2018 sucks

So far this year, I had a foster experience that was traumatic, I had the flu and then strep throat, and my dad died.

After being sick for weeks I was scheduled to go back to work on Friday Feb 9th. Instead I get a call that my dad is on life support. So we drove down to Florida- a long 20hr drive. Three hours after we arrived he was removed from the ventilator.

A series of unfortunate medical events meant my dad struggled unnecessarily and did not die peacefully. It took about 17 hours for him to pass away and I wouldn’t call it normal or routine. I imagine my step-mom, sister, or aunt will sue the hospital for their treatment of him prior to removing the ventilator and afterward. Having witnessed someone pass peacefully with hospice, I can tell you this was NOT that. There was zero comfort, no gentle night. Everyone there was traumatized by the experience and is angry.

So, dad died on Sunday. There’s a funeral in Florida on Saturday but none of his older kids will be present as we all had to get back to work. There will be a memorial in Alabama in May during a time when our family gets together to honor the dead. So, it’s appropriate and it’s where he wants his ashes spread. I’m working on my step-mom to coordinate it as she would prefer to do a small immediate family only kind of celebration since she’s having her big thing this weekend. Everyone is so sensitive and awkward. It’s hard to grieve.

People ask how I’m doing and I’m stuck with no clear answer. I was never a daddy’s girl, I was his cast away, the ignored middle child. Truly, he lived a life completely apart from me. After my parents split 24yrs ago, I was nothing to him. He didn’t call, he didn’t visit, he took no initiative. My brother lived with him and he treated him like a leech he couldn’t get away from soon enough. My sister, the oldest, maintains our father as the best man ever. They must have some bond none of us knew or saw. I’ve been in therapy working through my fears of my dad dying and how he never knew me. Then he actually fucking died and my fears became reality. I try so hard to connect with him, go on vacations to see him and our family, try to tell him about my life but he was not receptive. I am sad for the dad he wasn’t but kind of grateful that my kid won’t have to deal with his detached parent/grandparent style. No other kids will know his disinterest in their accomplishments. I just have to move past thinking how shitty he always was and then he died without us ever really talking about it or finding a way to connect.

My dad wasn’t one to ask questions about our lives. He and I never discussed the foster kid we had for two weeks or the visits we have been having with the 12yr old girl. He never expressed interest in anything I was doing, really. But now his wife and one of aunts want to comfort me by saying how excited he was for our parenting adventure and adoption. What the hell? What did he know about me and my life?

We were estranged for years after I came out. He couldn’t deal with that and neither could his wife. It’s always been a very tricky situation with us and one we have been able to ignore in the past ten years since I began a relationship with C. I think my dad thought I had finally met the right man to turn me around…if he only knew. I guess that gave him some comfort that I wasn’t really a lesbian, I don’t know. I’m so frustrated about all the things we never talked about or worked through. He was 59 years old and in poor health so I shouldn’t have expected him to live forever but coming to terms with him dying right now is very difficult.

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When things got real

Rereading my last post I hear some optimism there amidst the struggle. A few days later, everything had turned on its head. I had indeed been diagnosed with the flu and would get a secondary infection on top of that. Let me tell you, I was not at my parenting best.

We insisted that our foster child be removed on Friday. After a very traumatic visit with his mother on Wednesday this was not the same child we were bonding with. It’s really easy to fall in love with a kid. If you haven’t done it, you should try it. It’s also pretty easy for that delicate relationship to be ripped to shreds by forces outside of your control. His mother said something very specific to him about us that made him terrified of us and the only way he knew to deal with that was to physically act out. He didn’t just act out in the traditional ways associated with boys. He acted out aggressively against our pets, against me, and against Cole. There was only so much restraining we could do when he was in the throws of an episode. He would deliberate kick, punch, bite, and pinch us with the intentions of harm. This little guy ripped his room apart on more than one occasion. On the final day, we had removed almost everything from his room because he was tearing it all down.

There was a lot of verbal abuse, things I’ve never heard a kid say. He is really struggling with the emotions of being in care, of seeing his mom after a long separation, and of the cruelty of what she said to him in their brief encounter. Though he has been in care for a while, previous families had not brought to the agency’s attention that he struggles emotionally and with self regulation. No one but the school had made them aware that he is deeply angry and really needed some additional supports. There had been no referrals for behavioral health, therapy of any kind, so trauma assessment, nada. With no outlet to process what was going on, he literally exploded.

We just barely got him to school on Thursday. The school didn’t think he would make it home with us so we were escorted by the agency behavioral health worker. Let me tell you, getting him out of that school and into my car that day was an act of God that involved a lot of little helpers. It was really terrifying. The worker stayed for a few hours to get him calm so we could put him to bed. That was a rough night with he and I sleeping on the couch together at his insistence. Just what I needed when I was exhausted physically. On Friday, the school didn’t want him to come in so we kept him home. The behavioral health worker came over in the morning to check in. They left saying he was no imminent danger and have a good day. By now I had emailed our worker, his worker, and the supervisor. We were scared of this kid, felt like hostages in our own home, and knew that none of us were safe together. No one was listening to me. This entire experience came to a head when our kid threw a large heavy glass object across the living room. He also fought me, literally, just for the fun of it. All while calling me names I wouldn’t come up with for my worst enemy. The agency was refusing to remove him and we were out of options so we called the police. They were able to calm him down and talk to him about being respectful and following house rules. He even apologized to us. Then the call came that he was being moved. The worker told him over the phone and then told C. They also sent the same behavioral health worker out and her colleague, a mental health therapist. The team stayed with us until a transport worker came to get him. The transporter was not particularly friendly and was in a huge hurry because her shift was ending soon. She wouldn’t let him take anything but his football and one set of clothes. That has been continually stressful as I can’t imagine what it was like for him this weekend to have nothing of comfort. Just one set of clothes and lime green football.

They told us he would be going to a hospital to be assessed for commitment due to his behaviors. I doubt they kept him or really even assessed him, that’s my experience in the system. He’s also very young and they will chalk it all up to one thing or another. By now we assume he is in another foster home and settling in. We have asked where we can take his belongings but have been ignored by his worker. The behavioral health worker said someone would come by tomorrow to pick things up. We will see if that really happens.

This experience has been extremely overwhelming for us emotionally and physically. Our doctor prescribed us anti-anxiety meds on Friday to help us to relax and rest. It’s very hard to accept that you are a failed parent for a kid that clearly needs you. And to realize that a kid was hitting you, that’s really new to me, the feeling of abuse and knowing it’s coming from some deep fear and hurt. I don’t think we could have done anything different on our end. We gave everything we had for him to feel safe and cared for but we couldn’t combat the unforeseen factors. It will take quite some time for him to be able to work through the damage that has been inflicted on him by adults in his life. I hurt for him way more than I hurt for us right now.

In the deep end

We have an emergency placement kid with us right now. He is 8yrs old and really sweet mostly. He is also a terror half the time. I’m pretty sure he has ADHD but he has no IEP so no special services. K is going a hundred miles an hour all day and night. We have barely slept in 8 days. Last night I came down with what I think is the flu, the kid is sick, and my love had a panic attack. We are freaking out about parenting and we are exhausted by it. This is a temporary placement that needs a long term home but due to our pre-adoptive situation we cannot be a resource for K long term.

I never imagined all the things that could go awry with a foster kid. He has stripped naked in the middle of the street screaming I’m kidnapping him. He had tried to throw himself into traffic because he feels no one loves him. He gets angry at himself and packs his stuff to move out. He has a lot of negative reinforcement in his life at school and with previous foster family. We are working on building him up with positive messages and reassurances. But his school is one of those really awful ones where no one wants to work or focus on the kids, and it’s overcrowded. One employee called him names to us and it really jaded me about this place.

He needs love and kindness and attention. He does so well when someone is 1:1 with him reading or doing homework. He’s a lot of fun to play with and watch tv with. We are trying to prepare ourselves for when he leaves us and I can’t imagine how that’s going to suck. He will internalize it like he did something wrong, I just know it. They are trying to find a family of color so that he feels more confident. He has struggled with our whiteness and I can’t blame him. He has zero exposure to white people before us. It’s a new world for him.

Meanwhile we are floating along, hanging on by our toenails.I’ve never felt so inadequate or stressed as I do being a caregiver. It’s a constant stress that I can’t really explain. I’m sure other parents understand that weird anxiety under the surface constantly. Here’s hoping we can keep K safe and loved until his forever family is identified.

To be..parents

Today we got an email from the adoption worker for the child we met last month. They want us to have an all day date in January 13 in the child’s home community. Then a visit in our community after that. After those day visits they want to move to overnights.

Sounds great, right? Well, it would be if things seemed more organized. I have reservations about having overnight visits with a child that we are not officially matched with. We should have some information about the history before we all get attached, right? It feels like the child’s agency is moving past the administrative stuff and treating us like we are a sure thing. I have asked for clarity and what the steps forward will be. I have no reason to think we won’t be a match for adoptive placement but want all the cards on the table. 

I hope we get some clarity next week and that we have a great visit. 

Self reflection

Last year I focused on realizing myself. I worked through the 52 Lists Project and became aware of some of my hopes and dreams through that process. It also helped me set and achieve goals. 
For 2018 I am using on the Desire Map Planner by Danielle LaPorte. I am new to be tribe but she’d been doing motivation work for a few years now. My daily planner arrived yesterday and I’m so excited for it!

Each page is a new day to be planned out according to my “core desired feelings.” The idea is to get in touch with who you really want to be and make it happen through daily intentions. Literally thinking through the way you want to feel or where you want to find happiness can bring an awareness that you were missing. 

I know this may sound like weird hoo-do stuff but it’s enlightening for me and helps me on my journey to being a better person. 

What are you doing to be your best self?

Ok I think we are getting closer!!

Last Sunday we finally met a kid we have been interested in since October-ish. Her worker found us on the national registry and reached out to see if we were interested in this kid. The kids parental rights were terminated over a year ago and the kid is in a safe foster home but they aren’t interested in adoption. So here they were.

We went bowling with the kid and the adoption recruiter. It was a really great time after we all relaxed. We had a hard time breaking the ice until we started to talk about our dogs. Dogs are a great ice breaker! Things went great from them on. The kid asked us about “if I come to live with you..”  but nothing that was too weird. We all agreed to hang out again in January. If this next meeting goes well, we will consider it a match I think. Due to some interstate compact requirements it will be a long time until the kid moves in with us, likely the end of the school year in June. If we are a match, we will get to visit regularly as we work on trust and bonding. I like this kid and can definitely see the addition to our family. 

Fingers crossed that 2018 is the year of family for so many of us! 

Random things

I’m sitting in a salon chair waiting for my hair to be purple and blue highlighted. I’m excited to add some fun to my appearance and hopefully my office doesn’t freak out. It’s highlights underneath so it shouldn’t be too bad.

The other day at the bank while opening an account with my mom, she tells the banker I can’t have kids. I was mortified! The banker had asked what big life events are happening and I mentioned we are trying to foster/adopt. The banker goes on to talk about her own infertile sister and how she wishes she could have kids. My mom says, and points at me, “that’s her, she can’t either.” Omg!! I said “thanks mom” as tried to push it away. I don’t generally discuss my family planning situation within 15 minutes of meeting someone. I’m not embarrassed of my fertility issues but I don’t want it publicized either. 

My mom was smoking on our enclosed back porch recently and that’s a huge no no. We can’t stand smoke and we have to be entirely smoke free for foster kids. I did not let the moment pass and told her how this affects us. Hopefully she doesn’t try that trick again!

Tomorrow we fly out to Florida for a week with family and friends. I’m really looking forward to it. I started seeing a therapist a few weeks ago and working through childhood stuff ain’t easy. Now I get to see my dad who caused a lot of my childhood stress and dysfunction. I’m trying to prepare for whatever feelings arise without being afraid of them. Feelings are often scary for me. 

Still no kids in the home but we are so close to matching with two different kids/siblings. I’m getting impatient but it’s worth the wait.

Day trip in NYC

Yesterday we took a trip to New York. One of our friends in Ottawa came down for the weekend so we went to meet her. We had arranged in advance to go to the United Nations Headquarters because we love stuff like that. Plus, they have a post office with their own unique stamps and postmark. We couldn’t resist! I sent so much mail, lol.

The UN was great and a real learning experience. The guide was very informative and the rooms range from very nice to places I wouldn’t want to sit for hours during a meeting. The art and gifts from various countries was really cool to see. 


 


After the tour we went to Patsy’s Pizza for lunch because who doesn’t love a delicious bit of pizza?

We initially had planned to go to Roosevelt Island but we were running kind of late and it would be pointless to go there at that time. So we went to the library and poked around their recent acquisitions and the gift shop. Definitely a fun way to spend the afternoon. 

After that adventure we went for cookies and coffee before catching our train home. 

It was a nice day away. I’ve been really swamped with work and home adjustments since my mom arrived. Some times it’s really nice to be somewhere different, even for a short while. 

More life changes

My mom is moving in with us. C is driving down to Alabama to pick her up this weekend. She finally left a really unhealthy relationship and has been with my sister for a week. My sis can’t afford to support my mom while she gets her life back. My sister also is a stress-inducing person sometimes and my mom doesn’t do well in constant drama, I mean that’s why she’s leaving her relationship. So rather than stay on my sister’s couch we are gaining a roommate. We are completely ok with this new arrangement. 

It means come tricky work regarding our license as foster parents. Mom will have to get added to the home study and do clearances. Who knows how that will set us back. But at least my mom will be safe and able to be her true self. These past few years with this guy have really changed her and left her really depressed and lacking independence. Her health isn’t good either so we’ll be helping to get her medications and in regular care again. I hope this time next year she’ll feel a little stronger and in control of herself. We’re on it for the long haul so whatever happens, she’s got us. 

Here’s to wherever the road leads

Progress

I’ve been in Weight Watchers for 9 weeks. Today I hit my 20lbs down!! This hasn’t been a cake walk but also hasn’t been overwhelmingly hard. I do a very little bit of exercise. I eat really good and splurge on fast food or fancy coffee drinks once every so often. I don’t feel deprived or miserable. I’m starting to see the changes. My pants now need a tighter belt, some of my shirts are a bit baggy. I feel good, too. Just this week other people started noticing my change so that was nice. If I keep up this rate I’ll be down 50lbs by the end of the year! I can’t let myself get off track during the holidays or our vacation in November. I’ve struggled with weight for as long as I can remember and I’m pumped to be making this effort for myself.

Plus, yummy food! I’m getting healthy recipes from Skinny Taste.com and Hungry-girl.com. Both provide decent portions and all the good things you need to stay on WW plan. 

Here’s to much more success!