Our Imperfect Lives


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Visitation

One of the many responsibilities of foster/pre-adoptive parents is making the children available for visits with their biological family. Biological parents who are at least partially in compliance with their DCF service plan and have not had their rights terminated by the courts are given supervised visits with their children. In our case these visits were one hour each week, but since the DCF office is a bit of a drive from our home, the visits are now every other week for two hours.

Technically it is the ongoing case worker’s responsibility to provide the transportation to and from visits – but they love it when foster parents can help out. With us, we provide the transportation whenever we can and with Meg being a teacher, who decided to take the summer off from working (pre-kids she would work summer school and such), she’s been able to provide the transportation to and from the visits. We decided that this would make the visits a bit easier for the kids.

Not to say that the visits are particularly hard on the kids. In fact, Sport gets excited when we tell him he’ll be having a visit with his Dad. Sunshine hasn’t spent much time with her biological parents, but doesn’t seem to be impacted negatively aside from all the time in a car seat. However, recently, we’ve decided to only reveal the news of the visit once the kids pile into the car and head to DCF. And unfortunately we had to learn this the hard way.

We stopped telling Sport about his visit a day or two beforehand after a few visits didn’t happen. The first time it was that Dad didn’t show up for a visit. In his defense, the visit was changed for that week and he claims to have not been told and he showed up later that afternoon. Regardless of what actually transpired, our kids got stuck at the DCF office crying – Sport upset that he didn’t get to see his dad and Sunshine upset that she had spent several straight hours in her “bucket” also known as the carrier that clicks into the infant car seat base. The social worker, presumably expecting to leave at any minute, didn’t even remove Sunshine from her seat while in the office.

After Dad’s no show/time confusion, the social worker instituted a practice, which actually seems like a fairly common practice for many workers, that requires Dad to confirm he will be coming the day before the visit.

The next time it was on the morning of the visit. Dad had confirmed the visit the day before. We told Sport who was coming and where he was going – the social worker was coming and he was going to see his Dad. Marcy had stayed home with the kids to wait for her arrival before heading to work herself. Then, about thirty minutes before she was to arrive, we got the phone call. The social worker had a migraine and was cancelling the visit.

Sport was upset.

Thankfully, Sport recovered fairly quickly and he only cried for a short few minutes. Marcy was able to get him settled down and get both children packed up and off to daycare. While the experience could have been worse, it wasn’t one we appreciated.

This summer we’ve had two additional missed visits: one Dad cancelled and another he just never confirmed. With our new system of not telling Sport that a visit is coming up, the missed visits came and went without any fanfare.

We do find it somewhat peculiar that before this summer (excluding the supposed mix up) Dad had never missed a visit, at least not while the children were placed with us. Now (at least to us) seems like the ideal time for him to see the children as much as possible and to “make nice” with the social workers, because the trial is currently ongoing. Next week two court dates are scheduled, which another two in September and likely more to come.

Although, we certainly don’t mind the missed visits – it’s one less thing we need to worry about. And who knows, it may be strengthening the case to keep the kids in our care (or it may have absolutely no impact – who knows…?) Sport may be noticing that he hasn’t seen his Dad in a while. This morning, with no prompting, when discussing what he was going to do after preschool, he asked if he was going to see his Dad. He was not going to see his Dad after school and while a visit is scheduled for tomorrow, it had not yet been confirmed so we weren’t going to mention it. We merely responded with a, “No, you aren’t going to see your Daddy after school but maybe soon.”

Sport kept pressing, asking about going over to his Daddy’s house – “No, Sport, we’re sorry, but you can’t visit your Daddy at his house.”

Sport continued on the subject asking if Daddy could come to his house – “No, Sport we’re sorry, your Daddy can’t come visit you at our house, but maybe you’ll see him soon.”

Thankfully he didn’t ask why.

While we do of course have to make ourselves and the children available for visits and social worker meetings, we still have time to fit in lots of fun activities in this summer! Check out some more of our adventures here:

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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