Would the RIGHT decision in our current situation be to continue parenting her indefinitely, and hope her parent will one day regain custody?
Would it be the RIGHT decision to put our boys' needs on the back burner in order to parent Sunny and assume that all will be alright, and that she'll get better in the next few months (years)?
Was it the RIGHT decision to request disruption...or was it selfish?
I don't really have all of the answers...but I finally do have answers I've been able to make peace with.
For the last question, I absolutely believe that requesting disruption is (and was) the best thing to do in this circumstance, and ultimately, I don't think it is selfish. I think that one of the things that has made this a decision such a difficult one (one that we've agonized over for weeks) is that we ARE a foster-adopt family...and we were originally open to the possibility of adopting Sunny. We do have a LOT of reasons for disruption, though, as I've begun discussing more on the blog. Sunny's issues are only ONE of the reasons that disruption is best for all involved; unfortunately, because so many details of her case are confidential and private, I actually can't discuss them in this public forum. But suffice it to say, we really haven't felt much success in helping Sunny at all (indeed, she seems to be regressing more and more often, though she is no longer very aggressive). I've been told and I've read on so many adoption blogs that "God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called." I've been told that God would equip us to handle Sunny's needs if we would just "hang in there." But, without delving too deeply into my religious beliefs (or dwelling too long on clichés), we don't feel that adopting Sunny would be right for either her or for our family, as she needs more help and more therapy than we are able to provide.
I also do not believe that I am supposed to put aside the needs of my other children to put Sunny's needs first (at least on an indefinite timeline). There are times with each of the children that they have more pressing needs than a sibling...but for the last 7 months, Sunny has had significant needs that have frequently turned our family's schedule upside down. The critical few who have said something about it, have said things like we "shouldn't be able to disrupt because birth parents can't do that." Um, yeah...they can...otherwise adoption wouldn't exist. For that matter, if foster parents never disrupted, a lot of adoptive families would have never been united with their children - a fact that gives me a lot of comfort and peace (particularly since Eli was in foster care in Korea).
Unfortunately, I can't speak as to whether Sunny's parent will ever regain custody, since I can't reveal details in her case. At this point, it doesn't seem very likely at all. Still, I don't want to play roulette with a child's life; and Sunny will have at least 6 more months in care, even if she eventually goes home. With all of the unknowns in her case, she would be better off bonding with a foster-adopt family who can meet her needs in the short OR long-term. But, we've found ourselves at a time in our lives where Eli's just started a new school, received a new diagnosis, and has tolerated foster children coming in and out of our house for over a year and a half with various issues and needs...I think it's past time to slow down and give him a break (he's only 5!). Itty Bitty doesn't know what to think about the situation except that there's another kid in the house (Sunny) that actively ignores/avoids him, cries a lot, and flat refuses to play with him, no matter how hard he tries to engage her with favorite toys. Still, the boys' needs come first because they are ours (still working to adopt Itty Bitty); when Sunny came into our home, it was as a foster (temporary) placement.
Aaaannnddd...the biggie...were we right to take her as a foster placement, in view that we are currently disrupting?
We don't know. We think we did the right thing; we've certainly tried to help Sunny. No one knew about Sunny's needs at the time of her placement. We were her 5th foster home in 10 days, and she'd been seriously traumatized by events leading to her removal from her birth home. She'd never been to preschool or lived in a house with another child. I also was naïve enough to underestimate the effects of trauma and grief on a three year old. We have been able to get her into therapy, provide her with some preschool experience, and provide a very stable, safe home for seven months. We spent a lot of time with her in the summer, before school started, and I'd like to think that time helped her. Lately, though I wonder how successful we've been....she's become more withdrawn and less communicative as the days have gone by, and this is extremely heartbreaking and frustrating. The bottom line is that we really believe that Sunny's upcoming move will be less traumatic for her than her living with us indefinitely would be for the boys.
I can say that the family who will be caring for her next, Family B, has gone through a lot to be approved as a foster-adopt family...but they are excited to have her coming to live with them! They are much better prepared for Sunny than we were, as we now know the details of Sunny's case, her triggers, and what helps with some of her behaviors. And...best of all...they are THRILLED that they are going to get a chance to be her family. Family B is rested, excited, has only a well-adjusted older daughter, and is well-informed about Sunny's needs - and I think they will be a wonderful fit. We are going to try a short (few hour) visit with them soon. The best part is that they are local, and we will be able to get updates and possibly visits from Sunny!
How does this fit with remaining a foster family or adopting again one day? I don't know the answer to this yet. We are still working to adopt Itty Bitty. We have a lot of thinking to do on if/when we will accept another placement of a foster child at all. We've begun to discuss it, because - like it or not - the phone calls requesting placement for a child will begin coming as soon as Sunny leaves, since there is such a demand for foster parents. We may decide to take children on an emergency basis (1-7 days) or for respite care, or we may wait until Itty Bitty is older and more independent before taking anyone for foster. Either way, we have a LOT of discussion coming up!