Dude and Dolly hardly know why they came in to foster care. I've had to piece together what bits I know of their story from what the caseworkers have (barely) told me. Their care was inconsistent. Their mom popped in and out of their lives. They may or may not have lived in a house. They were most likely passed around between different family members and friends. The day they came in to care they were found unattended (by anyone awake and sober anyway) in a hotel room.
It's been pretty obvious that Dude and Dolly weren't abused though. I don't even think they were neglected much. Of course they didn't know a thing about healthy eating. We're pretty sure they ate a lot of dry cereal and crackers before coming in to care. But overall, I think they were loved by those that did care for them.
So, I've had to explain their trauma to them. I've kept it simple, "Your mommy didn't keep you safe. You came to live with Mamma L*** and Poppy S*** so we could keep you safe. The judge, lawyers and social workers are all helping with a plan so you will be safe forever."
Rehab has been explained like this: "Your mommy wasn't taking good care of her body. A judge told your mommy she needed to go somewhere so she could learn how to take care of herself."
I try to focus everything around the word "safe". It's all I can do. I can't promise them that their grandma is going to love them. I can't tell them anything about their grandma. But The System is supposed to be vetting the situation to ensure that Dude and Dolly will be safe.
This morning Dolly came up to me with the picture of her grandmother in her hands. (They don't really know their grandma at all. I asked CPS to get me a picture so I could help Dude and Dolly put a face to a name.) Dolly was asking me if the room Grandma was in is her "new house".
I can't answer that question. I can't tell Dolly a single thing about her grandma. Her grandma has done NOTHING to start a relationship with these children. No contact (other than one obscure conference call via CPS several months ago) has taken place. I'm hard pressed to think that grandma really wants the children. My gut tells me she's doing what she feels like she has to do. (Either that, or she thinks she's going to get some kind of compensation.)
Dolly has been processing "foster care" a lot lately. She wants to talk about what's going to happen after court. I've told her that the lawyers and the judge will talk. They will decide if Grandma's house is safe. If it is, they will leave our home and go live with Grandma. They will say bye bye forever. I will be sad. I will cry. But I will be happy because it's a good thing for them to be with family.
Dolly is incredibly conflicted. Most of the time you can see her muster up all the courage she has to tell me that she loves her grandma and that she misses her grandma. But you can tell she really doesn't understand all this entails. It's pretty hard to love someone you don't know at all. She has also indicated that she doesn't want to leave our house. But most of the time, she's drawn to family. (As is every single person on this planet.)
Dolly was processing again at nap time today. She went through each family member and asked if they were going to cry when she left. It was a little frustrating for me. I want to be honest and tell her that yes, we will be sad. But I also want to honor the fact that I do believe family belongs together. Also, I don't want to puff her up and make her think that we are all going to be completely lost without her when she leaves. She doesn't need that inflated level of pressure!
I don't remember how it came up but I said something about Grandma having a job. I told the kids that they are going to have to go to daycare when they get to their grandma's house.
I haven't seen these kids that scared since the first day they arrived at my house.
Oh wait, yes I have. I've seen them that petrified every single time I've had to drop them off at daycare myself. They are petrified of daycare.
Dolly's eyes welled up. I think I shattered her dreams of what it was going to be like at Grandma's house. (I know they were told there were all sorts of presents at Grandma's house during the last visit with their mom before court in November.) It took everything Dolly had to not burst in to tears.
Dude put up a front too. His eyes went all hollow and he proceeded to tell me that, "I no cry when I go daycare at Grandma's." Dolly followed his lead and said, "I no cry either".
Both were using every bit of inner strength they had to not cry right then and there!
I looked at the cherubs and tried to give them permission to cry. I said they looked sad right now. I said that if someone told me I had to go to daycare I would cry.
Neither one budged. I'm pretty sure crying wasn't allowed before they came in to care. They try to be strong all the time during times when "normal" preschoolers would bawl their eyes out.
I double checked with Dude, "So...you're not going to cry when Grandma takes you to day care?" He stubbornly answered, "No. I no cry." I then asked him, "Are you going to cry the next time Mamma L*** takes you to daycare?"
He didn't miss a beat when he answered, "Yes!"