Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Expect the Unexpected" and other over-used phrases

It's been a year since we've brought a new child home. When I look back on getting the calls for Babies 1-3, I can only remember the adrenaline and instant love I had for them when I saw their precious faces. I can't easily remember the frustrations with caseworkers and biofamilies, the uncertainty of how long they will stay, and the misinformation given at placement. The good eclipses the bad. Then something happens and it's like, "Oh yeah, that did happen." The memories I had forgotten were about the initial calls I got from the matchers about my kids. The information they had, that I weighed when making the decision to take the child, has been wrong every time.

When I got the call for Baby1, they said he was a preemie who's Mom had used drugs during her pregnancy. They said Mom was from another country, and gave me Dad's name. When I picked up Baby1 and spoke to his caseworker and the pediatrician, I found out that he was a full term, healthy baby who did not test positive for drugs at birth. Mom shared a name with another country, but was American. The name they gave me for Dad was actually the name of Mom's oldest child.

I got the call for Babies 2&3 eight months later. They told me Baby 2 was being picked up by CPS from the babysitter that Dad had left him with. They said he had ear infections that needed immediate attention. They said Baby 3 would not be coming into care at all. I didn't find out until court later that week that the Dad and babysitter story never happened. When I took Baby 2 to the pediatrician, his ears and overall health were fine. I found out very soon after bringing home baby 2 that Baby 3 was definitely coming into care and I began visiting him 4 days after that initial call.

When we got the call for Baby 4 this week, I was shocked and horrified by the extensive medical needs this child had. I prepared myself for a very long and difficult road with him. I wanted to start visiting him and preparing my house right away because there was so much to do. When I hadn't heard from his caseworker, I called mine and asked her what I should be doing. She is fantastic and found the people who could answer my questions. Today I got another call from the matcher to clarify the first conversation we had. Baby 4's condition is nothing like we originally thought. He is still considered medically frail, but there are talks of him going to preschool and being up and around. I was initially told he would be receiving 16hrs/day of nursing when he came home, but now we know that they (whoever they are) requested 16hrs/day, but he may not be approved for or need that much care. The biggest news is that the decision hasn't even been made about placing him in foster care. He may be going home with his parents. They have not even been told there is a possibility of a foster care placement and they have been very involved with his care from the beginning of his condition. The matcher said we'll know more in a week and I should be doing nothing until then.

We had one other situation kind of like this before Baby 2 came to us. We knew Baby 1 was going home within a couple of weeks when we got the call for a sibling set 6yrs, 4yrs, and 18mo. The matcher said to get home right now because they were on their way. We rushed home, called our family, and put fresh sheets on all the beds. Just as my Mom came over with chicken nuggets for our new family- the matcher called us back to say that the CPS investigator went to the house to remove the children, but decided there was not a reason to do so. The kids were not coming into care.

Having a child not come into our home isn't sad, we would rather them stay with their family if it's safe. It's more like an annoying inconvenience that we were brought into a situation unnecessarily. This case is especially unfortunate because they have us on the hook for 2 weeks. We aren't taking any other kids because we want to be Baby 4's family if he needs one, but if he doesn't we'll be childless much longer than what we prefer. It may come down to just pure lack of skill on my end. I have no idea how to not have kids in the house.  Patience is not my strong suit and no amount of work keeps you as busy or fufilled as having kids 24/7.

To clarify- the misinformation isn't anyone's fault. I get information as it comes in and it takes a while to verify the facts. Everything happens very fast when a child comes into care, so finding a family needs to happen fast as well- before details are ironed out. There are several cliches that fit this moment. Expect the Unexpected... Everything happens for a reason... Go with the Flow... Let Go, Let God...

Today we wait. We can't be anxious to meet Baby 4 or let down by the new info because it could go either way. One year from now, I bet I won't even remember this.

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