Friday, February 15, 2013
We got an emergency call one late afternoon recently, asking if we could take a child we'd previously said we'd foster if needed.
There was a court case at the time ... but this time there was an emergency removal.
Kid A was coming to stay indefinitely.
Three days later the court heard this case and deemed the emergency removal unjustified. So Kid A went back to his family.
We were thrilled with the experience (it starts as a whirlwind and settles into a strong breeze) and it was hard to tell Kid A "bye" when Kid A was clearly settling in and sad to not be staying with us. But Kid A was also super excited to be back with Kid A's family. And we told Kid A that if there's a need for removal again, we'll be here.
Noah and Del were sad. The days immediately following both kids took ample time to be by themselves to play quietly and also enjoyed playing with one another. Our hectic life resume its more regular level of crazy - and it suddenly doesn't feel hectic at all!
I want to be more detailed in our life with additional children but it's hard to know what is appropriate to share (gender? age? food preferences? length of stay? hair color? sleeping patterns? what items the child came with? toy preferences? etc?)
DSS was in close contact with us (calling at least once a day to check in) which was great and apparently the first week of a placement is always nutty. There is a lot to be done. A doctor's appt must be scheduled for sometime in the first 30 days of the placement. This is something I now need to cancel ... but I'm hesitating in case Child A ends up back in our home ... and we're back to the drama of getting an appt. Is there a reason the front staff at MD offices tend to be inhumane? Not every office - but too many, as far as I'm concerned!
There's also a required court hearing. DSS informed us of the hearing date, time, place. We were not required to go, but we could if we wanted to. I wanted to, but we had other plans for that date and time. While juggling what that day would look like (who is going to watch which kid, who is going to drive which kid to which pre-school/school/daycare), the outside dogs started barking.
It was dark, and we were eating dinner.
We weren't expecting anyone and usually unexpected company (not uncommon) arrives during daylight hours.
It was the sherif.
He was bringing papers about the court date (this is routine, but we had forgotten).
"Is this about the foster situation?" I asked.
"I don't know. We don't read the documents, we just deliver them," he replied.
I started racking my brain for anything that might warrant a sherif's visit to our door.
Then I glanced at the sheet and saw Child A's name.
"This is just to let us know, right?" I asked, "We don't actually have to GO to court."
"Oh, yes," he replied. "It says here you're summoned to court."
I looked where he pointed and saw below the words to the effect of: "if you don't show up, you could be sentenced to prison for up to a year".
"You can use this paper to show your employer," the sherif helpfully explained, "so that you can come to court."
"We're photographers and farmers," I said. "I guess we'll show each other."
When he left, dinner conversation resumed.
We decided to not attend the event we were hoping to attend at the date and time of the court hearing and we arranged for my mom to pick up Del from preschool in case court went longer.
The next day I called DSS to confirm our required attendance.
"No, you don't have to be there," the worker said. "You're served the papers as an interested party, but you're not required to come."
"Are you sure?" I asked. "It says we're summoned and if we don't arrive in court at the specified time we could be sentenced to a year of imprisonment. We really don't have time for that" I said with a smile in my voice.
"I'm sure," she replied. "I'll give you a call when we know the ruling. It might not be until late because even if the appointment is in the morning - we might not actually be called to court until later in the day."
When the worker called while I was picking up Del from preschool, it was to tell me that Child A was going home.
The previous case regarding this family is still pending - so the judge may still decide to remove Child A (again). If that happens, we'll be called (again), and Child A will return to our home (again) until his family figures out how to better parent Child A.
And this is the story of fostering. I'm learning.