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Posts Tagged ‘foster parenting’

Blitzen had a sleepover the other evening – went off without a hitch.  We told the girls that they could watch tv and we went to bed.

We awoke in the morning and went out into the living room to find a little nest of blankets and pillows had been built, 2 darling children were passed out on the floor, the room scattered with the remnants of snacks and 2 cut crystal wine glasses filled with capri sun.  That is living it up, right there. I wish I had taken a photo, it was the perfect picture of an 11 year old’s idea of a decadent time.

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Blitzen’s old bed had drawers underneath, handy.  But the new fancy canopy bed does not. I do wish I could post the videos that Blitzen has made of herself giving, I don’t know – tours?? of her new bed and explaining how to arrange the curtains and the pillows and why canopy beds are just the greatest.  Totally adorable.

Any way, Andrew and I were out hunting for a dresser and stopped in an antiquey/second-hand furniture place and found just what we needed.  A skinny but tall dresser, painted a lovely shade of blue with enamel drawer pulls – each with a little pink rose painted on them.  I was worried that Blitzen might be annoyed that it was used (not sure she that is into shabby chic) but it was a bargain, and so lovely, and I am really trying to make sure that her room doesn’t look like I ordered the entire thing right off the Pottery Barn website (not that there is anything wrong with Pottery Barn).  But she really likes it.  We worked together to clean it up with Murphy’s Oil soap, it fits perfectly in her room.  She worked very hard to organize her clothes and put them in the drawers — she had a definite plan.  It was really great.  And then (seriously people, I could swoon at this next part) she asked if she could do her own laundry from now on.  Um, yes, my darling child, you can.  She started right away, lovingly sorting the whites from the colors.

It has been the summer of growing independence.  I might be crazy (ok, I am definitely crazy but putting that aside) I think the layout of this home is really a key component.  She is so comfortable — it is just awesome.

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Blitzen’s friend said to her as we were standing in line at Cold Stone Creamery.  Blitzen, ever competitive, said, “My mom works more.”  I listened, wondered where this was going.  Blitzen’s friend, “Really? My mom has to work weekends. Does your mom work on the weekend?” Blitzen considered this and said, “Yes, she does and sometimes she has to take really long business trips and she has to help the President (of a University – not THE president). ”  Then she looked up and said, “Don’t you, Carrie?”

These moments never fail to surprise me — after almost 3 years, you would think that I would remember that in certain situations, I am ‘mom’.

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Since our move, we’ve been decorating, really getting Blitzen engaged in her room but also in the decor of the apartment at large.  We’re adding some photos of her and her family in addition to the many that we have of her, putting them in  frames and hanging up around the house.  We’ve always had lots of photos on the fridge and the bulletin board but we’re stepping it up a notch, going for a fancier presentation.

We had some lovely frames from back in the day (actually wedding gifts! so waaayyy back)  that we removed the photos from and offered to Blitzen.  This is the email that Andrew sent to me about what happened when he presented them:

***

Blitzen loved the picture frames. I showed them to her without photos in them, and invited her to find photos to put in them. She chose a picture of her, her littlest baby sister and one of her brothers for one and our wedding picture for the other. You can choose a picture with you in it, I invited. She pointed to our photo, then to the words “Loves Me” on the frame. Both frames are now in her room.

Love ya,
A

 

 

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And I am just thinking and thinking and thinking about the concept of permanency.  And how everyone talks about it but no one gives a shit about it.  The constant court postponements, the inept and incompetent bureaucrats, the changes back and forth, the lack of accountability, the lack of empathy and human kindness.  Everyone waiting for everything to be perfectly aligned so that we can have permanency.  Guess what – nothing will ever be perfectly aligned, somethings just will not change.  So decide.  How can anyone possibly believe that a life of insecurity and uncertainty is best for a child?

And I am not advocating for adoption every time here or even most of the time – I think that biological parents get the shaft over and over and over.  I’ve said it before, the amount of time, money and resources that are put into child welfare via foster care subsidies and court costs would be so much better applied if we simply turned our attention to helping people in trouble, to acknowledging the crushing and dehumanizing impacts of racism and poverty.  But no, we want to pretend that we are interested in helping families and reunification but we’re really interested in ass covering and politics.

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I am a rule follower – always have been.  Ask Andrew how many times he has asked me to climb a fence or duck through an unmarked door or whatever and every time I’ve said something like, ‘Don’t you think that fence is there for a reason? If we were supposed to exit that way, the door would be marked EXIT.’

I actually take my responsibilities and the laws of whatever land that I happen to find myself in (literal and figurative) very seriously. When I am in fostercare land, I follow the rules that have been set out.  I now know that those rules are mostly stupid, designed to discourage people from thinking – so I push them, I stretch them, I try to make them work for Blitzen instead of against Blitzen, I generally try to follow the playbook and when I can’t, I politely raise my hand and say, ‘I know that we have to do it this way but we all know that it isn’t going to work so could we finesse it in this manner, could we go under instead of over, can we work to find another door marked exit even if maybe it is written in invisible ink?’

Which is why I hate FTCs.  Remember when I said that I wasn’t going any more. Well, I didn’t go –  I called in.  It was still a disaster.  First of all, Andrew and I no longer feel that we can speak openly and honestly about Blitzen’s challenges – we have to speak in code when we speak at all. Secondly, it symbolizes all that is wrong with foster care.  Example – one of the action items was to create a deadline (sounds good right?) to SCHEDULE a meeting – not have the meeting and decide something but to schedule the meeting.  Guess who had to be in the meeting that had have a deadline created by which it needed to be scheduled – everyone sitting in the room and me, there on the phone.  A few other people who decided to just not show up for this first meeting should probably be invited to the second meeting but they never show up anyway so who are we kidding.  The other thing is there is no need for a meeting – just tell the foster parents what you want done, the agency doesn’t really give a shit about our opinions so just tell us the new schedule – we don’t need to set a deadline to schedule a meeting to discuss the schedule.  Yes, you read that right – it is not a typo. The primary outcome of the FTC was that we would 1) Set a deadline to schedule a meeting to discuss the schedule.

And what is most irritating about this little piece of theater of the absurd, is how insulting it is because, as stated above – I follow the rules and in this context, so does Andrew although he is even more grumbly about it than me.  We’ve been following the rules for 2 years, 7 months and 1 week and 6 days. We will do whatever it takes to get Blitzen to her family visits, we understand that is a responsibility that falls to us, so don’t waste my time with this nonsense, just tell us what is expected and we will deliver.  Un-fucking-believable!

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So, the thing with extended unsupervised family visits is that there is no damage control, there is no perspective. Whatever is heard has about 8 hours to marinate in the 11 year old brain and become fact.

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What the staff at our agency know and think to be right and the actions that they feel compelled to take by the giant f-ed up bureaucracy that controls all of our lives, well, let’s just say it’s a really long walk.

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To not leave New York if I go to live with mommy?

I’m not leaving New York but how about I promise not to leave New York until your old enough to come visit me no matter where I live?

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I am really having trouble listening to Blitzen.  It is hard to sit with compassion and kindness while someone tells you how much you suck, even when you know that is not what they are really saying.  Andrew keeps telling me not to listen to her words.  And I know that this streak of awfulness is related to anxiety and fear about 1) moving 2) new summer schedule 3) vacation 4) cancelled and rearranged family visits.

Sigh.

I went out on the stoop to get some space and peace and hang out with my best friends, Ben and Jerry.  Blitzen followed me outside to yell at me some more, tell me that I didn’t need ice cream, proceeded to stick her hand in my pint (yeah, it is that bad – I am eating it straight from the carton – if you see a disheveled woman roaming the streets of NYC trying to eat ice cream discreetly from a carton wrapped in a paper bag, you’ll know that it is me) and I maturely responded by pitching the pint out into the street causing Blitzen to start sobbing and yelling that a car was going to hit the ice cream, flip over and people would die and it would be all my fault.  When I explained that due to physics, this chain reaction was extremely unlikely, she replied that she had seen it happen at her old foster home.  I couldn’t argue because Blitzen has seen a lot of fucked up and unbelievable shit so it might have actually happened.

PS – Dear internet – I know that throwing my carton of ice cream was extremely bad parenting and littering, and I am deeply regretful about both of those things. But no one died in a car flipping tragedy so at least there is that.

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