In the next month, we said “no” to just one kiddo who had a number of mental and physical disabilities and health issues that our placement coordinator and I just didn’t think we were best suited to handle. This kiddo required full time around-the-clock medical care that we just were not equipped to provide.
Then, we got a call about the 8 year old boy we’re calling “Marcus” from last month. Marcus’s foster family decided that they were unable to continue to care for Marcus. Marcus was, evidently, fighting with the family’s biological child who was around the same age. We were told that Marcus becomes very upset after visits with his mother. She asked if we were still interested.
I, in turn, asked if I could talk to Marcus’s first foster family. I wanted to understand the exact reasons for the disruption before saying yes. I also wanted to do visits with Marcus to transition him into our home.
“Transitions” were a big topic in our foster parenting classes. There was a whole unit in which they beat us over the head with the importance of gradual transitions from home to home. We were drilled over and over on just how damaging it can be for children to have to abruptly leave a foster home – even if its to reunite with their biological family. We filled out worksheets, participated in group exercises, and read stories about how you MUST move slowly when moving a child – first by meeting them where they are and gradually moving to outings in the community before bringing them to your house.
As it turns out, those exercises were entirely theoretical. My request for transition visits was met with silence. I mean, crickets chirping, you think the call might have dropped, SILENCE. When she finally recovered from her apparent shock, the placement coordinator told me she would call the foster mother and get back to me.
She did get back to me the next day. Telling me they were moving Marcus out of his foster home THAT NIGHT and “could we take him?”
“What happened to transition visits?” I asked. Again, I was met with silence. Finally, the placement coordinator stated simply, “They were just done.”
We were interested in taking Marcus, I explained. But there was only one problem: we were out of town.
That’s right. We were on a weekend vacation and hours away from home. I cursed myself. We hadn’t left town all summer; hadn’t made any concrete plans for dinner or events or even work trips for months in anticipation of getting a placement. Only a week before, I had booked the trip using a gift card that was soon to expire thinking, “Welp. It’s been nearly six months and we haven’t had a placement yet so….”
We nearly came home early – but we thought better of it. You see, I have this thing. Some might call it superstition and some might call it faith. I simply say that when the universe is trying to tell me something – I try to listen. And, for reasons unknown, the universe had me miles away from home when Marcus became available for foster placement. I wasn’t ready to give up, but I was going to stick to my guns and take it slow.
I called the placement coordinator back and told her that, in the event they could not find another placement for Marcus, we would be interested in doing transition visits with him. More silence. I don’t think I was her favorite person.
Ultimately, Marcus was removed from his foster home and placed in a children’s shelter near our home so that we could start transition visits to become his foster parents.
You know me by now so it won’t come as a surprise to you that I called the shelter immediately. He hadn’t even arrived yet when we scheduled our first visit the day we got back in town from our trip.