Sunday, August 23, 2015


Sometimes I sit back and wonder, what will my foster children remember?

I make life books.  In some cases, I think those will stay with them.  In others, I already am not sure who the child lives with and if the book made those transitions.  I'm also not sure if the person who ends up with permanency with the child will readily share those memories.

So, if they won't see the picture and hear the stories, will they know somehow?  I know they will have the trauma of separation and will carry that with them.  And maybe they'll have memories of our home in a negative way, that nothing felt like theirs, that everything seemed wrong.  Will they also carry the joyous moments?

Will Crocodile carry memories of his first s'more, totally confused why I was putting this marshmallow on a stick over a fire and not in his hand.  Will he remember camping, what it's like to fall asleep in a tent and eat your breakfast outside before a long day with the beach and dunes as a playground?

Will Cricket carry memories of dressing up with her best friend/number one fan Rhinoceros, running around the house talking about hotels?  Will she carry memories of leaping around hay bales at the orchard and cutting down a Christmas tree?  Of sledding down the hill, first loving in, then outraged at the snow flying in her face?

Will the babies carry memories of the doting foster brothers grinning in their faces, calling them crazy nicknames?  Will they remember their standard position of comfort: wrapped up in a carrier as I went about my day?

It's not about us and what a great impact we make on memories, or what a great family we are.  I'm sure there are many memories of me sounding like a robot that is totally fed up with all kids everywhere.  Or memories of their foster brothers screaming in their faces.  Plus, I already know not to hope for much as my 7-year-old can't remember the cabin we went to just two years ago.  But there's this little hope in me that they know somewhere deep inside that they have had some really good times with us, when they could just soak up all it is to be these tiny, precious people.  And I hope it comes to them in dreams and daydreams, especially if their days ahead are difficult and turbulent.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Chin up, sprinting

Crocodile is a ball of energy.  A friend of mine said he looks like he's just about to burst and he just can't stand it.  So while emotionally he seems to have weathered the trauma of separation from his family very well, he still wears me out because man, the energy.  He literally bounced like a pinball from wall to wall when the caseworker was here, and she just looked at me like "wow."

But oh, his spirit.  You can be tired, and there are moments of frustration.  But he flips around and hugs you or throws a ball higher above his head than you thought any toddler could, and says, "Whoa!!!" and you have to smile.  And while anytime I've had to say goodbye to him is sad, anytime he first sees my face when I pick him up from somewhere, he lights up, shouts my name, and runs for me.  And he does this for his mom, and his sisters, and all the people he considers family.  Every time it melts the whole room.

My favorite picture of him so far is at the beach.  Rhinoceros and two of his cousins were playing in the sand and the water and are facing the water in the picture.  Crocodile is facing away from the water, as he's running back toward me, chin up, sprinting, grinning from ear to ear.  The whole picture is overtaken by his joy.

I want to bottle it up and set up reserves for him.  I don't want it to ever fade, no matter what happens.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Awkward Moments in Foster Care: Courtroom Silence

I generally try to initiate conversations with birth parents.  Our relationship is inherently awkward, and I tend to be more awkward than the set-everyone-at-ease personality type, but I try.  At court, though, everything is even more weighty, even more awkward.  So, I've generally said hello politely but not started a conversation.  It's a tense day.  I don't know how they're feeling and if I start small talk, if they'll be silently wishing I would just leave them alone.  But one time I went to court it was extra silent and uncomfortable, though, so I've found it better to just bring along a new picture or something to have something brief and polite to say, then if the parents just want to say "thank you" and not talk, that's fine.  If they want to talk more, then we can.

But this one time, I didn't have a picture.  The mom was in the hallway and I asked if I could go in the court room.  She said yes.  I went in and sat silently.  A few others filtered in and discussed court business briefly.  The mom came and sat in her designated spot.  Someone said the judge needed to see everyone in his chambers (besides the mom and myself).  So, there we sat.  Deafening silence, not even sitting near each other so trying to talk then would be even more awkward.  Then something started happening on a screen in the courtroom, as the dad was attending remotely.  An employee at his location was trying to get it to work and she asked, "Is anyone in there?"

I knew I was supposed to say something, but I so prefer to slip through court silently as an observer.  Did I really have to speak up?

"...Yes." I called out.  "But not many.  They're mostly with the judge."

"Can you see us?"


"Okay, we can hear you, but we can't see you."

She fiddled around with it and suddenly it switched to an 80s geometric "technical difficulties" screen while blaring distorted elevator music.  Neon blue and purple rectangles slowly covering the image on the screen.  Eventually it switched back, and the deafening silence continued.

Eventually the hearing began and it wasn't silent, though the poor caseworker's testimony was interrupted in mid-sentence by the spectacularly awful blue and purple rectangles with accompanying music.  It was one of the first things I had to talk to B about when I got home from court.  His reply:

"Oh yeah, that happened the last time, and everyone looked at each other with weary, knowing glances."

Court: never boring, and so weird.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Home visits

I'm distracting myself from being 99% fed up with motherhood (not just the fostering aspects of it) by writing an informative post.

Home visits are done by caseworkers from our private agency.  We usually have one home visit per month.  Once per quarter, the caseworker is required to do an unscheduled home visit.  Different caseworkers have handled this differently.  Some have asked me my schedule for the next week, so they can semi-plan a time they're coming by.  Some have outright told me that they'll be coming by, which is probably not okay by agency policy.  Some have given me warning it's coming up the next month, but have fully surprised me with the visit.

But what do home visits usually involve?  For fostering young kids, we usually go over some of this list though not all every time:
  • upcoming appointments for the child
  • services needed for the child, like infant mental health programs or developmental programs
  • our family needs, like permission for travel
  • discussion of how parents are doing with their plans (can be specific or quite vague, sometimes not brought up)
  • questions and discussions about the child's behavior
  • discussion of sibling visits
  • discussion of upcoming transitions
  • seeing the child's room
  • talking to the child by him or herself (only with Cricket, because she has been the only child verbal enough to do so)
Initial visits at the beginning of a placement involve a lot more paperwork including a clothing inventory and a dozen policies we've signed several times.

Caseworkers have a very difficult job, and I am very patient with home visits not being a completely convenient and ideal part of my fostering life.  I only got a "bad vibe" from one caseworker so far, and while others have made mistakes, I accept that that caseworkers and home visits will not be perfect.  Most of the issues we've had are not monumental.  One rushed the visits.  One rescheduled too often.  One showed bias against the parents that made me uncomfortable.  I will say that we have had one caseworker that was a rockstar for home visits, and I'll tell you why:
  • She scheduled the visits well ahead of time.  One did need rescheduled, but she was flexible in rescheduling and did not wait until the end of the month, which leads me to:
  • She avoided scheduling visits for the end of the month, which would cause problems if rescheduling was needed, pressuring me to say yes to home visit times that were not ideal.
  • She arrived on time.
  • She asked more than once if there was anything we needed from her.
  • She took time to ask how things were going, how members of our family were adjusting, etc.
  • She took time to make sure she knew enough about how the child was doing emotionally to know if more services were needed or not.
I should probably bake her some cookies.

What are your best and worst home visits?

Monday, August 3, 2015

First Day August 2015 - Beach!

I admit, my First Day post this month doesn't capture as much of the day as I usually do.  We were with my in-laws and I was just too busy keeping up with Crocodile or appreciating the moment to take pictures.  But I did get a handful that are usable of our afternoon at the beach, so you can enjoy those at least!  Dinosaur learned a little boogie boarding, Rhinoceros made sand angels, and Crocodile was tentative at first then suddenly discovered the joy of running toward away from the waves.