Thursday, August 13, 2009

First Official Visitation - Assignment Fm Mama Kat

My baby's getting big! Actually, she's getting bigger than I thought because I've recently found her correct date of birth and she's two months older than her mother originally told me. Honestly, how can you not remember your baby's birthday? Anyway, she's now 20 months old (and not 18 months old as I originally thought). This brings her first steps into the normal range (10 1/2 months and not 8 1/2 months), and I feel quite sad that she's not actually the genius I thought she was - although I must point out that she is still incredibly clever and advanced for her age - mother's perogative!

Monday afternoon was to be our first official visitation with her mother. It's been a long time since I last blogged, and things with Simmi and her mother have been unbelievably complicated, so I'll try catch up quickly. Simmi's mom was released from prison in June. She was due to be deported, and possibly Simmi along with her, which of course sent me into a tailspin of despair. As it turns out, Correctional Services took the law into their own hands and released her without deportation. She is now living with relatives somewhere, with no identity papers whatsoever, and therefore with no hope of ever legally becoming employed in this country.

I saw her in court a few months ago because Simmi still has no birth certificate, and the Department of Social Development refuses to give me the social grant I'm entitled to without a birth certificate, I also can't put her on our Medical Aid (very important in this country where state hospitals are only for the desperate), and a host of other problems. Anyway, I digress... When I saw Simmi's mom I offered to spend some extra time at the Welfare offices so she could visit with Simmi. What a waste of time. Picture it if you can:

Me (extra happy face): Come Simmi, say hello to your other mama!

Simmi (sucking finger furiously): ................ (signifies silence)

Simmi's Mom (Sibongile): ................

Simmi: Mama (holding arms out to me)

Me (smile starting to look strained): No Simmi, your other Mama. Come Simmi give your other Mama a big hug.

Simmi (clining to my leg): Come Mama, car (indicating she wants to leave).

Sibongile: .........................

Me (hysteria setting in): Simmi, come on let's play with your other Mama (trying to drag her off my leg).


Sibongile: ................................

I'm sure you get the picture.

Anyway, as I said in the begining of this post, Monday was our first official visitation with Simmi's mom since the above incident. Sibongile had contacted the Social Worker on Sunday night and requested the visit. I rushed home from work, dropped off the other 3 kids, made a juice bottle, printed some more photos of Simmi to give to Sibongile, grabbed Barney and the blanky and off we raced to get there by 14h30.

She didn't arrive! Can you believe it? No explanation, no phone call, she just never arrived. We waited 20 minutes and then I left. Relieved and irritated at the same time.

Can you imagine someone disappointing this little face? Praise God that Simmi doesn't even realise what happened. I'm so thankful.

Not an encouraging first for sure!

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's Finally Official

Simmi is ours for 2 years officially now! I'm so happy and so blessed (even though she's been awake since 05h30 on a Saturday morning whilst my darling husband snores peacefully).

I've spent the last few days of the holidays rushing around getting various forms completed, seeing social workers, police officers and officers of the court - exhausting! Our government doesn't make anything easy for a foster parent. I wonder how many people know how much work is involved in getting all the correct paperwork before they sign up, or if they just go ahead and learn as they go along like I have. Dealing with the government has been extremely frustrating. If anything were going to put me off doing this again, this would be it. Hours of my time wasted standing around in court, only to be remanded because of various problems.

Mountains of forms to complete, all seeming to say the same thing, but each one has to be completed anyway. Waiting 5 months for my first payment of the pathetic foster care grant (about R450 per month - $45), and having to complete the same forms twice over, which included 2 trips to the bank for bank stamps and standing in endless lines because of an error at the government offices.

My 2nd claim brought yet another error, I was only paid out for 2 weeks instead of 6, which still hasn't been fixed and it looks like I'll be waiting at least another 2 weeks for that.

Anyway, enough complaining. Even though things have been tough, I wouldn't change having Simmi for anything. I'll continue to soldier through the forests of forms and red tape, knowing that at least she's safe and loved and happy.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Well today was foster care court day. Simmi's case was finally going to be finalised. I've been so excited all week - BUT there was a problem. I was getting dressed for court this morning when I got the call. Apparently there has been a lack of communication between the court and the Welfare, and there were documents missing, namely confirmation from the prison that Simmi's mom is incarcerated and consent to the proceedings by Simmi's mom. The prison social worker promised to get these documents faxed by 12h00 so we could go to court this afternoon. By 12h00, nothing. A phone call to the prison revealed that their only fax machine (in a prison that houses about 10 000 prisoners) is broken and the documents need to be collected. The prison is about an hour's drive away. The frustration!!! So now our case has been postponed until said documents are fetched, and next week the court is on holiday. They may be able to fit us in tomorrow, but I'm not holding my breath.

Perhaps God is teaching me patience - AGAIN.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Assignment from Mama's Losing It: Somebody I'm praying for....

After reading Mama Kat's post on this subject, I am using this prompt to tell my story of answered prayer - as well as continued prayer.

My husband & I have been married for 10 years next month. We both came out of previous relationships, his ending with death and leaving him with a son, and mine ending in divorce and leaving me with a son and a daughter. When we married, we blended the two families and decided that was enough (my youngest was only 2 at the time). A few years later I was told that I had to have a hysterectomy as I'd caught something from my previous philandering husband that had damaged my uterus beyond repair. I suddenly realised that I wanted to have a baby with David, and it was too late. I had the operation, and battled with depression and the desperation to have a baby.

Three years ago, I started praying for a baby. I had such a strong desire for a baby that I had to believe that God wanted me to pray. I remember discussing my decision to pray for a baby with some friends, and they asked why we didn't just adopt. I remember exactly what I said, "No, absolutely not, my husband will never agree to that - it has to be our own." You see, I'd decided that it would be easier for God to restore my womb than it would be for Him to change my husband's heart.

I prayed and prayed. I cried and I prayed. I went for tests, I went for scans. I swung between faith as solid as a rock to being filled with doubt and anger with God.

One day while chatting to a friend about all this, she asked me why I didn't try registering with Child Welfare as a Place of Safety to occupy my time and give me babies to love for short periods while I waited for my miracle. I approached my husband about this, and although I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do (what if my miracle happened and I was taking care of a place of safety child), I believed that God will direct a moving vehicle and asked my husband. To my suprise he agreed, and we completed all the forms and were interviewed and accepted.

I prayed and prayed. Now I was praying to two things. No baby. I used the time to deal with issues in my life, such as forgiveness of my ex for causing me to have to have the hysterectomy. I was frustrated - there are many, many babies dumped in this country every month, and not even one was sent my way!

A year later, the much anticipated call came, and my daughter and I rushed to the Welfare offices to collect our baby. She was supposed to stay for a few days - that was 6 months ago. She was supposed to be sent to a childrens' home - there was no room. She was supposed to go to her father - he didn't want her. Her mother was going to get out of jail and take her - she doesn't want to anymore. My husband originally said "no" to foster care - we go to court next week Thursday to finalise the fostercare case.

God does answer prayer - just not always the way we expect. So who am I praying for right now? I'm praying for Simmi. I'm praying that she is protected from all prejudices that surround a black child who is brought up in a white home, I am praying she stays healthy and that she is kept safe. I'm praying that she grows up and meets a wonderful man who will accept her for who she is regardless of her unusual upbringing. I'm praying and praying.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

3.) Describe a time you allowed your child to do something that you normally would not let slide.

When I read this prompt I couldn't think of anything significant that I've ever let slide with any of my kids.
I decided that this made me sound really anal, or even petty, so I decided that justification was in order!
Hence all these pictures of my kids at end of 2008 prizegiving. There's even one of Simmi's prizes (just so she's not left out).
I tend not to let anything significant slide, and I believe that these pictures of my kids' achievements are partially a result of that. I feel proud of them for achieving, and proud of myself for persevering even when I didn't feel like it. It's just a pity I can't seem to apply the same principals to losing weight or keeping within my monthly budget!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

About Simmi's Mom

As I mentioned in my previous post, there is more to the story of Simmi's mom.

The Welfare had to do an investigation of the mom's circumstances when processing my foster care application. They brought the report to my house for me to read before it is presented in court, and I was shocked.

I've visited Sibongile (Simmi's mom) in jail a few times, and she's been talking to me. I felt so sorry for her, and believed everything she told me. According to her, she fled Zimbabwe 14 years ago and came to South Africa with nothing. She met up with Simmi's father, and fell pregnant with her first baby. He was married. Sibogile gave birth to a boy, and because the father's wife had only had girls, he came and took the little boy away from Sibongile and gave him to his wife to care for. Sibongile hasn't seen the child since. I asked her why on earth she kept on seeing this man after he did this to her, and she said that sometimes he gave her money. I felt so sorry for her, because she told me she knew nobody in this country except him.

Then there was the investigation:

It turns out that Sibongile has 5 children - yes, 5! She left 3 children behind in Zimbabwe when she decided to come to South Africa. After abandoning them, she then proceeded to have 2 more, Simmi being her youngest. She gave Simmi's brother to the father because she didn't want to take care of him (this story has been confirmed by her brother-in-law who also lives here - so much for not knowing anybody in SA). Her sister and brother-in-law took Simmi in for a while because Sibongile was neglecting her, and leaving her with whoever was around and going out for days at a time, but they couldn't keep her permanently. When interviewed, the brother-in-law expressed horror at the conditions Simmi was being kept in, saying that Sibongile was living in squalour.

When I first got Simmi she was sick, dirty and she never cried or even made a sound. Now I know why I feel so sad. I'm so very glad that God brought her to me so I could give her the love, security and care she so desperately needed.

I know I shouldn't judge this woman as I have never been in such desperate circumstances, but I can't help wondering how she could have left those 3 children behind and then had more when she knew she couldn't afford to take care of them. Birth control in this country is free. I just keep thinking the famous Dr Phil phrase, "What were you thinking?".

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

5.) What happened in the last year? Write about something you can do now that you couldn't do a year ago.

I'm back from the blogging desert - and I have news! But first, my assignment... which will also be my news (yes, I know that's cheating). I'm expanding the assignment to include "firsts", which I think fits in with the theme of things I couldn't do a year ago.
A year ago I couldn't have thrown a 1st birthday party for 40 people. A year ago I didn't even have a baby, nor was I pregnant.

For those of you who followed the story of Simmi last year - guess what ......... she stayed! We are in the process of all the paperwork for foster care, which means she will be staying for at least 2 years, renewable every 2 years. We are hoping to have all this finalised in the next 2 weeks.
Then maybe we should have another party? A celebration of foster care - that would be another first!

There have been alot of other firsts since I last blogged. Simmi's first steps (at 8 months 3 weeks!). Simmi's first trip to the seaside and her first ride in an aeroplane. Simmi's first Christmas. Simmi's first tooth. Simmi's first swim. And now of course her first birthday - which gave Sherae the opportunity to bake and decorate Simmi's birthday cakes which was a first for Sherae.

Back to me - in the last 5 months I have visited Simmi's mom in prison. I would never have imagined that I could or would ever visit someone in prison. I've learned that I am able to go into the cells and communicate with someone who doesn't speak English using my extremely rusty Zulu. I've learned that just because someone has a baby, this does not mean they are a mother or a father (more on that subject in a later blog).

A year ago I couldn't wake up at 06h00 on a Saturday morning - now I do it all the time. A year ago I couldn't put down that excellent book - now I have to. A year ago I couldn't play peek-a-boo, hide and seek, dolls or tickle monster with anyone - now I can play whenever I like. A year ago I had absolutely no idea of how to take care of African hair - now it's second nature (the challenge is getting Simmi to sit still).

Lots of things I couldn't do a year ago - hope I get full marks!