Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Thoughts on family day-long unsupervised visits

Child D., Baby E., and Child F.'s paternal aunt is interested in adopting the girls should there be a need. She initially petitioned for custody when the girls came in to care but the judge denied her request.

Two months later she requested unsupervised visits. DSS agreed to up to 2 days a month, reasoning that with Child F.'s busy schedule, they didn't want Child F. with hectic weekends too. The agreement came through on a Wednesday and the aunt requested the girls that weekend. This brought up all kinds of mixed feelings. I felt very protective and worried. What if she fed them fast food? What if she fed them lots of sugary foods - or fed the baby ANY sugary food? What if their car seats weren't safely installed? What if the baby wasn't changed enough? What if Child D. forgot about using the potty? What if there was someone else in the home who wasn't safe for the girls? What if the girls were confused about what this all meant? What if they were scared?
But a lot of self talk: all that needs to happen is the girls come back alive. Their aunt loves them very much and will do the best she can for them. If they get junk food, if they miss naps, if their car seats are loose, if Child D. has accidents, if they are scared ... we just live with it. It's out of my control and it's not my choice. I don't get a say in the diets of kids that aren't in my house in the present - even if it's just a day or an hour away - I don't get to say.
Deep breath.
I started to feel relieved. Happy even. This was the first time in months that I would have time away from the intense needs of small children. Months. With Del and Noah, they were having overnights with my parents starting around 2yrs old. So the older two would have been with grandparents every 6 weeks or so. That's the natural-unplanned-pattern we have with Ren Man's parents - they have the older two kids for the weekend every 6 weeks or so. I started re-framing this as a positive thing. I really want the girls to be as involved with their first family as much as possible and here is an aunt dedicated enough to go through a court process to get time with the girls. And I get some breathing room.

And then the caseworker called back to say that the aunt had a prior engagement after all and couldn't take the girls that weekend.

So remember all the reasons I was worried. Focus on those anxieties and see it as a positive that the girls are staying home for the weekend.

A month later and the aunt is back in contact with the caseworker asking for a day long visit - we drop them off at 10am and they bring them back at 8pm. So back to remembering the positive.

And it's true. They survived. Baby E. was super sad, but that wasn't surprising. Yes, the car seats were too loose, but the aunt was open to hearing the suggestion of taking them to a car seat installation specialist. Child F. rolled with the long day and transitioned home well, but increased her requests to go to her mom's house. This is fair. You get to go to your aunt's for the day, why not mom's? We talk about the judge and the rules he's made that we have to follow even if we really want to go to mom's. And Child D. was devastated to leave her aunt. I'm sure being woken from a cozy warm vehicle and moved to a chilly van that you know will bring you back away from your original family is devastating no matter what. She sobbed and screamed and cried. And my heart broke for her. I scooped her up to bring her to bed, with a break at the bathroom first. She clung passionately to my neck. So she's full of mixed up feelings too.

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