The last straw seemed to be when my husband went out of town for work for two weeks, and we called in all of our resources. We set up respite during the week for T, and over the weekend for C, so I could have only one boy most of the time my husband was gone. My in-laws came over every night that I had both boys, just to be extra hands. We ate from drive-thrus a lot. It seemed like so much work for what should be a normal part of life. During this time, a friend (one who had noticed my decline) who adopted brothers from foster care offered to bring over some coffee. While talking to her, she mentioned how incredibly difficult this placement seemed to be, and she said, “You know, it’s okay if you can’t do it. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, but you don’t have to do this if you don’t think that it’s right.”
Well, I hadn’t considered that before. Everyone has told us that on adoption day, it’s like you get a new child. I was banking on that. During that same time period, my mother-in-law told me that my brother-in-law and his fiancée agreed that they couldn’t be the boys’ godparents; they hadn’t known what they were signing up for, and they were overwhelmed by the thought. Then my cousin and her husband announced their first pregnancy – if we were to adopt today, and something happened to us tomorrow, I can say with certainty it wouldn’t be safe to have the boys in a home with a pregnant woman or a baby. So both sets of godparents were out of the question. During all my sickness I had also begun to think: my husband and I don’t know that we can’t become pregnant, we just haven’t yet. Every time I threw up, I was terrified that I was pregnant. It wouldn’t be safe. And of course on top of all of this, there was the stress of being a single parent for two weeks.
During this time, my husband and I began to talk. We talked about all of the problems we were dealing with and about what we thought were the best solutions to these problems. Many things surfaced that neither of us had been willing to say out loud before. By the time my husband got home from his work trip, we knew what we had to do. We recognized that our role as foster parents is ultimately to help the children get what they most need…in this case, we need to advocate for that, because we recognize we can’t meet those needs. I am able to stay home with the boys; my husband is able to work half of the time from home; our parents are in their 40s and 50s, and very accessible to be able to help out. And we have tons of friends and a great Sunday school class, etc. etc. If we can’t do this – not that we are perfect AT ALL – but who could? Who could possibly meet the needs of two little boys whose needs are so great and vastly different, while also dealing with this roller coaster of a legal case?
Not to mention keeping up with the 2-3 appointments every week that they have to leave school early to attend. We contacted our case manager (we are licensed through a private agency) and then the boys’ social worker and told them: We are drained. But we love the boys and it is important to us that they get what they need. So now, we are fighting to get DSS to listen to us (as new to foster parenting and “the system”, but with experience with these particular boys) – the boys need to be back in therapeutic foster care, in separate homes but preferably close by to one another, and we think the TPR needs to happen. In this case, contact with bio mom is toxic; that’s how it has seemed to us, anyway. And their needs are too great to continue in limbo indefinitely.
After giving our notice (we asked for them to stay through the end of the school year, which is May 13), we feel relieved. And we are deeply grieving. I anticipate the grief will last for a while. But just like we KNOW getting the boys in the first place was right, we know this is right. And that’s how we came to give ourselves permission to disrupt what should’ve been (and was, for the first month) a pre-adoptive placement.
Taylor and her husband Jake Henry live in the foothills of North Carolina with their two foster sons. She is a former ESL teacher turned stay-at-home mom, and loves spending her days savoring the simple moments.