Two weeks ago, the case worker came over for a homevisit and let me know that it had been recommended that one of Baby 4's parents voluntarily check in to a 2-3 week in patient treatment program at a local hospital. The Bio did not want to go, but the county had threatened TPR if they didn't follow all recommendations per the case plan.
This was confusing for me because addiction has not been a part of 4's case at all. It was actually my first case where there was no substance abuse involved. At the same time, though, it explained the unusual missed visits that had been happening in the past few weeks.
CW said there would be 2 visits between then and the time the Bio checked in. There was also still time for Bio to refuse treatment, so CW would let me know when we knew for sure the visits would be cancelled.
Saturday was the last visit before the planned Monday treatment check in. I expected Baby 4 to come home and say something about the cancelled visits for next week. Instead he said, "Bio told me I can ask you to send my remote controlled car to the visit on Thursday.". After that, I expected that the visits were not being cancelled and rehab wasn't happening.
I called CW on Monday morning to confirm the plan and she said that as far as she knew the check in happened as planned and the next 2 weeks would be visit-free. I asked her what the plan was for telling Baby 4.
"You can just tell him."
Oh, I can?! Fantastic. That's exactly what I want to do.
I told her it would have been helpful for 4 to hear it right from the Bio. CW said she told Bio to tell 4, but it never happened. She said just tell him Bio is in "program".
So here it is: **Dinner time sets the stage**
Me: Hey bud, let's talk about what's happening this week. Today is Monday and you had school, and after dinner you're going to swim class. Tuesday is school and Brandon's softball game. Wednesday is school and swimming. Thursday is school, but no visit.
Baby 4: Why?
Me: Well, Bio is at something called "program". That's a place where they can go and learn how to keep their body healthy. It's really important for the grownup taking care of you to be healthy so they can keep you safe. Bio is going to have a teacher and classes and they will live at program for a little while until they know how to be healthy. It's going to be sad to miss your visit, but we can be happy that Bio is making good choices about being healthy.
Baby 4: I'm not happy.
Me: I know. You like to go to the visits, huh?
Baby 4: Why can't Bio come to the visit?
Me: The teacher at program has rules that say Bio has to stay there until they can be healthy. Everyone just wants you to be safe and Bio did the right thing to go to program. You can visit again as soon as the teacher says Bio can leave.
Baby 4: I wish I had a visit.
Me: I know. Thursday there is no visit. Then on Friday you have school and it's family day so Brandon will go to school with you. Saturday and Sunday you have your friend A and friend B's Birthday parties, so we can pick out a present for them after Family day. Does that sound OK?
Baby 4: Yea. **picking at his pasta** Do you remember I don't like tomatoes?
Me: Just eat around them. You like the meatballs.
Somewhere in there I mentioned that Bio would have a bed and healthy food at program. 4's other bio is in a facility and he told me 6 months into his placement with us that he was sad Bio was hungry. After talking with him, I found out he thought that Bio was sitting in a corner somewhere with nothing to eat and nowhere to sleep. He felt much better after I told him there were beds and food brought to them everyday. Now I make sure to let him know his family has enough food wherever they are.
The missed visits did not have as negative an impact as I expected. He actually did not bring it up at all except when we were talking about Bio or when the CW came over this week. It made me hopeful that his transition to permanency might go better than we thought.
In training, we hear about "Partnership" between Bios, Fosters, and the CaseWorker. We hear about how it's important for the child to receive the same information from everyone to give them stability and easy anxiety. It has never been my experience that this happens for big changes with the children. I've always been solely responsible for prepping my kids for visit changes and moves home. Granted, they've been little guys, but it doesn't make "You can just tell him." any easier. The reality of partnership is when you do something for the Bios or CW, partnership is not everyone working for the child like the training teaches. Reality... and Rehab... I never thought I'd be telling my 5 year old about it.