It has been about two months since my last update. I have a general rule that I try to write when I’m at peace and not from a place of anger or frustration—both in an effort to respect all parties involved and also as an act of self-care. I try to say things out loud that I can’t say in print and then focus on progress when sharing with the world.
Because people get confused, these are the children involved:
F=almost 3 years old, came to us on February 10, 2017
E=almost 2 years old, came to us on December 6, 2016
K=5 months old, lives with another family but is sister to F and half-sister to E
We had a case review in June and a permanency hearing in July. At this time, we know that the girls (including the two we are fostering and their little sister who lives with our foster-in-laws) will not return home to their mother. She is not completing her service plan, making visits, or showing up at court. E’s dad is also not working toward reunification (and hasn’t been for well over a year at this point). We are in the process of terminating E’s parental rights. At that time, she will be transferred to an adoption worker, and we will eventually adopt her.
F & K have the same dad, and he is still “involved” in the case. He sees F once a week for two hours and shows up to court. He has not completed a crucial part of his service plan. Neither of their parents are willing to have contact with K. Neither of them will surrender their rights because they believe it will negatively impact their case with F. So we keep stumbling on this hamster wheel for however long it takes.
There’s nothing else to report about their cases at this time, so I’d like to talk a little about the impact this is having on the other members of my family. In longer conversations, people often ask how the boys are handling all of this. Overall, I’d say they take it in stride.
Because of the nature of this case, we’ve answered a lot of questions that I didn’t necessarily think I’d have to answer while my kids were these ages—12 and 9, but we’ve always had an open door policy when it comes to questions of any kind, and Scott and I are committed to giving truthful, informed answers. Our boys now know a lot about strip clubs, incest, domestic violence, pedophilia, drug and alcohol addiction, and prostitution. So that’s fun.
Scott has now been geographically separated from our family for over a month, and based on the information we have at this time, we don’t think we will live in the same state again for at least another year. Probably longer. So that’s fun too.
Having the girls has been such a different experience for Scott than when the boys were little—and not just because of foster care. When the boys were little he was gone…a lot. It was a different time for the C-17 community, and when I say he was gone a lot, I mean he was either deployed or on short trips for about 80% of Will’s first three years of his life. It got slightly better when Ben was born, but he was still gone a lot. He has been home and gotten to experience being a father to babies. Having him away from us is hard in regard to our daily life, but it also brings up a lot of painful memories from what feels like a previous life.
F is bright, happy, and imaginative. She’ll be 3 in August, and we are already starting to see her transition out of toddlerhood into being a kid. She is excited to start preschool and is becoming more and more independent every day. She’s potty trained. She’s helpful around the house. She’s a good listener. She is fiercely protective of her siblings, even her older brothers. She is sensitive to other people’s moods in a clairvoyant way and often hugs me or comforts me when I think I’m doing an okay job of hiding my sadness. She constantly looks for silver linings, something that makes her seem older than her years.
E is all action all the time. She never stops moving. She never stops eating. She’s a bulldozer that has to be reminded about having kind and gentle hands. I spend a lot of time sitting with her in the thinking spot these days talking about how we don’t throw things, hit people, or spit. She is so very different from my other three kids, and she’s teaching me every day how to be patient. She’ll be two in September, and her vocabulary is exploding. She mimics everyone around her, and even though she is sometimes difficult to manage, she has also revealed a sweet, caring side in the last couple of months. When she asks for a snack, she wants two, so she can give one to sister. When sister leaves for a visit, she talks about her the whole time she’s gone. She says please and thank you, and she has started giving kisses and saying I love you.
The bond that the girls have with the boys is blindingly beautiful sometimes. That is what I focus on to get me through the hard days. And most of the days are hard right now.
586 days down.