Monday, August 27, 2012

And so we wait

After weeks of worry about an appeal for termination of rights for the kids father, we learned today it didn't happen. What we did learn is a new twist. After countless "twists" in our case recently I just want to throw out there that we're actually asking for all possible scenarios up front...every time and more than once. We're told the same answer by everyone and then when we get these little unexpected outcomes we hear that they've never had to deal with it before...we're that "special case". Yea us!

There's plenty I wish I could vent about but I can't share any details. We've finally gotten to the point where the State wants us to consult legal counsel and it's not for the reasons we hoped.  The news means we are potentially looking at being Foster Parents for the next year plus.

Focusing on the positive it means that we have potentially that long where we won't be paying for daycare and we can keep setting aside the monthly payments which are growing into quite a sizable nest egg for each of the kids. We also get free camping and discounts to some kids centric things like the Children's Museum.

The reason I'm discouraged other than the constant worry of losing the kids is the burdens of the system which don't seem too bad until the first of the month rolls around and they all start again. We have to meet with a team of people supporting the kids which includes their assigned social worker, our social worker, the Guardian ad litem, a team of nurses, and physical therapists. We try to combine appointments when possible but it's never less than at least 3. That means leaving work early, getting the house ready for inspection, and preparing ourselves for being questioned on how we're parenting the kids and hoping they are making the expected progress. Everyone tries to be unobtrusive but there's no way around it, it just is.

In addition to all the visits there's the limitations our kids experience by being "in the system". We have to take them every 6 months to one of the few dentists that accepts State medical. It's pretty dismal and the kids are traumatized, hysterically crying every time. We're limited on doctors as well but thankfully like our current one. We also have the heavy restrictions on who can watch the kids which makes for exhausted parents with very rare breaks.

I find myself once again extremely thankful for the kids current age. We got the joy of experiencing a new born straight from the hospital as well as countless firsts for them both. They are oblivious to their situation as they don't have visits with birth parents or even a memory of them so there's no questions for us. I have the hardest time understanding how what the state is doing is in the best interest of the kids, keeping their outcome of a permanent home in question for years on end. If they had been older when they were placed with us, it would be a VERY different struggle and I feel for the kids and Foster Parents who have to battle with that question everyday. Parents often wish they could take the pain of something for their kids and in this case we can. They are just going to grow up thinking every toddler has to meet with all these random adults every month and talk about all the things they are learning.

The bottom line is we are still confident we'll have the kids in the end barring any random family member that decides to play hero and is successful in jumping through all the hoops (which are significant at this point).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Life as a Foster Parent

In my year + experience as a Foster Parent thus far I’ve decided for me personally the hardest part is being reliant on other people to give you information. If you go into this with the mindset of wanting to adopt as we did your biggest concern is will the child(ren) be going back to their family of origin. That is a question that has more outcomes than a Choose Your Own Adventure book. There are countless curveballs with no black and white answers. There’s seemingly always a judge or social worker that can make an exception or give someone one more chance. Through all those decisions and actions as a Foster Parent you are 100% reliant on someone giving you the score. It often feels like you’re waiting on baited breath for the surgery status of someone you love but you’re not considered family and just have to pray a doctor or nurse takes pity on you to come back and report.

Your role as a Foster Parent is to take care of the kids, first and foremost. That is why your personal needs as the parent are not really met because in the end it’s not about you, it’s about the kids. All the people with the information on how things are going come to meet with you once a month and that visit is to see how the kids are doing, not talk about the case. They have an overwhelming workload of kids to watch out for so the details of actions that may effect the Foster parent are not high priority.

Until parental rights were terminated we wonder constantly about what they were doing to get their kids back. Court dates were the only time we were allowed to hear about progress. We’re back in the phase of waiting anxiously to hear news. The kids father has until tomorrow 8/17 to file an appeal for the termination of his rights. Everyone expected this to be submitted within a week of his last trial date but nothing so far. I say that not knowing if it was submitted and I just don’t know.

It’s maddening for a control freak such as myself to have someone I don’t even know hold so much power over the fate of my life. It’s a test of faith to say the least. I do have faith in the end the kids will be with us, really no doubt about that actually. It’s just the question of when and how ugly this fight is going to get before it’s all said and done.

Until then I’ll keep playing detective and reading every piece of material I can get my hands on. It’s pretty amazing what little nuggets I can pick up from paperwork. For example I was looking at our approval to travel to Hawaii and it came with a 22 page attachment of the case paper work which I guess they need to provide for the person approving. In that paperwork buried deep and just listed as a single line was the date the state would have an adoption hearing – 12/10/12. That is the latest if there was no appeal. If the state moves forward our lawyer would petition for the soonest date possible.

As I wait for more information my days are consumed with the little stuff like “did I cover them with enough sunscreen before sending them off to daycare?” and “how should we keep the kids cool this evening?”. Through the states eyes and our own, our first priority is being a parent and making sure the kids have all they need. That’s what is really important and thankfully it’s what consumes our time day in and out.