The weekend after we were selected, I met up with RL, Roly’s foster mother, for lunch. I brought her up to date on our situation and explained that CPS wanted us to have two visits and then placement but my agency wanted us to have four or so visits before placement. They wanted to take it slow and so daughter wouldn’t be placed until mid March. Wood and I were just going along with the program. But when I tell you RL schooled me, she took me to the university of foster care transitions.
Basically, we were going about it all wrong.
Her first point was that when you finally get to spend time with this child, and you claim her in your heart as your child, you are not going to want her to be anywhere but with you. It doesn’t matter how nice the foster parent is, you are not going to want her to live with someone for the next four weeks.
I didn’t even think about that. We were just following along with protocol like some oomphadoomphs.
Her second point was that there may be relationship issues with the foster parents for various reasons. As a foster-only home, she has had some times when she had to transition a child to a home that she was not happy with. She said the foster mother might not like us, for any reason. People are people and some folks just don’t click. She warned me that I might not like the foster parents. Maybe they seem abrupt or distracted. Maybe the child’s clothes are a little too small or too worn. Maybe she just isn’t you.
This had never occurred to us. RL was the first foster parent that I knew personally so I just anticipated that most people would act similarly. I had never read on any forum about issues with transition so I just assumed they would be supportive. Such naivete.
Lastly, she thought that a week between visits was just too long. If you see a two year old one weekend and then the next, to them you are just another slightly familiar stranger. She suggested that we have the short visit on a Saturday as recommended by my agency but to ask to have her for all of Sunday. Then we should work with the foster mother to visit her during the week, maybe to pick her up from day care for an hour or so.
Really? Why didn’t we think of that? After our conversation, I felt completely out of our element. If you know me in real life, you know that I’m generally a rule follower. I question authority but in most cases, I give situations the benefit of the doubt to see how things will play out. I typically trust that the system works. So whatever our placement worker suggested, I was fine with following.
The more you know…