Monday, January 12, 2015

What I want :: foster-to-adopt

Unsupervised visits began for dad and immediately a family member made a huge (slightly scary, I'm told - I haven't asked for detail) allegation against the dad and his family. So unsupervised visits were complicated because they couldn't happen at dad's house.

At long last, the claims are unfounded and the first at home unsupervised visit is in the works.
I'm so excited.
Or so I told the caseworker.
"Are you?" the caseworker asked, "I can't figure out how you want this to end."
"I don't know either," I replied, "so if you figure it out, let me know."
"Oh, so it's not just me," she said.
"No!" I wailed. "I want foster care to work."
"I do too! It just doesn't often," she said.
"So I'm excited that they could go home - this could work!" I explained. "I'm excited about a new placement. I'm also excited about how much progress they've made so far here (and mad a little at how amazing the baby is - as in ahead developmentally on every level - and maybe the older two would have been so far ahead had they had less neglect in their early life) and how much more they could gain by staying in this environment." I paused. "I'm sorry, I really don't know what I want. Both outcomes are great and both suck."
We talked about how some days I just want them GONE, but how I think that's how parents feel in general. She agreed. She also said that more experienced caseworkers than her and long term foster parents have said there's a shift that happens after you know the kids are staying forever part of your family. She said she thought I might be holding part of myself back, which I may well be doing. We talked about how this was the best case scenario - both parents have expressed that they can see how important I am to their children and they want that relationship to continue even if the kids did go home. We talked about how that's a positive thing but sometimes it is hard to draw a line on how much support you give that family as they struggle in the future. You care about these kids so much, you're willing to take them every weekend so their parents can party ... at least the kids are then safe. But that just drags out the inevitable and causes more damage. We both agreed that partying would probably not happen (did I mention that their dad is doing well and seems to have bought into the message of AA, etc?), but still good to be aware of.

After talking for several more mintues (I could talk all day about our case with our caseworker, and she's so good at helping me process and letting me go around in circles in my thought processes), we left it with a plan to talk the following day to firm up plans. We both want to give this dad as many visits as possible. He's worked damn hard, no one is doubting that, and now it's time to fish or cut bait (a term for the judge during a foster-parent training).

I got off the phone and told Ren Man about my confusion - or the caseworkers- or both. Do I want them to stay or go?
"You just want it to be over," he responded.
And it clicked into place. That is what I want.

I called the caseworker back with some other thoughts, and also shared this revelation.
"So do you want them to go home, or not?" she asked.
"I don't know," I whined. And then after a pause: "I just want to know what's going to happen. Are we raising these three kids for life or are we not?"
"You don't want to be in limbo," she said.
"YES!" again, more clarity, it felt.
"That makes sense," she replied.

And I slept better that night :)

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