Children · Family

Foster-Care

Recently On Life In My Tin Can I have written about conversations I have had with woman who were not ready for motherhood.

I believe some events in life set the sail for who we are and where were going.

I wrote this back in 2010 in a beginners writing class. I have been waiting to share it with you because I felt  you needed to see some of my backlog leading up to why I became a Foster-Parent. The teacher asked us to pick a paragraph out of the book we were reading “Dead End In Norvelt” and tie it in with our own life. I choose page 196 paragraph two.

 In such a fertile home devoted to beauty, love and understanding only one thing was missing-A child. My sister was a little too old for motherhood but in 1942 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor when Japanese Americans were being rounded up and sent to internment camps, a Japanese couple with a new baby arranged for their infant son to be adopted by my sister and her husband. This way the child would have a loving home and not have to be sent to prison camp and suffer the hardship and shame of that life. I remember that beautiful baby and the love my sister and her husband graced upon him. They had an angelic 6 months together until the federal government tracked that baby down and took him all because he was of Japanese origin An enemy of America in diapers.”

I can relate a bit to this part in the book because six or seven years ago I got my Foster Care license and fostered a little boy by the name of Jordan . He was around six weeks and weighed maybe a little over five pounds. I had only been a foster parent to one other little guy before Jordan his name was Thomas and I only had him for three or four weeks.

When I had gotten the call to see if I wanted an infant, I was so excited! Usually in foster care if you get a call for an infant seven times out of ten you will be able to adopt the child. So I made a few calls before picking him up. I called my mom for advice, did she think I was ready for this. I lined up a babysitter that I trusted for when I had to work. I wanted to be prepared.

When I went and got him at the State Office (DCFS) all by myself all he had with him was this plastic sack full of formula and diapers, and what looked like used stuff animals, and extra used clothing. I could not quit thinking of that plastic sack and how it spoke volumes of his abandonment and how very alone this child was. The things in that sack should have been his, picked out with him in mind new things to welcome him to a new place. He should not have to be checked out of a hospital into a state office, surrounded by strangers. In this moment I realized how sad I felt in a moment when I thought that I would only feel excitement. The fact that he didn’t realize any of this made the lump in my throat so much bigger.

At the time I did not have a child of my own, so this is the path I decided to take, because I so much wanted to be a mother. This is why, while in that state office I was so happy but so sad. Happy to have a baby to take care of but so sad about the cards he was dealt. I decided regardless of how scared I was to take him home, because of his medical history, addicted to crack and methadone, and born from an abruption because his mother decided she was going to do heroine one night which caused her to go into labor. I was just going to love him, spend my entire time holding, rocking, kissing and singing to him and I did throughout his entire detox, which would cause him to shiver and shake. I held him through two seizures. I took of work to stay and lay with him at the hospital. I just knew in my heart that love was the answer for him, and I gave him all of it for the six months that I spent with him.

Then the call came. There was a woman who wanted to step up and claim him. After the DNA testing was done she was his father’s mother. His grandmother had three of his brothers and she wanted him as well. I struggled with the fact that she decided to take him too. I felt that because she had three children already and because I didn’t have any; she should see that I would be the better choice for him. Why couldn’t she see that? Why was she so selfish? She had enough on her plate as it was with the three other boys, a full-time job, plus she was older and couldn’t keep up with his needs the way that I could. I know she felt that he should be there with her and with his brothers. They were his blood family.

Why is “flesh and blood” so important? Wouldn’t the whole process be much easier if they didn’t search for the “real” family? They could save a whole lot of time and money that way. Unfortunately children cannot just be distributed out to people just because they want a child so badly. I know morally that they shouldn’t be, but at the time those thoughts were a way that I could vent my frustration. If the world worked like that it would be better for people like me. In that fantasy, I found comfort.

The day they came to take him away, and drove away just like that, after all the heart that I put into this child, I cried in my mother’s arms like a baby. She just held me and let me cry, lost, powerless, helpless and empty, something you can’t feel unless you are there yourself. Children have a way no matter biological or not, if you let them in your heart you are never the same. The day he left I felt as if I gave him more than just a plastic sack. I gave him a stable place to live, a crib every night to sleep in, cloths that were fresh, food that was hot, and love to hopefully last that little guy a lifetime and with this said I too was also proud of what I gave him. Being a foster parent was bitter-sweet.

Children · Family · Home

A Different Perspective

I was talking on the phone with my friend Michelle the other day about what I wanted to do with my life. It’s always been a regular conversation piece with us. She’s grounded and always challenges my pipe dreams. I told her I was thinking about changing my career path in school. (which by the way I have never started) to Social work. I do lots of talking and dreaming, please don’t feel like you need to chime in and tell me I can do it or still have time. It’s not what I-am going after in this post.

“Shelley I think you should continue to counsel people like you have been doing most of your life I think once you go into that career there’s red tape, it might mangle your outlook and damage the angle you do take with people.

I would suppose there is lots of truth in what she said

As long as I can remember people have confided in me, not only sharing their ideas or rundavoos but tragedies, mistakes, and what ifs. In my middle-age years I’ve come to think of it as a gift. I believe I was given the gift of love. It’s always been easy for me to do, more than the alternative. I will admit sometimes I fudge up but I try to keep my eye on the ball. I made a pact to myself when I was younger that I wouldn’t call people names for what they looked like or what they did or didn’t have. As I grew older my pact grew.

When your younger it’s all about looks, what you wear, and money. In your older years those things do follow but people start damning you for your choices, thoughts, and mistakes. I-am not going to tell you that I sit and agree with everything that is shared with me. It’s not my place to try to fix or change anyone either. My place in this world is  to love and you can never steer anyone wrong with love.

One year in Two-Thousand-Three or Four, I was working with a cook. She worked every other weekend with me. On Sundays it was always just me and her working. She lived right behind the building we worked in. In the mornings from the dining room windows I would watch as she stumbled into work late.

She was tall, skinny and had light-brown shoulder link hair, It looked like she didn’t brush it. I would open the back door for her and she would say, “It was another rough night Shelley”.  I would smile, say hello and act like I didn’t hear what she said, not because of conflict but because the heaviness in her eyes and the frown on her face told me a story.

I knew I would hear

We were taking a break in the living-room of our job one fall afternoon. I can still see the multicolored colored leaves on all the tress around the windows that lined the Living-room of where we were sitting. She was on one couch and I was on another one across from her. She slurred asking me “How my day was going” being so long ago I don’t quite remember what I told her, knowing me something light-hearted one of the residents did or said to cheer up the moment of awkwardness, we had going on since we hadn’t had too much conversation.

Her: Do you have any children?

Me: No

We sat in silence for a few brief moment after I answered my question. Deep down for some reason I didn’t feel lead to return the question but noticed her head dropped down right along with her face as I gave her a look and a smile.

Her: Do you want any?

“Someday”

Her:  I have three children my oldest are sixteen and eighteen, they’re in Foster-Care. We get to visit on Wednesdays if they want to see me, which usually they do.

“It’s nice you all get together”

Her: We talk about their sister who is three. She just got adopted. It’s an open adoption and in this open adoption they get pictures of her, and I don’t. They show them to me when we visit. We will spend our visit discussing the pictures. They’re a good conversation piece.

The couple who adopted her lives in the country. Before the adoption went through, they were nice enough to let me come out for home visits. After we had gotten acquainted. They have a nice big yard for her to play in, with one of those big wooden swing-sets, a pool and animals. She’s happy Shelley and that’s all that matters. As her voice cracked tears streamed down my face just like they are right now.

“I’m glad she’s happy”

Her: You want to know something? Some days I take a drive out where she lives. If she’s playing outside, I pull over and watch her. I daydream about getting out of my car, walking up into the field, stand there and see if she sees me. I wonder if she would come running yelling “mommy” Mommy” and remember who I am. I come back to reality. I have multiple addictions and have for years, I just can’t do it.

I nodded my head and told her crying, Thank you for sharing not only a painful but dark-side of your life with me, also for giving me a different perspective to an Open Adoption.

Towards the end of my Foster-Care Class, the teacher was on the subject of Open Adoption and asked the class “Could you be a part of one”?

I raised my hand and told her and the class the same exact encounter I had with this woman “yes I wouldn’t have made a life changing decision to be a Foster Parent without this mother of a child who forfeited her “happiness” for a lifetime of heartache and what ifs.

Family · friendship · Home

Apartment 116 Second Half

Dear Reader,

Do you remember back in April when I wrote this post? Please take a minute to read so you can catch up on this resident of mine. I like to refer to as “Emmet Brown”. You know “Doc” from Back To The Future”? The reason I have named this resident after “doc” is because of privacy laws, which is crucial in the medical field. I also want you to be able to imagine her, not just her looks but demeanor also.

Our facility is one level. I don’t know the square foot right off-hand. It is however a square, that goes in a circle. This way residents know where they’re going. The middle of the wall is lined with a thick wooden rail in case the residents need them for guidance, since they are without site or if they need a little support for balance.

“Emmet”used to do her laps (exercise) around the hall wearing her headphones with these Giant, black, circled sunglasses, singing Belinda Carlisle “Circle In The Sand” it goes something like this.

Sundown all around
Walking thru the summer’s end
Waves crash baby, don’t look back
I won’t walk away again
Oh, baby, anywhere you go,
We are bound together
I begin, baby, where you end
Some things are forever!
Circle in the sand
‘Round and ’round
Never ending love is what we’ve found
And you complete the heart of me
Our love is all we need
Circle in the sand
Cold wind, tide move in
Shiver in the salty air
Day breaks, my heart aches
I will wait for you right here.
Oh, baby when you look for me
Can you see forever?
I begin baby, where you end
We belong together
Circle in the sand
‘Round and ’round
Rising of the moon as the sun goes down
And you complete the heart of me
Our love is all we need
Circle in the sand
Circle in the sand
Baby can you hear me?
Can you…

Every time she sang the round and round part she would actually circle round in round. She’s a lover of music. I know this because of the fourteen years I have been there. I bet you would never guess that she used to teach piano, she has her bachelors in music, she plays the piano by ear, and if you want to know a name of song, person, or group who sings it just ask, nine times out of ten she can tell you. This is phenomenal, at least to me? We have more Helen Keller stories.

I don’t want to take anything away from Keller but did you know her teacher Johanna “Anne” Sullivan? Who also was legally blind? She contracted trachoma a highly infectious eye infection, when she was eight years old which left her blind without reading or writing skills. Her mother also died around this same time and her father abandoned her because he felt he could not raise her and her brother on her own. They were sent to an almshouse in Tewksbury Massachusetts, her brother suffered from a debilitating hip ailment and died as well. She remained at Tewksbury for four years. She had eye operations that offered relief for her eye pain but proved ineffective. I-am not going to  plagiarise the whole story. I just want to give you the background of another phenomenal person who walked a step behind, read the story when you get time. I read it with another resident of mine a few nights ago. We both were taken back by what we didn’t know about Anne.

The home has offered me more than a laugh and I hope I gave you that clarity in this post, Also a part of the world that you miss and I don’t. Have you not felt that way in your life? Where you asked yourself why can’t everyone experience this?

The other day in Emmets room giving her, her medicine she informs me she is “Pissed” I do a double take because she is not a social person except to the voices in her head.

Me: Why are you “Pissed”

Emmet: I called Recycled Records to ask him when Charles Hardin Holley (Also known as Buddy) Birthday was? He told me an a firm voice, “I don’t know call your local library and ask them”

Me: Did you call the local library

Emmet: I called the operator and she didn’t know the number to the “local library” nor did she know when Holley’s Birthday was…

Me: Emmet what made you think of this question

Emmett: I was listening to his song “Think It Over” and starting thinking over his Birthday….

I always ask questions. You learn from them. My residents have taught me things I didn’t  know or thought about and these things I will take with me and not forget because of the way they tell the story.

Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959)

Johanna “Anne” Mansfield Sullivan Macy (April 14, 1866 – October 20, 1936) She died holding Keller’s hand. What started out as a “Job” being a teacher ended in a life long friendship…

Children · Family · Home

My First Guest Post

My son Gabe, is in kindergarten this year. He is doing good. He says he likes kindergarten but also enjoys stay home days, (which are Saturday and Sunday). Every week they have “Person Of The Day”  and Gabe was the guy. I thought all of you would enjoy seeing what my main squeeze had to say. All of the kids had to draw a picture of Gabe doing what he loved. I picked one out of twenty-four because its too much right now to put them all up here!IMG_0889

Daily Post · Family

Unto The Breach

 Grab a coffee and get comfy!
You may grab a java and get comfy!

Dear Friends,

Decisions, decisions How are you more likely to make an important decision-by reasoning through it, or by going with your gut?

If you would have asked me this question about four months back, I would have told you that I contemplated on all my decision. I would call my three life lines and run things by them asking what they thought?  After having confirmation from them, I would still teeter and stagnate. Sometime its easier to play it safe, Don’t you think? One of my procrastinations was moving, yes moving out of the Tin Can. It had nothing to do with the fact that it was a trailer. We had not been good at keeping the trailer up. The home needed some repairs. There were some dents in the floor, the carpet had been there since I moved in eight years ago, windows were cracking and leaking, the place just needed to be refurbished. If I knew then what I know now I would have made the changes it needed before moving in. If you want me to be real though. My finances at the time would not allow me to do the repairs, it needed then. It was perfect for me than because it was just myself and my foster baby. He was getting ready to leave and go live with his grandma. This was not a choice of mine. We prayed and prayed. The day they tested his D.n.a, because an older lady thought he’d  belonged to her son. If that was the case she wanted to step up. My family and I fought hard for the little, dark, chunk of burning love but we lost… He brought us seven months of joy and the decision was out of my hands.

We had to make a decision about the trailer. To put money the money we had into it or find something else. We wracked our brains and eyes, always driving around looking but nothing more than looking. I was getting board and confused about what my husband wanted to do. He wasn’t saying much. I was overwhelmed with all the things we accumulated and needed to get rid of because they were collecting dust. I made a phone call one day to my dad and told him basically what I wrote to all of you. He informed me that I was holding myself back and gave me clarity.

Dad: Shelley, Sometimes you have to hold your nose and jump in. I would be still living in the trailer you grew up in, if  I hadn’t jumped. You make your decision than you learn that sometimes there right and sometimes there wrong. The only way you’ll find out, is by taking a chance. You’re a good judge and whatever you choose to do I-am confident you will be okay.

We made the move and I feel so much better. We did not buy a house, yet. We our living in a five-room duplex its small, remodeled and clean. We got rid of all those things that were collecting dust, if we need any maintenance work we just call the landlord. This works for us right now because we work, have a child, and a marriage to maintain. We decided at this point we’re not big fix it people. So if we bought a house we might end up right back in the situation we started in. If there is one thing I try to live by that also came from my dad years ago. “Never Back Only Forward”

 

 

Family · friendship

Interview Times Eight

Dear Christy,

How are things going with you? let me know in the comments or give me a ring. I have been thinking of my friend of thirty years lately.  So I thought I would write you an open letter and catch you up blog style. I had a job interview the other day. I may have informed you a bit ago about how Cheryl’s sister, Sondra’s husband has been trying to talk me into working where he works. He says they pay better and they have better insurance… They’re about three times the size of where I work now.

I wanted to tell you about the interview process

I signed in at the front desk at ten o’clock. The time my interview was set for. They informed me it was a group interview and to have a seat. There were five other girls sitting in the chairs in front of the desk. I put a big smile on my face and sat next to a girl who was still in high-school. She said hello and asked me my name and told me hers. She told me this was her “second interview here, but first group interview.” I could tell she was a bit nervous just like me and trying to stand out a bit by being friendly.(We discussed it might be a part of the interview to see how we interact with strangers.) A few moments after sitting down a woman named “Kathy Bates” asked us if we were ready? We all agreed, she said to follow her. We walked back further into the lobby where a Grand Piano sat, in front of it were five or six tables and chairs (wooden) If you look further there was a black tile floor for maybe dancing? (whatever you as the reader would like to imagine) we took a sharp left down a long hall, which was boring so I didn’t pay much attention to detail, around another corner we took there were residents eating in a “restaurant” type  area that actually had a counter, and a person behind it grilling, and a waitress on the floor taking orders from the five or six residents dining. We walked around another corner that led us to the door of this theatre type room with four rows of theatre type chairs, down by the screen was eight people men and woman dressed to the nines with clip boards and papers. We all got seated and “Kathy Bates” explained to us how they like doing interviews this way because it works for them. She didn’t go into detail. My mind did. I figured since they’re a good size  facility it goes quicker. They can interview everyone at one time instead of scheduling each individual interview and it taking weeks sometimes months. She said she was going to ask each of us a question, which she did. She had us start by each of us telling who we were and how long we had been nursing assistants? here are a few questions.

1.) Tell me a negative situation you were in that had a negative outcome?

2.) How would you handle a combative resident with dementia?

3) (My question) What do you do on your down time? Me: I have been at my job for fourteen years. I have moved into a friendship with most of my residents. I’m usually in their rooms spending time with them and helping them clean.

The panel of people by the screen was taking notes after each one of us answered our questions. When they got done writing our answers, “Kathy Bates” informed  us they were going to the back room to discuss who would proceed further into the interview process and not to be upset if you  were “sent home.” I thought to myself “what is this American Idol? We all sat there for about ten minuets and a guy named “Bluto” came to the front and says Shelley and “Betty Boop” come with me!

Return for the second half of Life In My Tin Can…….

 

 

Family

Swallowing Crow

Latterly on Life In My Tin Can,

My husband’s daughter came to visit us for the first time in four years. If you click on This link, you’ll get more insight, You’ll also see where I provided a link to share with you, a song her and I shared on smule (a karaoke app.) One of the few times we bonded or even talked for more than five minutes. It was a nice moment and I enjoyed our short time we had together. I was excited enough to send the link to her mother, not only to share her daughter’s voice but our interaction together…

In my need for acceptance I was a bit carless and selfish because of the song choice. The ex-wife was quick to point out my carelessness not to my face but she did let him know. first I was angry and thought she was just jealous. Then later I started thinking and I regret to inform you the song was NOT appropriate for an eleven year old girl to be singing.

I was so caught up in the moment and a few days after, that I didn’t even think about the song choice. I’m turning to my followers for advice and wisdom. Do YOU think I should call and apologize or should I let it be?

P.s I took the song off the record in a fit of rage. I do think it was for the best?

Children · Daily Post · Family

One Night In June

 Are you patriotic? What does being patriotic mean to you?

It was more towards the end of the month. when people start decorating for the fourth of July. We are from The United States. We had been out late this particular night and Gabe was still wound for sound. I told my husband to drive around for a few minutes he agreed. We drove down a road that seemed a bit more lit up with red, white and blue. Gabe pointed out “look mom it’s the American flag?” (He Is five.)

Mom: Yes Gabe

Gabe: Can we get out and say the Pledge Of Allegiance

Steve and I looked at one another like we didn’t know what he was talking about?  Steve whispered to me. “I thought they took the Pledge out of schools”

Me: I’m not sure… Gabe who taught you the Pledge?

My husband and son. They are laying down at a festival watching fireworks
My husband and son. They are laying down at a festival watching fireworks

Gabe: Mrs W

I told Steve we need to do as he asked us because of what it represents and to MYSELF and my HUSBAND it’s freedom, sacrifice, and God

Me: Park across the street in that vacant lot. We step out of the car, we put our right hand over our hearts and say the pledge. Gabe knew the whole pledge and never missed or skipped a beat. I was not only proud to be his mother at that moment (and many others of course.) I was also proud of the teacher who taught him about the flag and the pledge!

 


 

 

Children · Family

Elizabeth

Recently On Life In My Tin Can

My family and I headed down to Texas to see our imagechildren (my step children.) The trip went well for a few days considering we not only visit the children but the ex-wife too. I would enjoy explaining the details but when it comes down to it, it would not be right of me. I will tell you. Gabe always enjoys taking the trip and even though at times its uncomfortable for me. I just know (well I hope) Gabe will have something to talk with his siblings about one day.

We try to show them a good time. This time they went swimming, we all went to a 3D movie, out to eat and had two BBQ’s where they played in the yard, sand, pool and trampoline, in hundred degree weather with kids from the neighbor hood. Gabe and all the other kids were dirty from head to toe and bushed by bed time which was fine with us. We were bushed as well.

This was the first time since his divorce he was able to take his daughter back home with us for one week. This was a milestone in my husband’s life. I’m proud of him, happy for my son, but feel a bit sketchy about the relationship between her and I, which I suppose is normal.

If you need an explanation we just didn’t talk much and when asking her a few questions she spoke quietly and brief. We did have one moment where we sang a few songs on  smule together (which is a cool Karaoke App.) She also made me chuckle hard when her dad asked her this.

Steven: Izzy

Izz: Yes Daddy

Steven: Do you want to visit Lincoln Tomb while you’re here

Izz: No, sorry dad I don’t do good at old mens grave sites….

Family · friendship

In Loving Memory of Room 127

"Jack and another resident. Saying goodbye as she moved to another home.
“Jack and another resident. Saying goodbye as she moved to another home.

Hello Good People,

First of all this blog will not be as short as I would like or you would like? There is no way around it. One day I would like to be a brevity writer…

This last year at my job we have lost lots of residents. Some have moved and some have passed away, either way it’s been tearful. One particular resident who recently passed had been at the home for as long as I can remember. (I have been there fourteen years almost.)

We called him “Jack” because he favored “Jack Nicholson” right up to his brows and wrinkles on his forehead. “Jack” stayed cranky most of the time and was plucked out by a few of the residents for target practice. One lady resident he particularly couldn’t stand. When “Jack” would yell out like he did in the  dining-room. (most mornings) she would be the first to tell him to “shut up no one wants to hear your mouth.” One morning as she walked past his table after yelling at him she said “toodles Jack” he sat back in his chair slowly and nicely told her “have a rotten day.”

This was what I loved about “jack” he pulled no stops when it came to how he felt about people and when SOME of our residents would make snide remarks to him. He never backed down. He had a rival lets call him “Charlie Chaplin” for his protection and also there mustaches are similar. When “Chaplin” was able. He would go around the tables in the dining-room collecting the “clothing protectors” he was gathering up the “protectors” from a table which put “Chaplin” directly behind “Jack” (remember  my residents are blind…) “Jack” wings his “protector” backwards and it landed perfectly over “Chaplin’s” head and being the nurse on duty I yelled “jack” why did you do that? “Jack” says “Shelley I’m in the ball throw for special olympics and I was practicing!! He wasn’t trying to be funny either it came out that way because even though he was an adult he was childlike grown up but not… If you catch my drift?

“Jack’ walked on a walker most of the time. The last few years he became short of breath and walked  with a limp and grimaced as he did so. He didn’t once complain or tell us he was having trouble with these things. WE noticed he was struggling. When we confronted him, his response was “What The Hell Are You Talking About” (God I miss that man) we got him seen and he was ordered a wheelchair that we never once pushed until the man was near death.

“Jack” was a Cubs fan and also had a hard time hearing. I’m not a huge baseball fan but was born and raised around the cubs my entire life. My dad is a die-hard, my husband is too and most of the residents at the home are. You could always hear the ball game from “jacks” room because he blared it up so high. When they would win he would yell Cubs WIn Cubs Win! automatically I’d think to myself  WOO HOO WOO HOO because I knew my father and husband were happy as well. I long for the day the Cubby’s when the series’ and hope my dad lives to see it. It is on my bucket list and I hope to be sitting right next him.

A week before “Jack” passed away “Make a wish Foundation” notified our home. They asked if there was anything they could do before “Jack” died? “Jack didn’t know he was passing untill his last night here on earth. So our boss told them he was a Cubs fan and that if the announcer could just mention his dedication to the Cubs and where he was from, we thought that would be enough. Sure enough the night I was on duty taking care of him. He was all geared up in his Cubs wear telling me all about what they’d said on the radio. The whole night he repeated the broadcast over and over again.

I got to spend a night with “Jack” right before his transition  and he fought a good fight right up to the end. Even though he couldn’t talk anymore. Whenever I told him I was getting ready to give his meds or wipe his mouth, his eyebrow would raise up and he would do his best to help me. It was slight but I noticed it. I walked away that morning knowing I wouldn’t see him when I clocked back in and things have been different ever since then.

If you follow me the other day I put a picture up. One of my residents and I coming back from the doctor. My residents have taken me places that I only hope that you can get a hint of in my writing. When time allows there will be more. It has been here where my soul has grown and I can’t help but watch the wondering ways people drive by or hear about the people in our home and not stop to get a little piece of heaven.