Everyone rallied around me when we got the news that our new kids were being removed. I was getting calls and texts. My parents came to help pack. Friends took my 3 other kids to their houses. Baby Girl's nurse came back after her shift with plastic totes and to help with Baby 11.
I was dazed. I started pulling clothes out of all the closets and drawers. I went through our toys, and shoe boxes, and laundry, and diapers. I located all the medical cards and WIC checks and wrote down all the future appointments and phone numbers that could be needed. I packed up medicines and wrote down schedules for feedings and meds. I tracked down bottles, and baby hats, and socks. I packed up all the new school supplies and uniforms I had gotten for Baby 12- who starts Kindergarten in 2 weeks. I took down all the Frozen party decorations and packed them in gallon sized ziplock bags so they could be re-hung in the new house.
My house looked like a war zone. I cried with reckless abandon in front of everyone. And there was my tribe.. packing those horrid plastic totes and making light small talk between my breakdowns.
Forever will not be long enough for me to pay them back for those moments.
Brandon came home from work, and we packed the cars. We needed both cars to fit everything. I took Baby 11 and we headed off.
When we got to the door, Mom answered. This was bad. This was very bad. I have been told over and over again how violent Mom is. She has threatened other foster parents, physically attacked caseworkers. I'm never supposed to be alone with her and she's never supposed to be alone with the kids. Yet here we were. Relative resource was not home, and me and the kids were alone with Mom.
She did the unthinkable.
She hugged me and cried, "I am so sorry they are being taken from you." She went on: I grew up in the system since I was my kids' age until I aged out at 18. I know a good foster parent from a bad foster parent, and right from the beginning I knew you had genuine love for my kids. You're not in this for the money. My kids love you and they are going to miss you, so this is bittersweet for me. I have them with family now, but they aren't with you.
I didn't have the time or energy to process what was happening then, but now I see we were having a real, human moment based on the relationship I always hope I'm building with my kids' parents.
I apologized, I'm sorry I don't have any answers for you. We would never hurt your kids. They were always loved while they were with us. I told her what I knew about everything.
She said she had asked 13 what happened to him, and he said his biological brother hurt him. "I told him I knew [brother] didn't do anything to him because we were all at the visit together. Then he told me it was [Baby 4]."
Mom let me say goodbye and hug and kiss all the kids. She told me we could still see them when we wanted to. She told me she had never gotten along with any other foster parents, and she would have been mad if this had happened anywhere else.
I loitered around smiling and chatting until the relative resource came home. I knew I wasn't supposed to leave the kids with anyone else. She seemed nice, albeit already out of compliance with court orders. Brandon was quiet. Mom pointed out the tears in his eyes.
Then we left. I picked up the girls from my friend's house and came home. Baby 9 asked, Where's the birthday party?
We anticipated the CPS investigator coming out any time now, so we needed to get the house in order. I intended to just rest my eyes for a moment, but I fell asleep hard in my bed while Brandon cleaned. I don't think I could have handled one more second of that day. My spirit was tired and my mind needed to be done racing. It wasn't a pleasant sleep. It felt like death.