I just remembered that years ago I was given an award (big faux crystal looking thing) from my foster agency- something about foster parent support of [birth] parents [UPDATE: found it “…for bridging the gap of separation and by supporting and maintaining children’s connections with birth families”].  It was specifically due to my commitment to Snap’s mom.  I have no idea where it is, but how annoying if I brought that to court a la “why are you all fighting you’re own mission?!”

btw- thanks to my foster agency for that.  there was a dinner and I missed the presentation because I was in Florida but it was a very nice gesture.  I should have been more grateful at the time.

Also, I so wish I could say to the judge "Remember me from this case a few years ago?  And the law guardian wanted me out of the court room and said "I don’t know who she is or why she keeps showing up for court" but you said no I could stay.  And then everyone felt like shit when I said I was an adoptee (a card I didn’t plan on playing) and was just there to make sure his Lifebook went on record and then I gave it to the law guardian. You and I are the only ones still standing. And now look at this nonsense.  Thanks for getting it and being supportive thus far.  Now, can you send some court marshals or something to get this done pronto?"

Snap’s Mom is on the phone begging me to take her new baby

So the truth is coming out.  Snap’s Mom’s doesn’t have custody of her new, 6-week old baby.  He’s still in the hospital in one of those ACS nurseries with a security guard -detoxing, according to Snap’s mom.  Since he wasn’t premature, he’s probably done detoxing and they’re just holding him there. 

The baby looks healthy.  She texted me photos.  He’s too big for that little plastic box they have him in.  Someone should be playing with him but instead he’s laying there alone.  Snap’s mom’s opening line was asking me if I want to go to Chuck E. Cheese (yes, again) this Sunday.  Follow that up with “the dad is either an Italian guy or Puerto Rican, I don’t know they both had accents”.  I couldn’t make that up if I tried.  Either way, the Italian guy showed up at the hospital and they’re doing a DNA test (another reason the baby is probably being warehoused).  She said the Italian fellow “seems like a good guy, but I don’t know if he can change a diaper or anything.  I hope he doesn’t get custody.”

I praised her like crazy for calling me sober and not in prison/rehab/hospital and offered to take her to lunch.  I asked her how long she’s been sober and the story got a bit fuzzy so she may not be sober, but she’s not in the midst of holy hell high and running from the police or anything (that I know of), so I still want to take her to lunch. 

Of course, I asked her if she’s considered an open adoption.  No, she wants to keep him.  I totally understand.  I told her that I don’t want her and the new baby to go through the same thing as she did with Snap and to consider a couple of different game plans. 

Interesting side note, she’s been in dozens of hospitals in all 5 boroughs in NYC over the past 5 years.  She knows the nice ones and the crappy ones.  Yet, she once again went to a far away, crappy hospital- the same hospital that she gave birth to Snap in.  So, she’s in the same district and landed with the same family court judge  who terminated her rights to Snap. Unfortunately, her chances of staying clean and getting this baby back in the next two years are close to nil.

Runfostermama, want to foster a newborn?  You’ve been talking about taking a newborn a lot these days even though I’ve tried discouraging you.  You both fucking LOVE Chuck E. Cheese.  You can have visits there 3 times a week!  ;)

How to call someone in a psych hospital unit

Just listened to all of Snap’s Mom’s voicemail messages from this afternoon and I have to admit, I got the warm fuzzies listening to her distinct voice.  She listed the phone number to call her at not once, not twice but nine times.

The problem is, patients usually share just one, or two, payphones on a psych unit.  I know this floor and I know they have one phone for approximately 50 patients.  You have to call the pay phone and just hope that a patient picks-up.  Then you have to convince that patient to go and find the one that you want to talk to.  While they’re going up and down the halls searching for your friend or family member, you have to hope that another patient doesn’t walk by and hang the phone up. 

So here we go,

Call 1: no answer.

Call 2: “Hello?” Hi, can I talk to Snap’s mom? “Hello?” Hi, can I talk to Snap’s mom?  “Who?” Snap’s mom, she’s the pregnant one. “Click”.

Call 3: “Hello?” Hi, I’m hoping to talk to Snap’s mom, she’s a girl there who’s really pregnant.  “Oh, okay. -click-“

Call 4: no answer.

Call 5: [someone picks up but it’s only static] Hello, hello?  Hello. [static] Hello?  Can you hear me?  I’m hoping to talk to Snap’s mom.  [4 minutes of static and then I hung-up].

Call 6: “Hello?” Hi!  It’s you again!  Listen, I’m hoping to talk to Snap’s mom… “Hello?  Hold on” [1 minute later disconnected]

Call 7: “Hello?” Hi, I’m trying to get a hold of Snap’s mom. “Sure, hold on a minute.  This phone really sucks.” Oh, cool, thanks so much! [3 minutes later, phone disconnects]

Call 8: Repeat above.

Call 9: Repeat above.

Call 10: no answer.

Call 11: “Hello?” Hi, is this Snap’s mom? “No, hold on, I’ll get her -click-“.

Call 12: “Hello?” Hi, I’m trying to get a hold of Snap’s mom.  She’s the pregnant one. “Oh yeah, I know her, I think she’s in the TV room.  Hold on. [..a long while… click]

Call 13: “Hello?” Hi, is this Snap’s mom!? “Yeah, listen….click.

Call 14-22: repeat above.

*If you’re new, you can click on some of the Snap’s mom’s tags below to get the gist.

Finding more Snap stuff that I can post now.  I made this little music video of him over 4 years ago.  Four years!  I’m ready to retire.

Not sure what to do with Snap’s birth mom now

She’s back in Riker’s (prison) and calling me constantly.  I haven’t picked-up the phone yet.  Snap’s adoptive mom has had several arguments with her this week.  I don’t know if it was right, but I told Snap’s adoptive mom to cut Snap’s birth mom off for now telling her to get in contact with me  instead once she’s been sober for 6+ months and then I’ll screen and pass along her contact info to Snap’s adoptive mom to decide where to go from there.

This Family-to-Family stuff taught in the MAPP classes is hard.  You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  I could put up, and experiment with boundaries with birth parents when the goal was to keep some continuity in the child’s life.  But now in Snap’s case, he’s got continuity and stability with his new family.  How much connection should his adoptive mom keep with his birth mom?  His adoptive mom is looking to me for guidance but I don’t have any answers.  I haven’t even figured out what, if any contact, I’ll continue to have with her.

And now the cycle will continue with Snap’s new brother or sister that will be born in a few months.

Snap, my first, pre-fosterhood foster child, was adopted last week after living in 3 foster homes (all willing to adopt), 1 stint in mommy-and-me rehab, 1 week in a homeless shelter and a total of 4 years 4 months in the system. 
He had 15 foster agency case workers (although I lost count about a year ago) in 2 different foster agencies, 9 ACS case workers and 3 mommy-and-me rehab case workers.
Snap has his life book full of photographs and details of each foster home he was in, his case workers, bio family, baptism and complete medical and developmental history.  His adoptive mom said that he asks her to read it to him all the time.  He and his new mom are coming over on Sunday and I will remain available throughout his lifetime to fill him in on any additional information he may want.  
So glad he was finally given permanency. 

Snap, my first, pre-fosterhood foster child, was adopted last week after living in 3 foster homes (all willing to adopt), 1 stint in mommy-and-me rehab, 1 week in a homeless shelter and a total of 4 years 4 months in the system. 

He had 15 foster agency case workers (although I lost count about a year ago) in 2 different foster agencies, 9 ACS case workers and 3 mommy-and-me rehab case workers.

Snap has his life book full of photographs and details of each foster home he was in, his case workers, bio family, baptism and complete medical and developmental history.  His adoptive mom said that he asks her to read it to him all the time.  He and his new mom are coming over on Sunday and I will remain available throughout his lifetime to fill him in on any additional information he may want. 

So glad he was finally given permanency. 

Snap

I finally listened to the rest of Snap’s mom’s messages and called her back.  She said that she just saw Snap and she’s put a motion in to court to have her rights reinstated (I learned that it can happen if a child’s not adopted yet).  She went on and on about how she wasn’t given a chance. 

When she finally took a breath, I tried a little reality testing which was unsuccessful.  I asked her to consider what’s best for Snap, encouraged her that Snap is with an amazing family and suggested she focus on her current baby (pregnancy).  All of this led up to her wanting me to go shopping with her for Snap.  I started to have flashbacks and shut it down fast.  I can already picture us at the register and her being short money- asking me to spot her.  I suggested that we meet up for coffee instead but her mind was on a mission to convince me that she should have Snap back.

As soon as we got off the phone, I called Snaps foster mom and was all “Is he not legally adopted yet!?” Ironically enough, I get on her about poor boundaries with Snap’s mom.  Several times in the past she’s put money in her prison account, bought her cartons of cigarettes, all of those things that I draw the line on.

Snap’s official, official, super finale official adoption court date is next week.  His foster/adopt mom invited me to come.  I said yes and offered to take photos.  She lamented that she didn’t bring anyone to her other sons adoption to take photos. Then I realized I would be in New Mexico.  Such a huge, huge bummer.  I offered to find a friend to go and at least take photos.  Rachel, who was also at Snap’s baptism with me would totally go if she weren’t in San Francisco.

Snap's Mom Called from Jail

  • Snap's Mom: Hi Rebecca, it's me, Snap's mom. Listen, I'm going to RIker's (prison) for 10 days. I need you to do a favor, it's Snap's birthday this week, I need the foster mom's phone number so I can tell her I want to see him.
  • Me: Snap's mom, how long has it been since you've contact me? A year? A year and a half? Where have you been? What's going on?
  • Snap's Mom: I know Rebecca. I don't know, I've been having a hard time. Jesus (boyfriend) got hooked and evicted. I'm going to get into a program. I'm going back to the mommy-and-me program.
  • Me: You asked the judge 2 years-ago to go back into that program and she told you "no".
  • Snap's Mom: I know, listen, I need housing. That's the problem. I'm going to contact them, maybe they can help me get my Section 8 back. I'm going to Riker's and I'm not going to have money for food, I need you to put money in my commissary.
  • Me: They feed you at Riker's. You know that I don't give you money.
  • Snap's Mom: You don't.
  • Me: No.
  • Snap's Mom: Can you come visit me, I....
  • Me: No, I have another foster baby right now.
  • Snap's Mom: You do? What's her name?
  • Me: Sandy (yeah, I gave her the blog name)
  • Snap's Mom: It's Snap's birthday this week. He's turning 4. The foster mother changed her number, I need you to give me her new number. I want visits, she has to give me visits.
  • Me: Snap's Mom, no she doesn't. It's over. I think he's adopted already.
  • Snap's Mom: No he's not. That takes years, they can't do that without telling me.
  • Me: It's been years. Your attorney said in court he couldn't reach you.
  • Snap's Mom: I need to go to court, look-up the next date for me.
  • Me: Snap's Mom, you're not hearing me. It's over. There aren't any more court dates. Your rights were terminated. You haven't showed up to anything in two years.
  • Snap's Mom: I want you to adopt him Rebecca.
  • Me: It's too late. You needed to tell the courts that.
  • Snap's Mom: Oh. Well, they have to give me visits. Call the foster agency and tell them I want visits.
  • Me: I can't tell them that. You have to call them.
  • Snap's Mom: I did. They said I have to go to court to ask for that.
  • Me: Exactly.
  • Snap's Mom: But call them for me. They have to give me visits.
  • Me: You need to call your attorney.
  • Snap's Mom: I don't have his number.
  • Me: That's something I'm willing to do for you. I'll look up your old attorney's name and number for you.
  • Snap's Mom: You can't give me the foster mother's phone number?
  • Me: I have to ask her first. I know she wants you to be a part of Snap's life, but you have to be sober and stable.
  • Snap's Mom: I know, I'm going to. Jesus (boyfriend/ex-boyfriend) told me of this program....
  • Me: That sounds really good. I suggest going to the program, getting the certificate and being sober and tested for at least 6 months. Then you can have something to show Snap's adoptive mom.
  • Snap's Mom: It's really hard to stay sober when I don't have housing.
  • Me: I know.
  • Snap's Mom: So you won't put any money in my account? I just need a little bit.
  • Me: No. I'm glad you called though. Snap is doing well.
  • Snap's Mom: You saw him?
  • Me: Yes, a little while ago.
  • Snap's Mom: I need the foster mom's new number, she's not calling me back.
  • Me: I think they told her not to.
  • Snap's Mom: They have to give me visits.
  • Me: No, they don't. It's over.
  • Snap's Mom: When can I call you again?
  • Me: Wednesday is a good day.
  • Snap's Mom: Can I call on Tuesday? It's an emergency, it's Snap's birthday.
  • Me: Yes, but if I don't answer it's because I'm busy and you can try again on Wednesday.
  • Snap's Mom: Okay, bye.

I’m pretty sure I can’t top Yogi Bear

There’s a huge language barrier between me and Snap’s foster family.  That’s largely why I didn’t mind them showing up unannounced this summer.  I called just now to check-in before I head over and Snap’s foster mom said something about them seeing Yogi Bear FOR THE FIRST TIME.  Is this a thing?

"The keeeeds will come at 11:30am".  I couldn’t figure out if she meant the kids will leave at 11:30am or will be coming home from seeing Yogi Bear at 11:30am?  Then she invited me to go with them to see Yogi Bear (why does this sound sooooo cool to do with Jacket yet soooo lame to do with Snap?), I tried to pass and then we agreed that I’d come by at 11am.

Almost one year later, I’m finally bringing a copy of my foster license to Snap’s mom.  For Snap, I’m bringing him his infamous dalmatian costume photo.

Going to see Snap on Saturday

I promised myself that I would call Snap’s foster mom before reaching out to Jacket’s mom again. I’ve been carrying around a lot of guilt for not following up with him. His foster mom would really like for me to be in his life. So much so that she says in her thick Spanish accent

“He remembers you, he luuuuvs you, he always says where is my Rrrebecca?”

Cue weird, deadbeat dad guilt. Funny how it creates the opposite of the desired effect. The more pressure I put on myself the harder it was for me to call. I don’t dare say that I can relate to the complicated mixed feelings that birth parents might have when it comes to visiting their kids in foster care, but it has made me more sympathetic. Why pop up in his life when I may ‘disappear’ again for 6 months? And honestly, there’s no way he can remember or miss me because he was so young. But, it’s nice that they are keeping me in the narrative. Anyway, I was invited over on Saturday so I’m going to go and drop off some Halloween treats.

More importantly, why the fuck isn’t he adopted yet!? His foster mom said it has something to do with another new case worker and paper work still not getting done. While I’m preaching to the choir about permanency (jargon for getting a kid out of the system one way or the other), here’s another reason…Snap’s now learned his ‘real’ last name which means he’ll be googling his upsetting maf*a connection far before he’ll be ready to process it.

missed a surprise visit

My roommate said that Snap’s foster mom came by with Snap when I was out.  I checked my phone and there was a voicemail saying that she was outside my apartment and that Snap missed me (not quite sure about that one).  Super weird.

I’m going to have to wait until a decent hour to call her tomorrow.

Officers may ask “in a respectful manner”

I just found out from the NYSCCC newsletter that New York Family Courts are open to the public.  I’m not sure knowing this would have made me feel any better on this day, but it’s good to know.

playing favorites

I was supposed to have Snap and his foster brother for the weekend but I failed to dig up and fax over my foster parent certification. 

If I would have stuck by my original 1 foster kid for life rule I would be pouring so much more time and energy into him but now I’m much more invested in Jacket than Snap.  I have mixed feelings about it.

Saw Snap the other day.  To my surprise, his foster-to-adopt mom asked me if I could provide some respite by taking Snap and his adopted 4 year-old brother for a whole weekend.  Sure!

Saw Snap the other day. To my surprise, his foster-to-adopt mom asked me if I could provide some respite by taking Snap and his adopted 4 year-old brother for a whole weekend. Sure!

Fungibility

The night of the godparent ceremony I didn’t even get to sip my first drink before Jacket’s mom started calling me about Christmas gifts.  The calls have been completely insane with lists of present demands.  Jacket’s mom asked “What are you doing Christmas Eve?… because if you’re cooking, we’ll come over”.

For some reason, this request gave me flashbacks of the meltdown I had in my first days as a foster parent with Snap.  I mentioned before how freaked out I was (I wasn’t blogging at the time), but I don’t think I shared that my therapist made a home visit.  A HOME visit.  I didn’t even know those existed but she offered and all 9 months pregnant of herself made the 3 floor walk-up to my apartment.  It helped that she was/is a social worker (home visits aren’t foreign) and that she also specializes in peri-natal mood disorders (something I didn’t know when I first found her).

When I was freaking out I was still functioning.  Changing diapers, feeding Snap, eating, breathing.  I wasn’t suicidal or anything like that, I was just in constant panic.  I had this image of being attached to Snap’s mom forever.  Like I had married her and we were left on a deserted island.  I was practically convinced that for the next 50 years I was destined to be with this girl who acted like a crazy crackhead 24/7.  I couldn’t stop picturing us alone around a Christmas tree.

So, yeah.  Ixnay on Christmas Eve-ay.  I’d rather be alone alone (which I never actually am) than with Jacket’s family alone.  I told Jacket’s mom that I might be out of town for the holidays and that I’d let her know.  I figured I’d see Jacket and her mom several times between then and Christmas anyway.  After a few more days of Jacket’s mom prompting Jacket on the phone with her Christmas list AND her calling Elia (a number I didn’t even know she had) demanding Barbie dolls, we settled on December 23rd for dinner- just Jacket, her mom and grandma.

Now Jacket’s mom is saying that they are going out of town from Christmas to New Years (something I doubt she even has the capacity to do on her own not to mention- where?) and that she has appointments every single day until Christmas making Jacket too busy to see me (improbable).  Fair enough.  I’ve seen Jacket tons.  I had hoped to spend time with her between Thanksgiving and Christmas but I also know to keep expectations low.  However, I’m starting to get pretty annoyed that Jacket’s mom is being so demanding about gifts and plans to pick them up and run.  I don’t think it’s good for Jacket either.  So I’ve been asking everyone for advice (except for the internet this round- no offense, it’s too sensitive of an issue this round). 

I don’t want Jacket to become a commodity.  But I’ve done Thanksgiving, the Christening and if I also hook them up for Christmas, all without any quality time with Jacket, I’m going to become bitter.  I want to give Jacket her gifts when we have a few hours to play with them.  I have nice gifts for Jacket’s mom and grandma and I’ve never made any promises to Jacket’s mom, only that “I already did my Christmas shopping this summer” in order to bat away her demands (which include videos games for Jacket which are clearly for her boyfriend/brother in jail).  So,

I sent this text (sometimes we text and grandma will read it for her): “My roommate’s parents will be here on the 23rd.  So sorry!!  Will cook soon.  Next time Jacket spends the weekend let her know that we’ll have Christmas!”

Now I just have to sit with the anxiety.  I know she’ll eventually be back in contact, but it may be a few weeks.