March 9, 2018. I was dropping X off at daycare when my phone rang. This was yet another life-changing phone call. In foster care, everyone says, “Be ready for anything!” and “Anything can change at anytime!” Well I just had my first REAL taste of that since my boys arrived. The 3-month return home that was outlined for us was just reduced to 6 WEEKS. The first step being an 8-HOUR visit alone with their biological parents this weekend. For the last 8 months, the boys haven’t spent more than 2 hours at a time with them, never alone, and never at their home. I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m a mess. Let the craziest emotional rollercoaster of all begin. — feeling heartbroken.
March 14, 2018. 5 WEEKS LEFT: I now have a 6 weeks’ notice that the babies I’ve had for 8+ months will be leaving my home. J is 3.5-years-old and Baby X is 15-months-old. I realize now I should be grateful for the 6 weeks even though I was originally told 3 months. I also realize that at our court date in April, the judge could order them home immediately. I’m preparing my heart for anything (if that’s even possible!). As of now, the transition timeline is:
- Week 6 (last weekend): 8-Hour visit
- Week 5: 8-Hour visit
- Week 4: Overnight (24hr) visit
- Week 3: Overnight (24hr) visit
- Week 2: Weekend (2 nights) visit
- Week 1: RETURN HOME on weekend
Why did they decrease it? I don’t REALLY know. In this process you don’t get a lot of answers. I do know it means the parents are doing “well” (but they’ve always been). The state doesn’t want to “drag it out” any longer. From my perspective there is not a logical reason to speed up the MOST CRITICAL part of this whole thing; they should’ve gradually started moving us here a couple months ago. A fast transition home will be traumatizing for them, especially Baby X who is SUPER attached to me. I’m pretty sure I am the only consistent caregiver these two have ever had. We survived the first, unsupervised visit pretty well. I officially know what the feeling of “someone is taking my baby away” feels like. #notagoodfeeling I have permission to get X’s first haircut (this is the ONE thing bio parents have a say in #funfactsoffostercare). I invited bio mom to start coming over one night/week to learn the evening/bedtime routine, connect with X, connect with me, and just be in a healthy/normal/loving environment!! They said yes, so I am hoping and praying she comes and has a positive and eye-opening experience. I need prayer about what to do or not to, to say the right things, to be able to encourage her, etc. This is crazy, uncharted territory!!!
March 28, 2019. 3 WEEKS LEFT: Yesterday at daycare drop-off, J melted down in tears. NOT ONCE has that ever happened. EVERY DAY he runs off exuberantly. He loves his daycare, loves his teacher. He keeps melting down. He is now carrying around sadness. He is overly pining for attention. The SLIGHTEST thing has him in tears. I guess this is the reality of this stage of the foster care process. The first overnight (24-hour) visit last weekend went as well as expected! They were fed, they seemed to sleep, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. They even made it to church the next day (our planned location to exchange the boys) not only on time, but VERY early. This made me chuckle because this is exactly what it’s like parenting little people! The kids have you up SO EARLY that you just want to get out the door and get to church as early as possible for FIRST service! Ironically, having only myself to worry about, I was late. I’m so thankful for this transition as I had a glimpse of what life will be like without them – going to church alone again. The look of exhaustion on Bio Mom’s face that morning at church… #priceless. I am hoping they had quite the reality check of what life will be like with these two EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME. We de-briefed at length and I am very excited for our growing relationship. I think they are starting to really trust me, see me as a someone that truly supports them, and are even looking toward me as a mentor. Love it!! This weekend we’ll have another overnight (24-hour) visit and then next weekend they’ll have them all weekend. This is such a weird process!! People ask how I’m doing and I can’t even describe it. It’s. Just. SO. WEIRD. I’m going to miss these two cuties like crazy.
April 6, 2018. This week marks 9 MONTHS with the boys. We had a court hearing this week. Thankfully, no surprises and there was an agreement that, although, April 14 is the official return date, everyone is open to the parents/me agreeing on a slightly extended timeline. We met with a Child Coach from my Child Placing Agency to help us better understand what J is going through (he keeps melting down in tears) and how we can help him. We can’t decide if “ripping off the band-aid” and sending them straight home or somehow drawing this out longer is better for him. But then we have Baby X who doesn’t really know them as his parents. I want the perfect solution but I can’t find it!! My perfectionist side is all twisted up and confused. We are talking about these kids’ forever lives! The bio parents have been coming over twice a week to spend the evening with us. They (especially mom) have really opened up about their lives. I know things now that I’m not sure I wanted to know. I know why J could barely speak with he arrived at 2.75 years of age, I know why CPS was called on them and what happened on removal day, and I know why they’ve lost nearly all their possessions. We come from different worlds and it’s A LOT to process. I’m constantly struggling with what to say/not to say, how to love them, how to educate them, how to support them but not enable them. My brain is on total overload. There is a lot of uncertainty right now, but what I do know is that next week will be my last full week with the boys. They will be spending the next three nights with their parents and I will walk them through the daycare drop-off procedures on Monday morning. We are going to re-assess how that goes and make a decision about the next weekend/week. BIG SIGH…I can’t imagine a time where I don’t get to hug him and kiss X’s fat, squishy cheeks. And to think, if something happens and I don’t get to stay in their lives, he will never remember me.
April 13, 2018. THE GOODBYE is here: I am wrecked. Am I alive? Not only is tonight my last night with the boys, my dog of 14yrs is dying (for real this time, unless he gets Miracle #2!). He is my first baby. I was told I need to figure out “how I’m going to grieve.” These words don’t corroborate in my brain. How do you grieve?? I thought sobbing on the floor alone was the right answer. Apparently NOT. The boys had three nights in a row with their bio parents last weekend. They returned with bronchitis and a fever/ear infection. Their parents are really not to blame for this but they definitely didn’t do anything to help them. I was irritated. But, all in all, it gave me three days home with Baby X to get my fill of snuggles, hugs, and kisses. I also got the arm and leg work out of the century! 27-lb squats, lifts, etc., rinse and repeat! You don’t need to work out – just get a GIANT baby and a toddler!! #bestshapeofmylife
THE TIMELINE: After lots of praying, I decided that sticking with the April 14th return date was the way to go, but have the boys come back to me for the next couple weekends and have me help out at their house one evening per week. THEY AGREED.
THE DROPOFF: Tomorrow morning, I’ll be dropping off my dining table/chairs, 20+ Amazon boxes filled with gifts from all of you, two suitcases of clothes, toys, and the boys. I don’t even know what else to write right now.
#mamalisafosters #thisisfostercare #reunification