I know that I have to practice a lot of self-care during hellos and goodbyes. When a child enters my home, it is super crazy stressful. It is one thing to read about a story of abuse in the newspaper or to see a story on the local news. But it is totally different when that story becomes a full, living, breathing, wounded person that is now living in your home.
Simply absorbing the story is physically painful to me sometimes.
And then there are all the doctor appointments and social worker appointments that happen immediately after placement. Most of the time you have to retell the story of the abuse over and over to different professionals. It's exhausting.
(And can you imagine being the child?! They LIVED it. Imagine how they feel!)
So when kids come I prepare as best as I can. I have groceries purchased and meal plans made. This isn't always easy when it's an emergency placement. But I usually manage to get a lot done in the few hours between the phone call and the drop-off. That gives me time to just be still with the child. Give them space to adjust.
I think it takes a minimum of a month for a child to adjust to removal and placement. And that's just a bare minimum adjustment. I'm not saying behaviors go away and everyone is all hunky dory. I'm just saying that they have sort of an idea of the routines in my home and the kid feels a little less like a stranger to me and more like they belong. We all adjust to the new normal.
And then there is the other end of the spectrum...the letting go.
When Dude and Dolly were taken from me the letting go just about crippled me. I had never hurt so bad. They gave us less than five hours to say goodbye. I had to pack them up with enough things for a couple weeks and send them on their way. I wasn't ready. They weren't ready. It was as much of a surprise as their arrival was. It was hell.
When Daisy left it was better. The transition had been long enough. The State had told me what they were planning on doing. I had already packed her things and thought about what my life would look like with her gone. (Yes...I was looking forward to sleeping again.)
I wasn't thrilled with the idea of sending Daisy back home to her mom. But I was able to make the transition in my head and heart ahead of time. So it was easier.
I'm having to do the same thing with Russell and Star now. Anything could still happen in their case. But I have GOT to stay in the moment. It's the only way to make the transition smooth for me and for the babies.
It's little things.
Russell's ARD meeting is probably going to be held within the next couple months. If I knew he was staying with me long-term, I'd be all over the special education department to get details and to get it scheduled. And I'd be meeting with Russell's lawyer to see if it's even possible to home school him as I don't think Russell should start formal school this fall.
But if he's leaving me, it honestly doesn't make sense to push any of the school stuff. If they schedule his ARD...we'll have to do it. But if they don't...it will be up to his new care giver to take care of things. And since they don't live in the same district as me, it wouldn't be horrible for the first ARD to actually happen in the district Russell will attend.
There's a seminar coming in March being put on by Wright's Law - a special needs advocacy group. I was planning on attending. But if Russell is leaving, I don't need to. So I have to just leave the dates on my calendar and wait until after the next court hearing. No need in paying for a seminar like this if Russell is going to leave.
I need to start looking at all the toys and deciding what toys need to go with what child.
I can even start looking at how my house is currently laid out. What things will need to go back in storage? What things will I need to even possibly sell or give away?
I do these things to make it easier to say goodbye. If I can prepare just a little for the goodbye, it won't hurt as much.
I'm trying to force myself to eat. I'm trying to force myself to sleep. I really, honestly need to get OFF of Facebook. But that one is hard to do. I'm not connected to many local people. My friends are all online. But I'm going to try and wean myself off some of Facebook. I don't need to read the foster care news articles that are forever popping up in my feed. I don't need to learn more about transracial parenting right now. I need to just be a good mommy to the kids I've got in the moments I have them.
And I don't care if it's placebo effect or not...I'm taking some over the counter supplements. I don't usually struggle with anxiety. But the hellos and goodbyes (especially the goodbyes) are hard for me. I worry. I stress. I worry some more. So I'm taking some krill oil, GABA, and a Vitamin B supplement for stress.
The worrying doesn't do me any good. I can't control the reasons why Russell's grandparents are just now getting involved. I can't control what the State is going to decide about either child. So I need to stop thinking about it.
It doesn't mean I stop loving the kids or caring for them. But it does mean that I don't make up a month's worth of baby food for the freezer right now.
I survived the craziness of the ABR hearing test. (Even though Russell didn't fall asleep so now it's been rescheduled for the end of the month.) I met the grandparents. They seem very nice. I wish they would have stepped forward a year ago.
I will love these kids forever. I will be their mamma as long as the State lets me. And we'll all go from there.