I just got out of court with Pumpkin. The way I thought things were going to go was totally not what happened.
Pumpkin is going home to her mom tomorrow!!
Her mom has done everything in her case plan. And, quite honestly, nothing will change if Pumpkin stays in care. Today...6 months from now...or even 2 years from now...Pumpkin's mom just has to say that she will not drink or do drugs, that she won't leave Pumpkin alone, and that she will give Pumpkin her medication and meet her medical needs. These aren't things that are tangible. It's not like she needs to find a place to live, prove she can keep her utilities on, maintain employment or other things that some parents have to prove. Mom has been clean every time they've drug tested her. (I don't think she ever did have a drug problem. I'm pretty sure her vice is alcohol.) Mom has attended her substance abuse classes, personal therapy, and parenting classes. Nobody is going to know if Mom is going to maintain Pumpkin's therapies, take her to school or give her the medicine until she's given a chance to do that.
So, Pumpkin is going home.
The lawyers wanted to keep the case open for 90 days. The judge made it 120. I'm not sure what that means exactly except that CPS will be monitoring Mom (hopefully rather closely).
I took Pumpkin back to school so they could say goodbye and gather up all her things. She'll come home on the bus this afternoon. I want to go get a family picture done with Pumpkin tonight. It's been on my "to do" list forever but I have to make it happen now!! I'll count all her clothes, fill out the paperwork, and pack them up this evening along with her toys.
Tomorrow Pumpkin has a couple medical appointments. Her mom is going to join me. Then, sometime in the afternoon, CPS will make the transfer.
I am very, very surprised that Pumpkin is going home without ever having any unsupervised visits. But everyone seems surprised by the judge down here in general. I pray that the right thing was done.
I'm not as cool as Rebecca at Fosterhood in NYC. I'm not going to try and visit Pumpkin after she goes home. I don't know if visits after reunification would mean anything to Pumpkin. However, I am going to make sure that her mom knows I'm a resource and if she needs help I'm here for her!! Maybe we'll get together...but I highly doubt it.
This has been a very interesting 8 months. Pumpkin entered care on January 2nd and she's leaving care on September 2nd. I can't say that I'm heartbroken about this move. Caring for Pumpkin is challenging. I'm not going to miss the special ed program at school, the random crying, nonsense babbling, the lack of communication, feeding her and changing those diapers. I do pray that all those still involved in her case will advocate for Pumpkin as strongly as I have.
I know that Bart is going to be sad (eventually). I saw both TT and Bart at school when I dropped Pumpkin back off. Bart seemed happy when I told him. But I know Bart and he's quite fond of Pumpkin. He too is a huge advocate for her. If he sees her crying at school, he always tries to make it better. Her absence will affect him eventually. TT was thrilled when I told him. Honestly though, I think that's because he truly wants reunification. As an adopted child, he has a different outlook on these relationships. Herman is too cool to care. 14 year old boys don't get wrapped up in things like this. He's stayed rather removed from Pumpkin as her disabilities made him uncomfortable.
I'm glad Pumpkin stayed with us. Mr. Amazing and I had never cared for a special needs child. We both learned a lot about ourselves. I definitely have a deep amount of empathy for full-time parents of kids like Pumpkin. My children learned how to share and be patient in ways that were brand new. Even Dude and Dolly learned that kids like Pumpkin are OK. Herman was forced to relate with someone with disabilities and that was good for him.
I know that we won't take another placement soon. We are still waiting to hear about Mr. Amazing's potential new job and subsequent cross-country move. Also, Dude and Dolly keep me hopping and it would have to be just the right age and circumstances for us to bring another child into the mix.
I feel strange right now. Not happy. Not sad. I have prayed all along for Pumpkin's mom and I'm going to have to let go and let God now. I will have little more than prayer on my side. Thankfully I serve a very big God!! His plan is always perfect, even if it doesn't make sense to me.