Saturday, December 20, 2008

Further into the depths of fatherhood.

So, things have been chugging along. Ok, more like flying along. I understand now why people with kids are always so busy.

Not much has really happened. Everyone is settling in well and we are working on routines.

We have setup another, private blog with pictures, email me or leave a comment and I will send you the info. You will probably also get added to the announcement mailing list for the pictures.

In parenting news, C is getting much more comfortable and seeking my attention, affection and approval. He hinted around when I took him to bed that he liked to read at bed time. Of course I obliged. We took turns reading, he is a REALLY good reader.

Tomorrow we are off to Grandma's for the day. I will probably be exhausted after that.

In work news, I got thrown under the bus and ended up on call for the next two weeks, during the "holiday closure". Not real thrilled about that. Prior to the boys getting here, I wouldn't have cared. Funny how all that changes.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Finally, some time to breathe.

So, here I sit in my nice quiet house all by myself.

Amanda went to Wal-Mart (Which I hate) with X to pick up a pack-n-play and some other things. So, I can think a bit.

While I can't really compare this to "traditional" parenting, but it has to be harder. We went from no kids at all to having an infant and an 8 year old in the house. While the infant is pretty easy to understand the needs of, the 8 year old is significantly more difficult. He has likes and dislikes, things that make him happy, things that scare him. It is very hard to find these things without just grilling him, which would not be cool. One just has to be observant and try to pick up on them. We are figuring it out, but slowly.

I took C down this morning and FINALLY enrolled him in school. What a mess that was. Even with the principal being Amanda's uncle, they fought us. They could not get past us not having a birth certificate. We told them time and again that his last school had copies of all that and they would gladly fax it to them if they would call and ask for it. They were still hung up on needing it before they could enroll him, and they couldn't request it until he was enrolled. It was a real chicken vs egg problem for the simpletons. Finally, we just laid down the law. We told them we were bringing him in today with all of the paperwork we had from the state telling us to enroll him, and let them figure out what to do about it, or call DHHR and tell them why they were refusing to enroll him. By golly, it worked. If it wasn't for the fact that we would have been causing family problems, I would have called the papers to see if they wanted to run a story about the schools refusing to enroll foster children. It seems like they think when children are removed from their homes they come with a folder labeled "Important Documents" so it's all nice and tidy. Seems that the goal of education has been lost in favor of red tape. I in no way wanted to break the rules, I just wanted to get him in there while we sorted the paperwork out. Maybe I will go ahead and send a letter to the editor to the local papers. It is certainly a problem that needs some attention.

In all my life, I can't really recall thinking "Where is that damn camera" as many times as I have this week. Last night, C and Amanda were decorating the tree (C and I put it up, they decorated) and I couldn't find the camera fast enough and I am not sure I would have been composed enough to use it anyhow. It was a pretty amazing thing to be a part of.

We are trying very hard to undo some of the damage that was done regarding Christmas. Apparently, he was told a while back that Santa was dead. I am not sure of the reasoning, but I can't come up with a reason that justifies it. We are making pretty good progress on that front. We have gotten him excited about Christmas. Still waiting to find out where they are going to spend Christmas itself. He wants to go to his grandfathers and we are working to make that happen as best we can. While we love these children, we can't deny them their birth family. It's important to him, so it is important to us. Hopefully, we will know something on that in the next day or so.

I had a talk with C last night when he went to bed. He was concerned about kids at school making fun of him or being mean to him because he is a "foster kid". I told him the best I could think of, which was that they only know what he chooses to tell them. If he wants to say we all just moved here as a family, we will roll with that and back him up. The school agreed to do the same. I know this has to be a terrible thing for such a young child to face, and I do admire his bravery. I like to think he draws some strength from knowing that he has a mountain of man for a father who is 100% on his side, come hell or high water. But, I really don't know if he does. Either way, I have to keep doing it and be there for him. He has had enough disappointment, I won't be part of him having any more.

Last night I took my entire family (Me, Manda, X, C, mom, dad, brother, brothers girlfriend) out to dinner with some of my Christmas bonus. A good time was had by all and poor C didn't know how to react to the waitress flirting with him.

I had a good opportunity to reflect on the last year yesterday. I had to do my anual review with my manager. I know I do a good job, but it reall hits home when you see it all spelled out. In reflecting, I am amazed how much has happend this year.
  1. New role at work
  2. Diagnosed infertile
  3. Promotion at work
  4. Moving
  5. More new duties at work
  6. The entire home study process.
  7. Getting these 2 wonderful children that in no way deserve anything less than the best.
  8. Seeing my wife get her mom groove on so gracefully.
So, it's been a damn fine year for me and I think next year will bring even more positive things. This is really important for me to realize. I did ALL of this on my own, with no support from my parents. made this happen, I made my life, and I succeeded. Cost me a lot of $$ in therapy to say that (Thank you Jill) So, for the moment I am going to pat myself on the back and bask in the glory of my life, enjoying it with the one person who steadfastly kept putting up with my shit, my wife.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

So, this is cooler than I expected

Again, bad blogger here....

But, I promise, this time I have 2 of the best excuses I could hope to have.

We will just call them C and X. C is 8 and X is 8 months.

Today, we did the single coolest thing to date with them. We put up the Christmas tree. In the past, we wouldn't even have a tree. But, somehow this is a bit different, and much cooler.

With the exception of dealing with getting C registered for school, it has been a pure pleasure.

Both are quite happy and quite well adjusted.

For myself, I am beat, this is WORK!

Unfortunately, since they are foster children, we aren't allowed to post pictures.

Since C will be starting school tomorrow, I will have some more time to post more. Just wanted to jump in and give you guys an update.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

One Family In A Box Coming Up.......

As luck would have it, we actually got a referral today. Not only that, we got 2 referrals today.

So, Monday, we will be the proud new pseudo parents of 2 boys. One 7 months old, the other 8 years old.

At this point, that is all we know. Amanda went and did her first motherly duty today. Well, we did do something last night that would be considered the first act of motherhood to the lucky bastards that have kids the old fashioned way. Anyhow, she went and got the school enrollment stuff for the 8 year old today. Unfortunately, we can't do much with it. The social worker will do it Monday when she drops the boys off. We simply do not have the information right now.

So, from famine to feast.

We know that the likelyhood of adoptability of these two is slim to none, but that's ok. It will have us doing SOMETHING instead of fighting with all the other states.

We are relatively certain that we are going to switch over to DHHR from the agency and have a call in to them to start that going. We should know more on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Soul Searching (And More Ranting)

Blatant cut and paste from my wifes blog

Where do I even start? Okay. We start with the beginning of the day. This will be a massive brain dump with a plea for advice somewhere near the bottom. If you read nothing else, give me input on that part please. K? Thanks. I appreciate it.

We expressed interest in a 3-year-old in NC last evening, they said he had some delays, etc. Emailed the home study to the contact address on the website. I woke up to an email from them stating that they don't accept emailed home studies, could we please fax it. First, WTF, dude? You ALREADY HAVE IT. Just read it. Whatever. We faxed it. They then refused to tell us anything about the kid. They would ONLY talk to our social worker. So my SW calls. The kid, at 3, is completely non-verbal, only just learning to walk, not potty trained, and will require assistance for the rest of his life. My SW actually said the kid would be better off in an institution because that's the level of care he NEEDS. If that's not blatant misrepresentation, I don't know what is.

We expressed interest in a 2-year-old in GA. Emailed the home study. Oh, but they still can't tell us anything. They'll only talk to social workers. What the fuck ever, people. Seriously.

We got a new liaison at AdoptUsKids. She's way better than the last one. We were pretty much in constant contact with her either by phone or email until she left the office today. Much better treatment than we're used to. Refreshing.

At the beginning of this process, our SW told us three things:

1. We'd have referrals for fosters coming out our wazoo.
2. Young children (under 3ish) are very rare.
3. We will probably wait years for an adoptive placement.

Today, my mom told me about a friend of her's who has adopted two children through foster care (both under six months old at the time of placement) and just took a referral for another 3-year-old who is already adoptable. TPR is already complete.

Mom gave me her number (let's call her R). So I called R and talked to her about it. R and her DH have been doing foster care for about 8 years. In that time, they've had eight foster children who went back home, and by the end, have adopted 3. And R and her DH only accepted children under 18 months! (Until this latest one came along.) So, that's 11 babies/toddlers to come through their home in 8 years. Eleven children under age 3 in 8 years. Three children under age 3 who have been adoptable.

My brother's girlfriend's parents (P&D) are foster parents. I don't even know how many referrals they've had or how many they've turned down. Right now, they have 4 children under the age of 5 and they're adopting one of those. Another one of those is an infant who may still be adoptable in the future. I think P&D have been in this for three years or so.

Both these couples are going through the actual state agency. The DubV equivalent of CPS. We're going through a private agency who is funded by the state. Completely different animals. Now, when the department (CPS, stick with me here, I'm almost done) gets a referral, they are going to call all their homes first. They get paid by the kid from the state, so they want to keep as many kids as possible in their program. After they've run through their list of homes, they call these other agencies (like mine) and give the referral to them. So basically, we're scraping the bottom of the barrel. We're clear down there at the bottom of this flow chart. When my SW told me that babies/toddlers never came in and that adoptable placements almost never came through, it was a skewed view of the thing. Those situations may not come through THAT agency, but they're certainly going somewhere. They just happen to find a home way up at the top of the flow chart. So now we're left with this:

1. We've had two referrals that we didn't get picked for (because the department found homes for them). If that's referrals out the wazoo, I think he needs to re-examine the definition of said catchphrase.

2. Children under 3 are only rare at the bottom of the flow chart. Where we are. We have the ability to jump up to the top... You know, where the KIDS ARE.

3. Adoptable placements come along as often as young kids do. Just not at my agency.

So where does this leave us? Fuck if I know... My gut tells me we're dropping our agency and going straight through the department. I feel bad doing that because I really do like our SW. But I almost think he's just a really brilliant salesman. Really good at blinding you to the facts and making you feel like you need him. And I think I bought it hook, line, and sinker. At the root of it, we were lied to. Best case scenario, we were misled. Either way, it wasn't the right way to do it. There's no way, going into this, that we would know how the referrals worked. I guess I was naive enough to believe that it was an equal opportunity thing, but looking at it now, it all makes sense... What motivation does the department have to hand off these referrals when they have their own foster homes? Why give away that money? It's glaringly obvious that you have the upper hand at the department as opposed to being with one of these offshoot agencies. And should I really feel bad about leaving my current agency? After finding out that we were purposely misled about the way the department handles things, how many kids are really out there, etc... I don't feel quite so shitty about it.

Is it better to wait around for months on end with no referral because you get to skip the politics of the department? Or is it better to jump into the department with both feet because you'll get kids in the house faster? Seems obvious to me now. Twenty four hours ago, you wouldn't have been able to convince me to do this... But based on the information that I received today... It seems to be the only thing that makes sense for our long-term goals.

So, what would you do, Blogosphere? Impart your glorious wisdom upon me.

Just when you thought they couldn't get any dumber.

Ok, our latest contestant is Georgia.

Georgia provides a way to express interest in a child online. Same routine as everyone else, "Please send us your completed home study". Ok, so we do.

Here is what we get back:

To get more information about XXXXXX, please have your worker contact us. We will put him/her in touch with XXXXXX's worker who will be able to give additional information to your worker on your behalf.

So, exactly what the crap was the point of us sending them the home study. They could have told us this upfront and saved everyone trouble.

And the hits just keep on coming......

So, we inquired about a child in NC. They stated "he has some delays" but is in preschool, etc.

The reality we found out was that it was a 3 year old that was not mobile, non verbal and will need care for the rest of his life.

What the fuck is wrong with these people? I can't imagine they are really this stupid. It's more used car salesmen tactics. Makes me more and more sick the more and more I deal with these people.

So, that's 2 states sofar that couldn't find their ass with both hands and a map. Let's hope the other 48 are at least a little better.
Yet another example of incompetnce and lies:

>Thank you for your interest in the waiting children of North Carolina. I apologize for the >inconvenience but we do not have a secured website, therefore we are unable to accept >homestudies by email. We want to make sure that we can safeguard families' confidential >information and comply with HIPAA regulations.

1st) The website is completely unrelated to email. Regardless of how secure your website is, email is still email and not secure.
2nd) HIPPA has exactly nothing to do with this.

So, in their intial interaction with us they have started off on the wrong foot by claiming BS reasons and incorrectly attributing it to law/policy. A much better way to handle it would be "We are sorry, but our policy does not allow us to accept home studies by e-mail at this time". Same effect, but without the BS.

Now, in all likelyhood, this person is just doing what they are told when asked about homestudies by e-mail. So, this is not against the individual, with the possible exception of speaking up about handing out BS answers. What happened was some manager somewhere wrote up the boilerplate email response using buzzwords and such thinking that nobody would actually call them out on it. It is even sadder that if we did, we would get moved to the bottom of the pile or the trash.

In the big picture, these are just other signs of how people operate at large. The world has become full of people who can't be bothered to give you factual infomation, just something to get you off their back so they can go back to their myspace browsing or whatever and not be bothered by this silly "job" thing that puts food on their table.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Not a post for those easily offended

Ok, again, sorry for not being a more active poster.

Fair warning to those of you that are offended by 4 letter words.

I am flat fed the fuck up with 90% of the people "working" in the adoption/foster industry.

They are the most unprofessional, discourteous bunch of fucktards I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

A) My cat is smarter than most of these people
B) Is it so fucking hard to call someone back?
C) What is the point of having a phone if you never answer it or return voicemails.
D) Same as above for e-mail.

I just don't get what is so damn complicated about this. EACH and EVERY one of these dipshits we have worked with could screw up a wet dream. I don't think we have ever gotten a phone call returned.

Sorry for the very colorful rant, but I am quite pissed off at the moment. Spent a week chasing after dumbfuck social workers in Florida, jumping through their hoops because they were eager to work with us, only to have to almost literally pin them down for them to tell us we weren't selected. My money is that we weren't even in the running, they just aren't capable of being honest. That is a another theme that seems to keep occuring in this. Fucking lies. Just grow a pair and be honest, people will respect you a lot more, even if you aren't telling them what they want to hear.

Ok, I will end my rant now. I will post more about the bullshit an lies they put us through as they occur.

And, if you are wondering, I am not bitter about not being chosen for the one child. It's not that at all. Just be upfront and stop the bullshit.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thoughts on Foster Parenting

Initially, we were going to adopt and be a happy little family. You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men......

When we first talked about fostering, Amanda was against it. She did not want to deal with the "loss" when foster children left. I was of the opinion that it was a wonderful opportunity to have a positive impact on these children. I still feel that way, but I am a bit more reserved after learning more.

That's not to say that I don't think it's a good thing, just that it's going to be pretty thankless. The age range we are looking at (0-5) don't really understand what is going on. They only know that they are not at home anymore. They don't understand why. They will act out and test the limits. We will have to deal with children that have been abused, neglected and sexually abused and all the backlash that comes out of that. It will more than likely be the worst of the worst, since the powers that be step in and actually do anything.

There is no doubt that it will be rough when they first arrive. Hopefully, we will have the patience to let them adjust and get comfortable.

I still have the hope that each child will leave here with positive, loving memories of their time with us. Learning what it is like to be loved and cared for and to not accept any less from their parents, biological or otherwise. I think that is all we can hope for and the best we can do.

If it all goes well, we have the opportunity to touch so many lives.

I won't say I am not excited about it, but I am somewhat more reserved than I was.