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Posts Tagged ‘back-ups’

http://www.welcometomybrain.net/2013/02/i-really-hate-whole-slow-and-steady.html

Fine.  And I guess I should fricking exercise too…..

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We knew it was coming. We’ve joked about it, worried about it. And it finally has happened – the big ask. Would we be willing to take Dasher and Dancer?

Andrew and I have suspected that we had a much better sense of the situation with Nana than either agency did and that she was getting burned out. She is elderly and frankly, just plain tired. Combine this with the ever deteriorating family situation and this kinship placement just doesn’t seem to be working. The many issues are being revealed and it is slowly coming to a head now that all of the children’s cases (except for one) have been transferred to our agency.

So they asked. And we said no. But with the caveat that if things got critical, they would come to us again before they went to anyone else. I suspect that they will and then I just don’t know what we’ll do. I guess we’ll say no again but I am not 100% sure. It would be very hard to do the jobs that we do (the way that we do them) with three children with such tremendous needs. I am not sure it would be best for Blitzen.

She gets a lot of attention now and she would get 1/3 of that.

She would love to live with her sisters but she also can’t be with them for more than two hours without completely melting down.

I don’t know if Dancer can shake her perceived role as mother figure and there can only be one mother in my house and it can’t be the 12 year old. I don’t know if Blitzen could manage it well either. If I had a penny for how many times she has told me that I am not the parent of her sisters. And if I had a penny for how many times I thought to myself, ‘well, not yet.’ I think it would be hard for everyone to establish new roles and relationships and figure it all out. And frankly, we have a year head start with Blitzen — falling in love with her and her wonderful, whacky ways. Wouldn’t the other girls feel bad?

We couldn’t afford to provide the girls with all the things that we provide Blitzen – like private school and a ton of extra curricular activities and our undivided laserlike focus and attention.

So, Andrew is looking for recruits. Honey – you said earlier this week, you felt the nudge. Well, I am nudging, baby. Tell the worldwide interweb your plan :)

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My mother came to town this weekend to watch Blitzen while Andrew and I spent a blissful 36 hours somewhere else, alone, where we didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak to anyone under 5′ tall.  It was awesome.

From the reports, the weekend went pretty well.  My niece, H, came along for the ride and so the girls played together non-stop, something that they both enjoyed.  There were a few moments of bickering – we are talking about two 9 year old girls here.  But all in all, it was a really fun adventure for everybody.

The only little hiccough was when Blitzen had a therapy appointment on Saturday.  Of course, she stormed out when the therapist wanted to talk about her family.  Blitzen will discuss her family dynamics but it takes her a really long time to get there.  This is a struggle for the new therapist and for Blitzen.  There is a lot going on and teaching Blitzen to examine these conflicting, confusing, really not fun feelings is a big part of the therapist’s job.  And Blitzen’s a runner, as we’ve mentioned before.  So the sessions have been hit or miss so far.

My mom handled it all beautifully and she was her usual passoinate self.  My mom and therapist did speak privately for several minutes and if the therapist had any doubt about what my mom thinks the best outcome would be, let’s just say that doubt has been resolved.  Andrew and I are so lucky that our families have embraced Blitzen the way they have.  She just instantly became a part of our family and everyone truly adores her just as we do.  It is very difficult to think about the impact on everyone should Blitzen end up living with her bio mom again.  I know that we’re all committed to continuing to support and love Blitzen no matter where she finally lands. But it sure would be tough on everyone if it wasn’t with us.

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Blitzen’s love language is gifting and getting gifted (and quality time, and praise, and well, frankly, she needs and responds to it all but I digress).

After our drama earlier in the week, Blitzen conned my Aunt B (who was babysitting for the day) into taking her to the store to get us matching lockets to fill with fairy dust.  And then she was so excited, and anxious and Blitzen-ish,  that they showed up an hour early for the parent, student, teacher conference because Blitzen just couldn’t wait a moment longer.  She was so proud of the locket and couldn’t wait to give it to me.  It was lovely and sweet but I sure do wish that we could break her of this obsession with giving and getting material objects.  It puts such an emphasis on stuff and I don’t like it. I mean, I like stuff as much as the next guy but the stuff is just stuff.  It seems to always take on monumental importance with Blitzen.

This weekend, she wanted to bring her mermaid tail on our little road trip to visit friends.  But she didn’t want to share the mermaid tail and she was looking to start a fight.  So, out of the blue, she announces that she won’t share it, it belongs to her, it is special and basically, I am not the boss of her, so there.  I am sure you all can picture it.  Well, I wasn’t biting, so I just nodded and said, ‘Yup, I agree.  Sometimes it really sucks to share. You can choose not to take your tail so that you don’t have to share it.’

Well, then we were off to the races, as they say. Blitzen was going to reason with me, break it down, explain it all but in a highly agitated and overly emotional way. She would illustrate once and for all why I had it all wrong and no one should have to share, ever, whether they bring their tail or not.

Blitzen to me, ‘Haven’t you ever had any thing really special to you?  I mean really special.’ Me to Blitzen, ‘Sure and I didn’t always like to share but my mom usually made me and now I know that it is the best thing to do even when I don’t feel like it.’ Blitzen, knowing that stuff is not so important to me, says, ‘No,  I mean really special.  Like J, how would you feel if you had to share J?!?’

Now, J is my mom.  And I am the oldest of 4, the youngest being 13 years my junior.  So, um, I totally know about sharing and certainly know about sharing J.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  This was so loaded.  Of course a person shouldn’t have to share their mom.  Seriously, if you are Blitzen, what could be worse?  But I did not laugh or cry.  I simply said, ‘Honey, I share J every day with my sisters and my brother and now I share her with you too.  That is just how it works.’

Blitzen to me, ‘You are not listening!’

Me to self, ‘Oh yes I am!’

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We have about 473 backups.  Backups are the folks that you have named to the agency as babysitters and supports.  They go through a background check, they are interviewed by the agency, they are trained in first aid and cpr.  They are allowed to watch your child when you can’t. I was kidding, of course, we only have 13 (I am counting couples as 1 backup).  We have just started utilizing our backups (aside from our babysitter) and trying, to quote one of my aunts (and a key backup), to really deepen our bench.

Nana called me yesterday and said that the agency was really bugging her to get a backup.  For stupid bureaucratic reasons, the 6 siblings are not all at the same agency consequently, Nana is a foster parent at a different agency than we are.

When she told me this, first of all, I was like WTF?!? because she has had Dasher and Dancer for like 12 months.  Second of all, how exhausting.  Even though we haven’t been great about utilizing our backups, we know they are out there.  And now that everyone has started to get to know Blitzen, they are really bugging us to 1) get out of the house and 2) let them play with Blitzen because on a good day, the kid is more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Anyway, you see where this is headed.  Nana asked if Andrew and I would be backups.  We said yes, we would be happy to do it.  Because we’ve been doing it anyway.  The girls come over for playdates so we’re already watching them.  Although playdates are allowed with kids whose parents are non-backups — it is all kind of random but that is foster care for you — it seems strategic, not to mention helpful, to make this relationship official. There we are.  We’ll see how it goes.

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Swimsuit mania continues.  Yesterday, for the first time in more than a week, I arrived home to see Blitzen clad in traditional clothing – no swimsuit on under or over her street clothes.

But she is still having a lot of fun with the now plural swimsuits.  On Saturday, at the store she saw a red polka dotted suit and just had to have it.  Wanted it so badly that she was willing to split the cost with me.  The suit was at bargain basement prices so it ended up costing each of us just $5.  Money well spent (I would much rather she spend her allowance on swimsuits than doritos).

So Blitzen has been sleeping with a suit under her pjs.  She has been putting on a swimsuit under her clothes after school.  Or just wearing a suit around the house.  And she continues to shower in one of the suits about every other night. and now she can have a couple of swimsuits for swimsuit-showering while I am out of town next week.

This weekend, Blitzen decided that we needed to have a swimsuit fashion show.  She wanted Andrew and I to model our swimsuits as well.  She created a runway from the bedrooms to the living room using all of our yoga mats. Andrew was a dj and model and judge all rolled into one.  Blitzen and I would stand in the bedroom with have our robes over our suits, emerging when the music began, walking our model walks all the way to the trampoline (which sits in our living room instead of a coffee table so that Blitzen can jump when she feels angry to release energy).  It was really funny and a testament to how persuasive and charming Blitzen can be.  I really wouldn’t do a bathing suit fashion show for any other human being on the entire planet – seriously!

Bathing suit fashion show was so much fun, in fact, that she begged me to do it for our dear friends E and V.  E and V came over for some play and pizza dinner on Saturday.  I explained to Blitzen that I didn’t really feel so comfortable playing bathing suit fashion show when we were entertaining guests.  Blitzen asked ‘Why?’  and I said ‘Well, I feel a little a shy.  I don’t really want E and V to see me in my suit when they are not in their suits.’  Blitzen then said ‘Oh, it’s ok.  I’ll hold your hand so you won’t be scared.’  It was really hard to say to no, but I did.  The entire exchange was so sweet that E and V offered to strip down to their skivvies so that we would all be inappropriately attired together — I think they were only half kidding!  In the end, everyone kept their clothes on and we read some books instead.

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The tea party

My mother-in-law, P, is helping us with childcare this week (woo-hoo – you rock, P!) while the NYC schools are weirdly closed for a week for winter break.  Not to get all old fashioned on you but when I was a kid, winter break was at the end of December and then you just had to suck it up until springbreak.  But that is not the point of the story.

P brought Blitzen a tiny little tea set that she thought might be a fun addition to the fairy land sitting on our living room window sill.  Now Blitzen, master of all social graces, can be really suspicious of gifts.  She usually thinks, upon recieving them, that they are wrong or crappy in some way and eyes them warily until you explain how marvelous they are.  The events as they played out this morning, as told to me by Andrew (you never blog anymore, sweetpea, so I’m stealing your material!).

So P gives Blitzen the tiny tea set.  Blitzen asks, oh so politely I am sure, what is this?  P explains it is a little tiny tea set.  Who is it for?  Blitzen inquires (demands).  It is for someone small.  Me? Blitzen asks.  No, someone smaller, is the reply.  A baby? Blitzen asks.  No, someone really tiny, that flies.

Apparently Blitzen’s eyes lit up, she got very excited and said with great joy, IT’S FOR AN EAGLE?!?

Ummmmm — ok.

The bird of prey tea party was just getting underway when I left for work!

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During a marathon bout of imaginative play with my sister-in-law this weekend, Blitzen informed K and her babies that she couldn’t play right now, she had to work.  She told the dolls and stuffed animals assembled that she was busy completing some very important fairy research in her office.  Apparently, she was on a deadline!

The fact that we are not home right after school really bugs Blitzen.  It is a tough thing, I understand.  Even though Blitzen has a great sitter, that sitter is not us.  And even though it is only 2 hours a day, it is two prime playing hours.  She recently told Andrew that the schedule should work as follows:  Andrew should have a turn one day to play with her after school, then me, then Cinci (the sitter) and repeat.

Before Blitzen, Andrew and I worked all the time. I mean it – like a lot.  Now, dinner is at 6pm and we’re there eating together.  If one of us has to work late, the other is sure to be home on time.  And when we are home, we are very focused on Blitzen.  We don’t watch tv, rarely check our phones and never do work while she is awake.  In truth, the laser-like focus of attention that Blitzen currently enjoys is probably not sustainable long-term.  While Andrew and I try to spell one another so that we can enjoy some time to ourselves, it is pretty much all Blitzen all the time.  And this is what we signed up for so I am not complaining.

That said, we do look forward to her gradually feeling safe and secure enough to embrace some level of independent play.  But she is a lonely, lonely kid.  She feels isolated from family and siblings.  The last few years have been a whirlwind of sudden change and new people and terrible transitions.  And she is desperate for love and attention and play and fun.  So we give her all that we can but some days it is just not quite enough.   As Andrew said last night, she has a love tank deficit.  And it is probably going to take a really long time to fill ‘er up.

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So I always knew that I had the coolest family and friends. Well, I suspected, now I know. Andrew and I have been haunting the foster blogs pretty regularly and we’ve detected a theme. Apparently not everyone’s family and friends are like –

you are gonna be foster parents? that is so cool, how can we help? no, scratch that, we don’t want to just help, we’d like to be this awesome, amazing support network that is actively involved in the life of the child that finds its way to your home –

Incredibly, that has almost unanimously been the reaction.

We thought long and hard about becoming fosterparents. We discussed it for years, 15 years, I think. It took a lot of time to make the decision, to know it was right. But we also knew that we could never do it alone. We’re big believers in that whole ‘it takes a village’ concept. I think we both believe that if there were more ‘villages’, there would be fewer kids in care and the world would generally just be a better place. Which is why we are doing this – we’ve got a village, ready to go, and we want to share it with a child and a family in need of backup and support.

So, thank you to Andrew-Carrie-fosterwee support village. You know who you are and we appreciate you and we’re gonna appreciate you even more when you are available to babysit.

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So, it is kind of like dating.   We’ve moved from hinting to sweet talking to the full-fledged ask.  Usually starts with a dinner out, then a friendship version of a love note and then, the proposal — just jump in, worst that can happen is that they say no.

Dear Friend or Friends-coupled,

Last time we had dinner (or went to the ballgame or that wild cocktail party)  I mentioned that the agency requires  that we establish a community of people that are willing to support us in our foster parent journey.  The whole ‘it takes a village’ approach made official.  Since we have some family in town but not a ton, we’re also looking to a few of our friends that we love and trust (that would be you) and we are asking if you would be willing to be a ‘back-up’ (that is official foster agency lingo there).

I am sure you are thinking – Ummm, what does back-up mean?  A back-up is someone that is willing to get to know our wee-one and is willing to be involved and engaged in our lives (as you already are and as your schedule allows – you are not required to attend every school play although you will probably want to, I am sure) and would be able to help out in an emergency or make yourself available for a routine babysitting gig.  Being a back-up means you can supervise and watch the foster-wee when we are not present.

Ummm, what do we need to do? is surely your next question. You would to fill out the attached form (it is a little scary how not technically savvy the agency is but you can fill this out with a pen directly on the form).  This form allows the agency to conduct a background check to ensure that you are not a registered sex offender or child abuser in our state.  The most difficult part is remembering your addresses for the last 28 years (yes, 28 YEARS).  You do not need to get fingerprinted but you will need to meet XXXX, our social worker, at some point so she can eyeball you and make sure that you don’t look like an ax murderer, at least.  She’ll also ask you some questions about our relationship with you, your discipline philosophy, whether you actually like kids, etc.

So, let us know if you are in.  If you decide that you just can’t do it, don’t worry – you’ll still be invited to all of the school plays.

Love – C and A

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