Thursday, October 10, 2013

Then there were 4 (again) :: Child D and Child E

We had blissful days where life was so easy and went as expected. When you go from 4 kids to 2 kids overnight ... well, you can imagine.
We went out to a restaurant.
We went to The Wild Center and stayed for FIVE hours.
We went.
I didn't realize how reclusive we'd become. It was easier (and that's relative) to stay home as much as possible. You never knew when a temper would explode.

I met up with a friend for coffee one night.
We talked about the drive to foster (or not).
I said I was feeling good.
I pined for a call but was also starting to come to terms with never raising another kid.
And there was relief in that too.
It was fun to get to know Del and Noah again.
To plan trips or be completely spontaneous with activities and events that would suit them so perfectly.

And then it came.
The placement coordinator called.
There's a toddler and preschooler year old and they are going with the police to pick up the kids today.
Could we do it?
Oh and there's also a baby.
I said I'd really feel more comfortable with the younger two.
We were less than 2 weeks out from having kids so close to Del's age and that was a disaster.
The placement coordinator explained that they wanted to keep the older two together because they were more bonded .... and it would be easier to place the baby.
I said maybe we could do all three.
ALL THREE?!? She asked.
Let me talk to Ren Man.
He was cringing. He said no way on the preschooler. We couldn't go back to that. There needs to be at least a year between any other child and Del.
So I called back and said "no".
The helper in me, the "fixer", had a really hard time saying we couldn't take the oldest.
Who says that?!?!
Who says they can't take on a child who needs a home!?!
So she says: can you take the younger two if I can find a place for the oldest.
Yes, we'll do that.
But I cringe inside.
Ren Man is not too happy.
Call your mom, he says.
Make sure you check in with the other grownups in this house.

She's thrilled. She's thrilled that we said "no" the oldest, wisely knowing how that would unfold.

Less than an hour later and she calls back.
Can we take the younger two.
y---eeee---ssss - hesitantly.

They are waiting for a few hours and will go get them.
Should I meet you in town so you don't have to drive out here.

So we pack up to go to town a few hours later for errands we already planned.
When our errands are done I call to say we're in town.
They got a late start.
Don't wait.
We'll call you.
It should be around 5pm.

A fostering friend who often fosters babies says: do you have diapers? pjs? clothes? a crib? bottles? formula?
nope. nope. nope. yes. nope. nope.
Call mom.
Can you pick these things up?

5pm comes and goes.
No kids.
We get a call.
Hi, I'm calling from social services. We have the kids. We need to bring them to the pediatrician before they come to you and their appointments aren't until much later. They just sound too sick. We'll get there when we get there. Unless you want to meet us in town.

No, I say, no thanks. We're running around the house like crazy people setting up the crib and rearranging our space.

We sit down for dinner. It's close to 8pm.
We shut the dogs up so they don't jump and get all excited when a car pulls up.
It's 9pm.
We hear a car. I go out to help.
How can I help? I ask.
Take the baby.
Both kids are asleep. The toddler wakes up fussy while she's being unbuckled and lifted out of the car. She reaches for me, lunging even, out of the social services worker's arms and saying: "Mommy! Mommy!"
Really? I say. I'm surprised. But she snuggles in and I carry the kids into the house with social services following with bags.
In the soft light of the entryway I see two kids who are in desperate need of baths and clothes.
The baby has had 3 bottles in 3 hours.

Social Services leaves around 10.
We need to bring the baby back to the doctor the next day.
We bathe the kids (they love this!) and then we start bedtime (they don't love this!).
At 11pm they finally fall asleep.
The toddler sleeps until 9am.
We can't believe it!
She sleeps that late the next day too.
She also takes 3 hour naps.

The baby keeps her fever for a few days.
It turns out to be roseola.
Not before we attempt a urine cath, draw blood, and do a chest x-ray.
Just in case.
Not knowing how long she'd had the fever.

The toddler didn't know how to sit at a table to eat.
She spit out almost every food we offered.
She only trusted food if it came from a package.
We worked through that and she's MUCH more adventurous with eating now.

A week and a half later and the kids had an MD appt. The county requires that kids have a check-up within the first 30 days they are in care.
I was most interested in how much these two had grown.
The MD said: "look at their charts - this is where they were ... and this is where they are now".
Because the kids had been sick and brought to the MD the night they were brought into care, they had the kids stats from that night.
A week and a half later and the jump in the chart was nearly vertical.
The MD pointed out that that is what happens when you feed kids.
You heard it here first: feed kids and they will grow.


So yes, we're busy. But this feels like NOTHING compared to our last experience of having four kids. The toddler's vocabulary is growing at a very rapid rate. She talks about her sister but when they interact (it's a small community so we run into her and her foster family regularly) they barely recognize each other. When they are told who the other is, they play for a while together but then wander away. I'm not so certain the bond was that great. I've also learned that the preschooler was doing a fair amount of the parenting. So I'm thankful in hindsight that she's getting a break from that role.
I'm really really hopeful that their parents will be able to line up the resources and services they need to successfully parent. I'm heartbroken that these kids lived as they did for as long as they did. I'm also very sad at the thought of the loss they've suffered by being placed into foster care and the loss they'll have if and when they return to their parents.
But that's foster care. And sadly, the caseworker working with us said she has 3-4 cases very similar to this one right now. Heartbreaking.


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