Our True Battle Begins
This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is September 2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.
It was not even a full month after we first received these two beautiful little boys that I received a call from the CPS Case Worker saying that she had just left the court proceedings and they would be at our house in an hour and a half to pick up the boys! What?!. I had never even been told that there was a court hearing scheduled that day. It was not until later that I found out that our Agency Case Worker was not even aware of a court date that was scheduled.
This is one of the MAIN reasons why Foster Care is a Broken System! In this day and age with the technology we have there is no reason in the world why communication cannot be streamlined so EVERYONE involved in the life and care of that child is aware of what is going on with their case!
At the court hearing, the judge ordered that the boys were to be taken out of foster care and placed with their grandmother. We had not been aware that this was even a possibility. From the time I received the call to the time that they came to pick the boys up was 1 hour. This is all the time I had to get them packed up and tell them that they would be leaving. I also called my husband frantically, telling him they were going to be leaving. Thankfully, he was already on his way home from work, so he would be able to tell them good-bye.
When the CPS Case Workers arrived to take them, I showed her the storage bins I had for them to take with them. One of the first things we were told in our classes is that anything that is bought for the children while they are with us goes with them when they leave our home. Most of these children have nothing that belongs to them. While I would have automatically done this, knowing that it was one of the main things that had been stressed to us in our classes made it even more important to me.
I am sure you can imagine my bewilderment when the Child Protective Services (CPS) Case Worker asked me if I was sure I wanted to send all of these things with them. I assured her that yes, I had already bought the storage buckets for them so I would be prepared whenever the time came for them to leave. Thankfully I had this taken care of the first few days so I did not send them off with a garbage bag of belongings.
I reminded the CPS Case Worker that the oldest boy had celebrated his birthday with us, and that many of the things were his presents that he had received at his party. She told me once again that it was not necessary to send everything with them; I could keep some stuff for the next children we would receive. Once again I insisted that these things go with the boys.
By the time the boys were loaded in the car and buckled in their seat belts, this CPS Case Worker had asked me a total of 4 times if I was sure that I did not want to keep some of the things I was sending. By the last time, it was all I could do to keep my composure.
While we knew from the very beginning that these boys were not up for adoption, it was not easy at all to see them disappear down the road. These two little boys- our first sons- will always hold a very special place in my heart. Every time I see a bottle of Ranch Dressing I smile and think of the oldest one. My, how that little one loved his Ranch Dressing! I can still hear his little voice now- “Miz ‘Llenah, I want my ranch dressin’, please!”
That little boy stole my heart from the very first moment. I struggled more with the youngest one, because he cried for hours. He craved attention. While I would spend time throughout the day holding each of them, rocking them, playing with them, it was never enough for the youngest one. He would scream throughout the night. I was so mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted by the time they left, but I missed them before they were out of sight.
The next day, I called our agency case worker and told her we were ready for more children when they were available. She was bewildered, wondering what was going on with the boys. She was not even aware that they were being taken to the grandmother!
Our home was open once again.
It was at this time that she told me about another set of siblings- a little girl, 4-years-old and her brother who was 3-years-old. They had been placed in 9 different places, if I remember correctly. They were about to be moved again. She told me they should be ready to be adopted in December (this is now end of September 2007).
I did not hesitate! I told her absolutely we would take them! To know by December we could be finished with the Foster Care system and start just living life was a dream!
So we made arrangements to meet them. We decided it would be best not to just place them immediately, since they had been moved so many times. When we met them, we fell in love immediately. And they immediately began calling us mom and dad. That was a bit strange to me. In fact, they thought they were going home with us that day. They were so used to being moved around to different homes and different places they just naturally expected that they were on to their next stopping off place.
They came to spend one night with us the next week, and we made arrangements for October 1 for them to be placed with us. They didn’t want to leave to go back to the other home. So, October 1 came and they were brought to their new home. Thankfully, this would be their last home. They would never be moved again! But, I am getting way ahead of myself here.
The day after the first two little boys were taken to their grandmother is when we agreed to take the next set of children. While we would not get them immediately, we were committed to taking them.
The next week, while discussing the brother and sister that we would be receiving with our Agency Case Worker, I found out that the first two little boys were back in the system. We did not know it at the time, but when they were removed from our home and taken to the grandmother, they were not taken to her home- they were taken to her place of employment! The grandmother had them only 4 days and discovered she could not handle them. She took them back to the shelter. This is now the second time the baby has been abandoned. His biological mother had left him literally on a street corner and drove off. Thankfully, it was on the street where the biological father lived, but that really does not make it any better. My prayer is that this baby is too young to remember what he has gone through.
I did not know what to do! Our little boys needed a home! But we had committed to the other two children! We were only licensed for two children. My heart was so very torn!
We discussed increasing our license to four children. I just did not know if I would be able to handle them all. I prayed and prayed, searching for an answer, but I did not receive one. All I could do at this point was trust that God would take care of these two little boys.
We had been told horrible things about the two children we were about to receive. They were destructive, no one could control them, there were major behavioral issues, and they were mean to animals. While some of the things we were told were true, not all of these things were. True facts or not, it does not hurt my heart any less to realize now that ALL these two children wanted and needed was to be loved, to feel secure, and be given loving discipline.
From the very beginning we realized that these two children were not going to be nearly as easy as our first experience was.
Our Agency Case Worker had told us that their biological mother’s rights should be terminated by December- just two months away. Their biological father’s rights had already been terminated, and the final court date was scheduled in December.
There was a pre-trial date set for the end of October, to prepare for the Termination of Rights hearing in December. Never could I have ever imagined that our battle for these two children had only just begun.
The purpose of this series: Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?
The next chapter of this series: Jumping Head First In The Fight For My Children
The previous chapter of this series: Love Plain and Simple
Foster Care: A Broken System- Video