So December has been especially crazy. Grisham’s book Skipping Christmas has more and more appeal, especially with two extra kids this year.
It’s not just Christmas that’s the problem, though – it’s really all the foster stuff that takes up the most time. The system is not easy, what with parental visits and medical appointments and paperwork and navigating the maze of bureaucracy. (Seriously, has the person who came up with the rule that the social worker has to give permission even for a minor medical procedure — say, a strep test — ever taken a kid to the doctor? And what’s the point of training your foster parents if you’re not going to trust them to make the right decisions for the kids? We can keep kids for months on end in our home, but we can’t approve a two-second test? Really?)
Let me back up for a minute. We’ve had the girls (age 3 and 2) in our home for eight months. I’ll post more later on what that process has been like. But they’ve been here for a long time now, long enough that sometimes you think, “Well, they really should be just like my kids. They’ve been here for eight months — why aren’t they behaving better?”
Here’s why: the first two years of their lives were awful. They lived in a motel. They breathed secondhand smoke constantly. They saw guy after guy with their mom. They stayed in pack-n-plays. They were ignored. They watched their mom try to kill herself.
Here’s more of why: they have two sets of parents right now. They get taken away once a week to visit their dad for two hours and once to visit their mom for three hours. They call them mommy and daddy. Then they come home and hey, it’s another mommy and daddy. But this mom and dad have different rules. Now, the girls have to obey. They have to be respectful. They have to play well with other kids. They have to share.
When they come home, they’re physically and emotionally exhausted. You can see it all over their faces. Who can blame them? They don’t know if they’re coming or going. They don’t know what the rest of their life is going to be be like. They have eye doctor appointments out the wazoo and Storm is only 3, but she rides a school bus, and how can they really know what’s happening in their lives?
So yeah, teachers and speech therapists and doctors and people in Wal-Mart staring at us wondering if all those kids are really ours, the girls not going to be as well-behaved. They’re not going to be as stable. They’re not always going to know what to do or even what they should do.
We’re working on all of that. Maybe someday if we adopt them (another post for another time), things will even out for them. For now, we’ll just love them the best we can. For now, no matter what is uncertain all around them, they know we’ll help them. For now, that’s enough.