Archive for January, 2011

January 31, 2011

TTC no more?

Q. Will you and A TTC again in the future, if reunification happens. Would you TTC even if Reunification doesn’t happen?

A.  So there are basically 2 scenarios: kids stay or kids go.  If the kids stay, we will definitely be done TTCing forever.  If they go, we are still probably done TTCing.  It was just such a miserable time and we are relieved to be done.  But there is still that part of me that has a fridge full of meds that I just can’t let go of. yet…

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January 28, 2011

Race and work and diapers – oh my!

Q.  How do you answer Sprout when he is so upset about the canceled visit–or other unpredictable/undesirable mom behavior?

A.  I really don’t do much answering because he doesn’t really do much questioning.   The thing is, he’s been “dealing with” BM for much longer than I have.  He knows.  He gets it.  He usually says something like “Mommy couldn’t make it” or “She has to work” and the only answer he needs is validation that those statements come with big feelings.  We tell him its okay to be angry or sad or disappointed.  We work with him to express those feelings in an appropriate way.  Of course that’s not always successful and we accept that…sometimes screaming into a pillow just doesn’t cover the depth of the hurt.  We cuddle, we do jumping jacks, we cry, and we remind him that she loves him even when she isn’t there to say it.

Q. Your little ones are in cloth, right? Has the foster system/bio mom had an issue with that?

A.  We are part-time cloth diaper-ers.  The kids’ daycare won’t CD so they are in sevent.h generation sposies for daycare.  Since they are generally picked up from daycare to go to visit, the CDs have never come up.  Even if that wasn’t the scenario, I think I’d put the babies in sposies for visit regardless since some people are intimidated/grossed out/ect by cloth dipes and honestly, that’s just not a battle I need to pick.  The state has no rules or issues with our CDing.

Q. Have you decided if you’ll take more kids if the birth mom has more?

A.  Oh, the question of  the hour.  I don’t know how to answer this.  It’s always on our minds since mom has had many kids (more than just our three), but it depends on so many things.  A says she’s all set at 3…but of course she said that about 2 also.  But I value our marriage so 3 under 3 isn’t something I’m going to be signing up for.  But if we get a call in 3-4 years…? There are just too many variables and unknowns to say one way or another.

Q. What’s it like to parent kids of a different race?

A.  This question could be post in itself so I might come back to it.  But to answer briefly?  So much of the difference doesn’t matter, but so much of it does.   In the day-to-day its easy to forget we have different color skin than our kids. We love ’em just the same and go about our lives just the same.  But we never lose site of the fact that it comes with an important responsibility.  The responsibility to raise these children, not in a white household, but in a multiracial one.  We have to nurture our children’s identity and because of the society we live in, part of that is their race.  I want them to feel the power of the color of their skin – the history, the culture, and the beauty. 

Being gay, I know what its like to be a minority.  I know what its like to be the only different one in a room.  What its like to be judged and discriminated against.  But I also know the pride and power that comes from my GLBT community and identity as a lesbian.  I hope that my experience serves me well if I am called to raise these children and help them navigate through the discovery of their own identities.

Q. What kind of process did you go through to get your work to agree to your work-at-home arrangement?

A.  I’m fortunate to work for a relatively family friendly employer and supervisors who have been exceptionally foster-friendly.  If I’ve got a computer and a phone, my job can be done from anywhere and pre-Daisy, I was already working from home on a regular basis.  So, there really was no process and I know how lucky I am for that!  I feel like I  should also mention that A did her fair share of staying home with Daisy and we had a wonderful babysitter so I was not home with her full-time.

And I think that answers them all! Any other questions out there? Always welcome.

January 26, 2011

Building a Relationship with Bios

I’ve had this post kicking around in my drafts for a while and given our conversations of late and erathora’s question, it seemed like the perfect time to dust it off. 

One of the most complicated dynamics I’ve ever had to navigate is my relationship with my children’s mother.  Not only are there swirling emotions on both sides, but in more than a year I’ve never so much as spoken to this woman.  How bizarre for one of the most important people in my life to be someone I’ve never met.  She has no idea what I look like, she doesn’t know who I am or what I’m about, and yet I’m the other mother to the babies she made and carried and loved.  Right there is where I knew I needed to start.

Visits were inconsistent from the beginning.  Sprout’s relationship with his mom was suffering from the lack of contact so I sent word through the SW that he’d really like a picture of mom.  There was some resistance to that request – I think it felt too much like being memorialized when she was (is) still striving to get him back asap.  I followed it up with a brief note to explain my intentions.  To reaffirm that he loved her and that it was our hope to always support their bond.  I also made a very important promise.  I promised that she would never be spoken of badly in our home and that she would be respected.  Quickly thereafter, a picture of her made its way onto our fridge and its been there ever since.  If she’s part of my children’s family, then she’s part of mine.

Once we got that big piece of the puzzle squared away, it was all about the little things.  Regularly sending pictures and notes.  Recognizing her birthday.  Always addressing her as mom.  Treasuring the things she gives them no matter their value or appropriateness.  Understanding that complaints are an expression of love.  Accepting suggestions no matter how strange they seemed.  Allowing Sprout to talk about her whenever, wherever, and however much he wanted.  Understanding that no matter what, and probably forever, she will be more important to him than I am. 

Okay, so some of those things aren’t little at all.  And they aren’t easy.   I’m sure you can imagine some of the thoughts that run through my head when I get the calls about Sprout’s clothes being dirty (after a full day of daycare) or RB’s hair not being done (mornings are pretty hectic around here) or when visit is cancelled minutes before pick up time and I have to rearrange my entire schedule then deal with a heartbroken tantruming 4 year old.  But I decided early on that I was going to focus on the good and let someone else deal with the bad – even when that means faking it until I make it.  

I’d like to say that I do this all for her.  Because I’m some kind of super compassionate saint who just loves everyone no matter their misgivings in life.  But, yeah, that’s not me.  Sometimes it breaks my heart to have to share them.  I cry every time I pack their visit bag.  I battle thoughts such as: I should stop telling her and showing her how wonderful they are or else she’s really going to try to get them back.  But I do this for Sprout (and Rosebud and Daisy, though they don’t know it yet).  I do it because his comfort in being a foster child is dependent upon my comfort in being a foster parent. 

And all of this has worked to form a working relationship even in the most strained of circumstances.  As I mentioned in the last post, putting the respect out has meant getting it back in return.  She does not speak badly of us in front of Sprout.  She trusts us to make their medical decisions and travel with them.  Certainly there is dislike on both sides, but it’s not for each other, it’s for the situation.  And that’s okay. 

It’s not expected for me to be on her team nor her on mine, but we are both doing our best to be on the children’s team.

January 25, 2011

Gay Foster Parenting

Q. I’m curious about your experience as a gay foster parent. Do you feel it has helped/hindered you in any way?

A.  Of course I’ll never know for sure, but I’m 99% certain that my experience as a gay foster parent is exactly what it would have been as a straight one.  How nice is that, huh?  And by nice I mean that’s the way it should be.  The state’s department of social services has specifically put out the message that they welcome GLBT foster parents and has initiatives to recruit within the population (how fun to see a foster/adoption booth at gay pride this summer!).   If any of the thousands of social workers we’ve interacted with has had a problem with us, we haven’t noticed it and I don’t believe that we’ve suffered any hinderance or discrimination.

Has it helped us? Not really.  As I said, I’m pretty sure we would have ended up right where we are regardless of our sexual orientation.  However, SWs have mentioned to us that they see lesbian homes as a unique resource for children who may not do well in a home with a male, but still are high-needs enough for a 2 parent household.  I could see that, but it just didn’t happen to be our experience so far.

Q. Did bio mom have any reaction/resistance/choice regarding the placement of the kids with a lesbian family?

A. She definitely didn’t have a choice, especially since Sprout was a displacement, though I suppose that if she had a big enough objection, someone would have had to look at it.  As far as reaction or resistance, I’m not sure exactly.  Since we’ve never met or spoken, I have never had an interaction with her allowing me to asses her gay-friendly-ness.  But, there’s never been a word about it from the social worker/attorney/case aid/ect and its particularly difficult to do any masking with a 4-year-old involved (if anyone said anything negative about the other in front of him, it would be relayed. guaranteed).  The truth is, she probably didn’t even know for a while since the information barrier put in place by the state is so strong. 

That being said, I just don’t feel any animosity.  Our relationship, as tenuous and unusual as it is, feels to me like there is a mutual level of respect.  She grants us travel permission and medical authority every time.  She genuinely thanks us for cards and pictures and notes.  She sends word through her social worker that she appreciates what we do.  And when Daisy was born and she was informed that she would be taken into care, she gave the emergency worker our name.

There is probably plenty she doesn’t like about us, but I don’t think our gayness is a big one, if at all.

January 20, 2011

Reunification

Thanks for all the great questions!  I can’t wait to dig into them and it’s not too late if you’d like to add any more.  But let me go ahead and answer the one that’s on everyone’s mind.  I won’t need long for this one.

Q. Whats the status of the reunification?

A.  I’ve passed along to you all the updates we’ve gotten since that big meeting in November.  Wait, you say you haven’t gotten any updates? Exactly.

Radio silence. Crickets chirping. Dead air.  You get the point.

January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Puzzle Time!

(ps. can we talk about that bald spot? When is it gonna go away?? She’s been sleeping on her stomach for ages now. Her hair just will.not.grow.)

January 18, 2011

This is big

Sprout was acting bizarre last night at dinner.  I’d even call it manic. It’s very difficult for me to handle him when he gets that way because he isn’t actually on this planet anymore.  Love and Logic? Yeah right.  The child is speaking gibberish sprinkled with a maniacal laugh.  It had me wondering why I didn’t make that little room in the basement padded.  So I asked him to go to his room so I could have some time to think about his behavior.  He went – half rolling, half walking on all fours.  Good things are not to come when he turns animalistic.

Hmmm. Do I just leave him in there? At least he’s contained. He’ll fall asleep eventually, right?

A long hug and deep breathing? History tells me that would be risking injury to my person.

Nah, this time I’m just going to meet crazy with crazy.

So I went over to our dress up box, got my full princess attire on, and marched into the room.

“Hey Sprout, let’s play!’

He’s got himself wedged between his bed and the wall but I got his attention enough for a peek and a little eyebrow raise.

“I could tell you were happy so we should play!”

“I NOT HAPPY!!”

“You were laughing at dinner.  Doesn’t that mean happy?”

“I’M.NOT.HAPPY. I’M MEAN!!”

“What honey? I can’t hear you.” (of course I could hear him.  My parents in the next town could hear him. but I needed to get him out from his awkward spot) “I think the bed is muffling your voice.”

::crawls out::

“I SAID I’M MEAN!”

Now he’s within arms reach and I can see my Sprout returning to his eyes.  So I sit down slowly, take his hands and whisper “You are not mean.  You are sweet and kind and strong.  You feel mean.”

His tears start to fall and he slumps into my lap.

“What makes you feel mean?”

::long pause::

“Mommy T [bio] feels mean.  It’s almost Wednesday [visit day].”

And there is was.  Months of meltdowns, long talks, therapy and work – and this is the first time he accurately labeled his feelings rather than blaming the cat/dog/alien/blue sky/who knows what.  I was happy, but I couldn’t really be happy.  My beautiful child lives a perpetual “almost Wednesday”.

We sat there for a long time hugging and rocking and talking – a spot so familiar to us both. I told him I was proud of him and he told me I looked like a princess.  I would have liked to take that as a compliment, but he was really just stating the obvious.

January 17, 2011

Questions?

This is my last week home with Daisy.  Her start to daycare next Monday will bring many feelings (sadness, relief) but until then, I’m going to breathe her in deeply and snuggle her close.  My time with her these first couple months has been a challenge, but also a gift that I never got with Rosebud.  So I will spend the next few days cherishing this time as it draws to a close.  Knowing my child as I do, there won’t be much time for blogging but plenty for reading so I’ll take this time for a reminder that if there are any lingering questions out there, don’t be shy and send them my way.  Parenting? Fostering? TTCing? Other? It’s all welcome. Leave a comment or send me an email (ec371 at aol.com) and I’ll do my best to get to it in the coming weeks (while I’m not in the bathroom crying about missing my teeniest).

January 13, 2011

January Mama Tips – Snow Edition

12-18″?!  Uh, only if you’re counting in the first 3 hours.  It turned out to be much closer to 24″ when all was said and done.  I have an intimate knowledge of that fact because I was out there at 4am shovelling it after discovering that our plow guy didn’t show.  And that’s the kind of day I’m having.

In other news, its occurred to me lately just how many awesome tips and tricks I’ve gathered from other mamas, some of which have saved my sanity on similar cold, dark, “oh shite, what do I do now?” nights such as the one I had last night.  So I’m going to try to compile some in hopes that someone, somewhere, will benefit from them as I have.

1) If you have 2 babies close in age that are both pacifier fiends, use a different type of paci for the second baby.  Not only will this eliminate the sharing of germs and binking stealing, but it will be helpful when you wish to wean the older baby in that you’ll be able to get rid of all of her pacifiers while still keeping the little one’s.  On a side note, anyone have tips for paci weaning an addicted toddler? ‘Cause I’m scared.

2) Having trouble getting out of their room after the goodnights?  “Just one more hug, pwease” or “little more back wubbies?” Here’s what you do: end your normal night routine by counting back rubs.  This way there is a predictable and specific end to the cuddle time.  You can even do one better by letting them chose the number (within reason) to count to – now they are making the decision and you’ll get their buy in.  This works especially well for us because Sprout doesn’t yet know there are numbers greater than 100.  Added bonus: the kid’s a master rote counter!

3) If your baby is 100% formula fed, DON’T HEAT IT UP!  This tip has saved my 2U2 mind.  There is no reason formula has to be warm.  It’s just as nutritious straight from the fridge, which is exactly how Daisy receives it.  Oh how I wish I knew this tip in the first couple weeks with Rosebud.  But, we can’t turn back time so instead I’ll just savor midnight feedings made up of a simple reach into the cooler bag on my nightstand rather than schlepping to the kitchen.

So that’s January’s edition; stay tuned for next month’s discussion of how to have a preschooler and still sleep in, and a top baby essential that’s also an underrated pantry staple.

January 11, 2011

12-16″ of Snow

That’s the minimum prediction for my area tomorrow.  Schools are already closed and parents across the state are in a sweaty panic wondering what in the world they are going to do with their cooped up kids.  But me? I’m not worried at all.  Cool as a cucumber. ‘Cause we’re gonna be hanging out here…

(Before Pics)

Oh yes, more wall words.  I’ve got to keep my dealer in business.

But watch out wall words…I’ve found a new love.  Her name is chalkboard paint.

And that awesome new office I was going to have?  Well, it seems to have been invaded with toys.  ::sigh::

Eh, who am I kidding? As long as the toys are out of my kitchen/living room/dining room/bathroom, I don’t care where they go!