Timeline

Hello!

helloCan we just ignore that I promised to update more and haven’t? Seriously, I am sorry about that. Life is, as expected, crazy.

In the last 2.5 months, we (I) made the decision to pause our foster application due to all the insanity in our lives. Between my starting grad school, the 4-5 hour round trip commute to work each day (it’s gotten worse 🙁 ), being Communications Chair for the South Florida Foster and Adoptive Parent Association and my constant house hunting (I really want to own a home!)… PLUS Husband’s finishing his MBA and applying for a Doctorate and his work, we barely have time to sleep. Also, I have been actively job hunting and made it to the final rounds with 2 jobs but things happened and, wibbly wobbly, both fell through.

Then I turned 39! And we went to Painting With A Twist with a small group of friends. Husband, SIL, and I went off book and made our paintings our very own by not really following directions all that well…

And on October 10th is our 5th wedding anniversary!

Since we do, in fact, have the ability to time this avenue of bringing a child into our home, we are taking advantage. Also, in the last few weeks, I have been really drawn to changing our age range to teens or at least an older age range. Right now we are approved to adopt 3-8 year old children. I’ve been thinking about upping it to 12 or 13. The older kids are more rewarding from what I am getting from my friends that foster teens as you can speak to and reason with them. While I would love the cuddles of a little one, well I have plenty of friends with little ones plus, a new baby in my family is coming soon!!

Now, frequent visitors will have noticed that there is finally a new blog design. I changed my hosting, rearranged a few domains and hopefully it will speed everything up. Also, I plan on using FletcherFam.com as a family focused website as opposed to just this blog which is very child-focused. I will post here when that goes live.

From last post, my MPA classes are going well so far. This semester I am in an “intro” to Public Administration and a Human Resources course. I promised more info last time. With all the heartaches and hardship we’ve gone through with the adoption process in the last 2 years, I finally decided that something needed to be done. My ultimate “grown up” goal is to be the COO or CEO of a foster care agency or government entity working towards the protection of children. In 5 years, I hope to have graduated and be working in the industry. This MPA will supplement the knowledge I gained from my MBA to focus on non-profits and government agencies.

I hope you’re all well!

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Foster Licensing Progress! Plus Everything Else…

I wrote this in May and never hit post for some reason. Since then, I totally dropped off the blog grid. In the last 3+ months,  a lot has happened. The most important thing (to me) is that I applied for and was accepted into the Master of Public Administration program at Florida International University! This is a highly competitive program with only 25 applicants each year. To say I am over the moon excited in an understatement.

There has been more, but if I write it all in 1 post then it could easily be 3 more months without a post. Along the MPA lines, I need to write more. This will become clearer as I post more about current events in future posts.

Other notable things that happened…

  • I got a NEW CAR in April! She is a Hyundai Elantra in a glittery dark blue (which works for both my Doctor Who obsession and Gator blue) that I’ve named Eva which is short for Evangeline Lily.
  • We went to Megacon for the 5th year and it was as amazing as ever. While we were there, I got a new tattoo (#10) which is a TARDIS with text inside that reads “We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one.”

  • I also got tattoo #9 3 weeks before that – the outline of a lotus flower
  • April 23rd was the 1 year anniversary since we received our home study
  • We spent a week in West Virgina 98% off the grid – no wifi! 🙁 -visiting Husband’s family. Bonfires, house hunting, bbq, and lots of friends and family time. We did, in fact, look at 3 houses to buy. However, unless we get truly amazing jobs, we aren’t moving there.

So, in May we had our 1st foster home visit. And rather than rewrite the following to bring current…

+++++

Last Tuesday, I took the day off work as we were finally able to schedule the home visit with Z for the mid-afternoon. It worked out perfectly. We had just finished lunch when she arrived after we had spent the morning doing some last minute tidying up.

The visit lasted about 90 minutes during which we went over the rather extensive packet of papers, did the walkaround tour of our house, the fire inspection, health inspection, then she took pictures. The outcome is that we were left with a list of 15 items to purchase or fill out/complete. Since then, I have done all of them including traipsing all over the place looking for the right fire extinguisher – 2A10BC.

We’ve also decided against getting licensed for 2 for the time being, so no bunk beds for us! The kid’s bedroom is huge with a full wall closet and private bathroom. If we ever decided that 1 child is easy peasy and we want a 2nd, we will revisit the bed situation.
Affidavits (2)
References (3)
Husband’s auto insurance card
Fire extinguisher
Fridge thermometer
His medical records
My medical records
My employment verification (2)
Vaccination records (2)

In 100% completely new news, I have made a crazy life decision and decided to get a second Master’s degree, this time in Public Administration. Yes, I might be crazy. In fact, I’m fairly sure that I am crazy since it will begin this August providing I am accepted into the program. It is an online program through FIU which is local to us so I can attend all the networking socials and whatnot. I will be able to take 1-4 classes each semester. With my first Master’s, I took 2 classes and worked full time. I’m actually super excited about it even if I think I’m crazy for taking it on at this point in my life.

Let’s recap, shall we?
Grad school – starting in 5 weeks
2 part-time jobs (oh yeah, I’m back to that…) with 90 minute one way commute
Foster license
Pursuing adoption
Everything else I do in my life on a daily basis

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It’s Been A While…

Hi my lovely bloggy readers,

I know it’s been really quiet around here for the last 6 weeks 3 months. Yes, I started an update post 6 weeks ago and never finished it.

My life in a nutshell these days…

  • Celebrated my 38th birthday!
  • Our 4th wedding anniversary!
  • Paid off 3 credit cards
  • Started a Fiber and Fandoms podcast with my friend Kate – Muggle Yarns!
  • Successfully completed my Kickstarter campaign thanks to my 19 truly amazing backers
  • Dropped to half time – 20 hours – at my full time job
  • Took on 2nd part time job – 25+ hours – back in the development/ fundraising and event planning world at a non-profit
  • Half-heartedly searching for children on several nationwide sites – family-match.orgadoptuskids.org
  • House hunting like crazy – we lost the cutest little house in North Miami Beach bc we took too long deciding
  • Getting over laryngitis that I’ve had for 10 days

Coming up…

  • Getting my knitting out – 2 more projects to try to finish this week
  • Shipping all my Kickstarter projects out
  • Going back to the customers that wanted commissions once this knitting was finished
  • House hunting and hopefully moving north and much closer to my jobs. My current commute time is 1.5-2 hours
  • Paying down and off all my other debts – goal for total payoff is 3 years
  • Still trying to get over and past our failed placement
  • Parenting?

heart bandaidBut what about parenting? Yeah… no idea.

I still attend the meetings and events, but my whole heart isn’t in it anymore. It’s more about hanging out with my friends than hoping there will be a foster parent there to talk to if her foster kids get TPRd. Husband even commented recently about my no longer showing him kid profiles or telling him about more kids. I’m a little down on the whole subject even though I know I could never be truly happy without being a mother. We have recently spent more time looking for houses than at children.

So, yeah, I’m sorta back, just down. Trying to get my life on track and get back in the mindset of focusing on long term goals.

Sooo…. how are you? What’s been happening in your lives in the last 3 months?

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What’s Been Happening…

Nothing.

Well, that’s not true. The only change is that we are currently working on paperwork for our foster license. That’s right, after so much discussion against being foster parents for our own personal reasons, we’ve come to the realization that it’s likely to be the best chance at us getting phone calls and a child.

That said, by the time we were assigned a licensing specialist (Z), Husband and I were both so sick that we kept putting off a home visit and filling out the paperwork. I finally printed the paperwork and started going through it on my own. Meanwhile, Z is using our Home Study to pull other information from.

..

Honestly though, after my first phone call with Z, I was a little more worried about what we are getting ourselves into. Every time I mention the licensing paperwork to the friends we’ve made along the way, I get similar reactions: disbelief. After 16+ months of being 100% certain that we do not want to foster, they’re surprised that we’ve changed our minds.

To a degree.

Our plan is to give Z the same criteria we have for adoption for our licensing, but give further criteria that we are willing to foster children with a very high chance of parental rights termination. She said when Placement starts calling, they don’t always review our criteria as it’s likely for emergency placements or a huge need. We do not want to take in every child that is offered to us. Does that make us selfish? Possibly. Will we end up changing our minds? Maybe. But for now, this is our plan.

We started talking about getting licensed during our visits with Ballerina. Both her CM and TH told us our best bet to push things along would be if we were licensed. That way she could move in with us immediately. It would have been a total immersion into parenting a teenager 24/7. Speaking of Ballerina, we still discuss her quite a lot. I knew it affected me quite a bit, but I didn’t realize how much it affected Husband too. He is the one that brings her up most frequently. I am of the mindset that if she didn’t want to be adopted, we should stop dwelling on her. That… is so much easier said than done.

I still search for kids nationwide, but no luck so far finding a good match.

In the meantime, I am keeping busy researching Doctorate programs for once Husband graduates from his Master’s program and finds a job.

In the meantime, won’t you pretty please help me out? Since it’s been over a month since my last post, my ranking on Top Mommy Blogs has plummeted. (No big surprise there.) Can you please click on this logo to help? The website has so much info on all aspects of parenting, but you don’t have to stick around if you don’t want. Thanks!

Please click! A visit a day boosts my blog ranking at Top Mommy Blogs - The Best Mommy Blog Directory Ever!

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Moving Forward

ballerinaI spoke to both TH and CW last night about Ballerina. We have our 3rd play date on Sunday, but aside from picking up the pottery, not sure yet. We’re going to come up with some ideas and see what she wants to do.

CW said everything sounded great – she had also spoken to TH – and I told her we are ready to move forward towards adopting Ballerina.

!!!!!!!

Husband and I have been non-stop discussing everything involved and feel good about our decision. There is uncertainty not really knowing how Ballerina is feeling about us, but aside from “time” we don’t know how else to truly know. TH says she’s happy and excited, but we want to hear it from her. Does that make sense? We know they talk a lot and she trusts him, but we’ll be her parents and we hope that she will open up to us more about our combined future.

We are still making assumptions about her based on being a teenager, super shy, scared of rejection, etc, etc, etc and none of them are really fair. We cannot generalize how we think she feels when she is a totally unique kid. I mean, if she turns out being the kind of teenager I was, we are golden. However, if she’s like my best friend, well, we’re in trouble. (Love you, my Zeffer!)

A-N-Y-W-A-Y… back to the CW’s call. She said we should do a few more weekends of supervised visits. It will take her a few weeks to get the paperwork done and approved for us to have unsupervised visits anyhow. Then she asked me if I could help her get a copy of our signed home study.

Um, what?

I thought we were the only ones that didn’t have it! Silly me, I thought when we were told our home study had been sent to Our Kids, that it meant the completed and signed one. She said without the signature, we cannot move forward as she can’t submit the unsigned one to the judge.

Grrrrr!

So this morning I sent off a very nice email requesting for FRC to please send the signed home study to CW as we had been matched and would like to move forward. And 3 minutes later received emails saying both our ACW and her supervisor were out of the office until next Tuesday.

Patience is SO not a virtue that I willingly possess.

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Ballerina Update

ballerina

I cannot go into great detail here about Ballerina, but I do have some information to share. Also, I’m referring to her as “Ballerina” as, even though she is in a Heart Gallery, the system doesn’t like their kids names and photos being displayed all over the place. We were told today that 90 days post-adoption, we can post anything we want about her including her new name.

But for now, what we know so far…

Therapists meeting, 5/15/14:

She is beautiful and smart and athletic. She’s [REDACTED] years old and would fit in really well with us. She plays video games, isn’t outdoorsy, and not religious. She’s a straight A student in [REDACTED] grade and wants to stay at her current school. Wants to be a doctor, very studious, totally driven. Her parents are both deceased and she is still dealing with that, obviously. She has an older brother but they’re not very close. She lives in a group home so there are no parents present which means there is no consequences, rewards, etc in place. She loves archery (thanks to Hunger Games) and ice skating.

We spoke to them for just over 2 hours then spent the rest of the day discussing what we learned. We spoke with OKB and discussed our next steps at length. Husband and I made the decision to move forward so I set up a meeting with her case worker and case manager. Yes, we asked every question on our list and then some.

Case Worker/ Case Manager meeting, 5/21/14:

I took 3 pages of notes, they gave us a bunch of information and now we have a decision to make. The next move is up to us at this point – moving forward and meeting Ballerina or deciding we just can’t handle this child and situation at this time based on what we know. We have a lot to contemplate especially with the big NFPA conference coming up. We told them we’re going to it, but also her CW is going out on maternity leave any day now. We will continue to deal with the CM and a replacement CW.

Due to full disclosure, we have her mother’s known history but not her father’s other than very basic information. Her parents were together for many many years and loved each other deeply. After her father passed away, mom had a really hard time. Ballerina has hit puberty (scary thought, but we’ll get through it together) but isn’t boy crazy and doesn’t have any interest in dating. (Wonder how long that’ll last!) She is very attached to her teachers and the staff at her school, but we are being encouraged to change her school if we choose to do so. She is super tech savvy and very attached to her laptop and cell phone. And she’s a klutz and drops stuff and trips all the time. Um, are we sure this child isn’t related to me? HA!

One of our favorite tidbits was learning that she already dresses modestly for a teen girl – no booty shorts or tight clothes – as that would’ve been amongst the first things we would change when she moved in. She told CW and CM that she wanted young, fun and hip parents. Amongst the coolest things is that she will have a brand new name, social security number and, essentially, a new identity. We will give her our last name, but IF SHE chooses to do so, she can select a new first and middle name as well. I don’t think she should, but it’s ultimately her decision.

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Questions to Ask

ballerinaSooooooo…. we are meeting Ballerina’s therapist (TH) Thursday morning to ask him questions. So. Many. Questions.

Actually, we have a huge list that I need to better sort by the person being asked. I have questions for Ballerina herself, for TH and for her case worker. I’m not sure if it’s normally done this way, but we’re meeting with the adults in Ballerina’s life before we meet her to ask them all the details and go over any concerns we may have. Honestly, I think doing it this way is genius! I would never want to ask someone in front of a child about their history of abuse, why they’re in care, what their background is, etc. I would think it would cause a bit of a backslide to hear it all again.

We are meeting him Thursday. If we choose to move forward, we will then meet Ballerina’s case worker and the CW’s supervisor. And then, and only once we’re all satisfied with moving forward, we will meet Ballerina.

Here is the list I’ve compiled, in absolutely no order and unsorted. You’ll notice there are several duplicates as all I did was copy and paste all the input into a single file.

Why she came into care?
What trauma did she go through?
Does she have specific triggers?
Past diagnosis?  Current diagnosis?  Medication, Name, what for?  How many mg.?
In regards to treatment what issues is she still struggling with in therapy?
What are her treatment goals?
What challenging behaviors does she exhibit?
What is the most challenging/ inappropriate/ negative behavior(s) she has exhibited if any?
Do they know her likes and dislikes in hobbies, food, etc..
What are her strengths?
What are her social skills
Is she afraid of the dark
What triggers her outbreaks
Any habits does she have?
Is religion important to her? Which denomination does she identify with
Does she have a healthy appetite?
What is her history of abuse?
Does she want to be adopted?
Birth parents- both mother and father present?
Does she want to keep in contact with adult relatives?
What circumstances brought her into care?
What are the most important things you want us to know about you to make you happy and part of our family?
What was she told is the reason shes in care
Does she have a history of stealing, lying, pyromania, etc
What are her medical issues – physical, mental, emotional
How does she feel about adoption
What are her likes and dislikes
Does she have any hobbies
Is she creative
Does she like comics
What are her favorite shows, movies, music
Does she want to go to college
What does she aspire to be when she grows up
How has she been at forming attachments in foster care?
What things are the most important to her
Why did the child come in foster care
Does she have siblings and do they need to maintain contact?
Are there any other relatives that the child would like to maintain contact with
Is there any maternal or paternal history of mental illness, like depression, bi polar disorder, schizophrenia
Does she have a history of sexual abuse? If yes, has there ever been any sexual reactivity?
How many placements has she been in since being in foster care?
What were the circumstances of her failed adoption/ placement?
Is she on an IEP?
Is she developmentally on target?
What are her fears about adoption, if any
Has she ever expressed what she is looking for in a family?
Birth parents. – How long before their rights were revoked or they were TPR’d?
History of foster homes
What happened to end her last placement
Ice skating- How often does she get to go? Would she be interested in lessons?
Is she on any medication? Why? What is her diagnosis?
At school – Does she have friends? Many? Who does she hang out with?
How are her grades?
What does she do after school?
Has she has been in other trouble or is therapy due to foster care?
Does she like dogs? Cats?
Allergies?
Does she have siblings?
How many placements? Why did they fail?
What reasoning or discipline style does she respond to best?
What is her learning style?
What are her challenges at school?
What therapies is she receiving? What are the goals of the therapy?
Is she willing to transfer to a school or does she wish to stay in the same school.
How many different homes has she lived in?
How many potential placements?
How old was she when she was put in care?

Many many thanks to everyone on FB, twitter, at work, via email and, of course, here for giving us a chunk of these questions. You are all my rock stars!

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Mini Checklist

Completed registration for NFPA conference? CHECK
Home study in hand? CHECK
Sent to Our Kids? CHECK
Sent to local agencies? CHECK for the 3 that replied to my email a few days ago

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Just Passing Time…

One year and one week ago, we made the decision to adopt from foster care. As much as I wish everything had gone according to [our] plan and we’d had a child in our home by Christmas, that didn’t happen. We’re still waiting for the approval.

During the year, we have cleaned out our 2nd bedroom/ office and furnished it completely for our Fletchling. We got rid of a lot of clutter. We moved husband’s huge desk into our bedroom leaving the 2nd bedroom useless for 8 months. OK not entirely useless, the cat lives in there. I installed shelving to keep the cleaners and chemicals far out of a child’s (and almost my) reach. We bought new couches and they’re almost totally paid off. We made a lot of mental changes to adapting to being a family of 3. We discussed lowering our age range. I have attended countless adoption and foster support meetings and conferences and made invaluable friendships of other parents going through the same thing we’re dealing with and more. We made several other changes, but we still have a long way to go.

I am still hoping that we’ll get our results and approval this week, but I’m not holding my breath.

Also, I’ve been working on a pretty comprehensive Timeline.

I might’ve also become addicted to doing my nails. Being a thumb sucker for 5+ years then a nail biter for 30+ years, my nails were always crappy and ragged bc I bit them. Keeping polish on them has actually made me stop chewing on them! I joined the Julep Maven program and got my first box for FREE. Clicking that link or the icon in the sidebar – and using the code FREEBOX – will get you a free box as well. No, I’m not being compensated for this post (or any for that matter) to talk about them. I’ve also been using Sally Hansen, Rimmel and Wet N Wild polishes. I just happen to like the Julep ones the best.

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ARC Meeting Recap

This morning we had our Adoption Review Committee meeting!

Husband took off Wednesday night from work since we had to be downtown in the morning. We had yummy dinner last night and relaxed watching TV and playing video games.

This morning, we woke up early and were ready to leave the house by 8:20am. The ARC was set for 10:30am. We drove to the metrorail station, parked on the roof of the garage, then got on the train heading for Government Center. We arrived so early that we found breakfast at GC and hung out taking our time eating.  I wasn’t sure exactly how to get to Our Kids, so after walking outside twice, I asked a police officer to point us in the right direction. My GPS isn’t that accurate on the walking setting.

We went on our way and it was only about 3 blocks away. The walk was super easy and really nice. He talked about trying to find a job in the GC area so we could ride the train together. I see couples doing that and even taking their kids to school on the train. We found the correct building,located the gate to walk in and then I fell.

Yup – I faceplanted right outside the building. I twisted my right ankle and ripped up my left knee. By some miracle, even though I landed flat on the ground, I didn’t skin my hands, rip any clothes, break my sunglasses or my phone. I was holding my phone, texting and walking and was sure it – or at least the case – was going to break. Nope, it was perfect. But oy was I in a lot of pain. He said I cried out as I fell. In my mind I yelled the F word really loudly as I hit the ground. Note to self, texting and walking is just as bad as texting and driving when you’re a klutz like me.

I sat for a few minutes then he helped me stand. I wobbled for about a minute to catch my breath and stop shaking then started walking since we were getting close to the time we had to be there. We checked in with security and went upstairs. We had to wait for about 40 minutes, but our ACW’s supervisor came out to let us know is was going to be a little while since they were running a little bit behind schedule. Great, no problem. I sat there with my foot propped up on my laptop bag. I saw 1 person I know that I was introduced to via email and then met at several events.

When we were taken back to the conference room, we met the panel: Paula, Allyson and Becky (via phone call). Paula explained about the review process based on both our background and on the state of things these days. She asked us questions if we had any concerns. Then asked why we decided to adopt and a little bit of our background.

She said the reason we were there was 2-fold:

  1. bc husband had a blip from the FBI on his background check. He explained what it was from and that it happened 22 years ago. He elaborated where I’m not going to in this blog.
  2. bc I was in therapy for anxiety. I told her the reasons behind my therapy, which I won’t go into detail here as there are people that could get hurt if I write about it. I told her about my learned coping strategies, that I’m still in touch with my therapist, and that the last year was spent doing a lot of pre-adoption and parenting type therapy.

After we answered the questions, she told us what happens next. We don’t get the results today. (I actually knew this coming into the ARC since I asked a friend what to expect.) They will write up a report, hopefully by tomorrow afternoon, and submit it to the administration. The administration will read the report, check out our file and then give us the approval or denial. They couldn’t tell us if we were approved, but it seemed like we were. However, we’re waiting for the actual official approval before I jump for joy.

She did recommend, though not mandate, that due to our backgrounds, we look into parenting class at either FRC or one of the other agencies. It would help us to make new parenting choices and not fall back on what we grew up with.

After the meeting and we said our good-byes, husband and I were leaving when Paula came out to catch us. She said from the sound of things, her family and upbringing were a lot like mine. We chatted for about 15-20 more minutes about different things like getting firmly entrenched in the local foster/adoption community (that I am and just A-D-O-R-E!), finding friends with parenting strategies we want to emulate and asking them about it, and reading up on as much as we can to learn about foster kids problems, attachments, etc. Regardless of how prepared we think we are, we’re not. And rather than fall back on not ideal parenting strategies, we should start now forming behaviors, etc for our children.

She’s amazing. Seriously. She’s one more amazing person that I’ve met along the way in the past year.

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October

You know when things are meant to be the universe makes sure you know it? Well I was working on our Timeline and digging for when we met and other key dates in my Livejournal. It turns out that Husband and I spoke for the very first time on the phone (after chatting online for 2+ months) on October 10, 2007.

We were married exactly 3 years later on October 10, 2010.

Thanks universe. You rock.

I wouldn’t be all that surprised if we finalize our adoption this October since it seems to be our lucky month.

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Next Step…

I was informed yesterday by the psychologist that Steve’s evaluation will be sent to our agency today.

HUZZAH!

This was the only thing in the way of getting before the Review Board. Once it’s turned in, they will schedule a date for us to present our case for why we want to adopt. At least I’m guessing that’s what they’ll ask. I really don’t know.

After going before the ARB, we should be approved for adoption. There will be nothing else in our way… I *think* but honestly who knows as things have a way of popping up after we’re told we’re finished.

I understand that the actual matching process is a PITA, but it will all be worth it in the end. We will be matched to a child, not a child to us. Meaning, whichever of the 6 agencies has a child within our parameters will review our home study to see if we fit into the kind of parents and family that would be best.

We’ve had #Fletchling’s bedroom furnished and ready for occupancy since October. October! And have not been able to use half of our apartment since then. Yes, that is, in fact, 5 months. This weekend we decided to empty out our storage unit and bring everything back home to either keep, donate or trash. It’s going to go right back into this huge empty bedroom for us to work on until we’re at the sleepover stage with the hypothetical child.

We decided to adopt April 2013. Tomorrow this process has taken an entire year and we’re still awaiting a completed home study.

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