Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Reporting Abuse

For the first time in my life, I called the hotline to report abuse. One of my students admitted to me that she was being beaten and verbally abused (and even SPIT ON - WTF??) in front of her two children. To top it too, she is 2 months pregnant with his baby. And she wouldn't leave because she "couldn't afford to live". Um...she just hooked up with him 4 months ago. Again...WTF???

So, I did what I had to do. I reported it. After all, she had told me everything. I had a legal responsibility.

And this morning I got a call that the student had left a message for me that she was beaten badly last night and finally fled to her mom's house. But what about those 2 kids who see it all? Who's taking care of them? Shame on her for moving in with a guy she'd just met with a 14 yr. old son and a 9 yr. old daughter.

Research on domestic violence tells us that abuse is 33 TIMES more likely in a situation where a mother and her children cohabitate with a man that is not the children's father. 33 TIMES more likely. Not 33%...33 TIMES.

Even though it should have been easy, it wasn't easy to make that report. It sucked. I now know why so few people are willing to intervene. It is hard to make yourself get involved. It is, however, a matter of life or death.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

No News Is Good News

SW visited this morning, and court was uneventful. The DNA test results are not back yet, and she still has to go through the entire case file to complete the required paperwork for TPR (why she hasn't done that yet is beyond me). Alleged biodad has had no contact with the cabinet, and the biomom asked her social worker if the baby was OK and where she was. She was told that the baby is doing fine and with her sister in the adoptive family. Hopefully that will be enough to convince her to voluntarily relinquish rights this time. I would have thought the 3rd time would have been a charm, but maybe the 4th will be different. No more court dates are scheduled as we simply have to wait for DNA results and the social worker to put together the paperwork. I hate waiting.

Monday, November 26, 2007

This Time 2 Years Ago...

I was crying a lot.
We'd been through 4 foster children who were at high risk to not be returned to parents who all went to live with other relatives - two were newborn baby boys.
It was the holidays and I was reluctant to put up a Christmas tree with only my husband and I to appreciate it.
I cried out loud to God a lot and told him how unfair it all felt. I also apologized out loud to God for feeling that way.
Against the advice of social workers not to stay in town and avoid travel in hopes of getting a placement, we did just that. We bought no plane tickets and decided to stay home.
On December 21st, 2005, I cried all the way home from work. I sobbed out loud in the car as I drove. I just wanted a child to spend Christmas with. And on December 22nd a social worker brought Cookie to us.
It rained all day today, and it reminded me of the very dark place I was in two years ago at this time of year.
The holidays are tough for those who want children so much and yet can't (or don't yet) have them.
I write this to remind us all that in the darkest places there is hope that burns so bright.
Watching my daughter play with the Christmas decorations while my soon-to-be youngest daughter sleeps in my arms is simply amazing given that two years ago my heart ached so much.
There is always hope. Even when we have abandoned it, it's still there.
If your heart isn't yet out of the dark place, please know I've been there.

Court Today

Today Honey Bun's social worker goes before the judge to determine if all is in order to request a date for the TPR hearing. I'm praying the DNA test results have been processed. I'm praying for wisdom for the SW and the judge. I'm praying there are no surprises.

Tomorrow morning the SW comes to our house for her monthly home visit. I scheduled it that way on purpose.

Honey Bun will be 4 months old on Friday. I'm grateful so much is going on that is on her behalf, and that it is happening so quickly (compared to the vast majority of states and cases going on today).

Monday, November 19, 2007

Christmas Decorations

Yesterday we went to Big Lots and stocked up on decorations. Cookie even got to pick out something - a small red fiberoptic tinsel tree that is battery operated. She loves that tree so much that last night she insisted on SLEEPING with her new tree.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Things That Honestly Don't Bother Me

In light of how often I write about things that bother me, I figured it was worthwhile to write about things that don't.

When people ask about Michael and I as a bi-racial couple

Asking promotes understanding - which over time and experience can lead to acceptance, tolerance, and even appreciation. People as about how our families reacted to our relationship and marriage. They ask about discrimination. I'm happy to talk about it as I strongly believe openness is the first step in healing. I do, however, remind people that I am but one person and I am not the spokeswoman for biracial marriage.

When people stare at our family when we are out and about
Honestly, I'm very proud. I've got a drop-dead sexy espresso-skinned husband and two beautiful cream-skinned daughters. Who wouldn't look at us? Oh, and I have great big boobs. I'm sure they are really just astonished and can't help themselves.

When people ask Michael and I if one or both of our obviously white daughters is ours
I love to talk about adoption. I love the opportunity to tell people just how many waiting children there are in our county. I love to share our story with whoever is willing to listen. I wish more people would ask and sit for a spell - and then go tell someone else.

When people ask if we adopted because we couldn't have biological children
We absolutely did. I was devastated to learn I was infertile. I was terribly depressed (and medicated). I grieved hard, prayed hard, and cried a whole lot. We tried treating my PCOS. Michael took measures to boost hormone levels and sperm count and quality. But there comes a day when you simply know it's not worth it. A good internet buddy whom I've never met IRL (hi Cindy) shared with me her feelings about fertility treatments and what they could do to me/us/our marriage. She encouraged me to seek marriage counseling. We did. We went, we saw, we persevered. We kicked butt. We quit trying to conceive and asked God for a child. He gave us two. That's a pretty sweet deal. Now I love sharing the story.

When people ask if we considered IVF or even a surrogate
In this case, I like the opportunity to educate people about costs, risks, and low success rates of all kinds of fertility treatments. I am also keen on telling people of the risks associated with pregnancy after 35. The media downplays the risks. They are tremendous to both mother and baby (let alone the marriage). We never considered surrogacy. A child having our DNA was not important to us. The lengths that some will go to in order to produce offspring is astonishing to me. I'll admit that I just don't "get it". Of course, I also have seen the children who come into care who will need to be adopted. It's hard to know that and be so hell-bent on procreating.

When people ask why we opted for adopting through foster care as opposed to a private domestic or international adoption
Cost, baby! Few people know the costs of adoption. I'm glad to tell them all about it! I'm also very happy to tell them that Cookie's adoption cost us a whopping $86. That's correct. Eighty-six dollars. We kept the bill from the attorney. The state got billed their $1,000 and we got billed for the remainder. Shame on me for emailing her so much. It could have been free had she not billed out those 15 minute emails!
Of course, in addition to cost are the children. In our county, there are approximately 700 kids in foster care at any given time. Only about half will ever be able to be reunited. Our state has an enormous meth and cocaine problem, so if people are willing to deal with babies born drug addicted, they are very likely to be able to adopt.
Our state is a national model for the family court system. We are so fortunate for the changes made here by progressive judges in the 90s.

When people ask how our case is going, or if we know anything else
I feel the support. Sometimes you do get tired of saying, "No, we don't know anything", but I've learned to say it with a smile. In fact, now we say, "Nope, just enjoying our family." The vast majority of people who asked are trying to show support and truly want us to be finished with all this as quickly as possible.

And for those of you who are curious - next court date is Nov. 26th. It's for the judge and social worker to determine if we are ready to schedule TPR dates. We are hoping all of the DNA tests are back by that date.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My Oldest's Antics

While throwing food on the floor, she says in the most stern voice she can muster:
"No Mia - EAT!"

While looking at my boobs, points to one of the many age spots, and says:

While sitting on the airplane awaiting takeoff for far too long, she looks around and shouts:

Friday, November 2, 2007

And The New Name Will Be...

(insert dramatic musical interlude here)

We have decided on what Honey Bun's new name will be after the adoption (that we are now choosing to claim).

Her name will be Rebekah Ileana.

In other news, Michael took her to court on Thursday for her part of the DNA test. Her alleged biodad has already been and given his sample for testing. So now the 4-6 week wait begins for news. (Though a student of mine just had one done for her granddaughter and said it only took 3 weeks.)

Michael said the floor of the courthouse where the testing was done was standing room only - and testing is done once a week - every week. There were 4 "church pews" that were all full of people waiting for testing and many more standing. He also said there was much M*aury P*ovich show-like behavior going on which made him actually believe that what is on those "who my baby daddy" shows might actually be true.

The testing was just a cheek swab, but it took about 45 minutes for them to be seen even though he arrived by 8:30 in the morning. Amazing that there are that many people out there who don't know who the "baby daddy" is. So sad.

Next court date is November 26th to determine if all is lined up and ready to schedule the TPR date. Lisa mentioned how fast things happen in our state, and while that seems to be generally true, there are others whose cases have taken longer than ours. I don't know why we have been so blessed with quick turn-arounds, heavenly social workers, and a judge who does not suffer fools. From what I do know about our city, it appears we have 3 or 4 fabulous family court judges and 1 absolute nutjob. From what I heard about her, if we got a placement that was assigned to that judge, I would have asked for that child to be moved. I am dead serious. She is that awful (and new to the bench). Because Honey Bun's case is with the same birth mother, her case remains with the judge that was Cookie's judge throughout her case and adoption. So our judge knows the whole story - and us. It's no surprise then that she granted the goal change and supports TPR and adoption.

We're going to FL soon for an extended weekend, and my folks are driving over to where we are staying and getting a hotel room there too. It will be their first time seeing Honey Bun. I know they are excited and very nervous considering the horror stories and realities of the many children who are sent back to family after being in foster care for a long time - or even after promises of TPR to come. I can't wait though - they are going to fall in love all over again.