The Post About The School Stuff

Ooooooooh boy!  Almost from the first day of school, Daffy struggled to balance her time in the afternoon to allow for homework. She cried, fought us and flat out refused to do her work. She even went so far as to FORGE my name in her planner to indicate she had done the work when she had not. (For those of you wondering, her artistic talents were put to good use… she did quite a nice job on the forgery, LOL)

About a month ago, I received a call from the vice principal indicating that she had gotten into a fight on the bus with 2 boys. She had clocked them over the head with a metal water bottle, thrown food at them and swore. The vice principal was not aware of Daffy’s status as a foster child which only complicated the situation when she asked if anything was “bothering” Daffy and Daffy shared that she was being adopted and wished she could live with her birth mom even though she knew that we were the right family for her. The vice principal was baffled and Daffy ended up feeling like her privacy was violated under the barrage of questions that followed from this administrator. The vice principal and I exchanged a few phone calls and emails after the fact and I thought things were back on track.

Three days later, I received a call from the vice principal again. This time, she asked that I come pick Daffy up from school as she was being suspended. I was mortified as she explained that Daffy had brought 3 knives to school which clearly violates school policy. She also let me know that the police had been contacted. I was pretty freaked out. I called our sw (who was out of town at a seminar) and our cw (who was off for the day) and then headed across town to pick Daffy up. My mind was racing thinking of all the things I have learned about kids with trauma and how I should deal with this situation. I walked into the school and was sent immediately to the vice principal’s office where there was a police officer waiting. Without giving him too many details, I did share some of what Daffy was feeling as the days drew closer to adoption. Daffy was called into the office and sat in shamed silence as the officer told her that she would be arrested and brought to jail if she brought knives to school again. (Honestly, I felt this was a little excessive on his part considering Daffy had no intent to harm anyone.) Anyway, Daffy and I left in silence. I drove about a mile and pulled over by the lake. I got out of the car without saying a single word, Daffy following me, and walked over to a picnic table overlooking the lake. I started with something like “Let’s hear it!”…. Daffy stayed silent and tears began to build in her eyes. I put my arm around her and told her that I would always love her but that her behaviors were unacceptable. Daffy began to sob and managed to say “I thought you wouldn’t love me anymore!“… I held her for a while while she cried, reassuring her that there was nothing she could do that would make me not love her. We talked about how important it is to be safe, to follow rules and how to stand up to peer pressure. It was a tough lesson for Daffy, but I think it turned out to be one of those defining moments where we passed the “test”, getting to prove our devotion to Daffy.

I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen next since there were still 3 weeks left for her to “test” us before the adoption but thankfully this was the the peak of her behaviors. Daffy has now settled in nicely to school and homework is much less of a struggle.

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!

Paper Coterie | School Days Documenting Book

Remember when I shared about the Daily Documenting Books from Paper Coterie? Well, I just learned about their new School Days Documenting Book! I am super excited about this… I had been wanting to find a way to document Daffy’s school days, but all the other books I have found begin with grade 1 and since she obviously wasn’t with us since first grade, I had been sort of stuck! I love this book because it’s themed around just one school year and allows for lots of personalization. I am super excited to use this book as a tool to connect with Daffy about her school experience throughout the year! I definitely see this as something we work on during our infamous “chat time!”

The School Days Documenting Book allows for up to 19 photos to be included. I chose to include only 5 so I will have plenty of room to add photos (with a glue stick) throughout the school year! You can also add your own text… I was thrilled to add Daffy’s adoptive name since she will be adopted this school year! (YIPPEE!)

To receive 40% off the School Days Documenting Book and other Documenting products, enter the code REALNEWYEAR at checkout through 8/26/12. If you are a first time Paper Coterie customer, you can also score a free journal when you enter the code WELCOMEJOURNAL at checkout! Cool, huh?

Disclosure: As a brand new Paper Coterie Affiliate, I received a School Days Book for free to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed here are honest and my own.

Gratitude

In addition to our nightly chats, Daffy & I have recently begun writing back and forth in a journal. Sometimes we write during our chat time and read them out loud to each other. The other day, Daffy’s note included a PS thanking us for coming to her Wax Museum. Our conversation following went something like this:

Me: Daffy, why would you thank me for coming to your Wax Museum?

Daffy: Because I thought you would be too busy to come.

Me: What? No! We are never too busy for our kids! That’s what families do- they support each other!

Daffy: No one ever came for me before when I was at the group home.

Her words broke my heart! As grateful as I am to the group home that cared for her and provided safety for 2.5 years, they were not a family. They could not provide the love and support that a little girl needs, the kind of love that can only come from parents. I am grateful for the opportunity to provide that love to her and pray to God we are able to adopt her and show her that family truly is forever.

Forward Progress

Sometimes life is truly hard to measure. Each day blends neatly into the next and while progress is being made, its hard to compare. This weekend Daffy informed me that this week was the “Wax Museum” at school and she would NOT be attending. [The Wax Museum is a project where the kids research someone famous, then dress the part and pretend they are wax figures while reciting facts in the first person to the parents. It’s NOT optional.] I looked at her in disbelief. I thought she had been working on it at school, but apparently that was not the case. In my mind, I could hear my social worker reminding me to give her options as I stated “You WILL be doing this project. You have two choices. You can get up and do the project on the computer or you can get up and do this project in your room, but you WILL be doing this project!” And you know what happened? She got up the next morning, got on the computer and did the best damned research I have ever seen that kid do. She didnt fuss. She didnt whine. She didnt even ask for help. She just did it. Then she came to me to brainstorm ideas for the poster and I suggested she color some art in the same style as the artist she will be representing. She agreed and began to work on a gorgeous flower. As if this process hadnt been perfect enough, she allowed me to take pictures and she even created a 10 minute video with all the facts… in character!

I am BLOWN away. When I think back to the project she worked on in February, I truly can’t believe this is even the same child. She spent as much time crying in February as she did working on the actual project. It was a battle for an entire week and DEFINITELY not worth the hassle. Just 3 months later, things are so different. She is far less resistant… not just when it comes to homework, but also to eating, showering, cleaning….

Trust me, she isnt perfect. And neither am I. But I think we are at a point where I can truly say “We got this. We’re good!”… and it feels great.

More games

The representative from the sending town had suggested that Mickey and I become the educational advocates for the children. This person is someone assigned to represent them in school related educational meetings since it would be a conflict of interest for the state to represent them against another part of the state. Make sense? Anyway, I got a call from our caseworker this morning that she thought we should not be the educational advocates. She was extremely vague as to why, but said it could be “misconstrued” by some others in her department. Misconstrued as what? Caring about the best interest of our children? Wanting to gain the most information that we can for when they are adopted and the full responsibility falls on us? All I can do is shake my head. She did say we could take the classes so at least we would have the same information when we attend all educational planning meetings. I suppose thats something, but I will never understand the state.

We scheduled a visit with Donald for this weekend at the same time as Daffy will be attending her friend’s birthday party. I made the decision that with Donald in the midst of a major transition and off all meds (including homeopathic) that it would be better if Mickey & I visited alone for this weekend. We will plan to bring Daffy next week, hopefully when Donald is slightly more stable.

The reports from the group home so far are that Donald is doing really well adjusting. I know its a very different structure than his previous group home, this facility is a lot more laid back. He isn’t typically the kind of kid that does well in a laid back environment so it will be interesting to see how it goes, but I am happy he is getting a few good days under his belt anyway. I think it will help the staff to have some “good moments” with him before they see his worst.

-Minnie xo

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

More transitions

Donald was moved to the new facility yesterday. We met for lunch with his current and new caseworkers and then headed over. We were able to see his room, school and some of the facility. Its set on a hill and its cooooold up there so we didnt ask for the full tour! Donald seemed really nervous, barely speaking two words. Because we arrived mid day, no one was on staff at the dorms, so he was required to go directly to his classroom. There seemed to be 5 students and 3 teachers- not a bad ratio.

The decision to remove Donald from ALL homepathic remedies was made by the state and those meds did NOT transfer with him. He stopped cold turkey. I dont know if I believe they even assisted with anything, but if they did, well this new facility is in for a real surprise! He is currently not medicated in any way. Its just a matter of time until he assaults someone there.

We raced off to our local school for Daffy’s Special Ed referral meeting. The “team” was resistant to testing her, saying that they dont diagnose ADHD (which we knew) and that they feel her school issues are solely from the transition in January. I was surprised at the resistance since our school is NOT the one who will pay, but rather the “sending” district, the district they lived in when they were taken. That district whole heartedly agreed with full testing. The testing is supported by the caseworker, therapist and social workers for the agency we work with. What more does the school want?? Ultimately our local school did agree to test, but in the mean time we need to get her reading glasses (the lowest prescription on the planet was prescribed last week and not recommended to be filled by the dr) so they can confirm that sight is not part of her issue while she tests. Honestly, its a waste of money, but we will do it to humor them. Testing will not begin until the appropriate paperwork is signed by the state. Lets hope they feel like hurrying about something.

Our social worker will be back next Monday and while I love the family support specialist we work with, I really need our social worker to be running the show. She is so organized. I feel like I am trying to juggle all the balls right now and something will slip through the cracks. April is going to be a busy month of meetings and a time of more transitions as we are hoping that treatment teem meetings will now be held separately. Should be interesting to see how this plays out!

-Minnie xo

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

I found out “Whats next”….

I might as well have asked “Whats next?” because I found out anyway. I got a call from the group home at 3:30pm yesterday. The long story short, Donald attacked 2 staff members at his school, then ran away from the school. The group home was called, then the police. The police didnt end up getting involved because Donald agreed to leave with the group home staff. However, Donald can not return to school until further notice. The group home staff mentioned that it will take 3 weeks or so to get a tutor set up and the caseworker (who later called) mentioned potentially moving him to school for those with mental illness and behavioral issues.

I have to say, I felt a little euphoric when I got the call. FINALLY, they are seeing what we saw when he lived here. One of the 2 staff members attacked visited Donald in the hospital and frowned at the fact we couldnt manage his behaviors, looked down on us for giving up. I feel so validated that she now “gets it” and they have learned that even in a school setting where they have an abudance of staff and deal with him only a small portion of the day, he can not be kept safe nor can those around him.

We already had a school meeting set for Monday so we will attend that and help determine what happens next for Donald. I want for him to be mentally well but this is one more reminder that we did make the right choice in not letting him return. He is simply NOT safe.

I received the list of homoepathic supplements Donald is now taking. The total cost per month is in excess of $200!! I still need to do some research on their effectiveness and risks/side effects, but I can say with certainty that transitioning him here while still on these unapproved and unorthodox supplements for mental illness can not happen. As I mentioned before, we do not have benefactors to cover that monthly expense. And I havent failed to notice that they dont seem to be effective, either.

Mickey and I attended a foster parent support group last night on Loss & Grief. Its interesting to think that just a few months ago we were the “newbies”…  but I couldnt get over some of the questions foster parents were asking… “How are foster children different from biological children?” … “Why do children need to be aware of their history?”… I was dumbfounded that these foster parents are considered “prepared” to have foster children in their homes! Maybe their children arent as complex as Donald & Daffy? I just dont know.

Anyway, we left Daffy at home with Pluto and Goofy during the meeting and I am thrilled to report that they had a GREAT night! NO issues! I made a point to lather her with praise! 🙂

-Minnie xo

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