Pumpkin came in to care January 2, 2011.
I was told Pumpkin had developmental delay and a limp. I was told all she was doing was crying for Mommy. They said she used to have a seizure disorder.
I learned hard and fast that Pumpkin was much, much more complicated than what I had "agreed" to. I learned about seizures. Neurologists. Special education. Diapers. (Margaritas for rewards.) Doctors. Doctors. And more doctors. I learned about physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. I got a crash course in navigating Medicaid – the hard way! Transportation. Visits. ARD. IEP. acck acck acck
Pumpkin's mom worked her service plan.
Pumpkin went home September 2, 2011.
Pumpkin came back into care September 13, 2011. (Yes...only 11 days later.)
The State changed their goal from reunification with Mom to relative conservatorship.
At some point in time through all this (quite possibly back in January even), Pumpkin's aunt and uncle that live in El Paso said they would take Pumpkin and raise her.
March 2011: Mom said she didn't want Pumpkin going to El Paso. Despite this being a very viable option to get Pumpkin some stability...to get Pumpkin out of foster care...to get Pumpkin what she needs! (because no child deserves to languish in foster care – no matter how good the foster home)...the judge listened to Mom and Pumpkin remained in Care.
The State drug its heels! Nothing happened. In fact, the State began taking steps to move Pumpkin back home with mom. It was frightening really.
June 2-4: Over the course of this weekend someone hurt Pumpkin while on an unsupervised weekend visit with her mom. My home was put under investigation because I reported the abuse. It was Hell!!
Pumpkin left my home for emergency respite on June 22.
Pumpkin returned to my home after our names were cleared August 11.
Pumpkin's mom's health deteriorated. She finally realized that she could not fight it anymore. Physically, she is unable to care for Pumpkin at all anymore. There are no relatives in our area willing or capable of caring for Pumpkin. At court in August, Pumpkin's mom didn't even show up. However, her lawyer no longer fought the idea of Pumpkin being moved to El Paso. It was court ordered that Pumpkin could go. It was done.
Again, the State drug its heels. Paperwork needed to be done. A courtesy walk-through of the aunt and uncle's needed to be done (their homestudy is nearly 10 months old at least). Time drug on and Pumpkin has stayed in Care.
Lord willing though, Pumpkin will be getting on a plane tomorrow morning and flying across the state to El Paso. I don't have the flight itinerary but I'm confident it's going to happen. I said goodbye to Pumpkin's bus driver this morning. I pinned a note to Pumpkin's shirt telling the school to send her things home. (Because Pumpkin can't talk and they rarely look in her book bag that I send daily so I couldn't put a note there.)
I'm going to pack Pumpkin's things and ship them out today. The State in all its wisdom has decided that Pumpkin gets two duffel bags and a suitcase. The fourth box I can send on the plane is a month's supply of diapers. Never mind that Pumpkin's toys might not all fit. Never mind that Pumpkin's toys will likely be ruined if I send them in the bags I've been allotted. This does not seem to concern the State. When I pressed that they could send them via UPS, I was told, "no".
Pumpkin's aunt and uncle are about to embark on an adventure they are woefully unprepared for. I personally feel like nothing can prepare you for a child like Pumpkin! I've done my best. And they've agreed. But they don't know what they're getting in to.
The least they deserve is all of Pumpkin's things!!!!
I'm so incredibly ticked off at the State because of their nonchalance toward the issue! I'm going to take matters into my own hands. I will be finishing up laundry and packing boxes today. The State has agreed that I can fly along with Pumpkin to assist in her care prior to the actual transfer. (Her caseworker would have no idea what to do if Pumpkin threw a fit or had a seizure!!) I've decided that I am not going to try and navigate the airport with a special needs child, a clueless social worker, and tons of boxes and/or bags. I'm going to ship her stuff out today myself. I'm sure I'm breaking tons of rules. But I'm not going to ask permission. Instead, I'm going to inventory things. I'm going to take pictures of the boxes I'm shipping. And I'll save the shipping receipts. It will make tomorrow just a bit easier on me so it's worth it.
I'm super emotional today. I'm having a hard time knowing my own trigger though. Is it because of the all recent contact Dude and Dolly have had with their biological family? Or is it because Pumpkin is leaving?
Make no mistake. I've wanted to be done caring for Pumpkin for a very, very long time. In fact, I even gave my 30 day notice. (I just happened to rescind said 30 day notice after the craziness of this summer and the fact that Pumpkin was court ordered to finally go to El Paso.) It is incredibly difficult to care for a child that requires so much work and does nothing to fill my "love tank" back up. It's so hard to describe. I know I sound pretty self-centered. But Pumpkin NEVER gives anything back. No smiles. No affection. No attention. No nothing.
OK OK OK -- it's probably a little harsh to say "no" smiles, affection or attention. But it feels like it. Granted, she likes Mr. Amazing quite a bit. Every day when he comes home from work she gets up from where she's playing and practically races to him saying, "give me hug". But for me...nothing. I probably get spontaneous affection one time a month -- if that!! Most of the time Pumpkin won't look at me. It's pretty hard to love someone that acts like they hate you. It's pretty hard when that person that hates you needs you to do damn near everything for them.
So here we are 21 months later. I'm not exactly sad to see Pumpkin go. In fact, I'm actually rather happy. I want to be down to only one foster care case in my home. (Juggling two is a circus act!) I want to be done navigating the world of special needs.
But I'm all in a funk.
What if the aunt and uncle realize they can't do this?
What if I get a call asking me to take Pumpkin back?
Why am I so worried about all the "what ifs"?!
I'm going to have to just let go. I know this. Tomorrow is going to be a crazy day. I'm nervous about all that I have to try and "teach" the aunt and uncle in such a short amount of time. I have to let go of Pumpkin and trust that her family will be able to take care of her. I've made it as clear as possible that I want to remain a resource for them. But I know that I'm not going to call and check on Pumpkin after we make the transfer. I'm going to leave it up to the family to contact me. I have to just let go.
And I want to. Believe me I really, really want to.
But dammit – I'm crabby today. This foster parenting stuff really messes with your mind. 21 months after I started on the adventure with Pumpkin it's finally over. These 21 months grew me. Stretched me. Strengthened me. Made me fall to my knees. And now they are over. I got it right more often than I got it wrong. But boy, did I get it wrong a lot! And after tomorrow, I have to just let it go.
Please pray for Pumpkin. Please pray for her family.
I've got to go now and pack some boxes.