Friday, September 12, 2014

Reader Question: How to handle reappearance of adopted daughter's birth mom?

This is the first time I'm posting a reader question like this, but I think Sarah has a very common conundrum and that this discussion could benefit the whole community. I think I'd like for reader questions to become a somewhat recurring item.


That being said - there are some ground rules. Well, one, really. BE NICE! Sarah is genuinely asking for help with a legitimate concern that may face many of us. I will remove ANY responses (from here or Facebook or Google+) that I deem to be rude, unhelpful or hurtful. 



Sarah asks:

I would love some input from other foster/adoptive parents.

We adopted siblings (now ages 11 and 4) almost a year ago. They were foster placements with us for 2 and 3 years respectively before that.

Their birth mother did eventually terminate her rights days before the court hearing that would have taken them. There is no named birth father for either child. There are no written agreements between us regarding visits, letters...contact of any kind.

We do maintain good contact with the maternal grandparents and the kids spend time with them several times a month.

A week ago, I got a letter from their birth mom. She was expressing interest in seeing our 11-year-old daughter, but not really our almost-5-year-old son. She cloaks her language in concern for our daughter but she is a notorious liar, manipulator and drug user. After expressing a lot of regret and assuring me that she is clean from heroine (I know she is still using "something" based on interactions from grandparents and their description of her behavior), she tells me that she would like to see our daughter.

She assures me she won't push in and will take whatever time with her she is given. But almost immediately she says she would like bimonthly visits and eventually weekly and biweekly.

Anyway, I'm wondering what kind of response you would give in my situation. Before the rights were terminated, I had verbally assured her that if she was clean from drugs and living a stable life, she would be able to see her kids. I never made any promises of when, how often etc.

She is the type of person that if you give her an inch...she'll take a mile.

I feel like we've been to hell and back with our daughter behavior wise and helping her cope with her past so I'm not super anxious to reopen that can of worms but I feel like I need to send her a letter back even to reestablish my boundaries so she doesn't push in.

Behavior wise, our daughter has made HUGE progress but it has taken years and I don't want to undo our hard work.

Any thoughts?

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If you have a question you'd like to ask my readers, let me know - you can message me using the contact form on the left sidebar or via Facebook. Please don't add your questions to this discussion. I will decide which, if any, questions to address in future blog posts based solely on my own arbitrary whims. Thank you for playing.


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Monday, September 8, 2014

Case Updates: Squirm & Lil Bit

First the easy and much-awaited update:

After much drama and angst and consternation - and 800 days in foster care, Squirm is finally "forever". On Friday, August 22nd, he became our newest forever duckling. I had terrible dreams leading up to finalization - from PFM demanding one last unsupervised visit, to her showing up at the ceremony and demanding to be present. But none of them came true. The day was completely drama-free (well, except for the ticket I got for not hanging my handicapped placard as we rushed into the courthouse) and SUCH a HUGE relief. We hit up Teddy Mountain for all the kids to pick out their Forever Day lovies (our family Forever Day tradition) and then had dinner with some of my best friends. We're still kind of in that surreal-I-don't-have-to-report-every-bruise phase, and I still need to return his redbook to his former case manager, but he's really and truly ours. FINALLY.

Lil Bit's case is, of course, more complicated. And likely to get even more so. His case plan is still expedited TPR/Adoption. On paper. I'm starting to wonder if Duck Daddy and I are the only people involved who know the actual definition of expedite (^to execute promptly or accelerate the process or progress of, if you were wondering^). We are still waiting for the gentleman behind door #2 to show up for a DNA test. At the last hearing (in August - which he didn't attend), his attorney stated that the post office lost the notification of his last appointment, and that was why he missed it... Everything was continued to next month, when I predict we will learn that he missed the third appointment... Theoretically, they won't delay the case forever waiting for him to show up for the test, but.... Foster Care. Also theoretically, if he isn't the bio father, someone will ask the judge if they can quit testing people, but... Foster Care....

Meanwhile, Lil Bit's bio mom had another run-in with the law back in March and was given the option of entering in-patient rehab to avoid serious prison time. Thanks to the (unintentional?) delays with identifying the birth father, she now has over 6 months sober and is talking about wanting to get him back. I've talked with her some - I think she likes the idea of sobriety, but I don't believe she's willing to do the work. For example, she's been smuggling contraband candy back into the program every time she's allowed out for court. It's a little thing, but to me it indicates a lack of commitment to the process. And her lengthy criminal and substance abuse track record doesn't inspire optimism.

Yes, she has 6 months sober and that's awesome, but she's been in jail or inpatient treatment the entire time. Further complicating things (maybe) is the fact that the program she's in was designed specifically for moms to have their kids with them - so she is thinking to get him back before she finishes rehab. Luckily for Lil Bit, both case management and the G.A.L. and G.A.L. attorney are adamantly opposed to him being sent to rehab with her. As I've explained to the bio mom, the big concern is that while she's doing well in a safe, controlled environment, no one - including her - knows how she'll do when she re-enters the real world. At this point, Lil Bit hasn't had much trauma at all, but if we were to disrupt his life, then have him bounce back into foster care, that's a lot of unnecessary trauma.

All that being said, she doesn't seem to me to have any intention of signing a surrender. And I just don't believe the state can win a contested TPR trial with her 6 months of sobriety, coerced or not. So we're waiting, and praying, and loving on him as long as we can.

In the last update, I mentioned his delays and therapy. He's still wearing a helmet, but probably only for a few more months, and he still has PT 3x/week. He said his first word this weekend - Daddy, as I predicted. And he finally figured out the mechanics of crawling. So we now have two 2-year-old boys and a mobile infant. We are well and truly screwed.

I love my life. :)

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Hint:
It has recently come to my attention that not all of my readers can easily tell when I'm being sarcastic. That is truly unfortunate, so finding a solution was imperative. ^Obviously, the easiest answer is to assume that if something can be read with sarcasm, it should be;^; but that's not really workable, I guess. After reviewing several options for a "sarcasm font", I've come up up with my own system. Whenever you see italics inside carrots (^snark^), that is my "sarcasm font".


If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Note on Giveaways (also: A New Focus, part 1)

Short version: I'm not going to be doing many (if any) more giveaways. I don't believe that my target readers care about them, the time commitment for getting them posted and advertised is too great for the benefits, and I don't care for the unintended and unexpected consequences.

Long version: If a blogger writes an uproarious, yet thought-provoking, commentary and no one reads it... what was the point?

As a brand-new blogger, realizing that people were reading my blog - that people actually cared about MY words, was intoxicating. Then companies started to notice that people actually cared about what I said. And they started offering to GIVE ME STUFF just so I could tell people what I thought about it. I joined some blogger groups to find out how to increase my reader base (and quite honestly get more stuff to review). And I discovered giveaways. So I did a few and I had very strict guidelines for myself as far as the types of giveaways in which I would participate. And that seemed to go okay. I participated in just a few giveaways - and only ones that I thought my readers would be like.

Then I went to the NFPA/FSFAPA Conference in June, and had a literally life-changing experience. (yes, I realize that is painfully cheesy, but it's true) I realized that my life focus had been all wrong - it was no longer enough to be a CPA who is a foster parent; foster care advocacy needed to be my focus. There were a lot of details to work out, but I knew that this blog would be integral.

I also knew that I needed to increase my following, for two reasons:
  1. it's difficult to be influential and affect change if you're only talking to 12 people
  2. in order to work less and focus more on foster care advocacy, I have to replace at least some of that income. More readers still means more opportunities for sponsored posts and reviews.
So I vaulted onto the giveaway bandwagon. And I basically lost my mind AND my focus. Yes, I've gained more facebook and twitter followers. But it's hard to be proud of the numbers because I know that it's not actually people who are interested in what I have to say. I actually no longer have a reliable way to measure how many people care what I'm thinking. And I would say that most of the "followers" I've added have no experience with or interest in child welfare (as evidenced by a recent rash of facebook comments that make me wonder "why are you even following me?").

I sincerely apologize that it has taken me this long to realize how far I've detoured. Duck Daddy says I shouldn't entirely swear off giveaways - that I should just go back to my initial very specific restrictions. I haven't decided about that, but I'm sure I'll let you know when I do.

Meanwhile, I have managed to narrow down my new direction - my purpose is going to be to advocate for and educate foster parents. I will have more information on that soon, but for now, this post has already gotten far too long.

In closing
  • if you started following me for my earlier content and have continued following me in spite of the giveaways and lack of focus - thank you for sticking with me and I'll try to do better from here on out.
  • if you started following me because of the giveaways, but have become interested in foster care, adoption or transracial parenting - I am so glad you found me and I hope you'll enjoy my renewed focus on what really matters to me.
  • if you started following me because of the giveaways, and are only interested in giveaways - well... my feelings won't be hurt if you realize you've found yourself on the wrong train.

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Hint: It has recently come to my attention that not all of my readers can easily tell when I'm being sarcastic. That is truly unfortunate, so finding a solution was imperative. ^Obviously, the easiest answer is to assume that if something can be read with sarcasm, it should be;^; but that's not really workable, I guess. After reviewing several options for a "sarcasm font", I've come up up with my own system. Whenever you see italics inside carrots (^snark^), that is my "sarcasm font".


If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Giveaway: Sweet September $500 (ends 9.16)

I had so much fun with the last $500 cash giveaway, I decided to do it again! I have the best readers on the internet, so I want one of y'all to win!!!

Make sure you enter and then tell me in the comments what you'll do with $500.

Welcome to the $500 Sweet September Cash Giveaway!

Monday, September 1, 2014

I just received my first hate mail.

I feel like this post should come with some kind of Surgeon General's Warning.



It was bound to happen, really. I'm opinionated. And sarcastic. And don't have much tolerance for intentional insensitivity.

I'm only surprised by two things - that it took so long, and that it was a result of what I would have considered a relatively innocuous facebook post.

But I guess when you hit a nerve, you hit a nerve. I'm still not sure which nerve exactly I hit... The one about my constitutionally-ordained obligation to listen to fertile women complaining about the horrors of having to endure something that I, and untold numbers of infertile women, would give almost anything to experience, maybe?

But I digress.

Where was I? Oh! To the person who went to the trouble to track down my email address and then send me your novella of vitriol:
I hope you feel better now.
Also, since you have obviously considered me to be the scum of the earth for some time, but only just now discovered the need to tell me so –
You're welcome. I hope that my audacity in not allowing you to verbally assault me on my own page will allow you to move on and find bloggers who don’t fill you with such fury and hostility.
To anyone else who who feels badly for my children being raised by such a “rude and judgmental, delusional, childish, bitter and unnecessarily combative” person:
I want to make sure you realize that there is no requirement to read my blog or follow me on Facebook or Twitter. 
All sarcasm aside - believe it or not, I am a very open-minded person. But there are certain things I simply will not tolerate on my blog or facebook page:

  1. Making light of or encouraging child abuse in any way. It's not a joke and it's not funny.
  2. Disrespect or abuse toward biological, foster or adoptive children, families or parents. Obviously there are bad foster & adoptive parents, just like there are bad biological parents. I don't have a problem discussing news stories, or discussing solutions for issues of which you are personally aware, but I won't tolerate disrespect or abuse, just because a family is different from "the norm".
  3. Intentional insensitivity towards infertility. I understand that most people don't "get it". But being intentionally insensitive is not okay.
  4. Attacks on my personal beliefs or those of my readers. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Atheist, Pastafarian. I don't care. If you do, take it elsewhere.
Happy Labor Day.

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Hint:
It has recently come to my attention that not all of my readers can easily tell when I'm being sarcastic. That is truly unfortunate, so finding a solution was imperative. ^Obviously, the easiest answer is to assume that if something can be read with sarcasm, it should be;^; but that's not really workable, I guess. After reviewing several options for a "sarcasm font", I've come up up with my own system. Whenever you see italics inside carrots (^snark^), that is my "sarcasm font".



If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers