Monday, December 17, 2012

Early Christmas!

"Merry Christmas!"

That's what Liam's case manager said when she called at 11:00 this morning.

I sat in stunned silence for a moment, unsure of whether it "meant" something or she was just giving me a cheerful greeting to begin her phone call.

You see, today was the day our court hearing for the TPR for Liam's birth mom was supposed to begin; we wouldn't even know until today whether our case made it into the court room today, because they schedule 5 trials to begin every Monday.  We found out last week that we were second on the docket, and the case who was ahead of us might not be ready to begin today; but we still wouldn't know for sure until this morning.  I didn't go to court, because it is an hour drive, and it didn't make sense since we didn't know if it would begin, and I wouldn't have been allowed in for the trial anyway, since I was subpoenaed.  

So I was expecting the CM to call, and had to assume trial began today, since court started at 8:30, and she wasn't calling until almost 3 hours later.  But that was the most I could hope for.

"Um...  Does that mean you have good news for me?" I asked slowly.

"Yes!" she replied excitedly.  "BM terminated her rights voluntarily!"

"Really??  I mean, really??  It's done??"

"Yep!  The judge asked her all the questions and went though everything, and then she left.  Then I gave my testimony and he scheduled the adoption!"

She then proceeded to give me the date for the adoption, and then went back and told me a few more details about her conversation with BM before court.  

She's coming on Thursday for a home visit, so I may hear more about it then, but honestly I doubt there's much to tell.  

Three years ago today, we got the same exact Christmas present.  This was the very same day Hunter and Kaleigh's TPRs were finalized.  (***CORRECTION: I went back to check the facts, and Hunter and Kaleigh were actually TPR'd a week earlier.  My apologies for the mistake!!***)   Liam's adoption date falls just 4 days after theirs!  Which is way cool, because we'll have an AWESOME way to celebrate Hunter and Kaleigh's adoption day this year - and they'll all celebrate at the same time every year.  It's just really cool.

And of course we are humbled and grateful to God for His mercy and grace, shown to our family and to our sweet little boy who has already brought so much joy to our lives.  We are blessed beyond measure.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Multiple Updates

I know the update on Liam is what everyone is reading for, so I'll lead with that.  Then if you don't want to hear about the hum-drum stuff, you don't have to.  ;-)

(Just a reminder, Liam is not yet his legal name; so we aren't breaking any rules here.)

We had pretrial this week, and while I didn't go, the CW updated me after the hearing.  BM was still going to fight because she "thinks she deserves the chance to parent him."  Yeah, don't even get me started.  Then her lawyer asked for the hearing to be rescheduled, but the judge denied his request, because there is only one other case ahead of ours, and it sounds like there is a pretty good chance they won't be ready - which means our trial would start Monday!  I received a subpoena in the mail last week from the DA's office; I'm not sure if they will actually want me to testify or if they did it just in case they go right into the Best Interest phase after the Grounds phase is complete.  (I can't imagine any reason I would be called to testify in the Grounds phase, since that is about proving there are sufficient grounds for TPR, and the Best Interest phase is about deciding what is in the best interest of child as far as permanency.  Typically a foster parent would be called in the Best Interest phase in order to state their desire/willingness to adopt the child.)

Apparently the judge gave BM a speech about doing what was best for Liam, and her attorney and a permanency counselor were still going to talk to her after trial about doing voluntary.  Still, I have to say, I don't really want her to do voluntary.  She is the person who would turn it around on herself, brag that she "gave her son up for adoption" (which is an inaccurate statement when CPS is involved), and try to make everyone feel sorry for her and believe she is a selfless person.  Yes, I'm aware it sounds somewhat selfish, or bitter, but after everything she has put him and us through over the past two years (because she was abusing him in utero), she should go through a trial and see what that's like.  But, that's neither here nor there; we will see on Monday how it goes.

The Little Man in question is teething, once again getting four teeth at once.  Between that and the periodic withdrawals, he can be quite the crank monster, not to mention he is drooling like nobody's business.  He still has his happy times though, which I am very thankful for - he is such a sweet baby!  At the moment he is digging through his diaper bag, pulling out snacks, his water bottle, and the few toys I keep in there.  He loves to eat - his favorite foods are bananas (his first official word besides Mama and Dada was Nana) and avocados.  He has absolutely no interest in walking (which is fine with me HAHA!) but can crawl like a maniac and get all the way around the main floor circle at a ridiculous lightning speed.

My little K3 will be 4 years old in only a month and a half!  It's so crazy to think about that, when she was just a couple of months over 3 when she came to us.  She has really grown in development over the past 8 months.  We have had some pretty serious behavior issues with her; she is in therapy, but at such a young age therapy can only do so much.  It is sad to think about the possibilities when it comes to realizing what is behind the behaviors.  I have a feeling that part of the deal is that she knows she is in a safe place now, and perhaps her mind has "permission" to start remembering things that maybe it wasn't safe to remember before.  I may be wrong about that, and I'm sure there are other factors and triggers as well - I'm quite certain BD told her she was going to come live with him soon - but I think that's at least part of it.  She loves to play with babies, and also enjoys coloring, though doesn't always like to sit still and concentrate for very long, as is typical for her developmental age.

Kaleigh has struggled through general number sense in school this first half of the year, but is finally starting to grasp the concepts, and has her addition facts down pretty well.  Her general reasoning skills tell me that once she really gets into math, she will excel, so for now we just keep practicing, practicing, practicing!  She is reading like a pro now, and of course writing and spelling follow.  Her favorite activity is still coloring, though!  She is a very meticulous child most of the time, and likes to color detailed pictures, as well as any activity that includes cutting and pasting.  A new fun thing she has recently discovered is word search puzzles.  It won't be long before she is doing crossword puzzles and playing Scrabble.

Hunter is plowing right along through seventh grade.  He's doing pre-algebra work, although the most frustrating thing with him and math is that once he masters a skill, he forgets it.  We've had to go back and review some fifth and sixth grade fractions work in the past two weeks; it just makes the new lessons move slowly.  He continues to be a voracious reader, which continues to thrill me to my core.  He is really enjoying the Rick Riordan books, and keeps reading the different series' over and over.  His New Year's gift of "Something to Read" is going to be The Hunger Games, which he has been dying to read; he will be totally surprised because I told him awhile back that he had to wait until he was older.  I think it will be good for him though.

At this moment, my Christmas cards are sitting in the UPS warehouse in Sturtevant! It's the first year I've had the time and energy to get cards done, and they are sitting in a warehouse while I could be getting them in envelopes!  GRRRR!

I have almost everything I need for the kids' Christmas Eve packages!  Pajamas, movies, mugs... need to get slippers, which I will do this weekend, and I saw some of those little fleece blankets for like $5 at Walmart a couple of weeks ago, so if I can find those again, they'll each be getting one of those.  

Next week is baking week.  I have several recipes ready to go; I'm going to have to swing by Sam's and/or Aldi to get more of the staples before we get started.  Hunter's math homework next week will be to double or triple each recipe (depending on how much we need) :-).  All three of the kids will practice following directions!

Off to enjoy the last few minutes of Liam's nap before he wakes up...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Practices, Plans, and Projects

Well, as some of you know (and the rest of you are about to find out), we are really changing things up for this time of year in the Shan Clan.

We are no longer going to have "Christmas Presents" - at least not for us.  We will be starting a new family tradition of "New Year's Presents," and though we have limited them in the past, we will be limiting them more specifically this year.

One Thing They Want
One Thing They Need
One Thing To Wear
One Thing To Read

This way, we can focus on celebrating Jesus' birthday, and here that means doing things to bless and/or help others.  So on Christmas Day, we've settled on several ways in which we will think of others and hopefully spread a little bit of Christ's love and the true meaning of Christmas.

We also decided to take the opportunity to begin a couple of other new traditions, to help us bond as a family and focus on time together.  One of those has to do with Christmas Eve.  Part of the day will be spent wrapping up preparations for Christmas Day, but then we will have some fun family activities.  I have two crafts picked out to do with the kids, and in the afternoon they will each get a "Christmas Eve Package" (still trying to come up with a clever name!).  The package will have new pajamas and slippers, new movies (because of my fabulous finds on Amazon, each kiddo is getting 2 movies), a new mug or cup, and a couple of their favorite treats (and anything else I think of between now and then - ideally I'd like to do a new blanket for each of them too, but I don't know if I can get to that by then!).  Then we are going to have a hot chocolate bar (yes, I totally got the idea on Pinterest!) with snacks and watch Christmas movies.

I am so excited to see these new traditions come to fruition!  The kids know nothing of our plans for Christmas Eve, so it will be a nice surprise for them.  They have really gotten excited about our Christmas Day projects, and I am really excited to see them grow and learn to think about others before themselves.  (Of course, I try to teach them this every day of the year, but it really irritates me that self-centeredness and greediness run most rampant at the time of year when they should be least!)  As I tell the kids, how would you feel if a whole bunch of people came to our house on your birthday, and all brought presents for each other but nothing for you!?

More to come as our plans progress :-).

Hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving with your friends and families!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Shortest. Update. Ever.

Nothing happened.

Okay, okay.  I'll give you more detail.

BM is still incarcerated.  Because she gives a different last name every time she gets picked up, the OTP (order to produce) put in by the DA wasn't followed through; it had her legal last name, which didn't match the last name she gave when she was booked this last time.  So, she wasn't at court.

As it turned out, it didn't matter anyway.  Her attorney hasn't been able to get a hold of her (no surprise to anyone who has known her any length of time, as no attorney in the history of attorneys has ever been able to get a hold of her), and he told the DA last week that he was planning to dismiss his motion to request visitation.  He didn't even know until today that she was in custody!

What would have been nice is if he or the DA had let the CW know this was going to happen.  It was quite the waste of time.  (By the way, being incarcerated, she wouldn't have gotten visitation anyway.)

However, the next hearing is in December for the Pre-Trial.  There won't be a chance to ask for visitation again before that.  TBSS.  A comment her attorney made sounded like he is trying to convince her to do voluntary, which only makes sense.  She is the only person involved in this case who thinks she has a chance.

So, that's that.  You may now return to your regularly scheduled...  uh....  Facebook stalking.  ;-)

Monday, October 29, 2012


I realize I never posted an update after court last time.  The truth is, I was too disappointed to try to formulate any concrete thoughts on the matter.

Nothing happened.  We half-expected BM to voluntarily terminate, since she had been claiming she was going to, and we knew her lawyer was counseling her to do so.  However, she showed up at court and decided she was "better" and was going to fight it.  She honestly believed she had a chance to get him back.  She already didn't.  The next day she was arrested for bail violation and has been incarcerated since then.  Tomorrow there is a hearing for her to request visitation, which has been suspended since the beginning of August. 

She has a sentencing hearing next week for her multiple outstanding criminal charges.  We don't know what will happen there, but there is potential for her to get time.  That just gives her even less of a chance at trial.

The trial is scheduled for December, but there is about a 90% chance it will get rescheduled, since the court schedules 5 hearings for every Monday, and if more than one of them are trials that go forward, they are taken in order of who has been waiting the longest.  That won't be us.  So we will probably end rescheduled for February or March.

I'm still praying the way I've been praying all along: that BM will come tomorrow and realize that she does not have a chance and voluntarily terminate.  There is so much going on between the two cases right now that it would just be nice to get a small reprieve in all of this.  As always, I'm not getting my hopes up; but I can still continue to pray.

I will try to post an update after tomorrow morning's hearing.  No promises though, obviously.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Little of This, Little of That

Things are quiet on the legal front.  

The next hearing on K3's case is on Wednesday; we will not be attending.  We haven't attended a single hearing for her yet, because they've all been for minor things.  And with the way things are going, I'm really glad we haven't wasted our time there.  On Wednesday, it is expected that the DA will drop the TPR petition.  Everything will start over from here as far as the TPR timeline.  In six months, they can file again; they can still use the material and evidence from the past two years, which I was grateful to hear.  There is no telling what BD will do; this case has turned from an almost guaranteed adoption into a waiting game.  And yes, we know as foster parents that everything is a waiting game and nothing is final until it's final.  But you certainly have a different mindset when you get a child who is on the way to TPR than when you get a child that is yet an unknown.  Not that we would love her any less; but you just have it in your head that you can't get your hopes up.  She was supposed to be our "easy" case, the one we didn't have to worry about.  Oh well.  God knows.  He certainly hears our prayers. 

The next hearing on Liam's case isn't until a week from Tuesday.  I really don't know what to expect.  BM just continues to spiral downward more and more out of control.  

Things on the home front are a different story.

Homeschooling more than one child at a time is certainly and interesting and challenging - but of course fun - adventure.  Hunter is in seventh, and Kaleigh is in first.  I am doing some pre-K work with K3, but not on a daily basis.  We are doing Social Studies, Science, and Literature together each morning; then we have a special (different each day), then lunch.  In the afternoon, K3 and Liam (hopefully) nap while I do math, spelling/writing, language, and reading comp with Kaleigh and Hunter.  They each do grade-appropriate work.  I really enjoy the freedom to choose what my children will learn and stay, as well as the ability to schedule their days/weeks and prevent them from coming home from 6 hours of school just to do 2 more hours of homework.  

Liam is becoming such a little man!!  He walks along furniture, but refuses to stand or try to walk with help - he crawls everywhere, and very quickly!  He discovered this week that he loves to climb stairs.  He made it all the way to the top the other, with no help (except a spotter, of course!), and yesterday while I was grading papers, I had to pull him off the stairs no less than four times.  He is eating mostly solids now, and his eczema has cleared up quite a bit, so I am seriously thinking it is a milk allergy.  We already know he can't have soy (*someone* kept force-feeding him soy formula and he would ALWAYS throw it up) so we are starting to try a little almond milk to see how he does.

Aside from Randy working some late nights lately, I guess that's about it :-)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Halfway There

I'm almost too emotionally drained to write this.  I'm a little bit concerned I'll leave out something important.  But here goes my attempt anyway...

When I got into the building, I headed straight for the bathroom, where I ran into BM.  I said, "hi," quietly, and kept moving.  Then when I was sitting outside of court, waiting to go in, she came and sat down across from me; she was crying a little bit.  She said a few things, the same things she keeps saying every time I see her at court ("I'm a terrible mom," "I wish I'd done better," etc.  I'm sure it's all very sincere in the moment, but her continued actions never show that she really means what she says).  I didn't have much to say, although she did ask me if there was anyway we could do a "temporary guardianship" until she is ready to get him back, and I replied that the court would not do that.  She nodded, and a minute or two later got up and disappeared again.  I went back to reading my book.

A few minutes later she came over again, sobbing almost hysterically.  She said she'd just gotten off the phone with her mom, and that they both thought it would be a good idea for her to terminate her rights voluntarily.  She was very upset, but kept saying she wanted to do what was best for her son.  I moved across to sit next to her, gave her a hug, and talked with her a few minutes.  She begged me to always take care of him, and to tell him that she loves him, and I told her what I tell all our birth parents that I get the chance to:  "We would never tell him that you gave him up or didn't want him; we will tell him that you loved him enough to do what was best for him."  She also wanted to know if she could have a "goodbye visit," to which I said of course we'd do that.

She never did calm down.  And she still didn't have an attorney.  The public defender's office got a hold of the PD who was assigned to her, and he was out of the building, but was in the area and was on his way over.  To his credit, he showed up about 2 minutes after we got into court.  I was pretty impressed.

When we got into court, the judge tried to talk her into calming down.  She told him she wanted to terminate voluntarily, and he advised her to wait until she had an attorney before she started talking - we were on the record at that point.  Her attorney showed up about that point, the judge asked them to step out of the court, find a room, and talk while they went through everything with BD.  

BD terminated voluntarily.  The judge had to go through a ton of questions to make sure he knew what he was doing and everything, and a couple of questions made me worry!  But BD got through it, and I was pretty impressed with how calm and composed he remained throughout.  I had written him a letter and put together a little photo book with photos from each month Liam has been with us, so when the judge dismissed him from court, I handed that to him.  I had been kind of hoping I would get to talk with him, but since they were calling BM and her attorney back in, we all had to stay put.  His mom was there though, so I was glad he had her for support.

BM's attorney told the judge he wasn't comfortable letting her voluntarily terminate today, because of how distraught she was (I understand that to a certain extent, but also thought it was kind of silly, since anyone making that decision is going to be understandably upset!).  Anyway, it sounds like her attorney did tell her that she needs to do voluntary, so hopefully between him and her mom, she won't change her mind before the next hearing.

It has been an emotionally draining day.  Now I'm looking forward to a quiet evening snuggling with hubby in front of a movie with pizza and a glass of wine :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Update 2 of 2 - Liam

Well, our hearing yesterday was adjourned again.  BM showed up without an attorney, even though she had been appointed a public defender.  The judge had her public defender called down into the courtroom, and then she told the judge she wants to hire her own lawyer.  The judge was not happy that she had not done this yet (she's had a month).  She told him she's been looking at several and thinks she found the one she wanted.  The judge told her she needs to understand the seriousness of the fact that she MUST have a lawyer here with her at the next hearing, which is in a week and a half.

I can practically guarantee "looking at several lawyers" has not involved talking with them.  No one knows how she is going to be able to pay an attorney; I'm guessing she hasn't even thought about the fact that they are ridiculously expensive.  After court, the CW said she thinks BM will end up with the public defender anyway.

Apparently BD's attorney told him he needs to sign over his rights because he doesn't have a chance to win.  My guess is that BM's attorney told her the same thing, and she didn't like that, so she thinks she will get a different answer if she gets her own lawyer.  Keep in mind, this is a person who has created a fantasy world in her head to live in; so she has no real understanding of what "real life" is like.

So, another week and a half.  Should be interesting to see what happens then.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Update 1 of 2 - K3

(In case you're wondering, we've put a hold on calling Little Girl "Kaedyn."  Since we don't know what the future holds now, we don't want to confuse or upset her.  I'll just keep referring to her as K3 here, since I can't use her real name anyway.)

Her worker was here this morning.  The DA and GAL are going to be dropping the TPR petition in October, at the next hearing.  They will file a new CHiPS petition (Child in need of Protective Services), and the timeline starts over.

One of my main questions regarding this "start over" was answered:  ONLY the timeline on the TPR starts over.  The timeline on the whole case does not.  Meaning, all the grounds that they have had since the day K3 was detained can still be used going forward.  THANK GOD.  I was so afraid they would all be wiped away.  

BM is incarcerated, and no one knows for how long, but it sounds like we're talking about years.  BD claims to be getting clean, but he also has something looking over his shoulder every day, so he really hasn't shown whether he can do it on his own.  Also, some of the stories he tells CW aren't immediately verifiable.  We have been doing one visit a month with BD; CW thinks she will have to go to 2 visits a month starting in October. 

I'm just trying not to think too much about the whole thing.  It's so sad for her and frustrating for us.  Kids KNOW when their situation isn't permanent.  That's why she keeps regurgitating her testing behaviors: to see if we will still keep her even if she is "naughty."

Please keep us in your prayers.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Tomorrow we have court for Liam.  BPs still haven't done anything, and the judge told them at the last hearing that he was suspending visits until this hearing, and he would make a further decision based on what they did between then and now.  BM has actually spiraled completely out of control, and BD has done absolutely nothing.  In fact, CW found out some things that have been going on with him that she didn't know before.  We are praying that the judge will continue suspended visits, especially for mom.  (If he gives dad visits back, and dad misses just one, he will be in default for abandonment.)  I am also praying that if God would see fit, BM would just not show up to court.  I believe her current condition is worse than it's ever been, and while I'm not getting my hopes up, I won't be surprised if she doesn't show up.  I am praying that for Liam's sake, if at all possible, this could just be ended quickly.

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers during this time!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Plans Change & Time Flies (Alternately Titled, "School Starts Tomorrow")

Last week, we had all kinds of plans for this weekend.  But then life happened.  So instead of the get-togethers we had planned, we watched movies and played board games and video games and watched more movies.  I think we all actually needed a couple of days of doing nothing to relax and get ready for a strong start to the new school year.

Exactly one year ago this weekend, we were up north at my uncle's cabin.  It was just the five of us - we didn't have Liam until two months after we got home.  

On that note, I cannot believe it is already September.  I can't believe tomorrow morning, our house will wake up with a junior in high school (!!!), a seventh grader, and a first grader.  I can't believe that next month we will have a one year old, the next month he will have been with us a year, and then it will be Thanksgiving and Christmas all over again.  When I was in high school, someone told me that the older I got, the faster time would go.  I figured it was true, but I just couldn't fathom HOW fast time could actually fly.  It definitely makes me want to savor and appreciate every moment of every day.  It doesn't always happen, but I do appreciate a lot more moments than I used to.

So, our days of relaxing come to an end with a good night's sleep.  And our new week begins bright and early tomorrow morning with a trip to the Y.

Night all!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Week Until School Starts!

Today we begin easing into our new daily school routine.  The kids have been sleeping until about 9:00 most of the summer.  Today and tomorrow they get up at 8, then Wednesday through Friday at 7.  Starting next week we will begin our days at 6:30 so that we can fit everything in without working on schoolwork late in the day!

I have almost everything we need, although finding the best way to organize it all is not coming as easily to me as it has in past years. And I was going through our supplies last night, I discovered that I haven't bought any regular pencils yet!  Ridiculous!  Other than that, we are good on supplies (I think!), although I am watching for good crayon sales because I always like to stock up on those this time of year.  I do still need to get a couple of books for Hunter, but as usual, we are going to start the year off with some review, so we will be set for the first week or so.  

I do wish I could find a couple of desks, but I have little hope of that.  I may try to check one or two little antique places around here, but I'm not getting my hopes up.  If I could find them, it would make life quite a bit easier.  However, I do have a small desk that is currently in Ryan's room; he has never used it, and if these first few weeks of school go by and he still doesn't use it, I'll be re-commandeering it for more practical purposes than collecting odds and ends!

With the start of the new school year, the kids are going to start some classes at the YMCA.  Hunter doesn't know it yet, but he is going to take a rock climbing class on Monday nights.  I'm still looking into options for the girls; I was hoping to get them into swim, but the fall schedule isn't out yet and I'd really like to find classes that meet at the same times. 

Well, I guess that's it for now.  I have a TON of things to get done this week, and I have my doubts that getting them all accomplished is even realistic.  (That won't stop me from trying though!)

I hope as you prepare for the new school year - whether you are a parent, a teacher, a student, a homeschooler, or any combination - that things go smoothly and you enjoy a great start to a new year!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another K3 Update

Well I think I'm level-headed enough to try to write about yesterday's hearing.

I texted the Caseworker this morning just to confirm nothing had happened at the hearing yesterday.

The motion they went in for didn't pass, as everyone predicted.  But, the judge discovered something else.  The piece of paper stating the TPR was being filed on the parents wasn't attached to the main petition packet.  So the judge threw out all the grounds reasons that were contained in that petition.  They still have the grounds that she has been in out-of-home care for 15 out of 22 months (she's been in foster care for 24 months now), but the DA doesn't think it will be enough.  (I don't know why, when 15/22 is a federal statute, and ought to be enough all on its own.)

Bottom line: if they decide to drop the petition now, they can't refile again for 6 months.  

Why does every single case have to be difficult?  Why can't we catch ONE break?  

Sorry.  /pityparty

I just think children deserve better than this.  She's already having attachment issues and fear of abandonment, which are affecting her behaviors.  Dragging this out is definitely not going to make those things any better.  


Monday, August 20, 2012

K3 Update

Well, since we're calling Liam by his future/hopeful adoptive name, I might as well start referring to our other little one by hers - Kaedyn :-).  We are alternating names with her, here at home, to give her time to get used to the name.  Her birth first name will become one of her middle names, along with Ann - the middle name of my mother-in-law and one of my best friends.  (In case you missed it in the past, each of our kids has two middle names and at least one family name/namesake.)  After a few weeks of declaring she was "not Kaedyn," two weeks ago she proudly announced she "was not ______; she wanted to be Kaedyn."  (Cruel, you say?  Not exactly.  We started calling her by her new name now, so that if after months of hearing it she still did not want it, we would not force it on her at adoption.)  The really funny part is, Kaleigh went through this exact same thing.  For weeks, she said, rather vehemently, "I'm not a Kaleigh, I'm a Shilah!"  And then suddenly one day she said, "I want to be a Kaleigh!" and the next time she saw her Great Grandparents she said, "I'm not a Shilah, I'm a Kaleigh!"  It was so cute.  And just melted this Mama's heart.

Anyway, there you go.  I love, love, LOVE our kids' names.  I should probably write a post about where each of their names, first and middle, come from.  They are each intentional and meaningful.

SO.  Tomorrow is a hearing on Kaedyn's case.  We don't need to be there; in fact, the birthparents won't even be there, just the attorneys.  The hearing is so that the attorneys can be heard on a motion that even they admit is frivolous and won't be granted.

On the one hand, I'm glad we don't have anything to worry about.

On the other hand, I think it's absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable that the system can be used this way - by attorneys who are supposed to be ethical and do the right thing, of all the people in this system.  The TPR hearing is scheduled for October; we continue to hope and pray that it will not be rescheduled again.  She goes for her once-a-month visit this week, and I'm not looking forward to it.  She doesn't really know him, but I still hate having to send her away for those couple of hours.  I will be glad when thoughts of him/them are not constantly waiting at the back of my mind.  (Yes, thoughts of the birthparents, as a piece of our family one way or the other, are always "there."  But it's not the same as their constant presence, no matter how infrequent.)

So even though it really isn't likely to change anything, I will still be waiting pretty much all day to hear from the CW confirming that the motion was not granted.

Friday, August 17, 2012

On Grandparents

I want to start by saying I think grandparents are God's most wonderful invention.  I, of course, have the best grandparents on the planet!  My parents are amazing grandparents, and if my husband's parents were alive, I know they would be too.  My parents love being grandparents, and our kids absolutely love their Grammy and Papa.  Personally, I don't know what I would do without them - my mom never hesitates to run over or take the kids whenever I need her to (and I try very hard not to take that for granted!)

Those of you who were with us when we went through our first adoption, know that we had a huge struggle with great grandparents in that situation.  Hunter had lived with them on and off for most of his life, and Kaleigh for all of hers. There were issues with boundaries, safe and appropriate parenting practices, and discipline; as well, the reasons the children were taken into foster care were multi- and cross-generational.  When we started putting boundaries in place (no overnights, controlled visits, limits on gifts), we had problems for awhile.  Things have gotten a little better over the past couple of years, although birthdays and holidays continue to be a struggle on the spending side of things.

Now that we have Liam, we have another grandparent situation.  His biological paternal grandmother has legal guardianship of his 3-year-old brother, who has Down's syndrome.  Early on in the process, I was a little nervous, given our history with grandparents.  However, she and I have kept in regular phone contact, and have had to play dates so far, so that the boys can see each other, and of course so she can see Liam.  She is down to earth and practical; having been a foster parent, she understands the system and exactly what we are going through.  She also has a very realistic view of the kind of person her son is, and what he is and is not capable of doing.  I think (and HOPE) she knows that he is safe and happy with us and that we are a good family for him.  I am actually looking forward to keeping in touch with her and know she will be a valuable part of Liam's life.

It's nice to have a positive grandparent experience after the other difficult one we have dealt with!

And thanks to my parents for being fabulous grandparents, and thanks to the rest of you grandparents out there who are doing such a great job!  We parents - and our kids - need and appreciate you!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Quick Liam Update

So, here's my almost-two-day-late update on court yesterday!

We got into the area early (it's an hour away, and we had to drive during a BAD traffic time!) so we got Starbucks* of course :-).

This judge's courtroom is the same courtroom that Hunter and Kaleigh's judge was in, two and a half years ago.  I'll take that as a good sign.

Neither parent had a TPR attorney (a public defender who knows the ropes of the TPR process), because their previous attorneys had not referred them to new attorneys yet, as is their job.  I had a feeling they thought they were "helping" by doing this (or maybe just being lazy!), because they knew the judge would adjourn the hearing, thereby drawing things out.  However, if that was their intention, it sort of backfired. 

The judge did adjourn the hearing (he didn't really have a choice when they didn't have representation), but he also suspended visits until at least that time.  They both kind of freaked out, which didn't make a lot of sense to me.  In 8 weeks, bdad has not seen Liam once, and bmom has seen him twice, and only because the caseworker made an "exception" visit last week (and because I disrupted my schedule to make it happen).  After a lot of crying and pleading on the part of the bp's, the judge stood by his ruling and said no visits between now and then. 

Today I had a home visit with the Caseworker (intentionally scheduled it for today, knowing I would want to discuss and ask questions, etc.).  It went really well.  I lay in bed last night, having the hardest time trying to get to sleep because of everything running through my head, and she really quelled all my concerns, so that was good.  I also learned some new information, and was able to give her some new information (always good). 

Above all, we know God is in control, and we are trusting Him to take care of our Liam.  He loves him even more than I do - and that's REALLY hard for me to comprehend!

So, that is about it for now.  The next hearing is in September.  I will update as that gets closer!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It Begins

Tomorrow we have our first hearing for the baby, who we are now calling Liam.  Since finding out he will be TPR'd, we decided to start calling him by the name he will receive when he is adopted.  He never really responded to "Ty," and the first time I said "Liam," he looked right at me.  We knew that was his name!

Tomorrow's hearing is the initial appearance for the TPR.  In our other TPR cases, we have come in midway through the process; so I have no idea what to expect from this hearing, other than that they will schedule the trial.  I also know that both the GAL and the Caseworker (and probably the DA) will be asking that visits be suspended until after the trial, but we aren't getting our hopes up.  The CW told me it will be easy to prove that the visits are not in Liam's best interest, but that we still can't expect anything, since most judges won't do it, simply because they don't want to risk putting the outcome of the trial in jeopardy.

Up through late last week, I had a good idea of how things were going with BP's; but since then, I haven't heard any updates.  As of the last I heard, BM wasn't doing well (as expected - she has a very predictable MO), but not having heard anymore about it is making me a little nervous.

More to come after tomorrow...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Quick Lunch!

So on Fridays, I always have a hard time figuring out what to make for lunch.  On Monday through Thursday, we eat our hot meal for lunch and have sandwiches for supper.  On Fridays, we have pizza for supper.  I know, I know; I should just make sandwiches for lunch.  Well, truth be told, sometimes I do.  But many Fridays, I really just want to do something different.  Now, it IS Friday, so I want it to be quick and easy.  But different.  Whenever possible.

So today I made something new.  Actually, it wasn't totally new; I altered a recipe I've made many times in the past in a pie pan.  Today, I made it in muffin cups.  

Start with a 12-cup muffin tin (or two 6-cup tins.  Or however many you want.).  Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Save yourself a headache later, and SPRAY YOUR TIN.  Trust me.  You want to do this.  (Have you guessed yet that I forgot??)

In each cup, put several pieces of broccoli.  I put enough to fill up almost half the cup.  I like my kids to have lots of veggies.  Then, spoon about 2 TBSP of cottage cheese in with the broccoli.  The cups will look almost full.  That is A-OK.

Scramble up a dozen eggs (or one for each muffin cup).  I started with six, thinking there was no way I had enough room in each of those cups for a whole egg.  WRONG.  I had exactly enough room left in each cup for a whole egg.  I scrambled mine in my pyrex two-cup measuring cup, so that I could just pour them right into the cups.

Pour egg into each cup.  Pour SLOWLY.  The egg white will want to find its way down between the cracks, but since it's all connected, if you pour too fast you will have egg all over the tin.  Fill the cups all the way to the brim.  I made two passes, since it took a few seconds for the egg to fill in all the cracks and empty spaces.

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.  There will be some water runoff from the broccoli; don't worry about that.  Then sprinkle a little bit of cheese on top (I used mozzarella) and stick it back in the oven for another two minutes.


Separate them from the edges of the cups with a butter knife, while they are still hot.  Use a spoon to scoop out onto a plate or bowl.


*When I've made this in a pie plate, I have used several variations, including ham, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, chicken, and I'm sure a few other things I can't remember right now.  I used this one today, because my kids are broccoli snobs.

If you try this with any other variations, please feel free to share!

1 dozen eggs, scrambled
Broccoli (or other veggies/meats)
Cottage cheese
Shredded cheese (any kind)

Preheat oven to 350 F and spray muffin tin(s).
Put several pieces of broccoli and 2 TBSP cottage cheese in each muffin cup.
Slowly pour egg into each cup, allowing egg to fill into spaces.  Fill to brim.
Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.
Sprinkle cheese on top of each cup and bake for an additional 2 minutes.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

K3 Update and Planning for Fall

The trial for K3's TPR was adjourned until October.  There is nothing more to say on that, except please pray.  Thanks!


We will be starting summer school soon (as in, next week).  Summer school at the Shan Clan Manor consists of crafts, games, music, and a few academic subjects based on what each child needs to brush up on before the next year of school begins.  For Hunter this will be geography and math and typing, and for Kaleigh it will be reading (although she is doing VERY well with her reading) and writing and math.

As I mentally plan for this, I have inevitably begun thinking about beginning school in the fall, and I have to say, it struck me yesterday that I have had it pretty easy with Hunter these last two years.  This year I will have a pre-preschooler, a first grader, and a seventh grader. 


I am definitely going to have to kick the discipline level up a notch.  Or seven.  I may even find myself buying - GASP! - a lesson planning book.  EEEP!  

I'm also going to do some searching to see if I can any curricula for certain subjects, like social studies and science, that have lessons that can be taught to different age groups but worksheets geared to the different ages.  Might be a pipe dream.

Well, off to start breakfast and enjoy a day at home before starting up with all the chaos!

Monday, July 16, 2012


There was a pretrial hearing for K3's TPR hearing this morning at 10 (allegedly).  We opted not to go because the drive to Children's Court is an hour, and we were told the DA is going to be asking for an adjournment because one of her witnesses is unable to testify next week.  It didn't make sense for Randy to miss a day of work and for us to drive an hour just to hear them ask for an adjournment.

However, that leaves me sitting at home waiting to hear from the Case Manager to find out how it went.  What I'm most anxious to hear about is when they adjourn to.  I really hope it isn't months out, though I'm concerned it will be.  

Will update when I hear something.  I'm kind of wondering if they are behind today (they often are), because it would be unusual for this hearing to go so long, unless the judge still wanted to take care of pretrial matters.  Which I suppose isn't completely outside the realm of possibility.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Update on Littles

Well, I had a worker from K3's GAL's office here last week, and I had Ty's case manager here yesterday.  K3's case manager was also supposed to come last week, but she was getting over a bout with pneumonia and wasn't able to make it.  

I know I promised an update, but the truth is, there is very little "new" to report.

But for those who aren't up to date with what's going on (I know I don't share as much here as I do in "real life"), here's the skinny:

K3 came to us with her case already in TPR (Termination of Parental Rights) with the court.  Her pretrial conference is next week, and her trial is the week after that.  We are praying everything goes smoothly and quickly, while also being realistic and remembering that truly, anything can happen (we know this from experience!)  It's strange to know that her case could be finished before Ty's, and that potentially, she could be adopted sooner.  However, it's also strange to think that her case could be over sooner, but he could still be adopted sooner, since we can't adopt her until she's been with us six months, which happens to be October 14th!

In June, Ty's case was referred from the case worker's office to the DA's office for TPR.  Then I found out that at the hearing in February, when Ty's grandmother got legal guardianship of his 2-1/2 year old brother, the court had also ORDERED the TPR on Ty.  Why it took them so long to refer it, I have no clue; in fact, his worker quit at the end of May, and it was the new worker who referred the case to the DA's office, her second day on the job.  Sort of ridiculous.  I think maybe the previous worker was trying to give the bp's (bio parents) a chance to straighten up before she sent the referral, although it was clear from our conversations that she knew that was never going to happen, so I'm really not sure what the hold up was.  Either way, the DA is in the process of filing the TPR with the court now.  His permanency hearing has been scheduled for August since February, so hopefully the TPR will be addressed at the same time.  Of course, we are also hoping that his case goes quickly, as he has now been with us 8 months and is definitely a part of our family.  It's obvious that even he knows it, as he is sometimes clingy with me and at times will not go to anyone else.  

K3's visits with bp's have been nonexistent, due to reasons I cannot disclose here.  However, due to a change in one of those circumstances, her bd (bio dad) is in a position where he began asking for visits again.  The case worker had no way of getting around it, even though she really didn't want to give him visits again; so she gave him one visit a month!  I had to laugh.  If the trial goes well for K3, bd will get one visit, and that will be it.  As of right now, bm will get no visits, as her circumstances for not having visits have not changed.  K3 has no bond with either of them, doesn't talk about them, and doesn't acknowledge them as her parents, even to her case worker or therapist. 

Ty's visits, for all practical purposes, have also been nearly nonexistent.  In February, his visits went from 3 per week per bp to 2 per week per bp, because they kept canceling visits.  Starting next week, they go to 1 per week per bp, for the same reason - they miss more visits than they attend.  So I'm really glad about that, because never knowing until the last minute whether a visit will happen or not is just you-know-what on the daily schedule - especially Fridays, when I try to plan fun things with the kids.  

So that's the update on those two.  Soon to follow: an update on our summer - past, present, and future! :-)

Monday, July 2, 2012


I keep telling myself I'm going to blog more.

It doesn't seem to be working.

Maybe I'm not taking myself seriously enough.

Or maybe I just have a few too many kids to chase around the house all day ;-).

I am still thoroughly enjoying Mommyhood-of-Four.  I'm enjoying it so much, in fact, that I ventured 750 miles from home with the four of them WITHOUT MY HUSBAND.  Several people told me how brave I am; I'm pretty sure it's just the final proof that I am absolutely insane.  

Seriously, though, it was a really good time.  We went down to my grandparents' house in El Dorado, Kansas, where we spent three days and were able to celebrate my great aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary and my grandfather's 80th birthday!  It was such a blessing to be able to be there and see what God has done in the longevity of these special lives and relationships.  It was also very awesome to see so many family members that I haven't seen in a year or more - and some of those that I "saw" a year ago, I didn't get to spend any time with, so the chance to spend more time with them made the trip extra special.

After we left El Dorado, we spent three days in Kearney, Missouri (just northeast of Kansas City), with my best friend from college, Shannon.  It's been a year since we've seen her, too, so it was a really good time.  

Now that we're home, Randy has the week off work, and we have plans to get some home projects done this week.  We also have a few family plans in mind.  Actually, we carried some of those plans out today - we picked up sandwiches at a local sub deli and went out by the lake for a picnic, then took our library books back (and got new ones, of course!)  Tomorrow my mom is coming over to stay with the baby while we take the big kids to see Brave.  Tomorrow night, Randy and I are going to get some painting done, and then my family is coming over Wednesday for a cookout.  

Tomorrow morning, the worker from the GAL's office is coming to see K3.  After that, I will have a post with an update about both the kids' cases. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Life As We Know It

Life as a Mommy of four is busy, and fun, and rewarding, and scary, and CRAZY!  And I love it.  Not every minute of it maybe, but I do love it.

K3 has very quickly become a true Shanahan (no, her last name has not changed yet).  She is still learning and adjusting, and I know it will continue to be a process - as growing is with every child.  Her biggest struggle right now is obeying.  I get the feeling she never was really told what to do before.  That and she is definitely testing for consistency.  (I think you can guess what she is finding there, too.)  Her social worker told us before placement that she didn't have much consistency or discipline follow-through at her previous foster home, and that is definitely obvious.  But we are working on it, and she is learning, albeit slowly.  Potty training has gone GREAT, after a rough start.  She has now been dry for a week straight, including nights.  Today we went from trainers to regular underwear (ditched the pullups two weeks ago), and next time we're at the store she'll get to pick out some "special" ones (the ones she came with are pretty plain).  I also decided a little over a week ago to quit using pullups at night.  Since coming here, she only wet once at night.  I don't really want her to get into a position where she regresses at night, which I think happened with Kaleigh.  So, there you have it.

My littlest monster has really been a monster these last couple of days.  He is suddenly teething like it's going out of style.  Tooth #2 broke through Saturday morning, and tooth #3 just popped through this morning.  On top of that, he is going through some separation anxiety right now; I can't even leave the room without him starting to throw a fit.  This is making naps somewhat difficult.  For example, right now.  When he is happy, though, he is such a joy.  He is eating solid foods now, sitting up really well in the Bumbo, interacting with all the toys on his ExerSaucer and bouncing himself around in it, and laughing at almost everything.  He is such a sweet boy.

Kaleigh is also still adjusting to having another little girl around.  At times, she is loving and leading and sharing and is just a very good sister.  At other times, her need to control comes out and she tries to be the boss instead of the sister.  I am trying to help her learn that she and K3 are equals in this house - she is not any higher up on the chain than her sister or anyone else for that matter.  She knows it, but does not want to accept that she does not get to make the decisions or control anyone else.  It has been quite the frustration, this past week in particular.  I continue to pray for wisdom, grace, and more wisdom.

Hunter turned 12 almost two weeks ago now, and is also working at changing some behaviors.  Overall, he has done much better these last few weeks than he had been doing in previous weeks.  We continue to remind him that privileges are earned; they are not rights that one receives simply by reaching a certain age; and that they can be lost very easily and have to be re-earned, which is not nearly as easy as losing them.  He is doing well in his schoolwork, and I decided to be done with math for the year (we will still do some review over the summer).  He has almost finished his third reading workbook this year, and then he will be done with reading for this year as well.  That leaves science, grammar, and vocab to finish up before he is done with 6th grade.  I am pretty sure we will be working on all three during the summer, so I will just need to pick a good "stopping" point at which we can say 6th grade is over. 

I guess that's it from the kiddo side of things.  Randy and I continue to squeeze in time alone together whenever we can - which is sometimes next to never with our weekly schedule.  We did have a very nice weekend, with some good family time and good couple time and lots of just plain relaxing all around.  Randy is transitioning into a new position at work - which I know he will do a fabulous job in! - but we are about to see him a little less during the weeks for awhile as he works on getting things straightened out and in order and learns the ropes of the new position.  So our weekend family time continues to be as important as ever.

There are some updates I want to share regarding the status of the kids, but this entry is long enough, so they will have to wait for another entry.  

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Terrific Tuesday!

Yesterday we took our first out-of-state field trip!

A friend and I took all four kiddos to Shipshewana, Indiana, for the day.  

We went to a great little bead shop that a lady runs in the shops area.  Kaleigh and I both found some great treasures in there!  Kaleigh spent about half of her spending money on beads! :-)  Most of what I bought will be for gifts :-)

We also went to an awesome Amish grocery store, where they sell a ton of stuff in bulk at extremely reasonable prices.  I wished I had a trailer to bring stuff home in!  I did get a few things to bring home though.  Then we went to the Amish department store, where the kids shopped with their spending money.  On the way out of town, we stopped at the Amish bakery; the kids had been talking about ice cream earlier in the day, so I thought for sure they would all be thrilled to have some.  BUT, only two of them went for ice cream; the other really wanted a doughnut.  Can you guess which kiddo that was?  After the bakery, we stopped at a farm where a lady keeps greenhouses and sells plants.  Lots of fun!  Then we hit the road and drove a little ways before stopping for dinner.  After eating, we were on the road for good - at about 7:00!  

The roads weren't too bad on the return trip.  We hit a little construction in South Chicago, but it was nothing compared to the construction traffic on the other side of the road!  We got to the park and ride a little after 10:00, dropped my friend off at her car, made a bottle for Ty, who had been screaming for several miles, and finished the last 15 minutes of our trek home.  

Everyone slept soundly once they were in their beds, although no one slept any later than usual today.  Two kiddos have visits today, so nap times will be missed and bed times will be a little late again tonight.  I'm hoping that tomorrow we can get back into a routine.