Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

I have to say that I am glad to see December, 2006 bite the dust. It hasn't been my finest moment, despite the learning opportunities that it has presented.

To steal a page from Dr. Mark's book, I'm going to put in some lyrics that have been bouncing around in my head lately:
It's been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last.
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass
So what of this year? PB and I completed all of our preservice requirements and also became official with the County. We brought home a baby boy who gave us simultaneously the best
and worst two months of our lives. We got another placement, a three-year-old girl who is teaching us the limits of our patience (and our fledgling parenting abilities).

My relationship with my mom changed in ways I couldn't have imagined. She has been such a support for me this last year. I never gave her credit for how much I needed her.

PB and I talk. Really talk. We have been working on this for a while, but between hitting the three-year mark on our infertility and struggling through those bittersweet months with Baby Bear, I am confident we can now talk about anything. Well, except maybe PB's weird attraction to Dirty Harry movies.

I guess that's what I got from this past year. More painful than I might have wished, but in the end, all good things.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

From the mouth of BeBe

Here are a few of BeBe's favorite phrases (in no particular order):

  • You need to gimme a break (boy / girl as appropriate)
  • You gettin on my nerves!
  • Bam!!*
  • I'm about to put you out my house
  • We're about to fight.
  • Sorry!!!
  • You buy me (XXX) cost 50 dollars?
Keep in mind these phrases are accompanied by (in)appropriate hand and head movements. Sometimes it's all I can do not to laugh out loud at her... Which I don't because I know it will only encourage her.

BeBe is definitely wise beyond her years. She knows the names Freddie, Jason and Chuckie. She also knows what drunk means and knows what kind of bottles beer and wine come in, and she asks us constantly if we are drunk or if we are going to get drunk and she just turned 3 at the end of September. She is fiercely independent and stubborn. And she has more energy than any little person I've ever seen.

Please send good karma :-)

*Yes, Bam like from Emeril. Used sort of as a verbal explanation point. The most charming of all her favorite phrases, I have to admit.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

What to do?

BeBe is still with us. She is still going strong... we, on the other hand, may be dangerously close to being in over our heads.

BeBe is generally a nice child. However, we have found a disturbing tendency to pick on things smaller than her. Like our dog. And other kids. This is coupled with a sneakiness that we didn't necessarily pick up on in the beginning. Like doing something she knows she shouldn't and then looking over her shoulder to see if we're watching.

She had a particularly bad day yesterday, brought on (I think) by the fact that we took her to the hospital to see her mom and her new baby sister, who was born on Christmas Day. And before you ask, no we will not be bringing said sister home for two reasons 1) Mom is taking her home and 2) We could not handle an infant on top of BeBe.

So back to yesterday. I took her over to our fostermom friend (J) who watched Baby Bear for us, planning to stay there for a while and then leave and work from home. A sort of trial day because I was concerned about how well she would fit in there - BeBe needs constant supervision and redirection and J has a two-year old and a 7-month old. She was fine while I was there with her - was not even freaked out by J's dog, who is much bigger than ours and seemed to be playing well with J's 2-year old daughter (G).

Apparently that all ended when I left.

J repeatedly had to redirect BeBe from the knives in her kitchen and later BeBe "stabbed" at the dog with a fake knife. She also was picking on both G and the 7-month-old (K) to the point that G. retreated to the couch and J had to hold K to keep her safe. If J. weren't an experienced foster parent (with several 2,3, and 4 year old placements under her belt) I might not think too much of this. But, she called me after only about an hour and a half to come pick her up and said that she didn't think it would work for her to watch BeBe in the long run.

So yesterday, when I was supposed to be working from home, I was instead scrambling to find a new daycare arrangement for BeBe. I managed to locate a nursery school with an opening for 4 days per week and PB and I are still trying to determine what to do on Thursdays. I'm also a little nervous that she might get kicked out of this school. If that happens I'm not sure what we'll do. I've placed a call to my social worker, which I hoped I would never have to make, to let her know that if I can't find appropriate care for BeBe we might have disrupt the placement. I really don't want to, but I also really don't want to lose my job and burn all of my vacation trying to care for BeBe.

However, this all could be a moot point. Biomom seems to think that BeBe will be back with her relatively quickly, assuming she follows through on the caseplan which includes a restraining order against her boyfriend and some anger management classes. I worry about her ability to handle both BeBe and a newborn full-time. I'm afraid that might be setting her up for failure.

We'll see what happens. Keep your fingers crossed for us (and BeBe and biomom!)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

BeBe is in the house!

Finally, an update. First, this one's pseudonym is going to be BeBe (close enough to her real name that I'll remember it, far enough away that I'm not violating confidentiality).

She is in one word, energetic. I have never seen such a busy little person... She is adorable, physically a beautiful child, with a great smile and huge brown eyes. She just turned three years old at the end of the September, but she's very tall, and very verbal. She seems to have been generally well-taken care of - she is happy and clearly not afraid of adults. LOL. She is in care because of a dispute between mom and boyfriend that ended badly. I really don't think she's been abused or neglected, so if / when mom gets the legal ramifications of this straightened out I think she will go home fairly quickly.

PB is really enjoying having her around, and I have to admit that he's better with her than I am... he is more patient in general. I am struggling with repeating things many, many times, but I'm doing my best. She literally goes from the second she wakes up in the morning to the second her head hits the pillow at night, so needless to say we are pretty tired.

It will be nice to have her around at Christmas time. My family is going nuts... she is going to have so much stuff. We took her to get her clothing voucher today and I also did her hair for the first time, which was... interesting. BeBe is African American and unfortunately, I wasn't able to take the class that is offered by our county agency yet. Luckily my sister has some experience from her daycare work, so she helped me this time, but she lives about an hour away. Anyone have any websites with good tips?

We have already visited mom once and I think BeBe will be calling her everyday. Not sure when they will get a regular visitation thing going, but hopefully soon. Mom is really distressed to be away from her, and this is the first time they've been separated since BeBe was born. And Mom is also 9 months pregnant (due today!) so I think she's got a lot on her plate right now.

Oh, and an update on Baby Bear - I heard from his paternal Grandma on Wednesday (the morning we got BeBe)... she said we had been on her mind and she wanted to encourage us to remain a part of Baby Bear's life. She said that she could tell how much we loved him from the way we looked at him, and I think she loves him just as much. She actually asked us to be his godparents... not sure exactly how I feel about that. PB and I will need to discuss it and decide. But I think we are going to get to see him again... if we can handle it.

Sorry it took me so long to update. It's only happening now because we're at my mom and dad's for Christmas and I can actually steal 10 minutes away. I'll try to update more frequently, but in the meantime, send me your best calming / patient karma, OK?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Be careful what you wish for...

It's 1:30 am and we're waiting for them to drop off a three-year-old little girl.

Looks like we will have a child here for Christmas after all. Too bad I don't have any three-year-old food, toys or clothes in the house.

Here we go!!!!

Monday, December 18, 2006

I'm not psychic... I'm officially certifiable.

I looked at PB yesterday and said, "I think I've totally lost it, but I wish they would call us." He said, "I know, I miss changing diapers and making bottles."

We are nuts. No call from the County as of yet, though.

I am resisting the urge and haven't called to check on Baby Bear. I figured that I should at least wait one week or I risked officially being the psycho foster mom stalker person.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Baby Bear - Summary

So this is really for my own archiving purposes more than anything else. I want to make sure that I have a record of all the kids that come and go in our house. Not that I could ever forget this one (or probably any of them), but I'm just anal like that.

Internet "name": Baby Bear
Placement Dates: 10/9/06 - 12/13/06
Case Resolution: Return to biomom and dad

Baby Bear was our first placement. Initially we thought the odds of adopting him were very good - he was left for Safe Haven at a hospital. Birthmom surfaced relatively quickly and after telling her mother (who was unaware of the pregnancy) and attending parenting classes, etc, Baby Bear was returned to her, with shared parenting with Biodad.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Lesser of Two Evils

So, PB and I are doing OK. We are working through things and, right now, trying not to think too far ahead – though I have to admit I was shocked to see PB browsing the adoption photo listings online when I got home from work yesterday. We are doing well about protecting ourselves and making it easier. For instance, we are skipping PB’s Christmas party tonight because we’re just not up to answering tons of questions… I know the questions are well-intentioned but there are just so many people at his work who are happy for us but don’t know Baby Bear is gone. So we’ll be MIA.

Luckily, PB scored some last minute concert tickets to the Matt Costa / Pete Yorn concert tonight. Which will be v. cool and v. distracting J

But back to my topic. The first night after Baby Bear left, the night we actually dropped him off, I didn’t sleep so well, as I mentioned. I was waking up a lot, wondering why he hadn’t woken me up. So last night, after consuming several Margaritas in honor of my birthday… oh wait, I didn’t mention that he left the day before my birthday? Yeah. Really, it’s not a huge deal, as all my friends know this is the last birthday I’m ever celebrating (29) because I am *so* not OK with aging.

But again, I digress. When we got home, I decided not to leave anything to chance and to take a very mild sleeping pill last night to make sure I would sleep.

And, sleep I did. But I had really crappy dreams about Baby Bear and what might happen to him. About him getting hurt and about his family having contact with us then abruptly moving to Atlanta (? Random WTF) without telling us. About his biomom cutting his biodad and grandma out of his life.

Not pretty.

The interesting thing is that I haven’t really realized how stressful and anxious I was regarding his safety. I have really been focusing on how much they loved him and wanted him back. I guess this is the beauty of what we psychologists call post-suppressional rebound – the thing you’ve most tried not to think about comes back to bite you in the ass when you stop suppressing it….

I’m thinking eventually I’ll be able to sleep again without the aid of pharmaceuticals and I’m sure I won’t have these weird dreams forever. I’m just trying to decide if I should try another sleeping pill tonight…. It’s only night three and the dreams / sleeping pill combination could have been a coincidence.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's over.

We packed up all his stuff last night and dropped him off at Grandma's house - mom was working and couldn't get the night off, but Grandma told us over and over how grateful she was for what we had done and how sorry she was that we were going through this. I told her not to apologize, because it's our job.

The packing was the worst part. Luckily, PB was great (as he always is) and coordinated me - it's funny because it's usually the other way around.

My parents made it over to say goodbye and that was hard too - I feel so badly for involving other people in the situation and putting them through this too. I mean, I know this was their choice and I know that I didn't ask them to get so attached to him, but I also know that if he wasn't with us, they wouldn't be going through this pain.

Anyway, a v. small part of me is relieved, to be honest. We've known this is how it would end up for a while and I'm so glad he went home before he was old enough to really miss us. Plus, he'll get to spend his first Christmas with his mom. Waking up in the middle of the night in a panic because he hadn't woken and needed to eat? Yeah, that kind of sucked.

Speaking of, I was wrong in the last post. Mom gets him during the week and dad on weekends.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

He's leaving...

Well, I got the call today. Baby Bear is going home....


It was pretty shocking since his cw said that he would be with us through the holidays on Monday. It turns out the DNA test came back and now the recommendation is to place him into a shared parenting context with biomom and biodad switching off weeks.

He'll be fine - there are lots of people that love him and want to take care of him.

PB and I? Well, we'll see.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Worries v. 2.0, now with improved guilt producing properties.

So, I am increasingly coming to terms with (if not necessarily making peace with) the idea that Baby Bear will be leaving us soon. I really think that if the DNA had come back by Friday, he would be going home after his court hearing on Wednesday. Since it didn't, it looks like he'll be with us through the holidays.

Though it's difficult for me to wrap my mind around him not being here, I know it's going to happen. For me, being the planning and research oriented kind of person I am, that means obsessing about what PB and I will do next. PB is sure that he wants a family, and if this experience has convinced me anything it's that, suprisingly, I'm OK at this mom thing.

Good to know.

But where do we go from here? We're committed to sticking with foster care, but it may not be the best (or should I say Most Emotionally Tolerable?) way to build our family. So we're trying to figure out whether we want to put a hold on our home for now, what other methods might work for us. I even contacted a couple of local adoption attorneys last week so we could consider private, domestic adoption.

But frankly, I'm scared. Baby Bear is a tough act to follow. And not just in the biased-parents-always-think-their-baby-is-wonderful kind of way. He is a good eater. He is a good sleeper. He is a snuggler. He smiles like crazy, grins and trys to laugh whenever he sees PB and me (well, PB more than me, but who's counting...). By all objective standards, it seems as if he may be the world's most perfect baby.

So what does that mean for the next one?

I am afraid that if I get another baby, maybe one that is drug addicted, maybe one that is collicky, I will respond to it differently. I've seen how second kids get the shaft, sometimes, how they are compared to their older siblings. And the thing about Baby Bear is that since I won't have to struggle through his terrible twos, or hear him tell me he hates me when he turns into a sullen teenager, he will be kind of frozen in time as a snapshot in my mind, this perpetually perfect child, brimming with infinite potential. And that's not fair to the next child that comes to us.

So that's Worry # 1: May forever compare next child to Baby Bear. Guilt? Check.

Then there's the whole question of foster care. I really feel like PB and I could make a difference. I really want to keep doing it in the long run. But I don't know exactly how that works. Once Baby Bear leaves should we get another placement right away? "Get back on the Horse" so to speak. Should we take some time off? This is what my gut says, but I'm kind of afraid I'll never do it again, that I will be too afraid to voluntarily say, "Hit me again, Ike and put some stank on it." (Sorry, bad Jim Carrey reference)

Worry #2: May never foster again, even though we know we could and we know what a need there is. Guilt? Check.

Now, I know that's only 2 worries, but you have to understand, for me that's big. I don't typically worry about things, I try to take action and change what I don't like. And I've never really been into the guilt thing. So, it's an interesting situation for me to think about... Any suggestions, especially with regard to the "take another placement right away or take some time off" question?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

When a fender bender is so much more...

I don't know where the time goes. It's been another week since I last posted. Baby Bear is over 2 months old now and will get his first set of shots on Monday. PB is taking him and BioMom is meeting him there, which is good. Things are actually pretty good on the BioMom front, after a rough couple of days earlier this week. Let's just say there was some serious drama about what's happening with Baby Bear during transport (which I can't control) and what was or was not contained in his diaper bag (which I can and do control). BioMom apologized for upsetting us by suggesting that Baby Bear wasn't being properly cared for and told me last night that she is starting a savings account for Baby Bear. I think both of these are v.v.good signs.

We had an interesting week though. Did you know that when you have the most minor of fender benders, it can ruin your whole day? Turns out it can if you just so happen to be dropping your foster son off at the babysitter's when said accident happens. I didn't know it at that time but that means 1) You have to take foster son to Urgent Care 2) You have to file a 20 (yes 20!) page incident report with your caseworker 3) You have to break the news to birthmom who is already feeling anxious about Baby Bear's care, and 4)You have to replace the carseat.

So yeah, that was fun.

Oh and something funny in an ironic sort of way?? Accident protocol was covered in the Rules class we attended at Children's Services today (2 days after the "incident"). Luckily J. is a seasoned foster parent and could tell me what to do.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

An update on Baby Bear

At Renee's request, I am posting a new update for Baby Bear. I guess first off, he's not so much of a baby anymore. Well, of course he's still a baby in the sense that he's little and adorable and helpless. But he's kind of lost that newborn look, you know?

He is over 12 lbs now. He goes back to the doctor on Dec 11th, so I'll have more precise stats then, but for now, just know that he is growing well. He eats *a lot* and he is awake much more, which is v. cool.

Also, last Wednesday, he flipped back to front. I am not sure if the stars were aligned and it happened accidentally or what, because he hasn't repeated it again. J. (his babysitter) just told me that she put him down on his belly and when she checked on him 10 minutes later he was on his back.

We're counting it as flipping over :-)

Baby Bear continues to visit with both mom and dad - he attends parenting classes with each of them (on mondays and tuesdays) and every other Thursday he has an additional visit with his mom. Aside from some transportation difficulties (like when PB went to pick him up last Thursday and was informed that he was being transported to our house, where no one was - grrr!) and a bit too much contact with Birthmom (like when she left 8, yes you read that right 8, messages on our voice mail while we were out of town for Thanksgiving), the contact between mom and dad and baby continues to go well.

I've also begun to pack up the littlest of his clothes, which he is definitely outgrowing. This is cool (he's doing so well!) but v. sad at the same time. I realize that the bigger he gets, the closer he is to going home. Which I really think will work out for him and which I really try hard to stay positive about. Most days I do OK, or at least I do OK on more days now than I used to, which is how I'm defining progress these days.