As most of you know, David and I received out "Treatment Foster Care Parent" license from the State of New Mexico over a month ago. "Treatment" means that these kids have issues. Four weeks ago, an 11 year boy named Dustin was placed in our home. I wanted to record my experience as we raised Dustin in a journal somehow, so I created a blog on a different site, but I also wanted to keep my friends here at AD up to date with what I was going through. I was just going to link my blog from the other site to AD, but then I wouldn't be able to read your wonderful, encouraging or even caustic comments. I then decided to just create my own blog here at AD.
I have never blogged before, so when (not if) I blunder, please tell me.
I have made 4 entries so far and the below is a way of playing 'catch up.'
Posted by Richard Norway, Aug 28 2009, 08:26 PM
Okay, you experts tell me how this friggin thing works. :rant I've never used one of these blogs before, so put up with me.
So, Dustin woke up and came into my home office (where I was drowning myself in caffeine) and complained of having a sore throat, coughing, diarrhea all night and feeling like poop. It was obvious to me that he didn't want to go to school today. I mean, I've done it. Haven't you all done it too?
I look at him suspiciously. God, he was almost pleading now, so I KNEW it was because he didn't want to go to school. Kids can be so conniving. I remember well. And being the tough, uncaring, mean foster dad that I am, I relented and said, "Yeah, you can stay home, but we're going to the doctor's this morning." I got an appointment for 11:45 this morning and off we went. On the way there, he said, "I really feel better now." Now I was convinced!!
The doctor looked him over, frowned while he listened to his stethoscope, and told me that he has a cold. He's congested and the draining is causing him to cough. Also he explained the diarrhea is from a change in diet. You see, we don't drink sodas anymore but lots of juices: orange, apple, pomegranate, etc. and so much juice gave him loose stools.
Damn. I was wrong and the kid was right. He was kinda sick. I'm glad that I'm also cautious and took him to the doctor.
On the way back home, he turns to me and says, "I told you so."
Posted by Richard Norway, Aug 31 2009, 10:52 PM
This blog may be developing into a soap opera.
Two things happened today:
1. I got a call from the school nurse. Okay, he's (Dustin) had a hand chopped off, I'm thinking. No, he's in there for pain in is rear end. Seems that the meds he's taking constipate him, so he's developed hemorrhoids. Geez, an 11 year old with hemorrhoids. Well, I pick him up at school and we head for Wallgreens drugstore (an apothecary or chemist for you Brits) to get some Prep H. When we got home I try to explain what's happening to him. It was, "Dad, I don't want to talk about it."
Damn, I had to explain what hemorrhoids were and what you had to do to treat them. I explained that you have to spread this stuff on your butt, not just 'on,' but inside! He freaked just like I would have at that age. But he chose to do it himself rather than have me help him...thank God. He hated it, but he did it. This is a great kid, not because he didn't want me to help him , but because he's independent enough to try things on his own.
2: Tonight was also an open house at his school to meet his teachers and classes. I felt so out of place because education has changed so much since I went to school. He's in 'special ed' because of his challenges, but...and this is a big but...they are keeping him up with his peers so he is with them, but with individual treatment.
Something happened tonight that sent tears to my eyes. It was in his math class. The teacher pointed everyone's eyes to a poster on the board that spoke of the values that she expected in the classroom. It was about respect to the other students, etc, But Dustin (damn I'm so proud, not for what I did, but because of who he is) raised his hand.
The teacher asked him what he wanted. He said, "May I read that?"
SHIT!! He got up and read that to all the parents and students there. Tears were in my eyes, but not just mine. I looked around and every parent was also crying. He got an applause from everyone.
I may not have this kid forever as the agency wants to repatriate him with his mother, but if she can't be a proper mother (the reason he was taken away), this kid is mine!!!
Posted by Richard Norway, Sep 8 2009, 09:23 PM
I can't believe how easy it is to manipulate a kid, or for them to manipulate their parents.
Last week as Dustin and I were driving to school, he tells me, "I'm not in the right place." I ask him, "What do you mean, 'not in the right place?" His answer was that he felt that he should be with God and not here.
Oh shit! This kid is thinking of killing himself, rambled through my brain. I asked him why he wants to be with God. And his answer was that no one wants him here.
As soon as I got home, I called his case worker and we set up a time for him to see his therapist that afternoon. It turns out that he has been bullied at school. The next day, I went to the school and reported the bullying, but didn't feel comfortable with the school counselors response. He was going to take action, he told me, but I still felt uncomfortable. I had the feeling that he was all words.
I discussed this with his case worker, and we agreed that he should change schools. I live in a district that is different than the one that he is currently attending, so we agreed that she would discuss this with his bio-mother, as she still has control. As you all know now, she's really not able to make rational decisions.
But she agreed, and today I yanked Dustin out of his present school and enrolled him in the middle school in my district. I went to the school this morning and met with his future counselor and future special ed teacher and we worked out a plan for Dustin. I was relieved and actually very satisfied with his new school. The counselor actually said to me that he knew of the inner city school that he was going to and that he would be better off getting out of that environment.
Dustin was elated that he would be going to a new school As soon as he was released from his old school, I took him to meet his new teacher and counselor. His counselor was busy with another parent (with a police officer in the room), so we left and talked with the head counselor to get him registered.
I am really happy for him. Dustin may now be in an environment that will be able to help him.
Of course when he got his final grades from his teachers (part of the sign out process), he got one B, one B+ and 4 A's. Not bad, huh?
Well, he remembered a promise that we had made with him about if his grades were all B and above, we would do something special. And the special treat was a movie out tonight. He's still mad at me because tonight's a school night and the movie let out too late. We agreed on the weekend we woud do this.
Posted by Richard Norway, Sep 17 2009, 12:18 AM
I know most of you don't like football, but it was the best decision that we have made, to put Dustin on a team for his school. You wouldn't believe what we went through to find a uniform for him. Most of them wouldn't fit because of his stomach hanging over (yes he's quite over weight) , but we found one (after three buys) that worked. This is so great that he will get the exercise that he has never gotten.
But Dustin is not a wall flower. I guess I should tell you what happened on Monday. It was his first football practice, a week after the rest of the team had started. That was due to his transferring to this school last week. Anyway, the rest of the kids had a week of practicing in shorts ( this is New Mexico, okay, it's hot). So Dustin shows up in full uniform and wants to do what the rest of the kids are doing. I left the practice to get dinner ready, but when I returned one hour later, the coach came running over to me to speak to me. He told me that Dustin had almost collapsed during the warm ups and that he was incoherent. He said that he was diabetic, which no one told me about. Shit!
They called an ambulance and he was taken to Mountain View Medical Hospital. Well, I think I broke every traffic law getting there.
When I got there, emergency admitting said they had no record him. SHIT! The receptionist finally (after me going ballistic) called back to the admitting area and found him and that the computer had not yet been updated with his admission. They then let me through the secured doors.
I found Dustin on a gurney in front of the receptiomn counter. My first thought was to ask him how he felt, How frigging stupid. This was a kid that was probably scared out of his mind at where he was and didn't want reality...he wanted love, family. He saw me and told everyone around him that his dad was here. God, he looked so scared.
Reality...Dustin suffered heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. The diabetes thing...his grandmother told him that if he didn''t lose weight, he would get diabetes. Dustin had no concept of what diabetes was and assumed that he had it, In reality, he DIDN'T have diabetes.
Of course the coaches freaked and called the ambulance when he told them that. His blood sugar is normal as were the rest of the tests. He just wasn't ready for the exhaustion of football practice.
But this kid is a doer. He tries so hard and wants to learn. I wish I had his drive at his age.
So yeah, I'm a dad now, again. Do you know what a wonderful frigging feeling that is to have an impact on another human beings life?