Tuesday, September 30, 2008

HIV Awareness

My children have been very blessed to be healthy with no long term illnesses at this time. As many of you know, I am drawn to children with special needs. Jacob was a special needs child due to potential health complications with his port wine stain. These problems have since been ruled out. My foster children almost always qualify as special needs due to problems they are currently experiencing or an increased risk of problems in the future. None of my children have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS but I am willing to parent an HIV positive child in the future. Here is some information from Erin's blog about HIV/AIDS.

What you should know about HIV
- HIV can NOT be spread through casual/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other casual way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles).
- HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives.
- People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do. If anyone wants more info on transmission, there is great info on the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Was I Out Of Line?

Last week, I had a very disturbing incident at work. As many of you know, I work in corrections. A man was moved into my housing unit after making racist comments in two other units. He came to the desk telling me he needed to be moved because he couldn't be around African Americans. He had another name he used for them and started calling them rapists and other names.

A picture of my son flashed through my mind and a lecture began. Everytime the man interjected with something else racist, I just kept talking. I told him that I would never segregate the unit and that no one in the jail would. I went on to tell him that he did not ever have the right to judge someone by the color of their skin and that his comments were very racist. He demanded to speak to a supervisor and I gave him a grievance form to file. He then stated he was calling his attorney. I told him I would welcome a call from his attorney so that I could tell him that I would not listen to the racist garbage being spewed from this inmate.

The next day I noticed this inmate socializing with African American inmates. Oen of those inmates came out to state that the inmate was not nearly as bad as he had been the previous day. The inmate came out a short time later and stated he thought about what I had said. He stated he realized he was wrong and that he didn't want to be that angry person anymore.

I don't know if the changes in this person are permanent or not but I do know that at least for now I made a difference. I just wish I could affect more people and help more people realize that anger and hatred is not the answer.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Social Worker Visits

We have a new social worker, H seems to be very knowledgable and great to work with. We discussed M's case (none of which I can share for confidentiality reasons) and what my hopes for the future are. I again told her that I am concurrent meaning I am pre-approved for adoption if a child in my home needs it. M's case is no where near that point right now and it will be months before we know if he ever will need an adoptive placement. I also repeated that M is welcome in my home for as long as he needs to be and that I am willing to work with his mother as much as possible.

There are several things I like the social workers and birth families to know while I work with them. The first is that I am here to love the foster child while he or she is with me. I am not here to replace the birth parent or "win" the child.

The next thing is that I truly want to co-parent with the birth parent while I have placement. This gives the birth parent every opportunity to be involved in the child's life while working towards reunification. It also allows the child to see that all of the adults and "moms" care and love him or her.

I want to communicate with everyone. I want to make sure that everyone knows what is going on. I often include more than one social worker on emails if I think everyone needs to know something. I won't hesitate to call a birth parent and update him or her if we have a working relationship and human services approves it. I won't lie or hide anything for anyone. Secrets got these children and families into the situation and will not help anyone with reunification or permanency (adoption) plans.

M is my second foster child and probably not my last. I really do believe I want at least 3 kids just not all right now. The third child won't come until Jacob is at least 4 and maybe 5 or 6. If M stays, I will want him to be at least 3 (he is 16 mos now) and to be well-adjusted and comfortable in my home and family. I expect that will happen before he is 3 but not anytime soon. If M is able to return to his birth family, I would be open to siblings as long as Jacob is 4 or close to it and only one of the other children is not walking and able to feed him/herself. Basically, I only want one infant at a time. Maybe when Jacob is a little older I would consider infant twins but not anytime soon.

Birthday Pictures

Now that M is feeling better, I have time to post some pictures of Jacob's birthday. He had a great time. The Sponge Bob cake is from his family birthday party and the Thomas cake is from his birthday party with friends. He had a great time and says he doesn't want to wait until next year for another birthday. I hear him. If only there was a way to have more birthdays but not getting any older.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Monster Where?!?!

Jacob just came out of the kitchen very concerned. He had a scared look on his face and was quietly saying, "I don't want the monster to get me!" Jacob has never been afraid of monsters before and always tells me they are just in the movies so I was a little confused. I asked him where the monster was. He pointed to M. What am I suppose to say to that?

Frustrating Few Days

M is sick. He came down with an ear infection Sunday. I originally thought his very low grade fever was related to teething. He has been drooling, chewing on everything and cranky for a few days. I can see where his molars are getting ready to poke through.

During Jacob's birthday party, M's temperature began to spike. By the time we left, I knew it was probably more than just teething. He had a cold last week so I correctly guessed that he had an ear infection. I gave him some pain reliever that took care of the pain and fever but he was still very cranky. The doctor confirmed my guess and he is now home sick today. He is beginning to feel better but is still very cranky. He seems to be back to the behaviors he exhibited two weeks ago when he was still adjusting to our home. I know in my head that his behavior is just due to him not feeling well. I also know that we have been making a lot of progress and that it will continue as soon as the antibiotics have time to work.

Last night I was suppose to go to my bible study class. I was really looking forward to it after listening to M cry for the past two days. I had M in bed so that he wouldn't even realize that I was gone. He was medicated and sleeping peacefully. Unfortunately, the babysitter never came over. I am not sure why she didn't come. She never called me back so I can assume that she will not be babysitting anymore. Jacob and I were both disappointed. He likes having babysitters to play. Next week we will try again. I know that babysitter will be here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Look Who's 3!!!!!

Happy Birthday Jacob! I can't believe my little baby is now a talking, story telling, funny three year old who is learning gymnastics! Today is going to be a full day and I plan to post lots of pictures soon. For now, enjoy this picutre of Jacob blowing out the candles on his Sponge Bob birthday cake. Today he gets another cake. This one will be of Thomas the Train. Spoiled? Maybe but that's ok. You only turn 3 once.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Daycare Drama Update

I picked up M's belongings at his old daycare yesterday. You will remember that on Thursday I witnessed a teacher being very rough with a child and even hitting his head on the changing table. I immediately told the director about it and called Human Services.

When I arrived with M yesterday,the director met us at the door. She stated that the teacher involved had been escorted out of the building yesterday and will not be allowed back in. The state and the daycare are investigating exactly what happened. She stated she received the call from Human Services after I left but was planning to call herself. I assured her that not only am I a mandatory reporter due to my profession and as a foster parent but that I also needed to know that the children were not getting hurt. She stated she understood and said she was glad I called.

It sounds like this is one thing that daycare is doing correctly. I am relieved to hear they are investigating. I was planning on moving M out of that daycare anyway beginning Monday. There were several other things I saw there that made me uncomfortable but it does seem like this incident is not being tolerated.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Jacob's Nature

The past few weeks have required a whole new level of sharing. As an only child, Jacob really only needed to share at school. It was becoming increasingly obvious that he knew how to share but really needed to practice it. Since M arrived, he has been getting plenty of practice and doing a great job. It must help when M screams and cries for 20 minutes anytime Jacob doesn't share!

Yesterday in the car, M took Jacob's nap pillow from daycare. We take all of his nap supplies home on the weekend to clean them and get them ready for the next week. Jacob saw it and immediately grabbed it from him telling M it wasn't his. Here is the conversation we had:

J: That's mine M! You can't have it!

Mom: Can't you share with M?

J: No. It's not in my nature.

M (laughing): I hope you find it in your nature soon!

Another Week Already!

I admit it. I have been really bad about trying to blog at least twice a week. I am just not sure where time has gone. Here are some of the things that went on this week.

I have been busy at work all week with today being my first day off. M has not been happy at daycare at all and even stopped eating lunch there the past couple of days. He is starving when he gets home and eating well here so I know he isn't sick. Yesterday, I saw a teacher being very rough with a young toddler while changing his diaper. She even shoved his head against the wall on the changing table. I made sure the child was safe and then found the director. She promised to take care of it immediately and walked down the hallway to the room. I then went out to the parking lot and reported it to human services (I am mandated by law to report any suspected child abuse/neglect). The intake worker promised to investigate it and notify the involved child's family. M will not be going back there. We were scheduled to switch daycares anyway on Monday so I just removed him a day earlier.

My pastor's son plead guilty to homicide so his family has been spared a trial. It is a very sad case. There was almost no warning that this child was capable of murder or even violent. Please continue to pray for the entire family including I as they try to grieve and find a way to move on with their lives.

Jacob had a little more difficulty at gymnastics but he still loves it. He is learning a lot and really looks forward to the classes.

Jacob and I are going to be busy today making cupcakes and getting ready for his birthday celebration. I am always looking for an excuse to party and seem to have overdone this one a little. Oh well. It will be fun. His birthday isn't until Sunday but do to scheduling issues, his family dinner is tonight. He chose cupcakes for his cake so we will make those today. His actual birthday party with friends is on Sunday and I will update everyone afterwards. Hopefully I will even have pictures!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Week Review And A Prayer Request

I can't believe it has been almost a week since I last posted. The week went well. M is settling in nicely. M and Jacob both have colds this week so they are a little more cranky than normal. That also means they are both sleeping a little more than normal which gives me some extra quiet time to sit and think.

On Tuesday, I finally bought a double stroller. I have been looking at them for awhile. They are so convenient when I want to take both kids for long walks. Jacob was very excited and loves that he can sit or stand in the back of the stroller. He likes to stand and peak over the top to tell me if M has fallen asleep yet. M loves to go for rides also and often will fall asleep after just a few minutes. I have already used it twice and plan to use it to walk more places and drive the car less. So far we used it to walk to the drugstore and to the library.

Jacob had his second gymnastics class on Thursday. He did much better listening and staying with his group. M did better too and enjoyed playing with some of the other infants and young toddlers in the waiting area. Jacob cried when class was over stating he wasn't finished yet. I may have to move him to the 90 minute class next Spring.

I have mentioned before that Jacob and I have begun attending a new church. The pastor leaves this week to testify in his son's murder trial. His son is accused of murdering his daughter just over one year ago. I cannot imagine the pain he must have gone through and continues to go through. To lose a child is devastating enough. He has lost two children because of the horrible acts of one of them. Please keep him and his family (including his son) in your prayers. They all need support and strength right now. Please pray that his daughter receives justice, his son is treated fairly and the entire family finds strength and comfort.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mom's New Class

Don't panic! I am asked at least 25 times everytime Jacob gets a face treatment what happened to his face. Nothing! This is just the way it looks after a laser treatment. It really does look a lot worse than it feels. It feels like a sunburn for about 1 day and after that he doesn't complain at all. The pain isn't even enough to justify Tylenol.

On a brighter note, I started a bible study class last night. I think it will be a lot of fun. We meet once a week and have daily homework readings and reflections. The course is a year long with a "graduation" ceremony at the church services in May. It is also a much needed break for me. I find that I am a much more patient and better mom if I have a break at least once every 2-3 weeks. I don't always get a break as I have trouble justifying spending the money on a babysitter. Participating in sports in the Summer and this bible study class this year give me that once a week break I need.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

First Week Finished

Well, the first week of our new activities has come to a close. The only thing left is Sunday School for Jacob tonight but that won't be a big deal. Everyone did well (or as well as I could hope for). Jacob loves his new friends and his new school routine. Complete with becoming upset yesterday when he thought I was going to have him stay home from school. Gymnastics was a hit and he is asking everyday when he gets to go back. I have only spoken to one of the kids I mentor but her first week seemed to go well and her classes appear to be ok.

M is settling into his daycare routine and our new routine. The first couple of days were a little rocky but it got better as the week went on. As he feels more secure at home, I am sure daycare will become easier also. I am really not happy with the center we are at. The parents are rude to the teachers, the director appears unorganized and children are often seen stadning in the middle of the room crying. While M seems to be adjusting to it, I do have him on waiting lists for two other daycares. One hopes to have openings in about 2 months. The other doesn't expect an opening for a very long time. I am sure M is safe where he is at but I will definitely move him as soon as I am able to.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Jacob had his first gymnastics class last night. He smiled during the entire class but did have difficulty waiting his turn and staying focused. There was just so much fun stuff to try and do that he couldn't stand still to wait for his turn. His teachers were much better than me about it though. I kept wanting to yell at him to stay with his group and wait his turn. His teachers just took it in stride. He wasn't the only new student having trouble concentrating. After class he admitted he had trouble listening. We talked about it and agreed to try listening a little better next week. I am hoping that it will be easier for him to concentrate as he becomes more familiar with the class.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I am finding some very large differences between helping a foster child adjust and attach versus a child coming to my home as an adoption. Jacob was an international adoption and was a permanent member of my family. I was able to take 12 weeks off work with him and just concentrate on learning to love each other and be a family.

M is my second foster child. With my first foster child, E, I took 4 weeks off work. I actually did not work the entire time she was with me. I found several problems with this. While I loved being at home, I knew her stay was temporary. I am only allowed 12 weeks a year of family leave so if I stay home for several weeks with each child, I risk not having time if more than two or three children come through in a year.

Another problem with taking extended time off work is that it disrupts Jacob's schedule. Even if I continue to send him to school, he knows that I am not working and our routines are slightly different. I feel that the disruption in our schedules and routines means he loses the security of having a consistent schedule and knowing what will be coming each day.

I know that spending time away from work and focusing on M's needs will help with attachment. I also know how very important attachment is in foster children. M shows no signs of having attachment issues but that doesn't mean he or any other foster child couldn't develop them if he is moved around a lot or not given the chance to appropriately attach in a family. The problem is that I need to balance this need and his need to adjust on his own timetable to the other needs of the family.

This time I did not take nearly as much time off work. I do not know if M will be with me for just a few months or if it will last many months. I decided to take two weeks off work. This allowed for us to have some time together but also allowed me to return to work without using all of my vacation and sick leave. I was originally only going to take two or three days off as suggested to me by some other foster parents. After just a couple days, I knew this wasn't in M's best interest.

M began daycare full time yesterday. I guess he was quite tearful all day but did seem to be happy to see me when I picked him up. Jacob really seems to be more relaxed now that our regular routine is back. I think M could have used a few more days home but that would have come at a huge expense to the rest of us.

Adjustments are always difficult. It has only been two weeks and there is already improvement. I know that it will continue to improve over the next few weeks. I seem to get better at helping the children through this period with each child I have. Each child has his/her own needs and displays their feelings differently but I am getting better at reading them. I am getting better at soothing young children feeling insecure and vulnerable.

I know that the adjustment process will get better with each foster child who comes. Jacob will get better at sharing my attention and having another child around. I will get better at meeting everone's needs more efficiently and better at figuring out when it is a need I can meet as opposed to just part of the grieving process the children must go through. The foster children will still have the same challenges while adjusting and trying to attach to a new caregiver. They won't change. But the changes Jacob and I have to make will come easier.

If any of you are experienced foster parents and have suggestions for the attachment/adjustment process, let me know. Otherwise, I will just continue to learn as I continue to help God's children one child at a time.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day

Jacob, M and I spent the afternoon at a friend's parents' house. They live on a lake near us and have a very nice boat. We spent a couple hours on the lake swimming and boating. Jacob loved it. He was able to jump off the boat and into the water by himself. He also had no problem swimming around in the water and needed very little help from the adults. I was so proud of him!

M didn't enjoy the water as much but he still had fun at the house. He enjoyed playing outside and exploring the water from the pier. I enjoyed having some extra help with the boys and spending the day outside on the lake. I have many fond memories of boating at J's house growing up and love that my son will also have some of these same fond memories.

They Forgot My Sister

"Mommy, they forgot my sister!"

This is what Jacob told me while we were all going for a walk one day last week. This came just a few hours before I got a phone call asking if I was interested in accepting a two year old and 8 month old for two weeks and after M was already here. While M and Jacob are normally very good kids, I am definitelly not ready for 4 children under age 3 for more than maybe a few hours tops. So, I told Jacob he will have to wait for a sister but maybe someday in the future.

I don't know how long M will be staying or even where his case is right now. I do know that one toddler is enough at a time. I would still love to have 3 or 4 children someday but I want them spaced out a little more than Jacob does. I was thinking how nice it is that these two are close in age. If M stays forever (No one is talking that way now. I am just dreaming.) I would consider another child in 3 more years. That way M would no longer be a toddler and Jacob would be starting kindergarten. Less daycare, fewer diapers and hopefully more sanity for me.

For right now, I am concentrating on the children I have. If M leaves, then maybe Jacob can have the little sister he has decided he wants.