So, most of you know that the kids went back to live with their mom more than a month ago. But what I haven’t shared yet, at least publically (er…semi-publically… okay, to those very few of you who read my blog) what really happened.
I have hemmed and hawed over writing this blog for several weeks now but I have to get it out. I want to be able to fall asleep at a decent hour tonight, without the perpetuating blog-monologue running through my brain.

Throughout the five months that the kids were with us I shared– a lot. I shared lots of good stuff and some not so good stuff but I kept a lot of to myself. Not knowing how long the kids were going to be with us and knowing that some of their classmate’s parents are friends of mine, I felt like it wasn’t fair to share some of the real stuff we were dealing with. It was very important to me that no one passed judgment on them, that no one had any preconceived notions or anticipated any potential issues that would most likely never affect them directly. I wanted the kids to be accepted and given a fair chance; they deserved that. There were already many other preconceptions about them that people naturally assumed, they certainly didn’t need any more.

But as the foster-mom, I need to expel the stress and anxiety that I have experienced over these last several months. This is not me crying for attention or begging for praise, this is just my story. The story of what really happened…The rest of the story.


Just after my last blog, the one where I talked about the little one being removed for the night, things got remarkably better. Visits with the Grandparents were ceased and life was a lot easier. We had about three weeks of “great”! but at about the fourth week, things started to spiral out of control. The kids went a couple of weeks without seeing their mom due to communication problems and the little one being the most sensitive just kind of lost it. We had several days in a row that were difficult but not impossible– there was definitely a shift in the little one’s behavior. We’d seen this shift before, but were able to manage our way through it, even though each new cycle was significantly more difficult than the last.

We should have known that this next one was going to be even worse, but it didn’t occur to me until it actually was.

It started with the cussing…AGAIN which led to time outs, which led to tantrums, which led to physical altercations which led to longer time outs and more hitting and door slamming and wall kicking and whatever-he-could-get-his-hands-on breaking, and spitting in my face and calling me names. The tantrums would eventually stop but as soon as he was done he’d immediately start looking for something to do to get in trouble. It was almost scary, the look in his eye as he walked around the house looking for something, anything to touch that he wasn’t supposed to- another child’s toy, our cell phones, fragile items, computers, ANYTHING, just to be told, “No!”.
We were careful about picking our battles, tried VERY HARD to use positive reinforcement as well as other tactics. We made excuses; taking into consideration everything that he had been dealt up to this point but there was only so much that we could do.

The beginning of the end happened on Saturday, April 30th. We had gone to the pool with some friends and the little one was benched for peeing on the floor (on purpose) at a public restroom earlier that day. I had made a deal with him, I told him that he could not swim that day as a consequence for his actions, but if he sat on the bench and made good choices, he could play angry birds on my phone while we swam. He agreed to those terms and when we got to the pool he sat down and followed directions- I gave him my phone and got in the pool with the other kids. I will never know if that was the right decision- I felt justified at the time and I have no regrets.

He was fine for about 20 minutes. He’d look up from the phone every once-in-a-while to see what we were doing and of course I glanced over at him twice as often. But then, as I was standing at the wall of the pool, holding onto the edge talking to someone else who was standing to my right, he walked over and stomped down on my chest as hard as he could. I heard the thump before I felt the pain and when I looked up he was running back to the bench. There were about 15 people sitting in the hot tub nearby and in unison everyone gasped. It was shocking to say the least. Brett and I immediately got out of the pool, dried off and gathered our belongings. Our friends who were with us (as part of this preplanned family outing) offered to stay with the other two while we took the little one back to the house and got him situated.

When we got to the house, he immediately ran from us, began throwing things, trying to break whatever he could. Brett finally got him in his room and tried to calm him down but he was unrelenting for almost 45 minutes. The pool was about to close and one of us had to go get the other two, so I left and Brett stayed home. He called our agency and told them what was going on. He asked that someone come to the house to help us as the child needed to be restrained but we were not licensed to do so. (I know the word restrain sounds harsh, but that’s what it’s called and it’s used to get a child who is completely out of control to calm down- it’s not like a straight jacket, just a bear hug to keep the child and others around safe) But apparently our agency didn’t feel that we needed them so they just told Brett not to be alone with him and “don’t agitate him”.

WHAT?!?! For real?!?! They are supposed to be there to SUPPORT us! To SUPPORT the children! The children are technically THEIR responsibility. I have no doubt that if the same call was made during normal business hours that someone would have been there immediately. But I’m guessing that since this was a Saturday evening, on a holiday weekend, it wasn’t the most convenient time.

(Needless to say, we will not be working with that agency EVER again.)
As the week progressed the behaviors escalated. Both Brett and I were being physically assaulted at least twice a day. By Wednesday I had bruises on my arms, scratch marks on my wrists, I’d had several things thrown at (and hit) my face, my hair pulled, I’d been spat on and called a bitch. Our house had turned into a crisis zone. And even though I held him when he was calm and praised him when he was good, it got to the point where it was dangerous; dangerous for us and him. All we could do was defend ourselves and I was so worried that I would hurt him in the process.

Our plan was to start therapeutic training the following week so that if he had been “leveled up”, to a therapeutic home, he could stay with us. But next week seemed so far away, it would be six weeks after that before we’d be finished with the training– It became too much. Between not feeling safe in our house and the lack of support from our agency as well as the mental, physical and emotional exhaustion, I just couldn’t do it anymore. So I made the call, well actually it was an email, but I did it- I asked that he be exited from our home.

Even now, sitting here, writing this blog, two months after it went down, I’m still moved to tears. No matter how hard it was, not matter how bad he hurt me or what he broke or how difficult he was, I still loved him and the thought of him leaving was heartbreaking. How were we going to tell him? Who was he going to stay with? This is what people talk about when it comes to foster kids- kids bouncing from foster home to foster home. I was now part of the problem and no longer the solution. I was letting him down. I was sad; very, very sad. I still am.

It was Thursday evening, the night before Brett and I were to leave for the beach- our much needed respite weekend, and I wrote to the social worker:

“Please accept this email as our request for long-term removal of TG from our home. We have been physically assaulted multiple times each day, every day since Saturday April 30th. He has become a danger to us and we feel we are at risk of becoming a danger to him as we do not know how to handle his behavior except to defend ourselves. We have not and would not physically discipline him, however we fear that since we do not have proper training, we may inadvertently hurt him trying to defend ourselves.

TG is going to respite care this weekend and will most likely be okay in that home for a few days, however, it is my opinion that he needs to be in a therapeutic home or a home where he is the only child for now. We may reconsider taking him back into our home if/when we feel prepared to do so after completing therapeutic training and once he is being treated for and/or in better control of the issues he is facing.

This situation is very upsetting and disappointing. I can’t help but feel that perhaps this could have been avoided had there been a more efficient response from DSS and NCH with regards to effective therapy, quicker assessments and more support.

We expect him to be removed no later than Friday, May 20th.

Thank you,

Brett and Andrea”


This was Thursday, May 12th at 5:30pm. It was after-hours, I knew it would be the next day before I got a response, all I could do was wait.

The rest of the evening we pretended like everything was okay. In fact, we pretended like everything was okay for the next SEVEN days! It felt like and eternity and yet, I didn’t want that day to come.

It wasn’t until the 11th hour, almost literally, before we finally got word on where he was going. The plan all along, ever since they came to stay with us was for them to eventually live with their mom. We didn’t know how long that would be, but she had been working hard to get things ready for them. Since the kids weren’t taken from her, since none of the charges were against her, there was really no reason to keep them from her except that the social worker wanted her to prove that she really wanted them which she did– she got a house and a car and met all of her other requirements, she was the best candidate for placement.

When this decision was made, I felt relieved. I could handle telling them that ALL THREE of them were going to live with their mom, even if the little one was going first. (To give us the break and warm her up to being a full-time parent) That’s what it’s all about anyway, reunification. They were going to be reunified with their mom. We had done our job. We had prepared three children to be reunited with their family and even though it happened sooner (due to extreme circumstances) than we had expected, we had done it!

The problem was that the plan wasn’t decided until THURSDAY afternoon. We didn’t want to stress the kids out until we knew exactly what the plan was, so for seven days, we had to act like nothing was going on.

Thursday afternoon (May 19th) we sat the kids down and told them the plan: We have some exciting news! Your mom has been doing a really good job getting ready for your guys to come live with her and she is really looking forward to being together. So we talked to the social worker today and T is going to go stay with your mom starting tomorrow and then you guys (K and K) will be going the day after school gets out for the summer!

We tried to make it a positive thing. We wanted them to feel good about the transition. We thought that they would be excited, but they weren’t. The little one immediately started crying, saying he didn’t want to leave. The middle one was stressed because he was worried that his mom was going to let the little one play with his video games and that he would break them and the oldest one was concerned about leaving her friends and not going to the beach.

Looking back, I realize that we shouldn’t have been surprised by these reactions, but I don’t know, it was so weird at the time.

That night we let the little one pick what he wanted for dinner, he chose CiCi’s Pizza. We ate, came home, did our normal evening routine, and I tucked him in for the last time. That sucked ass.

Earlier that week, I think it was Wednesday, in all the stress of the situation, I got one last chance to just hold him. It was about 10pm, over an hour after they’d gone to bed– Brett and I were sitting on the couch watching TV and he came stumbling into the living room, mostly asleep, and crawled into my lap. I just sat there and held him, and cried, hard. I cried a lot that week, when no one was looking and I was so grateful that I got to cry while holding him, without him ever knowing.

God, I’m crying now. A lot.

That kid had (has) a very special place in my heart. All three of them did, do and always will. They are precious, precious children.

I know that we made an impact on their lives; we showed them other possibilities, gave them the opportunity to learn and grow and to be loved whole heartily. I feel good about what we did and I’m glad we did it. I have no regrets. They will forever be a part of my life and will always be in my heart.

I am so blessed to have had the chance to love them. So, so blessed.

The details of the next day are too painful to recap. Even though I was dropping him off with his mom, it hurt- BAD.
I cried several times over the next few days but tried to stay positive for the older two.

The following three weeks were like night and day compared to the weeks, months leading up to them. Having just the two was effortless. They still gave us a hard time, were mouthy and didn’t always follow directions, but they were like different children.

While all three were with us, I NEVER got a free moment unless they were sleeping or I was out- alone. I know kids require a lot of attention, but this was constant and beyond normal. Neither Brett nor I realized until the little one was gone just how much all three of them constantly fought for my attention- I mean constantly. The therapist had pointed it out, but it had become my normal so it didn’t occur to me that it was actually happening. I just knew that I heard “Andreeea” about 75 times per hour- and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. Ask Brett!

But when the little one left- a calm came over the house; the older two suddenly became independent and were able to occupy and entertain themselves, sometimes together, sometimes separately. I could actually go an hour maybe longer without hearing my name even once.

It was strange how the entire dynamic of our home changed, literally overnight.

Two nights before their last day with us the middle one chose McDonald’s for dinner and the last night, the oldest one chose Church’s Chicken. The last day school came, they said goodbye to their friends, came home and packed up their clothes and toys. That night, I tucked them in for the last time and the next morning I took them to their mom.

I’ve talked to them a few times since that day. They don’t have very good cell service where they live so talking on the phone is difficult, couple that with their limited communication skills and it’s VERY difficult to have a conversation. I am trying to stay in touch and hope to do so forever but I’m hoping that as quickly as we became a family, they are now doing the same now, only better, with their real family. So I am giving them some space, reminding myself daily that I did my job and letting them move on.


People often ask me if I miss them- This is a tricky question. I miss loving them. I miss seeing them. I miss the good times. But it was an INTENSE five months and there are a LOT of things that I don’t miss; the constant stress, for one.

If you follow me on Facebook, then you know how much we accomplished and I will forever treasure those accomplishments, but those accomplishments were pepper flakes compared to the daily challenges we faced and now that it’s all over, contrary to the end of many relationships- only remembering the good stuff, I mostly remember the bad. In fact, it’s not so much remembering as it is, just now recognizing just how hard it was. I spent five months trying to be positive, trying to make things good, trying to create an image for them and those who were part of their lives, that I rarely even admitted to just how bad it was.


And now the rest of the rest of the story…

I don’t know if we’ll ever do it again.

The truth is that we learned from them as much if not more than they learned from us. Having kids is hard- duh! Everyone knows that. But you don’t realize until you have three children who depend on you for everything to see that this may not be what you want forever, at least not for us.

I realize that we had a tough case. Trust me, EVERYONE told us that, constantly. Even the in-home therapist would come to the house every Monday, and say, “I don’t know how you guys do it. I gotta go home and drink!” Yeah, I know, she was high quality. Ha! But we did have an extreme case. One that burnt us out, big time! However, that’s not the main reason we are second guessing our want/need to have children and a “family”. We realized just what a sacrifice it is to have children and we’re not sure we want to make those sacrifices forever.

About two weeks into being full-fledged foster parents I realized, there are no guarantees. Whether you adopt older kids, babies or even have your own, there is no guarantee that you will not be bailing them out of jail when they’re 17 or giving them rent money when they’re 23 or visiting them in rehab when they’re 30. And to be quite honest, I don’t think that’s a risk that I actually want to take. I want to travel and see the world. I want to experience different cultures and lifestyles. Being a parent is one of those… which I can now check off my list.

I’m suddenly aware of my life and all that I want to accomplish- being a parent for the rest of that time isn’t on that list. Maybe for parts of it over the next ten years or so, as a foster parent, but at this point I have no desire to get pregnant, give birth or adopt. It sounds terrible when I say it out loud and even worse when I read it in type, but it’s true.

I have a whole new appreciation for parents and the forever-sacrifices they make. You are a special breed. (Breeders) And I applaud you! It takes some serious commitment and GUTS!


I realize of course that this could all change, and future blog title could be something to the effect of “Eating My Words”.