Skip to main content

Shared Children

As a foster/adoptive parent I have to share my children with others.  Others have loved them. Others have known them as well as I do. Others have made decisions about their lives.  As we head into our adoption (legally the case is pending TPR which still has not been scheduled) our therapy team has begun to talk a lot about claiming as part of attachment.  The kids need to claim us as their family and we have to claim them. (They/Us are not objects.  We are talking in an emotional sense.) I spent the past 48 hours "claiming my family as my own".  We took a break together in the midst of all the crazy that will happen in the next month. It was amazing and I feel re-charged and ready to claim our next chapter as we move as a family.

But I'm struggling with something that happened this week and it occurred to me that those reading might have to endure or have endured a similar situation.  I know sometimes just knowing you aren't the only one is helpful. So I decided to share this particular issue.

One of the realities of sharing my children is that often others feel they know best. Bio parents, relatives, former foster parents.  We are all guilty of this, especially me.  I've written an entire blog worth of posts about how I knew what was best for the 8 children in my home over the course of 4 years. Of course we know best, we are the people who love and care for children! Of course we do the best we can, with what we've got, at any particular moment.  We are all praying for the best and try to make sound decisions, but we don't always get it right.  I myself, have been known to fail spectacularly.  Or be proven wrong. But I try my darndest.

Stella and Sarah's former foster Mom reached out this week.  I haven't shared the sordid details but I have shared my thoughts on my interactions with this person. Last year after the girls moved in we had scheduled sleep over visits to continue contact. We firmly believe that kids shouldn't loose people because they move, if those people are safe.   The week of the 2nd visit we were asked to not only extend the amount of time of the visit but also allow the Smiley and Simon to go on the visit.  We had plans and politely declined.  Then less than 24 hours later we received word that they were cancelling the visit and wanted no further contact because they just felt it was too hard on the girls.

I was floored.  Because to me, it seemed like a big old tantrum. I didn't get my way, so I'm going to take my ball and go home. It hurt my kids tremendously.  We were left to try and explain the unexplainable: These people say they love you but they hurt so much they don't want to see you. How do you explain that to kids? How do you explain that to foster kids, who are forced to see people that have hurt them on a weekly basis?

Then a few months later we were contacted and told they were moving out of state and could we let them see the girls to say goodbye? And we agreed because Stella was still struggling with no closure from her loss.  This was the 1st Mom who cared for her in a nurturing way.  We asked that the therapists assist with this goodbye and they did. Stella asked some tough questions like why did they make her move out of their house and why did they have to say goodbye.  We told her the judge was looking for a forever family for all four of the kids and the other family wasn't a forever family for them.  Blaming no contact on an out of state move was the simplest reason.

But as most things, it isn't enough for Miss Stella.  She always pushes her boundaries. Not in a defiant way. Rather, she really wants to understand the parameters she's being given. And even though she know something to be true or not true, she will insist on the opposite in hopes it will become true.  (For instance at least once a day she tells me we are going to Disney World in 2 years.  We have no such trip planned. We have not discussed this in any real way.  But she will tell you, as surely as she would tell you her name, we are going to Disney World in 2 years.) I think in her heart, Stella knows that the reasons she was given for the loss of contact don't really hold up.  And she would be right.  There was no reason that she should have lost contact.  But it wasn't her decision and it wasn't mine.

So this week FFM (Former Foster Mom), reached out through the other former foster Mom.  Apparently she has not moved and would like a second chance to form a relationship with us.  I'm annoyed by the way this information made its way to me.  I'm annoyed she put the other former foster mom in the middle.  I'm annoyed at the message that was shared and I'm annoyed that this woman is occupying any more of my mind.  (I'm also annoyed that the other former foster mom brought it up.  She didn't witness all that took place and she is coming from a view point that this situation is workable.)

My initial thought was what for? Its clear we don't like each other.  She is only doing this for her own heartache.  I totally get that.  I would be devastated if I could not see the Fab Four.  But then again, I worked really hard to ensure that I could see them by building a positive relationship with Maria. I have nothing to gain from a relationship with her.  When I could have used insight into the girls or Sheila's history, she refused to help me.

 But as her Mom, I always need to think about what's best for Stella. This person holds part of her history. This person cares for her, even if I think she had a funny way of showing it.  But the his person also hasn't been consistent in her follow through and she has failed to support Stella in her placement in our home. Right now on the cusp of changing schools and changing goals, we have to say no to this person coming back into her life.

As a foster Mom, this hurts me because it's so unnecessary. It didn't have to be this way. But as Stella's Mom, I have to protector her and I feel this is the right decision. I feel it's one of those decisions that looking back, she might question my motivations because it goes against my nature to be inclusive.


Popular posts from this blog

She Never Cried

Sheila called to wish Sarah Happy Birthday and she shared a story with her that as a baby she never cried. Not when she was hungry, not when she was tired, never. She never cried.
A little later Sarah said to me:
"Mom, my Mom said I never cried. I don't really believe that. That can't be true can it? Don't all babies cry sometimes?"
Oh my sweet girl. The red flag went up for her too. As I listened to Sheila share this story fondly, I felt sad. That was a sign of her RAD. That was because she couldn't count on adults. That was because she cried and no one came so she learned not to cry.
"It doesn't sound right to you, does it?"
"I know your Mom shared that story because she thinks it's cute you never cried. It made me sad. You are right babies cry so adults take care of them. You know how you had a lot of different adults that were supposed to take care of you as a baby?"
"Yeah, like 10 foster parents."
"Well …

Minimum Parenting Standards - Monday's Post

I can't figure out Blogger's time zone and I may not have time to write Monday evening so here is Monday's post.

This week we are having another "team" meeting. This time to discuss the "minimum parenting standards" that the kid's Mom has to meet in order to be "good enough" to parent them.

Now I have all kids of issues with this entire exercise. The first being that these kids deserve better than the minimum. The second, that good enough isn't going to cut it with their issues. The hardest part though is being asked to write down a guide to being their parent FOR their parent. Putting my commitment to first reunify a family to the test. It is one thing to suggest ways in which she can be a better parent and to support the goal by not bad mouthing her and encouraging the kids to share their true feelings. It is an entirely different thing to sit down and write a guide for a woman who has yet to grasp the basics after two years.

It wa…

Reader Question: Did You change their names?

Yes we did. We actually started using their new names shortly after their good bye visit with Sheila last August. So the only name that really changed this week was their last name (kind of, one of them actually had our last name). We had started using them so we wouldn't have to try to do a name change mid-school year. Plus the kids had only been in the school the last 1/2 of the year so they didn't know everyone yet. The school was great about going with the new first names.
At some point Simon spontaneously asked his teacher if he could change his name tag on his desk to our last name. He was tired of waiting on the legal stuff. He started to write Simon Almost Last Name on his papers. So we asked all the kids and they asked for the same update. Their report cards and benchmarks still had their legal names. 
The name change was a bit cumbersome at first. We sounded like owls because someone would ask for a person by their birth name and we would all answer "Who?". W…


I had some questions asked of me recently that I thought I would answer here:

1) How do you keep doing this after so much crap?
I actually had two different foster moms ask me this. One dealing with a false allegation and one in a kinship case with a pregnant, unstable bio mom.

I'm not sure I have an eloquent answer to this question. I think I've reached a point where I see the bigger picture - the kids.  That's not to say this stuff doesn't drive me nuts or make me emotional. I would be spitting fire if we had to deal with a false allegation. I'm really upset about the potential of having to make a decision about another baby. But if not me, who? We are good at this. There are kids that need me. And I probably need them. I am a caretaker by nature.  What would I be doing with myself if I didn't have 15 different obligations all at once? I have no idea because I've always been this way. And right now all of the current drama is related to my children. I s…

It is a process

It's a physical ache. A pain in the middle of my chest.  And it causes hot tears, the kind that sting my eyes.  It settled over me today and I couldn't shake it.

It started with news that more people in our lives are expecting and today, I just couldn't muster the happiness.  I heard complaints of not feeling well and my ability to plaster the smile on my face just vanished from my body. I left the house to "run an errand" but really I just needed an escape.

All week I've been able to communicate and tell people about Solana leaving without any trouble.  I probably sounded like a PSA for "How to be the role model foster parent".

People were asking:

So will you get to adopt the little one? Is she staying?

Well no, actually.  She is going home in a few weeks. That's the goal of foster care. We are really happy for her dad. He really gets it. We've built a relationship. I'm so glad she doesn't have to go through the pain of adoption or …