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Posts Tagged ‘support’

I’ve mentioned before that Blitzen has an incorrect diagnosis on her IEP.  If she is going back into the public school system, we must have it changed, we must.  So, Blitzen has to be evaluated, again.

We had a plan, it was – as you might imagine – thoughtful.  But carelessness and inattention rule the day, and a 24 year old intern was sent to do the delicate work of ensuring educational opportunity for Blitzen – work that we were told would be performed by a phd with years of experience dealing with children of trauma.

The young eager do-gooder thought it wise to begin her discussion with a distrustful, traumatized, resistant child in care with low self esteem by peering into her big fat file, rattling a few pages, glancing up and saying, ‘So, it says here that you have a history of tantrums, how is that going?’  Then she started prattling on about how this was all going to finally help Blitzen do well in school.

The senseless whippersnapper really should have just said – Oh, I see in this file that is kept by a bunch of white bureaucrats so that they can write down lies about you and your family and then share the information with whoever the heck wants to look at it, including me a total stranger that you have never laid eyes on before, that you are not only very dumb but also a very bad little girl.

Well, as you can imagine, this interaction really relaxed Blitzen. She was eager to please and ready to do her best work with the understanding that this person was here to engage her and guide her, here was someone that could see that she is a creative, talented, smart, curious child, here is someone that clearly has no hidden agenda that would endanger her or jeopardize her precarious place in the world. Here was someone that she could trust. Rainbows and unicorns magically appeared and all was right in the world.

OR perhaps Blitzen was sucked into the vortex of fight or flight* by her hard-wired, survival driven synapses and overactive adrenal system that resulted in 2 hours of drama, hysteria and very very little ‘evaluating’.

Are you crying or are you screaming? I cried, Andrew screamed (Andrew is not really a screamer but he has a look that is really loud and capable of withering a person completely). Blitzen has another appointment, in a place that she is comfortable in (her own school) with a professional.  But I fear it is too little, too late.

* in Blitzen’s case, we should really call it fight AND flight – she is amazingly capable of doing both of these things simultaneously.

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Andrew and I have both experienced, in the last 36 hours, that look.  That look from ‘professionals’ associated with Blitzen’s case.

That look that says ‘you are troublesome foster parents, you are making my life difficult by demanding that we do all that we should which is way more than we feel that we can.’

That look that says, ‘Oh, we’ve written your child off (not that we in anyway consider her to be your child) and you should too.’

 

That ‘When this was all headed for adoption, you were committed, passionate, model foster parents that we begged to speak on panels, rally new recruits, participate in city-wide ad campaigns. But now, you are a pain in the ass and we’re tempted to just accept false allegations against you so we can make you go away quicker’ look.

We’ve both experienced that moment when it has become crystal clear that this child is going back into a social system of grinding poverty, family dysfunction, racial and domestic violence, a broken and battered educational system that is really just a pipeline to prison/welfare dependency/homelessness/teen pregnancy/addiction, where she will be lost. And sadly, the look in their eyes says ‘we simply don’t care.’

I am sure you all are familiar with that look.

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Andrew and I worked a bit late last night so one of Blitzen’s babysitter extraordinaires took her to the hair braiding place to get her hair done.  Just as they were leaving the salon to head home, it started to pour down rain – not misty, not drizzle, more like monsoon.  And no umbrella.

Blitzen burst through the door, happy and laughing, telling the story of how they ran all the way home and showing off her wet, soggy clothes. Smiling, giggling, giving her babysitter a hug goodnight and moving along into the evening routine.

Now some people are all – so what?  Lots of kids like the rain.

And I am thinking back two years to our first spring with Blitzen when we got caught in a similar downpour and the child simply ceased to function.  Hysterical, sobbing, unable to move — not a cab or dry awning to be seen.  It was awful.  We practically had to carry her home — she just came completely undone.

I will try very hard to remember this triumph of emotional regulation and happy embrace of childhood wonders the next time Blitzen balls up her fists and growls at me (her latest thing).  I’ll remember that even the growl is an improvement, heading toward a much more socially acceptable expression of negative emotion.

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I am pretty angry and stressed and really very sad because a year ago we were in one place and now we are in a totally different place in regards to reunification / TPR.  There is too much s@*t to even explain but Andrew summed it up beautifully, ‘It would be one thing if we were (and by we – I really mean the agency) engaged in concurrent planning.  But instead, we are simply not planning for anything at all – we are non-current planning!’  We are adrift.  The agency is not trying to meaningfully engage and support the biological parents but they also don’t seem to think that TPR is really feasible.  And they are suddenly paying attention to the rules – mom has to be at the IEP meeting, they say.  Yes, ok, I get it and I agree.  But you never gave a flying fig newton about that before and why did you wait until 48 hours before the meeting to invite her and then send us frantic and frankly snotty emails about how we are not allowed to set up meetings without bio mom.  We didn’t ‘set it up’ – this in NYC and the DOE has attitude.  They sent us a notice that said come to the IEP at this meeting date, time, place – they were not interested in our calendars.  And then we SHARED the notice with the agency.  And they sat on it for  10 days and then yesterday frantic, crazy, stupidness.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it is my deepest fear that I will have to be a foster parent for next 8 years….I just can’t.  Of course I will, but it will leave me a broken, hollowed out shell of a person.  And I don’t think that kind bulls#%t non-permanency would be good for Blitzen either. Reunify or TPR – after 6+ years, simply no excuse for any other course of action.

GRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!

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I gave Blitzen this book about buckets.  How if you fill someone else’s bucket, your bucket gets filled up too.  We just started working with this concept but when I tucked her in last night, I said that I was going to try harder to fill her bucket (and mine) and that I hoped she think about being a bucket filler the next day too.

Well, mornings are mornings and in the midst of it all Blitzen was her usual insightful self.  After yelling at me that she would not get dressed because her eyes were still sleepy, she snarkily said, ‘And my bucket will never be full.’  So many days, sadly, I fear that is true.

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Freeze time, step out of it, go spend like 5 years studying trauma and child brain development, become an expert in managing the behaviors of children with trauma, spend a lot of time with smart people that advocate for mental health care reform and awareness, and come right back to this moment.  I spend a lot of time worrying that I am screwing up a bit in my on the job training here and by the time I figure it all out, Blitzen will be ________ (insert horrible scenario of your wildest and most morbid imaginings here). 

I’d also like to meditate an hour a day, do yoga an hour a day and watch tv.   It is probably not healthy that my heart rate goes through the roof the moment that I walk in the door every night.  Make that 2 hours a day of meditation.  So, somebody just freeze time and I’ll be right back!

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Poor Blitzen is so torn about her visits — she says, pre-visit, that she doesn’t want to go.  And in fact, she had a meltdown of epic proportion at school with Andrew this week  (first time at her current school) with a plethora of parents and kids looking on — she saved her best stuff for the stairwell where it was just her and Andrew but the lobby action was probably still enough to get the other moms scared off playdates for a while.  Poor Blitzen, poor Andrew.

We’ve been thinking about how to deal with the visit stuff.  Blitzen’s social worker says that she doesn’t have to go.  I think this is short-sighted on a lot of levels – 1) it is a commitment and a responsibility, in this family, we honor them even when they suck 2) should reunification happen, it will be essential for us to have a decent relationship with mom and step-dad (step-dad hates our guts and mom goes whichever way the wind is blowing) and skipping  visits will not be viewed favorably 3) Andrew and I work – if she doesn’t go to visits, we need to organize care which is fine unless the change of heart happens last minute — in which case, it is not ok — and Blitzen is not good at organizing her thoughts and feelings in advance.

So she has to go to visits, right? Have I ever mentioned that I hate visits…….

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