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.