Archive | February, 2013

The story of a watermelon seed, hand in the crack, paper in the ear, and school nurses…

28 Feb

You may not know this but a watermelon seed, hand in a crack, and paper inside the ear really does have something in common. They all have been part of the “adventure” that my 6 year old has been on. You see she really does love adventure. She is so light hearted and I learn so much from her but not as much as I need to. I wish I could see the world through her eyes. I wish I could laugh instead of flip out. I wish that I could smile through tears the way that she does. People are always telling me that Olivia is blessed to have us but the truth is WE are the ones blessed by Olivia. I had said in the last post that Olivia said “she was on adventure” but what I haven’t said is once we got her that “adventure” has never truly ended. So let me tell you how a watermelon seed, hand in a crack, and paper inside the ear really do have something in common…

My husband and I were first time foster parents. We were on pins and needles every time Olivia got a bump or scratch, and trust me she is a rough child so they were lots of bruises and scratches, most unexplainable lol. She is clumsy so that could have been the reason. About one month after she moved in my husband had to take her to the doctor. The doctor did all the routine things by weighing her, checking her breathing, and then checked her ears. Much to my husband’s surprise (and later mine) the doctor discovered Olivia had a watermelon seed inside her ear. He had to use tiny tools and dig it out. Olivia never remembered putting that inside her ear lol. But it is a funny memory now. At the time we panicked thinking that the department of children services was going to think that it happened at our home and that we were not supervising her. I made sure I let them know (1) it is March, way before watermelon season and (2) we don’t eat watermelon. To this day we still haven’t a clue how long that seed had been in her ear.

I must state that I get a lot of calls from the school health assistant. It’s never because of my kids are running a fever or sick. It’s always something totally off the wall. This particular day I received a call because Olivia and her fascination with doing silly or “adventurous” things. You know most of us would see a crack in the wall, in between the door and hinges, and other places and we never think a thing about them. Well not my Livy. This day Olivia saw a small crack in between the door and hinges in the bathroom at school. She decided it would be a good idea to see if her hand fit. Why? Who knows, it is Olivia. The school had to Vaseline her hand to get it out because once she got it in there it wouldn’t come out. Her principal called and was really nervous that I was going to accuse the school of not watching her. I quickly explained I didn’t blame them. It sounded just like something Olivia would do. I just decided this was one of those imperfect moments and I was just going to choose to laugh it off. The principal explained that she could move her fingers but that her hand was likely to bruise. The principal stated “Mrs. Campbell, we do appreciate Olivia’s curiosity but if you could encourage her to do it in a less dangerous manner we would appreciate that”. It took a couple of administrative staff to get her hand out. Luckily her hand didn’t bruise after all. Later that day when I picked Olivia up from daycare we had a long talk about curiosity and not doing silly stuff.

Well every so often we have these kinds of moments. Today is another one of these moments. This time the school health assistant called to let me know Livy had a piece of paper stuck back inside her ear. Olivia was sitting in class, tore off a piece of paper, and just stuck it in her ear. The health assistant explained she could see if but was unable to remove it due to state laws. I am assuming because of liability should something happen. To me that is crazy that society is so lawsuit happy that schools have so many rules preventing them from disciplining and treating minor medical emergencies these days but that is a rant for another day lol! But she advised me I would have to come down and get it out. So of course I was upset because I had to leave work to go pull a piece of paper out of her ear. I found no humor in this. I got there and was barely able to see it. I am glad it wasn’t any further. I used tweezers and pulled the piece of paper out. She was fine and I was lecturing her on how much trouble she was going to be in because I had to leave work for such a crazy stunt she pulled. Then I looked at her sad face. I got down to her eye level. I gave her a big hug and told her how much I loved her, even when she did silly stuff. I did however still intend on taking about the iPad, TV, etc. away for a week. But on my drive back to work I was able to relax and laugh. Really is it such a big deal? Does she really need punished? Or is the embarrassment (which she probably doesn’t have) punishment enough?

I realized when I stop to think about these things they have one thing in common…Olivia’s personality. It’s just who she is. She is silly, goofy, curious, loveable, laughable, just plain silly. She doesn’t mean harm by doing these things. Maybe I am still learning through her. But she is teaching me to R-E-L-A-X, just laugh, blog, and go on with life until the next silly thing….

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

― Dr. Seuss

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In the beginning….

21 Feb

As I had written in my blog on January 3rd our journey to parenthood was not easy and not OUR perfect plan.  I’m so glad that my perfect plan did not work out.  I could not imagine being any happier as a parent than I am right now.  I could not imagine that I could ever give birth to better children.  I could not even imagine loving a child more than I love my two daughters.  As it turns out that my plan wasn’t so perfect after all.  I didn’t see the big picture.  However, I started seeing God’s perfect plan when we became foster parents.  It was not an easy journey and we had some unneeded drama in the beginning stages from people that we never expected to have drama from.  But in the end God’s will was done.  It’s so funny that even when God starts showing you his plan and opening doors we as humans we feel the need to still try to step in and help, as if he needs our help.  We try to set limits on God.  After God planting seeds in our life leading us to foster care, after God bringing up through the drama, Jon and I decided just one child at first instead of asking God what his will was.  We had our perfect plan of one child at a time. 

 

Well you see God had other plans.  But I will start in the beginning.  Olivia came first in Feb 2010.  She was this little girl so small at age 3 ½ , full of life, loved to sing, smiled all the time, sweet 24/7 (in the beginning), said she told us she was “on an adventure” the day we met her.  She loved us and embraced us from the moments we first picked her up at her foster parent’s home.  It was our first time being parents.  We fell in love and bonded with Olivia from the first week we had her.  She knows no strangers and is happy wherever she plants her feet.  Trust me, as her mother this scares me.  Ok, who am I kidding?  This TERRIFIES me!!  Someday she will by my traveler, she will be the one to leave me and go off far away from home to college, why do I think this?  I think this because she is always looking for an “adventure”.  As a side note I’m crying now.  I don’t want either of my daughters to be more than a short drive from me.  Ok back to my story.  We just spent the next couple of months enjoying being foster parents.  It was so wonderful hearing the words “mom” and “dad” and Olivia chose to call us that, we never asked for those titles but were so blessed she gave them to us.  We had no idea where her case was going in the beginning whether she’d be reunified with her family or whether she’d be eligible for adoption.  We spend our weeks having fun and doing all the things we had once hoped to do with our own children.  She of course had visits, court hearing, etc. but life was great. 

 

I was sitting at work one day and decided to write the licensing specialist at department of child services to see if she ever got us SNAP approved.  Jon and I wanted to be approved through the SNAP (special needs adoption program) because that would allow us to view children that have entered the termination progress but not fully eligible for adoption until the progress is completed.  They consider it “legal-risk” since you are risking the termination being denied and the child returning to their biological family.  I’ll save the boring details but that was our PLAN.  We thought that was the way we wanted to go to avoid the drawn out process of a child just newly entering care, and waiting 2 years for termination to begin and so forth.  Then one day while I was at work I received an email back from the Department of Child Services.  I just knew this was the email I had been waiting on, right what else could it be?  But nope my perfect plan was not what this email was containing but it was just the opposite, it was about us considering a 2nd child. 

 

The email is below (I’ve kept nearly every email regarding my kids):

Give me a call and I will explain the adoption process to you.  Some of this information listed in your email is accurate and some it not.  I have not been able to get your home approved yet because I am going to have to redo your home study.  I have searched high and low on my computer for your file and have not been able to locate it!  I have never lost a home study on my computer before so this is a first.  I have a child who is at the beginning of the termination process and we are looking for a foster home for her who might be willing to adopt when termination is granted.  She should be available for adoption soon if the termination goes through.  Her grandmother is interested but I do not think the case worker is in agreement with that recommendation.  I will insert her child summary for you all to read and consider.  She is an awesome little girl but she needs more one on one than the current foster home can give her. 

 

Thanks,

XXXXXX (omitted the workers name)

 

My first thought is WHY?!  The first time this happens it would happen to us lol.  It wasn’t as if this journey had not been trying enough.  Seriously all those months of paper work, three days of interviews and all that was just gone!  It just disappeared from her computer.  I am sure we can all value hindsight.  Well I see why now because my perfect plan was actually imperfect.  God’s was interrupting my plan.  But back then on April 29, 2010 then I just thought Satan was causing all these problems lol just like he did when we signed up for the classes and he stirred up drama in the family.  I had to blame someone and I definitely wasn’t going to blame God.   Anyway, I was bummed and after gathering my thoughts I decided to read the summary.  This email had a profile attached of a little girl named Kanda.  She was 5 ½ years old.  Her current foster placement was looking to stop fostering from what we were told.  Kanda’s case had been in the termination stage for about 8 months and she had already been in foster care for 2 years.  So here I was just living my perfect plan of fostering one child and becoming SNAP approved, just like we planned and all of a sudden I’m faced with a huge decision.  Kanda had been moved quite a bit in her life.  We didn’t want to say yes and then this not work out.  And we had told them we only wanted one child.   I read the profile of Kanda and I forwarded it to my husband’s email.  Later when I had time to pray my conversation with God was something like this “Oh no God.  You know that we are still adjusting to one child. You know God we said ONE!  Lord, you know that we both work full time, how can I take care of two children; take them to therapy, and different visits.  Then my tone turned to what if God we are the family you have for her and this little girl that is the forever child you have for us?  What if this is the only opportunity for this little girl to have a family?”  I was so busy ranting the reasons why this wasn’t MY perfect plan and what if’s that I didn’t even listen for God to answer any of my questions.  I was so shocked at the thought of TWO kids.  I mean on one hand I always wanted a big family, I wanted daughters so badly, I wanted to change a life, I wanted to give a child a normal life, and give them a loving family.  Was she the one?  I wondered if she would be our “forever” child.

 

Well I did what every woman would do; I called my….mommy, of course!  Lol!   I go to God, my husband, and then my mother in that order and I always talk to my mommy before I make any decisions.  It is biblical?  Maybe not but it’s just how I roll!  Side note:  from on my mommy is my “mummy”.  That “u” is not an “o” on purpose.  I call her mummy, not sure why but always have.  So you will see her as mummy and it’s not a typo.  But I called my mummy and of course she asked about the profile and what it said.  I still have the profile, that profile changed my life and Kanda’s.  Here is part of the description on that summary:  Kanda enjoys books being read to her, coloring, and playing with her dolls.  Kanda enjoys playing the memory card game, she is somewhat competitive.  Kanda enjoys the outdoors and has a spunky personality.  Kanda can be defiant at times; however she is not physically or verbally aggressive.  Kanda often becomes withdrawn and quiet when she gets into trouble.  Kanda has a lot of energy and is often talkative in the classroom.  Kanda is social with the children in her class.    Kanda can be very stubborn (I’ve learned that is an understatement lol).  Kanda does not always follow directions.  Kanda has experienced temper tantrums.  Kanda also is able to be redirected and does well with structure and consistency.  Kanda has a difficult time sharing but this has improved somewhat.  Kanda is able to follow rules.  Kanda does require a very structured setting with clear rules/consequences and positive praise.  Kanda does like to please the adults in her life.  Kanda often requires a lot of attention and reassurance.  My mom encouraged me to really pray about and that she would pray about it.  Jon and I prayed about it together.  Later I talked to my mom and she said she felt great about it.  And I just kept thinking that this could really be our “forever” daughter.  We decided we would say yes and allow God to handle the rest.  I had no idea the things that would occur after this but I emailed DCS two days later:

 

Hi XXXXXX,

Jon and I read Kanda’s file a couple of times and we have prayed and prayed about it.  We are interested in Kanda from what we read.  I just want to make sure this will not cause Olivia to be moved to another foster home.  I know they felt Olivia would be better suited in a single child home but as long as she is in care we would love for her to remain with us.

Thanks,

Kandice Campbell

A day later (the worker) replied:

 

I am very glad to hear you all are interested in Kanda.  I would contact Angela and find out what is going on with Olivia’s case.  We would not move her into another home before she transitions home!!!  Let me know what you find out.  Kanda will need to start visiting soon and will be ready to move after June 3rd when school is out. 

 

I will talk to you soon.  Kanda’s FCM is (omitting name).  I will let her know what is going on and have her email or call you all about a visitation and transition plan for Kanda.

 

Thanks for all you do,

Carrie

 

You will see from my next email about a day or so later I finally began to get excited.

 

Well we are very excited.  The more I think about it the more excited I get.  I would love to visit her and meet her.  I can’t wait to hear from Yvonne.  Thanks so much for sending us her profile.  I really appreciate.

Thanks,

Kandice Campbell

 

I’m not sure what really changed.  I believe God just changed my heart toward it all.  (The workers) reply:

 

I am so excited for you all!  Her foster family cares about her very much but they have a large family and do not feel they can give her the attention she needs.  I think you all will do great with her and she is very sweet but needs a lot of love and consistency!  I think you all might be the ones for Kanda!!!  :0) This should begin as a foster placement and you should not talk about permanency with her until we know if she is a good match for you and until termination is granted.  I hope (case manager’s name omitted) and (foster parent name omitted) get back to you soon!  If they do not please let me know and I will bug them until they do!!!   :0)

 

So it was a day to two later and we meet “Y” which I will use to refer to Kanda’s worker.  She was amazing.  The best worker I’ve ever met.  Her love for Kanda and the other kids on her case load showed.  She was bonded with each of them.  She wanted to see them be in the best situation possible.  She worked her tail off on all her cases but I watched her first hand on Kanda’s.  She had passion and determination.  The world needs more people like “Y”.  She will always have a special place in our hearts.  So I guess a day or two later I spoke with “T”, Kanda’s foster mother at the time to get some information about Kanda.  Then the next day we got to meet Kanda.  She was so shy and very quiet.  She didn’t say much to us.  Olivia was with us and Olivia was all up in her face trying to get her to be outgoing.  I have a picture of that day.  Olivia looked so sassy in that picture but Kanda she held her hands together in front of her and her big brown eyes looked so sad and empty.  I didn’t really know what to say to her.  She didn’t know why we were meeting her.  So after the visit we went home and talked.  Of course we agreed to more visits.  The next visit was at our house with her foster mom, then the visit following that one we took her out to eat and right back to her foster home.  And eventually on Memorial weekend we kept over for the weekend.  We gradually increased our time.  To be honest I was confused that it wasn’t an immediate connection like we had with Olivia.  Olivia was open, warm, and welcoming.  Kanda was reserved, had annoying habits of not listening or following directions, and was not letting anyone in.  Looking back I can see why.  She had been hurt and dealt with it differently than Olivia.  Well June 3rd rolled about and it was move in day for Kanda.  We went to the foster home and they had Kanda’s stuff packed.  We loaded it in our car and she seemed so scare and sad.  She had only known us a month and now she was moving, forever.  To this day she still has not seen the foster family that she left that day but she has fond memories of them.  They were very nice to her and gave her a photo album of her time there.  She had the most stuff I’d ever saw a foster child have too.  I could tell they cared for her well.  I had no idea what the future held from that point but there was one thing I knew for sure, God had PERFECT plan and it was not what I had planned at all….

 

I will continue on the next post about how I come to find out that Kanda and I were more alike than I realized.

 

“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly”

Sam Keen