Tonight we did an X Men movie marathon.  Not my choice.  I had never seen any of them.  Still not sure I would have picked any of them.  Not really my thing.

All three boys really seem to like them.

The evening was pretty peaceful for the most part.

Praises for a peaceful evening.
Part of what I have realized in this journey is that sometimes we have to get out of God's way.  Sometimes we have to stop making it about what we can do and let God do what He can do.  It would be a disservice to Older Boy for me to continue to use my limited skill set when God knows what Older Boy needs and has a plan for him.

His regular respite providers are an AMAZING couple.  They have two sons of their own.  Their oldest has some similar behaviors to Older Boy from medications he received when he was a preemie.  They are looking at this respite as a blessing, because they recently had the foster girls they were caring for return home.  The regular respite is a transition back into healing hearts and being able to do a full-time placement again.

If I take a step back I can see how our lives are supposed to be woven with the the respite family through Foster Care Specialist and my agency.

Praises for understanding and support from everyone God has placed in our lives.
Older Boy had therapy tonight.  When Therapist J got to our house I asked Older Boy if he wanted to tell Therapist J what had happened the night before or if I should.  Older Boy claimed to to have no idea what I was talking about.  He said he didn't remember anything happening on Wednesday.

I started to tell Therapist J the story and Older Boy soon interjected with "that's a lie" and "that's not true".  Immediately Therapist J stepped in and pointed out that Older Boy didn't remember what happened so how does he know the story is not true.  Older Boy then got angry and said I was just lying.

We talked about kicking the railing and him punching me and me having to call 911.  Older Boy is convinced that I was calling 911 to get him in trouble and that if I would just stop calling 911 we wouldn't have these troubles.  Therapist J explained that if there wasn't violence in our home we wouldn't ever have to call 911.  He asked who was doing the violent things and who was really responsible for the police coming to our house.  Older Boy again claimed I am responsible, because I made the call.  Ultimately we just had to quit talking about it, because we could see behavior escalating and I didn't want to have to call during therapy.

After therapy was over I talked to Therapist J.  The session was difficult for him.  Older Boy spent the majority of the time being quite defiant alternating with pretending to sleep and covering his face with a pillow.  We talked about how life would not be fun in Older Boy's reality.  Both of us believe he truly doesn't understand he is the cause of any of this and that literally everyone is out to get him.  That can't be an easy way to live.

Praises for Therapist J.  He is working really hard at getting through to Older Boy.  I think he is starting to break through, but it is going to be a long road.  I am just hoping therapy with Therapist J can continue.

Prayers for understanding and healing.
I invited Mentor R and his wife over tonight to talk to Younger Boy about the transition.  I wanted him to know he had more people supporting him than just me and that we all understood.  I also didn't want him to think he had to retell the story to Mentor R, because he might not be willing to do that.

Younger Boy decided to read exerpts of his letter to Mentor R.  When he got done we talked to him about it.  It was pretty evident he was stressed out about the whole thing, because he was laying on the couch with his face covered up.  I asked him if it was making him nervous and he said yes.  We just kind of let if be quiet for a few minutes.  He broke the silence by saying "my head and my heart are feeling different things".  He said "my head wants him to go and my heart wants him to stay".

Mentor R held him and hugged him while he cried.  It was good to see the bond between the two of them.  They talked about how God is bigger than all of us and while we might not understand the plan God has one.  We all talked about how much better Older Boy would be if he could get the help he needs.

Praises for support systems and relationships.

Prayers for continued understanding and healing hearts.
Today I wrote letters to Younger Boy and Middle Boy explaining the transitions which are going to be going on in our home.  I decided to write letters, because then they can go back and re-read it if they want to or they can think about it more and ask questions.

Middle Boy talked to me about his letter right away when he read it.  While he is not completely unaffected by the changes at home he is the least affected.  We talked about how Older Boy would be at respite.  We talked about what concerns he had about it.  His concern is that every Friday when Older Boy needs to leave it will be a huge battle.  I told him I was worried about that too, but that we would just do our best and if we had to use transportation we would.  He was also concerned about what Older Boy would think when we talked about our weekends.  We are truly going to have to just feel this one out.

Younger Boy just read his letter and said he wanted to think about it.

Praises for good questions and being able to talk things through.  Praises for openness and reflection.
I just had a heart to heart with Foster Care Specialist.

We both put all our thoughts on the table with what should happen with Older Boy. 

My agency thinks I have put up with more than enough behaviors and haven't given up or stopped fighting for him.  They would like to preserve the placment if at all possible until he can get the help he needs.  The problem is that we don't know the timeframe.  We have no idea what it means if we say we'll preserve.

Together we agreed to the following:

Older Boy will go to respite every weekend while he remains in my home.  He will leave on Friday night and come back on Sunday evening.  This might not happen this weekend, but it might.  The hope for this is that it will give me a break from the behaviors enough to handle the weekdays.  None of this respite will count toward my total days for the year.

There will be a family support specialist in my home Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evening from 6PM to 9PM.  This person will be responsible for managing Older Boy and his behaviors.  This person will come from Service Coordinator's agency, so I am not going to hold my breath until it happens.

We will document for the hearing on October 26th that we are in placement preservation at this time until a higher level of care is found, but we will determine a deadline for the placement preservation to end prior to the court hearing. 

We are going to assess every two weeks to determine if the services we need to be getting are being received.

This decision was NOT made lightly.  Most of the time placement preservation is done to maintain attachment in placements.  This is NOT the case here.  Older Boy has not attached to anyone except maybe Younger Boy and even then it is questionable.  This preservation is solely for the purpose of holding on to hope that he can get the help he needs.  It is to keep him from going to multiple homes or an emergency shelter or the psychiatric hospital before he gets into a group home.

My heart is breaking...for many reasons.

Prayers that this is the right thing for everyone involved.
Today I got a call from Older Boy's teacher.  She was crying. 

Older Boy has A LOT of missing assignments in language arts.  She called me and asked me if he could do an academic detention.  That's how it works, so of course he will do the academic detention until ALL of his missing assignments are complete.

When she told him of the academic detention he ran out of her room and screamed that he was going to football practice.  He had the misfortune of the football coach hearing the screaming and he assured Older Boy he would in fact be going to the academic detention.

After school Older Boy went to the detention room without his backpack, because he "doesn't have missing assignments".  The teacher pulled out her grade information and made a list for him of the things he needed to complete.  He promptly ripped up the list and told her to f*** off.  She sent him to the library to get a copy of the book he is supposed to be reading for class since he "left his at home".  (Not true, but whatever.)  He never made it to the library.  After having him paged throughout the school for 20 minutes the security team located him on the football practice.  He did not go back to his detention willingly so he was escorted/carried by two security team members.

When he arrived back in class he told the teacher she was a f****** b****.  She told him she was going to call me and he told her that was fine, because I couldn't/wouldn't do anything about it anyway.

Since I had sufficient warning I asked Middle Boy and Younger Boy to head to the basement as soon as Older Boy arrived home, because I needed to talk to Older Boy.

As soon as Older Boy arrived home I asked him about his day at school.  He told me he had a great day and that nothing had happened except that he had to do an academic detention.  I asked if anything happened during the detention he thought he should tell me about.  He said "no".  I then explained that his teacher had called me crying.  He immediately began screaming "I went to the library and the teacher is lying."  I asked him to go to his room to calm down.  On the way he kicked the wall in the hallway and was kicking and punching his bed and wall.  I told him he needed to quit and that when he calmed down he could come tell me what happened.

When he came back to the kitchen to talk to me he again insisted that he never went to the football field.  I explained what his consequence was going to be for the behavior and lying.  He screamed that he was getting a snack and I couldn't stop him.  We were supposed to be leaving for church in five minutes and were going to grab dinner on the way.  When I told him he would not be eating a snack he took the ziploc bag of pizza and punched me in the stomach with it.  He proceeded down the hall and kicked out one of the rails in the banister. 

I called 911.  At this point I am not necessarily worried for my safety, but I am done with the violence and property damage. 

I am going to spend the weekend praying about putting in my two week notice for Older Boy.  Tonight as I sit here crying about how I couldn't do it anymore and how I am a failure to Older Boy I can't find peace.  I don't want to make a decision based on the emotion surrounding tonight.  I want God's hand in it.

Prayers for the next few days.  Prayers for wisdom and understanding.  Prayers for peace.
I never know what to expect with family therapy.  It is so different with every kid and with every therapist. 

Tonight it was family therapy with Middle Boy and Therapist A.  I like her.  Middle Boy tolerates/likes her.  He just doesn't trust therapists in general.  He would know.  He's had a lot of them.

We talked about how things are going at home.  Middle Boy was telling her about eveything we have been doing and all about school and his new girlfriend and Older Boy and Younger Boy.  He was funny and sarcastic and was answering her questions.

She asked if we talked about anything serious in our home.  He listed some of the conversations we have had during "question of the day".  That is a time when Middle Boy and Younger Boy can each ask me a question they want to understand and I can ask them both the same question and we just talk.  Therapist A asked him if he participates....he does.  He told her he did and she was shocked.

After Middle Boy left the session so we could wrap up Therapist A started to cry.  She told me that she had honestly never seen Middle Boy smile before.  I told her the boy she saw at my house is the boy I see every single day.  We talked about how she has been his therapist for a while and she is wondering when and if he will become the person he was at his last placement.  She said she is so happy for him.

When she left I talked to him about it.  We talked about how she had never seen him happy and what he thought the differences were.  God put Middle Boy in my life.  We are on this journey together.  That is pretty clear to me.

I'm not expecting it to be good all the time.  I am expecting the honeymoon to end.  I am ready, but I know we will make it through.

Praises for lives changed through the love of God.
When I picked up Older Boy at daycare I didn't even make it to the classroom before his teacher met me in the hallway.  That can never be a good sign.

Older Boy had what they described as a "defiant day".  He did not participate in any of their activities, but instead spent his time kicking the wall and punching the bulletin board.  When asked to participate in things he shut down immediately.

They said this was the most defiant they had seen him in weeks. 

I'll be honest...this didn't really make me want to load him in the car and take him home.

On the way home I asked him about homework.  He said he didn't have any.  I knew this was not true, because I had gotten a call from one of his teachers requesting an academic detention since he hasn't turned anything in FOR THREE WEEKS.  I told him about the call and immediately he told me she was lying and must have him confused with someone else.  Really?  Since he didn't bring anything home there wasn't much we could do about it.  I had told his teacher that it was fine if he stayed for academic detention each day until all of his work was completed.  He will NOT be happy about this especially since it means missing football.

He did OK for most of the evening, but when it was time to shower he EXPLODED about how he always takes a shower first.  Not true, because we rotate.  Of course, even if it is on a calendar he believes the information is wrong and he is right.  Just not worth fighting over.

He did do a great job of not being distracting while I had family therapy with Middle Boy.  It could have EASILY gone either way.

Prayers for my patience with the continual defiance.  It makes me realize how God feels when we constantly ignore what He is trying to tell us.
Older Boy asked me tonight when he could start babysitting younger kids.  It saddens me that he doesn't understand he isn't capable of making good enough decisions to stay home alone let alone be the caregiver for someone else.

I explained that to stay home alone when you are in the foster system you need to have a letter from your therapist saying it was okay for you to do that.  I went on to explain we didn't have that kind of letter for Older Boy and so it probably wasn't okay yet for him to be considering babysitting.

I'm not sure he made the connection.

Prayers for understanding.
Tonight's bedtime discussion topic was "what do you think I should change my name to if I get adopted?".

It seems Middle Boy and Younger Boy have been discussing this with each other at length.  Older Boy was already sleeping when they decided this was the "perfect" thing to talk about tonight.

Both boys are ADAMANT about changing their last name to my last name.  Middle Boy thinks he'll keep his first name unless I will okay something "way cooler".  The "way cooler" names that were presented were all promptly vetoed by me.  He talked about Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee.  He talked about Drake.  He talked about a whole bunch of partner things he and Younger Boy could be.

Younger Boy wants his initials to be AAA, but doesn't have any names in mind.  I listed every A name I could come up with and he doesn't like any of them. 

They talked about trading first names.  Also not a popular choice of mine, because I see nothing but a lot of confusion surrounding it. 

One day we will likely need to have a serious discussion about it.  Honestly I don't really care what they change their names to as long as they aren't completely ridiculous.  I kind of like the names they have.  I probably wouldn't have chosen them for them, but they kind of fit.

Prayers for patience for adoption.
Today was Older Boy's psychiatric evaluation.

We met with Psychiatrist for about 90 minutes.  Actually I met with Psychiatrist for 90 minutes.  Older Boy was there for the first 60 minutes or so and then went out to a play area, so Psychiatrist and I could talk without disruption.

Psychiatrist said she thinks Older Boy has significantly regressed in behaviors in the last four months.  That is about the time when I started seeing the decline in behaviors at home.

She went over her thoughts for her final report that will be turned in to court to see if I objected to anything she was thinking and to see if I had additional information on any of the items.

Her first recommendation was that he needs to be in a residential care facility for DD people.  She asked what my thoughts were on his having a 24/7 staff person versus being able to stay in a dorm like setting at night.  I explained that while he sleeps very hard he is terrified of the dark and my experiences with him waking during the night are really limited, because he sleeps extremely hard.

She named four facilities.  Her first choice is Poppleton House.  I tried to do some research about it online, but didn't find much.  The other three facilities I was familiar with.

She thinks he will need to be in the facility for four to six months at a minimum for intense enhanced behavioral training.  Before he leaves there she wants him to, at a minimum, be able to:  maintain proper boundaries, sit still in a chair for five minutes, not make inappropriate noises at random times, and stop continual pacing.  My experience is that all of those behaviors have been escalating.

Psychiatrist talked to him about moving out of my house.  He truly acted as though this was the first time he had ever heard it.  Judge talked to him about it at court.  I have talked to him about it.  Foster Care Specialist has talked to him about it and Therapist has talked to him about it.  Psychiatrist thinks he might be blanking it out, because he can't process it emotionally.

She is also recommending he no longer be placed in the same home as his brother for a myriad of reasons.  A big portion of it is the bullying and control Older Boy exhibits when Younger Boy is around.

Psychatrist had him leave the room so she could talk directly to me.  She said she feels she needs to put in her report that Older Boy needs a two parent home without any other children.  She said that with each visit she can see how I am more and more drained.  She asked why I haven't given notice yet.  She went on to tell me that if it drags out for a long time I need to put in my notice in order to have anything left to give the two other kids in my house and myself.

I left the office completely drained.  Older Boy's behavior while we were there was exhausting.  The message she gave me was exhausting yet a relief all at the same time.  I'm a little conflicted about how I feel about the whole thing.  What I am coming to realize is that it isn't about me and how I feel about it.  It is about what is best for these boys...all three of them.

Prayers for emotional energy.  Prayers for understanding and peace.
I did it again.  Fell asleep on the floor in the boy's room.  This time I slept there all night.  Luckily Younger Boy had set his alarm clock or we might all still be sleeping.

I didn't wake up ONCE during the night.  I have to come up with a different solution for the prayer time!
Middle Boy has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) many years ago. 

Tonight we were working on his math homework and got all of the problems done.  He doesn't have a lot of confidence in math.  In his words "I would get started on decimals and then have to move and they would be doing fractions and then I would move and they were doing square roots.  I don't actually know how to do any of them because I have never been anywhere long enough." 

I felt like we had a small victory when we had done twelve problems.  In the beginning he was saying "I'm stupid" when he didn't either know what to do or when he made an error on a problem.  I would gently remind him he is NOT stupid, but that he hadn't gotten a fair hand dealt to him in math.  I also explained that I would help him to change that.  I might not be good at all school subjects, but math I can do.  In the end he was actually smiling and giving me a high five when we got the same answer on the problems on the first try.

Out of the blue after homework he said "They say I have reactive attachment disorder.  I just don't think I have ever met anyone I wanted to bond with until now."

Prayers for continued learning in math and for bonding.  I'm not sure I agree with the RAD diagnosis.
Older Boy has not been treating me very well.  He has been calling me names and not following directions and had a hard time being anything other than disrespectful.

Middle Boy is fiercely protective of me and my feelings.  Every time Older Boy does something that could be considered to be disrespectful Middle Boy is on his case.  I have told Middle Boy that I can handle it since I am the parent, but he feels compelled to "take care of me".

Middle Boy is also fiercely loyal to Younger Boy.  Tonight when Older Boy was bossing Younger Boy around and then telling him he wasn't doing anything right it was all I could do to not let Middle Boy jump in. 

We are going to work on quiet time without Older Boy and just isolating the two for a while.

Prayers for calm hearts.
Today we went to the birthday party of Older Boy and Younger Boy's biological sister.  She lives in a home with Middle Brother. 

It was interesting to watch the kids play together although you can tell they don't have much of a relationship.  Older Boy still calls Mom J and Dad J Mom and Dad.  I thought it was interesting while we were there that he called them that and called me by my first name.  Younger Boy did the exact opposite.

Middle Boy noticed and asked me if it hurts my feelings.  I said it didn't, because it doesn't.  To Older Boy "Mom" is the name for the oldest female caregiver in the house.  It has nothing to do with relationship.  I think with Younger Boy it is about relationship.  I know it is for Middle Boy.  I sense that with him you have to earn the right to be called Mom.  I think that is how it should be.  He asked me if I wanted him to call me Mom.  I told him that he could either call me by my name or Mom whichever he felt more comfortable with, but that I believed it was based on relationship.

Older Boy spent most of the time at the party watching football in the basement.  Younger Boy played his trumpet for them and showed him his safety patrol vest.  He played with his sister and her friends and talked to all of the adults present.  Middle Boy hung out by himself and observed.  That is kind of what he does.  He had a lego car he wanted to work on so he did that.

I didn't know what to expect when we said good-bye.  Last time the boys were very sad to leave their sister.  This time they just gave her a hug and said they would see her soon.

Prayers for the J's.  They are an awesome family who we will forever be connected to through the kids.

Praises for a good time at the party.
This morning at church we had a dilemma.  The topic of the sermon was sexual immorality.  I had a meeting during first service and teach Sunday School during second service.  I didn't think it was an appropriate topic for any of them to hear without me there with them.

Middle Boy and Younger Boy ended up helping in preschool Sunday school.  They loved it and want to be able to do it every week.  Older Boy wanted to help with coffee, but they don't need anyone first service.  PH ended up taking him to breakfast with her.  He thought that was pretty special!

Praises to the ministries at church who are willing to help me out of a pinch.  I am kind of starting to feel like I am my own ministry.
I have been SO VERY tired at night.  Tonight after reading the boys a Bible story and praying with them they wanted me to hang out with them and talk.  Since it was Saturday night I agreed to talk for 10 minutes.

I lay down on the floor and found myself waking up there at 2am.  One of them had put a blanket on me.

Prayers for restful sleep in the upcoming nights.
Older Boy had a GREAT time at respite.  They actually said he can come back any time.

They have two boys.  Their oldest is 13 and has similar traits to Older Boy.  Their youngest is seven. 

I could hardly keep from commenting when Older Boy said the only bad thing about the weekend was the little brother.  He said that when he and the older brother were playing the little brother was annoying them and wouldn't stop when asked.  This is the EXACT behavior that drives Middle Boy and Younger Boy crazy about Older Boy.

Praises for great respite matches!
This morning I got a call at 6:03am.  There were no more activities at the lock-in and I could come pick them up any time. 

I got out of bed and drove to the church.  On the way there I heard a beautiful song that totally reminds me of these boys.  It is "All of Me" by Matt Hammitt.  Totally reminds me how I feel about the boys.  It also reminds me I didn't expect to feel this way and I still worry that at any moment they will have to move away...

Afraid to love something that could break
Could I move on if you were torn away?
I'm so close to what I can't control
I can't give you half my heart and pray it makes you whole

You're gonna have all of me, you're gonna have all of me,
Because you're worth every fallen tear, you're worth facing every fear
You're gounna know all my love, even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts, giving you all of me is where I'll start.

I won't let sadness steal you from my arms
I won't let pain keep you from my heart
Trade the fear of all that I could lose
For every moment I share with you

You're gonna have all of me, you're gonna have all of me,
Because you're worth every fallen tear, you're worth facing any fear
You're gonna know all my love, even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts, giving you all of me is where I'll start.

Heaven broke into this moment, it's too wonderful to speak
You're worth all of me, you're worth all of me
So let me recklessly love you, even if I bleed
You're worth all of me, you're worth all of me

You're gonna have all of me, you're gonna have all of me,
Because you're worth every fallen tear, you're worth facing any fear
You're gonna know all my love, even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts, giving you all of me is where I'll start

Praises for songs that can describe how you feel even when you can't put it into words.
Tonight was the youth group lock-in.

Older Boy went to respite with a family who has two boys who are 13 and 7.  He immediately made himself at home before I even left.  The family was VERY nice and I was comfortable leaving Older Boy there.  Of course, I knew Foster Care Specialist wouldn't just find me someone to take him for the night.  She would make every effort to find a good fit.  She's like that.

Middle Boy and Younger Boy went to the lock-in.  When I dropped them off the church was already buzzing with kids.  I heard they were expecting about two hundred and fifty sixth through eighth graders for the all night event.

I had the evening to myself.  How absolutely awesome!!

Praises for opportunities to just relax!
The boys didn't have school today.  Older Boy and Younger Boy went to daycare all day.  Middle Boy stayed home all day with Babysitter J. 

Middle Boy and Babysitter J met me for lunch and it was actually a lot of fun.  She is an amazing person and a great sitter.

When I got home from work I was surprised to see that Middle Boy and Babysitter J had made three kinds of treats for me, put them on a platter, and made me a handmade card.  It was so sweet and a super nice surprise!!

Praises for an amazing support system!
Tonight Younger Boy had completely HORRIBLE behavior between daycare and dinner.  He was mad, because he had gotten a "slash" for not doing homework and had to serve the consequence...which is no electronics for the evening.

Middle Boy and Younger Boy went outside to play with some neighbor kids.  Older Boy didn't want to.  Instead he stayed inside and was SO LOUD.

No one would listen when it was time to take a shower and go to bed.  I need to work on expectations.  I am no longer going to ask people to do anything more than once.  I'm just going to expect it to get done.

I went into their room (after bedtime) and said through shaky voice and tear-filled eyes "would it be so hard to just listen to me?".  I said goodnight and went in my room and cried.
Tonight on the way home from daycare Older Boy told me he is in charge of what happens and he doesn't have to listen to what I say.  He said "in fact, I don't need a parent".

I told him to let me know where he wanted me to stop for him to pick up his groceries for his dinner.  He said he didn't have any money and I would have to buy them.  I explained that he said he didn't need a parent.  I also asked where he was planning to sleep tonight, because if he didn't need a parent there was really no reason for him to live with me.  He told me I was just being a jerk.

He then went on to explain to me that last night I should have given him an eighth chance to turn his behavior around.  I said explained that it went like this:  I asked you to stop, you had a chance, I asked you to stop, you had a chance, I asked you to stop, you had a chance...all the way to seven chances.  I asked why I should trust that on the eighth time he would actually do what I am asking.  He swore that absolutely would have happened and I just don't like him.

He said if he lived in another home he wouldn't have to follow rules.  Especially if it was a group home.  By this time Therapist J was at our house and was talking to him about taking accountability for his actions. 

They had a long talk about how when you talk to someone over and over about the same thing and no progress is being made you have to wonder if the other person cares about getting better.  He said "if we practiced soccer for five weeks would you expect us to be better at soccer?".  Older Boy said yes.  Then he went on to say "What about accountability?  We have talked about it for five weeks and should you be practicing and getting better?"  Older Boy immediately pretended to be sleeping and started snoring.  This is his typical MO with Therapist J when he doesn't like what he is saying.

Older Boy needs to do his part.  I wonder sometimes if he is even capable of it.

Prayers for Older Boy to get it.
Today we had the IEP meeting for Older Boy.  An IEP is an Individual Educational Plan.  Originally I was quite disappointed in the quality of the plan that was presented.  I left the meeting feeling good about the people on Older Boy's educational team.

They are going to completely redo the testing of Older Boy.  They had "accepted in" the testing from his last school district.  His primary diagnosis there was behavior disorder.  With Older Boy it is so much more complicated than that.  I am not sure I think that is the primary diagnosis.  I think it is secondary to his speech language congnition.  I have learned so much about this from an AMAZING woman who owns Older Boy's tutoring company.  This woman is an advocate for education.  She is an advocate for special needs and what she calls "gap" kids who don't really fall in any category, but have lots of needs.

She was present at the IEP meeting along with Service Coordinator.  I almost came unglued at one point when Service Coordinator had the nerve to say that up until a week ago she didn't believe all of the behavior problems with Older Boy existed.  Seriously?

Our advocate told me as we were leaving that it truly was the BEST IEP meeting she had been to in 10 years.  She told me that I intuitively made the right requests and provided examples that will get Older Boy the help he needs.  She said everything in an IEP must be made at the parent's request.  If she would have coached me I would have had to fight for the testing. 

They are going to retest a number of things.  They are going to work with him on "emotion spectrum cards".  We are going to completely redo the IEP.  This may result in a contained classroom.  (I can't remember the actual name).  It is a BIG decision though to go that route.  It would mean that Older Boy would not ultimately end up with a high school diploma, but rather an equivalency diploma that would enable him to go to the workforce. 

I want so badly to think that Older Boy has a chance of going to college, but have come to the realization that we have to prepare him for the life and life skills of things that will enable him to one day be an adult with as few functional difficulties as possible.  We need to be working on things like cooking, laundry, and understanding money more than we need to be working on pre-algebra. 

The first piece of focus will be on the shutting down he does when he sees a task he doesn't want to do.  They are going to focus on that until we convene again.

Prayers for timely testing.

Praises for cooperation from the school district, his IEP holder, and advocate.  Praises for advocate.  I don't know what I would do with his education without her.
Last school year I tried to get registered for the OPS parent portal at school.  Because I didn't have educational surrogacy I couldn't have permission to access it.  Now I have I can access it.

What is it?  It's a website where I can go online to find out whether or not homework was turned in on any given day.  I can also find out if someone was absent or tardy and the reason given.  I can also look at the homework for any given day as well as print out an "in progress" report card.

This is not going to be pretty for boys who tell me they don't have homework when they do.  Today was the first time I could look.

I was disappointed to find that Older Boy has skipped eight classes so far this year.  Unknown absence.  I was also disappointed to find out that he hasn't turned in ANY homework all year in two of his classes.  Part of me also wonders at what point I would get a call from the school, because I haven't yet.

Younger Boy is VERY delinquent in homework...VERY delinquent.  It will be interesting to know what kind of excuse he might be able to make for it.

I also know that Middle Boy already has homework.  He is a little bit luckier, because he schedule alterates every other day.  He has a little more leeway, but not much.

Homework and school has been one of my biggest nemesis in this journey.  Now at least I feel like I have a tool to help me.

Prayers for understanding the importance of school.
Middle Boy and Younger Boy came into my room after about 15 minutes and apologized for not listening.  They both wanted to hold my hand and comfort me.  I explained that I was tired and I did not mean to ever cry in front of them and I was sorry.

Middle Boy said "I'm glad you are real, because sometimes you have to let it out."

What made my heart smile the most was when the two boys hugged each other and said "I love you being my brother."

Since the boys didn't have school today we stayed up for a little while and talked.  They love asking me about what my life was like as a kid.  They both wanted to know what the first thing I remembered happening in my life was.  They both shared their first memory...both made me tear up again.  I wish neither of them had the first memory they do.  Middle Boy shared that he hates remembering his first memory, but that sometimes when he doesn't expect it he remembers it again and that it always makes me sad.  Younger Boy said he has a reminder of his first memory every time he combs his hair so he can never get away from it.  My heart breaks.

Middle Boy said to Younger Boy..."You know what.  We had to go through all that stuff to end up living here.  It was God's plan for us."  Younger Boy said "Ever since I knew about God I prayed for a good foster mom who would adopt me."  Middle Boy said "You don't know how many times I prayed for a family and someone to love me."

I hope I can be their forever family.  I hope this is it for them.

Prayer for God to continue to move in their lives and in their hearts.  Pray he would continue to soften their hearts and that they would become godly men.

Praises for the kindness and compassion.
Middle Boy can't sleep.  I went in their room to talk to him.  We sat on the floor and talked about life.  He is nervous about school tomorrow.  The school is big and he thinks he won't be able to find his way around.  He doesn't want to be "that kid" who is late because he was lost.  He hasn't been there on a B day, because he was sick on Tuesday.  He only had his "buddy" for three days.  We brainstormed all of the ways he might be able to find his way around.  He decided the best option was to go to the guidance counselor and ask for another day with a "buddy" since he was absent.  We prayed for calming of anxious hearts.

He asked me if anything ever made me scared or nervous and what was the thing in my life that I have been the most afraid of or nervous about.  I was honest.  The thing in my life that has scared me the most is becoming a foster parent.  There were so many things I was nervous about.  Would my family approve?  Would I be horrible at it?  Would the kids like me?  Would I have the patience?  Did I have time?  Would I be able to change my life?  Am I too selfish?  What if I got kids I totally couldn't relate to?  I never had a brother...what if I got boys?  What about not having a dad in the house?

I told Middle Boy all of those insecurities.  I wasn't expecting him to say a word.  All he did was said..."I'm glad you did."

That right there makes this journey worth it.

Prayers for the calming of anxious hearts.  There will probably be a lot more anxiety before we get anywhere near our "normal".
Tonight I had it. 

We had youth group.  It is Wednesday night.  Our typical routine on Wednesday night is to grab something to eat at a restaurant before youth group.  Middle Boy, Younger Boy and I waited for Older Boy to get home from football.

Older Boy got home and I talked to him about the excessive use of his phone.  He decided he needed a snack.  When I told him we were leaving for dinner he gave me a profane answer and said he wasn't waiting to eat.

The car ride kind of went downhill from there.  Both Older Boy and Younger Boy were being disrespectful to each other and to me.  Middle Boy did his best to stay out of it, but when Older Boy decided to slap him in the back of the head he lost his patience.  Of course Older Boy didn't mean to and didn't need to be accountable for his actions.  Younger Boy continued screaming about how it isn't his fault he doesn't do his homework and that shouldn't be a reason to not get his phone back.

I decided when we got the parking lot to ask the boys how many times it was reasonable to ask them to do something.  They all said two at the most.  I asked how many times I had asked them to quit their behavior.  One said seven and the other said five.  I explained they had decided they were in the unreasonable range.  Older Boy screamed about how he deserved another chance.  We went home.  Last night there were no more chances. 

We needed to go to Walmart so we did that instead.  The boys had a choice.  They could stay with me and get a snack and a gatorade or they could go look at things and meet me in the front in fifteen minutes.  Middle Boy stuck with me.  I think it was partly because he gambled on the fact it would be time he could spend alone talking to me.  Older Boy popped in and out of the picture long enough to be around to get a snack.  Younger Boy did his own thing and didn't get a snack.  He did throw a temper tantrum before we left the store though.  His behavior is making me rethink whether or not he is capable of attending the lock-in.

The boys went to bed and Younger Boy came to talk to me.  He said he was sorry for being "a jerk".  I told him I accepted his apology and that he should go back to bed.  It was VERY clear that is not the outcome he had intended.  I think he thought I would tell him he could definitely go to the lock-in.  I didn't.  I told him we could discuss it tomorrow night after I see if he has done all of his homework the past few days and is able to be respectful for the evening.

Prayers the behaviors diminish.  It is exhausting to have someone in a 11 or 14 year old boy acting like they are toddlers.
Older Boy called me FOURTEEN times today.  He also texted me TWELVE times.  All after 2:30pm when he got out of school and 5pm when I left work to pick him up.

When he got home I explained to him that he is only to call me if there is an emergency, because I am working.  I can't spend the entire afternoon taking his calls wanting to know what we are having for dinner and what time we are leaving for youth group and if he can have ice cream for a bedtime snack.  Those are NOT emergencies.

It all became a moot point, because after we talked about it he left the living room and called me a profane name starting with an F.  He no longer has a phone to contact me.  Of course, he didn't mean to call me a name.  He doesn't need to be accountable for it.

Prayers he will one day understand accountability.
I went to a foster care support group tonight.  There were three of us there.  It is hard for me to believe that there are only three foster parents out there who need the support of other foster parents.

One of the women I know quite well from church.  She has actually either adopted or is the guardian of all four of her foster kids.  She now has EIGHT kids.  Her four grown biological children and her adopted children.  Just for good measure she has a foriegn exchange student from France this school year as well.

The other woman I just met.  Her heart is breaking.  She has had two foster girls for the last sixteen months.  One is 16 and the other is 4.  They are sisters.  They are going home on Friday.  As I type this my heart is breaking for her.  That is a situation I was praying I would NEVER find myself in.  I have tears for her.  She seems to be handling it okay.  She is part of their safety plan for returning home which essentially means the bio parent can call her for anything she might need or to take the kids if needed.  She has an uneasy feeling about reunification for a lot of reasons.

Pray for her and pray for her girls.  She finds herself saying good-bye with a five day notice.  Pray for the girls and the bio family.  Transitions aren't easy. 

Pray for the foster mom's heart.  She has a strong faith.
In the past few days I have found myself with the opportunity to speak to people who are considering or are in the process of becoming foster parents. 

B is a single professional woman very much like I am.  She volunteers at camp and wants to be more involved.  I believe when I first met her she thought she wanted to be a CASA.  In so many ways I see B in the same position I was in about two years ago.  I was an obstacle spotter.  If there was any possible reason I could not under any circumstances become a foster parent I had thought of it.  I didn't have the time.  I didn't have the money.  I didn't have a local support system.  I didn't have any support system.  My house was too small.  I would be a bad parent.  You name the obstacle, I spotted it.  What I have learned in my journey is this....if I didn't currently HAVE to figure it out I couldn't.  God always provides...when you need it.  He doesn't help you figure out daycare if you don't need daycare.

I had a great talk with B on Monday night.  She would be an AMAZING foster parent.  She tells me she likes littler kids.  B...they need foster parents, too.

Please pray for B as she continues to pray and explore the possibilities of being a foster parent.  I will be her local support group.  I want her to know that.

I also had the opportunity of talking to K and G.  They are with my agency and are in class right now.  They had a lot of questions and I was able to help them have a better understanding of how some of the things work right now.  They will be GREAT foster parents.  They are following what they believe God is asking them to do.

Pray for them on their journey.

Praises for people who are willing to follow God's promptings and take a leap of faith.
Today I stayed home all day with Middle Boy who was vomiting part of the day.  I am not sure if he was anxious or actually sick.  Either way I was able to work from home for the majority of the day and also spend some quality time with him.

What I am finding about him is that he needs "alone time" with me each day where he can talk to just me without the other two present.  We have been spending about ten minutes talking while the other two are showering or else when the other two go to bed.  Younger Boy commented on Middle Boy getting to go to bed later.  I am going to have to figure this out.  I am tentatively thinking I will do Friday night dates with each of the boys individually.  Of course that means a babysitter every Friday night for whoever isn't on the "date".

Middle Boy and I did have a nice talk about what he wants out of life.  What he wants to do with his life.  How he feels about his life to this point and what he hopes life will be like at my house.

Prayers for calming anxious hearts and feeling better.  Prayers for developing relationship in a one on one way.

Praises for open honest communication.
Older Boy volunteers as a student manager for his middle school's football team.  He helps them out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Today I exchanged the following texts with him:

"Coach does not need me."
"Have him email me and tell me."
"He's not here today."
"You need to go to practice anyway."

At this point I emailed Coach.  He was there and did not tell Older Boy he didn't need him.

"Coach is there.  I just talked to him.  Were you lying?  I'm not happy about it."
"I'm not lying."
"I talked to Coach.  He is there and he didn't say he didn't need him.  Is what you said true?"
"I talked to Coach.  He needs me so I need a ride home after football can you pick me up?"
"You can ride the bus like always."
"I forgot to sign up."

At this point I called the school.  He is automatically signed up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as an athlete.

"Can you call Mentor M and see if he can pick me up?"
"No, you are signed up for the bus.  Ride the bus."

I asked about it when he got home.  He is sticking to his story that nothing he told me was untrue and why didn't I believe him.

I don't even know where to go with this one.

Pray he will understand I am not gullible and I have a hard time tolerating lying.
Here are some random dates I would love to have prayer for:

October 26, 2011 - Check Hearing for Older Boy and Younger Boy
December 15, 2011 - Review Hearing for Older Boy and Younger Boy
February 21, 2012 - Review Hearing for Middle Boy

The review hearings are the standard foster care hearings for the judge to be updated on the case.  The check hearing is to make sure everything is in place for the review hearing so it won't be a big waste of time.  In our case it will be for the follow-up of Older Boy's evaluation.

Radio Broadcast:  My interview on My Bridge Radio will air in segments from 6:30am to 8:30am tomorrow morning.  If you are interested you can listen to the entire interview following 8:30am.

I am going out on faith having not heard the edited interview that I won't sound like a HUGE idiot.
Today was a family team meeting for Older Boy and Younger Boy.  The question about permanency comes up quite regularly now at every single family team meeting.

It's complicated with these two.  Yes....I am planning to adopt Younger Boy.  I don't the answer to Older Boy.  First and foremost I want Older Boy to get the help he needs.  I am going to stay involved in the life of Older Boy.  What will that look like?  I don't know.  What could it look like?  There are a few options.

There is no way Older Boy would understand Younger Boy getting adopted and him not getting adopted.  Guardianship might be able to be presented the same.  I think that this would increase his feelings of no one wanting him or loving him.

If I adopt him or become his guardian then I won't be able to get DD services for him.  If I am his DD caregiver I won't be his DD guardian.  Where can I make the most impact in the life of Older Boy? 

The whole thing might not matter if he doesn't qualify for DD services.  If he does how am I best capable of making sure he gets what he needs in life while keeping him in the lives of his siblings?

Prayers for clarity and wisdom as it relates to the ongoing care of Older Boy.  Prayers for God's timing on the whole thing.
Younger Boy had one of those days today where he was really struggling with following directions.  He was choosing over and over again not to be helpful while cleaning the boy's room yet if anyone else touched his stuff he would complain.

He decided to just lay on his bed and observe everyone working for a while.  He decided to go in the basement and pretend to be working there.  He decided to play around with his phone until he lost the privilege of having it.

He sat in a chair in the living room and cried.  He asked Middle Boy to intercede for him.  He went in the basement and talked to himself about how stupid the whole thing was.  He refused to eat dinner.  He claimed to have a headache.  He cried some more.

After a while he realized I was serious about the behaviors and being part of the family.  He came to me and said "I'm sorry about all of the things I did this afternoon."  There were real crocodile tears and a rare showing of remorse.

Prayers he can connect behaviors and consequences.

Praises for apologies and starting new each day.  Just the way God does with us.
I really like Therapist A, Middle Boy's therapist.

We had our second family therapy session today.  She is sensitive to the amount of time I personally am in therapy each week with the boys.  I believe her exact words were "Your house seems to have therapists circling like vultures and I want to make sure you don't have to have your own therapy to get over all the therapy."

Finally all of the therapists are with the same company and are sensitive to how much therapy we have going on in our home.  We currently have SIX hours of therapy going on in our home in the evenings.  Three of them involve me. 

Middle Boy and I made an agreement on how we were going to talk to each other.  In our talking to each other we both like our discussions about things to be exactly the same.  We don't want sugar-coated nonsense.  We just want to know.  We want someone to tell us what is annoying and what is good.  We want to hear both.

After the session Therapist A told me she can already see Middle Boy blossoming in my home.  She told me she couldn't put her finger on it, but it seemed like I just had a way with him.  She also told me that for whatever reason Middle Boy values my opinion and trusts me.  Both things which he has struggled with in the past.

Praises for good therapy and good feedback.

Prayers Middle Boy understands that I am human and I will let him down and disappointment him. 

Prayers for mercy and grace.
Denise by State Law I could technically have FOUR boys in my second bedroom.  Each child only needs 35 square foot of space and my second bedroom is technically large enough for four since it is 156 square foot.

After church we went to buy organizational supplies.  We bought three rolling stands for each boy to keep underwear, socks, and pajamas in.  We bought a small tote for each boy to keep whatever (mainly toys) under their bed.  We bought a shoebox size tote for each boy to put their "special" keepsakes.  Those have camp photo albums, letters, medals, and other miscellaneous photos in them.

T came over and took Older Boy and Younger Boy shopping with her while Middle Boy and I had family therapy and then worked on unpacking his stuff.  They came home and she acted as the drill sargeant keeping things on task.  Younger Boy chose to not help for a good part of the time and as a result lost the use of his phone for the length of time everyone was working while he wasn't.

We ended up with A LOT of things needing to go to either Foster Care Closet or Open Door Mission.  The boys are excited to be giving the things away to "help other kids".

There is NO WAY on earth another child could fit in that room.  There is virtually no space to walk in the room as it is.

They are all happy about the way the room turned out.

We talked about how proud I am they all helped (eventually) to make it a space they like and where they feel at home.

Praises for home and the things we have.  Praises for generous hearts who want to help others less fortunate or in need.

Prayers for close quarters and the adjustment is going to require.
Since we have cell phones I have seen a LARGE increase in cooperation. 

The boys are still really excited about the phones and they are all eager to not lose the privilege of having a phone.

I have all of the parental controls set up and they are working.  How do I know?  Two boys reported something wrong with their phones, because they couldn't get texts to go through. 

I'm sure many of you think "have you lost your mind?"  Maybe, but it really started with the fact that Middle Boy has a nanny picking him up after school and we needed a good way for them to locate each other.  There was no rationale I could come up with to explain why one 14-year old should have a phone and the other not.  Especially one that would have been acceptable in the eyes of Older Boy. 

I am anticipating it being a HUGE motivator for Younger Boy, because for him it is the biggest privilege.

Prayers this whole thing doesn't backfire.
Today for whatever reason I believed it was a good idea to buy cell phones...for everyone.

Now I am about to go crazy.

I did get parental controls for everyone so I have control over the number of minutes and texts as well as the hours the phone can be used. 

We got a good deal (all phones free) and they will be a good incentive for getting homework done.

There are a SIGNIFICANT amount of rules surrounding the phones.  I also told everyone to EXPECT to lose their phone...this week.

I'm sure at some point I will completely regret this.
I just saw this online and I think it is interesting.  It makes me wonder how many times it will apply in the State.  I think the decision is a good one, because ultimately it should help the kids.
Today I got the progress report for Younger Boy.  NOT GOOD.

We are going to really have to work hard to turn it around to even be remotely acceptable.

I think the most frustrating is that he has an "F" in listening skills and the notes on EVERY class say that he needs to use his time more wisely.

We're going to have to work on it.

Prayers for understanding the importance of school.  I hope it happens...soon!!
Middle Boy registered in his school today.  It is SIGNIFICANTLY nicer than Older Boy's school.

It is the magnet school for technology.  He was pretty excited to find out he could take photo journalism and radio broadcasting as regular classes.

He had to take reading and math placement classes, but he sat and did them.  For a little while we were going to have to go get a shot for him to enroll, but after a number of phone calls found out his immunization records were wrong.

He is so excited to be here and to start a new school.  It's kind of fun!!

Prayers for a great school year.
I went to lunch with Middle Boy and his former foster mom.  It was kind of an interesting transition.

Middle Boy didn't seem too emotional when he said goodbye.  I wasn't expecting it to be super emotional.

He just got in my car and said, "now it's permanent".  I'm moved in.

Prayers for continued blessings in this relationship.
This morning was a complete waste of time.  Older Boy was supposed to have his psychiatric evaluation this morning.  We went to the psychiatrists office only to find out the paperwork hadn't been filed to authorize the evaluation.  They couldn't do it as a result.

For a moment I considered what the consequences might be of me losing it in the psyciatrist's office.  I called Service Coordinator who was supposed to take care of the authorization multiple times and didn't get a response.

So...I took Older Boy back to school.  Service Coordinator is going to have to take him to his psychiatric evaluation whenever it gets scheduled.

Prayers for getting this done in the required 14 days!
Older Boy asked if he had to start going to the "behavior school".  He knew they were going to call this afternoon to let me know if he was accepted.

When I told him he wasn't accepted to the program he kept saying "See, no one can help me."

I explained that SOMEONE would help him.  We just had to keep looking for the right person and we had to be patient and pray about it.

I'll is difficult to reassure him, because I kind of wonder the same thing. 

Prayers for faith and understanding that God has a better plan.
Therapist J worked on accountability with Older Boy tonight.  They worked on accepting responsibility for your actions.

Older Boy was able to put it all together while Therapist J was here and then almost immediately following he got mad and was swearing.  He also said that it was an accident and he didn't need to be accountable.

Prayers things will get through to him with repitition.
We did the evaluation this afternoon for the partial program and Older Boy is NOT a candidate for their program.
I asked what made them say that and it was based on the behaviors exhibited during the interview and also that he was unable to read and understand the daily schedule.  Their program is very structured and involves quite a bit of reading and reading comprehension and they were concerned about his ability to have success.  They were also concerned about others in the program and the possible disruptiveness based on his behaviors during the interview.
In their opinion we should pursue DD programs and that was probably the best fit for him.
I was told that kids like Older Boy often "fall through the cracks".  That infuriates me!!
Prayers for the right program.
A local Christian radio station is doing a segment during the month of September called "30 Families 30 Days".  The goal is to increase the number of Christian foster families in the state during the month.  The following is the link to some of the stories that have been shared during the month.

I was interviewed for one of these conversations last month.  I am not sure when my story will air, but it will be in the month of September.  I shared my story on both what it is like to be a single foster parent and what made me decide to do foster care in the first place.


Praises for all of the people who are willing to open their homes and their hearts!!
Tonight after youth group Older Boy brought me the permission slip for the lock-in and told me we have to get it filled out and turned in.

I was quite puzzled, but I said "Remember, you aren't going to the lock-in." 

He said no.  He asked me why and whether or not it was, because of his behavior.

I'm a little uneasy about it.  This was the trigger for the entire episode on Sunday.  He can't go to the lock-in, because of the fist fight on Saturday.

He knows he was at the ER and that he ran away, but he literally blacked out everything else.

I am going to talk to them about it today during his evaluation.

Prayers for a good evaluation today and for figuring out the best way to help.
Today after court Older Boy had a psychiatric appointment.  The entire time he acted COMPLETELY age inappropriate.  He flapped his arms.  He made bird calls.  He rolled on the floor.  He sat upside down in the chair.  He made a woop woop noise over and over.  He screamed "the police are coming, the police are coming".  Honestly it was the worst I have ever seen.

Psychiatrist said no problem with meeting the 14 day deadline with the report.  We are going to do the complete psychiatric evaluation on Friday morning at 10am. 

I did ask what type of place she thought would be the recommendation and she said undecided between IRTC and Group Home.

Prayers for wisdom.
So...I think I feel pretty good about what happened at court today.  I went into a dialog about the behaviors we have here with both boys.  I explained to Judge we have called 911 five times since our last visit.  That doesn't include the 911 call from daycare.  We have also visited the psychiatric ER twice and have many new holes in the walls to show for our behaviors.

Judge asked what we are doing about it.  He asked for a psych evaluation and asked Service Coordinator how long it would take to get that done with the report back to him.  He asked that it include possible locations for placement and the opinion of the psychiatrist not just the opinion of what the psychiatrist thinks insurance will pay for. In fact he said more than one time...I don't care what insurance will pay for I care what kind of help he needs.  Service Coordinator said 45 days and got what I thought was a negative reaction from the judge.  She then said two months.  He said "OK...we will reconvene in 14 days."

Foster Care Specialist then asked what I am supposed to do in the meantime.  He said he regretted he couldn't do much other than ask me to continue to call 911 and take him to the ER.  He did ask that an after hours plan be put in place for me to have extra support and respite.  Foster Care Specialist just called and we will get a visitation worker for up to 40 hours per week in the home.  A little intrusive, but necessary at this point.

Judge agrees that the boys should be separated.  He feels we have gone above and beyond reasonable effort to keep them together.  The next order should say they can be placed in separate homes and that Younger Boy will not be removed from my home.

Mom and Dad J spoke up for me and talked about how he had the same behaviors at their house two years ago.  They also said they are more than willing to step in and help, because they love the boys.

I did cry when Older Boy was being interviewed by Judge.  Older Boy told him he hears voices in his head when it is quiet.  He hears them at bedtime and riding in the car and at daycare.  Judge asked him and if he ever heard anyone telling him he should kill himself and he said that the voice tells him that he should just be dead at least once a week.

Mentor M, Mentor R, and Storyteller were all in court with me.  It was good to have that support!!

I think the outcome is nearly as good as it could have possibly been.  Praises for that!!

Prayers for healing, grace, and patience!!
So, this morning I got an email from Younger Boy's teacher.

He had a social studies project that was due Monday morning.  He was supposed to make a model of the Parthenon.  The teacher knew about our weekend so she gave him the benefit of the doubt and gave him until Tuesday.  It is now Wednesday and I this is the first I have heard of the project.

I have heard "I don't have homework" and "I am already done with everything".  Younger Boy hasn't been bringing his assignment notebook home.  I think he thinks I am stupid.  I realize he is doing it because he doesn't want me to know he isn't doing his homework.

Today the homework crack down has started.  We are going to do 45 minutes of homework per day whether you bring some home or not.

Today it was actually ALL MY FAULT the project didn't even get started.

Prayers for understanding the importance of homework!
Tonight I got a call from Middle Boy.  He wanted to tell me about his football game.  Over the weekend I had teased him about how horrible his phone presence is.  This time it was MUCH improved.  He sounded excited to talk to me and he and Younger Boy had a very animated conversation.

Three more days and he is with us permanently.

Praises for a fun break even if they did lose their game!!
Tonight was Older Boy's school open house.  I read everything about it and decided we would go a little later since Older Boy doesn't typically do well in big crowds.  Little did I know it was one of those open houses where you go from class to class throughout the day and we should have been there the whole time. It didn't say that anywhere...if it did we would have gone when it started.

As it ended up we were there for class periods four through nine.  There really weren't that many people there.  I was surprised by that.  In one class we were the only family.  Really?  Do parents care that little?

I got to talk to all of Older Boy's teachers.  All of them commented on the frequency with which he goes to the nurse's office and needs to use the restroom.  (Anxiety?)  I asked all of them about he modification he was receiving to homework.  Most said it is the same questions, but less of them.  The science teacher did say that Older Boy is behind, but is really trying hard and has been coming in for extra help during his study period.  That is all we can ask!

I met the holder of his IEP.  She seems nice.  She actually was with us for part of the time, because she is with him in three consecutive classes.  She told me he frequently shuts down when she asks him to do things.  He started doing it during the open house and I basically modeled how I handle it when he is shutting down and needs to be doing something.  I could tell she was making mental notes.  Maybe it was in "how not to handle it"...I don't know.

Younger Boy did well.  He did ALL of the sample math problems during the open house.  He followed directions for the most part and didn't do a lot of attention-seeking behaviors.  Really...that is a pretty great night for him!

Praises for amazing teachers and their willingness to work with Older Boy and with me on this academic journey this year.
Older Boy had a lot of questions for me when I picked him up from daycare today.

At the hospital on Sunday they had told him there was the possibility of a group home.  I'm not sure he even understands what that is.  He believes it has a negative connotation.  I do know that much.

He asked me if he was going to keep living with me.  Almost the first thing out of his mouth...with the exception of "what's for dinner?".  I don't want to lie to these boys.  They have been told so many things in the past that didn't happen.  I do my best to be honest with the knowledge I have.

I told him he was going to live at the place where he could get the help he needs with his anger.  I told him I don't have any idea where it will be or when it will be.  He asked what would happen if he had to go somewhere.  I told him if he has to go somewhere he will always be welcome at my house on holidays and when he has breaks from his program and that I would visit him.  He asked how long he might have to be at another home.  I told him that kind of depended on him and how much he worked on his behaviors.  He actually asked what if it takes his whole life.  I said "then for your whole life I will visit you and you will be welcome at my house on holidays and breaks".

He said "I know I need help."  I am going to tell the judge in court tomorrow that I need him to help me.
...God will give me the strength to get through anything. much God loves us and what unconditional love means.

...when things are not going the way I had hoped there is still hope.

...I am willing to fight what I think is right and there is actually something I am passionate about. don't have to give birth to children to love them unconditionally.

...sometimes loving someone hurts.

...if I am not taking care of me I can't take care of anyone else.

...God is good...ALL THE TIME.

...when we are weak He is strong.

...God gives us exactly what we need exactly what when we need it.

...there are so many kids out there who are hurting and won't ever have anyone in their earthly life who is willing to fight for them.

...without Him I am nothing.
Younger Boy woke me up in the middle of the night and wanted a hug.  I asked if he had a nightmare.  He said no.  He just wanted to make sure I was still there.
Older Boy had a good day at school and daycare.  I called Mentor M to check on him last night. 

The report was that his day at daycare went well.  It is the first time in a while.

He had a good evening at Mentor M's house and everything was good.

Praises for Mentor M and J.  I totally appreciate everything they are doing!!
Younger Boy is REALLY stressed out.

He didn't have a good day at daycare today.  I think school was fine at least it was according to him.  I have been in contact with his teacher and she didn't mention anything today.

At daycare he had trouble following directions and then pushed another boy out of a wagon.  He received a consequence and he hid in the closet at daycare, because he thought they were yelling and might hurt him.

I explained that no one at daycare was going to hurt him.  It is a safe place.  He confuses getting a consequence with people yelling so I don't think that even happened.

When we got home he wanted to play XBox.  The rule at our house is that your homework and your jobs have to be done before you can use electronics.  He turned on the XBox and I asked him if that meant all his jobs were done.  He cried HYSTERICALLY telling me he didn't know.  Once he settled down I reminded him he is SAFE at my house and HE IS NOT MOVING.  He cried again.  I know he doesn't believe me.  I'm sure he has heard it all before.

Pray for peace in Younger Boy's heart and mind.
We have an appointment for an evaluation of Older Boy at the psychiatric day program on Thursday afternoon.  The appointment is anywhere from 1-1/2 hours to 3 hours depending how cooperative the person being interviewed is.

After much discussion yesterday we are going to try it.  If it doesn't work it is one more thing we can say we have already tired and if it does, great.

It is an intensive therapy program from 9 - 3 on weekdays.  He would go to daycare both before and after.  There is no academic component so he would need to stay caught up on school.  I have no idea how we could do that, but we'll give it a go.  They can also make further referrals from this program.

The incidents of the last few days can't be entered into court on Wednesday in written form.  They can be discussed during the "further information" portion of the case.  The information would have needed to be filed in writing more than five days before the hearing.  It is a bit of a setback, but the belief is there is enough additional evidence to warrant a behavioral home.

The judge could court order a group home on Wednesday.  It is possible, but unlikely.  It is just going to be up in the air for a while.

Pray for wisdom, patience, and the ability to speak effectively in court on Wednesday.
Younger Boy can't sleep.  He is afraid when Older Boy comes home he will be angrier and angrier.  He wakes up and comes to get me, because Older Boy is screaming at him in his sleep.

Pray for peaceful rest for Younger Boy.
Although I am sure Older Boy is viewing it as a reward he is staying with Mentor M and J for a couple of days to give me a break.

I started crying when J offered at the hospital.  I am so thankful they have blessed me with this break.

I so badly needed it emotionally today.

Praises for putting every day angels in our lives.
J came to the psychiatric waiting room to hang out with me.  She is the wife of Mentor M and a good friend to me.

I cried and we talked about the kind of help Older Boy needs.  I was so upset and frustrated I couldn't even go in Older Boy's room.  He doesn't remember much of what happened this morning.  He was watching cartoons and eating pizza.

When they said he would be in the day program I asked point blank how that was going to help us.  The day program is one to two weeks long and doesn't do anything in the home. 

It was a long morning...exhausting morning.

Praises for J and all of the people at church who were praying for us.  Praises for the people who took Younger Boy and Middle Boy and hung out with them and got them lunch.

Prayers for peace.
This morning as we were getting ready for church Older Boy asked me to sign his permission slip so he could go to the youth group lock-in.  I explained to him that he wouldn't not be able to go because of his behavior yesterday at the swimming party.

He called me a jerk so I asked him to go to time out.  While in timeout he began banging his head on the wall.  I asked him to please move to the center of the room where it was safe.  He got up and punched the hallway wall and kicked the hallway wall.  He went in his room and banged his head on the door.  I got the phone and called 911.  As a result he went outside and was kicking the garage door while barefoot.

I grabbed the phone to call the agency on-call phone and he left the property.  When the police arrived they searched for him and were able to find him about 15 minutes later at the elementary school near our home.  They brought him back and he continued to be agitated. 

A friend came over and took Younger Boy and Middle Boy to church.

I told Older Boy to get in the car so we could go to church and drove him to the psychiatric hospital instead. 

He was evaluated there and referred to their day program.  He will be receiving an evaluation for their program later this week.

Prayers  for peace.
I wrote each of the boys a letter and put it in a card last week.  I dropped them in the mail so they would get them today.

Younger Boy wanted to read his out loud which I told him was fine.  As he read it to all of us he began crying.  I had told him I was proud of him for working really hard to "get his anger out" and I wanted him to know that he didn't need to be scared in my house, because I would always love him and protect him.

It actually mad Middle Boy cry, too.

Middle Boy read his to himself and asked me about it later.  I had asked that we always be honest with each other about him living here and whether or not he felt comfortable.  The reason I said that was because he told me he didn't want to be adopted by his last family, but was just going to do it since "no one had ever wanted him before".

Older Boy decided to throw away his letter without reading it.  If anyone else would have done it I would have been hurt, but with him I just have to roll with the punches.

I love these boys...all three...all in different ways.  I would move heaven and earth if they needed me to.

Praises for relationships and these boys!!
On the way home from the swimming party I asked Older Boy about his actions and whether or not they were appropriate.  He said "they weren't".  He then proceeded to ask if he could stay up late and watch a movie.  Really?  Your behavior earned a privilege?

I told him he would have to go home, take a shower, and go to bed.  It was already the normal bedtime.

When he was in his room "getting ready for a shower" he completely ransacked the room.  He pulled everything out of all of the dresser drawers and all the blankets off of the beds.

I asked the Middle Boy and Younger Boy to sleep in the basement, because Older Boy wasn't making good choices.  This infuriated Older Boy, but he finally settled down and went to bed.

Prayers for help with behavior.  Prayers for peace of mind for all of us.
This afternoon we had a swimming party for all of the campers from Teen Foster Camp.  The day was filled with swimming, fishing, gaga ball, volleyball, and eating.  There were about 30 kids there and they all had a blast!  Several fish were caught which makes all of the kids VERY EXCITED.

Older Boy, Middle Boy, and Younger Boy were all in attendance.  Younger Boy got a special invitation since he will be going to teen camp next year.  It is fun to watch how different the three of them are.  Older Boy spend the bulk of his time fishing.  Middle Boy played gaga ball and volleyball.  Younger Boy swam and buried his flip flops in the sand over and over.

On the ride home Older Boy wanted to ride with another person so he could be in a "boy's car".  On the way he thought another boy was talking about him.  He repeatedly yelled "F*** you" at the boy and then punched him in the face multiple times.  The other boy ended up punching him in self defense.  According to the adult in the car the other kids were NOT talking about Older Boy.  He also did not stop his violent behavior when asked repeatedly.

When we arrived at the church and I got the story from the adult in his car Older Boy made the decision to kick yet another boy.  He was given a time out and cried HYSTERICALLY trying to get as much attention as possible.

Prayers for behavior control.

Praises for a BEAUTIFUL fun-filled day with other camper friends.
This morning Younger Boy had therapy.  I had purchased him a book he wanted called "Dude Diary" and it is a book of random questions he can answer and journal about.  He was showing it to Therapist T and they decided they would use some of the questions for therapy.

Therapist T chose the following questions for their therapy this morning:  If you were a superhero what would your name be?  What would your super power be?  What would be the first thing you would use it for?

Younger Boy didn't have a good name for himself as a superhero.  He wanted his super power to be taking away the anger inside people and the first thing he would do would take the anger from Older Boy.

This breaks my heart.  Partially because he is so focused on helping Older Boy that he has a hard time helping himself and partially because Older Boy doesn't recognize just how much Younger Boy cares and partially because HE JUST NEEDS TO BE A KID.

Praises for a soft heart.  Prayers for just being able to be a kid.
Tonight I went to a musical so Babysitter J was home with all three boys.

I had a great time at the musical....I loved it.

The boys did fairly well with Babysitter J.  Younger Boy had trouble going to bed, but that is pretty typical.  Middle Boy did well.  Older Boy insisted AGAIN that Babysitter J is "his maid".  At one point when he didn't want to follow her directions he told her she was "fat and ugly".  Neither of which is true.

All of them were sleeping when I got home.

Praises for good babysitters!
I feel like we are on a roller coaster at our house.  The status of Older Boy is somewhat in the air.  We received news today that it could be up to six months before a placement is found where he could get the help he needs.

What are the options in the meantime?  As of now Older Boy is going to stay with me. 

We are going to make a request at our next court appearance that the boys be allowed to be separated if needed.  This may or may not go through.  This step is crucial in the event that the violence would escalate beyond what it currently is or should Older Boy become a threat to others.  It would allow Younger Boy to stay in my home in the event an emergency placement had to be found for Older Boy.  The way it is court-ordered now is that if Older Boy has to go so does Younger Boy.

We will continue to work with the services we have in place and have an evaluation made at a psychiatric facility.  It does have a waiting list, but our paperwork is completed and we are on the list.

We are now in the process of review for DD services and also for movement to a BD home.  These are separate things.

There are mixed opinions on whether or not he will be considered for a BD home.  There is a consensus on whether or not he could actually do a BD program with his understanding of language.  It is pretty much a no all around, but it is a step in the process that needs to be done.

His best hope for help within the system is to be in a DD home with a BD component.  He could have these services for life.  It is super complicated.

Pray specifically for the following things:

Pray Older Boy's current IQ test is recent enough for the DD evaluation.  He is VERY CLOSE to being above the line for DD services which he desparately needs.

Pray for timeliness in the process.  Pray doors will be opened and it is looked at as a child, not a case.

Pray for peace and de-escalating behaviors at home during this waiting period.
So...yesterday I stepped out in faith that God would provide.  Middle Boy's move was being delayed, because of school and transportation.

He gets out of school at 2:40pm.  His school is 1.5 miles from our home.  At first he can't be home alone after school.  It isn't easy to find child care for a 14-year old.  It is available from the YMCA, but they only provide transportation from two schools and neither is the one we are going to.  Their suggestion is to have him ride a city bus (they could teach him) to arrive at their center.  I did a little research.  To get from his school to the YMCA it would take FIVE bus transfers.  I doubt he would get there before I needed to pick him up.

Foster Care Specialist and I decided we would just step out in faith and pray for God to provide. 

This morning I got a response from a student at Grace University.  She sounds like a GREAT candidate.  I am going to meet her tomorrow or Sunday and work out details if everything seems to be in order.  She already has a background check so she could start on his first day of school. 

Praises for the possibilities!
Middle Boy just called to tell me about his football game.  Unfortunately they lost, but he played right guard for the entire game and got to do the kick off three times.  He seemed kind of excited, but it was a little bit weird talking to him on the phone. 

His foster mom let me be the one to tell him he is moving in on September 16th.  He didn't seem too excited, but she said he was beaming. 

We are going to have to work on phone skills.  He was pretty non-expressive.  Not at all the kid I am used to talking to in my home.

I'm looking forward to him being here tomorrow.  We have kind of a big weekend planned.

Praises for confirmed move dates and excitement from all parties.
Tonight Therapist J was here meeting with Older Boy.  He does a GREAT job with him.  Older Boy was doing great and then Therapist J needed to give him a redirection.  He immediately went from being cooperative to being non-responsive.

Therapist J was surprised at how quickly it happened and how small the redirection was which caused it to happen.  I told Therpist J to wait.  As soon as Older Boy felt like talking again he would do it in a baby voice and be very silly.  Older Boy didn't disappoint.  Therapist J said that in his mind he is probably thinking that if you act like you are five you can't be held accountable for the actions of someone who is fourteen.

Their whole session today was on following directions and how when you don't it gets you further and further from your goal.

Praises for creative therapy and for allowing Therapist J to see some of the behaviors I regularly see.

Prayers for healing.
Today I got a prayer request from a friend who mentors a girl in the foster care system.  I have no idea what is going on, but please pray along the following lines...

Pray for the decision-makers in her case to see her not as a case, but as a child.

Pray decisions be made for the welfare of this child and not as a result of a policy or a rule.

Pray for protection and healing in this girl's heart.

Pray that all foster kiddos could have a voice.
We are squared away with Middle Boy.  His official move in date is September 17, 2011.  He will be at my house on the 16th for weekend respite, but for court purposes it is the 17th.

He has a school.  He sort of has daycare or he will by the 19th when I go to work.  He has a therapist, a doctor, a dentist, and a psychiatrist.  We are way ahead of the game with him.  Some of these things we are still working on for Older Boy and Younger Boy.

I'm excited.  The boys are really excited.

Pray for a smooth transition.  Praises that we might be settled into a routine soon.
Middle Brother is in the hospital again.  This time with pneumonia.  It has a fancier name, because it is actually in his trachea.  I can't remember what it is.

Older Boy is convinced Middle Brother's death is imminent.  Of course no one except for God knows if it is or isn't.  Older Boy is already discussing how upset he is going to be if Middle Brother dies. 

Mom and Dad J and I were trying to explain that we didn't need to worry about it until it happens and that right now our job is to love Middle Brother. 

Pray for Middle Brother and his health.  Pray for strength for Mom and Dad J.  They love all of the boys and I am thankful to have them in my life.
Tonight Mom and Dad J came over for a visit.  They are the adoptive parents of Middle Brother and Younger Sister.  It was good to see them.  It is so obvious how much they love the boys and how much the boys love and respect them.

Mom and Dad J are pretty aware of what goes on in our house.  They were the foster parents of the boys for about 18 months and I talk to them fairly regularly, because they "know".

Dad J talked to the boys a lot about getting the anger out of them and respecting others.  He talked about how they are in control of their anger and they are making bad choices when it comes to anger.  He asked them to chart it for him until they see him in court next week.

Praises they are still willing to be involved.  Praises they love the boys.  These kids can never have too many people on their side.
Older Boy now gets HORRIBLE nosebleeds every single time he gets stressed out.  He had four at home tonight and three during the day at school.

I am going to try to take him to the doctor tomorrow.

Pray this is something easily maintained and for Older Boy's health.
Today I had it with the foster care system.  I actually told Foster Care Specialist I am done...I quit. 

She gave me a while and called me this evening.  We talked about it and why I am so frustrated.

I have high expectations of the system.  I expect everyone to do their job in a timely manner.  In the industry I work in if you don't you get fired.  In this industry it doesn't seem to matter.  No one is held accountable. 

I wonder if it is because kids have no voice.  I am reminded of something I heard at Leadership Summit.  Someone has to be a voice for the voiceless.  It needs to be me.

Pray I can learn to not be so frustrated by the system.
I am surprised to find myself becoming really good friends with Middle Boy's current foster mom.  At first I had a preconceived notion that I didn't like her because the placement of Middle Boy in their home didn't work out.

I was wrong.  She cares about Middle Boy.  A LOT.  She wants him to be happy.  No one is happy in their current situation.  It was a mutual thing that they are not the forever family for him.

She and I are talking every day.  She is having to manage the everyday discussions of what is happening in the case and try to explain it to Middle Boy.  She is seeing his frustration and his tears.  She is seeing him "be done" with them.

We both wish the system worked faster and better.  I hope the friendship continues.

Praises for friendship and caring people in the system.  Prayers for the Z family during this transition as well.
Apparently clean clothes are hard to come by in our home.

Younger Boy has been wearing the same shorts since last Thursday.  I asked him to change this morning and he told me he can't because he doesn't have any clean pants in his room.

He is actually right.  He might not.  He hasn't put them away for at least two weeks...maybe three.  We have someone who comes in and does our laundry every week so I know that they are clean.  I know that they are folded and I know that they are in the basement.

I asked him to please change and he threw a HUGE fit and called me a profane name.  This isn't the first time, but it is UNACCEPTABLE.  He has control over it.  He knows better and he has impulse control.

He knows the consequence for calling me names and being disrespectful so he won't be going to the swimming party on Saturday.  When I told him that was the choice he made with his behavior this morning he screamed "Yes I am" about thirty times.  I didn't say a word.

We'll see how tonight goes.  Maybe he can pull it together.

Prayers for good behavior and respectfulness.