There were a couple things that happened in my life today that made me really rethink my heart, compassion fatigue, and my concern for people in general. As foster parents, I believe it is important for us to stop and check our hearts for too much hardening. It's easy to get jaded or start looking out for #1 (our own personal interests) more than the interests of the creator and those may not always be the same thing. I don't want to be jaded. I want to continue to show compassion to the people in my life, all of them, as much as possible.
There was a death in my family yesterday. I was only mildly sad, in part because I knew it was coming, in part because I was hoping it brought relief to my relative and my relative's caregivers, and in part because I didn't know this particular relative well at all. Not knowing a relative well (or at least decently well) is somewhat foreign in my very large but relatively close-knit family, but this particular relative is one of 2-3 that I could identify that I never really knew. So generally I'm not sad, not like I was when my uncle was murdered a few years ago or how I would be if anyone else in my family passed away. I am, however, sad that I'm not sad. Does that make sense? I wish the situation were different for many reasons, that he had led a life where I would have had a role, that I would have known him more, that my family would have felt supported by me more during this process. That is what I care about at this point, that and how my dad is feeling about this latest death in his family.
There was also interesting things happening in the kids case yesterday. I'm trying to really limit what I put out here about this case even though it is by nature more or less anonymous anyway (which is why you don't see our kid count anymore - it's still here, behind the scenes). There were more missed visits this week, a legal situation during the one visit that did happen which promises to complicate future visits. Oh the mixed feelings. On one hand, I hate that my kids had to experience what they had to experience during their visit - there are certainly worse things that could have happened and generally they were safe but they shouldn't have to experience stuff like that. No kid should. We shouldn't be talking about what worse could have happened you know? I also feel bad for the parent that this situation happened. Sometimes there's just bad luck. Sometimes there's bad luck combined with bad choices. This is one of those cases (so it seems) - if the bad choices weren't there then the bad luck wouldn't be so bad - but still, I do feel bad for the parent and the kids that this is a negative in the situation. At the same time, I'm hopeful that this is what it takes to get the tide turned in favor of the KIDS who need permanency. There were actually several things about the last visit that *should not* look favorable for the parent but it's hard to say how they will actually affect the case. One thing is clear - yet another set of visits was canceled and that could push the people involved to be more supportive of termination and quality permanency. I'm hoping. I feel bad that I'm happy that there was this point of failure for the parent because I genuinely do support reunification and never ever want kids to be separated from their family when they can be reunified safely. I just haven't seen that "reunified safely" thing work in even 10% of my kids lives. 2/24 kids have been reunified "permanently" with the family they were removed from. That's it. Several have happy endings but I just haven't seen it work well very often and the "evidence" in this case is like those that weren't successful, not like those that were.
Our kids decided they wanted to change their names last night. They initiated the conversation (knowing Summer's name was changed when she was adopted - when the judge said she could stay forever). It seemed to be their way of letting us know they want to stay forever, after the crazy of their visit (but we didn't talk about it that way). They were all excited about their new names and then dropped the bomb - they were going to tell their parent about their new names when they saw them next. *Insert screeching car sound here* We put our foot down and had to stop their fun, insisting they be called their actual name not their selected name until the judge tells them they can change their name. On one hand I want them to be able to daydream about whatever they want to daydream about. On the other hand I don't want to be accused of trying to steal these kids or even trying to change their names (that has not, at all, been something my hubby and I have been involved with - we will only even consider that with any reality when everyone in the case is aligned on termination and a trial happens or a voluntary agreement is signed...that's it). I don't want anyone to think we're trying to sabotage the parent's attempts to reunify because we're not. BUT, the kids - what about what they want? When does that count?
So today I'm taking inventory. I don't really have good answers about what I *should* be feeling. There are always mixed emotions in foster care and in life in general. I'm glad I don't have to have all the answers.