April 30, 2012

Child Abuse Prevention.


April is Child Abuse Prevention month, so I figured if I’m going to write a post on it, I better get on it!

I’ve spent some time this month thinking about what we as foster parents can do to prevent child abuse (ya know, in all my extra ‘thinking’ time.).  This might seem silly, some people would probably say that by fostering that is exactly what we are doing.  In some ways, they are right.


Most of the time, though, it seems that we as foster parents are acting as a band-aid on a much, much larger issue – a system of issues really.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a necessary and very much needed band-aid, but a band-aid none the less.  I’m not going to pretend that I have some ven-diagram of all the issues surrounding foster care, or a thesis on how to fix it – but just in my time as a social worker and a foster parent, this is what I’ve come up with:


I think one of the most important things that we can do to prevent child abuse is to form strong and open relationships with the parents of the children we serve.  I know this isn’t always possible for a million different reasons, but I think that often times it is possible.  By developing real relationships with bio parents, we can work as support for them, we can cheer them on in their efforts toward reunification, and we can work as parenting role models.  All of these are crucial for a system that is going to work toward healing families.  As if those weren’t good enough reasons to form relationships with bio parents – it can also lead to a more lasting, long term relationship with our kids.  If our kids end up going home, and we have a good relationship with their parents, it makes it more likely that we will get to keep in touch with the family, and in doing so, we can keep tabs on how things are going – good or bad, and therefore preventing child abuse.

Forming these relationships is not always easy, but as long as it’s safe, it’s always best for our kids in the long run.


Another (obvious) thing we need to be doing is to be active in our kids’ cases.  To advocate for them always.  To annoy caseworkers when they need to be annoyed, and write letters to judges when they need to be written.  After all, we’re working for the kids, not for the caseworkers or court.


I think the other thing that we can do, that is oftentimes hard for foster parents, is to truly be for reunification.  We’re never going to send our kids home to ideal situations, and there will always be risks, but if it is safe our kids need to be home.  If we can really work toward reunification with the families when it is possible, in the end it is going to help to make ‘the system’ work.  If we can rally behind reunification when it is safe, then there are more foster homes for kids who truly cannot go home.  Sometimes it is really hard when it hits so close to home, but when reunification is possible, it is our job to help that happen.


What are your thoughts?  As foster parents, how can we help prevent future child abuse? 

April 22, 2012

Celebrating Naomi-Roo.

















Everybody singing Happy Birthday.




She wasn’t sure what to think about all that singing, but she ended up giving a super cheesy grin.



No fewer than 18 kids there all 7 (?)  and under.



Getting started on that dirt cake.











Bella got to be there!




Naomi in her gift from Nana and Grandpa.  She thought she was big stuff.





Great BBQ, whiffle ball, dirt cake, and fun were had by all.  Can’t believe my little baby is one year old.  We had so much fun celebrating her first year!

April 18, 2012

One Year. Never better.

One year old.

I think it’s even harder for me to believe than it would be, because you are actually the size of the average six month old.  Literally.  I took you for your one year check up and you weigh 15 pounds 8 ounces.  I think they’d be worried if your Mama wasn’t just as small (relatively.). 




You are such a beauty.  I can’t get over the joy that floods me when I look at you and you give me that big toothy smile.  It is precious.  A blessing to me every time.


I can’t believe you’re one year old.




One year ago right now, I was snuggling you, in awe and unbelief that you were here and you were ours.  We seemed like strangers then, although I’ve never loved a stranger that much.  Now we know each other so well, we can read each other, I know your quirks and I’m learning your personality.  I love you all the more.




You are such a blessing to me.  A gem that stands out brilliantly even in a life so full of blessings.

You love your Mama too.  You want me anytime I am in eye sight.  (Right now you are climbing up my leg.)  In fact your grandparents and your aunties would probably appreciate it if you were a little less attached to me at the hip.  I don’t mind it though.  We go together well.  I think so anyway.




You love to be held, all the time really.  I think it’s a mixture of your snuggly personality and your survival instinct kicking in around your sister.  If I’m holding you, she can’t get you. 

She loves you, she really does.  She’s just not so gentle about it most of the time.

You are so snuggly.  If we are holding you and ask for a snuggle, you put your arms around us, squeeze as tight as you can, and grunt like your working really hard.  It’s adorable.  If I ask you “How big is Naomi?”  You throw your hands up in the air and yell, imitating my “Soooo big!”. 




You are still crawling everywhere, and if I pretend like I’m going to get you, you crawl away as fast as you can and give me the most mischievous smile.  You cruise with no hesitation, and you stand on your own pretty easily too.  I think it will still be a little while before you walk though, if only because you love to be held so much.


You say Mama and Dada all the time when you want us now.  You also nod and shake your head at appropriate times to tell us yes and no.  You are babbling in such a way now that I think you want to start forming words soon – but we’ll see.




You are sleeping for several hours each night in your crib now.  Bittersweet.  You’ve slept through the night in your crib a couple of times, but you usually get up once.  Your Daddy has been trying to put you back to sleep when you wake up in hopes of helping you to sleep through the night without nursing, but (dare I say) you are even more stubborn that we are!  That’s hard to do.  We had it coming – stubborn children, I mean – we’ll need to harness that for good before you get too much older.




You got your Mama’s daring streak.  Your sister is more like your daddy, cautious to try new stunts.  But you, you are going to be my emergency room child.  I can see that already.  You aren’t afraid to try most anything.  You tried your hardest to give the rock wall at the park a go – fearless.  Hopefully you’ll get your Mama’s lucky streak too and not end up with too many broken bones before you’re 18.  My daring streak dwindled significantly upon having children – so I guess I’ll just have to hold my breath and say a prayer until you have your own.


There is a fire in your heart, and a love for people that I can see already.  You are such a little light, even at one year old.




You are happy almost all the time.  I hardly have to work at all to get you belly laughing, and there is no better sound in the world.


I love you sweet baby, and I feel so blessed to be your Mama.  You have added so much to our family.  Life is so much sweeter because of you.  I pray for you every day, and thank Jesus for your little life.  Your first year has been wonderful, and I can’t wait to see what is to come.


Love you, love you, love you,


April 16, 2012

Here for…a while.



Well, there have been some updates to Bella’s case, but I’m glad that I was lazy about posting them because they’ve changed hourly for the last week.  (Maybe an exaggeration.)


Week before last, Mom screwed up.

At this point in her recovery, Bella’s illness is not even that difficult to treat/manage.  It doesn’t take the intense amount of time, worry, and attention that it did when she first came to us.  None the less, it was either just too much effort for her Mom, or just wasn’t on her radar.  A pretty big deal.  And one of the initial concerns in the case.

As far as I can tell, Dad is doing everything he can, but he is working his butt off all day every day to pay the bills – so she is the primary caregiver during visits. 


At the same time that this crap hit the fan, the worker also uncovered some things about visits (through conversation with Bella) that were less than impressive.  Nothing that is a huge deal, but things that shouldn’t be an issue.




They’ve cut her visits back to two days per week, and now she is only there Wednesdays through Friday.  They scheduled it for during the week so that the caseworker can pop in if need be. 

Also, the planned reunification date of May 2 is indefinitely postponed until more progress is made.


They also led us to believe that they were going to be moving Bella to the foster home that her sister is in.  There are several good reasons to do this, living with her sister being at the top of that list, as well as the fact that her sister’s foster home is in their home town (an hour and a half from here.).

But,  I got an e-mail today saying that the hospital social worker, her nurse, and her doctor, have all requested that she remain at our house.  So, as of right now, that’s the plan.  Overall, I have to say that I’m happy with this decision.



Part of me is so angry that Mom messed this up for Bella again.  Bella wants to go home so badly – and the things they are asking of them are not difficult.  I just want to shake her (mom) and say, “Do you not realize that there are a lot of kids in foster care that never go home???  This is not a game!  This is not just something that you have to ride out until they send her home!!”


On the other hand, I see them, and their lives are so much different than ours in so many ways that we take completely for granted.  Everything in their lives is stressful – paying the bills, keeping their car running, the health of their daughter, their marriage.  And it’s probably been this way for generations.

I’m not sure I can imagine what it would be like to be in their shoes, so I most definitely cannot say that I’d be any better off.


Anyway, we are hoping for a quick turnaround for mom and dad.  Prayers for Bella are greatly appreciated.  I anticipate a few really hard weeks as we transition to much shorter visits. 

April 13, 2012



Sylvie girl, you are two and a half.

Of course, according to you, you are four.  Let’s not push it.

Two and a half is so much bigger than two.  You are so much less toddler, and so much more little girl.




Pretty much my favorite thing about you right now is how verbal you are.  You talk non-stop.  Even when we’re in the car on a long trip, you often don’t need anything to entertain yourself because you sit in your car-seat  and talk to whoever will listen for hours on end.  You say very clever things, and your vocabulary is pretty ridiculous. You’ll try to negotiate with me and then you say, “Does that sound like a good deal, Mom?”  or “How’s that sound?”    I wish I could type out everything you’ve said for the last month, because you say so many things that I want to remember.  I know I’ll forget.  So I’m just enjoying you as much as I can right now.




You are so thankful, a beautiful part of your little personality that is beginning to show us who you will be.  Very often, at random, you’ll thank me for doing things for you. 

“Mommy, thank you so much for taking me to the park.” 

“Mommy, thank you for picking up my mess.” 

“Mommy, thank you for being a Mommy.”

It melts my heart.




You know all your shapes, right down to a hexagon.  The other day you woke up, came down stairs, looked at your Daddy and instead of a good morning, you said, “Daddy, your head is shaped like an oval.”  Why yes, yes it is.  You know all your colors and you count to 30 with no help at all.



You and your best friend.



You have this energy about you that follows you wherever you go.  It seems you are always excited about something, and you never sit still. 

You sing all the time, about everything you’re doing.  If you can’t come up with a song, then you just sing gibberish.  But you have quite the repertoire of songs from the Wheels on The Bus (your current favorite) to Come Thou Fount and Hallelujah He Reigns.  It’s wonderful.  I love listening to you sing.




The more I get to know you, the more I see you are exactly like your Daddy.  You are excited about everything.  You love numbers and shapes.  You are physically cautious on the playground, needing some coaxing to do “scarier” things.  When I ask you to do something, you sit for a moment and calculate exactly how much effort it is going to take before you decide if you are going to listen or not.  (Not that you’re Daddy is lazy in any way, he just likes to know what a job is going to take. :))  You have absolutely no issue with everything being a complete mess, but you default to having your toys lined up in rows, usually color coded, and in some sequence that makes perfect sense to you, before you are done playing with them.    Yesterday at the park you found a handful of candies sitting on a picnic table.  You went for them and I thought you were going to try to eat them, but you just wanted to line them up in a straight line organized by what kind of candy it was.  There is a particular order amidst the chaos in your little brain.


Does this remind you of anyone you know?




You can definitely throw a nice fit, but two’s not been so terrible after all.  I love getting to know your personality.  I love that you are old enough to have full conversations with now.   You’re snugglier than you’ve ever been (but that’s not saying much) and I love getting the occasional Sylvie snuggle.

Your Daddy and I both secretly hope that you’ll pick us to put you to bed at night because it is so much fun.  You have long conversations with us.  You pray for your friends.  You are silly and try to tell jokes.  I love it, and you do too.


Some day, child, you are going to be a force to be reckoned with.  You could make change in this big world.  I love you more than you will ever know, and I will always be there cheering you on.


Love you, love you, love you,


April 12, 2012

Your Children Want YOU.

I read this post on The Power Of Moms website here and it resonated with me deeply.  This is such a good reminder.  Sometimes I think we get so wrapped up in all the things we don’t get accomplished as Moms that we forget what we are here to accomplish. 




There’s this crazy phenomenon going on right now. Good, devoted mothers get on Pinterest . . . and blogs . . . and Facebook . . . and Twitter . . . and then they flip through parenting magazines and TV channels (full of advertisements and media hype) . . . and they’re convinced they’re not enough.

They’re convinced that everyone else has magnetic, alphabetized spice containers,

Photo source: Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/pin/274086327292186801/)

and unless their garden parties are thematically accessorized with butterfly lanterns,

Photo source: Pinterest, http://tinyurl.com/6lsuurc

and they’re wearing the latest fashions (in a size two, of course), there’s no point in even showing up for the day.

Last Saturday, this happened to me.

I came home from a lovely day out with my extended family and had serious intentions to spend the evening dyeing Easter eggs and making bunny buns.

By the time I got everyone settled and fed, however, I was so tired that I just laid on the couch and dozed while my children played and got themselves to bed.

Around 8:30, when I finally had the energy to sit up, I decided to try out Pinterest for a few minutes until my husband got home. There it was–1,000 reasons why I’m failing at all things domestic.

I don’t make grilled cheese sandwiches look like ice cream.

Photo source: Pinterest, http://kitchenfunwithmy3sons.blogspot.com

I don’t even have seasonal throw pillows on my couches or live plants anywhere in the house.

Is it really so hard? Can’t I pull myself together and wrap some candles in green foliage and bring happiness to our decor with bright fabrics and hand-crafted photo frames?

As I was trying to calm my frenzied state of mind, my husband came home and held me tight. We talked about our day, and he told me how much he loves me and that he wants our boys to marry someone like me. I fell asleep snuggled under his arm.

The following morning, our children enthusiastically bounded into our bedroom and tucked themselves into our covers. My four-year-old gave me an arm massage, and we all sat there together–joking, laughing, planning the day ahead, and enjoying that special feeling of family. Reflecting on the discouragement I’d felt the night before, I realized that my family doesn’t care about what I see on Pinterest. They care about me.

My daughter Grace loves me to sing “Baby Mine” to her each night before bed. When I go to our Power of Moms Retreats, she misses that special ritual. We have recordings of Michael Crawford and Allison Krauss singing their versions, but Grace doesn’t want those. She wants me. So I recorded myself singing “Baby Mine” and emailed the audio file to her and to my husband so Grace can hear “her song” before she sleeps. As far as she’s concerned, my untrained voice belongs at the top of the charts.

My daughter Grace is my “snuggliest” child.  Back tickles and “Baby Mine” each night are how I show that I love her.

A few months ago, I was practicing sideways dutch braids on my two daughters. They had found these great “how-to” videos online, and we set up our comb, brush, and hair bands in front of the computer so I could become an expert.

Photo source: www.cutegirlshairstyles.com 

Half-way through the braid, my fingers got all tangled up, the hair was too loose, and one of my daughters had been sitting with her head to the side for several minutes.

Feeling extremely frustrated, I said, “That little girl in the video is so lucky to have a mom who knows how to do hair.”

My daughter stopped me in my tracks when she responded, “But I have a mom who is trying.”

These are my two girls with the braids that took me FOREVER to do.  (But I’m getting faster now, and they appreciate the fact that I’m trying.)

My mom is in her 70s, and her memory is starting to go. Her sweetness and love are as strong as ever, but when we talk on the phone, she can’t remember the last time we spoke or the last time we saw each other.

At the end of one phone call a few weeks ago, I whispered, “I miss you, Mom.”

She said, “Oh, I miss you, too! But we’ll get together soon. You can come down to the park, and we’ll get an ice cream cone at McDonald’s.”

I replied, “Yes, that will be fun.” But then the tears started, and I had to use every ounce of control to keep my voice even so she wouldn’t know I was crying.

What I really meant was, “I miss being able to talk to you, Mom. I miss laying on the grass while my children make a hopscotch and savoring our long phone conversations. I miss you remembering all those secrets I used to tell you. I miss you asking me if I’m okay. I miss seeing you read books and hearing you sing while you do the dishes and having you drive out to my house without getting lost. I miss you remembering how much I need you.”

My mother didn’t specialize in home decor or gourmet cooking, and she didn’t lift weights or run marathons. But she makes me feel like I am the most important, wonderful person ever born. If I could pick any mother in the whole world, it would be my mom.

There’s something deeper going on in family life than can ever be expressed on a social network. Whatever it is we feel we are lacking, can we collectively decide–as deliberate mothers–that we are not going to sit around feeling discouraged about all the things we’re not?

Can we remind each other that it is our uniqueness and love that our children long for? It is our voices. Our smiles. Our jiggly tummies. Of course we want to learn, improve, exercise, cook better, make our homes lovelier, and provide beautiful experiences for our children, but at the end of the day, our children don’t want a discouraged, stressed-out mom who is wishing she were someone else.

If you ever find yourself looking in the mirror at a woman who feels badly that she hasn’t yet made flower-shaped soap,

Photo source: Pinterest, http://tinyurl.com/82k5vow

please offer her this helpful reminder: “Your children want you!”

QUESTION: How do you keep the right perspective on your importance to your family–in the midst of so many ideas and temptations to compare yourself with others?

CHALLENGE: Recognize any tendencies you might have to get wrapped up in discouragement, and set up a regular way to remind yourself that your children want you.

April 10, 2012

A wish come true.

  We got a phone call today letting us know that Bella has been approved for the Make a Wish Foundation!!!  I am so excited I can hardly stand it.

  I referred her eight months ago and hadn’t heard anything, so I just kind of figured that she wasn’t approved and we were out of luck.  I kept thinking that they just had to approve her.  A four year old dealing with a potentially terminal illness who is also dealing with the trauma of foster care?? 

  Can we cut this kid a break?  Please?


  The answer is yes.


I am so excited.  This is the chance in a lifetime for her, to do something or go somewhere she may never have the opportunity to go again!


So at some point a “gift giver” will contact us and come to our house to talk to Bella about what her wish is.  The child has to verbalize it (I hope she doesn’t decide to be shy!!).

I talked to her about wishes back when I referred her, but not since.  Today we talked about all the different kinds of things people wish for.  We looked at pictures of the ocean, of the biggest toy store in the world, of playgrounds, and of Disney World.

And then there was no reason to go on.  Because, stop. the. world., Disney World won as soon as she found out that the princesses live there.






So, breakfast with the princesses at Disney World it is.


I’m not sure of the time line from here on out….how quickly they grant wishes and such.  We did have some things go on over the weekend that make me think that the potential reunification date of May 2 is not going to happen, though.

  Just plain irresponsibility regarding Bella’s illness, which was one of the initial concerns when she came into care.  Part of me is so angry about it.  What they are asking them to do is not that hard.  And they are getting so close.  And they might have just blown it, at least as far as May goes.  uuuuugggghhhhh.


Anyway, all that to say that I don’t know if she’ll be with us or with her family when her wish is granted, but I don’t really even care.  I’m just so happy she gets to go.  Not gonna lie, I would love, love, love to see her eyes light up when she sees the Disney castle for the first time.  It would make for some incredible memories with her parents though.


We’ll see.


I’m just so excited!!!!

April 9, 2012

Easter 2012.


Cuteness abounded this year at Easter.




As some of the cousins were just old enough to start enjoying the festivities.




Every. Single. One of our eggs was cracked before they were even hidden for the hunt.  But we got them all dyed first!












Sylvia was very excited to do the Easter egg hunt.  But as she found plastic eggs with candy in them, she kept discarding the broken real eggs in the grass as she went.  So when the hunt was over, there were still hard boiled eggs all over the yard.










Simon taught the little kids the ropes.  So sweet.




Cousin hugs are the best.







I’m not sure she gets enough love.







Sylvie woke us up at 7:00 (I was impressed!) telling us that we had to get up because the Big Bunny was waiting for us in the living room.  We explained that there was no bunny waiting for her in the living room, but maybe a few treats.




New Easter dresses.




When Bella got home Sunday night, she had a basket waiting for her too.  I wasn’t sure how much of an Easter she’d get at home.  She was very excited.




It was a wonderful Easter.  He is risen, and there is no better thing to celebrate.


Related Posts with Thumbnails