Our Journey

Our Journey (so far)

1999: 
Met the most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen in my life.

May 17, 2003: 
Married my best friend at sunset on a sailing ship off the coast of Key West.

2004:  
Began infertility treatment with Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) at Shands.

Jan 2006:    
RE suggested moving on to IVF.
Registered for foster care classes.

Feb 2006:   
Got rear-ended while moving. No time to go to ER. In pain, but too busy for doctors.

Apr 2006:   
Got foster care license & first placement – 2 adorable little boys; 9 months and 3 years.
Finally admitted that I need to see a doctor about my back.

July 2006:
Discovered that back injury is serious & permanent – closed out license.

Aug 2006:   
Began to try to accept that God’s plan doesn’t include me being a mom.
Went to college – ultimately earn Bachelor’s Degree, Master of Accountancy & CPA license.

Aug 2011:   
Realized that I really do want to be a mom.

Sept 2011:  
Super Dad took the news like a trooper and checked into getting re-licensed. And learned that the class we finished in March 2006 was only good for 5 years(!).
Registered for foster care classes.

Mar 2012:
Got foster care license and 1st placement (7-month-old Lady Bug) in same weekend.

May 2012:      
Got 3-year-old Super Boy (ADHD and ODD) & 15-month-old Peanut (epilepsy)

July 2012:
Peanut was moved to a medical foster home & Super Boy to a home that could better meet his needs.
11-week-old Squish arrived in the middle of the night – 100% serious – he looked just like Walter Matthau.

Jan 2013: 
Squish was reunified with his birth father, and I told our agency No More Boys.
Squirm showed up with the expectation that he would likely be reunified in a few weeks…. We soon discovered that he was not going to be short-timer.

Apr 2013:
Squish‘s CM texted and asked if we’dl take him back because she thought he would be coming back into care. After harassing Licensing Agency, Foster Care Liaison and anyone else I could think of, Squish came home two days later – just in time for his first hockey game. 🙂

June-July 2013: 
We learned that Squish‘s birth father wanted his mother to adopt Squish. CPC requested an interstate homestudy (ICPC) from Massachusetts.
Squirm
‘s birth mom surrendered. She was expecting again, so we were pretty sure that was why.
Squish‘s birth mom surrendered, and her attorney stated for the court record that she was surrendering with the understanding that we were interested in adopting him.

September-October 2013: 
Squish‘s birth father no-showed an advisory hearing – motion for TPR by default was granted. The final disposition was entered and the 30-day-appeal-period countdown began.
Lady Bug reunified with bio-dad.

November 2013: 
Squirm‘s birth father no-showed the TPR trial- motion for TPR by default was granted.
The final disposition on Squish‘s birth father was entered and the 30-day-appeal-period countdown began.
Lil Bit was born, sheltered, and placed with a maternal aunt and uncle, over my protests.

December 2013: 
Squish became available for adoption.
Squirm‘s final disposition entered and the 30-day-appeal-period countdown began.
Lil Bit finally came home.

Our first Christmas with the boys.

January-February 2014: 
Squirm became available for adoption and we learned that his previous foster mom (PFM) would be applying to adopt him. This meant that an Adoption Selection Committee would be convened to select Squirm‘s adoptive family.
The ICPC for Squish‘s maternal grandmother was denied, clearing the way for us to adopt him.

March 4, 2014: 
We adopted Squish!!

March-April 2014:
The Adoption Selection Committee selected us to adopt Squirm and we learned that PFM not only appealed that decision, but also file a shady not-actually-legal petition to adopt him even though she wasn’t selected. We retained an amazing attorney and settled in for a long fight.
Developments in Lil Bit‘s case meant that we weren’t going to see the quick resolution that CPC had initially expected.

May – July 2014:
We had several meetings with our attorney and a court appearance and a continued appeal hearing and worried that, against all odds and expectations, PFM would succeed in taking our son.

August 2014:
The day before the appeal hearing, we learned that PFM was withdrawing her appeal and adoption petition, and finalizing our adoption paperwork was being fast-tracked (like seriously fast, not just fast for foster care).

August 22, 2014: 
We adopted Squirm!!

November 2014:
SuperDad and I took the twins on a Bahamas Cruise to celebrate their adoptions – just the four of us. It was amazing!

Rapidly approaching TPR. Distant relatives. Woodwork. Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

Let me start by saying, “Grrr!” (and my handy-dandy foster care lingo primer might be helpful for this post)
 
Squirm’s paternal grandmother sent me an email this weekend that she has “SEVERAL close Relatives who would like to get [Squirm] so that he may Remain in Our Family.I will be letting Everyone know so that they can be checked out by the State Of Florida.” 

Evidently, she followed up by calling the CM’s supervisor today. 
 
Just to give you some background, this is the same woman who:
 
  • just showed up out of nowhere last month wanting visitation & was granted supervised hour/week
  • doesn’t want to deal with orientation at the visitation facility
  • keeps trying to convince SuperDad & I to 
    • either agree to supervise her visits so she doesn’t have to deal with the visitation facility,
    • or just “let me know when you’re going to be at McDonald’s or something – I’ve got a car, I can meet you there, and that awful [CM] doesn’t have to know
  • has something so bad in her background that CPC won’t even do a homestudy 
The CS told her that anyone who’s interested in having a homestudy will have to contact the CS. She’s not going to just take a list of names and start the process on all of them. Grandma then said that the whole family is attending a funeral this week, so it might be a couple of weeks before the relatives contact the CS. Good to know this is a priority….
 
Honestly, I’m not really stressing about it – it’s just irritating. Where the hell were these people when Squirm came into care last June? Or when he was moved to my home 6 months ago? *Nowhere* The CM and CS have asked bio-dad repeatedly about family – he just keeps saying there isn’t anybody who can pass a homestudy. And, seriously? Bio-dad has surrendered his rights on *5* children before Squirm!!! As far as anyone knows – NONE of those kids were placed with his family.
 
Anyway… I don’t know. I’m very much in a “whatever is supposed to happen, will” kinda mindset this week today right this minute. It probably has more than a little to do with Lady Bug’s case – I was dead-set against reunification, but prayed for the best outcome for her – and I think just maybe we got it.
 
It’s entirely possible that the SEVERAL close Relatives will never contact the CS. I’ve seen lots of instances where people say they want a child, but when it comes time to deal with the system, they suddenly have better things to do. 
 
Plus, I have some faith in Squirm’s judge. I don’t think he’ll appreciate that none of the family said a peep before now – or about any of the other kids. And I think he’ll remember that either SuperDad or I or both of us have been to every single hearing since Squirm came to us – even the one’s we didn’t have to go to, or the one’s that were continued to later in the afternoon and we were told we didn’t have to stick around for.
 
So I’m going to try not to worry about it tonight – I’m going to pray on it and ask my friends to pray on it (yes, that includes you), and trust that it’s all part of the grander plan. And whatever is supposed to happen, will. 

FAFQs: Frequently Asked Fostering Questions – How can you do it?

Google “questions about foster parenting” and you’ll get lots of official pages from child welfare agencies, state governments and foster/adopt charities (and even a quiz about whether you’re ready to be a foster or adoptive parent), but I haven’t found any “FAQs” that answer the questions that people ask foster parents everyday.

So I’m starting my own!  (Yay!) And you’re going to help! (I hope)

 
FAFQs: Frequently Asked Fostering Questions 
 

So we’ll start with a tricky one that SuperDad and I hear almost daily. It may seem simple, but it’s actually pretty complicated and every foster parent has a different long version. Here’s my short version:

QHow can you do it?

 A: How can I not?


AA
(Alternate Answer): If not me, who?


I Refuse 
~ Josh Wilson
 
Sometimes I, I just want to close my eyes
And act like everyone’s alright, when I know they’re not
 
This world needs God, but it’s easier to stand and watch
I could say a prayer and just move on, like nothing’s wrong
 
But I refuse
 
(Chorus)
‘Cause I don’t want to live like I don’t care
I don’t want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse
To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose not to move
But I refuse
 
I can hear the least of these crying out so desperately
And I know we are the hands and feet of You, oh God
 
So, if You say move, it’s time for me to follow through
And do what I was made to do
Show them who You are
 
(Chorus)
 
To stand and watch the weary and lost cry out for help
I refuse to turn my back and try and act like all is well
 
I refuse to stay unchanged
To wait another day, to die to myself
I refuse to make one more excuse
 
(Chorus)
 
I refuse
I refuse

 
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How did I get here from there?

I decided to be a foster parent when I was 8 years old. No, really. I read Little Men by Louisa May Alcott the summer before 3rd grade (Little Men is the sequel to Little Women – if you’re on the fence about fostering, go download this book, RIGHT NOW) When school started in the fall, we had a new classmate – one who lived in the Catholic Children’s Home on the edge of town. Mandy shared with me the details of her life in foster care and orphanages (we still called them that then – at least in my little tiny hometown). She was also 8 years old, and had already lived in over a dozen foster homes before landing in the Children’s Home. That’s when I decided that I would have a foster home when I grew up and take in dozens of kids that didn’t have anywhere else to go.

Mandy lived in my hometown for only half of our 3rd-grade year – and I not only still remember her name, I can clearly see her face in my mind. I don’t know what ever happened to Mandy, but she has been a critical guide star on my journey through infertility and into foster care.

Because I’ve known -practically forever- that I wanted to be a foster parent, when we realized that we’d gone as far as were willing with fertility treatments, getting licensed for foster care was the obvious next step. At least, it was for me – the husband, not so much. But like so many hare-brained schemes I’ve hatched over the years, he was game.