Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Goodbye Sweet Baby

At 3:44 AM Monday, my first granddaughter, Blair, entered the world. Her birth was not a joyous occasion as she was born at 21 weeks gestation. Boy Wonder and I were there with Alli during the delivery. While perfectly formed, she was too young to even breathe. They wiped her off and handed her to Alli. Alli and Boy Wonder looked at her a minute before Alli started crying, "She's still moving! She's still moving!" in a panicked tone that broke my heart. I asked if she wanted me to take her and she said yes. So, I picked up the little bundle and held her close, telling her how much we loved her and how glad I was to be her grandmother. Her left arm continued moving another minute or two and then she was still. I can only hope she felt loved as she headed for Heaven.

The nurse took her out of the room then to clean her up while the others tended to Alli. When everything was settled, they brought her back. She'd been bathed and dressed in a beautiful handmade outfit. She was wearing a white crocheted dress with pink ruffles with a matching bonnet and blanket. All obviously made by a volunteer for occasions just like this one. (God bless that volunteer.) We spent the day holding her and crying. BW called his family and I alerted Alli's family (both bio and adopted). BW's dad and stepmom arrived first and left just as my mom arrived with Beth and BW's mother. They stayed the rest of the day. We all left the hospital about 4:00, leaving Alli and BW alone with their sweet baby. They kept her in the room the whole night until the funeral home van arrived to pick her up the next morning. Alli was released from the hospital on Tuesday. The funeral is scheduled for today.

It's been a long week. A week where hopes were raised and then crushed. A week of listening to her little heartbeat every hour, only to have her born so early that it had to stop. Emotions are raw, especially on top of the exhaustion that follows a week in the hospital. Everyone is hurting.

Leaving that hospital, that room, was hard. That was the only room in the whole world where Blair was alive, even if just for a few minutes. In some odd way, we became a family in that room. Until this hospitalization, I'd only met Boy Wonder once. Suddenly, we were thrust together almost constantly and had to learn to live together in the face of a tragedy. I have to admit he stepped up. He was there when Alli needed him. He didn't take the initiative to do things for her but willingly helped when asked. I have a new understanding of him. I hope he can say the same for me.

Now, I wonder where we go from here?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Life stinks but still goes on

Alli announced Wednesday night that she needed to go to the ER. She'd felt something "drop." Of course, at 20 weeks, this is NOT good. Sure enough, the ER sent her straight to OB where they discovered she was dilated 3 to 4 cm and her bag of water was bulging through the opening in her cervix.

The only option at this point is to stand her almost on her head and give her meds that might help to shrink the membrane, letting it go back through the cervix. If it goes back through, they will transfer her to a hospital an hour away and they will put a stitch in her cervix to try and hold the baby in. There is only a 20% chance that this will work. The doctor admitted that with babies this early, he's only seen it work a couple of times in his years as a doctor. In the meantime, if her water breaks, we have a baby. Babies born at this gestational age have a 0% chance of surviving. They even went ahead and explained what would happen if the baby is born now. They would deliver her, cut the cord, and hand her to Alli. No attempts to help the baby will be made. She may breathe a time or two and her heart will probably still be beating for a few minutes but we'll just hold her and watch her die.

So, all those inclined, please say a prayer for Alli and Baby Blair. I just can't believe we've been through all this, only to lose her now. I'll update when I can. It's noon on Friday and I've been awake since 5:00 Wednesday morning. I've been in the hospital with her the whole time. My mom just came to stay with her and kicked me out, telling me not to come back until I've slept a couple of hours. My kids are spread out all over the county. I admit I don't even know where some of them will be sleeping tonight. Without sleep, I can't even process what I've got to deal with.

For those of you wondering, Boy Wonder is around during this. He and I have both slept there with her both nights. He goes somewhere during the days but comes and goes a few times and calls between visits. And, I have to admit, he's not actually the Spawn of Satan as I had previously believed. He's more like a 14 year old than a 23 year old but we are slowly making peace with each other. Heck, Alli's bio mom has even come to visit (twice so far, thankyouverymuch), and she hugged me before she left each time. Maybe we'll all learn a few things from this....or maybe Hell really has frozen over.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

5 years

Dear Alli,

I'm sitting up late tonight writing you this letter. In just a few short hours, you will have officially been in my home for a full 5 years. You are the first to stay this long. Others came close. I've been involved with Cori for almost 6 years but she's come and gone during that time. I think Anna was here for about 4 years, 3 months, but you are the only one to be here for 5 solid years. Oh, what a 5 years it has been.

I clearly remember the day that the DCS worker called me about you. We were home on a snow day. It was late in the afternoon and she was desperate to find somewhere to put you. She briefly ran down your history (which sounded horrible, by the way). She told me you had a premature baby in NICU. She said she expected you to stay about 10 days - just long enough for them to clear your biological mother to take custody of you. I already had 3 foster kids. I don't have a clue as to why I said yes, but after a few minutes of thinking and praying, I did.

30 minutes later you were dropped on my doorstep by the first in a string of revolving DCS workers that would be in charge of your life. You came with nothing but the clothes on your back. Not even a coat in the single digit temperatures. You had no other clothes, no toiletries - none of the usual trappings of the multiple 15 year old girls who'd been dropped off with me over the years. The worker pushed you through the door, as she was in a hurry to get home. I had no clue at the time what your arrival would mean in my life. She was shoving my daughter through the door. I just didn't know it at the time.

The first few days, weeks, even months, were those of a typical foster placement. We drove back and forth as often as we could to visit Elvis in the NICU. We rounded up clothes for you and him. You started back to school and seemed to enjoy it. You did some sneaking around. I busted you for some of it. I'm sure missed many other things. You had a few visits with your biological family. I met your bio mom, her new baby, your interesting brothers. You had regular visits with them at first. Your plans for the future often started with, "When I go to live with my momma, I'll...."

And yet, as time went on, those visits stopped for valid reasons. At first, you asked why the visits stopped but you didn't seem upset they had stopped. We brought Baby Elvis home from the hospital on his 4 month birthday. Our world turned upside down! Neither of us had ever been solely responsible for a newborn. Not only did he have the usual baby issues to deal with but he had the added issues from being so premature. There were medicines to give and appointments to make. Trying to make him eat seemed almost impossible. And yet, together, we figured out a system and got it done. I guess that was the beginning of our bonding. Otherwise, we might have killed each other. Do you remember the griping over who's turn it was to wash his bottles?

Other foster kids came and went during that time. Some left for adoptive homes. Others turned 18 and thought they knew it all. You were the constant in my life. Gradually, your talk of the future turned from "When I go to live with my mom" to "I'm staying here forever." I assured you at the time that you would not be here forever, but you could stay as long as you needed. More kids came and went. You still had limited contact with some of your bio family, but "my" family became "our" family. I wouldn't want it any other way! When I wasn't even looking, you became mine.

Things didn't always go smoothly. We certainly had our bumps along the way. In the end, though, you were worth every minute of it! I'm actually amazed we've made it though 5 years without butting heads more than we did. I can literally count on one hand the number of times we have raised our voices at each other. I remember them all in detail because they were such rare occurrences. I'm guessing not many moms of teenage girls can say the same.

And, now, we've reached a crossroads in our relationship. Big changes are coming. I'm sure we'll need more than two hands to count our disagreements in the coming days. I know from experience that things will get much worse before they get better. Learning to love you was the easy part. Learning to let go hurts horribly. I just hope that sometime in the not-so-distant future, we'll have a good relationship again.

Thanks for putting up with me. Seems like no one else could stand me for 5 years. I'm glad you did!

I love you,

Adoption decision...I think

As of right now, I'm planning to go ahead with the adoption of Alli. She's agreeable and I do have a reason to go through with it. If (or more likely, when) her children are removed by DCS somewhere down the road, I'll be the legal grandmother, making it possible for me to either get custody or, if that's not in someone's best interest, I can at least have visits with the kids. If I haven't adopted her, I'm just her former foster mom.

Whether I adopt her or not, she's mine. I think I'd rather go ahead and make us legal. I don't have to leave her any inheritance. The way I understand it, if I die without a will, she would get an equal share of what little I had, divided between all my legal kids. So, I'll write a will. It will likely change over time, depending on what happens with our relationship.

So, I'm waiting for my attorney to return my call to see just how much this little legality is going to cost. I'm always amazed at what they charge for things like this.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Movie reviews and visits with bio family

First the movie reviews:

Juno - Wonderful! See it! The basic plot is that a 16 year old girl gets pregnant and decides to place the baby for adoption. It's weird and wacky but touching and moving at the same time. My girls thought the whole thing was hilarious. I didn't get all the jokes (I am old, you know) but I got a lot of them.

27 Dresses - I enjoyed this one, too. It was well worth going to see. I love Katie Heigl from Grey's Anatomy. It had a sweet message, too.

Now the bio family visits:

Alli and Beth's bio cousin turned 18 on Saturday. She had plans for her actual birthday with her boyfriend, so we celebrated with her yesterday with pizza and a movie. She's a unique kid. Her immediate family aren't worth the skin they are in - low IQs, HUGE history of substance abuse, can't keep a job, resort to selling illegal substances to make ends meet,...the list goes on and on. This cousin is the youngest child of that family. She's amazing! She is bright and sweet and smart and caring. She lived with us for over 6 weeks a couple of years ago. (Her father got some kind of construction job out of town and just left the 16 year old girl home alone in a scary trailer in an even scarier neighborhood. Thank goodness she had the sense to find Alli at school and tell her she was scared to go home. We just went by, got her stuff, and brought her to our house.) She also vacations with us on spring break. She's gone with us to the mountains the last two years and plans to go back with us this year. Long story short: She's a good part of the girls' bio family. She's doing great on her own but a little extended family never hurt anyone. I took her to the dentist and heard her tell the receptionist her aunt brought her. I'll gladly be her aunt!

When Alli first told me she was pregnant in November, she took off to the house of another bio cousin. This one lives about 40 minutes away in a tiny town. When I finally coaxed Alli home (via text) she agreed to come but said her car wouldn't start. I drove and picked her up, leaving her car in the cousin's November. The cousin's husband works long hours with a long commute but he's been trying to fix Alli's car. He finally waved a white flag and we made arrangements for a very expensive tow truck to bring the car back to our mechanic. Instead, the cousin, her husband, and their two young daughters loaded Alli's car on a trailer and towed it to the mechanic's shop last night. I felt the least we could do is buy them dinner. We met at Shoney's and had a good visit. It's always a bit awkward mixing bio family and adoptive family at first, but that ended quickly. They are just sweet people. This cousin is only 7 years older than Alli but she's told me how bad she felt for the girls growing up and wished she could have helped them get out of the family situation they were in. She did make their lives a little more pleasant. Alli, in particular, has many fond memories of playing with this cousin. And, she brightened my day by telling me she has some home video of Beth playing the sprinklers with her older daughter about 5 years ago. I can't wait to see Beth at age 12!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Life still goes on

Things are continuing pretty much the same. Cori is officially listed on our state's website for kids waiting for families. I check the site a couple of times a week, just out of habit. I have to admit I was a little taken aback when she first popped up on there yesterday. It's the exact same picture and profile they have been using for her for almost 3 years. Give it up, folks. Try a little honesty. Maybe you can find a home that really is suited to her needs and she just might find her forever family.

To say things are stressful with Alli would be an understatement. She explodes over simple things. I don't know if it's pregnancy hormones or her response to feeling guilty that she's disappointed me. Either way, it's pretty tough to take. Watching her fawn over Boy Wonder is sickening, at best. It's like watching a 14 year old girl giggle on the phone with her boyfriend. What's so disturbing is that it is so fake. She was never that kind of girl. She's trying so hard to convince herself that moving in with him is what is best. Anger is the emotion I seem to get the most of from her. It's so hard not to fire back with anger. I'm holding off the best I can but I really fear that it will happen before she actually moves.

Beth is awesome. She's come so far in the last year. This time last year she was so seriously out of control I wondered if she'd end up back in state custody on unruly charges. I have to say she has grown up and stepped up and become a wonderful young lady. She's not perfect - no one is. She's going to stumble along the way - everyone does. However, in the long run, I think she's got a good chance. She is my calm in the storm that is my life these days.

I heard from the mechanic that is working on my van and the news is not good. He fixed all my minor issues but one unexpected issue turned out to be huge. The check engine light was on because there are issues with the transmission. I've already put one new transmission in that van. Of course, that was 2 years (and 58,000 miles) ago so the warranty is expired. Now, it's decision time. I've sunk a lot of money in that van the last few years. You'd think I'd about replaced everything in it except the engine at this point. Do I replace the transmission again? I haven't had a car payment since 1993ish. I guess it's time to take a close look at the budget and see just how out of reach a new-to-me minivan is. I'm off to search local listings for a used Quest. A girl can dream, can't she?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Totally unsolicited commercial

I believe in buying American - really I do. I don't remember that my parents ever discussed this with me. I do know we always had American-built vehicles. As an adult, I didn't think much about it but I did buy American just because I happened to like those vehicles. A GM plant is located near us and that has reinforced my choice to buy American, as I have friends who depend on that for their living. I believe in buying American-built whenever possible.

That being said, I am in LOVE with a Nissan Quest. My van is in the shop and I just called the rental place and told them I needed a minivan. I went to pick it up and it is awesome! I've always been happy with my new-to-me Dodge or Chrysler vans. They're good. The Quest, however, is my new best friend. I love the way it looks. I love the way it drives. I love the layout and organization of everything in it. It even has the shoulder belt and headrest in the middle of the 3rd row. (Why can't Chrysler seem to do that? Everyone else can.) It's very spacious inside. I can totally see me buying one of these as my next van. So what if when I visit certain friends that I may have to park across the street because they don't allow foreign vehicles in their driveways? Will a GM worker really be laid off if I buy a Nissan? (By the way, I do believe my current Chrysler van was actually manufactured in Canada?)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Life goes on

Nothing really new to report. Alli and Boy Wonder are looking for an apartment. Cori has asked to be placed elsewhere, so that's a load off my mind. (Unless she explodes, it will be weeks, more likely months, before she moves but I have to admit I feel better that she is on the path to elsewhere.) Beth continues to be a blessing.

My no-crying streak has ended but I'm not too stressed about that. I do feel better after crying. I need a release and, right now, that is what I've got. It doesn't bother Beth of Cori if I cry. They just hug me or pat me on the shoulder and move on. Alli, however, gets really angry. Darn if I'll ever know why.

I'm trying to decide what to do about Alli's adoption. The plan has always been that when she aged out of the independent living program through DCS that we'd do an adult adoption. We've already changed her last name to mine. The adoption would just make the relationship legal and entitle her to inheritance rights. She's mine, either way. I just can't decide if she want to "legalize" us. And, yes, I did ask her and she said, "That's fine." Really heartfelt, huh? Maybe that's why I'm crying again? I'd give my life to make her life easier and better and that's "fine" with her.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I have an announcement

I haven't cried since Saturday. Ordinarily, that wouldn't be newsworthy, but with the state of my life right now, it is!!!

Life is still cruising along. Alli has hung out around the house a lot. Boy Wonder is still very much in the picture. However, she is laughing and talking with us again, so I feel better.

Report cards came out last week. Beth's was decent - possibly one of her best ever. Nothing outstanding but she passed everything and that was a relief to her. She's on the right track for now and is reaping the benefits. She has her cell phone back full-time. She's allowed to spend the night with her best friend. She's enjoying the freedom. I'm enjoying having one I can trust. I'm sure I'm much more involved in her life than the parents of most 17.5 year olds. She doesn't have free reign but she's feeling good.

Cori's report card wasn't so outstanding. She probably has the highest IQ of any of the kids I've fostered but her grades stink. She had the lowest grade on her report card of any kid in her homeroom. Makes a mother proud, huh? She's torn between wanting to stay and wanting to try another family. Little does she know that I've made the decision that she will be trying another family. I have told her that she just doesn't seem happy here and I think there might be a family out there that will be perfect for her. She'd like to try a family with two moms and no other kids. I don't know that she can special order a family, but you never know.

Elvis is Elvis. He plugs along and enjoys most anything. He's always a little crabby when he and Alli and out too much. He much prefers to be home in his familiar surroundings. For someone who can't speak or move, he has quite the little personality. He may be tiny but he's large and in charge.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

So far, so good

Things are not perfect around here but Alli is making a huge effort! Go, Alli!!!!!! She stayed home last night and hung out with us in the den, watching trashy movies on Lifetime and she even initiated a long overdue clean up project. She only texted Boy Wonder twice and answered his call once during the whole evening. And, she didn't grab her phone as soon as it rang. She finished what she was doing and then checked it and responded. I managed to catch her alone before bed and thank her for helping and telling her I enjoyed the evening. She said she did, too. She has stayed home today. We've had a good day. She is still talking to him and texting but it is not constant and she is finishing what she's involved in before she jumps to respond. I still expect her to move out soon, but maybe, just maybe we can be on a little better terms when it happens.

I'm still shocked at my reaction to the prospect of her moving. Did I expect her to live with me forever? No. I've had dozens of kids leave over the years. Some made me happy by leaving, but for most, I've had varying degrees of sadness. I've even taken a day or two off to cry when a child I've had for several years has left for whatever reason. (Over the years, I have discovered that I have to grieve for these kids because it is a loss. Even when they were leaving because of a choice I made - either they needed more intensive intervention or they were cleared to be placed in an adoptive home and I knew that I was not the adoptive home they needed - I need some time to heal.)

This time is different, though. I don't know why. I think a large part of it is that she and Boy Wonder have almost no chance of even being together when this baby is born this summer. I think I would feel a little better if she were saying, "I love him and we will be together forever." Instead, it's like she feels obligated to be with him because he knocked her up. Listening to her apologize to him because she's pregnant with a girl was the last straw. How dare he make her feel bad for not having his boy. HE determines that, not her. She had nothing to apologize for. I'm also sad they totally overlooked that the doctor said the baby looked great and perfectly healthy. I was soooo excited at that part. I don't know that they even processed that. (I know BW didn't even hear it as he'd already fled the office.) Or maybe I really did think she'd be here forever?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Unexpected Deb update

While at DCS yesterday, I realized that Deb's bio mom was also in the lobby. She was there to visit Deb, so I knew the kid was in the building. Bio mom went back to her visit through a door with an automatic closure on it. I watched through the little window on the door as the mom walked into the visit room. She obviously told Deb I was there because moments later, Deb came shooting out of the visit room screaming my name. She hit the locked door and began frantically yelling my name and yanking on the door with all her might. She actually was pulling so hard she fell to the floor, screaming my name the whole time. Her mother came right behind her, though, saying this is your time to spend with me not with her. And with that, she began dragging the screaming 9 year old back to the visit room. Why in the world did she tell her I was there if she wasn't going to let her see me?

Cori's worker came to get me then, sparing me from any further screaming. I'd expected that to be that. However, after the meeting, we opened the door only to see Deb and her transporter waiting in the waiting room. Her transporter needed to talk to her case worker, so I got to catch up with Deb.

She's moved twice since leaving my home in late October. She went to the first home after mine and that foster family requested her to be moved. She's in another home, in another county for now. At the end of the month, she's moving again, to yet another county. Four homes in four months. And we wonder why kids in the system get so screwed up.

Best laid plans and all....

Today was supposed to be a fun day. With Cori off to her grandmother's for the day, I was going to have a fun day with my kids. We needed a good day, as most of my days have really, really sucked lately. We'd planned to go see a movie they really want to see and eat at our favorite Chinese restaurant. (Cori is guaranteed to vomit if she eats there so we've been avoiding going.) Things started to fall apart last night.

Alli announced at 7:00 PM and that she and Elvis were going to spend the night with Boy Wonder. 10 years, 36 kids and this is the first time one of my kids has just announced they were about to go forth and sin. How in the world was I supposed to respond to that? She just walked out the door telling me she'd be home between 7:00 and 7:30 this morning. I experienced feelings I don't think I'd ever felt before. I'm still nauseated just thinking about it. I'm not naive. Obviously they have had sex - they have a baby on the way. I'm just floored that she would dare to be so blatant about it. It really felt like I'd been physically slapped in the face. It honestly took my breath away. Yes, she is twenty. However she wants to have the freedom of an adult and still have all the benefits of being a child. Things have to change.

Beth had gone home from school with a friend. They were going ice skating for the friend's birthday and then she was supposed to come home. Their plans changed and they ended up going to a late movie (the one we'd planned to see today as a family) and she asked to spend the night with the friend.

So, I was alone with Crazy Cori all last night. She, thankfully, stayed in her room for most of the night. She was only out a couple of hours. I spent my time writing a loooooong letter to Alli about how unhappy I was with the way things were going around here and things I thought needed to change to make things better.

This morning, Alli did not come home before 7:30. I texted her at 8:30 but got no response. She finally got home about 10:00 and went straight to her room. The only reason I know she read the looooong letter is that I saw it opened on her table. To be fair, she has made attempts to have pleasant conversations with me a couple of times today. BW called once when we were chatting about absolutely nothing and she silenced her phone and we finished our conversation. She called her job and got back on the schedule for week after next. (This week's schedule was already full but he told her he'd call her in if someone didn't show.) I'm having to think positively and take this as baby steps in the right direction.

We've spent what was supposed to be our fun day moping around the house. Alli and Elvis just left with one of her female friends for ice cream and a trip to Wal-Mart. Beth and I ordered lots of take out from the Chinese place and have filled our tummies. That was fun. We tried to watch Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants but our DVD player is being cranky and won't play the sound. So, we are watching a trashy teen-angst movie on Lifetime. I guess maybe we did salvage a little fun for our fun day. Now, if I only knew where Alli and Elvis were going to sleep tonight...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cori's days here are numbered

I met with her case worker, her adoption worker, and the supervisor of the adoption team today and told them, in no uncertain terms, that I was NOT going to adopt her. I can't say they were surprised. I honestly don't think this child is capable of living in a family. The give and take required to live peacefully is just something she doesn't understand. Attachment disorder is a scary thing. However understanding why she pulls this crap doesn't make it any easier to live with her. I'm sad but also relieved. I realize that in her view, I'll be just one more adult who has let her down. I'm sorry, Cori. I do hope that one day you will look back and know I did my best.

In the meantime, she's taken up smoking. Grrrr! That is one habit I just can't tolerate. Not to mention the legalities, as it is illegal to allow a foster child to smoke in this state. They'll probably cite me into court as an act of revenge.

I did tell them that as long as her behavior doesn't escalate, she can continue to live here until they locate a new placement. I don't look for that to last long, though, because as soon as she finds out I'm not adopting, she'll go off - way off! Living with a ticking bomb is uncomfortable, to say the least.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Details on the rest of my yesterday

We got to the ultrasound appointment 30 minutes early. I don't know why. That never happens. Oddly, I ran into one of my former foster daughters at the office. She is having her 3rd son. (She really needs NO children but that's another post.) Anyway, my official introduction to Boy Wonder was "Hi." We went in the office and all 3 of us sat in the same row of chairs but left a seat between us. I was at one end of the row, Boy Wonder at the other and Alli sat in the middle of the 5 seats. The tech was running late so we didn't get called back until almost 45 minutes after her appointment time (which, remember, was 30 minutes after we arrived). Conversation was strained, at best.

We got back to the little room and began the ultrasound. The tech told us up front that she would do the pictures and measurements for the doctor first and would then give us the guided tour of Alli's uterus. I was enthralled. I could pick out tiny feet and hands. I could see the baby turn her head. I LOVED it! After about 15 minutes, Boy Wonder said, all right, get to the part I want to see. You'll be happy to know I resisted the urge to knee him in the groin. The tech ignored him and continued. When she finished the required part of the exam she started pointing out all the details. All was well until she declared the baby to be a girl. Alli teared up and looked away. BW just sat down and didn't watch the rest. The tech finished up and BW was out of the exam room and into the waiting room before Alli had even sat up on the table.

We got out there and he asked what was next. Alli told him she had to stay and see the doctor after he'd reviewed the ultrasound. He said, "I'm gone." About 10 minutes later (we were still sitting in the waiting room) Alli's phone rang and it was BW's mother wanting to know what was going on. She said he'd come home, said he didn't want to talk to anyone, and locked himself in his room. Alli continued to text him furiously. I was completely ignored the rest of the day. We stayed and saw the doctor. Alli didn't even answer any questions the doctor asked. She was visibly depressed. Even the nurse commented on how down she seemed. The doctor said everything looked great. We got to hear the heartbeat again and the doctor sent her for blood work to screen for genetic issues. The whole time we waited and waited at the lab, Alli kept texting back and forth to BW. I don't think she even said a word to me. She finally announced that BW was coming to pick her up after she was done. I waited until he got there and off they went without a word to me.

I waited a bit and texted her to ask if she wanted me to take today off, too. She was so distraught, I really worried about her ability to take care of Elvis. Today is also Elvis' therapy day. It's an hour and a half drive each way and Alli hates to go and sit there alone. She replied, "Whatever." I took that as a yes and went ahead and called for a sub. I told her I'd been able to get a sub and would go with her today. She said, "That's fine." She really needs to work on showing gratitude and appreciation.

While she was gone, I made copies of the ultrasound pics and CD to give BW. They just happened to drive up as Beth and I were headed to the grocery, so I sent Beth out to take them to him. Alli saw her coming and started furiously shaking her head no, indicating that he wanted nothing to do with the pics or CD. We aborted that mission and headed on to the store. (We were out of bottled water and that is an emergency in our house.) We came back and Alli spent the rest of the evening texting BW. Again, I don't think she said a complete sentence to me, even in response to anything I asked.

I left to go to school and get my lesson plans out for the sub today. As I drove into the school parking lot, Alli texted me saying she was spotting. I went ahead and finished my plans before heading back home. I picked her up and off we went to the ER with every other person in our small town. She signed in at 8:25. She got to a room at 11:05. The first hour, she was cordial to me. We chatted a bit and made fun of the drama in the waiting room. Then, BW started texting and calling and I was forgotten. I sat there and stared at a blank wall for most of the waiting time. My cousin happened to be working the front desk and she talked to me when she could. At some point, Alli announced that BW was feeling better about having a daughter and he had decided they would name her Blair. He still didn't want the pics or video but he might soon. She then resumed texting him and calling him. Long story short: After a midnight pelvic exam, all was deemed healthy. The doctor thought maybe she had a bit of a yeast infection but he saw no sign of blood or trauma. We left at 12:15 AM.

After we got home, she went straight to bed. I was wide awake. I finally headed to bed about 1:30 with another Gilmore Girls DVD that Netflix had delivered yesterday. It was season 1, disc 6, so I finished the first season about 2:30. I slept until about 3:30 before waking up. I've been up ever since. I showered at 6:00 and dropped Cori and Beth off at their schools.

Alli has just gotten up and showered. We need to leave in an hour for Elvis' appointments. She did announce on the way to the shower that BW was off work today because it's raining. (Nice steady income to support a family on, huh?) Now, I know she will spend the entire drive time and therapy time texting and talking to him. I'll be staring at a wall again. And just typing that makes me start crying again.

I do realize that I am letting her treat me badly. I just don't know how to stop it. I have this bizarre need for approval and for everyone to like me. I don't like to make waves. I guess I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that she's dumping me for him. In normal families, that doesn't usually happen. Kids grow up and move on but still need a mom. Alli still really needs a mom but seems to think she doesn't. I've taken off 4 days of work so far for things related to her pregnancy. I'm financially supporting her and her son. I spent hours last night being ignored in an ER so she wouldn't be alone. I'll drive 3 hours round-trip today on 1 hour sleep and sit 2 hours in a therapy office being ignored again. All trying to make her feel better. I hope she does because I feel like shit.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It's a.....

Color me pink, I'm having a granddaughter!!!!!!!!! More details later!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hey, Frannie....

As if you are reading this blog, because, God help you, you couldn't read a word, but....DHS keeps sending letters to you at my house to tell you they are cutting off your Medicaid if you don't go in for an appointment. I feel it is unfair for them to do it this way since they know full well you don't live here any more. However, you chose to not give anyone your forwarding address, so...Don't get sick or hurt because you have no insurance.

What a day

To say that things are stressful around here would be an understatement. I've been crying for a few days and I'm tired of it. I actually cried myself to sleep last night and I don't know that I've ever done that, at least not in many, many years.

It has come to my attention that Alli is planning to move in with Boy Wonder. She doesn't love him. She admits that if she wasn't pregnant, they would have no relationship. This just breaks my heart. She expects so little from men in her life. She's much more about the "Mr. Right Now" instead of Mr. Right. At times during our very long, painful conversation tonight, I kind of got the feeling she was moving in with him to spare me some pain. That made no sense. As much as I don't need to be raising a baby at 40, I'd be much better help than Boy Wonder. She would at least have some help. She didn't do the baby phase with Elvis. He was in foster care at that time and I, as his foster parent, took care of the long sleepless nights. I was 35 and had a Master's degree and it was still hard. I can't imagine doing that phase at 20 with a newborn and a special-needs preschooler.

I did get that info that they are planning to rent their own place now instead of moving in with his family. Her only answer to almost every question was "I don't know." How will Elvis get to therapy? What will you do by yourself every day, all day with a baby and Elvis? How will you pay your bills? Can you survive with no cell phone and internet? How will you eat? If I hear, "I don't know" one more time I may go crazy. (Oops, too late.)

Due to her recent aversion to me (barely having any civil conversations, won't stay in the same room with me, disappearing without so much as a "see you later," etc.) I had decided not to go to the ultrasound appointment tomorrow. I took all those as clear signs that she didn't want me to go. She got really angry when I said I was going to stay home and keep Elvis. So, after talking and crying, she says she really wants me to go. I'm going. My mom is going to keep Elvis. This will be my first ultrasound. (How many women who have been a mom to 36 kids can say they have never seen an ultrasound done?)

I'll do my best to post the outcome of the ultrasound tomorrow. All those so inclined, prayers would be appreciated. I'm still praying for a healthy baby as my first priority, but I'd LOVE a granddaughter....

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Big week is here

Alli's ultrasound is this week. Both her boyfriend, Boy Wonder, and I plan to attend. We haven't met yet, so this could be interesting. Nothing like meeting the father of your grandchild over an ultrasound. I'm willing to bet Alli is a little panicked at the thought. I don't care. I'm putting up with enough crap over this, I'm going!

The whole family is taking bets over the gender of the baby. Alli and Boy Wonder want a boy and seem to think that just because they wish it, it will happen. Beth and I (and Elvis, by default, as he always votes with Beth) want a girl. Cori can't be bothered to have a conversation with any of us, so I don't know her preference.

Honestly, my biggest wish is that the baby be healthy. Five years of watching Elvis struggle with every task have taken their toll on me. I want this baby born right on schedule with no complications. However, I have 6 children (from 4 current/former foster kids) who refer to me as their grandmother. EVERY one of them is a boy. I have 3 nephews and no nieces. All my friends have sons. I want to buy things that are pink and have ruffles and ribbons! (And, if I'm being totally honest, I probably want a girl more just because Boy Wonder insists it will be a boy because he wants a boy.) Yes, I'm bad like that. Soooo, THINK PINK!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Double Whopper, anyone?

It's got cheese and everything. It even comes with large fries and a large Dr. Pepper. I don't need it. I bought it for a former foster son. He is the bio brother of Alli and Beth. He lived with me for about 3 months when he was 12, turning 13 while he was here. He left me to go to a kinship placement. It wasn't a relative but was a family he'd lived with before and they loved him. God bless them - they really loved him. That lasted just over a year before he became so physically violent that the foster mother literally feared for her life if she was left alone with him. (For good reason. I had the same fears. He also once threatened to kill one of his sisters because he didn't get to sit in the seat he wanted in the van. It was a real threat. I believed him.) Anyway, he left there and went to another foster home before his mother decided she wanted to get him back. She worked her plan, got him back, and then dumped him when he predictably started causing trouble again. When she gave him back to the state, they gave him to his alcoholic father, on the very day the father was released from a mental hospital after attempting suicide. Yeah, that makes sense - NOT!

Anyway, back to the Whopper. We were driving home from school today and realized that the kid walking down the road was little brother. We turned around and stopped in a parking lot to wait for him to catch up to us. He said his father was supposed to have picked him up from school and taken him to the police station at lunch. His probation officer had told him to go to arrange his community service. (Doesn't that make it sound like this placement is going well?) Father didn't show at school so he walked from school to the police station. It was the wrong day. He had to walk home. We offered to take him home and feed him on the way. He refused. He said he didn't have much further to go. He wouldn't tell us where they were living. He just said he was almost home.

We left but felt bad. We ran through the Burger King drive-thru and grabbed him the biggest meal on the menu (He's a 15 year old boy. You can't fill him up.) We then drove and drove but couldn't find him. It was like he just disappeared. Alli had an idea of where they were living so we drove there but still couldn't find him.

So, we drove home with the Whopper meal untouched. It's sitting on the counter, waiting to be eaten. Everyone was a little down after that. He had so much potential but he's blown it all. I don't know who has failed this child. I guess almost everyone he's come in contact with has to some degree. However, he's to the point that he can change and do better or continue on his current path and become a thug like his older brother. Makes me sad. He was such a cute kid. How horrible must his life have been for him to be 15 and on probation? (And I do know this is not his first run-in with the law.)

Now, anyone want this Whopper? It's loaded with lettuce, tomato, cheese, despair, and missed potential. I know I don't. I've had enough.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008?

We had a good New Year's Eve. Nothing exciting, but traditional for us. Traditions are good for kids who come from foster care. So often, their holiday memories involve drinking, fighting, and very little worth remembering. There was certainly no continuity from year to year. Things are very predictable here around the holidays for that very reason. New Year's Eve is pizza fondue, board games, and sparkling grape juice at midnight. We did have fun. The game of the evening was "Imaginiff." I highly recommend it. It provides lots of opportunities to talk during the play of the game. Alli even told her...whatever we are calling the father of her baby...that we were playing a game and she'd call him when we were done. This is HUGE because she seems to be talking/texting him constantly. New Year's Day is chicken and dumplings, black eyed peas, cornbread, and cabbage. (Yes, we are southern and proud of it - LOL!) The kids have all headed to Wal-Mart, claiming boredom. In truth, the gift cards they got for Christmas were burning holes in their pockets. Fine by me. I'm home alone about 1 hour a year, total. I've learned to enjoy the peace.

So, here we are. The very first day of a brand new year. So many opportunities lie ahead. So many resolutions to make and break. I'm oddly sad today. I think most of it relates to Alli and the fact that I fully expect her to move in with the father of her baby (and his mother, his two adult brothers, and a cousin). This is never anyone she's considered a "boyfriend." He's her "friend with benefits." They are "dating" now. Seems a little late but they don't listen to me anyway. It breaks my heart that she expects men to treat her this way. She's all about keeping him happy, losing herself in the process. She experienced every type of abuse as a child. She's living proof that that abuse affects kids' lives forever. I don't think he really wants a lasting relationship with her. It's almost like he's staking his claim...trying to pull her from her family and "win" for lack of a better description. I'm so sad because Alli is the one who will lose. This is how it's been for most of her life.

Cori seems to have settled down for a few days. (After the week of spontaneous vomiting, that's a really good thing.) I was at the end of my rope with her. I still don't feel that I can adopt this child and I feel horrible about that. However, I find myself angry at her a lot. That is not a healthy atmosphere for her to be in. Her adoption worker and DCS caseworker fully expect to call me tomorrow and have me tell them to schedule the court date for the adoption. I can't....God forgive me, I just can't.