Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day Laziness Part 2

Unless it's this! Take out the tissues.

I've Been Detached

Yes, I have been putting things up just to take up space, as I have been of no mind to write.

It has not been work. It has not been blogworld drama.

I have been battling a very difficult decision, one which I only shared with a handful of people.

A year ago this week, I took a foster child into my home.

He was three (almost four) at the time, malnourished, bald (due to lice), and was not potty-trained. He was scared, and he had little to no social skills. He had never been to a ballpark, had never heard of Santa.

It has been a busy year.

We've conquered the potty monster, introduced a boy to an ocean, had a birthday party, played soccer, developed a studly spike hairstyle, had a bountiful Christmas, learned our ABC's, made cupcakes and cookies, and played tee-ball.

He has learned "please," "thank you," and at bedtime, we have shared many an "I love you." And I quickly became "mom."

We faced his natural parents in a court scheduled panel review in the spring, and it became obvious to me that they were no longer a viable option for placement. After nine months, they had not had one negative drug screen. Not one.

And so, I stressed.

He thought he was going back "home." But I knew better, and I wanted to be there for him to pick up the pieces. And the caseworkers wanted to know what had been plaguing me for weeks: if parental rights were to be terminated, would we adopt him?

Problem: This child is not perfect. What child is? He is passive-aggressive. He doesn't listen. He resists schedules and routines. He has nervous habits. The list goes on, but it pretty much goes with the territory. Additional work, love, stress...that's part of the deal.

I wanted a son. I would make the effort. I envisioned a grown man -with character, strength, and humility- calling me mom, opening doors for me, and sharing stories of his success. And of course, supplying me with a multitude of grandchildren to sugar up. ....But this isn't about me.

My husband did not bond with this child. He just didn't. I think he's always wanted a son too, but not this one. They just didn't click. And so I knew that he could not be the father that the boy deserves. And so...

I had to make the call. Then, voice mails unreturned, I walked in to the DFCS office. I announced to the appropriate people that not only would we not be able to adopt this child to whom I have been mom for a year, but we would not be adopting at all. Ever. "We are retiring," I told the head of placement.

She shook her head and was obviously disappointed. "I had heard, but I wasn't going to believe it," she said, "not until I heard it from you."

It has been three years, and we have had six long term placements, and while I know that I could be passionate about children forever, my family is burnt out, and I must respect that.

But I refused to let this child be shuffled back into the system. I know that we are not the only foster parents who have burned out. I also know that there are many, many less than ideal homes out there.

And so...I made a pest of myself. I know that there are classes every year in which new families are approved for foster/adoption. I also know that the psyche coming out of this class is optimal for giving, loving, bonding.

So I demanded that he go to an adoptive couple out of that class. Of course, no one had to listen to me, nor did they want to, as the paperwork on these folks takes months to approve. So other suggestions were made...

"How about placing him with these two ladies? They would like another boy."

And I thought: Yeah, I'll bet the freaks would. I know the mother/daughter pair. They are strange. And they already have two boys, and it actually seems to be working, but one of the boys is an absolute hellion. This I thought, but I said, "No, he needs to be the focus for a while with no sibling rivalry, and he needs a father figure."

The next suggestion was in favor of a single lady who never married, but wanted kids, and already had one placed with her.

Being certain that she already had as much as she could handle, I again reinforced the need for a father figure and inquired about couples having just finished the course.

Sigh. That involved work on the part of the understaffed DFCS office. I understood. I sympathize. But dammit, this is important.

"Well, there is this one couple. Your age, no kids. They have almost all of their paperwork turned in..."

I made her head spin. "Let's call. Now!" We called from her office, and I invited the couple to my foster son's tee-ball game.

They were excited. They came. They took one look at those big, blue eyes of his and fell in love instantly.

And as my heart began to leave my body, I was thrilled that I had saved him from the system. They would adopt, and he would have a mom and dad forever.

And I would have a few weeks to get used to the idea while the couple's paperwork was rushed through the approval process.

Those few weeks and the past few weeks have been one and the same. I couldn't really begin to deal, so being a procrastinater, I simply put off the inevitable.

The call came Friday. "Pack him up; he's ready to go!" And I swallowed hard and mustered a "Wonderful...how's seven?"

And so we came home and grilled burgers and did bath-time. I taped boxes and began filling them, and tried not to cry... not until he left. I couldn't let him see me upset.

He was going to a sleepover with the nice couple he had spent the last two Saturdays with! They were going to the lake!

We had discussed moving, new mommy and daddy, and did he think it would be nice to live with this new couple? He did.

He didn't get it. I looked into his inquiring blue eyes as he watched his possessions pile into a box and I knew... he just didn't understand.

And so they came. And we carried out his things. And I hugged him ten extra times, and told him I loved him over and over, even following him as he was put into the carseat to tell him one more time.

Only then did I let the tears fall.

I made the right decision. I know this. I will see him again. They will need a babysitter, and such precious gems are hard to come by.

But this weekend has been rough. ...It's a "mommy" thing.

From Key at Key Issues-Link on Sidebar

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