Category Archives: Allenah Manzanagrano

Thank You Sen. Thomas Carper, For Hearing The Voice Of The Children

Senator Thomas Carper (D)- Delaware

It is not too often that I can actually say I am proud of an elected Government Official. It is even more rare that I am able to say I am proud of a Democrat in office, much less a Democrat Senator.

Today, I am so proud of Senator Thomas Carper, a Democrat Senator from Delaware. He hears the voice of the children!

Tonight, there was an ABC News Exclusive Report with Diane Sawyer, on a report which will be released this Thursday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report is the findings of a two-year-long investigation of psychiatric medications being prescribed to foster children at an alarming rate.

In the article from ABC News:

The GAO’s report, based on a two-year-long investigation, looked at five states — Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas. Thousands of foster children were being prescribed psychiatric medications at doses higher than the maximum levels approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in these five states alone. And hundreds of foster children received five or more psychiatric drugs at the same time despite absolutely no evidence supporting the simultaneous use or safety of this number of psychiatric drugs taken together.

One of my dearest friends called me this morning to tell me about the Exclusive Report that would be airing tonight. As I sat watching it, I was hurled back in time to the summer of 2008.

On June 4, 2008, my oldest daughter and son came into our home. When we were going through the paperwork with the caseworker at the actual placement, we were handed a Ziploc bag of  prescriptions. My husband’s job during the process was to find out what each medication was for, because the caseworker had no clue. (This was the second of four caseworkers we would have with these two children in our 13 months before their adoption was finalized.)

We had never heard of the first medication the little girl was on, which was Respiridone (Brand Name: Resperdal). When my husband pulled up the information online, we were appalled to find out that the medication is an antipsychotic medication.

From U.S. National Library of Medicine:

Risperidone (Risperdal) is an antipsychotic medication used to treat mental illnesses including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and irritability associated with autistic disorder. Ropinirole (Requip) is a dopamine agonist used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and Restless Legs Syndrome. It is also used to treat episodes of mania (frenzied, abnormally excited, or irritated mood) or mixed episodes (symptoms of mania and depression that happen together) in adults and in teenagers and children 10 years of age and older with bipolar disorder (manic depressive disorder; a disease that causes episodes of depression, episodes of mania, and other abnormal moods). Risperidone is also used to treat behavior problems such as aggression, self-injury, and sudden mood changes in teenagers and children 5-16 years of age who have autism (a condition that causes repetitive behavior, difficulty interacting with others, and problems with communication). Risperidone is in a class of medications called atypical antipsychotics. It works by changing the activity of certain natural substances in the brain.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Risperidone is used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia (a mental illness that causes disturbed or unusual thinking, loss of interest in life, and strong or inappropriate emotions) in adults and teenagers 13 years of age and older.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Risperidone may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • a long list can be found at the link above, I will highlight the ones that are shocking
  • dreaming more than usual
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • breastmilk production
  • vision problems
  • muscle or joint pain
  • dry or discolored skin
  • difficulty urinatingSome side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section or the SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS section, call your doctor immediately:
    • unusual movements of your face or body that you cannot control
    • faintness
    • seizures
    • slow movements or shuffling walk
    • difficulty breathing or swallowing
    • painful erection of the penis that lasts for hours

    Risperidone may cause children to gain more weight than expected and for boys and male adolescents to have an increase in the size of their breasts. Talk to your doctor about the risks of giving this medication to your child.

There is much more information about this drug at the link above, as well as a wealth of information in other articles and websites. My daughter had nothing medically wrong with her that would have precipitated a prescription for an anti-psychotic drug at all, much less one such as Risperdal! It would have been understandable if they had been diagnosed with attention deficit issues, because she showed classic signs of ADHD. However, according to this NY Times article:

But Risperdal is not approved for attention deficit problems, and its risks — which include substantial weight gain, metabolic disorders and muscular tics that can be permanent — are too profound to justify its use in treating such disorders, panel members said.

One thing to keep in mind: my daughter that came to us with a prescription for Risperdal was 6-years-old when she came to us! If you read the information, you will see that the youngest age even mentioned in the “recommendation” is 10-years-old, but in most cases, the youngest recommended age is 13-years-old!

This is such a problem, that in 2010, a Philadelphia lawyer filed a lawsuit on the behalf of 10 families whose children were prescribe Risperidal.

I have been trying to have something done about this problem of foster care children being prescribed medications needlessly for 3 1/2 years now! In my next article, I will tell you things that will blow your mind, in regards to how many people I have talked to and reported this problem to, and nothing has been done!

Thankfully, Senator Carper from Delaware was appalled when he read the the GAO report, stating:

“I was almost despondent to believe that the kids under the age of one, babies under the age of one were receiving this kind of medication.”

Finally, someone in Washington is taking notice of how broken the foster care system is!

Thank you, Senator Carper, for hearing the voice of the children!

Sharon Bialek: Why Women Like Her Are A Danger To Us All

The world now has the name of at least one of the “anonymous” women accusing Presidential Candidate Herman Cain of sexual harassment.

As I sat watching the presss conference yesterday, I went from rolling my eyes, to angry, to being literally sick at my stomach, all the way back to being angry again.

Why would this make me angry, you ask? Why can’t I simply chalk it up to what some would consider an attention seeker, and what others will simply call a liar? Let me explain why. But, let me warn you, if you like nice little stories, this is not one you want to read. This is the perfect time to exit this article.

For those of you who have not left, and would like to know why Sharon Bialek has made me so angry, we have to travel back in time a bit. We have to go back a bit further in history than the 15 years Sharon Bialek is talking about.

The year is 1987- a full 10 years before the alleged Cain-Bialek incident. There was a young girl, naive in the ways of the world, yet thought she knew it all. She was what most would call a “good girl”, but not for the typical reasons those words are used to describe a young lady. For the most part, she did what she was told, got good grades, and stayed out of trouble. What her parents did not realize what she had a sneaky streak a mile wide and 100 miles long – a streak that would change her life forever.

One Saturday night she spent the night with a friend. While her parents knew the parents of this other girl, they were not real close, and did not know the troubled past of the other girl.

That night, the girls went to the skating rink. Now, that might not sound like a big deal to you, but to this young girl, this was a bit of the “forbidden fruit”. She had never gone to the skating rink without her parents, so for her to be able to go “hang out” at the skating rink with a friend was almost too good to be true. You could tell she was a bit uncomfortable in her surroundings, not quite knowing exactly what to do.

Her friend’s boyfriend had met them up there, and after introductions were made, further plans for the night began to shape up. The friend said to her boyfriend, “We have to find someone for her!” The girl was very adamant that she didn’t “want” to have someone “found” for her. Throughout the night, the boyfriend pointed out a friend of his, asking what she thought of him. None were of interest to her, and she kept saying no.

The night at the skating rink ended, and the friends’ dad came to pick the girls up. They went home to hang out like all girls do when they spend the night with friends.

Several times throughout the night her friend had talked about “when the guys picked them up”, or “when we sneak out”. She told her friend she was not going to sneak out. She was rock solid, never wavering in her answer. There was absolutely no way she would sneak out. She knew she had no business outside in the middle of the night. But her friend kept piling on the peer pressure. The closer to midnight it came, the more pressure was put on. She continued to say no.

When her friend decided she would go with or without the young girl, it was an awkward moment. Then the fateful words were spoken. “If you are really my friend, you’ll go with me!”

And she gave in. Against her better judgement, she heaved a very heavy sigh of reluctance, and climbed out the window. She was a klutz, so simply getting outside was an adventure in and of itself.

The girls walked down the long, dark road, one silent, one very animated. She knew she shouldn’t be here. She felt the dread in her heart heavier than anything she had ever known. However, she was a true friend. She would always be a true friend. So she would put on a brave face for the night.

Little could she have known that a brave face was what she would need to get through the next decade of her life!

At the end of the dark, country road was the intersection to the main road going through their little town. On the corner was a church. This was the meeting place. The “guys” were to pick them up at the church. The girls waited, and waited, and waited. The meeting time passed. After much discussion, she finally convinced her friend that they should go back home. So they started walking back up the same long, dark country road they had walked down. They had not made it far when they saw headlights. The car stopped. It was “the guys”.

The friend’s boyfriend was driving, and he had indeed brought “a friend” along with him. She climbed awkwardly into the backseat with him, and shyly said hello. Her friend was laughing and telling her boyfriend how they thought the guys were not going to pick them up, and they were headed back home. They were driving around, going nowhere in particular. After a short time, they turned down a bumpy dirt road, pulled up in the rough circle that had been made by many cars before them. The driver parked the car, turned off the ignition, and turned the key over so the music would still play.

The occupants in the front seat immediately turned to each other and began making out.

She was in the backseat, all alone with a “guy” she had never met before, and had no clue what to do. She knew she was not going to make out with him, she didn’t even know him. He was talking to her, inviting her to move closer to him. She didn’t want to be rude, but she was already close enough to be able to smell the beer on his breath. To say she was uncomfortable is an understatement.

He was nice enough, at first, but seemed to be bothered by the fact that she wasn’t as aggressive as her friend was in the front seat. He even made a comment about how well the two in the front seat were getting along.

She can’t remember exactly how things progressed to the point it had, but she was now beside him, facing him. It happened so quickly. She remembers being very uncomfortable with it, and even more uncomfortable when he began kissing her.

If you asked her parents or others who knew her, they would say she was quite “boy crazy”. She always talked about liking this boy or that boy. But this was not the innocent little girl liking a boy in her class. This was something very different- something very grown up. She was not ready for anything like this, and she knew it!

While she knew what kissing was, and had already had her “first kiss”, remember…. she was very naive- and again, I stress naive! You can imagine her surprise when things took an abrupt turn in the back seat, and the “guy” was no longer kissing her, but was pushing her head to his crotch. All that kept going through her mind was, “What is he doing??”

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for her to find out what he was doing, but she did not understand what he wanted her to do. When he forced her to do what he wanted, she was so shocked and surprised she literally began to gag and choke. Fighting to regain control of her breath and her senses, she bit him. This made him angry. He decided to do things differently.

She was quite relieved when he pulled her up, expecting to just sit back quietly. However, he had other things in mind. Her world immediately went into a tailspin when he threw her on her back, across the seat. She struggled against him, fighting to sit up. He was much bigger than she was, so though she tried desperately to defend her innocence, she was no match for him. In one swift move, he slapped her face, she reached up to touch where he had hit. And her innocence was gone.

She laid there crying, praying for it to end. What was her friend doing? Why wasn’t she helping her? Surely they had heard- and felt the car moving- as she struggled against him. But they were too busy doing their own thing to take notice of her.

Her face stung where he had hit her. She didn’t fight back anymore, just hoping it would end soon. She tried to ignore the searing pain that ripped through every fiber of her body, concentrating instead on the song that played on the radio. She clung to every musical note and every single word. Until the day she dies that song will have a hauntingly beautiful place in her heart. If she hears it today, she instantly goes back to that night, yet, it is her comfort.

Once it was all over, he simply pushed her aside. In a daze, she sat up and redressed. She realized that her clothes were wet where he had spilled beer on her.

The occupants in the front seat had ended their festivities, and had sat up and redressed. Everyone was talking and laughing at this point- that is, everyone but her.

What seemed like forever, but surely couldn’t have been more than an hour or so later, the “guys” finally dropped them off back on the dark country road once again.  After a hearty round of goodbyes from everyone- except for her- the girls got out of the car to head home. As she got out of the backseat, her legs wobbled and she nearly collapsed. She quickly collected herself, stood up, and began walking away. She never looked back.

It was difficult for her to walk. She was in so much pain. She didn’t fully understand everything that had happened to her. And here was her “friend” beside her, chattering away about how much fun she had that night. It suddenly became apparent to the friend that she was not so excited, and the friend asked what was wrong.

In an instant, she whirled on the other girl who she had once called “friend”.

With anger she never knew she was capable of, she spat back at the girl, “HE RAPED ME!”

~*~*~*~*~

I am that girl. When I was 14-years-old I was raped.

While I can tell the story in great detail, I can assure you I can never be so flippant and lighthearted in retelling it. I know what happened to me. I will never forget. I don’t have to have “the story” written on a piece of paper. If I am telling what happened to me, I don’t have to find my place on a page. I can pick up the story at any point and tell it just the same.

It is true, Sharon Bialek was not raped. However, I have my doubts as to anything she said. Her attitude is not one of a woman who was nearly assaulted, even if it is 15 years later.

Yes, there will be those who say that everyone reacts differently. That is true. It doesn’t make her story any more believable.

You will never be able to convince me that Herman Cain attempted to assault Sharon Bialek. In her story, he simply accepted her negative response and let it be. If a man is truly intent on taking advantage of a woman, assaulting her, raping her, or whatever other term you want to put to it, a simply, “You know I have a boyfriend” is not going to stop him.

Was Herman Cain ever inappropriate with her? Quite possibly. But highly doubtful.

Ms. Bialek has already cast doubt upon her trustworthiness in the story she’s told. Shame on her!

It is because of women like Sharon Bialek that ladies everywhere- young and old alike- who have been assaulted, go through the hell we have to go through to truly heal after such a horrible experience. It is bad enough to have it happen to you. It is even worse to have women claim something that happened to them when it did not.

It is because of women like Sharon Bialek that men everywhere- young and old alike- are never safe from a false accusations. At any point in time, if an accusation against them comes up, more often than not it comes down to exactly what the Cain-Bialek case is: Her word against his.

It simply comes down to who does it “benefit” as to whos story is accepted and believed.

Sharon Bialek and women like her are dangerous to us all.

Courageous! The Movie

I am not one for going to the movie theater, preferring instead to watch movies from the comfort of my own couch. It just makes logical sense to me. It does not cost a drop in the bucket what the cost of going to a movie theater costs these days. I can have all the snacks I want at a mere fraction of the cost, and most importantly, I can actually pause the movie and go to the powder room when necessary!

I’m sure it came as quite a surprise to my husband when he received an email from me telling him that I wanted to go see this movie! I knew we had an upcoming trip out of town, away from the kids, and knowing how much he loves going to the movie theater, I thought this would be a great surprise for him to have me actually say I want to go to a movie theater.

I had seen the preview several times, but did not read any movie reviews. I have found that so often, the movies I like are given bad reviews by other reviewers. Knowing this movie is a wholesome movie made me stay away from reviews even more.

I have visited the main page of the website, but did not want to go any deeper until after I saw the movie. Needless to say, I was completely surprised by the entire plot.

This is just a blurb from the actual synopsis of the Courageous website:

From the writers of Fireproof and Facing the Giants comes a story about four law enforcement officers whose lives are deeply tested as they embrace their calling to serve and to protect. As crime fighters, they must face danger every day. Yet when tragedy hits close to home, they are left wrestling with their hopes, their faith, and their priorities as men. 

Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, they face danger every day. Yet when tragedy strikes close to home, these fathers are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, and their faith. From this struggle will come a decision that changes all of their lives. With action, drama, and humor, the fourth film from Sherwood Pictures embraces God’s promise to "turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers." Souls will be stirred, and hearts will be challenged to be … courageous!

Having seen all of the movies that have been produced by Sherwood Church in Albany, Georgia, I thought I knew what to expect. A heart-felt movie that dealt with real life, but not with quite the same depth and reality as Hollywood. This movie provides very little distinction between the production quality of professionals and those who are called by God for the purpose of bringing Him glory in their movies. That is- with the major exception of the foul language that seems to be a "necessity" in every Hollywood movie.

Please do not get me wrong- unfortunately, I have grown accustomed to the harsh language that peppers our world today, and in fact, at times have been known to speak in a way not so becoming of a lady. Sadly, I’ve grown so accustomed to this reality that there are very few times I’m actually phased by foul language. However, in many movies that come out of Hollywood today, it’s as if they just stuck a four-letter word here and there to seem cool and acceptable to their audience. 

There were times in this movie that I was literally hanging on to the edge of my seat, anticipating what was coming next! There was a moment of actual fear, as I became so lost in the story that it was almost reality for me. There were times I laughed. And there were many times I cried. It hit home for me because of past experiences in my life.

I was not aware of the fact that the movie deals with the tragic death of a loved one. The raw emotion portrayed by the family members who lost their loved one struck a cord in me that cannot be explained. Only those who have lost a loved one in a horrible tragedy know that raw emotion. Only those who have clung to the hem of His garment in the aftermath of the tragic death can know exactly what I’m talking about.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this movie! Support a Christian movie that has a lot to offer- entertainment, wisdom, knowledge, strength, comfort, laughter, tears, action, romance, and challenges. I specifically challenge any man who is a father to go see this movie. It very well could change your life, and how you view the calling on your life.

While it is a very well made movie, technically, in my opinion, it is a movie made from the talents and gifts of many every day, ordinary people. It is not a movie made by the Hollywood stars and starlets who see millions of dollars per movie. The real-life quaintness was refreshing to me.

If you go to the movies to critique the camera angles, lighting and video technique, this may not be the movie for you. However, I still recommend it to you. I simply challenge you look through the eyes of your heart rather than the eyes of the technical critic in you. 

".. honor begins at home."

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  
Joshua 1:9

 

Apologies


"True remorse is never just a regret over consequence; it is a regret over motive."
Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

All too often these days, we hear that a person has demanded an apology from another person. It happens on all sides of the political aisle, and in general, in all areas of our lives.

There is a question that has not been asked of this new fad of apology seekers.

What happens if the person who has the demand put on them is not truly sorry, but just gives an apology because one was demanded? Does that make the situation right? Does that truly make you feel better?

As with many things in today’s society, authentic apologies are rare. It is a character trait that seems to have been lost in this new and improved "enlightened" society we have created with the onset of political correctness. All too often, when we hear someone apologizing, it is not an apology for their actions, but instead, an apology that they were caught. The sincerity of their heart in the apology is missing.

When my children get into squabbles, I do not "demand" they apologize to the offended sibling. Nor do I tell them to tell someone they are sorry. Instead, I talk to them about their actions; I ask them questions about whether or not their actions were right or wrong; I ask them how they think the offended person feels about what happened; and then finally, I ask them how it makes them feel personally to know they were the cause of the other person’s feelings being hurt. 

"A stiff apology is a second insult…The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt."
Gilbert K. Chesterton

I do not want empty words, when I am given an apology. If it is not felt from the heart, I would rather not have it. If it is a situation where the person is more sorry they got caught than they are their actions, an apology means absolutely nothing. I want to teach my children this concept. If you are not sorry for your actions, do not give the apology. Yes, there are still consequences for not being sorry. Proverbs 16:18 says it plainly:

"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."

An apology is an effort to "make things right."

The official Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of an apology is:

an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret

 There is a qualifier right there in the definition. "…accompanied by an expression of regret."

In researching this article, I found an excellent website: Perfect Apology. From this website, on the "Regret and Remorse" section, it says:  

We’ll begin here by describing important distinctions between mistakes and actions that elicit feelings of regret and those that expose stronger feelings of remorse.  

Regret is a rational, intelligent and, on occasion, emotional reaction to some unexpected, unintended and often costly consequence of some event or action.

Remorse, on the other hand, takes on a bitter, deeper form that elicits much stronger personal and emotional reactions to personal guilt, societal shame, humiliation, resentment and often anger.

There is a noticeable difference in regret and remorse, however, they are both an emotional reaction. If there is no emotion- there is no sincerity. Without sincerity, an apology means nothing.

If you do not truly regret your actions, you should not apologize. Your pride and haughty spirit will bring you very painful consequences, but lying about being sorry for your actions just heaps more bad consequences on you. If you are not truly interested in making things right, but instead still believe that you are right, and you are simply seeking to appease the other person, your words mean nothing.

"It takes a great deal of character strength to apologize quickly out of one’s heart rather than out of pity. A person must possess himself and have a deep sense of security in fundamental principles and valuesin order to genuinely apologize."
Stephan Covey

There are great rewards for having a heart of humility, and acknowledging when you are wrong, and truly seeking to make things right with the person or people you have wronged.

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." James 5:16

There is healing with an apology from the heart- a true apology. It is a healing of the relationship and circumstances of the offense to begin with. In many situations, there are other situations that are healed as a result of an apology.

Oftentimes, those who demand an apology fail to take a look in their own backyard.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5

We all have faults. However, if we focus on the faults of others, demanding that they owe us an apology, we must then look at how we have wronged other people and apologize to them. It is wrong to demand something of someone when you are not willing to do the same for those you have offended.

The true test of character comes from your actions in the future. If you apologize for something, but continue to do the same thing, you have clearly shown your apology was just empty words. 

"Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past."
Tryon Edwards
 

__________
Sources:

Merriam-Webster.com 
PerfectApology.com
 

His Reputation Precedes Him

If you attended this “come to Jesus meetin’ “, this is the situation that  precipitated the calling of that emergency meeting.

This week a situation occurred that required the involvement of a repairman. I will not bore you with all the gory details, but will give you an example of what your business practices reflects about you, as we discussed in our meeting.

We rent our home. The management company we rent has a name that is synonymous with honor. Their name implies that you can trust the company. The repair company that was sent out has a name that is a last name, Inc. There is nothing in the name that makes you think you can trust- or distrust- this company.

The repair that was required is outlined in the lease as the responsibility of the owner/management company. However, when I called in the repair request, after asking me a couple of questions, the receptionist told me it sounded like I would be responsible for paying for the repairs. Now, in the over-used words of our president- let me be clear: we are the kind of renters that every home owner dreams of. We do not call in fore repairs on anything unless it is an absolute necessity. We are in our third lease in this home, and this is only the 3rd time we have had to have a repair. The previous two repairs were not emergency repairs, but things we could not take care of. The last repair was an emergency: the air conditioner was not cooling properly. Being that it is one of the hottest summers on record, we are in a drought, and we have five children- this was an emergency.

We change our filters regularly. I keep a very clean house. Yes, even with five kids, I am a neat freak. I cannot function if everything is not in the right place. Clutter makes me crazy. I am a very detailed oriented person, so we have a schedule to make sure filters are changed and vacuumed, and other household chores are taken care of when needed.

We are also people who believe in personal responsibility. If we break something, we feel we are responsible for it.

However, if we are taking care of our responsibilities, and something happens, we believe that it is not our responsibility to take care of it.  The law agrees with us, as our lease specifically addresses this situation.

When the repairman called to get approval to do what he had to do, he was given the third degree as to the condition of the equipment. Now, before I go any further, yes, I understand that there are a lot of people that do not take care of things, nor do they take personal responsibility. Asking the questions to make sure nothing malicious or neglectful caused the problem is understandable. However, grilling the repairman is a completely different thing.

Once it was established that we had not caused the problem, and the cost for repairs was given, the repairman was then grilled about the breakdown of the charges. Now, again, yes, I understand that repairmen are usually not trusted, and many are known to be dishonest. However, when listing out the cost of the actual equipment, tools and other items needed to make the repair, factoring in the cost of travel costs and labor, anyone in the business world knows you have to make a profit to run a business.

The attitude of the owner of the management company was disdain that he would have to take care of the problem. This is the business he is in. He has renters who view the home he rents as their home, not just a rent home. We have never once been late with rent or any other issues.

His actions have reflected a lot less than a business owner with integrity. Not only has his attitude reflected poorly to his renters, but to the repair company as well. This business man- who identifies himself as a Christ follower- has reflected an attitude and actions of dishonor, deceit and untrustworthiness.

His reputation precedes him.

This Is For The Birds!

Have you ever had “one of those days?”  You know the ones I’m talking about! To quote the Bryan White song,

♫  Have you ever had one of those days
When you really need a friend
The day drags on and on
And you think there’s no end
Then you know how I feel ♪

Well, today is one of those days!

Thankfully, the friend I really need will be home soon, riding in on his great white…….. errrrr….. red steed, and he will save the day!

What I planned as a tentatively low-key day has turned into anything but that! But in reality, that is most days around our house!

Like I tell people, when we hear the usual comments, “are all of these children yours?”, life is NEVER boring in our world, and I do mean NEVER!

Our life consists of a mommy and a daddy- the way God intended things to be, 5 children, 3 dogs and a cat- or our zoo, as I lovingly describe us.

So today is really no different from all the others, and yet, it is so very unique in its own way. If I were not actually experiencing it along the way I would have to laugh and say there’s just no way these things happen! Oh, but they do happen!

In the last couple of months, one of our dog’s has started acting out. If you have a dog, you know they are just another child. Well, I say one of the dog’s, but in reality it is more likely that one dog taught the other two dogs some very bad habits.

It started with the bread basket. When we would leave the house, we would come home to the bread being pulled out of the basket on the counter, with just a few lonely crumbs left behind. I bought a plastic bread keeper to store the bread in, inside the basket. That deterred the issue for about 5.2 seconds. The next time we came back home, the bread keeper was pulled out of the bread basket, and there were tell-tell doggy teeth marks all over the container. The next time we left, we put the bread basket on top of the refrigerator. Problem solved.

Or so we thought.

Then it was the trash can. Let me assure you, it is absolutely no fun at all to come home to the kitchen trash can being turned over, the bag ripped out, and an obvious feast on whatever miniscule particle of  scraps they could find. Fine, I thought- we will put the trashcan in the laundry room when we leave. Bread basket on the refrigerator- check. Trashcan in the laundry room- check.

There wasn’t much more for them to get into. There was not a single crumb of food left out, so we should be good.

Wrong again. It was then a dramatic show of emotion when everything- yes, I do mean everything– was pulled off the counter top. It was actually a decorative box that we keep miscellaneous items that we need frequently in. It was dumped on the floor.

By this time I’m beginning to think someone really does not like it when we leave the house!

The next crisis involved the “dadoos”. Please allow me to translate 3-year-old speak for you. Dinosaurs. Yes, the little plastic creatures, which have become our 3-year-old‘s best friends, now have become the mortal enemy of our chocolate lab. I suppose she took offense to the fact that the baby toys are being replaced by these ugly little creatures, and she has decided to take out her aggression on them every chance she gets!  We made the mistake of leaving one out one day while we were out and about. Unfortunately, “Mr. Daddo” did not make it!

“Easy enough to fix,” I thought. We will just make sure that all the little creatures are put away.

The next time we left the house, we came home to a virtual annihilation of numerous “Dadoos” all over again! Remember that saying, “history repeats itself”?  Yes, once again, the collection of pre-historic friends were all but extinct! Little Miss Attitude went to the great lengths of actually opening up the toy box and specifically targeting the dadoos! Thankfully, a quick trip to Wal-Mart remedies the extinction issue, and the 3-year-old is perfectly happy once again!

But mommy….. not so much! I now had to put on my thinking cap and find a way to keep the dog out of the toy box while we are out. Aha! The toy work bench which serves as a book case for our toddler paleontologist! I just have to make sure the bread basket, the trash can, the decorative box the counter is secure- and now we have make sure the workbench is on top of the toy box. As if I do not have enough of a task getting 5 children out the door in a reasonable amount of time!

Is this not the definition of insanity?

That worked… for a few days. Then it happened. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back for this mommy! The first straw didn’t break me, but after 3 separate incidents I’ve had enough! She is now targeting the books! She’s not just finding a book sitting around that someone is reading! No, she is actually taking the books off the shelf so she can tear them up!

I know what you are thinking. That is not possible! Oh, how I wish that were true!

We decide we are going to have to kennel her when we leave. I do not like this idea, but something has to give! We’ve not made it to the pet store to purchase the kennel, so I decided to just put her in the back yard on a lead for a few hours while I was gone. Problem solved-  finally!

Yeah… not so much!

Yesterday I came home to more books being pulled of the shelf! Ahhhhh, so it wasn’t just Little Miss Attitude! We now have two Little MR. Attitudes to go along with it!

So today I put the Little Miss Attitude and the husky on the leads and put the yorkie in his carrier. And this weekend, we will be getting kennels!

It was such a nice change, not having to make sure the bread basket is on the refrigerator, the trash can is in the laundry room, the decorative box is secure, the dadoos are put in the toy box, and the workbench is on top of the toy box. I was able to leave the house, take care of my errands, and come back home to a house that has not been targeted by the Woof Gang Pups!

I fed the kids, reminded the kids of their chores, sat down and had my lunch, made a couple of phone calls, and then decided to fix dinner. It’s an easy night for us- chili! Throw everything together, simmer until dinner, and I can relax for just a few minutes!

Guess again!

I let the dogs out to go potty, stirred the chili one last time, went to let the dogs in so I could go sit down in front of the TV to catch up on thew News of the Day. That’s when it happened!

You know how you see something out of the corner of your eye that just doesn’t look right?

I saw the husky running in from outside, and it occurred to me that he was up to something. Like I said, they are just like kids. You know when they are up to no good!

He was trying to be sneaky- and he thought he had gotten away with it- for at least a few seconds! But then I started chasing him, telling him to come back to me. Interestingly enough, he chose to ignore my command! Hmmmmm… I wonder why!?

He had something in his mouth. I thought it was a stick. It had been my full intention to take it away from him, scold him, throw it back outside, and it would all be over with in a matter of seconds.

Again… not so much!

He finally dropped it. And I screamed. Not a high-pitch, fearful scream, but a startled, “what am I going to do now?” scream!

There, laying on the stairs, was a bird. A dead bird. And the husky was smiling like he had achieved something big! He wanted me to praise him! Oh, the audacity!

Oh, what do I do now? Dear Lord, you have got to be kidding me!

Unfortunately, when I screamed, the kids came running to the gate at the top of the stairs to see what was wrong. I instructed my oldest son to come downstairs quickly. The 3-year-old wanted to come with him, and was quite devastated when I wouldn’t allow that to happen!

And then the 3-year-old saw the bird and started crying- “Buwd, mommy, buwd huwt!”

“Honey, mommy’s taking care of the bird, everything’s fine, just go play.”

Lord… please let everything be fine!

I instructed my oldest son to go get me a grocery bag so I could pick up the dead bird. I didn’t want to leave the bird unattended with Husky the Destroyer, or there would be no bird to pick up. However, the mess that would have been the result was definitely something I wanted to avoid!

The bag was delivered and quickly, yet ever so reverently placed over the deceased. Hmmmm…. but now, how do I actually pick it up off the stairs? If it twitches in my hand for some odd reason, or I happen to lose my grip, I know the aftermath will be less than fun! I instructed my helper to get me the dust pan. Mission accomplished! The deceased is scooped into the  dust pan, my son ceremoniously opens the door for me, I exit left to the trash can, deliver the 2 second eulogy, apologizing for Husky the Destroyer. It is doggy nature, I suppose, but  not something I am proud of for him!

Now I have to vacuum up all the feathers that have been left behind. Thankfully there is no blood- I stepped in before it had gone that far.

All the while I’m vacuuming I hear the most distraught crying, “Mommy, buwd! Buwd, Mommy, Buwd!”

I turn off the vacuum to reassure the 3-year-old that everything is fine, I’ve taken care of it, all the while saying a silent prayer that God will just erase this from his memory and he will go about his playtime!

Finally the stairs are feather-free. The 3-year-old wants me to hold him. I allow him to come down. I am expecting him to come down the stairs, leap into my arms, and give me the biggest hug his little arms can muster! It happens all the time!

But not today!

He heads straight to the trash can, lifts the lid, and asks, “Buwd, Mommy?”

This little dude is TOO SMART for his own good!

When he realizes that there is no bird in the trash can, he seems perplexed. I do not have the heart to tell him the burial site is the trash can in the driveway. I try to appease him. It doesn’t work.

For the next hour he marches around the house calling out for the “buwd”. I keep reminding him that everything is fine, mommy has taken care of it!

It’s been one of those days, and this one is for the birds!

 

Forever Family

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is July 2009.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

____________________

It was here!  The day we had all longed for had arrived! It was the day of the adoption! We participated in the mass adoption ceremony that is done each month.

The children did not really understand what it meant, though we had tried our best to prepare them. They had met with their counselor, and talked about what adoption means, but they had never known anyone who had been adopted, so their little minds just could not comprehend what it truly meant.

We told them that they would not be the only children there to be adopted, but that there would be many children there, just like them, who would be adopted by their families that very same day. They started calling these other children their “friends”. Our oldest child asked if they would get to go play with their new “friends” after they were adopted. Once again, we tried to explain that even though these children were like them, we did not know them, and we would not see them again after that day. They were confused, but still very excited.

We arrived downtown with a small army accompanying us. My parents, my husband’s parents, friends and other family members were there. We were ready to make everything official!

As we set waiting for the proceedings to begin, I looked at each one of my children. I could not believe this was going to be real! This had been so long in coming! I never could have imagined, with all of the battles we had faced, that this day would be here. And yet, it was.

The judges came in, the attorney speaking welcomed us all, and the ceremony began.

I was emotional, but not overcome with emotion… that is, until  all of us who were adopting children had to stand and be sworn in. That is when it hit me! This truly was it! I was going to officially be a mommy! The state could not just come in and take my children. They were no longer the conservator of my children- we were! It was becoming a reality. The realization hit me that this was real, and I began to cry. I had to fight back tears the remainder of the ceremony.

The children did not understand why I was crying. We assured them that it was happy tears, but they were already struggling to understand what all of this meant.

Each family’s name was called out and the adoptions were made legal. When they called our name out, we stood with all of our children. I fought back tears as the judge officially named us as the parents of these five beautiful little lives.

After the ceremony, the judges came out from behind the podium and we were able to take pictures with them. Somehow we ended up being the first family to take pictures with the judges. Our children had come up with a cheer that they had shown their case workers and attorneys. As we posed for pictures, one of the attorneys told them they had to show the judges their cheer.

They sang, all in unison, with smiles on each of their faces:

We are the Manzanagrano’s
We are the mighty, mighty Manzanagrano’s
We believe in Jesus
Our mighty, mighty King
We are the Manzanagrano’s!

When they completed the cheer, there was clapping and laughter throughout the court room. You could also hear a round of oh’s and ah’s from others who were waiting. One of the judges said, “Well, I can’t argue with that!”

We finished our pictures, and went to celebrate with the cupcakes and juice that the court had provided. Each child was given a blanket made by a local church, as well as a stuffed animal.

We left the courthouse, an official family.

We headed to our favorite Mexican Restaurant to have a celebratory lunch, followed up with a special cake made by our favorite bakery.

The next day we had a celebration party at the park with our family and closest friends.

We could finally close the book on this chapter of our lives.

During all of this process- the issues with the Agency, changing over to the CPS System directly rather than going through an agency, starting the actual adoption process and paperwork- I began to feel the stress piling on.  I did not actually realize how much stress I had been dealing with until it was all over with. There were of course behavior issues because the kids did not know what it meant to be adopted. In the beginning, there were issues with melding the family. I was having health issues- major sinus infections- for which I had to have surgery to address the real problem. With each major sinus infection, I was prescribed steroids. In 4 months I gained 20 pounds from being on the steroids. The absolute last thing I needed was to gain more weight!

I was worried that something would happen that would prevent the adoption from actually going through. You hear stories all the time of last-minute things happening. I tried not to worry, but it was there.

The stress was overwhelming at times. I actually went to the doctor during the final few months of this process because I was not feeling well at all. While the adoption process and all that we had been through to have children had definitely taken a toll, I finally found out some answers to many questions that had been haunting me most of my adult life.

I went to a doctor I had never been to before. A friend of mine recommended him to me because she knew I was not feeling well. Through the course of our conversation he recommended that I have a complete panel of blood tests run. When we got the test results back he found that my B-12 level was dangerously low. He said this has probably been one of the main sources of my issues for many years. This is more than likely the main reason I have not been able to lose weight.

I started receiving B-12 shots as well as taking supplements. Over the course of the next few months my B-12 levels increased to the normal range. My energy increased and in the process I lost 30 pounds.

Now that everything was over and we got back to our life, this time, without the monthly appointments with case workers and other various officials, I was able to focus on things I had been unable to for months.

As everything settled down, it began to hit me how stressed I had been through all of this. Going through the process, you do not have time to focus on it. But now that it was all over, there was no escaping it.

It also became apparent that the children were not quite sure what to expect. We had some major behavioral issues come up with each of the older four children within the first two weeks after the adoption was final. We had expected this to happen, so we tried to be as understanding as possible, while still setting the boundaries that are necessary. We had several long talks with each of them, separately, so they could voice their concerns, fears, joys, and any other emotions that may be there. It is amazing how even the youngest one had felt the stress of our process.

It was not long before things settled down, we all felt the relief of being done with the process, and life went on as usual- with nothing really changing, and yet, at the same time, everything changing.

Our lives were still the same. Our routines were still the same. Our expectations were still the same. The children just knew that this was now their home forever.

We are

Forever Family!

 

____________________

The Purpose Of  This Series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Tearing Down The Walls

The previous chapter in this series:  The Baby Is Ours!

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Christian Ministry Leaves “Christ” Behind

After sixty years of ministry, one of the most recognized Christian ministries is dropping Christ from their name.

Campus Crusade for Christ International announced that it will change the name of its U.S. Operations to “Cru” early next year.

Steve Sellers, the vice president for Campus Crusade for Christ, said:

“We felt like our name was getting in the way of accomplishing our mission.”

He added that the ministry will still be committed to “proclaiming Christ around the world.”

According to Mr. Sellers, researchers found that 9 percent of Christians and 20 percent of non-Christians were alienated by the name Campus Crusade for Christ.

In 1951, Bill and Vonette Bright founded the organization which has grown to a staff of 25,000 members in 191 countries. Bill Bright died in 2003, but Mrs. Bright posted a video online giving her support of the name change.

Mr. Sellers stated:

“When Bill Bright started the organization, he told his wife that someday they would have to change the name. As early as the late ’70s and ’80s he was looking at making the name change.”

Mr. Sellers said there are several reasons for the name change, one of which is overseas sensitivities, specifically to the word “crusade”

“Our name was becoming more and more of a hindrance. It’s reverted back to some of its meaning related to the Middle Ages – forcing Christianity on different parts of the world.”

That addresses one part of the name change, but what about the part where they remove the name of Christ from the organization name? The Campus Crusade for Christ website states:

“We were not trying to eliminate the word Christ from our name. We were looking for a name that would most effectively serve our mission and help us take the gospel to the world. Our mission has not changed. Cru enables us to have discussions about Christ with people who might initially be turned off by a more overtly Christian name. We believe that our interaction and our communication with the world will be what ultimately honors and glorifies Christ.”

But that decision has not set well with many evangelical Christians. Many Christians are standing up and voicing their disgust with the organization for giving in to political correctness.

But Mr. Sellers defends the removal of Christ’s name from the organizations name, and denied that they are giving in to political correctness, saying:

“It has nothing to do with political correctness.  It has everything to do with how we can be effective at what God has called us to do. Most churches don’t have Christ in their name. Hardly any other Christian organization has Christ in their name. People are making an issue out of something that isn’t the intent at all.”

He added that it is “more important that the organization is effective at proclaiming Jesus than it is important to have the name of Jesus in the name of the organization.”

He also emphasized the fact that the mission of the organization has not changed, saying:

“We are an evangelistic organization that is committed and has been committed and will be committed to proclaiming Christ around the world.”

Cru, the new name of the organization, has been a nickname for the organization on university campuses. Sellers said of this:

“Much like lots of brand names they don’t necessarily have meaning in and of themselves. It is a name we intend to give meaning so that when people hear it they know that it’s a caring group of Christians who are passionate about lifting up the name of Jesus.”

The Bible states things a bit differently.

Matthew 10:33 says:

“…but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

Mr. Sellers may be fooling himself, but he is not fooling God, nor anyone else who stands on the Word of God. Jesus made it very clear- if you deny me, I will deny you! A “caring group of Christians who are passionate about lifting up the name of Jesus” is what Mr. Sellers intends to portray with the new name, but the organization has taken out the name of the person he is supposedly passionate about lifting up.

2 Timothy 2:12 says,

“if we endure, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us.”

Mr. Sellers and the organization would not endure. They gave in to political correctness whether they want to admit it or not.

Luke 21:17 says:

“You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.”

God specifically tells us that we will be hated for proclaiming His name. It is very doubtful He will accept the explanation of Mr. Sellers and the organization. If Mr. Sellers is correct, and Mr. Bright “knew” that one day they would have to change the name of the organization, many questions come to mind about the true mission of the organization. Do they now, and did Mr. Bright just want to be accepted by the world? If the mission of the organization is “proclaiming Christ around the world”, taking the name of Christ out of the organization is an oxy-moron.

Mr. Sellers said:

Cru enables us to have discussions about Christ with people who might initially be turned off by a more overtly Christian name.

If someone is “turned off” by the name of Christ, the name Cru is not going to magically open their eyes to the grace and love of Christ. This explanation is an obvious attempt to appease, but does nothing more than show the true intent behind the name change. In Mr. Seller’s own words:

“Our name was becoming more and more of a hindrance.”

In Mr. Seller’s explanation, he says that the name “Crusade” reminds people of the Middle Ages when people were forced into the practices of Christianity. If that were true, they would have kept the name of Christ, and only dropped “Crusade” from the name.

Mr. Sellers said:

“We believe that our interaction and our communication with the world will be what ultimately honors and glorifies Christ.”

The question that should be asked of Mr. Sellers is how can you glorify and honor Christ when you take His name out of your work?

The Baby Is Ours!

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is January 2009.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

____________________

 

January 2009. This was it! It was our final court date for termination of rights for the baby. All of the other children were free for adoption. This was our last big hurdle to go over. It would all be down-hill from this point on.

The hearing went off without a hitch. No surprises. There is always that fear of someone from the family popping up at the last minute. In our case, it was very unlikely, but anything is possible. But there were no surprises. He was free to be adopted. Now we just had to wait the mandatory 90 days.

Over the next few months we had appointments that had to be completed. For the older four children, updated psychologicals had to be done. All five children had to have physicals. We had to go to the CPS office to view the complete file on each child. That was a bit overwhelming to say the least!

For all of the children, we knew the full history on each case. Sitting down and reading the actual case file, from beginning to end, all the details outlined, still was more overwhelming than I ever imagined. At one point, I closed a binder without going any further. It was just too much! No, I never once had a thought that I could not handle accepting these children as mine, no matter the circumstances. I could not handle seeing in writing all that had been said about them- by other foster parents. It tore my heart to pieces to read a letter from a foster parent demanding that my children be removed from their home because they are “evil”. How in the world can someone say this about a child? Yes, I experienced the tantrums. Yes, I experienced the behavioral issues. Yes, I experienced the lack of boundaries. But I knew that these children just wanted to be loved and accepted.

Yes, it has all worked out, because they were supposed to be our children. If they had not been passed from home to home to home, they may not have ever made it to our home.  What appalls me is that an adult cannot see how a child is crying out for love. I will not tell you it has always been easy dealing with the issues of any of our children. Ranging from the drug addicted withdrawal tremors of the baby to mistreatment of our pets to lying and manipulation to defiance- these are just a few of the issues we have had to face with our children- and continue to face on a daily basis. No, it has not been easy. But my question is this: is there anything in life that is truly easy? Anything worth having is worth fighting for. Anything in life comes with its own set of challenges. This is a child. This system is full of children who need someone to stand up for them and what is best for them. This is not just an old shirt to be thrown out with the trash.

We were finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It has been one of the longest, darkest, most painful tunnels in my journey of life. But we were finally able to see the end. I knew that the adoption would bring an entirely new set of challenges. But that is what life is all about- challenges, and the way you face them and handle them.

I knew that my personal battle was coming to an end with the Foster Care System, but I also knew that the war was not over. There are a lot of changes that need to be made in this system. I knew that I would be ready to fight for all the countless, faceless children that are caught up in this vicious, ugly, cycle.

But I had to complete our battle. Then I wanted some time to bask in the joy of true motherhood. I knew there would be things I had to get taken care of, and I needed some rest. But I knew I had a mission. I had to continue to fight for the rights of Foster Children who are still in the system.

 

____________________

The Purpose Of  This Series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Forever Family!

The previous chapter in this series:  My Children Are Threatened

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

 

Celebrating The Life Of An Iraq War Hero

Sergeant James Hackemer- photo courtesy of www.dailymail.co.uk

There is a song that that hit the charts in 1982 that became quite popular during that time, titled “War is Hell (On the Homefront Too)” . It was written by Curly Putman, Bucky Jones and Dan Wilson, and was recorded by T.G. Sheppard in 1982.

The song does not necessarily depict the life of the war hero this article is about, but the title, which is the chorus of the song, could depict the tragic way his life ended. However, from all reported accounts, this young man would not have said that.

Sergeant James Hackemer’s life ended yesterday when he fell from a roller coaster at a theme park in Syracuse, New York. Seartgeant Hackemer was enjoying an outing at the theme park with his daughters, sisters and other members of the family. His nephew was on the ride with him when the tragedy occurred.

Sergeant Hackemer’s mother, Nancy Hackemer, said:
‘It’s going to help a little bit that he was happy. We shouldn’t have had him for these last three years and four months. After he was hit by the IED, he died once in the field and once on the operating table.’

When discussing the theme park ride, Mrs. Hackemer said:

‘He was assisted on to the ride. He was doing what he wanted to do.’

Mrs. Hackemer also said that the family members are planning a ‘Celebration of Life’ for Sergeant Hackemer.

Reading his mother’s last statement really hit home for me. She did not say the family was planning a funeral for this young hero. She said they are planning a “Celebration of Life”.

I did not personally know this young hero who sacrificed his time and service for my freedoms, but I am saddened that his life ended while he was having a fun outing with his family and friends. He made it through the war- yes, with many adversities along the way, but he made it home alive, only to die while having fun. So as I sit, lamenting this young man’s life with a chorus about war being hell on the home front too, I can imagine that he would prefer we sing something along the lines of, “Life’s A Dance”.

It is quite obvious that this young hero did not allow his great loss to stop him from getting out in the world and having fun. In fact, he died… having fun.

I think we could all take a hint from Sergeant Hackemer life, and death. He is a hero in many ways. Yes, he was a brave soldier that fought for our freedoms. But he lived his life to the fullest until the day he died. He never allowed his adversities to hold him back.

May you rest in peace, Sergeant Hackemer. This nation needs many more people with your tenacity. Thank you for your service. It was not in vain!

My Children Are Threatened


 

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is September 2008.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

____________________

We had finally reached a point where thing were on track for all five adoptions to go through. After almost a year of postponed court hearings, our first two children were free for adoption. The biological mother’s rights had been terminated in the final court hearing, but we had a mandatory 90-day waiting period before we could actually consummate the adoptions.  Our other two older children were free for adoption, as their biological parents’ rights had been terminated before they ever came to us, but we had not completed the 6-month waiting period of them being in our home that is required for us to consummate their adoption. The baby was not free for adoption at this point, but we had a court date and knew that nothing had changed on the case. It was just a matter of waiting out the time until the court date.

One afternoon I received a call from our agency telling me that they wanted to start working on the adoption paperwork. I told them that we were going to wait and adopt all five children at one time. She told me that this would not be possible if we wanted to adopt the older children. I asked her why, because we had already spoken with all of the CPS case workers, they knew our situation and various reasons why we wanted to adopt all five at one time, and no one had a problem with this arrangement. She told me that she would call me back.

It wasn’t but a few minutes later that I got a call from the Director of the Agency. She told me that the CPS case workers had told them we said we did not want to adopt the older children if we were not able to adopt the baby, and we would not make a decision until after the baby’s court case was final. She told me that CPS was actually getting ready to remove the older children from our home if we did not go ahead with the adoption right now.  I asked her who had told her this but she refused to tell me. I told her I would call her back, and I ended the conversation.

I went into panic mode. Anger rose up in me and I came out fighting like a Mama bear protecting her cubs! I immediately started calling my CPS case workers. I had three separate case workers, since we had two different sets of children, and the baby. None of the three case corkers could believe what I was telling them! They were livid!  They had never said anything about removing the children, and in fact, all of them knew we were on schedule according to what our original plan had been.

After making phone calls to several officials within CPS, we were able to figure out that the motivation behind all of the threats was because of money.  From what we were told, our understanding is that the agency receives $10,000 for every child who is adopted through their agency! I do not have the actual proof of this, but this is what I was told by the CPS officials who were so very gracious and kind when I called them so panicked and furious.  When I told her about the threats from the agency that the children were going to be removed from our home, she became furious! She assured me that the children could not be removed from our home unless CPS was there to remove them. Even if the agency were to remove the children, the CPS representative must be present. Otherwise, any removal is illegal. She reiterated to me that CPS is the only ones who can remove the children, and they were NOT going to remove them from us.

Once I heard this, I knew it was time for us to leave the agency. Their purpose was to be there as our representatives and look out for our interests. Yet we actually had to fight against them, and CPS was looking out for our interest far more than the agency was. So we started the paperwork IMMEDIATELY to go straight through CPS instead of the agency.

It is our understanding that the Agency was hurting for money just to be able to meet their budget needs, and they knew if we finalized the adoptions on the older four children they would have $40,000 in their bank account before the end of the year. They knew our waiting period would be up on all four of the older children and we could legally adopt all four of them in December.

We knew that the baby’s court date was in January, and then we would have to wait the 90-days before we could actually consummate his adoption. With all the waiting we had gone through by this point through the system, what were another few months?

There were many different reasons we wanted to adopt all five children at one time. We wanted to have a big celebration, my parents wanted to come in, so coordinating for more than one event like that from out of town was going to be a challenge. CPS had no problem with this arrangement from the very beginning.  They all knew our plan and understood why we wanted to do things the way we had planned. We had thought long and hard about all of this. We also wanted to try to prevent as much rivalry as possible. With these children who have been rejected and passed from one home to another so many times, feeling a sense of belonging is important. If one set of children were adopted and the others were not, this had the potential to create a lot of added turmoil and stress for the children.

In the end the agency lost a total of $50,000 from us, because they tried to bully the wrong person. Do not lie to me! More importantly, DO NOT threaten to take my children from me when you know you cannot, because I will fight back! I am sure they had no idea what hit them when they received our notice saying that we were terminating our business relationship with them. They picked a fight with the wrong person! These are my kids they were messing with! They learned the hard way that I will fight anyone, anywhere, at anytime for what is in their best interest.

I cannot begin to tell you how angry it makes me to know that the children caught in this system are nothing more than a commodity to so many people! $10,000 per child! This money would be better spent by overhauling the ENTIRE system! There are so many things that need to change in this system to help these children!

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The Purpose Of  This Series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: The Baby Is Ours!

The previous chapter in this series:  Little Boy Lost!

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Boy Lost

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is April-June 2008.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

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During the time between the baby that needed medical attention going home and us receiving our baby, I received a call from a CPS Case Worker asking me if I knew how to contact the family of the baby that was taken from his visitation appointment that devastated me. I was a bit taken aback. As foster parents, it is VERY RARE that I would have personal information on the biological family other than what information the state has.  We are usually seen as the enemy. In their eyes, we have their kids.

I told the Case Worker that I did not have any information. It was then that she informed me that the aunt he had been placed with had disappeared, and he could not be found. She was sending a case worker out to find him. She assured me she would call me and let me know if he was ok. I prayed. And waited. I prayed. And waited. I prayed.  And waited. I had countless sleepless nights.

I cannot even tell you the horrors my husband went through. He had not even been able to say goodbye to him before he was taken. To make matters worse, he had not been able to see him that day at all. It was our routine that my husband would get the baby up in the morning, change his diaper, and have a few minutes with him before going to work. That morning he was running late and didn’t get him up. So when he was taken from visitation,  this left no opportunity for goodbyes.

With that heartbreaking end to his life with us, and knowing that now they could not find him, my husband was devastated. I began calling on a daily basis after a couple of days, trying to see if they had found out anything. Everyone involved in the case knew we wanted to adopt him.  At every turn I would hit a brick would, and was never able to find out anything.

After about 2 weeks, a CPS case worker finally called me back and told me that he had been located, he was fine, so there was nothing to worry about. Ok, good. Thank You, Jesus, he is safe. After two weeks of praying, pacing, worrying and crying we finally knew he was ok.

So, we went on with life, at peace because he was fine. By this time we had all five of our children, and we were enjoying our new life.  We were in our new home; we were facing the challenges of each day and all of the changes that had happened for all of us.

Then, yet again, out of the blue, about 2 months later, I received another call from the state, this time from a CPS supervisor, regarding the same little boy. The supervisor told me that his case had been handed over to her unit, and she had some major concerns for his safety and well-being in his current situation. She told me that they were actually getting ready to remove him from the aunt because CPS had found out she was homeless and just moving him around from house to house. They asked if we wanted him. Of course, I said yes. And I began praying!

Once again I would have to increase our license so we could take another child. I told her I would call our agency immediately and start working on the process of getting this taken care of. I knew that this would be the last time I could increase our license because 6 children is the state maximum for a private foster home. Anymore than that and you have to become a group home status. I knew that it took minutes to get this taken care of. So I made the call- got voice mail. I left the message. And I started sending emails of the information they needed. I knew we had plenty of room in our home, so that was not an issue.

I did not hear back from them. This was on a Friday morning. On Monday evening, I received a call from one of the case workers under the supervisor telling me they were removing him the next day, and she wanted to make sure our licensing was taken care of so she could bring him to us. I told her I had not heard back from them but that I would call right then. I had to leave another message. Within minutes, I got a return call from a supervisor, not my case worker. From the very beginning of the conversation she was combative. She would not license our home to have six children.  She told me that the law stated that we could not have more children under the age of 6. My husband found the law outlining the requirements- which meant we would indeed be qualified to have him- and sent an email to her. But she would not budge.

I left a message for the CPS Case Worker. I was devastated! This baby had been through so much already and now he was not going to be able to come back to us. My biggest concern was that he would have to go to the shelter.

The next day I got a phone call from the CPS Case Worker. She started making calls on her side of things.

From here, the story gets very complex and convoluted. At this point, I was at the hospital for one of the boys to have out-patient surgery. My baby-sitter had fallen through for that day, so I had all five kids at the hospital with me- one to have surgery, the other four to wait with me.

During the same time, I am getting calls from the CPS Case Worker. She has been on the phone with our Agency, and they are telling complete lies to this Case Worker. The Agency told her that we did not take our children for their medical and dental check-ups when we were supposed to- yet, I am at the hospital at that very moment taking care of a medical issue for one of my children. They told her that I was continually increasing my license to have more children so we could make more money. I was appalled! Yes, we had increased our license several times, and our Case Worker knew the entire process we had been through mentally, emotionally, and as a couple in making these decisions.

This process is not easy to digest. We had no idea our lives were going to take the turn that it had, so we did not prepare for that. But we also were going to obey God’s call no matter what happened. To know that we were being presented as people that was in the system for money was revolting to me! This is one of the issues that anger me greatly! A lot of changes need to happen in the system, and foster parents are one of the changes that need to happen!. I will address this issue in greater detail in a later article.

Why they lied, I do not know.  We had never had major issues with the Agency or caused issues. There had been some discussions and clarifications on some things, but we had never been written up nor had anything negative documented or said about us as foster parents. In fact, it was quite the opposite. We received compliments from all parties who had ever been involved with us in the foster system.

By the time everything was said and done, the Agency did not place him with us. I was very adamant in insisting to the CPS Case Worker that he not be put in the shelter. She was in total agreement with me. They did find another placement for him through the Agency. So in the end, it did all work out. He went to a good family, and he has since been adopted by them.

If my role in his life was simply supposed be that that I would fight for him to make sure he was safe, then that is ok.  I can live with that. In fact, I am honored to have played such an important role in getting him out of the situation he was in.

My problem is the entire foster care system. This includes the State CPS Caseworker that was originally assigned to this baby; the Judge who presided in this case; the Agency that we were with at the time; and anyone else that was involved in the life of this child. The State of Texas Department of Family Services lost a baby! They let him go with a family member that did not have his best interest at heart. For months he was shuffled back and forth between homes. There was no stability in his life. When he was removed from his aunt he was very sick and very hungry. The entire system- all who were involved in this little boy’s life to care for him and oversee his well-being- failed him!

The only thing I can come up with where the Agency is concerned is that they were not happy with the fact that I do fight. I will not back down from anyone or anything if there is something being done that is not right. I will stand up and shout and keep shouting until someone hears me. I go through the proper channels, but if I am not seeing progress, I will keep making calls, emailing, or whatever else I have to do to get the issue addressed. My only guess is that the Agency did not like this about me. They would rather keep things status quo and not ruffle feathers.  It does not bother me one bit to ruffle feathers if that is what it takes.

It was not but a few months later that another issue came up with the Agency.

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The Purpose Of  This Series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: My Children Are Threatened

The previous chapter in this series:  Full House

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full House

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is May-June 2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

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We had not had the baby but just a few days when the older children’s therapist called to ask if we were still interested in the two children that she told us about previously. The family member that had been interested in taking them did not pass the background check and they were available once again.

After discussing everything with my husband, we decided that we would meet the children and go from there.

We knew immediately that they were ours. We decided that since it was so close to the end of the school year, we would wait to make the move on the last day of school.

I had heard the voice of God just a few months before and I could not believe what I had heard Him say. Yet, less than 6 months later the exact thing He told me would be was about to become reality.

On the last day of school our children came home to us. We knew there would be many adjustments putting this many children together.

These two children were in a home previously that was going to adopt them. They were in the process of terminating the biological parental rights when an issue came up that led to this foster-to-adopt home being investigated. During the course of the investigation it was discovered that the little boy was being physically abused. He had been taped to the wall with duct tape; his mouth had been duct taped; and he was put into a closet because he was misbehaving.

Needless to say, the children were removed from this home and placed in another foster home. This is the home they were in until they came to live with us.

In both homes that they were previously in, the little girl was allowed to manipulate anyone and everything. When the therapist told me about these children, she told me that they needed our style of parenting or they were going to end up in a lot of trouble when they are older.

From the very first night they were with us, the little girl tried to manipulate us. We had to be firm with her, along with loving her, because we knew that this was another major upheaval in her very young life.

It also became very obvious when these two children came to us that we would have to move very soon. There was just no way that we could live comfortably as a family of seven in a three bedroom home.

Thankfully we were renting and had wonderful landlords who knew the process we had been going through. We made the necessary arrangements and began looking for a new home.

The next month we moved into a much bigger home. With this obstacle out of the way we could now focus on working to unite our family and blend all of the different personalities who had not grown up together. We had quite a task in front of us.

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The Purpose Of  This Series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Little Boy Lost

The previous chapter in this series: Too Good To Be True

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

 

 

Heavy Heart For Weiner Replaced By Heartburn and Disgust

If you read my previous article, Weiner: Self Destruction by Pride and Arrogance, you may have mistaken my heavy heart as me feeling that Anthony Weiner was treated unfairly. If you read in the comments, I had a discussion with a reader that became a very healthy debate that I thoroughly enjoyed.

As the days have passed, more commentaries have been written and more information has come out regarding what it means for Mr. Weiner now that he has resigned, my heavy heart for him has turned to nothing but disgust.

Add to all of this, after reading, Weiner is his own wurst enemy, an article by one of my colleagues, I have a completely new perspective on this entire drama that has unfolded in plain view of the American public.

One of the main pieces of information that has come out after his resignation is the estimated amount of his pension. You can rest assured that the heavy heart I have and the tears I cry are most certainly not for Anthony Weiner, but instead for the American people. We have allowed our leaders to set up quite a nice pension plan for themselves when they leave their position, no matter how they leave that position. Our dear Mr. Weiner will receive upwards of $1 million is pension, even though he resigned amidst shameful- and possible illegal actions. $1 million dollars! That is just appalling!

In my previous article I discussed how it was a very rare occasion that I agree with Alan Colmes, but I had to agree with him that Anthony Weiner at least deserved the right to be able to resign without being heckled. Max, a CDN reader, made the point that this very well may be the only way his constituents could at least make sure he heard them. Through our discussion I told Max that he had a great point. It’s not just Anthony Weiner, but most all of our Congressional leaders who refuse to hear what We The People are saying. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I was wrong, and that these constituents had every right to make their voice heard in this situation.

Anthony Weiner chose to lie about the details of his circumstances from the very beginning. It wasn’t until he was backed into a corner and his own party was literally pushing him out, that he finally stood up and told the truth. I firmly believe that had the party leaders not pushed him he would have never resigned. His arrogance and pride are far to great for that!

Now, after having more time to think about the situation and after gleaning more information about his engorged pension- our tax dollars- I no longer can feel the slightest bit of sadness for him. That heaviness of heart has now turned to the most awful heartburn.

As a Christian I am still sad for him that this is his life, just as I am for any human being that gets caught up in the darkness of this world. Though it may not seem as though his consequences are just, in time it will catch up to him, just as things always catch up to all of us. The only real question is will he make things right here in his mortal life, and truly change his ways, or will his ultimate consequences catch up with him in the here-after? Only time will tell. For his sake, I truly pray it is in this life.

If Anthony Weiner is truly sorry for his actions, a great way to pay retribution to the American people is to forfeit his hefty pension. I know, that is laughable to even think it, much less suggest it! That will never happen!  And sadly, we have become so complacent that it will not phase us at all.

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Sources:
USA Today

 

 

Congratulations, Stupid!

According to Nielson, Americans are watching more television than ever before, and not just at home, in front of their television sets.

We spend 158 hours a month in front of a television set ( well, not me, but.. ) and that is sadly where most of the average American derives their opinions and gleans their “news”.

Do you need any more information about the best place to advertise, and type of people you are catering to when it comes to political ads? This is probably one of the most important election cycles of many of our lifetimes, and the Democrats have chosen their platform, and venue, very carefully: instant gratification in the comfort of your own home.

We Conservatives spend much of our day preaching to the choir, chatting among ourselves about the grave state of the Union, and blogging constantly about the solutions offered by the Right. We aren’t the voting majority. The general public is addicted to 30 second sound bites, and call it education. The voting populace forms an opinion in probably the first five seconds of a commercial. Catchy, popular tune? Shocking imagery? Emotional scene? That is all you need to make an impression on the majority of those who will be voting in the next Presidential election.

While we pat each other on the back for breaking bad on the narrow conservative blogosphere, the DNC is touching hundreds of millions of homes with an image of Representative Paul Ryan shoving a very unwilling, wheelchair bound grandmother over a cliff. There are warning signs along her ride over the edge, she is surrounded by nothingness. The ADD / reality television / instant gratification generation hate Paul Ryan in less than thirty seconds. You and I have spent MONTHS touting the merits of his budget proposal, digging up facts and figures, sifting through budgets and legislation.. and sharing it with each other.

Folks, the Democrats may not be the ones who use facts to win debates, but right now, they are winning voters. They think the voting population are a singular conscious, focused on American Idol, iPad release dates, late night fast food, and the quickest route to Starbucks. Ask yourself, “Are they correct?” and then ask why you keep sharing your well researched insights into the demise of our economy, morality, and exceptionalism with… each other.

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