I’ve started this post approximately 42 times. I keep erasing everything I type because I’m not even sure what I want to say. I feel the need to keep people updated about where we are, but I also feel like we’re living in a bad Disney XD show—same basic plot, different episode.
While the day to day is always changing, the overall feeling we have about what direction we’re going is the same. By that, I mean we really know nothing.
That’s the thing about foster care. It’s a lot of knowing nothing. When E first came to us two days shy of three months old, we didn’t know her last name or birthday until she had been with us four days. It took even longer to get anyone to answer the bajillion questions we had about the tiny human being that had been dropped into our home in the early evening on a Tuesday with a few diapers and no real instructions. Now that I think about it—I didn’t even have a phone number to call someone that first night. If we were living in a novel, that would have been the foreshadowing detail.
Since our court date in July, we’ve gotten a new case worker and a new case assistant. The visitation schedule has changed multiple times, and this week, we found out we’re getting a new judge.
It feels like a lot sometimes.
I’ve said over and over that as a military family, we’re built for foster care. We have years of practice with “going with the flow” of things. Early in Scott’s career, there were times when he was only home long enough to do his laundry before leaving again. We planned Ben’s conception around a deployment. One of our neighbors in Charleston once called on a Wednesday morning and said, “I know Kid’s party was supposed to be Saturday, but Husband just got a call that he has to leave tonight. Can you come over like…right now?” And we had cupcakes at eight o’clock in the morning. We’re made for spontaneous, quick-thinking, shifting of priorities. As the prophet Tim Gunn implores us—we make it work.
We had a meeting with our case worker last week, and he went over the plan moving forward. Without sharing all the nitty gritties, I can say that there are essentially two things that could happen between now and our next court date in January: 1) Parental rights could be terminated, or 2) the case could be extended 3-6 months, giving the girls’ parents more time to complete their service plans. (If you want the nitty gritties, pick a morning, and I’ll put on a pot of coffee while the girls watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.)
We literally have no way of knowing what is going to happen, and we could drive ourselves crazy talking in circles about the millions of factors that will go into that decision. At this point, short of the judge calling me directly on my cell phone and telling me what is going to happen at court, I would not place any bets on anyone’s predictions. Also, that won’t happen. Nothing in this process is ever straightforward.
So, we continue living life. Since I last wrote, the girls’ mom and I have started emailing each other directly which is great. She can ask me questions, and I can send her updates of the girls with pictures. Whatever the outcome of this case (reunification or adoption), I think it’s crucial that I have as strong a bond as possible with their mom. I’ve been trying to support her the best way I can. I’ve told her that I will drive her to appointments if she needs me to, and I bought her prenatal vitamins when I found out she hadn’t seen a doctor since her initial appointment to confirm her current pregnancy. I find that a lot of people have a gut reaction to be really critical of her, and I get that, but I also have a well of empathy for her.
Other things of note: F continues to wow us. She loves singing her ABCs. She’s starting to identify colors. She has an incredible memory and is very particular about the way she goes about her days. E has started walking. She has a temper, but her fits are short-lived. This week, we moved them into the same bedroom for nighttime, and that’s going surprisingly well.
On the most recent episode of This Is Us, Randall and Beth became foster parents to a 12-year-old girl named Deja. She arrived angry and skeptical. This conversation followed:
Randall: Every time someone's told me something was going to be really hard, it hasn't been that hard...I study, I train--it's not that hard. I think this finally might be the thing that's as hard as everyone says it is.
Beth: It’s only been three hours.
Honestly, that little conversation is the one I have with myself daily. I start to feel completely overwhelmed by the weight of the situation, and then I remind myself that I’m being dramatic. My friend, Lynda, posted this on Facebook last night:
That’s it. Love is where we live right now.
10 months and six days down.