September 16, 2021

The next misstep, not ours (& a great bumper sticker)

This next chapter of the saga is tough to write about. Partly because it's so frustrating and emotionally draining and partly because it's so involved. 

When I met Jazmin (the boys' worker) on the Monday before Thanksgiving at the halfway pickup spot to give her back the boys after our visit, she explained that Max couldn't go back to the same foster home where he'd been staying with Charlie. The family had given two weeks notice ON HIM ALONE, two weeks ago.

RED FLAG/PULL MY HAIR OUT MOMENT:  Why, if they'd given 2 weeks, had Jazmin waited 10 days to reach out to us? If we'd had a visit right when they gave notice, he could've returned to that house while they arranged the next place for him, or while we decided whether or not to move forward. This lack of response on her part impacted everything.

Max had to go hang out at her office while she looked for another emergency placement for him - after she dropped Charlie back off with the foster family who only wanted to keep him. I went home to talk everything over and make a decision. It was a few days before Thanksgiving. Remember, the girls and I were driving to Indianapolis for the Midwest championships of Irish dancing? It was a hectic week. 

On Tuesday (after Thanksgiving) I told Coach we HAVE to let Jaz know our plan. We reached out to her. 






Jazmin:  LET ME TALK TO MY SUPERVISOR. SHE'S NEW (or temporary because her boss just quit or something that screamed horrible situation). OH, AND MY LAST DAY IN THIS POSITION IS DECEMBER 20TH. I'LL BE MOVING TO ANOTHER DEPARTMENT.

Coach and I were using speaker phone. I grabbed his arm and made an alarmed face at him. I was like WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING? 

A few days or a week later (it all runs together), there was a conference phone call. Jaz, her new/temporary boss, our worker, Coach and I.

Jazmin:  I don't know now if the placement wants to adopt Max after all. They say his behavior is terrible. They are really struggling with him. The other family also said Max had terrible behavior. 

Me:  Interesting, because we didn't see ANY bad behavior while he was with us - granted it was just 3 and a half days. Still, what you're describing doesn't sound like the same kid. And Max didn't want to go back to the foster family's house and neither did Charlie. They both wanted to stay here, again I get the novelty factor and all that. They said the biological kid at the foster house wasn't nice to Charlie - wouldn't share and yelled at Max a lot. (Charlie expressed this to me by acting it out and it broke my heart). 

*as an aside, when Charlie went back to his foster family in Libertytown the mom texted Jazmin:  "Why did Charlie have a mark on his face?" When Jaz texted me this, I was outraged. I washed all of the kid's clothes before I sent him back - trying to do his foster mom a solid. He had a speck of a red dot under one eye - size of a pinprick. No idea from what, but he was in constant motion and never cried once. He's four, they get bumped and scratched. Even Jazmin admitted that she couldn't see anything in the photo that the mom texted to her. This woman - was she trying to make me look bad? Well, she was rubbing me the wrong way. 

The call started with the team wanting to separate the boys. We were shocked. It was a speaker phone call so Coach and I were facing each other while leaning over my phone. I promise you there were many arm swinging, hand motions flying around in our study as we tried to communicate with each other  - um, grateful for no video button here.

I swear that I happened to see this bumper sticker THE DAY AFTER Suz posted something about bumper stickers that mentioned poop or something. And here I am, having saved it up for just the right post. Well, I don't know that this is the right post - but I had no photos of our arm-flailing-speaker-call, so here you go. It says:  I'M ONLY SPEEDING BECAUSE I REALLY HAVE TO POOP.

By the end of the call, they agreed to give us the option of trying an extended visit for a few weeks over Christmas. The couple who now had Max was considering traveling to the east coast over break, and they weren't sure they wanted to take Max. 

The ball was in our court. Coach and I had to decide if we'd take them for this extended visit. (sorry, still a cliffhanger. The end is in sight. Promise.)


Beth Cotell said...

Oh my goodness! My heart just breaks for these brothers. I am hoping this ends with you guys announcing you have adopted these little boys but I have a feeling it isn't going to end that way.... :(

Jenny in WV said...

What a messed up situation for those little kids! I hope there is a happy ending coming!
I was thinking about you this morning and wondering if you adopt/foster these boys, have you signed yourself up for another 5-10 years of Irish dancing commitments?

Kara said...

The whole system is broken. The people who advocate for the kids are underpaid and overworked. It's a labyrinth with no easy end. I feel for all of you and the kids.

Ernie said...

Beth - I'm here to tell you that after working towards this adoption goal for a few years seeing the same kid profiles and knowing that they will not likely ever get adopted because their issues are too severe is gut wrenching. It's not the kids' fault that they were born into lousy circumstances and yet they often end up just stuck in the system. It is tough to try to wrap my brain around.

Ernie said...

Jenny - You HAVE been doing your reading, look at you with the Irish dancing joke . . . I mean that IS a joke, right? I would NOT subject myself to more years of that circus. Glad Curly loves it, but I will not be increasing my involvement there. You're funny. BTW, I'm curious how did you stumble across my blog in the first place? I always wonder where people first read me. (and of course I hope that first reading isn't some lengthy piece about my kids leaving their socks everywhere . . . even though it's true).

Ernie said...

Kara - It is a messed up system for certain. Kids are our future and I so wish fixing all that's wrong with the way this stuff is handled would be more of a priority.

Anonymous said...

It is so hard to think about people just talking about splitting siblings up all nonchalant. As if they’re puppies or something. Like you said, they’re bonded, they may be the only constant thing they’ve ever had in their lives, they may be the only biological connection they’ll ever get to have.
I’m so glad you and Coach are advocating to keep them together. I’m sure this isn’t all of the details of the situations but man those other foster families sound too heartless to be fostering kids. And who knows how much some love, support, and stability could change their “behavioral problems”.

Ernie said...

AM - It was a bazaar situation because DCFS' goal is to keep siblings together and they didn't seem really focused on that.

Jenny in WV said...

Mostly a joke...but aren't dance classes for boys free?

Colleen Martin (Martin Family moments) added a link to your blog to her blog's sidebar last winter. I love reading blogs, so I was excited to find something new. So many of the blogs I used to read have been abandoned or at least rarely updated, I love that you post on a regular schedule! I'm not sure which post I read first, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't about socks. :)

Ernie said...

Jenny - I love Colleen's blog. Freakishly our kids have similar names, OR her kids' names were at the top of our list. This might come as a shock, but my kids' names are really NOT Curly, Mini, Lad, Tank, Eddie (although that one is mainstream), and Reg.

My kids year ago attended a school where dancing lessons were free for boys but not all studios have a no-charge approach to boys. Those women cared more about how deep the parents' pockets were (at least the girls' parents). They were brutal. One day when I get my Irish dancing tell-all book published, I will share many stories that would blow you away.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

This is all SO disheartening. I suspect that the agencies that deal with these placements are overloaded and underpaid and yet it should NOT be this way. These are CHILDREN whose health and happiness and safety should be the ONLY PRIORITY. Ugh. I am glad they agreed to let the kids stay with you over break. I am eager for the next chapter.

Charlie said...

Oh this is so heartbreaking Ernie. Poor Max having to go wait in an office because nobody wanted him. Life can deal people such a cruel hand. Waiting patiently over here for the next instalment (which is when..?).

Gigi said...

I get that the agencies are overworked and underpaid but, holy cow! And as someone else said, the foster parents sound heartless and only in it for the send one brother away is the height of cruelty; and then they wonder why there are "behavior" issues - they essentially told this CHILD he wasn't as lovable as his brother.

Ernie said...

Suzanne - Yes, disheartening is the word. For sure. It is such a mess. I wish I could say I was prepared to be the person to spearhead a fix to the problem, but it's so big and overwhelming. So much of it is common sense. Pay workers more. Make training more accessible to people who want to help? Lots of angles and lots of sad stories here, unfortunately.

Ernie said...

Gigi - Agreed. I don't want to judge these people, because they tried, maybe? But I do feel like they may not have been all that open to it. I think it would also be rotten to put a kid with a family who ultimately couldn't meet his needs or who were always frustrated with him. It's a tough call and I'd like to think that they tried but when the boys were here, Max told me that their biological son wouldn't share and was always fighting with Christopher. This could've been greatly exaggerated, who knows - but they got one kid to foster for emergency care. They knew all along he had a brother. The fact that they still BEGGED to adopt only one instead of recognizing that the boys belonged together was crummy. Maybe they didn't intend for things to work out that way - it just so happened that they felt overwhelmed by Max and that they really were bonding with Charlie. Regardless it was an unreal situation. Um, and maybe they felt threatened by me because we were open to both boys so they tried to throw us under the bus when the kid had a dot of red, barely noticeable under one eye when he returned to them. That ticked me off. Seriously. All along we were going with the 'what's best for the boys' mindset - which is why we bowed out the first time they came around. I also have a house full of kids and perhaps this woman saw this as her only chance to have a sibling for her son. Trying to feel compassion for her because I felt like we were both involved in the same situation but yet we didn't even know them.

Ernie said...

Charlie - Hey there - I skipped you. Unintentional. I got my allergy shots this afternoon and it is 9:19 so I am starting to not see straight. Still lots of packing to do to go see Tank tomorrow. Remember the tornado? I cannot afford to be THAT out of it tonight/tomorrow am.

I found out about him going back to her office AFTER I arrived at the half way point to meet the worker, because the boys were about an hour away from us. I had to get home where my zoom kids were also caring for my babies and tots. I was like WHAT? NO ONE TOLD US THAT. WHY NOT JUST ASK US TO KEEP HIM LONGER. It was mind blowing. Then with our busy dancing schedule and Thanksgiving we didn't get an update for a few days. Honestly, it was all so aggravating. I will NEVER understand why Jaz didn't call us THE MOMENT THE OTHER FAMILY GAVE NOTICE ON MAX. NEVER. SET UP FOR DISASTER.

Next installment is Monday. Have a good weekend.

Busy Bee Suz said...

WHAT THE HELL! This system is so broken and apparently, it isn't geared TOWARDS THE KIDS WHO NEED HELP.
Why in the world would you ever break up siblings. I would have had more flailing than my arms: FINGERS. DAGGERS.
Hey, I might adopt this kid, but I certainly don't want to take him on Christmas vacation if I can avoid it. People???

I have actually been a speeder when I had to poop. It's a real thing. HA!

Ernie said...

Su- It is mind blowing and it makes one wonder are there people who would've adopted but jumped ship when things got frustrating?

This couple kept bouncing back between gonna adopt. No he's terrible. Etc. Meanwhile WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN DECIDING SINCE WE WERE ASKED TO TAKE BOTH. HOSTED THEM. WERE THINKING IT OVER THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND. These people were jumping in only because they took Max as temporary care while we decided. Hate to use the word dibs here but everything was out of order. And we were willing to take them BOTH.

As a person who eats a helluva lot of salads and fruit and veggies in avoidance of gluten . . . I appreciated that bumper sticker more than I'd like to admit.

Ernie said...

Maddie commented on "The next misstep, not ours (& a great bumper sticker)"
Sep 17, 2021
Ernie!!! Omg cliffhanger! And you leave me with my heart breaking for those poor kids, you and your whole fam. Reading your post… when you get to the hand waving part, I’m right there with you…. hands frantically gesturing….. This must have been gut wrenching to go through (for everyone really) but I *did* secretly think you were still pursuing adoption. I figured you were keeping it on the down low bc omg emotional rollercoaster plus! But I picture you as determined, full of courage and tenacious (in a good way) and I thought if anyone had the combo of heart & will power to keep going…. it would be you. As sad as the story has been so far, I’m clinging to the hope of a happy ending. Prayers said and fingers crossed. The bigger picture your story illustrates- that of system broken, overworked employees, and (as you point out) kids with behavior problems not of their own making but from circumstances out of their control (your comment above is so smart!)… well that just makes me want to cry. I wish we could create happy stories, happy lives for everyone. Ugh. Sorry to end comment on a bummer note. But your comment above was so insightful. I want to read your book about *this* (and also the Secrets of the Irish Dancing World :-).

Ernie said...

Maddie - I don't know what happened but I just saw your comment in my email but it wasn't showing up here, so I cut and paste it.

I figured someone would see through my pretend-we-aren't-working-on-this veil. And work it is. You are right, I couldn't handle sharing about the process until I had a more complete look. Thankfully we have a social worker (who we switched to in the winter of 2020) who is amazing. When the horrid situation cropped up with the brother and sister last summer, our worker was out sick. I felt like she would've put a stop to that awful phone call. If there were just more workers like her . . . but she works in a private agency and I imagine her workload is not the same as government run agencies.

Thanks for the prayers. Much appreciated.

Maddie said...

Thank you for rescuing my comment! They’ve been disappearing lately. It is on my end since it is happening on other blogs too. I’ve got my Head of Tech (husband) working on the problem lol. Hopefully this comment will go through but not too hopeful. I’ll keep it short just in case. Your post that follows this one *and* the subsequent post… Ernie you are breaking my heart! But your lovely friend and the social worker she recommended sound like they are really in your lives for a Reason. :-) So I’m still holding on to my dream of a happy ever after ending! And thank you for sharing this story.

Now let’s see if this comment gets through! Here goes nothing!