The pain of foster care

My baby girl is gone. She flew out this morning and for the most part I have been able to feel the love, prayers, and support of friends and family and realize that in spite of how hard this is, we will get through it. Other times, like tonight, the pain washes over me in such intense grief that I feel like I can hardly breathe. I understand why so many authors describe the pain of grief as coming in waves because it does… and tonight I feel like I am drowning.

The hardest part was knowing she didn’t want to go and there was not a dang thing I could do about it. She begged me on multiple occasions to stay, and yet I was powerless. For almost two years I told this little one that I would keep her safe. Led her to feel that at least I was in control when she felt she had none. But now when she asked me to change her situation, to not make her go, I had to tell her that I could do nothing about it. And we wonder why these kids act out? Of course they do. They are terrified.

As foster parents we are the ones who know these children. We live with them 24/7, we love them, sing to them at bedtime, nurse them back to health when they are sick, and yet when decision time rolls around, CPS comes in like a Commandante and says “this is how it will be.” Our input is ignored. Was CPS there when she had night terrors that could last for an hour or two? Were they there when she had croup and we spent the night trying to sleep in the huge bean bag chair we moved into the bathroom to lie on together as I repeatedly steamed up the room with a hot shower so she could breathe? Do they truly know this child in order to make the decisions that would be best for her emotionally? Of course the answer is “no” to all of the above.

Even worse, the input of mental health professionals is often ignored as well. She was diagnosed with PTSD over 6 months ago and the psychiatric nurse practitioner’s newest report after her latest evaluation 2 weeks ago, said it would be a huge mistake to move this child from our home and family ; the only place she has ever felt safe, the only home of which she has active and positive memories.

Peanut’s attorney got a copy of the report. Totally ignored it. Her caseworker got a copy as well. Her reply was to tell Peanut’s bio Mom to tell me to back off. Oh yeah, that is reeeaaally professional. Have a problem with a foster parent’s advocacy, so go to the mom whose rights have already been severed and tell her to tell the foster parent to back off.

I know how vindictive CPS can be. I’ve seen them move kids from homes just to spite a foster parent and I surely don’t want that to happen for our newest placement, but I also know I could never live with myself if I didn’t advocate for Peanut up until the day she left. Knowing I might not be real professional if I called myself, I asked my licensing agency to contact the attorney and caseworker for me. The reply from the caseworker’s supervisor was that no matter what was written about this child’s emotional health, they would not be changing any aspect of her move.

So, I watched my baby girl get on a plane this morning. She looked back with sadness as she went through security. She had to carry her own backpack and pull her own carryon behind her because her father was in a wheelchair and her brother was sick with a temp of 104. Dad supposedly fell down last night when he was drunk and now can’t walk due to back pain. But hey, he is perfectly capable of escorting these kids across the country…acccording to CPS.

As angry as I get about this situation and as much as I want to quit sometimes, I know there will be other children who need me and so I continue to foster. There will always be children who arrive frightened and alone, who need a safe place to go and a place to feel loved. At least for now, I will continue to provide that for them.

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