Thursday, October 25, 2007

2:45 alarm

By two o'clock yesterday, I was nodding off at my desk. Since Huckle needs to be picked up at 3:05, I went to my room, set the alarm for 2:45, and fell asleep.

I woke up at 4.

Total panic. I was an hour late already. I was shaking I was so scared and upset, knowing that Huckle had waited for me for an hour, that the school had been calling for almost as long, and I'd not heard the phone. I pulled my pants on, ran through the house to the kitchen where my purse and keys sat...

And there was Huckle, sitting at the table, eating a sliced apple with peanut butter.

And there was my husband, sitting in the family room, playing a video game on the Wii.

I very rarely yell at the hub, unless he's on the opposite side of the house and I can't move, or if someone's about to sideswipe us, but I don't think he'll ever, ever again come home early, turn my alarm off, and go get the kiddo from school without leaving a note on my nightstand.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Ready Freddy

(Hey Bandera person, say hi!)

Huck's cranky at me because I've been writing instead of showing him the video of an octopus eating a shark, so when I tried to get him to get dressed a few minutes ago, he refused to come into his bedroom with me.

I came back out to the family room, where he was sprawled on the floor.

M: C'mon and get dressed so we can go to school!

H: I am not going to get dressed, and I am not going to go to school.

M: Okay, I guess I'll call your teacher and tell her you're staying home with me today.

H: Noooo! Don't call my teacher!

Huckster was dressed all by himself in 60 seconds.

Up to Tuesday at 1 PM

Monday, we found out that Huck's LOC change request had been denied, and that he'd be staying at basic. We didn't know why, since only Olsen has that information, but our options were to resubmit it with new information (which we don't have, since we gave them everything) and wait another month for it to go through the system and back to the same person, or forget it and move on. We decided to move on. No big deal really, so long as we could still manage to get Huck qualified for adoption assistance (our goal there is medical coverage and any amount of money over 1 penny per month). It was disappointing, since the denial would make the adoption negotiations harder, but not impossible.

Meanwhile, the adoption paperwork landed on Huck's attorney ad litem's desk. She emailed Huck's (original) caseworker, Marla, saying how happy she was to see our case moving to adoption, and that she looked forward to seeing her again, and if she (the AAL) could do anything, to let her know. Marla, who was Huck's caseworker for about 18 months but moved away last December, wrote her back to say that she'd moved 200 miles away 11 months ago, so she wasn't active on Huck's case anymore, but that she'd included Olsen and Olsen's supervisor in the emails. Right about then the AAL had a WTF moment, and she called us. We were in the middle of assembling a room full of Ikea flatboxes, and the ringing was drowned out by hammers and power drills, and by the time I noticed the call on the machine, it was 11 pm.

Yesterday, we had our Tuesday SW visit, then gymnastics. At gymnastics, I called Bob, my lawyer, to give him a heads up on the adoption movement. I hadn't talked to him for a few months, so I wanted him to know the status and what we're trying to accomplish. We talked on and off for about two hours about all the things that have gone wrong, from the lack of visits by Olsen, to the state's witch hunt, to the file, to Huck's self-injurious behavior.

You know how, even if your life is bizarre, you don't always realize it, because to you it is just another thing on top of other things? Talking to my lawyer (and recounting all the things that have been Olsen'd up) helped distill the idiocy and incompetence and neglect we've all been dealing with for the last year.

Still, the conversation ended with me saying, "Hopefully that's behind us and we can get through this without too much more stupidity."

(And thank pancakes I was at the Home Depot during all this. Places like Home Depot calm me. Walmart freaks me out, but Home Depot is soothing. Deciding between compact fluorescent daylight bulbs and normal daylight bulbs, then finding pipe fittings to make into another lamp, then checking out the galvanized duct work to decide which size would make the best cupcake stand, then running my hands over Silestone and granite and hardwood and travertine and daydreaming about remodels we'll never do while simultaneously recounting nastiness was helpful. I even considered using roof flashing as a chair rail or 3 foot welded wire fencing as as wainscotting.

Can you tell we're working on our house? More specifically, we're getting my workspace together. I lost my old workroom when Huck arrived, and we didn't have the energy, time, or money to get it back together in the guestroom, so my work stuff has been spread all over the house for months. The kitchen table has all the leaves in it, and my stuff takes up 80% of it, and there's overflow all over the family room and living room and kitchen counters and garage. So now, my combined Anniversary and Christmas present from Hubs and my parents and grandparents is the getting together of my room.)

And also

This stuff with the state is very frustrating. I'm venting, I'm documenting, but it is such a small part of our lives overall.

I know I don't post a whole lot anymore. I'm busy, I'm always tired, and the day to day life, while probably not "typical" of most families, has become our norm. So I don't blog about how Huck calls Lucky Charms cereal "My Charmings," or the day each week when our SW comes over and then Huck goes berserk, I don't blog about how much he loves gymnastics or school or Scooby Doo, I don't blog about how there are two boys in his class that Huck so very much wants to be friends with, but they've known each other since they were learning to roll over and they can't stand to play with anyone else, and how sad it makes my darling Huck. I don't mention the days he wakes me up at 5:41 whispering into my ear, "Mommy, it is time to get some foooooood in my belllllllly," or how much of an enabler I am when he pronounces "v" as "b" or "r" as "w" nor how I sometimes find myself saying, "You better get your paddow before you fwoat down da wiber," when he's pretending to canoe in the family room. All that stuff, the good and bad, is just everyday life.

My Huckle is supercool. We're used to the "specialized" parenting he requires. Most of the time, we can see the rough stuff coming. For example, Huck gets wild after our SW visits. Always has. Sometimes he throws lots of things, sometimes he scratches his legs raw with his fingernails, sometimes he refuses to talk and barks instead***, and sometimes he grabs onto the bottom of the garage door as it goes up, it lifts him a few feet in the air before I can run to him, and he falls and scrapes his knees. So now, I schedule the SW visits right before gymnastics (which is right before school) so that if he throws himself onto the ground or into the wall headfirst, as he is apt to do, at least the walls and floor are covered in thick foam padding. Plus, gymnastics and school keep him busy long enough that by the time he gets home he's mostly forgotten that, for a half hour that morning, he was pretty sure he was getting in some one's car and never coming back here.

So I guess my whole point is that -- compared to lots of people -- what we're doing day in and day out differs from the norm. For us, what we do is just what we do. Plain old living, but with a twist, I guess. And our boy is worth it, even if it means waking up 3 to 8 times a night to soothe him back to sleep.

(I really like my sleep, so that's a big deal to me, lols)

***I had an A-Ha! moment last week about the barking. He often asks why the dogs bark, and my stock response is that they get worried about something they hear or see, so they talk about it in barks. So, duh, I'm pretty sure now that he's barking to tell me that he's worried without really admitting it. (This barking that I'm talking about isn't the normal, "Mommy, I'm a furry puppy!" playtime stuff. There's plenty of that, and there's a difference.)

22nd to Now

This is mostly a placeholder.

When I'm not on the crap end of an all-day adrenaline fest, I'll summarize the twists and turns that had me on the phone for 12 hours. (Heh, doesn't sound quite as exciting or dramatic as it all was)

The cast of characters includes my immediate family, my extended family, my lawyer, a judge in another state, two lawyers in other states, a professor in Scotland and his sister, our agency social worker, Olsen, Olsen's supervisor, Olsen's supervisor's supervisor, a reporter, a state adoption worker, Huck's attorney ad litem, a guy at Home Depot, Buffy, Huckle, 9 full spectrum light bulbs and a bag of popcorn.

Yeah, I went atomic.

And right now, to quote Roger Creager, things look good around here.

Might change by the time I really write up this post, of course.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

11th through 21st

So the last two weeks have been bad news on top of bad news.

A day or two after my last big post, we heard from Huckle's adoption worker (not to be confused w/ his state case worker). Turns out that the CW didn't submit Huckle's file to be deidentified back in February, or March, or April. We'd suspected as much, of course, and I was starting to believe that the file was lost.

The file was submitted at the end of September.

No files were redacted over the Summer, so there is a backlog of files dating from May, June, July, August, September, and now October.

So, the ballpark for having the file ready was 4-6 months.

Disbelief, of course. Burst of rage. Then bargaining ("How about you hire me as an intern, I'll redact fifty files, and someone else can do ours? I have a background check!). Tearful calls to Hubs and my mom. A little more rage. Multiple instances of taking Huck's CW's name in vain (the CW's last name has become my dad's new favorite substitute for "screwed" -- as in, 'The landscaper really Olsen'd the front bushes, don't you think?'). After about a week, I figured we may as well settle in for another seven months.

And the CW still hadn't called/returned a call (since June) or seen Huckle (since March). However, our agency SW was kicking down his inbox and voicemail, and after a week had passed since we'd been told of our new timeline, she got ahold of his supervisor and explained the difficulties we've had with the file, the lack of communication and visits, the inability to get his LOC reviewed because of (the CW's) missing paperwork, and the months long delay in submitting the adoption paperwork.

Last Friday, Huck's CW called our SW. Olsen (the name I'll just call him from now on, if I remember) must have had a fresh ass chewing, because he was mostly trying to find out from our SW what she'd said to his boss. The few times he talked about us or Huck, it was to say that he's entirely on top of everything, all the paperwork has been submitted within a week of it being requested, that he'd already talked to me that morning, and that the adoption and the LOC paperwork was all in order and awaiting approval. In addition, he said that Huckle's file was TOTALLY REDACTED and that we could see it anytime (and that we could have seen it anytime in the last five months). . . but that now we couldn't see it until after Wednesday (today). (I'm figuring he brought the file and a Sharpie home over the weekend). What's more, the LOC request would be coming back early this week (it came back Monday, actually) and he couldn't think of any reason why it wouldn't be approved.

He never asked about Huckle or how he's doing. Just tried to cover himself, was how our SW explained it.

Well, last Friday I could only dispute a few of those statements -- for example, he never called us on any of our lines (home/office/cells). And since my requests to see the file were ignored, I tend to disbelieve that we could have seen it anytime in the last five months. Oh, and that "always available to the family" thing? That was wrong too.

But hey! Just because he made up all those things doesn't mean he's making up the stuff I can't disprove, right? So, hey! Maybe the file is ready and it just didn't get logged! Maybe the adoption paperwork was complete! Maybe the level of care request would come back the way he said!

In spite of everything, I was hopeful. Yay! I thought that perhaps the adoption wouldn't take until Spring or Summer. Maybe we could finalize in December. Maybe our SW's conversation with Olsen's supervisor would be enough. Maybe I wouldn't have to start rocking the boat myself and worry about possible retaliation. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Hope is dangerous, you know. Before Friday, I was feeling pretty beaten down, and I'd resigned myself to more waiting, more uncertainty. But once there was a shot in hell? Sign me up. I'm in. Rock and roll.

So, since it is getting late and I will have to finish the story later, lets summarize my frame of mind over the weekend:

Willing to keep my mouth shut and not throw Olsen under the bus
Looking forward to getting this show on the road with a minimum of sturm und drang

For all the missteps, it seemed that there was an end to Olsen's incompetence.

And, uh, there wasn't.

How did we get this lucky?

Last week while scratching Huckle's back and talking before bed:

Huckle: Mommy, did I cry a lot when I started to live here?

Me: Well, yes, you did cry a lot.

H: Why?

M: I don't know. Do you know why? Were you sad, or scared, or angry?

H: I think I was a baby, and sometimes babies cry for their mommies, and I didn't know you were my mommy yet.

M: Hmm. Maybe.

H: But now I am big and brave and strong. And you are my big brave strong mommy.

Yeah, I cried like a baby.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How Much of a Banshee Shall I Become?


It has been eleven months since Huckle came to live with us, as of today.

It has been ten months since TPR.

We started asking to see his file in February, when we met his new caseworker (there was no caseworker from December to February).

The file should have been deidentified by April 1, per Huck's CW.

Huckle's CW has been to our house for one visit since February, when he became the CW after the old one left in December. He also met us to sign surgery permissions in June.

I have written at least 3 emails per month and left at least 1 voicemail per month regarding the casefile. None have been answered. Emails and phonecalls made to the CW's supervisor have not been answered, either.

Huckle's CW has told my SW that he's been here each month.

Getting three forms signed by the CW has taken five months. They magically appeared last week.

Huckle's file has not been redacted (EIGHT MONTHS!), and even though we are still foster parents and could see it without blackouts, we've been told we may not. We've now been told through the grapevine that if we want to adopt (ever? dunno), we should sign a waiver.

A few months ago, a garbageman found a dumpster full of foster kids' files thrown out behind CPS. Many were current cases.

Now, how about some "ability to sacrifice" and general misery? My hair isn't growing back, I still can't get health insurance, Hubs has postponed his PhD, we turned down promotions/transfers to both coasts and two large European cities since Hub's old position was phased out by Booz Allen last December (because his company was about to be purchased by Northrup ), I'm down to 15 hours of billable time per week from last year's 55, Huck has 4 appointments per week between docs and therapists, his LOC is still basic, our new SW (the agency one) can't even tell us the day of the week without asking her supervisor, the state is trying to shut down our agency (its the freaking agency of the year 3 years running), my in laws will be here for a month starting Sunday (remember how much fun they are?), my grandmother is in the hospital, Huck's peeing all over everything, I've had the same migrane for three weeks, and Huck's dad gets out of prison in a few months (still unknown as to how much of a problem he may be -- when he went in it was "I will kill anyone who gets between us" but then not a peep.).

There's more. There's always more, isn't there? But now I am going to sleep. I will dream of the antidepressants I will be able to afford after January first, I will dream of my old life, I will dream of a future with a fantastic kiddo (this future fantastic Huckle will be much the same, except that future fantastic Huckle doesn't chase the dog to piss all over her.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

With Photographs

Almost done. Almosts done. Almost done.

All is fairly well. Huckle is with us, we're pressing the adoption, and once we're out from under the state's thumb, I'll feel a lot better.

I am very disappointed in our agency. We have another new SW (the third since Huck arrived and the sixth or so overall), and this one is a dingbat. She's just Shocked! By! Everything! And after (only!) a year, I'm not in the mood for wide-eyed optimism, total inexperience, and an affected baby-voice.

If you want to know how batshit crazy the state has gotten and/or why many families are being put under a microscope, I'll post links to a few articles from Texas newspapers once I re-find them. Or, you can search Texas Foster Care and the state's spokesman, Patr1ck Cr1mm1ns, in google or google news. Stuff from late last year to this year. Should you do that, you might notice there is one very outspoken critic of the state. Well, guess which agency she's from... And the state spokesman's responses are classic bullshit. At one point, in one article, he says that the placement department gets accurate information on all children to potential foster homes. Sure.

Did I ever mention that one of the reasons Huckle only lasted a week in one foster home was because the fparents had been told he was a 18 month old hispanic boy? And when Huck and his SW arrived, the fparents were very surprised to see a blonde haired, blue eyed three year old? And how, when they explained that they were only interested in hispanic children (as adoptive placements, which is what Huck's placement there was supposed to be), the SW called them racists?

Whatever. Almost done. Almost done. Almost done.

Anyhow. Once Huckle is adopted, I'll have a lot of things to say. For now, photos.

Halloween as Spidey

County Fair