Exactly three months from today I will be sitting in a courtroom (undoubtedly with butterflies in my stomach) waiting to hear what the future holds for our foster children: specifically whether or not they will be returning to the permanent care of one or both of their parents.
A kinship placement or adoption by relatives is out of the picture, so the alternative to reunification with their parents would be adoption by us as their foster parents. Unless, of course, the judge decides to give our foster children’s parents an extension [after they will have had almost a year to complete everything required of them in their Service Plans.] If that is the case, I’m not gonna lie when I say I’ll be really bugged- isn’t a year long enough? These children need permanency in their lives.
As for our own family, (not that what we think matters to a judge or that we have any say in things) it would be nice to have some stability one way or another rather than constantly living in limbo all the time and wondering if or how long our foster children will remain a part of our family.
Recently when friends and family members ask me if there’s anything new with our foster children’s case, which essentially translates into “How are their parents doing?” I can basically sum up my response with two words: It’s complicated.
I won’t go into details but it seems like there is literally some new development in the case every. single. week. My heart always races when I see their caseworker’s number on my caller I.D. or when she walks out of their visits with a distressed look on her face to tell me the latest news. “What now?” I think. “How can their situation possibly get any more complicated?” These new developments lead me to be more inclined to think their case will end in adoption rather than reunification. However, if the case does end in reunification these latest developments with their parents make me even more concerned for Jack and Jill’s welfare than I was a couple of months ago. I know that their caseworker and guardian ad liteum share my concerns.
I have no doubt that Jack and Jill’s parents love their children very much. I can only imagine the range of emotions that must be going through their minds at this critical point in time. I felt so bad for Jack and Jill’s mother, in particular, a few weeks ago when we all sat around a table together at a Family/Team Meeting and I had a clear view of her face. She looked defeated. Although she didn’t say anything, her lips were trembling and tears flowed freely down her cheeks. I could only speculate if her tears were caused by regret and guilt or from feeling overwhelmed by the realization of all she needs to change but has been putting off. Perhaps her tears were mingled with jealousy since her own little boy preferred to sit on my lap rather than on her own (though I purposely sat him down next to her at the beginning of the meeting) and her baby girl, whom she was holding, kept looking up from across the table to playfully coo or smile at me.
Now that we’re down to the last few months I think the very real threat of TPR is motivating Jack and Jill’s parents to complete everything they need to do to get their kids back in their care. Sometimes that is exactly what is needed for people to get their lives back together- because when you hit rock bottom there is nowhere else to go but up.