MISSION-ADOPT

My Foster Care Adoption Story

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Foster Care Reunification

Foster Care Reunification = Return to family

As a foster parent, I can’t stress this enough to anyone who is considering foster care – the main and end goal of almost every child case is reunification. I heard it over and over. Every class, every meeting, every court hearing.  It is a process of always working to get the child back to their family. Fostering is very difficult because, yes, you might have to give that child back. Back to a healthy parent, an alcoholic parent, a drug abuser, or a domestic abuser. Each case is only given a certain amount of time, so it will not go on forever. However, a parent of a newborn baby will get more time. My baby’s birth mom was given a limit of 18 months to get herself together. DHS will give a birth parent every service available all FREE. Paid by our tax dollars. Free gas cards,  Walmart gift cards, counseling, therapy, food, housing, bus passes, formula, diapers and money. They are given everything possible to help them succeed. Yet a lot of them cannot clear the first hurdle.

My baby’s birth mom’s list of requirements.

  1. Have a place to live
  2. Maintain a job
  3. Complete drug rehab
  4. Complete counseling/therapy
  5. Provide clean UAs
  6. Attend her visits and engage

That’s it.  She did not have her child to take care of and she could not accomplish even one requirement.  As time went on some things were added and others were not so important any more. I don’t know the birth mom and my interactions with her weren’t often. I did what she asked and I took care of her baby. That was my only role in this child’s case. I can’t say anything bad about her because I have not walked in her shoes nor do I know anything about her life or her past. This is the role of a foster parent. It is a thankless job. I only know that my baby was placed in foster care because his birth mom was smoking meth and pot while she was pregnant. Even on the day he was born. I am not an addict, so I can’t say anything about that. But I do know my baby will have to live with what she has done to him. She did not get him back and I can honestly say I am thankful. Because I know he is safe and I can finally get to be a mom, I adopted him in February of 2016.

I will not deny, I know she loved him so much. And that is the most heartbreaking part for all these children in the system.

This is where I started my foster care journey http://www.ifapa.org 

This is for foster care in Iowa.

Meth baby side effects and growth

Nurture vs. Nature (a loving, safe home vs a chaotic drug affected life)

Charlie was born 6 weeks early, his meth baby side effects

A common side effect of meth exposure intrauterine is premature birth

At Charlie’s first pediatrician visit at 9 days old his measurements and weight were:

  • weight: 5.125 #s = 1st percentile
  • length: 19″ = 6th percentile
  • head circumference: 13″ = 3rd percentile

The numbers are very low and I was most concerned with his head circumference. His head needs to grow so that his brain will grow and he can mature. Head size growth in the first year of life relates to intelligence later, it’s what happens in the first year after birth that matters most. (According to Psychology Today: how to grow a smart baby.)

I think this can’t be more true. In one year and three months of constant nurturing…. attention, proper nutrition, a safe, stable, loving and affectionate home, and a schedule he knows, Charlie has grown by leaps and bounds. Last month at his 15 month appointment at the pediatrician his measurements and weight were:

  • weight: 22#s 7 oz = 46th percentile
  • length: 32.25″ = 87th percentile
  • head circumference: 18.7 ” = 70th percentile

At each doctor appointment they are thrilled with his progress and his intelligence. His motor skills, fine motor skills and social skills are outstanding. This is quite a difference. I remember the doctor,  at his 3 month appointment telling me he would be a petite child. Now at 16 months he is taller than most toddlers his age, and he has been walking since he was 10 months old. I think he is definitely overcoming nature with nurture.

I only know that exposing newborns to drugs is one of the worst things you can do to an unborn child. It is proven every day with drug side effects including premature births and low birth weight, length and head circumference — just to name a few. Charlie has clearly overcome some of the effects and is growing and maturing very well. I am thrilled with his development and I am always looking forward to his next measurement for a new mark on his growth chart. (Although he is not. He screams and cries just at the sight of the dreaded  white coat.)

I hope and pray that he has a good chance to be happy, healthy, and smart. And that we are giving him the best possible opportunity to overcome the circumstances of his birth and intrauterine meth and THC exposure.

 

Intrauterine drug exposure – digestive problems

I am not out of the woods yet….

Intrauterine drug exposure causes digestive problems

Today at 15 and 1/2 months my sweet awesome little baby who was affected by Intrauterine drug exposure, cried and screamed and whined and threw tantrums all day. My sister who does daycare for me for him, sent me videos of his behavior. My heart sank. I thought OMG he is not going to be normal. He has something not wired right in his little brain. There is something horribly wrong. As an infant he went through so much gas pain and trouble with his digestive system. Did anyone do a specific test for this? No. But he was spitting up so much I couldn’t even believe anything was going down. The doctor switched us to Similac spit up formula. This was a life saver, because it seemed to ease his pains and the formula stayed down. Digestive system trouble is 1 common side effect of a meth baby. And definitely for my infant. Because he was in so much pain for months he also did not sleep. It seemed like he was awake all the time. I can’t help but wonder if his stomach hurts. He can’t tell me in words. But, is he telling me by screaming.

There was finally hope. The spit up formula was a small miracle for an otherwise almost unbearable infant. But that was only 1 problem of many with my drug exposed baby. There can be a many things not right that I can’t see or that won’t show up until he’s at least 3 years old. And today I saw my awesome little toddler act like a totally different kid. Dare I say monster.

I hope and pray that this is teething. He has had nasty diapers, a snotty runny nose and cries and screams with no tears. The crying can be turned off in an instant. And start in an instant. I hope this does not last…….. But because I know what he was exposed to; meth and pot even on the day he was born, every possible little thing wrong I immediately go back to the drug effects. Because of an addiction and mental issues of his bio, my sweet wonderful child has obstacles to overcome that I can’t even see. It is not his fault in any way. And I love him more than anything. And I still hold onto the hope that he will lead a good life and be okay.

Taking on a baby with Intrauterine drug exposure is something  that must be carefully considered. How bad did I want to be a mom? Bad enough to go this far, and put everyone I know on this path. It doesn’t effect just Charlie, this affects everyone he meets.

Foster Adoption through DHS

Applicants who wish to apply for an infant will be referred to licensed private child placing agencies.

My meth baby adoption.

I was able to adopt my foster child after fostering him for a year. I was just sure as I got older I would never be able to be a mom. I couldn’t get pregnant, nothing worked. By then, private adoption was out of the question. All my money was spent on fertility. My last option was fostering to adopt. My advice to anyone wanting kids, try having your own child before ever considering foster to adopt. Because it is a very difficult road, but it is Not Impossible. Foster adoption was the best choice for me.

At my first orientation meeting for foster classes, they stressed over and over, “You will not get a newborn”. No way, No how will you ever get a newborn. The speaker told us, it didn’t matter if we knew someone who knew someone and they got a baby. Forget it, it doesn’t happen. EVER. PERIOD. End of discussion. Now onto the topic of all the 8 year olds with severe problems we want you to take in. (Ok she didn’t really say that about 8 year olds, but that is essentially what every person associated with the foster system will tell you and beat into your head.) Take an older kid. My thought to that was, no thank you, that’s not for me. I applaud all parents who are willing to do this, because fostering is tough and that is a gross understatement.

A state DHS adoption license only, will not get you very far. No one will just call you for a perfect little child. In fact they probably won’t call you at all. I filled out my renewal paperwork just a few days ago and right on the application it states “Applicants who wish to apply for an infant will be referred to licensed private child placing agencies.” Translation: if you want to try for a baby, you must foster. As a licensed adoptive mom, my support worker suggested I attend the adoption DHS worker meet and greet night that is held once a year. This way the adoption workers can get to know you as an adoptive parent. This apparently is the only way you might get called for a baby for adoption. In short you meet the right worker and they might remember you. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of children nation wide in need of adoption. I just knew after checking out my options I wanted to try for a baby. Here is a  link to check out  http://www.adoptuskids.org/meet-the-children/search . All of these children are in need, but this just wasn’t for me.

So now what? After I got my foster and adoption license I waited, and waited. Patience…….I waited almost 6 months for Charlie to arrive. The first calls to foster, even though my age range was 0-3 years old, were for siblings and older children, sometimes they even called about teens. Because if the foster matching agents exhausted their list of families to call in the right age range, everyone possible got called. I agreed to 5 different foster care placements, and they all fell through. And then I got baby Elsa, my first foster newborn. I talked to the matching specialist after the last placement didn’t go through and I told her I wanted to get called for a newborn. She must have put me on the top of the list, because I got the call within an hour for Elsa. My first newborn Meth Baby.

So maybe that is the secret. Get friendly with the matching agents and tell them directly what you would like to be called about for a foster placement. This does not mean you will get to adopt the baby, as I did not, but for me it was a start. And I was on my way to navigating the foster system. I knew then I would have to wait for another baby, and a meth baby wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought, and maybe, just maybe It was meant to be.

As I think back to that first orientation meeting, I can see now that they were probably just trying to discourage people from thinking that they could easily get a baby. But I am here to tell everyone who wants to try for a baby, it  is Absolutely Possible and I adopted my baby Charlie.

MISSION-ADOPT  –   Success

Chelsea

My first Meth baby – Beautiful Elsa

Elsa was a premature newborn Meth Baby

My first foster placement was a new born baby girl. A meth baby. I got the call after lunch and I picked up my first newborn from the hospital a few hours later. I had to go up to the hospital room and meet the parents and grandma and take Elsa home. She was 3 days old and did not appear to have anything wrong with her, but she was tiny. She was beautiful just like the Princess she was named for.

I only had her for 1 week. Grandma got to take her home after the first court hearing. This was disappointing since my main goal was to adopt a baby, not foster one and then let them go. But for that one week I had a beautiful baby girl. You try not to get attached because I knew grandma wanted her and she was a good lady. But you still do. She was everything I ever wanted.

She was an easy baby. She slept 23 hours a day and I had to wake her up to feed her. She wasn’t fussy and only cried for food. She just slept so much. I don’t know what happened to Elsa, I hope she is doing well. Her only side effects as a new born meth baby was so much sleep and she was born 4 weeks early.

And that was my first meth baby.

Meth baby side effects

Meth Baby Side Effects – They are real

Effects of Meth in newborns

A list of dominant side effects of meth in the first 6 months that I saw fostering 2 babies

: meth baby side effects…
  • New born – slept 23 hours
  • 4 weeks – 6 months – No Sleep – (wide awake a lot)
  • Spitting up
  • Difficulty eating
  • Fussing
  • Crying/screaming
  • Abdominal pain
  • Grunting
  • Fidgeting
  • Inconsolable
  • Crunching legs and arms
  • Kicking and flailing – (difficult to dress)
  • Hand tremors
  • Sensory issues
  • No close eye contact
  • Moving head from side to side for no apparent reason
  • Dislike of bath time
  • Screams while changing a diaper

These are some of the most noticeable and dominant side effects I saw in the 2 meth affected babies I have had. There are more less significant things that happened  and no 2 babies are alike of course; more or less occur in other babies. Thankfully both babies were not born addicted to drugs, so I have not experienced those effects. I have only read about babies addicted to drugs at birth and I do not know other foster parents who have a drug effected child. But I have first hand experience of what this does to an unborn child. Every stage of his life I don’t know what to expect. But I am sharing our journey here. If it helps somebody I will share anything I can to help another family going through this difficult time.

My baby showed all of these effects up until about 6 months. At that point he really turned a corner and had grown enough to work through most of these problems. Will he have problems down the road? Possibly, but that remains to be seen. For now and I hope for the rest of his life he has left the effects of meth behind.

Some interesting links can be found here https://www.google.com/search?q=what+does+meth+do+to+babies&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

Chelsea

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