The results from court yesterday were undeniably in my favor. Baby 5 is going to stay with us for the next 2 weeks until they can officially discuss visits with Dad and in what capacity he'll be involved in 5's custody and placement. Until then, the county offered 1 visit/week. Considering the caseworker told me to be ready to pack him on Thursday, this was a win for us.
But in my gut, I know this baby is going home. I know there is no legal reason to keep him away from his Father. I get so angry with the system for dragging it out like this. This Dad- who had nothing to do with the placement of his child in foster care- is going to come to court every 2 weeks, probably for months,until the judge is in the mood to reunite them. There is no caseplan for Dad to work- his background and home are cleared for Baby 5 to go to him and there are no mental health or drug concerns. I sympathize with this Dad and I'm frustrated that his family has to be more broken than necessary to fit the court's process.
A lot of what we do in Foster Care is about damage control. In MAPP we call it reducing trauma. What's going to happen is going to happen, but we can make wise decisions about how to go about these changes. Taking Baby 5 from us and sending him right to Dad with no visits would have been horrific no matter how great Dad is. Making a baby stay and bond even further with us for months knowing you're going to move him is wrong too. Doing a several visits from a few hours, to all day, to one overnight, to two overnights eases Dad into parenting and let's baby experience his new surroundings before he thrown into it permanently.
So when the caseworker said she would set up the first visit for next Saturday, I pressed her to set one up for this Saturday as well. And I advocated for lengthening the visit time a little every weekend to smooth the transition for my baby. This resulted in me having to transport today for baby's 1st visit with his Dad. Since Dad lives outside our county, we only bring baby to the county line and meet Dad in a Walmart parking lot, then he brings baby to his house. Next week, transportation will be set up from my house to the county line, so I won't have to drive him.
I'm always reinforcing with Baby 4 about having love instead of selfishness. When he shares (or refuses) I ask: "Is that love or selfish?" and we praise showing love because that makes Jesus happy. When I see selfishness in him, I work hard to squeeze it out. When he's asking for more toys every time we go to the store or whines about the snack I gave him, I immediately reduce the toys or snack he already has and we start from the beginning- "You are not getting anything new until you are appropriate with what you have.".
Now it's my turn to practice. Am I going to be really sad and see this transition for the loss it causes in my family? Am I going to wish and want one more week? Christmas? New Year? Or can I take this opportunity to shower this baby and his Dad with love and help them come together as quickly and seamlessly as possible? Because that makes Jesus happy.
I'm thankful that I got to meet and talk to Dad and I'm confident he loves his son. These next few weeks will be all about maintaining perspective as the love v. selfishness war wages in me. It's damage control for Baby 5 and in my own spirit.