July 16, 2020

THE CALL: tough even though we felt called

(encourage you to read the previous two posts if you want this to make any sense, otherwise come along and be prepared to be confused).

Also, who knew when we started all of this that Lad would present with some mental health issues.  Things were improving but he has decided he doesn't need the therapist and therefore the progress we were seeing is at a standstill.

The day Teesha showed up 30 minutes early for the first visit, Lad hollered at me while I was cleaning the clutter off the counter-tops:  This is all fake.  I'm going tell them what you're really like.  (not exactly sure what that means, that we are really messy?  I mean, we are - but was that what he was threatening to share?)

I ignored it, but I pulled Coach aside and whispered to him:  
So, this could be a real shit-show.

Sharing is caring:  I spoke to 3 different adults related to the case and shared some of our concerns (next paragraph).  #1.  Teesha,  #2. A woman (Ford) who I found to be more communicative and more seasoned than Teesha.  Ford works to list kids on websites and communicates with prospective parents to lighten the load of DCFS - at least that is the way I understood it, and #3. (Crazy-pants) who is a volunteer called a CASA (court appointed special advisory or something).   Crazy-pants called my cell while the kids were visiting and they moaned when I said Crazy-pants wants me to tell you to let her know if you need anything.  "We hate her!"

I did not beat around the bush.  I was transparent.  Maybe my mind was working on overdrive because I wanted to KNOW, just like Betty knew.  

I asked Teesha to tell us what the kids feedback was after the last visit.  Sister had already shared with us that she was not sure she would want to be seen in public and stared at if she was part of a white family.  I also asked Teesha about Sister possibly repeating 8th grade.  SHE NEVER GOT BACK TO ME.  Coach reached out and asked the same questions.  SHE NEVER RESPONDED.

My concerns included:  could I introduce structure to these two, yes.  Would I exhaust myself in the process and end up losing my marbles in the process?  Possibly.  

Sister is older and she didn't attach to the current foster mom, would she attach to me or just live in my house?  She attached to a foster grandmotherly type early on in their placement history, so through therapy and time she COULD attach.  No guarantee.

Sister would be in Reggie's grade in high school.  Would this present problems?  Her September birthday lands her in 8th grade but close to the cutoff.  Somewhere along the line she was pushed forward, not due to academic advancement.  We asked Teesha and Ford if maybe sister could repeat 8th grade.  This could give her a chance to adjust before being tossed into high school with lots of moving parts, peer pressure, etc.  Build a foundation.  Meet kids in a smaller setting, etc.

Our kids who have attended and currently attend our high school had reservations.  The school is diverse, so I thought OK, Sister and eventually Brother would not feel out of place.  According to my kids, African American girls at their high school are known to physically fight, on the regular.  It can be a rough place.  My kids pointed out that there are some kids at their high school who might present behavior challenges and if Sister fell in with the wrong crowd, then what?  I worried if her new classmates weren't dealing with structure, then wouldn't that create more push/pull in my home as we tried to introduce rules?  Our kids sometimes eye-roll at our rules, just because other kids do such and such . . . so they wondered how this would play out with a kid who hadn't dealt with the 'Shenanigan way' for years.  This would potentially be uncharted territory.  Adopting kids is gonna be hard.  No question.  

I asked Coach if going in KNOWING it was going to be even harder because of their ages was something we could handle.    

Space:  Mini plays basketball.  It's her favorite season.  She loves her teammates.  Sister plays b-ball.  The program is so small that they would be on the same team, practicing together.  I think Mini started to worry that what happened at b-ball wouldn't stay at b-ball.  Inside jokes might not stay 'inside'.

'What ifs?':  I will always wonder if I tossed out too many 'What ifs?'  Ultimately I returned to the place where I felt like if I didn't KNOW for certain, then we probably should not take them.  I didn't want to bail after 6 months and cause them more trauma.  

I also feared interfering with my kids' lives in a negative way.  Would Tank shut down and only hang with his friends in order to escape the new 'family life' we were creating - and then race off to college the following year, happy for the distance?  I could not lose him in this process.  

June 30th, The call:  Teesha set up what is called a staffing.  We were going to do a video call to discuss the next step or no step at all.  

Hindsight:  We wish we had asked who would be on the call.  We figured it would be all of the adults involved in the case.  When there was a staffing for the other boys when we made the final 3, they held a staffing.  That was our only experience.  We were not included on that staffing, because they were talking about kids and the 3 different potential families.  It was all very secretive, for the powers that be. 

Imagine:  Not everyone entered the call with video, some were just on audio.  Coach rushed in from work, moments before the call.  Zoom wouldn't load at first and we frantically switched out laptops.  Crazy-pants was the only other one doing video.  We heard other voices (Teesha, Ford) and we were waiting, apparently for the current foster people, 'the Fosters'.  

All of a sudden we heard Teesha welcome Sister and Brother.  Like what in the name of sam hill?  Why were children on this call where we were deciding their fate?  

FYI, Coach does not like me to embarrass him and so me poking him in the arm and giving him sideways glances while our faces were on the video was irritating the shit out of him.   I got a jab to the ribs for whispering through my teeth:  why are the kids on the call?

Hindsight:  We are adults.  We wish we had said, Sorry, this is not what we were expecting and at this time we are not willing to participate.  

BUT we didn't.  We were blindsided.  We didn't want to waste people's time.  We felt like we were the only ones surprised by this.  I go back to a conversation I had with Teesha when she told me that the kids' former worker shared way too much with Sister from the court proceedings, and Teesha would never make that mistake.  How. Is. This. Different?

Teesha:  So Shenanigans, has anything changed since we last spoke?  (I wanted to say, Oh, sure.  Sister is 5 years younger, she doesn't own an iphone, I am going to home school, and George Floyd wasn't just killed raising racial tensions).  

Coach:  *frozen, speechless*

Me:  Um, no.  Nothing has changed.  At this time we are not sure we can proceed.

Sister:  (shouting) What?  We did nothing wrong!  We got along with everyone!  We were good!  

Dagger:  (inserted directly to my heart.)

Me:  (gulp, elbowing Coach to say something, but realizing it was gonna have to be me)  You're right Sister, you were good and we really enjoyed you both.  This is not about that.  We just aren't sure that it would be a good fit because of the ages of our kids and school.  

Sister:  I asked you why you wanted to adopt and you told me, now I think you need to go back and change your goal.  This was a waste of our time.  

Mr. Foster:  No, it wasn't a waste of time.  That's how we do things.  We try it out and then see if it is a good fit. 

Crazy-pants:  Shenanigans are you saying no because the kids told you that they DO NOT wish to be adopted?

Me:  No.  They never said they didn't want to be adopted.  

Teesha:  They have never said they didn't want to be adopted.  

Crazy-pants:  yes, they just told me that.
Sister and Brother yeah, we told you that too, Teesha.  We didn't want to live with the Shenanigans anyway.  (we assume this was a defense mechanism, because if they didn't want to live with us and they told Teesha this in advance WHY EVEN HAVE A CALL?)

Mr. Foster:  That's not what I heard you say, and I was there when you met with Teesha.

Me:  (leaning off camera, wiping my tears, motioning to Coach and whispering:  should we just take them, should we say yes?  I can't stand this!)

Ford:  Kids they are saying this is not a good fit.  They did not want to take you and then find out later that it wouldn't work.  This is not to say that they didn't enjoy you.  They have other reasons for it to not work.

Teesha:  OK, well I think we can just end this call.

I cried for an hour.  Poor Coach had to go back to work for an hour, so he hugged me and darted off.  When he came home, he looked as drained as I felt.  

Amy was out sick with a terrible sinus infection.  I texted her and she had her supervisor call me back.  

Me:  Is it normal to have kids on the call?  (She listened to our frustrations.  why have kids on a call when the workers knew we were uncertain?  Why not ever answer our questions, what did the kids say about the last visit?  could Sister repeat a grade - and I get that this might not have been the right step.  Supervisor of Amy talked me off the ledge, said she didn't think it sounded like a good match, and I calmed down.  Sort of).
When I walked into the kitchen, Mini was sitting there crying.  She had overhead most of what went down.  It was heartbreaking and also hurtful.  We never intended to hurt these two kids.  We felt like we had been hit by a bus. How could Teesha be so unprofessional?  We decided after a few hours that Teesha didn't like our hesitations, so she thought she would make us try to explain ourselves to the kids.  Maybe she preferred that we tell the kids so she didn't have to.  

Coach texted her and told her we felt like we were hit by a bus and that we would appreciate a call.  She texted back:  SORRY YOU FEEL THAT WAY.  WHAT WOULD BE THE POINT OF A CALL?

Then she texted to say that she would call us at 6.  At 6:15 she called and said that the kids wanted to tell us in their own words what they thought about the last visit.  That's why she didn't share that info with us?  Not that this would have totally changed our position, but we were interested.  I asked if kids are usually included on these calls, and she said if they want to.  BUT THEY ARE CHILDREN! 

I left a message for Ford, asked her to call me.  She called me the next morning - after I got back from my walk where Mini tripped through the neighborhood.  It was best that I walked in front of her.  I felt hollowed out and Mini had requested that we just not talk about it anymore.  

Ford:  My supervisor wanted to be on the call, so she is on the line.  

I proceeded to explain that we felt the kids should not have been on the call and how our hesitations were tough to explain to kids.  I tried to describe what my high school kids saw as potential issues (the issues I described above), ie:  rough crowd, girls fighting, etc.  Her supervisor cut me off.  

Supervisor felt that I was assuming that students at our high school who come from different backgrounds than us come from homes with no structure and these people are not trying.  I told her, she was right.  I shouldn't have said it that way.  Just that morning I had reminded Tank that his friends think our rules are strict.  His friends come from a similar economic background as ours.  

Supervisor:  It's not mis-speaking, it's an attitude.  


Well, I stepped in it with this woman, and while Ford had told me earlier in the week that she appreciated that I was thinking about it from all angles - I realized now that she thought I was a closed minded white woman and she knew her boss would put me in my place.  

Her supervisor continued to school me on all things foster/adoption even if they were topics unrelated to our situation.  It was awful.  

In the middle of our adoption consideration George Floyd was killed.  We talked about how horrible and unjust his death was with Sister and Brother.  

The world was turning upside down -rightfully so, and Coach and I were digesting all of the hurt.  We recognized that there was a lot that we needed to tune in to.  Things we took for granted.  The existence of systemic racism was disturbing and had never been on our radar as it was at this point. 

When I explained the conversation to Amy she felt that perhaps Ford's boss was taking an opportunity to lash out at me given the current climate.  It certainly felt that way.  

While both Ford and her boss felt the kids should not have been on the call, boss lady also accused me of not getting enough training because I took my Pride classes online (online classes are perfectly legit, but sounded like she thought I got my certificate in a cracker jack box).  When I said I worried that Sister might not like it if her friends made fun of her for having a white mom, boss-lady scolded me:  "It is 2020.  Three are families with 2 moms and there are families with 2 dads."  

I was like, yeah, I get that.  Thanks for cluing me in.  I am only bringing this up because Sister told me that SHE was unsure that SHE would like to stand out and be stared at if she was part of a white family.  

She said other things like I assumed Sister would fall in with the wrong crowd.   To me I was not assuming she WOULD, I was worried if she did, how difficult that might be.   

Ford's boss launched into a speech about how it was not possible to fix kids' issues in two visits.  "You cannot fix kids' issues in 2 visits, or in 2 y
ears, it takes more like 14 years."  

I still struggle with the relevance of this statement.  NEVER, and I mean never did I expect to be able to do that or did I suggest to her that this was my hope.  I simply said we noted what issues the kids had while they were visiting and I recognized that they were all things that we could work on over time.  

I said I was worried about my kids and their need for space, having a kid in the same grade might prove difficult.  Again, she came at me with "Well, you would probably parent a situation that came up just the same as you would parent a situation that might arise from your own kids being in the same school"

(um, but none are in the same grade and while my kids are not perfect, none of them has ever done anything to cause embarrassment or upset to a sibling.  Uncharted territory).  

She told me that IF my family chose to pursue adoption, and she wasn't sure if that was right for us - then maybe we should only adopt a child that looked like us.  I countered with the fact that the ages might not be a good fit, but we felt comfortable adopting outside of our race.  

I told her that we did enjoy the kids, we found them insightful and appreciated that they were good at sharing their thoughts and feelings.  We wanted to reach out to the kids with a note to reiterate these things.

Supervisor:  Oh, the kids will be fine.  These are great kids.  You can reach out to them if you want to, but they will do great.  We will let them know that being black is a good thing.

Overall, she acted as if I told the kids they were not OK being black.  That we didn't really care about their best interest.  She also behaved as if us choosing not to adopt them was NEVER an option and when we chose that, we had fouled the system, which is just not the case.  I explained how I worried that Tank would shut down until he could leave for college.  Then Boss lady said that the goal of fostering is never to cause harm to children already in the family.  

She ended with 'Thanks for your hospitality.' As if this process was just us hosting a sleepover, trying to be do-gooders but not able to stick it out.  As if we hadn't taken so much into consideration. lost sleep, discussed things at GREAT length.  As if Teesha's need to race things along with back to back visits didn't possibly cause the whole process to run off the rails while we struggled to process.  

It took over a week before Amy came back to work.  We spoke to her and I shared how upsetting all of it was and how the call with Ford and her boss had left me with a deep sense of guilt and had me wonder whether or not we really made the right decision.  I spent all of 4th of July wondering if we should call them back and say, let's give this another try.  Amy has a call set up to reach out to Ford and speak to her about how she felt things were left.  

*edited to add:  (cause why not more writing at this point?) this call with Amy and Ford (whose real name, by the way, is the name of an upscale foreign car manufacturer, but I opted to downgrade her to a Ford for this writing.  Just thought, why should I be the only one who gets that?) happened yesterday and Amy emailed me to say that Ford and her supervisor found my comments offensive.   Amy will now come to the house next week to debrief the entire family on trans-racial adoption.  

So, more tears.  

I have felt like shit all afternoon.  Not my intention to offend them, but they are also putting words in my mouth that I did not say.  They implied it.  Either way, it was a tough conversation and I may not have approached it in the most delicate way as I tried to explain the possible issue of Sister falling in with the wrong crowd.  Our kids go to school there and they deal with the reality of that atmosphere.  

Coach  (who I occasionally want to throttle, but who does come through when I am a tearful mess when I pick him up from work because HELLO CAR SHORTAGE over here):  You can't take back words, but you know in your heart what you are trying to do and what you meant and sometimes people's perception is not always accurate.  You have to remember that in the big picture we are doing the best we can and that we have to make the best decision for our family and our family's needs.  

Before anyone asks or thinks 'WHY DID YOU LOOK AT TEENAGE KID IF YOU WEREN'T GOING TO ADOPT TEENAGE KID?', let me just say:  

while we were aiming for slightly younger kids, we looked into these two because it becomes frustrating to never have anyone seriously consider us as potential parents.  These were not even the first teens we considered.  Might have been trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.  Also, I don't think the high school diversity and the potential for problems with kids falling in with the wrong crowd occurred to our high school kids until it was up close and personal.  We didn't 'surprise them' with these kids - they were aware all along, but we never knew if we would even move to the next level until it actually happened.  Then once it did everything was in lightning speed.  My kids are busy working and making up for lost time by seeing friends - we should probably install a revolving door.  So, it was hard to grab them and get them to expand on their thoughts for more than a few minutes.     

I am a planner.  I think of things in advance and map out how they are going to happen.  So, now I am grieving those things.  Attending Sister's basketball games.  Watching Curly and Brother walk to school together.  Yellowstone next summer.  Things I had envisioned, hoped for, as a possibility.  
And now for a bit of comic relief because this really happened yesterday before I became a puddle for the 85th time in 2 weeks: 
I saw that Mary Ann successfully had a package
 delivered to her address, not mine.  I offered
my kids who were eating lunch, "$10 to
whoever swipes her package and sticks
 it on our front porch for fun."
  I got no takers.
Come on, where is your sense of adventure? 

(those of you who enjoy your gardening - 
you know who you are, try not to cringe at my 
eye-soar of weeds through the railing there. 
Picking weeds:  not my strong suit).

I get that I played a role in shutting the adoption down, but for a while I had hopes that this would be a good fit.  I am a box checker.  I never dreamt that getting matched and having to decide if this was 'it' was going to be so hard.  I assumed when we got to this point, we would roll with it.  Make it work.  Once the visits happened, I thought we would drive to our respective parents' houses on Father's Day and share the news.  (I have friends who wanted to hide in the bushes during this news sharing).  

I fall hard, when I fall.  As you can tell, I don't just kinda share - I dive in, open up, and I did that with these two kids.  We shared a few visits with them that were full of laughs and fun, interesting talks about religion and sharing of funny family stories, but I also know that we couldn't just go mini-golf and play charades and re-fill the raccoon spa, and roast marshmallows every day of real life.  We did enjoy Sister and Brother, but I also worried about how some aspects of a life together might be more challenging than we could handle.  Should I have ignored my kids' requests that we not go through with the adoption?  Should I have ignored my gut that was working overtime with anxiety?

This would have been hard regardless, but it ended so dramatically.  Will I always wonder if we made a mistake?  Will we ever find a match that works or will we always wonder, what if?  

Like I have said, I have a strong faith and for whatever reason believe that God is walking us down this path.  I am lucky to share this path with Coach (and our kids) - but mostly Coach, but I DO need to remind myself that God is walking along with us because at times I am shrugging going 'What the heck was that?'  Am I the only one that sometimes finds trusting in the Big Guy's overall plan hard as all get-out?

So, that was just a little light summer reading?  How's your summer been?


Anonymous said...

Wow. When you said we won’t believe what happens next, you were right. I never would have imagined that you’d be attacked in the way that you are, and while I completely understand and agree that tensions are high, it does sound like one concern (of a few) is being unfairly taken out of context. I assume you haven’t had the opportunity to pour this whole story into the other people working this case, but it is clear to me that you only have the best intentions for all involved. Including your own children and any and all potential new additions. I feel like your gut instincts and your kids feelings should absolutely weigh on this decision, it’s crazy to me that with things being so rushed it seems like the workers and Casa and everyone were upset when you chose not to proceed, it’s not like you strung the kids along for months, and you chose not to proceed in the best interest of the kids! Trying to save them from hurt as well as protect your kids’ feelings. I’m not sure why I am telling your own story back to you, except just to say that I support you and can clearly see this was not easy, or a hasty decision, for you. Please don’t be hard on yourself, you’re working hard to doing a good thing.

Ernie said...

AM- I shared with Betty the concerns our kids had with the rough patches of our district. She understood my concerns. Betty is white and is married to a black man. Their kids attend the same high school. I don't think she found my thoughts offensive. She thought maybe Sister would manage to stay out of trouble if she was involved in sports. She also told me that when they started the process she felt like her kids' opinions did not matter because they would eventually move out. Her kids were all on board though and she said they have been instrumental. She was not sure how she could have done it with the pandemic, etc. if they had not been helpful. One of the worst parts of this for us was how Teesha let the kids be part of the call knowing wehad reservations. After Teesha claimed the kids did not want to live with us anyway- and to that I say, then whyeven have the call? We are taking this as a learning experience. Hoping the road ahead is not so rocky.

Beth Cotell said...

I think you were correct by not taking these kids into your family - you had extreme anxiety about it and your kids were telling you no. That's two very big indicators that this was not that right fit. The only thing that you did wrong was to say no in front of the kids and that wasn't your fault - you assumed the kids would not be on this call and there they were putting you into a bad spot.

I pray that you will be able to find the perfect fit for your family.

Anonymous said...

Oh Ernie. Such a sad story. I have so many thoughts and feelings but just mostly I’m overwhelmed and sad for everyone.

I wish your worker had seen your questions, realized that this is new for you, that you’re a good person, and that she needed to talk to you without the kids. I think everything might have gone better, though maybe the same conclusion reached. Just less traumatically for all.

I also think God gives us stuff to challenge us to learn and change and grow and, whoa nelllie, that’s hard to do. So hopefully you can set aside the mistakes made by others and look for whatever it was that God is trying to show you... what lessons to learn. What did you discover about yourself or your family or about the realities of how this would work? Or even bigger picture things about you, your family, etc. It could be anything. But when you see it you will have an Aha! moment. At least I did when my life was turned upside down. Maybe the best gift you could give yourself would be to forgive the mistakes made by others and look for something positive, something to reflect on. You’ve written nuggets of wisdom in these posts - self insight, insight into your family, wisdom spoken by friends, by your kids.... Maybe that is something to nurture and grow?

I have been doing a lot of reading and listening about race issues lately. Also a lot of crying. The one thing that has been drilled into me is that right now I need to: read and listen. I have no idea where that leaves you in adoption. But there are now many, many things to read & listen & think about posted online, at online library collections, etc.

Thank you for sharing all this. It sounds like you & your family tried, sincerely tried, to do good, to help, to not cause harm. It also sounds like chaos and innocent misunderstanding and life and real world events (pandemic!) delt you some sideswipes. Hoping you can get something positive out of all this.


Busy Bee Suz said...

The very people who are supposed to be assisting these kids and getting them placed in good homes FAILED THEM. And they failed you. And then they tried to make you feel bad for having legitimate concerns. And playing the race card and trying to make you feel bad? That's a crock of bullshit. You were being realistic.
Your concerns were valid.
I believe you did the correct thing. Your kids were swaying one way....and you have to trust everyone's gut feeling on this.
I understand how hard your heart must still be feeling, but I pray that with time, you will realize you did the right thing.
I'm so annoyed at the social workers.

ps. I didn't think those were weeds; they look like buttterly weeds. They are different. ;)

Ernie said...

Beth - I think you are probably right. I am still struggling because I liked the kids and I had high hopes. I think I have a hard time separating out my concerns from my everyday, run-of-the-mill feelings of this is gonna be hard for a while. No matter what, it will be an adjustment and I think I have been kicking myself because I fear that I balked at the regular hold-on-to-your hat difficult adjustment thoughts, but when I take a step back and look - it had the earmarks for a not-so-good fit. I always assume things will turn out just fine (why else would I have bought a house across the street from Mary Ann even though I already knew her, ha), so I am sort of slapping myself around a bit for possibly running away from something that was doable. I always go back to my kids and we never asked them if adding Curly would work for them, but this is a bit more challenging. I so appreciate your prayers and good thoughts.

Maddie - It was overwhelming. Truly. More so than I ever could have imagined. I do feel like we made some mistakes along the way, but I chalk those up as rookie mistakes and the 'race' comment that they find offensive (when no race was even mentioned but they implied it), I felt like I was being honest and transparent (Eddie would love to sit in a room to discuss this further with both of them, because they put words in my mouth and made some assumptions, etc.)

Coach told me afterward that he felt we were back to the beginning and I told him that I feel like we are that much wiser. We learned a lot from this, not the least of which is to advocate for ourselves and refuse to meet if questions have not been answered or take a polite pass on a meeting that includes children, or ask in advance who will be in on the call, etc.

I also learned more about my kids and their comfort levels. Our agency really promotes only adopting kids younger than our own, and I now see why (although all along that sounded like a good plan to me, you get tired of not trying something though after waiting for months and months so we tried). When I told Ford and her boss the advice our group gives about adopting younger than our own kids they were floored. Interesting that so many professionals approach all of this differently. Thanks for your heartfelt comment, I truly appreciate your thoughts.

Suz - The phrase 'First do no harm' kept going through my head after the call. I think that is the doctor oath or something, but why oh why would these people set us up and the kids up for a negative experience? It was so confusing to be praised by Ford one day for my deep thoughts but then torn to shreds the next with the help of her supervisor when I was talking about a very real life situation that had my kids who live with that real life situation - freaking out. *Sigh* What does not kill you, makes you stronger. I have honestly never felt so low in my entire life as I did the first few days after this disaster. I am hoping that time will heal (Sister and Brother too, as I think of them daily) and I pray that when the right situation comes along we will all be ready to embrace it. I am annoyed with the workers too, and I wish there was recourse because I feel like this is why DCFS has the bad wrap that they have. Pay these people more, find better more committed workers, do SOMETHING. It is a broken system for certain.

So, I totally knew those were butterfly weeds - I was just testing you. Hee hee.

Kari said...

I had to take a day to digest all of this. I get that the children needed to be part of this process but part of me thinks that there needed to be a part of it that they didn't necessarily need to be part of. (Yours that is)

I need to discuss the foster kids for a minute because their voices aren't being talked about. It is a tough process and your home would have been an amazing place for them. So I imagine the loss for THEM was hardest because for a moment they saw a light at the end of their tunnel. Again, the system continually fails them and there is no easy answer here. Our foster system and the government are a total mess/failure on so many levels. And with COVID and everything, it is quite hard. I also imagine that those placement agents (and again, I am speaking generally here, not all are like this), are just looking to get the kids in homes and out of the system, so from their standpoint, they might just be angry at you for dropping the ball and no amount of reasoning, whether rational or not, wouldn't matter to them.

Maybe take this time and silence to take care of your family and their emotional needs and use it to heal from this experience. Maybe once they are grown, you may be ready again to foster or even adopt. Or maybe not. But I admire and respect you and Coach for even having this in your heart, to begin with. That is admirable.

Ernie said...

Kari - My kids are only part of the process that they need to be included on - they do not know all the details of the adoptive kids' background, what's in their file. No one in this would advocate making this decision without our kids' involvement or their go-ahead, not my therapist, not our worker, not the DCFS workers, that just would not be appropriate or healthy. First and foremost I have to be sure my kids are not going to crumble due to an adoption. There is actually a website devoted to kids who were adopted and it didn't work out (it's called 2nd chance adoptions) - most of the time these kids are younger than my kids, but time and time again the website sites the reason the adoption failed was because the family adopted kids too close in age or the same age as the biological kids.

My home would have been an amazing place for Brother or Sister, if it was a good fit. That was one thing we were not sure of. The kids voices might not be discussed here in the comments, but they were valued and heard by us and referenced in my post. They were the reason we were putting ourselves out there, giving this a try - it was in the hopes of offering them a home. Their current foster family took them with the goal that they would adopt them and they opted not to. That makes their situation that much harder, but it is not our fault. We wanted to be sure so that they didn't go through that process again. Sister told us point blank that she was not sure that she could be comfortable being adopted by a white family- that was her voice and we heard it. She doesn't like to stand out and would not want people staring at her in public if she was part of a white family. We were not sure she could handle that and we asked her worker to find out how she felt after her visit with us. Was this going to present an issue? We never got a response. We asked both kids after each visit when we drove them back to their foster parents, what they thought, if they had questions, etc. Brother stated that he was hesitant to live with people who do not agree to buy $200 hoodies when someone REALLY wants one. Yes, we could have been a light at the end of the tunnel, but they had their reservations and we did not take them on visits as a guarantee that we would adopt them. It was a 'let's see how this works' situation.

For the record, we did not 'drop the ball' we simply said we weren't certain it would be a good fit. And yes, I believe that the workers were ticked off that it wasn't a 'go', but we also weren't given much time to process and they failed to respond to our questions. We don't plan to adopt or foster when our kids are grown. We plan to be old and tired by then. :)

Kari said...

I can’t imagine having to go through all of this on top of the pandemic. I hope my comment didn’t sound judgmental because I didn’t mean it that way. It was before coffee, so that should explain a lot. Again, you have my heart on this situation. ❤️

Cheryl said...

I give you and your family a lot of credit for wanting to help out kids in need. It just didn't work out this time. Who knows what the future will bring. Heck, if you knew the future, you would be a millionaire. (Share the lottery numbers with me, okay? :))

There were lots of kids in my family growing up, seven to be exact, all pretty close in age, like your family. But, that didn't stop my Mom from taking in our friends. There were at least four different times we had extra kids living with us, for years at a time. It was usually trouble in their own homes that led them to ours. Growing up in the 70's was a more rule relaxed time.

Keep your "Mom" heart open, good things are sure to come your way.

Charlie said...

Wow Ernie, those kids and yourselves certainly seem to have been let down by the system. The system that should be offering support to both parties to result in a win-win situation, not a race to get kids off their books and into the first home that seems to come along. I am also floored that the kids would be on such a call, it’s quite unbelievable and really shows the naivety and lack of professionalism from people who should know better.

About 10 years ago we were approached to become guardians to our nephew (sister in law is schizophrenic) we had lost contact with her years before and not met the nephew. He had a foster family he’d been living with, but social services wanted to see if blood family could help first, before formalising the guardianship arrangements with the other family. We had a few meetings then he came to us for a week over Christmas. It was awful and mostly because of how he interacted with our daughter. Luckily we got to have a private conversation with our social worker and explain and they fully recognised that the visit had been a trial to see if it would be a fit for both him and us. I also felt awful saying we couldn’t take him (and he is family) but he had so many mental health issues I wasn’t sure if we were the family best suited to his needs. Luckily we knew the foster family he was with desperately wanted him and were able to deal with his issues. But the guilt is still there.

Anonymous said...

Sleep is eluding me tonight & I found myself Thinking about your posts and what you’ve shared in the comments & something occurred to me: you were always listening Ernie. You listened to the concerns of Sister and Brother, the concerns of your kids. You listened and *heard* and took those concerns seriously. Dude. That is a major strength.

Just wanted to recognize your awesomeness for listening. :-)


Ernie said...

Cheryl - I must have said, "If only I had a crystal ball . . . " a hundred times during this process. Sigh. I never imagined it would be so tough. I assumed it would be much more straightforward. I appreciate your good thoughts and kind words. We do hope that there is a good fit out there and that this rough time will be a time for growth.

Charlie - I learned that Sister and Brother were placed in their current placement the day before the school year started. According to the CASA - it was rushed and she kept begging them to slow down. Sister had some reservations about living with the foster mom, but said she was willing to give it a try. Dang. That didn't work out well. She and the foster mom avoid each other. It saddens me, but I was too nervous that things would not be any easier here.

That story about your nephew is heart breaking. I am glad that the foster family was able to take him, and equipped. I think there is something to be said for having your heart in the right place, but there are often issues that require so much more, and knowing our limits is a big component to making these things work. Big hugs to you, as this sounds like it was a difficult decision - but probably the right one for everyone involved.

Maddie - Sorry to hear you are not sleeping, that is the WORST. I am in the opposite place right now, and I wonder if the fact that I just stopped taking Nutrafol for hair growth (epic $$$ fail) is part of the reason I am thrown off kilter. It seems like my body cannot adjust, I am SO sleepy.

Thank you for recognizing my listening skills, really I am better at talking stream of consciousness style, than I am at listening, but I DID listen. I tuned in to what everyone was feeling and thinking and how they were behaving. I also talked myself blue in the face, as I shared with my close friends how torn I was. Even if I wanted to jump in with two feet and go for it, I kept remembering how Tank seemed to struggle/shut down and how Mini kept becoming tearful and concerned about how 'we' would manage. My kids know my plate is already fairly full and they worried I would explode. I also could not be sure if it might be really hard for Sister if she was not wanting to stand out in public with our family.

I appreciate you circling back in your not-sleeping time to affirm this, really very touched. I hope you are able to get your much needed rest. I hate the buzzy head feeling after a night when sleep escapes me.

Pat Birnie said...

Oh my. I could not have imagined this outcome. I think the idea of having the kids on the call is horrific and truly incompetent by those parties. They were supposed to have acted in the kids’ best interests. I’m so sorry you had to experience this. I do love coach’s comment to you. You guys are trying todo something amazing and you 100% have to consider all aspects, including your own children. Hoping that something good is just around the corner for you- you all obviously have a lot of love to give. Hugs.

Ernie said...

Pat - I really was hoping to share all of this with a different/exciting ending. It just didn't seem like it was in the cards this time. 'Incompetent' is a good word for what went down. I hope that you are right, that there is something that will fall in place better and something that we will be more confident in. Curly just did an art project tonight with paint, etc. And my heart broke a little wondering if that was something that Sister would have enjoyed. It is hard to shake off the potential positives that keep popping up. I still question if it was the right decision. I think back to a post by Beth when she wrote "Jesus, I trust in You. Help me to trust in You more." Finding that so true right now. Thanks for your thoughts and virtual hugs, hard to remember a time where there was any other kind of hug anyway. Ha.

Bibliomama said...

That all sounds incredibly difficult, particularly at this time in your country. I have trouble seeing how the kids being at the meeting was a good idea - even worse than you being put on the spot was them having to hear and feel rejected. I have a small issue with the word "entitled" being applied to them, when it's more likely an issue of feeling like material items are more reliable than people. I hope this ultimately works out in a way that's positive for your family.

Ernie said...

Ali - I think the terrible part about us being put on the spot WAS that it was ultimately going to end in the kids feeling rejected, and we never wanted to add to their feelings of being unwanted. I honestly still think about them and still try to figure out how we could make it work, or if we should have done this or that to see how it would have impacted how our kids might adjust, etc. There is a constant loop of these thoughts going through my mind, even when I remind myself that there were legitimate reasons not to move forward the loop starts up again.

You make an excellent point. The word 'entitled' does not belong there. My fault for assigning a term to them that I would assign to my own kids if they behaved that way - Sister and Brother's need for things is coming from a different place. Their worker Teesha did refer to them as entitled, but looking back that doesn't mean much considering she seemed uninformed.

I hope to be able to share a positive experience at some point. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and good wishes. I appreciate it.