I have spent such a great amount of time in recent days focusing on the negative.  The things about the boys that make me crazy and make me want to give up.

Today I want to think about each of the boys in a positive light...about the things that make me love them just because.

Middle Boy
...the way you care for Sophie and snuggle with her at bedtime makes me know you have so much love in your heart to give.
...your fierce loyalty to Younger Boy and me cause me to know that one day you will be a great protector of your own family.
...your love of music makes my heart sing...even if it isn't something I would ever choose to listen to.
...your talent when writing rap music astonishes me every time I hear one of the songs...especially the ones written "just for me".
...your shyness when it comes to talking to others reminds me you are still a kid who needs someone to help him out even when you don't think you do.
...when you cook us one of your "creations" I am reminded not only of your joy of cooking, but also your joy of taking care of us.
...when you want me to just sit and hold your hand I am reminded of the little boy I never knew, but the one who still longs for comfort and bonding.
...your thoughts about God in your life make me want to be a better person.
...when you say "this is what a real family is like" I know you are finally in a place where you feel love and acceptance and most importantly safe.
...because you "just know" I am supposed to be your mom and you tell me we have been connected at the heart for longer than we've known each other...I feel that way, too.

Younger Boy
...your laughter when you are playing with Sophie is contagious.  The two of you chasing each other around the house with her barking and growling and your laughter always fills my heart with joy.
...your desire to tell your friends about God never ceases to amaze me.  You just put yourself out there and tell it like it is.  You don't care if people make fun of you.  You stand by your convictions.
...when you are freshly showered and you have "fixed" your hair in one of those crazy ways of yours I think you have to be one of the cutest kids I have ever seen.
...the times you stop what you are doing to come over to me and tell me you love me melt my heart.
...the pictures you draw for me show me your amazing talent and your thoughtfulness.
...when you say "sarcasm" quietly to yourself when Middle Boy talks to you in his sarcastic way it makes me know you think of him as the big brother you long to have.
...when you pray at dinner time I know it is straight from your heart...especially when you pray for "the people on the streets, whoever they are" every single night. dinner out when you tell me this time you are going with a "big boy meal" instead of eating off the kids menu, even though you can't finish a kids meal
...those times when you insist on picking up dog poop with your bare hands, because you don't want to waste a paper towel it grosses me out, but I see thoughtful consideration in you.
...when you want me to read to you "just because" I know you want to be close to me and just hear my voice.

For these reasons and so many more I know you are meant to be here forever.  God has something for me to learn through all of the trials we have faced and are yet to encounter, BUT.... have given me greater joy...Psalm 4:7.
Sometimes encouragement comes from people who don't even know they are encouraging you. An acquaintance, who I like to think of as a friend, wrote this on her blog about feelings and attachment.

Thankful for Hope

While our situations are somewhat different our journeys with children in our home look a lot the same right now.

She is a source of inspiration to me.  Her words speak truth to me some days when I am discouraged.  I admire her and her spirit.

I have also been encouraged by the following blogs about adoption of older kids with RAD.

I have never met Anne who is the author of this blog, but she faithfully follows my blog and encourages me in many ways.  This post of her's particularly struck home with me, because it made me know that the frustrations in my home are not uncommon amongst families with a RAD kiddo.

Bringing Borya Home

Anne pointed me in the direction of Kate.  Kate has adopted kiddos with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), RAD (reactive attachment disorder), and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).  Both of my boys are PTSD, RAD, and FAS (NOS).  The NOS means that it can't be ruled out and the majority of the characteristics present themselves, but it also isn't a firm diagnosis.

Kate's blog struck a nerve with me on both of the following posts...

Kate's Wish - PTSD

Kate's Wish - FAS encourage me.  You make me feel so "not alone".  My heart and my prayers go out to you and your families.  Your posts could have been written by me.

I don't know why you blog.  If you are like me you just want to have a place to capture your thoughts, share your trials, and celebrate your victories...regardless of how small.

Tonight was another rough night in terms of disrespect and rudeness.

I called a family team meeting.

I patiently asked what I can do differently and what I have done that has resulted in a complete and total lack of respect.  I asked if they truly disrespected me as much as their words and behaviors show.

I explained that I truly felt like God called me to be their mom, but I was pretty sure God didn't call me to be treated with complete disregard and disrespect.  In fact I pointed to the verses in the Bible about how to treat your mother.

At the end of the meeting I asked the boys to each come up with five things I could do differently in order to earn their respect.  They will be giving me their lists tomorrow night.

Prayers for wisdom and guidance.
Younger Boy has been an evangelist at school recently.  He has two friends who he talks to at lunch and recess all about God.

They have started asking him questions he doesn't know the answer to.

Tonight he wanted to know all about heaven.  He didn't really ask me any questions.  He had two people in mind that he wanted to call to ask his questions to...Baseball Coach and Mentor M.  I told him to go ahead and call one of them to ask his questions.

He called Baseball Coach and they talked for a good 20 minutes about heaven and the questions Younger Boy was being asked. 

They talked about the book of Revelation.

When the call was over Younger Boy told me the "most important thing to remember".  He wanted to write it on his arm so he could remember to tell his friends.  I convinced him that while his arm will be with him tomorrow at school at some point those notes would wear off and a better choice might be to write it on a piece of paper.

He feverishly wrote down everything he could remember about his conversation with Baseball Coach.  He tucked the paper in his Bible and put his Bible in his backpack.  He decided it was best if he and his friends read Revelation together tomorrow.

Praises for curiosity and seeking truth.  Praises also for Baseball Coach's willingness to answer his questions and provide direction.
Bedtime went better tonight.  Not sure if it was because both boys were sick today or exactly why it was.

It still wasn't what I had hoped, but it was better.

I'm not sure why showering is so difficult.  It isn't like either boy is going to miss some exciting event in our home in the less than five minutes they take to take a shower.

Praises for more helps our attitudes.
I love the  ladies of my lifegroup.  What an immensely supportive lifegroup they are.  I have been leading this lifegroup for almost three years.  People have come and gone from the lifegroup, but the people who are a part of if make my heart smile.

Tonight I talked a bit about the trouble I have been having and that I was considering leaving church.  They were all so supportive of me and the boys.  Supportive of our family, but also understanding of my thoughts.

I can't thank God enough for these amazing women.
Middle Boy was having trouble with anger management today after school.  He came home irritated.  When I asked him about it he said "I don't want to go back to the juvenile center, but I really feel like punching someone at school."

We talked a lot about it.

As time went on he became more and more agitated about the whole thing.  Babysitter J arrived and he was really having a tough time so I decided to stay home for a while until the anger was diffused. 

Middle Boy and I sat on my bed and talked about what was bothering him.  He is frustrated by a lot of things in life, but mostly by the restrictions his probation has put on his life.  I sympathize with it, but at the same time am very aware that the consequences of his actions need to be a part of the bigger picture.  He has a hard time understanding that the stay in the juvenile center had nothing to do with the consequences, but rather was just a holding place until the consequences could be figured out.  Is that fair?  No, but it is what it is.

It only took him about 15 minutes to diffuse to the point where I knew he was fine for the evening.

Prayers for anger management at school.
Today could be a long day.

Younger Boy was up the majority of the night vomiting.  He still isn't feeling well this morning.

Middle Boy woke up with a fever.

I am staying home today with both boys, but different illnesses.

I actually feel fine and luckily had my work computer at home so I can work here the majority of the day.  I should be able to get a lot done this morning since I am pretty sure both boys will sleep the better part of the day.

Prayers for healing and feeling better.  Prayers that I don't get either illness.
Maybe the best thing to do is to give our church one more try.
I have spent a lot of the day thinking about what it is about the church I don't like or am disappointed by.  I came up with a list of things which have been really weighing on me for a while now.  Can I get past these?  Last week I thought the answer was a definitive no.

On the other hand there is a HUGE group of people at the church who I love and who support us immensely.  People I would miss seeing every week.

The question is which matters more.  Which will help or hinder our spiritual growth as a family more.
This afternoon I needed to do work for my "full time paying job".  I went to the basement to log in with my work computer and get started.

The boys came downstairs and told me they were going to clean their room.  The only instructions I gave was that there was not to be a bigger mess than when they started the process and that they needed to finish what they started.

When I came up to check on them they had emptied the entire contents of their room into the living room in a pile and were playing video games.  I asked them to please put everything away and follow the instructions I had previously given.

What I got was all of the contents of their room back in their room in a huge pile in the middle of the floor and a promise that they could take care of it now (bedtime) or they could take care of it tomorrow night (which won't happen).

I'm irritated.  My house is a disaster area.
Middle Boy talked to me this afternoon.  He told me he needs to take responsibility for his life.  He started the conversation.  Honestly it is an answer to my prayers.

I asked him what he means by that.

He said he needs to do the following:

1.  Get his homework done.
2.  Shower regularly.
3.  Take his meds.
4.  Be more respectful.
5.  Help out around the house.
6.  Start exercising and eating healthier.

We talked a lot about what each of those means.  I asked if he wanted my help in any of the areas or if he wanted reminders of his desire to take responsibility.  The reason I asked is because we have had similar conversations in the past and generally speaking an hour or so after the discussion it is like the talk never occurred.

He does want reminders, but not ones that "make him mad".  Essentially what he is saying is that when he makes a choice that contradicts his new responsibility he doesn't want to be reminded.

Prayers that this is truly the beginning of change.
Middle Boy needed new jeans so we had to go shopping today.  It seems like I am buying him jeans every weekend.

I set a dollar limit and asked to see each pair that he tried on.  We have vastly differing opinions on what looks good and what is appropriate.  We were finally able to agree on a style after about 20 pairs being tried on.

We will not be doing that again any time soon.  I hate shopping in general and this was my worst nightmare!!
This morning when we got up I told the boys we would be going to a different church from now on.

Immediately both of them were angry and in tears.  They like our current church.  They like the people there and they want to keep going there.

We didn't end up going to another church.  It was too stressful for everyone involved.  The boys don't do well with change.

I'm at a loss.
Tonight we had an anniversary dinner for the one year anniversary of Younger Boy living in my home.

He was so cute.  He got all dressed up in a shirt and tie.  I let him choose a restaurant for us to go to.  His first choice had a two hour wait so we ended up at his second choice.

Everywhere we went he opened my car door for me and held doors open for me.  Middle Boy pulled my chair out at the restaurant.

We had a nice dinner.  Younger Boy had steak for the first time in his life.  He loved it.  Middle Boy cut it up for him since he didn't know how. 

We topped off the evening by coming home and reading a Bible story together and playing a game as a family.

Praises for the evening.  Praises for the past year.  While it has been hard.  Very hard.  It has absolutely been worth it.
Middle Boy has homework for his treatment program.  It takes about two to three hours per week to complete.  We wouldn't actually know, because he isn't actually doing it.  It is just what I was told by Therapist L.

This morning Middle Boy couldn't find his therapy folder.  Part of what you are rated on is your ability to be responsible enough to get the folder there each week.  I have no idea where it is.

Of is all my fault that it is lost and that he will be downgraded at this session.  I had asked to see his homework when it was done and I "must have lost the folder".  In actuality I never even saw the folder much less any completed homework.

So...Middle Boy went to therapy without any homework or a folder.  He also came home with no new homework.  I probably lost that, too.
Tonight I asked the boys to be in bed at 11pm.

I was exhausted, but since I need to supervise Middle Boy (and technically Younger Boy) all of the time I needed to stay up with them.

They decided that 2am would be a better bedtime.  They don't care about consequences.  They don't care about rewards.  They don't care about what I want or respecting me.  They simply want to do what they want to do.

I'm tired...exhauted really.  Too frustrated to sleep.
I HATE that Middle Boy is on probation...maybe more than he does.

Tonight he was complaining about how "restricted" his life is, because of probation. feels more like I am the one on probation.

Here's why:

1.  Middle Boy has to be supervised 100% of the time.  Not generally an issue, but it means that at all times he needs to be with me or someone who knows his situation.
2.  Middle Boy has an 8pm curfew.
3.  I have to email Middle Boy's schedule to the probation office every Monday morning for the upcoming week.  It has to include all of the times he will be out of our home and a detailed account of where he will be for Monday through Sunday.  This can change one time during the week.
4.  We have to be in our home at all times when I did not schedule us out of the home.

For a single parent this is crazy.  We can't do a single thing in the evening or on the weekend that is on a whim or that wasn't previously accounted for. 

It stinks.  It isn't going to change until the treatment sessions are finished and while that is scheduled for six months it could take up to two years if Middle Boy doesn't participate.
Tonight was family night at Middle Boy's school. 

When I picked up Middle Boy from the reporting center he was mad, because we were going to be "late".  It is an open house, so it is impossible to be late.  He just doesn't get it.

He screamed the entire way to pick up Younger Boy about how I don't care about anything he wants in life and how I am making him miserable.  All the while he was texting friends.

When we got to Younger Boy's daycare to pick him up Middle Boy announced that he no longer wanted to go to family night, because none of his friends were going.

In the five minutes it took to get home he had changed his mind and wanted to go.

We went to family night. 

The highlight of the night for the boys was dodge ball students versus staff.  The had a lot of fun.

I think it was the highlight of my day as well, because Middle Boy's guidance counselor came to me and we sat and talked for 45 minutes.  It was good to hear her perspective on Middle Boy and her observations.  It was also good to just talk to her.  What a cool lady!

It turned out to be a good evening, but it was such a battle to get ourselves there. 

Praises for family night...praises for family in general.  Prayers that we would learn to appreciate each other and not spend so much time in adversarial roles.
Today I had a yearly follow-up exam for a health condition I am "living with" for the rest of my life. 

The appointment took WAY LONGER than I expected it to.  The did a new test where they needed to inject protein into my blood and they had to try five different spots to actually get the protein injected.  The nurses thanked me for being a good sport and told me they actually had more fun with me than they have had with a patient in a long time.  I agree...the time I spent there was actually fun...MINUS the needles getting jabbed into me.

The tests came back the same as it did a year ago which is a good thing.  We talked about stress and controlling stress.  We talked about life style changes.  We talked about making time for self.

This is a recurring theme in my life these days.  I have been trying, but honestly it is more stress to try to find time for myself than it is generally worth.

Praises for continued health stability.
I thought that I would reflect back on those feelings I had a year ago today.  The day before I started this journey.  Here is what I had to say then:

So for weeks I have been waiting for two boys to move in with me...two foster boys.  Tomorrow it is a go.  I'm scared out of my mind.  I don't know how to be a parent. I've never been a parent.  These boys have some special needs...needs I am not sure how to meet.  The funny thing is that I have waited for you for my whole life. I love you already.

I just keep we are...for the long haul. I don't know where this road is going to take the three of us. Will our family stay this size? Will it get bigger? What will happen? Will we be a forever family or are you just simply passing through? I hope we can figure all of this out together...with God's help.

Wow...I look at this and I can hardly believe it.  This journey has been one of laughter and tears.  One of heartache and joy.  It is so interesting that I still have some of the same questions. 

Will our family stay this size?  Interstingly it grew to a family of four for six weeks and now we are back to three.  A different three than the original three, but three just the same.

Will it get bigger?  Only God can answer this one.  My input which God might be laughing at is "not in this house".

What will happen?  I could have never anticipated some of the things that have happened, both good and bad.  What I do know is that I have grown as a person and as a believer.

Will we be a forever family or are you just simply passing through? some ways this still needs to be revealed.  The next few weeks will be a strong indicator of what this looks like going forward.

I joked to my lifegroup on Monday how I have never prayed to God the prayer "bring it".  I think I am ready to pray that now with foster care and these boys.

Father...I'm ready...have your way.
We are going to be looking for a new church starting this week.

When I started this journey I thought church would be the one place I would receive support and understanding.

What I am finding is the church is not equipped to handle the single parent family.  It saddens me considering there is a HUGE population they could be reaching, but they aren't equipped to do it.

I have made some amazing people who I hope will be lifelong friends at this church, but I cannot continue to go somewhere where everything is a battle, because I am a single parent.

Prayers for our search for a new church home.  I know it isn't going to be easy.
Tonight we spent the evening rearranging furniture all over the entire house.  The original goal was to create more space in the boy's room.  I think that goal was accomplished.  At the same time though we seemed to make a HUGE disaster in my room.  It looks like this weekend will result in a trip to our storage unit.

As we were rearranging the furniture it seemed to parallel all of the changes that have gone on in our lives in the last few months.  Things were moving in and out.  Things were getting removed from the house in their entirety and new things were added.  We had to find a place for everything or decide if it was time for it to go.  We had to decide if the things we were keeping were of value or if we were keeping them for sentimental reasons. 

My life has been so very filled with change in the last year.  The majority of the change has been good...very good.   More changes to come.  God knows what we need.  I trust you, Jesus!
I just heard from one of our service coordinators that our cases will be going to the other privitized agency in the state.  That is all that we know at this time.

We don't know anything else about the transition or how things will work just to anticipate a hectic OR completely quiet couple of weeks in terms of communication on the cases.

Both of our service coordinators have applied for jobs with the other agency, but no one knows whether or not they will be hired and if they are hired whether or not they will keep the same cases.

Neither boy really cares, because they don't make connections with their workers.  Over the years they have had literally hundreds each.  Why should they care?
I just spent the last 30 minutes on the phone talking to Therapist J about options with Younger Boy.  He and GAL had lunch earlier this week and were discussing the case and their thoughts on how best to help Younger Boy.

First and foremost I want Younger Boy to get the help he needs.  I want him to heal and for him to one day be able to develop healthy relationships and love others.  On the path he is currently on it isn't clear if this will be attainable.  I am learning that while unconditional love is incredibly helpful in all cases sometimes more than love is necessary.

I know God can heal all things.  I know God has a plan for Younger Boy.  I know I am an instrument for God to use in the life of Younger Boy.  HE has placed me in Younger Boy's life to be his advocate and his mom.  In Younger Boy's case I am responsible for much.

At this point in time it seems there are two completely separate and distinct options available to Younger Boy.  Both would make me a permanent fixture in his life, but are vastly different. 

The options are this:

1.  Younger Boy would remain in my home and continue with his current therapy.  This therapy would increase to two days a week.  We would evaluate progress after a few months of a consistent therapist and make a determination whether there is improvement in behaviors and accountability.  In this option I could become the adoptive parent of Younger Boy at any time.

2.  Younger Boy would go to a group home specializing in the type of behaviors he struggles with.  Prior to his going to this home I would become his guardian and remain consistent in his life through his duration at the group home.  Upon completion of their program I could continue to be his guardian OR pursue adoption.

Obviously there are no guarantees either way.  Therapist J thinks Younger Boy is a borderline case for a group home.  His thoughts, which I whole-heartedly agree with, are that the episodes with Younger Boy are become more and more frequent and more and more intense.  He also feels like Younger Boy has become less open to therapy in the time they have worked together. are the questions...

1.  What is the best for Younger Boy?
2.  Who is the right person/people to make the decision?
3.  If a group home is the ultimate answer then should it be now or later?
4.  What does adoption look like if he needs to go later?
5.  What does guardianship look like?
6.  What is the right thing to do?
7.  How will Younger Boy become the best possible version of himself?

Obviously much prayer is needed on this topic.  As always in the system there are imminent deadlines associated with the case.  We have to have our plan at the next court date.  I believe that is in four weeks.

Pray for wisdom and clear direction.  Pray for the case professionals working as a team and not adversaries.  Pray for the healing of Younger Boy and the right doors to open in order for that to happen.  Pray God's will be done in this case.
Tonight the boys asked when they would be adopted.  This is the first sign I have really seen where they actually have hope of this happening.

With Younger Boy it is a little bit up in the air.  Right now there is discussion about him potentially going to a group home for a while to learn anger management, respect, and accountability.  Traditional therapy doesn't seem to be helping him, because he is stubborn and won't work with a therapist.  He openly admits he isn't trying to do anything Therapist J works on with him.

I have mixed feeling about this.  If I look at it objectively I can honestly say I think a reputable program with a history of success would help him greatly.  I am worried about the family dynamic during that time.  When I am objective I also think ultimately this is what is going to need to happen for him.  His hurts and wounds are so deep.  I wonder if sooner rather than later would give him a better chance of success in life.

If there is no group home that comes into the picture then adoption could be as soon as the end of May for Younger Boy.

With Middle Boy it is a little bit more clear cut.  We will file his documentation on June 21st...the first possible day to file since he has to be in my home for six consecutive months.  What I realized when we were talking about it is that his adoption could potentially take place exactly one year from the day I first met Middle Boy.  That would be a really cool thing.  He told me that he has known me longer in his heart.  He just feels it.

Praises for possibilities.  Prayers for wisdom about the right thing for Younger Boy and that the right people would be involved in the decision making process.
Middle Boy can't sleep tonight.

I told him I would sit by his bed and rub his back until he dozed off.

Honestly I have never seen someone who truly can't get their body to relax the way his was tonight.

The second he would start to relax one of the muscles in either his arms or legs would jerk or tense up.  It would be repeated over and over.

I sat and talked quietly to him and rubbing his back for over an hour.  We tried purposely tensing each muscle and then allowing it to relax.  That helped for a little while.  I felt HORRIBLE for him.  He really was trying.

The fact that he came to me and wanted me to know he couldn't sleep is actually a big step forward.  In the past it would have just involved him wandering around the house and waking up everyone else.

Prayers for restful sleep for all of us.  Praises for trying to sleep and making a good effort.
Both boys are masters at trying to convince me that I said things I didn't.

The things I allegedly said today include:

"You don't have to go to youth group.  Just hang out in the church until it's over."

"Feed the dog seven handfuls of food every morning."

"It's okay if you don't give the dog water, because he will just spill it anyway."

"Don't worry about picking up after yourself, because the cleaning lady will be here tomorrow."

"If you don't do your homework it is no big deal."

"Wearing the same outfit as yesterday is fine.  Just put on more cologne."

I DO NOT say these things.  Both boys will fight to the death to try to convince me that I do.  I have stopped engaging and it makes them MAD.

Prayers for just being honest and following directions.
Tonight we sat down and all ate together.  It was at a restaurant, but at least it was together.

I fully recognize the importance of family meals and how it really helps everyone to be connected.  We RARELY have the opportunity to have them thanks to "the system".

Our current schedule allows for eating dinner together at home on the following:

Friday night
Every other Saturday night
Sunday night

Otherwise we are at therapy, tutoring, youth group, group therapy, or family therapy.  We might be at our house doing one of those, but you can't have a family dinner with your therapy team in your home.

I loved dinner last night.  We had a few minutes to just sit down and enjoy each other's company.  We even laughed a little.

Middle Boy actually commented that he can't wait until the adoptions, because then we will be able to eat together since a lot of the meetings will go away.  I can't wait either.

Praises for the ability to have time for each other tonight at dinner.
Younger Boy informed me tonight that I am ABSOLUTELY the most stupid person he knows.

I'm somewhat glad he could clear that up for me, because I wasn't sure where I stood in the rankings!!
Middle Boy did his interview for the adoption home study tonight.  It was interesting, really cool, and heartbreaking all at the same time.

He was asked why he wants to be adopted by me.  He answered that he just knows that I am supposed to be his mom.

He was asked to describe me.  The first thing he said was boring.  He also said Christian, compassionate, loving, patient, and kind.  The interviewer asked him to explain the boring.  He said that he meant that things aren't always chaotic with me.  Does he live in the same house I do?  Once he explained it I figured out that he meant that things don't really seem to bother me and I don't get worked up and freak least not all the time.

He was asked how he knows that I love him.  He said he knows because I provide him with shelter, food, and clothing.  At first I thought maybe he was joking, but he was dead serious.  That breaks my heart.  He feels loved, because I am providing the bare necessities he needs for survival.  I love him so much more than that.  It made me wonder if this is the first time he has ever felt like he has what he needs to just survive.  It also made me want to be a much better mom to him.  He knows I love him.

He hated all of the questions.  He was asked what we argue about.  He said that we have been struggling with trust lately and that is the main cause of all of our troubles.  Right again.  It all boils down to trust.

When the interviewer left I thanked him for participating in the interview and told him I loved him.  He came to me and gave me a hug and kissed my cheek and said he loves me, too.  It is in those rare moments that the frustration of lack of attachment melts away and I am able to continue going on.

Praises for insight through unexpected avenues.  Praises for sweet discussions and honesty.
Middle Boy had a follow-up hearing for both his foster care and delinquency dockets.  It was pretty uneventful. 

He is doing really well following the requirements of his probation and will likely be on his electronic monitor the minimum length of time allowable.  I believe they said 90 days so he is more than a third of the way through it.

The foster care case was just to review the status of the adoption.  His adoption packet can be filed with the court on June 21 and has to be filed for 30 days before the adoption hearing.  It appears like it will be a late July or early August adoption for him.

The next hearing for him is sixth months from now.  At that point he should be adopted and nearly done with his therapy so probation would be over.  At that point NO MORE COURT.

He was disappointed that his monitor didn't come off today, but there really wasn't much chance that it would.

Praises for things going smoothly in both cases.
God knows. He knew that I needed someone to come into my life who understood RAD as much as it is possible to understand RAD.

He knew I needed to talk to someone who not only understands what I am going through, but has been there themselves.

I just spent my lunch hour reading about another woman's experience with a RAD teen in her home. She is a follower of this blog. How she found idea. Doesn't matter. God knew I would need to hear from her.

I cried as I read about her experiences. I could see or have seen each of them happening in my home. Her insight in this journey was helpful.

She is an answer to my prayer!
Denise is the latest news coming out of the state foster care system...

Another Blow to Child Welfare Privitization

How does this affect both of the boys who live in my home since they are through this agency? No idea. How does it affect adoption of these two boys? No idea. How does it change the services they are receiving? No idea. How is the state communicating this to the foster parents? They aren't.

Pray for the kiddos in the foster care system and the foster families who care for them.
Sunday night when the boys wouldn't go to bed they promised over and over that they would be in bed no later than 9:30pm from now matter what.

They worked really hard to make me feel guilty about not trusting them about bedtime in the future.

Tonight it seems as though last night's discussion isn't even an memory for them.

At 9:00pm I told them to get done what they needed to do, because they were going to be in bed in 30 minutes. At 9:15pm I reminded them again. Again at 9:20pm and 9:25pm.

At 9:45pm they said it was my fault they didn't go to bed, because I hadn't reminded them. Are you kidding me? They told me they had wanted to keep their promise, but I didn't help them. I asked if either of them could tell time and they tried to tell me there weren't any clocks in our home that are convenient. As usual no one who lives here is accountable for their actions and everything is my fault.

I am so tired both physically and emotionally. I know bedtime has been an issue for a long time. I have tried EVERYTHING I can think of.

Prayers I can get some sleep...soon!!
Middle Boy doesn't like going to the reporting center at all. I can't exactly figure it out. Honestly I think it is more the anticipation of going than it is actually being there. Maybe that combined with the fact that someone told him he had to. When I pick him up there he is always laughing and happy.

This morning he was convinced that he should come to work with me and sit in my car all day. That is not rational. He was absolutely convinced that this was his best option for the day and was angry when I wouldn't do it.

When I picked him up for the day he was laughing and happy.

I don't get it!
Over the past three or four weeks I have become painfully aware of the lack of attachment that is happening in our home.

It is so very hard to have kids in your home who may or may not ever attach. Who are oblivious to the feelings of others, because their own have never been nurtured and they can't even identify them. Where every imaginable emotion comes out as anger.

I am struggling because I want so very badly to have them attach to me. To be able to look me in the eye when they are talking to me. To want to be comforted when they are struggling.

It just isn't happening. I wish more than anything I knew how to work on it. How to fix it. There are so many times when I wonder if this is going to work. Am I able to live a forever life with no validation that either boy even cares?

I'm not expecting it to be all hugs and I love yous. Honestly I'm not really like that, but right now I feel like I am getting nothing and giving everything. I wonder how long I can keep it up.

Forever I will believe that this is where God wants me right now in my life. I just don't understand.

Prayers for my feelings about attachment to change and for the boys to one day be able to attach. With HIM all things are possible.
I'm losing my patience with the boys telling me they are going to do things and having zero follow through.

They will sit in the car on the way home and say "as soon as I get home I am going to ..." and then when we get home it is like the conversation never happened. This isn't me asking them to do things. This is them volunteering to do things.

Last week the boys told me they were going to be in bed no later than 9:30pm every school night since we have to get up early. It isn't happening. Bedtime is such a battle at our house. No consequences work. No rewards work. Nothing.

It is now 1:45am and both boys are still up. Both are telling me that this is the "last time". They promise. I know this drill. This is the "last time" until the next "last time".

Middle Boy was adamant that I need to trust them on this. That on Monday everything is going to be different from now on. I honestly have zero trust that this is going to happen. ZERO.

I'm exhausted. I'm done battling it. I honestly don't know what to do anymore.

Prayers for sleep.
We don't get enough sleep. No one. Nowhere near enough.

This morning I decided not to set the alarm and just get up and go to the late service of church. Well...I slept until 11:30am which NEVER happens with me. Younger Boy slept unti l:15pm and Middle Boy woke up at 3:00pm.

I guess we needed the sleep.

Prayers we can start doing better at bedtime.
Middle Boy and I had it out tonight.

It started out as a simple disagreement about something, but ended with both of us in tears and him telling me that he has no hope of ever being adopted at my house.

He said he has seen this so many times before and that within a couple of weeks I will be putting in my notice for him to leave my home. He told me how he thought this time would be different and that he really thought this was going to be a forever family. He has given up hope of ever being adopted.

It breaks my heart. He said he can't trust that this is forever. It is hard to promise forever to someone who has stopped caring in forever. We talked for a long time. We still have a long way to go.

I don't even have the words to describe how this feels. The emotion is pretty raw.

Pray for us and our relationship.
Today we went to Lincoln for the fifth birthday party of Niece I.

Niece I is really into Star Wars. In fact it is kind of funny to listen to her. She knows all the characters and the stories. All she wanted for her birthday were storm trooper guns and light sabers.

We ended up getting her a nerf storm trooper gun and also smaller storm trooper guns for her brother and sister. The three of them plus Middle Boy and Younger Boy spent a couple of hours outside playing star wars. It was a lot of fun to watch them play together and to watch Middle Boy really watch out for the little kids and engage them in play.

We went to dinner and Middle Boy, Niece A, and Niece I were asking each other star wars trivia. My nieces totally schooled Younger Boy in star wars which Middle Boy thought was hysterical.

Praises my family embraces the boys as a part of the family.
The behaviors in our home make babysitters in limited supply. In fact we now only have two babysitters who will care for the boys in my home...Babysitter M and Babysitter J. They are both well qualified as former Boys Town workers and Babysitter M currently works at Heartland Family Services day school. The two of them are best friends so behaviors with one are well known by the other.

The boys have been told by them and by me that the disrespectfulness has to stop with them. If they quit we have to find new sitters, which I don't really have time for, and get them background checked. I explained to the boys that if the two sitters we currently have quit then there will be no activities for anyone, because I will no longer be able to have activities since there will be no one to care for them.

It is sinking in. Babysitter M was here by herself tonight and she said they were very respectful. I think she was shocked by it.

Prayers this is a new behavior pattern for times when we have a sitter.
In just eight days Younger Boy will have lived at my home for one year. ONE YEAR. There are times in life when it seems like the time has flown by. I don't know that I would necessarily say that this is one of them.

This has been a year filled with learning. Filled was laughter and tears. Filled with frustrations and triumphs.

I want to do something to honor this anniversary, but I am completely drawing a blank.

If anyone has a great idea, please let me know.
I'll be honest...I wasn't excited about this evening.

Middle Boy had therapy again so Younger Boy and I again had an hour to kill. We talked a lot on the way to therapy about whether or not he was capable of going to the store with me. He said he knew that I didn't trust him in the store anymore, but that he wanted to earn the trust back. I tried to explain that once you have lost trust it is much more difficult to earn it back and just by following directions once that doesn't mean you can be trusted right away.

Younger Boy did great at the store. He stayed right by the cart the entire time. He was helpful. He didn't ask for a single thing until we got to the check-out and he wanted a pack of gum.

He loaded all of the items on the check-out stand. When he got to the cashier he asked her how her day was going and proceeded to tell her all about his day and they things he is doing. When I finished paying she said to me, "You have a real treasure there." Admittedly the first thing I thought was "you obviously weren't here at this time last week". You know what? She is right. He is a treasure. All of us are broken and in need of grace.

Praises for a precious time with Younger Boy. I really did enjoy his company during our time at the store.
Middle Boy had student led conferences at school today.

There was a common theme in EVERY CLASS. Middle Boy is polite and a joy to be around. He is also incredibly intelligent, but he is not working up to his potential. The majority of the problem is missing work. In every class...including PE and music.

This makes me CRAZY. We are at mid term through the third quarter so there is still a chance to turn it around. All of the teachers allow missing work to be turned in until the end of the quarter. He had previously told me that this wasn't an option.

When we got home I asked him about it. Asked him if he was making a conscious decision not to do it or if he was just lazy or what. He said he honestly had no idea. I think I believe that he doesn't know.

I don't actually know how to help him. I joked with one of the teachers that I could come in every day and pick up the homework and if that didn't work I would quit my job and just sit with him in class every day. He was truly mortified by both of those options.

One of the teachers did comment that he seemed to have some really strong friendships. Honestly with a foster kid that is just as important as the academic side, because it shows that they are experiencing stability.

Prayers for motivation for Middle Boy and wisdom for me to know how to help.
This afternoon we had court for Younger Boy. Judge D wanted to talk to him about recent behaviors.

I LOVE Judge D. He makes me laugh in every single hearing. This time was no exception.

He asked Younger Boy how it was going at home. Younger Boy said OK. He then asked Younger Boy how everyone else on the case would answer that question and Younger Boy said a little rough, because he doesn't follow directions. Judge D asked him why and he said it was because he doesn't follow directions. Judge D asked how many times out of ten Younger Boy does what he is told. Younger Boy said one. I think that is relatively accurate. Judge D wasn't happy. He "court ordered" Younger Boy to follow directions a minimum of 80% of the time to be monitored and reported by me.

We talked about the urine incident. Judge D told him he would still be scrubbing the bathtub if he lived at his house.

Younger Boy admitted he is not trying to follow directions.

Judge D asked about Sophie and the trumpet. He wants Younger Boy to learn to play "Hail to the Chief" for him.

Judge D told Younger Boy he is not going to give up on him, because he knows he can do this, but that we need to get him the help he needs.

Praises for a good hearing and Judge D. I honestly believe he cares about every child that goes through his court room.
I have come to realize after my talk with J on Saturday that the majority of my anger and frustration comes as a result of unmet expectations.

Tonight I was thinking about that and I wondered if I have ever made my expectations clear and known.

I need to pray about that and how to address it. Perhaps a lot of the problem we are having right now at home is that I have failed to make my expectations clear enough.

Prayers for a discussion about expectations.
Today I was so irritated by the authorization for services. I let my worker know and also Middle Boy's GAL and CASA.

GAL was really mad. She made a lot of calls and that apparently lit a fire under someone, because I have already gotten apologies from the agency. Granted, still no authorization.

GAL has asked me to confirm the authorization tomorrow. I'm not sure what she is going to do if it isn't granted. Secretly I would kind of like to find out!

Praises for the people on the case who actually have the best interest of the kids at heart and don't get bogged down by the system.

Praises for Middle Boy's GAL and CASA, both wonderful women.
So...for the last two weeks the center where Middle Boy goes after school has been emailing Service Coordinator A to tell her he needs authorization. I wasn't being copied on it.

Today he sent an email that unless they receive authorization today for the month of February they are discontinuing services.

So...guess what. I just got a call from Middle Boy. The center didn't show up to pick him up at school. He called their transportation line to find out that his service has been canceled.

Seriously? This stuff makes me crazy. Foster Care Specialist M is going to go pick him up and stay with him at home until I get home. No one can get a hold of Service Coordinator A, her boss, or her boss' boss. This is not my agency's responsibility. I love that they go out of their way, but really?

So...what am I supposed to do now?

Prayers this gets worked out.
Sometimes the need for everything to be literal in our home makes me crazy.

Tonight I had to define "bedtime". Both boys claimed that it means laying in your bed and absolutely nothing else. their mind if you are in your bed messing around five hours after your bedtime you still made it because you never left your bed.

I disagree. I explained that in our home bedtime means in your bed with the lights off, no talking, and no doing other things. You are working toward sleeping.

My definition is the definition we are going to go with. The bedtime will not change to accommodate their previous definitions.

I hope it goes well.

Prayers for bedtime. No one is getting enough sleep in our home except maybe Sophie.
Younger Boy's GAL is a total bully. I don't know what else to say about him.

We had a family team meeting today for Younger Boy. He chose not to participate, because we were discussing his behaviors over the last couple of weeks and Thursday and Friday in particular. He didn't want to be held accountable.

I can't even explain my frustrations toward GAL. I don't like him. Not one bit. You can't meet Younger Boy and one week later be absolutely SURE you know EVERYTHING he needs. You don't even know anything about him. What you want is to look good to the court in regard to permanency rates.

I am going to complain to the judge at court later this week.

Prayers for a GAL who gets it.
For the past week I have been asking Younger Boy if he needed to have valentines for school. For the past week he has been telling me no.

Now it is February 13th and he does in fact need them and a decorated box. Babysitter M took care of it for him this evening. He wasn't interested at all in helping.

Praises for Babysitter M stepping in and helping out since I had a meeting this evening.
Today Younger Boy had to clean the bathtub with all of the urine in it.

He was MAD. It really stinks when your plan backfires.

I sat and watched him clean it and inspected it. He had to do it three times, because of half-hearted effort. Then he had to do it a fourth time when he chose to throw the bottle of cleaner across the room when he was finished.

I think he is finally starting to understand that I am not going to put up with the escalating behaviors.

Prayers he starts to see how his behavior stinks.
Middle Boy's phone contract allows him to be disrespectful a maximum of three times per day.

This afternoon he hit four. Per the terms of the contract he loses his phone for 48 hours.

He was NOT happy. He stomped around the house. Swore at me and told me I was a jerk.

As a result he is also grounded. I will not be talked to that way.

I'm not sure Middle Boy will be able to handle the terms of the contract.

Prayers he will understand that this contract was created by him and he is accountable for his actions.
A strange phenomenon happens at our house. If you play your DS in the middle of the night at full volume I can hear it.

Not only can I hear it, but I will come and confiscate it.

Yet another choice I made to ruin Younger Boy's life.
This afternoon I sat and talked with a friend. I am so thankful for that.

She offered me some perspectives she had been reading about what is really going on when people lash out. One is that they are scared and the other is that they are in need of reinforcement of the relationship. Both of these things are true about me and both of these things are true about the boys.

She also offered some insight on my feelings toward the relationship with Mentor R. We talked through what I had been thinking in regards to how the relationship might work in the future.

I am just so thankful for this time to just talk. I don't get that much anymore and I loved every minute of it.

Praises for friendship!!
Younger Boy had a court ordered family visit today from 10am to 7pm.

I called Mom J to discuss his recent behaviors with her so she could be aware of the types of behaviors she might encounter during the visit.

Younger Boy lived there for a year so she wasn't at all surprised and she was ready.

The visit actually ended up going fairly well. Younger Boy told her the story about shopping and told her it was all my fault it happened. They gave him a lecture about it. This resulted in him apologizing to me when he returned home.

Praises for a good family visit.
Tonight when Younger Boy was in his room he decided to plug the bathroom drain and urinate in the bathtub "just to show me".

He obviously urinated into the bathtub multiple times during the course of the evening.
Younger Boy has to remain in his room except for meals and homework for one week.

When he got home from school today which would have been day one of his grounding he wanted to make a deal with me. He wanted to not be grounded that day and to have the end of it extend for five days. deal.

This resulted in me completely ruining his life and him completely destroying their room.

Prayers that he can pick up the pieces of his life.
Tonight we dropped Middle Boy off at therapy so Younger Boy and I had an hour to kill.

I decided we would just do our grocery shopping, because if we are going to have this block of time every single week we can stay caught up and it won't take long.

I told Younger Boy going in if he stayed with me in the grocery section of the store that he could get whatever snack he would like at the end of our trip.

We were nearing the end of our time at the store. I told him to go and pick his snack in the next aisle while I grabbed a couple of last things and come right back.
He wasn't there when I went around the corner. I circled the grocery section three times. I then circled the entire store three times and was unable to locate him. From there I went to customer service to have him paged. They paged him twice at 10 minute intervals.

By this time we are 30 minutes late to pick up Middle Boy.

When Younger Boy didn't answer the second page they did a code for an abducted child and called 911. It took about 10 additional minutes to locate Younger Boy in the electronics department.

He told the security person he didn't hear them page him "either time". did he know he was paged? How did he know it was more than once?

Immediately upon rejoining me he began screaming and kicking and punching. Security had to help get him in the car where he tried to jump out and was banging his head on the window. He threw his body into the seat and opened his door on multiple occassions while the vehicle was moving.

We picked up Middle Boy and drove immediately to the psychiatric emergency room, because Younger Boy's anger was continuing to escalate. He was still screaming by the time we got into the emergency room. As soon as his intake bracelet was on he laid down on the floor and kicked and sobbed for about 30 minutes.

The psychiatric hospital did not hold him, because he isn't a danger to self or others.

His take on the whole thing is that if he just had his cell phone this never would have happened, thus shifting all of the blame to me.

Younger Boy is grounded for one week for his behavior.

I guess my lesson is that I shouldn't allow him to pick out a snack.

Prayers he can learn that this behavior is unacceptable.
I continually hear the phrases "Next year when I am in high school" and "Next year when I am in middle school". This applies to homework. Next year both boys are going to do a better job of turning in homework.

Next year both boys are going to start to be respectful of their teachers.

Next year both boys are going to study for tests.

Next year they are going to care.

I can't wait until NEXT YEAR!!

Prayers for next year!!
The boys have been discussing trust a lot lately. They love to talk about how I should trust them with big things and how they have "earned" trust.

I explain over and over that if you can't do something at home at a specific time there isn't any way you can be trusted to go out with friends and be home at a specific time.

I have tried to explain that all small things matter. Being truthful in all situations matters. Making things up, because it is funny and then refusing to back down...that matters.

We will probably continue to talk about trust until my dying day. Right now we have a long way to go.
Last night after they were "sleeping" the boys used sharpies to paint their nails, pierce their ears, and give themselves tattoos.

I am not impressed. Especially since I have repeatedly asked them not to write on themselves.

I'm not sure they realize that the sharpie on their fingernails is going to need to grow out.

They both look completely ridiculous and I am not happy.

I'm sure the judges will be impressed considering both of them have court in some regard next week.
Our house must have been broken into in the middle of the night last night. It is the only conclusion I can draw from the information I have been given.

Both boys were in bed at 10pm. Pretty good since we didn't get home from youth group until 9:30pm. I turned off all of the lights in the entire house grabbed Sophie and went to bed.

I woke up at 2:30am to all of the lights on in the entire house with the exception of my room and the boys room. I didn't think much of it, because I assumed the boys had gotten up.

This morning when I asked them they both said they were not out of bed after I left their room last night. Not for a single minute. Didn't even get up to go to the bathroom. Neither one of them.

That is how I surmise that our house was broken into. I find it odd that all the burglar wanted to steal from us was the cost of lighting our house over night, but that is OBVIOUSLY what happened.

The boys don't understand that I don't care if they get up in the middle of the night as long as when I ask they tell me and they turn off the lights. I DO NOT tolerate being lied to.

Prayers for a confession about getting up during the night.
Guardian ad Litem called me this morning. After our conversation I don't really like him...not one bit.

I understand that he is "working for" Younger Boy. Here's my impression...he is working for his own statistics.

After meeting Younger Boy for exactly one hour he "doesn't understand" the request to postpone adoption. He wants me to give him a list of items that need to change in order for the adoption to move forward, but it can't include anything behavioral. What? That is ridiculous. It also needs to include a timeframe. His reasoning is that if I am not going to provide permanency then he needs to find someone else.

Honestly...he is a bully and I am NOT impressed.

If it can't include anything behavioral what other things could there be?

He kept saying over and over. It is clear that Younger Boy wants to live with you forever. It is also clear how good you are for him. What is your hold up? met Younger Boy yesterday...for ONE HOUR. Are you kidding me? How is what you are doing fair?

Prayers that I can have patience with GAL. Right now I would kind of like to strangle him.
Tonight two contracts were created at our home based on the recommendation of our professional team. The first contract has to do with grades. It might seem a bit harsh, but both boys are MORE THAN CAPABLE of being straight A students.

Here is the contract for quarterly grades:

A = $20
B = $10
C = 0
D = -$10
F = -$20

As a result each boy could potentially earn $160 per quarter. I'm okay with that, because we are using the 10/10/80 approach to money. I'll just have to come up with rules about smart spending.

The other contract was between Middle Boy and me and is a result of something he wants vs. needs. He made a pitch for what he wanted that followed with the associated rules and consequences:

1. His bedtime will be 10pm unless he receives special permission from me. Each time he is not in bed at 10pm he will go to bed at 9pm for the next following WEEK.
2. He is allowed three disrespectful comments per day. I will give warnings and on the fourth comment he will lose the use of his cell phone for two days.
3. He will maintain a B average or else he will not use the computer during the week for anything other than school work.
4. If he does not abide by the contract the new item will become my property until he has abided by the terms of the contract for 14 consecutive days.

He REALLY wants the item he asked for. Is the proposal crazy? Yes. Am I going to do it? I think so, because he really wants to be responsible and accountable.

Prayers for these contracts and follow through.
Guardian ad Litem came to meet with Younger Boy tonight. This is the first time a GAL has been in our home in the entire time I have been doing foster care. It is my understanding that the GAL should be in the home no less than once every six month for each kiddo. By now we should have had at least four visits. Granted...I am not complaining. We have so many people in and out of our house that we should start charging admission.

GAL had a good talk with Younger Boy. Younger Boy set him up for an interesting conversation, because he said "are you planning to spend two to three hours with me?". It certainly made GAL squirm. I have no idea where the question came from.

There were two things that Younger Boy said during the discussion that interested me. One is he told GAL that all he wants in the whole entire world is to be adopted, but that his behavior is preventing him EVER getting adopted. The second was that he feels bad, because he loves Middle Boy more than Older Boy.

GAL ended up staying about an hour. Younger Boy likes him. GAL gave Younger Boy a business card and said "I work for you so call me if you need anything." Should be interesting if he decides to call!!

Praises for a good meeting with Younger Boy.
Middle Boy had his family team meeting today. The main focus of the meeting was his new workers getting to know him.

We discussed the importance of not violating probation and the importance of grades.

We are still searching for a meaningful opportunity for him for the summer. There are a number of possibilities available to him, but he needs to make the decision. The reason it is his decision is because he has a tendency to expect everyone to make decisions for him and then he has the opportunity to be angry about it. All of the options are acceptable to me and Service Coordinator so now it is up to him.

For the first time in my "career" as a foster parent I was able to get Service Coordinator to schedule a recurring meeting with me!

Praises for recurring meetings, because they make other scheduling so much easier. Praises for the new team. Although I REALLY LIKED the old team, this team seems to be working together well.
This morning we had a meeting at Younger Boy's school to figure out how to make him the most successful.

The team decided that he will receive full testing for an IEP. His scores don't necessarily indicate a need to be tested since he is borderline, but his in class behavior and his ADHD diagnosis indicate behavior modification plans may be necessary.

The district has 45 days to do the testing and to work on the plan, but his school is ahead of schedule in terms of doing the testing and writing the plans. We will reconvene to discuss at that time.

Prayers for wisdom for the school staff during the testing and creation of the plan that it might benefit Younger Boy to the fullest extent possible.
We are going to be a forever family of three. Forever.

We are going through a rough patch just like all families do.

Middle Boy kind of hit in on the head last night when the three of us were talking. He said "Will we be a more normal family when we don't have all of these other people making decisions for us and coming in and out of our house?" Good grief...I hope so.

I don't know of many biological families who write reports on how each other is doing every month. Log who takes meds and who doesn't. Sits down and has a meeting with at least five people present so they can talk about how everything is going in all areas of their lives. I don't know many families who have someone say "you will visit your sibilings twice a month for two hours every other Saturday" and pay no regard to what you usually do on Saturdays. There aren't many families who can't actually hang out as a family, because they are too busy going to everything they are court appointed to do.

Granted...I am not complaining. This is just how our life is and how it is hard...really know what life will be like as a forever family.

Prayers that the transition is smooth.
I am brokenhearted about this, but it was theft. Once I was able to get on our account and see what had gone on it was pretty obvious who and pretty obvious what.

Younger Boy downloaded what he thought was a "free app" on my iPad. He did tell me that it asked him if he wanted to pay for it and he chose yes. Apparently he chose yes on a number of products.

Do I have this password protected? Yes. I am trying to figure out what he did.

He and I had a long discussion about how buying things online without asking my permission is stealing from me. After all was totalled up it was just under $100, because my credit card blocked the other spending. Technically we owe the other money though, because it wasn't fraud.

I explained to him that by buying these I didn't have a choice how I wanted to spend that $100.

Was it an accident? Sort of. Is there associated grace? Yes. Is he allowed to use my iPad? No...he wasn't before this happened either though. He had gotten up during the middle of the night to get it.

We are going to work on a plan for how he can repay the money.

Prayers that Younger Boy understands his behaviors are not acceptable behaviors and are going to get him into trouble.
Today was the regular "check hearing" for Younger Boy. Judge wants to talk to him next week in an evidentiary hearing. The reports from all of his workers on his behaviors have not been good.

Judge has ordered a psychiatric evaluation and possible placement at a structured group home pending outcome of the evaluation.

He is also curious about what the outcome of the meeting at school will be tomorrow morning.

He had previously ordered sibling visits, but would like to skip those since he thinks they might be interpreted by Younger Boy as a reward. We haven't done any yet due to the medical fragility of Middle Brother.

Guardian ad Litem will be visiting us tomorrow night to try to figure out what we need to do next with Younger Boy. This will be the first time they have met each other so I am not expecting much to come out of the meeting.

Prayers for wisdom for those involved in the case of Younger Boy.
I just got a call from my credit card company. Apparently someone has charged $200 worth of music from iTunes in the last two days. They put a lock on my account, because this is an atypical purchase for me. She did tell me that iTunes is one of the greatest forms of fraud, but that it is also one of the greatest forms of theft from children to the parents.'s the it fraud or theft?

I can't log on to my iTunes account here at work so I won't know until I get home. I feel sick to my stomach about this one.

It is going to sound odd, but pray that it was fraud.
I have decided to postpone the adoption of Younger Boy for a while. He needs help with his behaviors and I want to make sure he gets the services and assessments he needs.

At this point in time he is quite vocal about how he doesn't care if he is violent and everyone hates him. His words not mine.

I want to make sure that he does not have the same behavioral needs and issues as Older Boy. If he does, my adopting him would make getting the services he needs much more difficult for him.
I knew that there was a reason JS from foster care class was still in my life. A reason we ran into each other at the pumpkin patch and our foster kiddos met.

Talking to JS makes me feel like I am not crazy. She reaffirms to me that this is hard. Harder than anyone can possibly imagine unless they are there. Living your life on a day to day basis wondering if these kids are even going to live with you in two weeks, a month, a year. Wondering if what you are doing is enough and knowing that while you are responsible for their day to day livelihood you can't make the choices about anything else.

It makes it hard not to protect your heart. It makes it hard not to be ugly.

JS and I talked and laughed and cried. She reaffirmed that I am not crazy and that I am not alone. We talked about all of the times that we have just been mad...mad about everything. Mad about why we were chosen to do this. Mad about why every time you turn around there is something in the way of the kids getting the help they need. Just plain mad.

The hard part is that at the center of it all are these kids that we desperately love. If they were our kids we would do things different. We would get them the help they need not wait for someone to maybe or maybe not approve it.

JS...thank you. Thanks for listening. Thanks for understanding. I appreciate you!!

Praises for the right people in our lives EXACTLY when we need them.
I picked up the boys this afternoon. While I am still tired I feel like it was better to pick them up and have them come home.

Since they are home the dynamic has drastically changed in a really interesting way. We had a discussion about respectfulness and how their behaviors indicate whether or not they respect me and not their words.

Middle Boy is all about being respectful. On top of that he is very much the way he was when he returned from the juvenile center. He wants to hang out with me every minute and keeps telling me that he absolutely wants us to be a forever family.

Younger Boy is taking it the EXACT opposite way. His level of disrespectfulness is out of control.

I'm sure this is all temporary and that as time progresses we will find yet another "new normal".

Prayers for our family.
I feel stuck and really want to talk to a pastor at church about this. I don't feel like that is possible right now. All of the pastors at church are too involved in personal relationships with outside influences into my life for me to feel comfortable with talking to them.

This morning I tried a different church just to see what else was out there for me.

I feel this strong need to separate what is going on in my life and talk with someone else who doesn't have anyone elses perspective.

More than one time in the past few days I have people have mentioned that I need to see a therapist for myself. I have been a depression sufferer for many years and I can't separate what is going on with my own depression. I honestly am so tired and desparately want to talk to someone other than God, because I am mad at God. I have lost who that person should even be.
I spent the entire night last night praying, thinking, and crying. It is pretty obvious to me what I should do. Everytime I just let my mind be quiet there was a song or a thought that all followed the same theme. Everything going through my mind pointed in the same direction.

Now I just need to have the courage to follow God's will.

Pray for strength for me in the upcoming days and weeks.
As I sit here tonight I am conflicted about our future as a family. I keep going back and forth.

My heart says that I want these boys to live here forever. My head says that I can't do this anymore.

I have been crying out to God trying to understand what it is that I am supposed to do.

Middle Boy and I chatted online earlier and honestly it confirmed what my head is saying.

I really badly want to feel differently. I really do.

If it were behaviors that were making me want to end this I think it would be easier, but it isn' is me. The behaviors aren't helping, but it is me.

Prayers for how to go forward. Wisdom in what to do. The ability to see God's will and follow it.
I just dropped Sophie off for her four day play date at M and J's. I used to think their dog was tiny, but he looks like Goliath compared to Sophie.

She was so excited to have kids to play with and another dog. Toby didn't seem too sure of wanting to hang out with her. I'm sure they will become friends though.

She is lucky to have such a fun place to go and I am so thankful for the break.
This morning I was finally able to just let all of the frustrations and anger go this morning and I cried and cried.

There are so many things.

I have been grieving the life that I feel like I used to have.

I have been really angry at Middle Boy, because I feel like he is so unappreciative of everything. I selfishly am mad at him, because I stuck by him and love him and hired him an attorney and he has been nothing but disrespectful since he got home.

I am frustrated because I feel like Mentor R oversteps his bounds. I am not unappreciative of the help, but I am the parent...not him.

Most of the last couple of months have been spent feeling like a complete failure. Even though things are going well at work I could be doing better...a lot better. My relationship with the boys has been HORRIBLE. I have ignored commitments, because I just couldn't make myself do them. Every time I look at my house I am infuriated by is messy and damaged.

It seems like I have let nearly every friendship fall by the wayside and I am lonely.

As I sat and cried Sophie licked all of my tears and whined. It was good to have her here. I never thought I would say that about a dog.
This afternoon while I was teaching class I got a call from Middle Boy that started with the words "You're going to be mad."

Now...I get calls that start like that a lot, so I usually don't think to much about it. It seems that Middle Boy was screwing around on the stairs at school and jumped/fell down and sprained his ankle and the nurse said he needed crutches.

I ended up having to meet him and Mentor R at the urgent care center, because I had the insurance cards and needed to sign the paperwork.

So much for respite!!
The house was really quiet last night and this morning with the exception of Sophie. During the night I woke up a number of times thinking I heard the boys.

This morning I seem more rested and a little less stressed.

Sophie heads to respite tomorrow. M and J are taking her. I explained that she is no where near potty trained and very naughty. They are up for her.

Pray for them.
I created packing lists for the boys so they would have everything they needed to go to respite. They decided they didn't need them and didn't want to look at them.

They were responsible for packing themselves up after Younger Boy's therapy. They kept asking when we were leaving yet didn't really do anything toward packing. If I offered any suggestions or reminders I was met with "I know" and "whatever" so I stopped.

I reminded them they needed meds, eight outfits including one for church, winter coats since we are expecting snow, plenty of socks and underwear, pajamas, and everything they need for school. I also said if there was anything extra they needed to grab it.

This is what I know...Younger Boy took no pajamas and forgot his cell phone. Middle Boy has his cell phone, but no charger and forgot his iPod. No one has a toothbrush. Middle Boy doesn't have a winter coat, because he "thinks they are stupid".

It took 90 minutes to get packed up.

Prayers for Mentor R and J this week.
Today was not our best day. I don't know if the boys are stressed out about being away from home for a week or what the problem is.

The first call came from Younger Boy's school. He is having difficulties paying attention in class and is being quite disrespectful. He has moved from "needs improvement" in behaviors to "unsatisfactory" in every class.

The second call came from Middle Boy's school. He was in the Positive Action Center for being too disruptive in class. He was with the counselor there and was going to write an apology to the teacher and head back to class. When I talked to him of course he has "no idea" why he was sent there.

The third call was from Younger Boy's daycare. He is not following any directions there and when he is held accountable for it he becomes rude and disrespectful.

The last issue of the day came during therapy for Younger Boy. He told Therapist J that life is "too stressful" and by the time he gets home he can't be respectful anymore. Therapist J was already aware of the other issues and asked him about them. This was met with Younger Boy screaming and stomping off to his room.

Prayers this will work out. Since the behaviors that others are describing are no where near the level of disrespect that is occurring at home I don't feel like there is much I can do to help anyone.
Tonight after we were all in bed both boys came in to talk to me individually.

Younger Boy came in to tell me he loved me and that he hoped I got some rest while he was at Mentor R's house. He is looking forward to it, because he has known them for four times as long as he has known me.

Middle Boy came in later and said he was sorry for being disrespectful and asked if I would forgive him. He then went on to tell me that a week away from home seemed like a long time and that he was really going to miss me. It made me start to cry.

I am going to miss both boys A LOT. I will not miss the current dynamic at our house and I am hoping this break will offer us the reset we need.

Pray for Mentor R and his family as they spend the week loving Middle Boy and Younger Boy.
Today was not a good day in terms of respect.

Middle Boy was having the most trouble. While I have been trying as hard as I can to be patient with it the fact that it is continual has me on edge pretty much non-stop. It almost always escalates into a screaming match between Middle Boy and me and I HATE that. I hate that I get that mad and when I do I yell.

Younger Boy hates when Middle Boy and I argue. It makes him VERY UNCOMFORTABLE. He thinks that all of our arguing is going to result in both of them having to leave my house and that scares him.

I pray that this weeklong break is going to de-escalate all of these behaviors.

Pray we can handle things differently in the future.