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Saturday, January 17, 2015

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.

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