Grieving

While in college, I fell in love with my friend and we dated for 2 1/2+ years towards the end of college. He loved me but didnt make that clear until I ended things. He admitted to too many things to count that he didnt bother to talk about when we were dating.

He wouldn’t and didnt treat me right. I was mentally exhausted from always repeating the same things and doing anything I could to get him to pay attention to doing right by me. Yet I really cared about him and always have. Even after being broken up for 3+ years I would still randomly choose to talk to him when he reached out.  I could never sleep on his side of the bed. I couldnt bring myself to try to date anyone.

Months ago when I decided to talk to him after he reached out and told him about my child we were talking about something related to him and he made a comment along the lines of “Oh yeah, I’m sure that is good for him” sarcastically about my parenting. And honestly, I ripped him a new one. Just because he became a nurse doesnt mean he understood the trauma and behaviors and all of the other things that go into raising a teenager that has been in foster care for years. He immediately passed judgement instead of asking me anything.

Towards the end of April he tried reaching out again but it didnt include an apology so I ignored him.

What I didnt know was that a few weeks later he would die unexpectedly. At first, I could only think about suicide. As he blamed me for his mental health and at one point, made suicidal comments and later got mad at me for reaching out to people that I knew would check on him and make him get help. He said “I just wanted your attention”. This incident happened after I let him visit me for another chance where I was living and he blew it up by getting drunk and then on another day texting a lovely individual (I will later mention) while in my kitchen as I was cooking for us. When I asked he immediately deleted the messages and tried to lie to my face about it.

He finally saw a psychiatrist after the suicidal statements I believe and told me all about how his psychiatrist was saying how much of a b*tch I was. His brother reached out to me around this time to let me know how he spent around $1000 on a surprise trip to come see me and didnt board his plane. Which I dont know what would have happened if he did come.

He admitted when he tried dating another girl to move on from me (which didnt work) that he started taking anywhere from $40-60 worth of pills every day to try to numb the pain caused by him letting me walk out of his life. He took her on trips places even though she treated him terribly and even set his phone on fire once. I never got trips in our years of dating. Just broken objects, windows, and promises.

Just like all the other times I gave him advice and he chose not to listen, I warned him to stay away from this girl before he started trying to kind of date her. One part was jealousy, the other part was that I am judgemental and truly felt she wasnt good enough and was bad news. And while I know I was right which was solidified by his friends and family I knew he was just looking for companionship. She ended up getting murdered about half a year ago. And I know that must have been hard. I couldnt imagine spending so much time with someone and them dying that way.

I know I shouldnt feel guilty about leaving him and taking so much time… But I do. I started seeing a therapist this year to address my work life, and solo-mom life but he also came up as a topic. When I found out he died, I immediately scheduled a session and was advised that I had been holding out hope all this time that things would change. And my therapist was right. I couldnt even see it because I couldnt make him a priority anymore so I tried to be content without him. I couldnt be his friend because I truly wanted it all or nothing and couldnt go backwards. Everytime I tried to communicate with him there was always something completely insensitive that would come out of his mouth. And it would immediately take me back to all of the negative experiences I had with him.

I cant stop thinking about everything. The thoughts about him are constantly intruding my mind. I miss him and wish he would have ended up in the hospital instead. I would have been there. When I went to his home to see his family and friends, his mother found me outside and we immediately started bawling our eyes out together. And when I was alone with his brother we did the same. Except his brother said multiple times “I wasnt supposed to see you like this. I was supposed to see you at the altar.” “I wasnt supposed to see you like this I was supposed to see you on your wedding day with my brother.” Every single one of his friends knew he still deeply cared about me and how the girl he tried to rebound with wasnt someone he was in love with.

When I saw him bedroom, it was devastating to me. I could tell the person I loved had been struggling. There were too many medication bottles to count. There was so much clutter. And I noticed he was reading up on child mental health which could have been related to his job however, it was the main nursing study material I saw sitting out. Everything else was basically in stacks with books and folders and etc.

I sit here and have so many unanswered questions. I have so many things I thought could be different and things I wish could have been different. I feel like a widow and I know that I shouldn’t. We had many good times too and I let the bad times cloud them. I feel terrible for not being able to get over them but I realize that was because I wasnt over him.

Our relationship was complicated but our journey wasnt supposed to be over yet. I was still waiting and wanting the change so we could function together again. My heart is shattered and I know seeing him at his viewing was the last chance I ever got to physically see him and it kills me. The last time he ever saw me I told him it would be the last time he would see me years ago and I didnt mean it and yet it ended up being true.

Tips for guardian ad litem volunteers

-We should work as a team. Ask how you can help!

-Follow up with the caseworker before you submit your court report. The last thing needed is for anyone to look like a fool or for parties to be at odds leaving the courtroom.

-Remember, reunification is the goal. Do not ask for adoption right away just because the child was abused or neglected. The court is involved to try to help!

-Know the case and the parties involved.

-Do not feed into everything said to you. Sadly, children and parents can be in survival mode and may stretch the truth to accomplish what they desire

-Remember, if a child cannot be with their parents, the next best thing is to be with a relative. Even if the child has not met them yet.

-Do not take on the caseworker’s job duties. Such as advising the parents what they need to complete on their case plan for you to recommend reunification

-Remember, the caseworker has a supervisor. They do not report to you as a superior. Do not demand their documentation. Simply ask if it has been filed for review yet.

-Let the caseworker know if you have concerns or if you think additional services are needed

-Have a good working relationship with the caseworker!! There are better outcomes in court when there is a unified front.

Finalization

With finalization around the corner and grades slipping, my child has felt like the pressure has been on. We were planning to do national adoption day, however, I saw an amount of regression I couldn’t believe four days before. Dealing with feelings, academic stress, and the trauma seemed to be too much. When I told my child i was canceling the adoption hearing he was devastated but his face wouldn’t allow him to fully show it. It was his eyes. His eyes that looked like “is this it?”

I told him that he needed less stress and pressure and explained that having over 100 people and potentially the media wasnt something I thought was a good idea in the first place. I told him we would go the soonest possible day that he could have a court hearing just about him. I kept my promise. As I know he has been let down by promises too many times.

He has finally decided he wants to change his name. I also found something he wrote at school about how he cant wait to spend the holliday with my family. He also seems to be over the choices his bio parents make.

The following week (from our first scheduled date), a bunch of my co-workers, a few of his friends and their mothers came for our adoption. He looked so spiffy in his outfit and we went out for steak after because we were starving. Having a gotcha day the same month as Christmas is going to be interesting, but we are going to have to make it work arent we?

🙂

RIP to our pet

This post may not exactly be relevant to child welfare or my adoption process but it shook our household to the core.

On Monday, I had to put my four legged child and best friend down. She was suffering and our last visit with her she was miserable and couldn’t breathe. It has been very hard and challenging for me. And I thought it was going to be harder on my child than it has been. He handled it very well and was a rock for me. It shocked me that later he said “well she was your dog, she didnt love me”. I had to remind him that she loved him in his own way. She was scared of him on multiple occasions due to his anger and rough housing. But she did care for him. I reminded him by showing him pictures he didnt remember me taking.

He is ready for another pet to love and is excited by the thought. As for me, I’m still devastated. It hasn’t even been a week yet. I remind myself of how good they were together the first time he met her and how much that helped solitify me wanting him to join our family. She liked him more than any other kid she met through my job.

I am somebody’s child: The Regina Louise story

I watched this movie recently and while I saw instant family I feel as though this gives a more accurate picture of what our children actually go through and the child welfare system. While based in a different time where there was racism and discrimination you see what these children really go through in regards to placement changes. Children seen as having “behavior problems“ tend to be put in group homes/shelters. You also tend to see more children on psychotropic medications when they may not necessarily need them.

What our children do need is a connection like the one the main character had with her counselor from the shelter. Whether it’s for the purpose of adoption or the purpose of having someone you can lean on in your most lonely times. Even if it looks odd or strange to you as a case worker it’s not up to you. Whatever feels natural to the child and gives them a glimmer of hope is what’s important.

There are so many children in the system who have paid mentors so more than likely that mentor is not going to be around as a natural support if they leave the system. While being a CaseWorker I have personally volunteered to mentor one child that I formed an automatic connection with. While this child did not end up in my home I was there for her in the times that she needed someone the most. When she ran away and fell victim to violence and human trafficking, I was the one that she would reach out to for help and the one my agency would count on. Other people saw her as a behavior problem. And while I know that she didn’t always make good decisions I didn’t necessarily have the same issues when I was around her. When I was present she treated people with more respect and held her self to a higher standard than she did when I was not present. And while I thought about it heavily and was very close to trying to ask for her to reside with me, something told me that would interfere with her being able to be with her mother. And I was correct. She did end up being able to go home for almost the length of time needed to close her case. However I received an alarming phone call from her where she was calling me crying desperate for help, feeling in fear of her life. Which brought her back into the system. I know I served as an important lifeline for that child.

I watched this movie with my baby I have placement of and while his story is not the same as Regina I couldn’t help but feel the pain her counselor/mother had. I feel like I lived that pain. Before I knew I could take him in, I had to try to encourage him to be willing to meet adoptive families. There was a period of time where I was blamed for his acting out behaviors and wasnt allowed contact with him. I kept asking about him, and asking people to let him know I cared. While I cried(more like bawled my eyes out) watching the movie I turned to him and said “What if you had to go sleep at people’s houses while I was trying to get you?” He turned to me and said “I’d run away and be mad they didnt let me live with you sooner.”

There are so many things I could dive into. But my main point is, if it is what the child wants, and they are not going to be at risk of abuse or neglect, why would we stop them from having the family they are desiring?

Tips for foster parents from a caseworker

As a caseworker, I like to work hand in hand with a foster family. It makes my job easier and provides more support to the child. Yet sometimes I cannot fathom what foster parents do, dont do, say, and/or how they act. So here are some of the things I would like to pass along

  • Know what decisions you can and cannot legally make. And what decisions the parent may want or need to be a part of making. Piercings, immunizations, tattoos, psych meds, hair cuts, etc.
  • Be nice to your worker. We have a never ending to do list that gets longer even when we get a few things done. We are blamed for everything that goes wrong. We are cursed at, ridiculed, threatened, and sometimes targets for personal vengence. Some of us have even been assaulted.
  • Do not expect us or ask us to take a child to every appointment. We cannot take children to every doctors appointment when we have so many things we need to get done.
  • If you are doing it for extra income, turn in your license now. Because we can all tell when someone fosters for the wrong reason… even the children.
  • If you are trying to adopt and that is the main reason you want to foster, please talk to the agency about only placing children in your home who have an adoption goal. It is also clear to us when someone does fostering just because they want a baby. It also does not help with reunification.
  • Know your limits, get some support, and have coping skills at the ready. Our children come traumatized.
  • If you dont know something, you can ask your caseworker. We will not judge you for not knowing something.
  • Do not give parents legal advice, or ask them to sign over their rights so you can adopt their child. It is inappropriate and out of the duties you have as a foster parent.
  • Do not write off the parents. Not all of them are a danger to you or your household. You can ask your worker for their impression of the parent.

Family vacation…

When you picture a family walking on a beach with all smiles… that definitely isnt me. Our family vacation isnt going that way. Maybe it is the age, maybe it is the trauma, maybe it is all of the above and then some.

It is supposed to be a time of relaxing, having fun, and making memories. Instead I have had the presence of “survival skills” that I hadn’t seen in awhile. Defiance over doing things that are different and pure self absorbed and isolating behaviors. And while things are sadly much better than the last time I had family around, it is still heart breaking.

So I googled some things to try to mentally prepare for my day of parenting tomorrow and i stumbled across a blog i enjoyed reading. While god and bible verses aren’t my thing at all, i know we have the same struggles. And sometimes, I just need that understanding.

Dear Adoptive Parents walking the hard, hellish, lonely road of trauma…THIS POST IS FOR YOU. And ONLY YOU.

I also really appreciated and agreed with this post on another blog.

The Selfish Thing You Need to Do When Your Child’s Mental Causes a Holiday to Be Too Stressful

So thank you to these authors for helping me feel less lonely.

Mother’s day

Our first mother’s day together has been great. This is the smoothest holiday we have had so far. My baby has been thoughtful, kind, and more than generous. He tried to prank me by spraying perfume in my cup of tea but made another cup without perfume in it. He even addressed my card as “mom”.

While I know people who lose their rights still have love for their kids, I am sure this is a hard holiday for those parents. However, I think these parents need to think about their kids and how much they have put them through. They think about themselves and want to have some recognition on this holiday but how many birthdays did they miss? How many promises did they break? Where were they for meet the teacher night?

I am sure it wasnt their intention to be an absent parent. An addict. Or to ruin their child’s childhood. But the most selfless thing you can do after you royally mess up is to allow them to move on and let them know you want them to have what they deserve.

Out of my hands

Being in this field, you have to always remind yourself about the things that are beyond your control. The amount of things feels like millions and is overwhelming. There is such little support and a never ending to do list.

Sometimes when a case comes in the children are still unsafe because they are with a parent who can not safely care for the children.

Sometimes you are unable to prove what you know.

Sometimes the court makes a ruling that is not in the best interest of the child’s safety.

Sometimes you give your all and everything fails and falls apart.

Sometimes you are threatened.

Sometimes there are sleepless nights.

Sometimes your computer crashes when you were almost done a court report.

And at the end of the day, you have to go home and live with yourself. Reminding yourself, “All I can do is my best and at least I have tried”.

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