She Asks if we Missed Her: When Children come Home from Foster Care

One of the things that I struggled to find information on was what to expect when the children came home from foster care. Of course, as I have stated, few people actually talk about their cases if they end with reunification for multiple reasons but this led us to believe that no children ever came home. This made us question ourselves for having hope. This added to the fears, to the uncertainty, to the sleepless nights.

We could find articles created by CPS and family service groups giving advice that included using the help of the department to ease the transition.

Uhhhhmmmm, I BELIEVE THEY HAVE HELPED ENOUGH!

We had maintained a great relationship with the children and they certainly were ready to come home, but we knew that the last year would affect them in ways that we could not understand. I mean, after all, Elliott was only 3 months old when this started. He was an infant who had spent most of his life with the foster parents. He knew us, but he did not remember life before this. Clarabelle, as you will learn throughout the toddler talk posts (Why am I pretty?: Toddler Talk, Making Sense of Diversity: Toddler Talk, Understanding Gender: Toddler Talk, is very smart and aware of what is going on. When they took her, they claimed that she was nonverbal because she was 19 months old but BOY she could talk…A LOT! And she remembers things that most children would not.

She would ask to come home, often, and we would fight back our tears to avoid upsetting her and tell her that we were working on something to keep her safe and that her foster parents were helping us to by taking care of her. (I realize that some people would disagree with this approach but it was important for us to know that she was not scared. By giving her, reassurance we could focus on fighting for them to come home.)

Finally, the day came and, when we arrived to pick them up, with each item we carried to the van she asked if we were coming back in to get her and her brother. She was so excited that she nearly slipped on the rain covered steps heading to the van. We were together again which we thought meant this was all over for them. But it was not. There continue to be questions and we continue to answer them with their best interests in mind. Instead of telling them that they were stolen from their home we tell them that something bad happened once and it took a bunch of people to keep them safe. We tell them that we worked really hard to get them back really fast. In fact, Clarabelle says “Mommy and Gigi said, ‘give them back right now,’” and that’s how they came home.

But sometimes, late at night, after we have told all of our stories and sang her “own song,” she will ask, “did you miss me because I missed you with all my heart” to which I always reply, “every minute, every day, the whole time but we are together and safe and that is all that matters.”

 

They hear so much and go through so much during these cases that it is easy to forget that what the adults remember as normal may be different for the children. We, as the adults, just want our lives back that we had before that knock on the door. But the knock did happen and our families were shaken.

Don’t be afraid of the questions but be careful not to let your own memories of the battle affect the way that they heal.

When children ask, it is because they need to know!

“Gigi”

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Beach Day!

Earlier in the week, I posted about how my beach trips have changed since having children and I said that I would update you guys on our day.

Well, we get to the beach and it took 3 of us to tote the toys, the bags, and the tent down to a spot on the beach. We get just about to the sand and I hear Clarabelle behind me shout ” mommy, you Have to pick bubby up, the sand is always hot!” I tell her that he will be fine because he has shoes on. “No, he doesn’t mommy!”

This kid walked out of his shoes. So I had to carry him plus the very heavy bags I had down to our spot and walk myself back to find the missing shoes. Thankfully, the man heard Clarabelle scold me for not carrying Elliott had walked around looking for the missing shoes that were about 30ft away from each other. When I got to the parking lot I saw him down by my car waving the shoes in the air laughing.

After thanking him and who I assume was his wife, I get back down to the beach and spray the kids down with sunscreen.

Now, my kids love to play a little game called “see how fast you can cover every square inch of my body in sand.” They’re pros at this game. They even dabble in taste testing the sand, only to turn around and complain that there is sand in their mouth. Then fast forward through the next 2hours of  Clarabelle shouting “THERE’S SAND IN MY BUTT, It’s IN MY BUTT MOMMY!” 

We went wave hopping and we all laughed so much with anticipation of each oncoming wave, and then even harder when one would crash onto their bellies.

And then nap time rolled around. Clarabelle naps sometimes, but Elliott is a real mess if he doesn’t take his. So the tent comes into play. He curls up in there, the wind caused a perfect cool breeze through the openings, and he fell right to sleep.


How perfect is napping on the beach?

We all play in the sand and the water for a while longer. Right after Elliott wakes up, there is a shark sighting (Scary!!). So we go ahead and pack up head home, and recap on a perfect beach day ❤️

-A.

Missing You Comes In Waves. 


Military relationships are some of the most rewarding, heartbreaking, stressful, love filled relationships out there. And no one understands unless they have been through it. That’s why it is so important to find a friend in all of this. Someone who understands what you’re going through, so when the waves hit, you have someone to lean on when you can’t lean on your SO.

We always miss them. Every second they’re away. Some days are just worse than others. It comes with the territory. It’s the down side of the lifestyle.
Some days seem so ‘normal’. We go about our routines, text when we can, tell each other about our day on FaceTime at the end of the night before we fall asleep together.

Some days I don’t stress constantly over the “what-ifs”.

Some days I’m not scared.

But then there are the in between days.

These are the days that I wake up and sit on my bed staring off into space, wishing you were there beside me.

These are the days that everything seems to be going wrong, and he isn’t there to hold me.

These are the days my chest hurts and I feel like I can’t breath because I miss him so much.

These are the days I have to remind myself that my love for him is stronger than the stress that distance puts on our relationship.
But there are so many great things about loving someone in the military. Like having your first kiss over and over. Or pride you feel talking to someone about him/her.  Or love that just grows stronger by the day. Hell, just sitting beside them when they finally come home is one of the most beautiful things.
On days you feel hopeless, on days when you feel more alone than you have ever felt, try to remember why you’re going through this. Try to remember why you fell in love with them in the first place. Try to remember (however long ago it was) the last time he hugged you.

Hold on to the ups. They will carry you through when you need it the most.

-A.

Understanding Gender: Toddler Talk

We do not separate “boy toys” or “girl toys.” We do dress the children according to gender but we don’t really emphasize it. We do put pretty little bows on the girls when we go out but do not freak out at home if the boys come through with one of the girl’s headbands. I guess we just do not make a big deal out of it. But, for whatever reason, in the mind of a child, differences are based on the person and NOT their gender.

Earlier today, my mother and I had the four grandchildren on the back porch playing on the water blob (this thing is great by the way) when Clarabelle informed us that she needs 11 baby sisters and 10 baby brothers. We asked her why and she really did not have an answer but just continued counting her “future” siblings. She then called Braxton her baby sister. When we asked why her male cousin was now her baby sister, she says “he just is.” When we told her sisters are girls, she, of course, asked: “why.” We explained that they just are and she went on about her business. Later, when the boys were raiding her lunch plate while saving theirs for later, I jokingly stated: “boys sure eat a lot, don’t they?”

This seemed to offend her as she exclaimed,

“So do girls.”

Well, I said, boys are more rotten and again, she did not like this.

“Girls are rotten too”

I was on a roll! Boys are icky.

“Girls are icky too” she chuckled.

Well, boys do things differently, don’t they?

“No, boys and girls are the same.”

Now, she is almost three and she understands that boys can get away with not wearing a shirt but girls cannot. We are on full blown Potty Training Times Three so she knows there are obvious differences but the point she was making was that boys and girls do not do things differently, act differently, or like different things. She knows that she does not like raisins and the other three do so people can like different things but this is not because they are a boy or a girl it is just because of the individual.

We do not separate “boy toys” or “girl toys.” We do dress the children according to gender but we don’t really emphasize it. We do put pretty little bows on the girls when we go out but do not freak out at home if the boys come through with one of the girl’s headbands. I guess we just do not make a big deal out of it. But, for whatever reason, in the mind of a child, differences are based on the person and NOT their gender.

At some point in life, we are taught to categorize everyone and assume their likes, behaviors, and roles.  We do this based on gender, skin color, ethnicity, religion, and a number of “othering” characteristics when really, WE ARE ALL THE SAME with individual likes and choices that do not justify such categories for the whole.

Appreciate each other as individuals!

“Gigi”

Custodial Rights: If you know a child CPS could ruin your life

Even if you are Not a Parent, CPS Corruption can Ruin your Life!

Custodial rights is a term used by CPS to include nonparent parties in the CPS claim and further alienate the children from the life and people that they know. This can include parties that live in the same home or have spent any considerable amount of time with the children (ie babysitters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, significant others of family members, etc.). Once the party is placed as a respondent with custodial rights (different than parental rights) the party will be placed on the child abuse and neglect registry. (As our case was dismissed, we are working on the grievance to have our names removed from the registry).

One of the first questions that everyone asked when they removed my grandchildren was why didn’t I have custody. Now, as many of you know, family placement is a rarity anyway but our case was a bit different because my daughter’s family lived in a separated section of my home. The state considered my now late fiance and me in the same household and therefore respondents on the case as the state said that we had custodial rights over the children. My mother (who also lived in the home) was not a respondent and there was no concern that we had harmed the children as (A) there was a confession and (B) they did not remove my minor son from the home. However, due to the close relationship that I had with my granddaughter, who we had a complete body scan of which showed no signs of abuse, they knew that the only way to keep from placing the children with me was to place me as a respondent in the case.

I couldn’t understand how I had no legal rights over the children but now I was a “custodial guardian” because I lived in the same home. I began to investigate this and found that living in the household was not the only way that they can claim custodial rights. Babysitters and extended family members are also placed at risk if they have a close enough relationship that would indicate the need to consider them for placement.

Again, we were fortunate with many aspects of our case and I cannot speak for all cases involving CPS.  But I do ask you to realize how wide spread this issue truly is and join the fight for reform before you find yourself in the whirlwind that thousands have already experienced.

Stand together!

“Gigi”