This is a continuation from the post titled "Coming Home"
When I left with Bonus Kiddo in my arms the understanding was that he would go home with us through the weekend until offices reopened Monday and everything could be sorted out. They needed him to be somewhere safe until the dust settled and new plans could be made.
I drove home quietly through the dark, empty streets with our foster son sleeping in his car seat.
After getting into the house Aurelia woke up and Daniel and I had a hurried discussion about whether or not to tell her Bonus Kiddo was back. We wanted to tell her but if we told her now she might be too excited to go back to sleep.
"Aurelia, come see who's here..."
Miss sleepyhead walked to the living room and I gently lifted the car seat cover to show Bonus Kiddo sleeping there. Aurelia stood there staring at him, blinking slowly. I'm pretty sure she had fallen back asleep before even making it to the living room. :)
So after about two weeks home our foster son was back with us again and we knew he'd be here at least over the weekend.
That week we had our next team meeting. Daniel and I again carefully picked out the outfit our foster son would wear, tweaked his schedule so he'd be well rested and ready to eat when seeing his parents.
We arrived at the DCFS office and as always we were met with kindness from Bonus Kiddo's parents. His mom immediately started explaining her side of what had happened and her opinions on what the consequences had been. I told her I was sorry this was all happening and that I was glad she was there for the meeting. I told her the positive changes I had noticed about Bonus Kiddo from the time he was with her ("he gained weight!").
Knowing what my role in all of this is (foster mom) has helped me know how to respond to situations like this in our case. My job is to be Bonus Kiddo's foster mom. Being his foster mom to me means helping his parents be involved in parenting, letting them know how he's progressing and doing what I can to encourage their bonding and healthy relationship building.
Above all else I feel my job is to do everything a mom should do...and that's it. It's NOT my job to tell Bonus Kiddo's parents when they've screwed up. It's not my job to tell them my opinion on their situation, their choices, their parenting, anything. It's not my job to tell his parents how to live their life. It's not my job to chastise them, to make them feel small, to make them feel the gravity of their choices and the accompanying repercussions. My job is to be his foster mom.
This team meeting was difficult. It wasn't the lighthearted gathering of the last team meeting. There were important people there asking hard questions. (You can read the post "Our First Team Meeting" to know how uncomfortable they can be). A team meeting when everything is peachy can still be uncomfortable, a team meeting when everything isn't okay is really, really hard.
Daniel and I sat silently while both bio parents gave their version of what had happened with each of them in the previous few weeks. I looked down as pointed, probing questions were asked by the caseworker and guardian ad litem. I watched as his parents explained, described and were made to understand the gravity of what had happened and the current situation.
I tried to focus on the business at hand. I focused on my role in all this. At a break in the conversations I sheepishly spoke up.
"We want you to know..."
I got a few words out before the tears choked me up. I grabbed a handful of tissues and explained that it was important to us that they know we weren't sitting here listening to all of this judging them or thinking how awful they were. It was important to Daniel and I that they know we are ALWAYS rooting for them, we are always praying for them and that we WANT them to be successful.
His bio parents thanked me. I apologized to everyone for the awkwardness of my blubbering and regained my composure.
For the time being our foster son was going to stay with us. Everything would continue on as before. We'd have visits and team meetings, we'd have our regular court hearings.
Daniel and I left the meeting hoping for forward progress but also with a much clearer picture of the rugged terrain our foster son's parents had in front of them.