Those of you that read regularly may remember our camping fiasco with Pumpkin. So, with that in mind, I began making vacation preparations well in advance.
Initially we were going to try and bring Pumpkin with us. We're that kind of a family. The foster kids become part of US. I don't like excluding them. However, knowing that we would still legally have to follow all the supervision rules we began to have second thoughts.
Mr. Amazing and I will get several days child-free while we are home visiting family. If Pumpkin would come along, that time alone would not be possible because there is no one in Iowa legally allowed to supervise Pumpkin except us.
Knowing that, and knowing that Pumpkin's mom would never allow Pumpkin to travel out of state with us, it seemed pointless to even try. She wouldn't let us take her two hours away for two nights. She'll never agree to out of state for almost three weeks!
Our vacation is going to happen. I rarely get to see my family. My kids are looking forward to Cousins Camp more than you can imagine. (My mom and dad get ALL of the cousins on my side of the family age 2 and over and host a full-blown camp experience sans parents for one week each summer!!) My brother-in-law is returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. We want to be there when he comes back. We're going despite all the foster care respite hassles. Our agency is going to find a respite home for Pumpkin.
Even though we don't have enough "official" respite days to cover a nearly 3 week long vacation, we're still going. The family that will be caring for Pumpkin will end up getting full reimbursement for a majority of the time we are gone and we will receive no per diem. We're not in this for the money so that's not an issue. I think it will also make it a little easier for our agency to secure respite care for Pumpkin.
Our agency was not going to put any new placements in our home until after vacation. But, on the very day they told me that, they practically pleaded with us to take Dolly and Dude. They promised they would figure out the respite problem if it became an issue.
After much thought and prayer, Mr. Amazing and I decided that our time alone during Cousins Camp was not as important as maintaining a sense of familiarity and consistency for Dolly and Dude. They had a bumpy transition into our home (sleeping through the night did not happen for weeks). And now that we're doing great together, it didn't make sense to break up what was working so well.
I spoke with all parties involved about bringing Dolly and Dude along. Foster kids are supposed to be allowed to go on vacations. That's what all the fancy paperwork says. We're supposed to include them. Give them a normal childhood. Make them a part of our family. And when Mom didn't show up for her first visit, I thought that might make it a little easier for a judge to give us permission.
I don't know what happened at court on Monday. I had to stay out in the waiting area with the kids (again). (Why the hell do the kids even have to attend court?! It's such a joke!!) I don't know if CPS even asked the judge. I was told that CPS was not in favor of the kids coming with us. And when I asked their lawyer prior to court, she practically laughed at me. She said it's a legal nightmare to get kids back if something goes "wrong" and the kids are out of state. She indicated that they don't really "allow" out of state trips. (Because yet again, the foster parents can't be trusted to do anything right. Even though staying with what they are familiar with would probably be best for such young children, we must assume that something bad might happen so let's prevent that at all costs.)
So...Dolly and Dude will be taken from our home in just a couple weeks. They will go stay with strangers. (Of course I will take them over to the home to introduce everyone prior to us leaving -- but that's hardly going to cut it for the kids I'm sure.) They aren't going to understand why Mamma L*** and Poppy S*** are gone. But there is nothing I can do about it.
I sure as hell hope Mom makes every one of her visits while we are gone. Preserving their relationship with Mom is important. I don't even want to think about how messed up these cherubs are going to be when we get back. I'm sure it will be just like the first three weeks of their placement all over again.
I'm looking forward to my vacation. It's going to be so much fun. And I am going to enjoy getting Mr. Amazing all to myself for a few days. But in the pit of my stomach I'm going to be sad too. I feel so bad for all that Dolly and Dude have already suffered. I feel like I'm failing them now.
(Pumpkin is so developmentally delayed that I don't think our leaving will phase her at all. My guilt level with leaving her in respite care isn't quite as high.)