Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lesson # 3 Continued

This post was originally published in MEM's MEMOS on April 16, 2009.

Wednesday night after returning home from the Christmas Box House my niece showed up to help with the kids. I had dropped M. off at a neighbor’s house before picking Molly and her brother up and when my neighbor brought M. home she was excited to find some new “friends” at our house. M. and Molly got along famously, but it soon became apparent that M. was jealous of Molly’s little brother or the “baby” as she called him.

Thank goodness for an extra pair of hands! A couple hours later my mom and two of my sisters came over. I asked them to pick up some size 3 diapers and two to three gallons of milk from the store on their way over. Molly and her younger brother conveniently wore the same size diapers- size 3- while our once teeny little preemie now wears size 5’s!

My mom was able to spend the night and my sisters stayed until my husband got home. Despite a warm bath (definitely the most traumatic part of the evening for Molly & her brother), clean pajamas, extra pairs of hands for rocking the babies, and dimmed lights & lullabies, all three children were so wound up that they didn't end up falling asleep till after 11 p.m! Molly and her little brother were eager to explore their new environment and when Molly would point to the Nursery Rhyme wallpaper in M's room and smile I almost wondered if she was remembering our house. M. was definitely the most hyper of all three children- she thought our house was “Party Central” and enjoyed showing off not just for grandma, but to her two new friends.

That night can best be described as a big game of “Musical Beds & Musical Babies”. At bedtime my mom and I were sleeping in my bedroom, Molly’s brother was sleeping in the crib in the nursery and Molly was in M’s toddler bed in her room. My husband took M downstairs where they slept in the basement. By the time morning came, however, I was on the floor of M’s room next to Molly, M. was sleeping with my mom, and Jared (bless his heart) took charge of Molly’s baby brother who woke three or four times during the course of the night with a shrieking cry. (We suspect he had an earache as he seemed to do much better when we held him upright). As soon as Molly’s brother started crying it set off a chain reaction in the other children. I think it was hardest on M- as soon as she heard him cry she would cling on to my husband’s neck with a death grip and cry out repeatedly, “Daddy, Daddy- Baby!” She was so confused and I can only imagine how confused Molly’s brother must have been to wake up in a strange new environment without his mother to comfort him.

It was a difficult night to say the least and that was with three caregivers for three children. I imagined what it would be like to go through another night like that without the help of my mom and without my husband being able to stay home from work the next day- which is exactly what he did.

First thing in the morning we called the caseworker and told her that although we were willing to care for Molly and her brother temporarily we realistically knew that we couldn't do it on a permanent basis. She was understanding and asked us if we could keep Molly’s brother until the hearing on Tuesday. “Sure” we said. We were greatly relieved when she expressed her opinion that Molly was “home” and belonged with us even if that meant that her little brother would have to be placed somewhere else.

The next morning M. was excited to discover that her new “friends” were still at our house. She and Molly continued to have a good time playing, jabbering, and giggling with each other, but whenever Molly’s little brother would get close to my husband or I, M. would immediately jump up onto Jared’s lap, hug him tightly around his neck and possessively announce “MY Daddy!”

That afternoon Molly’s younger brother was able to take a long nap before we took them up to the DCFS office to visit their mom. My mom stayed home and watched M. while my husband accompanied me to the visit. (I don’t know how I would have been able to make it to the visit otherwise! I only have two hands and to get two toddlers and one baby buckled into my car and then unbuckled and carried into a building, while carrying at least one diaper bag in addition- would be quite the feat!)

After the visit I briefly met the new caseworker who would be taking over the case and I asked Molly’s mother about her kid’s routines: eating, napping, baths, bedtime, etc. I told her we’d take good care of her kids until Tuesday when everyone would know a little more about what was going on.

On our way home from the visit both kids fell asleep in the car. I stayed with them while Jared ran into the store to buy some clothes for Molly’s younger brother who only had a pair of pajamas and the clothes he was wearing when he was removed from the home. Molly and M. could share clothes for now since they were the same size.

A couple hours after the visit I got a call from the new caseworker. She informed me that she attended a meeting (It was actually a shelter hearing which was required 72 hours after children are removed from their home) where it was decided that the children should NOT have been split up and therefore needed to be brought back to The Christmas Box House. She told me she was sorry for putting me through this and asked if I could bring the kids back myself or if I would like her to come get them. I told her I could bring them back and then hung up the phone.

I was absolutely STUNNED. Although I was able to keep my composure and remain as "professional" and "objective" as possible on the phone with the caseworker I felt like Adam Sandler’s character in The Wedding Singer: Remember the scene the day after Robbie is jilted and his fiancĂ©e casually walks up to him and wants to give him an explanation? His reply to her is "That information... really would've been more useful to me YESTERDAY!" That's pretty much how I was feeling.

I immediately broke down as soon as I walked into M’s room and saw all three children happily playing together under my mom’s supervision. My mom was just as shocked and surprised as I was when I told her the news.

Less than 24 hours ago I picked these children up and took them into my home, only to be told that I had to take them back. Yes, it was inconvenient for me, but foster care isn't about ME and my needs (Lesson #10) it's about the children, right? So much for looking out for the child's best interest and reducing the amount of trauma and confusion they have to go through due to multiple placements!

I acted like a chicken running around with its head chopped off as I gathered up their few possessions and got the diaper bag ready. Molly became visibly upset and confused when my mom helped her get her coat on. It was obvious she didn’t want to go anywhere.

When I arrived at The Christmas Box House I could hardly talk between my sobs as I literally “handed them over” to the worker who opened the door for me. Molly’s little brother immediately started crying too and I told the worker I was worried he might have an earache or that he was teething. Molly just looked up at me with a blank stare as I kissed each of their little cheeks and told them good-bye. I returned the car seat I had borrowed and drove home. My husband didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye to Molly.

We would have to wait until after Tuesday’s hearing to know anything further.


Tuesday evening after waiting on pins and needles, we learned that the judge decided to extend the hearing one more week. Until then, he ordered that the children not be moved again and they remain at the Christmas Box House.

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