Category Archives: Foster Care

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Mama Grizzly Denied

It is no secret that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are in major need of overhauling. In fact, these three entitlements are some of the most heavily debated issues for both political parties.

What no one on either side of the political aisle will stop and think about is how the abuses of these systems that were created to help are now hurting the very ones that need it the most.

My husband and I have adopted 5 children from the foster care system. One of the benefits we receive from the state for them is healthcare in the form of Medicaid until they are 18 years of age.

We received our youngest child when he was only 7 weeks old. He was born addicted to cocaine, and when he came to us, he was still experiencing withdrawal tremors from the drug he was born addicted to. This is one of the most excruciatingly painful things I have ever experienced in my life! I felt so helpless, just wanting to make the pain go away for him!

Thankfully, he stopped having the withdrawal tremors. He is now a healthy, vibrant 3 1/2 year old who is into absolutely everything!

However, about 6 months ago, we began to notice a spot on his spine. It actually began as a bruise, which we originally thought was caused by his tumbling around with his two older brothers.  He may be the youngest, but he thinks he is as big as they are!

Unfortunately, the bruise did not go away. I took him to the doctor, and she told me that bruises of this kind take a very long time to heal. She explained that they are deep, so the healing process and time is much more extensive than a “normal” bruise. Feeling slightly better about things, we went about life, watching and waiting.

However, while the bruise eventually went away, a bump began to appear on his back, in the very same spot. I took him to the doctor yet again. She examined him, and determined that due to the fact that she could move the bump around, there was nothing to be alarmed about. This time, I wasn’t so sure. She told me to keep a watch on it, and if it didn’t go away, bring him back.

Rather than going away, the bump grew bigger. I took him back to the doctor yet again, and finally received a referral to a dermatologist.

Three weeks later, I was finally able to see the dermatologist. Upon examination, he determined that he needed to refer us to a neurologist. I questioned him extensively, and he explained that it could be a number of things, including the possibility of fluid leaking from his spine. This set off alarm bells for me! I tried desperately not to panic, but the thought that this is a real possibility is alarming!

The dermatologist also scheduled an MRI, so the neurologist would have this information at that appointment.

That evening, while discussing everything with my husband, we began to question the length of time it was going to take to get the MRI.  I told him that I would call the doctor’s office back the next day, to see if there was any way we could get the appointment moved up.

Before I had a chance to call, they were calling me to give me the neurologist’s number. I started telling the nurse about my concerns for the length of time we were still going to have to wait. She told me that when she first called to make the MRI appointment, the first available was in March! The doctor was not happy with this, so he personally called back to get an appointment sooner. The nurse assured me that if he had thought it was an absolute emergency, he would have gotten him in immediately! She advised me that if my son complained of his back hurting we simply needed to take him to the emergency room.

We’ve made the necessary arrangements for both appointments- the MRI and the neurology- and were simply waiting.

Then I received a call from the dermatologist office telling me that Medicaid has denied the MRI request! Remember: the children are on Medicaid due to the fact that they were adopted through the state Foster Care System. This is not simply a case of irresponsible parenting on our part.

When the nurse told me that Medicaid had denied the request, I got angry! She said the reason they gave for the denial was because there “was not enough documentation” to warrant an MRI!

Now, if you are not familiar with what an MRI is, WebMD will help explain it:

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body. In many cases MRI gives different information about structures in the body than can be seen with an X-ray, ultrasound, or computed tomography (CT) scan. MRI also may show problems that cannot be seen with other imaging methods.
As you can see, an MRI is a TEST! The bureaucrats who make the decisions on who is approved and who is not approved can’t take into account that he has been by his pediatrician on 3 separate occasions, as well as a dermatologist. Four doctor appointments is not enough documentation to have a test performed to see if it is something that will require surgery.
However, a local dentist chain has “earned millions by targeting children on Medicaid.” This has gone on for years! My children were actually targeted by this very dentist chain, and had NUMEROUS “cavities” according to the dentists. It sure is strange- we’ve not had a SINGLE cavity since that visit, and the 3 previous visits were cavity free as well! Interestingly enough, the cavity free appointments were not at that clinic!
Unfortunately, they were still in foster care at the time, and not adopted, so I did not have the options I have now that they are adopted!
It took MONTHS, if not YEARS, for this dentist chain to be investigated, and in fact, I was interviewed in the process of the investigation. All this time, approvals went out from Medicaid with no questions asked. Yet, a test for a potentially harmful, or even deadly problem is denied?
This is just one specific situation I know of personally! There are thousands upon thousands of stories of medicaid fraud that go on daily in this country, with nothing at all being done! Yes, there are investigations, but much more needs to be done! Stop the fraud- by doctor’s and recipients, and you will save BILLIONS of dollars (possibly even TRILLIONS of dollars at this point, since the previously linked article is from 2005)!
We have reached a breaking point in our society. We talk about helping those in need- such as orphans- yet we have allowed fraud to run rampant on both sides of the process. We are receiving nothing but lip service from both political parties who claim they are seeking real solutions to the problems we are facing as a nation. Those who are truly in need cannot receive the necessary help because so many before them have abused the system. However, those who know how to “work” the system are allowed to continue “working” it, while those who truly need it are forced to do without.
As a Mama Grizzly, I am watching my little boy like a hawk! At the slightest inkling of increased pain, we have been advised to take our son to the emergency room. Medicaid has denied my son the necessary test to determine what must be done, but rest assured I will not sit idly by! I have made it my life’s goal to fight for these children who start out in life with so much against them! I will not allow these innocent children to pay the price for the actions of those before them!
It is a crying shame that we have allowed our innocent children to carry the burdens of this nation on their backs. They are paying the price for an out-of-control society that refuses to face reality! This is their future we are squandering away!

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!

Too Many Meds for Foster Kids?

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.

Fives states were involved in the investigation– Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas.


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

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.

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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!

 

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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

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.

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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.

 

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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

 

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.

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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

 

 

Too Good To Be True


This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is March 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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When the battle was won in the last case, I was completely at peace when they came to pick him up. There was no inner struggle. For a long while I struggled within myself that there was no struggle. I was not opening the door and throwing him to the CPS Case Worker, but I was truly happy he was going home.

It took me a while to realize that this is truly what it is about. Many people will not understand. Most biological parents who have lost their children to the system because of their own bad choices cannot accept responsibility for their actions. So when I have previously said that these children should never have gone back to their biological parents, there are people that do not understand how I can say that. I have a friend who totally disagrees with me.

The previous little boy’s case proved to me that my heart was in the right place. After a while, you truly start questioning this whole process. Am I just angry and bitter that I have not been able to have my own children, so I am seeking to take children away from their parents? This previous little boy’s case showed me that this was not at all what this was for me. I truly was fighting for each individual child, for what was right for their lives. This little boy belonged with his biological parents. He just needed medical attention.

I did not mourn his leaving at all. I truly was happy that he was going to be reunited with his biological parents.

We went back to life as normal. Waiting. Wondering if we would ever receive another call.

During this time, the children’s therapist asked me if we were still interested in adopting more children. When I told her that we were, she told me that she counseled another sibling group- a brother and sister- who were already free to be adopted. She thought they would be a wonderful match for our family. I told her that I was definitely interested, but I would have to talk to my husband, and if he said yes, then we would have to increase our license again, because we were only licensed to have three children.

I talked to my husband, and he was all for it. So I made the call to increase our license yet again. But this time I had them license us for five children. It was better to be prepared. I still knew that I had heard God’s voice, but I could not imagine how this was going to work out.

I talked to the therapist a few days later to let her know our licensing was taken care of, and she told me that there was a family member that had come up out of nowhere who wanted the children.  She told me not to give up though, because she counseled a lot of children who needed good homes full of love. She told me she would help us find our children.

With that door closed, we waited to see what God had planned for us. Would it be another call from our therapist? Would we get a call from the Agency?

It was not long before we found out. I received a call from our Agency Case Worker telling me that there was a 7-week-old infant needing placement. She did not need to say anymore. I probably literally screamed in her ear, “YES!” I was so excited!

This Case Worker with the Agency was number five or number six for us, and we had not been in the Foster system but 8 months. This Case Worker knew the heart break that we had gone through when the 1-year-old was given to a family member, and she told me she would try desperately to help us get a baby.

Not only was this an infant, there was no real question whether or not he would be available for adoption. His biological mother’s rights had not been terminated at this point, because the court process had to take place, but it was next to impossible that she would not have her rights terminated. She was a foster child herself, and the baby was born addicted to cocaine.

As soon as I hung up the phone with the Agency I called my husband. I was so excited I could not sit still.  I told him I would let him know the details as soon as I found them out.

Within a few minutes the phone rang again. It was our Case Worker with the Agency. I knew as soon as I answered the phone that it was not good news. I could hear it in her voice. She said she was so sorry to have to inform me that the baby had already been promised to another couple. I thanked her and hung up the phone.

There were no words for me at this point. I called my husband and told him. I told him I had to go. He asked me if I was ok and I told him no, and at this point I just did not have any words. I am sure you have read enough by now to realize that it is very rare that I have no words. I could not even pray. I could not muster the strength or emotions to say anything or feel anything. My husband told me not to worry, that if the other family backed out we would be the first ones they would call. Sure, fat chance. I would not hold my breath, I told him.

When I hung up the phone, I just sat silently on the couch. The other two kids were in their rooms playing.

I sat there that day for almost an hour. All I could do was think about what had just happened, and the years of trying to have a child. Why would this happen? It was like dangling a gourmet meal in front of a starving person. As I sat dwelling on how this could have even happened I became very angry. I knew that my heart was in the right place, and yet time after time my heart was being broken. I am very much in tune with the fact that life is not fair, but we had gone beyond life not being fair to life being downright cruel! I just could not understand why God would allow this to happen! I would rather have never received the call than to have had this happen.

As I sat there by myself, my thoughts racing around in my head, my heart breaking once again, the phone rang again. It was the Agency. The other couple had decided they would not be able to take the baby. Did we still want him? Again I screamed, “YES!” And I begged her not to let him get away from us.

My husband had been right! I asked him later if God had spoken to him that day and he said no that he just had a feeling. Why did all of this happen? I do not really have the answer to that question. Maybe it was God’s way of showing me that He really is involved in our lives. There could be a million other reasons or explanations why. I don’t think I will ever know. But thankfully, this time it really was true! We were finally going to have our baby!

As we waited for them to bring him to us the next day I could not sit still. I had so much pent up excitement, knowing that we were really going to have a baby!

When they brought him to us, he was so very tiny. When they put him in my arms, I was so scared I would hurt him. He had been born 6 weeks premature, so he was just now gestationally 1 week old. He was still red and wrinkly. His little fingers and toes were so tiny. His nose was so tiny. But he was beautiful! And he was ours! Immediately I began calling him my Angel Baby.

Not only was he very tiny, he was also going through withdrawals from the drug addiction. If you have never witnessed a tiny baby going through drug addiction withdrawals you are blessed! It is one of the most painful things I have ever witnessed in all of my life! His entire body would shake as his body craved the drugs. His eyes would get so big, not understanding what was going on within his body. We would swaddle him tightly and hold him close until his tremors would pass.

I found a song that I began to play for him when he would start going through his withdrawal tremors- “Angel Baby” by Linda Ronstadt. I had never heard it before I went searching for a song with that title. Since this is what I called him from the first day, I thought it would be fitting to find a song with that name. This became our ritual. As his body would begin to shake from his withdrawals, we would swaddle him tightly, hold him close, play the music, and rock with him. We went through this process the first two months or more.

It is very rare occasions that I have seen my Dad cry. He cried at both of his parents funerals. Other than that, I do not recall any other time where he has actually cried, until he saw our baby during one of his withdrawals.

It is amazing how much we remember. After we got through the withdrawal tremors, we did not play our “Angel Baby” song as much. After a while, it had been months since I had played it for him and danced with him.

Probably 8 months or more had passed that we had not played the song at all. One day I decided to play it. As soon as the music started, he looked up at me with the biggest, most beautiful grin in the world! He was playing in his playpen and he stood up, reaching for me to take him. He wanted me to dance with him! He remembered! I was so amazed that he remembered our song!

It is now a very common thing that is heard in our home. My baby loves to dance with me. All of my children love to dance with me, but my baby has a very special bond with me, through this song and me dancing with him. It will forever be one of my most beautiful memories of his infancy. Once again, God has taken something traumatic and turned it into something very beautiful in my life- and my son’s life as well!

Just a few days ago I played our song. It had been a month or so since I played it for him. As soon as the music started he stopped what he was doing and came over and climbed up into my lap. He would lay against my chest for a while, just listening to the music with me. Then he would sit up and look at me- look into my eyes. It was the sweetest, most beautiful, most moving thing for me. The way he was looking into my eyes was like he was remembering. It was a deep, soulful look that you don’t expect from a child so young. He just turned 3-years-old; how does he know what this song is? Yes, I know he remembers…. but it was much more than just remembering. Though we have listened to this song quite often, and he always snuggles up to me when we are dancing or just sitting, there was something different about this time. I will never forget that look as long as I live!

This will be something that I continue to do all of his life.

I am now searching for a special song for each child. Since they all love to dance, I want each of them to have their special song. It is not a process that I am rushing through. I’ve listened to hundreds of songs, and have found 2 that are perfect.

I want each one of my children to have many wonderful memories of their childhood. Since they have endured so many bad things, anything I can do to help them have beautiful memories is a bonus. I do not ever want any of my older children to feel left out because they do not have a special song like the baby does. It is not their fault they were not with us as infants. So this will be a gift to each of them that will last a lifetime.

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

The next chapter in this series: Full House

The previous chapter in this series: Fighting For Another Child

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

 

 

 

 

I Am So Angry

Once again I am veering off the ongoing saga of our story to adopt children through the Broken Foster Care System.

If you’ve already read my Mother’s Day story, you know that our adoptions were finalized in July of 2009.

After the adoptions it took some time for the kids to adjust to the fact that they were in fact adopted, not foster children any longer.  Thankfully, our youngest child didn’t know any difference at all.  When he would have visitation from his case workers it was just another friend coming over to visit. In reality, I do not believe the next two children (age wise) truly comprehended the difference either, as they were so young when they came to us, as well, that it was more like just a visit with friends when their case workers came over.

However, the oldest two children definitely knew the difference. In fact, I do not believe the reality has set in to this day. They “know” they are adopted, that this is their home, we are a forever family, but what does that really mean to a child who has been cast back and forth within the system all of their lives?

Dealing with the aftermath of things settling down and us finally becoming a family was overwhelming in many ways, yet like a breath of fresh air all at the same time.

Today, we are almost 2 years past the final adoption. Things are the same, yet different. When things would come, and questions were asked we’ve always addressed the questions directly and honestly.

One of the issues we have had with three of the four older children is being destructive. It doesn’t matter what it is, they will destroy it. They have LITERALLY peeled paint right off the wall. They tear up almost every toy they’ve been given. Our youngest daughter destroys her clothing.

At the current time I am removing absolutely everything from their game room with the exception of a couple of plastic buckets of toys. Until I am able to move things around, there is a bookshelf with books, games inside, and just general kid stuff. There is a TV and TV stand. I have already removed the quilt rack, which they destroyed, and the blankets that I had for them to cover up with when they watch TV. I have removed some of the blankets because they were given to them as adoption presents by a local church who makes quilts for each child that is adopted.

I am flat out exhausted from trying to replace things that are broken; caution not to climb on the bookcase because it will fall and either hurt someone really bad or literally kill them; cleaning out broken toys, and other variety of clean up from their destructive behavior.

Our youngest, who I refer to in my writings as “the baby”, just turned 3-years-old. It is amazing to see the difference in his playtime behavior from the other four children.

We learned in our classes to become foster parents that the most formative years is birth to 3 years. That amazed me, since their language skills are not developed, coping skills are not developed, and other things that seem like they would be more important than the first three years.

However, our family is a prime example of how true this is. Our baby- the three-year-old, has been taught from the very beginning how to treat toys, clothing, our home, and how to take care of things in general.

Very recently, after dealing with the aftermath of yet more destruction, my husband made an observation that had never crossed my mind. He said that maybe no one ever taught the other four children how to play! This struck me as odd, since I play with all of them. However, their “most important formative years” were already passed when we got them.

I wonder how much of this truly has an effect on how they treat things now. They see the positive examples, get in trouble when they do destroy things, yet they still do not seem to learn. They still keep repeating the very same behaviors.

So why am I angry, you ask? Because I feel like the system has set my older children up to fail! My husband and I are doing everything we know to do to UNDO the bad parenting that they had by their biological parents, as well as foster parents that did not care and try to RETEACH the PROPER way to play and treat things. This goes beyond just “messy kids”. This goes beyond the “kids will be kids” excuse. It is literally to the point that buying them toys is just a waste of time and money.

This past weekend is a prime example. We took the kids shopping, and I decided to try one more time with new toys. We bought them Lincoln Logs, because they love to build stuff with blocks. They did well the first day. Then, what do you know… the next day, they are in the game room throwing the Lincoln Logs at each other and the window! Now, they had been warned that these were not to be thrown, because throwing things is one of the frequent offenses that they get in trouble for. Oh, I know, all kids throw things. However, there is almost a systematic destructive intent to the actions of at least two of the children. One for certain, the other one has come a long way. (She actually was not involved in throwing things this time, so we are making a little progress!)

There’s a well-known saying in the foster care system, although it is breathed in hushed tones. It reminds me of the scene from “St. Elmo’s Fire” where Wendy’s mom whispers everything that she finds “too horrible to utter”.

So, what is this phrase that is “too horrible to utter”?

Too old too adopt.

This is not true, in the sense that you are never truly “too old” to be adopted. There are adults who have been adopted.

what this simply means is that most people want to adopt a younger child- a baby most preferably.

Our oldest two children were almost “too old” to adopt. I will try to explain this more as I go along, because I do not want this to be misunderstood.

I love ALL of my children very much. And yes, I know all children- biological or not- have issues. I know… kids will be kids. I know all the cliches, true as they may be. However, there is a “magic age” that once passed, it becomes a great deal more difficult to get past the “issues” of being in foster care. That “magic age” is about 5-years-old, give or take a bit.

Our oldest child was 6-years-old when we got her, and 7-years-old once she was finally adopted. She had already learned to “play the system”. However, she met her match with her mommy and daddy! She may have been allowed to play her previous foster families to get her way but it didn’t work that way with us! We were told this is why they (the case worker and therapist) wanted us to meet them, because they both knew needed parents that would be firm yet loving, not push overs as they had previously had.

And yes, before it is suggested, they have been through YEARS of counseling- that did absolutely nothing to help them resolve these issues or help us deal with things. Basically it was just a “system requirement”. Don’t get me wrong- we had a WONDERFUL counselor! But to actually help get to the core matter of the issues it did nothing!

I am angry that the system did not expedite the cases of my older children in a more timely manner so they would have had a more settled life before they did.

I know that this will just make them stronger in the future. I know that challenges grow us.

But that does not make me any less angry.

What makes me the most angry is that in my almost 4 years of being involved in some form of the foster care system, not one single time has an elected official responded to my various correspondences.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit down with a MedicAid investigator about 6 months ago and share some of my experiences and complaints regarding the Medicaid fraud within the foster care system. He was quite intrigued, yet was not very hopeful that anything would ever come of my complaints. I told him I have absolutely no problem testifying in a court of law about our experiences. I am MORE than willing to be the voice, the hands, the feet… the whole BODY in this fight for these children stuck in this broken system of foster care!

Tax payers are being fleeced by doctor’s who prescribe unnecessary medications to children in foster care because it is “easy money”.

My two oldest children were two that fell into the above category. It makes me wonder if the fact that they were being “doped up” has caused lasting affects on them.

I am angry that no one seems to care enough to really get involved.

It makes me angry that even now, in my writing, I have comments directing me how I should leave parts of my story out- whether it is my faith or my political stance.

While I appreciate the input and comments, I can’t change who I am. I won’t change who I am! My faith is one of the most significant facets of who I am! Without my faith I have nothing. Jesus Christ is my Strength.. my very breath that I breathe. There’s no way I can continue in this fight without standing on my faith in Christ. If that offends people, so be it! I accept the fact that there are those who do not have faith in Christ. I don’t try to force my beliefs on them. I don’t ask them to change. I do not say I will not continue fighting this fight with people who do not believe as I do. I will GLADLY join with ANYONE who will join in this fight- a fellow Christian, atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, you name it! So if I’m not requiring that they change for me, why is it being suggested that I leave out this part of my story? I refuse. If that offends some people, so be it! That just makes me angry!

I am just angry! As you can see I am angry about a lot of things! These children do not deserve to have to deal with the burecratic crap that they are being dealt right now! Something should have been dong a LONG time ago to solve these issues!

Fighting For Another Child

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

It was hard to pick myself up by my boot-straps and carry on, but it was what I had to do.

It was not long before we received a call on another baby. We once again knew from the beginning that he was just a foster child. He would not be available for adoption, and it was very likely that he would go back to his parents very quickly.

You may be wondering why we agreed to take each child that we have taken, when so far the majority of these children were not even available for adoption.  Yes, we went into this program fully knowing that our goal was to adopt, not just foster. But when we started this process, my husband and I agreed that there was no possible way we could turn down a child. If we received a call from our agency, we would accept that child. These children have already faced so much rejection in their lives. Though most of them that we have fostered and lost are probably too young to really remember what was going on in their lives at the time, we believe that if we received a call to take in a child, God had a plan for us in the life of that child. We may not ever realize what the purpose of each situation was, but God is in control.

So the next baby was placed in our home.  He was 15-months-old. From the very beginning there seemed to be something wrong. This child just did not fit in our family. I really struggled with this, because I do not believe you should ever reject a child. Each child- each person- is uniquely created by God for a specific purpose. So for me to say he did not fit felt like I was rejecting him. And the strange part about this was this child was the first Caucasian child we had ever had placed in our home. With the exception of the first two little boys who are black, the rest of our children have been Hispanic.

I now question whether this child should have ever been removed from his home. It is an internal struggle for me. While I definitely believe everything happens for a reason, there is only one remote reason that I can see why he may have been removed. I think the only reason he was taken was that God allowed it because He knew that I would push in the system that this baby be checked out for medical issues. The parents were refusing to do this, and there was something definitely wrong with him. He would not play at all. I would get down on the floor with him with toys, and he would just look at me. He wanted to just lay in his play pen and sleep. We only had him for 3 weeks. By the last few days he was playing a little bit with our little girl. He still would have nothing to do with our other little boy. But then he was taken back home, and part of the requirement was that they get him medically tested to see what was going on with him. So, he went back where he belonged. I had fought for him. I truly believe that was the only reason he was removed from his home.

I believe it is my job to fight for every single child that was placed with us- I believe this is EVERY foster parents job- to fight this fight for each child that is placed with them. But so many- most- do not do this.  They simply do the barest minimum that is required, if that.

With every child that came into our home I documented, I made calls, I emailed and I fought the system for these children.  They have no way of fighting, except through me. This calling is not just about becoming a parent, though yes, I am so grateful that I have been given this opportunity and privilege. It truly is a gift beyond measure. However, I was called to fight for each one of these children. They need an army on their side, but since the system that should be the army standing up for them, is not fighting the battle so often, I will be the warrior that fights their battle.

Even now, with our journey in the actual system being over, I fight for them. I WILL be the voice for these voiceless children! Somebody has to!

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

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

The previous chapter in this series: Do Not Be Afraid

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Do Not Be Afraid

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is November 2007-March 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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When we first heard about the Foster-To-Adopt Program, it had been our intention to adopt a baby. One baby. I wanted to have the full experience of raising a child from infancy. Since I would not have the experience the actual pregnancy, I wanted to at least experience the infancy process.

We realized very quickly that baby’s are hard to get in the system. There are so many older children who need homes, but there is very often a wait for infants. Not only is there a wait, it is also not guaranteed that you will be able to keep this baby- or any child you are placed with who’s status is still classified as Foster rather than Foster-to-Adopt. The difference in the status is whether or not the parent’s rights have been terminated. 

We decided that we would broaden the age range for children we would accept. This is how we came to have the two sets of children we had already been placed with rather than infants.

But I still wanted to have a baby. It was still something my husband wanted as well, but I do not think it was as important to him as it was to me.

We had almost increased our license to four children when we found out the first two boys were back in the system, but I was so unsure of being able to handle four children at one time. But the longing was still there. Though I had children, I still long to have a baby! I did not know at this point whether or not I could handle more than the two children we already had.

One evening I told my husband I needed to spend some time with God. I went into our room and shut the door. I spent a while in prayer, wrestling with God over whether or not I could handle three children, one of which would be an infant. As I lay silently before God, just meditating, I heard a very distinct voice. I sat up very quickly, expecting someone to be there. Who I thought it would be, I do not know. I knew that it had not been my husband’s voice, and there were no other adults in the house. It then occurred to me that I had not heard the voice with my ears but with my heart.

God had spoken to me again. But there was no way that what I had heard could be possible!

I sat for a few moments, just taking in what I knew I had heard. After a few moments, I left our room. When I walked back into the kitchen, my husband asked me if I felt better. I chuckled and he asked what that meant. My exact words were, “God is crazy!” He looked at me as if I had literally lost my mind. I’m sure he was wondering what in the world had caused me to say that!

I told him that God had told me not to be afraid to go ahead with three children, I would be just fine. In fact, He told me to be prepared because we would have a total of five children. When I told my husband this, I laughed. But even then, I knew that God has spoken. And I knew that I would not disobey. I had made that mistake too many times in my life before. I just did not know how in the world I was going to be able to handle five children!


After discussing all of this with my husband, we decided we would increase our license to three children, and hold the spot for an infant. We were not ready to step out in faith at this point and just accept that God had spoken. I believe we were both in shock. My husband knows I do not tell him that God has told me something very often. In fact, I have been frustrated many times in the past because I did not hear God’s voice when I would pray so desperately for answers in various different situations. We just were not quite ready to accept that this would be our reality. And there was the possibility that I was just imagining things. To say that you know God has spoken to you is nothing small!

The next day I made the call.  Our license would be increased so that we would be able to have three children in our home.

It was not long before I received a call. There was a baby available. However, they told me right up front it was a definite we would not be able to adopt this baby. She would not be coming to us from the State Foster Care system; she would instead be coming to us through a private adoption agency. There were legal issues that had to be cleared up before she could be given to the adoptive parents. We agreed to take her.

Although we knew from the very beginning that she would not be ours, we loved her as if she were our own as we did all of our kids. We were told before we ever picked her up that we would have her anywhere from one day to one month at the very longest. I went to the hospital and picked her up from the hospital nursery when she was just 3 days old. That was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. To be in the hospital nursery, the nurses giving me instructions on care, feeding her, rocking her… I cannot even tell you the emotions that were going on inside of me!

Over the next month, I got to know the adoptive mom. We talked on the phone every single day, if not several times a day. We built a relationship over that month that still exists today. We are getting to see her grow up, experience her birthday parties and other special events of her life. I am truly honored to have been there the first month of her life. I would not have it any other way, because this little girl is exactly where she is supposed to be! Her life is one of those strange stories you hear where the adopted child looks exactly like one of her adoptive parents. She is literally the spitting image of her Daddy! We know without a doubt he is not her biological father, but it’s one of those strange little quirks that happen in life.

It was one of the greatest experiences of my life to be a part of bringing our friends their child and caring for her the first month of her life. This child is the reason we are all friends today. But, even knowing from the very beginning that we would not have her long, and knowing that she was going to a wonderful, loving family that wanted a child so desperately- just as we did- it still killed my soul to let her go. I had bonded with her. So, I was very happy for the family, but my heart was breaking. There is just no preparing your heart for such a mixture of emotions. I kept my emotions together to be a part of this very special moment in our friends’ lives- laying their new baby in their arms-spending a few minutes with them, and walking back outside to leave the adoption agency office. I made it around the corner- because I knew they could see me through the window. I had the other two kids with us, and of course my husband was with me. As soon as I made it around the corner so I could not be seen, I collapsed and just fell to pieces crying. I did not want to take away from their special day in any way. My husband had to help me to the car. I realize now a lot of my issue was that I was scared- yes, of being a good mother, but also of my heart breaking.

That day, my heart broke. I was so very happy for my new friends. But my heart was breaking, because I still wanted a baby.

A couple of weeks later, we got a call for our next child. He was 9-months-old. I was told that he was foster, not foster-to-adopt, but it was very likely that his biological parents’ rights would be terminated and he would be available for adoption. Of course said yes, and once again, we fell in love. This baby stole my heart from the get go. No, that’s not true. The first day all he did was cry. That was why he was removed from the previous foster home, because they could not deal with his crying.

Between my husband and I, we finally got him calmed down. But it took a couple of days. After that he was the most loving, most beautiful child. And he was a great fit with the other two kids. We began hoping. This was our mistake. The court case was not going that well for the parents, and we were told it was very unlikely they would get him back. In fact, there was a CASA advocate assigned to the case- a non-partial child advocate that talks with all parties involved in the child’s life. She told me that she saw absolutely no way how the biological parents would not lose their rights. There were drugs found in the same room as the child when he was removed from the home, and there was absolutely no remorse from the biological parents. Add that to the fact that they were not attending their classes. After talking with the biological parents it was the recommendateion from the CASA advocate that he not be placed back with the parents.

We were told that there was one other possibility, but it was highly unlikely that this would happen. There was another family member- an aunt- who had said she would take him, so they were pursuing the possibility. However, the CASA advocate told me that there was a person in the home that had a drug conviction, so she would not recommend at all that he be placed in that home.

But, once again, I got a call one day. And just like that, they took him with just a 2 hour notice. Once again, we had no idea there was even a court date scheduled! This time, my husband did not even get to say goodbye. Our other little boy was with me when I had to drop the baby off for visitation. We realize now that this traumatized him more than we could have ever known. I go to drop the baby off, but never go pick him up. we explained to the other two children why I had not gone back to pick him up, but how do you truly explain something like this to a 3 and 4-year-old? There are no words that make sense in a situation like this to an adult, much less a child!

They took him on his first birthday. I cried. I cannot tell you how much I cried. Literally, I cried for 3 solid days. It finally got to the point that I told God, “You have to take this pain and help me to stop crying. I have 2 other children to take care of, and I am not doing a good job of that right now, much less being a good wife.” I finally stopped the continual crying, but the sadness would last much longer.

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

The next chapter in this series: Fighting For Another Child

The previous chapter in this series: Jumping Head First Into The Fight For My Children

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Excuse Me For Harshing Your Mellow

I am once again taking a detour from our personal story to shake my head in sadness and disgust.

We really have reached a very sad point in our country.

In trying to get as many voices as possible to join me in speaking out for these voiceless children I have been posting the link to this series in several different places. One place I posted it was on a Christian site. It was fine… for a while, and then all of a sudden they stopped approving my posts. My thoughts were, “Fine… so be it. I will continue elsewhere.”

Today I went to update another site that I post to- a site DEDICATED to Foster and Adoption. It seems as though I “broke a rule” because I discussed politics in my posts and the link I posted is a “Conservative” site. We don’t want to “alienate” anyone because of political views.

It’s interesting to me though that I had one person respond to one of my posts from last week saying I had “lost her” because of my outspokenness of the liberal mentality that the government should be involved more. Her response to me was very respectful! She was honest with me, but was in no way demeaning. I appreciated her post, and even told her so. As I said to her, we do still live in a free country (well, at least for now!) and are all entitled to our own opinions. I also told her that I thought she would be surprised to know how much we do agree on if we could just get politics out of the way completely. She never responded to my post, which was no problem with me at all. Hey, it’s a free country, she’s entitled to her own thoughts as well. My response back to her was also very respectful.

So it was a complete surprise to me today when I went to update the discussion and post the articles I’ve posted since last visiting the site that I see my links have been removed. There was a post from one of the administrators telling me she “appreciates” my fight for foster care and “wanting to get involved” they do not allow political sites to be a “vehicle” to get cases heard.

Hmmmm…. This is not a case. The case has been resolved- finally! Thankfully! This is a story. A real life story that real people lived through. The experience has taught all of a lot! Our story is also a story of triumph in so much brokenness.

I was told that I could simply post the article in one specific forum, but I could not link back to the site. She agreed with me that my fight isn’t about politics but about getting ALL people involved to change this broken system, and we wouldn’t want to “alienate thousands of people” who are not Conservative. She wished me all the luck in my journey, stating that she could tell it is a topic I feel very strongly about.

Needless to say I was once again appalled. In my response I asked her to please understand if I sounded a bit jaded, but that I would not be posting my article any longer, given the stipulation I was given.
I explained to her that I was very thankful to have been given a forum in which to write this series to bring attention to this broken system, and to not link back to the site takes away capital that allows the site to extend this offer to me at no charge to me. I explained to her that nothing is free- everything costs money.

I also explained to her that it is true- it’s not about “politics” in that these children are much more than that. However, it does have to do with politics due to the bureaucracy that’s been put in place on BOTH sides of the aisle.

I closed by telling her that until people realize these things we will never get anything changed. Hey, she has that right as well! It is her site. It is just a very sad and disgusting mirror of what our society has become.

So I fight on. Many thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions may refuse to listen to me because I believe that each person is responsible for themselves and their own actions. I do not believe the government should try to make my life any “easier”. I believe in the old addage, “that which does not kill me makes me stronger.”

I do not believe the government should have a say-so in the lives of these children. I want LAWS CHANGED to protect these children and their rights over the “rights” of their biological parents! I want judges to be held accountable for making horrible decisions in the lives of these children. They already have their biological parents making poor decisions, why would we want to add yet another person to make bad decisions for them? I want people to wake up and smell the coffee! We do not live in a fairy-tale land where every day is filled with rainbows and lollipops! The only way we are going to be successful in making these changes is to address the politics that have become so intertwined in the lives of foster children.

Excuse me for harshing the peace loving mellow of those who refuse to address the issue of politics. This is reality. And reality is harsh!

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

An Open Letter To All Senators, Congressmen and Governors

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Jumping Head First In The Fight For My Children

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is October -November 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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Our October court hearing was supposed to be a pre-trial hearing for the Termination of Rights. At this hearing, the biological mom’s attorney asked for visitation rights to be re-instated. They had not had visits with their biological mom since they were removed from her- the second time- the previous April. So here we are in October, and her attorney is asking for visitation rights right before her rights are to be terminated. I assumed it was a formality. How very wrong I was! It never occurred to me that the judge would actually grant visitation to her again, but he did.

I was devastated! I did not understand what this meant! If she was being granted visitation rights, did this mean the judge was not going to terminate her rights? No one could answer that question for me. Our CPS Case Worker was just as stunned as I was. The State attorney, our children’s attorney, everyone involved was at a complete loss as to why the judge had re-instated her visitation rights.

These two children are child #5 and child #6 of their biological mother’s. At this point she had already had the previous four children removed from her. Her rights had already been terminated on all four of these children and they have been adopted. These two children- my children- have never even met their four older siblings.

My children were taken from their biological mom when they were just 2-years-old and 1-year-old. They were removed from her for physical neglect and abuse. My little boy (the 1-year-old) had cigarette burns on one eye-lid, and on the corner of his other eye. The day they were removed, it was winter. The month of December, though not exactly the coldest here in South Texas, still requires long sleeves- especially for a child! When the CPS Case Worker arrived at the home, the front storm door was open. The screen door was closed, and a chair was propped up against it to prevent the children from getting out. There was also a chair propped up at the back door to prevent the children from getting out the back door.

Both of the children were dressed only in diapers. No clothing at all. They were on the floor, eating from the trash can and the floor around the trash can.

Biological mom had been given temporary, semi-supervised custody of the children the spring before they came to us. She was living in a facility where she had her own apartment but there were “supervisors” on site. By this time, they were 3-years-old and 4-years-old. In less than a month they were removed from her care once again, and placed back into Foster Care, because she left them unattended in the bathtub while she went outside to talk with the other residents in the facility. My little girl was trying to shave her brother’s legs, and she sliced his leg open.

With her previous history, the judge granting their biological mom visitation again did not make any sense at all.

 I knew from the very beginning that this was a bad idea. However, I had no voice in the matter. I had no choices. The judge had spoken and I had to comply with his orders. So we went to our first visit at the CPS Office.

 I had never actually been to the CPS Office building. It shocked me to my very core when my little girl spoke up from the backseat, “Right there, mommy, that’s where we need to go.” I had not told them what was going to happen. I wanted to keep the anxiety down for them as long as possible. But at 4-years-old she could tell me where she was supposed to go. She knew it well. How a child so young can remember something like the location of the local CPS office is beyond me.

The after effects of the first visit were excruciating. The children had not seen her for 7 months, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, there is a visit. When it was time to leave, my little girl cried. She did not want to leave. My little boy did not care, until he realized that his sister did not want to go. All I can guess is that he realized he was “supposed” to not want to go either. This is when he started crying.

That night, they both had accidents in their beds. We had not had a single problem with accidents during the night our entire month that they had been with us. But the very first night they had a visit, they both wet the bed.

This continued for a week and a half. We finally got back on track, only to have another visit the next week.

This visit was even worse. Their biological mom had arranged to have her mom be able to come to the visit as well. I was very confused to hear her talk. While CPS was telling me that they were still set to terminate rights, their grandmother was talking about her daughter getting the kids back. My heart was being ripped apart right in the middle of the CPS office, and all I could do was plaster a smile on my face and nod politely. I tried to be light hearted and encouraging to the grandmother, but it was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to sit through. 

Once again, that night, both children had accidents. The accidents continued for a week and a half or so and then stopped.

And then we had our third visit. The visit went the same. Their grandmother was there again, so I had to put on the cordial smile and be encouraging once again. She was telling me that she was planning to buy the kids a little plastic swimming pool to put in the back yard for when they returned home. The grandmother told me that she had told her daughter she had to stop losing her grandkids. Remember- my children are her fifth and sixth child to be taken from her.

I guess it would not have been very wise to tell the grandmother that I hoped the children never were returned to her daughter.

Again, it is not at all that I have something personal against this lady. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I respect her as the mother of my children. If it were not for her, I would not have these two beautiful children to love. But when is anyone in this entire process going to stop and actually think about what is best for these innocent children?

The aftermath of the third visit was worse than the other two combined. While we had the bed-wetting again, my daughter became aggressively violent. We had been informed that she had violent outburst when we were told about them, but we had not witnessed it at all to date. She was definitely rambunctious and did not know her boundaries, but she was not aggressive or violent.

After the third visitation with her biological mother, we not only saw it, we experienced it!

My husband’s oldest sister and her family were in town visiting for the Thanksgiving holidays. All of the children were playing together, and our daughter suddenly grabbed the glasses off of one of the other children. With one swift move she snapped his glasses in half.

When I talk with my children, I try to always physically get down on their level by bending down and looking at them in their eyes. I feel that this prevents the feeling of fear that is caused by someone towering over them. So when I bent down to get on her level to talk to her about what she had done, she pushed me. When she pushed me, she pushed so hard that I literally fell back on the floor. There was such hardness and anger in her beautiful brown eyes! I completely understand why. She had no way of understanding what was going on in her little life.

I knew immediately that this had to stop. These visits were not healthy at all for my children!

I am a documenter. My dad has taught me from a very early age to document everything. You never know when you are going to need the dates or facts to refer back to. So all along I had been communicating with all parties involved in our case.

After this event, where she broke the glasses and pushed me, I got angry! I documented the events and emailed it to all of the attorneys, case workers, and therapists involved. I was about to come unglued by this point.

After this incident, the judge finally stopped the visitation.

We soon found out that the biological mom was not doing all of her counseling and other classes.

But even with this knowledge, the court did not terminate her rights. They set the court date off for 3 more months.

And so the waiting continued.

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

The next chapter in this series: Do Not Be Afraid

The previous chapter in this series: Our True Battle Begins

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Mother’s Day- Mourning Turned To Joy

On today- Mother’s Day- I dedicate this to all ladies who long to be a mommy but their dreams have not yet been fulfilled. I know the pain of Mother’s Day when your heart desperately longs to hold your child in your arms but you have not been given that opportunity. I pray that you will continue to read this article to the end. My sincere prayer is that somehow, some way, my journey will give you hope. I have learned that everything- and I mean everything- happens for a reason!

Over the years of us trying to have a family I have written different things, and been a part of a couple of groups for foster and adoptive parents. I had to write a short biography in these groups. This is a revised copy of our biography. If you would like to know more about our journey, I invite you to read from the beginning.

A day of celebration. Or so it was for most. But for me, my heart ached so desperately that the celebrations were like a hot white knife of pain twisting in my heart. Mother’s Day. Why would this beautiful day of celebration be so painful for me, you ask?

It is not because I have a poor relationship with my mom.  In fact, my mom has been my biggest champion all of my life. Oh yes, she has made her mistakes along the way as a mommy, but she is a wonderful mother and friend, now that I’m an adult.

The cause of the deep pain in my heart on what should be such a happy day is because there was a huge hole in my heart crying out to be filled. That fateful day was May 14, 2006.

At this point in my life, I had been married to my husband for 3 ½ years. By this time we had been trying to conceive a child for 3 years. First, we had to endure surgery for my endometriosis. Then I had to be put into chemical menopause, due to the endometriosis. Then we began the real road to trying to conceive, where doctors were involved in the process. The medications and procedures I have been through have cost us not only monetarily, but physically, mentally and most especially emotionally.

So as I sat in church on that fateful May 14 in 2006, I tried to hold back the tears that were threatening to pour in buckets. We had just had another failed round of medication and procedures. The pain was intensified through my hormonal roller-coaster ride, another year of failed dreams, and more and more unanswered questions. Why, God? Why will You not bless us with a child? As soon as the service was over, I ran out as fast as I could find the door. I had to get out. I had to scream. I had to cry. I just could not be around the joyous occasion of Mother’s Day any longer.

It would be almost a year before we would come to realize that God’s plan was to bless us more abundantly than we could have ever imagined! But just as Isaiah 55:8 says, my ways are not His ways; my thoughts are not His thoughts.

We had talked about adoption, but it seemed like such a far-reaching dream, because we are not financially wealthy. To pay $20,000, give or take a few thousand dollars was not an attainable goal for us.

So when some of our best friends told us about the foster-to-adopt program, we were intrigued. Or, if I am being honest with you, I should say my husband was very intrigued. I still had my hopes set on conceiving our own child.

We decided that I would have one more procedure before we started the process. When it ended in no pregnancy, I called to make an appointment for the informational meeting. Within a month we had started the process to become foster-to-adopt parents.

Less than five months later, we had children in our home! Talk about whirlwind! Most mom’s have 9 months at least to get ready to be a parent!

I will not tell you it has been a bed of roses, with rainbows opening each day and a winking moon closing out each day.

 After almost two years of being in the foster care system, we were able to finalize the adoption of all five of our children.

 Hearing the giggles and laughter of my children each morning lights up my life.

 I never thought I would hear a child call Mommy. Yet now I have five children calling out various forms of mommy at any given moment of the day.  Every now and then I still get a shiver down my spine as I hear that name- me! Mommy! You bet I am! I am a mommy! And I am blessed beyond my wildest imagination!

Though our children are adopted, this is not over for us. We do not know where God is going to lead us, but we know that there are many other children are stuck in the broken system of foster care.

Today I am very grateful to my Editor here at ConservativeDailyNews.com for providing me the space and opportunity to tell our story. No, I can’t save the world, but I can certainly change the world of countless little lives that have no voice. No matter how long it takes I will continue to fight to make changes and fix this Broken System!

I pray that God will use us and our experience to help many other children find a loving home. There are many empty arms this Mother’s Day. There are many children who need loving arms to hold them.

I believe our struggles are not without reason. God has called us for a purpose. We have been allowed to experience this system first hand. We know the hurts. We know the frustrations. We know where things need to change. So we are here, surrendered to do whatever He would have us do.

My mourning that Mother’s Day in 2006 has turned to boundless joy!

Thank You, Jesus! I am now a mommy!

My heartfelt prayers go out to each and every hurting heart just longing to be a mommy this Mother’s Day.

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

An Open Letter To All Senators, Congressmen and Governors

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

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