Sunday, August 12, 2012


And I just realized someone IS saying "thank you!"  A. very much has her own language and carries on very fast conversations, and clearly knows just what she is saying (and is sure you know as well).  "Kitty," "Hi, kitty!" and "Uh oh" have been a part of her vocab (that others and I can understand) for months.

But it just clicked to me that "Dthuh do" that she has been saying for a while as well is her repeating back "thank you" to me.

Hey, I'm new at this mom thing!  And now I hear a string of "Uh ohs," coming from the kitchen, so off I go....

I really have to record these little milestones

Some one discovered her belly button this morning.  Even in the fit of overtired crankiness, she has to drop to the floor, pull up her shirt and manipulate her round Buddha belly until she can poke it again, checking to make sure it is still there.

I'm also highly amused that she discovered she cannot find it when standing.  A. has quite the impressive big round Buddha belly.  :)

Of course now I have to sorry that the red marks she is leaving on her belly from pulling at it will develop into bruises I have to somehow explain....

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Late again

Remember those days of that 2ww, and what being late meant?  Ah, well, age, you have cured me.

I have been trying to find moment to get up here and update the events of the hearing on July 23, but Super!Active A really does make it challenging!  She is just downright jealous if I spend time on the computer -- she needs to drive that thing!  So I basically just stay away from it while she is awake.  And now it is past my bed-time (or what should be my bedtime), but not updating is driving me crazy.

Of course I'm still trying to figure out what exactly happened, and how to convey it.  Basically, the case switched judges.  Which my attorney was worried about.  Neither judge has a great reputation, but he felt we had more of chance of being heard with Judge #1.

Basically, what he did was prepare a motion to try and get me standing as a party to the case.  This is beyond a long-shot.  I'm a foster parent; no matter which legal argument you look at for the basis of standing, I don't have it.  BUT, it gave us the chance to present the motion to the court.  A beautiful, 4 page motion that laid out the plain and simple facts of this case.  A was born in State X; she is a citizen of State X; she had 2 1-hour visitations from BM before BM abandoned her in STate X 13 months ago; A is bonded with me and my family; A has never met her distant family in STate Y; all State X CPS is trying to do here is move her from one foster home to another.  So Judge #2 (who looks to be about 104) takes the time and reads the entire motion, then smiles at my attorney and says thank you, motion for standing is denied.  My attorney starts to argue and the judge cuts him off, saying of course foster parents are allowed to be present, they should be at every hearing (really?  could you tell my social worker who has lied to me about every singel court date that??), but I don't get to be a party to the case.

I'm beyond needing to throw up at this point.  Judge #2 then turns to the state and explodes in a tirade over, "Why are we here?  What are you doing to this poor 14 months old child?  Someone tell me why taking her out of her crib, her only home she has known and placing her with strangers in another state is in her best interest?"

I think my jaw hit the floor.  I wasn't expecting this from him.  Neither was the state's attorney, social worker, guardian ad litem or BM's public defender.  They were speechless and their head spinning.  All this is going on the record.  My attorney is able to jump up and interject with facts and information, and the state is looking more and more like idiots.  Their attorney kept stammering about it is required under law that A be placed with siblings (it isn't).  It was pointed out that these are half siblings, none with the same birth father.  The look of disgust on Judge #2's face was clear, and he continued to rant against the state and their delay on handling this case, and properly enacting the law.  (Come to find out, the ICPC paperwork required to be in place to move A out of state is NOT is her file -- NC has never returned it; the state was going to simply take her out of my care without it!!!)   He asked again, one final time on what basis the state was for making this decision (decision, not motion, as they had nothing in writing), and again the stammering argument that kinship placement is required.  Judge #2 sneered, "DNA denied, motion denied.  The child is to stay where she is.  If you don't like it, appeal it.  Let them decide upstairs what is in her best interest since none of you can."

I am seriously in love with Judge #2.

There is going to be another status hearing the end of August, hopefully still in front of this judge, who has clearly had it with the incompetancy of the state and how they sleep walk through cases, never actually looking at the facts and circumstances (never mind their huge effing mistake they made on this one).  BM's attorney is appealing the judges decision, so that is out there as well.

Meanwhile, amazing attorney* and I have put out heads together and have about 3 other irons in the fire right now just to keep me front and center in all the action, and to also make the state look like even bigger idiots for not going, "Gee, the child has a chance to permanency where she is now, and that is really what Title IV-E is really all about.  Should we stop wasting money and let her be adopted?"  Biggest thing is reaching out to BM, as she still has rights and can really call the shots on this one if she wishes.  I want her to know how great A is doing, and that I want A to know BM, her family and her half-siblings.  This is a chance for two families to grow and benefit, and this kiddo really deserves follow through on the opportunity she has been given here.

I love that when I first met with this attorney, he was reluctant to charge me much for this case, never mind take it, because he really didn't feel like we had a chance.  But as things unfolded and I passed on the research I had done and detailed the facts more, he has become more intrigued and excited about it, and really feels like we can make this happen.


So that's where things are.  I still have phone calls and meetings and things I'm following up on our various irons that are in the fire.  A continues to amaze me and crack me up on a daily basis.  Climbing.  That is the new thing.  Serious climbing.  I always thought that there was a 2 months or so grace period between the beginning of walking and climbing; I got at most 2 weeks.  And she remains a complete mimic on everything.  I must talk on the phone more than I think because she is always on the phone, jib-jabbering away.  Talkative does not even begin to describe her.  Her language skills were evident at 6 months, and she has a very clear and evident language all her own, and is never quiet.  She talks to herself (and makes herself laugh, which is hysterical), her toys, the cats, the computer, me, and possibly a troop of invisible friends.

I cannot wait until the day I can share pictures with you all, because she really is something.  I have got to remember to take my video camera into the bath with us as she is very funny about taking the little round basin that came home with her from the hospital and putting it on her head as a hat, and then checking her reflection in the drain overflow cover, grinning and adjusting it, and posing at different angles.  As is constantly being on the phone wasn't evidence enough of the teenage years to come!

Thanks to ALL of you for your good thoughts and prayers, because I truly believe that was the basis for the shocking turn of events in court.  Please keep the prayers and thoughts coming as we still have a road to go on this, but we can prove we are might and strong -- with LOVE!!

*In talking with a psychologist friend who has a lot of experience in family court and with CPS, he asked who my attorney was and if I felt confident.  I said yes, and gave him my attorney's name.  He paused a second.  "Oh, yeah, I'm familiar with him.  Wow, I wouldn't want to be in court up against him."  Talk about a ringing endorsement.  :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I know, it has been a while

And much has happened.

For as much as A knows, it has all been good.  Standing unsupported.  First step.  Holding off walking until starting unsupported mobility with a toddler-run.  Wonderful and nummy finger foods.  Words and pointing and learning.  Cuddles, and snuggles, and her favorite person on earth, me.

FOr me, I have all that good.  But several weeks ago the unthinkable happened, and I heard State B approved Distant Relative's home for placement.  State A shrugged said nothing to do.  No more hearings, no appeal, done deal.  Get ready to say goodbye.

I immediately offered weeks of time to sped in State B to allow A to acclimate and bond with this new family and crowded situation, numb to the reality that this was.  But first, Distant Relative would have to come visit in State A.  After all, Distant Relative (DR) had been clamoring to do so on a weekly basis.

Until reality, I guess.  Oh no, DR can't come to State A; DR has too many children to look after.  Oh, and I would not be part of the transition, as I was "too attached" to A.  Instead, a stranger would take her to State B.  There would be 1 hour long supervised visit at DR's home, and two additional 1 hour unsupervised visits, and then that was it.

This is when I woke from my trance.  First with screaming and wracking sobs, and then, quickly, anger and rage.

I have a lawyer.  I'm fighting.  Kinship placement or not, I will never be convinced the trauma being planned for this 14 month old child who is happy, safe, settled, attached and secure is in any why shape or form "in her best interest."

It's a dangerous and potentially losing battle.  But I will go down swinging with every last breath of my body to protect this little girl, and to stop the perpetuation of the cycle that created her birth mom.  I want to know why I have been lied to about every hearing date, why facts about DR seem murky, why DR would honestly refuse photos and progress reports on A, why can I not meet or talk to DR, and why this placement with family was not handled properly and timely in the first 3 months as it should have.  Well, I pretty much know why (federal $$$ reimbursement for placing a child with a relative), but I want the court to look me in the face and tell me why it is going to let a 14 month old child have her psyche destroyed and be whored out in order to get that money.

If DR truly and honestly has one sense of love and care for this child, they would want to know she is safe and secure and happy, and not want to rip her from the love and unending affection she is subject to.  I am never going to deny A her birth family.  I want and need her to know DR and her ever-increasing number of half-siblings, and her birth mother.  It will play as part of her identity as she grows up.  But why must it be done by creating a huge scar across her soul, stunting her intellectual growth and risk creating birth-mom-part-deux in 16-18 years.

Pray for us.  Burn incense.  Chant spells.  Light candles.  We need your love and guidance, and most especially the court needs to just pause one moment, let me present the facts I have, and weigh them.  And hopefully, hopefully, see the fragile, blooming human soul that hangs in the balance and truly does what is in her best interest.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

focus on the positive

I continue to live life with A to the fullest, enjoying every single moment.  I just wish there were more hours in my day to record those little milestones, and every single laugh and giggle.  Thank goodness for camera phones!

And I am proud to say that I held off 1 months before snapping a naked tush picture!  But the little imp last week got out of the bath and scooted away from me and the towel to go stand with the toilet acting as her support.  Has she not learned that my phone is always on me?  3 of the cutest shots ever....

We are the moment having our very casual and do nothing Sunday morning before I convince her to take a nap before a late lunch and then a run to the market.  Still in pjs, being silly and in to everything.  This morning we have perfected our "give me 5!"  A couple weeks ago we perfected the dramatic, sing-song "Uh oh!" and boy do we use it all the time.  This kid is going to have great comic timing.

Still no "mummy" but with the constant requests for hugs and snuggles and being her favorite toy on the room, who cares.  In the endless stream of excited babble that pours out of her, I know her word for mummy is in there somewhere.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Do you ever look at the clock and make a wish at 11:11? And 1:11? and 2:22? I do. And after only a couple days after she came to join me, there is only one thing I am wishing for in this world. Nearly every day I look up and see a clock with one of those magic strong of make a wish numbers and I pause, feeling my heart nearly burst with the will to make it come true.

Since the last update, I did manage to get in touch with A's guardian ad litem. We had a good conversation, and she was very polite, compassionate, and dare I say, positive sounding. The one thing she said that gave me hope was the phrase, "Even if State Y [where they are trying to send her] approves birth-mom's aunt for foster care, State X [my state] has some serious concerns regarding the size of the house and the number of children already in her care."

So does that mean that even if an ICPC is approved by the receiving state, the sending state can then sit back, look at the two potential placement options and NOT send a child to the "preferred custody" of birth family? That seems to be the 6 million dollar question right now, and no one knows the answer. It may be an answer that is up to the judge. And I know the judge this case is in front of does always favor birth-family.

My fingers are still crossed the whole thing is solved neat and easy with State Y saying, "Nope, not gonna work as a foster placement here," and she thus stays here.

I did ask the guardian ad litem for a home visit so she could meet A and actually know who she was arguing for, and she agreed to have the CASA (court appointed special advocate) social worker get in touch with me to schedule that. Within a week, the social worker had called me and came out for a visit. Again, she was a very positive and really wanted to know A. Happily A. was in good form, crawling over to pull herself up on the SW's legs, inspecting her rings, and joust doing this soul-searching gaze she has into the SW's eyes, before racing back to me and throwing herself into my arms to cuddle. Toys? Nah, she's not into paling with toys or being distracted by them, A is all about people and hugs.

I did print up about 5 photos to give to the SW to put in her file so the attorney and the judge would put a face to the case number, and the SW was thrilled -- which relieved me since I didn't know if I was being too ballsy. The SW has worked for CASA for 20+ years now, and when she came in, I started into my schpeel of the nonsense this case has been tied up with, then paused and said, "Wait, do you know her whole story?" as far as birth-mom, number of half-siblings and birth-mom's current situation. She wasn't sure so I started to tell her, and she immediately said, "Oh, yes, I remember this case! I've been doing this for decades so nothing phases me anymore, but this case actually made me sick and angry as I read it." Good. Please tell that to the judge!

So this is where we sit, waiting, wondering, praying until the permanency hearing on May 25. More and more A is bonded to me and her whole large family that has sprung up around us.

I'm trying to focus hard on the words a friend said about the craziness of this situation, and how clearly the Universe has declared her to be my child, because it isn't for "no reason" that birth-mom left State Y while 8+ months pregnant and gave birth to this child in State X. It was because A was meant to be my child. It has to be a sign that we both came together when we did given the crazy journeys we had each been on. Right?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

hitting emotional exhaustion

Thanks for the comments and letting me rant. Funny How you can always find time to blog when things are crappy, but when they are happy and fun, you never get a moment. RIght now I'm just trying to keep myself from engaging in any retail therapy.

I did call the child advocate yesterday, but despite all my arguments, I was blown off with the answer that the state child protection agency was doing exactly what they were supposed to by promoting the reconciliation of A with her birth mom.

Wow. There are those three letters (WTF) again.

Told ya, birth parents rights always trump what may be the best interest of the kid. As I said to my private agency SW this afternoon, no one in this business wants to talk about the 600 pound elephant that is in the room, which is ::gasp:: reconciling with the birth family may NOT be in the best interest of the child.

Certainly wasn't for that 4 month old little boy last month who was returned to his birth parents, and is now lying in a coma with massive head injuries.

So I was so upset by yesterday's phone call and feeling defeated that I didn't call A's guardian ad litem (GAL), whose name I finally got. Then talked myself into feeling completely defeated and that there was no point. Luckily my private agency SW called to check in on me (and let me cry), and convinced me no, I need to call and ask for a home visit, or appointment so she can meet A. That I need to say this child is 10 months old, and I am the only mother she has know, this is her only family. Maybe things would feel different if there had ben regular family visits, or if my offers to be in contact with birth family and share photos and updates had been acted on. So I called and left a voice mail and will wait to hear back tomorrow. And if I don't, I will call again. And again. I will be that person.

In the meantime, I'm not sleeping. I'm either staying up until all hours doing weird OCD cleaning (i.e., I can organize the pantry and dust shelves no one sees, but I can't manage to vacuum) or just sitting up in the chair, snuggling with a sleeping A, trying to hold on to every minute I have to be with her. I'm trying to prepare myself by mentally packing a suitcase for her, figuring out what clothes she'll go home with, with toys, what ones I have to hold on to for my sake. I spent acupuncture this morning in a fitful doze, realizing I most likely could not handle another foster placement right away, and wondering if I ever could.

I want to hold on to hope that State Y will say no to the placement, but I also know that could be a very slim chance. No one understands why foster care and protective services run they way that they do. The only thing anyone involved understands in that there is always pain for someone involved.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Roller coaster rides

There is always a warning when you enter the foster care system that you are signing up for a years long roller coaster of emotions, hopes and heartbreak. I think in the last few months, I've have my fill for about 3 placements already.

The other two points they emphasize is that your first placement will never be the one who stays to be adopted, and that ever case is unique. Which means every social worker and foster parent knows at least one person who did adopt their first placement.

This placement remains in a holding pattern, but the state worker of late has been calling me and been what I call giving me signs. A great big kibosh has been placed from her last in-home visit when she was all smiles, and I have a feeling this is going to work out. Will you keep her name as [A] or would you change it?

If you are ever a social worker, don't ever start having conversations like that with your clients unless you are holding something in your hands from the court making things official. Because man, that hill that you are suddenly climbing on the roller coaster is not so exhilarating when you suddenly turn the track into a lunge straight down.

First was the phone call where suddenly all joy and grins were gone, and when I brought up the recommendation for termination of parental rights at 1 year (6 months after it was statutorily due), I was told, oh, no, social work can't recommend TPR; it's not appropriate for us to tell legal how this case should be handled. Really? Then what does social work do? But speaking of legal, when is the next court date, because I'd like to attend. That would be a wast of your time, really, no point in your going and a bunch of other stuff, and her never telling me the next court date.

This was all told to my CF (private agency) SW, who pretty much hit the roof. The placement had already been the subject of meetings with higher ups at CF who are done with scratching their heads over how the state is handling this case, and ready to call in the big guns. We've hit the 9 month mark with this child . I'm the only family she has known. There has been no visitation with birth family. Time to start pushing for what is in the best interest of the child

You know that adage. We all know that adage. It's what foster care and family court is all about. Well, except in the real world, when it is all about the state's money first, and birth parent rights second. Even if that means putting a child back into a dangerous situation. Let me tell you about the 4 month old I saw at the hospital ED who had just been placed back with his birth parents over the objections of social workers.

So today's fun was yet another call from my state social worker. Again, all somber. I'm immediately thinking, this is it, A is leaving.

No. Not yet, at least.

It seems my state's (State X) legal team finally realized that State Y (birth mom's claimed state of residency) was not going to take jurisdiction of A. This is what they had been arguing for 9 months. Instead of filing an ICPC to see about placing the child with family in State Y, the state has been arguing that since birth mom was from State Y, they should just take A. Because then State Y would be paying all the bills for her care. Under an ICPC, State Y acts as social worker, "keeping an eye" on the placement, but all the bills are still paid by State X.

Remember, first and foremost, it is all about state money.

State Y had been saying no to this since day 1. State X Family Court kept ordering the issue to be pushed. But I guess in court this morning (which hello, I did have a right to be at and speak at), the final word from State Y came in. So now the court is ordering that the ICPC be filing now, so A can be sent to State Y.

Confused by the letters? Because I only have 3 more: W. T. F.

An ICPC investigating placement with family in State Y should have been done at day one.  If this is what they are going to push, it should have been done in the first 3 months, 6 months maximum. Instead we now have another 3 months wait to find out the answer on the ICPC and a nearly 14 month old child will be removed from the only family she has known. I'm not sure where this is considered int he best interest of the child.

My recovering attorney self is just raging at the stupidity of this all. The ICPC should have been filed first, A placed with family in State Y early on in the process and THEN the whole bone-head argument of jurisdiction (aka, we don't want to pay for her kthnxbye) made. I'm angry, hurt, frustrated, and furious that no one, NO ONE is looking at A to see what is best for her, never mind the foster and birth families involved. Yes, she has a guardian ad litem in all these proceedings. Who has never met her. Who sees her as a case number on a file folder. And just argues what the court wants to hear, which is that she needs to be sent to State Y.

I keep telling myself it's just a roller coaster ride. The only problem is I don't know if it is going to come to a stop and let me off gently or run out of track and bring it all crashing down.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Still here. Both of us!

I know, I know, but holy crud, my life is just too insane lately to give me a minute to post. And the biggest issue I have is not being able to share photos because seriously, they do speak volumes and I want to share this adorable smiling monkey and yet I can't. So, so frustrating to any inspiration that I have to write.

And in truth, last year was really rough. I realized as I was writing out my holiday card in December that I had done 2 years of a BSN nursing school in 11 months. With a new baby. Crap, no wonder I was exhausted!

Luckily this year the class schedule slows down a bit -- you can't do the final year any faster than 2 semesters, and summer semesters are out. So I feel like I am still on holiday even though classes have started again.

As for A., aka The Wee Bean. She is still here. Her case remains tied up in legal. Parental rights were not terminated in December, but likely will be at the 1 year mark in May. And that is where the finger crossing comes in. Because we need to get to that point with the other state still refusing to take custody of her. And for this states judge to agree to the TPR. Because what happen then, well, she gets adopted. By me. And that is so close, and yet so far. Every day is one step closer, but I know all could go differently with a single phone call. So I'm just keep holding my breath.


And on that very brief check-in, there is a crawling stinky-bottom at my feet in need of a bath and snuggle. We are fighting a pretty good cold that hit with a fever today, but seems to just be fever and snot. Hoping the weekend sets someone to rights, but peeee-yew! I need to set that tushy to rights ASAP!