It seems like so long ago, yet not very long ago at the same time.
We moved into this house April 3rd.
We got the call for “the three” on April 6th.
On April 11th, we got a call saying that they wanted to set up delivery of “the three” (we hadn’t known we had been chosen!).
On April 13, 2011, our lives changed forever.
Now, when I got the call for “the three,” it was early in the morning on the 6th. I had already gotten another call that day and several calls that week. They were determined to fill up my house, it seemed. I really thought there was something about this sibling set though. Basically, I was only told a few things:
- cute, blonde little 2yo
- brother and sister were 3 and 5
- all three had some delays, mostly speech
- the one had a particular behavior many foster families won’t consider
- they did share what a previous foster family did in order to minimize that issue
- one required a pill daily forever more, but was stable
- they were being moved because they foster family kept using inappropriate discipline
Now, anyone who has fostered more than a month (remember, we got licensed March 3rd that same year) probably could see a few places they should have asked a few more questions. For example, why were all three delayed? Any diagnoses? Specialists? Therapies? So they’ve had at least 2 foster homes? Why did the other not work out (story a few posts down, btw)? I may have asked what behaviors were associated with the inappropriate discipline because though there are people who simply use unacceptable (for fostering) discipline, they usually do so in response to inappropriate or misunderstood behavior. What was that behavior? What reason were the children in care? Any other suspected issues?
But they were my second set of kids (though I do have previous experience with foster kids also).
So I got off the phone with my agency worker after the initial call just thinking a lot about these kids. A few hours later, I had talked to a friend who I thought could help me with the one particular concern’s fix. I mentioned them several times to my hubby and daughter. The next day, I figured we hadn’t been chosen; but the kids still didn’t leave my mind. Were they okay? What kind of home did they get? Wonder if they’ll come back up one day.
And they did. As I said, April 11th, the children’s worker called the agency to see if I could accept the children on the 13th. My worker confirmed I still even wanted the kids. I expressed the slightest concern about the one issue, but said we’d work it out. We were told to put the 2yo in with the 5yo (we had four boys and “the girl” at the time so to even out rooms that is what we did. In our state, for children under six, you can put opposite gender in the same room).
Anyway, so the 13th came. We picked up the house, enjoyed the two boys already living here, and waited. A phone call said they’d be delayed as they had forgotten something so had to turn halfway back to meet someone to get it. I don’t remember what that was. So they were going to be a little late. Okay. It was a long drive as it was. The children are from a town about 2½ hours away.
The kids got to the house and my first reaction was that they were so cute. They were tiny, outgoing, energetic, and precious. My second thought was that I couldn’t understand a single word any of them said! Between their speech issues and their accent, we were going to have some difficulty talking with them! Third thing that came up with the sheer amount of stuff they brought. The other foster home had decided to close (though the agency had suggested they simply take only one child at a time, one with fewer issues); so they sent all the stuff they had accumulated to foster (table and chair set, outdoor toys, blocks, etc). We put it all in the garage til I could go through it.
Mostly, at first, they played and watched tv with my other boys while I did paperwork. My daughter helped “babysit” so I could focus on getting through everything. It was A LOT. I found out that the children had been in care a LONG time, with many cases. I was given previous “common apps” (the paperwork CPS uses to get homes for foster kids), court documents, medical forms, birth certificates, IEPs, etc. I got names and numbers for CASA, GAL, therapists, doctors, etc. It was information overload really. The worker said she’d send more more in email as she found it.
Note to new foster parents: This is a situation where the state had a LOT more information than they let on in the common app. They just wanted a home for these kids. Thankfully, they found a good one that worked out. But in order to protect yourself, ASK QUESTIONS! Also, in a situation like this (a foster placement disruption), you could ask to speak to the foster parents, agency, or worker directly to get more information.
So the PLAN was that a family member would adopt them. The parents hadn’t seen the children since removal. There were no visits. CPS was D*O*N*E with giving services and returning the children. A case closure in the past was supposed to make it where the kids had never gone back anyway! So there were family members who wanted the children. As soon as they were cleared, the kids would move to them. Cool. Hopefully another short term placement. I was thinking short term placements at first might be good for us to get our feet wet. The boys would be going home “soon” and these three probably wouldn’t be here very long either.
During the rest of the day, I had a lot of learning to do about the children. It took time to get to understand them. And the 5yo kept trying to be mom to the boys (wiping noses, asking about diapers, etc). I kept taking over, but she was determined to take care of them. She was in charge. That night, Tumbler helped my daughter and I take inventory of all their stuff. She was too incredibly cute. That let her brothers play without her hovering for awhile also.
At bedtime, she said something about taking care of the boys and I responded, “How about *I* will be the mama and YOU be the five year old?” She smiled and turned away to let me do so. When I put her to bed (she went last as it worked out best in order for me to get each kiddo in with some personal attention), she started talking about checking on her brothers and such. John, my then 16yo, was in the hallway and asked what was wrong with the boys. I was sure he wasn’t asking about developmental delays or health issues, so I was a bit stumped. He says, “well, she says she needs to check on them.” I told him that at her home (and probably, to some extent, previous foster homes) she had to be mama to them. And I detailed some of what I had been told. He got it. How I wish *I* had truly understood what was going to happen regarding all this (let’s just say that she didn’t, later, just smile and let me take over).
Here is a picture from April 17, 2011 (the Memorial for Christ Jesus that year). To give you an idea how tiny they were….The boys were about to turn 3 and 4 years old (within the month). The clothing each is wearing is size 12-24month!
Today, in 2013, we did family day. It just worked out that it was on the 2yr anniversary of their arrival. It wasn’t really planned that way. It was a very nice day with presents and a beautiful fruit tart. At various times, we talked about how much they’ve changed and stayed the same. We talked about how neat it was for them to be here. And that two years is a big deal. We talked about forever family and when they could/might leave (grown, married, have kids of their own). One said he was staying. The other said he was leaving as soon as he was grown. Tumbler thinks married is a good time 🙂 As I learned with my first two, plans change. We’ll just hope for the best regardless.
Tonight we put the kids down for bed. Two years. Wow.