Tuesday, October 30, 2007

For the first time in years...

Honestly, I can't remember the last time we were home for Halloween. This year, we are staying home! I'm kind of excited. Since Deb left last week, we don't really have anyone of trick-or-treating age. Elvis is almost 5 but it's such a hassle to load and unload his wheelchair or try to lug his long, stiff body in and out of the van and up and down people's front steps. We've opted to stay home and let the fun come to us.
Beth and I just spent the last hour or so creating this basket of treats. She was so excited about the Tootsie Pop ghosts. I remember making them with my mom when I was little. It was fun (and a little surreal) to be making them with a 17 year old. Of course, technically, this is our first Halloween as legal mother and daughter, so maybe it was a little symbolic. I guess we created a memory we would have missed otherwise.
Beth and Alli are out now, looking for more ribbon. We have another whole bag of Tootsie Pops and lots of tissues but our ribbon supply ran short. I predict we will have ghosts running out our ears before the evening is over. Beth wants to take some to her friends at school. I'd like to take one for each of my students. Alli is acting all cool and grown up about them but I totally expect her to pull one out of her backpack in the middle of a community college class tomorrow (and I know she will because I plan to plant one there early tomorrow morning). Cori (age 15) is running around now with a set of glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth in her mouth. Perhaps Halloween brings out the kid in everyone...especially kids who missed out on the fun stuff in their biological homes.
If you know me in real life and live nearby, come on by Halloween night. We'll all be home - eating chili and dirt pudding and passing out goodies to all who dare to come near.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Extreme Home Makeover

Well, not like the TV show but we've done well for us! It's been a busy day.

Deb is gone. She moved to a therapeutic foster home in a neighboring county Thursday night. Her worker picked her up from school and took her there. I haven't had the chance to say goodbye but hope to soon. We still have a lot of her stuff here that we need to get there. I'm rather anal about kids getting everything that is theirs when they leave here. Foster kids often get a raw deal so I do my part to help them along the way.

Anyway, the departure of Deb frees up a bedroom. Cori is moving in there. (That's been the plan all along. Originally, DCS was going to move Deb to another foster home before they'd let Cori move in. Of course, things got delayed and that didn't happen. So, Cori moved in the room with Beth...just until Deb moved.) About 5 years ago I'd painted that bedroom yellow. The paint sample said "Mellow Yellow" but it turned out to be more of a Big Bird Yellow. I haven't liked it the whole time but I didn't have to sleep in there (and it looked better than the 70s brown paneling that it covered) so I left it. I decided since the room was temporarily unoccupied, this was the time to neutralize the Sesame Street room.

I got up this morning and headed to Wal-Mart (ALONE - everyone else was still asleep). On the way the temperature light on my van came on. I immediately turned at the next street and headed for my mechanic's shop. About a half-mile down the road, the light started flashing and a warning chime kept dinging at me. I pulled over in the nearest parking lot and called the mechanic. He came right away and got my van running. (He added two gallons of antifreeze!) He said that should hold me until I can get it into the shop on Tuesday. I love that man!

I got to Wal-Mart later than I planned and was caught up in the rush of everyone that shows up there on Saturday mornings. I finally parked and fought my way into the store, dodging the usual collection of Boy Scouts selling fundraiser products and people giving away unwanted kittens and puppies. I grabbed the first paint that didn't make me sick (a light yellow named Lemon Chiffon) and the necessary equipment and headed back out, declining the repeated offers of overpriced popcorn and free pets with mange.

Since I'd been productive for the morning, I took some time off for lunch and a movie I'd Netflixed (The Shawshank Redemption) which my teens had seen before but I hadn't. It was great! Then, I painted, turning the Big Bird room into a yellowy off-white. It's not exactly what I wanted but it's better than it was. Once the walls were freshly painted it was obvious that the carpet badly needed cleaning. The girls went out to rent a cleaner and pick up the ingredients for vegetable soup for dinner.

The girls are now busy with various tasks. Beth is moving the full-size bed from Deb's room to hers. Cori is moving her twin bed into Deb's old room. The carpets have been cleaned and look much better. When they dry a little more, we'll move the rest of Cori's belongings into her new room and help Beth get things settled in her old room that she has all to herself again. (That makes her very happy.) Alli alternates between helping the other girls and then arguing with them. At least she's not arguing with me. Elvis is engrossed in watching "Meet the Robinsons." I'm just glad he's agreed to watch that because he's watched "Cars" so many times that I have it memorized and often quote along with the DVD.

Tomorrow promises to be busy as usual. We'll have to finish the moving and cleaning tasks. For tonight, though, I'm looking forward to some homemade veggie soup and enjoying having my kids around. The roller coaster that is my life continues...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Full Moon?!?!

Tonight has....sucked, for lack of a more eloquent description. Everyone has gone crazy.

Deb had a counseling appointment and came home ready for a fight. I managed to get through the evening without letting it become a full-blown rage, but bedtime brought it to a head. Hours of screaming, kicking, hitting, cursing, biting, and scratching followed. At the same time, Cori was already having some sort of breakdown. Her thinking and perception of things are not clear at all. What everyone else sees one way, she perceives a totally different way and, not surprisingly, in her perception we are all against her. I can't predict/avoid/alter her way of seeing things. She keeps saying I treat her differently from the other girls. When I ask how, she says she doesn't know. All she knows is I treat her differently. When I ask when it happened last, she says, "Today." I say, okay, tell me how I treated you differently today. Again, she can't say. I can't arrange my life to cover any delusional thoughts she might or might not have.

In the midst of all that, Alli goes off saying she is leaving all of us - including her son, Elvis, who had a seizure today and is always horribly cranky after those. Umm, no you're not. She does seem to have settled down now. There was a period of an hour or so tonight that I wanted to leave them all.

I finally called the caseworker for both girls (lucky woman, she is in charge of them both) on her cell. She talked to both and decided Cori isn't dangerous to herself or others. We have a meeting scheduled for Friday to discuss her needs and whether or not placement at my house is appropriate for her. (at this point, I'd have to say no) Deb, however, will be sleeping in someone else's house tomorrow night. I told them I would drop her off at school tomorrow but would not be picking her up. In 10 years (35 kids) I've NEVER come close to something like this. This child is dangerous -both by her physical aggression and her false accusations. I'm not willing to assume the risks involved with her any more. She is out of control and needs some help. They are planning to place her in a therapeutic home. She needs it.

So, I guess a new day is dawning in my life. I've not been happy for a couple of months now. Perhaps 10 years of fostering is my limit? My heart is sad but my head feels like this is the right decision.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What a week!

After two weeks of fall break, it's always hard to get back into the routine of school. We are busy during the whole time off but there are fewer time issues. Appointments that are usually crammed into too-few after school hours are rescheduled for during the day, allowing us some time to actually breathe.

Sunday night, the switch flipped and Deb went off. I was kicked, hit, scratched, pinched, punched, and whacked in the head with a 4-foot tall plastic Uncle Sam (I never said my life was normal). It was no worse than any other rage but I was DONE. I loaded her up in the van, called my best friend and had her waiting in the road for me to pick her up, and drove Deb to the hospital. Along the way, Deb (who sat in her seat and stayed buckled for whatever reason) kept kicking me in the head and shoulders. When she's in this state, she is oddly agile and better able to inflict pain. My friend was turned around trying to block some of the kicks. I called the on-call DCS worker and gave her a brief account of what was happening and asked if it was okay to take her to the hospital. (In my almost 10 years of fostering, I've never done this.) In the only amusing moment of the whole evening, the worker said, "Sure, I'm already here. Just bring her on in." After parking at the ER, Deb refused to get out. I "helped" her out of the van. She refused walk up the hill to the entrance. I just grabbed her wrist and started walking. My friend walked behind, ready to stop her if she pulled away. We got into the lobby and the screaming stopped. She was still red-faced and panting but she flipped the switch the other direction and became an angel. I had multiple marks on my hand, arm, and shoulders from where she had hurt me. They got into the back quickly and that was the last thing that happened quickly the whole evening. It took three HOURS for the crisis counselor to arrive. While she was talking to me in another room, an idiot nurse gave Deb a Pepsi (at 11:00 PM, thank you very much) and turned on the Disney Channel for her. The crisis counselor wrote a safety plan with excruciating slowness and we finally left there just before midnight. All in all, Deb had a great time. I full expect her to want to do it again. Not the outcome I wanted. There have been a few positive outcomes for me. DCS (who knew full well I was having these problems with her) is suddenly falling all over themselves trying to find me some help. I've been begging for help with her for months but only now do they feel the need to even attempt to find it. There is something very wrong with the system.

Being up until 1:30 AM and then having to get up at 5:30 to start my first day back at work was not easy. Teaching little kids requires a lot of patience and, working on only 4 hours of sleep, I didn't have much. After school, Deb had a visit with her bio mom at a local library. I'm not usually involved in these other than picking her up afterwards, but her worker wanted me to come in and give them all an update on her behavior. Let's just say that meeting didn't go well. Bio mom is loud under good circumstances. She left the library screaming - several times as she kept coming back in to yell at the worker that she would have her child back home before Halloween. Mmmm, I don't think so, Chick. Other than the embarrassment factor of the yelling in the library, the action didn't bother me too much. It was just more evidence against the mom. Monday night, Alli and Elvis didn't come home. (Am I asking too much that she at least call and let me know they are spending the night elsewhere?)

Tuesday was okay. Alli even pitched in Tuesday afternoon and helped get Cori to me so I could get her to her counseling appointment on time. She also took Beth home and picked up Deb from her after school program. Cori's counseling is an hour away so that one-hour session ate up 3 hours of my time. We got back to town and went straight to Deb's baseball practice. I left home at 6:45 that morning and didn't walk back into my house until just after 8:30 PM. As I got out of the van, Alli was walking out of the house. She'd left her favorite jeans at the house where she and Elvis had spent Monday night. She was going to grab them and be "right back." This, of course, left me in charge of a really cranky Elvis. When she been gone an hour, I called and texted but go no response. She finally got home an hour-and-a-half after she'd left. The friend lives about 10 minutes from our house so I have no clue where she really was.

Wednesday, we had school and Beth had a local counseling appointment. We had a successful family night that evening.

Thursday was school and then Deb's mental health case manager (who has been MIA since July, even though she's supposed to see her twice a month) had to come to see her. She was scheduled to come at 5:30 but didn't show up until 6:05. She stayed until after 7:20, leaving me with hungry, cranky kids.

Friday finally arrived and everyone got to school on time with everything they needed. My day at work went better as they have hired new teachers and my class got smaller!!! For the first time in 7 years, my class size is under 20. Deb had a psychiatrist appointment for a med adjustment. The doctor was wonderful and thinks she can really help. I left there feeling much better. We got home and the kids were going in 20 different directions. Alli and Elvis were out. Cori had a dance at her school (small rural school, about 20 minutes from our house). Beth wanted to go the the football game at her school (huge school about 30 minutes from our house). Luckily, I could send Cori to the dance with someone else. I dropped her off on my way to take Beth to her game. On the way home, Deb and I grabbed fast food for dinner and went home to do our own things. She was excited that a new Hannah Montana was coming on. I was glad to be myself in the den until I had to reverse the route and go pick everyone back up. I was pleasantly surprised to not have to go back out. Beth called and wanted to spend the night with a friend. Alli came home and needed to go to Wal-Mart. I offered to keep Elvis if she would go grab Cori from her dance. She agreed. Elvis and I snuggled in bed and watch Lingo (his favorite TV show) on the Game Show Network. He's such a nerd.

So, it's Saturday. Alli is getting ready for work. Beth is still with her friend. Cori has been up, eaten breakfast, and gone back to bed. Deb is still asleep. (I'll pay for that tonight when she won't go to bed but I'm loving it now.) Elvis is on my bed watching trash on TV. On the agenda for today is removing the carpet from the living room. It's been the site of a few too many pet accidents and smells like pee. I can't take it any more. I know the hard wood floors underneath are probably stained but they won't be as smelly. I'm hoping a nice area rug will help.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Family night - A success, I guess?

Due the the constant undercurrent of tension in our home (exact origin unknown, but I'm so tired of it), I instiuted Family Night. Tonight was our first. I post a menu on the fridge every week and for tonight, I wrote Family Night at home - pizza and a really expensive Monopoly game. 5:00 - 7:00, Attendance required."

The kids seemed to look forward to it. They've mentioned it off and on through the week. It was nice. Everyone was here when they were supposed to be. We had yummy Domino's pizza (much cheaper if you pick it up than having it delivered) and real Dr. Pepper (not the diet version we generally drink). Everyone got a nice little sugar-buzz off the stuff. Anyway, a good time was had by all. The game was really fun. We played the new Monolpoly game that has debit cards. Beth won with almost $30 million plus her properties. That was amazing since she paid the least attention. She's rather impulsive and just bought everything. It was an interesting strategy but it worked for her. We did have several conversations about debit vs. credit as we played. The game lasted until almost 8:00 when I had to end it to get Deb bathed and into bed.

All in all, it was a good evening. Alli couldn't stay off her cell (that will be required next time) but she did hold off the two hours. I'm glad we did it. I didn't really have the extra cash (and it will be done with less cash outlay next time) but I think the fun was worth it this time.

Now, it's almost 9:00 and everyone has drifted off. Alli took Beth to get her hair cut at the mall. I gave them permission to go as long as Elvis went along. I got Deb bathed and into bed. (She had an early bedtime tonight due to some recent behaviors.) Cori has started a load of laundry and is in her room (probably cutting but I'm not in the mood to confront her tonight).

When did my life get this complicated? What was my life like before I got so tangled up with troubled kids? What is life like with "normal" kids? Probably too boring for me. Sometimes, I'd like to try boring.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Saturday as a credit card commercial

Breakfast for 5 from the McDonald's drive-thru: $9.68
Gas for 360 miles: $52.00
Lunch at a steak house: $40.00
Bribing Beth to ride along as back up: $15 and a bag of Kiddie Mix candy
Assorted snacks and drinks along the way: $20
Broken (brand new) portable DVD player: $75
Six hours with 5 people in the van: not enough money in the world!
A reunion of 3 sisters in foster care who haven't all seen each other since their mother's funeral three years ago: PRICELESS

I can't offer any explanation for why they haven't visited before. That is just the way the state works. I've taken Cori to see the far away sister once, a couple of years ago. She was living with an adoptive family and seemed to be doing well. I take her to see the local sister at least once a month, usually more. They just hadn't all 3 been together in the same room since their bio mom died.

The day went well. The time in the van was better than I expected. Other than breaking the DVD player and yelling, "We're gonna crash!" every time we passed a truck, Twin A did well. I took lots of snacks and toys to occupy her. Nothing held her attention very long but she did much better than I anticipated. We met Twin B and her foster mom at a steak house. Twin B had no idea why they were there. She saw me and Cori and screamed. It took her a few minutes to recognize that Twin A was even there. Lunch was nice. The conversation was loud but pleasant. After lunch, we followed her foster mom to a local park so the girls could visit some more. We took lots of pictures. Leaving was hard on all of them but we do plan to do this at least once a month now, so that helped a bit. The drive home was harder. The kids were tired and sad at having to leave their sister. Twin A insisted she was going to get car sick but a shake from Sonic made that better. She was smiling when we dropped her off at her residential school, so I'm guessing the day was good for her.

I've been involved with these girls for over five years. Cori was placed with me at 9. Her sisters were 7 at the time and were placed together in a therapeutic foster home due to their needs. We did monthly visits at first but, as time went on, rights were terminated, they were placed in various adoptive homes (none of which worked out), and they just lost touch. I'm generally in favor of placing sibs together but have to agree in this case, that I haven't ever met a parent that could successfully keep them all. They all have significant needs and really all need to be only children.

The kids are now 15 and 13. I worry about their futures. I don't think either of the twins will ever be able to live independently, due to their disabilities. Cori struggles with emotional issues from childhood and, truthfully, from damage done by multiple moves in foster care. There are no easy answers here. I've been involved in the case from the start, known all the players (case workers, therapists, foster parents, prospective adoptive parents, bio mom, bio grandmothers, etc.), and can't identify anyone in the system who really dropped the ball big time. For the most part, they did their jobs and seemed to care. For whatever reason, things just haven't worked out for these girls. It makes me sad. It also makes me all the more determined to make sure they continue to have these visits and have a relationship with each other. They need that. It's the least I can do.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Like I said, revolving door

They are gone again. Alli and Elvis left the house about 2:45 this morning. I heard someone moving around and was getting up to investigate. I looked out the door in time to see her drive away. Needless to say, I've been awake ever since. This morning, I called her and texted her but got no response. I waited another hour and finally, about 10:45, she texted back that she was asleep. She said she had taken Elvis to the ER because he was having some horrendous diarrhea and they said he was dehydrated. She didn't tell me where she was. This is so frustrating. I know she is 20 and legally an adult but she is also living under my roof and I'm helping support them financially. I think she owes me the courtesy of "We're staying at a friend's tonight," (even though I'm 99% sure that friend is her bio mom) instead of just disappearing and not answering her phone.

I have a sign hanging in my den - "Mothers of teenagers know why some animals eat their young." This evidently applies even more to mothers of 20 year olds.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Revolving Door

Alli and Elvis are back. They weren't even gone 24 hours. I don't know how I feel. Relieved on some level. They are safe and Elvis is being cared for. On the other hand, it's only a matter of time before we have the same problems we've been having.

I don't quite get where her attitude is coming from. She's been here almost 5 years and, for the most part, has been a joy. Suddenly, she seems to have this sense of entitlement...thinks she's "owed" things, wants the best of everything, and seems to have no consideration for anyone else's feelings or needs. She hasn't always been this way. She used to be very appreciative of the things she's had.

In the last few months, though, she's reconnected with her bio mom (a woman who has literally committed crimes against this child) and they are "best friends" now. I have so much trouble accepting this. I'd have given my life to keep this girl from having to go through what she did. Now, she's cozied up to her abuser. Based on my experience from my fairly normal, middle-class upbringing, this makes no sense. This is compounded by the fact that for many years, Alli has wanted NO contact with this woman. I'm not sure what changed.

I'm sure my attitude towards her bio mom is affecting my relationship with Alli. I feel hurt and betrayed by their relationship. They share something I can never share with Alli - biology. In the meantime, I'm stuck being the mean parent - enforcing rules and nagging about daily chores. Bio mom gets to be the fun parent - shopping and manicures. It's almost like a divorce situation where each parents tries to be the kids' favorite. Only I didn't sign up for that. And I'm not falling for that. I'll continue to be the "mean" parent because that is what Alli needs. She's 20 years old and is a parent herself. It is time for her to grow up and start making decisions for herself. I'm going to have to accept that I'm not always going to agree with her decisions. I can offer guidance but the decisions are hers to make. She's going to make some horrible decisions. There is nothing I can do but be there to pick her up (again) and patch her up (again) and hope she doesn't end up so damaged that she can't be repaired.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Changes, changes...

Well, we survived our trip to the beach. It wasn't always fun but we had a nice time overall. Perhaps a little too much family togetherness with 6 people crammed in the minivan. We've been back a couple of days and are gradually adjusting to life without a beach.

Things finally came to a head with Alli and she and Elvis moved out last night. I'm sad and relieved all at the same time. She turned 20 and suddenly knew everything. It's hard to combat that mindset. There is a lot of anger on both sides right now. I can only hope that as time goes on, we'll at least be on speaking terms again. Her bio sister is still here so things will be awkward.

Now, practical matters have to be addressed. Her cell phone is on my account (at least for the next 20 minutes when the customer service office opens). I'll have them turn it off on Friday, giving her a few days to get her own account. She knows the alarm code and password so those will have to be edited with the alarm company. Under normal circumstances I trust her completely. However, she is not thinking clearly right now.

I'll have to plan something extra fun with the other kids. This has become our ritual. When someone leaves, we plan a fun event/trip to begin building memories in our new family configuration. It's not always easy at the time but it is worth the effort down the road.

I'm too sad to write more now. I'll be back when I've had some time to think this all through.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

To those who say they would NEVER leave a child in respite...

Let me assure you that I am that person, too. Until Deb joined us, I've never left a child in respite while we went on vacation. When I called her worker a few weeks back to tell her of my decision, she had me repeat it 3 times saying, "You never use respite. I needed to make sure I was hearing you right." I treat my foster kids like I treat all members of my family. This child has made me reconsider my decision. She is still a member of the family but she has different needs.

She is a full-time job. She's never still and never quiet. She thrives on routine and order. I'm that way in my real life but on vacation, I want to be the total opposite. If I want to sleep until 10:00 AM and then eat pizza for breakfast, I will. My other kids are totally able to go with the flow and enjoy breaking the "rules" on vacations. Deb not only doesn't appreciate the lack of structure, it actually makes her uncomfortable. She expresses this discomfort by increasing her anxiety which leads to lots of screaming, physical aggression, and lots of loud curse words. None of these are good things during any part of my life but when staying in base housing on a military base, they are even worse. My neighbors here are used to my kids and their....eccentricities. Military families transitioning between bases aren't so understanding.

I've taken this child to the beach TWICE this summer. Both times, she couldn't hold it together. She was miserable and made everyone else miserable in the process. (Misery evidently really does love company.) She'll be much happier in the respite home. They know her. She likes them. They have several kids with special needs and will adhere to the schedule that makes her feel so secure, even without me there. We'll lay around the vacation place and do what we want, when we want without fear of a six-hour rampage because we didn't leave for the beach at 10:15 AM on the dot.

We'll come home Sunday and get her from the respite family. She'll have lots of tales to tell us. We'll bring her a t-shirt and some school supplies (don't laugh, that's her obsession) and all will be well. I'll be rested and ready to resume being her mom. That is what I missed during my first decade of fostering. I've learned that sometimes, I really do need to do something for me. I don't do it often, but this is okay. I'll be a better mom for taking this time.

To Do List - Update Number 2

We are leaving for vacation in just over 14 hours. Here's where my life stands:

1. COMPLETE! I found respite for Deb! For the record, I just secured that respite about 20 minutes ago and I really wanted to start it tonight but it was way too short notice to even ask the respite mom. So, we'll drop her off on our way out of town in the morning.

2. NOT DONE! However, I can piece together friends, family, and neighbors to do the basics. We'll only be gone 3 nights.

3. COMPLETE! And I liked his answer! (That doesn't happen very often.) The changed the requirement and all trips over 50 miles each way qualify for reimbursement. And, I can back that up to July. Hot dog! He said a 50 mile round trip would get me about $23. I've made about 10 of those trips each month - July, August, and September! Hooray! I will have some extra cash!

4. NOT DONE but I can do this as we drive tomorrow so not a problem.

5. Basically COMPLETE. I still new a few odds and ends but we'll be in a Wal-Mart somewhere along the way. We can't travel and not visit Wal-Mart. That would be rude.

6. COMPLETE! (Confession - I did pack some dirty clothes but we will have a washer/dryer there.)

7. NOT DONE - Still playing phone tag but, again, I have 8 hours in the van tomorrow. Unless I'm in Wal-Mart, we should connect.

8. COMPLETE - many times over.

9. NOT DONE - I don't see it/smell it any more. I'm stupid enough to go seek it out.

10. NOT DONE - Plenty of time to do this next week.

So, I didn't get it all done, but I'm ready to travel. I had a few unexpected issues today (a hole in my last contact so I had to schedule an appointment for an exam) so I feel good about my progress. And, with my new contacts, I can see!!!!


It's been almost a year since I adopted Beth. Because she was so old (16) when I adopted her, I get adoption assistance for her (a small amount of money each month and she continued on our state's version of Medicaid). Since she still has the stinky state insurance, I use the money to pay for her counseling - thus getting her a good therapist, not just someone stupid enough to get involved with the state insurance problem.

Anyway, I got a letter in the mail telling me it's time to renew the adoption assistance agreement. I swear they try to make this as difficult as possible on everyone involved. Do they get paid more for using big words? Here's the letter attached to the paperwork:

Dear ME,
enclosed are the new Adoption Assistance Affidavit forms for the above
named child(ren) and also an Adoption Assistance Renewal Affidavit Memorandum
regarding the new Renewal procedures. The notarized Renewal Affidavits
must be returned to this office by October xx, 2007. You may keep one copy
of the notarixed Affidavit for your files.

NOTE: Even though the deadline for submitting the forms is
10/xx/2007, the Affidavits and documentation should be submitted as soon as
possbile in the case additional documentation is required.

The Adoption Assistance Renewal Affidavits are full of legal mumbo-jumbo but I do think I can figure them out. I have to find a notary which ticks me off because I never know where to find one. You'd think that DCS who has people fill out hundreds of forms like this would have a notarty on staff but they don't.

My bigger gripe is the "documentation" they want. The exact statement, taken directly from the Adoption Assistance Renewal Affidavit Memorandum, is: "Families who receive a regular Adoption Assistance rate must attach proof that their child currently resides in the family home. That proof may come in the form of a grade card report or other verification of the child's location." First, I can't use the report card since we won't get them until after the date I have to turn these forms in. What in the world is "verification of the child's location?" Should I take a picture of her in her bed? Sitting on the front porch? How do you verify the location of a 17 year old girl? GPS tracking? At least two DCS employees are in my home every month. Can they not vouch for the fact that she's still here? One of the other kids suggested I cut off Beth's ear or finger and mail that in as proof. While I would enjoy seeing the face of the "DCS Adoption Assistance Designee" when she opened the bloody envelope and out fell a severed body part, I just don't think I'll go that far.

Grrrr! Just one more annoyance I have to deal with, thanks to "The System." But, Beth is worth it, so we'll find someway to verify her location and be thankful we'll just have to do this one more time.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

10:15 PM Update

1. No luck. I'll be frantically calling every foster home in a 5 county area tomorrow hoping to find a sucker, um, I mean, a respite provider.

2. Same as above but I'm not worried about this one.

3. I called him this morning. He didn't return my call.

4. No chance to do this. Deb was with me all day.

5. Meals are planned but no shopping has been done.

6. Progress made. I'm not stressed about this.

7. Again, I called and left a message but no one called me back.

8. Done...twice. Needs to be done again but it will wait until tomorrow.

9. Just didn't have the stomach for this one today.

10. Just didn't have the heart for this one.

Off to bed early (for me). Tomorrow is going to be busy, busy, busy. I'm hoping to wake up and get to Wal-Mart early to get oil changed in the van and do a little vacation shopping while I wait. If I plan this right, I can go ALONE! (That never happens in my life.)

To Do List

My list of things I need to do just keeps getting longer and longer. I'm such a procrastinator.

1. Find respite for Deb. We are leaving in a couple of days. I fear rejection so I just haven't called many foster families. Rumor has it there are a couple of families in town that will keep any kid for the money. I'm hoping to luck into one of those.

2. Find a pet/house sitter. Again, we are leaving soon. A friend and I usually trade this service off but we will both be gone at the same time. I'm sure we can round up a semi-responsible teen who will do a half-way decent job. We're down to one elderly dog and two indoor/outdoor cats. I have to admit I wish I could just leave Deb with the pet-sitter, too. (Just kidding....sort of.)

3. Call my foster parent support worker and ask the regulations for milage reimbursement. The old rule was they would pay for any trip over 75 miles each way. I'm driving 1,000 to 1,200 miles a MONTH taking my two foster daughters to regular counseling appointments. Sadly, each trip is about 55 miles each way, thus not qualifying for payment. Something's got to give. Gas is really expensive and my aging van isn't getting any younger.

4. Return the many messages left by Deb's CASA (court-appointed special advocate) workers. I mean to call them back but it's hard to find the time. I really can't talk with her around and she's always underfoot and eavesdropping.

5. Plan meals and shop for the trip. We stay in an apartment and to keep costs down we cook our meals. Food is much cheaper here than near the beach.

6. Pack for the trip. Luckily, it's still really hot here so we are still wearing summer clothes. It's a lot harder to find out-of-season clothes. The only thing we haven't used in a while is bathing suits and they have already been located and washed! Now where in the world are those beach towels????

7. Call pediatrician about Cori's bloodwork results and schedule an ultrasound. Sounds simple enough but when I'm woking, I just can't connect with that office. The only time I can get to a phone at work is while they are at lunch. We've exchanged messages for over two weeks. Now that I am on fall break, I've got to connect with them...or it will have to wait until Christmas vacation.

8. Wash dishes. Without a dishwasher, this is always on my list. It never gets done.

9. Remove the dead squirrel from the front yard. I'm tempted to call it a science project but it's really not. One of the cats proudly presented us with it a few days ago. No one wants to touch it. We've seen the varying degrees of decomposition now. It's just plain nasty - but so nasty that no one will dispose of it. To get in or out of the house, we cover our noses, look straight ahead, and RUN!

10. Hang the new curtains in my bedroom. The ones I had have been there 7 years of so and have gotten really faded. I finally saved my money and waited for a sale. They are here now but aren't doing much good still sitting in the package. I'm putting it off because they will need to be ironed and then I'll have to climb around but the end result will be worth it.