Thursday, March 28, 2013

The 4-1-1 on #8 and #9

I haven't written much about our current placements, so here's an update:

-It's been a little over three months since they've been in our care, and now Ty and Ian will be leaving our home to live with some relatives (pending background checks) within the next month. 

-Usually when we get ready to say goodbye to a foster child we brace ourselves for the grieving process, but this time things are a little different.  As cute as they are, both boys have each needed a lot of individualized attention and it's been a lot of work (including MANY appointments).  Because of this, I admit that any grief at seeing them go is also mingled with a fair  amount of relief as well as some worry- mostly that their next caregivers will be as patient as possible with them and that they will follow-up with appointments and services for both boys, but especially for Ty. 

-Another reason there's not as much grief with this placement leaving is because although we didn't know what the permanency plan was until recently, this is the first placement we've had in which the Primary Goal listed in the Service Plan was Reunification (which it pretty much always is)  with a Concurrent Plan- or "Back-Up" Plan, if you will- of "Guardianship with Relatives" rather than "Adoption" by us as the foster family- which has been the case with all of our other placements.  So, when we learned that there were relatives in the picture it took away any of the emotional drama or speculation of a possible adoption out of the picture.

The only uncertainty in this particular case has been which relatives the boys would be placed with:  On one hand, just because relatives have the room in their house or a desire to care for a child who has come into foster care, doesn't necessarily mean that their home would be a suitable option or that they would be able to pass a background check and become licensed.  On the other hand,  just because someone can pass a background check doesn't necessarily mean they're the best option for placement (as is the case with the boys great-grandmother in her 70s who was very quick to be licensed- to her credit- but realistically is not the best option of a permanent caregiver for two young active boys).   On a related note, I found it somewhat flattering and yet disturbing when early on in the case Ty and Ian's mother expressed preference that her sons stay with me rather than being moved to the care of some of her relatives; nevertheless kinship options always take legal precedence over a non-related foster family of the child in care.
-Ty recently turned three and in addition to getting him into speech therapy and counseling we also had him evaluated and enrolled in Special Education Pre-School which he qualified for because of his speech delays.  I think pre-school will be a great benefit to him- not just academically speaking, but socially and emotionally, so I'm really hoping (along with his early intervention team) that his new caretaker follows through with taking him to school and keeping him up to date with all of his appointments.  Apparently, kinship placements aren't held to quite the same standards as regular foster placements, so say, for instance, that his relatives don't feel like taking him to pre-school or having him continue speech therapy, they don't necessarily have to.  

-Speaking of appointments, both boys are now caught up on all of their immunizations- [the ones their mother didn't object to them having, that is].  That's the ironic thing about being a foster parent- I have all of the responsibility for a child- but I have no rights.  I make sure their hair is washed every day but I am not able to clip a hair of their heads without their parent's permission.  I'm the one who takes them to the doctor or comforts them when they're sick during the middle of the night  but I can't prevent them from getting sick if getting them vaccinated is against their parent's wishes.
In addition to the responsibility of taking them to their weekly visits to see their parents I also have the responsibility of consoling a screaming child when their parents don't show up for a visit- again.  After one such visit when his mom was a no show, I had the additional responsibility of attempting to calm Ty down afterwards.  We stopped at the grocery store before returning home and he kept throwing the biggest fit.  I got a lot of judgmental "Why can't you control your child!" stares from onlookers and I just had to suck it up and thought to myself, "Please don't judge unless you know the whole story:  First of all, I'm not his mom.  Second, this child has every right to be angry/scared/hurt/confused because his real mom- the one with all of the rights but none of the responsibility- can't show up to see him just one hour once a week!"   What kind of a message does that send to this little boy?
As for Ian, who just turned a year old, he is (thankfully) too small to really comprehend or feel rejected if his mom doesn't show up for a visit.  As for his father [the boys have different dads] he hasn't even bothered to see him.  Not once. 

-Over the past couple of months Ian has learned not only to  walk but to RUN and CLIMB ONTO EVERYTHING!  Scrapes, bumps, and bruises are not uncommon in rambunctious toddlers, but they are particularly nerve-racking for me as a foster parent because I must document and report anything which might possibly be mistaken for abuse.  Fortunately, we only had one major climbing incident/attempt with Ian which resulted in him having to get two stitches.  His mom seems to like me and has learned to trust me, so thankfully she didn't make a big fuss (or any accusations) out of it.  I wish I could say that was always the case in such circumstances.
   
So that's the latest with our eighth and ninth placements.  We'd like to take a bit of a breather before saying "yes" to a tenth placement, as I'm feeling rather drained and burnt-out- How many times have I said that before?  We'll see what happens.

1 comment:

Rissa said...

Hi!
I am a foster mom too. I have had parents not show up also. What has helped for us is to tell the kids we are going to go and see the case worker. That way if the bio parents don't show up it isn't traumatizing and if they do you can tell the kids before the bio parents come in the room that their parents have come to see them.

Also, thanks for writing your blog. I just found it have enjoyed reading.