With our decision made, the case worker was anxious to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible. This meant we needed to get relicensed which takes some time, so the case worker requested that Ezran be moved to us as a fictive kinship placement.
Kinship placements are when a child is placed with another biological family member. It could be a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin or possibly even an older sibling. Fictive kinship is when there is a non-biological relationship to the child. Many times, it’s a close friend of a parent or the child. In our case, it was a combination of the relationship I had developed with mom and even bigger, the fact that Arryn is his sibling. Knowing the case would more than likely go to adoption, CPS really wanted to keep siblings together and so did we.
Because there are fewer requirements in a Kinship/fictive kinship placement, Ezran could be moved to us much sooner than he would if we had to wait to be relicensed as a foster home. In this case, we just needed a home inspection and home study report. Both of those were able to take place within a few weeks vs months of classes, inspections, home study, and other requirements that are required for a foster care license.
Now that everything was moving forward, the next thing I wanted to take care of was establishing sibling visits. I knew this was a state requirement and the case worker got the first visit set up for the following week. This was an opportunity for Arryn and Ezran to meet and begin bonding. It was also a chance for Ezran and me to get to know each other so when he came to live with us, we weren’t “complete” strangers to him.
The day before our first visit, Ezran’s foster parents requested the opportunity to come meet us. Having been in similar situations as a foster parent, I was more than happy to have them come to the visit. My hope was that they would find some comfort in meeting us and would walk away with the assurance that he would be loved and moving to a wonderful home.
Arryn and I enjoyed a 45-minute visit when the case worker came in to let me know she was going to get the foster parents to come in for the last 15 minutes of the visit.
They came in and Introductions were made. The case worker excused herself and said she would be back to escort us from the visit.
It started out well, although I could tell that they were unhappy that he was leaving. Foster mom’s facial expressions and demeanor spoke loudly. I tried my best to make sure she understood that I had been in the same situation several times and understood how hard it was.
I shared a little about our family and our history with foster care and told them how I had come to know Arryn and Ezran’s mom. I showed them the photo mom had sent me shortly after Ezra was born. I shared the story of how we had another sibling (Bubby) and how much my heart was broken when the judge made the decision to have him leave our care to go live with his great-aunt. I also told them how we thought another sibling was going to come to live with us, but in the end, they decided to have her stay where she was.
During our conversation, foster mom was holding Ezran and then the real purpose of the visit was shared. Foster dad said, “If you have any doubts what-so-ever we would like you to allow him to stay with us so we can adopt him.”
I was completely caught off-guard, but very calmly told them we wanted to take him and wanted him and Arryn to grow up together in the same home and family. He then said, “We will make sure that they stay in contact and regularly see each other.”
Believe me, I understand the desire to want things to turn out differently and this couple was desperate to hold onto the little baby boy they loved so dearly. However, as foster parents, we are trained to support reunification. While the ultimate goal is for a child to return to mom and/or dad, a child going to live with a family member or in this case a sibling, is also considered reunification. These parents were not showing support of the process, but instead trying to convince me to change my mind and allow them to keep Ezran. They were crossing a line and it was an uncomfortable situation, but I remained calm and told them that living in another home and having visits with a sibling is not the same as growing up in the same home and family with that sibling. I then told them that if they wanted to provide me with their contact information, I would be happy to stay in contact with them and even set up visits from time to time, but we wanted Arryn and her brother to be together in our home.
Apparently, my refusal to change my mind was more than foster mom could handle. She quickly handed Ezran back to me and said, “I can’t do this” and walked out of the room leaving me with her husband and one of their other foster children who had come with them.
I told foster dad that I was sorry his wife was so upset and that I really did understand. Even though he was also sad to know Ezran would not be staying with them, he did seem to understand the importance of keeping him and Arryn together.
Our visit lasted a few more minutes and then it was time to say our good-byes. This was the first and last time I saw the foster parents. It wasn’t the last time that I would hear from foster mom though.
To be continued . . . .