Saturday night, after I had already gone to sleep, I received a series of texts from the biological grandmother of my three. MeMe sent a number of pictures. One was of her late husband whose resemblance to my middle son is uncanny. Several were of the children with their cousins. A couple were from when they lived in another foster home. About that last one, I texted and asked if she knew those people’s names. She said yes, gave me the names and then gave me their email address! WoW!
So the next day, I email PFM (previous foster mom). After a brief introduction, I said, “the children have had so many homes. I have just been trying to piece together a timeline, pics/stories of their past, etc. If you have time, I’d love anything you can offer.” I ended it with, “Thank you so much for taking care of my children before I could.”
The next afternoon, when we were playing quietly, “resting” a bit, I got an email response. The fostermom was incredibly happy to hear from me, would be happy to send some pictures and stories, etc. She said I could call her. Well, immediately, my email box starts receiving emails with 15-23 pictures each! I opened them up showing the kids. As far as I could tell, the children didn’t remember much. When I talked about them, I said their first names. Swimmer did pop off with “Daddy PFD.” I thought he was saying “daddy” and then correcting himself. However, when I called the PFM, she said they called them “Mommy PFM” and “Daddy PFD” Hmmmm. So maybe he remembered?
Anyway, so I did call her almost immediately. She was thrilled to hear from me. I was thrilled to hear from her. A few keypoints:
- They had my kids from June 2009 through March 2010.
- T-lo showed signs of attaching well at that time.
- Swimmer cried A LOT, most of each day and night. It was exhausting and they almost disrupted placement because it was so extreme (reminded me of a certain little girl I miss).
- Tumbler had some significant issues and concerns (we saw the psych report from that time period so knew most of what she said).
- The children were their first placement.
- They had hoped to keep them forever.
- They fought reunification blacklisting themselves from that county’s system forever; so when the kids came back into care, no one would even consider them. This is something I have a HUGE issue with. It wasn’t in the children’s best interest to be reunited. No, we can’t fight RU as foster parents; but they were just trying to advocate for the children! And when the kids came back into care, it most certainly would have had positives to go back to a family they knew well! But again, CPS isn’t for the children past removal from the home. Sad.
- Because of that, the family almost quit fostering. Their hearts were broken. They had also learned the truth about “the system.”
Anyway, so there were stories good and bad. There was obvious love in her voice. She was so happy they were now somewhere permanently, safe and doing well. Also, they are a homeschool family also enjoying it for many of the same reasons we do 🙂
One more thing. They didn’t quit fostering. And last year, they welcomed two toddlers into their home forever. They also had another “tummy baby.” Here are some pics she sent me of Tumbler, Swimmer, and T-lo:
After I got off the phone, I thought about how I should have asked her how she got from her anger at the broken system and sadness of losing “her children” to continuing to foster anyway, eventually adopting. How do you get back on that horse knowing full well that you may not be able to protect later children from what the system decides to do against the children’s best interests and that you’re going to hurt like crazy when that happens?
Fast forward about twenty-four hours, I’m sitting in the Starbucks parking lot as my son ran in to get coffees. I read the email from the people Sweet Little M is with. When I felt the overwhelming sense that she isn’t coming back and that she is doing better (I *knew* she was struggling!), I also thought, “so now we have to decide if we, like my children’s PFM and PFD, will continue on, giving children the best chance we can give them while they are here until we find our forever children.” Hmmmm.
So get this. We get home and as I’m talking to the speech therapist, I get a call that says our old agency worker’s name. I ignore as I’m talking but I then listen to the message. They are calling about a placement, a 4yo girl and a 2yo boy. Please call back.
Wait! Wait a minute! Hey!!!! Wait!
My head is spinning. Hubby and I have talked about fostering more; but because we were unable to take any children in the last month, we hadn’t made a final decision. As far as we knew, we still couldn’t take children due to this other situation so didn’t HAVE to make a final decision. Well, and we’re grieving and can take as long as we want. Little M is not replaceable and trying to “fill that hole” with another child is a BAD idea in many ways. We have to take children with the understanding we are ready to move forward….if we are.
I call hubby. He was much more sure than I was. I try processing my feelings with him. I might be there.
I call the agency. I first tell her that I’m not sure we’re able to take kids yet. She says she’ll check. She then tells me about the kids though it was an alternative app, not a full app, because they called our agency specifically. See, the kids had been in care about two years ago and in one of our agency’s homes. In fact, as I learned in the follow up phone call, I had actually met these kids at the home of a foster parent who lives in our subdivision two years ago! I asked several questions. It seemed contrived. I told her that my head was spinning as I didn’t think I *could* take kiddos AND that we’re still grieving so trying to process taking children yet.
Well, the kids aren’t coming. Our agency worker emailed and asked what children we would like to consider and what we would not consider. My reply:
- Ultimately 0-7 girl, possibly with a younger sibling.
- Better if 18m-4y girl, again, possibly with a younger sibling.
- I would consider most combinations of infant, toddler, preschooler (for example, 15mo boy and 4mo girl was one we had in 2011)
- One or two children, prefer not part of a larger sibling group.
- No severe developmental or medical issues.
- Out of region is cool (love our iseeyou worker).
So, I guess we’re back on the list. I’m going to be extra careful. Do I feel it? I’m not hesitating saying no, even if I have to do it 1400 times. When we are fully ready and it is right, we’ll say yes. Regardless, the core members of this family, especially “the three” MUST come first.
But secretly? I’m hoping. I really think that the combination of the update about Sweet Little M and the conversation with my children’s PFM made all the difference in the world for me. It may not be perfect, but it might help me move on, honoring Little M in healthier ways and with happier memories 🙂