If you’re a foster parent maybe you asked yourself the same thing before committing to this crazy life. After our stint as an Emergency Shelter Home (2-30 day foster parents) for our first two boys, we realized that long term foster parents were really what were needed. It’s not good for kids to bounce around getting attached here and there. In our county they first go to a wonderful children’s home for up to 29 days getting attached to those caregivers (my cousin works there! And knew our first foster sons before they were placed with us!) and then by law need to leave if they’re under 5. So if a long term placement hasn’t been found yet, they go into an ESH home like we were. But then they’re spending 30 days (because somehow it always ends up being the full 30 days allowed!) getting attached to someone else before moving on to their long term foster family, if they’ve found one. That’s what happened to Midge…30 days with an ESH home over Christmas of 2010 and then she came to us on December 30.
By the time Midge came to us, we had decided to change from being an ESH home to being a fost-adopt family. What’s the worst that could happen? we asked each other. We could get a child, fall in love with them, have them for a year (because that is the official time limit for infants in foster care, we were told. Ha!), and then lose them to a situation that we didn’t think was safe for them. Could we handle that worst case scenario? we asked ourselves. Okay, we feel like this is what God wants…we’ll do it, and He will give us the strength if it comes to that, we decided.
It’s a very good thing that we can’t read the future. God is a tricky one, calling people to march into deserts, not knowing where their food will come from. To move away from homes “to a land that I will show to you.” To become foster parents without having a clue how things really work in the system. Because if we did know, most of us wouldn’t be quite as willing to jump in.
Because the worst that could happen isn’t one year of attaching to a child and having her reunified. It is two years of monitoring visitations which is a part time job in itself that we weren’t fully informed about, two years of emotional rollercoasters, two years of a precious baby bonding with a family, and then a sudden reunification that makes all of us, Midge included, nervous at best and sad and terrified at the worst.
And that’s what is happening.
The fight on our part is over…Midge is reunifying with her biological father in the coming weeks. We’re starting 8 hour visits and will begin overnights at Thanksgiving, I’m guessing. All of the attorneys and workers agree that this is the end of the line. As expected, the year of delays gave her father the extra time he needed, and he finished his case plan this week. We’ve been told that no matter how Baby is responding to the visitations, and no matter what timelines the court should have followed and didn’t, and no matter if things were falsified by the county in the past to bring about this outcome, and no matter how attached she is to us and how traumatic it will be for her to leave…because her father’s case plan is finished and because he is no longer considered a danger because of the time that has passed and the classes he has taken, she will most likely move in with him before Christmas. Of course, there could be a sudden failure on his part in a few key areas, but with his history over the past several months, nobody expects that to happen. So we move to the next step of preparing to say goodbye.
I will write more in the coming weeks. Right now we alternate between crying and looking for distractions to keep us occupied and our minds in different places. Greg distracts himself with politics, I distract myself with caring for children.
We could all use your prayers. For our boys as they lose their sister. For Greg and I as we lose our daughter. For Midge as she loses everything and everyone familiar to her.
Our list continues:
50. G: the boys’ beds which are pushed together making one big bed
51. L: the mist over the reservoir on the morning after we found out
52. L: the light on the mountains today