Tag Archives: foster care

A Year In The Life

Something I wrote yesterday was supposed to turn into a blog post for today, but as it turns out, I’m kind of tired. I blame being out in the sun for several hours. So instead, let me tell you about how today made me extremely happy.

This afternoon, we went to a first birthday party, but not just any first birthday party. This was the first birthday of the foster child we brought home from the hospital last May when he was only 2 days old.

He was such a small, fragile baby – 5 pounds 13 ounces at birth. For the first few weeks, my husband and I were terrified of breaking him. We took care of him for the first 5 months of his life.

The first two months are a groggy blur, but things definitely picked up in the last three. I couldn’t get enough of seeing him smile and hearing him laugh. At the end of our 5 months together, he was placed with his uncles in California.

Having to give him up was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through in my entire life, but I’m thankful his new dads have kept in touch through photos, Facetime, and occasional trips to Austin since the CPS case is ongoing.

A year later, he is as healthy as can be and weighs about 24 pounds. No fear of breaking him now! At this point he only weighs a few pounds less than our current foster daughter who is a few months past her 2nd birthday.

He may no longer be our baby, but he is still a part of our lives and our hearts. Being able to see him today to celebrate his first birthday put a smile on my face for hours. Here’s to many, many more birthdays to come.


Will She Know Her Colors By The Time She Goes To College?

Becoming a (foster) parent after having been a teacher has been an eye opening experience and a bit of a challenge. As a teacher, I only had my students for less than a year of their life. And when I taught the same grade for multiple years, I saw the same slice of life over and over again.

Not so with parenting. We got our foster daughter at 19 months. We now have her at 26 months, and we could very well end up with her for her 3rd birthday, 4th birthday, and beyond. In the nearly 7 months that she’s been with us, I’ve seen tremendous growth and development. It’s fascinating, and I love it! Most notably, she went from a vocabulary of 1-2 words when she arrived to showing off new words on a daily basis. She’s even starting to experiment with two-word phrases, and last weekend she said her own name for the first time ever. I was in heaven.

The position I find myself in now is: how much should I go out of my way to “teach” her? And how much can I just let her pick up by living with us?

Case in point: colors. Over the past month or two she has developed a conception of colors as an attribute of things. My husband and I figured it out because she randomly started calling blue things blue. I had already used colors words regularly in conversation, but I definitely ramped up their use after that.  The odd effect is that now she doesn’t say blue as much. Instead, everything is purple.

I think it’s partially because she prefers purple to blue, and partially because colors are freakin’ complicated! I’m telling her to pull from a list of 6 words (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple) to describe the thousands (millions?) of shades of color she sees in the world. How confusing must that be for her?

“Yes, I know this pile of crayons all looks like completely different colors, but trust me that all of these are green.”

I don’t agonize over this or anything, but I do wonder if I should be doing more to “teach” her colors, or if I can just continue using color words when I talk and assume she’ll pick up on it over time. If I do start over thinking it, I stop and ask myself, “What are the chances she’s going to go off to college at age 18 without knowing her colors?” Yeah, that sounds ridiculous.

I feel that regardless of what I do, she is going to eventually know her colors. So then I wonder, does it even matter which route I go? Is there some benefit to actively working on teaching her color words? How does one go about actively teaching color words to a toddler anyway, especially one who can lose interest in a topic almost as soon as we’ve engaged in it?

If I don’t actively teach her color words, is there some benefit to her putting it together herself as she hears the words spoken around her? I mean, really, think about it. She’s putting together the English language on her own in her brain. I’m not giving her lessons. If her brain can do something as amazing as that, I think it can eventually sort out colors.

I know the situation would be much worse if my husband and I didn’t engage with her, play with her, read to her, and talk to her as much as we do. Sadly, we have no idea how much of this attention she was getting before we got her. We often wonder if her speech delays are related to not being talked to enough from birth.

I have a feeling this tension of wanting to teach her new things versus letting her learn from experience is going to be around from now on. My gut is leaning towards experience at the moment, though I’m learning it can be quite messy.

Today, for example, I took her out to blow bubbles. Her first attempts at doing it prior to today were pretty miserable, but today she was able to blow bubbles about 60-70% of the time. The other 30-40% she tended to blow too hard or (gross as this is) touch the bubble wand to her mouth and break the film. The thing that I enjoyed the most was her determination to try again and again and again despite multiple, and frequent, failures.

It’s also interesting how oblivious she was to the mess she was making. Nearly every time she pulled the bubble wand out of the container, a good amount of solution splashed out with it. It was splashed all over her hands, clothes, and legs, as well as all over my hands, and yet she was engrossed in blowing bubbles for nearly 30 minutes. I, on the other hand, wanted to go wash up after about 2 minutes.

With the exception of telling her she shouldn’t touch the wand to her mouth, I kept my own mouth shut about technique. The teacher in me had a lot of tips and pointers she could use, but instead of sharing them, I let her figure it out on her own and guess what, she had fun “learning” for 30 minutes. I’m pretty happy with that.


A Rough Day All Around

Today has been a rough day. In the morning, I found out that a bunch of folks I used to work with were just laid off from their jobs. The writing was on the wall that it was going to happen eventually, but having it happen today was so sudden. It was especially sad since I was just reminiscing in yesterday’s post about how great it was when I started working with them back in 2009. I wish each and every one of them the best in everything they do going forward.

The day didn’t improve from there. Daycare called this afternoon to tell us our foster daughter had thrown up. She’s thrown up three times more since then. To make matters worse, my husband and I were signed up to attend a mandatory training tonight to maintain our foster care license. If we didn’t attend it today, the only other training session is in San Antonio. I’m sorry, but I’m not driving to and from San Antonio for a 3-hour training.

Thankfully, our friend Gina came to the rescue. She was already planning to babysit for us, and because she’s so awesome, she agreed to babysit despite the extreme likelihood that it would involve vomiting. Tom and I felt awful leaving, but since we can only keep our foster daughter so long as we are licensed foster parents, we didn’t really have much of a choice.

Now I’m back home, our foster daughter is soundly sleeping in her bed, and I am crossing my fingers she stays that way until tomorrow morning.


My Day In Court

I’m getting home late from hanging out with friends, and I’d love to just skip my blog post for today…but I accepted a blogging challenge, and I’m not ready to fail at it so soon.

So today has been an interesting day.

It started out mundane enough. I spent all morning reviewing a performance task written by someone on my team. The first few ideas she had had were duds, but she finally got an inspired idea and I told her run with it. All in all I’m pretty happy with how it came out.

Then I had to go to court.

*dramatic pause*

My husband and I are foster parents, and today was a court hearing for our current foster placement, a 2 year old girl. We’ve had her for 6 months now, and as a foster-to-adopt home, we would be thrilled to adopt her. She is amazing and I love her.

Unfortunately, foster care cases tend to be pretty complicated, and they don’t always have the happiest of endings. I was anxious all morning waiting for the court hearing because of the nagging fear that the judge could suddenly decide to remove our foster daughter from our home to place her with mom, dad, a relative, anyone but us.

No one involved in the case even hinted that a change in placement was going to occur today, but that didn’t stop me from worrying. After having a baby we brought home from the hospital (our second foster placement) taken away after 5 months, I’m not at all looking forward to experiencing that grief again.

When I became a foster parent, I naively thought that my 8 years of experience of saying good-bye at the end of each school year to my students I’d spent all year bonding with would prepare me to say good-bye to a foster child. I was absolutely, completely, and utterly wrong.

So, the court hearing is over, and our foster daughter is still with us, but the case is murky and it doesn’t really feel like a win. It’s just another step on the crazy path of a CPS case. Don’t get me wrong, I am relieved that an adorable 2 year old is sleeping in the other room right now, but I yearn for the day this case is finally resolved (preferably in our favor).

To top off the day, I had a most interesting experience driving to the grocery store tonight. As I drove through an intersection, I was annoyed because the car in front of me was driving much slower than everyone else. I happened to see something as I was looking at her car, and I thought to myself, I must be wrong.

When the opportunity presented itself, I moved to the other lane and made sure to get a good look as I passed her car. I could not believe my eyes! This driver was driving on a 45 mph road with a hardcover novel propped up against her steering wheel so she could read while driving!!!

I ended up in front of her, and I checked in my rear view mirror periodically to see her still going slowly down the road, meandering along, not doing the best job of staying in her lane.

I was just floored. I’ve seen folks do that in heavy congestion when traffic isn’t moving at all or only creeping forward, but never in regular traffic like that. A friend told me I should have called it in, and it did occur to me a little too late that I totally should have written down her license plate number and called the cops. Hopefully someone else was more thoughtful than me, and hopefully she made it to her destination safely.