Friday, February 25, 2011
It's also nice to be in a class of people who have different goals and excitement. I've been doing triathlon forever and know to get excited over certain times, distances, events that it's sort of become old news to me. These guys have a total different set of goals and I like hearing about them. Makes me want to do something 'tough'! What that is, I have no idea! Ha ha. I just feel like I should be doing some crazy obstacle course with like a 50 lb pack or something. It's just a refreshing change of pace/course and I like the group atmosphere. I had become quite the loner in triathlon training due to the TRAINING PLAN which must be followed.
I'm also down about 18 lbs since January 1 and I'm starting to feel good in my skin. I almost feel like I have a whole new wardrobe since I can fit into so many clothes again. Now if I can just gain some muscle! :) Someday I'll be able to do lots of push-ups...real push-ups. Right now, not so much.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
- Foster Care - Temporary home for children
- Foster to Adopt - Temporary child placement that will probably move to adoption.
- Waiting Texas Children - Adoption of older children already waiting for a home.
- Domestic Infant Adoption - Adoption of an infant from a birth mother who wishes to relinquish her parental rights.
- International Adoption
- CPS Adoption - Adoption out of the CPS program
Being in the foster to adopt category makes us unique in the fact that we pretty much have to cover everything for fostering AND adoption (obviously). I have a black box that keeps all of our imporant documents. So most of this should be pretty painless in collecting. Here's what we need:
- Formal Application - Done!
- Picture of Family
- Birth Certificates
- Social Security cards
- Driver's license and auto insurance
- Marriage License
- Photos of front and back of home
- Floor plan with rooms/dimensions/uses
- Pet Vaccinations
- Proof of income (tax returns for previous 3 years for adoption)
- TB test for all family members
- Proof of health insurance on husband and wife
- Proof of life insurance on husband and wife (minimum of $50,000 each)
- Proof of Will
- Physician's Report
I'll be honest in saying that we don't have life insurance or a will yet, but will be done soon. These were things that Dave Ramsey teaches too, but we were just waiting until we were officially debt free (less than 3 weeks to go!!).
And these are just documents that must be collected before the home study...there are more items we will have to have down the road. Buckner said that they schedule home studies in the order of who submits their documentation first. So, depending on when we and everyone else get everything in will determine the order/time of when we start our home study. She said again that this process takes 4-6 months. We're not in too big of a rush though. I know so many people have asked, when are we going to have a baby?! Well, not for awhile and it may not be a baby either. I'm liking the element of surprise right now...not knowing when we'll get the call and what the child will be or look like. It's exciting!
Sunday, February 20, 2011
The biggest topic of the day was sexual abuse. They brought in a current foster mom who for some reason has had several foster children who have been victims of sexual abuse. The stories were sad and frightening. Poor Clint, it honestly freaked him out! He doesn't think that he is strong enough to deal with things like four hour plus tantrums, etc. And right now, that does sound daunting, but I'm up to the challenge. Yesterday just really seemed to further commit to me that I am called to do this. While I may have endured sexual abuse in my life, God knew that I could handle it, overcome it, and come out stronger on the other side. The silver lining is that it was a gift to me...I know, how in the world is sexual abuse a gift?! But it gave me understanding and compassion for these kids. I can relate to their feelings and actions because I experienced many of them as well and these kids can be assured that I won't find them shameful or embarassing.
As the discussion on sexual abuse got started, Clint looked at me and asked if I was okay. And I was! I really have turned all of that over to God and I don't have that pain anymore. However, it did dredge up feelings and memories that I hadn't thought of in awhile. After the issue had been brought to light those many years ago, I was embarassed, ashamed, and angry. I am an internalizer about many things and really just wanted to put all of it in a locked box and throw away the key. I immersed myself in school and my grades only went up. It was my escape. However, over the years, I've been able to release those negative feelings and rather than trying to hide it, I simply just filed it away in a regular box because it was over and I had moved on.
But yesterday had me opening up that box and peering back in. It wasn't a bad thing and was probably good for me to be reminded of the emotions I felt during and after. They talked about how many kids love their perpetrators and don't understand why they've been taken away. They have no idea that the sexual behavior is wrong because it's what they've been taught by an authoritative figure as right. They've been told they are good little boys and girls and make the perps happy. I remember that. When I was little, I loved my grandad and didn't have any ill feelings towards him. He constantly told me I was good. It wasn't until I got older 4th, 5th, 6th grade when my body started changing and I started understanding more that my feelings started to turn. My mom taught us sex education and a young age and I think that was good. She wanted us to get the facts first before kids started gossiping about different things. So that too heightened my awarness that what was going on was NOT right.
And while I knew it wasn't right. My grandad had control and fear over me. I feared no one would believe me over him. I was trapped. My sister however was different. While I was the rule follower, not one to rock the boat, she was full of spunk. My grandad knew this and had to go the extra mile with her to scare her. During the years of abuse, I had no idea he was doing the same to my sister and my sister likewise didn't know about me. Anyway, the stories I've heard from her since then on how he threatened her hurt so bad. He was a military man and sick and twisted. Fortunately, despite those horrible threats, my sister finally confided in a school friend at an after-school program. This friend knew this was not right and went straight to one of the teachers of the program who confided to my mom.
To say my mom was livid would be an understatement. I was in 6th grade at the time and I remember coming home that day and my mom saying, 'We've got to talk!' Usually that was code for 'You're in BIG trouble!' I racked my brain for what I could have possibly done wrong, but was coming up empty. I remember asking, "Am I in trouble?" She said, "No, but I know someone who might be!" When my mom is seriously upset she gets this really deep voice and she had that. I was a little panicked. She then mentioned my grandad and asked if he had touched me in anyway. She said that she would trust me and believe me in no matter what I said. I broke down and told her.
It was out and there was this sense of relief! She believed me! This nightmare is going to be over! But then there was the embarassment of having to talk about it, knowing that others now knew. I was scared, what did this mean now? What was next?
The next part is kind of a blur. My mom wanted to prosecute my grandad. My sister and I had to meet with a therapist and describe with a doll, etc. all of the things he did. Not fun to have to verbalize! Especially to a stranger. My mom also started us in counseling. Again, I just remember NOT wanting to talk about it. Just wanted to move on.
One of the worst things was riding the bus from school one day. My cousin (boy) who was my age only lived a few streets away from me and we rode the same bus (he was a grade ahead though due to his early birthday). He said to me, "You know you're never going to get to see grandmommy again." Crushed! I was crushed! I LOVED my grandmommy! And then I thought...she doesn't believe me! She must hate me! The whole family hates my sister and me! And well, those feelings were true and my dad's side of the family was stripped away from me. So, while I haven't been taken away from my immediate family like a foster child is, I dealt with a lot of the same feelings.
In the end, my grandad got off. Nothing happened to him, which is often the case. So many people thought we made it up. Wow! I just can't even imagine making up that stuff, just saying the words to the therapist was torture. Even now, that I feel like I can move past it. I think I could only share the details of what he did to my husband and that's only if he asks. That part I suppose will always be a scar.
The story doesn't end there though. About four years later, it was discovered that my grandad was having an affair with another woman (lots of stuff would come out about him). My grandparents were getting a divorce. Suddenly, the family felt allowed to believe us. My grandmother wanted to see us! While it was great, it was awkward too. Life with that side of the family just never was the same. Christmas Eve used to be a big gathering at my grandparents house with all of us. My sister and I anticipated it for weeks when we were little! Somehow, we were now supposed to just jump back in. Deep down, the family still didn't really care for my sister or me and they weren't so good about hiding those feelings. My grandmother loved us, but still, it was just different. She's now in a nursing home and doesn't remember us, but I really lost her back in 6th grade, not a couple of years ago. She was the only connection with my dad's side of the family that sort of brought people together. Without her, there is no connection with them. Through the wonders of facebook, one of my cousins did find me and will talk to me. However, we were never close, even growing up (there was quite a bit of age difference between us).
The worst though, our own dad doesn't believe us. While I can get past my other family, my dad not believing me honestly does sting a bit. But my issues with my dad run much more deep than just this and that is something that I am constantly having to remind myself to turn over to God because otherwise, I wouldn't be able to handle it. I know my dad is in a difficult position since it is his father and believing us would mean coming to terms that his own father could do such a thing. However, my sister has called me in hysterics a couple of times when she has been at my dad's house and my grandad was invited over. My dad could at least have the courtesy to not do that.
Anyway, I know all of this is long-winded and certainly not a pleasant subject, but it just felt good to let it out on 'paper'. It's been a long time. And I don't hold anger over my dad's family and I don't blame myself. I know my grandad is the reason that life is the way it is now. And my dad's side of the family has many more issues that make things strained between one another than just this subject. I don't get worked up over it. I do remember when I was attending McMurry and running around the nearby streets for track...my grandad's work was nearby. I didn't fear him seeing me and doing something to me, but I can guarantee to you that I always had a subconsious plan of what to do if I saw him. I knew where the closest house, easiest get-away was. In class, they discussed how some of the kids had certain triggers that would bring them back to the awful incidents. I don't have that. There is something though, my grandad had a very distinct whistle. Every once in awhile I'll hear someone make that whistle and the hairs on my arms will stand up. It's more of a 'nails on the chalkboard' thing than taking me back to trauma though. I do think my sister has more lasting issues with it though and I hate that. She has a girl and she is extremely wary about who can keep her, even family. Plus, she still lives in Abilene and runs the risk of seeing him more.
It's a shame that there are such sick people int his world who would abuse a child in this way. But I'm happy to be one of the 'success' stories who can move on and heal.
Friday, February 18, 2011
After my 100 mile run in February of 2009 (hard to believe it's been two years already!) I was ready for a break. Perhaps it was a bit of burn out, I don't know. I still loved the sport, but I just wanted to rest. After some time off, I was looking to get back to it so to speak, but I was looking for a change. I'd clearly mastered the art of long and slow. I wanted something with a kick! A friend told me about this bootcamp and it sounded like what I was looking for. And true, I was sore that first week because it was something different from what my body was used to. But as the weeks rolled on, I quickly became bored with it. We did the same few exercises over and over...not much variety. The instructor seemed much more interested in chatting with the girls rather than leading us. There were so many breaks. But the worst was the whining! Gosh I don't deal well with whining adults in my workouts. I mean, they PAID to be out there, if it's hard, don't come! Workouts are for me; where I get re-energized and leave the world's worries for a bit. So, I didn't enjoy feeling like I was in a room with a bunch of toddlers. My coach in high school used to say that whining (in practice) was like cancer and that once one person started, it spread like wildfire. So true!
Observing some of the other 'hard core' boot camps around town, I was finding more of the same. Lame workouts, whiny adults. And I don't mean to be bashing these programs. I think they are great for those that aren't accustomed to working out, but I've been running or doing some form of exercise since I was in eighth grade. So, I gave up on that. I wanted to do some stuff at home on my own, but I admit to not being very creative. I've heard so much about CrossFit and it's amazing! I did a few of the online workouts, but it's hard to do in a gym that isn't outfitted for it. I discovered that there are some CrossFit gyms springing up in town, but I just can't swallow paying that much to workout, especially when I can workout for free out my front door.
So, I'd given up on a high intensity class with strength and anaerobic energy. Until, someone in our small group told me about this other gym and its 'CrossFit' class. The price was reasonable. I was intrigued. I couldn't help myeslf I went in the next day to see what I could find out about it. I went in and was totally honest with the gym worker. I wasn't looking around for another mamby pamby workout class where we all hold hands around the water cooler. She told me this class was what I was looking for. I went ahead and cautiously signed up for a month. I could give it a month and if it wasn't 'it' I wouldn't be out months of membership. I went in for my assessment last night. I was worried at first because I thought the guy in the office was the instructor and well, he didn't look so in shape to me (the bootcamp instructor I had was overweight and kept cramming those 'get weight loss quick with this 9 day cleanse' junk). To my relief, that wasn't the instructor and he went to get him for me. The instructor definitely looked the part at least so that's step one. He took me back to the room and had me run through some exercises. The exercises were only maybe 10 min. and I am already slightly sore today. Ha! I have a good vibe about this guy and this class. It definitely seems like it will be high energy, kick my butt.
My first class is this evening! He said I was free to go to any of the classes and didn't have to start out in the beginner class, which is good because the beginner classes really weren't working with my schedule right now. But, I am nervous about jumping in with people who know what they are doing. I think I'm more anxious than I want to admit because I did not sleep well at all last night. Funny how I can get so worked up over working out, but working out is a part of me and I just need a change to keep things interesting. So, this gym has one month to see if it can hold my attention! I already know it's going to have me on the floor in the first week.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
There were only four of us couples in the class plus three current foster families who were there for their continuous training hours. Everyone was extremely nice, definitely a good group of people. I'll be honest though, I don't really feel like I got a whole lot out of it. Well, as far as material goes. I loved being able to hear REAL stories from the foster families and listen to their experiences. The material we covered I just felt like I've already learned in my reading or were things that I thought were (or should be) common knowledge. Plus, I sort of had to deal with several of these issues growing up with an alcoholic father, divorced family, etc. But, while we know these children are hurt and broken, we did several exercises that put us in their shoes which I think is important too. It definitely wasn't a waste of time, just wish there was more. And I'm hoping we will get to the more. Clint said, " I know these kids are going to be troubled and hurt, but I want to know what I can do to help them." That's exactly how I felt. But there again, that's our Engineer Fix-It personalities coming out.
We haven't heard anything yet about our formal application, but I think that is something we will know about soon, hopefully. I also need to start thinking about furnishing the baby's room! Our homestudy will be here before we know it and it's not going to look so good if all we have is a dresser, ha! Plus, the room needs a repaint because I think it is too dark for a baby. I'm thinking on some colors that can go for either a boy or girl. And in case I didn't mention it before, no, much to my mother-in-law's disdain, we are NOT specifying a sex. We wouldn't get to choose if we were to have a biological child so we aren't choosing here either. And not that MIL will be upset, but she is dying for a girl since she raised a bunch of boys and the first grandchild is a boy. I do have a color scheme in mind, but not sure at the moment.
So, that's a wrap on where we are currently. Seems like we have been asked a lot lately on where we are. Everyone wants to know how soon until a baby! We just don't know and we know it will take time so we aren't getting worked up over it. Like I've said, I would still like to complete this year of work, but we do know that daycare would be an okay option too until I can become a SAHM. They say licensing will take 4-6 months so it won't even be until sometime in the summer before we are eligible to be a foster/adopt family. Then there is the waiting for a child in need. Patience, patience :)
Monday, February 14, 2011
On Friday they had their Valentine's Day party. I was excited about being able to go up there and share in the festivities and hand out valentines. When I arrived the girls (and the rest of the class) were excited to see me. However, Miss A was not there. I assumed it was the typical 'out sick' excuse with her since she misses frequently. But their teacher informed me that she had been suspended for the day. Ugh! I hate to hear that. I spoke with her today during our normal visit time and she had gotten in to it with a boy. I tried to talk some reason in to her, but it wasn't happening. In fact, she got in trouble while I was there today. Sigh! I'm not giving up on her yet though.
Their teacher also informed me that Miss N's grandmother had a heart attack earlier in the week and she didn't expect her to make it much longer. My heart just sunk. Miss N lives with her grandmother because her parents aren't around. I asked what would happen to her if her grandmother passed on and she said she thought there was an uncle in the picture. Not really making me feel at ease because she needs a female in her life. Well, when visiting today I got the sad news that her grandmother passed away yesterday. Miss N was obviously sad, but not really wanting to talk much about it. I just tried to follow her lead, I didn't want her to talk if she didn't want to. She'd randomly pipe in with something as it would strike her, such as, "I just can't believe she's not here, " and "she didn't know who I was when we went to visit her." Poor thing! I am feeling more encouraged that there may be an aunt to go with that uncle though, so I'm praying that she has a good/safe place to stay.
Then there's Miss M. She's been back to being the better student that I know she can be. She's truly a sweetheart and wants to do good. I just love, love her gap-tooth smile :) Okay, so they all get me when they smile. Anyway, while I was at the party on Friday I heard over the intercom about students coming to the office to get their backpacks. I looked at their teacher with a confused look and she informed me that the program handed out backpacks on Fridays filled with food so that the kids would have food to eat over the weekend. Well, Miss M was one of the kids in the program. For some reason, it just hit me hard. She may not have food to eat? What other needs might not be met at home?? And deep down, I knew that this might be possible with these kids, but seeing her get that backpack just stunned me.
As usual, I am just filled with worry for these girls. I just want to scoop them up and put a protective shield around them. The best thing I know to do for them though, is pray. I was reminded that without me, they may not even be getting prayers. Wow! Makes me want to pray even more. I did discover that their teacher is a part of our church though. And I just know that she prays for these kids (the entire class) too.
Friday, February 11, 2011
We started at the police station and had our usual leadership training first thing. Then, we heard from the new police chief and learned about all the workings of the Longview Police Department. It's quite the operation. A highlight was getting to meet one of the police dogs (they have three)...his name was Youst (not sure on the spelling). They get their dogs from Holland. Youst was a beautiful german shepherd. We then quickly made a walk through the call center before heading to the Gregg County Courthouse.
At the courthhouse, we got to hear from several of the judges from the different courts as well as the district and county clerks. I'm still somewhat confused as to the breakdown of county and district courts, but I do know that when we hopefully reach adoption time, we will be going to the 307th district court and will be seeing Judge Tim Womack. So much of what we heard was so sad and depressing...the dealings with all of this bad stuff. I smiled though when someone asked, 'how can you work here day in and day out with all of this depressing stuff?' Everyone there throughout the day responded with, 'Yes, it's hard, but the good is the times you get to witness an adoption and see those happy families and children.' Oh, I can't wait! I hope we get to be one of their happy moments!
We then quickly made a dash over to the partnership for lunch and a presentation from the district attorney. Interesting, and again, sad, stuff!
Then, it was time to rush back to the courthouse to sit in on Judge Simpson's Juvenile Court proceedings. This was where the REALLY heavy stuff hit me! Ugh! It's just so hard to see smart, talented kids get on the wrong path and make bad decisions. Afterwards, the judge, lawyers, and parol officers stayed in the room for us to ask questions. It just hit me hard because they start seeing kids in there at age 10...the same age as my girls and they kept saying that so many of these kids are smart...like my girls. Unfortunately, many times these kids have no real family unit, no structure, discipline, nurturing, father figures, etc. It just gave me an even bigger sense of burden...well, not burden because I truly WANT to do anything possible for these girls so I don't view it as a chore, but perhaps it just scared me more and I feel somewhat hopeless and unsure of what to do for them, to teach them. And it's frustrating. I get 45 min. on a good day with them, once a week. This includes the walk to lunch and eating, and walking back to class. I just wish I had more time! I wish I could do things with them outside of school. The public is allowed to sit in on those court proceedings and I would love to take them one time to witness the severity and sadness of it. I know I am not their parents and that I am merely a spec in their lives, but I still want the world for them. I guess I feel burdened to not let them let themselves and others down.
After juvenile court we then went on a brief tour of the jail facility. They showed us things that the inmates would make with the limited things they could get their hands on, scary and amazing! Too bad they can't use those talents for good rather than evil, ha!
It was a long, thought-provoking day. I know we are going to be faced with a lot of this sadness as we enter the foster world. It's a little scary, but these children need us. I hope I can find a pair of strong, big-girl panties before then because I was tearing up yesterday over cases that I had no involvement in.
Friday, February 4, 2011
- Sunday, Clint and I were asked to give a quick testimony on Financial Peace University and Dave Ramsey since the church is starting up another round. I thought I would be fine, but once in front of everyone, I quickly got stage fright. We did okay, but I wish we could have said so much more. It was also my Sunday to work with the 3 year olds. We only had 11 so it was a small class, but they were in RARE form. Kellie and I could not believe how much they acted up. Must have been something in the air or perhaps they were given too much sugar :) The poor kids are in there a long time though and have the same limited toys every week. We've discovered that after their lesson, craft, and snack that playing games and engaging them is much more productive than letting them go back to the toys because they are so over sharing/playing with them by then. So, we're on the lookout for games/activities to play with them.
- Monday, as I discussed in my last post I met with my girls. I'm praying they had a good week...and that they are smiling today as there is no school and SNOW! :) Monday evening I had to take the intermediate test for tax prep so that I could be a reviewer this week. Some tough questions, but I passed!
- Tuesday, the bitter cold hit, but no precipitation. I was positive that no one would show up to VITA and we'd go home early. Boy, was I wrong! They had a record night and we did 25 returns!! All of us volunteers were in shock. I had a lot of fun though...really! I loved talking with everyone as I reviewed their returns and the night flew by!
- Wednesday was choir night. I'm still trying to get comfortable in there and not look like a fool :) Oh, beforehand, I had to install a new mailbox since some not-so-nice person decided to bash ours and then it completely fell off during the windy weather. My hands were frozen by the end! Hope it lasts a little longer this time.
- Thursday I had to make a trip to Dallas for my eye appt. The roads were driveable for the most part in the metroplex. However, I park a couple blocks away from my Doctor's building because I don't want to pay for parking (I'm cheap, I know!). Well, I didn't think about trying to walk on icy sidewalks. So, I skated my way in. Luckily, I never did fall. Those that know me I'm sure are amazed at that! :)
No snow day for Clint and me and we were at work at our usual times. The snow is pretty to look at though. I'm a little bummed however because Buckner cancelled PRIDE for tomorrow so now we don't start until the 12th. I'm so anxious! But, a day at home will be nice as well. My to-do list is getting out of control so I hope I can get caught up some. Plus, we have a get together tomorrow afternoon for Clint's mother's birthday. Then, it's Super Bowl Sunday! I don't really have my heart set on either team, but look forward to the fellowship with our small group while we watch it.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I asked Miss M what happened. Evidentally she is really struggling with a girl on the bus, who is also in their class. All three girls agreeed that this girl is not nice. Miss M apparently lets this girl push her buttons and then it's on! I tried to talk to her about ways to avoid these confrontations and not let this girl get to her, sink down to her level. I was then intrigued by our group's discussion...well, it's something I've been picking up on for awhile, but it really hit me on Monday. Miss M first said she thought she had ADHD...as a reason why she can't control her behavior. Then, she said, I think I have 'anger issues.' All the girls said they had this. Miss M only lacked one sticker to earn her lunch and squeeked one out based on our guidelines. I had told her that I would bring her lunch next week, but that she still needed to do well, that she couldn't slack off. I warned her that if she had a bad week, I couldn't reward her with her lunch and it would be up to their teacher to decide. Miss N piped in, 'But Ms 'Teacher' hates us!' Miss M responded with, "She doesn't hate us, she hates our actions."
It just has me thinking...what are we teaching our kids? It just seems like our society is SO concerned about high self esteem that nothing else matters. I get the 'I don't think You are bad, but your actions are bad' mantra in that you don't want to knock down their self worth (I really can't explain this well). However, as I am seeing with my girls, it disassociates them from their behaviors. And then, to take it further, our society has an 'issue' for everything, a reason why we do wrong, etc. It's not me, it's my condition! And they are picking up on this in Fourth Grade! Mercy! And yes, I know their ARE kids with ADHD, but as I picked up in my seminar last week, only about 3% of kids have it. Not to mention it's not an acceptable excuse to poor social behavior.
Conincidentally, I had picked up a book at the library titled 'Raising Unselfish Children in a self-absorbed World' by Jill Rigby. I know, I know, how about worrying about getting a kid first before I start freaking out about their ability to be upstanding members of society :) But I read lots of blogs from mom's who periodically make book suggestions. I just want to learn so much. Anyway, I am now even more anxious to find some window of time to read this book and the insight it might have on helping my girls (not that I'm saying I'll take it as gospel).
I'd love any and all ideas on how to help the girls with their 'anger issues'. It's new territory to me as I was shy, quiet and reserved growing up. Miss M did write in her journal, "I'm sorry Miss Bolton." I think she hates letting me down, which I think is a positive thing. She does have remorse, she DOES know her behavior is wrong. Now to get her to be quick to think and slow to react in those situations. They are all so smart. I was proud of them all for passing their practice TAKS writing test (Miss M scored REALLY well), which means they don't have to come in for extra tutoring. I still LOVE hanging out with them, truly the highlight of my week. We have a lot of fun and I can tell they enjoy getting to see me as well. Lately we've been on a BrainQuest kick. They love playing it to see who can ge tthe right answer. I know my Miss Fix-It personality can't fix everything, but if there is anything I can do to refine these girls into the ladies I know they can be, I'm all about it!