Case plan changes

Blue’s case plan was changed a few weeks back to Severance and Adoption, it is no longer a reunification case plan. I don’t know what I expected to happen after the case plan change…but I was waiting. Blue recently had another court date, which I missed due to a miscommunication with her DCYS worker. Apparently during the court hearing they arranged a pre trial. Wait. Reverse. Trial for what? I still wasn’t clear on the whole thing; I reached out to my DCYS worker–she was unavailable until later this week, luckily I was able to speak to her supervisor. Apparently a TPR is happening.

A TPR (termination of parental rights) is one of the last legs of being ‘legally free.” Once a child is legally free they can be adopted. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, first we have a pre trial. My understanding is that during the pre trial the teams get all their information squared away and prepare for the trial THEN you go to trial on a separate court date. I now have 2 court dates set and maybe by Christmas the trial and appeal will be completed. Yes, bio parents will have the right to appeal whatever is decided during the trial and I’m sure they will as they’ve made the case very difficult by taking every opportunity to drag the case out. In addition; they’ve not been complying with a majority of their requirements to reunify their family.

During the trial the judge typically powers through a number of things, first it’s pretty much facts about the case. What’s been done vs. what’s not been done in regards to the bio parents. Then lawyers will chatter on about what’s in the best interest of the child or children. Sometimes the judge will deem adoptive families during the trial, if you are deemed an adoptive home then the child or children will not, cannot, be removed from your home as your intent to adopt has been discussed during the trial. This can also happen at a later date.

Do I know if the TPR will be successful? Nope. I’ve learned to never get my hopes up for anything or anyone in regards to foster care. I know what Blue wants, I’ve encouraged her to speak to her attorney about it and he can help her get everything she desires. I want her to be happy even if it hurts me. I will support any choice she makes, to stay here with us, to move to another adoptive home, to live with relatives, or even to go home. I love her, I’ll fight for her.

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Shift

Things are constantly changing. Freedom is having a hard time adjusting, she is stressed out quite a bit. Freedom will be leaving our home soon, it’s for the best. She’s not disruptive or mean; she’s a sweet girl with a fun attitude. However she needs a higher level of care, I cannot give her the time or level of care she needs. We have a large household and and I’ve only got so many hours in the day…when I’m using all of my time and resources on a single person it’s a problem. It’s not fair to my other children or husband. It’s not fair to Freedom. It makes me sad to know she’s leaving due to the circumstances but with this shift there will be serenity; she will get the help she needs and my household will go back into it’s normal orbit.

Pretty is having a tough time adjusting to her new schedule. Work, school, life… apparently it’s hard. She fails to have meaningful relationships with her peers and she’s been really disrespectful to me lately. She’s pushing, trying to get me to give her a reaction. I’m still going to love her no matter what…keep pushing kid, I’m not giving up on you.

Blue is hanging in there, her case is getting sloppy. She stood up for herself to her bio parents about what she wants and needs, I believe she feels proud of herself. Sometimes she has emotional days, as she should, and sometimes she has fantastic days.

Flower is screwing off at school. I’m disappointed. She had a presentation due today that she failed to finish, I’m hoping she’s completing it now. She is repaying debt and trying her best to move forward.

Biscuit is moody and happy. She’s still hot and cold. She’s struggling to be organized and balance extracurricular activities and school.

Boychild is well, he’s back on the responsibility train. His chores are done, his school work is solid, he’s doing great.

Bunny is well too. She’s an exceptional student and a super emotional kid. She knows she gets attention from people if she fusses, unfortunately between home and they gym…we’re onto her. It’s people like distant relatives, school personal, etc that she capitalizes on. Suckers!

Lemon is also well! Kindergarten is fun for her, she enjoys gymnastics, and she loves being with her BFF.

Everything isn’t always rainbows and butterflies around here, there are trials and tribulation. One thing that always remains is love, we’ve always got that.

Vacation!

Party of 10 for Knott’s Berry Farm! Husband and I are taking the kids on vacation, yay! The older girls and Husband will be going to Knott’s Scary Farm too… I’m not into that creepy stuff! The girls are excited to be going on Friday the 13th, apparently it’s ultra spooky. After the wild theme park shenanigans we will spend a few days at the beach and then come home. Which beach we will go to is still up in the air; the girls want Laguna Beach and I’m keen on Huntington Beach. I’m currently looking for a beach house as it seems fiscally responsible, getting two hotel rooms at a ocean front resort or even near the ocean is more expensive per night than renting a beach house per night. Big family problems. 😕

The kids all recieved their progress reports, the majority if the kids are doing well. Freedom is failing two classes, Flower has a D, and Boychild has a C. Everything else is all A’s, baby! Freedom needed an IEP when she arrived at our house but the local high school refused until after the first grading period ‘just to make sure.’ Give me a break, we knew she would struggle as she was home schooled for most of her school career. It’s frustrating but I’ll help her get on track and get her grades up. Flower is just being lazy, the D is unacceptable. Flower is a VERY smart girl, by the time actual report cards come out I am certain she will have brought up that D.

Blue is having a tough time with her bio parents. It breaks my heart, I’ll fight for what’s in her best interest forever if I have to.

Pretty turned 18, she’s an adult! She’s taking college courses, working, and being her typical bubbly self. Pretty is very independent and I know she is going to rock this adult thing.

Boychild is excited that it’s cooling down, he went on a pretty long ride the other day with us and only crashed a few times. He needs to build up strength and stamina as during the summer months he was lazy. He has also outgrown his dirtbike, he needs something bigger.

Biscuit is Biscuit. She’s emotionally charged, she’s hot one minute and cold the next. Biscuit is mean, it’s part of her personality. She is Type A, she loves power and takes control of every aspect of her life. She’s my Bossy Mcbosserson and I love her.

Bunny is going through an odd stage, she’s recognizing that hanging out with friends are jerks often rub off on your personality. I’ve noticed her choice of friends have fluctuated lately, I like it. Obviously her BFF is still her soul sister and we all adore her.

Lemon, she’s independent. She loves kindergarten, she loves sports, she loves playing outside with chalk. She misses her BFF as they’re no longer in the same class.

It’s a full house.

A few weeks ago Freedom, a 15 year old girl was placed with us. She’s a sweet girl with a lot of things to work through. And yesterday we had Flower placed with us, she’s 17. Let’s recap:

Pretty 17, Flower 17, Freedom 15, Biscuit 13, Blue 13, Boychild 10, Bunny 7, Lemon 4.

I’ve got 8 kids! Aaaah. It seems like a lot, I know. What people see versus what’s really happening in our home is pretty insane. We have a structured home and things work pretty well around here, it’s not a bunch of kids running around screaming with no rules and doing whatever they want. There is a pretty good chance if you ever popped over to my house unexpectedly you would never guess that we had 10 people living in our home. You would probably see 3 kids in our living room watching TV, maybe even 2 kids. The house would be presentable and tidy with the exception of a pile of backpacks on the floor in the foyer…that I’ve told the kids a 100 times not to do but they do it anyway. Their rooms on the other hand, well they’re fair a best.

Are you wondering where everyone sleeps? People always seem to want to know how it works but they seem reluctant to ask because I’m pretty protective over my kids and their privacy. But, it’s your lucky day! In room #1 there is Bunny and Lemon, room #2 Flower and Freedom, #3 Boychild, #4 Biscuit, Blue, and Pretty, # 5 Me and Husband. Our house isn’t huge but we can fit everyone. It’s hard for me to turn down a child who needs help, in fact with Flower I had to get an amendment to my license. I’m technically ‘over capacity’ right now, I’m licensed for 3 placements and I’ve currently got 4.

In other news, teenagers are hard. For some reason my heart keeps telling me I need to be the one who helps the older kids in foster care, there aren’t a lot of homes who want to help teenagers. A majority of teenagers end up in group homes (which I’m not keen on.) I’m stretched thin; I’m incredibly busy and trying to do everything I can. I keep reminding myself that I can change lives, I can and will push forward. Luckily Husband is rad, supportive, and has a cute butt. I’m nothing without his love and support, we are a team.

Picture dump.

Woof.

Bunny and Lemon were in the play Aladdin. We played at the lake a lot. Jessa did a backflip into the pool and had to get stitches. Cheer stuff. Spending time with friends. Blue and Biscuit went to Telluride.

I’m a sucky blogger.

Summer was intense. I was busy living life and blogging took the back seat. I wish I could say I was sorry…but I’m not.

Things that have happened:

Blues caseplan has changed per the TDM and court is coming soon and hopefully we will have some answers. We will happily adopt Blue if reunification isn’t an option. Blue is enjoying 8th grade, she’s really come out of her shell and is making friends and joint clubs. She’s doing SO good.

We have a new placement, 15 year old female we will call Free. Free has a intense case and she seems to be behind socially; she has a hard time being age appropriate.

Pretty is getting geared up to start college in a week. I’m proud of her.

Biscuit started her freshman year, she’s okay with it. She wishes to join more clubs but cheer seems to be interfering…she’s made it clear that cheer is more important to her at this time.

Boychild is enjoying 5th grade. He has 6 different classes and likes it so far.

Bunny loves her teacher and being in 2nd grade.

Lemon loves kindergarten. She’s going to a private Christian school this year.

Husband and I still go on our weekly dates. I love it. Overall, all things are well.

5 things for Blue

Dear Blue, 

     I hate getting documents in the mail regarding your case. I wish I could hide them from you and act like they don’t exist. I understand that you have a deep desire to go home, I want that too. It hurts me to give you details of your case and see your eyes well up with tears, you don’t deserve this. I will find a positive, I will reassure you that there is still a possibility that things can change, and I will always say positive things about your bio parents. I know that your parents love you and I hope you know that too. People make mistakes everyday and we can’t define people by their mistakes, I know you have mixed feelings about your case and you consistently ask me ‘Why did this happen to me?’ Blue, this didn’t happen to YOU, it happened to your parents. Your situation is a direct result of their choices. Sometimes when we make choices and don’t think through the consequences are atrocious, it happens to me often. In fact, I’m sure it happens to everyone regularly; we get impulsive. I know how hard it is on you to fit in at school, I know that you often feel socially isolated, I know that you struggle with maintaining relationships as you fear of establishing bonds with people because you fantasize about going home and don’t want to hurt anyone when you leave. I get it, I respect it. Everyone has a life story, some have easy lives and others have hard lives…you get what you get. These things are what shape our character and make us who we are, don’t feel isolated, every person you have ever talked to has had their own series of struggles and victories. 

Here are 5 things I want you to know:

1. You are beautiful, inside and out. You’ve got a bubbly personality and you are a complete knockout, boys and girls alike notice how gorgeous you are. You make people smile with your silliness and you are on the fence of being hyper conservative and mildly liberal…we can tell and it makes you genuine. You are helpful and kind, your talents are amazing, and your klutziness is cute. You are worthy and I know you’re going to do great things with your life. 

2. Your family loves you. Yes, they do. Your siblings, your parents, your grandparents, all of them love you more than you know. I understand that you get discouraged sometimes with the changes happening within your family, love never fades. You parents will care deeply about you forever…no matter what. Please remember that when you feel like your siblings are slipping away.  You are loved.

3. MY family loves you. You offer this calming and reasonable personality that our home needs and respects. You are so bright and glittery; you make my day better just seeing you in the morning for that brief 3 seconds when you tell me goodbye on your way to school. All of the kids constantly tell me how great you are, you play with them, and they remind me that you’re nice to them. Husband often tells me how much he adores you, he says you are funny and super smart. To be honest, we’re going to be devastated when you go home. You are a wonderful young woman and we are all honored to know you. 

4. You can achieve your goals here or with your parents. Just because you’re here doesn’t mean you can’t move forward. You aren’t betraying your parents by having fun, experiencing new things, or working toward your future. I hope you know that I want you to successful just as much as your parents do. I will help facilitate any dream you have, I’m here for you. 

5. You often feel like your world is crumbling right before your eyes, right now your life is in shambles and you just want it to go back to normal. I want you to remember that this will be a small, insignificant, blip in your life. Once you’re an adult you will reflect on this time and realize what you’ve taken from this process. You will realize that you had 2 families who cared about you, you will realize that I was right about a lot of the stuff I talk to you about, and you will learn to be thankful for this time period of your life. I know you don’t see it now, you will someday.   

Work on your confidence, Blue. Someone as awesome as you should shine like a diamond, shimmer and sparkle, and take this world by storm. I believe in you. You are worthy. I know you can do anything you put your mind to. ❤

Universal Sonics Challenge

We are headed to Orlando in just over a week, I’m really excited for our gym and all of our athletes. Go Sonics! On Facebook we have a Summit Sonics Challenge; counting down the days until The Summit and reasons you like Universal Sonics. Unfortunately, I’ve got commitment issues and time struggles preventing me from playing along all week so I’ll pay my homage here. 

We’ve got 8 or 9 days until we head out (see, I’m a crappy cheer mom) and seeing as I’m making my own rules for this game I’ll just give you 10 reasons I LOVE our gym, Universal Sonics Gymnastics and Cheer.

1. Controlled environment, it’s priceless. The staff and the coaches know all of the kids, who they hang out with, if there are problems, and they encourage the athletes to look out for one another within our gym and in the community. I know my kids aren’t getting into trouble or put in situations that are risky. 

2. Universal is a safe place for the kids. If the athletes have a problem that they’re not ready to share with their peers/parents they have several adult options as they’ve established relationships with families within the gym and their coaches; we are a family. 

3. Respect. It is critical that children learn to respect other adults, adults you trust. I understand that the coaches will push my children to achieve their personal best. I’ve seen many different techniques from tough love to praise…each child is different and I’ve witnessed triumphs and failures as coaches learn as much as our children do. 

4. The kids earn their wins. If you’re into participation trophies this place isn’t for you. Everyone is not a winner. In real life our children will suffer through failures and understanding how to deal with failure is an important lesson, a lesson a lot of children missing out on with the whole ‘everybody is a winner’ sports. The athletes at Universal bust their butts perfecting routines, learning new skills, and pushing themselves to a limit they never knew existed within themselves. 

5. We are small but we are fierce. We live in a small town, we typically have less than a hundred athletes in cheer. Our coaches and our athletes like to be pushed to greatness, they want to compete with the best of the best! Our small town generates epic wins, I mean 5 of our eligible teams are going to The Summit. Holla!

6. Heartache. You’ve got to have some good to go with the bad. Having families who move away or watching athletes head off to college is bittersweet. I feel this is another lesson that can be carried over into adulthood, people come and go but they’ll always be part of your heart.

7. Accountability and teamwork. 

8. Traveling. It’s awesome to go places and make memories with your kids! 

9. Family goes beyond the gym setting, from facilitating carpools to organizing meal trains to help local families. Universal looks out for their families. In addition; our gym gives back to our community by organizing food drives for the holidays. 

10. Friendship and sportsmanship. The athletes have established a bond much like siblings. They fight often but make up quickly as they’re encouraged to rise above the petty stuff. No matter how angry the kids get they always pull it together for their routine, they respect their team. Our athletes also befriend other teams from all over the United States and display excellent sportsmanship. 

Done and done! 

I’ve opened a bed!

Seeing as everything is going well, relatively, I’ve decided to open our 3rd bed. Because, I’m not busy enough running 6 kids around…I’ve decided to invite a 7th child into our home.  I hope you caught the heavy sarcasm there. Seriously though, yes I’m busy as hello but am I too busy to help a child removed from their home? Never. My daily struggles are nothing comparable to a child who needs a safe, loving, home. 

I can’t wait to see what the future holds.