Roller Coaster

You know, fostering really is a roller coaster ride. Kids are coming, kids are going, kids are making progress or freaking the hell out, nothing is ever chill for very long.

We’ve had so much chill time recently (4 months without an incident, holla!) that I was wondering when things would get shaken up.

So we agreed to take a 9 year old boy for the next five days. His name is RB, and it should be a lot of fun!

I hope.

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A the Overcomer

My beautiful A has finally hit a bit of a stride, and after flunking spectacularly out of college she is in Job Corps and well on her way to becoming a CNA. She’s currently one of their star students AND she just got her driver’s license!

Amidst this avalanche of success, I had a project to tackle for her. Namely, cleaning up the third-world biohazard of her room. A has never been…tidy, and her room definitely reflected this. So to reward her for all her hard work, I decided to spend a few days and immerse myself in the terror in an attempt to make it look less like and alien baby exploded all over it.

It took me two days and four full trash bags, but in the end it looks MUCH better, and A was thrilled!

However, I discovered something amidst the chaos that made me have to stop and take a break. I found one of her old journals from when she was being abused.

It just broke me. I couldn’t stop sobbing and I almost threw up. Reading firsthand about what those people did to her…there are no words. No kid should ever have to write that they hope they can behave well enough to be allowed to eat that day. No kid should ever be forbidden from talking to their own siblings. No kid should ever be so hungry that they eat paper, and then be beaten for trying to sneak food. My precious A was truly treated as less than human.

And yet through all of that, my beautiful, strong, stubborn daughter persevered. She held on and kept going, and she found her way to us.

As God is my witness, as long as I have breath in my body, no one will EVER treat my A that way again.

ML Finally Gets A Win!

Thank the Lord, ML has finally had something go right!

ML’s new awesome Caseworker has officially placed her in foster care with a family that has known her for several years, is stable, and has no other children! Caseworker has also said that she wants to try and get the okay from the Judge to start the termination process.

ML’s bio mom loves her deeply and has never been abusive, but she is truly incapable of parenting a child. ML has multiple special needs, and bio mom doesn’t see any of them. Bio mom sees no problem with giving ML energy drinks, letting her eat literally nothing but fast food (even while sick), doesn’t take her to school regularly, doesn’t make her bathe (bio mom doesn’t even bathe herself), and doesn’t make sure that therapy is happening. Bio mom is developmentally delayed and barely capable of taking care of herself, much less ML.

It’ll break ML’s heart to lose her mom, and bio mom will be devastated…but I can’t help but feel a sense of relief. ML will finally stop bouncing in and out of the system. She will get all her needs met and be in a safe place. ML has already had more needs met in the week she’s been with this other family than she did during the three months she was with mom.

Even better, this family is very open to letting us continue to have a role in ML’s life! They are going to be bringing her every weekend to our family game night so that she can see us and know that we are still on her side. Plus, New Foster Mom has called me several times looking for advice on ML, so we can kinda work together in keeping her safe.

I’m just so glad that ML finally is going to have what she needs and deserves.

ML the Artist

This morning, I woke up a sleepy, grumpy ML to take her morning medication and get ready for school. She, as usual, was less than thrilled about this, but actually did what I asked and got herself dressed and up.

When she presented herself downstairs, she informed me (unprompted) that she had decided what to be when she grows up.

A “struggling artist.”

I naturally asked her “Why struggling?” and she gave me a blank stare. Then, very blandly, she informed me that “Artists don’t have to worry about those kinds of questions.”

She then walked out the door for school without another word.

Okey dokey then.

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ML: Round Three!

ML has returned for the third time. I wish I was surprised, but honestly, I told EVERYONE that she and her mom weren’t ready. I told the judge. I told the caseworker. I told the guardian-ad-litem. No one listened though, and now poor ML has her life turned upside down again because her mom can’t cope.

Naturally, we took her back, but only on a temporary basis. She’s made improvements, but she still has a ways to go before she’d be safe with us for any real length of time. Exhibit A: I caught her trying to teach S (age 4) to steal things.

We are still having a lot of fun though! Life with ML, whatever else is may be, is never, ever boring. She’s been with us a grand total of seven days now, and we’ve had several “adventures”. For example, ML has gotten into sculpting. She has a giant box of air-dry clay, and she’s been making things out of it. The first thing she made was a sculpture of rock star Kurt Cobain. She then proceeded to stab the sculpture violently in the head. She said it made it “more accurate”….and I suppose she’s not wrong!

Another less fun experience we’ve had is that ML went to the doctor because she had thrown up at school, and has officially been diagnosed as underweight, deficient in pretty much everything, and generally in bad condition. Her few months with her mom have not gone well to say the least. The throwing up was just a stomach bug, but everything else is a bit of a big deal. So naturally, her mom’s first reaction was to go straight out and buy her McDonald’s food and a can of super-caffeinated can of energy drink. When I expressed my displeasure (and tried to suppress the urge to scream ‘how dumb can you be?!’), her mom just said that “the doctor had said she needed to gain weight”. Clearly the best way to make a sick child gain weight was fast food and (forbidden by the safety plan) energy drinks. WHY?!?!

ML has one more week with us before the Agency has to figure out what to do with her. Luckily, ML’s new caseworker is absolutely awesome and is currently building a case for DCF against ML going back to mom again. At least the poor kid has SOMEONE competent on her side.

Whatever happens, we’ve been using this time to continue to drill it into ML’s head that we love her and we’ll always be on her side. She probably can’t ever be our daughter in the way we’d like for her to be, but for better or worse she is a part of our family now. Foster care creates one hell of a random patchwork family!

Looking Back

R and I have our sixth wedding anniversary next week, and it’s been a wild ride. Anniversaries of any kind are an invitation to look back on what you’ve been through. I was sitting and thinking to myself about all the kids we’ve had come through our crazy household in the past six years, and I realized something amazing.
R and I have actually made an impact.

I counted them all up, and in the time we’ve been fostering, we have encountered and loved on twenty beautiful kids. Six boys and fourteen girls, ranging in age from two to seventeen. Some of them we had for less than 24 hours, and some we had for months. Our beautiful A has been ours for 3 1/2 years now.

All of these kids have made an imprint on my heart in some way or another. I worry about the ones who were only mine for a season, and I miss many of them terribly. I worry about the future for all of them, when they are all so hurting and broken. For the majority of them, I don’t know at all if they will be able to make it. They are so fragile.

But looking back, I can see the impact we have had on their lives. ML is finally getting help for her severe mental and emotional issues. A is in training to be a nurse. H is in a stable situation where she has the structure she needs. A2 is passing all her high school classes and is clean from drugs. I believe that by loving on and caring for these kids, we have helped create something better for them.

Sometimes R gets down, and wonders if what we do is worth it. If it really matters. The way I see it, we can’t be everything to all the kids we meet. But we can give them hope of something better than they have experienced. If a kid has never known anything but fear and abuse, we get to show them that there is another way. We give them the option to break the cycle.

I’m proud of our family and what we’ve accomplished, because we’ve given twenty kids the knowledge of a new way to do things and the ability to choose a different life than the one they were given.