Thursday, June 14, 2012

Break Time!

Yesterday, my last foster child (of the 6 earlier this year) went home to her biological father.  She was with us for four busy months, and helped me overcome my trepidation about her age group.  Of the three girls I have had, aged 8-10, she has been the most fun and best behaved!  I will miss her but believe that the right thing was done by the state in her case.  For this, I am thankful.
Horseback riding after hiking at Mammoth Cave
She finished out her school year soon after the last post, and I attended the awards ceremony with my own son in tow.  She was so very proud of her two awards!  I was unaware of the awards program until she called me about 30 minutes before it started, but we made it in time.  I enjoyed it, although it did get a bit long, since they did K thru 5th grade all at the same time.
Wading at Otter Creek park, Meade County
Since school was out, we have gone hiking, swimming, and to a museum.  I have let the kids make crafts, read to them, and let them play in the creek.  I showed them how the bushhog on the tractor works and cut a path to the creek to make it easier on us all - the weeds are taller than they are!  We have roasted marshmallows and grilled out.  We went to the playgrounds and stayed home to jump on the trampoline and throw water balloons.  It was all a good time, and I think she'll remember the time with our family fondly.

Pedicure - part of our "girl's night"
Court itself was a trial, so to speak. ;)  She and her 3 younger siblings, who went home to their dad over a month ago, were asked to be there.  I brought my "busy bag of tricks"* and thank goodness I did!  We waited two hours for the case to be called, then another hour for it to be over.  As you can imagine, it was anxious and uncomfortable for everyone, since both bio dads, the bio mom, foster mom, a granny and a step-mom were all there with the kids.  It was very telling that the kids chose to hang out with their dads or me the whole time - bio mom only spoke briefly with Daisy (until she realized her dad was there) and ignored the younger 3 altogether.  She had no chance of getting Daisy back - failed drug tests, home not ready, poor presentation (dress, attitude), and no attachment.  Their social worker said that she had never seen a worse mother than this one, and neither have I.  She still makes me angry; I am so thankful that the fathers both stepped forward to take their children.

Both dads have done a good job communicating with me since visitation began a few months ago, and assure me that I can call or visit anytime.  I really appreciate that, and it makes letting go SO much easier.  I prefer to let them take the lead, however, because I know that its a tough transition for their family, regardless of how excited they are to have them home.  Experience has also taught me that this contact usually isn't for the long term.  Of the fourteen kids we've had in the past 23 months, there are a few I haven't seen in quite some time.  However, I think the fact that I'm keeping contact with them open in some way (email or phone contact with the parent, at minimum; meet-ups at the park at most) says good things about the job I do making the families feel comfortable with me and confident that I have their best interest in mind.  (Biological parents sometimes feel, at least at first, that foster parents are in it to "steal" their kids.)  Many of them are very thankful for the care I've given their kids.  The dad and nanny of the group of 3 mentioned above actually gave me a very sweet card last week!

We are now taking a break from fostering.  Respite is a good thing, but it isn't the same as a true break.  When kids are put in respite, they are still "my" kids and I worry about them and miss them while we are out of town.  Once the kids are removed from care altogether, there is a sense of greater freedom.  We have several trips planned over the next few weeks before school starts (August 1st around here!), and won't be accepting any new placements during that time.  I have stipulated a couple of exceptions to that rule, one being if Goofy happens to come back into care.

* Busy bag or bag of tricks = something to preserve your sanity and keep children out of trouble in kid unfriendly situations (anywhere they have to wait and can't run around).

My bag typically includes several of the following.  What do you  have in yours?
  • coloring and activity books
  • crayons, pencils, pens, markers
  • Hot Wheels, cars
  • small balls (but not bouncy balls)
  • food, drinks, utensils
  • small stuffed animals
  • blankets, towels
  • napkins, utensils
  • electronic devices (Kindle Fire, iThing for movies/games, Nintendo DS)
  • books
Wishing you all a fun and happy summer!

This was a previous post that I failed to complete and upload....OOPS.  It would have been entitled, "School's Out!"

Daisy has completed 3rd grade and is looking forward to starting 4th grade at a new school in a different city, once she is back with Dad.  This ten year old (yes, she repeated an earlier grade) love to learn, but hates school because it bores her.  She loves the social aspect of school, though.  I've had several foster daughters who are "butterflies", but I think Daisy takes the cake!  She's never met a stranger and freely gives hugs to anyone she's ever seen before.

Thursday was the last day of public school, and we ended our home school the same day.  Friday we took a fun day!  We went to Chuck E. Cheese, which was quiet for almost the first hour because birthday parties didn't start early, and that county's schools were still in session.  It was nice!  I went to the Parent Teacher Store and got a few supplies to rearrange our home school area, then we went to a playground to burn some energy.  Finally, we went to an historic train depot which is now a museum.  They had a great time doing a scavenger hunt in the museum, but the highlight was touring the train itself.  I had never been in a mail car or sleeper car before, so I learned a few things, too!  There was also a dining car with kitchen, and the presidential car.  There were a couple not ready for touring yet - the hospital car and the engine itself.  They were allowed to climb on the outside of the caboose.  I would like to go back once all the cars are restored.

My parents are coming to stay for a couple of days, then I think we'll go to Mammoth Cave one day next week, and perhaps the Patton Museum.  Yay for summer trips!

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