After a week of waiting for AJ’s caseworker to contact us, our licensing worker reached out to the placement worker (the person who matches foster children with foster parents) directly to find out what might be going on. After a number of e-mails back and forth, we were finally given AJ’s great-aunt’s phone number and told to call her to make arrangements for the child swap.
Seriously. They were just like, “work it out among yourselves.” This is super weird, but not abnormal. Another foster mother I know was just sent to pick up an infant at the first foster family’s home. She drove over; put the sleeping baby in her car seat with her few belongings and her limited paperwork in the trunk; said thank you to her first foster mother and left. It was her first placement – so that’s how she became a parent. I remember her telling me that it felt kind of shady and weird. But, I guess what else are they going to do? I suppose with budgets the way they are you can’t very well have a DCS agent there every time a kid is moved.
That evening after work, I nervously dialed her number from the Google Voice account I had gotten specifically for communications with birth families.
She answered, knew who I was, and immediately asked if she could call me back in an hour because she was busy putting AJ to bed.
“Of course!” I told her. I hung up and waited. She never called. I texted her later that night to invite her to call met whenever she was ready.
The next morning, she texted an apology and we scheduled a time to talk the next morning. When the time came, I was overly anxious. I could have used a Bloody Mary.
When AJ’s Great Aunt did call, the conversation did not go the way I anticipated. Essentially, when AJ was taken into care, he had been staying with his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend. They had a new baby themselves and didn’t have a spare room for AJ. They had him camping on the floor in the living room. AJ’s caseworker insisted that he move in with his great aunt instead since, with her, he could have his own bedroom. But, she explained, she had already raised two boys on her own. She didn’t want to do it again. The family really wanted AJ to either be allowed to move back in with his Grandfather or to live with his cousins out of state. DCS was pushing back so, she explained, she was willing to talk to me to “see” if she would be okay with me taking AJ.
I sat in stunned silence for a moment. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I was wasn’t expecting this.
“So tell me about yourself.” She says.
I give her the elevator speech.
“How many children have you had?” she asks.
“None. AJ would be the first.” I tell her.
There’s a moment of silence before she let’s out a judgmental “Hmph.”
She asks about our jobs, the school system in our neighborhood, what classes we had to take to become foster parents.
At the end of the conversation, she asks for me to give her a week to decide and I agree. But when we hang up, I can’t help but feel like I’ve just bombed a job interview.
Sure enough, I never heard from her again. Less than a week later, the placement worker e-mailed me to say that AJ’s family will be pursuing other options for AJ.
And just like that – we were back on the wait list.