Thursday, February 20, 2014

And then there were 5!

This has been the one blog that I have put off far to long. It stresses me thinking about it and gives me sick feelings, like at this moment I want to go crawl into bed and sleep instead of having to think about it.

Could it really be that bad well for me yes!
I have a lot in my head and may forget a few things and may also jump around in timeline time but that's just how crazy my life has been about all of this.  
I have to finally blog it so I can move on and heal completely.
If any of this makes some mad or distressed I am sorry but I am already mad and distressed about this whole thing so join me.

Back at the beginning of 2011 Dude received a call from out of the blue from his sister. (she doesn't have a nickname but I guess it could be Prisoner1-it works so lets get back to it)
She called saying that she needed us to take in her youngest son because her oldest was aging out of Foster Care and would be leaving Canyon State (a place that takes in young men who seem to think rebelling is cool and help them see a better way.) and that she wouldn't be able to take him since she had a prison sentence coming soon and didn't want him to have to go to shelter or group home. Dude came to tell me about the phone call and we talked about it and talked to the kids about it too. We also talked to my parents and my Dad said we will treat him just like the others and of course would support us. (I have great parents BTW).  Dude's parents said they didn't want to take him into their home  but would help us with ANYTHING if we did do this.  The kids said sure cause he is family and we take care of family when ever.  (RIGHT??) Dude and I discussed things that we would expect from him if he did live with us.  The main two were… He would go to school every day and get good grades and graduate (see his 8th grade year is almost non existent since he pretty much never went and was living with prisoner1 at the time who had better things to do than be a mother, and no one in his family have actually graduated from high school -mother, father, brother and sister)
next would be he would go to church with us and seminary and mutual with the other kids. He agreed to all of it. So with Prisoner1 going to jail in early June we signed paper work and went through background checks and a home inspection and the Nephew was allowed to come live with us. 
Most people have looked a Nephew as a poor kid who just got the bad end of a deal cause of his parents, and while yes that is very true he by no means is a poor kid either.
So the nephew came just as summer had started and it seemed best since he would be able to adjust to home life and then school in a few months.  It all seemed to be just the right fit.  Our oldest Bugs and Nephew are just 3 months apart so yes it meant I had 2 soon to be 16 year old boys in my home.  
During a meeting in that first month in our home CPS workers came and Prisoner1 and her other son came.  She was not nice at this meeting claiming that if she didn't go to jail that she wanted his back with her.  It was a horrible to hear her talk, like the Nephew was just a piece of property.  I got a bit momma bear about it cause I knew that him living with her he would never get what he needed from life.  The CPS worker said that it was not even an option for her to have him back.  Her going to prison was going to happen even if she kept some how putting it off and off and off. (finally at the end of the year she went into prison and will be there for at least 5 years possibly longer I think) 

He was quiet very quiet and never really talked to Dude or me directly, he would always go through Bugs.  It was maddening to hear him mutter things and when you asked what he said he turned away, and then maybe 5 minutes later Bugs was coming to ask something for Nephew.  Bugs got to a point that it drove him crazy to and told him to just ask us himself.  
During that first summer he complained about his wrist that he had hurt while at Canyon State but that they checked it and said it was fine.  So I made an appointment for the Dr and found out that it had been broken.  So we had to go see a specialist and he told us that he could fix it two ways.  Wear a cast for up to 5 months and let it heal or have surgery done and wear a cast for 2 months.  I told Nephew it was his choice.  He choose to wear the cast (cause that meant going to school and being not just the new kid but having a cast too would be all the more attention to him) we got home that first night and he hated the cast and the next day said he wanted to have the surgery. I was not happy, so I told him wear it till your next appointment and then we can talk about you changing your mind.  So at the 1 month appointment when  the Dr said there was no change and went to put another cast on I said Nephew "didn't you want to have the surgery now?" He looked a deer in the headlights said "oh yea can I?" (little things like this happened the entire time he was here say one thing and then say something else then change it again, I know kids and people in general do this all the time I know I do it too but the way he did it and about what he was doing it was the maddening part)
So we had the surgery so he would be ready to play basketball at school hopefully.  
I won't give a day by day for the rest of this blog it would take way to long so here are points that stand out
When we first took the Nephew in we were encourage to become actual Foster Parents since Kinship Foster doesn't receive the funds like a actual Foster parent does.  We were also told that since we were Kinship and he was already living with us it would go much faster getting it done.  Come to find out that is not true at all.  So for the first year we were given 53$ a month to take care of this 16 year old and 21$ of it was his allowance that the State of AZ gives Foster kids.  So we actually only had 30$ to feed and take care of him.  I had just quit my flower shop job earlier in the year thinking it would help with our youngest (for school) and now with nephew here to I needed to be home. 
Savings were depleted we struggled but with the help of family and a great church Ward we kept moving forward.  
Everyday got a bit easier adjusting to having a 6th person in our home.  We got an extra chair to be able to sit at the table to eat. I had to make extra food cause he was a 2nd and 3rd kind of kid when it came to dinner. 
Back to becoming Foster Parents--This is my experience remember so if you have been or are a Foster I congratulate you!  Our experience was one that has made me for sure never want to be one again EVER!  We struggled to find an agency (you have to go through an agency the STATE doesn't do that part of Foster but the STATE will tell you what you can and can't do!) We found one in Mesa and were then told there was a 10 week class that met one night a week for 3 hours for those 10 weeks, we told them no we were a Kinship foster and would be fast tracked though and not have to take classes.  They very so politely told us that was not the case everyone must attend these classes in order to be licensed Foster parents.  So we had to drive in to Mesa for 10 weeks to be at a class that met from 6-9 pm.  Ugh it was the worse cause then we had to turn around and get back home around 10 and be back up for Newspapers at 12:30 to deliver papers.  Dude had a hard time with the no sleep so I took over the papers myself as much as I could so he could sleep since he had to work in the morning.  It was not easy but we did it.  10 weeks of classes that had NOTHING to do with us as a Kinship foster.  It was all based on people who will be taking children not related to them and etc.  Me and Dude would sit there trying not to get upset but the whole car rides home we would just let it all out. Besides the 10 week classes (which by the way was no the State's choice, they wanted it done unlike 2 weekend classes, the agencies decided to make it 10 weeks.) We had to do another round of back ground checks,fingerprints, Dr appointments to show we were healthy to have the child, bank statements, questionnaires filled out about how we as children were taken care of (one questions asked how we were disciplined at the age of 0-3 years old 4-6 years old and so on) pictures of our family, the kids had to fill out questionnaire also, then our home had to be inspected a few times.  (WE THINK WE DID AND GAVE MORE INFORMATION FOR HIM TO LIVE HERE THAT WHEN WE BOUGHT OUR HOME OR A CAR) So after the 10 weeks of classes we were coming up on the Nephew living with us for almost a year. He never said thanks for doing all this so I can live here. 
We went on a vacation just after getting the 10 week class done it was our big trip we had been planning for the last 3 years to go to Florida with my whole family for parents 40th anniversary.  Yes we took the Nephew it was hard but we did cause it was important to include him in everything.  We even took family pictures(my whole side of the family)with him in them. 
Just before we left on this vacation the Nephew got a girlfriend.
From that moment on life in this home changed forever!
We noticed right away how different he was. That shy and oh poor never got to do anything fun Christian was just a fake front he had put on for all to see. 
We gave him a cell phone so he would be able to contact us when ready for rides since he had started playing basketball. We joked that Bugs was doing 3000 texts a month what would he do, he in all seriousness said "I will blow that away easy".  And he certainly did.  It was more like 8000-9000 a month.  He would text from the moment he woke up till the moment he went to bed.  On the weekends it was every single minute he was texting sometimes 2-3 texts a minute.  IT WAS INSANE! When we would talk to him about it he never had a reason and would say I will try to cut back.  That never happened.  It was like he couldn't stop.  He then started asking to go over to the girlfriend's house, which I never thought twice about. His grades slipped and when called out on it he would say oh you start out each semester with an F so I am having to catch up. Dude and I looked at each other with astonishment so I emailed teachers and got back the response of NO that was not the case.  So when we talked to him about it he then changed his answer.  Even denying what he had said before as a thats not what I meant.  
This is when it was realized just how much he lies.
Again I know kids lie sure, but mine don't so having one on a day to day basis do it right to my face was aggravating.
Then came the 2nd summer of his life here in our home.  We always have friends and family over for the Fourth of July since it is also Dude's Birthday.  Nephew asked if his girlfriend could come over for it. We said yes of course she could.  Dude spoke with Bugs and Nephew about the right way to behave with girlfriends.
So that night it was clear that our talk was not listened too. Dude's Dad even spoke to Dude about what he kept seeing all night long.  The sitting so close it was like on top of each other, heads in laps, and kissing longer than needed.  We also received a letter from Dude's mother asking pretty much to the fact of what have we done letting him act this way.  When we spoke with Nephew we found out that he was a very sexually active person before living with us.  But that him and his girlfriend here had not done anything like that.  I returned an email to the in~laws letting them know this and that it was not us changing him into a sexually active boy that he came that way and we were trying to curb this at every possible point.  We also found out that the girlfriend lived with her Grandma and had pretty much unlimited free will.  So all those times he was over at her house…you guessed it Grandma wasn't home.  Then is was found out that yes they had become sexually involved.  It killed us.  Dude and I weren't prepared for this cause again our kids weren't in this place.  We thought the only thing we can do it limit them seeing each other checking texts and keeping better contact with the Grandma.  It all seemed to be working.  
We struggled with how do you teach a teenager how not to lie at every moment, not be so sexually involved and not always feel so self entitled.  We would ask for help and advise on these matters  and we prayed a lot! It helped at times.
I felt like I was going crazy trying to understand the whys and hows. If you are reading this and you got to hear me rant about stuff thank you for listening and helping me through.  The strain on our family started to change us all.  We used to do a lot as a family but that kind of stopped.  I would explain it as working with someone who always lied to your face and never helped out much but seemed to be the favorite of the boss.  That is how life with the Nephew was.  He lived here with us as part of our family but was then also treated differently or separately by certain people.  He never had any qualms about asking for things from the in~laws. It was hard on our kids they saw it but never said anything about it.  Why did Nephew get this or have that.  It was just the way it was.  When we needed extra help it was always there which was a relief but there were times where it was questioned which was hard.  Dude and I had many talks or arguments about him living here.  I was ready to have him gone.  It was killing me to have him here.  We had changed our whole lives for this one person to live with us bent over backwards for him to be here, we even had to renew the Foster license which was another round of run around.  We went 4 months with no State help again the strain on our family and finances was great.  But Nephew kept on lying about much and living here but not being apart of this family really.  It hurt knowing you have done so much.  
December of 2013 the Nephew turned 18.  Which meant it was time to start talking about what the Foster Care program calls Independent Living.  As long as he was living with us and going to school we would still receive money.  But when he was ready to sign the papers he would then receive money directly and would begin to pay us as a way to learn to be on his own paying bills and such. The only catch was he had to have grades of C or higher which he NEVER was able to have and go to counseling.  See we realized that the Nephew needed help with emotions and learning about love and why lying was and would be harmful.  I think he only knows love as getting things like it was with the girlfriend  or grandparents.  If I am getting something that means they love me.  That was a bit of an eye opener to finally see. 
Then January 10 it was before we left for papers the Nephew came to Dude and asked to move out.  It was a shock.  He only had 3 months left of school why ruin it.  Dude said yes.  When he told me I asked why now.  Sure I was happy it was asked but again why now. So Sunday we sat him down and asked him why now. I was not going to let him get away with lying this time.  I called him on everything.  He at one point said that he didn't like the rules we had set for him. Or that we didn't trust him.  So I asked when he went to live with his friend what would he do.  He said I would help around the house and follow her rules.  I then said so you will follow her rules but not ours?? Makes little sense right. He got all flustered and just quit talking and said what ever Shana yea what ever.  It was the worse talk we had with him.  So Dude asked him to write it down on papers why he was leaving.  Wow what a reason he gave and how fake.  Another thing Nephew learned in his life was to always say what people wanted to hear not what he actually thought or believed.  It was a trait he learned from his mom I am sure and that his brother and sister also use.  Monday morning January 13th I got home from papers is was about 3:30 in the morning I was checking on some things with Verizon but needed to reset the phone Nephew uses.  It was again with a lock code which he had been asked over and over not to do.  I woke him up and had him unlock it.  I fixed what I needed to and then decided to check his messages to maybe find out what the real reason was for leaving.  It was another disappointment, his conversation with his new girlfriend (a girl who lives in Phoenix and has wanted to be with since moving all the way out here)about how horrible we were for asking for money for him to keep living here when we never asked of that before. That family was suppose to take care of each other always.  He let this go on and on her tearing us apart making us look like horrible people, never once saying no to any of the things she said.  The comment he came up with IT IS WHAT IT IS!  Not I need to pay them cause the money now comes to me instead of them, and all the other things we had done.  IT IS WHAT IT IS!  Wow. I woke Dude and said you need to read this.  More than anyone in this family Dude had always hoped for the best in him.  Always defending him.  And yet here again the Nephew treating us like dirt.  I sent a message to the girlfriend just letting her know that what she was thinking was totally incorrect.  I set her right.  Well the Nephew wasn't happy with it.  And when he questioned me about it and started to say horrible things to me I turned into a stark raving mad lady! I lost it, and lost it huge! I look back and am not happy with what happened or what was said but it happened and it is done. Dude had his parents come and get the Nephew and I packed him up while he was at school for that last day.

I know that since him moving out he has needed help since he isn't getting the money he needs since he probably isn't getting the grades or going to counseling.  He knew it may take a few months to get the money. Yet he chose to leave early how is he going to learn to be on his own if he keeps getting more help.  I would never not help someone but I know that if someone chooses something they need to be in charge of themselves and stand on their own, not others bank accounts. 
There are many examples of the past 3 years that hurt our family in so many ways but to go over them on here isn't needed. I have said much.  It is done I need to be done with it.  
Time to heal and heal we are doing.           


Jamie and Heather Darger said...

I'm so one knows the pain of raising (or living) with a difficult teen that manipulates to that level. You did the right thing. God knows your heart and your efforts...let the rest go - we all loose it big time every so often. :)

Kristine said...

Bless you Dear Shana. My heart hurts knowing all you have gone through the past year plus. I know your intentions were always to help…and I am sorry things didn't work out the way that you wanted them to. I am really glad you wrote about it and are able to talk about it honestly…my prayers will be with you and your family…I love you.