Brother and Sister have visits with their mom once a week. For kids this little, that level of frequency is very common and older kids in foster care may not see their parent(s) as often. They have had three visits with Mom so far and Trent or I has taken them to the CPS office each time.
I mentioned in this post that CPS parent visits are like a covert drug deal but with babies. We tell a social worker in advance what make, model and color of car we're driving so they know what to look for. We pull into a loading zone at the back of the CPS building, the aforementioned social worker comes out and takes the kids in. We kill time for an hour, return to the loading zone and wait for the social worker to bring the kids back out to our car. We know this is how it's supposed to go. The foster parents are supposed to remain anonymous to the biological parents. But it still feels kind of weird.
"This is harder than I thought it would be. Like, what's happening in there?"
That is a text that Trent sent to me the first time he took the kids to a visit. He wasn't worried for their safety. The visits are held in a CPS playroom that is flanked by a one way mirror, on the other side of which sits a social worker who monitors the visit via the one way mirror and microphones in the room. The parent knows this. They're not being spied on. So the kids are safe but...is Mom interacting with them, playing with them, showing them love? We want so badly for her to be a good Mom. Is she making the effort or is she just showing up?
At two of their three visits so far, Mom has changed both their outfits into their backup diaper bag clothes. The time she didn't I was so glad, since the diaper bag clothes were NOT warm enough for the freezing weather outside. Good sense, Mom. I mentioned these wardrobe changes to a veteran foster parent we know and she was not at all surprised, said it's super common. It gives the parent a moment of control, of choice, of...parenting.
Sister is young enough and chill enough that she's pretty much good with whoever and whatever, so visits with Mom don't really affect her. I wonder if she even really remembers Mom since we are the ones she's sees every day now instead. That thought saddens me. But Brother...oof. Trent has taken them to the last two visits and he told me that each time when the social worker brought them out to him, Brother was just crying and crying. Not his tantrum cry. Not hitting or scratching or whining. Just...crying. Big tears. The social worker said he starts as soon as Mom gets up to leave at the end of the visit. He calms down right away as soon as he gets into Trent's arms, but still...it breaks our heart to see him so conflicted and confused. Their social worker is going to pick them up from daycare and take them to and from the visit the next two weeks. I worry she's going to have one sad little boy on her hands afterwards, at least until he gets back to his daycare teacher. He trusts her and we are so grateful to her for pouring into his little life right now.
So...parent visits are a little weird, a little time consuming, a little heartbreaking. But they are important, so important.