Monday, November 30, 2009

Stability Please

So things continued to go the same way for (S). She acted up in school today and for the first time had a wetting accident while there. She wouldn't listen to her teacher on two separate occasions and she is being obstinate. I guess she wouldn't have these problems is the teacher listened to her. :)

The case worker came by today and we mentioned the problems we have been having with (S) since the holidays. We assumed it was because of the age and the excitement and all of the people that were here over the last week. She brought up something we hadn't thought of..............

It was just after Thanskgiving that she was taken from her last home. I said "come on, she was only 2 years old, she couldn't be making that correlation". The case worker insists that could be part of the issue. While (S) may not be able to explain it and may not even know consciously what the problem is, somewhere in her psyche something says that Thanksgiving is not always a sign of good times to come and Happy Holidays, but a sign of loss of something that at the time was very dear to her. Has anyone who has had a foster child for more than a year seen this before? If you have any info you can give it would certainly be appreciated. If on the other hand you are wondering how this plays out, t me know, I will be sure to keep it as a topic over the coming weeks.

I guess this is just a signal of another loss that we hadn't really thought about. This will be her thrid Christmas with us and we try to make it very special for her. I think we succeed at that. I just wish we could start talking more positively about the future and we could convey that in a way that (S) could feel the stability we know she longs for. (Forget the she....we all long for that stability)

Sunday, November 29, 2009


(S) went to her first theme birthday party today. It was a bowling party. She had never been bowling before. She was pretty excited about going to begin with since she loves cake and ice cream she was ecstatic.

The girl who was celebrating her birthday is a year older then her. Her mother does foster care and we met her through our original foster care class. We have done respite care for each other on a few occasions and (S) and DW have spent time at her house while the kids play.

Our biggest concern was whether or not (S) would try to throw the ball. Thankfully they were playing candlepins. For those of you in other parts of the country that don't have candlepin bowling, it is very thin pins. They are about as tall as regular pins but only about 2 inches in diameter at their widest point. You also use a much smaller ball. It is about 4 inches in diameter and has no holes in it. You just hold it like a softball and roll it. The lane is about the same, but the rules are a little different. Since the kids weren't playing by the rules or really even care what the score was, I will leave it at that.

Anyway, we got her to the party and got her shoes to wear. Since she loves shoes, she liked that part. She was not happy though when they had to be returned. After that it was step onto a lane and roll a ball. She had a blast. She just kept rolling balls and knocking down pins. The bumpers in the gutters really helped.

She is still lacking in social skills. We know that and she has made great strides in the last year since starting at daycare and now at pre-school, but it still takes her a while to warm up to a situation. She needs one on one attention. She can't just join a crowd of kids and particpate. Hopefully we will have plenty more opportunities to help her build those skills.

Tomorrow is our monthly visit from her case worker. I am hoping she may have some news, but I doubt she will. In the meantime, we will persevere. There is not much else scheduled during this week. Next Saturday is "peek week" at Dance Class, and next Sunday is "cut down a Christmas tree" day so next weekend is looking like fun.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I know we did

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Wonderful Week

Everyone has left and Thanksgiving week was truly wonderful. We had 8 for for dinner on Tuesday. We had 6 for dinner on Wednesday. we ended up with 16 here for both Thanksgiving dinner and for a brunch on Friday. Friday night we had 10 for dinner. After I took our family from Atlanta to the airport at 6:15 this morning we were back to just DW, (S), and myself.

We had such a great time. There was little to no stress during the week in spite of so many people being here. Luckily the people in the family who tend to create the most stress were not here.

(S) has been horrible today. She has been very obstinate and is not doing anything she is told. We are not sure what is causing this but it is certainly unusual behavior for her. She seemed to have fun the whole time everyone was here. She also seemed a little bit relieved when she woke up this morning and everyone was gone. She had been getting a lot more attention then normal over the week, but she wasn't getting all of the attention. Our little nephew is just 19 months old, and he was certainly getting his share of the attention. (S) did a great job of sharing her toys with him while he was here so that was good. She even got a kleenex and wiped his nose for him once when she saw it was running.

It is days like today that make us wonder what is going on in her head. What she is thinking, and why she is being so obstinate. Granted, she is only 4 and according to her therapist she is emotionally more like a two year old because of the two missed years of nurturing. How long is it going to take her to catch up though? She has to eventually I would think. So what else should we expect. It just becomes frustrating when we can't determine what the problem is, and she is unable to verbalize it in any sensible terms.

She certainly sees everyone as her family, but she still mentions her brothers on occasion. We don't know what she is thinking about them as far as whether or not they are her family too. We really need to talk to the therapist about that. When she brings up her brothers, we are never really sure how to respond. Soemtimes it is very benign, and other times not so much.

I don't want to get too negative here. As I said to start out, this was a truly wonderful week. I really wish more family could have been here, but I look forward to the next time we have a lot of family here. I am hoping it will be this summer, and I am hoping it is to officially welcome (S) into our family as a full-fledged and legal member.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Family and Thanksgiving

Two months ago the plan was Thanksgiving for 5. Myself, DW, (S), (K), and her husband. The a borther and sister-in-law in Georgia decided they would come up here to Maine for Thanksgiving with our nephew. Since they were coming up from Atlanta, (A) decided she ws coming. She was going to bring her boyfriend and her two kids as well. So now we had gone from 5 to 12. Well (K) decided she wanted another cousin of hers to come up here from Massachusetts and she worked on her to work on her father (my brother-in-law). She was successful. So we have the brother-in-law, the sister-in-law, the niece and nephew. We were up to 16.

I thought that was where we were going to stay, but today (A) called and asked if we had enough for 3 more. Well, I told her we had enough food to feed an army, but if anyone else wanted to come they would have to bring their own chairs. Don't know if we will have those 3, but if we do, that brings us to 19. It would be nice if (B) could have come from Alabama, but we knew that wouldn't happen. At least I will get to see him in a couple of weeks when I have to go to Atlanta on business

So our Thanksgiving is going to be a house full of people and we are going to have a great time.

The best part of this whole affair is how (S) is looking forward to it. She is so excited that so many people from her family are going to be here. She is looking forward to this day more than anyone else in the family. We have never made any reference to our last name, but somehow she has picked that up and she told (S) that her last name was our family name. We have to hope she actually has that name before she can read the name on her dance shoes at dance class. That would really bring up some questions......So what could make Thanksgiving Day any better.........I think those of you who read regularly know.......A decision from the judge that will lead to (S) becoming a legal part of our family.

If that were to happen, this has the potential to be a Thanksgiving that truly gives us all something to be thankful for. Keep your fingers crossed and your prayers with us. We have two more days we could hear from the case worker that the judge has made that decision..................

Wednesday, November 18, 2009



Two years ago I knew that there would never be another little child calling me daddy. I was hoping there would be new little children calling me Grandpa....or better yet Papa. Well fast forward two years, and I do have a little child calling me Daddy and there are no little children calling me papa. Funny how life works.

The fact that there is no little child calling me Papa is not a big deal or totally unexpected. While I do have three biological children between the ages of 27 and 31, none of them were married until this past June when the youngest got married.

The fact that there is a little child calling me Daddy, on the other hand, is certainly remarkable. Two years ago DW and I had completed our training class to become foster parents. One of the things mentioned in the class was that it can sometimes be confusing for children if they call their foster parents Mommy and Daddy. While it works for some, most people prefer to use something else. There were a lot of other reasons as well that we were given this suggestion by the instructor and quite frankly, I don't remember what they were.

I do remember that when (S) came to us we had her calling us by or first names. We didn't expect her to be here very long. As a matter of fact, I was thinking that by this time there would have been numerous children that had stayed with us temporarily before going back to their homes and living happily ever after with their biological family. I am learning that my view of the foster care system and the families of children involved in the system was really quite naive. I don't like to make generalizations as there are certainly some families where that is the case, but unfortunately those are the ones you don't hear about.

At some point along the way (S) started calling us Mommy and Daddy. At first it was intermittent along with our first names but gradually it has grown to where it is today. She calls us Mommy and Daddy exclusively. She refers to our three biological children as her sisters and brother. She calls my parents her Nanny and Papa etc etc etc. Maybe it was when she satrted calling us that, that we started thinking seriously about adoption. It still is amazing to me that we are not only hoping to adopt a child, but we are expecting to adopt a child.

We want to be her Mommy and Daddy, not just be called that. She considers us to be her family. She is so excited that we have so much family coming to our home for Thanksgiving. There will be 16 of us in all and it will be a great time.

There were a number of things my parents taught us growing up. One thing that was said on many occasions was that "no matter what happens, you always have family". They didn't just say those words either. They have practiced those words throughout.

It is my belief that won't be true for (S) if her family remains the one she was born in to. I can guarantee her that will be the case if the courts see their way clear to terminate the parental rights of her biological family and allow us to adopt her.

It is my hope that the court system and the Judge do not look at this case as the "breaking up of a family" but as a wonderful creation of 3 new, beautiful, and loving families that are interconnected through 5 biological siblings. All 5 of the kids deserve to have the kind of a family that is always there for you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TPR Hearing Take 2 Day 2

The parents were absent again today. Did anyone really think they would show up?

Today ended the hearing. There were only 3 witnesses that actually testified and a lot of information entered into evidence as well as the closing arguments.

When court began, the first witness was (S)'s therapist. She gave what was in my opinion very compelling testimony as to the impact that the parents have had on (S)'s life and most likely on all the children's lifes. She was very concerned about the potential regression if she were to be reunited with her parents. She said there would be extenisve counselling required with the parents and she has had 5 meetings set up with mom and mom has been a no-show at 3 of them. This lack of committment would not allow for the necessary counselling to take place. She also said that when she did have the chance to meet with mom, she was not truthful with her. This certainly would not be helpful in counselling.

After that there was a lot of legal manueverings taking place and meetings in chambers that we were not privy to. It seems that there were some problems with getting witnesses to arrive on time and other things to occur. It wasn't until about 3 1/2 hours after the recess that court reconvened. There were only two more witnesses called. Both of whom were testifying to the fact that mom and dad were spending a lot of time together and were certainly not separated as the first judge had thought.

It was then time for closing arguments. The longest argument went to the District Attorney. You could tell he didn't want to miss anything or leave anything out. He wanted to make sure that the judge had as much information as possible to terminate parental rights. I think he was successful, although he may have gotten a little carried away. I say that because at one point when he said "This is like overtime"....The judge interupted and said "When we get to the sports analogies, we have probably heard enough. Your closing argument has been longer than your case."

The lamest argument has to go to dad's lawyer. This is no reflection on the lawyer who is certainly competant and the type of a guy I think I could be friends with, but the fact that he had the lamest client any lawyer has ever had to put up with. I think dad not showing up only helped him through this hearing.

The most well thought out argument was the one made by the mother's lawyer. While it seemed to be well thought out, it didn't seem to be of significant substance, and i don't think swayed the judge much one way or the other.

The best closing argument has to go to the GAL. He was very passionate in his advocacy for the children. He emphasized the fact that these kids have been in limbo for almost 2 years and it was time to get the kids the stability they need. The best part of his argument, and the states case for that matter, was that all five childen have permanancy plans in place. There are foster parents with all 5 kids who are ready, willing, and able to adopt. We all know each other so there is high probablilty that the siblings will maintain contact. During his entire argument, the judge seemed to be connecting with what he was saying. She was nodding her head and paying close attention to what he said. She had no questions for him as he was complete with what he said and clarification was not needed.

So now it is up to the judge. She has mounds and mounds of evidence to analyze and then has to determine if the state has met its burden to terminate the parental rights.

Unforunately, of fortunately, depending on your position, it is the judges job to decide the case on the law. While what is best for the children has to enter into her thinking to some extent, if the state has not met its burden as outlined in the law, then the termination can not be granted. If on the other hand, the burden has been met and there is a belief that the children will be in jeopardy if the TPR is not granted then there is no choice but to grant the TPR. I would love to have a decision before Thanksgiving, but I think before Christmas is more likely.

It would be a wonderful Christmas present to be able to let these kids know that there will finally be some stability in their life. I hope Santa can bring them that.

Monday, November 16, 2009

TPR Hearing Take 2 Day 1

Guess what.....Bio mom and dad couldn't be bothered to show up in court for the start of the TPR hearing. As a result, things went pretty quick today.

Now on top of everything else, we have abandonment as an issue. The lawyers for mom and dad did show up.No one knows for sure where etiher of the parents are but rumor is dad is in hiding and wants everyone to believe he is somewhere on the gulf coast. He may or may not be. Rumor is Moms grandmother dies and she was attending her funeral. (In the words of the GAL...."A lot of people have dies in this case") Mom's lawyer asked for a continuance, but the judhge denies that. The state called about 10 witnesses today. Mom's lawyer asked about 12 questions total and Dad's lawyer may have asked 2 or 3 questions.

Mom's lawyer is only planning on calling one witness, and dad's lawyer has no plans to call any witnesses. It seems as though they are convinced that the state will win this case and they are saving their energy for the appeal.....On the other hand, I don't think the state has presented as strong a case as they did the last time, but apparently they have all agreed to have the last case be part of the record of this case....I have no idea what any of this means and I am just hoping as everyone else is that whatever is best for the kids is what happens.

There will be a day 2......It will be tomorrow.......I will report on that tomorrow evening.......I won't have any more of an idea as to what is going on tomorrow then I do today.......I get more and more baffled by our justice system every time I show up in court for these hearings.

We will be keeping our fingers crossed....see you all tomorrow

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Isn't this Special

Hopefully some day you will all see just how cute (S) is, but for now...........this is typical


Friday, November 13, 2009

Our Final Answer


Monday we will start yet another TPR hearing for (S)'s biological parents. I am still not sure why this was necessary except that the first judge apprently had no interest in the law, his reponsibility, or what was best for the children. I am hopeful that the new judge will see things for what they are and act appropriately. I believed that the last time, but I am still going to believe it again. It is not as if much has changed.

Bio-mom and dad are in a worse place. It is clearer now more than ever that they are unable to properly and safely care for the children. While many people don't do what is proper in other peoples eyes, the "safely" part is a must, and they can't seem to control themselves. Even in court the last time bio-dad was out of control. They have no home, they have no visible means of support, they can't live together in anything other than a violent atmosphere, and they can't live apart.

DW and I plan to attend the entire hearing. We have been told that the DA will be asking if we plan on adopting (S) if the TPR should go through. We have to give an honest answer. There is no room for fudging around with the answer. While some of you are aware of the answer, others have wondered as we struggled with that right after the last hearing when it became apparent (wrongly so) that the parental rights would be terminated. I have fudged around a little bit here and there, but I wanted to let those of you that haven't been sure know what the answer is before that testimony is made.

So when DW is asked; "Do you plan on adopting (S) if the TPR goes through?"

The answer will be YES! and it will be our final answer.

This was never our intention when we started down this road, but there can be no other answer now. So this blog which was originally just going to deal with foster care, will add adoption to its focus as well. We still plan on continuing in our role as foster parents and will talk about that, but we will also be talking about adoption and how the process is working for us.

We just hope that whatever decision the judge makes, it is the best one for the children.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

Last night (S) asked me to read her a book. I said I would and she brought me a large book that contains 6 different Disney Princess stories. I told her since these were long stories, I would be glad to read a chapter each night before bedtime. She liked that idea, and when I asked her which one she wanted me to read first, she picked out the story of Cinderella.

The first chapter was all set up for the story. It explained how Cinderella's mother had died and her father and her were very close. Her father said that his little girl was the most beautiful girl in the world.

When I read that part of the story (S) looked up at me and said "That's wrong daddy, your little girl is the most beautiful girl in the world.

I agreed


Friday, November 6, 2009


This week we had a visit from the adoption resource specialist who is doing our adoption home study. It is not much in addition to what was already done for the foster care home study. We are still in the process of renewing the foster care license as well because that runs out in February.

Next week (S)s case worker is coming for her monthly visit, and the following week we will be in court listening in on the TPR hearings. It is scheduled for 3 days. DW will be testifying as well. This time there is a different judge. Whether or not things will go differently is anyone's guess. In any event we will try to be prepared for whatever comes.

In the meantime, (S) continues to do very well. She loves her pre-school and has made lots of new friends there, and she loves her dance classes as well. We took her trick or treating at the Mall and she had a blast there as well. The Smarties were her biggest thrill!

This morning she woke up to see we had about 2 inches of snow on the ground from a little snow shower that had come through sometime last night. She was so excited to see the snow.

Unfortunately, she was also disappointed. Last year after the plow had come a few times we had a big pile of snow near the house and we made it into a sled run for her. Well, there was no pile and no sled run, hence the disappointment. DW assured her it wouldn't be too long before there was enough snow to make that happen. In the meantime she packed up her boots and snow suit and mittens etc. in case they went outside at pre-school today. Then upon arrival at pre-school it was apparent that in just those 10 or 15 miles they had received a lot less snow then we had. Only a little dusting that would probably be melted by 11:00am. More disappointment.

While none of us like to see our children or foster children disappointed in any way, it is gratifying to know that this is the type of disappointment that she now has in her life. May she always be this disappointed!