Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cha Cha Cha Changes

I will honestly admit that this past month with only four children has been nice.  I've been able to catch up on a lot of housework that I had neglected.  The hallway is getting painted, new toilet was installed, the piles of "craft" items have been removed from my scrapbook desk.  Well, a lot of it has, anyway.  I am feeling back to myself again. 

Lots of changes for our little guy.  He now has a new case worker.  This will be his third over the last 25 months he has been in foster care.  His new social worker is fairly new.  She now has 11 cases.  I am hopefully optimistic that this change will also bring some changes for him.  I hate the fact that he is just in a kind of limbo.  What the county has decided to do is look for a concurrent family, at the same time going for reunification with his birth mom.  So this week I had another county worker come to my house and talk to both little guy and I about him.  What he liked, food, sports, his behavior.  Then they are going to write up his "biography" of sorts, and basically pass it out to foster parents, saying he is looking for a concurrent family.  A concurrent family is a foster family this is also willing to adopt should the reunification not work out.

This part breaks my heart.  At this point, I can't imagine our family without our little guy.  When we decided to become a foster family, our family's decision was to foster only.  Of course, we didn't have any foster children in our home then, either.  But adopting is a HUGE decision, and it has to be the whole family's decision.  There is our age.  We're not as young as we used to be!  And, I have been blessed with three of my own biological children.  My feelings are there are so many wonderful, loving people who are unable to have children of their own.  What a wonderful gift this little guy will be in their lives, should his path go down that road.

Tried a new food this month!  Crunchy Barney Almond Butter, Peanut Free and Gluten Free.  Going up and down the nut butter aisle, it was interesting to see how many other kinds of nut butters were made in a plant that processes peanuts.  Our little guy is allergic to peanuts, but so far no other nuts.   I like the fact that it is crunchy.  We use soy butter, but it only comes in the creamy variety.  Put a few things together, and this is what I made:

Almond Butter and Banana Wrap

1 wrap (I used California Lavash Whole Grain,
1 T. Barney Almond Butter (more or less to taste)
1 banana

Spread the almond butter on the wrap, place the banana in the middle, and roll it all up.  Cut into slices, like sushi.  Simple.  And best of all, the boys loved them.  Lots of varieties to this recipe, I'm sure.  If you try it, let me know how you like it!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Answered Prayers

Our children are often in our prayers, as are their family.  Oh, I don't feel I pray as often as I should, but I do my best.  Last week I decided that rather than just praying "for" our children, I would throw in a little something more specific.  Heavenly Father, I'm going to pray that this little baby go to his family.  Or something like that.  Yep, I asked God to take this beautiful baby away from our family and to go to his own family.  That was on Sunday.  On Wednesday I got a call from the case worker.  The Call.  Paperwork was finally done, the baby would be going home to his grandparents on Friday. 

Friday.  That gives me two days.  Hold on a minute, God.  I know this is what I asked for, but isn't that a little short notice?  I mean, our little munchkin is almost walking.  I want to see him walk across MY living room.  I have a lot to pack.  I haven't finished his lifebook.  I haven't even started his lifebook!

This was our first reunification.  So many emotions went through me.  This is the last time I give him a bath.  This is the last time I sing to him.  This is the last time I lay him down for the night.  Every time I thought that I would cry.  I did a fair share of crying for those two days.

Those two days before he left was a whirlwind of activity at our house.  Much packing, getting paperwork ready.  I typed up his daily schedule for the grandparents.  I am so grateful that I have a good relationship with the grandparents, and the birth mother.  Well, as good a relationship as I could have.

Finally, Friday arrived.  I brought our little munchkin to Social Services, where we met the grandparents.  There we unloaded my vehicle (a large-sized suv) and packed their vehicle (compact car).  Then, after the packing, unpacking, and packing up again, I had to say goodbye.  I had to give him back. 

That was the moment that, when I tell people that I am a foster parent, most people bring up why they could never do what I do.  Having to give the baby up.  Give the baby up?  He was never mine to keep.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Long Overdue Update

Two months.  Two months?  Seriously.  I guess the saying time flies when you're having fun is true.  So many updates, but rather than trying to catch up I will start with the here and now, and fill you in as time goes.

Right now I am in my living room watching V and A play.  V is almost three now, and A is 13 months old.  These two little munchkins have grabbed hold tight to my heart and wrapped around it. 

I may do differently next time:

When we first got licensed to do foster parenting we were licensed for one child.  The next year we got licensed for two, because - I said - in case a sibling group of two comes up, we would be able to take both of them in. As you know, these boys are not related, but now that they have settled in - and gotten older - things are not quite as chaotic as they were.  But with two children we have double everything, as I've written about before.  The double everything does get old.  I'm just saying.

I would do the same next time:

We had had V for about a year when we got the call about A needing a home.  When I got the call, I didn't think about having double everything.  My first thought was a little child being taken away from everything he's ever known, and being plunged  into the world of foster care.  Of course I said yes.  When I first saw him he seemed so small to me.  Would I say yes again?  You betchya.

Today our schedule is all about off and running.  A has his well check appt. at the pediatrician, then a visit with Mom a couple of hours after that.  In between those times we will attempt to eat lunch.  Then it will be time to come home, down for a nap, then off to pick up my son from school.  Oh, and don't forget scouts later this afternoon.  Then home for dinner, homework.... you get the idea.

Now, where is that book of mine on time management??....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Since having V in our home and finding out he is allergic to peanuts, we've had to make some adjustments to our pantry.  His previous foster mom told me she gave him a little peanut butter on a cracker and noticed he broke out in a rash.  His peanut allergy was confirmed when the allergist tested him.  Luckily, he wasn't allergic to any other nuts. 

This last Halloween was a little difficult when it came down to the eating of the candy.  Poor V - I kept having to remove candy from his bucket!  Next time I will definitely plan ahead and have peanut-free candy to replace the candy that I take out.  I even found gummy worms that had the peanut warning on the package! Smarties are ok, but no yogurt-covered raisins for this boy.

A friend of mine told me her kids like the Wal-mart brand of soy butter, so that is what I have bought.  Until recently.  One day I went to buy more soy butter and there wasn't any of the Wal-mart brand on the shelf.  So we bought this brand:
  I was never a fan of soy butter, but I really like this brand!  I even tried it in a fudge recipe (see the recipe below).

The whole family gave it a thumbs up, even though I didn't put enough sugar in it (I was a cup short).  I think that changed the texture of the fudge, more than the taste.

Have I mentioned that I am no Betty Crocker?  My family teases that I should be on the show that finds the world's worst cook.  I'm really not THAT bad, but I have made more than my share of  Surprise Casserole  for dinner.

Soy Butter Fudge
4 c sugar
1 c butter
3 T white corn syrup
1 5-oz. can evaporated milk
2 c soy butter
1 7-oz. jar marshmallow creme
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. nuts (optional - we didn't add them)

In saucepan melt butter; add sugar, syrup and milk.  Bring to bubbling boil.  Reduce heat to medium, cook and stir constantly for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat; add peanut butter, marshmallow creme and vanilla.  Blend until thoroughly mixed.  Pour in a 9 x 13 inch buttered pan.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Just" the Foster Parent

I don't reallly think of myself as "just" a foster parent.  I know it is an important job, and that I have been given a lot of responsibility.  If I had to give one of my children to a total stranger to care for for an undetermied amount of time, I personally don't know how I would ever trust that person wholeheartedly.

That being said, I often wonder what case workers think of the foster parents they are working with.  I know they are over-worked and - usually - underpaid, and while they have to deal with many cases of children, I have just two.  There's that word again - JUST.  Really?  While I may only have two foster children, each child comes with a birth mother.  Each visit has to be supervised, so there are two more people added into that equation.  Our baby has transportation provided once a week (while I take him twice a week), so add on three more people.  Then there are respite placements, of which I've had three different people for that.  Then you get the doctors and therapists.  Are you ready?  Here's my doctor list:  physical therapist, developmental specialist, neurologist, allergist, pediatric specialist, an ENT doctor, audiologist, assessment therapists, dentist and pediatrician.  Whew! 

Back to my point.  I get emails from the case workers asking to switch my days around for a visit.  They ask me when a good alternative time is.  There are days when I want to reply back sarcastically and say, "well,  why don't you take a look at the five or more previous emails I've replied to you with my schedule that says the days I am available?" I'm sure pressing the send button on my computer would put a smile on my face.  Instead, I reply back to them for the umpteenth time telling them what days I am available and what days I work - our weekly schedule.

Don't get me wrong.  I do like my case workers - both of them.  But there are days....

Like today.  I show up for the usual visit time, only to be greeted with, "I don't think there is a visit today.  Didn't anyone call you?"  No.  "Let me double check." . . . . "You can go on home, there is no visit today."

Just like that.  No phone call, no email. 

I guess today I was

Just the Foster Parent

Monday, October 25, 2010


When we first met our oldest foster son, he was currently placed in another foster home.  We did what is called a transition.  This transition consisted of meeting him and having him spend a couple hours at our home, then having him over for a longer period at our house, then spending the night once before us taking him into our home as a foster child.  He was 17 months old at the time, and we didn't really notice any kind of problems relating to attachment.  We seemed to bond well with him.

There wasn't any transition for our youngest foster son, as he was removed from his biological parent and placed directly with us.  This little guy came with the clothes he had on, a half a package of diapers, some wipes and about 1/4 can of formula.  We went to Wal-mart that night!

When my husband and I took our PRIDE training, there was a lot of discussion about the importance of attachment and attachment disorders.   They really stress the importance of not having a child move from home to home to home because without attaching and bonding to a family that's where attachment disorders can start and become lifelong.  All the training was focused on the actual child.

Right now paperwork is being processed for our littlest to go to family members.  We have had this little guy in our home for four months.  While our older daughters have helped to care for him, our nine year old has bonded with him as a brother would. He sings to him (don't tell him I told you!), plays with him, keeps him entertained when he's fussy. 

Our two year old foster son has also formed an attachment to him.  Even though they look nothing alike, I have been asked more than once if they are brothers.  In a sense they are.  They are the closest in age out of all the kids, they are together almost all of the time, and so they do things and go everywhere together.  I see how our two year old has gone from "No, that's MY Mommy!" to sharing his toys and even kissing the litle guy.  Just watching them together can bring tears to my eyes. 

So now, with the possibility of our little one leaving us soon, I am wondering how it will affect our family.  I know that I will be a blubbering mess, but even though I know this, I also know I will never be totally prepared for it.  I am the parent and caregiver, and I will miss him terribly because we have bonded with him, as my children have.

How will my children be affected?  My older ones get the concept.  But our two year old?  Even now when the baby goes for visits with his mom, our two year old asks "Where's the baby?"  When we first left the baby with his mom for her visit, our 2yo cried.  How will he do when this baby leaves our home for good?  What will it do to him?  And, since is not an attachment disorder, what do you call it?  There needs to be a PRIDE training on that.

I have not had to experience the letting go of one of our foster children yet.  As the time gets closer and closer, I am praying that I will handle it the best I can, and be there for my children.  I will share their grief with them.  I will share the good times, and the memories.

That, and chocolate.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Late Night Musings

I often wonder how our biological children feel having about being a foster family.  I mean how they REALLY feel.  Sure, for the most part they tell us they think it's fine.  Once in a while we'll hear, "when are they leaving?" or "it's just soooo loud in here!"    But when I watch my own children interacting and caring for our foster children, a sense of awe comes over me.  I am so proud of how they have stepped up to help with the extra work that comes with having a larger family.  When I asked our kids what they have learned since becoming a foster family, here are a few things they had to say:

*We see the munchkins grow and learn (in so many ways than just physically and developmentally!)
*Babies are very hard (This was from our 9yo son, who never hesitates to help with the boys)
*We get to connect with them and help their family (All three of our kids have met one of the birth moms)
*I don't want to have kids (until they are ready - I'm all for that)
*It's hard  (Yep, very hard.  But oh, so rewarding.)

Hey, at least they are honest.  I see how my children have cared for and loved these children like they were their own sibling.  They have welcomed them into our home so easily.  And I see the love they receive back from them.

Life is good.