Thursday, January 31, 2013

Foster Parenting Rules: Locks

When I discuss some of the rules and regulations we have to follow, many are amazed at many of them. Some are set in state regulations while others are up to the individual caseworker. We are required to have a grate around our wood stove insert which is typically required for a child under age 8, Junior is 13 years old. Then we have locks - on everything. Medication is extremely important to lock up for small children and for teens. Young children might think it is candy and older children might try to get high. With my health issues, I have A LOT of medication. Luckily we have a built-in cupboard with two shelves. One shelf is for topical medications and the second shelf is for internal medication.

This is the combination lock system on our medication cupboard. We also have locks on the cupboards storing our chemicals - cleaning agents, detergents, lighter fluid, pest killers. The think about the laundry detergent is that Junior does his own laundry each week so this gets tricky. Any alcohol we have must be locked up since we have a teen and our workshop with the power tools is required to be locked up. The workshop is an indoor room with a locking door, only us parents have a key.

Problem with my medications is I have to carry many of them with me in my purse in case I have a food allergy attack. There are five different medications for food allergies plus ibuprofen and a couple other meds I always travel with. I put a lock on my purse, but it was clumsy and only had one main compartment. Well, I found a new purse that has a dedicated "medication" pocket. I even have a smaller purse inside that pocket that holds just my food allergy medication. Granted, the green lock against the stylish black is not very becoming and actually got a laugh out of Junior when he saw it because he knows I carry my medications. I locked the zipper to the ring for the shoulder strap (which I removed). I thought it was brilliant, it is also a way to secure my purse while traveling.

With all these locks to protect Junior and to comply with the foster parenting regulations, we must be aware to not lock our hearts. We continue the bonding process and to show our affection for him. With the uncertainty of his case, there have been times that I have wanted to protect my heart should the judge decree we do not get to parent Junior. It is too late to protect my heart and soul, I have given my life for this child, I will shatter should he leave, but I know I will survive.

While we have locked up our cupboards, our rooms and my purse, our hearts have been splayed open waiting. Waiting to learn where our road leads - continued parenthood or more empty arms. Next Tuesday is a pivotal day in his case. Please pray for all of us involved that the best interest of Junior is considered.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Proud of Junior

Junior has made some major accomplishments this week. He received an award for good behavior in class. He is a good student and typically does not act up in class, but his behavior was recognized in a class where he lacks interest and does not complete class work. We were glad he has improved his attitude, not sure if it will translate into an improved grade. Then in math he completed 60 multiplication problems in 60 seconds. The school principal awarded all students who accomplished this task to lunch off campus. They walked to a local restaurant and the principal bought the kids lunch. Junior really enjoys math and it tends to come easy for him. It is still an honor to be recognized plus he got chicken strips for lunch!

He has also been doing some emotional growing this week and I am proud of him for being able to to handle the situations that he has faced. Foster children's lives are not your typical childhood and often they have to deal with more complex situations than their peers. While a part of me wishes to protect him, shield him from the complexities and uncertainties of his case, I realize he will have a more mature way of making decisions and an increased ability to deal with his emotions, something typically lacking in teenagers. To help him make sense of his life, we are working on his life book. A scrapbook with photos he has chosen that depict his life through the years and descriptions about who he is and the important people in his life. For the school section we listed the schools he has attended. One page lists his favorites - food, color, song, movie, etc. It has been amazing to observe Junior's emotional development over the last five months. Yes, it has been five months since we became a family and our lives changed forever.

We progress through his case, with all its uncertainties, waiting for the day when we find out if we get to be his forever parents. Then we incorporate both birth parents into our family along with all the other biological relatives. Our family just grows. We so love Junior!

The next several weeks are going to be intense in regards to his case, especially if we go to trial and it gets postponed. There is at least one meeting scheduled prior to trial where the open adoption agreement will be presented to the lawyers of each biological parent. Either parent can decide to relinquish parental rights or to go to termination trial. The open adoption agreement goes into affect after the adoption is finalized if one or both parents relinquish parental rights. If we go to trial and both parents' rights are terminated then there is no open adoption agreement, contact with bio parents is whatever we and Junior decide is best for Junior.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bang Your Head and Scream

I know most moms have days where they want to bang their heads against a wall and scream because their children have not been so angelic. I have read plenty of Facebook posts about such children of my friends. Luckily, Junior is a very good teen and is not the one making me want to scream. Between stresses at work and frustrations with Junior's case, I want to bang my head against a brick wall!

We are having problems with background checks for our family members. I recently found out the background checks for my sisters were processed incorrectly so they cannot provide overnight care. Last month, my parents were to be cleared for overnight care, but only got cleared for children placed for adoption, not in foster care. Junior is a foster placement so how does any of this make sense? All background checks now have to be redone, but the state doesn't have the time to process them; luckily, we have a private agency competent enough to process the background checks needed. Currently, we are being expected to pay out of pocket for these background checks then we submit receipts for reimbursement. That is five people who need fingerprints.

All of this is added to the frustrations at work where I have one out of order copier/scanner and one copier/scanner that is intermittently scanning. I am attempting to scan 500 pages. We are waiting for the arrival of the new machines which are due this month.