I was a mess. Speech therapy came in the morning first thing for Russell. As soon as she left, I packed up the kids in the car to take Russell to the ENT. I did not know if Sylvia (bio mom) was going to show up or not. My stomach was all in knots.
I wasn't worried about anything that would seriously happen. It's not that. It's just ME. Sylvia barely talks to the children and she never talks to me. I've had to wait over two hours at this ENT office before. The thought of being uncomfortable because of the lack of conversation for that long made me nervous. I'm a talker. It's just who I am. There's also the fact that Sylvia never brings anything for the children to meet their needs. What exactly would/should my role be?
Well, Sylvia wasn't there when I pulled up. And she didn't come before we got called back to the examination room. As more and more time passed, I became more relaxed.
The ENT doctor gave Russell a once over. The PE tubes are still in place. He ordered a simple in-house hearing test...knowing full well that it was unlikely that Russell would pass it.
The doctor was right. He didn't. Russell wouldn't hold still and he wouldn't stop making noise.
The doctor then ordered another ABR (auditory brainstem response) lightly sedated hearing test. Because Russell already had one of these before, and because I know his caseworker right now will get things done, I went ahead and scheduled the test prior to having the judge's permission for sedation. (Of course if I don't get that permission in time I will cancel and reschedule.) (The test is scheduled for February 1st.)
We left the doctor's office. Both kids immediately fell asleep in the car. I was hungry because I hadn't been able to force myself to eat before we left that morning. Eating is just not priority for me when I'm stressed out. (And usually, I make really poor food choices when I do eat when I'm stressed.) I pulled in to Panda Express and went through the drive-thru. I ate in the parking lot savoring every single bite.
Both kids stayed asleep once we got home. I did some freelancing.
The next appointment that afternoon was to see the orthopedic surgeon for a cast. My stomach started tensing up as the afternoon wore on.
While driving to the orthopedic doctor, I got a text from Bopper asking if I was at the doctor yet. I pulled into the parking lot of the office and told her I was there. She said that Sylvia was as well.
Mom got out of her car when I did. She came over to me while I was unbuckling Star. She took Star from me and I went to get Russell. I buckled him into the double stroller and we all (Sylvia, Star's paternal grandmother, the kids, and me) went in to the doctor's office. I felt confident. As my nerves had risen during the afternoon I had decided that it was going to be a mind over matter thing. I'm twice Sylvia's age. I'm twice her size. I was done feeling intimidated by the situation. It's not my fault her kids are in foster care. It's not my fault she doesn't talk to me or her children. I would take care of her kids as necessary - no matter what that meant. I wouldn't try to keep her from being uncomfortable. If she was uncomfortable because the dynamics, that was going to be on her.
For over two hours, we sat side by side in an incredibly crowded waiting room. I filled out all the paperwork. I played with Russell. I fed him lunch (as he had slept through everything after leaving the ENT office and I had decided that sleep was the most important thing for him at that time). I fed Star some too - even though she was sitting on Mom's lap. Sylvia never tried to take over to feed Star herself. (It was weird!!) So I kept feeding Star the little puffs of baby food. I talked to the children. I tried talking to Sylvia several times as well. I tried to tell her about her children - the things they do, milestones they've met, the fact that both just cut a new tooth. The most she would do was nod and smile. Sylvia never seemed uncomfortable about anything. She's the most neutral person I've ever met. I was crazy uncomfortable the whole time. But I did my best to not let it get to me.
Sylvia is not rude. She is polite. Outwardly, she seems to love both of her children. I'm sure she does. But she simply doesn't talk. She might babble back at Russell if he makes enough noise. She'll reach out and stroke his face or arms. She held Star up and bounced her up and down saying "jump jump jump" oh so quietly. She'll tell Russell, "no," if he hits her. But she doesn't talk to them. Not in English. Not even in Spanish.
I talk to my kids all the time. I tell them what I'm doing. I sing songs. When I have to wait in a waiting room like this, I play with them. I hold their toys. We pass them back and forth. I do all the things a mom usually does.
Sylvia interacts a little with the kids. But there is no conversation. Ever. It's no wonder that Russell had ZERO receptive language when he came. She basically holds them and rocks them like they are infants or something. It's really hard to explain. You'll just have to trust me. It's weird. It's not dangerous. I wouldn't think much of it if I was observing as a stranger. But over time, it's just seemed weirder and weirder.
We finally got called back to the examination room. By now, Grandma had left. (I don't know where she had gone to.) Sylvia, the kids, and I followed the nurse back to the room.
The wait in there was still just as odd. I got Russell out of the stroller and played with him. This is when I usually play even more with the kids. I almost always sing songs because no one else can hear me. So...I played with Russell. She held Star. Sylvia let Star crawl around the room and pull up on things. She physically redirected Star when necessary. She would laugh oh so quietly if Russell did something funny. But that was about it. Eventually she cradled Star in her arms and put Star to sleep.
The wait was long even back in the examination room. But eventually the doctor came in.
This is where things can get really weird. But I basically just acted like Sylvia wasn't there. I introduced myself and the patient. The doctor asked how it happened. I gave him the 30-second story of "I don't know". He asked what hospital we had gone to and said he'd look at the X-ray.
I was a little uncomfortable explaining to the doctor in front of Sylvia about how this was a re-break of an old fracture and that he had suffered 15 fractures before coming to me. I have to tell doctors this. They're going to see the breaks on the X-rays. They need to know ahead of time why they're there and that CPS is managing the situation. I'm blunt. Smiling and laughing just a little, my husband said, "The doctor probably thought Sylvia was your nanny." And you know what?! He probably did. That's weird too.
Sylvia showed NO reaction when I spoke to the doctor. She said nothing. She didn't even try to introduce herself when the doctor came in. And since the doctor was all business right away, I didn't formally introduce her either. I probably should have. But...it's in the past now.
It took some more time for the doctor to pull up the X-ray. Eventually he did though. He came back in the room and asked if a red cast would be OK. I said that was fine. Then, before any time had passed at all, Russell was in his cast from his toes to his diaper. Mom stood up two different times to watch them put the cast on. But she didn't ask any questions or say anything to the doctor. I got a new medical clearance to give the therapy company and we were on our way. The whole thing took three hours. Our next appointment is in three weeks.
Mom walked Star over to my car. When I walked past her vehicle, sitting in the driver's seat was Star's bio dad. (the scary guy that was deported last year) He quickly looked away as we went past. But I saw him and I knew who he was.
I buckled the cherubs in and started the drive home. Mom left quickly as well with hardly a goodbye to either child. (She's always very detached when it comes to saying goodbye. There's no emotion. It's just a matter-of-fact transaction almost.)
I picked up my cell and gave Bopper a call. I know that my statement about seeing Star's dad on this side of the wall means nothing to CPS officially. But I figure it's the least I can do to keep Bopper in the loop as to where people are and what is going on. Bopper thanked me for calling and said that she would try to see if there's a way for CPS to see Dad on this side themselves. (ie: make an unannounced visit to Mom's place)
I then asked Bopper about Big Sister Violet. I told her that she had worried me a bit the day before. I explained that it's a pretty big deal to add a family member to the house and I wanted to know if that possibility was on the horizon.
Bopper explained a little bit more about the situation with Violet. The details don't really matter here. Ultimately, CPS is trying to work with family members to put a safety plan in place. They truly want removal to be a last resort. I fully agree with this approach. Violet is being shuffled around a lot. I'm sure there's some neglect going on. But in the grande scheme of things, I don't believe that Violet is being abused in a way that requires protection from CPS. If she can stay with family, that's probably best.
If I'm being totally honest, Star would probably never have been abused. Everything about this case leads me to believe that Russell was nearly killed because of his Down syndrome. I'm never going to know the full story. But that's what I believe in my heart.
That will be rough for Star to process as she gets older if she doesn't stay with her family of origin.
I hung up with Bopper knowing that we could still end up with a new 3 year old family member. But that for the rest of the week and weekend, it was unlikely. Bopper ended the call by telling me that she has LOTS of other information to tell me the next time she comes over for a home visit. Bopper seems to spill everything in person. She's quite careful on the phone.
I'll know more about the whole situation the next time we get together. Until then...it's just a shit-ton more of waiting.