Back in February 2012, the day after we'd gotten licensed as foster parents, we got a call about a nine year-old boy and his two siblings, a one year old boy and a four year old girl, all who were in separate places. The plan was to place the boy, Z with us, get him settled in and stable and then move the other two.
Among my first thoughts while on that initial phone call: um...our car doesn't hold 8 people, we'll have to get more beds, Shaun will never go for this, wow...six kids nine and under, how many other homes would be willing/able to take three together.
As it turned out, Shaun and I were on the same page immediately and, though the task was daunting, we knew we could sign up for it. We gave the ok and days later we were meeting Z for the first time.
After a tedious transition process, he came to live with us and did well right from the get-go. By early June it had been communicated to us that they were ready to move the siblings to us and that adoption, if we were willing, was probable.
Shaun began hours and days of research, looking for the right 8-passenger car for our soon-to-be-expanding family. We set up a bunk bed and began preparing our hearts for these new souls.
For reasons unknown to us, the two siblings never got moved, but as the weeks turned into months, Z became more and more a part of our family.
In January, we were sat down and asked if we would be willing to adopt Z. Though adoption was never our end goal with fostering, yes, we were willing to explore that. All indications were when, not if.
Then, a couple weeks ago, on a conference call, the big DCF supervisor person blind-sided us by declaring that they'd run out of time on the case and Z, along with his two siblings, would be reunited with their mom by summer's end.
I'm not going to lie, it was a blow. We were stunned by the turn of events.
In Shaun's words, this is what we signed up for. And it absolutely is. We were never looking to adopt. Initially, we wanted our home to be a revolving door. Touch a life, send them off, then pray they consider this home their place to return for holidays and a support system. That is still how we feel.
We also signed up with a pretty good idea of how DCF was run. We thought it was a too-big government-run agency and that's exactly what it is.
This, all of this, and so much in between is what we signed up for. But its still hard.
As the plan goes now, Z will be gone by mid-August. Once again, we find ourselves in a very tedious, pain-staking transition process. There is a plan to add in weekly visits, then to make them unsupervised, then to do overnights, then to move in for good....if it all goes well. Its a recipe for a tumultuous summer. Oh Lord, give me grace!
From day one he's been part of our family, and now we are faced with the reality that he, in fact, is not.
I was talking with a new foster parent in training class this week, briefly sharing our story, ending with the fact that we've begun the reunification process with mom. He lit up and said, So...you've got a success story!
That was the first time I'd looked at it that way. Yes, the system was designed to take a child out of the home so the parent has time and space to get their stuff together and then the child is returned to a new and improved parent....that's how its supposed to work, particularly under the current commissioner.
In my head, a "success" story looked different than this.
Several people have reminded me that God has a plan for Z. I can't count the number of times I've sat on the edge of his bed and told him just that. I don't understand the route God has chosen, but I know God loves Z and has a plan for his life.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.