Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ginger's Moving On

If I wouldn't have let my cell phone die yesterday, I would have gotten the message earlier. Ginger's Great Aunt has checked out with the state, so Ginger will be going to live with her. It's a good thing, really. Her mom's case is workable. All she has to do is not smoke pot for at least 6 months and go to counseling and get a psych eval and on some appropriate and legal meds for whatever her condition is. She doesn't have to get her GED, a job, or transportation. All she has to do is get clean.

We'd much rather that happen with her with a family member than with us. Sure, we've gotten attached to her, but not bonded. Once again, the Lord looked out for us on this one. We did what we were supposed to do, and He gave us the strength and wisdom to be cautious. I'll miss the little Ginger Snap. What's worse will be that we will likely worry that she is well cared for. She will be living in poverty, but that is not something we can discriminate for.

We will ask that Ginger be moved on Monday morning. We will probably cry. Though this time it will be less about grieving over a child who could have been ours and more about grieving over the knowledge of a child's probable life course.

Then, we are considering packing up the car and taking Cookie to see Michael's parents. It's been a wild couple of weeks, and we will need some get-away before awaiting our next placement.

OF COURSE we're going to do it again! Once you are called, you're called. Period.

Still, your prayers for us on Monday as we say goodbye will be greatly appreciated.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Things said to us recently by children who are total strangers to us:

1) Upon taking Cookie out of the car to take her to daycare, a little black boy (about age 6 or 7) sees Michael and say to him, "You know, some black men have black babies." His mother proceeded to scold him about getting into other people's business. Michael, on the other hand, thought it was hilarious!

2) All 4 of us were out in the front yard, and Cookie was playing while Michael was watering the flowers and yard. I was holding Ginger while sitting on the front step. A little white girl (age 6 or 7) rides up on her bike and stops dead in her track in front of our house. She points to Cookie and asks me, "Did she grow in your belly?" Michael turns to me, and I say "No." Michael adds, "We adopted her." The little girl simply says, "Oh." and rides off down the street. We both think that was very cool.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Letter #1 to Ginger's Mom

Here's the letter she's getting in her goodie bag today:

June 26, 2007

Dear Ginger's Mom,

Thank you so much for the loving letter you wrote to us. It means so much to know how much you love your little girl, and we are grateful for your prayers. We think about you constantly, and pray for you every day. We can’t imagine how hard this must be for you. We only wish there was more we could do to help you. Please know we love Ginger very much. We tell her every day how much her parents love her.

We were so happy to get to meet you last week. You are so very beautiful. You CAN work your case plan with God’s help, and all the help the social workers have set up for you. Please know we don’t think bad things about you. Our hearts hurt for you, but we do not blame you for anything. We’ve all made bad choices in our lives. But GOD will always give you another chance to make things right! Isn’t that comforting?

Ginger is doing just great. My husband and I both teach, but I am not teaching this summer, so I am able to stay home with her. We bought a great bassinet for her to sleep in until she is too big, and then she will sleep in her crib. We have a UK mobile for her with little teddy bears dressed as UK football, baseball, basketball players, and cheerleader. She absolutely loves watching it!

She is eating good, and doesn’t even spit up at all. She sleeps very well and takes naps in the late morning and early afternoon, and then usually only wakes up once at night around 2 am for a warm bottle and clean diaper. Funny though, 2 am seems to be her favorite time to poop!

Ginger seems to really be smiling now, and she smiles a lot. She’s such a happy baby, and she only seems to cry when she is hungry, dirty, or wants to be held.

We take her to church every Sunday, and the people there just love her to bits! Everyone loves to hold her and kiss her chubby cheeks. You have lots of people at our church who are praying for you and for Ginger.

On Monday night, I took her to watch my husband play in the church softball game. Lots of women from the church were there and everyone kept saying how beautiful Ginger was. She was such a great little girl at the game. She seemed to love looking at what was going on, and really enjoyed being outside and all the interaction.

Thank you so much for sending her clothes and formula. We are glad we get to put the outfits on her that you picked out for her.

I want you to know how much we LOVE caring for Ginger. My husband and I became foster parents two years ago when we found out that we could not have children of our own (I cannot get pregnant). Earlier this year, we adopted our daughter who is now 18 months old (her mom is a cocaine addict and her dad is in jail for a long time). We were so happy to be able to adopt her, and she is beautiful and healthy. She also LOVES Ginger very much. She sits beside her when I am feeding her and pets her head and rubs her arms and legs. She loves to give her kisses on the top of her head! She also loves to watch her get her baths. It is just awesome to see her come over and out of nowhere just give her kisses.

I hope it will give you peace to know that Ginger is loved here. No matter what happens and no matter how long she is in our family, nothing will change that. We also care about YOU! Please know if there is anything you want to know about us, or anything special you would like us to do for Ginger – just ask.

Much love,

Ginger's Foster Parents

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

An Interesting Meeting

On Monday night at my husband's softball game, I met a woman who goes to our church whom I didn't even know. She and her husband had surmised that our family was not one of procreation due to our variety of skin-tones. She shared with me a bit of her agony.

She and her husband have tried for the entire 8 years of their marriage to conceive. They conceived 8 times successfully. She also had 8 miscarriages. Just six months ago they decided to adopt. They are adopting privately from Oklahoma for a number of reasons - to avoid as much pain as possible is the main reason. Oklahoma TPRs in 24 hours after birth for a woman relinquishing her child for adoption. In Kentucky, it's 30 long days. She told me they could never have done fostering to adopt. (I think a lot of people think that, and are wrong - but in her case, she may be right.)

I don't understand in her case why it took 8 years or that many miscarriages for them to come to this decision. She must have wanted to experience pregnancy very badly. What I do know is that now she seems happy (I didn't know her before Monday.) She gleams with joy and anticipation. She loved meeting Cookie and Ginger at the ball game. She asked lots of question - but our situation of adopting from foster care is so different.

I'm glad they are adopting. I'm also glad we took action as soon as we did when we learned we had dual fertility issues. I'm grateful we did not elect IUI or IVF. I'm so grateful.

Risking TMI here, I started my cycle on Monday, which means if I did ovulate, it happened the first day or so that we had Ginger. I think that is the ultimate confirmation right there. It just doesn't matter.

I'm glad I had the meeting I did. It once again confirmed that God has much better plans for us than we can ever conjure up - if we just have faith enough to lay it all down before His feet.

Monday, June 25, 2007

What Did The Trick Tonight

We managed to get Cookie to sleep at midnight tonight, and I wanted to share just what she fell asleep to. Do any of you church-folks remember a children's ministry called "Gerbert" - a little kid puppet? Well, I remember them fondly - it was a late 80's thing and my little brother (and me and mom, then) were all about Gerbert.

Well, they only came out in VHS and are, of course, long out of print. But I wanted Cookie to experience Gerbert, so I bought one video. It's children singing classics like "Oh, How I Love Jesus", and "I'm In the Lord's Army", and more and Gerbert narrates and the kids do sign language along with the songs. He's just the cutest little guy. Well, it is an absolute HIT. But it's not like the Elmo videos where she gets all excited. With Gerbert she's just mesmerized and peaceful. She studies it and doesn't move a muscle.

So tonight we popped in the tape as a last resort and she got though about 3 songs and then just laid down with her head facing the TV in our bedroom and kept listening, and closed her eyes and pretty soon the baby-snore followed. And, of course, now I am too wired to sleep. :)

We just ordered 3 more Gerbert videos from half dot com - cost us only $20 with shipping - not horrible for stuff that's out of print.

The best thing though? One video is about how Gerbert is adopted and he answers questions about adoption and talks about how Moses was adopted! I love it! So this is my first official adoption-related purchase (that I am aware of, anyway).

Am now going to pop in a load of laundry and get some sleep. Thank God for Gerbert.

Getting Used To The Sight Of Blood

So here's another one I didn't know about...

Last night we managed to get Mia to sleep at midnight (after Michael drove her around in the car for an hour). She slept until 2:30, then from 3 to 9 thanks to Hyland's teething tablets (thanks for the tip!), bubblegum flavored acetaminophen chewables, and Benadryl. But then...

When I woke up I saw...BLOOD.

There were pools of blood and drool on the bed, on the pillowcase, and on Mia.

I freaked.

Then I looked it up.

Apparently this is normal.

Once again, this is something I probably should have learned somewhere, but I was probably too busy worrying about which boy I liked or something similar.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

On A Lighter Note - Ha!

We did not make it to church today. And that is not because of Ginger Snap - who, by the way, is sleeping like a champ. No...

Last night, Cookie slept a whopping 1 hour. She has had a fever for the last 2 days, and drools so much she soaks her shirt in a matter of an hour (and the bed linens, and our shirts...). And she is crying and sobbing and whining. Non-stop. I am not exaggerating. OK, there have been a few precious Elmo's World viewing moments of relative peace in which we have traded crying for "La la la la. La la la la Elmo's World...". And she is relatively calm in the bathtub. But those moments last for all of 30 mintues tops before the sobbing resumes. And the crying is LOUD. And my Cookie is a drama queen diva.

And today she napped for 1 hour only after I forced her to lay down with me in the bed and only after she sobbed for another hour while I patted her bottom.

Dang teeth. She's cut her first molars already, and is now cutting the teeth just in front of the first molars. It seems all 4 are coming in at once. Lovely. And I thought I was done with teething with this child. Surprise!

So, my precious child has been awash in a sea of drool and snot just streaming endlessly down her face. And it gets in her hair, and any piece of stray substrate sticks to her like glue, and she looks like a street urchin! (OK, an adorable well-fed street urchin.)

We've tried everything - driving her around at night, playing during the day, walks in the stroller, playing with water in the yard, videos, her favorite foods, 3 baths a day, and constant holding.

Oh, and she refuses to eat anything, and will not drink anything unless she is dying of thirst, and then only drinks a few sips. It is scaring me. We even tried her favorite foods - pizza, Chinese, chicken nuggets from Wendy's - even fries. Nothing would make her eat.

The good news (??) is that she is going for her 18 mo. shots tomorrow, so the doctor can check her out and confirm the teething diagnosis I've already dished out. I swear if it's another ear infection, I will scream. Her date for surgery to get the tubes is July 13th, and now I cannot wait. Seems horrible to wish surgery on your child, but those who have been there I'm sure will understand.

At least it's just 1 child.

Oh, and I did make a trip to the dollar store for a card, some blank journals, a cool pen, some cookies and chewing gum, and a gift bag for Ginger's mom. I'm still looking for a Bible for her. I think I'm going to get one of The Message bibles. Anyone care to comment on their knowledge of this version? Some of my college students really like it, but I've never checked it out.

I also got supplies there to make 2 small scrapbooks/lifebooks. This is the coolest dollar store ever.

Anyway, I feel better just having got her a few items. I may make it a monthly ritual of sending a little inspirational goodie bag along with the pictures we've taken that month. I'll also see as the weeks go by how I can become a more active mentor for her (or if that's even possible).

I'm off to wash a load of drool-soaked shirts. This mommy thing is hard. *grin*

Friday, June 22, 2007

Where to Begin?

This may all seem incoherent as I'm still trying to process the details of Ginger Snap's case and yesterday's events. And I'm a jumbled up mess this morning.

On a side note - Ginger's mom and grandmother did finally show up last week - they had gone back home for the birth certificate and formula that they thought they had to get at that moment. At least they did attempt to come.

First, our visit yesterday with Ginger's worker:
She handed us a letter. It was handwritten on a piece of notebook paper, and in her best efforts, Ginger's mom poured her heart out. She thanked us for caring for her baby, said God was watching over us, and asked us to tell Ginger how much her mommy and daddy love her, how sorry she was for what has happened, and how she will get her back soon, and promises to never let it happen again.

They didn't prepare us for that in MAPP classes.

Ginger's mom also sent a box of clothes, diapers, and all the formula she had along with next month's WIC vouchers, and dates of doctor's appointments and the next WIC appointment.

From here on out, I'm going to refer to Ginger's mom as simply her mom - not birth mom as I refer to Cookie's situation. In this case, Ginger has a mom. And she is grieving. She has made some bad decisions, but she is her mom. And I feel just awful for her. She has so little, and no positive support in her life to turn to.

On Meeting Ginger's Mom:
The social worker took Ginger Snap with her for the visit with her mom. We came to the office a little over an hour later to pick her up. Inside, we saw the social worker, the baby in the carrier, and no one that looked anywhere near 19. Then she introduced me to the girl standing next to the baby carrier as her mom. I almost fainted. I would have easily bet good money on her being 11 years old. I would have had a hard time believing she was a day over 15 for sure. But 19? Never.

She was a pretty little girl with long shiny brown hair that she kept pulling over one shoulder and smoothing down the length of it as she talked. She had big brown eyes, and a round face, and smooth pretty skin like you'd see on a pre-teen face. She wore pants that she couldn't zip or button up past her post-baby weight around her middle, though she was rather rounded all over in a sweet way. Her eyes searched my face in seconds - perhaps for reassurance, perhaps out of curiosity, perhaps for a wishing to be the one taking her child home instead of me. The social worker introduced us. Handshakes seemed inappropriate. The moment overtook my ability to distance myself, and I said to her, "Can I give you a hug?" And she nodded yes. And I hugged her. Huge tears flooded her eyes still puffy from crying during her visit with Ginger (SW said she cried the whole time). I wanted to tell her something that would matter, but there wasn't much I could say. "She's beautiful and perfect", I said - looking down at Ginger in her carrier. Mom nodded in agreement.

Mom asked the worker about the DNA testing for her ex-boyfriend, and the worker explained the court would order it, and no one would have to pay for it. She seemed relieved and mumbled something about him not believing he's the baby's father.

She leaned in to the carrier and kissed Ginger's face, then she turned to Michael and I and thanked us again. Then she was gone.

The SW told us that she was happy when she saw us walk up and that we were a bi-racial couple for her bi-racial baby. She had asked the SW if that was intentional, and even though it wasn't, she was happy about it nonetheless. I'm glad that was a comfort for her.

I asked the SW if she had graduated high school. No. Not even a GED. She will need to take classes.

So, no job, no education, a drug addiction, probable mental health issues, and no support network.

This child needed a system that would have allowed her to go somewhere and be with her baby while she got an education and a job. She doesn't need someone else bonding with her baby while she struggles to do things that are, for her, nigh unto impossible. I do not know how she will do these things.

Her case plan will include drug testing twice a week, a psychiatric eval and possible medication plan for depression/anxiety/bi-polar/post-partum stuff, counseling, and I assume getting her GED and a job. Would she have to have that to get her baby back? Would she have to at least show she could support this baby? I have no clue. I really don't.

What I do know is now I'm having a very hard time wanting this baby, or even bonding with her. What I want is for this baby to be with her mother. And I want her mother to clean up her life. But I wish she could do that and still keep her baby with her. It all seems so drastic to have removed the baby. But then again, I'm sure I do not know everything. But does the judge know everything?

I don't want to adopt this child if the system just throws this young girl to the dogs. Cookie's case was extreme - beyond any doubt. Ginger has a mom who wants her and loves her and needs help. If she were just a little younger, she would have been placed in foster care along with her baby - which is exactly what I feel needs to happen now. But it won't.

Unless this great-aunt in another county checks out (which we were told could take another month or so to determine while they investigate and do a CBC on her), we will likely have Ginger a very, very long time. Mom cannot do everything she needs to do in a matter of months. I honestly do not see how she can do it at all given her lack of positive support. I would do it for her, but I am the foster parent who is supposed to only bring the child to visits. How can I "work with the birth parent" from this position?

If the relative placement does not work out, I am considering asking for Ginger to be moved to a foster-only home. She does not need to be in a pre-adoptive home. This is insane. I'm having visions of Ginger being 3 or 4 and the mom still plugging away and making progress on getting her back but just "not good enough" to get custody back. And I see us in the middle.

The only way I could foresee feeling good about ever adopting Ginger would be if her mom wanted to relinquish her rights and allow her to be adopted by us - of her own free will and without pressure or coercion. And I don't see that happening.

Yup, God is in control. And I'm glad because today I feel completely OUT of control.

I am in mourning for Ginger's mom. If she were really 11 I would adopt them both. She needs a decent mom herself, and it is clear she never had one. Yet she loves her baby girl, that is certain.

We will pray, and ask you to pray.
We will take lots of picture of Ginger and make photo albums for her mom.
We will write her letters about how Ginger is doing, and offer our support.
I am also going to try to get a Bible for her in one of those new versions that she might be better able to read at her level of reading.
And I am going to get her a journal she can write her thoughts in, and write notes to Ginger in so she can have them one day.

Right now I am hoping the great aunt is approved so that Ginger can somehow remain with family. Her mom misses her so.

I'm just a wreck. I feel so blessed to have met Ginger's mom. But I feel so torn up inside now. I don't know how I'm going to process it all.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Anticipating Tomorrow's Visits

Thursday afternoon will be our first home visit with Ginger Snap's social worker. We're not too excited about the visit because this worker will only be on her case for 6 weeks before she leaves her job (because of the stress, according to her), at which point Ginger Snap will get a new social worker - this one will be a newbie. Newbie social worker cannot yet take Ginger Snap because you have to have so much time and training in before you get your first cases. I guess Ginger Snap will be one of her very first cases. I'm not sure how I feel about that. While she'll be fresh and not yet burned out on the job, she won't have the prowess that Cookie's worker had. Still, I'm already praying for her - that she have wisdom, insight, and knowledge far beyond her years.

After the social worker leaves our house tomorrow, she will be taking Ginger Snap across town to a women's center for a supervised visit with her birth mom. I suppose in my mind it's a toss up as to whether she'll even show up. As you recall, she didn't show up for last week's Family Team Meeting (which hasn't been rescheduled). I don't even know what her case plan will involve. I suspect that will not be known until after the preliminary hearing on July 3rd. And even after that, we still have the dispositionary hearing because Ginger's birth mom will not admit to the validity of the positive drug tests - thus dragging the process out even further and costing the good folks of the commonwealth even more money. God Bless our justice system.

We have offered to pick up Ginger Snap from her visits as long as the social worker or transportation worker picks her up for them. We have asked that they be scheduled on Thursday afternoons so we can pick her up and then easily run by daycare to pick up Cookie. With my new teaching schedule for fall, I should be able to make those pick-ups, or trade off with Michael as time allows.

I wish I could meet Ginger Snap's birth mom. I suppose my desire is to meet a young girl who desperate wants to turn her life around and get her child back. I want to have a better sense of direction with her case. The goal is reunification, and will likely be that until one of three things happens: 1) Ginger could be with us for at least a year and if her mom hasn't made any changes, they may seek a goal change to adoption. 2) Mom could stay away and not see her child for 90 days, at which they would seek a goal change as well. 3) Mom could voluntarily terminate her parental rights (which is highly unlikely). The case appeared simple at first, then while waiting with the workers at the team meeting that never was, we learned the complexities of the case.

First, Ginger's mom has no job, no higher education (do not know if she graduated HS), and no transportation. She lives with her boyfriend who has both drug and alcohol charges. She would either have to leave him and move out, or he will have to work the case plan too (yeah, right). But HE is not the baby-daddy. Ginger's mom claims the baby-daddy is this other guy who also has drug and alcohol and various other things that make him an unsuitable placement (in addition to the fact that he never wanted the child and asked birth mom to abort). The court will order a drug test at one of the hearings coming up in the next few months. They suspect if proven to be the biological father, he may voluntarily terminate his rights to avoid child support, drug testing, and working with the state.

Ginger's birth mom's own mother (Ginger's gramma) has her own legal past - with drug charges for guess guessed it - marijuana. Guess it runs in the family. What's worse is THAT woman has a younger child in the home, - Ginger's mamma's sibling - and she refuses to take a drug test to get Ginger - but the state may intervene anyway and demand she be tested anyway (not sure how - just heard the social workers discussing it).

Cindy reminded me the other day to not dismiss the possibility that this child could be God's will to become our daughter. While I don't want to take someone's child IF they are trying to get their life together, I want to emphatically state - I WISH! I wish we knew. I wish it didn't take so long to find out, or to assess the likelihood she will return home. It seemed definite before the story really started to unfold (and before they were a no-show). Tomorrow may very well bring more details. We also have a visit with our R&C worker this month, and we may very well as her if she has heard anything more as well.

The state is still investigating a possible relative placement for Ginger - a great aunt in another county who is in her 60's and has no transportation. Now, we can't be ageist, or poverty-ist, but you must know where my thoughts are on that anyway. We're 36, we have 2 cars, and enough resources and then some - and yet this week we are wiped out! Perhaps she is a good woman and it will work out. I hope we get a firm yes or no on that one soon as well. If Ginger is going to leave us for a relative, it needs to be sooner than later for all of us.

It feels weird to be back in the swing of fostering again, and back in the place we have been so many times before with not knowing. I feel strongly that this is God's way of placing things in my life that will teach me to surrender, to tolerate ambiguity, to trust, and to acknowledge that I cannot control all the various goings on in the universe. I'm getting it.

Please say a little prayer around 2:30 for our home visit, and 3:30 or so for birth mom's visit.
Thanks, everybody. I'll update tomorrow evening with what more we have learned.

Monday, June 18, 2007

My Little Helper

I think these pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy!

A Wonderful Dad

Happy Father's Day... late! This is what nap time typically looks like at our house now that there are two girls in our lives:

Friday, June 15, 2007

Well, That Was Anti-Climactic

We showed up for the family team meeting, as did the facilitator, the investigator, and the new ongoing social worker. Gee, see who's missing? Yup. The birth mom and live-in boyfriend were no-shows. But the grandmother does apparently have the ability to call and cuss out the social worker every day. If only she used that energy to get off drugs herself. *sigh* It's all so systemic.

So, the next opportunity for the birthmom to see Ginger will be next Thursday. She lost points with me big-time. If someone took MY child away on a Monday and that Friday was the first opportunity to see my child I'd WALK there across hot coals if I had to! *sigh*

I even had Ginger dressed in a sweet new 4th of July outfit, freshly bathed and powdered. Too bad only we and the social workers got to enjoy it.

Thanks again for the prayers. I guess we were all protected today.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sugar Cookie Tends To Ginger Snap

Well, Monday night Cookie refused to go to sleep without being about to touch the baby as she drifted off to sleep. It was so precious that I let them both sleep on the bed next to each other while I waited for Michael to come home from softball. I even got some cute pictures of them side-by side fast asleep (that are too much a close-up on Ginger for me to post here).

This week Cookie has been very loving to the baby. She's wanted to hold the bottle for her to eat, and when one of us is feeding the baby on our lap, she likes to crawl up on our lap too so she can be right there as well. She tries endlessly to put the pacifier in the baby's mouth if she is cranky. She pets the baby's hair and rubs her little arms and legs. She even tries to climb into the baby's carrier - right on top of her (which we don't allow, obviously, but seeing her try to get that close is just too adorable).

Cookie loves supervising Ginger's diaper changes when done on the bed so she can watch. She gets up close and "inspects" like a scientist and watches our every move.

We've talked to Cookie a lot about the baby, and that she is not our baby, but only here with us for a while. We tell her that she is our daughter, and that the baby is not. We have told her a lot more these past days how much we love her, how proud we are of her, and how glad we are that she is ours and no one will ever take her away from us. Oddly enough, she seems to understand enough tidbits to have gotten over some jealousy she displayed on Monday night (which resulted in a major crying "meltdown"). Clearly, this is a big change in the household - and one that Cookie doesn't understand fully. There's a baby. She takes away mommy or daddy quite often. She is fascinating, but a source of great concern for her as well.

Last night, when Cookie saw Ginger laying in the crib, she walked over and saw that her Pooh bear was in the crib. This particular pooh bear has a head that lights up and plays soothing tunes when you press it's tummy. Cookie got it from her grandparents when she was 11 months old and loves it to this day. I thought for sure she was going to whine about it being with the baby, or try to take it out of the crib. But, no. Instead, she reached into the crib, pressed pooh's tummy and just stood back and watched the baby enjoy it. I almost cried. She's so loving.

This morning I was feeding Ginger her morning bottle while she was propped up on a pillow on the bed. Cookie grabbed her sippy cup of juice and proceeded to lay her head down right next to the baby so that they were laying right next to each other having their breakfast.

The reality is that the two girls together are an exhausting challenge. Still, I feel we made the right decision. She's an excellent baby so far, and sleeps as well as can be expected for 8 weeks. She a lovely little thing.

Tomorrow afternoon is the family team meeting. I bought Ginger a special 4th of July outfit to wear. I hope her mommy is willing to work hard and work fast. This is no stage of a child's life to miss. Michael and I are seeing her first emergent smiles. Her mommy should be seeing these. I sure hope the system works - your prayers for the team meeting on Friday are greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What Cookie Thinks of New Foster-Sister

She thinks the baby is her new toy! Our main problems have been with the obvious jealousy during feeding times, bath time, and holding the baby (geez, isn't that about all the time??).

Yes, Cookie looks a fright in this picture - this is how messy she usually looks when she gets home from daycare. What a big girl she is becoming!

On the fostering front, foster baby's internet name has been given by my father. Her internet name (and probably nickname from here on out) will be: Ginger Snap. For those of you who have followed our journey, you will surely get the bakery theme there. My Sugar Cookie and the Ginger Snap. What a pair. I can't wait for Friday afternoon when we go to the team meeting and learn just how long our adventure with Ginger Snap might last.

Everyone's doing well. It's going on 10:30. Everyone got dinner, baths, and the babies are asleep. Michael is talking to his brother - most likely about basketball. And I am emailing today's photos to family. Life's good.

These past 24 hours have made me love my daughter even more. She is my daughter and nothing will ever change that. I'm amazed by that every day, but never more than I have been today. I am now a mom and a foster mom all over again. Most folks will never understand why on earth we would do it all again - especially given that Ginger Snap can easily be reunited. But this is what we were called to do. It will not be easy.

Cookie's First Foster-Sibling

I called our SW yesterday to tell her about my job changes (and therefore contact information) and to discuss with her that we were ready to get back on "the list". And in a matter of seconds she stopped me and told me that there was an 8 week old baby girl in front of her that needed a home to go to right then and there. She didn't think it would be long-term, but I called Michael anyway and we agreed to take her.

Her case seems odd, to say the least. She and her birth mom tested positive for marijuana at the hospital when she was born, but there are not removals for that. Instead, she had to work with the state and go to drug testing. In these past two months, she hasn't done anything, and again tested positive (this time more so than in the hospital). When the social worker went to court, she recommended court-ordered evals, and court-ordered drug testing and case plan. Odder still is that the judge in this particular case is Judge Lenient - the newest and most wishy-washy of all of our family court judges. She is known for being extremely hesitant to do anything - from removals to changing goals to adoption, to TPR - the whole gamut.

And in a quite unexpected fashion, yesterday Judge Lenient went against the worker's recommendations, and ordered the baby removed immediately and placed in foster care until Birthmom got clean. Holy Cow! That left the workers scrambling for a family to place her with.

That's where we come in. Now, I'm not sure how I feel about removing a child from a home b/c mom smokes pot - I really don't. I don't know much about marijuana at all, or its implications for babies, or on the parents abilities to parent. From what we see and hear in the media, marijuana is "no big deal", and I had thought it wasn't addictive. I guess I was wrong. The social worker told me that for many people with psychological issues, they self-medicate with marijuana and are addicted to its anti-anxiety and relaxing outcome.

But let's get serious - smoking cigarettes during pregnancy and around a child is horrible, but we don't remove the children into foster care (OK, yes, nicotine is legal...I get it).

So the family team meeting may be Friday. I have no medical card or WIC letter for her b/c she's already on WIC and Birthmom already used the voucher for this month. I have what was in her diaper bag - including a pair of Birthmom's dirty underwear.

But baby is beautiful. She is caramel-skinned (bi-racial) with a thick mass of silky and curly black hair and big brown eyes. She seems to be very healthy (maybe even a tad over-fed) and is a chunky little lump.

Funny thing is that I don't feel much for this baby. I actually want and hope that I can encourage Birthmom to work her case plan and stop smoking pot for cryin' out loud! I just can't imagine this case plan will be very extensive or tough to complete. Yet, before yesterday, Birthmom didn't seem very motivated to make any changes. Let's pray this decision kicked her butt enough to get off it!

What I know about Birthmom: she is 19, this is her only child, she lives with her boyfriend who is NOT the baby-daddy, and baby-daddy is "not an acceptable placement". Grandmother, and two other relatives were deemed also inappropriate placements before we came into the picture. Birthmom does not work. So, apparently the guy she shacks up with supports her and the baby (as well as the government) and her fondness for marijuana as well. Geez people - this is your baby! She's so lovely, you just can't imagine not doing everything to keep her. She truly is perfect.

I hope this week brings a case plan that Birthmom can follow and complete quickly. I'm not into taking anyone's child because of pot-smoking. Puh-lease.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Clothes, Anyone?

I figured I'd put this "out there" in the blogosphere before I headed to ebay. I have kept practically all of Cookie's clothes that had no signs of wear or stains, so I have 6 enormous storage bins of baby girl clothes size 0-18 months.

Now, I could have a yard sale. I figured I'd ask $1 for each just so they would sell. But I detest the idea of having a yard sale. I don't detest ebay, but that's a lot of picture-taking and work posting things for the small amount of money I am likely to get for previously worn clothes. Even so, these are JC Penney, Sears, and Macy's clothes mostly bought by doting grandparents, so nothing cheap-o at all.

So, here's my question - anyone know anyone who needs baby girl clothes? I will box and ship them anywhere, and can even handle request for specific sizes and season. I have a paypal account, so I can just put together "lots" of clothes for anyone who is interested. I can even email pictures .

I wouldn't worry about this so much if I 1) still hadn't found a job, and 2) needed the room "just in case" we get another child "if" we put our names back on the list. I'd just donate them if we weren't in the position of really needing any extra few dollars we can scrounge.

So, let me know - please feel free to email friends and have them email me if they are interested. I think it could be a cool way of having a virtual yard sale. I sure hope someone "out there" is interested in some really great clothes.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Giving Birth

On Saturday, we got Cookie's new birth certificate in the mail. It has our names on it as the birth parents, and says that we were both 34 at her birth, and that I gave birth to her in our county on December 20, 2005.

While it was a painless delivery *grin*, the disappointments we experienced prior to her adoption on March 2nd, 2007 were nonetheless painful. Infertility changed me, my husband, our marriage, and our entire world view. Holding an infant one day and sending him home days latter changed us, too. We sent home 2 newborns, a 2 month old, and a 4 year old before Cookie came into our lives on December 22nd, 2005 at 2 days old. Those 4 children came and went all in a total of 4 months. It made my head spin. It broke my parent's hearts all the way from Florida.

We've healed from that pain. We've healed so much so that we look at our daughter and see the choices we made. While we were sitting in foster parenting classes, she was developing in the womb. At the time we received our license, J. was just beginning her 3rd trimester. We understand "timing" now more than we ever did.

Looking at the birth certificate makes me smile all over.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Admitting It Is Half The Battle

My name is Tamara, and I want another child. I do not know exactly why I want another child. In retrospect, I am sure I did not know exactly why I wanted the first one - except that I wanted it more than I wanted much else in life. And now, I can't imagine life without her.

It seems ridiculous to want another child - especially NOW - with me gainfully un-employed on a full-time basis, with Cookie still not sleeping in her own bed and battling constant ear infections. Why now? Ugh. I don't know.

I know we wouldn't get another one like Cookie. We might even get one with major issues or health problems, or bioparent involvement issues.

But once you foster to adopt, I think there is just something there. And that something is so sweet and life-affirming, that no matter the sacrifices, you just feel compelled to do it all over again. I now understand the stories I read of people who have 5 and 8 and 10 adopted kids. I don't rationally understand it, but I understand it deep-down.

Dang it. I've also been thinking about conceiving again. Adopting doesn't make it vanish. It makes it bearable. It makes it a memory. But it doesn't disappear completely. And this month, the longing is there for me again with all of its ugly ramifications. Go away, dang it! Why is it that THIS month, of all times, I know what CD this is, and am tempted to bust out the OP thingy? Gee wiz. I think THIS is why I feel like calling our SW and opening our home for another placement. Maybe it's just hormonal or something.

Congratulations Becky & Justin!

Even after closing their home after becoming understandably fed-up with no-show social workers, TeamWinks got the call of a lifetime! Click on Are We There Yet under my blogroll to go to her blog and send some love their way!