the details of the conversation. I do remember that we talked long enough that I was late picking up my oldest daughter from kindergarten, though. We made plans to meet the next week at a chinese restaurant in a town central to both of us (we were living 11 miles part at the time I located her). I asked her to bring pictures of what she looked like at the time I was born figuring it would be like looking in a mirror.

Last that week, I called her. I hadn’t been able to get her out of my mind. She said she felt the same way and we agreed to move up our meeting date.

I remember being nervous when I drove to meet her. Would our conversations come naturally, like 2 people separated at birth? Time has dulled my memory of that day, almost 15 years ago now. I remember sitting with her at a table in the very busy Chinese restaurant. I remember her asking me if anyone at a nearby table was related to me and thinking that was an odd question. She explained that she had considered bringing someone to the restaurant in case I tried to kill her. Uhhhhh, really? Is there an epidemic on adult adoptees killing their birth parents that I dont know about? It was at this table that she shared the story of how I had been conceived on New Year’s Eve. She had been dating my biological father until that fall, but they had separated. She was babysitting that New Year’s Eve and had invited him over. Clearly one thing led to another and she ended up pregnant. She said she didn’t tell anyone and the first that anyone learned of her pregnancy was at 7 months along when her mother found a letter she had written to try to secure an abortion. She shared that my biological father had never known of the pregnancy and that she would not share his information with me because she believed he would kill her and me both if he found out. I also remember her showing me pictures of her trip to Hawaii, taken just 2 weeks after I was born. She shared details about her life and her children and asked me very little about mine.  It was during this very first meeting that I knew my suspicions about her had always been correct. She hadn’t given me  for adoption because she cared about MY life, but because she cared about not “ruining” her life.

I went back to her house that night and met her husband and my biological half sister. The minute I walked in the door, her husband exclaimed “My God! She does look just like Mary Sue”! (I later learned that Mary Sue was my biological aunt on my father’s side of the family.)

The next few weeks we continued to have a strained but amicable relationship. We occasionally got together for visits and talked on the phone. For my 24th birthday, she baked a cake and used those sugar letters from the supermarket to spell out “Happy Birthday Birth Name” and she bought me an opal ring (my birthstone). The thing I remember most about that day was having a terrible migraine and just wanting her to leave so I could try to sleep through the pain.

In November, I attended a football game that my biological half sister was cheering at. My birth mother introduced me to various people by my birth name. My kids found this incredible confusing that I was being called by another name. Hell, *I* found this confusing when people would call that name out. Why would I look? That’s NOT my name.

In December, we were still in communication and got together a few days before Christmas to exchange gifts. This was the first time I ever connected with my biological half brother. He was 19, but somehow managed to bring a bottle of Jose Cuervo tequila as my gift. The fact he even brought something was miraculous because he had been very resistant to establishing any relationship with me.

In January, my biological brother came over and stayed the night before a skiing trip we were taking together. I remember that night in 1998 very clearly. As he & I sat watching the Winter Olympics, we began discussing the day he had first learned I exist. He shared his story with me and about the fact he hadn’t seen his own birth father since he was 4. He commented that he didn’t even know where to find his birth father. As you might remember from Part II, I had found the marriage license for my birth mom’s 1st marriage and I had called the number I found matching that name… ultimately my biological brother’s birth father! I shared the story with him and gave him the number. I commented to him that I our birth mother would not give me the name of MY birth father. He looked shocked and said “I know who he is!”… he went on to share that the story of the day he first learned I existed and how he had asked if we had shared the same father and was told “No, her father is Baloo Bear!” So there we sat, a brother and a sister each able to pass on the name of our biological fathers. It was a surreal moment and we did not know it at the time, but it signified the beginning of the end.

My biological brother called his birth father during that next week. His birth father was thrilled to hear with him and they decided to meet. My biological brother packed some things in the car and make the long drive to see him in Florida. They had an amazing reunion and both were thrilled to connect after 15 years of being apart. Saying my birth mom was livid would not even begin to describe her anger. I can still clearly remember her high pitched screaming saying how I had ruined everyone’s lives, telling me that just because *I* was ready to search for my roots did not mean her 19 year old son was ready for such things.

Over the course of the next 2 months, things went from bad to worse. My birth mother was completely irrational and would often call screaming if she believed her son was with my family. At one point, she showed up waving photos of my brother and I telling my husband that the pictures confirmed we were having some sort of inappropriate relationship (we were cheek to cheek in the photos). Mickey laughed at her… he had TAKEN the photos himself and knew that she was completely losing her mind. We had to call the police that night to have her and her new husband removed from our home.

She ultimately made my biological brother choose between us. He (understandably) chose her and I have not spoken to him in the more than 14 years that have passed. I did use social media to check in on him over the years and learned he is married with 2 sons. I am happy for him and I hope he continues to do well.

As for my birth mother, I did try to contact her again about 2 years after this falling out. We had a nasty conversation on the phone where she denied knowing who I was, stating that she had only 2 children and I was NOT one of them. In fact, she went so far as to go to the police to try to get a restraining order. The very best part of that was the fact that it was through FAMILY court and she was required to list our relationship on the paperwork. I felt vindicated that she could NOT deny my history. I hadn’t planned to fight the restraining order because I didn’t plan to have any further contact, but a friend of mine who is a lawyer recommended that I not allow it saying that it would reflect poorly on me. We went to court and she didn’t show up, so the restraining order was dropped.

I have occasionally thought about her over the years, mostly with disgust. As I shared in Part I, I had always believed in my heart that she was a selfish woman. Meeting her confirmed that. I am glad I had the opportunity to know my siblings, if only for a short time, and I am glad that I pursued meeting her despite the painful outcome.

Continue reading My Adoption Story in this post: My Adoption Story, Part IV: My Biological Dad

Ideas Needed for Party & Gifts

Now that we have an official adoption date, I am eager to get planning the celebratory party to be held that weekend! Anyone have any ideas (or links to blog posts about their own adoption celebrations) they are are willing to share? I need your help!!!!

We host quote a few parties throughout the year and many are themed, so I am trying to decide on some sort of theme to really bring the event together. I am leaning towards football themed because that will be “in season” in October and I want to order these awesome Patriots shirts for our family custom designed with our last name on them along with each of our years of birth. I thought this might give our family a unified look while allowing others to coordinate (which always makes for great pictures). I am thinking we can tie some football words to adoption, too…. maybe “Touchdown” to show we met our goal? And reference our family as a “team” as in “Look who’s joining our team” with a picture of Daffy on the invitations with those black stripes under her eyes? I dunno…. still thinking about that… I know its not “traditional”, but we aren’t really traditional people, so maybe it works?

Here are a few of the other things I am considering:

  • Pictures of Daffy throughout the house, maybe hung by clothes pins like they did here? Could be mixed in with team logos? Or placed on a pennant banner?
  • A video running with photos and music throughout the night
  • A guest book (saving space for photos to be added later) for our guests to write messages in… I also love the idea of the thumbprint family tree guest book found here!

Also, while I dont want this to be about gifts, I do want to get some things for Daffy that really send the message that she is a permanent part of our family. Here are a few ideas I have:

  • A scrapbook showcasing the highlights since we met her last November.
  • Personalized items (not sure what, though, besides the tee shirts mentioned above…. got ideas for cool items that can be personalized with a full name and not just initials, since, by chance, her initials arent changing?)
  • Adoption themed jewelry of some sort, or maybe a locket with a picture of me and of her birth mom inside?

Speaking of gifts, do people usually bring a gift to this type of event? I don’t want to assume they do, but was thinking if anyone asked that maybe I would suggest a family game of some sort to build the game closet with things we can all do together? This would kind of tie in nicely with the “football/game” theme from above… Good idea? Or should I just flatly refuse any gifts?

On  a similar note, should we have favors of some kind? If so, any ideas of something that would represent adoption or family? Maybe I could find something Patriots related? I like the idea of key chains, but $5 per person is gonna add up quickly and it’s not very personal….. personalized Pompoms could be fun for the kids….. ooooooh, what to do? What to do?

Oh, wise experienced party planners or adoptive families, please offer some advice! I would love your thoughts on my ideas or any you might have!

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!