Monthly Archives: March 2014

Welcome to Our Family, Elie!

Guest post by Heather Rosenberg, a foster and adoptive parent for almost five years. This is the third post in her blogging series.

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Warren and Elie, both born of Heather and her husband’s hearts through adoption.

After many emotional conversations, we both came to the conclusion that we could not break up siblings, and we would be the resource for the new baby if it were to be sheltered. We prepared our home for a new child and told our employers the news. Experience had shown us that you take a lot of time off with a new child (and both of us said goodbye to the possibility of any sleep ever again). Even though these adoptions were an emotional and physically draining rollercoaster, Bethanie, Dianna and Karen all played instrumental roles in our decision making process. These women pour everything in their job for the kids on their cases and helped us to recharge and stay in it for the long haul. I am forever grateful for these ladies.

The day we made the decision to take Elie into our home, Bethanie called with the exciting news of her early birth! My 3 year old and I went to pick her up. Upon our arrival we instantly fell in love with this little squishy baby that would find shelter in our home and love in our hearts. It was difficult to watch Elie’s parents struggle in changing the course of their destinies, but they began to understand that their children were going to be well cared for with our family. It’s a bitter pill to swallow when you foster sometimes because you are so uplifted and encouraged by the gains the children in your home make but find such despair in knowing that their family story involves so much loss and pain.

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Adoption Day with the advocates who helped during the journey. Thank you!

A few months ago the judge announced the arrival of our Elie for the first time to the world and in the process made us a legal, forever family of five. Today our house is a little messier, our schedules are a little more hectic, we have less disposable cash and much more laundry to fold, but our family is exactly the way it was meant to be! The journey has not been easy for us—Evan and I have fussed and whined at and to each other. We’ve had sleepless nights as one or more of the kids have been sick, or teething, or experiencing night terrors for the first time. Our marriage has had to grow with our growing family.

I think back to the beginning of our foster care journey and I can’t help but think how much life has changed for my family in those short five years. We have three forever children now, have fostered a dozen children along the way and have made many friends who have fostered or adopted. But we also have seen the amazing capacity of the human spirit to thrive and rebound, and we’ve met three wonderful women who worked very hard to ensure the safety of one child, but ultimately ended up creating a loving family for his sister too! I think about all of this and know that my life is as it should be.

The Road to Adoption

Guest post by Heather Rosenberg, a foster and adoptive parent for almost five years. This is the second post in her blogging series.

Liam and Warren, his adoptive brother and child formerly in foster care.

Liam and Warren, his adoptive brother and child formerly in foster care.

After many, many months of failed visits, lack of progress on case plan tasks, and then ultimately the disappearance of the parents, the posture of the case changed from reunification to adoption. I became acquainted with the Children’s Legal Services attorney assigned to the case, Diana Korn, when she reached out to me to answer some of the legal questions I was asking about how the process worked. I was able to see first-hand how well Bethanie and Diana worked together on this case. All along the way, Diana would call me at various points to make certain that my family understood what was happening in the legal arena. I had never had a CLS attorney keep me so well-informed in the process of the legal system, which was incredibly helpful because every case is unique.

The other person who played an integral role in this case was the guardian ad litem, Karen Isch. Karen visited Liam at his daycare (which was in a different county from where Karen worked), our home, during visitations with his parents – she even came to a doctor’s appointment to visit him while he was getting shots (and helped me calm him down after those shots). Besides her expected career duties, she wanted to help in any way. She even helped during the holidays – she put Liam’s name on the list to receive gifts through the GAL office!

Then our story changed again. Shortly before Liam turned 1, we were told that his mother was pregnant again. We were asked if we would consider being the placement resource for that child as well, if the baby were to be sheltered. The maternal instinct in me was to say “yes, yes, yes” again, but I knew that my husband and I were stretched very thin with the two boys we already had as Liam had some complicated medical needs that kept me out of work a lot traveling to the children’s clinic in Jacksonville for his specialists.

Not wanting to give up on the idea of keeping the siblings together if the new baby was removed as well, my husband and I started a several-month-long dialog as to whether we could financially afford to take the new baby, had the physical resources to fit a third car seat into our vehicles, could find a child care center that would take a brand new baby, could handle another child with complex medical needs like Liam had, and whether we had the emotional capacity to go through this again—as this case has been the most emotionally draining case we’ve ever had. We knew our own relationship had been strained through the course of this – and we were both exhausted. Could we handle another child?

Stay tuned for Heather’s next guest blog post, where she talks about the next big events in Liam’s life.

Meeting Liam

Guest post by Heather Rosenberg, a foster and adoptive parent for almost five years. This is the first post in her blogging series.

Liam on the move!

Liam on the move!

Twenty-three months ago, before I had met Liam or Elie, one of my fellow foster moms hinted I might receive a placement call for a 9-day-old baby named Liam, a little boy who desperately needed a home. When I heard the phone ring I already suspected it would be Big Bend Community Based Care Placement Specialist Rachel Bassett, who has placed children with me before. Covered in water from bathing my recently adopted child and current foster baby, I reached for the phone, already prepared to say “yes” (I am one of those mothers whose first instinct is to say “yes, yes, yes” even though my husband fusses at me for doing that). Shortly after, I raced out the door to go meet the child protective investigator and pick up the new baby. That was how Liam came to our family.

Upon taking care of Liam, I discovered that his parents experienced multiple mental health issues, drug abuse, homelessness, violence, criminal activity and were former foster children themselves. BBCBC Lead Dependency Case Manager Bethanie Milford worked between us and Liam’s parents to ensure Liam was in the best care, wherever that meant he was supposed to be. As many assume, this is a messy time of tracking paperwork and referrals and struggling to stay in communication with the busy case manager. However, Bethanie was anything but average. In fact, as a 10-year veteran case manager, she took her role as family advocate very seriously, and she was determined to do everything in her power to break the cycle of abuse in this family.

Bethanie went out of her way to set up visitations with the biological family, asked about our family’s needs, got every single piece of documentation I asked for as soon as I asked for it, provided follow up and constant communication with both us and the biological family, and gave referrals and services at least once a week. She would even reach out to me before I could even reach out to her.

I watched in awe as Bethanie did things I had only ever dreamed a case manager would, should or even could do to help heal a broken family. It was incredible. Watching Bethanie started to restore some of my faith in a system I have only ever seen fail since I was a young teen and watched my own siblings fall into the system having their lives slowly broken, piece by piece.

But this was only the beginning of Liam’s story.

Stay tuned for Heather’s next blog post, where she talks about the next events in Liam’s life.