The Judge that Changed Everything

by Bailey

Dear Judge,

You're sending the wrong child home.You made a decision this week that none of us who are caring for these brothers even had an inkling about. Just when we started to let our guard down and believe that things had settled down for a couple months the rug got pulled out from underneath the both of us. Us foster moms had to find out from the biological mother that she was getting one of her children back, and this was practically in the middle of the night. We were frantic, and the child you reunified, his foster family isn't even in town for 2 weeks. They are more than likely not even going to get to say goodbye to the little boy they've been caring for since he came home from the hospital. We reached out to each and every person we knew at odd hours of the night and no one even knew what the mother was referring to. We thought it had to be a misunderstanding, that nothing this big could happen when we had constantly been reassured nothing had changed at all.

But it wasn't a misunderstanding. The next morning the news was confirmed. No one at all, even the one person who is actually competent with this case, had any idea about the court hearing. The case manager was MIA, the supervisor's last day was the previous day, and the program director of the whole department was nothing but rude and unhelpful. It was awful, and it wasn't even directly affecting me. I'm not the one who was having my foster child sent home without even being able to say goodbye. I'm sure you didn't know these things when you heard the case that Wednesday morning. I'm sure you didn't know that the child we have in our home is the one who should have been reunified first. And I'm sure it doesn't make sense for me to be petitioning for a sweet child we've been caring for for 5 1/2 months to be reunified sooner rather than later, but there's a lot that those case files don't share.

Those files that land in your chambers show nothing but the pain and hurt that their mother has caused them. It tells how addiction got the best her at a young age, how she has multiple children, all in the system, but is practically a child herself, and how she never made any progress with her first two case plans. What they don't tell you though is the love that this mother has her for boys, the fact that she loves them both so deeply she finally found the strength to get herself help, something she's been struggling to do for 10 years. It doesn't show how she raised our little boy for 8 months before addiction got the best of her and how the system hasn't really helped him, but more or less just tossed him around from home to home. Those files fail to mention the bond and attachment our foster son and his mother have with one another, that he lights up when he sees her and wants nothing to do with me sometimes because I'm not "mom". They don't tell you how his tantrums are beginning to get out of control because he's being tossed around from our home, to daycare, to once a week visits with his mom over an hour away. No, those case files just tell the story of a broken woman who has made some bad choices in life and put her child at risk.

But shouldn't those files tell the story of these children and not their parents' failures? Shouldn't they detail their reactions during visitations, the way they're adapting to their foster homes and surroundings, and the gains and losses they're making on a daily basis? Why don't these files take into consideration the foster parents' views? Shouldn't we have a say in what we think is best for the child since we are the ones that are raising them? I know that's not how the system works, and maybe that's why it's so broken, but if we did have a say in where our little one goes we think it's time for him to return to his mother. We believe that keeping him with us any longer is not helping him but just hurting him. We feel that in our heart of hearts his little brother should've been the last one to go home and our child should've been the first. We know our little boy can attach back to his mother quickly, my goodness he's already attached to her more than he is to us. We know that he so desperately wants to be with her and he's aching to be held in her arms again. We know all of this because his although he can't speak his actions say it all.

I wish I could say that I was writing this to you out of the goodness of my heart--that I'm so selfless I only want what's best for this sweet babe--but then I would be lying. Don't get me wrong, I do want what's best for him but we're starting to struggle over here. As his temporary mother I feel torn on a daily basis for how to care for him. Every time I allow myself to get close to him I remember he doesn't need another permanent mother, that I'm just a temporary solution until his mother is allowed to have him back. When he's throwing massive tantrums my patience is at a minimum because I'm not bonded with him in the way I wish I was. I look at him and all that comes to mind is the many failures I had when he first came into our home. Failures of patience and bonding, failures of attachment and mothering, failures so big there were times I proclaimed that he could no longer reside in our home for fear that none of us would make it out unharmed.

But even with all the selfishness aside a child should be with their mother. Our child should be with his mother, he needs to be with his mother, and I'm convinced keeping him away from her isn't doing him any good. She's getting better each and every day, she loves him dearly, and she has the supports she needs to keep him safe while she has him back.  Isn't that all the courts ask from her? Isn't that all we should ask of her, to stay clean, provide for him, and love him unconditionally? If those are the qualifications for reunification than I believe it's time for us to say goodbye and for her to say hello.

Sincerely,

A Struggling Foster Mother

Bailey, a special education teacher,  and her husband, Josh, a computer nerd, live in sunny South Florida with their 2 foster children and crazy dog, Nessie. After battling infertility for over a year the Lord led them to foster care where they were placed with their first child months before even being licensed. When Bailey isn't wiping little tushies, chasing after a toddler, or soothing a fussy baby, you'll find her Netflix binging, Target splurging, blogging, or spending time with her 2 favorite guys, Ben & Jerry!