We finally have a date for our current foster kiddos to go home. After one more transition visit (overnight) they will come home to us one last time before leaving Friday morning. This brings us really mixed feelings.
Let me point out that generally we are excited about this transition. Very excited. It’s always nice to see the system work in that the children get to go back home to their mother (or father, or whomever they were removed from). It’s nice to know that people can change and get 2nd (or 3rd, or 4th…) chances in life (sometimes).
Transitions like this bring so much possibility with what could be for our family. As we go down to 2 kids I see even more outings that are easier to manage. I want to take my kids to see the newest Ice Age movie and can only imagine how much easier it will be with my 2 than the current 4. I’m looking forward to cleaning and organizing my house, having more cuddle time with my 2 forever kiddos, and maybe a few later-night ice cream or pool parties. Maybe pulling out the tent and having a sleepover with them. These are things that either can’t be done with fosters or are very difficult to manage when you have a bigger family. My kids get along very well so I look forward to them playing together and building a closer bond as the other playmates leave. And though the kids I have are generally good kids there are certain behaviors and challenges with these kiddos I will not miss at all as they leave. Our house will be much less screamy. My back will be less strained. These are all the benefits of losing them from our home but we also look forward to the way our family can develop after they leave. When will our next call be? What type of placement will it be? How many? What ages? What gender? There are countless possible answers to those questions to daydream about. There will be one specific answer – our next placement. That is all very exciting.
Typically as transitions near my husband and I relish in the benefits of children leaving. If you hung around us much you might think that we’re cold and heartless, that we don’t love the children, that we won’t miss them, that we won’t be saddened at all. This is far from the truth. We will miss “our” kids – afterall they have been “ours” now for more than ½ a year. We will wonder what will happen with them. Though we know they will be loved we wonder how the transition back home, and all the ideals they have in their head, will affect them. Given our history, we wonder if they will stay where they are going. This time we wonder how this will all affect our daughter as it is the first transition after her adoption and where she is old enough to realize the difference between permanency in the home and transient relationships (daycare) and yet not old enough to fully understand what is happening or be able to verbalize what she’s going through. We don’t worry quite as much about our son as this is old hat to him but we do worry about how this all “becoming old hat” will affect him and what we can do to minimize the hurt he feels as his brothers and sisters come and go.
As we drove to the store last night, after an extended visit, #9 sang mie this song (she likes to sing):
“I’m going to leave you…I’m not coming back…I’m not going to be in your family anymore…I’m not going to miss you”. Then she laughed.
Before I say how I feel first let me say I know this is confusing times for her and is expected from any child being tossed from home to home. These are big feelings for a little one to process and express. Within the ride to and from the store she also mentioned how I shouldn’t cry (I wasn’t) when she goes even if I miss her because she’ll come back after her visit – “don’t be sad mommy”, about how she had “THIS MANY” (2 fingers) families and how we’re her family and her birth family is her family, and how she isn’t leaving. She can talk a lot J So she’s confused and probably dealing with mixed feelings and some fear about the uncertainty she faces as we continue through this transition. I don’t blame her one bit.
But it hurts to hear something like that song. One hard part about foster care, aside from not being able to guarantee the kids are safe when they leave your home, is to know that you will always be second best. No matter how much love you pour out, how stable your family is, or even how much “stuff” you can give the kids, there is always a high-likelihood that at some point your kids will reject you as “not the REAL family”. Forget about those grocery store comments from strangers, when “your” kids point it out it really sucks. You can pour out your heart into kids over and over again, you can face sleepless nights and countless court dates and appointments, your whole family can open their lives, their hearts, and their homes to welcome you in as an equal family member, and yet in the end when kiddos go home it feels as if it was all wasted because you are rejected anyway.
Of course this isn’t about mie and it’s not all wasted. There are homes out there that aren’t good homes. Who knows what could have happened to our kids if they weren’t with us for however long we had them. Hopefully we helped them heal and learn to trust while they were with us. Hopefully they had some experiences that were fun and memorable. Ideally we planted seeds so that in time Christ’s love above all will become apparent. We have also learned something from each of our placements about how to be better people and better parents. As we go through transition we hold on to these truths…that we do matter and that it IS worth it…so that the momentary pain of words said (or sung in this case!) out of confusion, fear, and pain are much more manageable and bearable. It is why we focus (and talk about) the benefits of having the children leave, so that the pain of rejection and fear of the unknown associated with being foster parents can be subdued by hope for what is to come.
Join mie in praying for #9 & #10 and their family, so that as this transition continues it is smooth and joyful, that we have wisdom to share with them to ease their fears, calm their nerves, and help them process those big feelings. Pray too for our forever kiddos, that they are comforted as their brother and sister leave and that they find solace as we reunify as a core family. May this be a time of celebration.