Foster Family? Part 2 (if you are new to the blog, please read part 1 first)
I arrived at the scheduled visit at a DCFS office not knowing what to expect. I went into the lobby and there were bio mom, dad and grandma. Sissy was excited to see her family and they were excited to see her too. This seems to be the way we have met all the bio parents, in a lobby, us holding their kids and us starting the introductions.
I introduced myself, told them when she had been placed with us, because they had no idea she had been moved. Then they asked if I knew where their son was.... heartbreaking. The next thing they asked was "are we allowed to hold her?" Ouch. We were still waiting to be buzzed into the office and I told them of course you can hold her.
That was the beginning, from then on we saw each other a couple times a week at visits at first, then at team meetings. Then we started calling at night so they could tell the kids goodnight. Soon they were coming to all the doctors appointments, speech therapy, physical therapy and staying for dinner with our family after visits on Sundays.
We even had a few good laughs dealing with uncommon situations. One night Buddy was having a raging tantrum and slammed his head into the wall, this was going to need stitches. We called mom and dad and told them we were on our way to the hospital, meet us there. They came quickly and little buddy was delighted to have all his important people in the same room. He kept pointing to Hot Mama and Me and then to mom and dad saying mommy daddy, nother mommy daddy. The nurse came in and asked who everybody was....I hesitated a little, not wanting to give too much information. Bio mom saved the situation and said he is our son, they are his foster parents and we are the pathological parents. There was a quiet moment and then we all burst into laughter. She said I mean biological, but maybe a little of that too.
Then there was my diaper bag, bio mom was always teasing me about my diaper bag. I guess I should just call it what it was, a purse. It was big and black and served its purpose, but it was a purse. Anyway she gave me a hard time about it so I started teasing her about her purse. Then one day after a visit with the kids my black purse/diaper bag was gone. She had replaced it with a giant silver metallic clinque bag. All she said was you work hard, I thought you deserved a new bag! So yes I carried a giant silver purse for the next few months!
The kids went home in March after almost 8 months with us, we were so happy for their family, they had worked so hard, we continued to talk on the phone regularly and see them every couple of weeks.
Then in July I got a call from their case worker, he was at court, they had failed a drug test and could I go by the house and pick up the kids. By this time we already taken 4 other foster kids, this would make 11 kids in the house, 5 in diapers, but said we would be right over to get them.
We soon had a team meeting and went back to the judge, she knew that our families were close and asked us if we would be willing to have a unique type of visitation with the kids.
What ended up happening for the next two months was 4 nights a week bio mom and dad would come over to our home in the afternoon, we would all take the kids to the park or the pool. They would help with dinner, cleanup, stories bath and put their kids to bed. Often they would then stay and just spend time with Me and Hot Mama when all the kids were in bed.
When you see how a family ends up struggling with addiction and relying on the support of the foster care system from this point of view you really believe it can work. These people were now family that we loved and wanted to succeed. They were working hard for their sobriety and continue to well today.
They still come for Sunday dinner, the kids have sleepovers with us all the time, and they have added a new baby to their family.
I'm not sure if this is how foster care is supposed to work but maybe it should, the kids were not the only ones that needed foster parents, so did their parents. If a parent is someone that tells you they believe in you, that can give you advice, talk about problems and just give you a hug when you have had a bad day that is what they needed, I am glad they let us be there for them.
Life is still hard for them, most people in their comfortable homes with functional families don't realize the daily struggle it is to overcome poverty and addiction in a personal way. Parents that make it are brave, and we should tell them we are proud of the progress they are making. For many its changing patterns of behavior that have been learned over generations.... seriously think how hard it is to just stick with your new years diet!!
We have been so lucky to have these people in our lives. They are some of the bravest people I know. So when we say we are a foster family, that includes them.