18 May 2015

Going Home

"Today we took our first foster son to his mom. It was really an incredible experience. One of the reasons we got into foster care was to help put families back together and today we were able to see that happen. His mom wrote us a letter full of gratitude and love and wants us to stay involved as part of her team. I know foster care will inevitably bring painfully hard experiences but today I love what we do, I love the ways we've been able to help and support this family, I love that we got to be his foster parents, I love that we were able to be a support for his mom. I feel like as foster parents we're in an incredible position to show love and compassion to people who need it most and today I'm overwhelmed with gratitude to fill that roll." - October 2014

After our first team meeting we prepared for court coming up in the next few weeks. We knew that at court DCFS would request that the judge order a trial home placement. We also knew that nothing is done until it's ordered court is over. So we prepared to send him home, knowing that he might stay longer than expected.

During these few weeks we did visits with Bonus Kiddo's parents. I don't know what the visit policy is in other states but here in Utah both biological parents are entitled to one visit per week minimum. Depending on the circumstances sometimes both parents will take their visits together, some cases have supervised visits (a DCFS worker sits in), some cases have unsupervised visits, some cases do just the minimum of one visit for each parent each week, some cases have multiple visits each week, some have one-hour visits, some have several hour visits. The frequency and duration of the visits depends on several factors in the case but biological parents are entitled to at least one visit for one hour each week. During those few weeks the caseworker coordinated with our schedule and we brought Bonus Kiddo to his scheduled visits. :)

When court day came around the caseworker called to let me know what had happened (we didn't attend this hearing). The judge had ordered the trial home placement as expected. We would need to take him to his mom the next day.

We went out and bought Bonus Kiddo a few new outfits to take home and started packing all of his things. Daniel and I talked about whether or not I would need him to stay home from work to help me take Bonus Kiddo to his mom. He was worried about how I would handle it. :) I felt that I would be alright and told him I would call him immediately and ask him to come home if I needed him to.

We talked to Aurelia about whether she would like to join me in taking Bonus Kiddo to his mom the next day. We were worried about how she might handle it but felt she had a really good, healthy grasp of the situation and we left the decision up to her. She decided she wanted to come with me to drop him off.

The next day we loaded up the car with all of Bonus Kiddo's things and headed to his mom at the scheduled time.

Aurelia and I walked in the building to meet Bonus Kiddo's mom. We all sat down together and I handed Bonus Kiddo to her. She was so happy. SO happy. She lit up. Seeing them together felt..."really good" seems a silly way to explain it but it did, it felt really good. Her eyes were bright and her heart was full. Even now, thinking back on that exact moment feels good. It feels good to know I worked and did everything in my power to help that moment happen. It feels good to know I contributed to the joy she felt. I knew how good it felt to snuggle, feed and care for that squishy, beautiful boy and now she would get to experience that constantly from that moment forward.

Aurelia and I left them so we could retrieve his things from the car. When we came back in his mom gave me a letter she had written. She was thankful for all I had done and wanted us to stay on as part of her "team" (Child and Family Team). This meant we would be invited to any future team meetings and court hearings. I was so grateful. I had come into the building knowing this may well be the very last time I ever saw our Bonus Kiddo. His mom never had to see us again if she didn't want to. It was a relief to know that our support had meant so much to her that she wanted to keep us around and wanted us to see Bonus Kiddo again. This was only goodbye for now, not goodbye forever. :)

We sat together for maybe 15 minutes, said our goodbyes and then Aurelia and I headed out. I made it out the front door then started crying gently - I didn't want Aurelia to see or hear.

I went to help Aurelia into her carseat and saw she too was trying to control her tears. I buckled her in, walked around to the drivers seat, sat down and cried a little more. Aurelia and I sat there in the car talking for a few minutes before pulling away. I wanted to wait until she was ready before driving away.

The house felt quiet and empty when we got back home, but we were okay. I don't remember what we did for the rest of that day but I remember we felt okay. I felt peace. In a way taking him to his trial home placement was healing. We were again taking a baby boy to his parents. This time though we knew he was going to a place where he would be safe. We knew we would see him again and we knew he would be okay. It was like a redo of our previous experiences and it was comforting.

Now that our first Bonus Kiddo had been returned home we were ready to keep helping other kids. I talked to our family worker and let her know we were ready to keep going. 

During our conversation she said something along the lines of, "I want to keep you guys on hold...Just in case..."

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