Tag Archives: Broken System

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

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

An Open Letter To All Senators, Congressmen and Governors

I am going to take a small detour from the continuing story of our journey through the Foster Care system to address you, Sir and Madam- our elected officials.  You are the ones who have to make the changes necessary in this Broken System.

While I do not mind at all sharing our personal story, the main goal of this series is to fix the Broken System of Foster Care. To accomplish this goal I am going straight to the top-you- the lawmakers of this nation.

Over the last 4 years I’ve talked to many people about my concerns. I’ve started all the way at the bottom, and gone all the way to the top. I’ve made phone calls, I’ve written letters, I’ve written emails, I’ve filled out online forms and I’ve actually sat and had conversations in person. I’ve talked to Case Workers, Supervisors, Investigators; I even contacted one of my State Representatives, but never received so much as a “thank you for contacting me” email.

I am now going straight to the top and I am not going to stop until somebody, somewhere, listens to me and commits to helping me bring light to this Broken System.  I am determined to be the voice for these children who “slip through the cracks” way too often!

There are simple things that can be done immediately that would cost nothing, yet would streamline things drastically!

One specific thing is requiring that all communications be shared with all parties involved with the child’s case. I was shocked when I found out that it is not a requirement as a foster parent to send weekly reports to all case workers, attorneys, etc. I was required to send a report once a month to my private agency case worker.

I am a firm believer that communication is the key to the success of any relationship. Without communication a relationship- no matter what it is- will fail. Invariably.

As a foster parent, when I would send my monthly reports to my private agency case worker, or any other correspondence that dealt directly with the child, I automatically copied the ad lidem assigned to the child, the CPS case worker, and anyone else who may be involved in the case. Without fail, I was told by every single CPS case worker that I was the only foster parent who had ever included them in correspondence regarding the child. This bewilders me to this day!

With the technological capabilities that we have today there is absolutely no reason at all why everyone involved with a child should not be on the same page. If you are following our journey, you know that with our first two foster children, there was a court case deciding their case , yet neither my private agency case worker nor myself knew that a court date was scheduled! When the judge ruled that the children were to go to a relative immediately I was given 1 hour to collect their belongings and explain to them that they would be leaving our home. To children who have already had their lives disrupted this is just another upheaval in their lives!

Had I been aware that there was a court date I could have better prepared myself, the children, and their belongings. As it were I was the one that informed my private agency case worker as to what was going on, not the CPS case worker!

As I stated in my opening article for this series,  the ENTIRE system needs to be completely overhauled! We must start with changing the laws that are written to protect the rights of the biological parents more than the rights of the children.

We must weed out judges who give these abusive parents chance after chance after chance to get their lives together, all the while the children are left with their lives in limbo. Every child needs permanency! While the “goal for permanency” is touted in the Foster Care system, the implementation of making permanency happen in the lives of these children in an acceptable time frame is missing!

Too often CPS case workers are just there to “do a job” rather than making a difference. Don’t get me wrong, there are many case workers who do have a true passion for the children they work with. However, there are many who see their position as simply a paycheck. Because they are government employees they are protected more than they could dream of in a private sector job!

I have experienced personally how private agencies often view these children as nothing more than commodities rather than the precious lives in upheaval! As I continue to tell our story you will get a first-hand account of this actually happening!

I know of foster parents who see these children as nothing but a paycheck. They do the absolute barest minimum to care for these children, yet take advantage of the system at every available opportunity.

It is my hope and prayer that by telling our story someone, somewhere will help me completely overhaul the Broken System that consistently fails our children in Foster Care. We have to be their voice! I will not be silent until someone listens to me!

I ask you, Congressmen, Senators, Governors- will you listen? Will you step up to the plate and fight to make the necessary changes?

You ARE being held accountable!

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

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Our True Battle Begins

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is September 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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It was not even a full month after we first received these two beautiful little boys that I received a call from the CPS Case Worker saying that she had just left the court proceedings and they would be at our house in an hour and a half to pick up the boys! What?!. I had never even been told that there was a court hearing scheduled that day. It was not until later that I found out that our Agency Case Worker was not even aware of a court date that was scheduled.

This is one of the MAIN reasons why Foster Care is a Broken System! In this day and age with the technology we have there is no reason in the world why communication cannot be streamlined so EVERYONE involved in the life and care of that child is aware of what is going on with their case!

At the court hearing, the judge ordered that the boys were to be taken out of foster care and placed with their grandmother. We had not been aware that this was even a possibility. From the time I received the call to the time that they came to pick the boys up was 1 hour. This is all the time I had to get them packed up and tell them that they would be leaving. I also called my husband frantically, telling him they were going to be leaving. Thankfully, he was already on his way home from work, so he would be able to tell them good-bye.

When the CPS Case Workers arrived to take them, I showed her the storage bins I had for them to take with them. One of the first things we were told in our classes is that anything that is bought for the children while they are with us goes with them when they leave our home. Most of these children have nothing that belongs to them. While I would have automatically done this, knowing that it was one of the main things that had been stressed to us in our classes made it even more important to me.

I am sure you can imagine my bewilderment when the Child Protective Services (CPS) Case Worker asked me if I was sure I wanted to send all of these things with them. I assured her that yes, I had already bought the storage buckets for them so I would be prepared whenever the time came for them to leave. Thankfully I had this taken care of the first few days so I did not send them off with a garbage bag of belongings.

I  reminded the CPS Case Worker that the oldest boy had celebrated his birthday with us, and that many of the things were his presents that he had received at his party. She told me once again that it was not necessary to send everything with them; I could keep some stuff for the next children we would receive. Once again I insisted that these things go with the boys.

By the time the boys were loaded in the car and buckled in their seat belts, this CPS Case Worker had asked me a total of 4 times if I was sure that I did not want to keep some of the things I was sending. By the last time, it was all I could do to keep my composure.

While we knew from the very beginning that these boys were not up for adoption, it was not easy at all to see them disappear down the road. These two little boys- our first sons- will always hold a very special place in my heart. Every time I see a bottle of Ranch Dressing I smile and think of the oldest one. My, how that little one loved his Ranch Dressing! I can still hear his little voice now- “Miz ‘Llenah, I want my ranch dressin’, please!”

That little boy stole my heart from the very first moment. I struggled more with the youngest one, because he cried for hours. He craved attention. While I would spend time throughout the day holding each of them, rocking them, playing with them, it was never enough for the youngest one. He would scream throughout the night. I was so mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted by the time they left, but I missed them before they were out of sight.

The next day, I called our agency case worker and told her we were ready for more children when they were available. She was bewildered, wondering what was going on with the boys. She was not even aware that they were being taken to the grandmother!

Our home was open once again.

It was at this time that she told me about another set of siblings- a little girl, 4-years-old and her brother who was 3-years-old. They had been placed in 9 different places, if I remember correctly. They were about to be moved again. She told me they should be ready to be adopted in December (this is now end of September 2007).

I did not hesitate! I told her absolutely we would take them! To know by December we could be finished with the Foster Care system and start just living life was a dream!

So we made arrangements to meet them. We decided it would be best not to just place them immediately, since they had been moved so many times. When we met them, we fell in love immediately. And they immediately began calling us mom and dad. That was a bit strange to me. In fact, they thought they were going home with us that day. They were so used to being moved around to different homes and different places they just naturally expected that they were on to their next stopping off place.

They came to spend one night with us the next week, and we made arrangements for October 1 for them to be placed with us. They didn’t want to leave to go back to the other home. So, October 1 came and they were brought to their new home.  Thankfully, this would be their last home. They would never be moved again! But, I am getting way ahead of myself here.

The day after the first two little boys were taken to their grandmother is when we agreed to take the next set of children. While we would not get them immediately, we were committed to taking them.

The next week, while discussing the brother and sister that we would be receiving with our Agency Case Worker, I found out that the first two little boys were back in the system. We did not know it at the time, but when they were removed from our home and taken to the grandmother, they were not taken to her home- they were taken to her place of employment! The grandmother had them only 4 days and discovered she could not handle them. She took them back to the shelter. This is now the second time the baby has been abandoned. His biological mother had left him literally on a street corner and drove off. Thankfully, it was on the street where the biological father lived, but that really does not make it any better. My prayer is that this baby is too young to remember what he has gone through.

I did not know what to do! Our little boys needed a home! But we had committed to the other two children! We were only licensed for two children. My heart was so very torn!

We discussed increasing our license to four children. I just did not know if I would be able to handle them all. I prayed and prayed, searching for an answer, but I did not receive one. All I could do at this point was trust that God would take care of these two little boys.

We had been told horrible things about the two children we were about to receive. They were destructive, no one could control them, there were major behavioral issues, and they were mean to animals. While some of the things we were told were true, not all of these things were. True facts or not, it does not hurt my heart any less to realize now that  ALL these two children wanted and needed was to be loved, to feel secure, and be given loving discipline.

From the very beginning we realized that these two children were not going to be nearly as easy as our first experience was.

Our Agency Case Worker had told us that their biological mother’s rights should be terminated by December- just two months away. Their biological father’s rights had already been terminated, and the final court date was scheduled in December.

There was a pre-trial date set for the end of October, to prepare for the Termination of Rights hearing in December. Never could I have ever imagined that our battle for these two children had only just begun.

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

The next chapter of this series: Jumping Head First In The Fight For My Children

The previous chapter of this series: Love Plain and Simple

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

FINALLY! The Pitter Patter of Little Feet!

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is September 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 gone to all of our classes and received all of our certifications. We had all of our inspections completed. We had our medical exam. We had our TB Test. We had received our FBI background check and fingerprint check back. My husband had received his driving record. Still we waited for my driving record!

FINALLY it came in! Everything was completed! We had graduated and were now officially certified by the state of Texas to be Foster Parents! Now we just needed the children!

One of the first decisions we had already had to make was how many children were we going to get licensed for. This is asked on your original application. I wanted to start with one child. I was still very apprehensive about everything, so thinking about more than one child in the very beginning was unimaginable to me. However, my husband pointed out that by agreeing to take two, our chances of getting children quicker would increase, because we would be available to take sibling groups. This made sense to me, but I still was not so sure about it. I just did not know if I was going to be a good Mommy! And I would be all alone during the day with the child…errrrr… children! In the end, we agreed that we would get licensed to have two children in our home.

Within just a few days of getting my driving record in, we received our first call. I did not even wait to hear the entire situation before I was saying, “yes!” The very next day we would have children! Two little boys!

What should have been the most joyous day of our lives at this point was clouded over by a family crisis. We had been over to my in-laws visiting with them, filling them in on everything that was going on. We left, excited that in just a couple of hours the children would be with us.

On the way home, we had to stop by a friend’s house to pick up a car seat that she was loaning us. We had such short notice that we had not had time to go purchase one.  

As we were getting in the car to head home, my husband’s phone rang. I immediately knew something was wrong. I heard him say, “Don’t wait for an ambulance, get him to the hospital now, I’ll meet you there!”

It was my mother-in-law calling to tell my husband that his dad had collapsed and could not talk, and they were rushing him to the emergency room. I was devastated for several different reasons. Obviously, you never wish that anyone has health issues. I love my father-in-law dearly. I am very close to him. I did not want anything to happen to him. This was my first thought. Then came the realization that the case workers were literally on their way to bring us the children!

I asked my husband if he wanted me to call and cancel the child placement, and he almost screamed, “No!” My friend assured my husband that she would come to the house with me to help me with the paperwork and other particulars in the process of receiving the children.

We raced home, my husband dropped me off, and he took off to the hospital. My friend was right behind me.

The next hour was one of the most nerve-wracking hours of my life.

Child Protective Services (CPS) and our Agency Caseworker arrived with the children. They were two little boys- brothers- 2-years-old and 3-years-old.

Thankfully, our house was only about 3 miles or so from the hospital. My husband ran home from the hospital to sign paperwork, meet the boys, and head back to the hospital to be with his dad. At t his point, things were very touch and go. They had determined that he had suffered a stroke. The outcome would not be known for 24 hours.

They had to make a decision whether or not to give him a drug to counter-act the stroke. There was risk of sudden death with this medication, but this was the only hope of him recovering to any sense of normalcy. Otherwise, if he did not take the drug, it was very unlikely that he would recover, and there was still the possibility of death. The family decided to give him the medication.

Thankfully, his dad has made an excellent recovery. I know this is not something he would have ever wanted to happen, but one thing I have learned through my life is that we are in control of nothing outside of the choices we make. Things happen. The real test of character is how you deal with the things that happen.

Later that night, when things were looking more stable with his dad, my husband came home to spend time with our new children. This was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.

As I have written in previous articles, I still tease my husband to this day that he wanted to be a father before he wanted to be a husband. In many ways, though I am teasing him, I do believe that is partially true. His youngest sister was born when he was 14-years-old, so he was a very big part of caring for her as a baby.

My husband was 28-years-old when we got married. He has never been married before, and has no children from previous relationships. So his dream was finally being fulfilled after almost 19 years in the making.

Watching my husband play with these two little boys warmed my heart beyond words. I was enjoying them, and thankfully, my friend had been there to help me with the legal side of things- coordinating the search for marks on their bodies so that could be documented, getting them bathed,  and getting them  settled in for their first night in their new home. As much as I love my friend, she is not my husband. She had been there with me for so much of the process of our fertility journey, but your friend is not the same as your husband. So when my husband got home and joined us, my friend went home. And it was just our little family. Finally!

The thought was almost overwhelming!  In many ways it had been a whirlwind! Though our journey had spanned the course of several years, this process had taken us to the deepest depths of darkness in so many ways. Even tonight- the very first time we were to be called “parents”-  we had a crisis to face. And yet, the bright light shining on my husband’s face and in his eyes as he played with his two sons was absolutely amazing! The most beautiful sound I believe I had ever heard up to this point was the pitter-patter of four little fun running around our home. The giggles were infectious! Finally! Our dream had been realized.

Maybe!

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

The next chapter in this series: Love Plain and Simple

The previous chapter in this series: Fostering Hope

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Fostering Hope

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is March-September 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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During the 8 weeks of our training, we met another couple who were going through the process to be foster parents. We got to know them quite well, and shared with them why we were going through the process.

Their goal was different from ours. They had a daughter who was already grown and had her own son, but they knew that had a big house with a lot of room, and plenty of love in their hearts to share with kids who needed love.

We never would have imagined when we first met them how quickly we would all become so close. I am so thankful that this was the case, because this process is not a walk in the park. It is a very long and enduring journey. You need someone to help you cope with everything you are experiencing. If they are experiencing the same process, it helps, I believe.

It did not take long for us to realize that there were many people that did not have the same intentions that we did. I was appalled at some of the questions that we heard during our classes.

How would we be paid?

When are we paid?

How do they determine what children are placed in what home- do they look at race?

Money seemed to be the main goal for many of these people! Yes, it is an added bonus that the State pays you to be a foster parent. In most cases, you are even compensated in adoptions as well. But to know that the only questions these people had was in regards to the money just infuriated me! Not only were they here seeking a way to make money, but they were doing it at the expense of children who had already been abused! These children were nothing but pawns- a way to make an extra buck- for these people!

For others, to know that they would not accept a child into their home that was a different race just sickened me. I am by no means trying to judge, but a child- any child, no matter what color their skin is, should be loved and cherished.

If you are not wanting to adopt a child of a different race, I can somewhat see through those lenses. I do not agree with it at all, but I can accept that. But to know that you will not even hug a child, provide them with shelter because their skin is a different color, this is just absolutely disgusting to me. However, I am sure it is better that this be made known rather than have a child of a different race be placed in that home and then that child becomes a victim of abuse at the hands of someone who is supposed to be protecting them from the abuse they have already endured.

At times, it was very difficult to sit through our classes that were required for our certifications. It was not at all because the information was too difficult. It was because of the other people who were there to be certified.

After going through this process, I believe one of the first steps in the process should be a complete drug screening and psychological check. Many of these children in foster care are removed because the biological parents are using illegal substances in the home. The State does not require that foster parents be drug tested. This is just amazing me to me. We had to have a TB test taken, but we never once had to give a urine or blood specimen.

I believe a psychological exam should also be required, because some of the people that were in our classes definitely would not have passed. How in the world can you entrust a child to people like this? They have already been taken from one home, at the very least, if not many homes. Putting them in yet another home where there is psychological issues of any kind is asking for trouble.

You are required to have a home study. I would assume that a lot of information comes out in these home studies. Having gone through one, I know the questions that are asked. However, if you decide to be dishonest, and there is nothing on your legal record, then there is no way of really knowing the truth. I believe this is how many people slip past the approval process who should never be allowed to have a child in their home. A psychological exam would prevent some of these issues. I am sure that some would slip by still, because no system is perfect. However, if just one foster parent who had ill-intentions or psychological issues was prevented from going through the system, then all the money that is required to implement this process would be worth it- for just one single person.

We finally completed our classes, obtained all the licenses we needed, had our fingerprints taken and our backgrounds checked, and had our TB test taken. All we were waiting on was my driving record. My husband’s driving record had arrived, but mine had been lost in the mail somewhere. By the time it was all said and done, we had to request my driving record four times before we actually received it.

It truly is amazing how God works. Even when you do not understand something, there is always a purpose and a reason for things happening. Every day that I live, this is concreted more securely in my mind and heart. Everything happens for a reason! Even if we do not understand what that reason is, there is still a reason.

We were getting very anxious. The only thing we needed was one piece of paper, and we could have children in our home.

I had already resigned my position at work so I could stay at home with the children. We had the rooms ready and waiting.

And we sat waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

It was almost a month after I quit my job before we were actually able to bring children home. Looking back, I realize now that God was giving me a vacation. It was already much needed, but I could have never imagined that this almost month of vacation was going to be something I would have to draw from in the years to come. 

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

The next chapter in this series: Love Plain and Simple

The previous chapter in this series: Finally! The Pitter Patter of Little Feet!

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Facing My Fears

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is January-March 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 finally decided we had reached the end of the fertility journey. We would not try again. It was just too painful. Not necessarily physically, though that was painful. The emotional and mental pain was unbearable at this point.

We had discussed adoption, and were both very willing to adopt, but we also knew that we did not have the financial resources to pursue this option. So at this point we were going to have to just accept that we were not going to have children.

We had talked about trying to move closer to my family. My brother lives in the Dallas area, and we live in the San Antonio area. While we are in the same state, we are still about 3 ½ hours apart. We began to pray about it and left it in God’s hands.

My husband began searching for a job in the area. If this was what God wanted, He would have to open the doors necessary for us to move.

Within just a few days he got a response from his resume, and had a phone interview that went very well. They asked him to come up for an interview in-person. We made the arrangements and went to Dallas for his interview. He was offered the position.

We gave our notices at work, gave our notice to our landlords, and began to make preparations for the move. However, I never packed a single box. Usually, that is the first thing I do if we are preparing for a move.

We made arrangements for my brother and his family to help us move some things to their house temporarily. My husband would go on and start working while I stayed behind to finalize the packing and moving preparations. My brother and his family came down to take a bed back with them. My husband was to leave on Sunday to start work on Monday.

Saturday night we were both very restless. We lay in bed, talking. Neither of us were at peace. Why was this? We had prayed for God’s direction, He had answered. All of the doors were thrown wide open for us. We had not received any bumps along the way. So why were we not at peace? 

We did not go to sleep until 4am Sunday morning. He was supposed to leave around noon. After an entire night of talking and praying, we decided that he was not going to go to Dallas. We did not understand why this had all happened, but we knew very clearly that he was not supposed to go. None of this made sense to either of us. Why would all of this have happened if we were not supposed to move?

My husband had no problem at all rescinding his notice at his job. He did not know it at the time, but another co-worker had given their notice the same week he had given his. This left his company with only one systems analyst in the field. His boss had asked him if he would reconsider the move, and my husband told him this was the decision we had to make. Friday- his last day of work, his boss offered him a considerable raise to reconsider.

We have often wondered if this was the reason this all happened. Was this God’s way of providing more income for us? I do believe this is part of the reason. But the real reason- or should I say reasons- were yet to be realized.

Around this time we had friends who had become foster parents through the State. They told us about the program, and suggested that we check it out. We were not sure how it all worked, but needless to say, our interest was piqued.

I was in a discussion with two of my dear friends who knew the fertility process we were going through. I told them about our other friends who were becoming foster parents, and suggested that we check into it. I told them that I did not know if I wanted to do it. One of the ladies turned to me and said, “You are being selfish.” She told me that I was being selfish in many ways, none of the least of which was that I was depriving a child the love of a good home. Wow! Talk about hitting you below the belt! That took a lot to digest.

That day she shared something with me that I had never known about her- she was adopted. I knew she had a very difficult childhood, but I did not know that she had left home at an early age and was taken in by friends’ family. At the age of 18 they adopted her. She said if it were not for the lady that adopted her, she would not know Christ today.

She made me stop and think. The reality of the situation was that I was scared. We had gone through so many procedures, jumped through so many hoops, had our hearts hurt so many times; the thought of more pain was just unbearable. I was letting fear prevent me from moving forward.

That day I faced my fears. I realized that my friend was right. I was being selfish. At this point I could not even acknowledge to myself, much less voice to someone else that her arguments had been right.

Over the next couple of weeks I thought a lot about our conversation. I talked to my husband about everything, and he was completely ready to find out what we needed to know to get started in the foster-to-adopt program.

In March of 2007 we attended the informational meeting. The thought alone was overwhelming to me. We could go through these classes, get our certifications, get our background checks, have our home inspected, and we could have kids. And it would cost us very little money! The only out-of-pocket expenses we would have would be the fees necessary for background checks, licensing fees, and the other miscellaneous items. With a quick calculation, we were estimating less than $300 total and we would be able to be parents! Why was this not made known to more people who are struggling to have children?

It would not be long before I understood that it’s not really that simple.

We took an application home and filled it out. Within a week we were sitting in our first class.

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

The next chapter in this series: Fostering Hope

The previous chapter in this series: A Missed Message

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Dreams Of A Little Girl Shattered.. Or Are They?

This begins the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is pre-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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You were created for a purpose. In fact, each of us was created for a special, unique purpose. Sadly, many of us go through many years of our lives not having a clue what our unique purpose in life is. Unfortunately, too many people never seem to find their unique purpose in life.

If you had told me as little as 4 years ago that my purpose in life was to become intertwined in politics I would have laughed in your face and probably had a few “not so nice” words for you. I absolutely, positively despise politics. I am not a game player, and I see politics as nothing but a huge game at the expense of other people.

I also believe that everything in life that happens, happens for a reason. We may never know why some things happen, but there are other times I believe that it becomes quite evident why something or a series of events happen.

I view my entire life through the lens of believing that every single thing serves a purpose for my specific purpose in life. If I had not lived through the things I have lived through I would not be the person I am. While I am by no means perfect, I am very happy with the woman I have become.

However, it has not always been that way.

I will tell you how it all began… me becoming so intertwined in the very thing I detest so much- politics. This is a very personal and painful story that has spun into what has now become a life-long commitment to shed light on and change a system that is completely broken.

There are a couple of things that most every little girl dreams of. The first is her wedding day. Before she learns to walk in high heels, it is quite likely that she has planned her wedding down to the tiniest detail. She knows what her color scheme will be.  She knows what her cake will look like. She knows what her brides maids dresses will look like. And most importantly, she knows what her wedding gown will look like.

It is not important to her at this point that she has no way of knowing the most important detail- who her groom will be.

Nor is it important to her that she has not given this man, who she has most likely not even met at this point in her young little life, the opportunity to make choices on their very special day.

The wedding day is, of course, all about what the bride wants, right?

Another day that most every little girl dreams of is the day she becomes a mommy. From the earliest age we are given baby dolls so we can prepare to be the best little mother in the entire world!

As a child, my favorite toy was my baby dolls. I was never one to play with Barbie Dolls. In fact, I do not believe I ever owned a Barbie. However, I had countless baby dolls. My dollies and I would play for hours, lost in our little world of make-believe.

I was an odd mixture of a child. I was one who always wanted to be grown up way before my time. And yet, I was perfectly content to play with my dolls, lost in a world that disappears from us way too quickly- childhood.

I crossed over the bridge from being a child to a lady way too young. From the very beginning I had numerous problems that have lasted me my entire lifetime.

When I was about 20-years-old I first heard about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I read a magazine article, and they listed all of the symptoms. I had every single symptom! I copied the article and took it to my doctor. She tested me, and told me that no, I did not have it. At the time, very little was known about PCOS. I thought I had the answer, only to be shot down again.

Over the years, I honestly cannot tell you how many doctors I have seen. I am what some would call an anomaly. If there’s a strange health issue, more than likely, I have it. I do exaggerate here, and honestly, I do thank God for my good health. Though I have many issues, I know I could have it a lot worse. So, though I have seen many different doctors, for various different reasons over my lifetime, most of the time my doctor visits centered around the parts of my body that define me as a woman rather than simply a human.

When I was in my early 20’s I was diagnosed with Human Papaloma Virus (HPV). At the time, I was mortified! It is a sexually transmitted disease. It was not until many years later that I would discover that nearly 80% of the population has HPV- and many do not even know they have it.

After it was discovered that I had HPV I began the treatment. There are no words to express the pain involved in the treatment of HPV. I’ve had several different procedures over the years. The first treatment was freezing. They froze my cervix. And then they thawed it out. And then froze it again. And then they thawed it out again. Quite honestly, I cannot tell you what else is involved in the procedure. I know there is something else, but I do not remember. I believe I’ve had the freezing procedure done twice. This procedure is not only painful during the process of the procedure, but the aftermath is almost as bad.

Later, I had the CONE Procedure. This procedure requires that they cut a cone-shaped piece of your cervix out. You only have a local anesthesia. As with the freezing, not only is it very painful during the procedure, but it is also very painful during the healing process as well.

I ended up moving to another state, and had to find another doctor. So the search began yet again.

I went to see a doctor that had been recommended to me. I had such a bad experience with her that I swore I would never go back to another gynecologist.

By this point in my life, I have had so many bad experiences with doctors that I cannot recount them all. This last was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as the saying goes. I finally said enough. No more. I refuse to put my legs up in stir-ups for anyone else! Man or woman, it didn’t matter.

But with the issues I have had over the years, I should have known I would never be able to stick to my word.

When I was in my early 30’s I began having severe pains in my abdomen. I tried to dismiss the pains, but eventually they got so bad that a friend and my husband ganged up on me and insisted that I go to the doctor. I am very thankful that they did, because this doctor diagnosed me with endometriosis. I had to have surgery to address that issue.

After the surgery, I had to be put on medication to put me in chemical menopause for 6 months. I was told exactly what to expect. But in reality, there is no way you can fully grasp what is going to happen. Thankfully, I was prescribed what we called “Happy Pills” during this time. If not, my already bald husband would have been pulling out the stubble. It was no fun at all- for either of us, or anyone that spent any time at all around me.

It was probably around this time in my life where I began to truly feel less of a ________.

You can fill in the blank with many different words. The first word was “woman”. I felt like I was not truly a woman. Not only had I never had children, but now I was going through menopause. Keep in mind I was well informed that the treatment would only last for 6 months, and then I would be off of the medication and have a normal cycle again. I felt less of a person because I could not lose the weight that I needed to lose. 

I am sure at this point you are wondering where my rational thinking was. That’s the point. I was not rational at all.

 I have spoken to other women who have gone through chemical menopause, and the reaction is wide and varied. Mine seems to be one of the most extreme experiences. One of my friends had very little change mentally or emotionally when she had to have the same treatment.

After completing the 6 months of chemical menopause, we began to try to have children. Previously, we had not tried to prevent pregnancy, but it had not been a consistent calendaring of events.

This is where the real fun begins.

After several months of actively trying to conceive, with no results, I went back to the doctor. My doctor told me there was nothing more he could do to help me, I had to help myself. He told me that the endometriosis was taken care of, so the only problem I was having in conceiving was that I needed to lose weight. This would solve the problem.

Almost in tears, I asked him how to do that. His next words infuriated me beyond words. “Just don’t eat so much”. I had to clamp my mouth shut before I went off right there in the office. Sure, he had no problems. He was very fit and slender. It was quite obvious he had not struggled a day in his life with weight issues. And not only that, my husband is very slender and eats twice as much as I do, if not more!

Since he did not feel that he could help me any further, he referred me to his colleague, who is a fertility specialist. Thankfully, I did not open my mouth and say the things that were on the tip of my tongue, because the referral was the beginning of a lot of answers for me.

I was very leery to go to my first appointment with yet another doctor. I could not tell you what number this one was.

When I met the new doctor, at once I was put at ease. He was not slender. He is a plump little man with a smile that warms the room and my heart. He has the bedside manner that I have always dreamt of. During the very first visit, I told him exactly what his colleague had told me and how I felt about him. His response was not at all what I imagined. He said, “Well, yes, losing weight may definitely help- not in just conceiving a child, but in a healthier life. But that may not be the complete answer. As you can see, I need to lose weight too. So, I’ll lose 10 pounds if you’ll lose 10 pounds.” Immediately I was at ease.

Now, honestly, neither of us lost the 10 pounds. But to have him treat me as a person with feelings rather than him ridiculing me made all the difference in the world.

The first thing he did was run a complete battery of blood test. I had told him that I had all the symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), but they had told me for years that I do not. He looked over my information and agreed that yes, I had every single symptom. When the test results came back, it showed up as negative for PCOS. I started crying, right there on the examining table as he talked to me. He immediately started patting my hand. He assured me that he was going to do the test again. He saw the issues, and was not giving up. So, when the second set of test results came back negative, he told me not to worry, he was going to treat me for PCOS no matter the test results. By this time, he had performed a vaginal sonogram and could actually physically see the cysts on my ovaries with the sonogram. So he diagnosed me, even though the blood test was saying I didn’t have it. This is what makes the difference between a doctor and a good doctor. He actually listened to me! I cannot tell you how many doctors over the years have just shoved me out of the office with a more nutritious eating plan.

I will not tell you I eat the healthiest. But, over the years, numerous times I have made many concerted efforts to eat right, exercise, and lose the weight. Every single time I failed. If I actually lost weight, I would gain it back almost immediately if I ate anything not on the plan. Or, there were even times when I gained weight rather than lost weight, while eating healthier and exercising. Yes, I do realize that muscle weighs more than fat, but I did not gain that much muscle mass in that small period of time. After a while, it becomes very discouraging. You see the scales going up. You are making better decisions in what you eat. And you have no real success. So why try? And you go ahead and eat the unhealthy stuff anyways. It becomes a vicious cycle.

To have someone listen to me, to know that maybe, just maybe, after all these years, there may be some answers, I was excited beyond belief! Yes, it means I am sick. Yes, it means I will have to take medication- possibly for the rest of my life- but hey, it is answers! I’ve gone 15 years or more with absolutely no answers and more frustrations.

It was interesting to find out that the medication that is used to treat PCOS is diabetes medication. Though I am not diabetic, PCOS affects the amount of insulin that is absorbed by your body. When I started the medication, I had a few small side effects but nothing major. It was during this time that my husband and I decided we wanted to go full-scale in trying to conceive a child. So in addition to the PCOS medication, I also started taking fertility medication. Once again, we got on a merry-go-around ride of up-and-down emotions.

After about a year on my medication for PCOS, it suddenly started making me violently ill. My doctor changed my medication and I was on this medication with no problems at all for almost 2 years. Then I started having problems again. I was still taking the fertility drugs as well.

The fertility medication had to be taken at a certain time each month- depending on when your cycle starts. After you finish the medication, you have to go into the doctor’s office to have a sonogram. Depending on what the sonogram shows depends on what you do next. If the follicles are a certain size, you are ready to proceed. If they are not to a certain size, you have to wait a day or so, and go have another sonogram done.

Add to this that your sex-life is no longer determined by when the mood strikes you and your spouse, you now watch the calendar. You count days. You know when you “have” to have sex in order to conceive. It does not make for a romantic setting, to say the least.  While my husband and I have always had a very healthy sex life with no complaints on either side, it became a dreaded thing when we had to schedule sex for the sole purpose of having a child. The enjoyment seems to disappear when you both know that in the back of your mind you are wondering if this is going to be the time you are finally successful.

Studies have proven that the most sexual organ of our body is our mind. If our mind is not there, then you are simply going through the motions. I never truly understood this until we had to schedule our love life. While previously, a phone-call inviting a noon-time rendezvous was very exciting, it now became a burden for both of us. It was not at all that we did not enjoy being with each other anymore. We both just knew that the purpose of our love-making was very specific during these appointments.

Needles to say, this process becomes quite expensive very quickly. Most health insurance policies do not cover fertility treatments, so this comes out of your pocket. In less than 6 months we spent almost $10,000.

I have had people ask me why we have gone through so much to have children. If you are one of those people who are very blessed, and you can conceive without any difficulty, then there is no possible way you can understand. If you have not walked in these shoes, there is no way you can know the emotional agony.

When my husband proposed to me I told him there was no way I could marry him, because I knew there was a big possibility I would not be able to have children due to all my medical problems. He is the most genuine, most matter-of-fact, most black-and-white view of things people I’ve ever met. I had seen him interact with children, and I had heard him talk about spending time with his nieces and nephews, so I knew he loved children. I still tease him to this day that I think he wanted to be a father before he wanted to be a husband.

When I told him that I did not know if I could have children, his response was that there is always adoption. That thought had never occurred to me with him, because it was not an option at all in my first marriage.

Even with the thought that we could adopt a child, I still saw it as impossible because we are not wealthy people. By this point we had spent well over $12,000 or more in our quest to become parents. I knew that adoptions were not cheap by any stretch of the imagination.

One of every little girl’s dreams for me had been shattered. I was not going to be a mommy. Or… was I? Sometimes things are not always as they seem.

Little did I know that lives were about to take a dramatic turn.

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

The next chapter in this series: A Missed Message

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video