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They call me "Miss Mom" - Smithie's foster care saga, Fall 2011

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 

 

Hey there!

 

I don't blog, so y'all are stuck hearing about J (my darling foster son) and our experiences taking care of him and working with social services. 

 

First (somewhat incoherent) thread is here. In a nutshell: J was placed with us for 8 days when he first came into care, went to another family while we were out of state for 5 weeks, and kinship placements having fallen through meanwhile, he was returned to us for what DSS says will be a long time.

 

The case plan will be reviewed in December (which I think really means January). The current goal is reunification, and if Mom complies with the terms of the case plan, she could get her boys back at that time. I have no idea where Mom is at with her plan, only that she's missed one visit. Another visit is coming up this week.

 

The siblings (3 bio, one foster) have integrated very well. My husband is having a harder time with the transition - I swear to God, it's like he's the silverback or the alpha lion and he can smell a rival's offspring in his troop/pride/pack/whatever. Some cultural difference (largely accent) also pose a challenge. But he's working on it like a person who's read a whole bunch of attachment books, even though he's never read one AFAIK. He takes J out for alone time, performs daily care activities for him, engages him in drawing and reading books and playing video games together, etc. I think that relationship will sort itself out well in time. 

 

There are definitely some under-the-surface issues i.e. abuse that hasn't been discovered by DSS in the course of their investigation. J has mentioned being burned several times, and has night terrors about being burned. He also talks a lot about his primary non-TV pastime at his home, which was standing in the backyard throwing a knife at a tree (he's 4!!!). The social worker has promised us a psychological evaluation, which I hope will lead to long-term therapy. I'm pleasantly surprised that we are able to obtain in the absence of major behavioral problems. My husband thinks that a lot of his angst comes from feeling like there's some major case history he does not know. So for the sake of everybody's peace of mind, I hope that J can talk freely with a therapist and everything will come out. 

 

As some of you told me I would, I have really changed my perspective on biomom. While I'm glad that DSS procedures keep us anonymous, as she was arrested with a guy I am truly frightened of and don't want to be tracked down by, I've had the chance to see a picture of her before she started using, and I would be genuinely happy if she could stop using and start parenting. But at this point, I do not think it's incredibly likely. And biodad? No idea who he is, and no idea if DSS has even tried to locate him. Hassling them about that is on my to-do list, but the therapist came first. 

 

J asked us to take his brother in, which we can't do, but we are hopefully going to be given contact info for that foster family soon. Preschool is going well. I think Religious School will go equally well. I'm trying to get my own kids not to call me "Miss Mom," but it's pretty cute coming from the foster kid ;-)

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 55
Thread Starter 

 

It looks like a 4K spot might become available at my older kids' school. 4K in my region is primarily intended for kids who've been very deprived at home, although kids from perfectly lovely homes can also qualify if they have learning/behavioral disabilities, their parents are very very poor, etc. There is also speech therapy on-site. 

 

My DH thinks that it would be better to homeschool for remediation, because the teacher/child ratio is 10:1, the other kids are all going to have behavior or deprivation issues of their own, and basically he just thinks I can do a better job. Everybody else (including J) thinks that 4K would keep him busy, make him happy, get his skills where they need to be for K5, and that the experience "in the system" would serve him better than 6 months of Story of the World and Saxon Math if he ends up being reunified.

 

Thoughts? Experiences? 

 

post #3 of 55

Congratulations on everything so far. You know there might be some value in homeschooling for a while as the attachment stuff gets worked out. Or could you do a shorter program that is with more diverse children (not all from challenging backgrounds)?  Although I'm not sure homeschooling is an option in foster care?

post #4 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

 

It looks like a 4K spot might become available at my older kids' school. 4K in my region is primarily intended for kids who've been very deprived at home, although kids from perfectly lovely homes can also qualify if they have learning/behavioral disabilities, their parents are very very poor, etc. There is also speech therapy on-site. 

 

 

Thoughts? Experiences? 

 



My kiddos are not adopted, but we are looking into foster/international (hence lurking around here). We did 4K for my two - they had some developmental delays from being premature. It was WONDERFUL in our experience. One of my DDs got PT &OT at school, the school did a lot of social skills activities. Did they learn many academics- no most of that we did 'at home', but honestly we sent them to learn social skills, get familiar with school, work with therapists, and have them comfortable with other kids. 

 

It was a very positive, very supporting school (free 4K). They did nothing that we- was a family- objected to. The classroom was full of open-ended toys (no commercial characters) and they did not formally celebrate any holidays but did share in cultural events with kiddos that wanted to. My girls only went 4 mornings a week for 3 hours. We still had a lot of time for family time and exploring outside interests.



Quote:
Originally Posted by lauren View Post

Congratulations on everything so far. You know there might be some value in homeschooling for a while as the attachment stuff gets worked out. Or could you do a shorter program that is with more diverse children (not all from challenging backgrounds)?  Although I'm not sure homeschooling is an option in foster care?

 

Foster kiddos, from what I have been told- if they are at 'age eligible' they have to go to school unless the courts deem otherwise. Even at times they can mandate preschool or other suggested programs (headstart, etc) as suggested by the courts.

 

That said--- we did HS stuff at home and preschool was for social cues. & learning. 

 

And many many of the kiddos were lovely and had nice friendly parent (s). Honestly- they simply had factors that put them at risk for success. It was not a class full of kiddos with severe behavioral issues or high high needs (they had a special education preschool setting that was different to meet kiddo that had those needs). It was simply a program aimed at making sure that kids that are at 'risk' of school success getting a good start.

 

In our area you had to have at least two risk factors and be in a certain income bracket (above Headstart cut-off but  considered lower income for family size) risk fators included: single parent, chronic illness, unemployment, history of developmental delays, speech delays,mild disability, premature, low birthweight, multiple birth, sibling with a severe illness/disability, foster kiddo, kiddo living with extended family, homelessness, low income, non-english speaking home, etc.

 

There is NOTHING stating that these factors meant kiddos were not going to be successful--- simply that statistically if a child has two or more factors that they are at 'risk' of not having a successful entry to K.

 

I would try the 4K. Best- it works out well and gives your FS access to a lot of social worker, therapies, group activities, etc. Worst- you dont like the program and pull him out.

 

 

post #5 of 55
Thread Starter 

Thanks!

 

Homeschooling is an option for this year, but not next year. The 4K spot was given to J and we've decided to try it for a few days and see how it goes. Major reasons: the onsite speech therapy, and the fact that continued 4K could be a condition of reunification and offer an extra layer of protection if he goes home sometime this year to a newly-clean-up mom. If you're a DSS case and your kid doesn't show up for 4K, they can, and do, send a cop to your house. But if the full-time schedule proves to be too much, we will take him out. 

 

Parental visitation was yesterday, and we met J's younger brother. He seems to be in much, much worse shape developmentally and behaviorally - he was born drug-exposed. His foster mom, a former social worker, is doing well with him, but he's going to need a lot of intervention. She's looking for a therapeutic 3K program. J regressed immediately and dramatically when put in a room with his brother, so extra sibling visitation is not an option at this time. Fortunately, the foster mom is somebody we can really relate to, and she is also open to extra visitation when G has made some progress, and to seeing the boys go into an adoptive placement together if such turns out to be the plan. She used to work adoptions, and thinks that after the next court date, they may move the case over to adoptions as a legal-risk placement, and decide at that time whether we keep J or whether he's moved to an adoptive home that can take both boys. B's foster mom may actually move forward as an adoptive home with B if asked, but she's not sure yet. She got some family photos at the first visit that she's going to scan and send to us. 

 

Problems in the birth family (parents and extended) are apparently so serious and so wide-ranging that reunification may not be tried, even though this is the kids' first time in care. We should know in December or thereabouts. 

 

At home, J has switched from calling DH "your husband" and started calling him "Daddy," which is a big improvement in DH's eyes. I think it was really wearing on him to be regarded as the interloper in his own house. J selects DH to read him books and to talk about his nightmares - which is fine by me, as the content of his nightmares would probably give ME nightmares. He's seen a lot of horror movies, apparently, and I'm very wimpy about that stuff. 

 

post #6 of 55
Thread Starter 
Met the GAL today. She seems very on the ball and proactive. She doesn't like the biofamily and isn't too crazy about the social worker. Mom was under the influence during the first visit and the social worker didn't end the visit as she is supposed to. The GAL is going tomorrow to check out a kinship placement that DSS previously claimed was unacceptable, but now thinks might be OK. So J may be moved to a sketchy kinship placement with his brother, but the 4K enrollment will provide an extra layer of protection and the GAL is very happy that J has been enrolled.

While I'm depressed that the sketchy kin won't back off, I'm very glad that J will be followed throughout his case by this very competent GAL.
post #7 of 55
Thread Starter 

 

Whoah. 

 

I met the kin. I had them over to the house. They're not sketchy. In fact, on the day that J's mom was arraigned, the judge interviewed them in open court and then instructed DSS to place J and his brother with their cousins immediately, that day. 

 

It took three months, and a lot of escalating on the part of the cousins, to get DSS to approve the placement. 

 

J and his brother will probably move in with their cousins on Friday. He seems happy about it - he says he'll miss us, but he knows these people and their kids and he's glad to be moving in with his brother. 

post #8 of 55

Wow - what a change!  It sounds like, hopefully, it will be a good situation - the brothers together and with family they know.  But, I am sure you will miss him!  Thank you for sharing your experience!  It is always nice to hear other people's story - especially a positive one!  

post #9 of 55
Thread Starter 

Thank you for listening! 

 

I was a little down yesterday, but right now I'm feeling very good about the whole thing (except the way DSS failed to comply with the judge's original instructions). I was originally thinking of temporary foster placements as something I HAD to do in order to eventually adopt from foster care, but right now they feel like something I GET to do, with the bonus of eventually having another son in our forever family. None of the energy we put into J was wasted. It was probably the highest and best use of the time and resources we have on hand. 

 

whale.gif

post #10 of 55
Quote:

Originally Posted by Smithie View Post


(except the way DSS failed to comply with the judge's original instructions). I was originally thinking of temporary foster placements as something I HAD to do in order to eventually adopt from foster care, but right now they feel like something I GET to do, with the bonus of eventually having another son in our forever family. None of the energy we put into J was wasted. It was probably the highest and best use of the time and resources we have on hand. 

 


Keep in mind that the judge who arraigned J's mom initially is a criminal court judge, and therefore probably not able to issue orders regarding the children, as those cases are generally handled by family court judges who deal with abuse and neglect cases.  So, DSS wasn't necessarily failing to comply with orders, but going through procedures that are in place for a reason (but aren't always "good" procedures).  I'm just glad that the GAL is on top of things, and is working hard to make sure that the boys are where they need to be.  (All of this would be true where I live, but depending on how rural you are, changes how the courts are run, and different states do things differently)

 

I've been following your journey, and I'm glad you shared this experience with us, it sounds like its been a really good one for you too!

 

post #11 of 55
Thread Starter 

 

J is here for a visit! He is clean, healthy, and all smiles. The first thing he told me about his new life was that he gets to go to "school" (daycare) with his brother. I am so, so glad that he has been placed with his brother!

 

I was offered another 4-year-old this week. Investigation (i.e. asking questions, getting permission to speak his current caregiver) revealed that he's in the "nice" shelter with his 7 y.o. sister, where he's doing fine, and two sets of grandparents are currently jumping through hoops to get the entire sibling group of three placed with them. I declined the placement on the grounds of not wanting to split up the siblings, and asked the social worker to please keep us in mind if she had an older boy among her caseload who needed to be moved to a home that's a potential adoptive resource. 

post #12 of 55
Smithie,
I've been following your journey with J for a while now, and it seems like he is now in a good situation. Im glad he and his brother wound up together.
Edited by Adaline'sMama - 9/23/11 at 5:22am
post #13 of 55
Thread Starter 

 

deleted. APToddlerMama, please delete your response that quotes me. Thanks!


Edited by Smithie - 9/23/11 at 3:22am
post #14 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

 

I received no confidential information whatever about this case - everything I know is in the public domain. I didn't even receive names. I just watch the news and have normal human powers of information association. 

 

I agree that discretion is not a bad idea, but when it comes to the point of not talking about cases that you are NOT involved in and children who you wouldn't recognize if you tripped over them, I think we may have gone a bit too far. This was a case where (according to the news) the situation was quite bad, but my county's new DSS director has made it clear (publicly! not secretly!) that he wants kinship placements to stop being back-burnered in emergency removals, and if that new attitude played a part in these kids not hitting the system, then I think that's great and I'm not inclined to keep it to myself. Rainbow.gif



Why don't you call your worker and ask her if she agrees............

 

post #15 of 55
Thread Starter 

 

I have no idea who the worker is, as I'm not involved with the case. 

 

If you don't like what I talk about in my "foster saga" thread, feel free not to read or post in it! 

 

post #16 of 55

Smithie I Pm'd you and I wanted to let you know I removed the post with the link as I do think it has issues related to confidentiality. I'll wait to hear back from you.

post #17 of 55
Thread Starter 

(sigh) Fine. Supersecret meth lab busts it is! 

 

I'm going to delete my other posts related to this story as they no longer make sense without context. 

post #18 of 55

Sorry :(   Want to replace the post without the story/link?

post #19 of 55
Thread Starter 

No, it's OK. 

 

 

post #20 of 55
Thread Starter 

 

We're going to J's birthday party this weekend - and his guardians have decided to let his Mom host the party (in a neutral location). He must be over the moon joy.gif

I also heard that the 4 y.o. I turned down a couple of weeks ago was just placed with his siblings, into a kinship situation that could be permanent. joy.gif

 

I'd like to get another placement soon, but still, that's one good week in foster care. 

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