With Monkey's court date approaching next month, I can already feel myself making a feeble attempt to guard my heart. After what happened with the Booger Bear, I am horribly, horribly gun-shy when it comes to these hearings. It terrifies me that with the bang of a gavel, my life and the lives of my kids, are forever changed.
With Little Miss, I knew the week before that there was a very good chance she'd be leaving that day, so when I received the call that they were coming to get her in a couple of hours, I was at least prepared. My fear comes from my experience with Booger. I had been told they were getting a three month extension in order to transition him into his dad's care with longer visits, overnight visits, etc. I went to court that day expecting that. "Why would they lie to me about something like that?" Right? They had told me to sign him up for Mommy & Me gymnastics classes, for crying out loud! I was told literally 60 seconds before walking into the courtroom that Booger was being moved to his dad's custody with no transition. I walked out of the courtroom learning that the last time I would see my baby boy was that morning when I dropped him off at daycare. So yeah... I'm a bit gun-shy (and rather angry and bitter) when it comes to how CPS and the courts treat foster parents and handle transitioning these kids home.
Fortunately, six months after I last saw Booger, I reconnected with his parents and have since been able to be a big part of their lives. I know that's not at all "the norm" though, and that chances are I won't ever see most of my kiddos again after they leave my home. When it comes to Monkey, I know that will most likely be the case. His parents seem extremely grateful for the role that I am playing in their son's life, but considering the fact that they barely speak English and just the circumstances of their daily lives, I am fairly certain that the day he leaves my home will be the last time I ever see him.
The Invisible CPS Caseworker, his CASA, and his attorney have all told me that they are not recommending returning him at this time, but that hits a little close to home considering that is exactly what I was told in Booger's case. It's like deja vu, only this time, I'm bitter, angry, jaded, and fully expecting the worst. Probably not the healthiest attitude, but "Burn me once, shame on you... Burn me twice, shame on me!" I have every intention of keeping my baby home from daycare on court day and spending it with him just in case they pull a "Booger Day" and don't give me and my family the opportunity to say goodbye. I refuse to lose any of my kids the way I lost Booger Bear again. That was just wrong on so many levels. Not fair to me... Not fair to him... Not fair to my family and the people who had loved him as their own for nearly a year...
I know that I signed up for this. I know that we are "just" the foster family. But when it comes to these kids (and especially the babies who have been in care for most of their lives), life with their foster family is the only one they've ever known. I know how difficult it is on me when they are taken out of my life with the bang of a gavel. I at least know what's coming. I can only imagine what these little ones must be feeling. They have got to feel abandoned, scared, confused... And how do you explain to a baby that their "Mama" didn't have a choice and that she didn't want to leave them?
I really worry about Monkey. He has spent a total of about 16 hours (all supervised) with his parents since he came into care at two months old, and that was nearly six months ago! He's at the age where his verbal skills are about to take off. He is currently being raised in an English-speaking home. His birth parents speak Spanish. He knows me, and only me as his Mama. Booger's situation was different in that he had two longer, unsupervised visits with his daddy every week. He knew him. He knew his extended family. When he left my home, he was at least going to people who he knew and loved. Monkey will essentially be going to strangers.
As the court date gets closer (not even certain of the actual date yet... just know it's in November), I can feel myself trying to think in terms of Monkey leaving. Sort of an "expect the worst, so I can be pleasantly surprised with the best" mentality... I find myself thinking of reasons that it would be best for Monkey to be returned now, rather than stay with me longer. I know I'm trying to convince myself that I'm okay with it. I suppose on some level, I am. His parents might be overly-emotional and high maintenance, but they love Monkey very, very much and are doing the best they can to bring him home to a better situation than what he left.
There's just that part of me that thinks, "But he's so happy here with me! He's doing so well here with me! I know you see that! You've told me yourselves that you see that! Why can't you let him stay where he's safe, happy, and loved?!?" I guess that's where my plans and God's plans don't always match. I have to let go and trust that He will hold me up and patch up the big gaping holes in my heart when I have to say goodbye to yet another one of my kids.
Foster care really, really sucks sometimes. Just sayin'...