Sunday, January 27, 2013

There is no friend like a sister...

Yesterday it finally happened! My daughter (Beautiful) was reunited with her sister. The last (& only) visit they had was when Lil Sis was about 8 weeks old. I saw her a few times after that at various court dates or meetings, the last time being when she was a toddler. Shortly thereafter, she began living with her grandmother full time and Grandma suddenly cut off all attempts to contact my daughter. Bear in mind that Grandma had been denied anything more than supervised visits with Beautiful because of a significant history of alarming issues. Basically, she kept moving until she found a county that would let her keep the new baby with only a "safety plan". I will refrain from venting on that topic in this post.

They had a wonderful visit & I had a lovely conversation with her foster parents. They were so thoughtful, sending my daughter home a framed photo of Lil Sis. I only wish I had thought ahead to do the same. They really are great people and great parents. I was very impressed with them and their willingness to be honest advocates for their children. I sincerely hope that Lil Sis is able to be adopted by them, as I believe that she can thrive there. Additionally, she seems to have bonded with the entire family and a move would be traumatic.

I've been asked about their adoption prospects. Not that my opinion matters in the grand scheme but...I think they look good. The Nation (ICWA applies in this case) has been informed and hasn't intervened to move her. That, combined with my conversation with their ICW director, lead me to believe they support her current placement. There aren't any bio family possibilities, as far as anyone is aware. The only obstacle at this point is finding out when their mother will be released from prison. If she gets early release, they may want to give her a plan to work. If she has to serve her full sentence, I can't imagine them dragging the case out that long. After all, Lil Sis doesn't even remember her. She was a baby last time they even saw each other. Honestly, I think they should file to tpr right now based on abandonment, since she has made no attempt to contact in several years. But, as those of you that have been involved in fostering know  well, things can get a lil tricky when the biological parent is incarcerated...regardless of how they were behaving prior to the imprisonment. 

Lil Sis's foster family & I (& all the authorities involved, so far as I can tell) seem to be on the same page in that we agree that Lil Sis needs to stay where she is, with an open arrangement with us so that she & Beautiful can have a relationship. If, by some tragedy she could not, the 2nd best option would be here, so that she & Beautiful won't lose each other again, with an open arrangement with her current foster family.

I sincerely hope & pray that we can allow these girls to continue contact and develop a lasting relationship. After all, they didn't ask to be brought into the situation that they were born into. The very least we can do as their parents is try to make the best we can with the options we have.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Are they all REALLY yours?

This morning I was asked about my kids. "You have 4?!?" This is something I hear a LOT, complete with the crazy eyed look that makes it seem as if I just said I have 50 kids or I live with 30 or 40 pigs in my house (an actual news story I saw yesterday). Today, though, I was also asked: "so, are they ALL yours?"

I'm sure I looked confused. "What do you mean?" It's not like I go around picking up random kids & bringing them home like stray cats.

As the conversation continued I realized that I apparently I forgot that being adopted means she's not REALLY my daughter. How could I forget such a thing & actually consider my daughter to be a real part of my family?!? Silly me! So glad this lady corrected me today.

 You would be very proud of me. I was actually very calm. I was rather caught off guard. I hadn't realized it until today, but I haven't had to deal with the invasive questions or ignorance lately & I guess I've gotten kind of comfortable with not hearing the comments. So, I actually didn't even realize what she meant until I had her explain it.

Yet another reminder of the ignorance in the world that I will not be able to protect my precious children from indefinitely, so it is my job to educate them & help them learn how to deal with it.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Miracles do happen...

It seems, when I am about to lose all faith in humankind, the powers that dwell in the universe sees fit to let me witness something wonderful so that I can keep going just a little further.

Today is my friend, Jen's, birthday. Jen is an amazing, wonderful person whom I became acquainted with online many years ago. She helped me when I was doing research about adoption for an undergrad project. She talked me through the dreadful process of being certified as a fost/adopt parent. As I navigated the tumultuous waters of helping a frightened, hurting toddler transition into my home, Jen was there for support. She gives so much to others and I can honestly say that I am a better person for knowing her. Through the years that I've known her, I have celebrated the triumphs of her family and cried many tears for the sorrows. Today, though, there are happy tears. A miracle has happened and Jen received what I would guess she would say is the best birthday present imaginable...her baby has returned to her!

Some of my readers are familiar with her, as I link to her blog. The short version is that Jen became the caregiver for an amazing baby girl quite unexpectedly. I remember when she told me about bringing her home. We discussed the possibility of what could happen if this sweet baby girl's family suddenly decided to take her back and cut contact. Since there was no legally binding arrangement, we knew it was a possibility and we discussed it many times. However, being the amazing person that she is, Jen took the risk because she knew that this child needed her. Not only did she care for and nurture the baby, she became a mentor to the family and supported them in so many ways. However, about a year later, the family ended the arrangement. Just as suddenly as her sweet baby girl had entered Jen's life, she had now been ripped away.

The years that have passed since have been a long process of grief. Like many of Jen's friends & family, I have watched as her family has gone through this. Many tears have been shed and many prayers have gone up for her family, and for the little girl who's future seemed uncertain. I don't want to tell too much of a story that isn't mine to share. However, you can look through Jen's public blog to get a sense of the overarching story. The important part for me, today, is that they are together again. The fact that it is on their shared birthday makes it even more amazing. Since losing her baby girl, birthdays have been difficult. However, over time, things got somewhat better...or more tolerable, at least. Today, though, was filled with joy & laughter as they spent time together. Today I shed happy tears for them both & send up many prayers that things will continue to move in a positive direction for them both. Much love to Jen's entire family!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Just A Thought...

I spent yesterday in court. On the drive home, I spent some time thinking about all the different experiences that I've had with the child welfare system.

I have now been involved on all sides of child welfare cases. I've been that foster parent, worried about what the court will decide & how to help a fragile child cope with the fallout. I've assisted with representing the best interest of the child to the court as the GAL. And, now, I have helped to represent parents who's children are in the system. Overall, my basic assessment is still this: the whole thing sux. No matter what happens in the end, it's all just an attempt to make the best out of a lot of bad. Even when things "work out" there's still a child who's been hurt.