Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The joys of the monthly home visit

I am sitting here, waiting for Monkey’s social worker to come do her monthly visit. The visit she missed, without calling to cancel, last week. The visit I reminded her needed to happen via email yesterday. The one she gave me a time for ONE HOUR AGO, via text message. Monkey seems to always get pushed to the bottom of her list. Perhaps it is because she is only 6-months-old, or possibly because we’re pretty quiet foster parents and don’t ask for much or make a lot of contact. I’m not sure. But it is frustrating.

Relationships with caseworkers are always tenuous. We’ve been extremely fortunate – Monkey’s caseworker is the first one we’ve had, out of seven placements, that we have struggled with. However, it is still always kind of a tightrope walk come visit time. Is the house clean enough? Are the kids dressed cute enough? Is anyone about to have a meltdown? How much info can I ask for without asking for too much, thus irritating the worker? When we have continual issues with a  caseworker, should we call her supervisor to complain? We like to be friendly with the caseworkers but I can always tell when we’re too friendly and need to back off.

We try not to irritate any of the social workers at our agency. Foster care shouldn’t be this way, but around here it is very much a politics game. Foster parents who rock the boat too much get, essentially, blackballed. No calls, or calls for very difficult kids who are out of age range. We haven’t needed to rock the boat much, so it hasn’t been too big an issue. The one time we really had to advocate, we had the caseworker’s full support, but the poor decision making was happening above her pay grade. I still worried that fighting for what I KNEW was right would alienate us. I hate that I have to feel that way, but that’s just how it is. Sometimes you gotta play the game.

P.S. In funny foster parenting news, 4 yo SuperD has taken to pooping, then walking over to the bathroom door, presenting his little bum and asking if he got all the poop off. I suppose I should just be glad he’s concerned about it!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Our Story – Part 1

This isn’t really Part 1 of our story, in that I want to tell you about our fostering story as it is today, and work backwards from there. We have been foster parents for 2 ½ years and currently have our 6th and 7th placements.

We got the call for 3 yo SuperD (now he is 4 yo) in August 2012 while waiting for our last two girls to leave for their kinship home. We ended up having a 1 yo, 2 yo and 3 yo for three months before the two little ones left. That was too many kids for us, and my hat goes off to the many, many families who have more children than that all the time! SuperD is a fantastic little boy – sweet, kind, funny, an old soul. He is also often sad, hyper vigilant, talks nonstop, is very hyper, hides his feelings and tries desperately to please everyone due to fear of rejection.

We were his third placement in eight months, and it was probably unfair of us to accept him into our home at a time when we were saying goodbye to two girls we deeply loved. We have struggled to bond with him for months now, despite the fact that he is truly, truly a good kiddo. And now his case is probably going to adoption, leaving us with the tough choice of choosing to adopt him even though we don’t 100% feel that he is “our” child or putting him through another move to new strangers. The guilt we’re feeling is pretty immense and this decision is discussed nightly in our house. We are also going to great lengths to engage in attachment activities with SuperD in hopes that mentally we will be prepared to adopt him when the time comes.

We got the call for 2 month old Monkey (now 6 months) in November 2012, just one week after our other little girls left. She was tiny and super sick, and spent her second night with us in the hospital. Jeremy wasn’t even in town when she came to us and he met her for the first time at the hospital, having come straight from getting off of a red-eye flight from San Diego. That was a crazy week! We adore this little girl and have recently heard that she will likely be going to family soon. I have a LOT of concerns and reservations about any family situation she might go to, but it is totally not our choice. Fortunately, we do have a good relationship with her parents and I hope that when she does leave us, we will be able to offer to do respite or babysit sometimes.

Oddly, we have only met Monkey’s caseworker twice in four months, and she hasn’t been to visit since December. This is pretty unusual for our agency, and we’re quite frustrated. She hasn’t even officially told me another relative has filed for custody of Monkey. Instead, I heard it from Monkey’s mom and unofficially from another agency social worker.

I would love to hear how other foster parents handle the issue of uncommunicative caseworkers. Do you just deal, or do you complain to their superiors? We don’t like to make too many waves out of fear of not getting future placements (is it okay to admit that?), so we’re pretty low key unless we need to really advocate for one of our kiddos.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


I have been thinking about dipping a toe into the blogging pool for a while now. I've been an avid blog reader (um...lurker) for years. I also have a writing background. What I didn't have was the feeling that I had anything to say that was of interest to anyone else. As a foster parent, however, I find that I have lots to say ALL THE TIME. When I sat down to make a list of potential blog posts, I churned out 35 ideas in under 10 minutes. Now, I recognize that what I have to say may still be of no interest to other people, but clearly I need a place to vent/share/discuss the ideas that are bouncing around my brain constantly. I'm looking forward to using Fostering Hope and Love as an outlet and hopefully a way to connect with other foster parents!