"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him." 1 Samuel 1:27
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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bio Family Boundaries

Being a foster family is very interesting, to say the least.  Emotions are torn every which way.  First and foremost, the foster child is our main priority.  We are here to keep him/her safe, loved, fed, clothed, emotionally enriched, and happy until he/she is returned to Mom/Dad/Grandparents/Other Kin, or an adoption plan/permanent placement is put in place.  Along the way, we encounter the bio family at visits and court.  I must say, for the most part (minus a few isolated incidents), the bio families have treated us with kindness and gratitude, and we them.  Our current foster children's bio families have been very interesting.

1. Sweet Pea's bio Dad is still on the lam.  Bio Mom is still missing visits about every two visits, and just not quite with it.  Sometimes she talks a lot, asks me for advice, tells me what's going on in her life, other times she doesn't say much at all.  I've met her father once at court-he was decent and grilled me on how hard it must be to be a foster parent.  Her mother has never seen Sweet Pea because she doesn't want to get attached to her if she is placed with us permanently.  Understandable.

2.  Cutie Patootie's bio family is a whole other story.  Bio Mom is very dramatic.  She gushes to all the workers and Sweet Pea's mom at every visit about how thankful she is to have us as her foster family.  I am glad she feels that way.  However, this last visit she gave me her telephone number and asked me to call her if I need anything.  I told her I was not permitted to call her per foster parent rules.  She was like, "Well, you know, if it were your kid, if you were in my place, you would want me to call you." Well, ya, but no. I can't.  Sorry.   Her parents were granted weekend visits every weekend with Cutie.  Caseworker said goal is to reunify with grandparents (by the judge-caseworker is against this).  So, I meet the grandparents in a neutral location unsupervised to hand her over.  This is fine-they seem like nice people-a little rough around the edges, but okay.  However, grandparents have begun to cling emotionally to me.  It all started while in the waiting room for her first court date (you can read about that in my previous post EMOTIONS RUN HIGH IN THE COURTROOM). They pleaded their case to me and I, as a good foster parent does, smiled and nodded and told them the first goal is always to keep families together.

 Well, from there, the caseworker told me they wanted my phone number (of course they can't have it), and at all of our visitation drop offs/pickups, they again plead their case to me, ask me what I know, what I think of their daughter, what the caseworker said, etc. etc.  They asked me if what they tell me is in confidence (that I won't tell caseworker).  I told them that if they tell me something that I feel is a threat to Cutie's safety that I have to tell the caseworker.  They have told me many personal things about them, (their work background, their illnesses, their disabilities, their mental state, family happenings ) and VERY PERSONAL THINGS about their daughter,  that are not harmful but make me basically uncomfortable and possibly question their mental stability.  Have you ever heard the saying TMI?  (too much information) but all in all, they seem to love Cutie very much and I can tell they have taken good care of her.

I DO understand how upset they are.  My heart goes out to them, but I basically tell them the same thing every time-that I am not the one that makes the decisions, and actually am not told anything about the case except visitation times, court dates, etc.  When you are a foster parent, I feel it's important to say as little as possible about the case to bio family.  Words can be misconstrued and reported to caseworker, or in court. My caseworker says just smile and nod.   I know they feel as in the dark as I do about what goes on in the case, and they are clinging to me to find out whatever they can, but boundaries have to be put in place.

Well, I realize I have been writing and writing and ranting for a long post-I hope I haven't bored you-just wanted to explain that I feel some boundaries are needed when dealing with bio families.

 Blessings to you in your journey-no matter what part of it you are on!
The Queen Mama

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Foster Sibling Rivalry

Well, we have had Cutie Patootie in our home for exactly two weeks now.  She is 2 1/2.  Princess is 4 1/2.  The first week went pretty well, as far as Cutie and Princess getting along.  However, as this week progresses, Princess is finding it more and more difficult to be nice to, share, play, or be in the same room as Cutie.  She knows not to touch her, which she hasn't, but doesn't want to let her touch her toys, even though she wants to play with her.  This is all normal, but fairly new for us, as Princess has always liked the other children placed with us.  They have all been much younger, though, and did not threaten her "place" in the family, with the exception of one older child, whom Princess thought was great.  Princess goes back and forth from liking Cutie and glad she has someone to play with to describing her as a baby.

So, now The Queen Mama is feeling guilt for making Princess uncomfortable, and is very busy trying to make Cutie feel at home and welcome and making up for the attitude of Princess.  But I know in the long run, we are doing a good thing.  I know Princess will come around.  Cutie has been assigned to her grandparents every weekend, which will be good for her and them, but will make the transition back to our home during the week more difficult for her and Princess.  Well, I am giving it all up to the Lord-it's how I keep my sanity!
The Queen Mama

Friday, June 8, 2012

Attachment Issues

Attachment Issues-and I'm not talking about the baby.  I'm talking about me, haha!  And I'm not talking about having a hard time attaching, I'm saying I'm attached.  Sweet Pea had an evaluation today with a team of specialists to discuss her muscle tone and milestone progress.  They asked me to be present, as well as bio Mom.  The team was asking Bio Mom questions to which she had no answers (lack of time spent with Sweet Pea) and finally said, "You're gonna have to talk to her", meaning me.

So, to make a long story short, the baby has some muscle weakness but is doing well and they showed me exercises to do with her to help.  Then, at the end of our meeting, the therapist said to Sweet Pea "Okay, back to Mom you go", and while they handed her to Bio Mom I literally had to hold my hands against my body to stop myself from grabbing Sweet Pea."  It was a natural instinct when they said "Back to Mom you go".  As Bio Mom has missed most of her visits, the most recent being the last two weeks in a row, I have become more and more attached to little Sweet Pea.  It's almost like that one relationship you had that you knew was too good to be true---you were head over heels and gave your full heart, knowing it probably wouldn't last.  That is how it feels to me to be a foster parent.  Loving the children like they are your own, yet knowing any day the phone could ring with a long lost relative wanting custody, or the caseworker calling to say the child is going home or to kin.  Am I that crazy over protective over reacting foster parent?  No, I don't think so.  I keep my emotions in check (at least in front of everyone).

So why do we put ourselves through this?  (A question that we get a lot).  Sometimes, I can't say for sure. Maybe a little bit of wanting to save the world, maybe a little bit of feeling blessed and wanting to give back, maybe a little bit of selfishness on our part to not want to have an empty nest any sooner than we have to.  But I can say for sure, without a doubt, that God knows why he planted this urge to foster children in our hearts, just like he knows how many hairs are on our heads.  And that when a little one calls us Mama or Daddy and gives us hugs and kisses, or when a bio parent or grandparent thanks us from the bottom of their hearts for helping their families, we know why.  And we are thankful, and honored, and humbled to be a part of the greater scheme of things.
Blessings to you in your journeys~
The Queen Mama

Friday, June 1, 2012

Emotions Run High in the Courtroom

Well friends, I have told you before that the journey of foster to adoption or just plain fostering is not always sunshine and roses.  There are lots of ups and downs and crazy moments.  We had the detainment court hearing for Cutie Patootie today (that's what I'm calling her for anonymity and she IS a cutie patootie!) Well, I never actually made it to the hearing.  I was dismissed along with Cutie Patootie because I had the other 2 little ones with me, and the hearing was being delayed til later in the day. Big Daddy couldn't get off work, and I was left with no sitter on such short notice.  The caseworker didn't want me to have to wait for hours with the little ones.
  I met the grandparents who were nice, and also a family friend who they referred to as Aunt so and so,  and Mom and her boyfriend, who were both late to the hearing.    Mom said she was glad to meet and talk to me because, you know, foster parents are bad.  I assured her we had been foster parents (resource parents my agency calls us) for 5 years and would take good care of her child. She told me I seemed sweet, but really wanted her daughter to go back to her Mom and Dad's.  I told her I totally understand, and our goal is to keep families together.  I am just a helper in the situation.

 Mom is an addict and grandparents violated the safety plan-which involves Mom.  To make a long story short, when caseworker let us go, everyone erupted into shouts and tears.  They all thought Cutie Patootie was going home with grandparents again, but that was not the case.  Caseworker grabbed Cutie and I the other kids and started up the long staircase.  Mom ran after us screaming and crying.  As a Mom, I felt her pain, but she and her family have made poor choices to get to this point.  Caseworker very firmly told her to go back to the waiting room, that the judge was aware of what was going on.  She continued screaming for a bit, then complied.  I did not hear back from the caseworker, so I am assuming Cutie Patootie will stay with us for a little bit, anyway.

So, another family to pray for, another child to pray for.  And if you wouldn't mind, you could throw in a prayer or two for Queen Mama's family.  By the Grace of God go I.

The Queen Mama