We were very excited last week when we got a call asking us to take placement of two young boys - a three month old baby and a three year old toddler. We were told they had basically been abandoned by their mom - she was MIA and there were no relatives available to take them. Since they'd already been in foster care about a month, the case worker told us this would likely be a long term placement with a potential for eventual adoption. They were currently in separate foster homes and the case worker was looking for a home where they could live together for the duration. We thought it sounded like a great match & told the case worker to go ahead and set up a visit for Monday.
Fast forward to Tuesday. After some miscommunications and scheduling issues, the case worker told us to come to Child Haven on Tuesday morning to meet, and potentially take home the boys. We got there, and waited... and waited...
Finally, the case worker came. She apologized for the delays and told us that circumstances had changed (about 30 seconds prior). The baby's foster mother did not want to give him to another family. Despite the fact that she'd repeatedly told the worker that she didn't want to take custody of the older boy, she was now willing to do so in order to keep the baby. She had decided that on the way to Child Haven. She had the baby, and all of the baby's things. She actually introduced us to the baby.
Yup, you read that right. It was an "I don't want to, but if I have to, I will" situation. We were upset and confused and more than a little disappointed. But we rolled with it and went back home.
About two hours later, another case worker called. She asked us if we'd be willing to take another sibling pair -- this time, a four year old boy (J) and his 10 month old sister (P). J and Baby P had been at Child Haven for a few days. The case worker had been looking for relatives who could take them, but hadn't had any luck, so she thought this would be a medium to long term placement. She said both kids were healthy and friendly - no major concerns & if we wanted, we could come meet them. We figured we might as well - we were planning on taking kids on Tuesday, it didn't really matter that these were different kids.
We went to Child Haven and met a very friendly (but very sad) little boy and an adorable (but fussy) little girl. After sitting with them for a little while, we brought J and Baby P home with us. There was some chaos in getting them home - but generally it went ok. We swung by the store to pick up a few things and then went home. We played some games, watched a movie, and then it was bedtime. Baby P was not a big fan of bedtime. She'd been a little sick, but they told us it seemed to have passed. Despite this, she puked -- a lot. She also wanted to be held - ALL. THE. TIME. Like, she didn't sleep because she wanted to be held. I could not put this baby down... and it had to be ME holding her. She hated Mike. She fussed if he looked at her too long and screamed if he touched her.
Mike thought this was very weird, as generally babies do not hate him. Babies LOVE Mike. So the duties were pretty split -- Mike "took care of" J, which essentially involved playing zombies and video games, while I held Baby P for the better part of 24 hours. It was so overwhelming. She cried and cried. I didn't know what she wanted and the only thing that made her kind of happy was being held. Even then, she was fussy. She slept briefly from time to time, but I still couldn't put her down for fear of waking her back up. I was exhausted and questioning the decision to become foster parents in the first place. If I couldn't handle this for a single day, how could I do it long term? Finally, after a particularly rough moment, which involved some crying on my part, Mike took Baby P and told me to get out of the house for a few minutes to clear my head and get some peace and quiet.
On Wednesday, I tried to hit the ground running.... even though Baby P didn't let me get much sleep, I did what I needed to do to enroll the kiddos in day care so Mike and I could go back to work on Thursday. I also tried to set up their required well-child appointments and such. I even managed to pack both kids into the car and run errands for a couple hours. J was really well behaved and Baby P slept for a good portion of it. Just as I was finishing up all of the paperwork to enroll them in daycare, the case worker called me. I thought she was just checking in... but I was wrong.
As it turned out, the grandparents and uncle of J and Baby P came to get the kids. Unbeknownst to anyone, Uncle and grandparents were the primary caregivers and the kids had been removed while they were visiting with mom for a few days (from my understanding, they were out of town and very shocked to come home to find the kids missing). For some reason, no one told CPS this information when the kids were removed. Whatever the reason, the grandparents were able to show they were the primary caregivers and mom was generally uninvolved. They filled out some paperwork, did a quick background check and then we brought the kids to be reunified.
In all, they were in our home about 30 hours. It was not what we expected. It was bittersweet to let them go so soon. We had, believe it or not, already begun to form a bond. Even Mike had to admit that he was a bit sad to see Baby P go - despite her hatred.
That was 24 hours ago. Since then, we have been asked twice more to take other placements. The first time was as we were dropping off J and P. We told them we needed a couple days to reset...
Soon the adventure will continue.