Not much to report over here in my neck of the woods. We've all adjusted rather quickly to Pumpkin moving on. Cherub 3 probably misses her the most. He's mentioned it several times and he's had a LOT of "big feelings" this week!! I have simply been making it a priority to pray for Pumpkin and her new family every time I think of her. When I look at the few diapers left laying around.... When I look at the clock every night at 6:30 and think about giving her her medicine... When I look in the corner of my living room where some of her toys used to sit... At 10PM when I would typically go check her diaper... So yes, I've been praying a lot. It's a good thing.
Dude and Dolly are handling things just fine. They asked about Pumpkin a few times; but overall they haven't said much. I did smile though on Thursday. Dude misses Pumpkin too. He had a "family tree" sort of assignment at school. He was simply supposed to glue pictures of anyone in his family to a picture of a tree that they sent home. I was slightly challenged because I wanted to include his first family but I have no pictures of his first daddy. I didn't think it would be right to include one parent but not the other. In the end, I opted to only put our family on the tree. Dude doesn't indicate any desire to be a part of his biological family. And while I KNOW he really does, I decided to not complicate this simple preschool assignment by including them. I also did not put a picture of Pumpkin on the tree. She is gone now and we do have to move on. However, Dude's teacher told me that Dude did talk about his "other sister" when he presented his tree to the class.
The biggest event of our week now is probably the family visit for Dude and Dolly. As long as Mom confirms 24 hours in advance, the visit is on. They've seen their mom four weeks in a row now. (Though one of those visits was following court and was not a "typical" visit.) These visits involve me packing up all four of the youngest children and trekking an hour west to their home town. The visits are two hours long and then we trek back. That hour drive home sucks!
The littlest cherubs are conflicted! They miss their mom. They're confused. They're overwhelmed with big feelings.
The bigger two of the cherubs are just as much of a mess. It triggers Cherub 2 and his own issues. Every part of fostering forces TT to deal with his own adoption story. Cherub 3 is typically horribly jealous so these visits are hard for him too! He doesn't want to have to share Dude and Dolly. These visits remind him that he has to.
So basically, the car ride home sucks! There's crying. There's fighting. This last visit even came with very loud and somewhat bratty statements of, "I want to go to Dallas to my grandma." Of course I followed that with a quiet, "I know you do baby. It's OK. I love you no matter what."
The rest of the evening following a visit is just as wonky. Dude and Dolly typically have a difficult time getting engaged. They bounce all over the place and have this nervous little giggle that permeates everything. TT is easily angered. And Bart wants to mark his territory so to speak and he gives way too many hugs. He wants reassurance that Dude and Dolly still love HIM.
Visits are messy! Necessary. Good I guess. But very, very messy!
And I do say "good I guess" in this case because I'm not convinced this is what is best for these kids. The State is not looking to reunify with Mom at all! They have made this incredibly clear!! So, if they are wanting to send the children away from their Mom, halfway across the state, why are they toying with everyone and making them have these visits?!
They have to right now. Even though the goal of the State is listed as Relative Conservatorship, they are having Mom work a Service Plan. Mom is being given another opportunity to prove whether or not she can do this parenting thing. Obviously, part of most Service Plans is visits.
They mess with the kids though. It is guaranteed that Dude will wet the bed the night after a visit. He's also had an accident at school the next day every single time. (NO other accidents ever. Only one after each visit.) This last visit had Dolly play-acting with her dolls the next day too. She brought her baby doll over to me and announced that her baby doll missed her first mommy. I scooped up that baby doll and "comforted" her. I talked to the doll. "Oh baby...you miss your first mommy. That's so hard. mmmm hmmmm. I know baby. It's sad when you can't see your first mommy very much. Is this your new mommy? Does she take good care of you? That's good baby. I'm glad you're safe now. You're safe and loved. mmmm hmmmm. I know baby. You miss your first mommy." Then I hand the baby doll back to Dolly and tell her she's doing a good job and I know she'll take good care of her baby.
I haven't had to deal with this part of fostering in months and months. So, as you can expect, it tugs at my own big feelings too. I really hate the visits and all they entail.
I know in most cases visits are necessary. Crucial even. Families HAVE to be given a chance to stay together. Kids need to stay connected to those they are going to go back to. I get all this. I really do.
But if Dude and Dolly are never going to go back to their mom – are visits with Mom what they need? Don't they need visits with Grandma? Shouldn't they be in contact with the family they are going to be placed with in Dallas? (And in my opinion, one visit over one weekend is hardly enough. I think there should be phone calls. I think there should be contact of some kind.)
Because it's the little things that are getting to me. Dolly turned five on Monday. I know her birthday wasn't celebrated early when she went to Dallas a couple weeks ago. And sure enough, Monday came and went and nobody in her biological family acknowledged the event. Shoot – I don't think her mom said anything to Dolly about her birthday at the visit just this Wednesday. Same as last year...the only people that even told Dolly happy birthday were those of us in her foster family.
This breaks my heart!
I know that celebrating a birthday is the least of CPS's concern. I get that. But I'm a mom. And these things are kinda a big deal to me. I have a hard time having to share Dude and Dolly with a mess of people that can't even send a birthday card.
So there you have it. Big feelings all around. But we are managing. And tomorrow there will be rainbow cupcakes and balloons galore! Pink wrapping paper will cover the floor of my living room and Dolly will hardly know what to do with it all. But you only turn five once! Happy Birthday Dolly!!!