Sunday, October 9, 2016

October 2016 - End of the road

April 24, 2014 my husband and I became foster parents to our 2 grandsons. We had no idea when we said yes that our journey would take us two plus years to resolve and along the way add another grandchild to our lives. When I think about the journey I can honestly say at times we truly wanted to give up because we felt like we were not equipped to care for these children. As time continued on we became determined to see our journey through to the end. Our end in our minds was the children being returned to their mother and our lives would return to our former way of life. One of simplicity, peace, and quiet.

From now on simplicity, peace, and quite will visit us from time to time but not have a permanent residence with us. It took some getting use to but we have adjusted to our new normal. We went from a independent child to three dependent children in just a year. Doctors', urgent cares and hospital visits are now a part of our lives not mention physical and speech therapies as well as other community agencies. 

October 31, 2016 is the day our family changes for the better. It is also a bittersweet day. Our adoption day. We are adopting all three of our grandchildren. We end that part of our lives as their grandparents and start being their parents. We are happy that we can be there for our grandchildren but also to help them to become wonderful responsible members of the community.

Our kinship foster care journey blog will end on October 31st. November 1, 2016 begins our new blog begins. It will speak about our adoption experience starting with the courtroom and end some time later down the line.

Thank you so much for taking time out to reach our blog. We hope it was some help to you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August 2016 - Light at the end of the tunnel

When I began this blog I never thought our journey would be long. I thought that our daughter would get her life back on track and her three children would go back to her and we would go back to the peace that was our former life. After a year passed reality started to set in and we had to prepare to become parents to our grandchildren.

We became licensed foster parents. We also became medically complex certified. Various visitors to our home to see all the children as well as seeing the children individually. The conversations with health professionals that make you feel that you have to prove that you didn't make up illnesses as well as the social service people that come in to work with the children but are spying on what my family and I are doing or not doing to their satisfaction. Not to mention the countless child family team meetings where nothing really gets resolved but is just a progress report. The icing on the cake is our daughter the mother of these children who sends emails every now and then to proclaim her love for her children which is wonderful too bad it is not consistent.

After 2 plus years and a whole host of emotions were are starting to see light at the end of this long tunnel. There was a time where the tunnel seemed like it was extending but now we have crossed over to another world. The world of adoption. I will admit that after the severance was completed on the children I didn't believe that we would get to the next level so soon. For the longest we lived with hurry up and wait. Our final severance hearing was done at the end of May 2016. By July 2016 we had an adoptions case manager in place. As of right now our grandchildren still belong to the State of Arizona but soon all three of these children will be ours. It is a wonderfully scary thought that we will be raising three more children to adulthood. As we walk toward the end of the tunnel everything is coming together to ensure that these 3 children will have all the services they need to live successful lives. So at almost the end of this foster care journey I can say that we are in this to win this.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

July 2016 - Severance: The end. Right?

It has been 2 years since our foster care journey began  and to be honest we thought everything would have ended much sooner. Our DCS case stayed at family reunification for over a year and a half. There was this hope that our daughter would do all of the steps to get her three children back in her custody and raise these children in a healthy safe environment. That day however, did not arrive. After the multiple chances my daughter was given by DCS, the chances finally ran out. We were going to court to place our case into severance.
Many thoughts ran through my mind. I thought about just how permanent severance was and whether I was ready. I thought about the toll it would take on our already fractured family. I thought about how severance would affect my grandchildren. I also felt sadness for my daughter for not having the ability to care for her children. As a child who was raised by her grandparents, I never lost the relationship with my mother. I wanted my grandchildren to have the same experience so I asked our case manager to allow visits after the severance was granted. The result of our meeting was allowing 2 visits per month where I would be the monitor. I have now entered into an uncomfortable position for my grandchildren to keep a relationship with their mother. I agreed to the conditions of the bimonthly visits because I felt it would be best for the children.
The severance pretrial was scheduled in May. The actual severance trial was to take place over 2 days at the end of June. Although these dates were on the books, I felt like we would never get to the end of this journey because our daughter had been given so many chances to get her life back on track. When our journey with DCS foster care began we had 2 grandsons. By December 2014 we had 2 grandsons and a new granddaughter. January 2015 all three of our grandchildren lived with us. We had stepped up and taken on all of the health and behavioral issues of each of these children. Now we were starting to see light at the end of a very long tunnel.
The pretrial court day arrives.  I felt like I didn’t want to even bother to show up because I felt it was going to be a duplication of the previous court hearings where nothing really happened. I however was wrong. My daughter had talked about signing over her rights in February 2016 and even went to her lawyer and signed the paperwork in March 2016 but nothing ever resulted from that meeting. It was revealed later that the lawyer didn’t file the papers with the court. The lawyer never explained why he didn’t file the papers. I went to the pretrial hearing thinking it was a complete waste of my mind. As I waited to be called into the courtroom I began to have this feeling that something big was about to happen. We are called into the courtroom and the process of regular court process takes place. Then our daughter’s lawyer states that his client has decided to give up her rights to her children. I hold my excitement but my insides are having a party. The judge asks our daughter if she was sure that she wanted to give up her rights and she said she was sure. our daughter’s husband said that he too wanted to give up his rights to our granddaughter. The judge asked him if he was sure that he wanted to give up his rights and he said he was sure. So I am thinking, yay it is finally over. Time to celebrate.  The celebration however would have to wait. Although the judge entered the severance of both our daughter and her husband into the court records they still have the right to change their minds and appeal. Also the actual adoption process is not so quick. Our case will transfer to an adoptions worker and in maybe 6 to 9 months our three grandchildren will become our children.
In the aftermath of the court hearing our family is still fractured. The truth came out as to why our daughter wanted to give up her rights to her children in March 2016. She was secretly pregnant with her fourth child. She believed that if she signed her rights away to our three grandchildren she would not have to worry about the state taking her fourth child but she was sadly mistaken. On June 9th we received the news that our daughter had given birth to our fourth grandchild. We were asked if we would take the child and we said no our house was full. The new grandchild is in DCS custody. We have decided to follow the severance rules and completely and allow our grandchildren to grow up without the inconsistent visits of our daughter. Maybe in the future our daughter will be stable enough to be a part of all of our lives but until then all we can do is pray for her and our new granddaughter.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May 2016 - It is personal

When a child goes into the foster care system, the state finds a place where the children can stay until the children are either reunified with their parents or placed for adoption. When my grandsons went into state custody they were placed with foster parents and stayed with them for 2 weeks. During those 2 weeks an extensive background check was done on my husband and me to see if we met the qualifications to get our grandsons.

After we passed the background checks, our grandsons were dropped off at our home with a cloth shopping bag filled with their clothes. No diapers or pulls ups and we had none because we had no idea when they were coming to our house. Before leaving the DCS representative says we have to take them for an evaluation.

Parental visits were also dropped into our laps. We had to take our grandson to see the people who neglected them and sent them into foster care. On top of that we got word that our daughter didn’t want us to take our grandsons and preferred them to stay with the original foster parents. We were in the dark about the real reason our grandsons were placed into foster care but were willing to be there for and with them as long as needed.

As days grew into months we had various people come through our doors to see our grandsons but to also interview us. Just when we thought we were good enough it seemed that we are still under the microscope. Then they finally said it to us, this is routine don’t take it personal. Those words made be livid. How can you come into my home and say don’t take it personal? These children are our family. Their mother is our daughter. It is VERY personal!
In taking on the responsibility of being parents to our grandsons we have disrupted our own family life to incorporate our grandsons. In normal family life we would have had a constant relationship with our grandsons but because our daughter wanted to be separate from our family we were strangers to our youngest grandson. We had to learn our grandsons likes and dislikes when it came to food, hygiene, sleep, and play. Time would reveal to us a few secrets that our daughter was keeping from us such as the reason why our grandsons were placed into foster care.

After finding out the daily living conditions of our grandsons we were in disbelief. How could our daughter that we raised have her sons living in such deplorable conditions? Sending her sons to daycare in their own waste and not giving it a second thought. Having a child is a responsibility that some people are not ready to handle. Our daughter unfortunately was not ready for the responsibility of being a parent. After having our grandsons for 2 years and our granddaughter for 1 year, our daughter is still not ready for the responsibility of children. We continue to pray that our daughter will get to a point where she could share in the responsibilities of caring for the children she birthed. As for the various state agencies that we deal with through foster care for the children they have finally come to the understanding that when it comes to kinship foster care everything is personal because your family is being affected by the decision of strangers.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

April 2016 - Why Are We Still Here?

April 24, 2016 marks the second year that our grandsons have been living with us via DCS Foster Care. I could not have imagined this journey would have lasted this long. I started this journey with the word temporary as my buzz word.  I was so convinced that in a matter of months our daughter would get her act together and our grandsons would return to her custody and everything would be right with the world. Life however gave a huge reality check about 10 months into the journey. Now at 2 years the case plan is severance and adoption for all three children.

Our daughter who had proven to be an intelligent young lady in the academic world had made some very poor decision in her life resulting in not just our 2 grandsons but also a granddaughter that was born in December of 2014. Prior to having her daughter, our daughter married a man with an unsavory past. We have yet to have the discussion as to what was she thinking and the have you lost your mind statement. Instead, we have decided to focus on the children and their needs.

In order to properly care for our grandsons it was suggested that we should get licensed as kinship foster care parents. I found an orientation to attend to start the process of becoming a foster parent. I remember that there were many families that attended the orientation looking for the best agency for kinship foster care. We selected an agency that was on our side of town that we could get to via cab or bus. Classes lasted for a little over a month and a half and went toward obtaining a foster care license. We also had background checks down as well as family and friend interviews to find out our parenting style. So many hoops to jump through and finally our license was granted in October 2014. Our licensed has been amended twice. Once when our granddaughter moved into our home in January 2015 and the second time was after our medically fragile training in August 2015.

Becoming a parent to your grandchildren is a difficult task especially when each one has a health or behavioral issue or both. For me I have had my weeks blocked with appointments to therapy, medical doctors, and home visits. In foster care class they talked about a day in the life of a foster parent and the thing that stood out was that woman sitting on the side of the bed before starting her day. I can tell you that I have an hour to myself during the week prior to starting the day. That hour is used to get ready for the day’s events.

Truthfully there are times when we really wanted to throw in the towel because of everything that came with each of these three children. However because it is a team effort we can depend on each other to get through the rough patches.  Daryl Hall and John Oates reminds us of why we have all three children; “I won't do it for money I won't do it for pride I won't do it to please somebody else If it don't feel right But I'll do it for you And at least I'll try I don't need any other reason Than I feel it deep inside I'll Do It For Love.” The whole reason why we continue especially when we can’t see the solution is love and it is that love that will carry us through the years to come.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

May 2015 - And baby makes 6

Life with our grandsons began to become routine.  Various agencies brought it the case plan to make sure the boys were ok. On any given day we could have several appointments both in and outside our home.
A new plan was coming and we were not prepared but it was what was best for our grandsons.  This journey filled with extreme emotional waves that would take us right to the edge of our breaking point.
Our daughter our grandsons' mother was pregnant with her third child and soon her life choices would once again reek havoc in our family. How? Simply by continuing to hurt our family under the guise of having her family.
December 27, 2014 our first granddaughter was born premature but we had no idea.  Now that this baby had arrived, would our definite no we will not take the baby turn to yes we will? Our lives were already upside down when our then 3 year old and 1 year old grandsons arrived but a newborn baby especially a premature newborn was a tall order. We had no experience with premature babies and their needs. Most importantly where would the baby sleep if we did decide to take the baby. 
After much thought and prayers we made the decision to bring the baby home to live with her brothers. On January 23, 2015 I came home with our granddaughter and our house of 5 became a house of 6. Not quite sure if making this decision proves insanity or a tremendous amount of love but it was not a blind decision.
Almost 4 months later, I can honestly say I am happy we got the baby because we are making sure all of the children are getting all of their needs met. As grandparents we are invested in all of these children. The fact we are their foster parents is an added bonus.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

February 2015 - The Honeymoon Is Over

Prior to our grandsons coming to live with us through Child Protective Services, they spent two weeks with a foster family. The foster family took really good care of them and sent them both off with a book of memories to share with our family. These books contained a schedule of what the boys did on a daily basis, doctor visits, dental visits and what the boys liked to eat. The foster family even included pictures from Easter Sunday which included an egg hunt. These books read like a manual on how to ensure our grandsons happiness. There was something huge missing from the books, how were the boys adjusting to being away from their parents. All questions have answers and unfortunately for us the answers would be coming to us sooner than we were ready for them.

Since these were our grandsons we were under the impression that they would come live with us and all would be well. We had no idea just how wrong we were until one afternoon at naptime. Both grandsons were put down for a nap. Instead of taking naps the boys began to fight and both end up in tears. So we go into their room to find out what is going on with them to find that the youngest grandson has a gash on his cheek and the older grandson standing in the center of the floor staring out the window. We asked what happened but since my oldest grandson's speech is unclear we didn't get an answered we understood. The youngest grandson ended up with stitches in his face and from that day forward our grandsons had separate naps. This told us that the honeymoon was over.

That moment in time was a snapshot of life with the boys. We were heading to get to a moment where we would honestly consider having the state come back and get the boys. We came face to face with feces smearing and had no idea how to deal with it. The boys room is my former home office. I had moved much of my things out of the office but still saw that room as my office. That changed when my oldest grandson painted the carpet and walls with feces. We would have many episodes of fecal smearing but the one that had us on the edge of giving up was when my grandson literally pooped on the carpet like an animal. At this point we had people coming out to see the boys and check on their behaviors and they too were at a loss. Our faith in God is what kept the boys with us because if we made the decision they would have left long time ago. We also started working on becoming licensed kinship foster parents. Sharing our experiences with the boys and learning about what children experience in foster care helped us become more patient and to begin looking at the boys living with us in a different light. We began to see the silver lining in the big dark cloud and that was great for all of us.