Monday, March 27, 2006

Old times . . .

Wow. I was sent an email from an old friend that I recently found on the internet a month or so ago. We caught up, she showed me pictures of her family. She has a photography business and all is well with her. She always had a passion for taking pictures, and I have several dozen copies of pics she took long ago. Yesterday I received and email from her saying that she had received and email about some pictures that were posted at yahoo photos. They were of us and our friends 20 years ago. We don't know who posted these pictures and the crazy part is that most of the pictures were taken by my friend. It was so FUN to see all these and rememebr all these old friends. This picture has always been one of my favorites.

My friend is going to dig through some old stuff and post others. I'm going to do the same. I'm so excited. Back then I wasn't so concerned about capturing the memories on film. Today, I would love to have those photos. . . the interent is a fantastic tool.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow . . .

Not only is tomorrow FRIDAY, but my son Dustin is going on his first overnighter. He is going to be gone from 6:30 Friday to Saturday about 3:00. Dang! Dustin has never been able to do this before. His behavior would not allow him to spend the night away. This time it is with a large group of children at our church. Dustin will have 2 adults assigned to him to make certain he is being appropriate and most importantly enjoying himself. I am so excited for him, and I'm embarrassed to admit it, but also for us. Sometimes it's nice not to have the trauma if possible. Actually he has been doing fantastically since the doctor up'ed his Serroquel and added Haloperidol to take the "edge" off. We haven't had ANY reports of difficulties at school for 9 days! That is awesome for Dustin. Hopefully he will behave and enjoy his time this weekend.

Now o the post I have been hinting about for a while now. My issues with DFC . . . Department of Family & Children. While we were foster parenting we had a child placed with us who was 12. This child was a bi-racial child and was quiet and mellow when we first met him He had been in a group home placement since he had been removed from his biological home about 8 months previous to our placement. We were told he was doing well at the group home, still had lots of visits with his birth mom and dad serperately and was able to spend the weekend at dad's home often. We had never dealt with so much parental involvement before, but decided to give this placement a try since we felt close to this child since we first met him. Our agency had just received the referral for this child and had never worked with him before. We had a meeting in our home (this will be important later) with the county case worker and our case manager from our agency. We discussed this child's anger issues (since Harrison was only 5 months old this was a concern) and spoke about strategies and emergency placement options if we needed a break. The county case worker went upstairs, checked out the room this child would share (also important) with Dustin for whom we had already put in a petition for adoption. We talked at length about Dustin and how this child would deal with and interact with him in our home. The caseworker said since we had some really successful visits and this child was appropriate with everyone involved she would place him in our home.

Months go by. We have some blow ups, we have some emergency respite. All in all things are going well! I get pregnant. We still make a commitment to helping this child. The time comes for court and low and behold his parents who have been fighting the termination of their parental rights agree to termination because they like us and hope that we will adopt the child. They were also told by the case worker IN MY PRESENCE and in the presence of our case manager, that visitation can continue and should continue at least every other weekend with his father if it continues to go well. We make no commitment to adopt at this time; in fact the child does not want to be adopted. He wants to simply be a ward of the county until he ages out, in Indiana a 14 year old can make that decision. We attend counseling; we do everything that will help this child. We continue visitation with dad.

Catholic Charities came to our home to do an assessment for putting this child up for adoption. We told her about the visitation. She blew a gasket. It seems the county caseworker lied. There was to be NO visitation. This was specified in the court order. She lied to us! One night in therapy this child broke down and told me he loved us and wanted to be adopted. We spoke with Catholic Charities and she put in an intent to adopt. The following week is Easter, the child starts saying things I'm not comfortable with, he complains that Dustin had been talking about sex. For a week or so Dustin had been saying really inappropriate things. We were frustrated; we thought it was due to the pregnancy. (We should've seen that the child was grooming Dustin, I feel really guilty about this.). I promised this child I would talk to Dustin after school. He starts "backpedaling" saying "NO! Don't make him mad", and "Promise you won't tell him I said anything" My husband mentions it to Dustin that night after therapy. He says "----- had sex with me"

This is not something a child lies about. Dustin was a liar, however, he would have no idea how to even lie about this. Robert called me on the cell and asked me to come out to the van. Dustin told me what he had said. I asked questions, he gave very real answers. I walked into my home called our case manager and said "Come get him now." I never said another word to this child. They came, I packed his bag and he was gone. The first call I made was to his therapist. She said something I will NEVER forget as long as I live, and I quote "I was afraid this would happen" WHAT! She then informed me that this had been an issue in this child's past. And that even after he had been placed in my home there had been an allegation of sexual abuse on another child in the group home who told after this one left. WHAT!

Back to what I said earlier . . . We had a meeting in our home with the county case worker and our case manager from our agency. . . . and this one . . . The county case worker went upstairs checked out the room this child would share. She knew full well this child could and probably would perpetrate on my son.

There are a couple of good things. This happened when Dustin was really having a difficult time with his medications. He was in a psychotic state for most of the time around when he was abused. He was extremely distraught and usually delusional during this time. Even though he remembered vividly what occurred that night and later told it on video to police and the prosecutors, he wasn't truly affected by the abuse. He will not speak this child's name and does not talk about it by choice. When asked to visit this issue in therapy, he will answer any questions asked in a very matter of fact way. I believe he looks at it as simply another crappy thing that happened to him in his short life. His therapist believes that it will not be an issue at a later time either. We are however cautious about the situations we put him in. We are cautious to not ever be too trusting.

My husband and I attended this child's court sentencing. He admitted to our faces that the abuse occurred. There was no doubt in my mind. I made him look at me as he was made by the judge to read a letter I wrote about the disappointment we had experienced due to his actions. and how his actions had affected Dustin right after the abuse. I saw in his eyes regret more so than I have ever seen before. It was a very sad day.

My anger is with the system. This case worker lied to my face. We had asked specifically about sexual issues. She KNEW the boys shared a room. She knew this was an issue for this child. She threw this child to the wolves . . . she knew he would be tempted. Her only priority was placement. My other children were not her priority. She was sworn to protect children and in the process of this placement SHE herself put mine at risk. If I as a parent would've knowingly put my children in that situation she would've taken them from my home saying I was negligent. ARGH! I GET SO ANGRY TALKING ABOUT THIS!

So, that's off my chest. If you email me, I'd be glad to give you real names of those involved. I will not do that in this public forum. I will however caution foster parents who accept everything DFC says at face value. We did, it was detrimental to my child. Do your homework! Please be careful!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Forgotten treasure . . .

I have found some forgotten treasures in my own home. I suppose if I worked at a radio station I would call them Sheri's Lost Classics. You see, I did some work around the house for a friend's mom after the holdiays. In return, I was given an iPod (shout out to CoffeeBigPlz). Actually it was for my husband. I know it will become a battle especially this summer. . .

Over the past few weeks we have been uploaded our tunage into the wonderful little miracle device. I am rediscovering my music! I love it! My husband and I are 15 years apart. When he came into my life, my music got put on the back burner for music we agreed on. He would be more than happy to "deal with" my music, but I didn't mind his favorties at all. You must understand that my parents are only 4 and 5 years older than my husband, and were hippies. My dad, especially, was a huge music lover, and I often wonder if he are Robert would be close friends if he had not passed away before I met Robert. I think they would be. Anyway, Robert's favorites were staples in my home. (All except for Pink Floyd which I loved but my dad had a strong aversion toward I think it may have been the soundtrack to a bad trip long ago.) So, I already enjoyed clssic rock and we chose to listen to that when we were together. My music was for "me" time which became fewer and farther between after 3 children.

Anyway. . . while uploading to the iPod I rediscovered all my old favorites. Robert is now being tortured by my scary eclectic mix of Jane's Addiction, Squeeze, Erasure, Tori Amos, The Replacements, fIREHOSE, and Operation Ivy. (I told you it was scary) There are many more including some old local bands like The Hush and The Jury. I also re-found a band from Milwaukee called the Gufs that I truly love! I found some old bar bands: one from East Lansing called the Hannibals, one from Detroit called the Holy Cows and one from Lima called The Indoorfins. I guess it's not that I had forgotten these bands really, but I had forgotten how much I have loved listening to them. Robert is being a trooper, and like he says, "There's always ear plugs".

So WoooHooo to my iPod for helping me learn to love my music again, even if it does date me. . .

Hi Ho Hi Ho It's off to work I go . . .

Monday. Blah!

I hate Mondays! I have this problem being on time. It doesn't matter what time I get up, I cannot get to work on time. If I get up early I get sidetracked doing other things, yet if I could I would lay in bed until noon.

I have so much to do at work. My boss is on vacation and I get to do alot of her work. I do like to be busy at work since it helps the day go by so much faster. We have a huge celebration coming up in April and there is so much to do. I am in caharge of gathering and converting all the music for the program and putting together a slide show with pictures of all the kids with music. I also have to do all the graphic art stuff with promos and programs and signs. I love doing this kind of work, but right now I feel a little swamped. I have to practice with the school-agers and get them to learn their song, take pictures, do the promo, start the advertising . . . . ARGH!

I better get to work . . .

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Liar, Liar pants on fire . . .

I hate lying! I hope those who lie do have their pants catch on fire. I think I maybe it's because I was brought up in a strict home, but I cannot fathom how a person can lie and not feel guilty. I DETEST lying. I think the only thing I hate more is a poor work ethic. Sometimes I think I am blunt and have very little tact because I can't lie. Thankfully, my husband is not a liar. He can't lie. Even when he tries I know. . .

I struggle with adults who lie more than chidlren. Be a "grown-up" and face up to your misgivings and mistakes. Honesty can cover a multitude of sins. I would much rather you tell me you caught me house on fire, for example, than to lie about it and still be my friend. Don't lie to me one day and be all nicey nice the next. I hate when people lie over the stu[pidest little things. It simply tells me that I can't believe anything you say and calls everything you do into question.

I don't struggle with lying from Dustin so much anymore. I have come to learn that it is simply a part of his disorder, PDD and FAS, and it is not usually intentional. Sometimes he lies because his brain says, "You must have a reason, hurry, make one up." Sometimes he lies becuase he was severely physically abused and lies to cover "sins" that would've earned him pain in his birth-home. Sometimes he lies becuase he can't even remember the offense.

I hope that I instill honesty in my children. I would hate to think that my children missed that valuable part of my upbringing.

Joyous day . . .

Dustin had a gret day at school yesterday. Robert got a call from his teacher saying he was MUCH better. You gotta love that. Those calls are few and far between with a child with FAS. Why is it that when he's being rotten she calls me and when he's good she calls Robert? That is so not fair! :) We took the family out to dinner last night since he had a good day. . . he ate his weight in taco pizza. That in itself is progress, becuase he has been refusing food lately. I need t do some research on food avoidance. I heard that term in my support group last week. If anyone has some info let me know. . .

Monday, March 13, 2006

The saga continues . . .

Wow. What a weekend. My adopted son, who has FASD (Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) had a horrible weekend. Let's start at the beginning . . .

Last month when Dustin was in a Behavioral Unit, his psychiatrist tried a stimulant medication similar to Ritalin. He had been on this medication before and we were happy to try it. The hospital called about 1 hour after giving the medication and said he had a severe reaction. I thought it was strange since he had been on that medication long term before. They said it made him "crazy". He was over stimulated and had facial tics and his behavior was bonkers. The doc said "Never let anyone put him on a stimulant again, it makes him almost psychotic. His brain chemistry cannot handle a stimulant." We said alright, and filed that away in our brains.

Fast forward to Wednesday last week. We had called the psychiatrist since Dustin's behavior was becoming outrageously bad at school. Robert took him to the doc and he said "I want to try this stimulant." Whoa, hold on. You said . . . The doc assured Robert that it was a different kind of stimulant and he wanted to try it. We gave Dustin ONE pill on Thursday morning. . .

Fast forward to Sunday evening . . . that one pill was still affecting Dustin. He had fought us, spit on us, said hateful angry things, all of which is pretty uncharacteristic - even for Dustin. On Sunday evening Robert answers a call from the neighbor. Here's how the conversation went . .

Robert : Hello
Neighbor: Are you guys upstairs
Robert: No
Neighbor : Well, Dustin his cutting the screen out of your window and climbing onto the roof.

Fast forward to Monday. We had another doctor's appointment today and the doc said, "Okay, no more stimulants ever." We have now increased his dosage of the anti-psychotic medication and added another. Hopefully we will have a good night's sleep. Robert stayed up all night last night to make sure Dustin was asleep safely. Tonight medication should help . . . we can hope.

Au Revoir . . . Fait de beau reves.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Encouragement . . .

Tonight I had my support group for special needs children. It is nice to go and talk about all the issues we have with our special needs child without the person thinking you are totally nuts. I enjoy listening to others stories, and also feeling a kinship with those moms who go through similar trials. Not all of our children are the same, many have autism spectrum disorders, some are toddlers, some our adolescents, but all of us live daily with special situations in each of our children's lives.

There is an inspirational story about visiting Holland that floats around from time to time. You can read the text here. It talks about how we prepare for a trip to Italy all your life and you have all these perceptions and expectations about what it's like. You think that's what it's going to be like because that's what it is like for everyone else. You get on a plane for Italy, and then BOOM, you end up in Holland (you have a child with special needs). Not that Holland is a bad place, but it's not what you bargained for. You wanted to go to Italy like everyone else. Once you start learning the language and seeing the sites you decide Holland is beautiful. It's not Italy, but it's just as good.

I try to be positive about the things I go through with a child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. I understand that he will never be "typical" because his birth mom was selfish. I understand he is impulsive and will most likely always battle that. I know he will have some developmental delays, due to many other factors as well. I get that his brain is damaged. I just want him to be HAPPY. I try to remember that we have gone through many low valleys, lower than where we are now. I try to be patient with pharmaceuticals and doctors. I try to remember that there are those that are going through so much more.

I am afraid for our future. I know that a fellow blogger, Claudia, is dealing with teenage FAS issues and hope that our future holds something different. I don't know what to expect. I pray daily that Dustin will have a wonderful and fruitful life. He deserves more than what he has been dealt. He has gone through so much in his short life. My prayers go out to her family as they walk this path.

It is bedtime in our house. As I am typing this, Dustin has been out of his room 12 times. How do I know? We have one of those window alarms hooked to the outside of his door molding. When it is time for bedtime, we shut the door, turn on the alarm and when he opens the door I hear a siren. That is what it like with a child with FAS. You must be on your toes at all times. Dustin cannot leave his TV on or he will be awake all night. To fix this, we cut the cord to his TV until it was only about 3 inches long. We attached a new plug on the end. In order for him to watch TV we must give him an extension cord. When it's bedtime, or when he's grounded he has to give me the cord. You have to be creative.

I will sleep tonight thinking about how beautiful Holland can be.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Good memories . . .

I've blogged before about how I have these very poignant memories. I can remember sounds, what I was wearing, thoughts and even smells when I remember certain things from my past. I think that may be why I have this unusual attachment to things. Every once in a while I latch onto something and I have a hard time letting it go. I am not a pack rat. I like to be organized more. I used to be more of a pack rat in the time I refer to as B.M. - before medication.

Last night I panicked. You see, there was this little bulletin board attached to our old desk. On that bulletin board I had a small Hello Kitty thumbtack. That thumbtack was a Christmas stocking stuffer from about 1980. I was given as set of several different colors and I have one left. I don't think I ever made a conscious decision to keep it, but it kinda followed me as I moved throughout the years and I have thus become attached to it.

Anyway, back to last night. . . I realized that as we broke apart the desk to take it out for the trash pick up that I never took that thumbtack off the bulletin board. I made my dear sweet husband go and retrieve it from the rubble at about 11:30 last night. He no longer looks at me strangely. He simply does what I ask because he knows weird things are important to me. What a great guy!

Today I took a picture of the thumbtack, so if I misplace it I have a memory. Weird huh?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I'm so weird. . .

Anyone who knows me would definitely concur. I've already told you all about my OCD. So this may not come as a shock. . .

My confession is: I LOVE storage stuff.

It's hard to get me out of the rubbermaid isle. I love desk accessories, storage boses, tubs, etc. Now, I have to clarify. A friend has this looney mom (by her own standards, not just mine) that "collects" storage tubs. She tries to be organized and buys tubs all the time. I went over and did some work for her and I found tubs with open boxes of cereal in them in the storage porch. She offered me some cookies that had been stored in there as well. She buys tubs and needs to fill them so just tosses stuff in there. Not me . . . I LOVE storage devices so much and then I always have to come home and organize.

We bought a new desk . . . not even gonna blog on the building of that desk from about 100 peices - we did not, however fight . . . today I got to go and buy storage for files, desk stuff and various other junk. Woohoo!

OK . . . I'm done being a nerd.

Count me in . . . .

I read a friend's blog today and she wrote a post about a guy she knows from school that has joined the army just a few short months from graduating with a bachelor's degree. She couldn't fathom WHY he would do this . . . to go off and possibly die in this war. She is not perhaps always on the same side of the vote as I or my husband, but we agree a lot of the time. Truly this isn't about whether the war is justified or not, but WHY would this "boy" do this?

I have the same situation. There is this boy at my work who joined the Air National Guard a few months ago. He was told that it would be his CHOICE if he wanted to go to Iraq. That he would only have to do his weekend a month and his two weeks a year and any time they had a deployment, it would be "up to him" if he wanted to go. He bought this hook line and sinker. He signed up during hurricane Katrina. When he told all of us this, I told him that fellow co-worker's husband was in the same unit and had been deployed to Louisiana just that week. I told him that there was no option, he was told to pack and leave. He went and asked his recruitment officer about this, he said "Well, going out of the country is different." Yeah, okay, whatever. That same husband is now in Iraq. It was not by choice.

He is pulling out in two weeks for basic training. Last week he was called and told to be on base at 5:00pm and be prepared. He thought he was going to be sent early. I thought he was going to vomit. He looked panicked. He said, "they can't send me anywhere! I have a choice, that's what they said." I have told him all along that until he is actually sworn in, he can change his mind. I have told him that once you are sworn in, you basically have no rights, you are theirs.

This boy is barely 20. He has struggled in college to pay the bills. I think he saw this as a good way out . I am frightened for him. I am not anti-military. My husband served in the Navy. I commend all the troops that are doing their job daily in the war-torn area. I grieve for the families that lose their loved ones in the line of duty. I am not anti-troops, I am anti-war. I support our troops . . . I want them brought home safe. I don't believe that new recruits need to be given false information . . . who am I kidding . . . I don't believe they need to be LIED to.

It makes me want to cry.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Can't Hardly Wait . . .

Not simply on of my favorite songs from the fabulous Replacements, but I can't hardly wait for spring. . . I can't stand my windows shut and I would LOVE to see green grass. I have seen some of my daffodils pushing through the ground, and I can't wait to get my hands dirty in the soil. My yard is by no means landscaped professionally, but I love to work in the yard and I have made it quite nice in the 6 years we have lived here. Many people have shared some wonderful perennials and I have in turn passed some on as well. I love the plants, like hostas, that double and triple over a years time.

We have also planted a couple trees in the front yard. I got this idea from my step sister-in-law, and I thought it was cool . . . we had the doctor save our kids placenta for us and we took it home and planted a tree with it. We dug the hole, dumped in the placenta which acts like fertilizer, and planted the tree. I thought the hospital would think we were crazy, but they said they have that request often. I usually tell people this and they think we are nuts. Our neighbors jokingly tell their kids not to eat the apples because they'll get pregnant. :)

Anyhoo . . . Harrison has an apple tree and McCartney has a pear tree. The trees are hearty and growing quite well. They both had fruit the year after they were planted. The kids know that the trees are theirs. I think it's pretty cool.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Kid's are so funny . . .

Today at work I heard a 4 year old say to another 4 year old "You smell like gravy!"