Sunday, September 7, 2014

Foster Mom

The boys have scheduled visits with their birth mother. Two hour visit, every other week. So far, this is the hardest aspect of fostering, for me. I can't speak for Jake or the boys, but for me, this is tough.

I am with them day in and day out.. I love these boys very much. It's been a gradual love, and it grows every day. Here's the truth, when we brought Carson home, he was our son, we loved him immediatly. Read about it here. That's how private adoption works. His birth mother chose an adoption plan for us, she chose us. There wasn't a legal risk for his adoption. He had a different name for the six months before we were able to finalize, but we knew we would finalize. Fostering is completely different. We loved them as soon as we pulled them out of the CPS investigator's car. We loved them instantly, but it was a different kind of love. We love them because they are precious boys who need a home and crave love. We love them with hope in our hearts they will be our sons. But they aren't. Not yet. So, here I am, caring for these boys, I am not just a care giver, but I am not their mom. I am their foster mom. I didn't understand the meaning of this phrase when they first came home. Today I love them so much it hurts, I love them, in many ways, like Carson. But, I do love them with caution. I am afraid I won't be their mom. I pray for the strength to love them to the best of my ability, and the Lord is growing that love. He is showing me what it means to love them without fear. Little by little these boys are stealing my heart. My guard is dropping, and I'm beginning to imagine them as Piatt's. I know I can't get ahead of the process, I know I am helpless, but one thing I refuse to be is afraid. These boys are family, and they are my sons. They are my dear foster sons.

So, that's where I am. I want to be their real mom. But, the goal of CPS is reunification at this time. Which is why they have visits. So, they had their first visit and the CPS transporter brought them back and said "it went well, they pretty much fought over a phone the whole time. They are very aggressive." Sigh. They aren't really that aggressive anymore. They do hit a level of frustration faster than most toddlers and it escalades very quickly, but they are making major strides. When they first arrived everything was a huge tantrum, lots of kicking, hitting, biting, screaming. Now, those things happen a lot less and aren't as extreme. Well, they came home from visit #1 in a very agitated state. They completely reverted back to day one behavior. Whistle was screaming and crying and really aggressive towards me. He kept screaming "mama" and he was not talking about me. Smash was really upset, but didn't want to be left alone. Whistle kept taking his clothes and diaper off in his crib and screaming. He didn't want me to hold him. Smash wanted me to hold him, and he cried off and on all night. I sat in bed and wondered if we'd lost all the progress we'd made. But, they woke up the next morning in the best mood. It was a total reset. Praise the Lord.

Visit #2 I got them dressed, packed a lunch, and some of their new favorite toys. I tried to send a lot of things for them to do so they wouldn't have to fight over the phone this time. It's weird to send them off to a visit. I wanted it to go well for their sake. So, I did my best to set them up for a good time. Transporter said it went a little better. But, their behavior was exactly like the last time. Whistle tried to bite me multiple times. Smash just cried all afternoon, they refused a late nap and we put them down early. Smash had an asthma attack that night, about 30 minutes into bed time I heard the worst scream of my life.. I ran in there and he was freaking out. I gave him the inhaler and rocked him for about 45 minutes. *yea, I gave him the inhaler, even though Whistle is the one with asthma (remember the whole foster mishap) * But, turns out he does have early signs of asthma, so it was a good call. I went to bed that night with a broken heart. I hate seeing them so stressed. They are doing so well. They are thriving off the love and consistency we show them. I wish they didn't have to go.

Which brings us to visit #3.  CPS didn't call to confirm their visit, so I spent the morning hopeful it wouldn't happen. But, I decided I better call and check. Yep, they said transporter was on the way. I cried as I packed their backpacks. I didn't want them to go. I prayed for protection over them, and for the strength and compassion I would need when they returned home. They were so excited to get dressed because they thought we were all going somewhere. But, when the doorbell rang and the transporter walked in, they both backed away from the door and into my legs, Smash started crying right away. He did not want to go. I loaded Whistle, kissed him and told him I'd see him soon. Then went around to the other side of the car to try and calm Smash down. He reached for me, like please don't make me go. So tough. I kissed him and got him to calm down, then told him I would see him later. As they drove off, I was just sick to my stomach. I hate what she did to them, I hate that she still gets to see them, I hate that she said we can't cut their hair... Okay, I'm getting into a post I'll need to write later. My struggle to love their birth mother and find a way to forgive her. I know I need to, and I'm asking the Lord to help me with this, but I'm not there. Back to the visit. I put Carson down for his nap, picked up the house, crawled in bed to take a nap, and my phone rang. The transporter called to say birth mother didn't show up and she was on her way back with the boys. I'm not going to lie, I was thrilled. I was so relieved they didn't have to see her. I was hopeful they'd be in a better mood when they got home. They came home and were so happy to see me. We played for a bit, lots of cuddles, and they went down for a late nap because schedule was a bit off. It was a great evening.

They have a visit this week. I don't know what will happen. I do know if she doesn't show up a few more times they will require her to get there early and won't send anyone to get boys unless she's there. I don't know how many "warnings" she gets. I hope not too many, because it's hard on the boys to travel to dallas and back if she's not even going to show up or call to say she can't make it.

We still don't know much about the case or which way it's headed, or when we will know anything. So I continue to learn what it means to be a Foster Mom. I'm not perfect, I've never claimed to be, but I know I'm exactly what these boys need, and I know I need them. These things don't happen by chance. The Lord is gracious and He's called me to mother these boys. I hope it's forever, but I'm thankful for today. Today I am a mom to three beautiful boys.


This precious Pistol


 Sweet Whistle


 and Mr. Smash


See y'all soon. 

Oops.

Major foster mishap.

Monday August 11, I spoke to our assigned ongoing CPS case manager. Before I get in to the details, let me just say there are so many people involved in fostering it's pretty hectic. We have our agency (amazing!), the boys have their attorney (she's great), they have a CASA worker (she's sweet), they had an investigator (more on her later), I had an email for a CPS branch person (still not sure who she was/is lol), a CPS transporter (takes them to and from visits), and now they have an ongoing case manager (we like her).

Aaaalright, so I hadn't actually spoken with their case manager, and I really needed some paperwork from her. I was under the impression she had it based on investigators initial drop off. Turns out she didn't have it, no big deal. In our first conversation (a month post placement) she asked how the boys were doing. She asked some specific questions and my heart sank... I told her, "I'm almost positive we've been calling the boys the wrong names." We got very detailed in our conversation and she confirmed we had in fact switched the boys names. I still wasn't convinced because I know we have been calling them the names the investigator told us... well, nope. Twin 1 was Twin 2 and Twin 2 was Twin 1. For a month we were calling them the wrong names.

I felt physically ill. Such a strange feeling, I felt like we had failed these boys. Now, in the same breath, I knew we loved them, fed them, clothed them, protected them, and cared for them; but, man, it was a hit to the heart. After all they've been through, we didn't even know their names. I know it wasn't our fault, but it took a few days to process.

Clearly the state isn't the most efficient. The investigator was wrong, it was a hectic night, and it's an easy mistake. The issue is, it went on for a month. one. whole. month. If CPS had called to check on us, or even come by for a visit, we could have corrected it sooner. Alright, well it's a mess we cleared up. Now it all makes sense.. They rarely listened when we called their name. (duh, wrong name.) When we were reprimanding one kid, the other one seemed stressed out. We thougth they had a weird protective relationship (which they kind of do), but turns out Twin 1 was upset bc we were using his name to correct his brother. For example:

"Twin 1 sit on your bottom." <Twin 2 is frustrated> Well, duh, he was like "I aaaaam sitting!!!"

Oh, man. FosterFail.

So, trying to relearn their names was seriously hard for us. Especially Carson. Sweet Carson. It was difficult convincing him! He kept correcting me by saying "no mommy, iss Twin 1." (He says "it's" like "isss." precious) So we kept working with him and telling him we were wrong and teaching him their new names. We were sitting around the table practicing their names. He went around and we pointed to them and he said "Twin 1, Twin 2, Mommy, Daddy," pause, points to himself and says, "Carson??" Like, am I still Carson??? It was so funny. Several times that week he would just stop and ask, "Carson Piatt???"

So, here we are almost 3 weeks later and we have it down. We all still mess up sometimes and call them the other name, but it's all okay. Also thankful we hadn't gone to the doctor yet, hadn't started Children's Day Out yet. We didn't have to call too many people and make corrections. We did, however, have some paper work, and some medical error reports. Ya know bc Twin 2 has asthma and an inhaler, but we thought Twin 1 was 2, so we gave him the inhaler. Thank goodness it wasn't a bigger deal.

Speaking of names. We can't show their faces or use their real names on social media, so here are our blog kids, because Twin 1 and Twin 2 just won't cut it.


It'll come in handy for my next posts. Stay tuned!

QBKS

I apologize for the choppy writing ahead. I want to put this out there, but it's hard to find the right words.

My uncle was in an accident while training for his A race on August 21st. He was on a long ride when a car hit him and fled the scene. He's been in a coma since. I have few words to describe the shock and sadness I feel. He is my uncle, he's family... but, he's also my partner.

Years ago Uncle Tracy roped my dad into training for his first sprint triathlon. They've done many marathons together, and my uncle is extremely enthusiastic about training, well really life. He has the ability to get people around him excited about his interests. So, my Dad, Tracy, and Aunt Elaine did the TWU Sprint tri. I was just a spectator. The excitement of the race and new tradition sucked me in. I trained with dad and Jake and we did it the next year. Since then, we've often talked about training. I haven't really been serious about it, but with every small race I did, my uncle was there to cheer me on.





So, why QBKS?.. Well, Dad and I did the HH100 in August, and during our training we coined the phrase QBKS. "Quit B*tchin' Keep Spinning." Of course, I had to make a t-shirt about it.. Tracy loved the story, and he thought the shirt was really cool. I told him I'd send him a shirt too. But, he said, "no, I can't wear a shirt unless I'm part of the joke (team)." This family is really strict about earning gear. You can't wear a shirt of a race you didn't participate in, and you definitely can't wear a shirt if you haven't done the distance. You absolutely cannot wear the race shirt to the race! You can't wear a shirt about an inside joke, if you weren't in on it. Therefore, he didn't earn a bicycle QBKS shirt. However; when I decided to do the Cowtown Marathon, my uncle decided he'd join us. I may have put a little pressure on him to get back into marathon shape. So official training began, and since October 2013, I've text my uncle almost daily about training. He encourages me, challenges me, makes me laugh, and pushes me to get those PR's. During our conversations we realized QBKS stands for many things. For the run: QBKStriding. After months of training, he definitely earned his spot on Team QBKS.



We finished the marathon and moved on to tri season. QBKSwimming, QBKSpinning, QBKStriding. I let everyone know about my goals before 30 and decided to go for it this year. Tracy wanted to do Austin 70.3. So, I registered. It's our race, it's been the center of our conversation for months, it's what we talked about the very day he had the accident. We already picked our hotel, and now I don't even know if I'm going to do it. I know he'd want me to finish. He told me multiple times how excited he was to see me cross the finish line. But, I have no drive. I don't want to train, I don't want to do this race without him. I pray and hope he wakes up and we can talk again. I want to thank him for all the encouragement, and for passing on his enthusiasm to me. I miss talking to him, I miss my friend, I miss my training partner.


He also talked me in to adding crossfit to build speed and strength. So, of course, I did. If Tracy's doing it, I'm doing it! (Same goes for the whole Apple Cider Vinegar) New training routine called for another shirt. QBKSquatting. Nailed it. 


We also talked about many other things. Usually as it related to our training.. "missed work out bc I'm sick".. "I'm emotionally drained from foster paperwork and blah blah".. He is always so encouraging about big and small things. Thank you for being a God fearing man. He is a light to everyone in his life.

Text from Tuesday and Wednesday before his accident. We found out some frustrating foster information, and as always, he was so encouraging.


**I began writing this post last week and just couldn't finish. So, tonight I will share my thoughts. My uncle is still fighting and improving every day. He has made some major strides this week. My aunt is really trusting the Lord and she's doing well *So proud of you Elaine, love you.* I am so glad he seems to be coming out of the coma. Praise the Lord! For updates check out http://www.caringbridge.org Search: Tracy Hays.

I will leave y'all with this. I rode for the first time Friday and I cried off and on. I felt like I couldn't quit the race, and I also didn't want to do it. I was very torn and emotional. I was riding with dad and he was very supportive. He said he would keep training and there was no shame in sitting out this race. I've decided I'm going through with it. I'm intimidated by the distance at this point because I'm definitely behind in my training plan and I'm still emotional. However, there is still time, I've worked a new plan, and I'm going to finish the half ironman October 26.

Leaving y'all with one of my favorite photos.


Keep fighting Uncle. QBKS.