Friday, February 3, 2012

Highlights from a home visit

This is going to be a long and somewhat rambling post I'm sure. This blog is as much for me as it is for anyone else. I'm not sure why I want to remember all these details sometimes. Foster care is so frustrating. And, as usual, a whole lot of crazy that really amounts to nothing has been going on.

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Characters in this post:
Bluebell = Pumpkin's CPS worker
Rainbow = our agency worker
Jasmine = Dude and Dolly's CPS worker

I got a text on January 16 from Bluebell asking to have a home visit on the 17th. Since my family was in town from out of state I made it clear I wasn't as flexible as normal. Bluebell said it would be no problem to come by the next week after my family left.

On January 19th I sent a text letting Bluebell know I was available every day the following week. No reply. And no home visit happened that week.

Monday I got a phone call asking if Bluebell could come by on Tuesday. It's the end of the month. She has to get her visit in. She said she'd be here at 4:00.

Around 4:45 I got a phone call letting me know the home visit just before mine ran long. She was on her way. Would it be a problem? I said no.

45 minutes later Bluebell showed up.

It was supposed to be a short visit. This is Pumpkin's CPS worker. And since nothing has changed in her case, we really didn't have to cover much.

I only had one thing I wanted to know. How are things progressing towards placement with a bio relative?

Bluebell told me that an uncle located on the other side of the state is looking to be a good candidate. Several positive phone calls have taken place. Bluebell then shared that in order for the judge to consider this placement, this relative needs to visit with Pumpkin at least once, if not two more more times, before court in April.

I volunteered my time and service to take Pumpkin across the state to make this happen. I really want to communicate with the person(s) that will be raising Pumpkin when she leaves care. I've done a tremendous amount of "detective" work. I also know all the nuances of caring for Pumpkin. For example, I know that Pumpkin needs to eat a lot of yogurt in order to stay regular. And if she's not regular -- it's NO fun!! I'd love to pass that information on so that the next caregiver doesn't have to learn it the hard way. Bluebell said she'd make arrangements to fly Pumpkin and I to visit this uncle over a weekend sometime this month. Fun things to look forward to????

But the comment about visits before permanent placement got me to thinking.

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Dude and Dolly have had almost NO CONTACT with the grandmother that is going to take custody. There was one very strange phone call back in September...while I was driving down the road. Dolly rattled off all kinds of things about her birthday in English. Grandma mumbled a few things in Spanish. Neither person understood the other and Dude didn't talk to Grandma at all.

And there has been one visit. It was right before the court hearing in November.

Grandma has not initiated any contact at all. No letters. No cards. No phone calls. No nothing. It totally breaks my heart. I cannot wrap my brain around wanting to care for these children but not finding it important to start building a relationship.

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On Wednesday I called Jasmine right away. I had to leave a message. I wanted to know her take on things. Grandma has had no contact. Did she think the judge would require another visit before he'd allow placement? If Bluebell thinks that visits prior to placement are important to the judge, what does Jasmine think?

I also sent a text to Rainbow. She's awesome and I knew she'd call me back. None of this was a rush so I figured she could call me at her convenience.

Rainbow called me back before Jasmine did. Rainbow shares my frustration with Dude & Dolly's situation. But, as we talked, we decided rocking the boat would probably not be a good idea. Ultimately, the judge wants these kids out of care. "Relationship" isn't important to the equation as far as the law is concerned down here. If I tried to make "relationship" important, I could make things worse. They could decide that the kids need to stay in care for another three months so contact could be made. At best though, only one visit would be arranged. I personally think three more months in care with only one visit would be detrimental to all parties involved. I'm not sure my heart could take it and I know the "behaviors" would get even more wonky. (Because yes, they have their own versions of Mr. Wonky too!) Of course, I could call the kids' lawyer and make sure she knows about Grandma's apparent lack of commitment. But, on paper, Grandma has done all she needs to do to get the kids and that's all that matters. Talking to the lawyer wouldn't change anything.

Rainbow left a message with Jasmine too. Jasmine returned her call (not mine). Thankfully, Rainbow passed on Jasmine's thoughts to me.

Jasmine says that Grandma will get the kids. It's a done deal. She said something about being short of resources and down one worker (as an excuse for not arranging any visits with Grandma as of yet). Honestly, a judge shouldn't care about those excuses. Relationship should be important. It should be a sign of their overall intent to truly care for the children. Important or not though, this case is all but done. The children will have court on the 13th, come home with me and then be placed with Grandma later that week.

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I will say something to the lawyer right before court. That's really the only contact the lawyers have with their children. Minutes before we get called into court, the lawyer will take me aside and ask me how things are going. I will use that brief amount of time to express my opinions on Grandma's lack of contact. I'm not going to hold my breath though. I'm preparing for them to leave.

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Pumpkin will be leaving too. Hopefully all will proceed forward and she will be adopted by her aunt and uncle. I hope I get to be a part of that transition. If the State drags their heels though and progress is not made in April when we go to court again, I am putting in my 30 day notice. I have reached the end of my ability to care for Pumpkin long-term.

When we got our license there were three kinds of cases we were not going to take.
1. teenage girls (we have a teenage boy - 'nuf said)
2. known dangers (we have small children and a pet - I didn't want to have to worry about fire starters, ones that have harmed animals, ones that have sexually perpetrated, etc.)
3. major medical cases

When we got the call on Pumpkin over a year ago we were told that she had some developmental delay and a limp. We were told that she used to have a seizure disorder. All of this was horribly misleading. They didn't even tell me she wasn't potty trained. I had no idea what I was agreeing to.

But when Pumpkin came I was too nervous to say anything. And then I didn't want to see her go because I truly did want to advocate for her.

I'm tired though. Pumpkin and I just aren't a good fit. It sounds so callous, I know.

She is horribly apathetic. You can't imagine it if you've never met a child like this!! She would be perfectly happy to let me do everything for her and decide everything for her 100% of the time.

I don't mesh well with that level of apathy. Pumpkin has splinter skills. There are things she can understand and things that she can do that don't seem to match up with her level of disability. Therefore, it is almost impossible for me to determine what she truly can and cannot do vs. what she is just refusing to do.

I want to push Pumpkin to master self-care skills. She wants to have nothing to do with being independent. So we clash. I believe the child can learn to put on and off her clothes (with help of course). I believe the child should have to say, "drink please" if she wants a glass of water after brushing her teeth. I want her to tell me, "more fruit" (mimicking a verbal prompt) when she obviously wants more of something at dinner.

Pumpkin however wants to fuss and cry instead of even trying to put on and off her clothes. Pumpkin wants to grunt, very much under her breath, something that you can tell is "drink please" but without any level of annunciation. Pumpkin wants to very clearly say "all done" instead of "more fruit" even though it is obvious she wants more fruit. She would rather get down from the table instead of using her language abilities to say what she wants. If she can't get what she wants through simple routine or pointing, she is perfectly OK not getting what she wants. She does NOT want to put forth any effort to communicate her desires.

And yes, I believe Pumpkin has the ability to communicate more than she does. She can talk along with complete SpongeBob episodes. She can sing songs. She will repeat things that others say all the time. But if I WANT her to communicate something, she shuts down.

I realize this is most likely due to the trauma and abuse that she has suffered. She spent the first 5.5 years of her life never being asked to do anything for herself. Then, not only does she enter foster care, but the new "mom" now expected her to communicate her wants?! I represented a mom figure that she wanted to reject anyway (like many foster kids do). And I wanted her to learn how to do things for herself. Pumpkin will cooperate so much better with just about everyone else around her but me.

I really want to go on and on explaining all the reasons I can no longer care for Pumpkin. I feel guilty. Guilty that I'm not in love with her. Guilty that most of the time I really don't like her much. I want to explain that even though I'm not head over heels for her, I still will advocate for her best interests. I still want her to be taken care of and loved. And I do tell her that I love her all the time. And that I do hug her and kiss her even though she rejects me. That I keep on trying to fake it until I make it. But it's not getting easier to care for her. It's getting harder. Not because Pumpkin is any more difficult to care for, but because of me and my own issues.

And since I can't get over my own issues -- Pumpkin needs to go somewhere else.

I'm praying that the State will do its job effectively. Bluebell was compassionate and did not judge me when I explained that I'm "done". In fact, she said that she will use this information to hopefully get her supervisors and the lawyers to do their parts quickly. The homestudy has been done on this uncle. All looks good for a permanent placement. In fact, the uncle has made it clear he wants to adopt. It seems that's all that is left to do is to arrange a visit or two before April. And since I agreed to supervise the visit(s), they just have to pay for the plane tickets and put it on the schedule.

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My babies are going to be leaving in less than two weeks. We will probably take advantage of some respite with Pumpkin and do something fun with our core family. It's going to hurt when they leave. It's going to hurt bad! Then we'll make it through the next couple months with Pumpkin. Hopefully I'll take her to visit her uncle and that process can continue to move forward. And then, Lord willing, Pumpkin will be transitioned to her uncle's home after court on April 3.

Then....

Who knows!!

1 comment:

noisycolorfullively said...

Oh Mama, this job 'aint for the faint of heart, is it?

I know it won't change the way you feel, but you have no reason to feel guilty about feeling the way you do towards Pumpkin. What CPS did was wrong. And you are one strong lady for sticking with it as long as you have. If I were in your shoes I don't think I could have done all you do. Of course, in the end, I completely get your feelings. This type of motherhood is a serious breeding ground for guilt.

Also, Dude and Dolly - tsk, shame. Relationship SHOULD be important. Very important, indeed.

Prayers. {{hugs}}