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!
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.
It’s been a minute since I have been able to sit down and write a blog post. It’s been pretty crazy over here as baby girl has been growing and becoming more and more alert (aka demanding, lol!). One of the reasons I can finally sit down and write is because… baby girl started daycare on Monday (tears). With everything going on, I really didn’t want to send her to daycare so soon and was really nervous, BUT it had to be done. Baby wanted more and more of my attention and is staying up for longer stretches in between naps, so it was really hard for me to work and entertain her during the day. So, this was the best solution. I am really happy that there was a slot open at the daycare where I sent my first infant placement, I really feel comfortable taking children there and they really care about and treat the children and parents well. It’s been a hard transition for both of us as I miss her terribly and she wasn’t really eating or sleeping the first two days. She’s a pro now, but still gives me the cold shoulder when I pick her up! LOL!
Baby will be 4 months old tomorrow. It’s hard to believe that she has been with me an entire 4 months! She has grown so much and most of the time I can’t even remember her being so small until I look at pictures or see one of her preemie diapers. It’s so unbelievable how fast time has gone. I would like it to slow down, but not for reasons other parents may say. I want it to slow down because the faster it goes, it makes me think of the time when she will have to leave… and that always makes me sad. I still don’t have any answers on her case as she hasn’t even had a hearing yet. To me, her case is cut and dry… but resistance from the parent saying baby girl doesn’t need to even be in care has caused a delay in formulating her reunification plan. Her court date is not until August, so after that I may have a better understanding what is happening. Baby girl also got a new social worker… today. I was saddened a few weeks back when her social worker told me that she was taking another job. I thought we meshed well together and she was super responsive and proactive in the case… so it was bittersweet to hear her move on to another opportunity.
Baby girl is super attached to me. One of my friends asked how it feels to experience love like this. The question took me aback a little because not being a biological mother, I knew exactly what she was asking me… and I couldn’t believe that I have been given the chance to experience this level of unconditional love in human form. It is a love like no other… and it is hard to explain. Sometimes I catch baby girl just staring at me intently or crying out for me to hold her if I walk by. My mom says that baby girl “fired her” a long time ago as she rarely wants anyone to hold her besides me. It’s just been her and I for the last 4 months, so I hope that it will get better now that she is going to daycare and interacting with more people. I told my mother that on Sunday nights my anxiety peaks. Why you may ask? It’s because I don’t know what the week will bring. Will it bring unexpected news regarding her case or will things go on as normal. I understand my job in foster care, but sometimes I don’t want to hear about bio mom or other family members. I want us to stay in our little bubble of togetherness. That is just me speaking honestly, but I do know and understand that baby girl has a bio parent who would like to reunite with her. I pray everyday that the right thing will happen at the right time… whatever that may be.
So for now, that’s what has been going on in my world. I can say that it has been good to see baby girl thrive and try new things at daycare and for me to be able to get things done at work and also run a few errands without worrying, but when the clock strikes that time… I am the first one running out the door to go pick her up. When her cold shoulder thaws (lol!) usually towards bed time we snuggle and laugh and talk and that is always a good time. Things are starting to return to a slow new normal. My mom has already put me on notice that she will gradually start pulling back her weekend help and social services sent out a notice that in person visitation for foster children would slowly resume on July 1st. I am excited for baby girl’s bio mom to finally get to see her. I couldn’t imagine delivering a baby and not seeing her in person for 4 months. I do feel for her for the most part and although I know the predicament…. and although I don’t want to share baby girl right now… I have empathy for her.
Well, that’s all for now. Just know that baby girl is striving in health, physically, emotionally, and mentally. She has her 4 month old check up (with immunizations) on Monday, please pray for me. It takes a lot out of me to see her get those shots. I’m crying just thinking about it now!
Thanks for reading! I hope you all have a great July 4th holiday!
My little darling is 8 weeks old today! It has been a pretty great adventure so far. I have learned so much about caring for a newborn baby. Some days things seem to flow really well… and other days just when I think that I have a solid grip on how things are flowing, this little one reminds me that I do not have this parenting thing on “lock.” For only being 8 weeks old, this little one sure is feisty! She makes it known what she does NOT like. It has been nice living in our little bubble absorbing each other since COVID-19 is keeping us quarantined in the house.
This post is delving a bit into my personal feelings regarding this little one. I know that most people could not be a foster parent because of the attachment and loss of control you have once a child enters your home. I have already told myself and some others that I will probably never take a newborn baby straight from the hospital into my home again. Not because I am not enjoying this experience immensely, it’s because of the emotional toll this placement is putting me in during some moments. This baby feels like she is mine (I know she is not). The only thing I didn’t do for her is carry her for her 8.5 months in utero and give birth to her. Since she has gotten out of the hospital, I have been her person. Even though she gives me nothing (I mean nothing… no emotion! LOL!), I can tell that she really feels safe when she is with me. I cherish that. So the looming fact that one day she will have to leave me… it hurts really badly. I do not like thinking about it at all and I do not think I could go through this again. Her case is a bit complicated and because of the virus going around and the semi closure of the court system, most foster care cases have been stalled. So I don’t even have a general idea of how long she will be with me. If I listen to her lawyer and her social worker, it may be a while… but as I have seen all to often in foster care, things change in a blink.
So, how am I doing? Today I am doing OKAY. Besides being a little tired from waking up 2-3 times during the night for feeding/changing, I am also a little emotionally tired. With everything going on in the world and the constant news of how many cases of the virus in my state (this morning I heard 15,000+), wondering how in the world I am going to get things that I need in the house (friends and family have been amazing at calling me to ask if I need anything, and Amazon delivery for the win!), just missing going out with out having to worry about wearing my mask and gloves, and just missing my friends! When I have kids a few of my friends come and sit with me to talk and hold/play with babies… and I enjoy the visits. I am a home body and believe you me I am not mad having to be at home for the most part… I think it is the fact that I can’t get what I need sometimes because I am dependent on others (to either bring it to me or come sit with the baby while I run and get something). **Side note, I know folks will think about my last statement and only one family member comes and sits with the baby when I run out. I have to make the decision whether I entertain taking the baby out at all or having someone come and sit… and I chose the latter.** One day I was walking up the stairs in my home and I laughed and thought, “I am suffering from postpartum depression without the “partum. ” I laughed because I thought that it was impossible for me to suffer from this condition since I did not give birth. I kept feeling a little down, so I googled it :-). Came to find out that adoptive/foster parents of infants can suffer from postpartum due to other factors, sleep deprivation, anxiety of bonding, doing a good job or for me, not knowing what is happening. The anxiety is real! This week, I have gotten 3 calls from social services. Every time a worker announces they are a DSS worker when I answer the phone, my heart starts to beat fast. What are they going to tell me? Time for baby to go? You never know. We also may suffer because of the feeling of isolation and general loneliness. I was not far off. I am grateful to my friends/family who have stopped by and spoken to me through my screen door, thought of me and left things on my porch, or just called/text to talk. That helps! I would also like to thank two social media friends who saw my need for various items and magically later the same day or the next morning, clothes, toys, furniture, diapers, appeared on my porch! Thank you so much… I really appreciate YOU!
Back to the little one. She is thriving and I am grateful! She went from this little bitty (I call her bit bits) baby to this rolly polly little lady with such a feisty personality. It’s amazing to watch, but I won’t bore you with everything she is doing… because I’m sure a lot of you are parents and know how fast babies develop :-). Like I mentioned above, she is attached to me for sure. Her little eyes follow me around the room (when she lets me put her down) and she cries for me to hold her when someone else is holding her. It is all very interesting. DSS has also called me for 2 sibling placements that I had to turn down. A one and three year old pair and a two and three year old pair. It breaks my heart to turn them down, but I know I can’t handle 3 young children by myself (hats off to any of you who can!).
That’s all I have today. My heart is full each day that I get to care for this little one. Even through the frustration sometimes due to her crying and fussiness (due to underlying trauma) and sleep deprivation I would still choose to do this. My heart is also sad, because I know that one day she will leave, but I try not to focus on that. I know my role, I provide safety for them until their parents can resume their position. Knowing the role doesn’t make it any easier for my heart… any heart… but as foster parents we push through our own feelings to give the love a child needs at that moment and we pray that loved feeling will carry them for a lifetime.
So I haven’t written in a while and honestly, let’s face it… I will probably only write when I have something to say. I know you all will appreciate that too :-). After my last adventure with the twins, I felt like I could conquer anything DSS gave me (actually that is a false statement because nothing is picture perfect). So when my social worker called me on a Friday afternoon with a placement of a newborn baby girl I did not hesitate to say yes. Well, actually I did. LOL! When my social worker first called me, I was a little annoyed because it was Friday afternoon. I mean, I don’t know about you… but by Friday afternoon I am looking at the weekend like the finish line and I already had my plans set up for the weekend. A weekend of doing nothing but cleaning my house and relaxing from the aftermath of the twins. BUT when I heard the word “newborn” I immediately changed my tune. The baby was born on Thursday and they needed to place her, but the hospital wanted to release her on Saturday and CPS didn’t want to pick her up until Monday. That was all I heard after I said yes… and that CPS would call me with instructions. Well, that evening I set off in a frenzy purchasing a few things for the new addition. A stroller system, some clothes and diapers, and formula. And then I waited… waited… waited. No call. I started to think that either CPS was able to talk the hospital into keeping the baby until Monday or maybe they found a relative to place her with. So the entire weekend I just kept telling myself and others, I “may” get a newborn baby girl on Monday. Monday morning comes… and I still hear nothing from CPS. I call my worker, but of course there is no answer so I start to again think that this wasn’t going to happen. Around 12:30p CPS calls me and lets me know they are leaving the hospital with the baby and will bring her to my home.
CPS arrives at around 2:00p with the tiniest baby I had ever seen. A four day old baby girl! I was so overwhelmed by having this tiny arrival, but tried to keep it together as the workers relayed the discharge information the hospital gave to them. Then it was off to the races trying to get a doctors appointment for the baby as all kids who come into care have to see a doctor within 48 hours. The first few days were a blur, I was (am still) sleep deprived and still trying to work my full-time job. By Wednesday afternoon, I had made a plan to take off Thursday and Friday to recoup some of my sanity and sleep and sort of get into a rhythm, and I kind of caught up… but boy were things about to change in a major way. One thing I didn’t mention is that when the baby came, her breathing was off. She always sounded like she was congested or like she couldn’t breath. Early Tuesday morning, she was really struggling to breath and I thought of taking her to the emergency room to get checked out, but just thought I could ask her doctor about it when I went to her appointment later on that day. I was really scared. The doctor gave me some saline drops and told me to continue trying to suction her nose. Um, okay… thanks doc. Friday afternoon, one of my bestest college friends came to visit. My mom came over so my friend and I could go out to dinner and I could get some groceries (fun Friday night here folks!). The next morning, my friend allowed me to go to the nail salon and get a much needed mani/pedi while she sat home and watched the baby. Now, let me take a break here so you won’t think I am a horrible hostess and tell you that my friend Tonya didn’t want to DO ANYTHING when she came to visit. She just wanted to relax, sleep in, and get some seafood (when in Maryland… right?). So she was happy to sit around and binge watch shows while I went out and about. Okay, back to the story…. So when I returned from the nail salon, the baby’s breathing did not look right to me.
I called her pediatrician and she told me to take her to Children’s Hospital. So, we went to Children’s and they immediately saw baby girl and started tending to her. After about an hour, the ER doctor told me that they were going to admit the baby to the NICU so they could observe her. We ended up staying in the hospital for 4 days, I slept in the room with her… couldn’t get me to leave that hospital if they paid me.
Shout out to Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC! They are absolutely wonderful in every way. Another shout out to my friend Tanya because I know her visit was completely a God send! She kept me calm and is also a specialist at Children’s in her hometown, so she was definitely an asset to have with me that weekend!
About this baby girl. She is an absolute JOY! She has the resting baby face down packed. She gives the best side-eye and her facial expressions seem to match the mood of whatever is going down at the moment. LOL! She has grown so much over the last month. Her color came in, her cheeks have gotten fatter, and she has transitioned from preemie clothes and diapers to newborn! The one thing that still haunts me is bedtime. Home girl will not sleep on her own. She will only lay down for 20 minutes, but only at night. During the day she can sleep without being held and on her own, but at night… it’s another story. She also hates being swaddled. I have read so much about swaddling, the benefits and the calming sleep that it is meant to induce. That is not the case for this little one. Just last night she screamed every time I put her in the swaddle. She cried from 9 pm until 1 am because I was on and off swaddling her. I even tried to swaddle her after she fell asleep. That lasted all of 30 minutes then she was hollering again. I just can’t seem to get it right, which is so frustrating because I watched them swaddle her in the hospital and I actually swaddled her also. My mom thinks it was because she was getting drugs… so she didn’t care what was happening at the moment. LOL! Everyone who meets her loves her. I have needed/had a lot of help with this one (what else is new) and everyone always wants to come back and see her.
Because of COVID-19 a lot of things are different in the system. There are limited court cases being heard, visits by social workers and to sibling/parent groups are being paused. Baby had a hearing last week and nothing really changed in her case. Yesterday… just YESTERDAY after a month on her being with me was baby girl assigned a social worker, so now I can kind of get a better handle on her case. As usual things can change quickly, but at least I now know a little more and can plan a little better.
This is a new experience for me. I have never had to solely care for a newborn on my own. It sometimes has been scary because she is so new to the world, I honestly don’t know what to do most of the time… but through google, prayer, and help/advice from friends/family I am making it through. One month down and who knows how much more to go. The baby smiles a lot! And although I know she is smiling mostly from gas, relieving herself, or falling asleep, there are times when I know that she smiled at me… there is no doubt. I would only say this happened twice, but no one can’t tell me that she didn’t smile at me. LOL! She is also starting to hold on to me… which is so sweet. I am looking forward to watch her grow and seeing her reactions to the new world around her.
Hello readers! Happy new year! It’s been a while since I stopped by to write a blog, but there hadn’t been much to write about over the last few months. Over the holidays, I got to spend a lot of time with my family and really regroup my thoughts and mind after a lot of painful personal things happened in my life. I can’t say that I am not still sad at times, but I am getting stronger each day :-). I enjoyed being able to spend time lazing in the house and not doing much, most of the time willing myself to leave the house and promising myself if someone asked me to go to dinner or lunch or just hang out in general… I will do my best to go. It has been a time! I know that is not what you came here to read, so… LOL!
Last weekend I had a beautiful experience fostering twin 4 month old boys. It was my first time fostering boys and especially my first time fostering twins. Let me write this up front, I have a new found admiration for parents of multiples and an little extra respect for single parents of multiples! Caring for two babies at one time is no joke and not an easy task to say the least!! So my hats of to anyone reading that has had to care for multiples… whew! This all began after at a foster training I took through the department on Thursday night. One of the other attendees was in my P.R.I.D.E. class (this is the class you take to begin the process of becoming a licensed foster parent) and we were catching up on life in general. I knew she and her husband had a infant/toddler in her home and asked if they still had that placement. She told me she did and showed me pictures and then said, “we also received a one month old baby girl last week!” Now, after she said that… I admit, I really wasn’t paying attention to a lot of what she said. I was thinking, “the department called me last week to place a teenager and told me they didn’t have any younger placements at the time.” Let me back up right here. Since my last placement left me in November, the department has called me about 4 times regarding placing a teenage youth (16+) in my home. In December I declined because I knew I was traveling and I didn’t want to be bound by the school calendar. I also declined because lets face it… I fostered a teenager and I did not like it. Not that I didn’t like her, I just didn’t like living with another “adult” who felt like they didn’t have to listen to me and dismiss me. It is just not my cup of tea, but I also know that more often than not… these are the placements that are in need most often. Back to my fellow foster parent. I jumped back into listening mode and she was telling me that the department probably placed the baby with her because her job is so flexible (so is mine) and she is home more often then having to go into the office (ahem, so am I) so that is why they probably placed the infant with her. Well, I was happy for her… but it bothered me that I had only gotten calls for teenagers and not once have I been contacted for anyone under 10 years old. Another foster parent I know who prefers to foster preteen/teenage boys told me he was getting calls for 6/7 year old girls. The process of getting a call is so random and funny to me. They go down a list for the first person to say “yes.” So you get calls for any age group.
That night as I drove home, I thought about the infant placed in care and wondered about why I didn’t get that call. I called my mom (of course) and was telling her about it and she told me to call my social worker and ask. I told her I didn’t want to call, because I know if I called… I would definitely get a call for a placement. LOL! I had been in training all week for work, but the next day as the trainer was talking, I kept thinking about the infant placement. I just couldn’t get it out of my head. So I text my mom (of course) and ask AGAIN if I should reach out to my social worker… because it was bothering me so much. Anyway, I did. As the phone rang, I told myself that if my social worker didn’t answer, I wouldn’t leave a message (they rarely answer the phone), but I at least had to try. Well, don’t you know it my social worker answered the phone on the 3rd ring. I discussed how I felt with her and she told me that she didn’t even know an infant came into care last week. She reassured me that my name was on the list and my preferred age, 0-6. So we hung up, and about 45 minutes later… I got a call…
My social worker called me chucking, “Hey Ms. C I have an infant placement… twin boys… 5… hold on… (papers shuffling in the background)” at this point I’m thinking she is going to say 5 years old… “okay, hello? 5 month old twin boys.” I started to panic. LOL! A lot of thoughts went through my head. TWINS! Holy Moly! How could I say yes to twins, but how can I say no when I just asked about caring for an infant??! So I say yes, and immediately start freaking out…. immediately. I also reassure myself that they may find a family placement for them to go to and they may not even come to me. So, I settle back into class. The class ends at 3 pm and I still hadn’t heard from the CPS worker. So I figure nothing much is happening. The CPS worker calls me at about 3:25 pm as I am still trying to make it home. So, I detour and drive to the department to pick up the boys. OMG! In the waiting room I actually see two of the little one’s that I provided respite care for. I don’t know who they are with, so I am hesitant to say anything in case they are with their bio family. I sit and wait for the worker to come out with the babies. This process is always so strange to me, getting a placement is like signing for a package… it’s just strange. Well, they call me to the back and I meet the babies. Two pairs of little eyes looking up at me. My feelings got really overwhelmed very quickly.
I won’t bore you with everything, just the highlights. Getting them into/out of the car was crazy. The car seats they had did not have clip in bases, so each time I had to strap them in by using the seat belt. I tried to put them on a semi schedule so that I was feeding them about 20 minutes apart and they were waking up about 20 minutes apart. Sometimes that was a success! But true to baby form, sometimes it was not. LOL! Whenever they woke up or were hungry at the same time was always stressful. I learned how to prop them up and feed them, but burping them was very hard. The first day/night was a blur. On the second day I needed to change one and put the other in the rocker. I tried to give him a toy to entertain him while I changed his brother and noticed that he didn’t know how to hold the toy. That is when I looked at the paperwork and read that these boys were only 3 months old (they turned 4 months in my care)! LOL! I knew they looked small, but I just thought it was because they were twins. That was funny to me. Anyway, the juggle of trying to entertain, comfort, change, feed went on and on. Sometimes I didn’t know when one day ended and another began. It was just a constant cycle. I know she will kill me for writing this, but my dear mother came and slept over one night to help me care for the twins for the night feedings. Well, needless to say… she didn’t wake up and I ended up still doing the night feeding alone. LOL! This night was tricky too, because it was one of the nights they woke up at the same time to eat! Oh my! One of the boys cried to eat (even though I knew he shouldn’t be hungry) and barfed all over the bed after I fed him. So we all went down to sleep in the living room, LOL! The next morning my mom came downstairs and asked what she could do. I handed her a baby and said, “Feed him” and turned over on the couch at took a catnap! LOL! I was so tired, but I wouldn’t trade caring for them for the world.
My mom and I gave the boys nicknames because although we knew their birth names, the department couldn’t tell us which baby went with which name. I named one baby scar/talker LOL! He had a scratch on his face which gave him a mark like Scar in The Lion King (this baby was so sweet and not evil at all… okay) and he talked/babbled all the time. He always had a story to tell! My mom named the other baby “The Protector” because he was always looking for his brother and would not go to sleep until his brother was asleep and taken care of. This baby always had his brow furrowed and always looked stressed out. He was a stomach sleeper! If I put him down on his back, he would immediately wake up. SO, I slept him laying on my stomach. Needless to say, he was very attached to me in a very short time. Actually, they both were which was so surprising.
I would like to take time here to thank some special people who came over to help me and/or hold a baby. My mother, of course, came over each day to hold a baby while I ran around trying to either cook, make a bottle or bathe a baby. My running buddy/friend Kimberly who came over several days while I had them in care and even went with me when I took the babies to the doctor. I couldn’t fathom carrying two babies anywhere (furthermore I wasn’t equipped to). My friend Renita stopped by to give me something and stayed to hold a baby :-). Another foster mom who has twin boys as well stopped by to bring me another bouncy seat and formula and stayed to hold a baby as well. Rasheda, who also has a heart for kids in care, came by and held a baby and even brought me a frozen pizza. I really appreciated the food because eating and cooking was a luxury that I didn’t get to do often. At one point I looked over and she was folding laundry. LOL! Thank you! My BFF Cindy who surprised me and brought my God kids and STARBUCKS! Kaje who graciously took the twins for an hour of drop-in care at her daycare when they unexpectedly stayed and I had a work meeting. Thank you all so much! I really appreciate you ALL!
I knew these boys wouldn’t be with me long, their grandmother told the CPS worker that she was willing to take them. Court was on Tuesday and I expected them to go home that day, but true to DSS fashion I did not get a call after court until about 7:30 pm that night telling me that the boys will leave the next day. It is always sad for me when placements leave. I have written about it here so I won’t go through it again. I did cry and graciously the CPS worker expressed her gratitude for me and my love for the boys. When she disclosed what happened in court, we both shed a tear. I told her that if the boys needed me in the future, I am here for them. If you are a praying person, please pray for these boys and their parents. Especially their parents. I am told they are very young and do NOT like each other at all. It is very tumultuous and verbally violent between them… so please pray for them to get along and also that no harm comes to the babies. That is all I can say.
So, I am proud that I said yes to this difficult assignment. I can also say that boy babies melt my heart a little differently then girls. LOL! This was placement 6 & 7. Although I don’t see them as numbers, it is amazing to me that I have not been licensed for 2 years yet and I have had 7 placements in my home. My social worker text me this morning and said I am back on the list as having a vacancy. So let the waiting begin!
Happy holidays everyone! Wow, I haven’t written in over a month. I haven’t had much to write about in terms of foster care, because I haven’t had any children in my home since the baby left last month. I did help another foster mom out and hosted her little one for the weekend. I’ve had her with me before… so it was great reconnecting with her, but that’s about all in terms of care.
I have gotten about four calls for placements. Each call came at an inopportune time for me. I received one message to place a 15 year old, but by the time I called back no one answered so I assumed they found a place for her. They called the next day for the same child and were asking if foster parents could host the teenager for a few weeks at a time in their home until they could find a treatment facility for her to be placed permanently. My ears rang, because I was still not ready to host a placement (this was one week after the baby left) and I didn’t like the idea of handling a teenager that needed treatment as a single person. I declined. I received a call for a 16 year old, but I was at a funeral and by the time I got home it was almost after 7 pm. I didn’t even call the department back, I do feel bad about that. Yesterday I received another call and when I answered the call chuckling the worker asked me why I was laughing. I told her that I already knew what she was going to ask, but I had plans for the night that I couldn’t change. I also told her that I know when they call near or after 5 pm that they’re calling for a teenage placement. She chuckled and said, “Well, I will not disappoint you!” and we both laughed. At this point in the remaining year, I am not particularly interested in having a child in my home. It may sound selfish, but I don’t want to be bound by a school age child and the school calendar :-). So, no placements for me at the moment… but I am enjoying my free time! I got to catch a football game between my alma mater and Navy. I was so excited to attend… even though it was cold and rainy!
It was nice to see so many Alum!
Mustangs take the field
During this time, I have been struggling with the departure of my previous placement. I find myself thinking of her often and sometimes just looking at pictures on my phone. Folks stop me and ask about her all the time, she was such a light… a very good baby that I miss terribly. It’s getting better for me, but it’s still a struggle. People often state that is why they couldn’t do foster care, and I understand that. It is really hard. The department will tell you not to get attached to the child, but then out of the same breath tell you to treat the child like your own. I pour my heart into each child that I care, so no matter what I am always sad when they leave. People also always ask me about the teenager. To my knowledge she is doing well in school. I tried to reach out to her a couple times, but she wasn’t interested. I didn’t really get too attached to her because she didn’t really let me in, so that was a little easier to transition for me. I always knew that she viewed me as just a place to lay her head…. bide her time for a few months… so I really didn’t expect much in the form of communication. I wish her well. I have had five placements in the year and a half I have been a foster parent. That does not include the respite placements that I have hosted as well. I am not sure if I enjoy the constant turn over because I am able to get back to “my life,” or if it is causing a wear and tear on my heart. I haven’t figured that out yet… I keep that in prayer.
I did put up my Christmas tree this year. I wasn’t planning on it, but two of my friends told me I should still celebrate and make my home festive. I felt like it didn’t matter since I didn’t have children in the home, but I decided to go ahead and put it up. I did have the promise that a friend would come over and help… complete with hot cocoa, cookies, and Christmas movies! Although that didn’t happen, it was just the incentive I needed to get off my seat and decorate! I even wrapped all the presents too!
So, that’s what’s been happening in my neck of the woods. As always, thank you for your support of me through this journey of foster care. So many of you have expressed how much you love reading the blog and how proud you are of me when you see me! I am grateful for each and everyone of you… you really encourage me and keep pushing me forward and you don’t even know it! Thank you again and I hope you have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
I decided to write this blog while my feelings were fresh. I don’t have an outline or even a pattern for what I want to say. As many of you know, I was fostering a 5 month old little one since the beginning of October. This was the second time I fostered a baby and although she was the BEST (oh my goodness the BEST) her little personality was very different from my first. You know how parents have a child and that first child rarely cries, sleeps through the night, adjust to a schedule and has an overall cheery disposition and they make you think that parenting a baby is easy and you could actually do it again?? Well, this one was NOTHING like my first baby, but I loved her just the same. She wouldn’t take to a schedule, she did things how she wanted to… always wanted to be held (which I did of course), you couldn’t sit down and hold her… no… you had to stand up! BUT not JUST stand up, you had to stand up and walk because that is what she wanted. LOL! She disliked all the little toys I had for her to sit in to entertain her, but funny enough when she would go to drop in daycare she would sit and enjoy these same toys (go figure). She punked me often, but I loved her so much.
She was such a beautiful baby! I have never been stopped so much while in the grocery store, etc. for someone to tell me how pretty she was. Her smile was so big and bright, she was such a joy to take care of. Now I can’t lie, I was totally overwhelmed at times because I was tired from waking up 1-2 times a night and then having a baby that wanted me to hold her often during the day. I could only get things done while she napped and I prayed for nap time to last 2-2.5 hours at a time. Those catnaps threw me for a loop. Okay, so side note… I love to drink Starbucks tea (please don’t tell me about the cost okay… it’s my thing and I rarely spend money on other things… lol!), I savor my tea time. I use it to relax and reflect. One time, I put her down for a nap and settled in to drink my tea. Of course I had to clean bottles and do a little housekeeping, but after that I was TEA READY! Well, no sooner did I make my tea and sit down to start drinking… I look over and little miss is staring straight at me! Catnap!! LOL! I was so disappointed, but in true diva fashion I had to go over an pick her up… because once I made eye contact with her, she started making noise like, “lady don’t you see I am awake… umm… come get me!” LOL! Just her little personality. It was so amazing and I wish I could see how she turns out as a child, pre-teen, teen, young adult and woman. She is the BEST!
I knew from the start of fostering this little one that she would not be with me long, when they called me to place her they told me the next day after court that the judge wanted to explore placing her with her grandparents. So I didn’t think she would even last a month with me. I didn’t enroll her in daycare (learned that lesson the first time… plus I didn’t have her medical records anyway) and in the first week, I didn’t fully unpack her clothes. After a while I did relax, but her next court date was November 1st and I figured she would leave me then. The week before her court date, I asked her social worker the possibility of her going home after court. Her social worker said it was likely and that I should bring all of her things with me to court. The court date came and I mentally prepared myself for baby girls departure. I knew I would cry, but I also had a full weekend ahead that would serve as a great distraction and pick me up. So I had things in place to help me get through :-). Well… court was a disaster. The lawyer told me court was at 11:30 am, so I get there 15 minutes early and the lawyer says, “boy are you really early!” Apparently court was at 1:30 pm! Who wants to sit around a courthouse for 3 hours (plus most likely the court schedule would run late) with a baby… not me! So, the lawyer for the baby’s mother asked if I could wait for a few minutes to let the baby visit with her mother and grandmother for 10 minutes and then I could leave. I can WHAT? Yup… I can leave… with the baby. But I thought she was leaving me today??!! Apparently not, and everyone knew that accept for me, mom, and grandma. So, heading back to the car I am still thinking that someone would come pick up baby girl later that night after court. Five o’clock comes and goes and I hear nothing from her social worker or lawyer. At 6:45 her lawyer calls to tell me that the judge said that the baby MAY go home if mom moves out of the house and they need time to make that happen. So, I was in limbo… it’s so hard to gear yourself up for them to leave, but limbo is even harder. I didn’t want this little one the leave, but I wanted to know when just to prepare myself… but that didn’t happen. I was afraid that they would call me a few hours before they were coming to pick baby girl up… to me… that is the worst. In the end, I got to spend the entire weekend with baby girl and her social worker came to pick her up on Tuesday afternoon. I warned the social worker that I would cry and don’t be alarmed. The way the baby looked up at me when I put her in the car… I tried to hold it together. One tear did manage to escape. I told baby how much I love her and to be good. When I closed the door to my home, I lost it. I totally lost it! I told my mother that I didn’t know how much more I could take…. and really at this moment, I still feel this way. The emotional attachment to these children is real. I was just talking to my cousin yesterday and she told me something another foster parent said, “It gets easier… but it never gets easy.” I totally understand that. I think you start to understand more and more what your role in the process is and you understand that the goal (although it may change) is not for the kids to stay with you. It doesn’t mean that the attachment is not there and that you can dis-attach easily, but I think your understanding gets clearer (if that make sense). A good friend of mine came over with cookies and ice cream (real medicine for the soul right) and we watched a (very) stupid movie and laughed our heads off. So grateful for her!!
I know that God will help me to do this again, but right now my heart aches. I sit around and watch videos of baby girl and look through pictures… just to remember and feel her. I loved her so much. She blossomed in the month and 4 days she spent with me! She went from screaming in the bathtub to playing and splashing. She went from crying when I pulled her shirt over her head to cooing and smiling because she knew I was going to sing the “hokey pokey” to her. She would hold my hands to her chest while I would change her diaper or when I would pat her back to sleep at night. She would hold my face when I would kiss her cheeks, she was so sweet! She turned six months old while with me and started to eat solids, started sitting up and becoming more active and alert. It was wonderful to experience and I am grateful. It’s just hard because I know I will probably never see this little one again…. and that hurts like HECK!
So, will I do it again? Of course! I think I will take a small break though. I have had 5 children in my home over the past year and a few months. That is a lot and I have cried when each left me! Except the teenager… not because I didn’t miss her, but the connection wasn’t the same because she didn’t want to form a relationship with me. So, there it is…. my raw feelings on my last placement. I am still very sad… very. My current distraction is being with my family right now and enjoying seeing them and spending time with them.
I am grateful for each experience because it shows me how much God gives me strength and comfort and how much He allows me to extend His love to these children as well.
It’s been a long time since I have made a blog entry. As you’ve probably guessed, I have been enjoying my break, taking trips, and enjoying having my home to myself. My foster youth left on August 23rd, and I did not get a call for a placement until October 1st. It took me a long time to say yes to this placement… I will explain that later in the post.
I was asked to do a foster care panel in August and one of the other panel members asked me to provide respite care for her nine year old placement. I agreed to do it… although I was in the beginning stages of enjoying my break (lol) and the thought of having to deviate from it was a little off putting… I told myself, you can do anything for a week… so go for it! The foster mom was so grateful to get time to go on vacation, she explained that she has not been away from her placement for an entire year. She is a single mom also and I found out we are exactly the same age! So I totally understood her as she just longed to have a break of her own. I met up them one Friday evening to meet the young one. She was so terrified that her foster mother was leaving her and putting her in a new home, that her mother told her that I was just a friend of hers and she will be staying with me for the week. Oh the list of rules that came with that little one… I can admit it caused me some anxiety, but I told myself that I will parent her the best way I could and if I didn’t hit all the marks… she’s only with me for a week.
This little girl was such a joy to have in my home. Now, I know that kids act differently towards “strangers” caring for them verses their parents, but she really did a good job during the week. She talks a mile a minute and is a very active girl, but I would rather have it that way anyway. On the Monday she was with me I got a call from social services asking if I would take in an 18 year old for one night. I agreed because…. what’s one night?! The youth had to move from where she was staying because even though she is a mother, she had placed her baby in the care of the baby’s father and family and the facility only housed woman and their children. Long story short, she ended up not coming to stay with me because she refused to leave the facility (the police were called to remove her) and she refused to go with the social services worker. Since she is 18 and technically an adult, the social worker could not make her come into foster care. So, I don’t know what happened to her… but I was kind of relieved that she didn’t enter my home. I just didn’t know what agitated state she might be in and how it would affect the nine year old. Also, the nine year old found out I was a foster parent because I answered the phone while driving (hands free of course) and she heard “social services” talking to me. When she asked me later that night if I was a foster parent, I told her yes but assured her that her foster mom was coming back. She didn’t freak out… I think she understood.
So, Tuesday (the next day)… I get a call for a 5 month old girl. It took me about 10 minutes to accept the placement because I was still enjoying my break! LOL! I was thinking of all of the things that I had planned to do the next week when the nine year old went back home. LOL! I wasn’t ready to relinquish my plans. Let me say this, I DO enjoying being a foster parent very much. When I am in it… I am in it… I adapt and adjust my plans and schedule. I know it sounds like I don’t like it when I’m writing, but it’s only because I am always thinking of what I will be giving up when a child comes into my home. I know parents reading this understand how parenthood really throws a wonderful hook into your life/plans… and you have to adjust. Sometimes the thought of giving up “my life” gives me pause, but I always relinquish (unless I am catching a plane that evening or something…lol!) because I know that each child comes to me for a reason. Okay, so back to the 5 month old. So I am on the phone with the social worker and at one point she says, “You don’t have to say yes. If you can’t do it… it’s okay, we won’t force you.” That is the amount of questions I was asking her. BUT true to me, I said yes… and I am so glad I did. Although it is very hard work, this baby is a joy! She is a happy, smiley, beautiful baby girl. Her situation is exactly like my first placement. Same age, same circumstances… so it is hard not to think of her leaving me quickly just as the first one did. I know what my role is as a foster parent, but I am human… so when they leave (especially the babies because they are REALLY my preferred age group) I do get sad. It’s hard not to attach to anyone. The baby is starting to attach to me and I am starting to attach to her. I am guessing that she will be with me for a month (or possibly less), so I am trying to keep that in mind while still providing her with all of the love that I can. It was a busy week with two kids, but the nine year old was so happy to have the baby in the house (she nicknamed her “my cousin”) and I was happy to have the nine year old because she helped me entertain the baby!
So that is what I have been up to over the last month, my break is over and I am in full mommy mode. I told God that I wanted a break for a while… except if they called me for an “itty bitty.” Well, they called me for an “itty bitty” and I am so glad they did :-).