Our Imperfect Lives


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Legal Risk

Being pre-adoptive foster parents puts us in a pretty conflicted state – we want Sport’s and Sunshine’s birth parents to do well but at the same time we don’t want to lose the children. We knew when we accepted this placement that it was a legal risk placement, meaning the birth parents have not lost all their legal rights to the children. However, we knew if we wanted to be placed with a young child or children our chances of being matched with a placement would increase exponentially if we opened ourselves up to legal risk, so we took the chance.  Of course knowing the risks and really truly understanding the possible implications of a legal risk placement are two different things.

Now that we’ve had the kids in our care, living under our roof, for over two months we’ve genuinely started to develop a bond and we’re really falling for these kids. Even when Sunshine’s fussing at 3 AM and her eyes are welling with tears because she’s starting to teethe or when Sport is shrieking at the top of his lungs because he wants to play baseball and not go to bed, we’re still head over heels for these little buggers. They have become a part of our family – our children. Yet, the fact is, they aren’t just “our children” they are also our “foster children.”

The reality of the situation is that we have little control over the future. Everything is in the hands of the birth parents, DCF, and the courts. As of about a month and a half ago both children had goals of adoption. However, even though their goals are adoption, DCF continues to work with the birth parents to turn their lives around and follow the path that DCF has set out for them to be reunited with their children. While we do know some information about the troubles the birth parents have faced and some of the things they must do to prove they are fit parents, we don’t know specifics or where they are in this journey. What we do know is their social worker, who we communicate with on a regular basis as she is responsible for organizing and overseeing the children’s visits with their birth parents, mentioned that the birth parents took a step in the right direction. In addition to taking this very unclear “step” we know the parents are showing up to all of their visits with the children.

The “step” and the consistent visits could mean nothing. It could mean they are slowly working their way towards being fit parents in the eyes of DCF and the courts. Or, it could mean that they are doing what they’ve done in the past, making a bit of progress only to stumble back down the rabbit hole. Regardless of what it means, it has forced us to contemplate what legal risk means. It means Sport and Sunshine may never legally be part of our family. It means Sport and Sunshine might be removed from our home. It means Sport and Sunshine might be reunified with their birth parents. It means we might be devastated.

If, down the road, DCF or the courts decide that the children should be reunified with their birth parents – DCF will contact us and a transition plan will be created. If this does happen we could have very little time to get the kids prepared for the move and for us to digest the heartbreak. Of course, none of this may happen, but it could. We need to try to “prepare ourselves.” Although there really is no preparation. It will be painful. It will be difficult. Equally as important as trying to prepare ourselves and remind ourselves of what could be, is doing the same for our friends and family. The children have become a large part of their lives too.

Well, enough of the seriousness, time for some photos of the cute little nuggets helping prep for Christmas:

Meg and Sunshine decorating the tree

Marcy and Sport decorating the tree

Sport decorating the tree

Meg and Sunshine putting the angel on the tree

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Sleep, Glorious Sleep

When Sport and Sunshine first came to live with us they were good sleepers. They would nearly sleep through the night with little trouble. Sunshine wouldn’t even cry for a bottle. We had to set our alarms just to make sure we woke up at some point during the night to feed her. We theorized that in her previous home crying didn’t get her a bottle at night so, she just stopped crying, but it’s only a theory and we’re not really sure why she was so quiet. Now Sport, on the other hand, slept through the night like the little champ that he is. However, he did have some trouble actually getting to sleep.

The first couple of nights as parents one of us sat in the room in a chair waiting for Sport to fall asleep and our chance to slip out of the room hoping to miss all of the loud squeaky floor boards. Then we spent the next week or so weaning him off the necessity of having us in the room to be able to fall asleep. It was a relatively easy process because we don’t think he actually got that upset with us leaving the room. When we first left him alone he pulled out what we like to call the fake cry. Yes, he was upset but it was more of an act than actual crying – there were no tears and he stopped once he realized he wasn’t going to get what he wanted.

Around the time we got Sport to the point where we could have story time, say good night and have him go to sleep on his own in his big boy bed in his very own bedroom, Sunshine figured out if she cried at night we’d come give her a bottle. We no longer had to set our alarms and there would be no more sleeping through the night. However, she only woke up once each night and it was midway through the night so we were still able to get a decent amount of sleep.

However, fast forward a month and half and sleep is starting to become a cherished treasure that seems to be in short supply. Sunshine has started teething and as painful as that is for her it’s also pretty painful for us. She’s had some pretty fussy nights where she hasn’t been too interested in sleeping the whole night through. If it was only Sunshine who was having sleeping problems, we might be able to take care of her and still manage to be bright eyed and bushy tailed.

However, Sport has also developed a bit of anxiety around sleeping in his room. This anxiety appeared after his first visit with his biological parents where the social worker picked him up. Again we theorized (because we have such a vast knowledge of child psychology) that the problem might have arisen from being taken away by a social worker, as his previous visit while in our care involved us personally driving him to the DCF office. But now that we’re both back at work, we’re taking advantage of the social worker’s ability to provide transportation.

Thankfully, the first bout of anxiety didn’t last long. We were back to normal sleeping patterns in a couple of days. Unfortunately, this pattern repeated itself after his most recent visit. This time around had been a bit more tricky and it has involved more real tears and more high pitched squeals – our favorite of course.

This time we’re not sure what the root of the problem is (yes even with all that vast psychological knowledge of ours). It’s possible it was just the visit with his biological parents. We are not ruling out the overstimulation of two big family parties in one week on top of a big holiday celebration for Thanksgiving, followed up with the confusion of a schedule change and not being in “school” (aka daycare) for nearly five days due to the holiday. Or, perhaps it’s a compilation of it all. Whatever the cause, it has resulted in actual sleep not setting in for Sport until as late as 10:30 at night (normal sleep time is 8:00 PM).

Day one of this round of anxiety was managed with a car ride after an hour of crying and screaming. At one point he was so worked up he was actually having a hard time catching his breath. We were happy to get him to sleep but car rides are not a long term fix.

Day two included the same vicious cycle as the night before but we increased the amount of time we spent in the room. We started with sitting next to the bed and then slowly moving out of the room. Sport was so hyper-alert that every adjustment or move we made he popped his head right back up and on came the waterworks. He ultimately fell asleep with Marcy standing just inside his door – but sleep didn’t come until about 9:00 PM.

Day three we took a slightly harder stance and did not stay in the room at all while he fell asleep, but instead went directly in our room right next door. This started off a bit rocky with him trying to make his way in our room by first sitting on the floor outside and then slowing sliding into our room.

After his sneaking into our room we told him we’d shut the toddler gate in the door of his room (which was put there in part to keep our two dogs out of his room but, let’s face it, it’s mostly to keep him in when necessary) if he didn’t stay put. He didn’t want that gate shut. He was given the choice to go back into bed or sit in his chair; he chose the chair. That was the last we heard of him for the night. We later found him sleeping on the floor next to his night stand where all of his books are kept. After feeding his sister in the middle of the night he did manage to finally crawl up into his bed. His sister’s crying likely woke him up just enough to realize he should get in bed.

Now we’re over a week into this anxiety and after a bit of crying and defiance he’ll stay quietly in his room, but for right now he prefers to stay in his chair and not his bed. He’s still sleeping in his bed and a couple of nights he has fallen asleep in his bed, but for the time being we’re just happy he’s getting comfortable with being in his room alone again. Although he’s still falling asleep too late. And while we enjoy having the added time alone in the morning while he tries to play catch up, we’re working on getting sleeping time back closer to 8:00 PM.

Nonetheless as we’re managing this little problem, we’re having a good laugh with the odd positions we’re finding him in:

Blog 25a

Blog 25b