The short week after labor day weekend was a long one, but we still didn’t become parents.
That Tuesday, we had another false alarm when we got a call for an 8 year old boy who is Greek like me! We’ll call him “Marcus.” His mother was in the hospital. The reason for her hospitalization was not disclosed. We agreed to take placement of Marcus but I didn’t race home because, as I told my placement coordinator, I would have been shocked if they didn’t find a suitable family member that wanted to care for Marcus in a Greek family. (Actually, my exact words were, “There are probably a couple of Yiayias fighting over him right now.”). Okay – big fat Greek family humor over. But of course, we prepped, waited, and put a Greek icon on the nightstand in the boys’ room just in case. Sure enough, they did find another place for Marcus. No one ever showed up at our door that night.
(As an aside, I should mention that if you are not chosen for a child you have said “yes” to, you are not notified. You simply wait for a knock on the door. If one comes, you were chosen. If not, you weren’t. It’s that strange).
The next day, we made the very difficult decision to decline the placement of two unrelated 11 year old boys. Our licensing worker had identified an 11 year old boy currently living with family members who were looking for an adoptive placement. However, after she investigated, we realized that due to the child’s mental health and behavioral issues and the biological family’s very stringent desires for an adoptive placement, it was not the right fit and the chance that we would have made the first round of cuts was slim to none.
A more difficult “no” was for the second 11 year-old boy. He was the oldest of 4 siblings. His next oldest sibling was a 5 year old girl. They had been living with their mother in a hotel, but were kicked out and now homeless. For a number of reasons, this was not the right fit and we had to say no. Even though I knew in my gut it was a “no,” it was a tough one to decline – and took a little bit of a toll on me.
On Thursday, we had another emotional “no” for a 13 year old boy we’ll call “Sam” whose mother, we were told, had been forcibly injecting him and his siblings with intravenous heroin and PCP. We did not feel that we were equipped to help a heroin-addicted child who was actively detoxing and hoped that DCS could find a place for Sam where he could get more specialized medical help for his condition.
Still, every time I picked up the phone – I thought this might be the “yes” that would materialize. But I wasn’t rushing home anymore. The reality had sunk in: despite the numbers you hear on the news, getting matched with a child (even an “older child” as an emergency foster placement) is not a fast process.
Almost everyone I spoke to during this time was aghast. Knowing we were licensed for boys between the ages of 8 and 15 and had said “yes” multiple times and were still waiting even shocked my co-worker who is a Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster children.
Over a year later, I would tell another friend that the most stressful part of foster care was this part. The evaluating in a matter of minutes whether this was a child you could parent. The saying “yes” or “no.” The waiting.