Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ICPC and Sabrina's Dad

I'm having one of those days at work where I know I have a lot to do, but am not really sure what it is. Brilliant.

So once I finally read through the remaining items from the New Yorker that were lurking in my Google Reader and then had nothing to do to procrastinate, I decided to do some research on the ICPC. ICPC stands for Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, and its purpose is to protect the safety of kids who are sent/brought from one state to another for foster care or adoption. There are elements of it that are supposed to ease some of the bureaucracy (like maximum time for the receiving state to do a home study and such) and guarantee that the sending state remains financially responsible for the kiddo.

Sabrina's dad lives in another state (though nearby, relatively speaking, as you must have figured out since she spends every weekend with him) so ICPC applies to him getting custody.

"But wait," I hear you saying. "He's dad. It's not foster care. It's not adoption. Why does ICPC apply?"

I have been curious about this too for the last six months, and especially since last week when Wilma, the no-longer-so-terrible social worker told me that things aren't going well on the ICPC front. Apparently dad's county is concerned about dad's financial situation and doesn't want to have to pay for Sabrina. More on that detail later, but this is why today I decided I needed to do some research into the law.

Article III of the ICPC itself states (my emphasis):

(a) No sending agency shall send, bring, or cause to be sent or brought into any
other party state any child for placement in foster care or as a preliminary to
a possible adoption
unless the sending agency shall comply with each and every
requirement set forth in this article and with the applicable laws of the
receiving state governing the placement of children therein.

So yeah, it doesn't look like it should apply. And if it doesn't apply, then Sabrina should be with her dad and her dad's county can complain all they want about being on the hook financially if things go south with dad's financial situation because they don't have the ICPC protection of my state retaining jurisdiction.

But there are regulations. And they say, in Regulation 3 (again, my emphasis):

1. "Placement" as defined in Article II (d) includes the arrangement for the
care of a child in the home of his parent
, other relative, or non-agency
guardian in a receiving state when the sending agency is any entity other than a
parent, relative, guardian or non-agency guardian making the arrangement for
care as a plan exempt under Article VIII (a) of the Compact.

So there you have it, the ICPC applies.

But it doesn't have to (Regulation 3, 6(b)):

(b) The Compact does not apply whenever a court transfers the child to a
non-custodial parent with respect to whom the court does not have evidence
before it that such parent is unfit, does not seek such evidence, and does not
retain jurisdiction over the child after the court transfers the child.
The judge in the case opted out of such a transfer though, so the ICPC applies.

And here's the key thing (Article V of the Compact itself, emphasis mine):

(a) The sending agency shall retain jurisdiction over the child sufficient to
determine all matters in relation to the custody, supervision, care, and
disposition of the child which it would have had if the child had remained in
the sending agency’s state, until the child is adopted, reaches majority,
becomes self-supporting or is discharged with the concurrence of the appropriate
authority in the receiving state. Such jurisdiction shall also include the power
to effect or cause the return of the child or its transfer to another location
and custody pursuant to law. The sending agency shall continue to have financial responsibility for support and maintenance of the child during the period of the placement. Nothing contained herein shall defeat a claim of jurisdiction by a receiving state sufficient to deal with an act of delinquency or crime committed therein.
So dad's county? Doesn't get to use dad's finances as a cover for not approving him as a placement.

And thus ends today's treatise on why Sabrina should be with her dad, and not with me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Swirly in my tummy

I did something hugely responsible this morning: I made an appointment with my therapist. I haven't seen her in about a year. I'm not good at therapy.

Back when I was still unemployed, I was this close to making an appointment and then started volunteering and didn't get around to it, and then I got my job, and I didn't feel like I needed to see her and definitely didn't have time to because hello, I'm working.
But a few weeks ago I started thinking about how tiring it is when Sabrina bites me, and how I just don't know if I'm doing the right things for her, and I thought maybe it would be a good idea to have a neutral party listen to me, but still I didn't make an appointment.
And then came the end of last week and the beginning of this week and the end of season 5 of Grey's Anatomy. (Note: this is LAST year. Not this year. Not the season that just ended. Don't say anything about this season because I will find your anonymous self and come kick your butt.)
Let me digress a moment. When I was in my early teens or so, a local tv station showed old reruns of M*A*S*H. Have you seen M*A*S*H? What a great show. Remember the last episode with Henry Blake? He gets to go home and then his chopper or plane goes down, and they did this awesome thing in filming where no one in the cast knew that they were killing him off, and Radar opens the envelope to deliver the news, not knowing that's what was in the envelope?
I was a wreck for a week.
Remember on ER when Mark Greene gets brain cancer? And then he gets better but then it comes back and then he dies? A wreck. For I don't remember how long.
Remember on West Wing when Josh gets shot? He recovers but I still just bawl and bawl every time I watch the beginning of the second season.

Dead Poets Society, when the boy kills himself? (Sorry, I only owned that one on videotape, so haven't watched it in EONS and don't remember the character's name.)

Top Gun when the plane goes down? (Hm, just noticed that's Anthony Edwards again.)

Long digression. To say this: I suck myself in to dramas with death and dying, and then can't pull myself out of them. Those episodes and those movies are the ones that I will put in the DVD player and watch over and over and over and over again.

So at the end of last week I was watching last season of Grey's Anatomy and Izzie starts--well, I don't want to give away anything to anyone else like me who is a full season behind on all tv due to only watching it on DVD--having those situations, the ones that clearly aren't good but I for one thought they were something entirely different than they turned out to be.

And then Saturday night came around and I watched, transfixed, as Izzie's situation became clearer and my heart beat faster and I love Izzie and all of the characters so much and I watched three episodes? Five episodes? Something unhealthy and then I couldn't sleep because I just felt so swirly inside and I knew that if I were in a situation like Izzie, I wouldn't be able to tell anyone either, and I would hope that I would have someone in my life like Cristina who figured out what Izzie really needed right before her solo surgery and, oh how stricken Alex and Bailey looked, and I love their relationships and what is going to happen and I wish I had relationships like theirs (though, taking a deep breath, I don't actually think it would be a good idea to have one's only friends be the people one works with). And I couldn't sleep and got only about four hours, tops.

And I went shopping on Sunday but my mind kept wandering back to Izzie, and to Owen and Cristina and Derek and Meredith, and I just wanted to be home watching more Grey's Anatomy! Which is totally unlike me when I am at the outlet mall! but there you have it. When I finally got home I forced myself to do some productive things before I turned on the tv, because I knew I wasn't getting up once I sat on the sofa. I rewatched three episodes before putting in the last DVD of the season and then watched three of the last four episodes and on Monday I was a wreck. What George was planning to do. Izzie. The perfect wedding. Friendships. Izzie. I couldn't concentrate at work and my tummy was all swirly and I know that tv relationships are idealized and not realistic but I will never have friendships like the ones on tv and oh what is going to happen with Izzie.

And Sabrina woke up right in the middle of my watching the last episode and I was already tear-y and when Sabrina was crying and wouldn't let me comfort her I started crying, right there in her room, because I was such an emotional disaster from watching tv and because I felt like, "here is this relationship that I am supposed to be giving myself over to and I'm a failure because I can't empathize with Sabrina and just want to comfort her so that I will feel better," and...

...ugh I am the most self-centered, self-absorbed person I know even though everyone thinks I'm this totally selfless person who is so amazing for being a foster parent but even though I (say I) want to have better relationships and be really intensely close with people, things people say to me go in one ear and out the other and I don't remember important things about even the people I want to be friends with and I'll have conversations with people where I just talk and talk and talk about myself and then I'll need to leave or we'll be walking together and get to where our routes diverge and I'll realize that I barely even asked the other person how he or she is.

And even though I pretty much know what happens with the two big cliffhanger scenes at the end of last season of Grey's Anatomy, my mind keeps mulling it over as if tv were some serious, world-changing issue, and my tummy is all swirly with all of these thoughts, so I realized I should see my therapist.

Or maybe my tummy is all swirly today because of the caffeine in my coffee this morning.

Interracial parenting FAIL

I promised this post, so here it is. Me confessing to the entire world that I totally blew it.

Sabrina and I were out last Tuesday when she said, out of the blue (because everything a four year old says is out of the blue!), "we are different colors." Great opportunity to have a really good conversation, right?

Well, not if you blow it completely.

It started out okay. "Why are we different colors?" "Well, a long long long time ago, our grandparents' grandparents' grandparents' lived in different parts of the world. And people in some parts of the world have darker skin to protect them from the sun." Yes, I did try to explain evolutionary biology to a four year old.

Then things went terribly, horribly wrong.

"I wish I had lighter skin, Foster Ima."

After I talked myself out of telling her about the study I read about showing that kids of all skin tones are biased towards lighter skin (yeah, a little beyond a four year old's comprehension, and not what she was looking for), I said ... wait for it ... oh you will be shocked at my incredible stupidity ...

"but your skin is part of who you are!"

[Immediate realization of what I said] "I mean, um, what you are INSIDE is makes you who you are. And you are smart and funny and have good manners."

Oops. And now I will go hide under a rock so I never say anything so stupid again.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Interracial parenting fail

It's midnight and my alarm is set for 5 (gotta give myself some time to hit snooze, you see), so I can't actually blog about my fail from Tuesday. Someone please remind me that I want to do so!

Don't look in my bookbag

Well of course if Sabrina is insistent that I not look in her bookbag, the first thing I am going to do after she goes to sleep is to look! She insisted that I not look before she took my phone for the second time in two days, so the question is:

Did she not want me to see the doll that she got from her mom at her visit today, or did she not want me to see that the money in her bookbag was gone?

Sabrina had a school field trip to the circus yesterday. All the kids in the early childhood grades needed to have their very own adult with them, and I couldn't go because it was Shavuot, so Sabrina's dad went with her. I paid for both of them, and the information sheet suggested $7-$10 pocket money for snacks. So I put $10 in an envelope in her bookbag before the holiday started and told her it was there and what it was for. I told her that she could have anything that her dad said was okay.

All she had was cotton candy (yum! jealous!) and I know that the change was still in the envelope last night because after some soul-searching, I decided that I would rescue my phone from her bookbag (yes, this makes twice in two days) despite the holiday just so that I wouldn't forget to ask her to give it back, and in the process, could tell that there was money in the envelope.

Today I contemplated how I could give Sabrina positive feedback about not just spending all of the money that I gave her.

Then when I looked in her bookbag tonight, the envelope was empty.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Shavuot, and how this is All. My. Fault.

Sabrina and I are home sick today. She's sick, not me. She threw up in the toilet (hooray! for the toilet part, not the throwing up part), on the rug, and then, my favorite, on the dining room table. Nothing seems to be worse for the wear, except for the poor sweetie, and the plastic covering the dining room table actually seems to be cleaner than it was before.

This is all my fault, you see.

Yesterday Sabrina didn't feel well when I picked her up at school, and she had a little bit of a fever. She rested and played a bit while the GAL was over for a visit, and then she went to bed.

Meanwhile, I was VERY STRESSED about the upcoming Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which starts tonight. I finally got all of the logistics worked out (read: I found someone who can take her to and from school on the two days of the holiday, having already found an adult--her dad--to go with her on the school field trip to the circus) but still had much cooking to do. And I started thinking--if Sabrina has to stay home because she's sick, that would be very beneficial to me.

I didn't think that was going to make her not be able to keep anything down! Really! I thought, a little extra rest, some TV, and she'd feel better. Alas, I made her sick.

However, I did make two cheesecakes, a quiche, and fish, washed all my dishes except the few for the fish, put my laundry away, and have done some work (Tuesday being my busy day), so while this was bad for Sabrina, it hasn't been all bad for me. I'm all about the self-centeredness.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Paucity of posts

A few weeks ago Sabrina dumped a small amount of water on my favored computer. (In fairness, we've never discussed "don't pour water on the computer." And it had definite natural consequences for her; she likes to watch books from the public library site on that computer, and they don't work on the other computer. She's had to learn that even though it was "an accident"--not really, but neverthess...--the computer doesn't know the difference.)

The computer actually still works fine, except that the trackpad is 99.8% dead. I am so grateful to my friend "hazelmoon" who pointed out to me, quite obviously and quite brilliantly, that all I needed was to buy an external mouse. Duh.

But until she realized that I am a complete dolt when it comes to realizing obvious things, I was struggling along with my old computer, on which it is difficult to have two browsers running at the same time, making it correspondingly difficult to have two google/blogger accounts open at the same time, making it therefore difficult to just open the computer and blog.

Did you care about all this? Probably not. But I've been at work since 7:30 this morning doing completely mindless tasks, and I just needed to type something. (The project I am doing literally requires almost no typing, only clicking. Bo.ring.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Am I wrong?

I need some feedback please.  Sabrina's school has a field trip planned for the early childhood kids (preschool through K, I think) to a young-kid-friendly amusement park that, for the sake of anonymity, I will just say is significantly more than 2 hours from her school.  I am not planning for her to go.  I think that it is too far away, it has no educational value, I would have to go (meaning I would have to take a day off from work when I have a grand total of one vacation day accrued), and there would be a huge risk of Sabrina not following directions in a very large, unstructured environment.  

Am I wrong?  The permission slip is due tomorrow and now I'm having second thoughts.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Proud Jewish Mama Moment

This morning, Sabrina told me that something looked "like a mezuzah."* Aww, so cute!

*A mezuzah is a small scroll of parchment with some (specific) text from the Bible written on it, that is affixed to each doorpost in one's house or business, with a few exceptions. It is generally housed in a pretty case.

Monday, May 10, 2010


...hour awake
...load of laundry put away
...Dora tent fixed (after about 2 months!) drainer full of newly clean dishes
...shower curtain replaced
...lunch packed
...cookie eaten

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Curse Curse Cursing Curses

On Thursday I was reminded of a very important lesson: screaming curses at the top of my lungs in my car doesn't actually make me feel better.

The background: Sabrina's visit with her mom on Thursday was cancelled.  Her social worker emailed me at 5 in the morning (really!) to let me know. I was moderately frustrated (we'd made a Mother's Day present, after all) but especially once I figured out that the visit was cancelled because the idiot social services aide was fired, I understood and didn't mind.  (Apparently I haven't blogged about the idiot. She called Sabrina a liar in front of her after it took them an hour to find my apartment--with GPS--because "one way streets are confusing.")

Then what happened: Mom showed up at Sabrina's school.  I did learn on Friday morning that this is how visits work--she meets the social worker and Sabrina at school and they ride together to the Agency for the visit--but still no one told mom that the visit had been cancelled. Mom called me to complain that no one was there, and "I just want to take her to my house and do her hair and watch a movie, and I'll meet you at school at 6."

Uh, what? No! "I really think you should call the social worker's supervisor. Here's her number:..."  

I had barely hung up the phone when I called the supervisor (the social worker was on vacation) and left her a message ("oh my G-d Sabrina's mom is at school and I'm freaking out") followed by a call to the supervisor's supervisor, who actually was at his desk, but who was almost completely unhelpful.  I say  "almost" because he did then call mom and find out... but let's let that sit for a moment.  The SWSSS (social worker's supervisor's stupid supervisor) was very apologetic about the situation.  Yes.  He was sorry for the inconvenience of the visit being cancelled.  

He was not at all concerned, however, that, wait for it...

Mom had taken Sabrina from school and Sabrina was at that moment at mom's house, which the SWSSS found out by calling mom.

After a bit of cursing and getting directions to mom's house, I left the office to go pick her up.  I got in my car and promptly got lost (prompting the first round of screaming curses at the top of my lungs in my car), followed by ending up on the wrong side of  the river that divides my city, right next to a sporting venue hosting a game that evening, prompting the second round of screaming curses at the top of my lungs.

Finally, finally, I got to mom's house where she was just putting the finishing touches on re-doing Sabrina's hair, which had just been done by a professional the night before. 

So we're left with 1. why didn't anyone tell mom the visit was cancelled? 2. why wasn't the agency concerned that mom, who isn't supposed to have unsupervised visits, took Sabrina home with her, and 3. how did the school let Sabrina's mom take her???

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I need a do-over of the entire week to this point. At the moment, this is because I'm SO UNBELIEVABLY STRESSED and running on nothing but adrenaline. I'm at my desk and I have eighteen gazillion things to do, but none have a deadline of 5 pm today, so I'm taking a moment or ten to blog. Please forgive that this will be little snippets that don't fit together in a coherent whole.

Last night was one of the worst nights Sabrina and I have had in quite some time. I truly thought that my face was going to be black and blue this morning. When she starts with the smacking/hair pulling/biting, I don't think she actually knows what she is doing. (I am reluctant to say that too affirmatively, because I don't think that it's an actual dissociative thing. But I don't think she has any control over her ability to stop.) Anyway, last night I succeeded in getting us into a seated position with my arms around her and her legs between mine, and I breathed slowly and counted out loud, hoping to calm her down. I thought she was calmer and had loosened my hug a little when she squirmed out of my arms and started hurting me again. She actually climbed on my back so that I couldn't get away from her, and just smacked the cr@p out of my head. I stood up to carry her to her room, and she grabbed onto a door in the hallway so that I couldn't go further without her falling off my back. (Okay, that sounds pretty conscious of what she was doing!) (This was all after she was supposed to be in bed.)

This morning, unfortunately, was not good either. When she snatched (her word) my glasses and I thought she was going to break them, I did manage to find my old pair. Wow is the prescription different in one eye. Oh well.

But what WAS good this morning was that after over a half hour of walking around the apartment in JUST her pajama shirt (as in, no underwear or anything) and following through repeatedly on her threat to "don't tell me what to do or I'll smack you," I succeeded in getting Sabrina to school in her pajamas. I handed her the clean pair of underpants we had picked out to wear today, said "put these on," and she did. I then said "we're going to school, get your bookbag" and her diversion to put on her pajama pants was very quick and without any complaint. She picked up her bookbag, not a complaint. We walked to the outside door, I picked her up to carry her to the car, we drove to school, she put on socks (she thought she would be embarrassed if anyone saw her feet, so cute!), I carried her to her classroom, we went into the bathroom, and she put on her clothes. Of course, I would have been happier if she had gotten dressed at home.

Since we ultimately got to school early despite the clothing debacle, we sat down to do her homework after she was dressed. We haven't done her homework since I started working. She is supposed to do it in aftercare, and if she doesn't do it there, I'm not going to take our limited time to do worksheets. We'll do other educational things. But we did her homework this morning, and I was SO IMPRESSED with her! They were introduced to subtraction, and she totally got it. We did the first problem (4 take away 1 is ____) with me counting and then covering over one, and then she did the rest all by herself. Yay Sabrina!

It took 18 minutes for me to get from school to the parking garage at the subway station today. You might recall that school is literally ACROSS THE STREET from the subway station. Yeah, I wasn't a happy camper.

In the five months that Sabrina has been with me, I've never had to do her hair. This week, she came back from her dad's with a note "here are some bowrettes [sic]. Please do [Sabrina's] hair if you can." School picture day is on Thursday and Sabrina started undoing her braids last night, so I made us an appointment at a kids' salon for tomorrow. I don't feel 100% confident that this place will know what to do with her hair, but if I get a bad feeling once we're there, we'll just leave.

I got a smart phone yesterday, another adventure that I hope never to repeat. Seriously, over an hour at Radio Shack. I think it was a combination of RS employee stupidity AND cell carrier stupidity. They can share the blame equally. Anyway, my phone number still isn't working, and it was only supposed to take 24 hours (and the cell carrier person I spoke to yesterday while at RS said that it was "done porting" which I thought meant that it should work right away, but maybe not).

When I finally got to work this morning, I had three voice mails and about 20 emails. I realize that none of this is terribly bad, but I'm used to NO voice mails and about 3 emails.

I can't find my camera-to-computer cable. So I can't put my most recent (really cute) pictures on my computer.

Sabrina broke my netbook last week (not on purpose, but she did pour water on it on purpose); the computer works but the track pad doesn't.

And on top of all that, I need some of the pictures to make the Mother's Day present for Sabrina's mom that I wanted to make. But since I forgot to go to the craft store on Sunday, I don't have the materials we need anyway.

So you can see why I'm a little adrenaline-riddled. Deep breaths.