Hi! My name is Clarise. I'm currently going through the process of becoming a foster parent. I started this blog to share my journey with readers. I am not a writer, an expert on parenting, or even a parent... but so many folks have asked questions, I thought I would share. I am also an avid runner, nutrition coach and devoted Sunday school teacher (which is where I learn most of my patience with preschooler's :-)). I also work for a small agency called the VA. I hope you enjoy!
I have not updated my blog since August! I realized that I have not written anything, but honestly since so much has happened I just didn’t feel like writing. LOL! Things have been going well over here. My littlest bee left my care and returned to her mother in the middle of September. Even though I was sad to see her go, I was kind of relieved (I know that sounds bad). Two children under 2 is HARD and being single with 2 under 2 is even harder (for me at least). I still get to see little bee and I speak to her mom a few times a month. That is really nice and I am happy that we can remain connected.
My busy bee is growing leaps and bounds. She is such a comedian and she is starting to talk A LOT more. She forms mini sentences now. Her first sentence was “Thank you Mama.” BIG TEARS! For the most part I hear, “dkjs jsoif jsoiud ljdour phone!” and “nosh kendo msojf ljdioflj milk!” LOL! I’m sure she knows every word she is saying… however I do NOT :-). She has started to use the potty and as expanded her appetite. Her favorite right now is ketchup and it must be included in every meal!
We have been visiting with her dad each week and busy bee is starting to get to know him a little bit. It’s funny because she calls everyone “dada” and I’m not sure if she gets the concept that he is HER dad… but she can remember each item that he has personally brought to her. I am happy she has this connection. We spent part of the thanksgiving holiday with her dad and I was glad that he was able to connect with her outside of the DSS building.
I have never been big on decorating and celebrating the holiday season, but boy is it different having a little one in the house. I’ve purchased decorations for my lawn and decorated a Christmas stocking :-). We even went to see Santa and decorated some Christmas cookies. The cookies were a hit!! Santa… not so much, but Santa assured me that it will get better with time.
This is just a small update… I haven’t forgotten about writing the blog. It’s just that sometimes all of the emotions, mental energy, trainings, and busyness take a toll on me and I just don’t feel like rehashing it (if that makes sense). I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!
Wow! It’s been 3 months since I posted a blog entry. To say I have been busy, that would be an understatement! So much has happened since the last time I wrote. I will basically gloss over all that has happened because it is too much to write out. Little brother left my care right before Memorial Day. He went to go live with his father. Even though the goal of foster care is reunification, it still stings when a child leaves. No matter the length of time a child is with me, I am always sad to see them go. I got about a month with just me and my busy bee getting our lives back to being just us two. We went on a great staycation in Baltimore where busy bee experienced the Children’s Museum, Aquarium and the sights and sounds of the city. We also visited Dutch Wonderland in PA and my little one had such a great time and rides were just her size! She’s kind of tall for her age, so she was able to ride some of the more “daring” rides. She handled them like a champ… I was a nervous wreck!
Soon after we returned from our staycation, I received a call for a seven day old baby girl. Funny story! The worker called me and instead of leaving a voice message she sent me a text. She text “hey, this is Ms.____ from PGDSS. Would you be able to take a 7 day baby girl?” I read, “hey, this is MS. ____ from PGDSS. Would you be able to take a baby girl for 7 days?” LOL! See the difference? I answered the text and said yes, but when she called and we started talking I quickly realized my error. She explained that they couldn’t find anyone to take her and she kept thanking me… so at that point… I continued to agree to take her. I full out panicked about 30 minutes after saying yes. Full OUT PANIC!! I called my working crying so hard, I felt so overwhelmed because I was just getting back to “normal” and my busy bee had started to get into her own routine and finally started sleeping in her own room!! I knew that accepting this baby would ruin all the progress I made in that department (boy did it!). My worker told me to give it two weeks and then reassess. Well, it’s been a month and I guess we are all doing okay. My busy bee is doing MUCH BETTER adjusting to this baby than her baby brother. I don’t know if it’s because she is older now or because this baby is a girl that she has taken more of a liking to her…. who knows! It’s good that she sort of kind of likes her :-). Even though she still will push her off my lap or sneak in a hit or two when she thinks I’m not looking. LOL!
This placement with baby girl has been very different… in a good way. Baby girls mom has been very upfront with her issues and has already begun to work on them. She has made every visit with her little one and has even come to all doctor appointments. It has been actually very helpful for my emotional wellbeing. What do I mean? Well, foster care is a whole mess of emotions. Of course I am becoming attached to the little bean, but knowing that her mom is working so hard for her (from day one), taking full responsibility for her part in this, and working with me and not against me has made me see my role in this process as a caregiver. I know that this baby will probably be returned to her mother much faster and seeing her mother try so hard makes me really proud of her and allows me to root for her getting her daughter back.
This journey has been such an emotional rollercoaster for me. Some days I feel so great, I feel so happy to have invested in providing care. Some days I feel like this is the best decision I have made in my entire life and I am mad that I didn’t start sooner. BUT some days, I am a mess… crying over the unknown. Crying over the lives of the children that I have been entrusted to keep safe. Wondering how adults could mistreat their own child or not even think to ask about them… or see them. Sometimes the weight of their story, although not mine to carry, bears heavily on me and I can’t breathe. I think because both of my girls have court next month, I have been having more messy days than happy days. In this situation, there is absolutely NOTHING I can do physically to change the narrative. The only and best thing I can do is pray for God’s best for these girls and to live each day minute by minute. Not thinking too far ahead to the “what if’s.” I’m also very overwhelmed, I’ve heard that biological parents feel overwhelmed at times too… which makes me feel better :). AND sometimes I feel like I totally suck… which I also heard bio’s feel that way too… lol! So that helps as well. I put out a Facebook post asking if anyone could recommend a “mothers helper” and I got a response from a friend recommending her niece. It’s been two weeks so far and it has been great! The first night she came, I ended up having to take busy bee to urgent care. I was so scared, but thankfully it resolved itself the next morning. It was so strange busy bee couldn’t bear weight on her right leg suddenly. We did a follow-up with an orthopedic at children’s hospital so we are keeping an eye on it. All in all, I’m glad my mother’s helper returned after that madhouse her first day! I also qualified for paternal leave and that has been a blessing. I never realized how sleep deprived I was/am! I haven’t had a decent night sleep for 17 months! I guess that is being a parent.
I was joking with a friend on Sunday and told her I was due to write a blog, but I’m always scared to write because when I do… something always happens. Something already happened earlier this week, so fingers crossed that is it! Just coasting through the rest of the summer with these two precious girls.
I’m kind of nervous to write a blog today. Lately it seems like every time I write a blog, something major happens. After the last blog I wrote, Busy Bee’s daycare had to close for two weeks due to a teacher at the center testing positive for COVID. BUT, the biggest news was getting a call to foster Busy Bee’s baby brother. I was here at the house, minding my business… lol… a friend of mine was here with her children for the morning to play with busy bee and take her out on a walk so I could get some work done. I got a call around noon, “we are trying to remove____ today, are you still interested and available to take him?” Immediate “Yes,” but on the inside I was really nervous. I was just coming out of the baby phase with busy bee. I was just having happy feelings about not washing bottles anymore or not having to wake up multiple times at night. LOL! BUT, how could I say no, this is my busy bee’s brother and I couldn’t think of him going somewhere else. I thought of the two siblings actually getting a chance to meet and form a bond. I also thought of their mom and how it might possibly provide a small relief that he was here with me and she has gotten to know me a bit over the last couple month. It has been a HUGE adjustment for us all to say the least, but we are getting through bit by bit.
People often think that when you receive a child in care this young, that they don’t have any trauma. Truth be told, I could tell that baby brother missed his mom the first few days he was here. I could tell he was confused as to where he was and who he was around. Poor little guy! He would barely eat an ounce or two at a time and slept sparingly. He is adjusting better now and even gives some smiles (he’s pretty serious :-)). Busy bee is adjusting as well, she kisses “baby” as she says and just yesterday tried to help me put his pacifier in his mouth. BUT she also, tries to sit on him if I’m holding him and she wants to be in my lap, if he cries and gets attention she starts to cry or scream, and she also has become super clingy to me not letting me move more than a few feet away from her at a time.
So the day after children come into care, there is always an emergency shelter hearing to determine if the child needs to stay in care and then a follow up in less than 30 days to see if the child should remain in care. This was the first time I was asked to attend an emergency shelter hearing… and let me tell you, it is very draining. I think all hearings are draining, but shelter hearings are especially draining because you are witnessing the “why” a child was removed.
This has been quite a time of transition, going from one child to two children with little notice. I am grateful for ALL the help that I have received. My friend Rasheda organized a meal train for me so I’ve had food delivered by friends for the past several days. This is great because I’ve not really had time to cook… or eat! LOL! I’ve also received gift cards to get food or supplies which has been most helpful (Thank you Renita and ZaKiya)! My mother organized nightly help for me for two weeks where friends have come to help me hold and play with the kids while I attend to evening chores (Thank you Deidre, Robin, Mom, and Brenda!). I am so overwhelmed! I have gotten baby supplies in the mail (thank you Priscilla, Cindy, Tracy, and Sonja!) and also gotten pampering for myself (thank you Jenn!) and one friend drove from a distance to bring onsies, diapers, wipes, pacifiers (just a lot of supplies, thanks Ebony!!). One of my friends flew all the way from Texas to help me take care of baby brother! This is the same friend that came last year and inadvertently helped me take care of busy bee when she was only 8 days old! Thanks Tanya!
Some days I look at little brother and say, “why did I say yes??!!” with a smile. Although it is very hard having a 14 month old and an almost 3 month old, I am grateful that I have been given this opportunity to be their caregiver for such a time as this. Court is next week, I’m always anxious before court… just the unknown, but it’s happening so I have to get ready!
The day I wrote my last entry about my little bee’s birthday, I got a call from her school telling me that she woke up from her nap and the few bumps that were on her cheeks had spread all over her face… but she was fine. On the way to pick her up, the daycare sent me a note saying that she now had a rash that spread all over her chest and she would not be able to return until I had her cleared by a doctor. So…. when I picked her up I took her to a pediatric urgent care to see what the issue could possibly be and she was diagnosed with Hand, Foot, Mouth disease! I’d heard of it before because years ago one of my former co-workers got a call from her child’s daycare stating the same thing and she was so disgusted! LOL! We looked it up and I learned a little about it that day. So this diagnosis was shocking, but at least I kind of knew what I was dealing with. My poor honey was so miserable for about 2 days. I felt so bad for her, but there was nothing I could do. I gave her infant Tylenol for the fever and slathered her in Aquaphor to try and help with the itch. One of my mom’s friends is a pharmacist and she recommended an oat bath by Aveeno, that helped a lot too. I am grateful that her itchy rash did not last the 7-10 days they told me it might and she was semi back to normal with no itch within two days. March was a trying month with little bee’s health. With the current climate, even a runny nose is cause for alarm and regular allergy symptoms allow for stay away orders.
Little bee is growing so much! She now waves (at everyone) and will even wave hi and bye to people on the phone. I rarely take her out, but we went to church on Easter and to a department store to pick up a ship to store order and she went up to folks and gave them hugs. LOL! I know that some personality traits are nature, some nurture and some just the individual spirit of the child, but I am a semi friendly (lol, I really am but I am a bit quiet so it doesn’t come out as fast) and I wonder how much of my open nature of speaking and waving to people she may have picked up from me. I don’t know, I just often wonder what nurture traits she may have. She’s also starting to try and run. It’s so funny! She really thinks she’s moving and getting away from people. When she walks out of a room, I usually call her name just so I can hear her (before I get up to walk after her) so now she often calls her name when she walks out of a room. She really is a character.
We have court this month and of course my anxiety is trying to take hold of me. I have to remember that although I have little control of the overall situation, I have put my trust in someOne that loves my little bee more than I ever could. The more I learn about what is possibly going on in her case, the more concerned I become. I just hope and pray that the judge, her lawyer and social services make the best decisions regarding her future. Foster care is the hardest. In my opinion, the system is set up for bio parents. Not that they shouldn’t get the help they need to get their children back, but I hear such horror stories of children returning to unsafe places just because judges are pushing for reunification (quickly) and caseworkers are overloaded so they want kids off their rolls and out of the system. Sadly, these kids go in and out of the system and have increased trauma. I pray against that for my little all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for parents who work hard, follow their plan, and do what is necessary to get their kids back. When that is clearly not the case and children are returned, it is just sad for me to think about. So yeah, all of this races around my mind constantly. I think of all the possibilities (both good and bad) and then remember that I can’t physically do anything about the situation and my anxiety peaks.
So how do I feel about this besides anxious? Well, I realize that I signed up for this… no one forced me to do it… and the system doesn’t really care how Ifeel or what I think, but then I realize again that this is not about me. This is about a cute, bright, funny, sassy, brilliant, feisty, loving… I could go on… almost 14 month old who means the world to me. I just want the absolute best for her and I understand that most possibly may not be me.
So whew, sorry to unload. Things happen so fast! At little bee’s daycare, I saw two little babies that started this week and it made me remember when little bit was the youngest there and now she is holding my hand walking out of the building, it makes me tear up. She’s such a big girl and I do love her so much!!
A friend of my posted a foster quote by Jason Johnson that struck me and I will close with it. “Foster Care means choosing the pain of a great loss if it means a child has received the gain of a great love.” I love hard, I do that in all of my relationships so this is no different. This is the hardest love to give, but it is worth it compared to not doing it at all.
Where has the time gone?! It has been almost a month since we celebrated baby girls birthday! She is a full blown toddler now 🙂 and definitely giving me a run for my money. I expected to buckle up and get ready for the ride, but why did I think I had more time?! It seems like she grew up overnight, and I just can’t believe how much she’s changed during the last 2 months.
I was grateful to share her birthday with the folks who have grown to love baby girl almost as much as I do (lol, I’m sure they love her just as much). The day was a nice as anyone could hope for during this time of “COVID Friendly” celebrations. Five folks came and celebrated with the “Busy Bee” and she had a blast with all the attention. I was hoping she would have tore into her cake, stuffed her mouth, and licked her fingers… but NOPE!!!! Busy bee touched the frosting and flicked it off her fingers and literally was about to push the cake off of her highchair. LOL! She was not feeling it, but later on that week… she did at least taste a crumb of that cake. Sigh…. But over all, a good time was had celebrating this awesome young life!
Miss Bee has been hitting milestones left and right! She had been taking steps here and there and cruising around the furniture, but about two days after her birthday she literally stood up and started walking around the room. I really wasn’t prepared for walking to just happen like that. LOL! I don’t know what I thought would happen, but clearly this was not it! LOL! I have been a nervous wreck because she walks around and tries to run, but her balance is not always the best. She did fall one day and bruised her lip… I was so sad when she cried (I’m a sucker who can’t stand to hear her cry). She now has 5 teeth and is sleeping for longer stretches overnight (yay!). Eating has been a challenge!! My mother said that she would have sworn I birthed this child because I gave the same challenge of being a picky eater. I have tried everything and I am driving myself crazy fixing foods for her to only reject them. LOL! Even the foods she likes one day, she will not touch the next. It’s really frustrating to say the least. I want to make sure she is eating and getting proper nutrition, but she is not making that easy. I feel a lot of pressure because her doctor put me on notice during her year checkup that she shouldn’t still be eating pureed foods, but baby girl WILL eat a pouch of (toddler blend) purees… but will barely touch table food. If anyone has had a picky eater or a toddler that had a longer time of switching to table foods, I am open to your suggestions! She will fight to drink out of my cups and water bottles and sometimes eat off my plate, but that’s about it!
Busy Bee is going through a bit of a clingy phase. It’s so hard because she really doesn’t want me to put her down or be separated from me. It’s hard because she will only allow one specific teacher to take her from me at daycare drop off… if not she is crying so hard, crocodile tears and all. It makes my heart so sad.
Court is next month, and while her lawyer doesn’t think too much will change at this time… you just never know what may happen. Although court has absolutely nothing to do with me, it’s always a very emotional time for me and I’m sure for the bio family as well. I enjoy this busy bee buzzing around the house daily… she comes in every day like a ball of fire! It’s so wonderful to see :-).
If you are interested, I was featured in an article in Christianity Today on single foster and adoptive parents. If you are interested you can find the link here.
It’s been a while since I’ve had time to sit down, gather my thoughts, and write. I kept saying to myself, “Clarise… sit down and write a post!” I would think of it many times, but just not get around to actually writing. Things are busy here as my little one is growing and becoming more and MORE mobile! I was telling a friend that sometimes I feel so lazy, meaning that most of the time all I want to do is sit on the couch. LOL! I wake up most mornings around 4:30a to workout, shower, and start work before the little miss wakes up for the day. Now that she is more mobile getting her dressed and out the door for school is another workout in itself. What used to take me 20 minutes a few months ago, now takes around 45 mins to get her dressed and strapped into her car seat. **Side story: Speaking of the car seat. I moved from the infant carrier to the 4 in 1 car seat. I can’t believe it took me so long to switch her. LOL! I googled when I should (I know… I should know) and found out that she could have moved a long time ago! The one thing I miss about the infant carrier is that I strapped her in while in the house… so she was trapped! LOL! That was just a side story of why it takes so long to get her out the house now. She likes to move all the time, but I’m getting used to it. END** So, by the time I come back home, clean up a bit… continue working… get off work and prepare for little bit to come home to then start caring all over again, I am TIRED. So just sitting has become a thing for me to do. LOL!
So on to the updates. My little one is now 11 months old. I can’t believe it! She will be ONE in about two weeks! She now says about 8 words and can identify parts on her face (nose, eyes, ears, etc.). She likes to read stories and stack (and throw) her blocks all around the room. She can crawl really fast, likes to climb the stairs and has taken a few steps without holding on. I still can’t get her to really eat table food, but she likes to mostly eat what she sees on my (or my mom’s) plate. I’ve ordered her some premade baby table food (think Hello Fresh, etc.) so we’ll see how it goes. She still wakes up twice a night and sometimes I feel like such a failure because I can’t understand why she won’t sleep. I’m worried about what I will do after she is a year old, still waking at night. Do I still give her formula? Does she just drink some water? I mean… who knows! LOL! I’ve learned through talking to other parents that each child moves at their own speed and we just push through as best as we know how. Speaking of growing, she has moved out of the infant room at daycare (I cried when they told me they were going to move her up) and has really taken to the new schedule and routine of the toddler class. My little bit loves music and likes to sing and dance. There is a particular “song” that she sings all the time… same cadence, same rhythm, same hand movements and words each time. I sometimes sing with her! LOL! “Da da… da da da!” She seems to like that I sing with her. I can’t wait to actually know what song she is singing.
Right now I am in the midst of planning her first birthday party. People who know me now that although I don’t like planning parties, I’m actually pretty thorough and try to give the best experience. I know she’s only one, but I have been trying to capture her theme perfectly. LOL! “Sweet as can Bee: Our Busy little Bee!” I got this theme from her previous teacher. At school they would always tell me how busy she was and how they called her a busy bee. LOL! I thought that would translate well into celebrating her first year of life.
I don’t talk much about her case, but my little one has started to have virtual visits with her mom. I am happy for them both, but as you can imagine it is a little emotional for me. I’m glad that she can start bonding with her mom, but the emotion comes from facing the reality of the fact that eventually this little one will leave me. I know that is what is supposed to happen, but you know… the heart feels the way it does :-). There is not a day that goes by in which that info doesn’t peek out of the back of my brain. I try to fight the anxiety that it brings and I feel like I do a good job. BUT some nights… when I’m in the stillness of night, it catches up with me and I shed a few tears. I’m human! I feel like sometimes people (who are not involved in foster care) judge foster parents for getting attached to the children. Getting attached doesn’t mean we are against reunification or bio families… it means we are human beings. Period! Okay, I’m coming back down. LOL! I’ve just heard people say some pretty hurtful thing about foster parents and it just sucks.
So that’s what’s going on here on our side of the world. I was just going to wait and post for her first birthday, but I figured… why not share a little about her before her big day! If you’ve made it this far… thanks for reading about my big girl! She really is a great baby, even though she makes me tired! LOL! I don’t know where she gets all that energy from, but she sure knows how to use it…. with her sweet self :-).
It’s been so long since I have written a post, not because there hasn’t been a lack of content… but more a lack of time. Parenting an infant is not for the faint of heart. LOL! I remember in foster care training class when I told other members that I was interested in fostering infants/toddlers, they would say, “Good luck with that!” and would go on to tell me why they were not interested. LOL! Not that I don’t LOVE my infants/toddlers… but I can see why some folks opt not to do it. So, I’ve willed myself for a few weeks now to actually take the time to sit down and write. It’s the perfect time as work is not too busy this week and I’ve recently started getting a little more sleep. So on to the updates!
My little one is 9 months old now. She is thriving! I recently had a parent/teacher meeting with her daycare provider and they were very impressed with her growth and development. When I mentioned that the teacher had the wrong date of birth on the evaluation form, she was shocked because she thought the little was almost a year old, not just turning 9 months. She crawls and tries to stand, pulls up, and moves so quickly. She is a master at moving around in the walker and quickly reaching for what she wants. She recently has started to go to the stairs and although she hasn’t figured out how to climb… I’m sure that is coming soon (don’t worry, I watch her like a hawk). She has two teeth now and I think her top teeth are coming in. They must be giving her a terrible time because she sometimes just cries or puts her hands on her ears and cheeks (I know it’s not an infection). I feel so bad for her. She recently started sleeping longer stretches at night and that has made me so happy. I made the decision to not sleep train (please no comment on this, I understand all sides :-)) and she sleeps anywhere from 3-6 hour stretches at a time. She is so strong willed and determined. I love her little personality, it makes me smile. She really does think she is the boss of me… and for the most part… she is. LOL!
So although I don’t talk much about the case because it’s not my business, what I will talk about is how it makes me feel emotionally. So as foster parents, we are conditioned to know that things can change at any minute and that is why most people don’t foster. It is can be an emotional roller coaster where you have no control over what will or will not happen. Sometimes things happen that to you, make no sense… but it is what it is and you have to deal with it. So at court last month my emotions were tossed up once again. There is always a possibility of a relative to step in and care for the child. This may be the case for my little one. Although it will break my heart to see her go, I understand that this is always a possibility. How did I react to this news? Oh, I was a wreck! I cried so hard for most of the day. After I spoke to my worker and she explained that the process may not go quickly, I was a bit relieved. Still sad, but relieved that there is a process that will have to be followed to make sure the conditions are right. I just want the best for my little one. I know that may not include staying with me, so I pray all the time for her protection and all of the decisions being made on her behalf.
My focus right now is to enjoy the holiday season. This year looks different… for most of us for sure, it is so strange to not go to holiday parties or actually GO Christmas shopping, but hey… that’s 2020! What disappoints me the most is not being able to go see my family. Every year I travel to see them and spend a good two/three weeks with them and I am very sad that will not happen this year. If it was just me, I would consider going to see them. But in my county, there is a no travel order for all foster youth… so my little one wouldn’t be able to go and I don’t want to put her in respite care over the holidays. So we will be here celebrating the season at home.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season! Thank you for your support over this year with everything that has been going on.
* Picture was taken when she first started pulling up. Once I realized this, I promptly lowered the pack n play. She now sleeps in a crib.
Wow, it’s been almost two months since I wrote about my journey. It’s not because I don’t have anything to say, but because I have so much to say. Right now, nothing has really changed with the case… so that is not what I’m attempting to write about. Most things just feel like they would be mundane to readers to hear about normal growth and development. It all amazes me, lol, but I know I may be in the minority.
Baby girl is now 7 months old! I absolutely can’t believe it! She is still very active!!! She can move around and get to the things she wants by rolling, inching, scooting and reaching, but still not crawling yet. This is interesting to me because she has moved so much since birth and with all of the energy she has… I thought she would have took off running by now :-). She still doesn’t have any teeth, but she loves to eat just the same and she doesn’t sleep through the night yet. Baby girl is growing and I can’t believe the little premature baby is now wearing 18 month old pants! I was so happy that I had some 9-12 month old pants in my reserved stash that she could wear. To my surprise, all of these pants are high-waters on baby! She is so long! She has also started to give more of her “feisty” personality. She has a temper and likes what she likes. She has started to have small tantrums, and it always gives me pause. LOL!
Okay, so why am I writing?! I guess I wanted to check in, but I have a lot on my mind. There is the saying that no news is good news, but I think after my first placement and the surprise call of reunification after I heard nothing for two days after court, I always get nervous when I don’t hear anything from a worker. I have not heard from baby girls worker since early last month. So everyday I sort of live on edge like is today the day I will get some “news?” I am also just struggling with the weight of baby girls story. It’s not my story and I know that I need to live in the now, but I just wonder how her story will play out and affect her life. I know… weighty and unnecessary… but that is me! I always think like 2o years ahead when I need to live in the present. I try to enjoy each day as it comes and I really do, but I really have to combat the anxiety that comes with thinking ahead and overthinking situations. Sometimes I feel lonely in my thoughts, because no one really understands unless they have to live through/or has lived through it as well (most people probably feel this way with their thoughts). I find some solace and solidarity with a group of foster moms I follow on Instagram. Although I don’t know them personally, they maybe going through something similar, having the same thought process or frustrations and they just “get it.” I do appreciate my family and friends that do come along side me, ask me questions, give advice or just listen to me talk (ramble) on about every and anything.
So there it is, nothing special in this entry. Just a woman dumping some of the thoughts running through her head :-). On another note, why does everyone always say to me “You are doing such a good job with her” to me? It’s always a bit weird to me. I mean, I appreciate the support… but do people say that to biological moms? Maybe they do and I just never noticed. But really, what type of job am I supposed to do? If you’ve ever said this to me, I don’t mind really… but I often wonder if people expected me to be horrible or if they are just reassuring me (which again, I don’t mind)?
Overall this little girl is amazing. I am so grateful that I answered the call for her on Friday, February 28 a little over 7 months ago and didn’t say “no” because I was looking forward to my free weekend 🙂 (which I still enjoyed anyway because the social workers didn’t want to work on a Saturday, so she was released from the hospital on Monday). She is a gift that I am happy to enjoy everyday, even when she makes me soooo tired! I understand that one day it could end in total heartbreak, but it is worth it to watch this little one thrive.
I’m back…. rather quickly. I didn’t want to lose my thought process of what I witnessed yesterday in court. I couldn’t come up with a catchy title for this blog entry, so please bear with me. My thoughts are all over the place, so if I ramble please forgive me. I will not go into any details about the court case, so if that is what you are looking for you can stop reading now. This is not my life story to tell, I am only discussing my feelings. So here we go…
This was my second time being invited into a court proceeding for a child in my care. The first time I went to court, I kind of knew what to expect. My child’s worker let me know that the child would be in care a little longer and that hearing was to check with the parents progress of the current plan and to see what else may need to be done for the children to return. So again, I knew what to expect. The only surprise (because there is always a surprise) is the fact that we (me and the other foster mother involved) thought the next court date would be set for an earlier date. When the judge announced a later date, we both looked at each other in shock. Okay, so back to yesterday. I had no expectation of what was going to happen. Because my little one is so young, and because I’ve been told that my state favors parents, there was a chance that even though nothing progressed in the case the decision may have been a plan to return her to her biological mother sooner. So I was extremely nervous. I will pause here to again say that I am not trying to take anyone’s child from them. My nerves came because of what I know about the case and because there has been NO PROGRESS meaning nothing has changed in the almost 6 months the baby has been in care. So the same behaviors that had the baby placed in care had not been addressed and may reoccur. On the Friday before the case, I was able to speak to the lawyer representing the baby and I felt peaceful after our conversation because both the lawyer and the department were united.
As the case began I was nervous, but as I logged into the call (yes the case was on Zoom) and baby girl and myself came on the screen… I became more settled. Especially when the judge looked at baby and said, “Oh how cute!” that made me know that she saw her… she was an actual person that was recognized and not just a case number on a paper in front of her. This case was a Child in Need of Assistance hearing to determine if the child should remain in the care of the department. As everyone logged on and prepared for the case to begin, I sat back prepared to hear what the outcome would be. I was not prepared for what I saw or heard and am totally overwhelmed by what transpired during the hearing.
Although I can’t say much, what I will say is that my experience being a foster parent has made me so grateful for the family that I grew up in. I mean, everyone could probably say that their family isn’t perfect, but just knowing that my family was “normal” for the most part 🙂 I am grateful. I was genuinely caught off guard by the behavior I witnessed in the courtroom and it made me very upset. The opposing attorney wanted to delay the case again, he kept citing that the virtual court documents stated that a final decision couldn’t be made on this platform and he wanted to push for another court date when in person hearings were being scheduled in a few weeks. I was very disappointed to hear that because I wanted some sort of resolution for baby girl. She deserved that. The judge corrected him several times that she didn’t understand why he didn’t want to proceed and that the virtual platform was able to handle the entire case. He was still reluctant. I was so happy that the baby’s attorney didn’t let that slide and eventually we did proceed. After all the evidence was read, the verdict came back that my little one is indeed a child in need of assistance (duh… to everyone except the opposing side of course) and that she would remain in the departments care until the next court date (or if a family member steps up/in to provide care). I feel a mix of relief and heartbreak because of the reality of what baby girl will possibly face. I know that economic stability, a two family home, a nice house/neighborhood, or any of the comforts that I can give her doesn’t make me any better, BUT care, stability, tranquility, and light can help shape her childhood into it’s true form.
So there you have it. I know… I know… I told you nothing. LOL! Just know that I am feeling overwhelmed and also grateful that I can play a part in this little baby’s story. I continue to pray that change… real change can be made over the next 3 months to improve the quality of life baby girl can have and I will continue to play my part. If true change cannot come, I will continue to pray for wisdom for all those who have to make the decisions for her future and I will continue to be there… in my truest form for her.
I’ll add a picture… just so I can share most of her cuteness :-).
Since COVID is heavy on everyone’s mind, I’ll start there. For the past week, my little one has been home with me due to one of the parents of a child at her daycare testing positive for COVID-19. It was an unexpected surprise to go back to working and taking care of a baby all day, but I am happy to say that we made it through. Although it is hard for me to get things done (I have such a great schedule during the day while she’s at daycare. I carved time at the end of the day to do tasks before she gets home), I have so loved having her here with me. During this week, my little lady has become MUCH MORE confident in her ability to roll and move around. She is all over the place and I love being able to witness her growth. My other babies around this age didn’t move as much as this little one does, so I am happy to see another phase of growth and development up close. Daycare was given the okay to reopen the day after they closed, but stayed closed for the week to sanitize the entire building top to bottom. I expect this to be the norm for a while, so it has made me think of how I will handle this in the future. Baby and I are okay over here, we are enjoying each others company. LOL! She loves to grab my face and come in for a kiss (so sweet) and I love to snuggle her and watch her explore.
On the move
As most would imagine, baby girl has grown so much over the last couple of months. I was so curious to know her weight because she is starting to get really heavy! LOL! So I jumped on the scale and weighed myself… then I added her. The last time I did this home girl was 16 lbs! This may not seem like a lot to some people, but when you get a tiny NICU baby at 5.1 lbs… this growth seems amazing! I am so happy she is continuing to pick up weight.
I know everyone thinks their baby is so smart, but I believe this one is too! LOL! She watches everything I do and I am amazed each time she tries to copy me. Every time we leave a room, little miss tries to help me turn off the light. She reaches for the switch and really tries! By luck she did it one time… and you would have thought she scored a 1600 on her SAT’s the way I celebrated her! LOL! She also has started to prepare herself for things that are routine. In the bath, I always wash her neck, arms and tummy first… then move down to her legs. A few days ago, little miss picked up her leg and gave it to me to wash at the appropriate time. I know I amaze easily, but I really can’t grasp how much her little mind absorbs and it blows me away. LOL! She also has two tiny white bulbs trying to break through at the top of her gums! She’s been biting on her hand (and everything else) for about 2 months and it seems as though teeth maybe on the horizon. As I mentioned above, little miss is on the move! She has been rolling over for a while, but now she actually rolls around. I leave her one place… and she ends up in another. LOL! She used to lay still on a mat while I worked out, but a few days ago I had to keep jumping off the treadmill to put her back on the mat and then just move everything near her so she wouldn’t hurt herself. LOL! Times have changed… in a good way.
Work it out
Speaking of working out, some people might be interested in how I keep up my workout. It has been a struggle to keep it up. I was naive to think that just because I didn’t give birth, I would be able to jump right in a workout per usual… I under estimated how tired I would be just from taking care of the baby and all of her needs (plus sleep deprivation), but I have started a good routine. I have been getting up extra early to workout, but in true diva form… the earlier I get up… the earlier my little lady gets up too. LOL! I was able to get a new to me free treadmill off of freecycle (if you have it in your area I would sign up!) and purchased a spin bike that finally arrived late last month. Working out is a way for me to relax (lol!) and release stress… so it is very important to me to get it in 5-6 days a week.
Court is in about a week. As I stated before, Sunday nights are very hard for me because I struggle with anxiety about what the week may bring. People ask me why I continue do this if I know that the process is difficult for me. It is difficult, I know… but I couldn’t imagine not doing it. I was taking a training and the instructor asked us how many times someone says they couldn’t do foster care because of the attachment and hurt and most of the class answered all of the time. One participant said that if it “doesn’t hurt when they leave, then you shouldn’t be a foster parent.” That struck me and I really liked it. It’s not that it doesn’t hurt, you invite someone into your home and heart for a season. Sometimes it’s short, sometimes it’s long…. and for some it is permanent, so the idea or reality that they will leave and sometimes it t is a indefinite loss, (you never see them again) it is very hard. So Sunday evenings are a time that I may sit and think about what may or may transpire for that week. Knowing that court is coming up soon has been extra taxing on my mind. I try to look at each day one day at a time, but my natural personality analyzes and thinks about every possibility that may happen in different situations. I have started to recite scriptures when my mind goes too far. So back to court. It is coming up and I am nervous. Nervous because I have no knowledge of how it will go. I realized a few days ago that court rarely has gone the way I though it would. Either I think they are going to stay and then they go… or I think they are going to go and they stay. It is interesting to say the least of how all of the pieces of the team work (they say together) independently and then a judge makes a decision. Sometimes it’s quick…. sometimes it’s painfully long. Like I said, it is interesting. I am praying that the best decision is made for my little one.
I got to speak to one of my previous placements last week. She was so excited to speak to me, we FaceTimed each other and she said that I looked the same. LOL! I told her she didn’t and that she has grown so much. It hurt that when she thought I couldn’t hear her before we spoke, she said she didn’t think I was on the phone because I don’t call her or come see her. That case has it’s own challenges, but I stayed away on request from her present foster parent. She is still having her challenges and outbursts, it’s not getting any better which makes me sad for her. Also, her family plan is changing and it looks like she may never go “home.” She really loves her parents, so that is a tough one for sure. I don’t know what the future holds for that little lady, I just hope she lands well. Her current foster mother is at her wits end. I try to encourage her because she has been the longest foster home this little one has had, but because of behavior and other issues… the foster parent is getting fed up. Before you ask, I have thought long and hard about if I would choose to have this one back in my home and the answer right now is no. Little lady thanked me today for the picture book I gave her when she left my home of all our adventures. She says she looks at them all the time and she misses me tons. I do miss her too, but I’m just not sure at this moment if I could handle all of the things going on with her.
That’s all for now. If you are a praying person, pray for wisdom for the team working on baby girls case and the judge. Pray for me as my mind wanders, and most of all pray for baby that she remains safe and continues to grow strong.