Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Time Flies Part II

Hello all,

I am back; obviously. Yes, I am late, but late is better than never. Right where were we? Oh yes, if you remember this part - when I began writing our story as Foster Parents. A lot has happened, naturally. In life, things happen all the time.

So, after meeting with her caseworker, I contacted the her current foster family. That's right, we are her second foster family. Her first family are really good people, but it was too much. She is a hard baby... I'll explain soon. I got to meet Princess Frog (has we have dubbed her) the next day, on Friday. I brought home her information that the family had and some of her things they gave her. Thank goodness, because I sure did not have any toys for a growing toddler! Later in the evening, Kabaju went back with me and also got to meet her. We went back the following morning and picked her up and brought her home.

Now, let me make something very clear here. Typically, when people have children (biological), they get pregnant and have 9 months to prepare for their family. Our family, started with a phone call. Period. Keep in mind, we brought her home at 13.5 months old and teething like none other! She is our first. We are first time parents. Now, for the typical biological family, after the 9 months of gestation, is the experience of birth, and then they have the next 13 months to get to know that new personality. We got Princess Frog at 13.5 months and teething overnight. At the time, we were helping out a friend that was out of work. So, as our house only has two small usable bedrooms - she was in ours with us for about a month. We had a lot to learn about how to help a baby manage teething pains. I knew some things, but ended up with some confusion about medicine to use, plus we had none anyway. What fun!

One more thing to make very clear. This child is 13.5 months old, and at this point has moved 3 times in ~1 month. The first time was when she was removed from the unsafe environment she was in prior to entering the foster care system. Then she was moved into her first foster family. (I'm not entirely sure where she stayed prior to being placed with her first foster family). Then she moved in with us. Believe me, a baby knows many things and is quite aware. We knew this. Just watching her confirmed her awareness. So, with it came a lot of anger, frustration, confusion, more anger and fear. I could see it plainly in her face and her behavior. It was near impossible to get a small smile out of her - I don't think she even understood in the beginning what smiling was. She screamed and cried most of the time - when she was taking a nap, my ears would be ringing with the sound of her screaming and crying. The rest of the time, she didn't do anything - no noise. She would become easily over-frustrated and tantrum furiously. That is an understatement.

She has stabilized with us in the past 5.5 months. She laughs, smiles all the time, and talks a lot. She was very small when we got her. A mere ~18 LBs and ~21 inches tall. Now, she is 30 inches tall, and 20 LBs. She finally has some hair, barely, and her two bottom front teeth, and now two upper front teeth are through. Thank God! She didn't really have much to her legs, but now they are fat for a skinny baby and strong. She has been walking for ~1.5 months. She imitates a lot, and says many words. She is very, very smart. She will follow instructions and listens - even when it is obvious she does not want to. She loves to have stories read to her. : )

However, the sad thing is, visitation has started with her biological mom. She is regressing quickly to how she was in the beginning. She had not seen her biological mom since May or June. Her first visit was last week. Second visit this week. She is using less words, and screaming more again. Last week, the day prior to her first visit she had anxiety, and woke up screaming and hitting herself on the head after her nap. Thankfully she let me pick her up and I was able to console her. In the past, when she has lost all control, there is no consoling her. She used to scream and cry for anywhere from 1-3 hours straight at a time. Now, her longest time is an hour; shortest time is 15 minutes. We got her off of her extreme addiction to the bottle - I really hope she does not regress here.

The day of her first visit, she was silent. She acted depressed. Even when I spoke to her, I could barely get anything out of her. She had a loss of appetite. She is not even 1.5 years old. The other thing she did recently, is after I changed her diaper, she freaked out - literally - for no apparent reason. She sat up and let herself fall back hard enough to bang her head on the floor. She did it quickly enough she banged her head a few times, before I could get her off the floor and in her crib where it was safer for her. And let her scream. It was very angry, nothing but pure fury. When I was telling her what was coming to prepare her for her first visit, she gave me a very dark angry look. We have no choice, by law we have to take her to the visits. We do not know how long this will go on for... we do not know what will happen.

This is the life of a Foster Parent. Not to mention all the mounds of paperwork we have to do. Since visitation has started, I created a behavior watch. Where we write down extreme behaviors to provide evidence on how all this is affecting her. We have to do paperwork whenever we drive her somewhere, or do case activity. We have to paperwork every single time she goes to the doctor. Which is a lot for her; her system is near impossible to balance. Even though we figured out she is lactose intolerant. We have to do in-service training to keep our license which we just sent in the renewal paperwork and had the licensor come to the annual home inspection. Then there are the monthly visits by her caseworker. Sometimes we have visits from her GAL, or our RFC. Then there are the times to go to court, take her to visits, and meetings.

Before any of this, we did 32 hours of pre-service training, a mound of paperwork, fingerprints, background checks, and a home-study where we were also interviewed.

Foster Parenting is a lot harder and a lot more work than biological parenting. Foster parents are left to their own by others that shower biological parents with friendship, meals, gifts. I am especially grateful for my sister-in-law, Nat. She has rescued me multiple times. She has come and got us to get out of the house. She checks in to see how we are. We help each other out with babysitting. She is an amazing beautician - she always helps me feel good about myself again. I am also grateful for Kabaju's sister Evenspor and her family that were so very generous and thoughtful of us. They gave us a huge box of diapers. She said it was for our baby shower - which has never existed. I was speechless, I nearly cried. So again, to Spors in the Desert, Thank You! I have family that did give Princess Frog a blanket, and of course, my Aunt that watches her while I teach at a local college - I don't know what I would do without my Aunt.

Side story: The people I was in contact with before life happened, called me two weeks prior to my class starting and asked if I would come teach. They came to me, with unfinished application, as I had been referred by a reputable professional - one of their own - and I took the opportunity. We are in a routine, and when running late Princess Frog always gets after me by saying, "Go, go!"

I have experienced so many emotions... and I am human. The heart is for breaking over and over again, so we become more aware of the beautiful things of life.

Dear God, please hear our prayers and our heartaches! Please.