Dear Well Meaning Staff Member,
I am so very glad you are there to look after my kiddos during the lunch hour. Their teachers need the break and so do the kids. I am also glad you know my children well enough to know that they have siblings in the same school. However, next time you think one of my children doesn't have on a warm enough coat, please come to me. Or her teacher, or the principal. Whatever you do, please don't ask her sister if she has a warm enough coat.
Since you are paying attention you probably know that they receive the free lunch program. So maybe you assumed that we were needy, which would explain why you thought the coat you deemed inappropriate for today's mild weather might be her only one. My children receive the free lunch because they are in foster care and under the state and federal programs they are entitled to this benefit. The same as they are entitled to medical care.
Not that I owe anyone an explanation about why my kids take advantage of something they are rightfully entitled to, but we do the free lunch because it makes our mornings run smoother. Four school aged kids is a lot of work and the free lunch is less about the cost and more about the convenience. Now that might seem unfair to those that need the financial help, but my time is stretched thin organizing visits, therapy, caseworker and licensing worker visits, GAL discussions, and CASA meetings. Not to mention court and team meetings in addition to my responsibilities as a mother to four school aged kids who all have homework every night who also works a full time job and goes to grad school. We also welcomed an infant into our household so while this is something we could absolutely pay for, the time savings it proves is a great help to me as the person trying to give them the childhood they did not have before they met me.
Your concerned question to my daughter about her sister, while well intentioned, was actually hurtful to my kid. While she couldn't conjure up a specific memory, somewhere in her mind she knew that a not warm enough coat would raise the alarm. She knows this because she was, in fact, removed from her biological mother's care because of such neglectful behavior.
You couldn't have known that. I only learned of it while pouring through the redacted documents sent to me to piece together the life of my children so I could finalize the decision to adopt them. But she was removed for that circumstance and your comment and concern to her made her feel unsafe. She worried all day that someone would call the hotline and she would be removed from me. Because that did happen to her.
We have spent the last two years working very hard to reassure her she was safe and finally in her forever home. We have been promising her that THIS Mom (and Dad) would take care of her after nearly a dozen different "Moms" had been placed in her life. You unraveled some of her stability today and I would ask that next time you are concerned about a child's home life, you discuss it with an adult and not another child.
That being said, thank you for caring about my kid. I have often wondered where all the people were in their life that they went for so long without being noticed. I pray that if there are children in crisis in the school, that you pick up on it and raise the alarm through proper channels. And while we did have to do some repairs of today's exchange, it did give us a chance to praise her for sharing her worry. A few months ago she would not have, spending her days worrying and nights having nightmares.
For the record, her sister does have a warmer coat. In fact, she has two. She also has snow pants and boots and generally wears gloves, a hat, and a scarf in case you were wondering.
Foster Mom R