Sunday, March 14, 2010

Looking Back

DW was here visiting with me for the weekend while (A) was taking care of (S) at home. I enjoyed our time alone together, but alas it did have to come to an end. After DW left I got to thinking about how things had changed over the last 2 1/2 years. I think what caused this was the realization this wekeend that (S) has spent more of her life with DW and I then with her biological family.

She spent 2 yrs and 60 days with her biological family. As of today, March 14, she has been with DW and I for 2 years and 82 days.

For those of you who have never read this blog, or don't know the whole story here is a look back at how we got to where we are today.

This was never what we had planned on. We got involved in Foster care because our 3 biological children had moved on and out of the house and were living their own life. We were alone in our home which certainly had more room than we needed and it was crying out for more life. We were watching tv one night and I saw an ad for foster care. I suggested to DW that we ought to look into it. She was not interested.

A couple of days later I got the information on what was required to get involved in foster care. I gave it to DW and asked her to make a call to find out about when the next informational meeting was. She wasn't interested, but I told her we didn't have to do foster care, we could check into it and this didn't commit us to anything.

So we went to the intial meeting and got the application and found out about the training we needed to take. Again, DW was not really interested. Again, I told her we never had to do foster care, but we could fill out the application and going to a class would be fun. We could go out to dinner each class night and then go to class and it would give us something to do other than to sit around the house.

She agreed to take the classes. After the classes, we continued to fill out the application. We still knew that we never had to complete the process to get our license. We never had to do foster care if we didn't want to and once the classes were over that could be the end of it.

We passed the class and then we continued with the licensing process. It was now 6 months since that first conversation and we still didn't have a license, but were a lot closer than we had been. The fire marshall had been to the house, the water from our well had been tested, and we had all kinds of people out to the house to do the required home studies. The only thing left was the fingerprints.

Mine were fine.

DW for some reason does not have much in the way of finger prints. They just couldn't get hers to the point where there was enough definition to get into the computer. We finally had to have a police oifficer attest to the fact that these were the best finger prints he could get. Our background checks were fine, but we still didn't have approval for the finger prints.

So we are waiting for that and still haven't decided if this was something we really wanted to do. Then I came home from work one day and there was a message on the machine to call a woman at DHHS. I figured it had to do with DWs fingerprints, so I called the woman and she advised me they were looking for a family to place child(ren) with. I said "but we don't have a license yet." She said that her supervisor had told her we were close enough and since they really needed people they would be happy for us to do it.

I asked what they were looking for and she said they had a family with 5 children. 2 were already placed and they had 2 boys and a girl to place. They either wanted to place all three together, or keep the boys together and then find a place for the girl. Since we had never done this before and had never given it any thought other than we would only do 1 at a time, I told her that we might be interested in the one girl, but I would have to call DW to see if it was ok. She asked me to call her back as soon as possible. She gave me some preliminary information. I called DW.

I told her that DHHS had called about a placement. She said "but we don't have a license yet" (sound familiar?) . Anyway I told her what I had been told and then told her that they were interested in placing a 2 year old girl. When DW heard that, she was all excited. I knew the answer would be yes as long as everything else was within the parameters we had discussed.

I called DHHS back and asked how long a placement they anticipated this would be as we were going away in a couple of months. They said it probably wouldn't last that long and there was another family that might be interested in taking all 5. (This was my first lesson in DHHS not being completely truthful) anyway, we agreed. They asked if we could come to DHHS and pick her up. I said of course, and as soon as DW got home, we headed over to the DHHS office. We left there about an hour or so later with beautiful redheaded little girl who was going to come and live with us, and it was just 2 weeks before Christmas 2007. We had shopping to do!

As always, DHHS was working towards reunification with her family. We had regular visits with her parents and her siblings, and about 9 months later we were really getting close to the family being all back together again. We knew when that day came it would be difficult for us, but we also knew that was what was best for (S).

It was now Christmas of 2008 and overnight visits with the 2 oldest siblings were about to begin. Overnight visits with (S) would begin the middle of January. It was getting close. That is when I started writing this blog. Wondering how we were going to deal with; this little girl going home, this little girl no longer being a part of our family, this little girl no longer sharing her love with us.......

Then, everything with her family fell apart. We are not sure of all the particulars, but in an instant, reunification came to an end and termination of parental rights began. Then we were faced with what were we going to do. Once termination of parental rights was granted, (S) would become a child looking for a forever family. The case worker asked us if we were interested. The answer of course was no. Heck, we still weren't sure we wanted to do foster care. Adoption was never in our plans. We went to court and watched the TPR proceedings and rapidly saw why these proceedings were happening. BioDad had no control over himself and was obviously a dangerous man. BioMom could not be without BioDad.

We started thinking about adoption. We spoke with our family memebers, and we even sought out a therapist so that we could figure out what we wanted. I will never forget what my sister in law from Georgia said to us one day.

"I don't know why y'all don't know whether or not you are going to adopt,
everyone else does!"

She was right. We made the decision that we would adopt (S). I wish it was that easy. Since that time, there have been two court cases. A TPR has been granted and an appeal has been made. The court still hasn't decided on the appeal. DHHS has little doubt in their mind that the appeal wil be denied and once that happens we can proceed with the paperwork to adopt, however no one has any idea how long it will take for the court/judges to make a decision. We have gone through the process to be approved as a "foster to adopt" family, and have even had our foster license renewed.

That is where we find ourselves today. (S) has no idea what is happening. As far as she is concerned, we are her family. She will always be with us, and there is no question about that. As I said earlier, she has spent more than half her life with us, and has been with us since shortly after her second birthday. She has only seen her bio parents once in the last 14 months. She hasn't seen her siblings in 8 months. She has asked about her siblings, but has not asked her bio parents.

We so much want this to be over for her. For us. We want to know that she will be with us and we will be her forever family. We can't wait. So anyway, that is where we are at. That is a quick (well maybe not so quick)look back at where we are, where we have been, and where we hope to go.

Eventually, maybe we will decide whether or not we want to do foster care. :)

I write this post to answer some questions that have been asked of me lately. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I will be more than happy to answer them as I can in this forum. Thanks for your interest, and thanks to all for your encouragement along the way.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Too Much Time Away From Home

I have been away from home every week since December. It really stinks. I do get to spend time almost all weekends with (S) and DW, and they are nice. (S) hasn't talked to me much on the phone at all. She would take the phone from DW and say "love you, bye" and she's gone before I could say a word. The best thing about the time I spend with (S) now, is that it is all quality time. We have such a good time together.

The last two nights she has actually talked to me and that is so much better. I really do miss her a lot and I fell much more connected when she talks to me and tells me what is going on. I was going to be going back home on April 10, but now I have been extended on this duty until May 8. It may be extended again until June 5th, but I don't know yet.

Of course we will be on vacation next month to Florida. My mother (Nanny) can't wait to show (S) off to all of her friends. Nanny and Papa (my father) live in a retirement community. It is a nice community and everyone that lives there is over 55. (my god! I will be over 55 next month~!!!....but I can't live in a retirement community because we have (S) and that is far better than a retirement community.) But I digress, they have a nice pool there where all the ladies hang out on the nice days. I think the very first chance Nanny has she will be dragging (S) down to the pool.

(S) also wants to spend time at the beach. She asked me if we could build sand castles. I said it would be a little difficult to bring a pail and shovel with us. When I told Nanny about this, she immediately responded with: "If she wants a pail and shovel we will get her one!"

As you can see, (S) is definitely a part of our family. No one in the family considers her as a "foster" sister, cousin, daughter, or granddaughter. I just can't wait until the state recognizes us that way. That will be a very wonderful day and it can't come soon enough for me or DW. Not having a clue as to when it MAY come is even more difficult. It has been almost 3 months since the court has had this case to render a decision so that we can move on with adoption. I am frustrated and anxious but I told myself I wouldn't get angry until the end of April if we hadn't heard anything.

Of course it won't do any good...but I can try, can't I?


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Paranoia Isn't Always a Bad Thing

I can't believe it has been so long since I wrote here. I haven't dropped out of the world, though I am still working out of state and don't get home as often as I like. I am home this weekend though.

It is great to be home this weekend. I have been able to play with (S) a lot. We had been told that her biological mom and dad are back in town and to keep an eye out. We know where they are living so when we are in that area, we certainly keep our eyes open and....

This morning I saw them. They were walking down the street and bio-dad was pushing a bicycle. It is important to us to know this because the people are DHS have some reason to believe they may try to snatch the children and go. That's all I more thing to worry about.

We have no idea where the appeal is. Apparently these things are not addressed as quickly as we would like. Not that we can relax once all is done and (S) is adopted, but at least we can feel comfortable knowing that she is ours and we will have some legal standing if anything happens.

The bad part is that they know our name, and they know where we live. They have not been getting any services and since (S) hasn't seen them but once in the last 14 months we have no idea what their frame of mind is. If we were seeing them on occasion we might be able to make some kind of an assessment. Or maybe DHS could if they were seeing them. I dont know what either of them are doing to survive.

Oh, did I mention that they live about a 1/2 mile away from where (S) is going to pre-school. Just something else for us to worry about. We have given the school pictures so they have an idea what they look like. they also know that if they go for a walk down the street, (S) can not be holding the hand of another child, but has to be held onto by an adult. They have no idea she is there, but you never know when they might see her. When I saw them today they were maybe 1000 feet from the school.

We do everything we can to make sure that (S) is safe, but how can you know if you are doing everything you can do? She will start kindergarten at a different school in a different town, but like I said, they know where we live. Keeping one eye out everytime we drop (S) off or pick her up at school is now SOP. Thagt is the only time she is out of our sight, and we never let her more than a few feet away from us.

At somepoint (S) is going to want to know why we are so paranoid about her safety, but until she is, we will just continue to maintain our paranoia. It is an absolute necessity given the circumstances.