Fostering or Adopting and Birth Order

We’ve been very successful in transitioning our one-child home to four children. I think this article sums up why we haven’t had any large scale birth order issues. Because Little One is only three, and she is going from an only child and oldest child to the baby is helpful. She didn’t have any control over being an oldest because she never had a younger sibling. She is three and exerts her three-ness independence so our six year old, who is used to being the baby, gets babied more because our toddler could care less about being babied.

We did not displace the oldest child that we are adopting. She is almost ten and very much an oldest child. She is mothering and bossy, which we’ve been promoting in positive ways. Displacing her would take away a big chunk of her self-worth and personality.

Because we now have four individuals there is less emphasis on birth order and more emphasis just on getting attention period. There is no middle child also, which helps. The children regularly switch their play partners, there are no cliques or ganging up on one person.

http://www.creatingafamily.org/adoption-resources/Top-Ten-Rules-for-Successfully-Adopting-out-of-Birth-Order.html

Homework and Parenting

I’ve found the last couple weeks that it is difficult to parent someone that has a totally different personality and priorities than you do. For good or for bad, Little One has a lot of similar personality traits to me. Since she’s the only child I’ve had (some) experience raising, it has been an entirely different story trying to parent our new three.

I am an oldest child. I strive for perfection in whatever I do, whether I like the activity or not. I am super competitive, I have to be the best. It is internal pressure. I used to read all the time. I was upset if I got less than 100% in class. I was not outgoing in class, but I made sure I knew all of the answers. I strove to be the teacher’s pet.

Now I have three children who rush through school work and don’t care if their answers are right or wrong. They have no priority in being neat and tidy or impressing the teacher. When I make them do additional work or redo the work they did incorrectly, they have fits, tears and tantrums. I don’t know if they are angry to do it again or ashamed they did it wrong in the first place. Could be a combination of both. I am anxious to see how they do in school this year.

Homework so far has been a trial of patience. One child is an over-achiever, who wants me to make up lessons for her at home because she has very little homework. She does this, not to excel in school, but to get as much of my attention as possible (I don’t mind). One child does homework perfectly but is sloppy and lacks focus with in-school work. This child has been flagged for additional in class help with reading accuracy. Lastly, one child has difficulty through every step of homework. Like this child has never learned the lessons in school and I have to teach it all over again. This child has also been flagged for out of class instruction in reading comprehension and has come home with less than stellar math grades so I fear an IEP is in the future for this child.

None of them are used to someone checking their work or helping them with homework. None of them are used to having someone check their assignments and making sure that they are on top of their studies. Being in homes with at least seven children, their moms were in survival mode trying to get dinner and baths to all the kids. I sit with all of them and monitor their performance both in and out of school. It is important to me and I feel like it is my responsibility to be a positive role model when it comes to learning, reading and school work.

I am also a very quiet person. I like my personal space. Little One is very similar in this aspect. She can be very outgoing once she gets to know someone, but she still likes for things to be on her terms. She is happy to play independently while I read or do work, with limited interaction or direction from me. I haven’t read the 5 Love Languages of Children, although it’s sitting on my nightstand (once I finally finish The Connected Child) but I believe at least two of the three new siblings are the type that have touch/affection as their love language. The third is attention/time. So for someone that is accustomed to keeping personal space unless invited, it is hard for me to have someone that literally follows me around talking and demanding attention (I enjoy the conversation most of the time but it is a true adjustment!).

I have always had a sensory deficit in the noise arena, certain noises just drive me batty and my husband can’t even hear them. So having a loud din at all times with children speaking in loud voices puts me over the edge. We have made lots of progress in the “use your inside voice” department. After I took away a minute from their bedtime every time they said “mom” in a sentence when it was not urgent or necessary, we have made progress on that as well. They were accustomed to using “mom” multiple times in a sentence to demand attention. I explained that when I make eye contact and stand next to them that there is no need to use my name consistently through sentences. It’s still taking quite a bit getting adjusted to no personal space (not that you have much with a three year old but it’s still different than four!).

I guess this is just to help all of you still waiting or wondering what the transition will be like. It will certainly be rough at first but you will get used to differing personalities and preferences!

BIG Feelings on New Homes and Adoption

I guess being in a new place and doing lots of new things can bring out the best (and worst) in people. For our kids, there were lots of nerves and manic activity surrounding and during our trip. None of them had ever been on a plane (not too rare for a 6, 7 and 9 year old). None of them had been to the ocean (again, not too rare for young children in a land-locked state). None of them had been to a zoo (still not surprising for kids who live at least three hours from the closest zoo). They had never rented a car. It was only their third time staying in a hotel. There are lots of questions from kids about renting a car! And flying in airplanes! They were wonderful and so excited and really made the trip awesome. It’s like when you finally get to celebrate Christmas with your kids for the first time and see the wonder in their eyes. To get to experience everything for the first time again through your children is awesome.

It’s also sad. They get such anxiety over things that are routine for many families. They act like crazy people when you introduce new things like going to the zoo. They don’t know how to act. It’s like being in a foreign country and not understanding the customs. They have to be taught proper manners and how to act in new situations. These kids have been in foster care four out of the last five years. They never went on vacation with their families (save a few camping trips).

The kids talked about things on the trip they never mentioned to us before. They opened up as they begin to trust us and as they attach. We know it’s a long process but it is nice to get more information.

Little Man was not allowed to do sports in the past, his foster family told him that it’s too dangerous for foster kids. Mind you, his foster brothers, one who is the biological son and one who is adopted, did multiple sports. He’s a natural athlete and excels in sports so it just makes me sad. He also said that in his previous foster home he shared a room with the adopted son and the biological son slept on the sofa. Our middle daughter shared a room with a fourteen year old girl whose boyfriend regularly slept over.

Little Man also told us that he didn’t want to go home (to our house) because it’s creepy. He has a habit of using “being scared” of something as an excuse not to do something. But this was the first time that he actually talked about not wanting to be in our house. So when we got back last night we let him choose one of the dogs to sleep in his room. He picked Chuck, the big Saint Bernard/lab mix. When I went in this morning to get Little Man up for school, he was cuddling with Chuck on his bed! He was a happy camper and seemed to love having a big protective dog with him. Chuck loved the attention too! He’s such an easy going dog that he was happy to have extra cuddles.

It was also interesting to spend a week with my parents, sister and her family. It was the first extended time that we got to be around them with all of the kids. I would consider my relationship with my sister and her husband strained. It is stressful. I feel like I have to walk on tiptoes around them and bow to their schedule and preferences. Even though we spent a week at the resort for my sister’s birthday, my sister only came for five days. Each of those days we were limited to my nephew’s naps and eating schedule. I totally understand having a 10 month old, but I also don’t feel like they should rule your life. So my family did a bunch of things while they were giving their son two different two hour naps a day in the hotel room. They also were not very flexible with where or when they ate so we pretty much had one meal together each day. It was disappointing.

On my sister’s birthday, for example, we got our kids ready and headed down to the pool/ocean by 9:00. My nephew napped and they joined us around 11:00. At noon they went to get lunch at the poolside restaurant while we just ordered poolside and ate next to the pool. I guess they were concerned that my nephew couldn’t eat poolside. After they ate they went back to the hotel room to give my nephew his second nap. We went back to the hotel room around 3:00 to get ready for dinner, then we had dinner and they put their son down to bed. So we saw them for maybe four hours out of the day.

It was also interesting to see how my parents, sister and her family related to the new kids. They are still getting to know the kids and their personalities, and I know it can be a lot of noise until you get used to it. But they just weren’t as welcoming as I hoped. I guess it will come with time but they also were not very balanced with their attitudes towards the new kids versus their behavior with Little One. My sister also doesn’t think she will be coming up for the kids’ adoption day. I guess I just never believed people when they said that their families treated their adoption differently from having a biological child. My sister and her husband were at the hospital right after I gave birth to Little One. They came to her baptism and first birthday. I guess I just never realized that Adoption Day to them wouldn’t be as big of a deal for them as it is for us.

We’re Back from Florida

The last week we’ve been in sunny, hot Florida for my sister’s 30th birthday. We had a great trip with lots of beach and pool time. It’s going to be hard to go to work/school tomorrow!

The kids all got to ride in an airplane for the first time. And see the ocean for the first time. And go to the zoo for the first time! There were lots of nerves and BIG feelings but we made it!

And note to all of you other foster families… I had their birth certificates, court order (showing their placement in our home) and the letter signed by the county for our trip and the airline/TSA did not even check any of it!

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Child Profiles

I got my hands on the child profiles. It was only for a few hours and I wasn’t allowed to copy, fax or scan them. I did take notes. We will receive a formal, completed copy after the adoptions go through. The profiles that I read were only through August 2010 so they were only about halfway complete. Most is what I expected with a Bio mom giving birth at 17 and with both parents having Hep C. I did learn that CYS had a case open from the birth of our oldest daughter all the way through until when they were actually placed in care. So social workers were out at their house very often to check on the kids. And the parents were given many opportunities during those first five years to clean up their act (literally and figuratively). After reading the profiles it is hard to imagine how they returned home after their first year and a half of placement in foster care. The profiles read like a case for adoption. Parents not trying, parents not succeeding in meeting court requests, visits at CYS not going well, etc.

All three kids were tested in 2010 for Hep C. Two girls tested negative and Little Man’s test was not back at the time that the profiles were written. I’m guessing that means it was negative but we will definitely have that checked upon. I found out that (on my birthday) in 2010 our newest little daughter got tubes in her ears so that was what those codes were about in her file. Her profile has that no birth records were available, which we all know is crap because it showed up on her print out at the doctor so our case manager will push for those to be found.

Otherwise the profile was pretty much what we had discussed with the case worker/when we got the referral for the kids. They’ve also filled me in on a lot of what happened, to their recollection. It is sad but didn’t bum me out as much as I thought it would. I am happy they are here and that I am their mom. I am sad and grieve for their past and their relationships but I know that I will do my best to support them every day.

Our permanency specialist called as well and she’s coming out the 30th with our updated profile to go over any questions she has. I sent all the adoption paperwork with our case manager today so she will have time to look over it before our meeting. Sounds like we are progressing towards the November 7th adoption date!

Now to just find a venue for a kick-butt celebration party and figure out something special for the kids to wear… Any suggestions are welcome!

Pink Eye, Allergies and some Narcotics

As you all know I have been dealing with the pink eye plague at my house. The typhoid Mary is Little One, who had her pink eye for two weeks before I realized it was pink eye (because I thought it was allergies. And it probably was caused by allergies anyways.) Then Hubby and I woke up with it on Friday. Then Saturday two of the three older kids woke up with the eye gunk so I hauled everyone off to our primary care office because they hold open hours and it’s first come first served. Well, it ended up that only Little Man has pink eye but all of them also have sinus infections caused by their allergies. The doctor said that Pennsylvania is the worst state for allergies and that we are having a rough season. Yeah I can attest to that! So now all of them are on daily allergy medicine as well as amoxicillan and Little Man has some eye drops.

When I was writing up the paperwork for the agency about their visits to the doctor and the medicine that was prescribed, I read through each of their print outs. On the second page of one of the girl’s print out was information from when she had been seen by that medical group in the past. I don’t know if it was supposed to print out or not, but man am I glad that it did!

Here is what in included, with the medical codes:

-Single liveborn-in hosp delivered without mention of cesarean section code V30.00
-Maternal Hepatitis C code 760.2
-Maternal Narcotic AFF NB code 760.72
-Acute Bronchitis (complicated) code 466.0
-CHR SEROUS OM NEC code 381.19
The print out did have the date for each of these as well. Basically, there are a number of things here that we have not been told about. The most glaring issue is that we were told in passing that Bio Dad is on disability for Hep C. This has not been confirmed to us. We did not know that Bio Mom apparently also has Hep C. We also have not been told if the kids have been tested. Since they’ve been in care since 2009 and are in school I sure hope that they have been tested already! If not, we will be having them tested ASAP. The other glaring issue is that this print out apparently says that Bio Mom was on narcotics when she was pregnant/delivered this child. We have guessed by behavior/attention/memory that these kids were exposed to prenatal alcohol. We were not under the impression from the county that either mom or dad were drug users. I also have serious concerns that if mom was on narcotics when this child was born, why was the child not immediately taken from her care? And why was she allowed to care for the other child(ren) that was already born? And why does CYS not already have a plan for the baby due this October? I’m very confused.
So I called our agency before I called the county case worker and talked through it with our case manager. She agreed that we need to know whether the kids have been tested for Hep C. She also called the county case worker to ask for the rest of the medical records. The county case worker said that she would fax over the child profiles today and that our agency case manager can bring them for us to look at tomorrow. We can’t keep them because they have not yet been updated for the adoption but I will have time to go through them and review the information. The child profiles will have all of the hospitalizations for each of the kids as well as information regarding their births. I am anxious to look through these as well as talk to our case manager tomorrow about what all of this means.
ED: Our agency case manager is bringing all three profiles with her tomorrow, leaving for another visit and then coming back to pick them up. She said that they are about 12-15 pages each. I should have enough time to make copies while she is gone. I have no idea what to expect or look for in these profiles. I remember reading that they are often incorrect and pieced together using other profiles (much like our family home study). Should be an interesting night!

Adoption Home Study

After hearing from the Permanency Specialist at our agency last week, we got the packet of materials to update for our Adoption Home Study. We’ve already done the adoption training so we just have to read back through the information and sign. The paperwork to update our profile for the adoption is no joke. I am SO glad that I made copies of all the original paperwork that I sent for our first home study because this paperwork was very similar. Here is what we had to do, and I starred next to the items that were the same as the originals:

*References

*Health History forms (this time including the three new children)

*Autobiography

*CY131: is for the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange, it is the family applicant registration/update form. We had hardly anything to update but some questions I elaborated a little more concerning the three children we have in our care

AAPI: Adult Adolescent Parenting Inventory. This was a multiple choice test asking about your beliefs regarding children, their care and punishment strategies.

So the only thing new was the AAPI, everything else was either identical to the first home study paperwork (reference, health histories) or we just had to add in a few things here or there for the three new children that we have. It just took a long time to re-write! I wished that my copies were better quality or I might have been able just to give her a copy. Or if I had typed it all the first round (don’t know if you can do that), then I would just have to add a little and print it off. Now we just wait to sign the new profile!