I have written this post, rewritten this post, then let it sit while I decide how I want to share this part of the story.
While this part of the story was frustrating and surprising, I don’t want to put foster parents in a bad light. There are certainly foster parents who are in over their heads and should close their home, but there are also some wonderful foster parents, while others fall somewhere in the middle. Fortunately, the good outweigh the bad. As I share this story, I hope that my readers will better understand the emotional toll foster parents go through and how some may not handle those emotions appropriately.
With that said, the story continues.
When we left off, the AAL was coming for a visit. This was the final step and her approval was necessary before Ezran could be moved to us.
The visit with the AAL was, for the most part, good. We chit chatted about our move since last seeing each other and I gave her an update our family. Because she was the AAL on Bubby’s case, I shared information I had received from mom, and she shared more detail about why he was moved from our care into the care of the aunt. In a nutshell, she made the recommendation because it fell in line with the State of Texas statutes regarding the order in which a child is moved and she was required to stick with the statues.
She talked to Arryn a bit about Ezran coming to live with us, wanting to know how she felt about having her baby brother here and then asked how we learned about Ezran. I shared the story of getting a photo from mom followed by silence and no idea if he went home with her or into CPS care. We talked about the phone call from the case worker and how our decision was based on the desire to make sure these siblings had the chance to grow up together. It was expected conversation and questioning until things took a bit of a turn.
The AAL informed me that she had gone for a visit to see Ezran and talk to his foster parents. This visit took place after the first visit Arryn and I had with him and the foster parents. During her visit, foster mom claimed that I had used an outdated term to describe Bubby and then told her that we had three siblings but gave two back to CPS and only adopted Arryn.
I’m not quite sure that I did a great job hiding my shock, frustration and anger that foster mom would make these accusations, but I went on to tell the AAL about our visit and the conversation that took place.
Of course, the AAL was already familiar with Bubby’s case, but the foster parents didn’t realize that she had been involved. As such she knew that we never returned Bubby to CPS. I went on to explain that during Arryn’s case, the AAL and case worker had asked if we would be willing to take Arryn’s older sister. They were considering having her and Arryn in the same home as they are full sisters. We agreed that we would take her, but they ultimately decided to leave her with the caregivers she had been with because they had been part of her life since she was a baby. She had lived with them for quite some time and even though they aren’t her bio family, they are the bio family of the kid’s brother and removing her would have been too traumatic.
I also told the AAL about the visit. I explained how foster mom and dad had requested meeting me and Arryn, but I didn’t know until a few minutes into the visit that their purpose for the visit was to try and convince me to leave Ezran with them with the promise they would make sure to keep him in Arryn’s life. When I told them that we were not going to change our minds because living in different homes is in no way as good as growing up in the same home, foster mom became even more upset. I made an offer to stay in touch with them offering to trade contact information, but it became obvious that foster mom didn’t like that plan at all. Instead, she forcefully pushed Ezran back into my arms saying, “I can’t do this” and left the building. The AAL told me that foster mom was upset during their visit as well telling the AAL, “You need to help our family stay together.” When the AAL informed foster mom that she had to follow Texas State statues and that it is in the best interest of siblings to be raised together in the same family, foster mom was upset.
Foster care 101 teaches us that the goal in foster care in reunification. Ultimately, the hope is that child and bio parent(s) can be reunified, but it could also mean reunification with extended family which could be a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin or sibling. The next step would be a close family friend with the last resort being foster family.
As foster parent, we also learn that things can change at any moment. It has been our experience (multiple times), that everything could point to adoption by the foster family, and at the last minute a family member is located. This is what happened in Ezran’s case. The foster family had been asked if they would be willing to adopt him. They said yes. The case continued on with no eligible family or friends to take him. Then the case worker was made aware of Arryn and our family. That is when we got the call, and we said yes. The foster family had believed he would stay with them permanently and the day before the first visit, the case worker called to inform them that they had located our family and we wanted to take him so he and his sister could grow up together. They were devastated. This baby they took into their home when he was released from the hospital as a newborn, was leaving. The emotion of that was overwhelming. They wanted to do whatever they could to keep him with them first by trying to convince me to change our minds. That alone was inappropriate and something that wouldn’t have been allowed had the case worker been in the room to hear the conversation. When that didn’t work, foster mom made false allegations as a last-ditch effort to convince the AAL that we would be a bad choice for him. This was highly inappropriate, but it gave the AAL enough concern that she had to question me about the allegations during our visit.
What happened as a result of all of this, is that more red flags were raised about foster mom and the AAL not only approved Ezran’s move to us, but recommended that the move happen immediately due to concerns about foster mom.
This was also an eye-opening experience for me as I never expected another foster parent to go to these lengths to not only keep a child with them, but to also try and keep siblings apart from each other permanently.
The AAL’s recommendation was taken and the following day the case worker contacted me to make arrangements to move Ezran to us. She wanted to allow some time for the foster parents to gather all his belongings and the decision was made for him to be moved two days later. Not as quickly as the AAL wanted, but a quick move none-the-less.
I have lived the heartbreak that these foster parents experienced. I understand wanting to have a child become a permanent part of your family and the painful good-byes. I know what it’s like to care for a child every day knowing they will soon be leaving. I’ve cried the tears worrying and wondering if they would be loved and cared for in the same way I loved and cared for them. My heart broke for what they were going through. I don’t agree with how they handled the emotion of the experience, but I did understand.