Friday, April 22, 2016

The New Blog is Live!

I finally had time to work on the layout of my new blog and write an introductory post. Please add Two Moms are Better Than None to your blog rolls or readers!

http://twomomsarebetterthannone.blogspot.com/

I may still post over here if I have specific education-related thoughts, but all kid and personal updates will be at the new blog from now on.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Legal Custody!

I am now Geordi's legal guardian, and we are moving to the Deep South to be with my wife as she completes pilot training in the U.S. Air Force. As you can imagine, preparing for court, getting our house ready to sell, packing up for a move, and still trying to finish the usual grad school assignments and parenting duties has been very overwhelming - hence the lack of posting recently!

I am also thinking about starting a new blog to reflect this new chapter in our lives. This current site has a lot of old posts that are irrelevant to what I generally discuss now, which could be disorienting for new readers. My policy is to never delete posts, though, so I might as well design a fancy new blog for our new home! I'll be sure to leave the link here if/when I get something up and running. Any suggestions for sites? Doe blogger work well or do you prefer other platforms?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Day in the Life

It's time for another Adoption Link-Up, and this week's theme, as you can see from my title, is "A Day in the Life." I'm blessed that Geordi is fairly emotionally healthy (so far, knock on wood!), so my days are not too stressful. Soon I'll be on my way to pick him up from school, but here's what today looks like:

4 AM: Shadow (the dog) demands to be let outside. I have to yell at him to come back in because he wants to snack on the grass.

8 AM: I get up and shower by myself because Geordi is at his grandparents'. We were supposed to have transitioned to 7 days/week with me by now, but that didn't happen. He still spends two nights/week with them.

10 AM - noon: NAMI Family-to-Family classes. If there is a NAMI in your area and you have any loved ones with mental illness, I strongly recommend you look at their support groups, education and training opportunities! It is so helpful to be with people who understand that mental illness is real and cannot be cured simply by "getting more sleep" or "eating healthier." This course has also taught me a lot about the brain differences of people with various mental illnesses.

12:15 PM: Go order Geordi's birthday cake!

12:30 PM - 2 PM: Work on graduate school homework. Right now we're learning about programmatic planning in public health...pretty boring.

2:15 PM: Make time for a panic attack regarding the upcoming custody hearing.

2:30 PM: Check Facebook, news sites, e-mails, and of course the county court records to see if any of my kids' birth parents have been arrested lately.

3:00 PM: Off to pick up my favorite little guy!

3:30 PM: Snack time and chatting about school. I love that Geordi can tell me about his day. Even some of my kids who were older than him did not have the cognitive ability to tell a story.

4:00 PM: Play outside with Shadow, both Geordi and Shadow's favorite activity.

4:45 PM: I insist Geordi come back inside so I can start a load of laundry and begin cooking dinner. He throws a tantrum. I ignore it. He gives up and comes inside.

5:30 PM: Dinner. I was able to cook it because Geordi can occupy himself for short periods of time! Of course it is all punctuated by "Mommy, look!" or "Shadow won't stop sniffing me!" but I don't have to keep running over to stop him from hurting himself. It's great.

6:30 PM: If Geordi cleans up his toys or does something else helpful, we can play Splatoon! (a game on the WiiU)

7:00 PM: Bathtime

7:30 - 8:00 PM: Bedtime routine; brush teeth, PJs on, story and a song. His current favorite songs are "Space Oddity" and "The Walrus and the Carpenter." He's a funny kid but I guess I'm giving him kind of an odd repertoire!

8-10 PM: I get to do more homework! If there's something good on TV I might watch that, too.


It's really amazing that Geordi doesn't hate me. At our house, we have a maximum of 30 minutes of screen time on weekdays (or one movie if it's not a school night, and only rated G). He has to eat two bites of his food before he claims not to like it. Tantrums never get his way. The expectations here are so different from what he was used to, but other than some extra tantrums on transition days, he handles it incredibly well. I remind him "Screaming and crying does not get your way!" and he will sigh and immediately stop (which is how you know he wasn't truly upset, but just manipulating like kids do!).  I know that these limits are teaching him how to function in society and grow up to be a healthy adult, but from a kid's perspective, I am so mean. We don't even have cookies or candy in the house. His dessert is popsicles made from V8 Splash (shh don't tell him there's vegetables in it).

If you made it this far, thanks for reading about our typical day! It's not nearly as exciting as it used to be, and I am so grateful for that. Drama is overrated.

No Bohns About It

Monday, March 14, 2016

300th post!

Not terribly exciting, 300, but I haven't posted in awhile so I figured I'd write something. There are a lot of post ideas floating around in my head ("Advice on How to Deal with Epic Destruction" now that we are preparing our house to sell, for example), but I'm way too stressed to sit down and write anything of substance. My submissions for grad school are getting lackluster grades, but hey, Cs get degrees! I just can't seem to focus on anything through the absolute panic that looms ahead. We were originally asked to adopt Geordi, but his mom didn't like the idea of terminating parental rights completely (which I can understand from her perspective), so she offered the idea of legal custody. Unfortunately, every other week she changes her mind and insists that she will fight for him. While I obviously want anyone who is capable of raising their child to have that opportunity, I can't live in this limbo much longer. At least as foster parents, we had a stipend to cover the kids' expenses. Right now we cover Geordi's expenses (not a problem) but also have to maintain two separate households, as my wife has been moved out of state for military training. We're not allowed to take Geordi until we get legal custody, so we've just been bleeding money for the past month. If custody isn't granted, I don't know what we'll do. We can't afford to be free babysitters for life!

This is all to explain why I am now preoccupied with my greying hair. Since I was 17 and noticed my first white hair, I have been plucking them out, and to my relief, they never seemed to increase in frequency. I'd find one every few months, remove it, and forget about it. But now they are so thick that plucking is painful, and so numerous that I don't really want to spend my life hunting for them. I'd be pleased to look "distinguished" but of course I still have acne as well, so I just look a mess.

I teased Geordi that his tantrums were "giving me grey hairs," and he jokingly used his magic wand to turn all my hair grey - how rude! But then my wife pointed out that I am only just noticing these hairs that are 3-4 inches long, meaning they sprouted right around the time we had Gemini. There's no scientific proof that stress causes hair to lose its pigment, but I've heard that it does. I can imagine that each time I had to watch that poor little boy get strapped to a gurney as he tried to bite his wrists, another hair follicle abandoned all its color.

Speaking of Gemini...both of his parents have been in jail repeatedly since we had him. They are not doing any of their case plan or following the terms of their probation (court-ordered medications, community service, check in with probation officer, etc.). I'm shocked that their parental rights are still intact, but I hope the other kids' visits have stopped. Gemini's brother used to cry to his foster parents, "Why do you make me go back there? It's not safe!" because he had found a gun at the birth family's house. The county "followed up" on that by asking the parents "Do you have a gun in your house?" and they were like, "Nope." So, for people who have a history of illegal weapons possession charges, that was sufficient for Children's Services.

I also continue to get medical bills for Gemini. Obviously I'm not going to pay them, but the fact that MY address is still the one on record, when he left back in October 2015, is negligent. It also violates HIPAA because I have no business seeing the details of his most recent hospitalizations. I don't know who has him now - a foster home or a residential treatment center - but it sounds like the county doesn't either!

The system is so messed up that I'm not sure we will continue to pursue foster parenting after we move. I know that the kids need help no matter what, but it feels like I am complicit in this system that repeatedly does everything AGAINST their best interests. After my wife's pilot training, we will be in Michigan, so hopefully their foster care system is not so atrocious. Any readers out there have Michigan experience?

And of course, if you're not angry enough about what my kids have endured, check out http://fosterhood.tumblr.com/ to see how New York City apparently messes with kids' lives for fun. That's honestly the only explanation I can understand.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

black-ish

This is a great show, and the most recent episode is now available for free on Hulu. It addresses the parents trying to decide how much to tell their children about police violence. I think the episode did a great job of showing all sides of the struggle, and I could really identify with the parents. I don't want my children to be afraid of the police at all, because what if they get lost at the mall? They should ask a police officer for help! But if they are approached by a police officer, I do want them to be cautious, to follow instructions, to know their rights. This is a tall order for a preschooler so we haven't broached the subject just yet, but soon he will be seen as a potential threat in some communities. Tamir Rice was only 12 when he was shot.

black-ish episode "Hope"

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Dreams and Nightmares

Ever since I found out that Talented Toddler, Little One, and Tiny Baby had been put back in foster care without a call to us, I've had dreams about them nearly every week.

Sometimes I have to try to save all of them from a burning building, and it's impossible to carry three wiggling girls through the debris. Sometimes I catch sight of them in a crowd and don't get the chance to make contact.

Most recently, I dreamt that Talented Toddler's new foster mom had signed her up for the same gymnastics class I had Geordi in (whereas in real life Geordi is not taking gymnastics, but hey, it's a dream). Talented Toddler ran over to me and started talking - still not developmentally appropriately, but much better than she had the last time I had seen her. She told me in her own way that her foster mom didn't play with her, and she didn't understand why she couldn't come stay with me. Of course, I couldn't explain that, either due to prejudice or extreme laziness, the social workers had never even told me she was back in care.

Suddenly, I realized that I was dreaming, and would probably never get the chance to hold Talented Toddler again. I picked her up, hugged her, and whispered, "It wasn't my choice. I would have kept you," and just tried to remember how it felt to hold my girl one last time.

When I woke up, I saw an article that mentioned how "foster kids get passed from one home to another" as if the foster families are eternally kicking them out. That's not always the case. Sometimes the county doesn't put in the effort to ensure children are reunited with previous foster families in the unfortunate event they are returned to care. Sometimes the county removes kids from homes that are deemed "too troublesome" because they spend a lot of time advocating for their foster child. It's not always due to problem behaviors or uncaring parents.

I'm aware that life with four children under 4 would have been incredibly difficult, and maybe not in everyone's best interests (certainly not my own - I would have definitely had to drop out of school). But I'm still allowed to be sad that my girls are with strangers, when that wasn't how their story was supposed to go. I wish I knew that they were okay.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The "M" Word

When Talented Toddler and Little One were with us, I was very careful to never refer to myself as "Mommy." I knew that reunification was the goal and I didn't want to confuse Talented Toddler or disrupt her attachment any further. You can see how well that worked out here.

Geordi, on the other hand, is very verbal, so we can explain to him that in life, you can have lots of mommies - the ones who take care of you and the one who gave birth to you. However, we still introduced ourselves by our first names and never told him he had to call us anything. A few times last December, Geordi was very clearly that I was not, and never would be, his mama. Okay.

Geordi likes to spend about half his day pretending to be an animal. He will be the "baby frog" and declare that I am the "mama frog." I noticed that he was starting to call me "Mommy" even when not requesting animal things, and then on our recent vacation to Florida, he decided I could also be his "people mommy." I must admit, I was very pleased. Geordi still uses my first name often, but when I pick him up from school, it's obvious that he enjoys yelling "Mommy!" just like all the other kids do.

As for my wife, Geordi will introduce her to people as his daddy. For those of you wondering if we are confusing him with our same-sex relationship - no, my wife looks more obviously feminine than I do. I think Geordi just wants a father figure, and since my wife goes away to work, she gets to be "Daddy." We have tried explaining that she's not a man: "She can't grow a beard, she doesn't stand up to pee"* - but that just makes him very insistent that he can SEE her beard and he KNOWS she stands up to pee. Yikes! There will be some awkward conversations with preschool teachers in our future.



*I am very aware that not all men can grow beards, and some do sit down to pee, but these are signifiers that Geordi understands at the age of 3. Plus we're not going to prove to him that neither of us has a penis, because we're not legally his parents and that's just inappropriate!

About Me

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My blogs cover my experiences with foster parenting, epilepsy, working with kids who have autism, thoughts on the education system, and general silliness. You can read through chronologically or just click the label for the topic that interests you.