I put Russell to sleep in the crib in our room Sunday night. Because he had napped so much in the late afternoon/early evening, he didn't settle down until after 10:00pm. I didn't care really. Russell is never fussy and I knew we were trapped in the hospital until CPS showed up to interview me anyway. He'd be able to sleep if he was tired.
I played on my phone some. I snacked on some crappy food. And I tried not to worry. Eventually I fell asleep too.
Russell stirred a few times. I sleep really light when I'm in the hospital with one of my kids. I hate getting woke up by the nurses. But they have to chart vitals and so it happens.
Sometime between 3:00-4:00am, Russell fussed. I could tell he desperately wanted to roll over in bed and sleep on his tummy. His leg was uncomfortable. I woke up enough to weigh out my options.
I could leave him in bed. He'd fuss a little but he'd be OK. I could wake up and hold him. Or I could put him in bed with me and we could both just sleep.
At that point in time, I figured if CPS was going to "get" me...they were going to get me. I took care of Russell like he was MY kid and I met his needs...minimum standards be dammed. I scooped Russell up and put him on my tummy so he could sleep face down the way he wanted and he could drape his legs down on either side of me and be comfortable. Right or wrong, I took care of my kid in the way he needed me to take care of him. He had been left alone and in pain too many times before coming to me and I simply couldn't do that to him. We both fell asleep quickly. I remember a nurse coming in once to take his vitals while he was draped over me. I prayed she wouldn't think it was a bad thing.
Morning came and Russell was all smiles. I put him back in the crib so I could get out of bed, stretch, and do those things one does first thing in the morning. Breakfast didn't come until about 8:30am. We played and babbled back and forth with each other until then.
Just before 9:00am, my phone rang. It was Bopper. She wanted to make sure we were still in the hospital. In a bit of bewilderment I said, "Of course we are. We can't leave until CPS says we can. The hospital won't discharge us."
Bopper said something about the investigator calling her and wanting to know where we were. Bopper said she would call them back and make sure they understood the full situation. The person from licensing now on the case was local (as opposed to the on-call person that handled things Sunday from a remote location several hours away). I started to get nervous again as I awaited their arrival.
My stomach got tense. I got this nervous cough. I kept checking the time. I tried to play with Russell but I couldn't focus on anything. It's something else waiting for an investigator to come. This one person held my future in her hands. Her impression of me was everything. If she didn't like what I had to say, she could take my foster children from me. She could charge me with child abuse. She could make it so I could never work with kids again (including our involvement with B.A.C.A.). I don't care how many doctors told me not to worry...I still worried.
Bopper told me to have faith in God when she texted me that morning. I told her I had plenty of faith in God. It was my faith in people that was shaky.
(My two cents...God gives us free will. He can help arrange wonderful things on Earth. But people still get to do what they want. We aren't in some cosmic puppet show.)
Julie, the investigator, came into the room about an hour later. She was pleasant. Russell was sitting on my lap. She informed me of my rights and all that. Made sure I understood what was going on. She told me that the interview needed to be audio taped.
I've been down this road before. I told her I understood.
Then I started answering questions. She asked a lot. But never once was Julie accusatory or short with me. She asked thorough questions and she remained neutral in her response to my answers. After Lord only knows how long, she concluded the interview. She stated that she now had 30 days to develop her report and her supervisor had another 15 to sign off on it. She said something about being able to make a recommendation immediately. I didn't want to get my hopes up though. So I just nodded and didn't ask her to explain.
My stomach was in knots. The respite provider that had taken Star Sunday night told me that she would be able to take Russell too if it came to that. But, because they live an hour away from where we do, the placement couldn't last long. They wouldn't be able to maintain his therapies and visits would be challenging. I was so scared that Julie would discharge Russell but say he had to go to respite care with Star until the investigation was completely over. If they had to go to respite, the odds of them terminating placement with us and moving them to another home with another agency was really high. The thought of that made me sick.
Julie left the room. I wasn't 100% sure if she was leaving the hospital altogether or if she was going to talk to doctors.
After what seemed like hours, but was probably only a few minutes, the doctor on the floor Monday (a different doc from who admitted us the day before) came in to our room while rounding. She reported to me that the fracture in Russell's leg was an old fracture that had rebroken. They had pulled up his old medical records and compared his injuries from a year prior to this fracture. The location was the same as an old break. This doctor stated that under no circumstance did she suspect abuse. Again, I was not to worry. She seemed to think Russell is just prone to injury due to having his body so shattered before coming in to foster care.
I sighed a huge sigh of relief. You have no idea of fast the relief washed over me.
Still...I continued to worry. I needed a miracle. I needed CPS to get this information. I needed them to determine that Russell and Star weren't in danger. I needed them to move a mountain of paperwork to let Russell be discharged into our care and for me to be allowed to pick up Star from respite.
Remember, my last investigation lasted almost two months. My kids were taken from me and I was told nothing while I waited. Even though we were completely absolved of anything in that investigation (no citations, no disciplinary action, no safety plan that had to be put in to place, no nothing), my kids still suffered the trauma of an extended move. They couldn't move paperwork back then for Dude, Dolly, and Pumpkin. I had no reason to believe they were going to move it for Russell and Star. (PTSD is real.)
I don't remember how much time passed, but Julie walked back into our room again. I asked her if she had met with the doctor that had come in to our room that morning. (You know how doctors are never around in the hospital when you need them?) Julie answered with a smile that yes, she had met with the doctor doing rounds. Said doctor had given her the paperwork she needed. Julie told me not to worry. She was going to recommend that Russell be released into our care. She had no concerns of abuse or neglect.
This all happened before lunch. There was still a lot of waiting to do. She had to go back to the office and the case had to be "staffed" with all the people that make decisions over Russell and Star's lives. Nothing was official yet. Her supervisor could still say no. My licensing agency could still say no. A lot of people had to be OK with her recommendation.
The waiting was hell.
Foster care is a shit-ton of waiting.
But we waited.
And I prayed. I prayed a lot. I asked some of my closest friends to pray for me. I called My Genius Sister a zillion times. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed.
Eventually we got the final, final OK to be discharged. All the important people agreed that there is no threat of abuse or neglect in our home. Russell could go with me and I could leave straight from the hospital to pick up Star.
Because the investigation isn't "officially" over, a safety plan has been put into place. My licensing worker has to come out once a week through the month of January to check on Russell and to ensure that he is being cared for well. Protocol again. They can't send the kids home without putting a few measures in place to prove they are covering all their bases.
I can handle some more paperwork in the name of keeping these kids with me where they belong. I was grateful that CPS moved mountains. I truly believe it was a miracle. I will admit that I was wrong...maybe Jesus was in CPS on that Monday.