Rainbow came to visit yesterday. She dropped off our per diem check for last month. Attached to it was a news letter and a couple other memos. I set everything aside and went about my evening. Boy was I surprised when I went to file the paperwork.
In the packet was an invitation Rainbow had told me about:
Come Join Us At "the licensing agency"
Foster Family Picnic
Date: June 16, 2012
Time: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Lunch will be served at 12:00 - 1:00
We will have fun activities for all ages.
Bouncers, water balloon toss, egg race, pinatas, sack race, tug of war.
Picnic is mandatory for all foster children to attend, so DSS can meet them and have their picture taken.
The following is an email I had to write because I couldn't stop thinking about this picnic being mandatory:
Dear Agency Director,
I've been thinking about this a lot since I found out earlier this afternoon. And since I believe it's wrong to have an issue with something and not address the problem, I feel it's necessary to send this letter.
I take issue with the fact that the picnic this coming weekend is "mandatory".
As a foster parent, my entire life is consumed with the concept of mandatory. I have mandatory trainings. Mandatory home visits. Mandatory ways I have to keep my home. Mandatory court appearances. etc. etc.
I understand that a lot of effort has been put in to this picnic. It's supposed to be fun. But when I'm told that it is mandatory that my children attend, that takes all the fun out of things.
One of my foster children is severely disabled. Exactly how is she going to participate? My other two foster children are quite young. This picnic is an hour away from our home and smack in the middle of nap time. None of my foster children particularly enjoy large group events like this!! I'm bothered that I'm being forced to make them participate.
I can't choose when to give my kids a haircut. I can't choose to take them on a spontaneous overnight at South Padre Island. I can't choose to take them to Sea World when I want. But I should be able to choose whether or not I have to drive to H*** for a picnic.
Feel free to call if you'd like to discuss this further. Thank you for your time.
Just to clarify, I simply adore my agency. Most of the craziness I have to deal with as a foster parent is directly led by rules the state of Texas deem necessary. And Texas is just plain nuts!!! The only thing, up to yesterday, that I could fault my agency for is how they handle the annual training we are required to take. Their trainings aren't very frequent, the schedule changes regularly, and I have to drive an hour away for everything. But even now they are in the process of opening up an official office in the town where I live. And overall, our agency is incredibly supportive of their foster families. They have an on-call system that works perfectly. I always get my questions answered quickly! And Rainbow is beyond amazing!!!!
But this is over the top for me. Without trying to sound like a crabby patty – I really, really don't want to go to the picnic now. Prior to being told it was mandatory, I had actually planned on taking Dude and Dolly. Rainbow had given me the date for the picnic almost a month ago and she very politely asked that I come with the kids. She indicated that a lot of work was being done to make sure all the kids will have fun.
Now I'm picking apart everything. (I'm being entirely too negative – I do know that.) There isn't a single activity Pumpkin is capable of participating in! And I highly doubt Dude and Dolly will want to do anything either. In the past couple months I've taken Dude and Dolly to parties that Daphne (the world's greatest neighbor) has thrown for her kids' birthdays. Even though the guests at these parties were very familiar to Dude and Dolly, they were overwhelmed and would barely leave my side. And for both of those parties Dude and Dolly took their naps and then came to the party late. I can barely imagine how they're going to respond being sleep deprived and surrounded by strangers.
I'm betting the fallout from this picnic won't be much fun. Being around social workers will trigger Dude and Dolly. We'll probably have to process a lot when it's all done. Dude and Dolly barely understand their situation. They don't even know the term "foster care". They just know that there are all these new players in their lives that determine who they get to go see and when. Social workers are one of those players. It hardly seems fair to me that I should be forced to make them go.
And like I said, I was planning on taking them. I would have spent next Friday and Saturday morning prepping them for the event. If I could build it up as something positive, they would probably handle it better.
But being the stick in the mud that I am I guess, I can hardly force myself to say positive things about something I'm being forced to do. Besides, I personally don't like things like this at all.
I'm anxiously awaiting a response from the agency director. And I'm seriously weighing out what will happen to me if I simply don't show up next Saturday.