Sunday, January 31, 2016

why I cry

I think I'm going to blog about all the emotions and what it's like to say goodbye. I'm going to put these posts on the actual blog so other foster parents can find these and read them at a later date.

So, with that, I think it's VERY important that everyone understand some key points.

I do not have some kind of savior complex. I don't foster so I can "save kids" from a life of poverty or convert them to Christianity.
I foster because it's the right thing to do.
I just happen to be a Christian. And I do tell the children in my home why I believe what I do.
But that's not my main focus.

I've always said I wanted to help families stay together. I never intended on fostering with the goal of permanently adding to our family. In fact, when we got the call about TT many years ago, they had to fix our paperwork and mark the "adoption" box on our home study after he was placed.

That said, I don't fault people for fostering and adopting. I just think it's really important for everyone to understand that CPS is not an adoption agency. The goal of CPS should always be to keep families together.

And even though families should often stay together, goodbyes suck.

I think one of the biggest reasons my anxiety gets all out of whack is because of the incredible amount of UNKNOWN as things move forward.
  • Is the State going to seriously consider Russell's grandparents?
  • Are the grandparents going to take both kids?
  • What will happen to Star if they don't take both kids?
  • Is the State going to do unsupervised visits before the move?
  • How long is this going to drag out?
  • Is anyone going to explain to the grandparents what it means to parent a child with Down syndrome? Is anyone going to explain Russell's special needs?
I think if I could just know what the PLAN is...I'd feel better about things.
  • Do I need to start tidying up all the laundry? I mean, laundry is always clean in my house. But it's not always sorted and put away. Do I need to have the kids packed and ready to go on February 16?
  • Should I go out and buy boxes for all the toys that I'll be sending?
  • What if they take only Russell? Oh shit. I've got to separate out the toys...some for Russell and some for Star.
  • I don't want to buy boxes if they aren't going anywhere. But I don't want to scramble last minute either.
  • What if the lawyer says they need to stay with me until after we get the results from the geneticist? Is it really necessary to drag the case out like that? I mean...if the kids are going to move, what's the point of keeping them here. Move them now and let them get settled.
I've always got questions.

And I'm really a shit or get off the pot kind of person. I've seen this in too many of the cases I've had down here. NOTHING changes. CPS just keeps the kids with me and pushes paperwork around. Different services aren't offered to the bio families. They certainly don't do anything to support kinship placements. So the kids hang out with me for basically no reason. If they're going move the kids...just move them already.

I used to get really angry about this in Dude and Dolly's case. Absolutely NOTHING changed at Grandma N's house in Dallas from the VERY first day the kids were placed with me until they were moved to Grandma's house 27 months later. And yes, the kids were safe with me. They were loved. They got to do things that a lot of kids in their situation would never have gotten to do. But did it really make sense to drag the case out for 27 months when NOTHING ever changed?! Grandma wasn't offered any kind of services to prepare for them. Grandma wasn't offered a stipend to care for them. Nobody wanted the kids to go to Grandma's except Minnie (the caseworker) so things got drug out. I'm not 100% convinced that keeping them here with me did any favors for the children. Foster care, even in the most stable and loving homes, is traumatic. When their mom walked away, the State should have done something. Either Grandma N was a good placement or she wasn't.

Obviously...she wasn't the best of placements.

Again, I don't fault her for getting sick. That is not her fault nor could it have been predicted. But the fact that she just dumped the kids back into the hands of CPS tells me that she didn't have a support system and that she probably wasn't equipped to parent those kids ever.

But that was my opinion all along. Those kids didn't belong with that grandma.

So you can imagine that I've got some stress now that they want to take a child that was VIOLENTLY abused and move him to grandparents that have never known him.

I've been down this exact same road before.

Grandma N hadn't seen Dude and Dolly in years when they came in to Care. They didn't know her at all. She just felt obligated to "keep them out of foster care and adoption".

Russell's grandparents don't know him. He turns 2.5 this Thursday. They didn't see him but one time the first 17 months of his life. They evaded calls from CPS and lied about their son when they found out Russell was in Care. But now they want him?

I question that.

I'm not going to go into all the details here why I question this placement with the Russell's grandparents. In general, I've been told they are nice people with good intentions. But they failed their first home study. Not with a giant red flag that screamed Russell would get abused again...but with quite a few little red flags that point to the fact the placement of Russell in their home might not be a good thing. Especially long term.

And Russell needs someone that is going to commit to him for a lifetime.

Not just age 18. A full lifetime.

So I'm scared shitless. Some of it is about me and my own emotions and selfishness. Some of it is about Russell and his safety and worries I have for him long-term.

I'm going to practice self-care as much as I possibly can. I allowed myself to wallow yesterday. The babies were both sick and they wanted to be held. I held them and I cried a lot.

Yes. Some of this is about me. I love these kids. I love them like they're my own.

But they aren't mine. And I do know that. I do not cry because I believe they should stay with me. I cry because foster care isn't fair to anyone involved. Not the family of origin. Not the foster parents. And certainly not the children.

Foster care just plain sucks.

So I will take care of myself. And because I've got a good relationship with Bopper and Ms. Remus, I will probably try to get as many of my questions answered. I'm going to pray like crazy. I want the decision makers in this case to do their jobs well.

And I'll pick myself up. And we will move forward.

The babies might be here a few more weeks...a few more months...or forever. I've got to be OK with any of those outcomes. And somehow, I know I will be. Because ultimately it's not about me. It IS about these kids and doing what's best for them. I hope CPS can truly figure that out this time around.

8 comments:

MrsWalleman said...

I completely understand because thus is what I am feeling right now. We were told in the beginning there would be no visitation and it would be an adoption case... then it moved to visitation with reunification. Then they wanted us to put him in therapy and then decided to add in the Guardian (before he has even had any official therapy for his issues )... if he is going to be reunified, why not have THEM go to therapy that is mandated? Why involve me at all? If you are moving him, hurry up and quit shuffling meaningless paperwork.

MrsWalleman said...

I completely understand because thus is what I am feeling right now. We were told in the beginning there would be no visitation and it would be an adoption case... then it moved to visitation with reunification. Then they wanted us to put him in therapy and then decided to add in the Guardian (before he has even had any official therapy for his issues )... if he is going to be reunified, why not have THEM go to therapy that is mandated? Why involve me at all? If you are moving him, hurry up and quit shuffling meaningless paperwork.

girlfrog2003 said...

Can you proactively address any of these concerns yourself? Rather than relying and hoping CPS will?

When you drop off Russell for visits with his grandparents could you, in a totally friendly supportive way, see what they know about Down Syndrome, and offer information. Kind of a "you know I didn't know much about Down Syndrome when Russell came to me, but here is what I've found out..." Even just open with "Do you have any questions for me about Russell? I know I was nervous the first time I took care of him..." Try to work into the conversation that he will need care for life, maybe a little as he ages, maybe a lot, it's too early to tell. As they learn more they may be able to make a more educated decision for themselves about whether they can do this. I'm sure no one at CPS will offer this information - they probably don't know enough themselves. One would think persons whose entire job is to work for and protect children would be well versed in child development, but I've have not found that to be true.
If they don't speak English, there are articles and information out there in Spanish - you could offer those at least, or see if the visit supervisor could translate for you. Especially if you approach from a I just want to make sure things go well for them standpoint - surely they will not object.

Also - and I personally feel that this is even more important - I would start advocating now to everyone that will listen, but especially his lawyer (she seems like a good one), for a well planned and intentional transition. Russell has suffered so much trauma in his early life, and did not get to develop the secure attachment he should have in the first year of life, then spent several weeks(?) at a shelter, and now has come to you where for the first time he could start to develop a real attachment to a primary caregiver. To disrupt that is going to be so damaging no matter what, but a slow transition where he gradually spends more and more time away from you, but comes back to you will help him understand that people he depends on don't just abruptly disappear, and can minimize the damage. It will hopefully also give grandparents a chance to gradually take on the full- time care for him and know what they are getting into. I would advocate for at least a month to six weeks transition period starting with 1/2 day, to overnight, to two days, to a weekend, to 4 or 5 days before transitioning completely. There's a ton of research out there to support you that you could submit to the lawyers, CPS, judge whomever.
I'd also advocate that it be mandatory for them to be at all of his medical appointments for the next however many weeks or months. If they can't make appointments, how is he going to make the appointments once they have custody? Also they will be more educated about his needs after that.

Well that's my two cents :) I'm praying for everyone involved with this case.
I know how much it hurts your heart worrying about the future of a child you love, and feeling helpless to do anything about it.

Cherub Mamma said...

@girlfrog...

You make EXCELLENT points!!!!

However, I doubt very much that Russell's grandparents speak English. I will be at their mercy as to whether or not they want to talk to me. Not all the visit moderators are fully fluent in Spanish - though I think they all know it enough to understand it. But I know one of them says she doesn't speak it well at all. So for exchanging detailed information at the visit, I'm probably out of luck.

You're right - no one at CPS understands Russell's special needs. They just see the list of specialists I take him to and visually see that he's doing so much better.

As for transitions...I've never seen one handled very well down here. We will be lucky if they offer unsupervised weekends before the move (if there is a move).

I've got to be VERY careful what I say and who I say it to. I've explained to CPS that before Pumpkin transitioned to her aunt and uncle they came and met with me and I went over her needs in extreme detail. I told both CPS and the lawyer that I would want to do the same if Russell transitions to a relative. I was blown off.

But if I make a big deal about how things should be done, I will be put in my place. I am JUST the foster parent. And believe me, that's how the court sees my role. I'm just the safe place for now and family is always best.

I'm very much praying over what will happen at the visit this coming Wednesday. I realize that I will be making a first impression on them and it might be the only opportunity we all get to talk to each other.

Before the next hearing though, there are only two visits with the grandparents and one medical appointment that makes sense for them to attend. There isn't enough time. They are going to see him and fall in love. How could they not?! He's amazing!! I just have to hope and pray that they can see and understand that he's 2.5 years old....NOT an adorable infant under the age of one. He's not going to just "outgrow" the Down syndrome.

Danille said...

Thanks for your honesty! I'm just starting the process of registering to foster in Iowa, and have been wondering what would happen if I choose not to register as an adoptive placement but decide later to adopt a placement who's parents lose their rights.

I'll be sending prayers your way for the decision about your kids, I've been following your blog for awhile now and it breaks my heart to hear all that the kids and your family have been put through recently.

i said...

Could you have someone translate a list/description of russells needs into spanish, and then you would have it on hand if there were a good opportunity to share it?

i said...

Could you have someone translate a list/description of russells needs into spanish, and then you would have it on hand if there were a good opportunity to share it?

Cherub Mamma said...

I won't send Russell anywhere without sending a list of his routine and as many details as I can give about his needs in the caregiver's language. I do have people that can translate for me.