Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Where's my Daddy?

Yesterday at his music class, KC told his teacher he was sad because he didn't have a daddy. His teacher was very supportive and said something to the effect that he had two wonderful parents who loved him and he readiliy agreed. Still, I can see there are questions beginning to emerge and topics to address. He is so young, only 4. Adoption brought Kirsty and I such joy. I know it is a real mixed bag for the child though. To be sure, he knows without question that he is cherished and loved. However it hurts me at a deep visceral level to think of any of my children in emotional pain. To know that there will be a part of them that I can't soothe . . . it makes me feel so helpless.

Chet had less issues surrounding this. I don't know if it was just his nature or a function of his disability which makes him view his world so differently. Robbie had issues about this but more of his issues surrounded his birth mother and his siblings. His birth dad was not a positive influence in his life. There are issues there, but they are surrounding fear and safety, not really around missing the fact a dad figure is in his life.

I know we can help him through this, I just hurt for him.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Yucky Weather

We have had a summer of freaky storms. More storms with hail (3) than I can remember in the past 15 or so years. More tornado warnings--we don't really live in tornado alley or anything like that. And a LOT more severe thunderstorms.

The past couple days were really intense rain days. Not so much in the thunder department but definately heavy storm days. Days when kids can't get out so much and burn off energy. Trust me, this is B-A-D. Day before yesterday there was a break in the actual storms after supper. I had KC and Robbie put on their rain boots and tied on Elisabeth in her sling and we went for a puddle jumping walk. The boys love to do this and it is a good way to get the wiggles and crabbies out. KC did so much puddle jumping that I had to pour out about 3 inches of accumulated water in his boots when we got home. Lissa is too little to puddle jump but the boys decided gently wiggling branches to make the leaves sprinkle water onto her head would help her to feel a part of the experience. (I am less sure that she felt that was really needed!)

Last night I arrived home to a tense household. KC has had a stretch of being fractious and screaming when things don't go his way. Not getting outside all day definately didn't help matters either. The rain had been horrid all day, periods of such intense downpours that you could hardly see outside (one of course as I was trying to get from my car to the house after work!) I had he and Rob put on rain coats and we went outside and used sidewalk chalk in the driveway. The colors were super intense because the pavement was so wet and KC also loved getting buckets of water from the little pool and "cleaning " away the drawings after we were done. We also played with bubbles which was a lot of fun too. Somehow by the time we were all soggy and tired, the atmosphere was a bit better and the evening went more smoothly.

It is funny really, because i truly deeply and completely HATE being out in rain. However since having children I have learned that I need to put that aside and find ways to enjoy the experience and to help them enjoy the experience.

Monday, July 21, 2008

KC's Journey 3

We worked and re-worked our budget and hemmed and hawed about Kirsty quitting work. On the one hand, our company was supposed to be sold and there was a handsome severance pay that she would be entitled to if she was still working when the sale happened. We could conceivably be kissing $28K goodbye if she left before the sale. On the other hand, we worried for KC at day care. His provider was loving but he got sick often. She took 2 more children into her day care who were children of a tenant where we work. I was worried as the family did not care well for their children and the kids were sick and smelly. I felt badly for them but at the same time didn't want my tiny preemie guy exposed. I felt bad for feeling that way wondering if I was being elitest. But then I would look at how tiny he looked, how vulnerable he still seemed and I decided it didn't matter. Kirsty gave notice. It felt weird to think of working with someone else. I had worked and lived and loved with her for many many years. We had been a couple since 1978 and worked together since 1980. It would be odd to work with someone else.

About the same time I got a job offer from the local housing authority and i seriously considered it. If Kirsty was leaving maybe it would be a good time for me to make a fresh start somewhere else as well. I interviewed and very much liked the team there. However my area manager counter offered and a number of incentives were offered that convinced me to stay. I am glad I did. I really like my job. I hope someday to be a manager, but meantime, this is a good job.

It has been hard cutting our income. Not so much initially but more recently with the wildly rising costs of everything. But it has been totally completely and utterly worth it. Our company is still not sold so if Kirsty had waited for that it would have been in vain. KC is four now and we would have missed so very many milestones. Missed vacations and holidays due to taking extra time for illnesses. His health improved dramatically when he was out of day care.

He was slow to talk and received early intervention services. Nothing seemed to really make him interested in talking until we adopted his baby sister Elisabeth. Then he decided he would talk and hasn't stopped since! :-)

He is artistic, creative and very very bright. He has been drawing recognizable pictures since about 3, maybe even 2 1/2 He has known his alphabet, his address, his colors and shapes, can count to 20 etc. He just loves to learn. It isn't that we want to push him, it is just that he is a walking talking sponge!

We are very very blessed.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I love taking the kids to the beach. Kirsty hates it. She hates it so much that she would rather stay home and defrost the freezer on a hot summer day than go sit in the sand. So yesterday that is what she did and the kids and i de-camped for Lake Dennison. It was a gorgeous day. Very hot, but the water was warm and pleasant. My favorite actually. I am not really one who likes brisk "refreshing" water temps, especially when I am bringing little ones. We spent a number of hours there, definately l onger than we spend when Kirsty comes along. "-) We picnicked and then played in the water some more. Probably about 2 to 3 hours of water play and then a stop to the ice cream truck with confections to slurp sitting under a tree on the grass. KC is a real water bug and didn't even like getting out of the water to eat. Lissa is getting happier about the water but doesn't have the same affinity that her older brother has. When KC was little i remember watching him literally crawl down the beach into the water and keep crawling under the water. I grabbed him right away of course but he wasn't alarmed by it, thought it was fun! Lissa on the other hand got water in her face early on in the day and it took most of the rest of the time there before she would venture putting her face near to the water again. Such different little sprites!

All the kids are getting awesome tans. Rob darkens so easily and KC has a funny little tan. He wears a one piece suit in the water designed to help hold his bodyheat and so his strap marks are all tanned and his legs below where the suit ends. Lissa has tanned up and I am left with the oddest tan of all. My tan line is marred by where children hold onto me in the water, where I have had my leg stick out of our car window on road trips so that there was room for the dog and such. But they are neat tan lines in their own way. The weird one from sticking my leg out the window reminds me of our camping trip which was so fun. And who could ever complain about a mark shaped like the hand of their child on their shoulder? It is only a visible reminder of the marks they have all made on my heart.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I sort of feel like I am cheating here. I wanted to write the history of how each of our children came to our home before I got into day to day stuff. Partly because i thought it might help to give me perspective. How they act is greatly informed by their previous life experiences and it is easy to forget that when things get crazy. Partly because I treasure them all so much and I think memories are the most important possession we have. I never want to forget the roller coaster rides that involved bringing each of them home and being able to read those stories brings it all back to me.

However. . . we are newly back from a short camping jaunt and it was so much fun that this is my topic instead. We have a favorite area of Maine--Old Orchard Beach or OOB as Kirsty keeps saying when she sees those silly stickers people buy for their cars to show they went someplace. :-) The campground is very family friendly, very quiet and we very much love going there. this year was the first time that we would be camping with Elisabeth walking and with the dog. Blake is just a bit over a year old, a Brittany spaniel just big enough to squeeze into the space where i normally put my feet when sitting on the passenger side of the van. Trust me this was the only space left for him at this point. When the kids are into booster seats and he is a bit older, I can envision him lying in the center aisle but for now, he still gets a bit too antsy for the younger kids to feel comfortable with him there.

Off we went. I was really depressed initially. The start to the week had been horrible. Kirsty had been fighting with the kids during the week just before we left. It was so intense I didn't like being home. it was so horrible KC was acting it out for me in the front hall as I came in from work. To say it put a damper on camping joy would have been an understatement. But once we left, the mood began to lighten. Setting up camp went quickly; I took the kids to the park while Kirsty did a lot of the set up. She prefers this and it lets the kids burn off steam after a long car ride. We had an easy supper (take out) and walked to the beach in the evening. Kirsty even came, with Blake on lead. Last year she didn't usually come to the beach with us. It was neat being there all together even though I know she really hates sand. Weird but she does! I love the ocean. I love watching the kids at the ocean. I am always counting heads, not giving myself up to the hypnotism of hte waves, but I love it none the less. Back at the campsite after fun in the setting sun, we had a camp fire and went to bed. Not to sleep peacefully, as Lissa and the dog both had trouble settling in. But eventually sleep did come and the next day dawned also sunny and beautiful.

We breakfasted, played at the playground and set off early for Portland Head Light. This is a beautiful light house and KC is enarmored of all things lighthouse. When we turned up the long sweeping drive to the light house and he could see it, his face lit like a Yule tree and he screamed "Look guys! The REAL Portland Head Light!" He could not wait to see it, touch it, and walk all around it. All of which we did, and a trip to the gift shop. From there we went to the beach and picnic area on the grounds and spent more time eating and messing around. Chet's love was looking for periwinkle shells which were hard to find this time. Everyone liked watching the variety of boats going in and out of Portland Harbor. From lobster boats to a tanker being pulled by a tug boat they engendered much excitement and conversation.

After that we explored the remains of an old mansion on the grounds and finally left. Returning to the campsite I took Rob, KC and Lissa to the pool and K had a nap, and Chet read. Then it was time for supper and for a campfire. Everyone settled much better on night #2 and we actually woke refreshed. Sadly it was going home day but everyone pitched in and I think we broke camp quicker easier and more smoothly than ever before. I am so glad we went. My spirit is lighter for these days together. I am blessed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

KC's Journey 2

By and large, KC was the most contented baby I have ever known. There was major construction going on right next door to us that year. Back hoes, and excavation equipment worked every day making a veritable din of noise. It bothered him not a whit. He would sleep when he needed to and wake to feed. The only problem we had was severe vomiting after feeding and a persistant wheezing. One night when he was sleeping (on his back, swaddled) he vomited and couldn't clear his face and airway. We got there in time; he slept in the same room with us. But we were petrified, shaking, feeling that we came so close to losing him. That night he moved from his Amby bed to our bed and never moved out! He slept on Kirsty or my chest a lot and we would waken and make sure he was still breathing. I also read about that time that this would help preemies to regulate their breathing--that their little bodies could "forget" how to breathe. If Kirsty or I were ill, that person moved to a different bed. We never slept with him when we were on medication stronger than Advil. We also pressured our doctor to let us try a soy based formula for him and he agreed. Within 3 days there was a huge difference and he was no longer wheezing or having the gastric problems. We since determined that he has a dairy allergy (not lactose intolerance, a true dairy allergy)

I carried KC every minute that I could. Kirsty was a bit annoyed I think, but I found that i am no good with hearing a baby cry. And that when I carried him, he didn't cry. I learned about rebozos on the internet and wore one carrying him when I did chores around the house, when we were at church, pretty much everywhere.

I wondered if his birth mom worried for him. I wrote letters to the adoption agency to be held for her in case she ever asked how he was doing. I sent extra pictures with every required update and cards at Christmas.

Eventually, our maternity leave was over and Kirsty had to return to her job. We found a day care provider at the apartment complex where we work. I knew that Maria would care well for KC and that he would physically be very close to us. But leaving him there was sooooo hard!

As his time in day care evolved we noticed that he did have a tendency to pick up lots of colds and illnesses from the children there. We were spending most of our sick days and vacation days on taking care of him from these. We began to wonder if this was the best option for our family.

Monday, July 7, 2008

KC's Journey

People tease us that just when life gets calm, we have to go and muddy the waters by adopting again. It probably looks that way to others, but I don't think we have an inherant need for chaos. We do have a deep love for kids and a desire for a large family and I think when we get to that place where we feel the family as a whole is ready, we jump in again. It wasn't that we didn't love the kids we had. We were certainly busy with Chet and Robbie and our frequent visits with Fiona.

But part of us always wanted a baby. Chet was supposed to be that baby, and we had placement at 6 weeks. But he was a toddler by the time all the paperwork between India and the US took place and though we loved him dearly, not a baby. I researched different agencies and found Adoption Link in Chicago IL. The costs were not too astronomical and the people seemed very friendly when we called. There was a mandatory tele-class on transracial families and racial sensitivity. I remember thinking that we so didn't need that because we had all ready completed MAPP training for Robbie. Wrong! The issues covered were not the same, and at a much deeper level. I was at the conclusion of the course both more afraid and more prepared for the racial issues that our children would face than I had been before.

We only needed to update our homestudy because the existing one was not over a year old. We found Jewish Family Services of Metrowest in Framingham and began that process with Dale, our social worker there. We "clicked" with Dale instantly. Our sessions felt more like chatting with a close friend than the kind of relationship I had experienced with any previous home study.
In short order our homestudy was updated, our birth mother letter was written and all our documents shipped to IL. The waiting began and though it seemed long, we were busy with life and time passed quickly.

Shortly before Kirsty's birthday in February we received a call. We had been matched with a birth mother. She was due in late May by C section. We were so excited. The fact that she was having a C section seemed to make it so much easier to plan. We decided our drive to Chicago could double as a vacation which would enable us to take Robbie to Niagara Falls. We would leave Chet home to take care of the dog and cook ahead for him so that he would also be all set.

As in life and always in all things adoption--things change! Patriots Day of 2004 we were in Boston at a family event for our company. After a day of baseball and socializing we came home to find many MANY messages from our agency in Chicago. We called back. "congratulations, you have a boy," she said. We knew that it was a boy as the mom had an ultrasound earlier. "No, " the worker continues, "you don't understand. You have a baby boy NOW! He was born the 17th! You need to come to Chicago now." We had 36 hours to get to Chicago and probably spent the first hour walking in circles with silly grins on our faces. We had a son! We had a baby boy waiting for us in the midwest! Somehow we packed and Robbie Kirsty and I left early in the morning (6 a.m.) for the long drive. We left Chet home with food ideas but not premade food. There wasn't time and we didn't know how long we would be gone. We would need to stay in Chicago until the interstate compact was approved. The first night we stopped in Sandusky Ohio, tired to the bone. Almost too tired to eat, we somehow managed to scarf down our burgers. The hotel had a jacuzzi tub and a swimming pool. We made sure Rob got to try both of them. At 7 years old, he was not happy that plans had changed and the vacation aspect of the trip was no longer viable.

The next day we drove to Chicago, went to the agency and did some paperwork, checked into our hotel and went to the hospital. We saw our son for the first time. A very very tiny little guy. He was premature and in the NICU there. We had to have a 6 hour training session in how to care for him before he could be released into our care. Additionally he had an erratic heart beat the night before and needed another EKG before he could be discharged. We did our training session with poor Robbie sitting right outside the NICU peeking in the window. He wasn't allowed in because of the risk to such fragile newborns. But I worried about him too. The fact that the ward was locked was not enough to ease my peace of mind. We were far from home and Robbie was only 7 and not any too happy about being in a strange place with people he did not know.

Still we learned how to feed our little guy, how to change and bathe him, how important it was to make sure he was not exposed to illness and more. The more we were trained the more scared I got. How were we going to take care of this tiny little package and nurture him into a robust life? He was so tiny he wasn't as long as my forearm. He didn't have eyebrows yet. As a friend later put it, he wasn't done cooking yet! Filled with joy and fear in equal parts we brought him home to the Wright Inn in Chicago and waited for the interstate compact to go through.

The hotel was lovely and we slept in a Murphy Bed which Kirsty and I thought was just hte coolest thing in the world. The suite was small but we got by with minimal in suite cooking. Rob had his own bedroom. We did some school work every day and then he and i would play baseball at the park or walk to the movie theater etc.

KC is named for his three strong men in our family. There are two Kenneths. The first is my grandfather who was a huge and important influence in my life. He would have loved our kids. The second Kenneth is my mom's second husband. Ken has been a wonderful grampa to all the children and is especially beloved to KC. Carl is Kirsty's dad's middle name. More of a father to me than my own biological father, we wanted to honor him as well. However Kenneth Carl is a mouthful, especially when one is peanut sized and thus KC became his nickname. We found out later that this was Grampa Ken's nick name as well when he was little. (his middle name began with C as well but was not Carl)

KC was a contented baby most of the time. He didn't cry excessively, slept a lot and ate well. We did notice that he seemed wheezy after eating and that he spit up excessively but Drs told us that also this could be a result of prematurity and might be outgrown.

We went to court in Chicago and met Michelle Hughes, our adoption attorney. Michelle had done a segment of the teleclass that we took and we felt like we were meeting a friend. The court was daunting and the system for adoption slightly differnet than in our home state. It was good to know that she was watching things carefully. I was worried that we would get home and think everything was all set and then find out something wasn't done that should have been.

Meanwhile, we waited for the IPC to clear and worried about Chet. He wasn't doing well at home on his own. Without frequent prompts and a consistant structure, his ability to function breaks down. We received a long distance call from the local library. He had passed out there because he had forgotten to eat. We had arranged times we would check in by phone. He would forget to be near the phone and we had to have a friend go and bang on the door and rouse him and have him call us. I felt very helpless knowing that I was in Chicago with a new baby and my technically nearly adult son was spiralling downward at home.

When the call came that our IPC had cleared, we packed immediately. We had supper at left that very night. Stopping every two hours to feed KC and check his diaper, we drove 20 hours straight from Chicago to our home. Kirsty consented to let me drive for about 3 hours while she slept but most of the driving fell to her. My job consisted of watching route signs, keeping an eye on Rob and checking to make sure KC's head hadn't flopped forward in the car seat because it could cut off his airway. He was so tiny that we had rolled up receiving blankets and towels trying to prop him in place in the car seat but it was a far from perfect situation.

We got home and found that the house was filthy. Chet had not only been unable to take care of himself but had not done normal things like taking out the trash. The kitchen floor was a mess because the dog had run around with muddy feat and he hadn't wiped it up. Kirsty crashed right away, going to sleep in our bed with KC near by. I felt a deep need to restore order to the house first so I cleaned and did wash til things resembled the type of home I am more used to.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Robbie's Journey

Robbie is Fiona and Faith's youngest brother. There was an older brother Dee who had all ready been adopted by a family member when we came on the scene. Robbie's smile was part of what captivated us the day we saw the clip of he and his sisters on local TV. He was 5 when we met him and quiet and very very cute. He liked to do art projects and play outside when he came to our house. We had been warned of property destruction, school problems bed wetting and food stealing. For a long time we only really saw problems around bedtime.

It was clear that Robbie did not like going to bed. My guess is bedtime wasn't a safe time at some key point in his life. He needed a night light and had a hard time learning to stay in bed. He would come down to our bed many times during the first months he lived with us. I would cuddle him and then take him back to his room. He wanted to sleep with us. In 20/20 hindsight, I wish I had done that. But DSS is sort of a scary entity when one is an alternative family trying to adopt. We had all ready had to change the adoption plan, with Fiona leaving our home, and Faith opting to not place with us. We were genuinely afraid that if Rob innocently mentioned cuddling in bed with us that his social worker would be upset. So I kept carrying him back to his bed, lying with him there for a while and then creeping downstairs.

We did nothing about the bedwetting for over a year. First of all, I read that many children just develop night time bladder control more slowly than otherse. Secondly, I felt that it was likely that his PTSD had something to do with this and that as he became more secure, things might take care of themselves. Our family physician agreed and we just bought pullups. Also Robbie's foster family had frightened him in an effort to make him stop the bedwetting (as if kids 'decide' to wet the bed.) They had sent him with his bedding down to the cellar to do the wash. Alone. At 5. When he had indicated he was afraid of the cellar. It made no sense to me. It was punitive, controlling and mean.

Scholastically we had no problem with him in kindergarten. He was a bit behind other kids in reading but that was easily resolved with a Title 1 reading program that he participated in. I think the fact that kindergarten was only 1/2 a day helped a lot. It gave extra time for him to bond with us and we with him. It also minimized the expectations of school type behavior. In his previous placement the school was full day and I do think this was a big part of the problem.

Robbie made friends easily and there were soon neighborhood kids visiting our house regularly. We found that we had to work hard at helping him to understand that he couldn't just leave our yard and go to someone elses. He needed to check with us first. We found that his table manners were weak, though he had a great appetite. We had minimal issues around food hoarding or stealing, perhaps because we made a concious decision to have lots of snacks both healthy and otherwise always available. My theory was that after seeing that it would always be there, that he would lose the fear that caused the food stealing and hoarding.

Overall, things went pretty smoothly. They were not without problems. Robbie was very shy around adults. Shy to the point of fear and this meant he was not comfortable in gatherings where adults would want to talk with him. It was obvious that in his past, the children counted on each other because they couldn't count on adults. He also recounted punishments that happened in foster care placements. Experiences such as having to stand for the whole day with his hands on his head in front of the fridge because he had stolen brownies. If this hadn't been actually going on one of the times we arrived for a visit, I wouldn't have believed it. It was just bizarre to me that people who chose to foster parent would be so intentionally cruel to a child all ready damaged by life.

Sleep got better, though there were occasional nightmares where he would waken screaming. He occasionally did sleep walk but only when he was very stressed or overtired. First and second grade went by reasonably well. There began to be some behavioral issues in school. It was clear that academics were not his favorite activity. By third grade a pattern of not really causing trouble in class but flying under the radar had clearly developed. Rob didn't want to have to interact with adults so he did not draw their attention to himself. This also meant he didn't ask for help if he didn't understand something. Academically gaps were developing. I met with his teacher and she said that she was concerned for him in the coming year. That she thought he was a lovely little boy who needed a chance to slowly mature and that she feared he would be labelled and stressed the next year. I asked what she thought about homeschooling and she was very positive about it. So we decided that at the end of grade 3 we would remove him from public school and begin homeschooling.

He is still a reluctant student. But he is also more capable, primarily because he can't hide his deficits. We work constantly on language skills, both written and verbal and they are improving. It is slow but it is very noticable. Particularly as he can now have conversations with trusted adults in his life (friends at church, godparents, neighbors) and write pretty decently. He will always i think be quiet by nature. He is a deep thinker and has still a reluctance to share those thoughts. In part, I think he wants to be perfect and I am working on trying to show him that no one is perfect, and that we all share our imperfections all the time.

We took care of the bed wetting by the time he was 7. It didn't really go away on is own as I hoped, but it wasn't horrible either. What I did was to set my own alarm and waken him at gradually later and later times each night and take him to the bathroom. He is still an incredibly sound sleeper and my guess is that this is a big part of what made staying dry hard for him. We tried those alarms kids wear that go off when they start to wet and the only person it woke was me. Me, downstairs while he was sleeping upstairs! It was easier to waken more gently to my own musical alarm, go upstairs and take him to the bathroom and go back to bed. In about 4 months we had gotten to the point where he was dry all night and with rare exceptions that has continued from that point forward.

He is a great brother. He puts up with the quirks of his big brother Chet. He indulges the younger 2 kids and is mostly very kind about the little kid play that they want to do. In some ways, having them allows him an opportunity to experience little kid things he probably never did before. When KC went through his play dough phase, Rob got as much joy from it as he did. Ditto on sidewalk chalk and blowing bubbles, etc.

Rob loves sports and was on a baseball team this year. KC and I went to every game and sometimes Lissa came too. We cheered the Dodgers to victory 15 times and commiserated over 2 losses. In the past year I have really seen positive changes. He has been a lot more able to communicate and he spent a week away at camp and had a wonderful time. The counselors all spoke of what a great kid he was and best of all, he had huge hugs for us when we picked him up. He is 12 now and on the cusp of the teen years.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fiona's journey part 4

We wrote to her at her new RTC. We called on the phone. And in a short period of time, several months as I recall, she was hospitalized for very dangerous behaviors to herself and to the staff. Her social worker was concerned over the provocative clothing that she was wearing and suddenly, this wasn't the best placement for her after all. She was in the hospital a long time. Too long in my opinion. The hospital wasn't a placement geared for a child her age. It was an emergency bed. Her social worker told me that the staff there seemed very frustrated with her. The holds increased, the meds were changed and eventually a bed opened at a new RTC. Still a long way from us but a place that sounded better able to help her, or at least maintain stability for her. Nothing new (other than meds) has ever really seemed to come out of the many hospitalizations that Fiona has experienced. Whether she is bipolar, conduct disorder, PDD, mentally retarded or any of the other things bandied about what is clear is that she has a very hard time functioning well in society. and the more control she is expected to have, the less likely she is to succeed. Her anxiety ramps up, her behaviors escalate and eventually there is a crisis.

Sadly for now, her story ends here. We have phone and letter contact. The letters come mostly from us. Actually from me. I try to get Robbie to write but he is reluctant at best. The negative history between them creates a barrier to their interactions. Part of him is always (and somewhat justifiably) waiting for her to lose control and destroy belongings or an experience. I send pictures of us doing things and silly stories about what goes on in our lives. I know it isn't enough, but it is all I am able to give with the distance that DSS has placed between us. At the very least, I hope it lets her know that we have never forgotten her and disappeared in the mists of time the way others have in her life.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fiona's journey part 3

I hoped that the move would not be fast but I was wrong. Upper level people from DSS flatly announced at the team meeting that they were paying too much money to house Fiona at this RTC if she wasn't able to fully benefit from the services. Suddenly team meetings which had consisted of me, the RTC team medical professionals,and occasionally (but not always her social worker) were being attended by her guardian ad litem, the social worker, the upper level number cruncher and more.

I tried to advocate for placement close to us so that visitations could continue. I pointed out the close bonds Fiona had developed with us. I reminded them that we visited very very regularly, called often and had successfully had her at our home for the holidays. I was flatly told that I was no longer a pre-adoptive parent or a foster parent to her and as such had no rights. I pointed out that this was true but that I also was the parent of her biological brother and that she called me Mom. After years of building that attachment, ripping it away by moving her farther from us seemed counter productive to her mental health. I was told that although they would try, they would take whatever placement could be found and that finances were the primary motivation. The secondary motivation was finding a RTC where she could reside up through age 22. It was determined that due to her cognitive delays she would not likely be independent at 18 (and possibly not ever) and therefore a facility where she could live for longer would be best.

It wasn't long before the call came that a placement had been located. Fiona visited the new place and liked it. I knew that this was only because the reality of it hadn't set in. She didn't understand that we were not going to see one another often (or perhaps at all given the distance) Saturdays of movies and mini golf, ice creams and beauty shop trips would be a thing of the past. To Fiona it was something new and therefore exciting. I put on my happy face and said all the supportive things I could think of.

The prom at her RTC happened before her move and I was so glad for her. I went over and helped her do her nails and hair with the staff there and took her picture in front of the pretty back drop they had created. I still have that picture on our computer at home. She looks cute and sassy and very teenaged diva.

The night before she was to move, we took her out to dinner. Our whole family was there and we went to one of her favorite restaurants. It was a bittersweet time. She was anxious now that the move was actually happening. I gave her stationary and prestamped envelopes so that she could draw pictures for us, or write if she wanted to. We gave her some jewelry to remember us by. We smiled and acted like this was a new exciting journey even though I felt dread. I had been told that this RTC didn't have the same level of supervision as her present one. They didn't have the organized activities that she loved and she would have to "amuse herself." She would have to ride a bus and attend school off campus. Fiona was becoming much more aware of her emerging sexuality and I worried just how she would decide to "amuse herself." KC and I drove her back to the RTC after dinner and he held her hand the whole way. I cried all the way home hoping that my little guy would not notice from his car seat in the back of the car.