Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thank You for Your Encouragement

Good bloggers respond to comments, which obviously lately has put me into the category of not-so-good bloggers. I do want to mention how much I appreciate your support in regards to several of the difficult posts I have had here this week.

As you have noted from my stories about my family, I am very candid in expressing myself and telling our story. However, when it comes to my professional life, I am bound by confidentiality, and thus I cannot go into great detail. Sometimes, therefore, my entries are cryptic and annoying even.

I am still very burdened by the events surrounding me in one particular situation at work, but I believe I am strong enough to accept this and move on. But I will accept responsibility and I will apologize to the children.

In the midst of all of the work trials, though, home stuff is going well. The kids are doing well, things are at a calm place for everyone who lives here, and we are doing well. Hopefully I'll have time to blog more about the good stuff later.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I'm Raising My Hand

There is a situation right now in my professional life that I cannot blog anything about because it is confidential. It is a situation that is not ending well that I had a part in. It is a situation that will results in kids being hurt.

It is the temptation of everyone in this picture to say "it's not my fault, it is the fault of _________." But at his moment, I am not going to go that route. I have a need for someone in the situation to stand up and say "I did this. I hurt kids when I was trying to help them. I accept responsibility. I could not control the whole thing, but there are things I could have done differently."e's

There are those who are trying to relieve some of my responsibility by saying things like "you did your best" and "you weren't in this alone."

But based on the years I have spent watching "the system" make decisions while individuals said "not my fault" that I cannot let myself do that.

I started this post hours ago. I am struggling with what to say. But maybe I will just need to say nothing more than what I've already said.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fire Time

If you've read any of the blogs from any of us Minnesotans you'd know that we are mighty mighty cold right now. Poor Bart got stuck at a gas station with a flat tire and was late coming home. Rand and jimmy made dinner and it was really good -- spaghetti and garlic bread. They did a great job and the food was wonderful.

It was so cold that we made a fire. Several of us are in the room, but it is very difficult for us to enjoy our time when a couple of the kids insist on being awful. Argumentative, negative, fussy, loud, nasty, rule. And it's just draining.

But, the fire is warm and we are together -- some of us with laptops on our laps, but still together.

When Policy Trumps Persons

I was looking back for a post where I explained pieces of the journey with John, but I can't find it. So I guess those of you who know all about it already will have to be patient and hear it again. Or skip this entry all together. Or skim. Of course, I'm assuming that you care enough to have remembered the details. Maybe I'm egotistical there. If you're like me, you may not have room in your brain to remember my life when you're so busy trying to remember your own.

Back in the fall we started to hear rumors that John was going to be returning to our town after Christmas to live in foster care. I immediately knew it was a bad plan and began to make phone calls. I of course, explained to the caseworker why I felt it was not a good idea and was told we would just have to "agree to disagree." I reminded him as I have multiple times, that this was a CASE for him that he could close some day, but that the decisions he was making were going to affect John's lives and ours in a major way. I called others at the county that I knew and attempted to plead my case. I spent hours of my time explaining what would happen. And I was told that it was not our county's policy to "institutionalize children." After a long period of time in residential, they needed an opportunity to prove whether or not they could make it in a family setting.

The policy is a good one. I don't disagree with it's intention. But in the case of my son, it simply did not make sense. He was 6 months away from turning 18. He had a good job and his grades have never been better at any other school. He was bonded to staff members, felt secure, and he himself believed that he would do better just staying where he was and completing their independent living program. But in order to graduate, he would have had to stay past his 18th birthday and there was nobody to pay for that. Besides, he needed to learn to live in a community setting and apparently this community was the place he needed to learn to live -- even though he had a very negative peer group in our town.

I explained to everyone that he was NOT ready. I talked to his therapist and the people at the ranch and nobody felt he was ready. I again talked to people at the county. During this period of time, John stopped taking his medication and thus we could not allow him to come home for Christmas break. The social worker explained that he was going to talk to John about getting back on his meds during the transition. I mentioned the need for John's time to be filled. Everyone assured me he would step into a job here in Mankato as soon as he arrived as he was going to transfer from restaurant he was working for when living at the ranch.

John was moved to a foster home on January 2, and on the third we had court. I decided to roll over and play dead because I knew that based when I had spent hour preparing a statement to be read in court a year ago, it hadn't made a bit of difference. So in court I kept my mouth shut.

But on the phone to whoever i could get to listen to me i reminded them this was a bad plan. I told them he couldn't handle it, that he was not going to make it long. I predicted people in the foster home being in danger, I predicted him not doing well at the new school, I predicted him losing it. The social worker said he agreed -- he might lose it, but then he would be consequenced in a detention facility and hopefully "figure it out" before he turned 18.

So he comes to our town and, we find out after things blow up, that he never does start taking his medication. His job does not transfer here as promised. The school setting is not as described and he is put into a school to work program even though he doesn't have a job. He is not allowed to stay in the building after 12 noon, and he is told he needs to go out and find a job (without transportation provided) during the hours between noon and three. The first day he gets lost trying to walk home, the second day he calls me for a ride, which I am not allowed to give, and by the third day he is told to just spend his afternoons at the YMCA until he has a job.

I remind the social worker that John does not do well with unstructured time. I ask questions. I try to get answers, but I eventually just decide once again to let things take their course because what I think or say or predict hasn't mattered much at all over the years.

On the 18th of January, just 16 days after moving in, John lost it at the foster home. They were able to calm him down, and the foster mom agreed to let him stay for the weekend. But by Monday, a day short of 3 weeks from the day he moved in, he was assualtive and threatening and the foster home said he could not return.

We then found out he had not been taking his meds for weeks. He was heading to a detention facility for a couple weeks where he would be forced to take them. And the new plan? A foster home to try again, but this time not in our community. So, a new school, a new town, and most probably, not able to graduate early as planned.

Do I say "I told you so?" Yes. But it doesn't feel good. I KNEW this would happen, and so did everyone else. But there is this policy and even though in this case the policy didn't make sense, policy trumps persons. And who knows how a different scenario may have given John a transition into adulthood that would be more successful.

I am not pointing fingers. I don't blame any one person. I just know that in this situation, all of this could have been avoided. I know that some of the people involved in this case read my blog and I hope that I have been representing the facts here, not a bias and if you feel there are errors I would like to hear them.

I wish that my son was the only one who has had his future jeopardized and his life jerked around because of policy. But he's not. And it is easy to say "He's almost an adult, he's responsible for his own decisions, it's his fault." But everyone knew he was not ready for this move. Everyone knew he would screw up. He has a mental illness that half the professionals don't even believe he has. He wasn't taking his medication. And yet he was moved back into a setting where he has never been successful, unmedicated.

I really don't think that the professionals in this case are uncaring or distant, but the bottom line is still this: The case gets closed when he's 18. So everyone can shrug their shoulders and say, "Oh well, nothing we could do. We have to follow policy."

But not us as his parents. We will be the ones he turns to after this is all over. And we won't be able to see him as a policy, or a case, or a situation. He is our son.

Monday, January 28, 2008

"Having My Back"

I have heard this phrase twice in the past week.

The first time, it was from our "daughter" Kim. You can read about her in this post.. She had a financial crisis recently, and we helped her out with money for rent. She sent us a great thank you saying that this is the longest she has lived anywhere and that she loves it and that it means so much that we "have her back."

Then I was talking to another adoptive parent who mentioned that maybe just maybe that is what adoptive parents really need -- to feel like the government, or the system, that placed the kids with us, "has our back."

And when we don't feel that way, it is so easy to just get angry. We have children placed with us that are so difficult to parent. We are often misled, either intentionally or by our own naivete, to believe that their issues are not as severe. Sometimes we fight great battles to get to keep our kids, at great expense to us. We do all this and, by adopting them, save the government thousands of dollars. We take on the responsibility for life of kids destined to drain society of it's resources and we teach them a better way so that maybe they can become productive members of society.

But sometimes, we just can't do it. Sometimes they are damaged to such an extent that we can't rescue them. Sometimes their mental illness or organic brain damage or lack of attachment makes them too damaged, too aggressive, too out of control to have in a home setting.

And so, wouldn't it be a great idea, if the very system, the very government, had our backs when this happens? Wouldn't it be nice if we were not taken to court, did not have "Child in Need of Protection or Services" petitions filed against us, not asked to pay for residential treatment and services, not investigated? Wouldn't it be nice if someone said, "Thank you for what you are trying to do. You aren't doing anything wrong. Let us HELP you figure this out?"

I'm not saying nobody gets this. I'm not saying that sometimes we aren't treated this way.

But by far in talking to other adoptive parents, this is the one thing that bugs us to our very core. We can excuse the behavior or our children and forgive that most of the time because they are damaged and they are, after all, children. But the hollow feeling that we have when we ask that someone "have our backs" when things get tough and are told "NO, this is YOUR fault" is like none other.

It leaves a vast emptiness, an unquenched pain, a seething anger. I haven't felt it personally lately, but I feel it others -- I read it in their words, I sense it in their voices, I see it on their faces -- the fear of criticism when we're honest, the fear of being ignored when we need to speak up, the fear of being blamed when we're doing all we can. Even in writing this I fear what people are going to think, what they'll say. And I've never been like that.

Would it be too much to ask for someone to have our backs?

Some of my Favorite Two Minutes of the Day

Leon asked me a few days ago to start waking him up 15 minutes before everyone else. He is delightful to wake up. And, unlike most of our other sons when they arrived, he does not have an instant hatred for me. Some days I think he actually likes me.

I have other children who are NOT delightful to wake up. One cusses at me almost every morning, one argues, another groans as if I personally am responsible for another school day dawning. But Leon, who usually spends most of his waking hours complaining about something, as most 7th grade boys do, is wonderful in the morning.

Before he is completely awake I'm allowed to be affectionate. I can stroke his head, gaze into his almond eyes, kiss his forehead, stare at his full lips, think about how lucky I am, and say nice things to him and he just lies there and eventually smiles. He never says a word. He barely opens his eyes and then nods to let me know he's heard me.

Adopting a son when he is twelve is no easy feat for parents or the child. We miss out on SOOO much of who they are. How I would have loved to have rocked him as a baby, have held him in my arms when he was tiny, bonded to him in that way. But it is what it is and I have to find a new way.

And so in the quiet hours of morning, when it's still dark outside and he's snuggled warm in his bed, I spend two minutes a day connected to my soon-to-be teenage boy, grateful that he is finally mine.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Bart and I have spent our weekend being taxis. Now that our kids are older they have plans. And apparently, nobody else's parents have vehicles. So I drive, and I drive, and I drive, and drive, but I can't get no... satisfaction....

anyway, sorry. Sometimes I get a little carried away.

So, we've been driving people around. That's what we do.

Looking Good

Last night the "pork-butt" wasn't done cooking in time for supper, so we decided to eat out. After multiple trips to the mall to drop off and pick up kids, we finally ended up with eight of us at the Chinese buffet. Wilson was feasting on large amounts of shrimp he had to peel and the meal took quite some time.

Earlier that day Wilson had put on dress clothes. He wasn't going anywhere for the day and I'm assuming he didn't want to take time to find his jeans, so he just put on dress pants and settled down for a day of electronic stimulation.

While we were eating, Sadie leaned over to Wilson and said, "Why are you all dressed up?"

And my quiet youngest son looked up at her and in a big voice got right up to her face and said, "why are YOU all dressed up?"

Well, Sadie is very intense, and quite the drama queen, and she had just been at the mall with her friends. So she, in shocked horror, said to him, "I HAVE to look GOOD."

and he got his little face right up in hers and exclaimed with equal intensity, "and SO (pause) DO (pause) I."

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Our son Ricardo doesn't say much. He's definitely an introvert. And a perfectionist speaking a second language. That results in very few words coming out of his mouth. When he speaks a couple sentences in a row I am surprised. He also struggles in school because he has trouble reading in English. We're not sure if he has a learning disability or if if it is english as a second language related, but he is really struggling with it.

However, he is just loaded with talent in other ways. I have blogged about his athletic ability many times -- a superb soccer player and now a Varsity Wrestler as a seventh grader, winning against high schoolers who have wrestled all their lives. This is his first year -- and he's GOOD.

He is also an amazing artist. His drawing skills are very impressive. The picture here doesn't do him justice, but he did it free hand as a school assignment. I can't imagine what it would look like if I tried to do this.

He's just so talented.

Another Day Breaks and All is Well

We've had some more calm days around here, which are always nice. Last night there were a few strained moments, but for the most part the evening was peaceful. This mornign everyone is nice and mellow -- kids are making their own breakfast, I'm trying to get caught up on this project for work.

We have a social worker visit and a trip to the mall on the docket for today.

When everything is calm here, our lives are really very very good.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Witty Responses

I am on an email list and got a great idea for Bart to use next time someone asks him if his kids are all ours.

Well, my wife has 12 children by 9 different men... and I have 12 kids by 8 different women.

Bet that would get their heads to spin.

Wow, He did it again

Before even knowing that I had blogged about his wonderfulhood (wonderfulness, wonderfulishness?) Bart brought me lunch at my desk too.

Amazing. I'm getting a lot done!

Breakfast at Desk

I'm starting to try to eat healthier .... again. For some reason, the whole thing makes me crabby. I don't really care about food as much as one might think... until I am trying to eat right. There are days when I eat very little, when I'm not "dieting" but as soon as I start trying to eat right, I start to feel hungry all the time, my stomach growls, and ... yes ... I get CRABBY.

This morning Bart offered to make oatmeal (he's helping me decide what to eat). I agreed that I would like some and hopped in the shower. Sat down to read blogs and fit a few minutes in on a work project and waited for me to call him upstairs. All the sudden, appearing at my desk, is Bart with oatmeal, toast and a banana.

I've never enjoyed attempting to eat breakfast in my bed. But you gotta a love a man who'll bring you breakfast at desk.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Saw This Several Years Ago ... Very Powerful

Cindy linked to it. Apparently now it's on UTube. I saw this a long time ago and it had a major impact on me.

If you have a child with FASD

and you do not read Kari's blog regularly, you need to check out her post today. Lots of good stuff there, as always.

Everyone's Business is His Business

Tony is amazingly intense and incredibly disorganized. At both school and home he can never find anything, can't remember what to do, where to be, how to do anything that has anything to do with him.

But he knows what EVERYONE else is supposed to be doing. He literally walks around the house telling everyone else what they are supposed to be doing, what they should have done, where they need to be. Drives everyone completely crazy. Everyone lives on the edge of pounding on him all the time.

He is also the most oppositional child I have ever met, and considering he has 4 older brothers diagnosed with either Conduct Disorder or Oppositional Disorder, that is saying somehting. He opposes just to oppose and can even switch sides.

BUT he has this sensitive side too. So, when he finally pushes someone to yell at him, or smack him, or leave the room, he cries inconsolably and can't get over the fact that nobody likes him.

As I have said many times. As hard as it is to parent him, it must be harder to be him.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

OK, Not Quite Done Being Mad

I had to relive today everything from yesterday. Well, except the "Yes, I'm very fat but it isn't my fault my kids fat" thing. I kinda let go of that.

Frustration with the "child protection system" has not subsided. If I could, and had time to I would describe in detail the numerous ways in which players in the system have annoyed me in regards to various cases in the past 24 hours. It would take pages of the blog and would probably leave me either punching a wall or in tears, neither of which I have time for.

i have attempted to keep myself grounded and sane though, and this little guy, who decided to go on a treasure hunt under my desk today, is helping a lot.... He has a bad head cold, but he's still just precious...

Done Being Mad -- Well, Kinda

The intense emotion of frustration has subsided and faded, and it all gets thrown into the big vile of latent simmering frustration about all of it. I think as adoptive parents or professionals, we all have a similar collection of past frustrations. I got an email yesterday from a fellow adoptive parent who I am sure wants to remain anonymous that said

way too often I want to just scream and scream about how child welfare is not about the welfare of children. The sad thing is that no one would even listen!

That is so true. I have to deal with some of yesterdays work situation today and I would rather just go back to bed, or hide somewhere. It's such an upward climb and it seems everywhere I turn I see such incredible roadblocks to successful living placed in front of children and teens by a system that is muddled by a climate of self-preservation, self-protection and territorialism. Making a difference is so difficult personally as a parent with your own children is difficult when you feel you are constantly explaining things to people who don't get it, and making a difference professionally is an unending struggle against the system and it's players.

There are days when it is incredibly tempting to walk away from it all and find a job that didn't require so much emotional energy. But I constant remind myself to focus on the mission, to do it for the kids, and to rise above the rest.

But there are days.....

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I'm Mad

Today I am attempting not to be, but I am finding myself mad. Just downright mad. Mad to the point of being almost unable to function. And maybe mad isn't the exact phrase I should use, but I am frustrated and upset about several things.

Let me articulate them for you, since I'm sure you're intrigued.

1) I'm frustrated at the whole cycle of medications and their management. Dominyk looked like he was starving because he was so skinny for the first 10 and a half years of his life. He was always in the lowest percentage of height and weight. Then he started taking Abilify and started gaining weight like crazy. We've tried to control it, but he went from not caring at all about food to being obsessed with it. We tried other medications because the weight gain was averaging 8-10 pounds a month, but then his behavior was horrible. So we went back to this medication and watched the weight continue to increase. However, the last three months it has only been an increase of 5 pounds in 3 months instead of 10 pounds a month like it was. But the lecture and the implication is the same -- it is some how our fault that he is fat. And, looking at me, she has good reason to believe it to be true. Today she suggested that the whole family stop having any kind of food that was not nutritious and that all of us give up pop altogether.

Now, there are probably some of you who are applauding her and agreeing. However, there are others of you who do horrible things like eat cookies and drink pop who might realize the frustration of being accused of somehow making a kid fat who lived in your home for 10 years as a very skinny child. It's not like we just started eating foods that weren't good for us on the day he started taking the Abilify.

2) John has already blown out of his foster care placement as of yesterday. I was hoping it wouldn't happen -- or at least not this soon, but I have always been able to predict his patterns. He apparently had not been taking any medication and after three weeks of being outside of a structured environment with no medication and he got violent. I spent weeks trying to keep them from making this decision (to return him to foster care) and finally gave up. Now, three weeks later he is already been told he can't return to that foster home and is now going to a detention facility/residential setting for stabilization until they try another foster home. Meanwhile, he had to give up the job he had when he was at the ranch, never got a job here, is heading towards 18 with no money and no job, and .... ok, Ok, you're getting the picture. When he is done there he will have to switch schools...again.

3) The Child Welfare System and all of it's implications is about to drive me crazy in my jobs. Today I received an email that made me so frustrated -- it was one of those accusatory ones insinuating that I have some ulterior motive in what I do. I seriously have never had any other motivation than finding homes for kids before they age out in the most time-efficient way as possible. I am never upset if my family is not chosen but the child finds a home. I'm not attempting to be self-serving or competitive. I just try to my jobs, do them well, do them consistently. So when folks become territorial and accusatory, it throws me off.

I think that's enough for now. Bart did a much better job of articulating some of the same frustrations in his post today.

Tried Something New -- I Statements

Yesterday I tried something new with Teenage Daughter #1. I used I statements. Something that i learned years ago when I was getting my Master's in Counseling.

yes, I have a Master's in Counseling. Isn't that hilarious? I am one of the worst listeners ever and certainly am not a person who can sit around and wait for other people to come up with their own conclusions. I want to tell people what to do, and that is NOT therapy. But I digress.

Anyway, i learned to make I statements. Instead of "you made me so mad when you ...." I said, "I felt so hurt and angry when I found out that....".

At first it didn't go well. I was accused of trying to make her feel bad, of never recognizing it when she did well, of not doing a good job of showing my pride in her good choices, yada yada. I kept coming back to "I'm only letting you know how I feel. I haven't decided if I'm even going to consequence you, but I needed to tell you how I felt."

She left the office in tears and in a huff, which is pretty typical. But later she made the right decision.

And by the way, your comments helped. Especially when Yondalla said, "Nobody can do a good job parenting teenage girls."

ANd now it's the beginning of another day.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I Knew It a Long Time Ago

When we started adopting back in the day -- you know -- 11 years ago -- I made a statement that I really didn't think I could do a good job parenting teenage girls. I was right. I think that is all I have to say about that right now.

Emotion Management

As I lie in bed this morning, thinking about yet another situation I don't have energy to blog that was making me upset, I realized that 80% of what I do as a parent is manage my own emotions. I'm sure that families with "typical" kids have some emotional management that is required, but parenting lots of kids with issues requires it all the time.

Here is an example. Yesterday I timed Dominyk's meltdown. He has an obsession with pop that is uncontrollable for him. No matter how we try to manage it, it never seems to work. When we say no, you can't have another pop, he has a meltdown. They last a long time. If I can control myself, then eventually he quits. But sometimes I just can't take it any more and I have to remove him or myself from the situation, and that never goes well.

It goes the same way almost every time. He comes in and asks for a pop or money to buy a pop. I say no. He asks why. I explain it. Then he starts to sob and asks again. And again. And again. And again. If I respond, he asks why again. When I tell him he already knows why, he will sob "but why can't i have money for a pop. I want money for a pop." And it goes on and on and on. And then maybe he'll calm himself down. But then he decides to try again and asks me, "Mom, can I have money for a pop" and when I say no.... OK, I think you're getting the picture.

Yesterday the meltdown lasted 48 minutes. I controlled myself for the whole 48 minutes and he eventually calmed down. But it was a ton of emotional energy to do so.

And then again this morning I have to talk myself down from complete frustration about something relatively minor to one of the kids but major to me. I have to literally convince myself to stop thinking about it so that I can move on to other things. Again, emotional management. And we all do it differently.

After doing this for 30 years, Cindy in this post says:
I didn't adopt children expecting a thank you from them, I did it because I wanted to help. At one point in this journey I may have thought consideration of my feelings might be minor league important in some scheme of things. My heart has hardened over the years in that the barbs slung at me hardly begin to pierce it anymore. Is that your best shot? I'll think to myself, grinning and bearing up under it.

And Kari finally called a truce with herself last weekend after a particularly emotional week of attempting to manage these intense emotions.

We all do it differently, but we all have to manage these intense emotions. Most of us do an incredible job of it most of the time.... and when we don't we try not to tell anyone about it. But it is certainly a huge struggle.

Anyone else have tips and tricks on how to do a good job of managing emotion?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I'm Tired and I Wanna Go to Bed

Show me the way to go home....

Remember that song?

Well, Salinda showed up with a couple friends at 9 -- and I misunderstood and thought they were staying only a few minutes. O compromised -- they are leaving in 20. But the fact is that nobody is going to sleep tonight anyway. They all think that because there's no school tomorrow, that bedtime is an option.

but I want to go to bed.


Sometimes You Get Reminded

Last night I had a conversation with my husband. I won't go into detail, but during the conversation all of the elements came into play that I love most about him. His sense of humor, his ability to ask the right questions, his concern for me, his commitment to me, his love for me, his trust in me, his willingness to allow me to be my own person, the way he thinks deeply and yet can break up an intense moment with a silly comment.

When we finished the conversation and Bart drifted off to sleep, I lay in bed for several minutes in a state of unbelief at how fortunate I am to have been able to marry this man. We have been through SO much in just eleven and a half years of marriage. So many ups and downs and HARD things. And yet I trust him completely and love him more than ever.

Raising tough kids can either drive people apart or bring them close together. I am so grateful that Bart and I have managed to grow closer together.

I'm sure he will be embarrassed at all this sap, but I love him more today than ever and sometimes, when you have feelings this strong -- regardless of what they are, you just gotta blog em.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Out of Jail

Well, according to the website, Mike is no longer in our county jail. We are assuming that by now he has been served the papers with the harassment restraining order on them. We do not know if he is back to couch surfing or if he has been transferred to another facility.

I never dreamed that I would be grateful on the days that my child was in jail -- but at least when someone is there you know they are safe, they are fed, they are warm enough, and they aren't breaking more laws.

But as I have stated over and over again, we really need a better plan for adults with FASD than to spend their lives behind bars.

A Gift

Yesterday I gave my daughter a gift and she seemed to really appreciate my effort. We drove the 75 miles, I dropped her off at her friends, and then i went clearance shopping. I then spent 3 hours in a very cold coffee shop, drinking tea and eating a cookie... and spending time on line, getting a little work done, but mostly just giving myself a break. I then saw the "Bucket List" which made me and everyone in the theatre, including most of the men, sob a little.

As would be expected, watching a movie about facing death made me re-evaluate some of the things I've been doing and the way I'm living my life. Maybe in a while, I can actually make some changes, instead of just thinking about making them.

how is that for VAGUE?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Humorous and Motivational

I just got asked to speak at a conference and was told that they want me to be humorous and motivational. Good thing it's a couple months away because I'm not feeling either way right now.

When my family's life is not driving me nuts, my job and it's stresses are. Sometimes I just can't fix things. And I'm a fixer.

I think I'll leave it at that. Being a fixer who can't fix things is sometimes not fun.

A different kind of day

Most of my days are pretty routine. I get up, I shower, I blog or check email, I wake up the kids, I take them to school, I come home and from 8-3 I work at my desk or go to meetings. Sometimes I have lunch out. They come home, I greet them, help them with homework, make sure chores are done. Bart makes dinner. We eat it. I work a while longer while Bart has meetings. I visit with the kids and Bart a little. I put them to bed (the kids) and then Bart and I talk. We have meaningful conversations such as last night when he remarked that my arms looked like pizza dough. I suggested he was not romantic. He responded, "Why not? I LIKE pizza dough." And we talk about our days and the kids and all that and then we go to bed again, only to get up and repeat.

But today will be a bit different. Salinda has been extremely well behaved for the past month since she returned home. There have only been 3 or 4 occasions since she came home on December 19th where she has been less than perfect. She's making good choices, working hard in school and therapy, and appears to be staying away from people who bring her down. I'm proud of her progress and becoming more cautiously optimistic each day.

So, today, after I go to the coffee shop for the morning, I am going to take her to see this new male friend she has in the town where she was in treatment. I'm going to go and meet him and his family and then spend some time alone. I'm going to hopefully find a place with internet or even just a place to sit and work for a couple hours. Then I'll have something to eat and go shopping for clothing items that some of hte kids need that will be on clearance now. Then I plan to see a movie alone and meet her to come back.

It will be a unique day for me, not filled with the typical.. at least not the whole day. And if Salinda is in good spirits, we should have a pretty good day.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Uh Oh

I forgot to blog this morning. i was going to and then stuff happened. I found out I have a major work project due on February 4th so I started working on that and forgot to blog.

All things are good here. Bart is back and things are calm.

I got this far and never did finish. Dang.

Everything is fine. I sat for 2 hours in order to watch wrestling for a total of three minutes this afternoon.

I now am back at the desk to see if I can get some more of that project done. It's grating on me.

Sorry for being a pathetic blogger today. I'll try to do better tmorow.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sleeping Single in a Double Bed --- well almost

Does sleeping with an 11 year old in a Queen Size Bed count? Even though the kids are getting older, whenever Bart leaves town the younger kids argue about who gets to sleep in my room. Last night Wilson got the recliner and Dominyk shared my bed. Wow, is he a restless sleeper. He woke up several times talking about loud, asking me questions (do we have to go to both services today? No, Dominyk, it's not Sunday, it's Wednesday). He stood up on the bed at one point in time saying some really odd things that I can't publish here because this blog is PG, and only occasionally PG-13.

I had a very troubling dream that lasted over an hour and so I finally got up and called it a night. I never sleep well when Bart is not here. The conversations we have before we go to bed and just the fact that he is there are calming to me.

So I'm up early, getting ready to get things going for today in a few minutes. Salinda has therapy today and that's my only out of the house appointment. I'm already tired and it is only 6:40. Gotta figure out something to inspire me and infuse some energy into my old tired self.... Maybe today I'll clean off my desk. That always helps me feel more motivated.

Hope everyone else is a little more motivated than I am today.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Taking care of Business

Salinda's work crew experience got me all riled up and I made some phone calls yesterday. By the end of the day I had several apologies and explanations. Apparently this was an unusual situation that had to do with a deadline and the work crew supervisor apologized profusely and assured me that he would make sure that she didn't feel uncomfortable again. The Probation Officer, who obviously orchestrated the work crew apology, has left me a couple messages. I'll get back to him this morning.

In this situation I expressed my concern for two reasons. First of all, because it was MY DAUGHTER who was getting oggled by adult male law offenders of who knows what kind. That troubles me on a personal level. But I also expressed my concern because it is a BAD plan for ANYONE'S daughter. And I do not believe that it happened just this one time to my child. If it has happened once, it will happen again.

I was 32 years old before I got married and not once did I ever have to get involved in the Child Welfare or Juvenile Justice System. I didn't even know about any of it and can't say that I wouldn't have wanted to remain ignorant. I'm a part of the system now, with my jobs, and I also am a part of it with my children. And little things like this happen on a daily basis.

I had a conversation with a man in England who does work with homeless youth. His caseload? FOUR teenagers. A caseload of four. Can you imagine how much good could be done by professionals if they had a caseload of 4? Instead, they have a caseload of 24, or 34, or 44, or even in some cases I know of 54. It doesn't take a genius to see that there's something wrong with our picture.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Contrasts -- you Gotta Love Em

Last Sunday was one of the most horrific days we've had here in a long time. It was so bad that I had been too stressed to eat after lunch. Got up the next morning and realized that and knew it was bad. I never am too stressed to eat.

Yesterday the players in the game were all the same. John went to church and came to lunch with us and spent the day here. Everyone else was home. But it was completely peaceful all day long.

It looks as though this morning is going pretty well as well.

And, there is no reason for me to try and write a wonderful blog post when Kari's entry about Gourmet Rats is so great. .

She sums it all up for me today in looking at the contrast between last week and this.

I have come to believe that those who KNOW that they are the recipients of incredible grace and feel called to this life will be challenged beyond what they can possibly know...but also blessed in great measure...pressed down, and shaken together, and running over! These blessings may not be packaged like we might expect them to be...but that's another blog entry for another day.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday morning

Blogging sure makes it apparent that time passes by quickly. Each Sunday morning before I wake up the kids I seem to sit here blogging basically nothing because there is nothing yet to blog. But the weeks go by quickly.

I've not a head cold today. I think i'm the 7th person in the family to have it, so I held out a while. Sure makes me feel like spending the day in bed.

Yesterday they combined the juvenile and adult work crews and several of the men were hoping Salinda was at least 17. She just turned 15 and you better believe I'm going to call and find out what that is all about. I was frustrated enough when she was grouped with the juveniles who would see her as hot, but adult men? Salinda, one other girl, and a whole bunch of adult males who have broken the law? There's something wrong with this picture.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A couple days late but another happening

Thursday night was parents' night for wrestling. As always, we were a bit confused. Our kids don't bring notes home and if they do, I lose them. I used to be better at coordinating all this stuff, but lately I've been very disjointed and unorganized.

We needed cash to get in, so Bart went to do that while I went to figure out what was going on. When I got there it seemed fairly confusing, but we finally figured out that we were supposed to walk into the gym with Ricardo. But Bart wasn't there yet and so I was glad they were starting with the seniors.

But then they kept getting lower and lower and lower until finally there were only 3 people in line and Bart still wasn't there.

When I could see the whites of Ricardo's worried eyes, Bart walked in the school door and I motioned for him to hurry. He literally did not have one second to spare and walked straight into the gym to be escorted by Ricardo.

Ricardo didn't want this varsity match -- but good grief -- he's only been a 7th grader for less than a quarter. In september he was a 6th grader and by November he was a varsity wrestler who had never wrestled a match before in his life.

So if he loses his varsity match, I keep reminding him not to be discouraged. He came in first at the JV match yesterday, pinning 2 of his three appointments and beating the other with points.

He's got no experience beating kids who've been wrestling for 8 years. I think that's pretty amazing.

Only at Our House

Last night we had our friends Tim, Sue and Sarah over for beans and rice, the only meal I cook, as Bart was out of town. It had been too long since we had had them here and we had fun eating and playing cards. The evening was even fairly mellow.

While we were playing cards, we noticed this light that we bought last Christmas. We hung it there last year realizing it needed an extension cord. I don't think we ever found it. But the chili peppers are still there, a year later.

Only at our house.

Only Five Kids Home

Home alone today with only five kids for 8 hours. Salinda has work crew again and Ricardo, Tony and Leon are all at an away wrestling match. They are all still either asleep or being very quiet and it is nice. Bart is gone all day and we are going to clean and do laundry and I will get to get caught up on some stuff.

Who would have thought 10 years ago that I'd feel like I had a day off because only five kids were home?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wow, I'm Impressed

Sheri guessed it right. If you haven't ever seen her blog, you ought to head over there and give her some visits -- cuz I don't have a prize for her. I enjoy reading her blog because it offers a lot of different things. She has a great sense of humor, and in addition to adoption, she talks about all kinds of interesting stuff.

Back to the song. Larry Norman was the artist -- the father of Christian Rock and Roll. And I bought every album he had as a teenager. The angst of the 60s and 70s is all over his writing and one of my brothers memorized lyrics to many of his songs (you can find them all here). But I especially like this song because it asks the kinds of unanswerable questions that I always find myself asking:

Here are the lyrics from the Song I quoted called, "The Great American Novel".

i was born and raised an orphan
in a land that once was free
in a land that poured its love out on the moon
and i grew up in the shadows
of your silos filled with grain
but you never helped to fill my empty spoon

and when i was ten you murdered law
with courtroom politics
and you learned to make a lie sound just like truth
but i know you better now
and i don't fall for all your tricks
and you've lost the one advantage of my youth

you kill a black man at midnight
just for talking to your daughter
then you make his wife your mistress
and you leave her without water
and the sheet you wear upon your face
is the sheet your children sleep on
at every meal you say a prayer
you don't believe but still you keep on

and your money says in God we trust
but it's against the law to pray in school
you say we beat the russians to the moon
and i say you starved your children to do it

you are far across the ocean
but the war is not your own
and while you're winning theirs
you're gonna lose the one at home
do you really think the only way
to bring about the peace
is to sacrifice your children
and kill all your enemies

the politicians all make speeches
while the news men all take note
and they exagerate the issues
as they shove them down our throats
is it really up to them
whether this country sinks or floats
well i wonder who would lead us
if none of us would vote

well my phone is tapped and my lips are chapped
from whispering through the fence
you know every move i make
or is that just coincidence
well you try to make my way of life
a little less like jail
if i promise to make tapes and slides
and send them through the mail

and your money says in God we trust
but it's against the law to pray in school
you say we beat the russians to the moon
and i say you starved your children to do it
you say all men are equal all men are brothers
then why are the rich more equal than others
don't ask me for the answer i've only got one
that a man leaves his darkness when he follows the Son

Cognitive Dissonance or Things Are Not Always What They Seem

My commenter yesterday pointed out something very true in regards to appearances. Usually I am more gracious than that and don't judge people by their appearances but I was just appalled at the group of new peers my daughter was making and they didn't "look" like good kids. I guess they could have all just been first offenders like Salinda, but it was shocking to see how much she didn't fit in with this group of kids in regards to appearance.

But speaking of appearance, there is no too people more different in our family in regards to caring about the way they look than Rand and Salinda. Rand has to be closely supervised in regards to every kind of hygiene. He hates to shave, I have to make him wear clean clothes. He doesn't care if his clothes fit and he wears a 4X. He wears very old stuff and would wear the same thing every day for months and not care if I didn't stop him. And developmentally he is often more like a grade school kid than an adult.

Salinda on the other hand wears a size zero. It takes her 2 hours to get ready every morning. As you have noticed, she straightens her hair and wears loads of make up (which she buys most of her self). She will refuse a family outing if she isn't given enough prep time to look perfect.

The other day I had to have Rand give Salinda a ride to get a haircut because I was in the middle of the project. While Salinda was getting her hair cut, Rand got bored and started playing with the toys set up for the little kids. Now, at 6'5" and weighing probably 375, I'm sure it was quite the sight.

Salinda said that the hairstylist kept looking at her and looking at Rand over and over again. Finally she just had to ask. Because they are of different races, she couldn't assume they were siblings or related in anyway, so she with much doubt asked, 'Is that your boyfriend?"

Can you imagine perfect Salinda's horror. "NO!" she replied.

"Oh" the stylist replied, seeming relieved. "Because he's over there playing with toys."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sometimes I Think Our Culture is Wacked

Salinda had work crew today for the first time. When I dropped her off i had to ask myself, "What are we DOING as a society?" She had to spend several hours with a rough group of kids who obviously, based on their appearance, were in much deeper trouble legally than I hope she ever will be.

How does it make sense to put all of the "juvenile delinquents" together and introduce them? How does it make sense to have them spend 30 hours together?

Don't ask me for the answers, I've only got one.
That a man leaves his darkness when he follows the Son.

OK -- here is a challenge.

If anyone can tell me either the name of the song or the artist who sang it WITHOUT googling it or anything, I will at least give you special recognition, if not a prize.

But no cheating - no looking it up on the internet.

And We Begin Again

Another day is starting in our home. Bart is already out the door and left for church. The girls are up .... because it does, after all, take hours to get dressed, straighten hair, and put on all that makeup. I have showered and am reading blogs. In 8 minutes I will begin the morning routine.

My list of things I need to do is long. I have a day here in my office and I'm hoping that I can remain motivated because sometimes my surroundings keep me from doing so.

We do not know what today will hold....but just as every day in the past, we know that God will walk with us, that we have families and friends that will support us, and that Tomorrow we will get up and do it again.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Long, Good Talk

Salinda and I had a long good talk. I pointed out to her that there were only two people in this world who truly loved her AND could help her get out of the mess she was in and that it was Bart and I. And that if she wanted to start having things move in that direction, she needed to be on our side instead of against us.

There were tears shed. She is angry and frustrated. And I get that. But I think she is realizing that maybe she is going to have to cooperate.

One of the things that helped wake her up a little is that John is having a couple challenges. He has been signed up for an early release to work program by his social worker, but he doesn't have a job. So, his ride home from school isn't until three but he gets done with school at 12:00. I have a call into the social worker to figure out why this is happening but yesterday he told me that he had spent the 3 hours trying to walk back to his foster home and got lost. Today he called me to ask me to give him a ride home. I told him that I needed to clear it with the social worker....who of course I couldn't reach.

I asked Salinda, "Why, after having all of these people involved in his life for the last four years, did John call me when he was desperate" and she responded, wisely, "Because he knew that you would help him."

And I nodded knowingly. And I think she got it.

Power in the Family system

It is almost time for Salinda to come home and my heart is pounding and my palms are sweaty. there is a good chance she is going to punish us for saying no. I hate that and it makes me nervous because I know how much power she thinks she has over us. Uses her anger and her power to try to get us to give her her way.

The nice thing is that I called her mental health worker today who was shocked that she even asked to make a trip like the one she requested. She doesn't know that it should ever happen. So, having that backup doesn't hurt at all. She wants us to get together to make that clear in a case plan.....


She came home and handed me a letter than declares she will no longer be calling us Mom and Dad because she doesn't trust us. She is furious that we are saying no and she is going to make us pay. She is one tough thing and she intends to make us pay.

The trick is that I have to maintain a calm distance from her. But she is very good at what she does and she can create a ton of tension in our home. Hopefully I'll be able to talk to her, but I've already asked her to do so and she is refusing.

I still have faith that in the long run, we will have an attached, successful adult daughter. But right now she is really pushing me to my limits in her refusal to be ever accept the word no.

It doesn't help that I haven't had enough sleep.

7 Hours but not 5

I used to need nine hours of sleep. Lately I've been living on seven. But last night I only got five and I've only been up a half hour and I'm already dragging.

I realized after talking to Bart last night that I shouldn't have even let Salinda think that she might get to follow her plan this weekend. So i came down to my office wehre there is a space heater (I get really cold when I'm stressed out) at midnight to write her a letter letting her know that the answer was no.

As I look over my parenting journey in the last 10 years, since we started parenting older kids, I have gone from one extreme to the other in some areas. Years ago I was so consistent and hard-nosed, focusing on behavior and not relationships, that I felt i really messed up, especially with the kids with FASD. But over the last two years, I have leaned too much in the other direction and thus the kids do not feel safe enough to attach well. Fortunately, most of the children we have are already fairly well attached, so this isn't as crucial as it might have been years ago, but it still causes a lot of stress in the family system.

I hve been fascinated in reading Dandelion on My Pillow, Butcher Knife beneath, the importance of complete structure and consistency complimented with much love and fun. Recently in a section of the book I am reading how, the author because of several reasons, loosened up on that structure and it is not going well. If you have kids with attachment issues, it is an important book to read

I know that I need to toughen back up, but I have set into motion some difficult patterns that will take a long time to break. I know that the results of "cracking down" will put our family through loads of stress because we have a few people who really make us pay if we say no.

And it seems that this happens to me every time. Every night that I stay up late processing my life and determining a need to do things differently, I get so little sleep that I wake up the next day feeling like I'm too exhausted to even consider beginning a new plan.

And this morning that is certainly the case. I am simply exhausted.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

When Things Just Don't Go Your Way

Salinda has a dream. She wants to visit a boy she met at public school while she was living in residential treatment. He seems like a really nice kid, and I don't have a problem with him at all.

Except that it is 75 miles round trip and she doesn't have a ride or a place to stay. She has been at one of the computers in the house and I have been at mine and we have been having the same conversation over and over again.

No, you can't stay at the boys house. It isn't going to happen. Not only do we have that rule, but your Probation Officer, social worker and therapist would never go for it. And you don't have a ride. You have to be back for work crew on Saturday.

This conversation has been, in several variations, a constant one for almost 2 hours. And because it is online, i can keep having the same conversation without getting as frustrated.

I feel bad for her. A few bad choices and she has paid dearly. Detention. Residential Treatment. House Arrest. Probation. And now work crew that is filling her Saturdays. She is behind in all her classes and had to drop one.

She is really trying hard, but sometimes it's a long climb. She is desperate to make this trip and her unwillingness to give up and let it go is exhausting. She just can't accept no.

And the biggest criticism that I got from the professionals is that I wasn't strict enough. So now that they are constantly watching my every parenting move, I cannot back down.

And thus, after two full hours of attempting to patiently reason with her, I am exhausted.

I want to go to bed but Bart is still not home.

Every Now and Then Meals are Fun

Lines from supper tonight than wasn't an endurance test, like some meals are:

Leon was frustrating that his rice got in his fruit. We all heard Rand say, "Are you, like, Hmong or something? You have to have your food separated."

I ask, What do you mean? What does being Hmong (which Leon is) have to do with separating your food?"

You know, Monk, the guy on TV. He has that thing where his food has to be separated.


Jimmy mentions it is trash removal tomorrow morning. He is confused because with the holidays we missed it last week and there is more trash than our four cans can hold. We tell him he needs to fill the four full and then put the trash in the empty cans. He gets confused, wondering how he is supposed to get the stuff back out to the street. The whole family participates in a conversation and almost has him convinced that he need to sleep by the trash cans all night long in a sleeping back so that when the truck comes he can say -- just a minute -- and push all four cans back and refill them while the garbage men wait. But then we told him we were kidding -- that they would be out there for next weeks pick up.


When we thank Bart, he says we should thank Betty (Crocker) because she made the brownie mix and the pre-packaged rice. Wilson piped up "Is Betty your new wife?" and my witty husband reports, "Yup, she's the woman that I see on the side .... of the box."

The Tough Issues

Cindy posted a tough blog entry today about what happened at her house last night. Had I chosen to, the night before I could have blogged about something that happened at our house that made Bart angrier than I have ever seen him.

But what Cindy points out is the absolute most evil part of this journey as adoptive parents. We are expected to take the brunt of years of furious anger that is bottled inside small but growing larger bodies. We attempt to calmly redirect them, we listen to them cuss us out, feel them punch and kick us, and are expected to emotionally be stable, not react, not show our anger.

And when we can't take it any more, we know that we have to find a safe place to talk about that anger and pain. Because if we talk to the wrong person, we could be investigated, we could watch as our kids are taken way like other families have done, we could be blamed, criticized, ostracized and talked about.

And so often we hide our pain. We process our anger with our kids and spouses and sometimes with other adoptive parents. We can blog, but not necessarily without criticism. If we blog the truth, sometimes we are criticized because people accuse us of harming recruitment efforts or we find out that professionals who are "looking out for the best interests of our children" are reading our blogs and defining, using their perspective, just what that is when they may have only known our child for a few days.

I am always haunted by something that happened about ten years ago. A woman I met on a message board was adopting and had a blog before there were blogs. She had made a decision to honestly journal about her experiences in an adoptive placement. She ended up with three very hard children placed with her. They may have not even been able to function in a family setting at that point, but they placed them with her anyway. She honestly journaled about her frustrations and stress about what she was trying and not trying, as she attempted to parent, without many services or much help, three extremely agressive and mentally ill children.

She was committed to them. She may have not made the best choices every day but she was willing to do whatever it took. And they were going to finalize the adoption. Until someone found her journal online and read it with scrutiny. And they decided that she had made some mistakes. And weeks before finalization, the children were removed. There was no time to have an adequate goodbye. There was no time for the kids to process it. There was no hope that they would see the kids again.

No, I don't know the whole story. But based on what i saw, how scary is that for me to keep blogging?

These are the tough issues, the hidden ones, that most people don't talk about. Where do I go when I am the one who is hurt or downright angry? We are the ones who are supposed to be strong. We are the ones that are supposed to look flawless to avoid scrutiny?

And, as you can tell since it took me 9 hours to finish this, I'm not really sure what the answers are.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The One Comment Kid

Wilson is very quiet in large groups. In fact, he hardly ever talks at all at the table. When he does, it's a doozy.

We were talking about the differences between our youth pastor and our pastor (my husband, the kids dad) yesterday and the kids mentioned his beard.

And Wilson proclaims loudly and suddenly, "He's a Sasquatch."

He doesn't looking exactly like this picture... but there are similarities...

The Morning After the Night Before

We ended the night with a couple of difficult conversations that finally resulted in apologies. Bart and I talked fro a long time afterwards, so I'm starting my week with less sleep than preferred.

One of the things that I never talk about is the strain that triangulating and manipulative kids put on a marriage. Bart and I have experienced much stress in our 11 years of parenting tough kids, but we communicate fairly well and always work hard to work through things, but I can't imagine how difficult it would be for parents who have difficulty communicating to survive the stresses of parenting these children.

But we've been around the circle again. The calm days, the super stressful day, the working it out, the beginning of a new day and hopefully back to calm again.

And we're still alive and ready to go again. Well a least I am.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

On Days Like Today

John did excellent today.

His sisters did not.

Resulting in a huge act of rebellion on Salinda's part with attitude, etc. She refused to do what she was told, was disrespectful to both Bart and I, and drug Sadie into her drama, causing great difficulties while I was gone.

It is difficult to know exactly what to do in these situations. Do you consequence attitude and disrespect for some kids because you know they can help it, but not for others because they can't? Do you consequence attitude and disrespect for everyone? Do you even consequence attitude in teenagers?

She is making herself unbearable to everyone. I have a call into her Probation Officer. She better figure out a way to fix things, or the report tomorrow is not going to be good.

I have spent most of the last 4 hours with my hands freezing and my stomach turning. I hate it when the stress is so palpable in the house that you can cut it with a knife.

I know that there are better days ahead (and some worse ones) but some times it's difficult.

And the unfair part of it all is that John asked to go back to his foster home early because of the stress. And he wasn't the problem.


John is spending the day with us. He was in church this morning and it is great to see him. But my stress is mounting and I can feel it. And I don't think it has much to do with John.

Tony and Dominyk were both as annoying as possible for most of the ride to church. They were annoying people during church. They were annoying people after church.

And then when I reminded everyone that there was youth group tonight, Salinda had to make sure that she messed up everyone's attitude by saying she didn't have to go, she should be able to choose, etc. Then other people stopped wanting to go and started complaining.

This is a girl who last night wanted a special trip to visit friends she met 75 miles from here with me driving. I pointed that out to her and she declared she'll find her own ride.

Doubt it.

I hate it when I let nasty moods ruin mine. I wish I was like all of the rest of you good mothers who can blow off the attitudes of their teenagers and remain positive and fun-loving in the midst of their viper-spewing.

It doesn't faze them one way or another whether it ruins my mood or not -- so I'm only punishing myself.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

My Next Presentation

I've been thinking maybe I should make a new presentation called "How to get your juvenile in legal trouble." The fact that Salinda was arrested has gotten us so many services and they seem to be helping.

Yesterday we went to set up her work crew hours. She knows she has until April to get them done. What she didn't realize is that they are used to people who don't show up and dink around, so they scheduled all of the 34 hours in the next 3 weeks. She had all these plans of what she is going to be doing once off house arrest, and now it appears that she is going to be doing work crew. ;-)

The reason I like her predicament is because I don't have to say a single word. And I don't. She knows that she has gotten herself into this mess. She knows she can't blame me. The ankle bracelet has a fee of $25.00. There is a $75 fee paid to Probation for serivces. She has to come up with all that money by working for me at $4.00 an hour.

And I just add the money to her chart and say nothing. And she is learning, I hope.

It's a nice place to be in. The consequences are only hers. And if I need backup, I have it. Her attitude starts to get a little nasty or she starts to break minor rules in the house, I just mention how the probation officer is not going to be pleased to hear it and she shapes right up.

So maybe now you see why my next seminar is going to be entitled "Teaching Adoptive Parents How to Get Their Juveniles in Trouble with the Law" or something similar.

(and for those of you whose mouths are hanging open in horror and disgust, I'm only kidding).

Friday, January 04, 2008

NACAC Video Round Three

In case you haven't seen this video by NACAC on On Kari or Paula's Blog, I thought I would place it here too.

Kari, Paula, and I have all worked for NACAC in the past and/or present and Bart and I speak at conventions for them almost every year. The video is well worth watching.

The Ironies of Life

An irony of life:

Dominyk and I had to fast this morning so that we could have a blood test done to check cholesterol levels.

We just had to have McDonald's breakfast after that....

A Great Story (and it is even true)

I don't know when it was, exactly, at least seven years ago, a woman I did not yet know and her husband were planning to adopt from foster care. She and her husband were excited about the prospect and when she was shopping one day, she saw a picture that included a little girl and this quote that we've all read many times.

One hundred years from now,
It won't matter what car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
How much I had in my bank account,
Nor what my clothes looked like,
But, the world may be a little better
Because I was important in the life of a child

She bought the picture and said to herself, "The day we finalize our adoption I am going to give this to our social worker." They spent three or four years trying to work with their county and never got a placement. Then they found out they were pregnant so things went on hold a bit. They switched to our agency about eighteen months later and took our training, but before they could start paperwork the dad was deployed through his National Guard unit and another year or so went by. Finally, we connected and they said they were ready. We go the homestudy done and started matching, and last March they had a child placed in their home.

On Monday he went to court and I heard about the picture. The mom said that as she was falling asleep the night before, she suddenly remembered the picture and exactly where it was. She handed it to me at court, thanking me for never giving up. So all these years later, I have this picture and quote to hang on my wall.

The picture above is posted with their permission. It is a picture of the boy placed with them and his little brother -- the "surprise" that put the adoption plan on hold several years ago.

The journey has not been an easy one, but it provides hope to me... that I should never give up on a family adopting. And I hope it gives hope to anyone stuck somewhere in the timeline of adoption -- that even though sometimes it seems to take forever, eventually, dreams do come true.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Laying Down to Play Dead

Fifteen minute court hearing this morning for John. I told my attorney that I was done fighting this battle. I have had multiple discussions with many people at the county about this situation, and they certainly know my opinions and they have decided what they are going to do.

So, John is back in Mankato. He will go to the same school he couldn't handle a year ago, the school Salinda now attends. He will have an opportunity to sink or swim.

I hope he swims. I am crossing my fingers and praying. ANd he will begin spending Sundays with us at his initiation. If he calls on Saturday night and wants to come to church on Sunday morning, he can be in church all morning and spend the day at our house. If there are any problems, he will head home.

He seems to be back on his medication and doing fairly well. We will have a backup plan in place in case it doesn't all work, but for now here's hoping he can really pull this thing together.

I think our attorney used the words "Cautiously optimistic." I think her conclusion of my words was fairly optimistic as well, but I never want to completely give up hope.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Everyone Else is Back to Work

And I'm supposed to be. But it is a tiny bit hard to focus with 10 kids running around. Fortunately they are doing pretty well.

Most days, i love working from home. In fact, i do even now. But it is a little hard for me to get much done.

I'm motivated though -- and it seems that others who are back to work are motivated too. I'm hoping to make some great matches...

But it will be nice when Monday comes. It's hard to even remember what it's like to be home alone.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

And Once Again

Mike is in Jail. I check the jail website every day. He got arrested yesterday afternoon at 4:30. We don't know why. That means that he should receive our harrassment order soon, which will not make him happy. But at least we'll be protected.

Happy New Year, Mike.

Renewed Enthusiasm For Finding Homes for Kids

To say that I've been in a slump about matching is an understatement lately, but yesterday on my way home from a court hearing, I heard this song. I had forgotten it was on my Ipod and I really listened to it and it gave me the kick in the butt I needed to begin a year again. I encourage you to listen to it.

To those of you who are considering adopting, why not let this be the year?

To those who have adopted before and don't have a full house, why not adopt again this year?

To those of you who can't adopt, why not spread the word about the 115,000 children who wait?

And to those of us who are professionals, let's make it our goal to have as many kids home by next Christmas as possible. When i was listening to the song these lines struck me:

All I want for Christmas is someone who'll be here
To sing me happy birthday for the next 100 years
And It's okay if they're not perfect or even if they're a little broken
That's alright, 'Cause so am I

Well, I guess I should go, it's almost time for bed
Maybe next time I write you I'll be at home

We have 12 months to make the wishes of children this past Christmas come true. Let's do all we can to see as many of these children be home by December 25th. We can do it if we work together.