Tuesday, December 17, 2013
We've been skating along in a state of mild shock for the last week and a half. Grace left our house on the 7th. I wanted to give it a week before I posted anything, and then I got sick and we went out of town. So now I've let it sit for too long, and there are many emotions all crowding to be in the same place in my head at the same time.
The other day, maybe about 3 days after she left, I came home and Leonard was kind of monosyllabic and mopey. He was able to articulate to me that he felt sad and a little empty without the girls around. Even in the last few weeks when Grace was spending a lot of time at her mom's house, she would still come home from school, play with Ziggy and then go out. This broke up the monotony of the day at home and infused some life into the otherwise dull day.
It's almost like we're dealing with a mini-grief cycle. Of course she isn't dead... heck, she's less than 2 miles from our house. But she's not our responsibility and she's not in our home. The room is clean and empty and no terrible, terrible music is coming from behind her door. That feels somehow wrong.
She's come by the house a few times, but always when I'm at work. Leonard hasn't asked the "important" questions, like how things are going with her boyfriend or what kinds of rules the new lady has. The brief texts I've gotten from her seem like she's doing o.k.
I've been missing Jill a lot as well. She did sign the papers for board extension (YAY!!!) which means that she has the option to move on to an Independent Supported Living program or some such situation. She will continue to be supported until she's 21 as long as she meets certain criteria. I'm very excited about this, as it means she has a good chance now of getting through high school.
She also got a packet in the mail from a college the other day. This made me feel a little proud- it's a rite of passage for many American youngsters, and it's fun to think of something as normal as college mail happening to our Jill, whose life has been anything but normal.
In the meantime, we're collecting the bits of our lives that seem to be scattered all around. We're holding off on any major pronouncements or decisions about more foster kids until some loose ends are sorted out- probably not until mid-January at the soonest. So we're looking forward to a low key holiday season while we make those changes to the house and then sitting down and doing some hard analysis of our lives and what we have going on.
Here's the reality- foster kids are difficult. TFC foster kids are nearly 3 times more difficult. TFC fostering in the city means kids who have long term patterns of behavior and family dynamic that are not always healthy. It really is a full time job, and maybe not one we're able to take on right now. We have to get Leonard through school and me where I want to be.
But there's a lot we can do. We can do respite, which is desperately needed, and we can help agencies such as CASA. We can volunteer and advocate.
In the mean time, we can take a big, deep, breath.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Last Sunday was Grace's birthday. We offered to host a party for her, and I made a cake. It was the first time she'd had a birthday party. Despite telling her all week to invite friends, the only people who came were her Mom and her sister, Jill. Grace did leave to got and meet a friend, but the friend never showed up to meet her.
All in all it was sweet and intimate, but for someone as social as Grace it was clear that it didn't fulfill her fantasy of a birthday party. After the pizza, cake and presents, Jill and I were talking, Mom was playing Candy Crush Saga, and Grace was watching Vampire Diaries.
After they all left, Leonard and I were talking about the emotional train wreck that was unfolding in front of us. While I don't doubt that Mom loves her kids, she is pretty incapable of keeping her addiction and other issues under control. Generally parents of foster kids fall into two groups- involved and making an effort or too wrapped up in their problems to be able to make it work. Their mom is an unfortunate combination of the two- just involved enough and just loving enough to really mess with the kids' heads, but not involved enough to make hard changes in her life.
The good news (sort of) is that Jill was very friendly and very chatty. We talked about paperwork and getting her board extension filed. While she's not technically our responsibility, it seems that the home she is in is giving her minimal support. That makes sense on one level... why put a ton of effort into a kid who's only with you for 2 months? But apparently her grandfather is pushing her to get the board extension and at least have the option when she turns 18. I think she's still holding out hope that by the end of January Mom will have it together and get a house.
Court is this Friday. We have no idea how it's going to go. I've written an impassioned appeal to her service team (made up of DHS and agency workers and the attorney) to try to keep her out of a group home. We saw with Joan that sometimes the court just makes a decision and that's that. So we just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best outcome for everyone. On some level, we're still not sure what the best outcome would actually be...