6 insane weeks!

Got a call for a placement, they were moving foster homes… this is apparently never good.  We’ll call them B14 and B9, sister and brother respectively, and the numbers refer to their ages.  They asked if I could pick them up.  The agency is over an hour away, but I said yes because otherwise these kiddos would be stuck in a room in an office all day until someone could make the drive out to us.  I was told very little, this is normal.  They said there were no issues, but that the parents were highly motivated to bring them back home.  They were well off, had money, private attorneys, they would be covering their healthcare costs, paying for food and clothing.  I would need to do very little.  It seemed easy enough so we said yes.

When I picked up the kids B14 didn’t speak to me, just rolled her eyes.  B9 was excited and talkative, he seemed interested in learning about me and the boys.  I wasn’t phased by B14, I sort of expected it and thought about how I would feel in her shoes.  So I let her have her feelings and reacted neutrally.  Our first stop after picking them up was Meijer the local big box store.  I asked them if they needed any essentials, and we had to pick up new blankets and sheets for their beds.   Then we headed to the grocery isles, and I asked them what they liked to eat.  B9 offered tons of suggestions, B14 rolled her eyes again and said she probably liked the normal things that we liked.  She did select some almond milk, ice cream, and cereal she liked.  When B9 was occupied, I asked her if she needed any tampons or anything, she said no.  She seemed to drop the attitude a bit, and I continued to act like I didn’t notice.

We finally made it home, and I gave them a quick two minute tour then showed them their rooms.  B14 with attitude asked what the rules were.  I told her we’d play it by ear because I had never had older kids before.  I told her I was going to go prepare dinner and would let them unpack and settle in the rest of the day.  In between that time I was forwarded a barrage of emails from the kids Biological mother and father.  In them the mother gave me long and very detailed descriptions of her children, their habits, what to watch for etc.  In another email, their Father sent me calendar invites to the kids schedules.  It looked rather intense.  Three days a week therapy in a town over an hour away.  I had to transport.  Next week B14 started Volley Ball Camp… Every.  Single.  Day! Thankfully the camp was close to home.  There were a few additional appointments that I had to make as well, standard intake proceedure, as well as two 4-hour visits per week, one with mom and one with dad.  Even if I didn’t work part time I wouldn’t be able to do it all!

I contacted the caseworker who was of course not available to talk at the moment.  It was Friday, I knew I wouldn’t talk to her until Monday.  Looks like next week I had better cancel my life.  I was not counting on this, nor was I happy about it.  I am supposed to be able to drop my life and help these kids, but at some point I get to draw the line right?  I hoped I could work something out.  For now, we should just enjoy the weekend.

Late that night B14 dropped the attitude and actually came out and talked to us.  She was a sweetheart, then told me her first foster home was a nightmare.  She was glad she was here.  She also seemed a little defensive as she started to tell me how her parents were well off and that they were going to buy a house bigger than ours this summer until all of this happened with B9.  I could sense the resentment she had towards her brother, and the pride she had in her parents.  I didn’t want her to feel like less of a person because she was staying in a foster home.  It has nothing to do with how much money you make, nor should it.  It has everything to do with appropriate parenting.

I hadn’t met her parents yet, but I could sense that I would like them.  Their emails showed the care, and didn’t even hint at any kind of neglect or hatred towards the kids.  I didn’t want to come to any conclusions yet, but I felt that this case shouldn’t have happened.  The problem was that B9 was insisting that physical abuse had occurred.  Little did I know then, but B9 was adopted at age 3 to his parents.  Before that he was in foster care.  Before that… not much is known except maybe that he was neglected.  Those first years are CRUCIAL!  Neglect is damaging, sometimes for life!  The therapy sessions that were scheduled were mainly for B9, with one including family counseling.  I learned all of this over the course of the next few weeks.

B9 was a sweetheart right from the start.  But I started to notice a few things.  Food disappearing particularly sugar, attention seeking, hyper activity, and more.  He became uncontrollable.  He terrorized my dogs, he terrorized the toddlers, then the last straw was he turned on the toaster oven and put papers on top.  I noticed the kitchen felt hot and thankfully turned it off, but the paper was turning brown.  I can’t say for sure, but I felt that it was done on purpose.  I did not address the issue with B9, I simply unplugged the toaster oven, and started to become a lot more watchful.  The other thing I noticed was how accident prone B9 was, he was constantly getting scratched and brused because he was so active and wild.

The next day I met the kids parents.  They were warm and wonderful.  Both kids were happy to see them, even B9.  We all sat down for dinner, then afterword they played a family game.  Before the night was through both parents spent some intimate alone time with both kids.  Nothing about that visit seemed alarming.  Both parents are hard working professionals, they care, they love their kids, they were kind and reminded me of my own parents.  Again, I didn’t want to doubt the potential abuse, but that first meeting made it really hard to believe.  My husband and I bonded with the kids parents easily.

In the coming weeks with some very careful planning and help from a few friends, I managed to nagivate the kids schedules.  And eventually the caseworker was able to provide some relief.  B14 finished volley ball camp and got signed up for classes.  B9 made all of his appointments.  The family had therapy sessions, and B9 did theraplay with M & D.  I started to see that M & D were very aware of B9’s issues from his life before he came to them.  They were dedicated to getting him the help he needed to be successful.  It was beautiful to watch.

I won’t lie and say it all went smoothly.  It was stressful on everyone.  So much so that B9 and B14 got into a physical fight in front of my toddlers.  This was mainly due to B14’s resentment.  She was proud, she knew she didn’t belong in foster care and she blamed B9.  I know this was not mature of B14… but remember, she is 14, she isn’t .  By this point I was starting to wonder if taking in four kids was a bad idea.  This was intense, it was more than I could handle.  I was snapping at the kids, my husband, ready to hit my breaking point.  However thankfully… the kids parents had gotten a court date moved up and were looking at reunification.  This was a rather unusual case, the family had a very expensive private attorney and were on top of everything.  They did not miss a beat.  It was amazing to watch.  The judge found that there was not enough physical evidence to find that B9 was abused.  Based on that and the testimony of the families therapist and B9’s doctor they were able to reunite the family!  Everyone was happy, including B9!  Despite all that he accused his parents of, he really missed them.

Do I feel like there was abuse?  Well, if anything they might have spanked him.  I don’t spank, but I know parents who do, I was spanked.  It’s hard to say if that’s abuse or not.  I do know that the love they share, and the dedication the parents put into their kids was awe inspiring.  I’m sorry but I’ve seen worse parents… I don’t mean to say that I think it’s okay to spank.  If anything, I think the parents learned a valuable lesson, and got B9 into some great therapy.  He was a tiresome kid… needing attention constantly, running, jumping, hyper all the time!  But in the grand scheme of things, I feel this reunification was right, and wonderful!