Friday, June 4, 2010

MASSIVE Meltdown

WOW, that's all I can say is Wow! FS#2 had a MASSIVE meltdown yesterday. So massive I need to make a bunch of phone calls this morning to inform all interested parties of the meltdown, including the social workers (especially the social workers, I kept excepting to have a visit from the police last night, would not be surprised if some concern citizen filed a police report). So I'm blogging about it first, :)

The meltdown had been brewing for weeks, I could see it coming. The last straw was yesterday's IEP meeting. FS#2 mood mimicked the approach major thunderstorm. Everything started off nice and blue and sunny. Then slowly both his face and the sky got darker as the clouds rolled in. Then BOOM, rumbling, thunder, lightening, rain, chaos, shouting, dramatics, tears, running for the hills (oh wait, that was me!). Oh and why am I worried about the police showing up? The thunderstorm hit on the drive home from school. As FS#2 escalated his fight or flight response kicked in. Car, not a good place for this to happen. He twice (three times?) tried to jump out of the car while it was moving! At that time on a country road with no shoulders so no good place to stop. As I was passing roadside memorials to two high school kids who died in fatal crashes on this road, I thought that there would be one more. It would not surprise me if the folks in the cars behind be called 911. I mean I would if I saw a car door open repeatedly and a leg pop out as if someone was going to leap from the moving car! Finally got to a place on the road where could pull over and get the situation de-escalated enough so that could drive home safely.

And what caused this meltdown? In this case the meltdown was not because he is not attached, but because he IS attached and he is feeling abandoned. Add that abandonment issue to being made to feel inadequate and inferior at the IEP meeting and you have a recipe for disaster. First of all, FS#1 is home from college. FS#1 came home 3 weeks ago. FS#1 bought me a big ass TV for Mother's day and big fuss was made over FS#1 by myself and the village. My first sign things were not right in river city, FS#2 started spending his evenings downstairs with me instead of up in his room. At first, I thought it was the novelty of the big-ass TV but after a week or so I realized it wasn't the TV is wanted to spend time with, it be me. FS#2 and I went shopping for summer clothes, he let me pick out many of the outfits. Which was a new and unexpected event. In the past, he picked out all of his clothes, my job was to be ready with the credit card and sometimes comment on clothes he was unsure about (rare!). I was so pleased with this unexpected shopping pleasure I shared it with the village. As I was sharing the story, I could see FS#2 not happy, but me in my clueless bliss, did not know why. Later, after the storm passed, I found out why. He felt that I was excluding him from the process. That it was all about me and he played no role in the shopping trip. Then he got an unfortunate life lesson in that there are cruel and mean people in the world. And the last straw, the IEP meeting. FS#2 has made amazing strides academically this year, he passed two state standardized tests that he had been struggling with, he has maintained a B average and his disciplinary incidents have gone way down. He had been told that he would be able to graduate with a standard diploma, instead of a modified standard diploma, which thrilled him to no end. He does not like to think of himself as different from anyone else. Then the IEP meeting, where labels were throw around like water. Labels such as emotionally disturbed, and the one that broke the camel's back, disability. As in learning disability, emotional disability, special accommodations that need to made in the classroom for his disability, that he was on track to graduate with modified standard diploma because of his disability and on and on and on. The word disability was mentioned one time to many and the storm clouds started forming. First, he objected to his goal being modified standard diploma when he is catching up on his state standardized tests and someone (in administration) told him he now can pursue the standard diploma. He didn't think they were giving him appropriate credit for all the changes he has made behaviorally and academically. That they did not take his life goals of nursing seriously and furthermore had no faith that he could achieve them. All of these things and a few other came together to create the perfect storm last night.

Now the upside of this story is that once we got home from the car trip from hell, he could process what happen with me within 10 minutes of getting home. Of course it help when in the middle of his raging I realized that he misunderstood my version of the shopping trip and I apologized to him. The way I told the story was not intended to EXclude him, but actually was my way of INcluding him. I think my apology made it easier for him to come back and process the rage. The upshot of most of his rage was that he feels very attached to me and because of certain incidents he felt as if I wasn't attached to him. Once again, he thinks of us as a team and lately, he has been feeling as if not only have I benched him, but he is at the very end of the bench.

Once again my child has taught me that attachment is a fragile beast. The work does not stop just because my child is attached, it has just progressed to a different stage, but the work still needs to continue and it is just as hard.

Now to make those phone calls...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

I almost feel guilty posting about my Mother's Day since for many Moms in the foster/adopt blog world Mother's Day is not exactly a Hallmark moment. But, notice I said "almost". This is my second Mother's Day and I thought the first one was good, this one was even better! No breakfast in bed, no Mother's Day cards, but a good day all the same. I got up and got to spend the morning in the garden. The peace and quiet was momentarily broken by FS#2 skipping out to wish me a "Happy Mother's Day". As I was watering, planting and harvesting vegetables in the garden, I spied the Mother's Day gift FS#2 gave me on Friday. Now, he didn't classify it as a Mother's Day gift, he just said, as I was picking up from school, "I got something for you". The 'something' was a begonia planted in a pot that he had painted himself. The begonia has a prized spot in the serenity place that is my garden.

In the afternoon, I drove to College to pick up FS#1. When I got there, he wouldn't let me help load the car, instead he got 3 of his friends to do it. Boy are they fast, not neat and being a mover should be crossed off their job list, but they are fast. Maybe they can get a job as baggage handlers for the airlines! He drove us home and we had great conversations on the way home. During the drive, he informed me that he and his best friend were going to get my Mother's Day present on Monday. He is getting me a big-ass TV! When we got home, he and FS#2 emptied the car, again not letting me help. I had a long week and didn't want to go out to dinner so FS#1 ordered dinner for pickup from one of the chain restaurants. His treat!

Yep, I'm truly fortunate. Happy Mother's Day to all who parent other people's children.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I've Got My Perfect Child Back!

Yep, he's back, FS#2 is behaving as the perfect child. He is buzzing around the house doing all his chores; he took the trash can out a day early. He is even doing things without being asked such as cleaning out the car, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning, organizing, etc... Of course I am very amused by all of this. This spate of perfection is temporary. It is occurring as a direct result of the 'bad' week we had last week. He is hoping that if he is perfect a) that I won't send him away because of the 'bad' things he did, b) I will overlook the 'bad' things he did last week and still get him his own computer and c) that we are still 'all-right'. But in addition to all the anxiety he is displaying being the perfect child, there is also an attitude of relief, the-weight-of-the-world-just-got-lifted-of-my-shoulders-giddy-as-a-school-girl type of relief. He had a bad week that in the past would have disrupted his placement and yet he is still here, in HIS room, with HIS cats in HIS home. Yes, he is quite giddy with relief.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the 'bad' week involved inappropriate use of the cell phone, and the computer. Once I investigated further, I found that the picture were just the tip of the iceberg. I found evidence that lead me to believe that there could be potential legal and safety issues involved, which is why I called a team meeting. So perhaps you are wondering what I did about all of this. Well actually, I did very little. I did not ground him, I did not confiscate his cell phone nor did I restrict or eliminate his computer privileges. So what did I do???? I calmly had a conversation with him. I told him I was worried about those pictures and I hoped that those pictures were not stored on my computer because that would be terribly inappropriate. He assured be that there was only 1 picture (little lie) and that were not stored on the computer, he wouldn't do that (another little lie). I told him I was glad that they were not on the computer (so I lied too), because I liked our relationship the way it is and I would hate it if I felt I couldn't trust him and had to invade his privacy to check up on him. He insisted that wouldn't be necessary that he hasn't done anything wrong and he is trustworthy. I told him "Good" cause I like being able to trust him. As far as I was concerned the topic was closed. Not for him! He proceed to claim his innocence and trustworthiness and that he never gave me any reason not to trust him and he didn't understand why I was doing this to him. The only thing I said was "I do trust you and I'm not doing anything to you".

So why did I do very little in the way of providing consequences? Because for this kid, it seem to me to be the best way to go. In part because much of what he was doing is developmentally appropriate. OK in bad taste, in bad judgement, but developmentally appropriate. The problem is that his behavior may be developmentally appropriate but he does not have the social or emotional skills to handle this particular developmentally appropriate behavior. In his previous placements he was expected to be perfect and when he wasn't, he was punished and if that didn't work he was removed. I felt that punitive action for something that is developmentally appropriate and is being done by all the other kids he knows could break his spirit. And I have worked very hard to earn this kid's trust and convince him that we could work out anything no matter what, as long as we were willing to talk about it. Coming in and cracking down and removing all of his privileges I felt would do more harm than good.

The other reason I did very little is that I went back and reviewed the boundaries that I had set up for cell phone and computer use. And I realized that there was nothing wrong with the boundaries that I set up, the problem came in the implementation. He was doing so well. He had progressed so far. He gave me no cause for concern and perhaps I got a little lax in monitoring his use... ok so I got very lax in monitoring. So, I have to take some responsibility for what occurred during the 'bad' week. By having that conversation with him, I was giving him the opportunity to correct one of his bad decisions which I thought would be much more effective then having me go in and remove the inappropriate material.

In addition to that short conversation, I am in the process of writing down the 'house rules'. Rules, curfews, chores, expectations, consequences and rewards will be clearly outlined. These 'house rules' will be generated in collaboration with FS#2 so that that I have his buy in. This will hopefully avoided in confusion or miscommunication. Also, it will help to keep me honest.
I'm not suggesting that this will work for every kid; FS#2 and I are bonded, he doesn't like to disappoint me, he likes to please me and feels guilt when does disappoint me.

Oh and if anyone is interested, when I went and checked the inappropriate material had been removed and he came to me and told me that I had permission to look at his account anytime I wanted, now and even when he gets his own computer. [He is still holding out hope, though I think a little bit more demonstration of responsibility and better decision making skills are in order first]

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Surprise!

Got a text message from FS#1. He told me to keep an eye out for a package he is sending me. He hopes I like the present. Oh little does he know...the fact that he even thought to send me a present and it not being my birthday, mother's day, or any holiday, pretty much assures I will like it no matter what.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ah Springtime

I haven't abandon my blog...spring is a busy time in the Boot household. To give you an example, since Monday (it is now sun.) I have officiated in 9 high school soccer games. 2 on Monday, 2 on Tuesday, 2 on Thursday, 1 on Friday and 2 on sat. On wed I was volunteering at a high school track meet. On Monday and Tuesday I had to drive 70 miles one way to get to the schools hosting the games. On Thursday, I thought I was going to have a break with a lawn chair game (a lawn chair game is a game where I can officiate the entire game sitting in a lawn chair at midfield) but 3 pm enroute to the game the assignor called and asked if I could do another game at 6:30! This second game was a game between two of the top teams in the district. There is no love lost between these two teams so I had to stay on top of the play. Did I mention I was the center ref for that game? You try to keep up with 16, 17 yo girls. The last 20 minutes of the game my calves started to cramp. So of course the game end in a tie and I had to get through 10 minutes of overtime. I could barely walk on Friday, forget running! Did I mention I had a game on Friday too? Sat was fun, got to do a girls and a boys game. Oh and later today I get to play in a soccer game. I would bag out but since we have someone on the team who is 63, I don't have much of an excuse!

People always ask me where did I learn to handle difficult teenagers? Well it comes from my experience of working with drunks (and other substance abusers) and officiating high school sports. Don't believe me? You imagine yourself in the middle of a field surrounded by 22 hormonally charged teenagers, with screaming biased coaches on the sidelines and surrounding by rabid parents fans! Now imagine if you lose control of the game and everyone is unhappy with you (and letting you know using very colorful language shouted at the tops of their lungs) and those hormonally charged teenagers are running amok on the field, sometimes violently. That one cop they have at the game will not be able to save you. And you always have in the back of your mind that youth sports officials have been assaulted. So a raging foster problem

All of this occur at the same time that FS#2 was having a bad week. Let's see I got two phone calls from school and on the same day I may add. He went to the mall without permission, and conned a member of the village to take him. He got busted at school because of naked pictures of himself on his email account (phone call # 1, phone call #2 was to tell me he had to serve an in-school suspension for a completely different matter!). Which resulted in me spending a lovely morning reading every email, looking through every file, reading every chat and scrolling through every web page he went to. Part of the result of this was I requested a meeting with FS#2 team (mental health counselor, social worker and foster care worker) and got it the very next day! Where we planned out a safety plan to deal with a child who is emotional and socially 12 but is trapped in the body of a 16 yo, with a 16 yo sexuality. Ah springtime when a child's mind turns to sex love!

In addition, I am trying to get my garden in. I got one 4' by 4' bed planted with cool weather crops, but I still need to get a second 4' x 4' bed constructed and prepared for the first of the summer crops.

I think my next blog I'll talk bout how foster care is handled around these parts 'cause compared to some of the blogs I read I got it pretty good here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Love Story

Got an email today from FS#1. It was a short email, only 4 lines, but he said 'I love you' or 'I miss you' like 5 times in this short email. And everytime I read 'I love you' or 'I miss you' my heart broke just a little.

I've read enough adoption/foster care blogs to know that some Mom's out there in blogsphere would jump for joy to hear those words uttered by their child. And yet these words are breaking my heart. And why? First of all he is saying so much more than 'I love you I miss you'. He is seeking/needing reassurance, he is saying 'I love you I miss you', I need you. Do you love me? Do you miss me? Do you need me? Without you I am not sure I know who I am. I trust you. I can be me with you. I feel safe with you. I can only sleep well when I am at home. Don't leave me. Ever. Please.

Second of all, this is new behavior. Since Feb. every email, every text contains multiple 'I love you I miss you'. Sometimes the only thing he says in the text is 'I love you I miss you'. During his first semester of college I received lots of texts, but they were mostly about college life and classes and people he met and how college wasn't anything like high school. His communications were relaxed, joyful and carefree. Now, they seem clingy, desperate and needy. So what changed? What happened? I don't think it is a coincidence that these 'I love you I miss you' emails started about the same time as the sudden contact with relatives of his birth mother. Out of the blue his aunts contacted him through FB. Why now? He hasn't seen or heard from them since he 3. What do they want? Does this change who he is? Do they want to be part of his life? Should he, can he, let them be part of his life? How does this affect my relationship with TT? These are the questions he asked me during a 90 minute phone call. This contact has shaken him to his very core. It has made him uncertain. It has made him question who he is.

For the last 18 months, every since he moved in, FS#1 has been happy. He has told me he does not remember the last time he felt happy and certainly not the happiness he feels now. He belongs. He has a family. He has a Mom. He chose me to be his mom and I chose him to be my son. He has a home. He has a safe place to come back to. He has an anchor. And this anchor gives him the freedom to fly, to freely explore all that is out there, to be able to take chances, to have enough time, space and safety to figure out who he is. And all because I chose him to be my son and he chose me to be his mom. As more months pass he tells me he finds it harder and harder to remember the bad times. The time before. He used going away to college as an opportunity to choose his identity, to define who he is and what type of person he wants to be. At college, he no longer was just a foster child, he no longer was defined by his traumatic past. Oh he does not deny who he is or what is past is but he gets to choose who knows what. He has a parent to come to parent's weekend, he has a mom whom he can talk about, talk to. He gets to tell stories about family vacations and all the stupid, wonderful things that families do. He does not deny he is a foster kid, but he no longer has to be defined by it, he now has the opportunity to be so much more. I am proud of the young man he is becoming and yes, I tell him that at every opportunity. But now, he is uncertain, now he is unsure, now he is insecure, now he is not sure what or where his foundation is. And the gates of hell are prevailing.

And so my heart breaks.

But I realize I do have one gift I can give him that may help him feel more secure in his foundation. I can adopt him. He knows that I am committed to him, that I love him, that I will always be there for him, that no matter what he does he will always be my son. But like committed unmarried couples who have stated that getting that of paper does make a difference in the relationship, he has no tangible symbol of my commitment to him. An adoption decree would give him that tangible symbol. It would mean that I am his mom and he is my son, we are a family, permanently, legally. What God has brought together, let no one tear asunder.

And so I proposed to him that I adopt him. He has not given me his answer yet, but I overheard him telling friends that he will probably be changing his last name to 'Boot'. So I'm thinking that his answer will be yes when he finally gets around to telling me. And I'm also hoping that once FS#1 has a permanent, legal foundation, he will have the confidence and security to explore his roots, to contact his mom's relatives, to incorporate that part of him into his identity.

So, and this may sound strange, I hope that upon his adoption there will be fewer 'I love you I miss you', that he can go back to taking things for granted. That he will no longer need to say 'I love you I miss you' because he needs reassurance. Oh, I hope he will still say 'I love you' to me, but it will be as he takes the $20 from my hand as he flies out the door to hang out with his friends.

I hope that upon his adoption when I do read 'I love you I miss you' my heart will swell not break because he is certain, he is secure, he knows what, where and whom his foundation is. And hell will no longer prevail.

Upon this rock
I chose you to be my son
You chose me to be your mom
Mom, I love you, I miss you, Son

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Interlude #4

Conversation I had with FS#1 this week.

FS#1: I have a bump on my back

Me: A pimple?

FS#1: No! A bump!

Me: Did you fall?

FS#1: No, it's a bump, kinda like a pimple but bigger!

Me: [thinking for a bit] When was the last time you showered?

FS#2: Night before I started going back to track practice (issues with shin splints)

Me: You mean Sunday? (it is now wed)

FS#2: No! the night before I went back to track practice. Didn't I go back on Friday...what day did I start back up?

Me: [thinking if it was Friday, that is even worse] No you started back on Monday.

FS#2: oh

Me: The reason I asked is sometimes your pores can get clogged with dirt and cause bumps.

FS#2: oh

At this point he got up and went and took a shower. I am so proud of myself. I managed to have this entire conversation without saying eeewh, gross, without making faces and not telling him what to do, well directly anyway!

Friday, March 26, 2010


I have been reading many a blog where the parents are having problems with their foster kids lying. I want to state right here and now that MY KIDS DON'T LIE! Nope, not ever, never, cross their hearts and hope to die, stick a needle in their eye.

Now before y'all start thinking I must be the most naive foster parent on the face of the earth. let me clarify. My kids don't lie; in whatever language they speak, in whatever reality they exist in and on whatever planet they came from, they are telling the truth. Just because I wasn't born on planet WTF?? and don't speak the language, bullcrap, does not mean I should assume they are lying. And don't get me started on the language barrier! I mean the words sound very much like English and I leave conversations thinking I have a grasp on what they mean, only to find out later that I was surely mistaken.

So what do I do as we are trying to learn each other's language, trying to find areas of commonality so that we can live somewhat peacefully on the same planet? Well, like Mother Issues, I use the 'trust AND verify' model. I pass no judgements on statements until such time as I can verify said statements. And verification does not occur until either 1) I can validate the statements using my 5 senses (touch, see, taste, hear or smell) or 2) they can be validated by an unbiased, external source. I spend a lot of time responding to blatant falsehoods statements with non sequiturs like "Oh really", "Isn't that interesting", "You don't say" and one of my favorites "I never quite looked at it that way".

And what do I do when I verify that that their alternate reality is clashing with mine? I chalk it up to the language barrier and try to reach some kind of common ground. Instead of arguing over 'who' spilled the kool-aid ('who' is apparently one of those words that don't translate well, along with 'where', 'what, 'when', 'how' and 'why'), I say "Hmmmm, let's get this kool-aid cleaned up before it stains". Now I know translation is a tricky skill so I have to work extra specially hard to make sure I say things like "I'm sure there was a misunderstanding 'cause when I talked to so and so parent, they knew nothing about driving you guys to the movie so how was it you are getting there?" Yeah, yeah, yeah I know, this often leads to additional statements spoken in a foreign language. But, then because I am having trouble understanding I would offer to drive child and said friend to movies and even offer to watch the movie with them. All in the hopes of increasing understanding, of course. Sometimes my helpful offers are rejected, which is sad cause then the child doesn't get to see that movie. Sometimes my brain hurts from trying to translate so I resort to simple words like 'No', which ends the conversation for me, but rarely for them. Fortunately, I am a sports official and like all sports officials I am legally, deaf, dumb and blind (job requirement!) so I am not bothered by the screeching and excessive dramatics that usually follows the word 'No'.

Hopefully, over time my kids and I will have fewer and fewer translation errors as we develop common points of reference, but until AND verify.

Which reminds me, I need to call another parent to verify he is indeed driving the kids to a concert tonight...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Do not be fooled

My household doesn't always run smoothly. I am not describing perfect children here, after all they are teenagers. Living with teenagers is a bit like living with cats:
  • they accept affection on their terms
  • they spend most of their time ignoring you
  • they have sharp claws
  • they will turn and scratch/hiss at you seemly without provocation
  • they want you to clean up their messes and if you don't they will make messes out of the proscribed area
  • they sleep all day
  • they want to go out all night
  • they don't want to tell you where they been
  • Some have an aversion to soap and water
  • they want to eat on demand
  • they can be picky eaters
  • they act as if they are in charge
  • your sole purpose in life is to serve them
  • they can be cute fuzzy and fun to be around
So, how do I live with the cats in my house? I recognize that like cats I can't control my teens behavior. Therefore, I have very few rules and what rules I have I set up in collaboration with them. I try to see things through their eyes. I know that at age 18 the are legally and technically adults (adults my ass, whoever made that decision should be shot!) and therefore can chose to leave my house for freedom independence. However, the only way they have any hope of being successful on their own is to develop and learn responsibility and the only way to learn responsibility is through practice. So I set up boundaries/responsibilities to help them learn to succeed without me hovering over them, for example, FS#2's computer time. I set the computer up so that certain types of sites are blocked and there are limits on time of day and how long the computer can be used. These were set up in collaboration with him and he agreed to the limits. If something is unreasonable he can come to me and present a good logical reason for why for example a site should be unblocked I do it. I have the same parental controls set up for his phone. I monitor both phone and computer use and if something inappropriate occurs I block, limit or whatever. Usually he doesn't complain because he knew he violated the rules. When he comes to me to get privilege reinstated. (and he has to come to me, I don't tell him I took the privilege away, I just do it and that is it) we talk about. If appropriate the privilege gets reinstated but only after we agree on what will happen the next time privilege is abused. Have avoided many arguments that way, not the sulking, pouting, poor pitiful me, you are only doing this because I'm a foster child attitude though. But we have come up with a solution for that too...if you are going to be in a bad mood, do not share it with everyone, do it in your room.

So far this approach seems to be working for me, but dear god, developing expectations and figuring out appropriate consequences is is hard work and frequently exhausting. It would be much easier to just set rules and exact punishments. Except according to what I learn from Raising Resilient Youth,* my job is as a parent is to teach and model responsibility and not just retaliate for when they disappoint me.

*Raising Resilient Youth is one unit of a youth and family strengthening program provided by COPES, Inc.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


IRL= in real life. FS#2 finally has an IRL friend! Oh, if you asked him he has lots of friends, see as he points to his friends list on FB. He chats with them all the time and even talks to some of them on the phone. Okay so he talks to them on the phone a lot according to the detailed billing (and yes I have detailed billing so I can track who his talking to. I have even been known to causally ask who his is talking to, record the time, then go into detailed billing so I can put names to numbers). But all of these 'people' live in different states or countries (had to put a block on that!), and he has never met them. As far as I'm concerned, they are not "real" friends. But he now has a friend that you can reach out and touch, see, hear and smell! I have met this friend so I know he is real and I have even been to the friends house and met his parents! Oh happy days!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Interlude #3

Last night FS#2 announced that he was becoming a vegetarian, of course this is while he was eating BBQ. I am still trying to figure out what his definition of vegetarian is. As close as I can figure out he will not eat meat (but chicken, fish and shellfish are ok) except for at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SpongeBob's On!

"It's 7:30 and SpongeBob's on" This is the statement that I utter every morning Monday through Friday.

"It's 7:30 and SpongeBob's on" I utter this statement as I am knocking on FS#2's door to wake him up so he can make the bus.

"It's 7:30 and SpongeBob's on" Keep in mind FS#2 is 16, a little old for Spongebob, but that is where he is emotionally--about 12. His favorite programs are Spongebob, iCarly, and other programs aired on Nick and Disney channels. And when I make the announcement that SpongeBob's on he gets up, runs down the stairs, throws himself in the recliner and squeals "SpongeBob's on!"

When FS#2 first moved in, he was a pro at getting himself up and ready for school. After 3 months not so much, as I documented in a previous post. A similar thing happen with FS#1. Though the routine was different. "Time to get up" [Silence] "Time to get up" [Silence] (repeat at least 2 more times) "I'm not leaving here until I hear feet hit floor and see your smiling face" Eventually the door cracks open and my job is done.

So why do I think this happens? Is it because I'm being soft, allowing myself to be taken advantage of or some other form of control by the kids that screams lack of discipline in my house?

I don't think so. I was complaining telling one of my co-workers the story about the morning routine with FS#1. Her response "Isn't it nice that yours is the first face he sees in the morning" Well that statement certainly brought me up short and caused me to think. Could it be that this child who has made it a habit to reject every caretaker he has had in his life is doing this to give me the chance to nurture him? A way to nurture him that does not involve any verbal, physical or emotional expressions of love? A way to nurture him that his hurt mind can accept? Hmmmm something to think about.

I read an article by Claudia Fletcher titled "Retracing Developmental Stages to Help Older Children Heal". In the article she outlines some of the developmental stages adoptive families can expect to see as the older child integrates into the family. My take home message? Parent the child where they are and not where you think they should be.

I received some confirmation that I might be on the right track with FS#1 when he announced during Christmas break from college that I am the only person who can seem to get him up in the morning. My translation of this statement, I'm the only person he trusts enough. A little background history with FS#1, when he first came into care, he literally barricaded himself in his room, he slept with a light on and peed in containers in his room so he didn't have to come out at night. Clearly in his world, bad things happen at night in his bedroom. Flash forward, he now only locks his door (and not all the time), doesn't need a night light and gets up to use the toilet in the middle of the night.

So if showing them that I love them and care about them means I have to get them up every single school day, then that's what I'll do.

"It's 7:30 and SpongeBob's on"

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's just paint

When the boys moved in I try to do something that would make them feel welcomed in my home and make their room feel like it is indeed their room. The something generally involves paint. Painting their rooms is a nice bonding experience.

I asked FS#1 what color he wanted to paint his room, he could paint it any color after all it is just paint. So of course he picked black. Great, calling my bluff, the thought of a total black room was...shudder. So we negotiated on one black wall. Then he asked if he could have his friends sign his walls. I told him that we could work with that. There just so happens to be something called blackboard paint and we can paint an entire wall with it so he and his friends can draw on the wall all you want. In the end, he ended up with a dark grey wall and ceiling, gold walls and centered in the middle of the dark grey wall, one fantastic chalkboard. The color scheme would not be my choice but I have to admit, it worked. I got him those liquid chalk pens that come in brilliant fluorescent colors (and are washable--bonus!) to use on the chalk board. I also told him he was responsible for what his friends wrote on the wall. If I was forced to remove inappropriate writing, I would not be held responsible for what all I erased. He did a great job of policing his friends.

Fast forward to the week before he went to college. FS#1 and I were sitting on his bed staring at his wall. He talked about how much he loved that wall, pointed out favorite or special graffiti how cool his friends thought the wall was and that he was the only one in his posse that had something like this. He also wished he could take the wall to college with him. I told him he could take a picture of is wall for college, but that the wall will still be here for when he comes home.

Now I know that the chalk board was all about marking his territory, staking his claim or whatever. I also know that part of the desire to write on the walls stems from an early developmental age that he did not get to experience. The wall is also tangible representation of permanency. I know all that psycho babble stuff, but what is really important, that wall made me the coolest mom in his posse!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

10 am and it is still quiet

By the sound of complete quiet (okay with the exception of FS#2 cats who apparentely got into the cat nip and are partying down in his room), you wouldn't know that there are 4 teenage boys in my house! Well you wouldn't know it as long as I don't look in the kitchen where the remains from the midnight snacks are still waiting for me to clean them up.

Because of the instability of FS#1 early childhood, he never had very many friends. So now his friends are very important to him. So important that bad decisions have been made because of wanting to keep friends close. So important that he and his close friends traveling in packs when he is home on breaks. And I do mean travel in a pack. Enough so that one of his friends annouced when he walked through the door that it was good to see me cause he missed my cooking! The pack alternates at whose house they sleep and tonight it was at my house.

Permanency means having a house where your friends can just drop in and hang out for a while.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Thank you to all of you who responded to my depressing rant (double entrendre intended). I am not usually so race sensitive, race concious--yes, race sensitive--no. I intend for this blog to be about my foster sons' journey, not's not always about me (through I have a t-shirt that states otherwise--no really I do!). And thank you for your blog recommendations! I will be checking them out. You know that old saying 'it would help if babies came with a manual'? Well it is doublely true when parenting tramatized kids, a manual would be really helpful! But, alas there is not one, so I read other people's blogs to learn tips, people who are also parenting tramautized kids, kids who already been tramautized in other situations, so as not to continually tramautize them in my home. If that makes any sense. And during my search I found a missing voice, the voice of black foster parents. Which doesn't mean that I can't learn from non black foster parents (can and do), but...

Now shhhhh I going to let you in on a little secret...all black people are not the same! Yep, it's true, just cause I am black does not mean I know about all things black--just ask FS#1. FS#1 disrupted his pre-adoptive placement in part because of race--so he says. Now I am and still friends with his former pre-adoptive family and was in and out of their house during FS#1 stay there. There were issues and race was one, but IMHO the major one, I think not. However, I do think that it was the easy one for him to complain about. And in his case some of the misunderstandings revolved around hair. FS#1 is vain about his hair and he currently wears it cornrow with braids. His former pre-adoptive parents weren't interested in learning how to take care of black hair, and turned over that responsibility to him. All of this worked okay until the pre-adoptive parents found out in order to save money FS#1 was having his hair done in the projects by a crack whore. And no, I am not just stereotyping here, this person was a crack whore but because of professional ethics I can't reveal how I know. His pre-adoptive parents hit the ceiling! Oh did I mention they found out because the crack whore accused FS#1 of stealing money and was trying to blackmail them into paying xxx amount of money or she would file police charges? So the pre-adoptive parents forbid FS#1 from going there to have his hair done, you know for safety reasons. However to FS#1 they were discriminating against him because of black hair and its not his fault that the only people who could do his hair for $10 are crack whores!

Now I bet you are wondering why I wondered down this memory lane and what it has to do with the depressing post, aren't you? Good question. Okay punch line of this story; imagine FS#1 surprise when I told him that 1) I don't do hair. Dear god I pay someone else to do MY hair and I DON'T KNOW HOW TO CORNROW! Braid, yes, cornrow, no. 2) his hair is his responsibility and no he can't pay a crack whore $10 to do his hair (oh and for point of reference, if FS#1 went to a salon he would have to pay $50-$90 in my little neck of the woods to have his hair braided; also FS#1 recieved a very generous allowance from me, 25% of his foster care stipend and I got extra money because of his special medical needs so he could pay to have his hair done professionally).

So you see, I need the help, advice and perspective of other black foster parents.

PS. FS#1 very cleverly found a way to have his hair done even cheaper, like for free. He realized some of his friends in high school were going to voctech school in cosmotology and they needed to log many hours of practice before they took their licensing test. Voila, match made in heaven!

Interlude #2

FS#1 had successfully passed his 18th birthday without leaving foster care. His sw and the foster care placement worker were so pleased with his placement they asked me about taking in another teen. I told them I would have to take it up with FS#1 cause the decision would effect him and I didn't think he was ready to give up his only child status.

So I broached the subject of another foster child with FS#1 and his response to me was:

"Oh no! You don't know what you will get!"

Ah, how quickly they forget!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

College essay

This is an excerpt from FS#1 college essay; all identifying information has been removed. The essay is reprinted here both with his permission and in his language (I edited the final copy for grammar). The imagery that he invokes nearly brought me to tears the first time I read it.


I was raised around a lot of people who went away and came back. They were not the best people to influence a child and throughout my life I’ve had to rise above much of what I have experienced. I have come to know the meaning of hard work after participating in a lot of extracurricular and life activities. They became my escape from the environment I have worked so hard to overcome. With so much negativity around me, I’ve learned how to listen and learn from the mistakes of my many foster parents.

People around me made a point to say that I could not succeed. I was told that like most, I would become a product of my environment. College was far off for me, something I would hear about only while watching television. My street was filled with “has-beens:” high school basketball players with talent who believed they were going to the big show. Even for my gifted neighbors, college was not an option because of grades and our horrible school system. I felt as if I was going to become like them -- just another statistic. Starting over was something I had gotten used to in my life, having already moved to my third foster family by then. I’ve handled those changes and have come to depend on the unsteady nature of my home life. Most of these sudden changes I had little control over. Leaving on somebody else’s terms was the theme of my life.

During high school I had another family switch and decided to play sports as a means of coping. Since 10th grade I have managed four varsity sports in three seasons. With the challenge of home and school, sports helped me to balance study and a busy schedule. It gave me skills in problem solving and in expressing myself, but more importantly, it was a great distraction to situation.

My goal is to create the circumstances of my life and going to college is the first step. As I’ve gotten old enough to think about my future, it has become important to me to live on my own terms with healthy goodbyes and encouraging support. I want the chance to be happy and I know that going to college will propel me into an environment where that is really possible.

What ever happened to my perfect child?

When FS#2 moved in 3 months ago, he worked so hard to be that 'perfect' child...he so desperately wanted to be in a family. Though initially I was not the family he wanted. He didn't want to live with a single black woman--check. He didn't want to be the only child in the house--check. Anyway, he was up, dressed and sitting downstairs by 6 am waiting to go to school even tho the bus didn't come 'til 8 am. He room was meticulously clean as was the bathroom. He removed his laundry from the dryer immediately. He did his chores without asking. He showered every night. Ah, those were the days.

Fast forward to 3 months later. I have to drag him out of bed to make the bus. There are clothes scattered all over his room (along with dishes, apparently he wakes up hungry in the middle of the night and needs to snack, which in his case is generally a repeat of dinner including vegetables!). His clothes have been sitting in the dryer for 3 days now. Chores?! Oh he does them when I remind him, but he is a pro at walking by work without seeing it. He showers, but not frequently enough (for my taste) now that he is running track (nothing like the smell of boy stank wrafting through the air and contary to their belief, febreeze is not a substitute for soap and water). Ah, he is beginning to display the oh so annoying behaviors of a 'real' teen!

I am both horrified and overjoyed at his progress! The last time I had this conflicting feeling was when FS#1 shared with me his FB page!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I have searched the blogsphere looking for foster care blogs written by people who kinda sorta are like me. And so far I have found bumpkiss. Oh I have found a few blogs written by people who are fostering/adopting older adolescents, but those are few and far between. I have even found blogs written by heathens like myself, but the one characteristic I have that seems to be missing from the blog world is blogs written by Black foster care parents! Where oh where are you? Cause I know you exist.

For the record, I am:
  • NOT religious--God did not call me to do this work or if god did it is not the Christian God. I have been know to show up to church, an open and affirming UCC church, which I like to say are UU's who believe in Christ through that is not a requirement. I association with this church because of their social justice work. I believe in the philosophy that you can be part of the problem or part of the solution. I choose to be part of the solution.
  • Black, or African-American or person of color or whatever the current PC term is. The titles may change, I however, stay the same.
  • Single
  • Gay
  • and a foster parent to two teenage boys
Now I know that it would be a miracle to find another blogger with all those same attributes so I'm willing to settle for the important ones, fostering teens and Black foster parent. And those two don't even have to be in the same package!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Interlude #1

I took FS#1 to a department store to buy him a dress shirt and tie for his prom. FS#1 wasn't too sure about this process as he has never bought any clothes from a department store, only the X-marts and maybe if he was lucky Tarjay. So I am almost dragging him to the men's department. Of course he had no idea what size shirt he wore, but I told him not to worry, that's what the little sales doobies were there for, its their job. So I got the attention of one of the sales doobies and dragged him over to FS#1. I informed the sales doobie that FS#1 needed a dress shirt for the prom, but he had no idea what size he wore. So....the sales doobie got out his tape measure and proceeded to take FS#1 chest, neck, arm and back measurements. The look on FS#1 face while this was happening was priceless, this experience was sooooo far out of FS#1 box. He had the exact same look on his face as when he was at the airport getting the pat down! Anyway, after trying on a few shirts, he selected a french cut white dress shirt. We then selected a tie that would match his girlfriends dress (I was surprised at how well the tie matched gf dress; FS#1 is not known for his observation powers).

Once we got home, FS#1 ran upstairs to try on the new shirt. About 2 minutes later he came flying down the steps (I think he only hit 2 or 3 of them) threw the shirt at me and flung his self on the couch announcing "This shirt is booby trapped!" It took me a few seconds to realize that he was referring to THE PINS in the shirt! ROTFLMAO! I helped him get all the pins out of the shirt and he tried it on. He was amazed at how well it fit. It was the first shirt that actually fit in the arms and wasn't super baggy in the waist. He was very pleased with his bad self.

I am raising two only children

Sigh, the foster parent strategy of raising them as only children seems to be working for me so far. However, I have forgotten how soul-sucking having both of them at home can be.

When FS#1 moved in I realized that he needed to be the only child in the house. He needed and deserved to have 100% of a parent's attention for a change. I told the foster care people that I couldn't take in another teen until I was certain that FS#1 felt secure enough to be ready to share me. I figure that would happen, oh about the time he went to college. So I set about spoiling trying to provide a ‘normal’ senior year experience for him. Which included such things as getting and paying for his cell phone, getting him an x-box for christmas, throwing him a big-ass 18th birthday party, helping him get his driver’s license AND letting him drive my car, buying him a dress shirt and a decent tie (from a department store instead of Wally World) for his prom, allowing him to have friends over, allowing him to spend the night at friends houses and traveling all over the state to attend athletic events (you really know you have become a parent when you are sitting in the pouring rain at a athletic event and the only other people in the stands are the other parents of the team).

So, after FS#1 went to college, I decided that I could have another foster kid (ok so I was experiencing empty nest syndrome!). Ran the idea by FS#1 and he was concerned until I assured him that the new kid would not be put into his room. New kid would have his own room. Funny story, FS#1 sw, Wonderful, was also concerned what would happen to FS#1 if new kid moved in. I had to assure her too, that I was still committed to FS#1 and that his place in the house hierarchy would not be altered. So it was all cleared for FS#2 to move in.

Now since FS#1 is at college, for all intents and purposes, FS#2 is an only child except for school breaks when FS#1 comes home (Oh and when I travel all over the state to attend FS#1 athletic events; he is playing sports in college). The problem comes in that both boys are used to being only children and having 100% of my time and they still behave that way when they both are in the house. It is subtle, there are no fights or confrontations between them, in fact that are quite courteous with each other. But do not be fooled they are still competing for my attention. For example, FS#1 wrote on my christmas gift tag “From your first born”. A not-so-subtle reminder of his place in the hierarchy. They are always checking to see if I have given the other something they don’t have or I’m doing something for the other that I didn’t do for (with) them.

Trying to balance both of their needs is exhausting, emotionally and physically. I hate to say it, but as much as I love having FS#1 home, it is always a bit of a relief when he goes back to college. I always feel like I need to sleep for 24 hours, but of course I can’t ‘cause I’m busy helping FS#2 become a ‘real’ boy (traveling all over the state for athletic events, helping him get his driver’s license....)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I am feeling so old...

Conversation I had in the car with FS#2

FS#2: "Who is Elton John"

Me: "A famous entertainer, a music icon"

FS#2: " he gay"

Me: "Yes"

FS#2: "Would straight people have heard about him?"

Me: "Ah...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Alcohol and Sex Education

Sigh, I may have to start a private blog to record the alcohol and sex talks I have with the boys. Apparentely, I have miscommunicated (again!) the house alcohol policy to man-child FS#1. Is there a word that says NO better than no? You would think that FS#1 would have gotten the message after being arrested for things that stemmed from bad decisions made while under the influence, spending 36 hours in jail, having multiple court dates, spending at least $1,000 of his own money, having a suspended license and other inconviences. But apparentely not. Oh to be 19 and stupid.

I need to have phase 2 talk with FS#2 on sex. Now I know plenty of 20ish and 30ish gay health educators who can do this all important education for me, but the problem people's busy schedules and 16 yo hormones are not compatible. So, into the abyss I go. It doesn't help that the information I pass on to FS#2 will be shared with peers...that is what happen with the phase 1 talk. The pressure, the pressure.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Last night around 5:30 pm got a text from FS#1, "Im catchn a ride ride late tonight!" I translate messaage to be I'm catching a ride home late tonight. Apparently, FS#1 has no classes on friday (how the heck he swing that?!) and found a ride home for spring break early. I wasn't expecting him until sat.!

So at 11:30 pm got text "Im just leavin nw" It's a 2.5 hour drive from College to Home. So first thing I text back is "Is ur ride dropping u off @ house?" An hour later I get the reply that it is indeed door to door service. So what do I do? Stay up waiting for FS#1 to arrive home. He arrives around 2 am and second thing he does is hit the fridge (the 1st thing is to give me a BIG hug).

FS#1 is very glad to be home on spring break. He is HOMESICK. The fact that he is homesick is a big deal. This is the kid who planned to walk out of the system on his 18th birthday. This is the kid who couldn't wait to leave every single placement he had...until now. Poor kid, just before he left for college he realized that for the first time he wasn't running away from a living situation. He got HOMESICK. He got homesick before he even left home! This was the first place that was Home, a safe secure place to be. Never Ever Underestimate the power of PERMANENCY.

So now I'm tired, couldn't sleep in like FS#1 cause had to get up to make sure FS#2 got off to school, but I wouldn't have it anyother way.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Where does all the food go?!

Last night I baked 20 chicken legs with the idea there would be leftovers. This morning there are 3 count 'em 3 chicken legs in the fridge! Now I ate 2 last night for dinner and I put 3 on FS#2 plate, but that leaves 12 chicken legs unaccounted for! Wait, I packed FS#2's lunch so that accounts for 3 more. Hmmm 9 chicken legs disappeared overnight. And I don't buy the excuse that the cats ate them.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Statements commonly heard around my house...

no, No, NO!

How's that working out for ya?

Sucks to be you

Ya might wanta think about doin' something different--just sayin'


Thanks for sharing (generally uttered with resigned sarcasm when FS#2 shares with me he is going to the bathroom....and why!)

That what are you going to now?

Ya think that is going to get you where you want to go?

You can kept arguing with me all you want, but the answer is still goin' be NO

Where is mean you ate the entire (fill in the blank)?!

Whatdya mean we are all out of (fill in the blank), I just went shopping yesterday!

That's what they're there for (FS#1 asking if he can share contents of condom drawer with his friends)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

That Pesky Pinocchio Syndrome

Sigh. Had a conversation with FS#2 after track practice today and that pesky pinocchio syndrome raised its ugly head. First of all, FS#2 was riding quite high from track practice. After yesterdays track practice (the first one of the outdoor season). he was in a snitty mood. No one would talk to him, there were too many kids dada dada. Some of his snitty mood was due to the fact he couldn't practice because the physical fitness forms hadn't been turned in, which of course was my fault. Today, he can't stop talking about how great track practice was, how much fun he had and how much he can't wait for the next one. He decided he must transition to the Mainstream High School from his Alternative School. He was talking about how he can get along with most kids even those who smoke dope or drink. Of course HE won't smoke dope or drink but he could still get along and hang out with them. Sigh. All I said to him was have to be careful who you hang out with cause sometimes you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time and get in trouble even if you weren't doing anything. What I was thinking was how FS#1 believed the same thing and for his generosity and open-mindness ended up arrested and spending 36 hours in jail and he was INNOCENT!

Oh that desire to be liked, to have friends and to be just like everyone else is going to get these boys swallowed by the sea monster.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Joys of Co-parenting with Social Workers

Social Workers; can't live with 'em, but that doesn't stop them from interfering with you parenting your foster child! I know, I know, that when I signed up for this gig that I was opening my life up to scrutiny and unwanted, ridiculous and interfering helpful advice from the 'professionals', but if they don’t want this child blowing out of this placement too (FS#2 blew out of two placements in 9 months), then they need to stop undermining my authority!

FS#2 goes to the alternative school because of his behavioral difficulties. I finally got a meeting schedule with the school to go over his IEP (or the ‘I know he has behavioral problems but that is no excuse not to teach him’ meeting). The meeting was schedule for the first day of track practice. Due to my nagging advocating, FS#2 is going to be able to run track at the Mainstream HS. FS#2 is VERY excited by this; FS#2 longs to be just like everyone else, i.e. not a foster kid. He doesn’t want to miss the first day of track practice. I explained to him that he would make practice, would only miss the first 15 minutes or so of practice. So...FS#2 went a changed the meeting to the day before the first day of track practice. Of course the first time I heard about the meeting change is when FS#2 sw, Eager, called to inform me. And by now of course the meeting change is a done deal and Eager doesn’t see what my problem is. In this same conversation, Eager also mentioned that it was time for FS#2 quarterly review, which maybe we shouldn’t schedule after school because of track practice. Now I explained to Eager that track practice is EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK and with the number of appointments that FS#2 has, he will occasionally miss some practices because between missing practice and missing school, I’m going to pick practice every time. I guess I’m just weird like that. It’s not like I’m at rookie at this, FS#1 ran track for Mainstream HS for 4 years! And this includes the year he was in a group home and you can just imagine how difficult it was for him to get to practice then. The coach understands the situation and gives latitude.

And speaking of which, FS#1 holds Mainstream HS records in the events he ran, so....guess what events FS#2 wants to run! Talk about sibling rivalry!

On top of this, FS#2 went off on me about having to attend the quarterly meeting. He doesn’t understand why he has to go to all these meetings (we just had the home visit last week and the school meeting this week). All these meetings just remind him he is in foster care and he wants to be a ‘real’ boy. Ah yes, the Pinocchio Syndome

Friday, February 19, 2010

The backpack is gone!

As I watched FS#2 board the bus, I realized that he didn't have his backpack. Since this morning's bus boarding did not go smoothly, we are still not on strict bedtime schedule from the 2 weeks of enforced no school, I was thinking he just forgot it in the rush. Then I realized I haven't seen him with is backpack in weeks. I checked his room and lo and behold the backpack was completely unpacked!

When FS#2 first moved in he took his backpack with him EVERYtime we left the house. We could be driving to the end of the driveway to check for the mail, didn't matter, backpack came with him. In the backpack was all the things that were important to him, journal, artwork, stories he had written, cards, anything that he felt made up his identity. Clearly FS#2 suffers from abandoment issues--like no duh! When you never knew if/when your Mom was going to come back to pick you up, you learn to be prepared.

I guess FS#2 has decided that he might be staying here longtime after all.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Think Pink!

Last night was the Think Pink! basketball game for raising awareness about breast cancer. FS#2 loves to go with me to the women’s basketball games. Sporting events are one place where his over the top ADHD behavior will be tolerated and he gets to hang out with The Village. So when I came out wearing a pink race shirt over my long sleeve shirt, he complained that he didn’t have anything pink to wear to the game. He ended up selecting my pink Ann Taylor blouse to wear to the game. As I stood there watching FS#2 model his snazzy sartorial outfit (my pink blouse, over a black t-shirt, wearing a hat and sunglasses) I had conflicting emotions:

That FS#2 is wearing MY Ann Taylor blouse

That FS#2 is wearing a woman’s blouse and I’m finding it disconcerting

That I’m disconcerted by this

That clearly I need to work more on my cultural competency and acceptance


So off the the game we go. It was a fantastic game (my team won!) and FS#2 was, well....FREAKIN' FABULOUS! All the middle school girls thought he was charming and was taking his picture (little did they know their girly charms and flirtatious looks had no effect on FS#2). At one point he was running up the stairs of the arena, I swear he was channeling Roy Schneider in a dance number from “All that Jazz”. It was most definitely Showtime!

It always amazes me how much my attempt to be the best parent for my foster sons have changed me. In order for me to parent them better, I have been forced to confront and resolve some of my deep-seated issues. In order for me to parent them better, I have struggled to overcome prejudices I didn’t even know I had. In order to parent them better I have had to let go of control so that they can become the best people for them and not who I think they should be.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I'm saying a little prayer...

that FS#2 will go to school tomorrow! 2 weeks out of school, sheez. If he doesn't go back to school soon, I will probably have to check in with a 12 step program.

Is it child abuse...

to take advantage of your child’s neurosis for your own personal gain?

FS#2 (whose story I will eventually get around to summarizing) had a chaotic childhood. One of the outcomes of this chaotic childhood is his need to keep his personal space neat and organized. Almost obsessively so. Now I am only an average housekeeping (as mentioned in another post), quite frankly I usually have better things to do than clean, and now the FS#2 is becoming more comfortable living here, his personal space is expanding beyond his bedroom.

So when he becomes a little stressed, like after being trapped in the house because of back-to-back-to-back snowstorms, he cleans. Yesterday, he reorganized the junk room, cleaned the living room and kitchen (Ha! He now just demonstrated that he CAN indeed put dishes in the dishwasher!). Now I should add that FS#2 has a few issues with ADHD, so he cleans like a whirling dervish and if anyone has worked with ADHD kids, they know that sometimes attention deficient can translate into unreasonable focused, so it is hard to direct or guide his cleaning efforts. So he has a tendency to clean what he thinks needs attention and not where I would prefer. Also remember that his cleaning jags generally only occur when he is stressed, the rest of the time I still have to nag him to pick up after his self, put the dishes in the dishwasher, put the milk away, take his clothes upstairs etc... you know typically kid behavior. That all being said...

is it child abuse to loll around the house while your child cleans?

Friday, February 12, 2010

I should be grateful....

that FS#2 is cleaning, but I'm not. In part he is cleaning because he thinks I can not clean. Now I admit housecleaning is not my forte, but much of what he cleaned was HIS MESSES! He proudly annouced when I walked in the door that he cleaned the dishes and that he get to the dishes in the sink after they soaked. Hmmm the dishes in the sink that HE put there! He actually put dishes in the dishwasher (his dishes may I add, I put mine in the disherwasher) and he mopped the kitchen floor. The floor that was stained with kool-aid he spilled. He is very proud of himself.

I know I should be grateful, but right now I'm just annoyed. This will only make him more unbearable as he comments on my cleaning abilities (usually when I'm in the kitchen cleaning up after him).

So what did I do? I thanked and praised him for cleaning. I smiled through gritted teeth when he mentioned that the junk room really wasn't the messy (something I been saying all along) and thanked him again for his help.

Some days positive reinforcement gives me a headache.

People you will meet in this blog

Tho this blog is primarily a place for me to comment, vent or brag about my foster kids. Unfortunately, I have become one of those obsessed foster parents; I think about parenting all the time, I research parenting sites and blogs and I would talk about parenting all the time, except there is that pesky confidentiality issue... But in case anyone stumbles across my ramblings here is a guide to the people in my world.

TTBoot--me, the accidental foster parent. Been fostering since fall 2008.

FS#1--came to live with me in fall 2008 under kinship care (had prior relationship with him since he was 14) at age 17 years 9 months. Currently, a freshman in college.

FS#2--came to live with me christmas 2009 at age 16.

HoodRat--a former foster kid (left the system at 18) whom I befriended and try to mentor. If there is a bad decision to be made, HoodRat manages to find an even worst one. Currently homeless, almost 19 and surviving by couch surfing and using her assets.

The Village--as they say it takes a village to raise a child and I have gone out and begged and blackmailed (occasionally they have even volunteered, the silly fools) friends to help me with taking care of my foster sons.

Aunts Fun--special people in the village that have volunteered to put their lives under the microscope so that they can do respite care for FS#2.

Social and case workers:
Eager--young and clueless but has a good heart
Jaded--FS#2 sw, nuff said
Wonderful--FS#1 sw, has got to be one of the best sw in the world! FS#1 technically is an adult who has volunteered to stay in the system under independent living status. The system has no obligation to me whatsoever anymore. However, since FS#1 considers my house his home and this is where he comes during college breaks, his stuff is stored here and I'm the first person he calls for both good and bad stuff, she keeps me in the loop! She also does what she can to reimburse me for some expenses associated with FS#1, like driving him to college and housing and feeding during college breaks.

Accidental Foster parent--or how I came to foster parent

It was never my intention to be a foster parent--at one point in my life I considered it, but decided it was not for me. Ah the cruel irony of fate! I have known the future FS#1 since he ran away from home (if running away means his adoptive parent dropped him off at my Agency saying "You take him, I don't want him anymore" of course she denied this at her trial, but I am getting ahead of myself here). At the time I met the future FS#1 I was working at a local non-profit human services organization. I came in to work one morning and saw a teenager in one of the interview rooms. This chid was sitting there trying to make himself as small as possible. My heart went out to him. Then I heard the story and my heart damn near stopped. His story (or as much of it that can be told)...

FS#1 was born in Another State. What facts as I know them (Another State is noterious for bad record keeping) is that FS#1 was born to a drug addicted mother. FS#1 spent weeks in the hospital before he was released and then he was released directly into foster care. Unfortunately, during FS#1 infancy it was discovered that he suffered from a chronic disease that if provided with the proper medical care is managable, but without the proper medical care.... Sometime during the preteen years they left Another State and moved here. All during this time adoptive parent told FS#1 that he would not live past 10 and oops when he did stopped providing proper medical care. Now adoptive parent did not stop medical care, but the medical care became haphazard and as a result compromised FS#1 health. FS#1's MDs reported his deteriorating health to CPS, but the investigation kept coming back non-founded. In addition to the lack of proper medical care, FS#1 also suffer emotional, mental and physical abuse. Finally when he entered his teen years, FS#1 got one beating too many, he left home. CPS finally found for abuse and found that the abuse was serious enough to charge adoptive parent with neglect. The adoptive parent was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to 9 months. When FS#1 heard about the verdict his only reply was "Finally, someone believed me"

As I mentioned, I have known FS#1 since he left his adoptive home. As it turned out, I was also friends with the family who fostered him after he left his adoptive home. So I was privy to much that went right and then what went wrong with that placement. As I am fond of saying "the placement worked until it didn't". When it was working everyone (including FS#1; he even had the school change his last name to the foster family surname for his sports jersey) decided that adoption of FS#1 was the way to go. Then the placement wasn't working; FS#1 was acting out, he ran away, snuck out at night, etc... FS#1 put a stop to the adoption process, then figured out a way to disrupt the placement. However, what happened aftr the disruption was not part of his plan. He went from his foster home to a group home, to a therapeutic foster home, to a residential treatment program (RTP). Thoughout all of this I stayed in touch, mostly by just showing up at his athletic events (where he ignored me most of the time, but always checked to see if I was there before he belatenly ignored me). When he moved into the RTP, I got permission from his sw (Wonderful) to go and visit him once a week. During this time we developed our relationship, I brought him treats, books and took him out on passes. After a particularly emotional 4th of July (FS#1 cried for 3 days when he realized that he would never have family BBQ's; this was tiggered by a conversation with his peers), he started talking about giving living with a family another try. Up until then, he kept talking about leaving the system when he turned 18 cause he don't need no stinking family (Ah, those are my words, his were a bit more graphic).

Well we decided to give the having him live with me thing a go just in time for me to enroll in that fall's foster parenting classes. Wonderful decided that social services would do a kinship care with us since I had a prior relationship with FS#1 and it would be faster. So on Nov 21st 2008, FS#1 moved into my home at age 17 years 9 months. I knew at the time that if I didn't form a strong bond with FS#1, he would be walking out my door on his 18th birthday. Well to make a long story short, he didn't move out on his 18th birthday, he graduated from HS with an advance diploma, he took a did remarkedly average on his SATs and he is currently in college.

As part of the negogiating living in my house, I used the Permanency Pact that can be found of the FosterClub website to work out with I was willing to give and what he would be willing to accept from me. I can not stress how important using this worksheet was in establishing the relationship FS#1 and I enjoy now. As a result, I have made a committment to FS#1 for life. I am committed to keeping his room his room until he graduates from college (or to when he no longer needs it anymore, since more and more kids are moving home after college).

As result of my success with FS#1, (and the fact I had one more bedroom available), I completed the requirements to do regular foster care (ok, so I still working on that, I didn't realize how good I had it doing kinship care!). FS#2 was placed with me Dec. 4th, 2009.