R went home a week ago. It was bittersweet. He was so, so attached to D (which is something D and I are going to have to talk about before we get another kid – more on that below). When we dropped him off, he didn’t want to go with his mom, he didn’t want to go with me, he only wanted to stay in D’s arms. It’s a one-month trial, but I’d be willing to bet at the next court date, reunification will be made permanent. And I’m happy for them both. His mom is not a bad person, she’s actually very sweet and had some very bad luck in life and is now getting the support she needs. And knowing ahead of time that reunification would be happening means we were all prepared for it.
We’ve had a LOT of calls in the last week for sibling sets. There were two that we almost took, but they turned out to not be good situations for us. In both cases, it was extremely likely the kids would go to relatives soon and we’d be stuck picking up the pieces. I have some thoughts on the new(ish) preference for relatives to be caregivers. In cases where the kids know the relatives well, I think it can be good. In cases where the kids don’t know them, I don’t always think it’s the best. For one thing, the parents are likely to pressure the relatives to break the rules and let them have access to the kids, which can make things very uncomfortable and possibly dangerous for all parties. Also, the kids often go into foster care first until a relative is vetted and commits to doing all the training, which then results in additional moves for the kids, which I don’t think is the best option. If the kids can be placed with the relatives on an emergency basis while the relatives get approved for kinship care, I think that can work out great, assuming the relatives are able to maintain appropriate boundaries with the parents, but otherwise I think it’s best for the foster family to just help create a relative relationship with the kids in the same way it would happen normally. That’s something that D and I have ALWAYS supported – we loved it when our kids’ relatives wanted to be actively involved in their lives.
After the call we got yesterday, though… I’m about ready to give up. It’s hard to be foster parents when we both work full time, but I’m willing to try to go with it. I still miss N horribly and wish that case had turned out differently, considering we were told when he came to us that it was likely to be permanent. It sucked that he was moved to a relative without any warning whatsoever. It sucked that I don’t believe the relative was fully vetted, although I think he’s going to be ok. It sucked that we weren’t able to give two weeks’ notice to daycare, although luckily our daycare provider didn’t make us pay for the extra two weeks. It sucks in general that we aren’t reimbursed enough to cover our expenses. I don’t want to make money off of foster care, but I don’t think we should be paying out of pocket, especially when we’re also using a lot of our vacation time to take these kids to visits (in D’s case, almost all of his vacation time) and that we’re risking our jobs when we’re always taking time off. But yesterday we got a call about two little boys who were just coming into care. I specifically asked if it was a long term situation, and was told there was no information. I said yes, even though I was a little worried how soon it was after R going home. I left work early to pick up the toddler bed I had loaned to my sister and to clean up the house a bit. A few hours later, I got a phone call from the social worker, who asked what I knew, and I said I was told there was no information. She told me the kids had been in an emergency home and needed to move to another home while relatives were vetted, and that they would be moved to a relative as soon as they were cleared. I was pretty angry. We’ve been pretty specific about not wanting short term placements, and as much as we REALLY want to take sibling sets, it’s a lot harder to coordinate than just one kid. If the kids had already been in care for several days, why weren’t we at least told the basic information? So I told the social worker that we couldn’t take a short-term placement. If we did that and D got attached again and the kids went home, I’m pretty sure that would be the end of foster care for D.
So the reason R was so attached to D is because when we had our first foster kid, I would cook dinner as usual. Then I would take her upstairs for bathtime, playtime, and bedtime (because at first she would only let me put her to bed). I would finally come downstairs hours later to find that D had done NOTHING the entire time I was upstairs, other than watch videos on his tablet and/or play video games. The kitchen was a mess, nothing had been prepped for the next day, and I was exhausted. I finally insisted that he had to start doing bathtime at the very least, so I could clean the kitchen (which I don’t really think was fair, but it was the only way the kitchen would ever get cleaned up, and I was tired of trying to cook in a messy kitchen day after day). That pattern has continued to this day, with D doing bathtime and evening playtime while I am by myself downstairs cleaning and doing chores. Gradually, all of the kids got attached to D more than to me, and in some ways I didn’t mind because it meant it wasn’t so hard to say goodbye.
I don’t think this is a pattern that should continue though. D really should be pulling his weight more, and I should be bonding with kids more. For one thing, it’s been harder on D than on me to see the kids go (except for N, who was really attached to me). I’m not sure how to bring it up though, since D gets really resentful if I imply he’s shirking chores. He DOES do a lot around the house, but I usually just do all the difficult/unpleasant tasks myself and let him do all the easy ones, just to avoid a fight. He will generally only do a chore if it’s something he can do while watching videos on his tablet or phone, and it’s honestly starting to drive me a little nuts.
All in all, I think we need a break from fostering for a while.
Speaking of taking a break from fostering, I have two things on my schedule that are keeping me busy:
1. I’m taking summer school! Both classes are online and both are great for my job (and can possibly be used for a certificate in my field if I decide to go for it).
2. We’re moving along with prepping for private adoption. We have a social worker to do our homestudy update (and that has been the biggest headache of the year, between our original homestudy missing a page, never to be found, and our adoption agency dragging their feet interminably with helping us to update our homestudy) and we actually have all the forms we need to update our criminal clearance which, surprise!, needs to be updated. But the end is in sight! I’m really hoping we’ll be able to go live with our profile in August, when I will be turning…. old.
We’re moving along with prepping for private adoption. We have a social worker to do our homestudy update (and that has been the biggest headache of the year, between our original homestudy missing a page, never to be found, and our adoption agency dragging their feet interminably with helping us to update our homestudy) and we actually have all the forms we need to update our criminal clearance which, surprise!, needs to be updated. But the end is in sight! I’m really hoping we’ll be able to go live with our profile in August, when I will be turning…. old.