Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Visit update

So the baby did in fact have her visit yesterday. The mom had a document saying she was cleared of the skin stuff, and apparently the dad showed up (40 minutes late into an hour-long visit) with a similar document, so the worker couldn't really prevent it.

The worker and I talked for about twenty minutes this morning about the situation. The county's hands are tied, because the original paperwork I got from the doctor only specified that the parents needed to be treated to resume visits, they can't legally require all of that other fun stuff before visits resume. (The worker, wisely, did not suggest that I should have asked the doctor for different requirements.) According to the parents, they have both been treated and that was all the doctor said they had to do for visits to resume. If the county changes the requirements after the parents have documents indicating they've met said requirements, that looks bad in court - and it's in the county's best interest (and the baby's) to not look bad in court.

The worker was very sympathetic and understanding, and told me repeatedly that she'd be making the same phone calls I was if she were in my shoes. (I used some of Thorn's excellent advice and made sure it was clear that the baby was my main concern, and how much calmer she is now that she's healthy and all.) She also pointed out that, as much as we don't want a reinfection, if that were to happen, the county could then impose more stringent requirements (and require proof) before visits resume again.

So now we're basically waiting for her to get reinfected. Ugh. Not a good plan, but really the only one we've got. We do know that the symptoms will show up much more quickly once you've had the issue already (like in a few days instead of several weeks), so we'll be keeping a very close eye and bringing her to the doctor at the first indication that there's a reinfection.

New poll: Is it a better idea for us to be fanatical about avoiding reinfection, or should we chill out a little and let it happen again so the new requirements can go into effect?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Oooh, I'm mad

So the new worker called me today to tell me that the baby was going to have a visit with her mom.

Apparently the baby's mom got a note from a doctor saying she doesn't have the horrifying skin condition, and that's good enough for the worker!

1. The note is from the same facility that misdiagnosed the child THREE TIMES, even though I insisted they test for this issue at her first visit there. (They did, and said she didn't have it.)
2. The mom told the old worker three weeks ago that she had, in fact, been diagnosed with it. Even if she had gotten the treatment, it's incredibly unlikely (like, just about impossible) that she'd be symptom-free by now.
3. We got the old worker to agree that BOTH parents would be treated before EITHER parent would resume visits, and that the parents needed to be treated in the same span of time (ideally twenty-four hours) in order for it to be considered effective.
4. We only have the mom's word that the dad has been treated, because neither worker has been able to get in touch with him in weeks.
5. The dad's house has not been treated. The worker assured me that she told them repeatedly how important it is for the house to be treated. Pardon me for not being reassured.
6. If the baby gets reinfected, that means time out of daycare for her, which means time out of work for me. Cool. For those of you who think that should matter less since the county pays us to be foster parents, let me tell you that the $0.59 an hour I make as a foster parent is a small fucking comfort when it comes to time off from work.
7. The worker has not called me back to tell me if the visit even actually took place - all I know right now is that the medical transport company picked her up from daycare and dropped her back off, but there is a slim chance that the worker forgot to cancel the transport (it's her first week with this case) so the baby just hung out with the visit supervisor. Naturally, I can't get anyone on the phone to confirm this, so:
8. I will now be bathing the baby, and washing her carseat cover and diaper bag along with its contents.

I know we have no rights as foster parents, and I know it's in our best interest not to piss off the worker on her second day in our case, but hey, guess what? I'M NOT GOING TO BE OKAY WITH THIS. I left her a message asking her to let me know if she's going to let the dad have his scheduled visit tomorrow, that I officially request that it not take place until we know the home (and his five-year-old and his mom, who live there) have been treated, that I know I'm making her job harder and I apologize for that but I'm not comfortable with the baby being reexposed to an infectious disease, that I can get notes from the doctor indicating that the parents need to be treated in the same time span, and to call me in the morning.

Ugh. Okay, vote time: Should I call the worker's supervisor to make sure this is being taken seriously, or do you think that will just make things more complicated?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Grandma and doctor and rolling and baby shower

1. On Friday the baby had her first visit with her grandma, who will likely be the person the baby ends up with. We were very glad that they had a visit, as the grandma hasn't seen the baby in two months and we want the baby to be comfortable with her if she has to live there! We wrote the grandma a note telling her we were so happy about the visit and how awesome the baby was, and not to be offended if the baby fussed a lot because she's very used to be being held mostly by me and Andy, and that we'd love to hear how the visit went if she wanted to write back. And she did write back! She started by thanking us for taking such good care of the baby (which is very gratifying to hear, for real), and that the baby "wasn't feeling well" and had spit up most of the bottle so she was probably hungry. I'm assuming that meant that the baby did indeed fuss a lot and was worked up when they fed her and then spit it up. The Friday visit with the grandma (and the baby's brother) should become a regular thing, so we're hopeful that the baby gets used to her after a while.

2. We took the baby to the doctor today because she has a cold. If she were my kid, I wouldn't have called about a cold, because seriously, babies get colds, but we want to err on the side of overly cautious. Her cold also coincided with her discovering her ears, so she started pulling on slash holding her ears when she was falling asleep, so I wanted to make sure it wasn't an ear infection. Because she's not my kid, I want to make sure we've always done our due diligence in making sure she's in great shape. The pediatrician reported that she does just have a cold with a mild fever, but her ears look fine, and prescribed Baby Tylenol. She's been fussier at night, which is not fun for me. Andy sleeps through it, but I'm TIRED today.

3. The baby rolled over this weekend! Twice! Like it was no big deal! She's three and a half months old now, so rolling over from front to back is developmentally right on target. I cheered like she had spontaneously started speaking in French. Being a parent is weird.

4. This weekend we had a baby shower for my brother and sister-in-law, who are expecting a baby girl next month. I managed to finish a sweater for the girlie, and wove in the ends at eleven o'clock the night before the shower. By the time my fat baby goddaughter arrived, I had knitted her a blanket and sweater with a matching dress - and I invented the pattern for the dress because I couldn't one that was just right. Turns out having a kid around makes it sort of hard to get knitting done. Oops.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Case plan review!

Andy and I spent an hour this afternoon at a fun event called a Case Plan Review! Woo!

In theory, the Case Plan Review is a chance for all the parents and the worker(s) to sit down and discuss the case, the goals that have been set, and where things stand, and to make any changes that might be necessary. In our county, the foster parents are invited, which is cool because there are parts of the case they don't discuss with us due to confidentiality, but if they discuss it in front of us it's fair game.

In practice, neither of the baby's parents showed up, so it was just me and Andy and an impartial transcriber and the baby's worker and the new worker - next week the case will be transferred from "intake" to "management," so the person involved with the case changes. The new worker is the same one who worked with the mom for our baby's brother, so she's familiar with the mom and, to a lesser extent, with the dad.

They still held the meeting and did the review even without the parents, so we got to hear some new details and to hear some specifics, which was interesting. They also asked us, officially, if we are interested in being a pre-adoptive placement for this baby if things go that direction (um, yes!), but of course they have like ten months and a million chances before that's even considered. (My sister was excited to hear that, so I assume some of you also think that means something, but no, it's just procedure. Some foster homes are foster-only and some are foster-to-adopt, so they were just checking boxes to make sure that if the parents and grandma fall through, they don't need to locate another family for this baby. It's just paperwork at this stage - but it does mean that we officially have first dibs if the case heads that direction, so I guess that is a good thing.)

Two good things are coming out of this meeting today:
1. They are adding a visit so that the baby can see her grandma and her brother every week. This is something we were really hoping for, because if she's going to live with the grandma we'd rather the baby at least recognize her.
2. The new worker seems to be taking the gross skin condition pretty seriously and understood that the parents need to both be treated within the same twenty-four-hour period and also that their homes need treatment before visits resume. (Yay! I'm still freaking out about reinfecting, though!) I also spoke up and asked if maybe we could have the parents confirm treatment, etc., the day before the visits, because it's been that the worker has just called me the day of the visit, after I take the baby to daycare with her travel bottle, diaper bag, and freaking heavy carseat that gets in my way when I try to open the door. So if they have to confirm the day before, I don't have to haul all that visit shit to daycare and home unless there's a real reason.

It's really frustrating for our friends and family to hear that, to the county, any progress, however slow, is still considered progress. But the family really deserves all the help they need to get this baby back in their lives, and we'll do what we need to in order to keep her safe until that happens or the plan changes.

Our next court date is April 16, but I really don't think the baby will be going anywhere then. I mean, crazier things have happened, but a lot of things would have to be done really quickly in order for the county to order her placement elsewhere, and that would be out of character for the people involved.

Foster parents: do you get to go to Case Plan Review meetings? Non-foster-parents: what do you think of all this crap?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Getting political for a second

I typically try to avoid writing about political shit. It's too easy to hurt people's feelings and I don't usually feel well-informed-enough to go out on a political limb. But this is crazytown, so I'm writing about it anyway.

There is a bill in Arizona that, if passed, will give employers the right to fire a woman if the employer discovers that she uses birth control to prevent pregnancy (as opposed to solely for medical reasons), and also would allow employers to opt out of covering contraception if they find it morally distasteful. This would also require women to disclose very personal medical information to their employers in order to prove they're within the boundaries prescribed by the law for medical use.

A blogger I follow wrote a pretty awesome letter to Deborah Lesko, the senator who sponsored the bill. Her letter's funny and patronizing as all hell and I love it. I went a different route. Here's the letter I sent her yesterday:

Ms. Lesko:

I want to state, very clearly, my objection to House Bill 2625. My reproductive rights, and those of all adult humans, is the concern of no one but me, my doctor, and my intimate partners. I do not support House Bill 2625, and I very ardently hope that it is defeated.

Your support of this bill, and of HB2281, indicate that you cannot be trusted to do what is best for individuals or for society as a whole. I urge you to reconsider your position.

I haven't heard back yet. Feel free to copy this, add your own name at the bottom there, and email it to Debbie. She needs to know this is unacceptable.

Back to our regular posts about the baby and weird introspection and cusswords tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Being a grown-up

I remember being really surprised in college when I realized that there wouldn't be a time when I suddenly became a grown-up.

I'm still surprised by this, actually.

It's amazing to me to look around and think about how every single person is sort of making this whole life thing up as we go along. This has become especially clear since the baby arrived. The county has put me in charge of an actual human being, as if I've got shit really figured out. I wonder about that when I'm doing things like drinking boxed wine that has been in the fridge on my sunporch since Thanksgiving (this is an actual event that has happened in my life this week - I forgot it was there, it still tastes fine [read: it still tastes like Franzia, so whatever] and I wanted wine with dinner).

I don't feel like a grown-up. I still feel like I'm 17, usually. I was a pretty with-it seventeen-year-old, I guess, so that's not as crappy as it sounds. I started college at 17, I worked three part-time jobs, I had a packed social life. When I look back over my life, that's the age I most readily feel matches who I am inside.

Today I hung out with a friend I hadn't seen in a few months. We met at the Barnes and Noble in our local mall, and she wanted to check out t-shirts for a St. Patrick's day party she's going to. At one point, she said, "These are the kinds of nonsense things I worry about. You're responsible for the care and nurturing of a human being. That's crazy."

I don't know. I have a grown-up job, and the job I had before this one was a grown-up job too. I no longer need to work a shitty part-time job to fill in the gaps. I contribute to my 401(k). I live within my means. I own a house. I have two dogs and, like, six houseplants (and I haven't killed a houseplant in about four years). I have a really solid marriage to a person whose company I genuinely enjoy. I have healthy relationships with family and friends. But inside I often still feel like the person who waits just a little past gross to clean the bathroom, or who worries about every single meeting at work, or who picks her nose while driving, or who eats Cocoa Puffs for breakfast, is the real me.

What age do you feel like? Really, please, comment and tell me, because I'm genuinely curious about where other people stand on this one.

Friday, March 9, 2012

More from court

We had another court hearing yesterday, at which I learned the following (notes on these things appear in parentheses):
- The baby's mom has started evaluation for the classes she needs to take (after only seven weeks of stalling)
- The baby's dad has painted the baby's room and, per his lawyer, purchased "some" of the necessary items for having a baby reside with him (the worker told me today that the issues with his housing do not include anything about paint colors or what stuff he has)
- The grandma has taken herself and the baby's brother to the doctor for evaluation and they were both cleared from the gross skin thing. However, the county pediatrician wants them to be treated preventatively, and the grandma has agreed.
- Neither parent has been treated yet (WHAT THE HELL). The dad made a doctor's appointment for some time next week. The mom told me she's trying to find a doctor, but told the worker in my hearing that her doctor had recently told her [xx] about an unrelated issue, so that's cute.
- We are adjourned for another month to see how things progress.

If the baby goes back to her family, which is still very much the goal, we would prefer that it happen soon. Obviously we adore this child, but we really do think that families belong together whenever possible, so it would be cool if any of these adults could get their shit together before this baby forgets who they are.

The parents aren't currently having visits. Neither of them have seen her since last Tuesday. They can't see her until they are both treated, and it's really important for her to see them regularly if she's going to be living with them. Ugh.

My sister and I were texting today, and she said something along the lines of, "I know you went into this knowing that parts of this would be hard, but did you know dealing with all the nonsense would suck so much?" And I had to tell her that really, aside from the gross skin thing, this isn't that bad. The parents aren't openly hostile- in fact, the grandma thanked me for taking such good care of the baby and said they were glad she was somewhere that she was clearly cared about, and the dad even took a break from talking about himself to tell me thanks for getting to the bottom of the medical stuff. They attend all their court dates and, let's say, 85% of their visits. They don't show up to visits high or drunk. The baby came to us because of neglect, not because of outright abuse. They haven't been coming to doctors' appointments, but then they aren't required to, so that can't really be held against them. We did go into this expecting everything to take a million times longer than a reasonable person would expect, and that has been the case, but really, as it goes, things could go a lot worse.

Do you have more questions? What do you want to know about this shit?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Two things that amuse only me

1. I'm a huge fan of the musical Les Miserables. It has France! And the oppressed! And orphans and foster care! And drunks! What's not to love? Andy and I saw it on stage last week (it was our Christmas present to each other) and I've had various songs from it stuck in my head since then. Every time I've been on Facebook in the last few days, I've had the urge to post snippets from the play as comments on people's statuses. Oh, really, you're heading out on vacation in the morning? "I did not live until today/ how can I live when we are parted?" Went for a four-mile run, you badass? "There is power in me yet/ my race is not yet run!" Having a shitty day (as long as you don't use "fml")? "Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise."

This would basically amount to trolling, as almost no one I'm friends with (besides my kid sister) knows the play, so it would almost certainly be nonsense to everyone else. This is even funnier when I'm thinking about doing it to people I haven't seen since high school or something.

2. I love the idea of starting a collection for someone. Every Christmas, Andy has to tell me it's really not a funny idea, but we just are going to have to disagree there. Any time I pass, like, a huge display of snowglobes on sale, I get this impulse to buy all of them and give them to my brother for Christmas and his birthday every year until I run out. Act totally genuine, like "I saw this and thought of you! Hope you like it!" I also think of this with sports teams: my mom is not and never has been a sports fan. Here you go, mom, season passes for Shitty Local Minor League Baseball Team!

I like to live my life like it's performance art, I guess.

What things make you giggle?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

And then it got more fun!

We had yet another doctor's appointment on Thursday, at which they finally diagnosed the crazy rash that the baby's had since she came to us. In the interest of not disclosing confidential medical information, I'm only going to say that it's a totally horrifying but also totally treatable contagious condition that reminds people of lice except that it involves the skin instead of the hair. Oh, and Andy and I have it too now. Neat.

It took four different dermatologist appointments for them to diagnose this shit. The condition causes extreme itching, but the baby is too young to scratch, so she must have been miserable. We've noticed that when she's falling asleep she spends a few seconds wriggling intensely (like the first time she did it I thought maybe she was having a seizure), which we can now attribute to the itching, which is known to be worse when you're falling asleep.

So Andy and the baby and I were all treated on Thursday and will repeat the treatment in a week. I had to call the daycare so they could notify the parents of the other infants, and so that the worker could get herself and her daughter checked. I had to call the friends we were out of town with because they held the baby for a bit. Every single itch in the last two days has freaked me the hell out. We had an outbreak of this at the shelter I worked at probably once a year, and I managed not to get it for eight years. Then our first foster placement shows up and brings it right to my home.

The baby's birth parents were invited to the doctor's appointment and were reminded several times about it by the worker, but they didn't show up. So after we left the office, I called the worker to explain the situation and to tell her that both parents needed to be treated, and it would be best if the grandma and the baby's brother were treated as well, to minimize the chances of reinfecting the baby and then us. She said she'd let them know. Then she called back twenty minutes later and asked if I had it in writing from the doctor that they needed to be treated before they could have their visits. No, of course I didn't, why would I need that? Well, the worker explained, the parents are saying they don't have it and they don't want to get treated. Oh, and the mom also told the dad that we (the foster parents) are blaming him, which is insanity because he had only seen the baby maybe twice when she came into care. (To be totally clear, we are blaming the mom and maybe the grandma.) If they had shown up to the appointment, the doctor would have explained that anyone with regular contact with the baby needs to be treated and would have written them prescriptions right then and there, like he did for me and Andy.

So I had to call the doctor's office and ask them to put it in writing that the parents need to be treated before they can have visits, and I also asked him to add that they need some sort of proof that they've seen a doctor, like a prescription or something. But even if they get that, there's no telling whether they'll use it, or use it right. Ugh. The doctor was pretty understanding and said he'd fax it right over to the worker (and he was the first of four dermatologists - two specifically pediatric-focused -  and about nine medical students to actually figure out what was up) so he's okay in my book.

The mom told the worker that she can't afford the treatment. When the worker pointed out that the mom's on Medicaid, she said yeah, she is, but she as a one-dollar copay. She can't scrape together a dollar to treat a skin condition to avoid recontaminating her infant, but she has a new cell phone.

I am very relieved to have a concrete diagnosis, even if it's a disgusting one, and to be able to treat the poor baby so she can finally be comfortable. And I know I'm not supposed to think this, let alone share it, but part of me hopes the dad (who is the current person they're considering for reunification) decides not to get treated, so we can keep this precious, perfect baby, who is learning how to laugh and who we love so dearly.

Any of you have experience with gross contagious skin conditions? Any of you foster parents catch something gross from your kids?