Friday, May 29, 2009

Right decision for the right reasons

When you are feeling sick, you go to a doctor to see what is wrong with you. When you have a toothache, you go to see a dentist. When your car isn't working well you go to a mechanic. All of these people you go to are people you trust. If you find for some reason you can't trust them, or aren't sure they have your best interest at heart, you find someone else to take your problems to.

So DW and I are thinking that we trust (S)s social worker, but only to a degree. We trust that everything she has done and will do will be what she believes is in (S)s best interest. We also know that she is overworked and has a large caseload and anything she can do to reduce her caseload is a plus. So while we trust her, we don't totally trust the information she is giving us when we ask questions about adoption of (S). And since we know absolutely nothing about the impacts we will have regardless of our decision, that is not a good thing.

So......we are making an appointment with a social worker who has some experience in these matters herself, but is not associated with the state at all. We know this woman and trust her to give us the straight poop. We also know exactly what we want to accomplish. We want to make the right decision for (S) for the right reasons taking into account all the factors affecting both her life and ours. I pray that when the time comes that is what we do.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I Love You Mommy

So today has been one of those days that DW and I are convinced it would be am istake for us to adopt (S). It seems we have days like this where we are saying "what the hell are we thinking?" There are other days when we think about how wonderful it would be to have (S) in our life for years to come.

We never know which day we are going to have when we wake up and I am not sure what drives it. There are so many issues that will ultimately combine to make the decision, but right now we don't know which ones are most important to us.

In spite of the day we are having today, (S) came upstairs at one point and said to DW. "I love you mommy". She apparently just walked into the room said that to her and then left to go watch TV. Those are the types od things that happen. Of course it goes the other way too. As soon as we start thinking about how wonderful things might be (S) starts acting out like any normal 3 year old and we are back to the thinking we are crazy.

I know we are going to have many of both types of days as we go through this process. The other part is we are sure that the way we are thinking at a given point is the right answer. Today we are confident that adoption is not in the best interest of (S) or us. I know there will be other days between now and the day the decision is finally made that we will be sure that (S) will be staying with us. The other day I was even checking to see how much extra it would cost if we wanteds to go on a cruise to take (S) with us.

If we aren't crazy now, this decision will drive us crazy. I am already beginning to hear voices in my head telling me what to do. The problem is they don't make any more sense than I do. There is one thing that never changes though. We both do love this girl very much.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

(S)'s caseworker came by today for her monthly visit. This was the longest visit we have had in the 18 months that (S) has been here. The conversation was all about adoption. She definitely wants us to adopt (S). Of course the cynical side of me says she wants that as it will be easier for her. The way things work in this state the one case she has now with the 5 children will turn into 5 separate cases after the TPR. The sooner she can get a child adopted the sooner she can eliminate a case from her workload. But as I said, that is the cynical side of me.

She thinks our biggest issue is our age. I think she is right. She says that shouldn't be an issue. I think she is right. She says just because she has younger parents is no guaranteee they will live any longer than we will. I think she is right. She says only we can make the decision for ourselves. I think she is right..

So here is the order of events. June 1st will be the end of the TPR hearing with the last 2 witnesses and closing arguments. After that she expects the judge to rule in favor of a TPR sometime around the middle of June. The bio-parents then have 45 days to file an appeal. If they don't file an appeal then on the 46th day the caseworker will need an answer from us. If we are not going to adopt then she needs to get moving on finding a foster to adopt family for (S). So here it is May 20th and we will need to tell her our decision potentially around August 1st.

One thing is painfully obvious. once we make the decision, whatever it is. If we are going to adopt, it is forever. if we are not going to adopt it is forever.

Come August 1st we may have to give the caseworker an answer. And......It will have to be our final answer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Today's stream of consciousness

This post goes all over the place so try to keep up.

Today was a therapist appointment for (S). The therapist has been very observant about what (S) does and says. I guess she should be as that is her job. Anyway, she knows we have to do something about the sleeping. DW and I can't possibly keep this pace up. We need to get our sleep as without it there is a strain on everything.

It also makes it harder to think straight about making a rational decision when it comes to deciding on adoption. The therapist says that if we don't adopt then (S) has the potential to face serious abandonment issues. Doesn't everyone have that potential? She is very clingy and the therapist thinks that is the reason she doesnt want to sleep in her room. She is afraid when she wakes up we won't be there anymore. She isn't afraid of going to sleep.....she is afraid of waking up and finding us gone. After all, her mother and father are gone without any explanation at all.

Obviously we can't explain things to her. She is only 3 1/2 years old. There is no way she can possibly understand no matter how we explain it to her. She doesn't ask any questions, but she doesn't know what questions to ask. She has no idea that her life isn't the same as every other life in the world. She has no reason to believe she is not living a perfectly normal life....if only she knew!

Today she told me that DW and I were her parents because we make sure she is safe and take good care of her. That is what parents do. She still doesn't call us mom and dad though. I don't think she makes the connection between the two. I so wish I could ask her what she thought was going on and she could give me a sensible answer. I constantly wonder what is going through her head.

We had a dog for about 14 years. It was a mutt we got from the shelter. She was not the smartest dog in the world, but she did whatever we asked and followed us wherever we went. She gave us unconditional love. She didn't know anything about us except that we gave her a home and fed her once a day. When she was sick we gave her medicine. The relationship was exactly the same one we have with (S).

Now I don't mean to imply that (S) is a dog. Quite the contrary. She is an absolutely adorable, thoughtful, and precious little girl. But......she does whatever we ask and follows us wherever we want. She gives us unconditional love. She knows nothing about us except that we give her a home and feed her (much more than once a day) and when she is sick we give her medicine.

When our dog passed away in the fall of 2001 she left a hole in our heart and in our family that won't ever be filled again. Even if we get another dog. I know if/when (S) leaves us, she will leave an even bigger hole.

Right now she is sleeping on the couch next to me. She is so peaceful and content.

I hope she sleeps through the night.
I hope she remains happy and content.
I pray we make the right decision.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Day at the Fort

There was a special day for foster and adoptive famiies at one of the state parks today. I took (S) and we had a great time. DW had to work so she couldnt make it. They had gifts for the kids, a place to blow bubbles, a place for face painting and a place for kite flying. They also had clowns and a bar-b-que. It was a fun time and all the kids seemed to enjoy it.

It was interesting to see how different famiies interact with the children in their care. (S) is very shy. She wouldnt go too near anyone. When we went to the circus last month she didn't like the clowns at all, but today she at least got close enough to take a balloon animal from one. She wouldnt talk to them though.

She also hasn't been too keen on fire-engines, but today she actually got up on the one they had there. Overall, I have to say it was a good day for (S). There is bad news though.

She still isn't sleeping. Two nights ago she was up almost all night. Last night she was up most of the night. It is getting more anf more difficult for DW and I. It is important that we get our sleep if we are to take good care of (S). It is also critical to get enough sleep to make a good decision about adoption. So.....we will try again tonight and hope that we make it asleep.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Knowledge


While attending court and listening to all of the testimony I have a new understanding and information about how (S) and her brothers lived. How DHHS got involved with the family to begin with. Why the oldest 1/2 brother was removed from the home previously. What kind of shenanigans were going on in the house. What kind of abuse was suffered and the frequency. I learned how sick both mom and dad are, not only mentally but physically. Instead of writing the everything out, I'll just put my learnings and observations into bullets.

Abuse was emotional, physical and sexual
Abuse came from mom, dad, and an uncle
There may have been abuse of younger children by older children
They lived in a van in the woods for a while
Mom and dad don't think there was ever anything wrong with the way they lived.
Neither mom or dad have worked for at least 3 years.
Abuse was at least weekly (most likely more often) since 2001. (S) is only 3 1/2
Mom and Dad lose their free health care when they lost the children.
I don't think they want the kids. Just the health care.
Dad has absolutely no control over himself. even in court in front of the judge.
Mom never shed a tear the whole time. neither did dad.
There is no way that these parents will ever get their parents back.
This was the first time in 10 years the DA ever feared for his safety
The judge, the GAL, the Caseworker, the DA, and even mom and dads lawyer all only want what is best for the kids.
Mom and Dad only want what is best for them.
Permanency for all 5 children will not be easily accomplished.
Dad actually still thinks he can complete his studies in social work. (yeah, you saw that right)
Mom actually thinks the judge might give her the kids back and not dad.
Mom says she will get help from her mother-in-law (that should keep dad away)

and lastly

We will have to make a decision about (S) in the very near future. Today she told me her most favorite place in the whole world is her home. (the one she shares with us). How can I make her leave her most favorite place in the whole world.

Stay tuned...more to follow on adoption decision. I am hoping writing will help me and DW to make a decision.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Court Hearing

OK, you are not going to believe some of this, but I can assure you all of this is the truth.

Tuesday we didn't bother to go to the hearing. Big mistake. Apparently bio-dad sort of threw a chair at the caseworker at one point during a recess. Anyway, we did go for all of Wednesday. So a couple of foster parents including DW gave testimony as well as more therapists. They also started going out of order and at some point the bio-mom lawyer and the bio-dad lawyer started calling some of their witnesses.

The therapist for (S) said that during therapy (S) had buried a mother and father figure into the sand and she thought it symbolized the burying of her mom and dad. Bio-mom's lawyer when cross-examining asked if it was possible that it was the foster parents as opposed to the biological parents. Of course she had to say yes. (S) has no way of understanding all that. so anyway after that the bio-mom lawyer came over to us and wanted to make sure we knew that she didn't for one minute think that it would have been us and that she was just doing her job. It was really kind of funny but at the same time it was nice. The reason she came over is because bio-mom got mad at her because bio-mom likes us and doesn't want to do anything to make us think poorly of her. (I think it is a little too late for that). but I digress...

Bio-dad's lawyer calls the case worker as a witness. The entire time he is asking the caseworker questions bio-dad is badgering him telling him to ask this question or that question and continually interupting him. When it came time for bio-mom's attorney to ask the questions of the caseworker, bio-dad continued talking with his lawyer and telling him what he needed to do and it got to the point where the judge had to take a recess so that bio-dad and his lawyer could talk. It was obvious that bio-dad has no control over himself. Anyway, that recess ended up lasting until the end of the day so while on Wednesday morning they thought they would finish on Wednesday, they had to come back on Thursday to finish up.

Thursday began with the continuing of questions for the caseworker by bio-mom's lawyer, then the DA and then the GAL. Then the show began. It was time for bio-dad to testify.

His lawyer asked the questions first. I don't think he asked more than 2 questions and he just let bio-dad ramble on and spoke for about an hour and a half. It was a rant although it did make sense when I was able to concentrate. For most of the time he was putting me to sleep. Anyway, bio-mom's lawyer knew better then to ask him anything. The DA asked a couple of questions and you could tell that bio-dad was about to blow. He backed off a bit so there wouldn't be an explosion. the it was time for the GAL to ask some questions. He asked a simple yes or no question and bio-dad started to go on. The GAL said "This is a yes or no question, just give me a yes or no". Bio-dad said "I can't answer it yes or no". the GAL said "I am not going to be as patient with you as the DA was". Bio-dad's lawyer objects saying that the GAL is being argumentative.......It was at this point something was said that had me to the point where I thought I was going to get totally hysterical with laughter and get thrown out of the courtroom. Bio-dad syas to the GAL

"Maybe you need some anger management classes"

I kid you not. It is the truth.

The bad news.........There is no doubt that for all of (S)s life and even while in utero, by their own admission she was subjected to domestic violence of some sort on a weekly basis. That is what they admit to. It was probably even more then that.

I will write more about the lessons learned about (S)s life before being placed with us in the coming days. Right now I am still totally unsure of what we may want to do in terms of adoption. I have made a lot of difficult decisions in my life. I think that is going to be the most difficult.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mommy, Daddy, Adopt, Not Adopt

So these are the questions and the answers are simple:

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"

We just have to determine what season it is and what the purpose is. Of course if we could figure that out..........

So do we want to adopt or not?......and should we discourage, encourage, or ignore (S) calling us mommy and daddy?

Will we even have to answer the adoption question or is the court going to allow mom and/or dad to retain parental rights......

Too many questions and no answers.

We have decided that we are going to do what we think will be best for (S) and not think about us. When we got involved in this it was for the kids and we are not going to change that. I know we will be unhappy if/when she leaves, but that shouldn't matter..... I know that being retired and having a young child is not two things you think about doing at the same time but again, we can't let that play a role in our decision making.

There are plenty of "only children" but neither DW nor I were only children and we think it is better to have siblings living in the same home, not strewn all over the palce with no hope of additional members of the family. A mark against adoption.

(S) knows us and probably doesn't remember living anywhere else in her life. If she never leaves here, there will be far less trauma to overcome.....a mark for adoption

We are old and will not be able to do things like be a girl scout troop leader, or coaching little league and that type of thing. A old mom and dad are not able to do those things like a younger mom and dad can......a mark against adoption.

So every day we come up with more and more different reasons why we should or shouldn't adopt (S) if and when the time comes to make a decision. I still like the idea of not making a decision until we have to, but with all that has to go into this decision I guess we have to give it some thought..

Tomorrow is another day in court.

Court Today


Today was day one of the TPR hearing. It started at 11:00 am. Bio-Dad was a no-show. His lawyer was asking where he was. Go figure. So they start at 11:00 with a therapist for one of the kids. That lasts until noon when it is time to break for lunch. We go to lunch and then court starts back at 1:00pm. There are then more child and parent therapy people called as witnesses. Then at 3:00pm, one of the Sheriffs opens the door to the courtroom and says "Sit right there"
as he escorts dad into the courtroom. They were in the middle of some testimony so after that ended the judge asked dads lawyer if he wanted time to talk with his client. He said yes and by the time they returned it was 3:50 and the court closes at 4:00pm, so that was it.

Neither DW or I were called today and it looks like DW is going to be the only one called. That will happen on Wednesday. We will not bother to go tomorrow but will probably stay all day on Wednesday. Thursday....who knows......we are not sure when this whole thing is going to end, but if today is any example of how this is going to run, I think they will finish sometime in August.

It looks like moms attorney is trying to separate her from bio-dad and maybe they hope that she can retain parental rights even if he doesn't. This whole thing has baffled me from the beginning. I have no idea what is really going on, but I do have an overactive imagination which gives me all kinds of ideas with no real basis for them.

The caseworker for (S) was happy with the way things were going and thought all the witnesses that went today helped the case against the parents. I didn't see that, but then I don't know what to look for or how thedse things go.

So........maybe tomorrow I will get to the post about being called mom and dad on occasion by (S), but for now I am going to go to sleep perchance to dream.....

Saturday, May 2, 2009

1+ 1 Does Not Equal 5

We were supposed to visit with all of (S)s brothers today (4 of them and her). Unfortunately only one showed up. We thought one was going to be out of town so we were not surprised about him, but we have no idea what happened to the other two. When it came time to leave (S) started crying. She doesn't like good-byes to begin with but when she realized her other two brothers weren't coming she was very upset. This is the second time this week she has been disappointed by someone not showing up.

Why can't people be more considerate of others? She has had so much disappointment in her life and certainly doesn't need any more. This disappointment was caused by two adults that should know better. Her play therapist and the foster parents of her two brothers. What the? We are figuring we just have to stop telling her where she is going and who she is going to see so when they don't show up she won't be disappointed......we shouldn't have to do that.....

Anyway, the one other foster parent that was there is a pleasure to be with and talk to so it was fine for me. He swaid he was told that he was actually going to testify at the TPR hearing on Tuesday AM. I told him we were told to be there Monday at 11:00 but we weren't told when we would be testifying. He had talked directly to the DA so maybe we should have done that. That is the advantage of experience I guess. He has been fostering for almost 20 years. This is our first venture...DW has been asking me a lot lately about actually adopting (S). I don't know what she is thinking. We really have to put aside what we want and think about what is best for (S). That is another post though.....maybe tomorrow we will talk about that.....In the meantime, (S) has started calling us mommy and daddy along with our names. It is like she is testing it out once in a while to see how it fits.........I wonder if it does. She truly is precious.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Too Much Going On


Yesterday was an appointment with the play therapist. (S) was really looking forward to it. She loves going there to play. Unfortunately, the therapist didn't show up. (S) was very disappointed.
and this was not the first time. I called the case worker and told her I wantged to find someone else as this person was unreliable. She insisted that this is very unusual and that this person is the best for (S). She said she would give her a call. I would have expected a call from the therapist by now, but nothing. I am not real impressed. I guess we will talk more about this on Monday....information on Monday to follow...

Today the GAL came by to see how things are going before the TPR hearing starts on Monday. He said it will ba a cast of thousands..actually I think it is going to be about 60 witnesses and they expect it to last most of next week. We have to be there Monday at 11:00am and then we will find out after that when we have to be back. I am hopeful they can nail down a good time so we don't have to sit there for hours upon hours.....unless they let us in. In that case, I will want to hear what is happening. If the TPR goes through then (S) will be available for adoption eventually.

Tomorrow we have a visit with her brothers at the local Mickey Ds that has a play place. They really enjoy being together and they play so well. They did get to see each other last week at the children's museum too. It is still undetermined what grouping would be adopted together or seperate or whatever...If (S) is alone, we will have to make a decision. We still havent been able to make a firm decision. After a year and a half, we have really grown to love her. It will be so hard to have her leave, but we have to be sure that whatever we do, we do it for her. We can't worry about the impact on our life. She is the important one now. So a busy few days. I have neevr been involved in this kind of a court proceeding so I am not sure what to expect. The GAL said we would just be asked how (S) was doing and there wouldn't be any difficult questions. This of course coming from a man who has been through literally thousands of these.

I hope we do ok. I will try to be better about blogging as the court proceedings move along