Hoop-jumping is an art I have mastered. Essentially it’s doing anything and everything to ensure the safety and stability of my 3 grandchildren’s lives. Technically, they are foster children but have lived with me since October of 2010. They’re great kids. Circumstance and bad decision-making put them in the perpetual state of being parent less. No one died but their parents are far removed from them due to drugs, crime and the inability to choose child over addiction. Their parents love them, and I make every attempt to ensure these children get to speak and see their parents when it’s appropriate and safe. I am being appointed permanent guardian and believe me, that’s been a hard-fought battle. Between Child Protective Services (CPS), Court Appointed Child Advocates (CASA), Mental Health professionals and lots of court appearances I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Still, I am inundated with paperwork and I am poorer. I chose not to accept foster care money for purely moral reasons. Were we living in the 1800’s I’d be expected to take my grandchildren in, or even an elderly relative, because that is what families do. I don’t want to be paid for it. Yes, everyone says I’m dumb and should take the money. I wouldn’t have been paid for it in any century prior to this one so… . I love these kids. That’s what it’s about. They’re a part of me by DNA. That means something. I have been fingerprinted, background checked, enrolled little ones in schools, worked with medical decisions and providers, sat through counseling, got CPR certified not to mention appeared at court after court appearance. And, all this hoop-jumping is the price you pay for trying to save children you would’ve saved anyway. They tell me that many foster parents, even relatives, continue the cycle of neglect and abuse when taking in a child. I get that. And, it’s sad. This is why when you first enter into the system you must be raked over the coals and you must prove your goal is not just altruistic but trustworthy. I don’t understand why so many children are harmed. And, I hate that people have that goal in their hearts. So, hoop-jumping I must do. I pray I will continue to do it well. But, let’s place credit where credit is due. CPS has been very good to me and I have made ever attempt to return that confidence in me. I have even been blessed with a judge who at first I feared but now respect. I no longer have fear. This last hearing I watched my oldest grandson and my young granddaughter make the judge giggle. The cynical crust on my heart melted a little that day.