life after fostering baby a, part 1

*For those of you living this with us, you’ll know it’s actually been a couple weeks since Baby A left. However, I chose to keep the timeline intact as if it’s only been five days.

It’s been one week since Baby A first met his family. Five days since we last held him, comforted him, kissed him goodbye. Five days of a black hole of information, not knowing how he is, if he’s sleeping well, if he feels safe yet. If he misses us.

Losing Baby A, and that’s what it feels like, has been one of the most devastating things I’ve experienced. Ranking right up there with the death of one of my best friends. With the agony and uncertainty of infertility.

This, however, is a different kind of uncertainty. A different kind of devastation. Because much of the trauma – to Baby A, to us, to his new parents – could have been minimized. His caseworker, her supervisor, could have made the transition so much easier. They could have advocated for Baby A, for his well being in the moment, not just his ultimate well being.

They could have included us in the transition plan, worked with our schedule so that we could have met with the parents the first time they met Baby A. But instead, they came to our house, took him away, strangers that they are, were, to him. Because his caseworker has only seen Baby A at doctor appointments, the most recent one three months ago, and two initial home visits, the last of which was six months ago. Baby A doesn’t know her. She is not a source of comfort to him. And yet she pretended to be, repeatedly smiled at him and said, “You know me,” while reaching out to touch his cheek.

I realize she has seen him grow, talked with his birth mother, searched for his forever family. But she hasn’t been what I would call involved, and her agency has been less than communicative. The entire 9 months we cared for Baby A, any time we had questions about where they were in the process, if the adoptive father had been found, if they thought they were close to placement, they simply said they could take him away. Remove him from our home. Because we wanted to be informed.

How is the threat of removal in his best interest?

We never asked for, nor expected, them to share confidential information. But there’s no breach of confidentiality to tell a foster family that there’s an upcoming court date. Or whether or not the birth father has been notified or involved in the process and how long they anticipate it could take.

What we heard repeatedly was “soon” or “not much longer” or “we’re getting close.” After being initially told we would have Baby A for 3 to 4 weeks, those words began to lose any meaning. Christmas came and went and they “had a couple families in mind.” By March it wasn’t supposed to be much longer. We never knew from week to week, day to day, if we would get a call telling us to bring him to the office for placement the next day. We felt unable to plan for milestone birthdays or our 25th wedding anniversary. We delayed a family vacation because we were told we weren’t allowed to leave the state with Baby A (even though we live on the border of 2 states and foster families travel with their foster children all the time).

And all along, it wasn’t supposed to be too much longer, and we were threatened to have him taken away if we asked questions. Questions I feel we had a right to know answers to. After all, we were his family. But that made no difference.

And when it finally came time for Baby A to be placed, we were given a schedule, not asked if it worked for us, and when we requested an adjustment, were told he could be taken a day early rather than have an extra half hour to drop off Little J and Little E somewhere.

grace for each moment, one moment at a time

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