It’s been a little while since I’ve written a dedicated foster care post, I realized. When I first started this blog I thought I would have more to say about it on a day to day basis, but I guess I haven’t until now. On that note, I haven’t had much time for much of anything!
Anyway, it’s been almost 5 months since we have had our foster daughter, S and in those last few months a lot has changed for everyone. I think I can safely say that we have all gotten used to having a fifth member in our household. London has grown accustomed to sharing a bedroom, even if she is constantly complaining about the “mess that isn’t hers”. I think she has also gotten used to having someone her age to talk to and hang out with every day. Estelle has also gotten used to having S in our house. She asks for her when she’s not awake in the morning and when she leaves to go to appointments, she loves her. It didn’t take that long for S to feel like a part of the family!
Recently Estelle accompanied S and I on our weekly drive (an hour away) for her family visitation. When it came time to walk S into the county building and have her meet up with her Mother and sisters, Estelle became very confused. Looking back and fourth between S and her family, Estelle grabbed hold of me for dear life. As we left the building and followed them on the mutual path through the parking lot, she called out S’s name several times. “Why is S going with someone else?” was the look I received from her but she got over it as soon as we made our way to the park.
London asked me in the car the other day if I thought Estelle would remember S when she left. I didn’t think to much into it and simply said “I don’t know, probably.” While we were training to be foster parents we worked through an in depth section about loss, which taught us all the different types you may experience. When you think of loss and the foster care system, your first thought is the children losing their birth parents and living with a new family. What people don’t think about is the foster family’s loss, when that child returns home. People often don’t think about the foster parent’s birth children and their experience of losing their “siblings”. It seems like a selfish thing to think about, the foster family losing their foster child but it is a natural feeling that happens. Estelle was still an infant while we were learning about this section and I didn’t think too much about how quickly the aspect of loss would come to her, but the answer is pretty darn quickly.
Thinking about it in this moment, I know Estelle will remember her. If not forever then at least for a few months after S leaves. I know she will ask where she is or eventually ask why she left and a small part of me is sad for her. Estelle is such a loving little girl, that I know she will be the best sister to anyone who comes through our door. She will show them compassion and sweetness that they may not have otherwise been exposed to- I love that for her! But as she gets older I am going to have to be more wary of her feelings, include her in household decisions and make sure she has her voice.
When S first moved in, within 2 weeks she was asking if we would adopt her. She told us she never wanted to go back to her parents again and I can’t say I blamed her, from the stories we were told about the way she was treated. When she came to us, she hadn’t seen her Mother in 3 or 4 years. She wasn’t sure how she felt about her, but wanted to speak with her. Needless to say, Josh and I were surprised that she had asked us to adopt her so soon but we told her we would see how things went. In that time S has been able to have weekly visits with her Mom and sisters and spent some quality missed out time. She has forgiven her Mom for the past and has told me several times that she just wants to have that bond with her Mother that everyone has by living together. “The normal Mother-Daughter experience” as she calls it. She has started referring to things, since coming to that conclusion, as “ifs”. “If I’m still here when that happens”, “if I move out before then”.
As a foster parent I am finding it hard to find the words to say without making it sound like I’m doubting her Mother’s potential to succeed, because I’m not. Though I don’t know her Mother very well, from the few times I’ve met her she seems like a very nice person. S has told me that her Mom loves me several times and I love that she thinks I’m taking good care of her daughter! It’s a great feeling actually! So I never want come off that I don’t have faith in her because a large part of me does, but I have to be cautious about how I say things.
So what do I say?
- “We will see.”
- “Nothing is certain.”
- “I hope so, for your sake.”
- “It is all on your Mom, you can’t change what happens. She’s gotta figure this out.”
I tell S to focus on what’s happening right now and not to worry about the future. What will happen will happen and there’s nothing we can do to change the way things will end up. I wish I could know what was going to happen and be able to tell her, but I can’t! So for now, we just continue living our lives to the best of our abilities!
Which we will do, by going on vacation to Delaware next weekend. It will be our first vacation with three children in tow and I have to say I’m a little bit nervous. S has never been to the beach and London can’t remember her vacation to the beach as a toddler, so I am excited to see them soak up these new experiences!