Baby Ring Bearer
Charlie’s first job
As an 18 month old Charlie did what any small child did in an unfamiliar new workplace. He screamed his head off. He was having no part of his cousin Tori’s wedding. But, I think this was totally a small child thing.
Charlie is now almost 19 months and he is showing no signs of meth side effects. He is as normal an 18 month old as they come. Running, jumping, babbling, screaming, throwing fits, and being sweet as can be and devilish in the same minute. I can hope he will be ok. And that is what I am setting my mind with now. He is just fine.
How to effectively listen – a foster care training
Last fall I attended a foster care training called….
How to Talk So Everyone Will Listen
“Talking, listening and setting effective boundaries are essential skills for parents. This type of communication becomes even more valuable when the parent is dealing with individuals who have experienced significant emotional trauma. Participants will learn communication skills and ways to provide consequences relevant to the behavior.”
That was the description for this foster care training.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this training, because most of them are not relevant to my story. But this class was really informative and all around great. The basic principal is to really just listen to your child. If they are mad or sad or fustrated, listen to what their feelings are. Don’t immediately tell them to brush it off or it’s no big deal. Listen first and then say, “I am sure that made you feel bad that that happened. You must have got your feelings hurt”, or whatever the case may be. Show them you are really listening to what they are saying by repeating back to them what they have said and sympathizing. You probably can’t fix what has happened, but they can be heard and acknowledged. And a lot of times that is all people and children want, is someone to listen and know you understand and are truly hearing them. In the case of a child, often this will lead to trust and more information and eventually the root of the problem. This will help children and anyone for that matter feel like they have been heard and understood. Sometimes that can be the most important thing to a child.
In the case of a foster child with a lot of difficult emotions this can really help to break through with them. I have not personally fostered a child old enough to need this, but I know many people who have. Lots of children in the foster system have been exposed to things most adults wouldn’t even want to know about. All children and especially foster children need to feel like someone is listening. It might as well start with you.
This is a schedule of the trainings offered by IFAPA in Iowa.
Birth parents, Reasons not to vilify
Because she is still Charlie’s birth mom and that would be wrong….
I have to admit, I am still disappointed in Charlie’s birth mom. But I honestly do not know her. I don’t know about her family history, her mental state or her current life. I have not spent one day with her to get to know her. That was not my job as a foster parent. When Charlie gets older I will not tell him anything bad about her. That would only hurt him.
She’s only human….
I know people make mistakes, and I am no saint. Maybe I have a little more maturity than she does. Well, probably a lot. I am actually 2 years older than her mom. So I have maturity on my side. I don’t really know why she was caught up in drugs or why she is always desperate for love and a boyfriend. Maybe that is just the person she is. People make mistakes and sometimes you have to pay for them.
She was unable to parent him…
His young birth mother was literally unable to parent him. Without a place to live, no money, no car, and no family to help, it probably took all of her effort just to keep herself going. In this day and age it is hard to keep up. People who were doing well 15 years ago are struggling now. Times are tough. And they are really tough for a young, uneducated, unskilled, unemployed mom on drugs.
When Charlie is grown and he wants to find his birth mom I will be happy to help him locate her. But I hope he will understand that adoption was the best option for him. I hope he will see what kind of life she has lived and he will be grateful that his life is not like hers. As for his bio dad, he did the best thing for Charlie that he could have done. He willingly gave him up. He knew he could not take care of him.
Being born to meth exposure was a rough start for Charlie.
The first 6 months with meth side effects were awful. Meth exposure on an unborn child is detrimental. But that was a whole year ago.
Charlie is busy. Since the minute he was mobile he has been so busy. He gets into everything. He tears everything up and moves onto the next thing. Anything he can grab he will. It goes in his mouth, it gets thrown on the floor and smashed. He is the king of destruction. I like to call it re – arranging. Every minute all day long that he is awake it is exhausting. You have to watch him every second to keep him from getting hurt or into something he shouldn’t be into. I think this is probably just typical of a busy toddler. But because he is a meth exposed baby, I always wonder just a little bit, is he normal?
When he is not feeling good with a cold, or tummy ache or cutting teeth, he is awful. He is the worst person to be with when he isn’t well. He screams and cries and whines and fusses every minute. It’s enough to make a mom go bonkers. But most days are good. He is a happy, well adjusted, and confident one year and 1/2 old toddler. He is sweet (giving kisses, love, hugs and he says love you). He is so adorable it just melts my heart. He is also very social and charming and outgoing. I just know right know he will have tons of friends and probably lots of girlfriends. I will have to carry a big stick with me. This warms my heart so much to know that I get to be this kid’s mom. And I have so much to look forward to as he grows. I can’t hardly wait to see what he will be like in one year, two years and on.
I believe he is absolutely normal. I am so blessed I got to adopt Charlie as an infant and that I got to start his life life on the best foot possible. He is going to be so GREAT.
What does a birth family go through with a child in foster care?
I can only imagine
Let’s say I had my baby, I love him so much. I get caught up in something I didn’t plan. And all of a sudden my baby is gone. The state has taken my child and put him in a foster care family that I don’t know and neither does he. I can imagine this is the worst feeling in the world. I would not wish that upon anyone.
But the truth is DHS just doesn’t come along randomly and take children from their family and put them in foster care. The birth family was doing something wrong, very wrong. They don’t take kids away because parents spank or punish or ground. They take kids away because they are pregnant and smoking meth or exposing drugs to children, or abusing them or neglecting them etc..
For my baby’s birth mom, her first 2 children were taken and adopted before Charlie was even born. She had been arrested and charged with intent to sell meth and her boyfriend had hid the drugs in the car registered to her. Maybe she lost her kids because she was in jail waiting for her court date. I don’t honestly know. But I do know she was involved with the wrong people doing the wrong things. And that also means subjecting your children to bad things. Perhaps her childhood was bad with parents in and out of jail and prison. One thing I do know, if you are going to have children you better protect them and keep them safe from bad things. Or don’t have children until you are ready, or you are mature enough to consider adoption.
I know having your child taken from you is absolutely heartbreaking, but were they thinking of their child in the first place? Charlie’s mom is an addict and she was given every option for help possible. But that meant working a program, staying clean, not having any fun. She wanted a boyfriend, she wanted fun, she wanted an easy carefree life. That is not how you get your baby back. And ultimately she did not get him for even one day. And as much as she was heartbroken, I am glad. This was all on her and she could not even clear the first hurdle. I do feel sorry for her that she could not get herself together. But it is going to take a long time for her to learn. She has baby #4 with her now. I hope she keeps that baby safe. I hope.
I have not walked one step in her shoes. So I will not judge her. I only know that to be a parent it takes giving up everything for that child; every spare minute is given to them. I have only one child and I have no idea how people can raise more than 1 and afford to do it. There is no way I could be doing drugs or anything other than what is best for my son. I know it is painful for them, but it is also painful for the children. And the children always come first.
I ultimately chose foster care adoption
From feeling completely hopeless to an all in Mom
There is hope for anyone out there who wants to be a parent. With DHS foster care adoption you can be married, single, straight, gay, older, and anything else; they discriminate against no one. Maybe you are at your last ditch effort. I certainly was. Yes I did accept a baby exposed to meth. But if that were not the case he would have never been put in the foster care system. Is he doing absolutely great? YES he is. Is he totally adorable? YES he is. Am I on cloud nine? YES I am. He is doing so great you would not know anything had ever happened to him before he was born. I cannot speak for all children born exposed to meth. But he has overcome the effects of in uterine drug exposure as far as I know. He was not born addicted and the drugs leave their system in just a few days. But I do know there were side effects. He was not an easy going content baby.
For years I tried to get pregnant naturally with my ex-husband and then with fertility treatments. The biggest problem was my husband had a low sperm count and did not want to admit or discuss how this was his infertility. The topic was off limits. It felt like he wanted to be a real mans man and that guy would never have a sperm count problem. This went on for years and I just hoped and prayed for a miracle baby. I never got a miracle baby. We finally went to see a fertility specialist and we were told only IVF would work with his low of a sperm count. We were shocked and sticker shocked. He went and had tests done and wouldn’t even tell me when the appointment was. Just that it would be soon. Which meant it was not my business. When I finally got the nerve to ask him months later how it went he was angry that I didn’t ask sooner. I should have walked out the door and told him I wanted a divorce right then. But no, I hung on. Then he did have an operation to have his testicle veins untangled. When I asked if there was any change in his count a few months later he said he didn’t know because he hadn’t paid the bill yet and didn’t think he could go back until then. I knew then I was married to a total idiot. Well, needles to say it did nothing to increase his count. When I told him our options, and I threw adoption in the mix, he said we could not adopt. Who was this man I married? He wasn’t the same person. In 10 years of marriage he had evolved into a fat, selfish, alcoholic, drunk. I did not need him.
I got my own baby. I did not end up needing a man and he wasted my fertile years and my desire to be in a relationship with another guy for now at least.
So after all of that, there is hope for anyone who wants to be a parent. I am certainly not saying foster care or adoption is right for everyone and it does not always work out for some people. But for me I got a perfect little baby that is my own.
Foster care adoption and what you need to know
I adopted my infant son from foster care
First of all, I would like to say I am so very blessed that I was able to adopt my little boy.
So… how to adopt from foster care? When I first got Charlie at 3 weeks old, I fell in love, How could you not? Yet being a foster mom there was always that voice in my head reminding me he had a mother that wanted him back. I felt torn because I don’t want to take anyones baby from them, but I wanted him so badly. I had to tell myself that I do not play much of a part in the outcome of Charlie’s story. At first I thought I will try what I can so his bio will be annoyed with him and not want him. This consisted of giving her enough formula to make sure he would spit up all over. But that was silly, he did that no matter how much formula he had and of course that was not going to annoy her.
There is nothing to do. The birth parents are going to get their lives on track, or they are not. It didn’t matter one bit what I did, it was all up to them. There were things I did that certainly helped me to gain the bio mom’s trust and the trust of the case worker and the judge.
I was always kind and polite to the birth mom. I always made sure she knew this was not about me, that I did not have inside information and was not in the know. Because I was not. When she asked me if they were going to terminate her rights, I told her I did not think so, it was way to early for that. My sister and I invited her to church with us and we were kind and generous towards her. Because it was the right thing to do. With the case worker, I always tried very hard to accommodate his schedule and bring the baby to as many things as he wanted me to. I was always prompt with making doctor appointments and keeping to all the requests DHS wanted. I was the model foster parent. I never gave the case worker any problems and he gave me the same respect. He always returned my calls promptly and listened to my questions and concerns. (This is a rarity in case workers. He was GOLD). I also went to all the family team meetings. Mostly because I got a lot of information at them. I attended every court hearing. The first hearing I did not bring the baby, as it was inconvenient for me to bring him. I did bring him to the last 2 hearings. The judge could see that I always came and mostly brought him too. The judge loved seeing him. They like to see the children are happy and healthy with their foster family. On his adoption day, everyone in the court room was very happy for me and Charlie. They could see what a wonderful family he was getting. One less child that would be in the system. My child will never be back in their system. I made myself as involved with the case as I could be and let everyone involved know I was invested in this child. And I was.
There isn’t really a sure fire way on how to adopt from foster care. But I do now that by cooperating with the case worker and the birth parents things went a whole lot smoother and I was definitely the top person in line to adopt this perfect little baby. For me all the pieces fell perfectly together and it was truly meant to be.
Fetal alcohol syndrome: I just can’t say yes to that
I do not foster children with FAS
For a thorough explanation on the syndrome, check out the link below, since I have only had a small touch of what FAS is…
I know a foster/adoptive parent who adopted a baby born with fetal alcohol syndrome. The way she described it I knew I couldn’t raise a child with this. As an adult her son still suffers from the side effects. Her example was “If I stepped off the curb and was going to be hit by a car, he would not try to save or help me. He would just standby and watch with zero empathy”. He could function as an adult , but he has no feelings, he just can’t feel. Nothing would phase him. It is like there is something not wired correctly in his brain because things just do not connect. Another friend fostered a 17 year old and there was definitely something not wired right in his brain. It was like when you tell someone don’t touch the stove because it is hot and you will get burned. They will keep on touching it because there is no connection, they simply don’t get it. This is one effect I know I would not be able to deal with. Even if they are able to thrive and grow will they still have this lack of human connection?
I was worried my baby might have been exposed to this. I was so relieved to see him show empathy. He was only 11 months old. I was at the bottom of the steps and a container of cat food came crashing down the stairs, spilling all over. I was mad about all the food spilled and Charlie started screaming from the top of the stairs. He was worried that I was hurt. I had turned it into a chaotic situation and he reacted with an emotion of empathy for me. I assured him I was ok and I thought, Wow, thank the Lord he can feel that empathy at a young age. I knew then he did not have fetal alcohol syndrome. Because with the drug exposure I thought he might have been exposed to alcohol as well.
Maybe my baby was exposed to alcohol, but he definitely does not have the effects or tendencies of fetal alcohol syndrome… so far.
He is My BABY
Birth parents and fostering: grasping for any little bit of control in an out of control circumstance
Please make sure you…….
As a foster mom I have had birth parents tell me how to take care of their child. Especially if I am doing anything wrong in their eyes. They will be critical of any little thing. I believe it is a defense mechanism, they are trying to hang onto a little bit of control over their child. I absolutely understand their need to have this. It would be devastating to parents to lose their child. I can’t speak for all birth parents, but the ones I knew wanted their child back very badly.
I first saw this when my baby was first with a different foster family. Charlie’s birth mom and his first foster mom kept a journal back and forth at her visits. About 2 weeks in, his birth mom wrote to the foster mom, “please check to make sure your’e cleaning him fully. I changed his diaper and he was still dirty”. Foster mom quickly apologized and offered a reason and then promptly put in her 10 days notice. I don’t know why exactly, but I got Charlie and I think it was meant to be. I understand the birth mom. I think she was just trying to have a small bit of control. In my interactions with her, I would just smile, and thank her for the things she brought for baby Charlie whether I used it or not. My job is to take care of him, I was fostering him. It was all up to her what happened with him, it had nothing to do with me.
Another baby I had, I gave the birth mom my cell phone number. I only had the baby for a few days, but she was constantly texting wanting updates on the baby. Making sure I knew how important the baby was to her. I know other foster families have experienced constant calls and even false accusations. It is a path that can be difficult to walk. I felt it was important to be on good terms with the birth parents. Charlie’s birth mom needed to trust me. I wanted to adopt him and she needed to feel good about me and know her child was well cared for and loved. I did not ever lead her to believe I wanted to adopt him more than anything. This was all her. I had nothing to do with the outcome. She was either going to succeed or not.
And Ultimately she did not succeed.
Meth Baby: The reality of it
“I just can’t get over you calling your own child a “meth baby” it’s not nice”
This week I posted to reddit a casual IMA AMA. For a newbie like me that is I am A…. Ask Me Anything. I did this to get some discussion going since most of the time I have no one to discuss a meth exposed baby with.
My post was this “ImA adoptive mom to a meth exposed baby AMA” In my description I wrote “I fostered Charlie for 1 year and I then adopted him in February of 2016. He is a meth baby with side effects. I searched for information on what to expect, only to find very little information. After 16 months I have first hand experienced a meth baby. Ask me anything.”
Most of the questions were good and some people offered stories of hope. But one person replied. “I just can’t get over you calling your own child a “meth baby” it’s not nice.
My reply was, “What else do you want me to say? Sorry but that is the reality of it.”
Anyone can say what they want, that is our right as free citizens. But this really shouldn’t be offensive. I am not trying to pick on anyone or single out anyone’s ideas and thoughts about this. I was glad for the input, It gave me a chance to really consider this topic. I simply am stating facts. He was a baby born to a mom who smoked meth.
20 or so years ago the term used so often was crack baby. Well here in the midwest, today, where meth is rampant they are called meth baby. I shouldn’t have apologized for this term. That is exactly what they are. Babies exposed to methanphetamines. I certainly do not introduce my son as “here is Charlie, he is a meth baby.” When he is old enough to know what drugs are and what that means, I will explain to him how it is very bad to smoke meth and it took almost everything from his bio parent’s lives. He has already been exposed to drugs and it didn’t do him any good. Maybe he will see it my way. I hope so. I hope he can say to himself, I have already tried drugs and it only caused me harm, and wasn’t any fun.
Meth baby. That is what my baby was. Not what he is.