Thursday, August 16, 2007

on Court and Hair Cuts

Mom did show up at the courthouse. She did not, of course, sign the voluntary termination paperwork. This does not surprise anyone involved. It did, however, tick a whole bunch of people off, including the judge. None of this, of course, is Mom's fault. It is the social worker's fault, the judge's fault, her lawyer's fault, her tribal representive's fault, etc. She demanded everyone be replaced and that she get better services. She has, of course, had every opportunity for every kind of service available to her from the state and from the tribe. She has yet to follow through on any apect of any one of her service plans throughout the years. Most certainly she has not complied with the service plan that was created to give her every opportunity to get her life together and regain custody of the boys.

The termination will continue and visitations with the boys are no longer going to happen. Mom will, however, have a month's worth of counseling (per her request for more help) and she can write letters to the boys that she will send to the social worker who will then pass them on to us.

As for the haircuts, I assure all of you that if her refusal to let the boys' hair be cut was a cultural one, I would be more than happy to take care of their hair, put it in braids, or maintain it in whatever traditional hair style was requested. The issue is not that their hair is particularily long, it is that their hair is long in some places and chopped short in others. Random places, mind you, not in any sort of style but rather as if someone (i.e. mom) clipped random locks of hair off as the boys ran (or rather tottered) by here while she sat at the kitchen table. Mom is not against haircuts for cultural reasons, but for bizarre control reasons- keep in mind that mom is decidedly not mentally healthy and has a real penchant for making up bizarre stories to garner attention and pity. She is convinced that nothing is wrong with the boys, that this is all the state and the tribe's fault. haircuts are one of the few areas of control she has over the boys' lives at this point and she is not going to budge one inch on that issue.

In other news, Hoss is really getting a hang of potty training and M&M's are a great motivator for him. He is also walking around the house singing "the Muffin Man" song and running up to us at random moments for hugs and declaring that "I happy." He has not bitten in while. [although he did pitch a collosal fit over a toy the other day, threw himself on the floor, and when I tried to step over him grabbed at my leg and then pushed me so that I fell into the wall, onto the floor, and tore my bad knee up something fierce. causing R to miss a day of work to take me to the doctor and to get xrays and my mother to come over to sit with the boys..ouch. ouch. and ouch.]

Little Joe is doing fine. Still no language and a lot of temper tantrums over seemingly NOTHING, but he is seeking out positive attention and cuddles from both of us and is starting to use some basic sign as opposed to screaming his head off when he wants/needs something. He was not at all bothered by the drama involved in my knee injury, he thought it was grand excitement and, upon my falling to the floor climbed up on my bad knee and, in Little Jo-ese, said "Giddy up." No way, cowboy. No giddy ups. No giddy ups ever again, if this knee doesn't stop hurting.

Let's hope that surgery is not in the cards, as I have no idea how I will do that and take care of these two kiddos. Not that I am doing that great of a job right now, limping around here with a swollen knee. ha.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Good Grief

Hoss and Little Joe need haircuts. Badly.

It is going to take a miracle for that to happen.

I can change their diapers, bathe them, dress them, feed them, take them to the doctor, register them for daycare or school (Hoss will start a special education program in the fall), clip their fingernails and toenails, and brush their teeth. In fact, I am expected to do these things.

I cannot, however, cut their hair without birth mom's permission.

Which, past events have shown, is highly unlikely (read: when hell freezes over) to happen.

She apparently has a real issue with the boys' having their haircut. As in, she doesn't want their hair cut. Ever.

Unless she does it. mental image: boys with hair that looks like someone went mad with a pair of rusty hedge clippers.

Today the social worker called to tell me that the termination petition has been filed.

I am ashamed to admit that one of my first thoughts was this: "does this mean I can get their hair cut?"

Bigger news: mom has made a court date for tomorrow afternoon to voluntarily sign away her parental rights to both boys.

Will she show up? That is anybody's guess.

I will keep you all posted.

*** forgot to mention this. Hoss is working very hard to understand the concept of names. He still cannot answer the question "what is your name?" But he does ask it of us. repeatedly. At least, I think that is what he is asking us. We are both hoping that the speech therapy he will get in school will help him in this area. Poor kid, 3 years old, and can't tell you his name if you ask it. He can say his name, if you prompt him. but the question "What is your name?" throws him completely. He can, however, say with perfect clarity "Holy Shit." Go figure. Little Joe, on the other hand, says only "no no no" and "uhuh". He does, however, do a great imiation of a dog growl and will, if you aren't watching him carefully, crawl on his hands and knees to the dog bowl and eat out of it by bending his mouth down into the dish and grabbing at nuggets with his teeth. Gross. Very gross. I am trying to be postive about it and see it as a sign of imaginative play. Let's hope his early on intervention teacher sees it the same way.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

I think I am going to build a shrine to our 3 year old foster son's kindergarten readiness teacher. She was here yesterday for a visit with Hoss and, since I looked like I had been run over with a mack truck (read: sleep deprivation, in desperate need of a shower, and ready to collapse) she offered to provide respite for us (read: take the boys for a whole entire day). This morning, I got the boys dressed and R put them in the car and took them to the teacher's house. I have been kid free since 7:45 this morning!!! The first thing I did was crawl back into bed and slept for a few hours. Now I am actually online during the day, finally able to check email and post on this blog (forgive me, KelleyO and other friends who have been worried that I have not posted in awhile). The house is quiet, I have adult tv on (CNN), and the dogs are clearly enjoying the one on one time with me. I should clean house, do laundry, and run to the grocery store. But I am going to be utterly and unashamedly selfish and lounge around today.

I am sure that you are all wondering how things are going with Hoss and Little Joe. Slowly, ever so slowly, we are all settling in to a routine and are starting to see some real improvements in both boys' behavior and mood. Hoss, who only repeated words if you said them first, is exploding with independent speech (not very intelligble, but I am getting better at interpreting): he is using 3 and 4 word sentences, asking "what happened?", and, on a few occasions, expressing emotions (yesterday he said "I happy" at the dinner table. I about cried it was so wonderful to hear!). Hoss' s temper tantrums have lessened in intensity and decreased in frequency- partly due to the passage of time and his own "settling" in, partly due to the fact that R and I are almost militant in our conistency in terms of enforcing rules. After two weeks of going insane with all the toys that have buttons and batteries- both boys are more than content to sit and self-stim on an electronic toy for hours, not using the toy appropriately, but simply pressing the same button over and over and over and over and OVER again- R and I put away all toys save for classic toys: wooden blocks, puzzles, hotwheels, shape sorters, a soft baby doll, books, wooden train set, soccer ball, tricycle, big wheel, etc. Now we are seeing some imagintive play from Hoss: pretending to take his book bag with puzzles in it somewhere (he says "bye", walks down the hallway, comes back and says "Hi" then 'leaves' again); He takes his plastic set of keys and walks up and down the hallway 'locking' closet doors and bedroom doors, he holds his baby doll and sings songs to it (then throws it on the floor and kicks it, tries to suffocate it, and slaps it- acting out previous abuse maybe? who knows). Little Joe is taking the loss of the electronic toys the hardest and tries his best to spend the day playing with remote controls, lights, light switches, the dishwasher, the baby gates etc. Supposedly the easiest child of the two, Little Joe has become the most challenging in many ways. Hopefully in time he, too, will begin to play with toys and stop trying to escape into the world of self stimming. He has great eye contact, is seeking out hugs and cuddles- the curent assessment is that he is not autistic, but rather his self stimming (and Hoss's too, for that matter, although he is not nearly as 'addicted' to such behaviors as Little Joe) is a result of the neglect in his original home.

This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I feel woefully inadequate and have lost my temper (yelling at the boys) more than once in the past 3.5 weeks. Not good. Luckily, both boys have a great team of people working on their behalf and helping us find ways to better parent and teach them. Still, I wish I knew more, had more patience, needed less sleep, and had more energy than I have. These two guys are non stop motion and cannot be left alone for even a minute: every time I need to go the bathroom during the day I cringe, for allways, allways, allways, either Hoss hurts Little Joe, Little Joe climbs and falls trying to get to a light switch or the telephone, or both boys mess with the fan in the hallway (now behind a babygate so they can't reach it), the nightlight on the dresser in their room (confiscated as of yesterday), the locks on the doors to the outside and the basement, or trying to climb over the baby gates that block off the kitchen so they can get to the dishwasher, the fridge, or the drawers holding silverware.

I have had emails from a few of you asking what this means for our Vietnam adoption. The short answer is "I really don't know." I think I knew when we agreed to do this that we might be making a decision that will radically change our family plans. it is impossible to not grow attached to these two little guys, despite all of their delays and challenges (or perhaps it is because of those delays and challenges). CHI told us that we could foster up until the point that our paperwork needed to be sent to Vietnam. I have no idea when that will be. What I do know is that R and I are going to have a very hard time (read: moral dilemma) if Hoss and Little Joe are still with us at the time we get the call to work on our dossier. How do we justify putting these two guys through yet another destablizing move, so that we can send paperwork to Vietnam to adopt another child- a child who is needy as well, to be sure (albiet in different ways and for different reasons), but still a child who, if we do not adopt him, has easily 100 potential parents who are after us on the "big waiting list"?

R and I are no where near ready to say we are giving up on our Vietnam adoption. Nor are we anywhere close to deciding we are a permanent placement for Hoss and Little Joe ( while it is very unlikely that the boys will be returned to their mother's care, both boys are native american and so there are federal and tribal laws and agencies involved in the "where do the boys go after parental rights termination" question). Honestly, we are taking this one day, sometimes one minute, at a time. We are, however, becoming increasingly aware of the number of infants and toddlers that are entering into the foster care system, and have been told about a few infants who will most likely be available for adoption through the foster care system very soon.

I really do not know what to think or feel at this point. This is clearly not part of the "big plan" that we have been working so hard to bring to fruition for the last few years.

What have I gotten myself into?

*** cute story, as I don't want to end on a gloomy note. The other day Hoss melted down over not being allowed to have pop (which I never let him have anyway, but he keeps trying). he threw himself on the floor, kicked and cried for about half a minute, but when he noticed that I was ignoring him, he got up off the floor, grabbed my hands and said "wanna dance?"