Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Christmas Miracle


For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 
Isaiah 9:6

Facts and Figures

   In this months facts and figures I was having a hard time coming up with something that I wanted to discuss but because of what this month has symbolized for my daughter and I, I thought I'd talk about the basic rights that we have as humans to be parents.

  What is so phenomenal about our country is that our forefathers set up our Constitution and Bill of Rights in such a way where the basic rights of humans where protected. One of these basic fundamental rights is the right to have children. Not only in this country, but many other nations hold this as a basic human right as well. Because of the gravity of the meaning of a fundamental right taking away such a right is taken with great gravity by the courts.

 Because of the gravity of these decisions the termination of said right is given to the superior court system to execute. Sufficient evidence has to be found. Months of investigation and due diligence has to be done on the part of the Department of Children and Family Services. These are 5 different reasons why parental rights can be terminated.  
 • Abandonment: This means that you did not communicate with your children at all in the six
months before ACS or the foster care agency asked to terminate your rights.

• Permanent Neglect: This means that you did not make plans for the future of your children
and you did not work with ACS or the foster care agency caring for your children for more than
one year after your children entered foster care.

The three other grounds are mental illness, mental retardation, and severe and repeated abuse.

 I agree with making it hard to loose children because you would as a parent want every chance to get your children back. It can be hard at times through this process to understand why things go the way that they do.  For us our case is so different than that of Bella's siblings. It really just depends on not only the social worker you have but the age of the child and the circumstances surrounding the case.

 That being said while being a parent is a right, being a foster/adopt parent is a privilege. There are so many things that may not seem just in your eyes as a foster/adopt parent. From birth parents to social workers. Really what I've found is the best interest of the child can be seen so differently from one social worker to another, it's so subjective. There's a lot of leeway in the law, there are fine lines that the law does not define. For example I've heard of social workers who because of race have taken babies out of homes because they didn't think the race fit even though the foster parent had the child for over a year and had the desire to adopt the child. That example is a woman I met in court who worked directly with the county and didn't have an agency she went through.

 We have to understand that the social workers, lawyers, and therapists are really trying to do what's best for the child but they are also human. If they were adopted themselves they could have their own opinions about terminating parental rights based on the experience they had as children. Either way you look at it it's hard to make those decisions. I'm glad I'm not a judge making those kinds of calls day in and day out. You are effecting not only children's lives but masses of families they are forever shifted by the decisions you make as a judge.

 To conclude, terminating parental rights is not something that can be taken lightly. We have to understand the weight of what it means. You're taking the right away from a parent, saying this child is no longer your right to have. I love adoption and everything that it stands for but I do not take taking someones liberty away lightly. I hope that you will look at your children biological or adopted and hug them extra close and thank God that you live in a country that doesn't take the bond between child and parent flippantly.  

Thoughts and Journal Entries
December 2011 

  This month was huge for us. Last month the judge had decided to give one more month before terminating parental rights. We had a sibling visit and a visit with birth mother. I didn't see birth mom and the social worker handled the visit. I was super nervous that the birth mother would start fighting for Bella as soon as she saw how cute she has grown to be. So when the court date came it was really intense.
   I really wished at the moment that we were at court I was married. Supposed birth father showed up scared the living day lights out of me. I've never had contact with him and he was circling  and being very scary. It's ludicrous that we are all put in one big room,  everyone together! Because I had brought the baby this time on the advice of the lawyer I had my friend run her out to the car because he was getting so close. Mind you he never has seen her and he some how just guessed, he had someone follow me into the bathroom. The whole thing made me so jumpy and I just wanted to run.

 Turns out our case wasn't even called till after lunch and we were there for no other reason than to be tormented. The lawyer called with the news that termination of parental rights had happened. It was over.  With that news I immediately started calling my daughter by the name that I felt God had given me in a dream. So Bella was now being called by her adopted name (you can't call a foster child their adopted name until parental rights are terminated because it's seen as compromising the bond between birth parent and child).

 A couple days after termination of parental rights happened I drove baby and I up north for Christmas vacation. I got up at 5 am and started driving in the dark knowing there's no way I was going to be able to drive alone with a screaming child in the back all 8 hours, by the time she woke up we were a good 5 hours into our drive. We stopped I did morning routine with her and we had breakfast and kept going. It's really daunting driving so far by yourself but I've done it so many times I don't even think about it. Having a baby in the car is a different story though. We made it to my sisters and I collapsed. It must have been all the stress and leaving the city but that night I got so ill I couldn't move. Every muscle and bone in my body ached something horrible. When the baby woke up I could barely get her out of the pack and play. Thankfully my sister was there to help watch her when I took a long hot shower. It's the little things I miss. I haven't taken a long shower in I don't know how long.

 After 2 days of the worst achy flu I've ever had I finally started feeling better. Unfortunately, before we left LA Bella had gotten her second ear infection of the season so she was on antibiotics for the second month in a row. When we got to my sisters she was getting worse. She started coughing and wheezing, and had no fever but a bad cold. After a week of this I took her to a Dr. up there who didn't do anything and because she was on antibiotics told me it must be a virus and there was nothing she could do. Grrr..being sick taking care of someone who is sick is hard. We got better though in time for Christmas and enjoyed it fairly flu free.

 While I was up north I started to realize how amazingly peaceful I felt. It was really relaxing to spend time with family and friends. I had clearer thoughts and was more myself then I have been in a while. For some reason the city kills me. I need nature, trees, fresh air, and family. While I was breathing in all this fresh air my car battery started dying. Found out that I needed a new car battery which I just added to my list of things I needed breakthrough for.

 Going back to before we left I had been counting the finances up and I knew that Christmas was being squeezed out by the mounting bills and the lessening cash flow. I got on my knees again and was specific with God. This was Bella's first Christmas ever and I wanted to give her the best Christmas that I could. Before we left friends of ours who didn't know of our financial situation sent us enough money to pay all the remaining bills and enough for some awesome presents and gas money to see the family for Christmas. God is faithful!

 In this Christmas season I'm absolutely blown away to think that a year ago this was just a dream in my heart. The child that is sitting in front of me on the floor wasn't even in this world yet and now not only do I have her but she's truly almost mine. Over and over I'm blown away...God is so good! Merry Christmas!

If any of my readers out there have questions you would like me to answer please leave a comment I would like to make sure that I'm covering topics people are interested in or information that is important. Thank you for sharing in our journey!

First Christmas Pj's

First Christmas Dress

Auntie Steph and uncle Sam

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Types of Parenting


Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Facts and Figures
      In this article I'm going to go over the materials that we were given in one of our seminars. I promise however that even though it seems like I go to a lot of seminars it's only an illusion. I've been to 2 but because they are all day affairs so there is a lot of information packed into it. Types of parenting was covered in one of the seminars I attended.
 In this article I'm going to talk about 4 different types of parenting: High nurture high structure positive parenting, high nurture low structure permissive parenting, low nurture high structure harsh parenting, low nurture low structure neglectful parenting.
      Right off I'm assuming that you know which is the best by the descriptions. High nurture high structure positive parenting is the goal. I have to put in a disclaimer here I believe we can fluctuate from one day to the next and sometimes dip into some of the other parenting structures these are the (how are you most commonly parenting) types.

     Permissive parenting with high nurture low structure is parents that don't have strong boundaries with their children and the kids tend to rule the parents. Saying no to their child is a really hard thing for them to do. I have to say before being a parent I would look at these types of parents and think man why in the world are you letting your child walk all over you? Now...I understand. Not that I condone it I just understand it. You get tired of fighting all day and letting them get what they want seems the quickest way to peace. That being said I think saying no is healthy for children. They need to know that they aren't going to get their way all the time. You are the adult not them. As a parent you have years of knowledge that theses your precious child don't and out of that you can make better and healthier choices then they would. I don't think you should make choices for your children but I think you should give them choices you're ok with.

  Lets do a for example: Lets say Billy has decided that he wants to throw his toys all over the room. In doing so he has completely ruined a clean room and hit his brother in the head with the flying blocks. Permissive parenting goes something like this..

hey Billy that wasn't nice please pick up your blocks..
Billy: no!
Ok how about if I help you?
Billy: no!
ok well then time out chair for you.
Billy: no!
(at this point it's all good what the parent is doing, lets say the parent picks him up and puts him on the chair.)
5 minutes later moms too busy and Billy jumps from the chair and continues playing. Permissive parent lets him because the time out seemed enough and too much energy goes into putting him back on the chair until he promises to clean up his mess and fix his problem with his brother.
  Billy experience has taught him if I yell loud enough and even if I sit on the time out chair I just have to wait because I will get away with it. Eventually this will become a habit of not cleaning up his messes and then you have a teenager who has a filthy room with bugs everywhere, just say'n :)

Boundaries are so essential to our lives. As adults we have boundaries everywhere, the roads, our bills, our credit scores, the law and many others that we follow everyday without even noticing. Children need the same boundaries and especially children who have come out of abusive or neglectful situations. Boundaries mean safety.

 On to low nurture, high structure harsh parenting, this is basically physically abusive and major control issues on the parents part. I haven't seen this style parenting since I was a kid. I think in recent years with the understanding that we have gained through years of child psychology and studies done of parenting styles there has been a decline in general on the harsh parenting style. Foster children however could be coming from this type of home. They may have had a lot of rules and rules that made no sense or weren't even known to them and lots of physical abuse with low nurture meaning no affirmations in their lives. This child would look completely beat up when you got them. Maybe not physically but mentally and emotionally. They would probably act out behind closed doors. Bring a child out of that environment and into an environment that was high nurture, high structure, and positive parenting would help the child to gain the self-esteem and confidence that was lost.

 The final one is Low nurture low structure neglectful parenting. These are cases where children are left for days on their own with the parent either passed out or looking for drugs. Cases like these bring out the most basic of survival skills. Detachment disorder is very common here there was no bonding that happened when they were infants and so their emotional development would be stunted. When coming out of a situation where this is the predominate parenting style it is important that there is a lot of connection to the adoptive parents. Most likely depending on the age certain therapies would be needed to re-establish connection.

With all these parenting types it's important to remember that our goal as parents is to reach a high nurture high structure positive parenting style. This creates deep moments of connecting to the heart of your child. Playing with your children helps with connecting and family activities can give way to great moments of bonding. Communication is so important, when you tell your child a rule or boundary it's important they know the consequence if breaking that boundary. Natural consequences can be the best teachers as long as your child isn't in physical danger. The one thing that makes this parenting type so important is the reinforcement. If you say it as a parent do it. "If you don't stop hitting your sister you are going in time out." Don't let that go, follow through with what you said because if you don't your children will stop believing what you say and won't ever take you seriously.

Here are a few tips for parenting children who have gone through trauma:

-Communicate clearly, learn their language. Many children in the foster system have hard times with language because they weren't taught to speak properly or because of the trauma they experienced they may not talk at all. Err on the side of compassion and mercy. These children have been through so much that grace is what they need.

- Never, never, never, never, never, think that what the child went through is inconsequential.  Don't assume they will just "get over it". Everything that happens to us or that we do has consequences.

- Don't judge your child, I know this sounds odd but you can get into situations where your foster/adoptive child will do something that may make you look at them differently. Keep objective, be consistent with boundaries and always be clear. These few things could make life a lot easier. There's also one thing I would add and that would be, patience. I think the one thing I see with parents is the loss of patience. I know I'm guilty of it myself and I don't have this parenting thing down yet but if you find yourself loosing patience take a step back let your spouse or a friend take your kid for a couple hours and regain some control. You will never be able to control your child only yourself. Even though while they are small there can be an appearance of control, that will vanish when they are teens. Know this now, you give them choices that you can live with, stay connected with their hearts and you will have kids that grow to be responsible  adults.

 Before I move on to my thoughts for this month I wanted to tell a story. All the information has been changed in this story from the original but the idea and concepts are the same.

 Betty came to the Jones house very very late one night after having been removed from her birth mothers home.  While the Jones had taken in many foster children they knew the first few month would be tough on Betty so they made her as comfortable as possible. She had her own room with everything set up for her. They got her ready for bed and left her to sleep.
  In the morning they opened her door to see if she was awake and there was no one in the bed. They looked everywhere finally they looked in the closet and found her curled up in the corner. After coaxing her out they ate breakfast and began building a relationship with her. She was extremely shy for a 5 year old and didn't talk much but they continued to make her as comfortable as possible.
  Every morning for weeks now they had woken up to her hiding in the closet. The Jones knew that something was going on with Betty so finally instead of being stern with her and making her sleep in her bed they made a bed up for her in the closet. They tucked her in in the closet gave her a flash light and lamp and made the closet into a sanctuary.
   Eight months went by and every night they would do the same routine and every night they would offer the bed as an alternative to sleeping in the closet. Through therapy sessions they had learned that her mother had brought men over  at night who would try and go after her, so to keep herself safe while she slept she hid in the closet.
    In the ninth month of her living with the Jones they woke up one morning to find her sleeping on the bed. It was the first time in her life that she felt safe enough to sleep out in the open. If the Jones hadn't used compassion and understanding they could have done a lot more damage to Betty. While it's awesome to use boundaries and absolutely necessary there's a need for being extra sensitive with children who have come out of neglectful and abusive situations.

Here are some amazing parenting resources that you might find helpful:

Thoughts and Journal Entries
November 2011 
      This month was a big one for us. Besides the sleepless nights from teething and her first ear infection we had a termination of parental rights hearing. It was the first time I'd been to court. Our court here in LA was very interesting. Everyone waiting for a case to be called is all in one big room. Birth parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, relatives, lawyers, and social workers. It felt very unsafe to me being as I haven't every met Bellas parents before so any one of these people could be someone related to our case. I didn't take the baby of course but still I was beyond nervous.
   I went in when our case was up and sat in the back of a very small court room. I didn't have to say a word but I had such a huge revelation about how much she was still not mine. There were 5 different lawyers and a judge and I didn't get one word in. It was so quick but the ruling wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I thought for sure this would be it but the judge was kind and generous and gave one more month to Bellas birth mother to make a visit which I was very nervous about.
  Every moment in this adventure through adoption it feels really on the edge. Any moment you feel like your world could fall apart but I knew that she would eventually be mine. You have your private life with this beautiful baby seeing her grow up and change and are there for the late nights and moments of growth, to walk into a court room full of people that have neither met her or haven't seeing her for months is very daunting. These people are deciding your relationship with this child. It's not about us, is what they told me which I agree with, I want the best for my baby but the best feels like me. I'm just being honest about how hard this process can be. Maybe it's because I'm doing this as a single mother but I feel these decisions made by other people very impactful. There's no one really to process all this with not that my family and friends haven't been a huge support but it's something different when someone is going through this with you where their heart is on the line too.

 Bella has 4 teeth now and is a crawling machine and is already pulling herself up on furniture. We went up north over Thanksgiving to spend time with friends and my spiritual parents. It was like a breath of fresh air. I loved being around family and friends in the holidays. My heart ached leaving my friends behind but I know that we will be seeing them over Christmas break. What came out of my holiday was a part time job which I'm excited about. Hopefully this will work out but it is an office job and with Bella crawling around it might not be so productive, we will see. We are on a trial basis but I feel God is doing more.

 I've sold several of my paintings which I'm thrilled about it looks like my art is taking off, now I'm hoping my soaking manual will be published soon. If I can have multiple streams of income that would help us so much. It's really hard working when you're taking care of a little one it's like doing two jobs at the same time. Babies are so much energy but they are completely worth it.

 It feels like I've had her forever but really it hasn't been that long in the scheme of things. It's the small things that I've been appreciating lately the fact I can get a hair cut or travel up north, these things I don't take lightly and I give thanks for every moment. Truly, I'm a blessed woman this Thanksgiving God has gone beyond my wildest dreams!

If any of my readers out there have questions you would like me to answer please leave a comment I would like to make sure that I'm covering topics people are interested in or information that is important. Thank you for sharing in our journey!
First winter coat of the season

Turkey makes us happy!

First ice skating rink experience

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jigsaw Child


‘For I will restore you to health
And I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the Lord,
‘Because they have called you an outcast, saying:
“It is Zion; no one cares for her.”
Jeremiah 30:17
Facts and Figures
       I want to talk about the Jigsaw child in this article. I'm going to be commenting on the concept that was drawn up by Eileen Mayers Pasztor, DSW. Her book called The Foster Parenting Toolbox has some helpful tips for the questions that many foster parents may have. I will put her website below where you can check out her materials.
    In her concept of what she calls a Jigsaw puzzle child it's the idea that we are all created with different parts. She breaks it down to about 9 different parts: Age in Years, IQ age, Emotional age, Ethnic match with parents, Academic age, Life experience age, Social age, Appearance age, and finally years of shared customs, values, and traditions.
     Hopefully most of us grew up with these different parts of us being all congruent and growing at the same pace. What I mean by that is this, lets say there's a 12 year old boy who lives with his birth parents. He has good genes and has grown up in a good environment.  There was no disruption in his life and so he's been on schedule with all of his different parts. His age is 12, his IQ age is on par for a 12 year old, his emotional age is right for a 12 year old as well as his academic age (meaning he's in the grade he should be in). Lets say for argument sake that he's Caucasian and so are his parent so there's no confusion about where he came from. His life experience is that of a 12 year old he has been able to maintain his childhood and nothing has taken away his innocence. His social life consists of boys and girls his age and over all he looks like a 12 year old boy. As  the years have gone by he is use to the customs, values, and traditions that go on in his household. They all eat the same food, celebrate the same holidays, and go to the same church. Over all he has a very good sense of identity and is a well adjusted child.
    Now lets take that same 12 year old boy but change a couple things about him. At birth he was exposed to heroin and because he wasn't born in a hospital but on the streets he became malnourished. Over the years his birth mother dragged him around from drug house to drug house where he was exposed to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. The only way that he could get food was if he stole it or made money through sexual favors. He never went to school
and didn't know how to read or write.

 Finally at age 12 his mother gets caught and thrown into prison where he's shoved into a foster home. In this home people eat at a table, talk to each other, play games after dinner, and over all had traditions that were completely foreign to him. Most adults he knew where abusive and wanted to hurt him so he had no trust in adults. Where do you think he is at on the different parts that make him up? Also lets say that he's still Caucasian but he' entering into a biracial home. The father is African American and the mother is Caucasian.

 With appearance age it can be hard to tell because he was malnourished and was drug exposed. Lets say he looks about 8 years old. His IQ level is that of a 5 year old even though he is really smart when it comes to surviving on the streets. There has been little to no emotional attachment in his life so his emotional age is that of an infant to 2 years old meaning there was no learning of healthy attachments. He goes from one extreme to another really clingy when he wants something or completely stand offish when he's defending himself. His academic age is non-existent because he never learned anything. Is he and ethnic match to the family? Lets say the family has birth children so there are biracial children that he would play with. There's part of a racial match but not all the way. His life experience is through the roof. He's probably experienced more then the whole family combined so let say that that part of him is age 18. Social age is hard because all he has known is adults he doesn't know how to interact with children his own age so while he may be able to hold a conversation with a 20 year old he really never went through a normal social development so lets say age 4. Now his age in years is 12 he thinks but because he wasn't born in a hospital and doesn't have a birth certificate he's not really sure if he's 12 or not. How many years of shared customs, values, and traditions does he have with his new foster family? None because he just got there.

  Here it is the child who is not 12 but is 12 the Jigsaw child. How do you parent that? What do you focus on first? In many ways even though he's almost a teenager he's just a baby who needs love and connection. Here's where I think that mercy and justice touch. Mercy is feeding and clothing him giving a safe environment to grow up in. Justice is returning him back to love meaning sticking out the tough times. Holding him when he's beating himself, talking to him helping him process his emotions, and no matter what fighting for him with the system, schools, and family. This boy has started off with a shattered life and now needs someone who is brave, courageous, and violently in love to not give up on him no matter how long it takes. Next time you think about the journey that you are taking through foster care consider adopting the Jigsaw child. If there was ever a way to lay down your life for someone it would be this way learning how to love someone who is not capable of loving you back.

Below is Eileen's website check it out it's really powerful stuff:

Thoughts and Journal Entries
October 2011 

      There really is so much to talk about this month I hope that I can put my thoughts into some sort of sensible order. The county social worker that I have is about to move to a different department which I'm completely bummed about but she's gotten all the paperwork in order and we have a court date to terminate parental rights in November. Which I am really relieved about seeing as I thought that I was going to loose Bella back to her mother but it's not looking that way. What's interesting about the foster system is that if a birth parent is incarcerated the case keeps rolling on without waiting for the birth parent to finish their time which I guess makes sense especially since the children grow more attached to their foster/adoptive parents as time goes on.
    Bella has 4 teeth now and lets talk about how teething is such a hard thing. Just so I can get some sleep I give her Tylenol. I swore I'd be the parent that went all natural all the time but it's just torture for us both so at least we can get some sleep.  She also started crawling this month which I was relieved about because the psychologist who evaluated her last month was hounding me about doing tummy time which I hate because she screams her brains out when she's on her tummy. It's really weird having a psychologist evaluate how you are doing as a parent. I have to say it's quite daunting. I know they have to do it to make sure Bella doesn't need any special services but it's still hard on me. I think she's developing fine and it's hard to convince yourself you're doing a good job when you have someone telling you she needs to be more skilled in these areas. It's ok though she passed, whatever that means.

   There was a scare that birth mom had been pregnant. I was considering taking the baby because I know that I want Bella to have a sibling around but social worker said that she's no longer pregnant however that happened. I don't know what I'm thinking in agreeing to take another baby but the thought of Bella's sibling somewhere out there in someone else's home. I could take the baby anyway we don't legally have enough room here but I know if God wants me to I'm just saying yes to whatever He has. He didn't ask the little boy to feed the multitude He just asked him to give Him what he had and that's where I'm at.

    I was able to sell a couple pieces of art this month and last so I'm glad my part time venture is making us some money as well as my part time jobs and whatever else I'm saying yes to. I just wait and the opportunities to do one day jobs come or people donate or I sell my art. I can't wait to publish this soaking manual I really think it could be an open door for finances for us. I'd love to do seminars and sell the book to small groups. I'm just being faithful to what God has given me and I know He will come through with the favor I need. Also after my soaking manual is done I'm going to try and figure out how to get my children's supernatural curriculum published. Being creative isn't my problem its getting the product out in to the market that's the hardest and longest part. Sometimes I get frustrated!

 To Halloween or not to Halloween that has been the question on my mind. When I was a child I never got to celebrate Halloween because of the demonic implications so obviously I missed out on a tradition that most children have. Now that I have a daughter of my own I understand the quandary I'm in. We got invited to hang out with friends and walk a famous LA neighborhood where the residence spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on displays. It was fun to get out of the house and walk around. I didn't really spend money for a costume for us I just put together things we already had. So even though I didn't get any candy and by the end she was getting grumpy because it was past her bedtime we had fun hanging with friends.

 The Lord had told me to cut back on somethings and conserve my energy for Bella and so I started cutting back some outings and adventures that while I was a pre-mother would have jumped to. Just that cutting back I've noticed as really isolated me in a lot of ways from  connections I would have made. I love meeting new people but I really don't have time or energy anymore it's truly sad but hopefully I'll get a social life again soon. I also haven't been to the movies in so long I decided to figure out how to take a baby into the movie theater (cheap 3$ theater of course) what a disaster. I was pacing back and forth in the back of the theater the whole time thinking I could have waiting for this movie to come out on DVD. The things you give up being a mommy. I do know that it won't last forever and I'm enjoying the all consuming nature of motherhood. The fact that we made it through another month is a miracle to me!

100 degrees in the valley at the fall!

Pre-Christmas gift!

Coach and cheer leader Halloween outfit

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

5 Competencies


Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. Matthew 6:31-32
Facts and Figures
       This month I want to talk about 5 main points that are expected from foster to adopt parents. These points are basic expectations of the agency that I am in. They are called: P.R.I.D.E. 5 Competencies.
    The first is: Protecting and Nurturing Children. We are expected to protect and nurture children which really is what every parent is expected to do.  With that each person has a different idea of how to go about accomplishing this but there are some basics. Obviously feeding, clothing, educating, having a safe home environment, and general care are all considered part of this. There can be issues that arise in each case where it maybe hard to extend the protection that you really long to. For example, if a child lets say 5 years old gets placed in a a foster/adoptive home due to a neglectful or abusive parent there is a relationship that has to be preserved at some level. The court will issue visitation of the birth parents to the child and in those visitation you aren't allowed much leeway. Some adoptive parents choose not to stay during these visits but most stay because they are obviously invested. So the birth parent could speak abusively towards that child or say certain comments that you know is hurting the child's heart. You can say something but obviously the damage is done. It can be hard to even surrender to the fact that your foster/adoptive child has to go to these visits and has to continually be subjected to this kind of verbal abuse and to be fair the mediator will try and squash anything to abusive. You heart sinks at even the thought of exposing them to the unhealthy birth parent but that's something you can't protect them from.
    The second point is: Meeting children's developmental needs and addressing developmental delays. I really count myself fortunate that Bella wasn't exposed to hard core drugs or wasn't delayed for any reason. It's a rare occurrence that a child comes from the foster child with no delays. Many children have severe delays but with the proper care and attention can catch up quickly. I know of one child who is old maybe 10 who didn't know how to read when she came into the system but now is excelling in school. Some of the babies I've seen who have been exposed to drugs prenatal have a hard time with muscle tone, rolling, sitting, crawling, and walking it takes them a bit longer but really they get the hang of it with enough encouragement and therapy. What's great about the foster system is that you have all the therapies that you need completely paid for. You just have to be available. Adoption from the foster system is a time and life investment. Sometimes when a baby comes drug exposed it can take up to 6 months to detox which mean many nights of holding, rocking, and feeding a screaming baby who is in excruciating pain. With children who are exposed to alcohol prenatal there is a permanent genetic mutation that happens and the child is affected for their lifetime. Alcohol is actually worse then hard drugs because it leaves a lasting mark on the child. With all this it takes time, patience, and wisdom to set up your child for success.
    The third one is: Supporting relationships between children and their families. Whether this is birth parents or even your family members it's important that you make an effort to help them stay connected. This one is hard for me because of our situation it may not be the safest for Bella to remain connected so while we visit siblings I'm going to collect all the information for her so when she's older if she wants to find her birth mother it's available. It is important to remain connected to their history because it is how they came to be in your life. They need to know that you don't dislike, disapprove, or have an indifference to their background because it's who they are and where they came from. Disapproval of any kind can lead to broken relationship and an over all feeling of rejection. Each case is different and the connection to the birth family is going to vary depending on the details of the  situation. I remember hearing at an foster/adoption seminar some foster parents who just fostered children telling stories of how they helped the birth parents get their lives on track so they could get their children back. I thought how amazing that these foster parents pursued these birth parents getting them jobs, getting them to meetings, teaching them how to stay connected to their children and in the end saving the family unit which other wise looked hopeless. These foster parents where heroes in my mind and me thinking selfishly of how much I wanted Bella to be mine but all the while knowing that in the end she will re-connect with her family when the time is right and bring redemption. For us I set up an e-mail for Bella's siblings to stay connected even though I'm going for a closed adoption. Again it all depends on what the circumstances are.
    The fourth one is: Connecting children to safe, nurturing relationships intended to last a life time. This is talking about family and community. It's important for children to grow up in community and especially when they had such a rough start being in a loving family is vital to re-establishing connection. For me this lead me down the path of considering where I wanted to raise Bella. I'm sure at some point all parents go through this. When you're single or I'm sure the case stand for when you're just a couple there are many things that you don't think about in regards to children. You don't have to live near schools, family, or kid specific centers. When you have a child that all changes. My thought process started something like this. I'm currently living in an apartment where there isn't much nature surrounding us, I grew up in a place where I could get dirty and be in the wood playing fort and exploring. Some of the most profound and moving encounters with God was in nature for me. I believe that being in nature is a vital part of growing up balanced. Then there was the family issue because I'm so far from my family there isn't much connection to who Bella is growing up to be and my mom being gone makes it so there's less contact. All of these and many other little factors started playing into the idea of moving away into a smaller town where I could be connected with family and friends. I love my friends here in LA but it's hard to stay connected when everything is so spread out and all over the place. I also think of the spiritual aspect of having a child grow up in a community of faith. When I was single I was eager to start that community and build it but now I want Bella to be in a more stable community with an inheritance that has been built over decades. I don't believe one or the other is better it's just my preference.
      The fifth is: Working as a member of a professional team. I think this one can sound a little cold like this is a business but it's not. You have to realize that you are a vital part of a team that is trying to determine the best place for this child that you are taking care of. There are social workers, judges, lawyers, birth parents, birth family, sometimes police, and then you the foster/adopt parent. It's important to know that all these people even though they might not seem like it at times are trying to determine the best course of action for this child. Sometimes the birth parents have no idea what's good for the child but some really do try hard. You as an individual have to be secure in something other then yourself to work well with these different entities. I know for me it's my faith. No matter what, I lean on what I believe the Lord is telling me and so far He hasn't let me down not once. Everything that He's told me has come to pass in this case and more than I could have even expected. You have to have patience, peaceful, flexible, generous, understanding, strong, courageous, and willing to do whatever it takes. All these things are subjects that should be established somewhat before taking this leap. I've seen parents who are so uptight with fear that they think they are going to loose their child and they do. People who are really easy going and trusting tend to get cases that close quickly. I'm not saying that that is a hard and fast rule I'm just saying that it can be an easier way to work through the hard moments.
     All of these competencies are what agencies look for in potential foster/adopt parents. To be a foster to adopt parent isn't a right it's a privilege.  I think about that every time I look at Bella, sometimes I think I still can't believe I have such a beautiful baby in my life who just lights up the room everywhere she goes. It's an honor to be called her mother.

Thoughts and Journal Entries
September 2011 

      Well after helping my fellow foster mother for a month she found a more permanent person so off to finding more work. I've literally applied for over 100 jobs and haven't heard. I think though that the fact that I would have my own child with me can throw people off. So, I got a random e-mail from a friend and they have a friend who was looking for someone to help out with their child for part time. It's amazing how God is not about striving but about rest, everything comes when we rest. That is the lesson of this month. Striving is fear and fear is not love and no love = not God. So I'm walking by faith every week just asking the Lord to provide according to His riches in Glory and guess what He does. Sometimes I look at the children that I nanny for and see all the books and toys they have and I think well I'm not able to give her all that I hope that she turns out ok without all that stuff. Then I remember that God is an amazing provider and all we have to do is ask and He gives us bread not stones.
    I know the enemy would just love for me to come into agreement with what I lack as a single parent. Two is better then one but then there's four of us me, Jesus, Holy Spirit and Father God. This month has been a rough one. There was a turn in the case which made it slightly possible that I would loose Bella but I continually stood on the promise God gave me. I don't know how people do it with out God I would be an emotional wreck thinking that I could loose this baby that for me is and will forever be my daughter. Bella brings me so much joy and love that I didn't know possible. It's different to any other relationship that you will ever have in your life. No wonder Father God is in a good mood and loves His children      

    I never thought about being a single parent before I took this journey. I grew up in a home where both my parents where with me all the time. I never lived in a single parent home before. However my best friend was a single mother for a while. I actually realized that there were a string of friendships in my lifetime that were single mothers that I was able to help and be apart of their lives in past season. As I'm walking this time out I've pulled on the wisdom and experience that I've witnessed in my single mother friends. The things that aren't really known are the moments of loneliness and the times where memories are taking place. Not having someone to share them with can be hard but I know that God is still good in those moments and I feel His tenderness towards us. Being a single mother is like being on a treadmill all day. After all the naps, feedings, errands, and play times and finally you think you get a break when the baby is asleep then you look around and realize, there's still dishes to do, bills to be paid, trash to be taken out, floors to wash, not to mention personal times where you just need to take time to think and pray. My spiritual mother told me, don't worry about the dishes or having a dirty house just love the moments. I agree with her but then I remember that I have social workers stopping in randomly and they judge you on everything.  Fun times to be had by all!
    The Lord has really started telling me to make my needs known and allow people to help me also to go out once in a while treat myself to something. So I took Bella and I one Sunday out to breakfast. We skipped church and I went to a cute cafe for some awesome eggs Benedict. We were sat in the middle of the room with many families surrounding Bella and I. Babies aren't much for conversation but it was great having her in the high chair throwing toys and making gurgling sounds. I guess we were a sight because everyone kept looking at us. I do have to say she's the cutest baby ever so I don't blame them but something in me missed having a family around. Going out to breakfast in my family is a special thing, that is our connection time. We get to talk about our lives and catch up with each other but being the only adult in the conversation was hard. It surprised me how quickly I was finished and was out of the cafe. These moments I want family around to see her growing up and share the memories.

Mommy and baby breakfast outing

Next concert pianist

Bath time!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Medi-Cal: Our Government at its Best


I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!
Matthew 25:40

Facts and Figures

     I wanted to broach the subject of health care for foster children. So, all I know is what I experience here in LA, this may not apply to what's going on in your state. In LA, foster care children are put on Medi-cal which I believe they can stay on for the rest of their life. If you have other insurance you can have them on that as well (when you adopt) but they recommend you having them on both just in case one wont cover what the other will. For us personally since I really haven't had health insurance for a while I thought this was great. Who knew the head ache it would be.
    Of course Medi-Cal is a government run program and because of that there can be some inefficiencies. One being that a foster child can have more then one Medi-Cal number given to them at birth and sometimes they don't work. In our case she had 2 numbers and one worked sometimes and the other worked sometime. Eventually we got it all straightened out but it took months and come to find out that she may not have been covered for some of that and the Dr. never told me that they payments weren't going through until way after the fact.
    Being on Medi-Cal means you are subject to whatever Dr. there is that takes Medi-cal and there really aren't that many. Initially we went to one Dr. that was super close to us but being a new mom I didn't know anything about what to expect from my pediatrician. Every time I took her in he would glance over her, give her shots, and with a heavy accent say she's good, then sent us on our way. I had to practically bribe the nurse to tell me how much she weighed and how tall she was. I didn't know that they are suppose to do a growth chart and tell you what percentage they are at and do a full examination ect. Finally, this month I switched Dr.s which the search was impossible. I searched for hours on-line to try and find a Dr. who took Medi-Cal that was in our area. Finally I found one through the recommendation of another foster parent. Know that some of your best resources are other parents.
   When we got to this pediatrician they checked everything, they told me her percentage and everything that I needed to know. There were a couple things that my last pediatrician had completely missed and could have made baby sick if they hadn't been caught. I do have to explain that I come from an alternative health background and naturally don't trust Dr.'s. When I found the new Dr. I was really relieved to finally talk to someone who spoke English. They were great for a while. Though I was still left in the dark about vaccination schedules, when normal well child exams should take place, and what is abnormal in weight and height. I got way more information out of these nurse practitioners then I did going to my initial Dr but still there was no education on how the normal first year goes (yeah for Google again).
    I'm guessing for mothers who give birth their OB will tell them what they need to know as far as what is the normal check ups ect. for the first year but I skipped all that. When I would ask the nurses questions they looked at me like I was a moron. Truth is I've studied a lot when it comes to vaccination health especially. With a foster child you really don't have any leeway when it comes to vaccinations. I'm not going to stir up a bunch of debate about the topic but I do want to say get educated. Look at both sides and make a decision that fits your families needs. I will put some resources that I used when studying about it below that I found very helpful.
    The bottom line is we want the best for our children. We want them to grow up healthy and strong and fight the least battles they have to with health. Our goal is the same and how we get there maybe different for everyone but hopefully we all get there. I just want to maintain the freedom to choose. It's important to me that I have freedom to make health decisions for my children without feeling shame, guilt, condemnation, or criticism. There seem to be many horror stories recently of parental rights being circumvented  by governmental authorities forcing parents to make choices that aren't really choices.
   With foster children there is no right of the foster parent to make those decisions until really the case turns towards adoption more permanently. It's sad really, because there are ways of healing children that really have nothing to do with the medical field. Some of  these children enter the world already at a disadvantage health wise it would be nice to have the freedom to explore alternative plans for healing.
     Back to our story, my daughter ended up have ear infections pretty regularly over the winter months. After 2 horrific round of antibiotics in 2 months they suggested a shot that carries 10 round of antibiotics being desperate to ease my child's pain I agreed (worst thing ever!) Poor baby suffered horrible side effects that lasted weeks after the ear infection. Really she had built and immunity to the anti-biotics and a month later got another ear infection. After all that hell my baby was still sick. No way on round 4 of anti-biotics her body couldn't take any more so I chose a different route and she got healed it just took a bit longer a little more work and some patience. Healing the physical, can take a while when you do it naturally but I think in this get quick society we need to take time to heal on somethings, it builds us. She has not been sick since.
       What I believe or don't believe about health is relative to my experience in life. My opinions won't be yours and that's ok with me. For the children who need the best that we have we have to stand up and give it to them no matter what. I will continue to fight for what I believe is the best for my daughter and I hope that you're doing the same for your child. The great thing about this country is that we do have options available. We get to raise our children in a place where medical services are available. While obviously I'm opinionated about the quality of that care I am grateful that we have it. Maintaining our freedom to choose will forever mark us a great nation when we start dictating how people should choose we start loosing the very essence of what this country was founded on, freedom.


These are just a few resources and there are many others but personal stories from families who have children who have suffered are the most powerful.

Thoughts and Journal Entries
August 2011 

  I was starting to get stressed about finances then out of the blue God provided again. His faithfulness is so unwavering. We got enough financial release for 2 months! It's such and amazing release! Baby has her first 2 teeth this month as well as sitting up and rolling over. Everything seems to be moving along in the case. It just feels like a lot of waiting. In the mean times I'm just enjoying being with her. It's fun to be there everyday for her without putting her in day care. I love being a mom and I can't imagine anything else now.
   This month I was remembering some of the signs along the way. Where you know that you are going the way you are suppose to go. For example, the rocking chair that I got before Bella. I wanted a gliding rocking chair but I couldn't afford a new one so I looked on Craigeslist and found one. I called the lady and I went to pick it up (yes by my self) somehow I squeezed it into my car. As I was talking to the lady she asked me about life and adoption came up. She told me that her and her husband had just finished adopting a child from China. The child was too old for being rocked in it anymore so they were selling it. Isn't it incredible that that chair had rocked an orphan from China and now as I rock Bella in I think about how that chair has such a history.
    I know it's a random gratefulness but a rocking chair with everything that I wanted and having a history through someone else's adoption story just feels like Jesus to me. It's great to rock her in it at night and rest in knowing that God is in control.
    Along with getting financial breakthrough I got a job breakthrough. I'll be helping out another foster parent for a while. This month I also started painting again. I had laid painting down for a while in fact years but we started a creative Sunday thing at church so I thought I'd pick it up again. The problem is that this specific hobby costs money and I know that I have to trust that it will be there when I need it  this also could be an avenue where God provides for us. Have to open every door to see which one has provision behind it.
     We had another sibling visit this month and met a sister we hadn't before. When I think about the life of these children I want to buy a huge house and adopt them all. Some people might think that I'm crazy to think about that but really every single one of these children are precious and deserve a chance in life to succeed. I can remember the first time someone really believed in me that wasn't in my family it was such a great feeling to know that I really could dream and become something amazing. My heart breaks for these children because from one day to the next they don't know what's going to happen or even if they will see each other again. Their case is completely different then baby Bella's and so it's not as clear. I'm continually in awe of God how He brings people together how He turns situations into redemption. I'm resting in the knowledge that God is a good Father and when we choose to surrender to His love for us it opens the door for Him to do amazing things. Bring on the redemption of all things!

First iphone shot, she can see herself in the camera!
Last Summer Beach Day
Bed Hair