The last few weeks have been so emotionally intense, it's amazing that we haven't come unglued. In many ways, though each member of our little family is dealing with his/her own issues, we HAVE been able to stick together and help each other. And I want to be clear, as I begin writing, that I am writing about my experiences as whole, and I'm not singling any particular person out.
I don't like to write much about negative things, but I feel like I need to get my voice out there. Going into foster care, I'd heard that things could sometimes get ugly, but in the beginning, I believed that the need to help kids was critical, and I was excited to do my part.
We originally wanted to foster for at least two years. In the beginning, everything was fine. We knew what to expect from the age group of children we received, and we have loved the kids who've been with us. We loved the vibrancy of having more children in our home. We loved watching Eli bloom into an amazing leader and big brother. We dreamed that maybe we could continue much longer than two years, and be the kind of family who could help lots of kids. I pored over information, and excitedly watched each child we've cared for begin to grow and learn to heal.
Six months ago, I couldn't have imagined walking away from this. I wouldn't have been able to imagine feeling burnt out so quickly. Now, however, unless Itty Bitty or Scooter's case takes an extraordinary amount of time, we will fall significantly short of our original goal of two years.
The reality is that the need to help kids IS critical...more than I could ever have imagined. And it's been truly devastating to me to see people in the mix who SHOULD care and SHOULD be working hard to do what's best for kids, but cannot or will not. This includes people who are PAID to make sure kids are getting what they need while in state care.
I've been demeaned. I've been lied to. I've been disrespected. I've been ignored. Repeatedly: again, and again, and again.
But when it comes to children who is developmentally delayed, or who can't hear, or can't see, or can't speak well, the same people who have no problem looking through my pantry can't seem to fill out a one page referral for these children to receive testing or services. When it comes to the fact that my kids do need to attend preschool, the very people who are supposed to make sure the daycare gets paid repeatedly ignore requests for payment, putting my kids at risk for disruption. When it comes to the fact that these people are supposed to visit the kids at least once a month in my home and repeatedly "forget", or cancel 30 minutes after they were supposed to be there, or show up two hours late, no one seems to care that we have to deal with the disruption in our routine that this causes.
I'm still fighting for the kids, so that they will get what they need, but I am frequently getting caught in a web of caseworkers, biological parents, family members the bio parents hate and/or love, transporters, and the children themselves...and many times people are angry, contentious, or at odds with one another, because they are either uniformed or underinformed on what's going on in a particular child's case. I expect some level of anger and grief from a biological family. I did not expect this from paid professionals who are supposed to have a child's best interests at heart.
The thing is, I knew that some people in these tangled webs would occasionally let me down, as I might them. But to be consistently treated poorly when all I want to do is help the kids is unfathomable and intolerable.
People who are supposed to be interested in the kids THEY removed from the original home are demanding to know why I even care...after all, I'm just a foster parent right? Don't I know this is temporary?
What they don't realize is that because I know how temporary this can be, I want to help the kids I have as much as I can before they leave my home.
The better question is why don't THEY care?