Put on your imagination hats folks - this was actually due on Wednesday, post 8 in this wonderful series about our "adventures" last year. You can catch up, starting backwards, with post 7 all about the 2nd funeral in as many days. By this time we'd had several "lighter" days and yet we were all cried out.
You'll remember from Part 4 that we'd learned our first foster placement was going home. In the midst of it all really wasn't time to think about how that would impact our family and yet it was just enough time to plan and prepare our son for what was to come (so I thought).
Our first foster kiddos were a 1.5 year old boy and a 2.5 year old girl. They'd grown on us though it was a big adjustment going from 1-3 kiddos. They were relatively easy to care for and besides the occasional sibling fights we weren't used to (how could you be with a single child?), we'd certainly come to know them as part of our family.
Nevertheless they were going home whether we liked it or not. We had a hard time getting over the idea that they were going back to the people who willingly gave them up in the first place. Though now I understand the situation and can assume why they might have done what they did (a reasonable, rational decision that worked out in the long run) it was hard then to know how someone could turn these two away after having been their surrogate parents for quite some time before. We had met them though and knew they loved these kiddos and the kiddos in turn loved their kin. Though we could have provided them a better life (financially), we knew in our hearts that they would be loved and cared for with their family. Turns out that family adopted them and all I can do is pray and believe that they will be ok.
We had 1 weeks notice, which in hindsight seemed just perfect. I've since had a day or two notice on other cases and up to 7-8 weeks notice on one and I far prefer the 1-2 week notice the best. I had a chance to prepare a nice little going away party the night before with a handful of our closest friends and family. We all went to Chuck-E-Cheese thanks to some friends who work there who wanted to bless us in our time of struggle. We had a great time, except one of the kiddos started to run a high fever. That started our tradition of going to CEC to celebrate a kiddo going home. The next day I had my sister and her family over in the morning, around lunch time, for a goodbye lunch and party. I made cupcakes and some kind of lunch and we all sat around laughing and playing, waiting for the caseworker to come in the early afternoon.
We have always insisted to caseworkers that they do whatever in their power to give us notice first and foremost to give us time to prepare our son. Our goodbye celebrations are fine for everyone else, but we dreaded the effect it would have on our biological son who at the time was 3.5 and had grown accustomed to the siblings he'd longed for. Though he's pretty smart, I don't and didn't think that he'd fully be able to process having siblings leave. It weighed heavily on my heart and to some degree does today. So, I was grateful for the 7 days. As soon as we knew the kids were going home I started talking to my son about the plan. We had been telling him all along that the kids' parents were sick and we were going to be taking care of them while they were trying to get better. That way he knew they might not stay forever. Now that they were going home we just started telling him that they had grandparents who were healthy and wanted to take them home to live with them while the parents were sick. He seemed to get that, though I could tell he was processing a bit, not yet able to communicate all he was thinking.
The caseworker showed up a tiny bit early, while we were all sitting around. We weren't quite ready to be packed up so it was a bit of a rush to get the finishing things done. I remember sitting in the bathroom with the little girl as she used the restroom and my son came to me at the door. I will forever remember that moment.
He, with a very somber yet brave face and stance, looked at me in my eyes and said "Mommy, if I have to go now, I will".
Oh. My. Gosh. Talk about mommy heartbreak. Despite my best efforts to prepare him during the week he still thought he was leaving with the caseworker. To this day I still feel (angry, hurt, surprised, panicked, sorrowful, etc.) that he thought he had to leave - and he was so brave about it. I quickly hurried my mom in to take care of the fosters - I took my son aside and had a mommy-son conversation.
Logan - you will always stay with mommy. Some of our kids will come and go but you will never leave. Your home is always here with us.
When remembering them going home I usually recall it pretty easily, saying we really had no more tears to cry. And we didn't. Looking back though, remembering that moment with my son, brings tears to my heart every time.
The kids left and since more kids have come and gone and little Logan has always stayed. He gets it more clearly now - he will always stay. Though now he asks for brothers and sisters who stay and has very clearly told me he would only like more brothers and sisters that stay. We talk about it often.
Having the kids go home at that time was very much a relief. Though we loved them and had a great time with them as our first foster kiddos, they were a lot of work as any pair of siblings that age would be. When they went home we went back to our life with our family of 3, and in that time where we'd experienced so much (not to mention my injured ankle), it was nice to just have one kiddo again. One kiddo who slept in every morning until 9am and hardly whined at all.
I frequently told people that it was ok - that foster parenting (in this instance) was kind of like ADD parenting. I probably shouldn't have kept repeating that but it felt that way at the time - a quick burst of energy to do a lot in a little bit of time and now it was time for a different set of kiddos with different needs, etc. all very exciting. We missed them, but it was also a nice relief to go back to 1 kiddo in a "good" scenario (how many times to parents lose their children in "good" scenarios?) and now we looked forward to our next call, which is an experience in and of itself.
Turns out it worked out even better that way, though we didn't know it at the time. Something even greater and worse was coming in just a few short days - something that would have been nearly impossible to handle with those two kiddos to care for. For the time being though, we had two days of calm and relaxation without being hit in the head with a shoe from the sky.