10 May 2015

Our First Team Meeting

Every month we have what's called a Child and Family Team Meeting. Basically all the key players in a child's case get together to talk about progress and updates since the last meeting and goals moving forward. Usually this means the caseworker, the child(ren)'s parents, the foster parents, the foster parents' RFC (sort of like our own caseworker), any other involved family members and occasionally the guardian ad litem (child's attorney). I've also heard of parole officers sometimes attending (if either parent has one).

When our first foster son was placed with us there was a plan in place for him to go home with his mom about a month later. This meant we'd be part of only one team meeting before he returned to his mom.

While preparing for our first team meeting Daniel and I printed off pictures for our little bonus kiddo's parents so they could see what he had been up to since coming home from the hospital. We compiled a list of information we thought they might like to know, what his schedule was like, things we'd noticed about his personality, likes, dislikes, etc. We tried to think about what we would want to know if we were in their position. What would help us feel connected? What would help us hurt less?

We asked advice from other foster parents. Someone pointed out that visits (and team meetings) are an opportunity for them to parent their child, so provide ways for them to do everyday parenting things like feeding them, dressing them, etc., all the day to day things that can be easy to take for granted. So we teaked his schedule a bit for that day so he'd be waking up from a nap when we arrived at the meeting and he'd be ready to eat. We wanted to make sure he was rested and ready to be fed when seeing his mom, dad and whoever else was there with them.

We arrived at the building for our meeting and walked in with a loaded diaper bag and a cute little guy sleeping snugly in his car seat. As soon as we got into the building we handed him off to either his mom or his grandma (I don't remember which). We wanted them to be able to soak in every moment with him.

It felt really good to see him with his family. I felt proud. I felt like this strong, healing woman who was loving and caring for this little boy, helping his family and helping put a family back together. It was awesomely fulfilling to see them together.

Team meetings can be difficult. Imagine for a moment that you're a parent who has had your child removed because of something you've done. Then imagine you have to go into a room full of people every month and tell all these people about your progress (or lack thereof). Imagine someone else sets goals for you about how you have to overcome one of your hardest weaknesses in order to have your children back with you. Being in that situation is hard enough without having to talk about it with other people. Then throw in there that the people your child is living with are also in attendance. It can be so hard. Thankfully this first meeting really was positive overall. As far as team meetings go this was our most positive.

In an effort to both help his parents feel involved and to help his transition home be more comfortable I asked them during the meeting if there was anything they'd like to have as a part of his routine. Was there a lullaby they would like sung to him? Was there a blanket, or comfort item they wanted him to have? We wanted to get him used to and comforted by anything they were going to continue at home. His mom told me a lullaby that was sung to her as a child that she would love for me to sing to him each day.

During the meeting we talked about the court hearing coming up in a little over a week. At court the judge would most likely order our first bonus kiddo to go home with his mom on a trial home placement. A trial home placement is just what it sounds like, going home on a trial basis. Daniel and I talked to the caseworker and expressed our full support for him going home but asked that we be given a day's notice so we could prepare our daughter for him leaving us. The caseworker said that was fair and that she'd be happy to do that. 

After about an hour our meeting was over and we headed back home with bonus kiddo and started preparing to send him home with his mom in as soon as a week.

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