Friday, March 23, 2012

I'm the Lucky One

I saw a comment on LT's blog that struck a chord with me.  Here are my rambling thoughts for the day...

People are always telling me how much they admire what I do, that I'm amazing, an angel, that they couldn't do it.  I don't think that fostering is for everyone *at all* but I think it must just scare some that actually could do it.  Yes, its work, but so is my own son...and they are worth it for the same reasons.  They were created by God and are worthy of His love and ours.  They were created to know and love Him, and to know and love people.  When I know and love them, then I am doing what God created me to do.  If I can teach them to know God and love people, then they will be ready to face this world when they leave my home.  I hope.

I don't do this consistently or perfectly, but it is the goal I keep in mind.  I fail most every day - I lose my temper.  I may say something I regret, I may slam a door, I may give myself a time-out...or I may stuff it and bottle it up inside for a while.  Its a work in progress.

Therefore, I am not any more amazing than the next person, who faces their own struggles each day.  We each have our own mountains to climb, and each one of these children tries me, tests me and helps me grow into the person I am becoming.  I do the same for them, helping them face their problems and grow up a little bit more.  I feel blessed and lucky to be able to do this for them.  Perhaps that is the reason I have a hard time understanding why people think I'm so great!  I'm the lucky one.

---end rambling---and on to what's happening---

Spring, and a little of summer, have been hanging around the past few weeks, and we have all been enjoying the beautiful weather.  I had a week without my husband (another business trip), and survived, so I know that I can handle these 6 kids just fine, without being a miracle worker and without much help, other than them being in school for 4 days.  I did had a friend join us last Friday for a fun day in Bowling Green - it would have been incredibly stressful to attempt it alone!  I took them to Chuck E. Cheese and to see The Lorax, then to a playground before a storm drove us back home.  Most of them had never been to Chuck E. Cheese, or a movie theater, so it was a big day!!  They had a fantastic time, and all except Minnie managed to stay awake through the movie.

Today was the home visit from the preschool teachers, and it went well.  The kids were hyped up from being inside today (boo, more rain!) and so excited to show their teachers their toys in the playroom.  We talked a bit about the issues that those 3 little ones have, and a little about their family situations.  The sun came out while they were here, so thankfully they've gotten to play some outside and have some quiet time as well.  When the older ones get off the bus, I'm going to try and keep them all outside until supper! 

I have been setting dental and medical appointments and think they are all lined up.  The social worker has set the mental health evaluation for spring break, and I'm glad to get that started.  I've been doing my own research and have an alphabet of acronyms that may be applied to them, so we'll see which ones I'm right about!  I really hope therapy will help them come through the experience well, instead of having to go to medications.

One more week until spring break means I have 4 full days with just one child at home to accomplish any errands I need to run the following 10 days.  Wish me luck!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Meet the Teachers

This week I decided to be proactive about learning more about these kids, since I have the feeling they may be here a while.  Of course, I could be totally wrong about that, too!

I was told they had IEPs, which are individual education plans, by the social workers.  All but the oldest child did.  I called the school to see about getting copies of the IEPs, and about possibly increasing the number of times Goofy gets his speech therapy.  Instead, the school counselor ended up saying I could request a progress meeting, so we did!  (It was great timing, since report cards were coming home that day.)  I got to meet all the teachers for the 5 kids, plus one of the two speech therapists.  It was a wonderful meeting, as I could tell how much each one of them truly loved these kids in my care.

I'll list just a few of the gems we discovered that day. 

Daisy was held back in second grade, but swears up and down it was first grade.  Either way, good to know.  She is now in the highest available math class for her grade, and almost highest in reading and is doing very well, especially now that she gets enough rest each night. She should finish out third grade strongly.

Donald has not yet been held back, and his teacher didn't think her superiors would allow that to happen this year.  I don't normally want kids held back, but he has already been labeled as MMR (mild mental retardation) and been getting special services.  I was thinking if we could get the label stripped off and simply let him try the whole year again, it might improve his self-esteem by being treated "normally."  Both the regular classroom teacher and special education teacher raved about his improvements this school year.  He started out so far behind, but is now almost finished with the first of the 1st grade readers (1 of 5 - the rest of his grade is starting the fifth reader now).   The improvement in the 3 weeks he has been with me have been amazing, they told me.  They were very excited that he might actually test out of special services when that time comes up again.

Mickey has likewise shown huge improvements, and his teacher was full of pride (I think they said he was borderline MMR at the beginning of the school year).  He is most definitely ready to start kindergarten in the fall.  He will likely continue with speech for a while.

Minnie will have another year of preschool, and continue with speech and occupational therapies, as well as working on her communication and socialization skills.  The only goal set for her this school year that she hasn't met yet is to be out of pull-ups completely.  And if you've read my other posts, you know just how hard we are trying to meet that one!  For my own sanity, if nothing else. :)

Goofy unfortunately will not be "ready" for kindergarten, but has to go anyway because of his age (and because he's in foster care I can't home school him...and not sure I'd want to try in any case).  The only letter he can recognize is the one his name starts with.  He did get the colors right, and a few of the shapes, though, so perhaps its not hopeless.  They also can't increase the frequency of his speech therapy until he moves from "the trailers" into the main school building next year because this therapist travels from school to school and is only physically there twice a week.  The teachers and counselor were in agreement to increase it for the next school year, though, as well as in sending home some things for me to work with him on.  He is the hardest to understand of any 3-5 year old I've ever known, and very slow and methodical in his self-care.  Crazy fast when he tries to play and talk, but slow for most other things.  He's an interesting child, and challenging.

The whole meeting made me feel fantastic about having these kids - every teacher was thankful I was able to take all the siblings, and two called me an angel.  I would like to say that I am totally NOT an angel, but its nice to know that some see me that way, LOL.

Other than school news, D, D, M & M will soon start visitation with their father on opposite weeks from their mom.  I hope it goes well....and wonder if I'll meet him.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Visitation for Four and More

The past week or so has been a bit of a roller-coaster.  I finally got to the doctor and drank lots of cough medicine and luckily it didn't run out but a day or so before the anitbiotics really started working.  I'm feeling much better now, but last Monday was awful!  I'm so glad to finally be working at more than 75% and looking forward to being back to 100%.

I had to take Goofy to the doctor Tuesday, and he had a round of antibiotics as well.  The surprise was that he should have been on allergy medication this whole time (nearly 2 months now) and no one told me!  No wonder his nose was always running and he got sick from the constant congestion.  Oops....  he's all better now, and I'm glad to not be helping him blow his nose anymore.

Donald caught the stomach virus that's going around our community, and I think little Mickey had a touch of it, and Daisy may have a bit of an ouchy tummy this afternoon.  I sure hope those two don't get it full-blown like Donald, because it was *disgusting*!!  I'm guessing it was the same strain my own son and I had about a month ago, since we're doing fine.

DH + 3 kids + 2 dogs = fun exercise time in beautiful February weather
In between Goofy and Donald's illnesses was the weekend.  My parents came down and met all the new kids, and a good time was had by all.  It was a little crazy and a lot loud, especially since my dad brought his beagle and his foster dog along.  (Foster dog, Lily, was a chihuahua/Jack Russell mix and very skittish, but not nippy.)

Yesterday afternoon, Donald said he was feeling well enough to have his first visit with his mom.  I doubt he would have said otherwise, even if he was in the middle of hanging over the toilet.  Anyway, Donald, DS and I went to the bus stop and picked up the others and headed straight to social services.  Their mom was already in a visit room and the social worker met us promptly (hooray!).  The kids were SO excited!  Goofy, DS and I headed to Wal-Mart to spend our time shopping before heading back.  Again, the social worker had the kids ready to go, so I have not yet met mom.

I won't lie - I'm extremely curious about her, but a little nervous about actually meeting her.  Its so hard to know what to expect because I don't know how much of what the kids say is true, what's exaggerated, and what's completely made up.  I was told the visit went well by the social worker and CASA worker, and the kids played a lot and didn't do a lot of real talking with mom.  CASA worker was a bit surprised by that, but in my experience, that's what usually happens.  The kids get real excited, hugs and kisses, then play until the visits about over, then more hugs and kisses.  More talking goes on when they get a bit older, I think, but these are 4, 5, 6 and 9 (but all "behind" in one way or another).

Now I also was able to speak briefly with Goofy's sw while I was picking up the other kids, and unfortunately, there was no good news.  The aunt and mamaw that live together have been trying to get approved (the same mamaw who wouldn't keep him so he came into foster care).  I thought things were going along well, and the aunt had said the home visit was this week.  The sw did agree with the home visit, but it is more of a formality before the rejection is final.  I was very disappointed and broken-hearted for him last night.  I won't tell him until its final, of course....and hopefully the sw will tell him so I won't have to be the bad guy!

This was another first for me - both the not-meeting Minnie, Mickey, Donald and Daisy's mom for the visit, and for Goofy's relative not being approved.  The sw said she didn't know what would happen with Goofy.  His mom can't have him, dad doesn't want him/can't have him, and this aunt was his only hope :(  Its too early to say they will change the goal to adoption, but it is a possibility now.  So, so sad.