Monthly Archives: March 2014

Screaming and Covered in Blood

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I woke up in the middle of the night to find Little Man covered in blood.  Like, so much blood everywhere I couldn’t even figure out what the heck was going on, covered in blood.  It was matted in his hair, all over his entire face, in his nose, on his teeth, on his hands, all over his pajamas, and blanket, and rug.  And by this time, all over me as well.  I whisked him up and set him on the dresser/changing table and began to feign non-panic, as I attempted to wipe the blood away and figure out where the heck it was coming from.  I checked his head first, but no cuts, then I began to focus on his forehead and cheeks.  Nothing.  Soon I’m noticing that most of this blood is dry and/or clotted.  He appears to not be currently bleeding.  This is a good thing.  Finally after about 10 minutes of cleaning blood off his face and head I determine that he has most likely had a nose bleed and somehow bit his lip–so the blood was coming from two places, but both are currently ok.  My best guess is that he had a nose bleed, woke up covered in bed, got freaked out, and bit his lip.  That’s when he started screaming and woke me up.

We work on cleaning up some more, and then we start the process of trying to get him back to bed.  And this is not a pretty picture.  He is understandably terrified.  I mean, I would be too if I woke up covered in blood.  The process of getting him to fall asleep takes about an hour and is punctuated by his heartbreaking cries of “mama, mama” trying to get me to come sleep with him.  After numerous cycles of me going in, cuddling him, singing, and then walking away to let him try to fall asleep, he eventually fell asleep.

Needless to say, we both woke up very tired this morning, and me with a migraine.  Good news is he’s all better now and this morning seemed to not even remember what happened last night.

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Celebrating the Little Things

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I’m beginning to feel human again.  Monday I had an hour to myself to do laundry and watch an episode of Scandal.  It’s amazing what an hour of Scandal can do for you.  OK, so maybe it’s not Scandal, per se, maybe it’s just the mind-numbing joy of vegging out and not having to worry about chasing a toddler out of the fridge where he’s taken to sitting on the ledge and attempting to eat sticks of butter while you try to manage a 2 minute shower.  So, today I’m celebrating that yesterday I got to watch some TV.  It seems small and petty perhaps.  But this momma needed it.  I’m also celebrating lots of other little things.

Like the fact that Little Man is now able to focus about 50% of his meal times on his food.  (This is up from about 15%.  This kid can turn eating a hot dog and banana into an hour and a half long affair.  I am not exagurating!)  I don’t have a high chair or booster seat with straps yet, so there’s nothing holding him into the chair, so he is quite free to hop down, find toys, wander about the apartment, bring books to the table, bring toys to the table, etc.  So meal time includes a lot of redirection.  But the whole concept of meal time is a pretty new one to my Little Man.  Consider that prior to being put in care, a plate of food was sat on the floor for him and left out all day and that was how he ate.  The whole idea of being at a table and eating at specific meal times is completely novel.  So, a 50% focus rate is a victory in my book.

I’m also celebrating that even though he’d only been in my care 4 1/2 days, when I took him to his school where he has speech therapy, his therapist said she can already see a huge improvement in his verbalization since he’s been with me.  And that all of his speech delays are based in emotional issues, not a physical problem.  That means, that despite having his world rocked again, Little Man is feeling safe and loved with me–at least enough to open up and begin speaking more than he has in over a year.  Forget little celebrations, that one feels pretty stinkin’ amazing to me!

I’m celebrating the little personal victories–like figuring out how to carry three bags of trash, a laptop bag, a diaper bag, a school bag, and a purse in one hand, while holding a toddlers hand as we walk across the parking lot.  And successfully carrying three loads of laundry upstairs while keeping Little Man by my side.  And the super-human feat of retraining my body to wake up a good two hours earlier than I am used to, without wanting to kill anyone, in a matter of five days.

I’m celebrating our first play date, where Little Man had lots of fun and made new friends.  He even found this adorable little girl who was about 7 years old, grabbed her hand, and led her all over the play area for a good 30 minutes.  And I learned why it is mommy’s love play dates so much.  (It has nothing to do with the kids!)

And I’m celebrating amazing friends who have given so much love and support to both Little Man and me.  People who have called, texted, invited me to play dates, and thrown showers.  People who have bought toys that are making him smile and laugh, books that he loves to read, things to keep him safe and organized and clean and dry!  I couldn’t do this without you guys!

So thanks for celebrating with me.  I figured I should let you in on a taste of the all the good, so here’s a pic of our first playdate!  He’s sitting with “Elmo.”  (Apparently every Sesame Street character is Elmo.)

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And here he is trying to decide which book to read next.  He ultimately chooses my small group study book–he absolutely loves that thing!  He doesn’t mind at all that it’s 300 pages long and has no pictures.

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Join me in the confessional . . .

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It’s been a tough day as a new foster mommy.  Can I just admit that.  Today was my first day taking Little Man to church with me on a Sunday.  For those of you who may have missed it, I’m a children’s pastor and I spend a lot of time at church on the weekends.  We have one service on Saturday nights as well as three on Sunday mornings.  I took Little Man last night and he did awesome.  Today I knew would be tough.  Three services means I’m there from about 8am till 3pm.  That’s a long day for a little guy.  Especially when the other kids get picked up by their parents and get to go home, but he’s still stuck there.  And then there’s the fact that he can still see me, because it’s part of my job to check on his (and every other kids’) class.  By the end of the day he’s hungry (even though I packed him a light lunch and he had lots of snacks) and tired (cause he missed his nap).  To add to that already highly combustable equation,  he is surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of people he doesn’t know, but who know something about him.  Now, I’ve never been a foster kid, but I’m pretty sure that would freak me out.  I mean, strangers show up and you could suddenly be moving to a new home with a new mom the next day.  It’s happened to him three times already in the past two months.  So, crowded lobbies and hallways with people who want to gush over you, hold you, and talk to you is probably more than a little scary.

I’m trying to find a babysitter for him on Sundays, so he won’t have to spend the day there, but for today he was with me.  He handled the services extremely well, but I knew the tough part was still to come.  It was time to leave church and he started disobeying everything I said.  (A pattern that would continue most of the afternoon and evening.)  When he gets upset he throws himself on the floor and curls up in the fetal position.  We needed to head out, so I was trying to balance a heavy two year old with a purse, diaper bag, laptop case, and coffee mug.  We’d barely gotten in the car when he crashed and was sound asleep.  But in just a few minutes I had to wake him up to go inside the house and eat a “real” lunch.  And as much as he hates nap time, he equally hated being woken up when he was so tired.  And yet, once inside he was awake again and there was no way he was going to finish that nap.

We spent the afternoon and evening doing a lot of playtime, but it was interspersed with lots of frustration.  I could tell he had just as much as he could handle for the day, and now that he was in a somewhat familiar environment he was ready to push boundaries (including disobeying, hitting, hair pulling, running away, and screaming).  A lot of normal two year old stuff, just amped up a lot because of all the chaos in his life right now.

And in the midst of all the crazy being spat at, having my hair pulled, and being slapped in the face, I thought “What did I get myself into?!  Why did I ever think this was a good idea?!”  And of course, then I feel incredibly guilty.  I knew adjusting my schedule would be the hardest part of this process.  Going from having total freedom in my non-work hours to having none is a pretty radical change.  Not to mention that fact that the Little Man wants to get up before the sun!

I have way too much time alone with my thoughts these days.  You might think that’s an odd statement, considering that I’ve lived alone most of my adult life.  But I’m always occupying my mind with something else — books, tv, movies , magazines.  It’s rare that I’m sitting in silence.  Which is mostly what’s happening when my dinner partner/playtime buddy is mostly non-verbal.  It’s a very one-sided conversation, which leads to lots of time thinking these crazy thoughts and then feeling guilty about them.  I’m beginning to understand all of those mom’s who are always talking about hiding out in the bathroom to get a break.  Right now I’m holding out for the hour and a half alone time that’s coming tomorrow while he’s at school.

Anyway . . . thats my ugly truth today.  Anyone else ever been there?

The Road to Adoption

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A few of you picked up the term “pre-adoptive” in my last post.  I kinda tucked in there all stealth like and rolled right on by, as I dealt with first-day sleep problems and enrolling for daycare.  But now let me unpack that for you.

A pre-adoptive foster home is one where the parents are both willing and licensed to adopt the foster kids in their home if they become eligible for adoption.  For any of you who have dealt with the foster care system you know that this takes years.  And in most states (including New York) the first and unending plan is reunification with the bio family now matter how much work that takes.  Usually they don’t even begin to talk about adoption until a child has been in care for for 15-24 months.  Then even after they start talking about adoption as a possible plan, it may still take countless years for the child to actually be freed for adoption.  (Case in point:  check out Blitzen’s story over at FosterWee.wordpress.com.  If I have my dates right, she’s been with a foster family who is willing to adopt her, waiting to be legally freed for adoption for 6 years now.)

But my Little Man is only 2 years old and has only been in care for two months.  So why were they looking for a pre-adoptive home?  Well, apparently mom has “many” other children–half siblings to Little Man, and they are ALL already legally freed for adoption.  And she seems to have no interest in changing her patterns now.  In fact, there isn’t even visitation set up because she refuses to communicate with the caseworker.  So, based on previous patterns of her behavior, when they went to remove him from the last foster home, they were expecting his next foster placement (aka me), to quite likely be his forever home.

Woah.

Let that just sit with you for a moment.  I mean, I’m still trying to let it sink in with me.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love this little guy, and it would be so good for him to not have to move from home-to-home-to-home throughout his life.  It would be so good for him to achieve permanency without a lot of the trauma that usually accompanies growing up in care.  It would be so good for him to have the consistency of care that would help him grow and move beyond his early delays.  It’s just SO unexpected.  It is SO not how foster care normally works.  And it’s SO not what I thought I was signing up for.

And what’s ironic is that in my foster class every other parent was looking at fostering as a path to adoption.  They wanted to expand their family (or in some cases adopt a family member).  And almost all of them would really prefer a baby or adorable toddler.  Just like my little man.  I was the sole person in class who said although I was open for adoption, it wasn’t my end goal.  I was the one crazy person who said, “give me your kids and I’ll love on them, and then give them back when you ask me to, and let my heart be broken into a million pieces.”  And that is how foster care often works.  You have kids, you fall in love, you have to give them back to their parents or family members.  And you try to trust that going back and reuniting with their family will be the best thing for them.  So how is it the one person in class who said “you can use me as a revolving door and I’ll just absorb the pain for that” ended up getting the crazy exceptional case of an adorable toddler who is being pronounced pre-adoptive after only 2 months in care?

Lord only knows.  But the bottom line is that I am a pre-adoptive foster home.  Because I know one thing for certain.  I fall in love with every kid I work with, and I would do anything in my power to make their lives better.  And Little Man is no exception.  And I have been given this humbling power to make his life better.  And so I will do everything I can to make his life the best possible.  To fill him up with as much love and laughter and grace and peace and kindness and wisdom and joy as possible.  And that is true whether I become his forever home or just another stop on his journey.

Let the chaos begin!

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My foster journey has officially jumped on the roller coaster and is off for a wild spin.  I got a call on Friday for my first placement.  A 2.5 year old little boy was being moved out of a foster home and they were looking for a pre-adoptive home that would take him.  He has some developmental delays (although from what I’ve seen so far it seems to be mostly centered around speech delays).  I got to meet him on Monday at the foster mom’s house.  At the time he was supposed to be moved Friday.  After I left she called and asked for it to happen faster.  I met him again yesterday when I went to a doctors visit with him and foster mom.  Then this morning he was placed with me

To protect his privacy, we’ll be calling him Little Man.  In case you’re wondering, he is absolutely adorable.  He loves books.  He wants to sit with a book in his hands (which he reads like a teacher doing story time, showing you the pictures) and you also have to have a book in your hands (which he wants you to read aloud).  He also loves putting this away and keeping things tidy.  (Perfect for the OCD in me, right?!)  He can run like crazy (in fact, when trying out nicknames for the blog I considered names revolving around Speedy Gonzalez, Lightening McQueen, and the Road Runner).   When he’s tired he loves to cuddle.  However he has absolutely no interest in the crib.  He very quickly discovered how to climb out of that thing.  Nap time was an hour and a half of crying and interrupted by 10 minutes of sleep.  He stayed up late to meet my small group, and hopefully tire him out for bedtime.  It was still a tough sell getting him to go to sleep, but considering it’s his first night in a strange place with a strange person and being too young to understand what the heck is going on, he did awesome.  Fortunately I have a crib and a twin bed.  For bedtime I put him in the twin bed and he did much better.  He seemed less afraid without the “prison bars” of the crib.  Plus, he’ll be more safe without the danger of falling while climbing out.

Considering I didn’t sleep well last night stressing out about how today would go and worrying that he would be scared, I am exhausted.  Let the mommy-hood begin!  Now I’m off to finish up the enrollment paperwork for daycare, where he’ll be going tomorrow.  So many changes for Little Man!  I’m praying God will help him feel safe and loved despite all the chaos around him.

And here’s a pic to tempt you with his cuteness.  (For those of you who have been asking, I can’t post any picture of him that shows his face.  But I’ll try to make up with it by giving you lots of adorable no-face photos!)  The first is of him trying to reach the snow.  The second is him falling asleep while being read to at small group.  (Did I mention I have the best small group in the world?)

 

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