Our Imperfect Lives


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Keep Moving

Parenting is hard. We’ve all heard it before and we had believed it, but we didn’t really understand it – until now. Going from no kids to a 4 month old and a 2 year old is a little like getting thrown in the deep end of the pool and having to learn to swim on the spot, and when learning to swim it’s good not to panic and to continue moving to keep your head above water. We’ve found those principles work pretty well with the kids; if we don’t panic and keep them (well really Sport) busy and always moving life is a whole lot easier.

And keep them busy we have! The past week has been jam packed with activities including many trips to the local children’s indoor playground, which we of course now have a membership to, swim lessons at the YMCA, a visit to a plaster painting studio, trick or treating, a trip to a science museum and even a new haircut.

The indoor playground has everything from a chalkboard wall to climbing apparatus to a bouncy house and it’s a perfect activity regardless of the weather! Plus Sport can make friends, or in one particular case, follow a child around until he wears them down convincing them to finally play.

Sport and his friend

Sport on the indoor slide

Sport in the bouncy house

Meg grew up swimming – her family had a pool, she attended summer camps where she spent every moment she could participating in water activities, she swam on her high school swim team, then as she got older she became a lifeguard and even the waterfront director for one of the YMCA camps she attended as a young girl – so it was only natural to sign Sport up for swim lessons at our local YMCA.  And he is shaping up to be a water bug too. After seeing his love for bath time we had a good idea that he’d probably take to the water like the fish decorating his room, and we were right. During his first lesson he was already dunking his head under the water with Meg.

Swim lessons

Swim lessons

Painting plaster was an absolute mess and a bit chaotic. Every time Sport got up from the table we got a small break from monitoring where he was putting the paint, but we then had the fear that he was going to break every plaster figurine on the wall, so we were on our toes the whole time. However, it was a perfect activity for us to take Sport, Sunshine and two 13 year old girls, since we met a friend and her 13 year old foster daughter along with her friend.

Painting plaster with Meg

Last weekend was Halloween, so we couldn’t resist dressing the kids up. Since Sunshine is still a baby we got to dress her up in whatever we wanted, so we picked out an adorable penguin costume we found while poking around the Halloween section of Target. Sport has taken to playing with fire trucks, a fire helicopter and firefighter action figures and since we were lucky enough to have a firefighter costume given to us, he was a firefighter for Halloween.

We only trick or treated at a handful of houses. Sunshine naturally didn’t do much of anything, and Sport was very shy, although excited about the candy – what kid wouldn’t be? He seemed to be more interested in handing out candy to the other children who came to our house. However, the real excitement for them was probably having Meg’s brother, his wife, and Meg’s sister all over for some homemade pizza.

Trick or treating

Trick or treating

This week Marcy went back to work but Meg still had another week home, so she decided to call in reinforcements, a friend who is still in college and conveniently only had an early morning class that day, and together they took Sport (Marcy took Sunshine to daycare on her way to work) to a science and nature museum. There they saw animals like otters, owls and eagles, checked out a hurricane booth where winds blew 70 mph, and inspected some dinosaur tracks.

Sport checking out the otter

Sport and Meg

Since Sport and Sunshine are foster children we have to get permission to alter their appearance in any way so we inquired about getting Sport’s hair cut. The biological parents said they would like his hair to be neatly kept so, we booked an appointment with our stylist. Normally, we probably wouldn’t bring a 2 year old to a nice salon to get his hair cut, especially since our city has a barbershop (or two) on every corner, but we love our stylist, Ana. She has a two year old boy herself and when we told her our plans to adopt through the foster care system she let us know that she would love to cut the kids’ hair.

Sport's Haircut

Next week we’ll both be back at work and both Sport and Sunshine will be at their daycares. We’re hoping to get a comfortable routine going and to give Sport some productive outlets for his energy at daycare. Until then we’re doing everything in our power to tucker the guy out, and it seems to be working.

Tired


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It’s Not Just Bottles and Playtime

Our days are packed with a lot of “parent-y” duties like preparing bottles, changing diapers, kissing booboos and playing blocks, but we have a lot of other duties too. We’re foster parents, so the children are actually wards of the state which means they aren’t legally our children and we have to adhere to certain rules and fulfill specific responsibilities. For example, we can’t cut their hair, pierce their ears, or make changes to their appearance (other than clothes) without expressed permission.

Bottles

Additionally we must make sure that any and all caretakers for the children (e.g. babysitters) have been CORIed (had a Criminal Offender Record Information check), so there will be no calling up local teenagers to hang out with the kids while we take in a movie or grab a bite to eat. Instead we’ll have a carefully thought out list of family and friends who we’ve asked to complete the necessary paperwork for the CORI check. Thankfully the daycare situation is a little easier since we can use any daycare we wish – as long as it is a legally licensed facility.

Another important responsibility we have is to meet with social workers – lots of social workers. Last week we started off our parade of professionals looking out for the kids with a visit from Sport’s social worker. She spent about an hour at our home chatting with us about Sport, what’s going on with his case, and available daycare options. We’ll follow up this visit with another one next month and each month after until he’s hopefully adopted, or removed and reunited with his biological family.

The next social worker on our list last week was the Supervisor for Sunshine’s worker (her actual worker was out of the office attending to other cases), who we briefly met with as we delivered the children for their weekly supervised visit with their biological parents. These visits take place at the DCF office and are supervised by a social worker, usually Sunshine’s worker. And for this particular visit we dropped the kids off at the office, before the biological parents arrived, and left. We later picked the children up after the visit ended and the biological parents had left. Currently these visits are scheduled weekly, but we’re hoping to get them changed to biweekly or at least have them relocated to a closer office (now they take place at an office about 45 minutes away without traffic).  In the future we may also only be responsible for providing the children’s transportation in one direction for these visits. The social worker may provide it for the other leg of the trip.

Next up was yet another visit to DCF, this time for a review of Sunshine’s case and it included a small army of DCF employees, each fulfilling a specialized role in the case. Since Sunshine’s goal is not yet adoption she has a different worker from her brother and she has these review meetings, which are intended to go over how she’s doing in foster care and to check in on the progress her biological parents are making. Meg attended the meeting as a representative of our foster family while Marcy stayed with the children. The meeting provided us with a bit more information about Sunshine, and Meg got to finally meet Sunshine’s worker in person for the first time. Meg also met Sunshine’s biological mother. This was a little odd – meeting the mother of the children you hope to adopt, while discussing the efforts she’s making to get her child back.

While Sunshine’s review was a lot to take in, we still weren’t done with social workers for the week! We still had to meet with our worker; she’s required to meet with us within five business days after our placement. She stopped by the house on Friday, met the children for the first time, and chatted about how we’re doing with the transition and the resources available to us as pre-adoptive foster parents. And just like Sport’s and Sunshine’s workers, we’ll be seeing her again in a month and every month to come in the near future.

Needless to say, week one of parenting was busy and week two is just as packed. Sunshine’s worker will be stopping by the house for a meeting and then taking the children for their weekly visit with their biological parents. We’ll then make the trek out to the DCF office and pick the children up following their visit.

This week is also filled with phone calls to Early Intervention providers, daycare meetings, coordinating paperwork, doctor’s appointments, and trying to get more information about WIC (Women, Infants and Children – a government food and nutrition service), which the children are eligible for as foster children.

So basically we have a lot of appointments and rules to follow as foster parents but we’re happy to do it. We want Sport and Sunshine to be happy, healthy and together and this is something we can provide as foster parents and, if we’re lucky enough, as adoptive parents.

Now the burning question people have is when will we be able to adopt them and put all of these appointments and rules behind us? The simple answer is we don’t know; we don’t know if it will even ever happen. They will stay with us until we adopt them, unless they are returned to their birth family – which looks unlikely at this time. We certainly hope to adopt them and be their permanent home, but we understand that there are processes in place for a reason. We also understand that it will be helpful for them to maintain a connection to their birth family even if/when they are adopted. So – we are not rooting for the birth family to “fail.” If they stay with us, the birth family will experience a loss; if they are returned, we will. In the end, if the kids have a safe and happy home, then things have worked out as they should. We are going to treat them as if they are ours forever – because they deserve it.

Now after all of this boring and serious talk, here are some photos (we know that’s what you really wanted!):

Sport, Meg and Emma

Sport plays soccer

Sport on the slide

Sport the Pirate

Meg and Sport make cookies

Marcy helps get the kids buckled in

Meg, Sunshine and Bella hanging out on the couch

Marcy's and Sunshine's hands

Marcy and Sunshine at the Library