Saturday, April 26, 2008

woe is me

Today was Sweet Pea's first visit with mom. The three other kids were there as well, but I arrived first and had time to talk with mom.
She was open and honest with me about her issues. She thanked me over and over again for taking care of her baby. She remarked how great he looked and how happy she was he was in a good home.
It was quite pleasant compared to so many of the clients I worked with as a CM. Not just their treatment of me as the evil CPS worker, but many of them were just unpleasant all around, even to the foster parents.

The worker supervising the visit was 20 minutes late. When she arrived, she informed me I would have to leave, as would the other foster mom. We were both a bit surprised as Mom was fine with us being there. I told her my concerns with Sweet Pea's adjustment issues and that this was his nap time. She called her supervisor, then said that I needed to get approval from the CM. For now, we would have to go.

I think I counted to 45 in my head before the screaming started.
They had to go outside because of another meeting in the room, so Mom suggested we leave. At least she had the common sense to know a 3 month old in 93 degree heat for an hour is not a good thing.
I had to wait and calm him down before we left or he'd scream the entire ride home. All in all, we were there just under an hour, about 40 minutes of it pleasant.

As a CM I worked with many many foster parents. Most were wonderful, but there were a few who couldn't let go. They argued about almost everything with a reason for every gripe. And even though I knew in my heart they were trying to protect the children in their care, it was annoying. So much so I found myself frequently tuning them out.

I am afraid of becoming one of these.

On the other hand, I am compelled to request some changes for Sweet Pea's sake. Morning visits that don't interfere with his long nap, shorter visits, one on one visits so mom can focus, and also so her visits with the other three older kids she can play with them.

I am quite melancholy this afternoon and I couldn't put my finger on it until a short time ago.

I am torn as a foster parent wanting to adopt.
I am starting to think this may not be a good fit for me.

As a foster parent, our goal HAS TO BE to assist in reuniting children with their parents whenever possible. To ASSIST the state in their goals.
How can I do this when I have my own goals??

Right this moment it popped into my head that I'm a fake mommy.
I know that's stupid, but it's lingering around in there.

Mom made a comment asking if I had any children. I told her no.

She said 'when you do you'll be a great mom'.

most of the shit doesn't stick, but this comment is haunting me.

I don't know why but I feel myself at an emotional cross roads. I feel as though I am in limbo, not becoming anything.
I realize I am doing something wonderful for this little boy.
But what about me?


Yondalla said...

I don't have a better solution, but foster-adopt sometimes seems to me to be the worst idea ever. What is asked of foster parents is just impossible. When else do we ask people to work contrary to their motivations for being involved in a task?

hope548 said...

I can't imagine how difficult it would be, especially when you're hoping to adopt. I know I would quickly get attached to a child and it would be heart-breaking to give them up, especially if I knew where they were going and wasn't happy about it.

It sounds like you've got some things to think about. Good luck with that.

seansmommy said...

I have never done foster care - I am not sure I have the heart for it. I did one foster type situation a few year back and even now my heart breaks when I think of that little boy and how much I miss him. I don't think I would be functioning if I had to do it again.
I am an adoptive mom. I just want to say that while I do not think I could do what you do, I am in such awe of the people who have the courage to do it. This little guy is benefiting tremendously from what you are giving him, his life will forever be better because of you. No matter the outcome.
I wanted to suggest (and please forgive me if I am out of line) maybe you could consider other adoption avenues, while still doing the foster to adopt program. This way you could continue to do the good you are doing, leave yourself open to completing an adoption with this (or any other child), while still being able to parent without the more emotional difficulties.

Janine said...

You've brought up an issue I've been puzzled about for years. Here in Australia we don't have your system of foster-to-adopt. In fact, when new carers are being trained it is emphasised that this is not the way to grow a family, and couples with fertility issues are often advised to reconsider fostering, because the initial plan for children coming into care is always reunification. Yes, down the track, after months or more likely years of failed attempts at reunification, the foster family usually have the opportunity to take on long-term care (legal guardianship but not usually adoption) of the child, but in the meantime the foster carer is expected to work hard at sending the child home. I can't see how anyone can do that, when their greatest wish is to have that child for ever. My heart is with you Steph, as it was when your last little one went home to Grandma (as my little Angel looks like doing soon). You tread a difficult path.

Bea said...

Hard to balance. Your needs should count, too. But obviously, so must everyone else's. I can't answer whether foster care is the best thing or not, but I'm wishing you the strength and wisdom to answer that question for yourself.


OHN said...

I would love to personally restructure the entire system. It is one of those plans that is supposed to create happiness and yet it seems to make so many peoples lives sad and disconnected. From the child placed (sometimes several places) to the family that craves to nurture and raise that child, to the people that think that biology rules above common sense. Sometimes I want to smack someone upside the head and wake them up.

I hope this gets easier for you. It has to be very very difficult being in the middle.

Tricia said...

What I think about the foster care system, I cannot put into words. Some things work, some things don't. And I'll stop there.

What I take from reading this post is that we are lucky to have done foster care in the county we reside.

What the hell is wrong with these social workers?? (Can you hear my keys banging???) I know from experience that they act in a possessive manner about the children on their caseload and that there is a fine line between caring for a child and over involvement (but it's important to love and bond with the child you have, just not too much...yeah, yeah, yeah) in the eyes of the worker.

They are supposed to support reunification and the needs of the child. Tell me please, how is it in Sweet Pea's best interest to bond with a new caregiver and then be abandoned by said caregiver when they visit with bio family? At nap time!!

Perhaps a course in child development would help these social workers.

This is clearly not a case of an over involved foster parent.

OHN said...

Just stopped by to check in and see how you are doing :)

Julie said...

I hear you about being the protective parent and being tuned out. I heard it from the CPS worker about my children's former foster parents. (We did foster adopt) Boy, am I grateful that they pushed so hard for the girls. Sadly though, they pushed too hard, and now I am told from the worker that they won't be getting anymore children -because they weren't compliant enough.
I too, suggested changes in visitations with family. At times that were convenient for the children - as opposed to the workers and family. Avoiding nap time - taking the kids to a park next door instead of a office room with worn out toys under florescent lights. Keep up the fight. Tread lightly and take care of yourself. Each child comes to your care as a learning experience. Your time will come - keep the faith.

Patyrish said...

It's DEFINITLY a balancing act of not being a pain in the butt foster mom but also sticking up for foster baby. I try so hard not to be annoying but also to protect little J.