Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Giving the Orphan Back

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.
Matthew 18:5

Facts and Figures
            Today I want to talk about why people give  foster/adoptive children back. Sad as it sounds we have all heard the stories of Russia and how when people found out how abused the orphans were they immediately wanted to adopt. The surge of adoptions from Russia to the US grew rapidly and then slowly over the years the horrible stories of people sending the children back came trickling out.
        Adoption stories are not fairy tales. Many of them while they have happy endings are really a continued choice over a lifetime. I don't think the choice to adopt is a one day choice I think it's an everyday choice. As in marriage love is a choice and you choose to love that person everyday if you don't make that choice or if you believe love is an emotional response you will run into a big problem when conflict comes. In the case of the Russian orphans because they were so severely neglected they had attachment disorders. Meaning they had no emotional response to emotional stimulation. For example they didn't know how to care, love, or feel remorse. That is what they say serial killers experience emotionally, no feeling of remorse.
        Granted this is the severity of neglect. Emotional development begins when you're in the womb. When you're responded to, the attachment begins. Adoptive families have the responsibility to re-create the scenarios that help children become attached. I'm going to say right now that this is not something that naturally happens when children come into your home. It's the job of the parents to pursue this in their adopted child. If as a family you're too busy, have a lot of other children, or have commitments that take up a lot of time the child will not become attached automatically. I think this is what mainly happened to these Russian orphans. They needed a lot of time, therapy, attention, and healing and I think the good intentions of the adoptive parents weren't enough.
      I'm not putting blame on anyone I want to however show a cycle that can happen to adoptive parents. This cycle doesn't just apply to adoption but can apply to any relationship that we have. These are called the Stages of Disruption:
1. Diminishing Pleasure
2. The Person is the Problem
3. Going Public
4. Critical Incident #1
5. Ultimatum
6. Critical Incident #2
7. Disruption

I'm going to talk about a scenario that can be familiar and then one that can apply to foster/adoptive children:
  Lets say one day your talking with a friend and you find out that your best friend has told them a secret about you that you didn't want anyone to know. (Diminishing Pleasure) You start thinking about all the secrets that you told your best friend. Are they going to expose all those private details about your life to the whole world? (The Person is the Problem) After you have stewed about how your friend is going to be the worst back stabbing person you have in your life you start talking about it with your significant other. You "process" about how they are such a horrible person and how every secret that you've ever shared with them is going to be spilled out for the world to analyze. (Going Public)
  True to form your significant other sides with you and tells you to call the whole friendship off. You need to cut them off if they don't apologize! So, you go to confront them. As you're yelling at your best friend (Critical Incident #1) you tell them that if they don't stop talking about you behind your back you're never going to speak to them again (Ultimatum). The next day your best friend pounds on your door, instead of apologizing they lay into you about how you embarrassed them in front of their family (Critical Incident #2). At the end of it all you say something like "I don't care if I never see you again!" (Disruption) Now as adults who have had many relationships in our lives by now we can see a way to avoid all that drama and come to an outcome that maintains our connection to our best friend. Even after all that forgiveness goes a long way but how can these steps lead to adoptive parents calling the adoption/foster agency to come get the child and take them back?
   Children who have been exposed to the violence, neglect, pain, and home environments that are violent  are bound to come with some behaviors that you are not use to. The traditions in their previous birth families stick with them when they enter your family.
    Here's an example I want to share about this model and how it could lead to disruption. The Peters are a newly certified foster to adopt family they have not been able to have children and both are now in their 40's. Their desire is to have lots of children and after years of fertilization treatments have decided to adopt. They went through the process of being certified and were awaiting a phone call to be placed with a child. Their desire was an infant girl but they would be willing to take anything. Late one night they got the phone call they had been waiting for. There is an emergency placement of a 5 year old boy who just got taken out of a house that the cops had raided for meth. He is currently at the police station can you come and pick him up?
       The Peters talked about it for a few minutes and decided that they would take the boy though it wasn't exactly what they were hoping for. They drove to the police station to pick him up, after filling out paper work the look at the frail, dirt filled child and gently took him to the car. When they got home they gave him a bath and put him to bed. When they woke up the next day and looked in his room he had disappeared. Frantic they start calling his name "Shane, where are you?" Finally they hear a rustling sound coming from under his bed. They take a peek and there he was curled in a ball under the bed. After coaxing him out from under the bed they make him breakfast. He eats so fast, stuffing his face with food not using fork or spoon just his hands.
      The Peters are educated adults who know what the signs of abuse and neglect are so they are understanding but somewhere inside of them they were expecting this to go a little differently. After breakfast they decide to go for a walk down to the park. So they dress him, mind you he hasn't said a word since they got him, and take him for a walk. Before they get to the end of the driveway he bursts into a run right into the middle of the street. Mr. Peters screams "no! come back!" which only makes the boy more scared and he runs further. Bother Mr. and Mrs. Peters take off after the boy which they find hours later hiding up in a tree.
      They take him out of the tree gently even though he's screaming and hitting them. Back at home it's past lunch time so they feed him again and again he stuffs his face and even starts putting food in his pockets. Mac and cheese don't really keep well in pockets. All these incidents are (diminishing their pleasure in having a child). Mrs. Peters had decided to have some friend over that night to meet their new son so she started preparing for the BBQ they were going to have. Her husband had to get some work done so she tells Shane he can go play in his room with all his new toys. Shane seemingly obedient goes into his room, while in his room he unloads all the food in his pocket and puts it in a secret stash under the bed. He looks at the toys but doesn't know what to do with them so he picks them up at starts throwing them one by one until they start shattering all over the floor.
      Mrs. Peters hears all this noise coming from Shane's bedroom so she puts down the meat that she was marinading and runs to see what's going on. Before they had Shane they had filled the room that he now currently was staying in with hundreds of dollars worth of toys. Even some old toys they both her and her husband had played with as children where in the collection. When she opened the door h she couldn't believe what she was seeing. Every single toy was laying in pieces on the floor. The walls had huge holes where he had thrown the toys. She felt her blood pressure rising. How could he do such a thing?! She was starting to think this wasn't a good idea after all this kid was a mess!
    After getting her husband they cleaned up the mess and helped him clean up his clothing. Their guests were starting to arrive so they didn't have time to do anything about their walls. As the guests started coming one by one they met Shane. "Oh he's so cute they exclaimed! " "What a sweet boy!"
they said. As Mrs. Peters was in the kitchen finishing up the food her best friend comes in. "So how's in going? Feeling great being a mother?"
       "To be honest Mrs. Peters says he's really got problems." she starts going into all the drama that had happened that day. "Wow, her best friend said that's rough. I hope that he gets over this phase soon. You've waited so long to be a mother it would be so tragic if you had a kid that turned out to be a mess." Mrs. Peters felt like she had waited a long time and had been through hell to get a child so she really did deserve a sweet, loving child. She went public with her feelings and now she was responsible to do something about it.
       As people started hanging out in the back yard smelling the BBQ, Mrs. Peters ask Mr. Peters if he had seen Shane. "No, dear I've been talking business with Mr. Holt here. I'm sure he's around somewhere maybe in his room." Mrs. Peters shakes a few hands on the way to finding her son all of a sudden she starts smelling something like fire. Attributing it to the BBQ she thinks nothing of it. She opens the door to Shane's room and sees him crouched down on the floor. "Hey, Shane would you like to eat some food?"  As he turns around she notices the match too late, somehow he had grabbed one of the matches they used to light the BBQ without anyone noticing. He throws the lit match on to her apron instantly catching it on fire. Mrs. Peters screams, and hearing her screams the guests run into the room. One of the party guest quickly puts out the fire but not before Mrs. Peters is badly burned and in need of medical attention. (Critical Incident #1)
         A week later Mrs. Peters was nursing her 3rd degree burns which where on her thighs, stomach and for arms. Shane was still living with the Peters but right after the incident Mr. Peters had warned Shane if he didn't stop setting things on fire he would have to go live somewhere else (Ultimatum). Mrs. Peters was really heart broken over all of it. The thought of a perfect happy little family was now shattered into a million different pieces.
         One night as Mr. and Mrs. Peters where watching TV in bed they heard the loudest noise they had ever heard. The biggest boom came from outside in the driveway. They rush out side to find their car completely engulfed in flames. They were completely bewildered because they were sure they had taken every match out of the house after the first incident. Behind them hiding in the bushes was Shane. He had hidden a match the day he had thrown one at Mrs. Peters. That was the last straw for Mr. Peters he called the fire department and then the social worker. (Disruption) "What happened the social worker asked I thought it was all going well?" The Peters had thought that they were able to handle all of the incidents on their own and hadn't mentioned the steps that were leading to the disruption of this child.
     This story is just an example of what could happen when you don't communicate with your social worker at stage one. These stories are common in foster/adoptive situations. While we on the outside could say we would never throw Shane out of our house that may not be true. All of us have our buttons and when they are consistently pushed it's not a far jump to sending a child back to where they came from. The point to all of this is know what you are getting into. Understand that your commitment to a broken child can not be fickle it has to be constant and continual.

Thoughts and Journal Entries
July 2011 
    Funny things happen when you are on the road of single motherhood. Two months ago I got a camera ticket for making a right on a red light with out stopping. Yeah for the $500 ticket. There's no way on Gods green earth that I can pay for this thing so I went to the police station and they said that I could go to court a year from now and talk with a judge about setting up payments or something. Hopefully in a year I'll have enough money from my books ect. that I can pay it out right. It's really hard feeling the weight of debt. Dear Jesus I want to be debt free amen!
    This month a lot of things happened. I no longer work for my boss they left for England but I taught a soaking seminar last month and this month I'm working at a church camp for kids so that will bring some finances in. I'm really hoping that my soaking manual gets published soon so I can have that as a stream of income.
    We went to visit baby girls siblings for the first time this month. It was surreal not going to lie one of her sisters asked when they were all going to be a family again. I know that they most likely at this point won't all be together just because of the circumstances but it broke my heart to hear anyway. My DCSF worker by the way is a saved, loving Jesus believer and I've gotten to pray over her and encourage her. I can't imagine the case load which is so large and all the pressure it's a lot to deal with. Even though they aren't suppose to take sides I know I have a lot of favor with her. It's really encouraging to have her come and I can chat with her about the case.
     It's baby's first fourth of July and even though I'm exhausted I'm forcing myself to be social and be around people who I can have conversations with. Talking to a baby all day long isn't really socializing. It's kind of hard for me to talk to other people who don't have babies because I'm so baby brain now I don't even think about other things. Dear me there goes my social connections! I do have a foster family group that I'm a part of which really helps. Talking about the status of the cases that we are each in is therapeutic.
       I had a dream about the baby's name. She came with a name but I've decided that when I'm able to adopt her I'll call her Isabella and move her birth name to her middle name. She didn't have a middle name that they told me of so I'll give her the nick name Bella. She's starting to sit up and babble a lot and I'm convinced she will pop a tooth soon.
       In the secret place when I'm with the Lord I keep hearing Him say that everything will be alright. I feel the reassurance that she will be with me for the rest of my life. I've had some of the craziest prophetic words about how I'm going to not be able to adopt her ect. Man I hate when people put their issues into prophetic words drive me bonkers. Anyway, I'm still pastoring but it's getting hard. I really don't have time for crazy people any more. I can't give any more I'm so tired really and everything that I've been giving is to Bella. My seasons have officially shifted and I can feel it. Motherhood is so beautiful, it's the most amazing journey that I've ever been on. Having this baby who is such a representation of God's heart. I'm so loved! What an honor it is to be this baby's mother.
The Patriot

First Swing ride!

Rollie Pollie

Monday, May 21, 2012

Loss is a Four Letter Word

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.
Proverbs 31:8-9

Facts and Figures
      Last month we had our annual seminar at the foster/adoption agency that I'm with. It was very informative but I think the best thing that I loved hearing was the stories. When you hear stories from other foster/adoptive parents and then from the adopted children themselves you get a picture of the pit falls, joys, and pain. These stories are not for the faint at heart. Being a foster family is asking to take a journey of uncertainty.
      What stuck out most were the stories of the adopted children. Many who were adopted as infants really didn't have any desire to seek out their birth parents but the ones who had known their birth parents took journeys to find their birth families. Which ever way my daughter wants to go I will be supportive. I want her to feel free to write her story the way she wants to. She will always be my daughter but I know that she is connected with these people who have made up her past and I will never deny her that understanding.
     I want to segway into a four letter word that we have been trained about. It's a four letter word that has a lot of power and repercussions it's the word LOSS. Through understanding loss we can understand the process by which children in the foster care system process their emotions. Kubler Ross a psychologist developed the stages of grief which happens after a loss. First stage is denial, then it's bargaining, and then comes anger, and then depression, coping, and finally acceptance or management of loss.
      As adults we understand loss, we can wrap our heads around the stages and yet many people stay in one stage or another sometimes for a life time. There are 3 types of loss: loss of health, loss of a significant person, loss of self-esteem. When people identify what significantly makes them angry it's usually a loss of self esteem for example: think of the last time you were angry this week. Things like my husband/wife didn't get dinner ready on time, my boss promoted someone who can't do their job correctly, or my child hit someone at school. These are all examples of losses of self esteem.
   The thinking being if someone loved you enough to feed you it would be done on time, if your boss knew how hard you were working they would have promoted you not your incompetent co-worker, your child hitting another child at school can insinuate that you aren't a good enough parent to control your child. All of these things are losses that we either fly through the stages of grief over or we get stuck in one stage and can't get ourselves out of it. Lets take the example of the dinner being served on time. Lets say you get into a fight over the dinner time and the lack of it being on the table then later that week you still haven't let it go and you're in the anger stage. You start becoming angry at anything your husband/wife does because your heart is hurt and  you have not yet let it go. When you accept and let it go you are able to manage that loss without letting it effect your relationships.
   So...how does this effect a foster/adopted child? Every person has at 3 "parents" people who birth them, people who raise them, and people who have authority over them. For most of us all those "parents" lie in just 2 people, for those of us who have won the parent monopoly our parents birthed us, raised us, and have legal authority over us. For children in not only foster care but also adoption situations these "parents" are all different people. You have the birth parents who gave the genes, the adoptive parents who raise them, and the State who has authority over them until they are fully adopted. So, these children come into the system with substantial loss. They have lost their connection with their birth family, which contains history, culture, family norms, and traditions. Most of them have lost the innocence of the world being a safe place for them. Some have lost their sexual innocence. Their losses are more then we really know. These children come into our homes in the middle of the stages of grieving having no concept of what's going on to them, so their behavior reflects that. Infants, don't make eye contact, cry a lot, and have rigid bodies. These are also signs of drug detox which is why many children get put into foster/adoptive families.
     Older children will exhibit temper tantrums, extreme anger, depression, self mutilation, sexual activity, defiance, and running away. This child is coming into your family with these behaviors and you have to figure out how to begin the journey of healing with them. It's all about the children. That has to be your motto. If you have to stay home from work to stay connected with them, or if you have to be at their therapies its all about the children/child. This is the sacrifice that's required of you. It's a constant laying down of your life for the betterment of the child who is in your care who came to you experiencing loss.
   We have to be loss managers, people who can not only identify but manage our response to loss so in turn helping our children heal from their own. The best way is to return to love, aiming your love at the loss and processing your continued value. Understanding that your value doesn't change no matter what happens and neither does your children's. Every child has the right to have a healthy, safe, life giving environment to grow up in. We have the privilege to have these children in our families. Being a foster/adoptive parent isn't a right it's an honor. When we see it this way we become less demanding for perfection and take the lower road of humility towards healing. Every child is a blessing!

Thoughts and Journal Entries
June 2011 

           For  first time in my life I got lice. Not going to lie, I thought that it was this new shampoo that I bought a while ago so I think I've had the lice for several months not knowing. It was a burning feeling in the back of my head and I kept scratching but I had no idea! I freaked out! Since my life long goal is to be a missionary and I'm usually not scared of many creatures big or small  it makes me laugh now about how much I freaked about it. This is my final month at my job and my student said "oh yeah don't worry we get them all the time in England." What?! OMG how crazy! Anyway after I freaked out my friend from Thailand who was visiting me helped me comb out all the eggs and kill every last louse. She thought it was fun since it too is very common in Thailand. I had seen a bug in the baby's hair when I first got her but the Dr. had said there was no way she had lice she was too little apparently it doesn't stick on the hair shaft because it's too thin. It might have been in the bag of clothing I got when I got her as well.
    Everything in my house went in the wash. I killed every last egg and got my hair cut as well as the baby's just to be safe. Man, talk about an experience being sleep deprived, working, and now running down to the washer and dryer a million times it was rough. I'm getting use to the sleepless nights. It's not as bad as it use to be really she only gets up about 2 times a night now and I can manage with a whole pot of coffee a day :) My poor liver, after she starts sleeping better I'll have to go on a cleanse.
   My agency social worker started only coming every other week so I don't have to make sure the house is spectacular every week I can relax a bit now. It's so hard to have someone look over your shoulder every week judging you on if you're a good parent or not. I've never been a parent before of course I don't know what I'm doing (Thank God for Google amen).
   You know I haven't had to buy diapers since I first got baby girl? People have been so generous that I've literally haven't needed to buy her diapers yet.
  We went to the beach for the first time it was so beautiful and fun!  We also went to six flags and the Getty this month. I do realize that these aren't really baby friendly places but I think she had fun. Baby is growing so big and learning so much. Any detachment issues when she came are completely gone. When I first got her I just held her skin to skin contact for weeks, got her on a routine and made sure at least for the first 3 weeks I was the one mainly holding her. It is great that I've had support during church when I'm working people are looking out for her when I'm doing the kids or worship. I love the body of support!
    I'm less active in evening activities with my friends because having a baby stay up at night is hard so I'm missing out on a lot of socializing. Anyone who watches baby has to be background checked and finger printed and all that is about 60$ which makes it hard to get babysitters that and not really having finances for babysitters. This is where I really wish my mom was around or even my sister. Having family is important when it comes to having children. I miss having the family structure around. It's amazing and hard having someone depend on you 24/7. If I don't feed her she doesn't eat, if I don't bathe her she doesn't get clean ect. All these things have to be consistent whether you feel like it or not. You have to keep it together and push on loving when all your energy, love, and emotions are drained and all you want to do is sleep for a month straight.
     On a lighter note baby girl has started eating some mashed food and I'm making it all organic and homemade I think I'm winning mother of the year award...I think there should be an award for every mother every day because they do a lot that may never be seen. I hope for those readers out there who need encouragement know that you're not alone in raising those babies. Even if it feels like you're all tapped out it's ok everything will come into place!
Too cute with her baby jeans!

Patito bath time!

Baby's first 1/2 Christmas

First time at the beach right after lice incident


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mothers Day

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
Isaiah 1:17

Facts and Figures

         I don't know what topic to focus on in this blog entry, there are really many thoughts floating through my mind. So I'll start writing and then hopefully I'll land on something that makes sense. In the foster system there's a lot of inefficiency. From the time that it takes for the child to enter an adoptive home to the completion of adoption could be years. The communication of the different departments and the agencies to the lawyers and the judges. In my experience so far there seems to be a major break down in what people know and what they don't know.
    For example the county social worker doesn't ever really know when the court hearings are and then when the court hearings happen it can be weeks before they know what the ruling was. Now the agency workers usually know less then the adoptive parents and they know way less then the county social worker. Lets say frustration isn't even the beginning of what can be felt by an adoptive parent. You, as a parent, are bonding to this child the more they are in your care the more you fall in love with them. The idea that you could have a child in your home for more then 2 years and still have them taken away is unthinkable.
    One thing I would love to see fixed is the communication between the agencies, lawyers, courts, parents, and social workers. I understand the social workers being overworked and having so many cases that they don't even know which case they are on but that too needs to be fixed. I'm not complaining for complaining sake I think there has to be solutions out there. I think of fortune 500 companies who have thousands of employees and somehow that huge machine runs with efficiency enough to be productive.
   Wouldn't it be great if you had a business person who is highly trained in running a huge company to come in and draw up a plan where there was cleaner lines of communication, ways of saving time and energy so that children aren't in the system so long and there's not so much wasted time and energy? Just a thought.
  This month was huge for us they terminated the FR services and so we are one step closer. I'm hoping it will be quick from here on out. It's just frustrating the communication is so bad between everyone I haven't heard from my county social worker in over a month.

 Thoughts and Journal Entries
May 2011
       It's my first mothers day this month. I took baby girl for the first time to Bethel to see my family. I spent mothers day listening to Bill J. give a great message about mommas. I really miss my mother. I know that she would have loved to see the baby. All of my family seems to love her though I don't know if the reality of what I'm doing is really sinking into any of them. My sister can't get enough she's going to be an awesome mother someday. I had to get permission for the trip but I didn't hear until the last minute it's been really hard to get a hold of my social worker.
      Being here in Redding I'm thinking about our future. I really don't want to raise her in the city. I want her to have a back yard where she can get dirty make forts and be free to explore nature. I just don't see that as a possibility in LA. I see kids in LA who are already worried about how they look and what they are wearing. The shallow materialistic worries bother me especially for children so young. I don't want her to growing up caring about how she looks or her body image being bombarded by fake computerized images. I want her to be free to breath in nature explore God's creation and to be more of a deep thinker.
     I can't deny that it would be great to live in a small town again with friends and family around without all the burdens of running a department. I thought when I got the baby things would be different but nothing has really changed I'm still running the children's department, doing worship, and will start worship painting. I haven't had many volunteers for the kids department and I love the kids but I'm so sleep deprived it's really getting to me.
      Being in Redding around family lets me relax and breathe. I miss the nature everywhere you don't really get that in the city. I love seeing the mountains and just the 5 minute drive anywhere really gives me a break. It's hard having a baby in the car for a hour drive by yourself. Though I do have to say packing a baby and all that they need in a car and driving for hours is hard too. No wonder people take staycations there's a lot of energy in taking a kid on vacation.
     Also this month we celebrated labor day by hiking in Malibu that was fun bringing the baby. However I realize any sort of excursion and I'm really worried about breaking her schedule. It's so interesting how much the feeding and nap time schedule cuts into everything that I do. She's sleeping better at night and she seems to not have as much stomach problems as she did when I first got her. She had her 3 month shots and I almost bolted through the roof. 3 shots on each leg and an oral polio what are these people crazy? I wish I didn't have to get her vaccinated pumping a little body full of all those chemicals made me almost loose it. We put our children through torture because of fear. I'll talk about my views on vaccines later but I seriously had to have trauma broken off of me. They made me hold her down through the whole ordeal I wanted to punch someone.
    Any way this month has been full of interesting news turns out I'm loosing my job. Nothing that I did just my student and her mother are moving back to England. So my fear of being a single mother without a source of income is about to be fully realized. Thank you Jesus for faith, I've lived this way many times and I know that He will not let us go hungry! Does this pose a problem with your adoption? Yes, I guess it could if I don't pay my bills but I know God will come through He always has and always will. We will see how this story unfolds because I just said yes to this journey God is the one that has to write in the lines.

One of my favorites!

Mexican Ballerina

First Hike!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Easter is for Pink Dresses

When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all you do.
Deuteronomy 24:19

Facts and Figures
       I wanted to talk a little bit about what the first step in the foster to adopt process is. This part I would call the re-unification portion. When you first get a foster child the county's goal is re-unifying them with their family. They believe that the best place for any child is with their parent/s. While most of us would be critical of this is a very basic right. The right to be a parent is one of the most primal and basic rights any human has. From years of observing families I know that truly in a healthy family children belong in the parents so questions ask but what about an unhealthy home?
      If I were a parent who had lost their children to the system I know I would want every chance I could have to get my kids back. This part of the process is really hard on a lot of foster parents many of them have the hardest time dealing with a drug addict parent getting their children back. From the other side however there are actually a lot of birth parents who want their children back but because of their life circumstance they don't complete the goals that are set up for them by the county these services are called FR services.
   FR services stands for Family Reunification services, this is where the county by court order is mandated to make services and opportunities available for the birth parents to get their kids back. This looks like finding them jobs,  apartments, drug rehabs, giving them monitored visits with their children, programs that can help them get on their feet, and/or parenting classes. The county social workers try and help the parents get their children back. So this part is on the parents, they have to show up to their child visitation appointments, they have to pursue job leads, go through rehab, complete parenting classes, and stay on schedule. Most child visitations are 3 times a week for up to 3 hours each visit. It can be high stress of foster parents who are required to drive the child back and forth from the visits. Some foster parents stay during the visits to bond with the birth parent. That is completely up to the foster parent.
    If however the birth parent fails to show up or completely the plan set in place for their success the county will move to have what's called termination of FR services. That means that the county will no longer make an effort to help the birth parent get their life together. At this point when this happens the children are moved to homes that are more of a permanent placement if they aren't already in one. Children will be placed immediately placed in an adoptive home if there are other siblings who have already been on the county's case for a while and the parent has made no effort to visit or has failed to complete the tasks at hand. The judges assign parents a high number of visits in the beginning because they believe that if a parent can't be a parent for 3 times a week they can't be a parent for 24/7 when they get their kids back. So for them it's a quick plunge into what it would be like to have kids for a period of time.
    With children who are placed into an adoptive home right away because of a history with the birth parents they usually do what's called "Fast Track." This basically means that they will only give the birth parent 6 months with FR services for that child. Unlike what they did with the older children which could be longer than a year. When the "Fast Track" a child from start to finish they want the whole thing to take less then 18 months. The reason being especially for newborns it's hard to pull a child out of a home at an age but especially after 18 months. Again however with the FR services if the parent shows up to the visits consistently and is on track with the plan DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) has put in place they will give the parent the chance.
    From a foster parent's perspective this is so hard, to see a birth parent who has obviously done something to jeopardize this child's life and you have to be for the re-unification. You can't do anything to mess up this child going back to their family you have to sit and smile and your feelings have to be stuffed way down because you don't want to loose this precious one either. It really is hard for everyone involved and if the child is old enough to know what's going on it's even worse for them. I do however still believe that the effort of the county to help these parents get their children back is great. It may seem counter intuitive to say but they are really the unsung heroes of this country fighting to keep families together and in healthy homes. Do they make mistakes of course and in their jobs mistakes can be fatal but they are the ones doing a really hard job I don't think there's any room for criticizing.

 Thoughts and Journal Entries
April 2011
   Wow, I can't believe it's been over a month now since I've had baby girl in my life. I don't even remember my life before her it's as if it all lead up to the moment of having this little one in my life. We have had 2 scheduled visits with the birth mother but both times she didn't show up. It was gut wrenching both times but God keeps telling me she's yours and I have to trust that voice. I know she's not my adopted daughter yet but I asked a friend if he wouldn't mind doing a photo shoot for us. I want to take pictures while she's still tiny so that she can look back and see that we were together pretty much from the beginning. The pictures turned out fantastic!
   It was also her first Easter this month and I dressed her up in a cute fluffy pink Easter dress she really looked Hispanic, she was adorable! She's the most precious thing ever! We've had a couple rough weeks with her recovering from a severe diaper rash and me trying to find the right formula. I really wish I could find breast milk for her I think it would be the best but it's so expensive. I got her on WIC program which gives us welfare checks for formula but the only formula that it buys is the one with corn syrup and sugar as the first ingredients. It's really outrageous how from birth they set up the poor for health failure. Come on people! Literally the woman at WIC told me there's no difference from an organic formula to the formula you can buy with the checks we give you. I wanted to strangle her, though I do have to say I looked as poor and undereducated as some of their clients so she wouldn't know I knew better.
  Other then that our agency social worker who comes by every week is a sweet heart. She's a bit new so she's a little more strict on the rules then my home study worker was but she's great. So when she comes the knives go in hiding along with the meds, vitamins, and anything else considered dangerous. It's hilarious that for an infant who can't even hold her head up I have to hide the knives.
  Being woken up 3 times a night can really mess with your head. I'm exhausted, I can barely think straight. Every morning I wake up and drink a whole french press of coffee. I know it's bad for me but I don't care at this point I'm just trying to get through the day without collapsing. I realize why I want to get married more now then ever before. At this point however with my dark circles, barely showered, messed up hair look I'm sure I'm attracting no one. Oh well Jesus knows. Climbing up the stairs to my apartment with a baby and groceries is a real rough task but hopefully that's considered exercise because it's going to be a while before I see a gym again.
   I started taking baby girl to the chiropractor seriously it has saved my life! She's no longer complaining at night of stomach pains, her gas is gone, and she's sleeping for longer bouts. While I know I'm breaking the rules I have to keep the baby in my bed at night there's no way I can get up and get to the crib in the middle of the night. It's way easier for me to just roll over and feed her a bottle at night she goes to sleep faster when she can feel me. I don't think that the rules of not sleeping with a baby in your bed are healthy in the beginning. Especially because she wasn't born from my body she's still learning my scent and heart beat. Before I put her to sleep I've just rocked with her head on my heart letting her hear me. I've been consistent with the bath routine every night the same routine about the same time. Even though I'm over worked and exhausted it's all worth it. She's the light of my life I wouldn't have it any other way!

Link I read about co-sleeping:

My baby girl!


First Easter

Friday, May 4, 2012

Motherhood has Begun

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families.
Psalms 68:5-6

Facts and Figures
     In this section of the blog I want to address a few of the realities of going down the journey of adoption. I think when I started this journey I pictured friends and family being involved but I didn't think about who the baby would bring with her. 
     During our training they told us to be ready to have a zillion people who weren't related to us be in our home and in our lives. I didn't think much of it because I'm use to people. The reality is it's a lot more intrusive then you might think. You have the county social worker, the agency social worker, the pediatrician, the siblings (if there are any), the birth mother and father, any grandparents, aunts, uncles, lawyers, and adoption workers who are different then your social workers. These are the people that come with the child you are going to adopt. Family with standing many of these people will be in your home weekly if not more. Especially at the beginning where they have to document every movement and make sure you're doing well and adjusting to having a child in your environment. 
    I do have to say after a while it gets better. For the first 3 months I had 1 social worker visit every week and another visit every month. Also we were called by the attorney and then they sent a representative over. Each time they had to see where the baby slept and make a general sweep of the house. As they got to know me better it eased up but it was very intrusive at the beginning. They will always ask how the baby sleeps, eats, new milestones, emotional state, your emotional state, and usually some personal things about work and life in general. 
     The harder part is the birth family. I know for me personally it was really hard in the beginning because I got so use to this baby being mine that whenever I heard news about the birth family it brought a hard reality check that she wasn't even mine yet I was just a glorified babysitter in the eyes of the State. We had siblings and birth mom to worry about, but really we only visited the siblings in the end. Of course you get attached to them as well and really my heart was conflicted about how much I wanted to adopt this little one and have her be all mine and how much I hated seeing families torn apart. 
   I know other foster/adopt parents who have had several meetings with the birth parents. The goal is to reunify the child with their biological parent and if that can't work out one way or another then you're the one that gets the child. Here's another catch, at anytime a relative who is certified and background checked could step in and start taking care of the child. You're the last one to have rights and the last one to be looked at as a caregiver for the child. It's hard there are a lot of emotions running through you. The birth parents usually have to do something really drastic to loose their child. I know sometimes media portrays that for any reason DCSF could take away your child but the reality is it's not like that. Usually the parents break laws, are addicted or have abused their child. So when you meet the birth parent you have to act like you're cool with them trying to take back their child and that's a hard thing to do for anyone. 
  Having all these people in your life really will disrupt everything, you won't ever be the same. That child that is now in your home has brought a whole other family with them. I would suspect it's like being married (though I wouldn't know) you have to make adjustments and realize you're committing to everything that this child has to offer. Even for people who are just adopting either internationally or domestically it can be the same with the involvement of so many people in your case. 
  The thing to remember is that at some point when the journey of adoption is over you will have that child in your family no matter who they bring with them. It's a beautiful thing sometimes to realize that all these people are moved by this one life.

 Thoughts and Journal Entries
March 2011
   The call that I had been holding my breath for came on the 7th. I was unable to take the call right away so I called the lady back she said we have a Hispanic baby girl who will be taken from her current foster home tomorrow she's 5 weeks old do you want her? Of course I knew immediately that this is the baby the Lord had told me about. I found out that she was born the day after I was certified how crazy was that. God's timing is never off. I was sooooo nervous I couldn't sleep that night at all. I had everything ready I had called her Dr. the day before and made an appointment for a check up literally 30 mins after they were going to drop her off. They told me that with in the first 24 hours I had to have her checked out by a physician so he could say if she was alright or not.
  Anyway I got everything I could think of ready I didn't really look through the clothing sizes in the closet I had one outfit at the time that was newborn but what did I know, she would come with clothing and that should be fine.  The next day I went to work and got off early to meet the social worker at my place. My placement lady was there and we talked while waiting. It was as if I was on a first date there were butterflies in my stomach and I was so nervous. I didn't go about having a baby in the traditional sense of the word so I didn't have 9 months to get to know this baby before having her in my life. The social worker pulled up and met me on the street. She took her out of the car seat, when I saw her for the first time my heart melted.
   She was so tiny and she was screaming, now that I think about it of course she was screaming.  The social worker was paranoid the birth mother was following her because she had done that to other foster parents. As I was holding this little one in my arms I kept thinking I can't believe it she's here. After all this time waiting and wondering what she was going to look like there she was in my arms so beautiful and tiny. We went up to the apartment to sign papers. She had a bag of clothing that her foster parent had sent with her(the clothing she came with turned out to be not in the best condition so I was unable to use any of it but it all had to be cataloged anyway). I will at this time call her baby girl because I want to keep a bit undercover. Anyway, baby girl had a lot of things going on when I got her none of them however were drug with drawl. I signed the papers as quick as possible the whole time this baby is screaming at the top of her lungs. I don't blame her she's in a completely different environment with strangers. I was holding her and rocking her and signing paperwork it was a rough first 20 mins. As soon as the social workers walked out the door I had her in the car seat and off to the Dr.s. We were running late but luckily it was 5 mins away. I had no idea what I was doing with the car seat. I wrapped the seat belt around it of course incorrectly and just prayed the angels would hold it. I had a diaper bag with me and some diapers but I didn't know at the time she had a dirty diaper and was wrapped in 3 layers of clothing sweating and the car seat was facing backwards and the sun was in her eyes. OMG what in the world was I thinking. Dear Jesus help me! So we ran into the Dr.s office and he looks her over for 5 mins and says she looks fine in his broken English and after I get him to fill out a form we are on our way back home. Where I have to figure out what to do with a new born.
 I called my friend because I didn't know what else to do she was still fussy after a bottle, a change of clothing and a clean diaper I was running out of options. The following day the agency social worker was coming over and I had a huge pile of paperwork that I had to fill out. Really they give you a new born and expect you to fill out all this paperwork? Super parent much? Anyway I eventually got her to sleep and was still super nervous about bottles, formula, diapers, sleeping positions, and schedules. I think I was googling every five minutes to see what parents where saying about this or that. I really missed my mom she was the person I needed most at that moment. I wish she would have been with me to see the baby. Anyway we got through the night of course the baby woke up so many times. My life was over, I love sleep and this little one was ruining it.
 I now truly believe all parents are super heroes because for the first 3 days I not only took care of a new born, I filled out paperwork, worked, ran errands, paid bills, and did whatever else needed doing. The first week was a blur but I do remember at one point being so exhausted that I started passing out forgetting where I was and what I was doing. My roomie saved my rear one night while her and another friend watched baby girl while I slept for several hours. I told the Lord right then that He had promised to be the husband and He needed to take at least one night shift so I could get some sleep. Not kidding 5 seconds later a friend that I really didn't know that well offered to sleep on my couch and do the night shift for me. I cried, she helped me out so much. Because I was working during the day and I brought baby girl with me to work I didn't have time to nap with her during the day.
 I think about the first few days at work, I had the greatest boss she told me one day because I was so exhausted to just lie down and she watched the baby while I took a nap. At one point I was so emotional I sobbed in her arms I felt like I was super hormonal from having  a baby. It was strange it was if I had her myself my hormones where on over drive.
 Though the first weeks were a bit rough going I couldn't imagine it any other way. This little life completely dependent on the adults in her life to fight for her, be a voice for her, take care of her, and protect her. I had never known that type of dependency before someone completely dependent on me. In that moment I realized that I wanted to be like that. Completely dependent on God. What a beginning to such and amazing story.

Dear baby girl,
   The first day that I saw you and held you I knew that you would be in my life forever. I would do anything to see you happy and free. Your tiny hands and feet where so cute I couldn't help but kiss them all the time. What a miracle you are. Before the beginning of time God thought of you and when He designed you He knew I was going to get to be your mommy. I love you more then words could say. I promise to be there for all your firsts and your lasts. You are the best and greatest gift anyone has ever given me. I will always fight for you and will be cheering you on no matter what. You will always be my child no matter what happens. For the moments when you don't have a voice I will speak for you, for the times you can't reach high enough I will reach for you. Anything that is in my strength to give you I will. God designed you with an amazing personality, a unique history, and a great destiny. There's nothing and no one that will take away your light. Know this my beloved daughter I will be here through thick and thin. I can't wait to see what you will become but I'm happy right now in this moment holding your tiny form and listening to your soft breathing. The best time for me is seeing you at peace in dream land. I will always love you!

Your forever mommy

First Picture