Me: No, it's still just TMC.
(Permanent Managing Conservator and Temporary Managing Conservator, for the unknowing bystanders...)
I took Brother to his three year old doctor checkup recently. At our clinic, there is a team of doctors and you may not necessarily see your primary doctor each time. The doctor that we ended up seeing for this visit was a nice young man. I handed him the CPS medical exam form and said my typical "he's in foster care with us and we have to have this form filled out at doctor visits. I've marked the areas that you need to fill out and I've completed the other sections." He looked at the form, looked at me and told me he and his wife are foster parents too. He saw our kids' caseworker's name on the form and said "she's our caseworker too!" He knew how to fill out the form. He knew to ask if there had been any abuse such that the his examination of Brother's diaper area would cause him stress. He knew that I don't know a thing about Brother's medical history prior to him coming to us and did not act frustrated by those blanks. He began his inquiry about the status of their case with "May I ask how their case is going?" instead of launching in with the typical "What did their mom do to them??" When I told him we are nearing the end and heading to adoption, he rejoiced with me but also acknowledged the bittersweet nature of that end and told me the child in their care had just had a goodbye visit with birth mom, meaning they're heading to the same bittersweet adoption end.
My cell phone buzzed at work the other day and I saw it was the daycare calling. The daycare director quickly assured me "All the kids are fine, you don't need to come get anyone" then alerted me that Brother had fallen and busted his lip. "He's ok, it stopped bleeding, but I wanted to go ahead and tell you in real time because I know you have to monitor and report any injuries."
Foster care plops you on an island.
You sign up for something that few people pursue or know much about. You have to parent under different rules and norms than your colleagues. Your kids may not look like you. You may face unfair assumptions and rude comments. People in your life may not support your decision and most, though they mean well, will surely never understand all the ins and outs, the lingo, the systems, the rules, the standards, the emotions, the sorrow, the joy.
It is beyond refreshing to find company on this island.
The conversation with my friend about PMC and TMC seems technical, but it brought me joy. I was understood. The care and camaraderie from the doctor was at a level rarely found in our encounters with professionals. And our daycare director is so on board with our situation, from her day 1 comment of "They've found a home with you and now they can feel at home here with us too" to her regular reports to us of accidents or other need-to-know items that she would not otherwise report to parents so quickly.
When we embarked on this journey, I pretty quickly realized that there was no wave of support and understanding heading our way on its own, so I sought community. I stalked blogs and sent Facebook friend requests to strangers at the mere mention of "Oh I know so-and-so who is a foster parent." We consciously built our team of babysitters, mentors and supporters and continually let them know how much they mean to us. We've got our people on our island with us now.
Do you have company on foster care island or are you poking around it all by yourself feeling very alone? Either way, let's connect. I've got some plans brewing for this blog for ways to connect and empower folks in this foster care arena, but for now, if you've been reading this blog in the background and want to be known and heard and feel like you're not alone, leave a comment below or send me a message via the contact form on the sidebar. I have developed some great online connections with people who have just taken a moment to say hi and share their story here. Are you my next island friend?