Time Flies When You’re Having… Fun?

I haven’t written in so long, I don’t even know where to begin. Since I last wrote, we have enjoyed the Christmas and New Year Holidays and the little lady started after school care.

The Holidays

christmas eve
Christmas Eve after Santa came

This was my first time ever having a child in my home on Christmas morning. The funny things is, little Miss doesn’t have the same connection to Christmas as most kids. She did not run into my room to wake me up on Christmas morning to open presents… I don’t even think she came into my room to wake me up at all. LOL! I woke up at a normal hour, but she was awake and asked me lots of questions about Santa and his visit the night before. I made breakfast, then let her open up one of her presents and we played a game while we waited for my mom to come over and open gifts. One of the funniest things to my mother and I was the fact that the little one would open a present, get so excited, and then rush to throw the wrapping paper in the trash! I was happy that she was cleaning up… but I wanted her to just enjoy opening all of the presents. After all of the presents were open, I sat around and played Legos with her and then she played with her dolls and the boxes her clothes come in… too funny. It was a great day, very low key… we didn’t leave the house because it was COLD and her dad returned her to me the night before WITHOUT her coat. *sigh* But we watched movies and ate and enjoyed the day together.

plane
Flying high

The next day we were scheduled to fly to Dallas to be with my family. Yes she did come with me :-). Of course I asked the department and had a special letter notarized by social services that gave me permission to travel with her. BUT before we went to the airport… I had to rush and buy her a coat. I think it was her first time on a plane. I gave up my coveted window seat to allow her to soak in the total experience…. yippee… middle seat for me. I didn’t know you had to download the AA app before take off, so the flight down was loooooong without Wi-Fi. She did good though and she enjoyed the flight. I think she was very confused when we got to Dallas because she was so upset that we had to get into another car that wasn’t mine. I tried to explain that my car was parked in a parking lot far away… but it wasn’t clicking. Funny thing is that when we returned home… she said, “I’m glad we are back in the black car… I did not like the other car.” LOL… who knows! It was great being in Dallas with my family. The little one got spoiled by my aunts and she loved every bit of it. She still says, “I miss Auntie” (one of my aunts) at least once a week. It felt good to see her meld into the family… and see what family can look like.

 

We’re different

gymnastics
Gymnastics fun

It’s been kind of interesting seeing the little one process the differences between her and I. She is from El Salvador and of course I am black. She often asks me why my hair is curly or why it can’t be as long as it looks in a picture she sees hanging in my hallway (when it is straightened). I showed her a few days ago, how I can stretch my hair out… and how it actually is long. She looked amazed, but couldn’t understand why it just couldn’t be straight like hers. She is also started to recognize that my skin is a different color from hers. My cousins had a baby, and while I was holding the baby my little one looked at her… then looked at me and said, “her skin is like yours.” She’s recently started to ask me, “who are you?” I ask her what she means, but I know what she means… she just can’t articulate it… she is asking me why I am taking care of her, who am I to her. I want her to talk more about it… and I am not sure if I should answer with “foster care,” but I do tell her that I am taking care of her for a little while. I promise this little one thinks she is going to be with me until she is “big.” She says she is going to drive my car and bring a dog into her room. I do not have any answers for her on if/when she is going home to live… so I don’t really say anything about that. She says to me often, “I want to be your mother!” What I think she is saying is… I want to be your daughter, but she doesn’t know the word daughter (she just learned English this year). She often says, “You are my mother” or “You are the best mother.” She’s called me mommy a few times, it’s all very surreal for me.

After Care

After school, the little one would come home around 2:30 each afternoon. It was fine for the short-term (I thought she was a short-term placement), but after court when I realized she would be with me for a little while longer… I decided to put her in after care. This little one does not like change. Almost every day she asks me why she cannot get on her bus and come home. I try to explain that I will not be standing at the bus stop waiting for her in the afternoon and she will have to ride back to school where they will call me to pick her up. I explained that it would not make me happy and that she would be in trouble if that happened. LOL! I had to say this because I was so nervous that she would get on the bus and smuggle her way home. LOL! She has been going to after care for two weeks now. Every day she tantrums and cries and tells me why she hates going there. I suspected that it wasn’t true, but called the center director to make sure that little bit was not acting up, withdrawn, or crying while there. I was told that little miss is happy, giving hugs, saying she has a bff, and laughs and plays with the other children. I knew she was guilt tripping me… but I just had to make sure. It has to be hard not having control or consistency in your life. I do feel for her, but I had to make a decision that was best for both of us. She’s a bubbly little girl with an infections laugh, but some times… every now and then… I can see darkness in her eyes and I wonder what she is thinking. It’s hard because she can’t articulate it… she just gets frustrated and cries or tantrums. I am hoping to get another therapist to work with her soon. She has been with me almost four months and this will be her third therapist… sigh… I feel like we get no traction.

Well, that’s all I have for now. Hopefully you enjoyed reading :-).

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Order in the Court

close up court courthouse hammer

Yesterday was my first experience going to court as a foster parent. It was a really heavy experience for me… I wasn’t expecting that.

The court case was scheduled for 2:15 pm we didn’t actually go into the courtroom until 4:15 pm. Anyone who knows me knows that I am an on time type of person. LOL! So, I got to the courthouse around 1:30 pm because I over estimated traffic, the wait for the shuttle to the courthouse, and the security line. So, me and little miss were at the courthouse for almost 4 hours. It was a long day! I didn’t know what was going on with the scheduling delay until the caseworker told me that the judged was backed up.

My little ones parents arrived, so I got a chance to actually talk to them. Learn more about them as a family which was great! Usually during drop offs and pickups, we chat briefly and exchange children. I learned about their family in their native country, additional siblings of my little one, and the dads cooking skills. LOL! Although I am an introvert and really hate small talk, it was nice to get to know a little bit more about my little ones family. Sometimes were a little awkward as “little one’s” mom wanted to get something to eat and little miss of course wanted to go with her mom. It’s always awkward when her parents look at me for approval… I have not gotten used to that. But the reality is, I am her “parent” at this time. Strange feeling. It was also awkward as I fumbled through saying “no” you can’t go to my little one (she is not allowed to be with her mother unsupervised)… and the crying that ensued. We (myself and the foster mother of the boys) decided that we would just go with her to get some food… which is also super awkward because she doesn’t speak any English…. so it was mostly a silent walk.

When we finally get in the courtroom, there are so many people there! Social services, the children’s lawyer, two interpreters, the mother’s lawyer and the father’s lawyer… along with the judge, court reporter and clerk. My little one was asked to sit in the plaintiffs chair… her little legs swinging. She constantly looked back at me during the proceeding to give me a thumbs up or a wave. She looked so small in that chair and it hit me again how small she is and all this weight around her.

The proceeding began and the department and lawyers spoke.  The heaviness that I did not expect to experience happened when I saw the look on the parents faces. I can’t describe the look, but I could feel it. It was like they thought that they were further along in the process and then hearing what still has to be done. They looked blindsided. It was heartbreaking. We (myself and the other foster mother) was asked to speak and I tried my best to advocate for the parents. I don’t know how well that was received.

The judge asked my little one to speak and she did a good job. The judge asked her how she likes living with “your foster mom.” She said, “who? OH you mean Ms. Clarise… her name is Ms. Clarise, but I call her CC!” LOL! The judge asked if she liked living with “CC” and she said, “YES! Because she makes good food for me!!” LOL! She always tells me that she likes my food. I’m glad that she doesn’t hate it! LOL! After the case we said goodbye to her parents. She was fine until we got outside of the courtroom… then she had a minor meltdown. She missed her mom. Of course she does… but what do I do? It’s always hard to hear because there is nothing I can do. I learned to redirect her longing for her mom by asking her if she wants to make a card or picture for her and we take a picture and send it to her. It has worked well so far. When I got home and got her settled and in bed, I realized that in her mind… going home with her parents wasn’t even thought of. She kept asking me when WE were going HOME. She calls my house “home” and her parents house… “her mommy’s house.” It’s hard for me to think of this little one’s reality… it makes me feel heavy. I will just continue to pray through it. That’s my method of releasing the weight.

So like I stated before, little miss will be with me for a little while longer. Not something that I expected. When the next court date was recorded, the other foster mother looked at me with “surprise” in her eyes I looked back at her with a “wow!!!” in my eyes. I was totally surprised by the extension of the case. We spoke today and we both felt the same weight yesterday. It’s a helpless feeling because we spend the most time with the children and the parents, but have the LEAST say in anything. But that’s how it goes I guess.

So for now, we are just focused on the holidays. It is my first time ever experiencing Christmas with a child in my home… so that is nice :-). I hope everyone reading this blog has a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year! Thanks for reading and your support!

I would love to hear from you if you like reading… so drop a comment or a like :-).

Clarise

Holly… Jolly… Merry & Bright!

abstract art background blur

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I am actually pretty neutral when it comes to celebrating the holidays. I understand the meaning behind them and I am truly thankful for the time I get to spend with my family and friends. I always thought that when I had a family of my own, I would get more into the spirit of decorating, Christmas carols, hot cider and all things “Holiday-ish”, but since that has not happened… I have remained my same ‘ole “neutral” self! LOL! Since I have owned my own home, I have never really decorated for the holidays… enter this little one! She enjoys EACH holiday and wants me to participate in it all! LOL! I have been adjusting and obliging… lol… just because I know it will make her happy. I haven’t written in a while, I have been busy with travel, work, fitness/nutrition and overall parenting. So let me see if I can make sense with this post…

Foster Parents Still Get to Travel

Amsterdam
Amsterdam

As I was preparing to go out of the country, the question I got the most was “What are you going to do with the little one?” It almost feels like most people think that when you foster you are not allowed to continue with normal life. I mean of course life changes, but you still get to go on vacation or do normal things that you would do in life without a placement. The department provides up to 7 days a year of respite care for all foster youth… and they urge you to use them. I started early with my caseworker trying to get respite care for the little one, but no one really seemed interested. Mainly because my little one doesn’t participate in before or aftercare, so most folks work schedules would not allow for them to get her to and from school. Luckily, my introverted self surprisingly made friends during my training class and I was able to call a couple from my class to see if they were interested in providing respite care. They had recently gotten their license (even though we were in the same training class) and they were eager to see how they could work their schedules for the time when they did get a call for a placement. A win-win for all! My little one did stay with them for the days I was away… and two days after she left them they received a call for the placement of two week old twin boys (swoon)! I had a great time away! I slept and ate whatever… LOL and got to spend time with my European family! It was a great time of refresh for me.  When I got back, it was apparent that the little one missed me as she clung to me for most of the evening and next day. The night I got back, I told my mom that the little one missed me so much that I am sure she was going to let me know how much she missed me during the week… and boy was I right!

Miss you
My welcome back card!

Tantrums, Tantrums, and MORE Tantrums!

During the first week I was back I couldn’t get a break, if she was not clinging to me, she was fussing or fighting with me. It was not fun! Coupled with jet lag… I was so tired and frustrated it took a lot of strength and patience to not yell at her or just scream. Some nights before I prayed, I would just yell into my pillow all of the things I wanted to say to her… then I prayed for patience to deal with her the next day. The first tantrum was because I asked her to do her homework. The longest 17 minutes of my life as she yelled, cried and screamed. She used her usual, “I miss my mom!” as a way of manipulating me to allow her to have her way. This time I quickly said, “NO!”, but then I auto corrected to tell her that I know she misses her mom, but that does not mean that she doesn’t have to listen and obey. The worst tantrum of the week was on Friday… it was a black Friday indeed! We were actually having a very good day. We got a Christmas tree, went to the movies, and then went to the library to read and play. While we were at the library, my little one started playing with another little girl. They were playing fine for about 30 minutes… then the little girl comes out crying to her mom. Oh brother….! I ask my little one to come to me… and she immediately has an attitude. I ask her if she wants to leave, she says no… so I ask her to tell me what is wrong. She tells me that the other little girl took her doll back. I try to explain that the little girl shared her doll with her for a long time, but if she wants to play with it… I can’t make her share. It’s her doll that she brought from home. I also told her that she still should be kind and say nice words, even when folks are not so kind to her. So I asked her if she wanted to continue playing with the little girl, but if she did.. she could just say sorry and continue playing. She didn’t want to, so I told her it was time to go. OMG!!!!!! She had a total meltdown. She wouldn’t put on her jacket, she wouldn’t move… so I held her wrist. She started hitting me and YELLING in the library, “GET OFF OF ME… YOU’RE HURTING ME!” I explained that if she walked I would not have to hold her wrist. Mind you, I was not holding her wrist tightly… she just didn’t want me to hold her. I did let go and told her to walk… but she wouldn’t move. So I had to pick her up and take her out of the library all while she is screaming, “GET OFF OF ME!!! STOP!!!” I was so scared that someone was going to call the cops on me. LOL! A black lady removing a Hispanic child out of the library. I always carry my placement letter with me… just in case I have to explain myself.

Aftermath
The “aftermath!” She still wanted to cling… I was over it. LOL!

It was not fun, but I made it through. A friend who is also going through the foster process (but she is adopting) came over to my house to talk me through and reassure me that I handled myself properly. I beat myself up a lot because I sometimes just don’t know what to do. I actually take comfort in talking with bio parents that experience similar things with their children. It makes me know that I am not alone… and that I am really doing the best I can. She had no less than 5 tantrums/meltdowns during that week… FIVE! 

Calling me “Mom” and sooo attached 

Yup! Although she doesn’t call me “mom” she still says, “CC, you’re my mom.” I just look at her and say, “but your mom’s name is…” and she says her mom’s name. I let her know that I am taking care of her like a mom and I am happy to do it. She is also very attached to me… VERY. People comment on it all the time. I am not a very “touchy feely” person in general, I have gotten better as an adult… but this little one wants to hug me all the time, give me kisses and tells me she loves me. It is hard for me to take all of that in… LOL! I let her kiss me on the cheek a few times a day, but sometimes I have to say no. It’s a little much for me and I plan to speak to her therapist about it soon.

Thanksgiving1
Thanksgiving Day… just before another tantrum! LOL!

So… What’s next?

Christmas fun
She was so excited to decorate the tree!

We’re getting ready for the holidays around here. Like I said, I never had a Christmas tree or had decorations so I’ve put up a Christmas tree and a few other things around the house… she LOVES it! I still don’t know what is going to happen with her case. She has a court date coming up next month… so I just have to wait and see. Her caseworker says that it will be a while, but you never know what the judge will say. I can be honest and say that sometimes, I just want it to be over. I know that parenting is hard, I’ve heard my friends say it, I’ve heard experts say it, I’ve heard other foster parents say it… and I feel bad for thinking it [the placement to end] sometimes. I think I just get so tired of “fighting” with her over things. I do pick and choose my battles with her, but for the most part… I am the only disciplinarian. I am the only one to tell her to brush her teeth, take a bath, do her homework, or go to bed. I am the only one regulating what she eats, making sure that healthy options are around everywhere. When she goes home on the weekends, I don’t know what happens… I do know that she for the most part gets her way and that they give her candy (she tells me that, lol!). It’s hard being the only one providing structure and discipline, but I am making it through with help from my friends and mom. 

 For now, we are just continuing to find our normal. I signed her up for gymnastics and she starts next week… she is so excited. 

I think that’s all for now, thanks for reading!

 

Mommy?

Keyli and meQuick blog post. Last night my dear foster daughter (DFD) called me Mommy. It took me by total surprise. I had just picked her up from her biological mom and dad, who she has visits with every weekend. She knows her mom… she knows her dad… AND then there’s me. When she called me “Mommy” she quickly said after, “can I call you mommy?” I asked her if that is what she wants to call me and she said yes. So the entire ride home it was “Mommy this and Mommy that,” I mean… it was like she couldn’t say the word enough :-). After we got settled at home and she was getting ready for bed, she said “CC (what she calls me) … I mean mommy, when I go to sleep then I will wake up and see my mommy again?” I agreed with her. I asked her, “why do you want to call me mommy?” She shrugged her shoulders. I said, “Is it because I take care of you like a mommy?” She said yes.  Me: “You know ______ is your mommy, right?” She said yes, she knows that. So I told her that maybe she can call me Mommy CC so that she doesn’t get confused with her mommy and myself, she said okay. When I went to her room this morning… I thought she may have forgotten about this “mommy” business and she was back to calling me CC, nope as soon as I opened her door… she said, “Good morning Mommy!”

Last night, I was in total internal turmoil. Although I am flattered that she would even want to call me mommy, the thought of it made me sad. I just feel like at such a young age, this little one has had to call her dad and foster dad “Poppy” and her bio mom and myself “mommy.” She talks about her previous foster dad and brother all the time and how much she misses them, but also how happy she is at my house. At such a young age… she has been through a lot. Every time I take her to someones home… she always says, “then we are going to the ‘nother’ house?” I hate hearing her talk about going to the “nother house and the nother house.” It just makes me realize how many houses she has seen. This journey as a foster mom is new for me. I went from an 18 year old that was mostly out on her own, to a baby who couldn’t verbalize who I was to her, to now a 6 year old who can identify me with “Mommy.” I just don’t know how to feel about that and to be honest, I am not 100% comfortable. One of my friends who is also going through this process, but as an adoptive mom told me to let this little one decide what she is comfortable calling me because she needs to sort this out for herself. That I have to meet her where she is, that this is not a competition with her bio mom and that it is okay for her to have multiple moms… and that I am not replacing her bio mom (in her eyes). Even thought it can be messy at times… that this is her journey to navigate.

I am trying to embrace this new journey of “Mom” and trying to accept it.

 

It’s Halloween… but I’m less Spooked

Happy Pumpkin
She was so excited

I haven’t updated my blog in a few weeks and honestly, sometimes I just don’t know what to say! LOL! My Dear Foster Daughter (DFD) has been with me for almost a month now and it seems like we are getting used to having each other around. She is still sweet as pie and as silly as she can be, but we also still struggle with tantrums and meltdowns occasionally (like I am sure most bio moms would say as well). Over all, things are going well. I am very grateful that all of my placements have not been tumultuous so far. I’m going to break this entry down into sections, so I can try and capture all of my thoughts.

 

School

Handwriting
Working on writing

This has been my first dealings EVER with the public school system as a parent. It started out a bit rocky the first week as I was trying to switch my DFD contact information from her previous family. It seemed like the school staff wasn’t sure of what information I needed to bring in to make the change. Usually all that is needed is the placement letter from DSS which lets them know that this child is supposed to be with me. The school did take that, but they were unsure of what other proof I needed. So… I waited. We got all of that sorted out within 3 days. I also got to meet her teacher to learn more about the classroom dynamics and to actually learn more about how my DFD interacts with other children. Come to find out she is a social butterfly! Always helping and talking to other students. For 3 weeks, I had to drop her off and pick her up from school which was a HUGE deal. She has an early start and end time… so I had to take a late lunch to pick her up. We finally got the bus last week (after I threatened DSS)! It was great the first day, but the second day we missed the bus because the substitute bus driver came 10 minutes early and left the pickup location 6 minutes early. I learned to just sit outside 10 minutes early each day. I also learned from this that if I have another school aged child I will have to think long and hard about taking the placement if their school is far away. Luckily for me, her school is only 10 minutes from my home… but if her school was further south in the county, that would have been a nightmare for me logistically.

After School and Adjustments 

playground fun
Playground fun!

So my DFD is not an only child. She is used to having siblings around to play with… which has been a huge adjustment for her… AND ME! I grew up as an only child plus I am an introvert. I know how to entertain myself and I actually like being alone (or at least don’t mind being alone). My DFD is the total opposite of me! Like I said, she is a total social butterfly! In her previous home, there was a sibling there with her to play with and they also went to aftercare after school. So she is used to always having someone to play with or a lot of options for play after school. Here… there is only me and I am still working when she gets out of school, so she has to learn how to entertain herself. I have plenty of toys for her to play with, activity books, coloring books, Lego blocks… you get it :-). When she gets home she has a snack and can either have one hour watching TV or on the tablet… then she has to go play. Do you know what this little one told me last week?? “But, I only have 11 toys to play with… not 100!!” First of all… she has more than 11… LOL… second of all… pick one of the 11 to play with. So she chose to sit here and stare at me working for 30 minutes…. and pout. Sometimes she annoys me! LOL!

playthings
The box said hours of fun! Here’s hoping it works!

Discipline and Small Victories 

Charting
Behavior chart. She missed one day last week… meltdown city!

So if you know me… you know I am a rule follower. I don’t really rock the boat, if I’m asked to do something… I do it… no real push back. As an adult that has turned into being a fairly disciplined person that expects people to do the right thing also. **Side note… I am often disappointed in life.** LOL! As I said, this little one is extremely well behaved. She is sweet and she listens for the most part, but like a normal child… she likes to have certain things her way. Most of the time I let her do what she wants, as far as what she eats (at my house… it’s always balanced), what she wears, what she plays with, and what she wants to watch (My Little Pony ALL THE TIME). We have 3 non-negotiable’s. 1) You have to go to school, 2) You have to take a bath, and 3) You have to go to bed. I actually had to ask a friend if I was being unreasonable asking her to take a bath everyday because it was always a source of a meltdown. We have gotten through these meltdowns with the implementation of a behavior chart. She earns stickers for each day she makes good choices. This morning I was very happy that she turned her meltdown around. I always tell her that she has the power to make a good choice and have a good or not so good attitude. She changed it this morning, made a good choice and even apologized to me for her not so good attitude! Whew, glad she did because I really didn’t want to cancel her Halloween fun tonight. LOL!

Appointments and Parent Visits

Dentist
Dentist visit = a lot of tears.

Since my DFD has been with me, we have gone to plenty of doctor, dentist and therapy appointments. At one point it seemed like all I was doing was trying to get her to all the places she needed to go. It seems like that is slowing down a bit (yay!) so we can kind of get back to normal. I also had to go to a training on becoming her educational surrogate. I was really annoyed because the trainer read the slides to me. I could have read the slides in the comfort of my own home! LOL! As far as her parent visits, she has visits each weekend… unsupervised. Her family seems nice. Her dad, he is a little touchy feely in a creepy way. I’ve had to place boundaries in place around that interaction. I’m not down for that… at all!

Play dates, my schedule and Races 

Rocking outHave I mentioned that I like running? Well, I am an avid distance runner and I spend most of my free time either running or at the gym…. seriously. When people ask me what I like to do for fun, I usually say “nothing” because a lot of times I get weird looks for my love of distance running. ANYWAY, this is about foster care! LOL! I have had a few races while my DFD has been with me and I was very worried about how to manage having her and still running. I’ve had friends totally help me out with picking her up for me or allowing her to spend the night at their house. Total life savers! If anyone cares, my races all went well! After my hip injury last fall and not running for 4 months, I am so proud of my recent accomplishment (running the Baltimore Marathon a full 26.2 miles)! I’ve also had friends bring their kids over to play… which helps my social butterfly AND me (so that I can rest my ears from all of her interview questions! LOL!).

The Case

close up court courthouse hammer
Justice for the kids?

As far as her case, it seems like this little one may be with me for a little longer than I anticipated. I was a bit sad about that. Not that I want her to go, but when I took the placement the plan was reunification and she already had unsupervised overnight visits with her family. That changed and it seems like things are changing weekly. Why did I say that made me sad? Well, I always feel sad for her shuffling back and forth between her parents and myself. She is old enough to know that she wants to be with her parents and she asks me all the time when’s the next time she will see them. She has no concept of days and times… so I am constantly trying to help her count the days until she sees her mommy again. Secondly, selfishly… I miss my schedule! LOL! I miss being able to run with my friends, go to the gym early mornings, and sleep in ANY DAY of the week. On the weekends I meet her dad at 6 am to drop her off. I appreciate the time she gets to spend with her family and that I have to myself… but every morning is early and sometimes I just want to relax! So, it seems she will be with me a while longer. Her siblings are moving homes today because their foster mom couldn’t do it anymore. I may/may not have been the one who inadvertently told her that they were removing the children (oops). I thought it was common knowledge… but she didn’t know. I felt horrible… but she was happy I told her to soften the blow of DSS calling her. That is sooo another story, but it just presses my point that these kids may be in care for longer than we all thought.

I guess I had more to say then I thought! Hopefully it was an interesting read! Happy Halloween from my little one!

Princess Peppa
She absolutely LOVES Halloween!

New Season… New Placement

FD2_2
Working on handwriting.

Welcome to my favorite time of year! FALL! I love it! Not only was I born in the fall, but during this season I can drink all of the tea (hot) that I want and wear ugg boots! LOL! Long sweaters and scarfs! Yes, my favs!! But enough about me… you don’t come here to read about me. LOL! I received a new placement almost two weeks ago. A six year old little girl… she is a sweetie and it has been a joy to have her in my home. It has not been easy, today was a hard morning for me… I will get to that, but I wanted to give an update on the new little one in my home!

When I see the Social Services number on my phone, my heart always starts to race. I know they are calling me for a placement and I am anxious to hear what my worker has to say. So, my worker called me on a Monday and asked if I would be open to taking a six year old girl who was moving from another foster home. She told me about her case, and let me know that her plan is reunification with her family as she has unsupervised overnight visits. I knew that the next few weeks were very busy for me, my mom was having surgery, I had two races, and I was going out of town. I hesitated on the phone… my worker kept saying, “It’s okay if you can’t, you have to what works for you.” To be honest, I said no to the placement. When I hung up… I felt so bad. I chastised myself. “Why did you say no? Why can’t you do it? You are busy for the next few weekends, but she will have family visits… so what’s the real reason?” Nothing… so I called my worker back and told her I would take the placement. She was coming on Friday, so I had a few days to prepare. On Friday, I called her social worker to ask what time she was arriving and what time I needed to get her to her family for the weekend visit. I was then informed that her weekend visits had been rescinded.  FREAK OUT MOMENT!!! WHAT??!! I had a race that weekend… what am I going to do? Called my worker, she asked me what I wanted to do… do I want her to be placed somewhere else or do I want to put her in respite for the weekend? Geesh, it looks bad when you accept a child and then tell the workers that you won’t take them, so I took her. Hindsight… ???

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She’s sweet! Us watching TV.

So little miss arrived on Friday evening, she came in a gave me a big hug. Again, her worker gave me all of her information and belongings and then 1,2,3… she was gone… leaving me and the little one on our own. We played most of the night, but when it was time for bed… she did not want to go to sleep. This would be indicative of our next couple of nights. So far, it’s been a roller coaster of emotions. Some days are good and some are bad. Going from a 6 month old to a six year old is a big jump and to be honest… the baby was easier! LOL! Babies don’t talk back or have meltdowns! I feel like I am on a job interview every day with all the questions she asks me…. as soon as she gets up and as soon as I pick her up from school. That has also been a big adjustment. I have to drop her off and pick her up from school each day. I am trying to get a bus for her… hopefully by next week she will have one. When she first arrived, she didn’t want me to turn off the lights when she went to sleep. I tried dimmer light bulbs and it still didn’t work. My running group moms told me to just put more nightlights in the room. So, I ventured out to Target and found this great projection nightlight that projects Anna and Elsa from frozen on the ceiling. So she has to turn off the lights to see her friends :-). Parenting win! LOL! OH, but we do have meltdowns…. every other day we have one. Yesterday was the first time I had to put her on timeout. I was telling my mom that I had to start giving her consequences for not obeying me when I ask her to do something. What I am asking her to do are normal kid things, examples…. brushing her teeth, going to bed, going to school, doing her homework. I mean, things that she has to do! LOL! When I ask her to do these things, she starts pouting or crying and won’t move. She just gives me puppy dog eyes and starts dropping crocodile tears. Which really don’t move me. If you are not hurt or something is not really wrong and you start crying… that annoys me. I now understand why my mom used to want to “give me something to cry for” when I would cry for no reason! LOL! Today was a hard day because it started with her not wanting to put on a coat. Here, it was 45 degrees this morning… baby doll has to wear a coat. So that discussion turned into a meltdown. I also found that she says, “I miss my mommy” as a way of manipulating me. I know she misses her mom, and I feel bad FD2_1that she is in this situation… no child deserves this, BUT she only says this to me when I am disciplining her or speaking sternly to her. She never misses her mom when she is watching her show, or playing on the tablet. Only when I tell her it is time to go to bed, or she has to turn off he tablet. LOL! It’s not funny… but I laugh to keep from crying… literally.

I get so frustrated because although this is something that I want to do… it is frustrating because I have had to change my entire life around to take care of this little one. My time, my resources, my energy, my love and all I get are meltdowns over small things! I know that other moms probably are thinking… my kids do the same, but it’s just hard for me. I am doing all of this for a child that I am choosing to love… not that I birthed… so it hurts just the same.

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Parenting win! Scared of the dark… Elsa and Anna to the rescue!

She really is a sweet girl, she has a great laugh and she is so silly! I’ve gotten better at washing and styling her hair! It’s the little things. Today just happened to be a not so good morning. Like I told her when I dropped her off at school today, she has a choice on how the rest of her day will be… It can be good or bad, it just depends on her attitude. Same goes for me… instead of staying frustrated at this moment, I will choose to make it a good day!

In the meantime… in between time.

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Not me… not how I am waiting, but I thought it was funny!

It has been exactly one month since my placement left me. I miss her so much! I pray for her each day and hope that she is happy and safe. The hardest thing for me has been the “unknown.” Not knowing how baby girl is doing, how she is adjusting back to her home, and just all of the new things she has learned how to do (crawl, say words, eat solid foods… all of the baby things!). Two days ago, I text my mom… I was sort of emotional realizing that baby girl turned 7 months that day. She’s growing up… I’m so proud of her! I have not heard from her family, I don’t know if I ever will and that is hard also.

I learned a lot during this first placement in regards to dealing with Social Services. What to do… and what NOT to do! LOL! So being transparent (for anyone who may be considering fostering), foster parents do not make a lot of money. Actually, you do not make any money… when you get paid, you are basically repaying yourself the money you put out to care the child. I learned during this journey that you do not get paid for the child until the end of the next month. To explain, baby girl was placed in my home on 9 July. I received a statement from the state on 4 August for the time period baby was with me in July. The state doesn’t cut checks for care until 23 August… and I didn’t get payment until around 27 August… for care I gave in July. So, if you are waiting for money to help care the child… DON’T! It does not come quickly. Also, I learned if the child has a court date coming up… do NOT make any major purchases. I pre-paid daycare for the month of August, and just received the refund for care yesterday (9/6). The state does not pay daycare until the end of the month. So now I know to wait until I know the child will be with me, to pay everything up front. Lesson learned :-).  Foster care is great, but financially it can be draining (like actually being a parent) so I just want to let you know that. I feel like folks don’t like talking about the financial aspects of foster care because there is a stigma that foster parents do it for the money. While there may be some folks that do… the majority do not. I am just talking about it here so that if you are thinking about it… you will be more prepared than I was.

Most people ask when I will get another placement. I received a call a few days after baby left to place a 10 year old girl with me. I declined for two reasons. One was totally selfish, I was so looking forward to sleeping in that Friday morning (they called Thursday evening) and I really just wanted to relax that weekend. It was my first weekend without baby and I just wanted to chill. The second reason was the fact that a 10 year old is quite different from a 6 month old and an 18 year old. I would actually have to find something for her to do. LOL! School didn’t start for two weeks and most summer camps were winding down for the summer… I just didn’t want to deal with (and not know how to) having to entertain her for 2 weeks. I am still waiting for a call for my next placement, but I have gone back to normal life.

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Me enjoying my running group!

I am back to running with my run group at 0’dark 30 in the mornings. I am also training for a marathon, so I am able to get my long runs in without the pressure of getting back home to relieve a sitter and also being able to rest after a long run. I’ve been able to go out with friends, go to the movies, and go get my nails done at the drop of a dime. It’s great, but once you have a little one in your life… all of these things although great just feel… “OKAY”. Also, to keep your foster license you have to take training. So I have taken some classes with DSS which have been actually very informative. Recently, a woman in small group gave me four bags of clothes for a baby girl. So I have been organizing clothes and just making sure I am prepared (as I can be).

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Long runs are great!
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Training
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Organizing clothes!

 

Lastly, my birthday is this month! So I have been planning a small party. I am a detailed person, so this has been taking quite a bit of my time. I’m happy to have the time to devote to this and looking forward to spending time with my friends. So cheers to free time, but also waiting for the next call. I was getting anxious, but I was reminded while washing baby clothes last weekend that God sees this little one and knows who she is and when she is coming. I am just praying for her in this between time for whatever she has to go through to get to me. That God will keep her spirit strong that this won’t break her and that she will know that I am a safe refuge for her when she gets here.

That’s what I been up to!