This morning I was on my way to a new facility for work. I fell asleep and woke up at the end of the G train in Queens. Then, I fell asleep again and ended up at the other end of the G in Brooklyn. I finally got out and hailed one of the new green taxis. Going to bed early.
I’m back. I just remembered, it got worse.
As the supervisor and case worker were leaving, I pointed out a photo of Jacket (to be fair, it’s on the back of our front door) and was all "Look, I have her tattooed on my arm!". He must think I’m cra———zy.
I tried going to bed, but for whatever reason, I feel obligated to confess this part that’s bothering me most of all. The very nice, new supervisor who visited tonight awkwardly asked how ‘culturally competent’ I think I am. This is code for, you’re a (assumedly) white woman with a black child and that’s some heavy shit that you better not be ignoring.
My response was genuine and overly enthusiastic "Gosh, I’m learning something new EVERY day." He liked that and I could have, should have, stopped there. I talked about having worked in black neighborhoods, serving a black community and with most of my colleagues being black for the past 13 years in New York City. I pointed out the (not always obvious to case workers) that I live in a predominately black neighborhood and the support from Asia and her family I receive.
And I should have stopped there but my mouth kept running. I talked about a time last week when Asia’s friend was over and we were all watching scandal. Asia’s friend said "[Kerry Washington] is giving every side girl in the pink houses* a dream". Now when I write this, it makes more sense but my white friend who was here also didn’t understand. Asia had to explain to us what side-girl (mistress) meant and pink houses (projects).
After the supervisor and our case worker left, I text the case worker "Omg, did I just cite my ‘cultural competence’ as knowing what the ‘side girl in the pink houses’ meant?"
Bring on the hate mail. I’m pretty sure I know almost everything you’re going to say. You’re totally right, and I deserve it.
The supervisor’s response was that he tells the case worker that she’s just like Olivia Pope but without any scandal and I agreed. I also rambled about how I’m finding a nice Jewish community "With some lesbian moms and adopted black kids" to which the case worker said something about liking me because I keep it real. But it’s a reality check for me. I need to take it down a hundred notches.
Learning about a culture is so different than creating and nurturing a culture for a baby that has only ever lived a totally different one from their primary caregiver (aka me). So much to figure out…
*Projects nickname changed because it’s hyper-local.
Clementine’s Early Intervention IFSP meeting and service determination really was as arbitrary as I was warned. My impression was that it’s the equivalent of getting pre-authorization from your insurance company. A doctor tells you you need surgery and then it’s your job to convince a bureaucrat of this.
I won’t use “city official” in quotes anymore because she really introduced herself as that. And she actually said she’d be “authorizing services” even though she’s not a clinician, hasn’t ever met Clementine and didn’t even read any of her many paged evaluation. I think the meeting went well, but I don’t know how it was supposed to go, or what if any fighting I was supposed to do.
The city official started off pretty tough. She was EXACTLY as I imagined her to be. I lucked out by changing the tone straight away with “Want to see Clementine’s photo with Santa?” She probably doesn’t get that a lot. And then of course, Clementine’s smile absolutely slayed her. Also a giant plus was that one of the clinician’s who actually assessed Clementine was able to be the clinician representative (sometimes it’s just whatever clinician is available- they’re there to help interpret the assessment- not that we looked at it). The whole meeting boiled down to “Mom, what’s your concerns?” Nevermind what the assessments said (although they served the predominant function of determining eligibility), it was a test on what I knew. Fortunately, the attending clinician is excellent, she remembered Clementine and she rattled off the lingo necessary to convey the needs represented in the assessment.
The meeting was friendly and toward the end I as I was talking to the clinician I saw the city official whispering numbers to the coordinator who was typing everything up. “Is that the number of days she’ll be getting physical therapy?” I called out. “Yes, I’m authorizing this and this.” I didn’t argue. All of my plans to ask about “outcome data compared to frequency of services” and “best practices”….out the window. The clinician nodded at me and later said that I got a ‘good package’. One part of Clementine’s services is at the minimum that one of the clinician warned me to fight against but the city official added “I usually don’t authorize this much, but…” so how do I argue that? I think Clemmie will be fine, I just want to feel and think that I brought my best mom advocacy to the table. I guess there’s no sticker chart for these things. I’m going to have to get on top of this self-doubt/mom self-doubt at some point.
Longest day ever. And it didn’t even include actual time with the baby ladies which is so sad to me. The case worker showed up to our home visit with her brand new supervisor. Very sweet man, but it added an extra level of Q&A in both directions. Since I’ve had Sandy for more than 13 months, I asked about the 15 month deadline for the Federal Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). The response was that the agency won’t be sanctioned so long as a parent is ‘planning’ (euphemism for showing up to something at least once in a while). Exasperated I asked “So she’ll be in foster care forever?” and he responded something to the effect of no more than 3 years or so. And he’s not new to the field. He’s worked at some well respected foster agencies in the city. So, what happened to permanency? And what is ‘sanctioned’? And why do I care? What happened to the actual intent of the act?
Ugh, I know…I’ve ALWAYS been told by EVERYONE that the ASFA is pretty meaningless. But it sounds so official, doesn’t it? I can hope that there’s actually going to be a resolution and that we won’t be in locked-down limbo land forever, right? Right? Then I see Blitzen (fosterwee) with Andrew and Carrie and it totally freaks me out. I want Sandy to be in swim classes and music, not spending all of her time at the foster agency surrounded with people (understandably) screaming and crying and traumatized children having upsetting break-downs. I want us to have freedom to travel outside the city without begging for permission for weeks. Blergh. Yes, tonight I’ll hand you some cheese with my whine.
And a case worker is doing a home visit at 5:30p and somehow I have to get home and at least get the dishes done. At least.
Asia’s been stranded in the Atlanta airport since last night. I normally could stay home with the Baby Ladies but I have a meeting at work I can’t miss. I’m so fortunate these days because Asia’s mom can fill in, Liz can work from home (she has them now) and Logan is frequently available.
Also today I have Clementine’s Early Intervention meeting (IFSP) which is a very formal sounding meeting with “city officials” and they “determine the frequency of services” (she’s already been assessed as needing and qualifying for some physical and occupational therapy- she’s fine, they’re just gonna work on some muscle strengthening). I have no idea how this works and one clinician told me it’s based on how the official feels when they get out of bed.
Awesome. The only other thing I’ve been told is that I have a right to appeal. In fact, I’ve been told this at each step of the assessment process. Like at least a dozen times. The take-home message is to be prepared for a fight. But I don’t want to fight. Why don’t the clinicians just make a recommendation and we go with that? It all sounds so political and nasty- like foster care all over again.
I’ve been prepped to ‘fight’ and to be honest, I haven’t spent much time on researching it. I’m not an OT or PT and the “city official” does this all day everyday. I’m sure they have a few key phrases that shut it all down (i.e. reassess in 6 months).
Oh, and Sandy has to be at a family visit at exactly the same time. Which is fine if Asia were here, but Liz is going in cold turkey and will get some serious “Who the hell are you?” from Sandy’s family. I have to give her the full explanation of every bump and tiny bruise on Sandy’s body and all of the diaper bag requirements and whatnot. I canNOT have my phone blowing up during Clementine’s meeting.
Fingers crossed that it’ll all go smoothly AND that Asia gets home from Atlanta. She said she misses the girls (so sweet!) but I told her to forget them for now and to party it up in the airport with her friends. She might as well make it fun!
4:45pm update: I have enough writers now, thank you!! If you want to add to this section and credit yourself (I’ll translate your credit- and a personal link if you want- to the final post): http://piratepad.net/ouFmXQOWos
Otherwise, the end result will be up soon!
Feel free to make suggestions- but I seriously want to pay someone…thinking, thinking….I’m open to suggestions.
And yay, to the stock photo offers, send them over and make sure to let me know how you want credited!
I’m looking to pay a longtime reader to write posts that will help update my blog. One that is an updated FAQ and another that’s a Who’s Who with a list of names (e.g. Asia, Logan, Liz, Deepa). The only catch is that I don’t have time for back-and-forth email messages. A quick coffee shop meeting might work, but may not be necessary.
Eventually, I’m also looking to update the blog format. I’ve tried having friends do it long distance but I’m too visual. I need to stand over a computer and point to things and make weird facial gestures to communicate my point. If you do this kind of thing, live in Brooklyn, and are familiar with my style- give me a shout.
Also, I’m in constant need of photos for my babble posts. These would not be paid, but I’ll definitely credit you and link to any website you’d like. Right now I need a baby with Santa Claus photo. Otherwise, baby anything photos work. We can’t use istock anymore and I’m much more conservative with the baby ladies’ photos on babble than I am here.
my email address is at the google mail: fosterhoodblog
I don’t think you have to be high to think about this. Trying to force Sandy into switching from formula to cow’s milk is weirding me out.
We got our Santa photo at Habana Outpost after some nudging and promises of help from Liz. So glad we went. However, it was a scene from hipster hell. The event was done well- very well (Shout out to the ever patient Mrs. Claus!) but it was packed. Imagine a standing room only bar, and hand everyone a baby. Now hand Rebecca two. But don’t serve any alcohol. Or water.
If you have baby fever, allow me to cure you by inviting you to attend with me next year. You’ll be knocking down your doctor’s door in the morning to get the 10 year IUD. As with any well run NYC event, there were several steps so that you don’t murder someone by having to wait in line. After signing in, find a place to park your stroller. Take out your already screaming children. Find Mrs. Claus, push past 25 people, accidentally step on babies’ toes, artwork and a crayon that makes you slide and fall into an already unraveling family of 5 (very rare to see a family with more than 2 kids in nyc they should be allowed to the front line of everything). Give Mrs. Claus your ticket- tell her you’re the lesbian couple (it’s just easier- Liz didn’t care) with a black and a white baby and head up to the arts and crafts bar to let your children eat stickers on top of normal children making Christmas cards. Wait an hour. Realize that parents are getting in a line and bullying their way past the ticket procedure and up to Santa. Join them. Look like a saint when Mrs. Claus calls your name and then asks if the asshole dad can take his family ahead of you. Give Mrs. Claus a high-five wink when she says “Merry Christmas!” to the asshole dad. When called, throw Clementine at Santa because we all know she’s going to love a man who looks like a giant stuffed animal. Begin 17 step desensitization program with Sandy who has no intention of being near Santa. Follow the photographer’s directions to abandon intervention and just get in the damn photo myself. Done. Grab Clemmie and Sandy and carry them over the crowd like a tray of drinks. Watch as they spill all over. Find stroller missing. Be ungrateful for valet stroller parking. Retrieve stroller. Toss raisins at starving Baby Ladies. Wrestle them into stroller. Make lots of promises of milk and cookies at home. Have them both spit at you.
Debate whether or not it’s worth waiting for the dude to bring us our photos. Dude is cute so decide to wait. Watch as dude tells your child she has attitude. She does. What can I do? Try not to scratch dude’s eyes. Tell Liz to fuck the gift bags and it’s procedure. Allow Liz to convince you it’s all about the gift bags. Go across street to retrieve gift bags. Clementine’s Christmas gift bag happens to be full of Hanukkah stickers. Laugh. Walk the mile back home.