I had no idea how long it'd been since I'd blogged. Wow. Sorry 'bout that, folks. We moved in April, before Pesach (Passover). Lots of endings and new beginnings around here since then. We're hanging in, though. Little Guy and Big Guy are loving having more space in our new home, life is much improved since we are no longer on top of each other.
The biggest news to share is that adoption is looking like it's going to be the plan for Big Guy. Because Big Guy and Little Guy came into care on the same day but Little Guy was sent home not long after and was home for several months, CPS is counting his re-entry to foster care rather than his original entry as his "date of entry into the foster care system" (the date upon which his parents' 12 months of working their case plan will be based). This means the boys are on different timelines in terms of their cases. So Big Guy's permanency hearing was early this month and his case was moved to the adoption unit, meaning that the goal is now adoption (by us) rather than reunification. This doesn't mean parental rights have been terminated yet or that if a family member came out of the woodwork CPS wouldn't have to consider them. But it means that a TPR hearing will be scheduled. It is quite possible we will adopt Big Guy by some time this winter, barring any legal appeals made by Patty.
Little Guy, on the other hand, won't be done with his year in foster care (the year that's required before CPS can file for TPR) until fall. And unlike Big Guy, he has a dad who is fighting for him. Fighting in an ambivalent, flaky way, but still doing some of what CPS has asked him to do for his caseplan. So the possibility of the boys' outcomes being different still hovers above our heads. Unfortunately Big Guy has started picking up on this and it is contributing to the hard time he is having. You have to understand that he is not happy that he is likely going to be adopted. Those stories about kids who are just so happy to finally have a forever family? That is not our story. Our story is one of a little boy who absolutely adores his mom, whose mom is loving to him and never overtly abused him... and who is being told he still cannot go home to her. This is a story of a kid who is told over and over the reasons why he is in care (mom's mental illness, her cognitive limitations, how easily she got overwhelmed parenting them, the normal kid things she wouldn't let them do due to her paranoia, the lack of family support she has, the way she couldn't protect him from getting badly abused by other family members, his behavioral/emotional needs she couldn't meet) and still doesn't really get why he can't go home to her and thinks it's his fault and if his behavior was better he could go home. This is a story of a kid who adores his foster parents but wants to be with his birth mom... but who doesn't get any say in the matter because he's so young and his needs so clearly cannot be met by his birth mom. It's a sad story, to say the least.
So it's probably no surprise when I say that Big Guy, who in many ways has been doing quite well, is lashing out like crazy at us and finding new ways to test us. His goal in his testing/behaviors seems to be to prove that we don't really love him and aren't "real" parents. He will act out intensely so that we are stern with him or ask him to go to his room - And when he refuses to go to his room he will "trip" and "hurt himself" in a very obviously purposeful way, so that when we don't make a huge scene over how he's hurt he can then accuse us of not caring that he's hurt and tell us that proves we're not "real parents." He will tell us he's going to do something dangerous or self-destructive and when we use the appropriate behavioral techniques (since this is truly a behavioral issue, not a psychiatric one) which involves not over-reacting, he will tell us we don't care if he hurts himself and his mom would care and that this proves we don't love him. It is very, very trying. He is trying to push us away. At the same time, he has been telling us more than usual how much he loves us and even told Sarah the other day "you're the best mommy ever!" (Mommy is a term he never uses for us, only for his birth mom). Can you say AMBIVALENCE?!?!
Little Guy is growing like a weed. He has grown almost 4 inches since he's been with us (8 months) and has gone from having not a single recognizable word to being almost on-target in terms of his language. He is 2 and is very bossy and very funny and sweet. This morning he climbed across my lap while I was on my computer and demanded "Snuggles!" He is just a delight. So cute and so loving and happy. Unfortunately he continues to have seizures, which is a challenge. He also is having a lot of sleeping troubles of late, which is not fun for any of us.
As for Sarah and I, we're doing okay. Okay enough to be thinking about Foster Child #3. We got a call last night for an after-hours placement of a teenager and I immediately told Sarah to say no, but afterwards spent an hour trying to fall asleep while I couldn't stop thinking about whether they could find a home for this young lady. I know we made the right choice, however. It's easy to get excited about taking whichever child they call for (especially because we get so few calls) but we need to think of our boys first and foremost and make sure whoever joins our family is a good, safe fit for them.