Thursday, August 13, 2015

Company On Foster Care Island

A while back, I got to meet up with a friend for a glass of wine after work.  She is an attorney who does a decent amount of work in the CPS and family law realm, so she's familiar with a lot of the stuff we've dealt with in our foster care case and some parts of our conversation would have sounded like code to an unknowing bystander.

Her: So I guess Texas has PMC now?
Me: No, it's still just TMC.

Etc.

(Permanent Managing Conservator and Temporary Managing Conservator, for the unknowing bystanders...)

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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.  

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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." 

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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?

8 comments:

  1. I know exactly how you feel about being on an island. My husband and I have desperately wanted to meet other foster parents in our area, but aren't really sure how to do it, short of posting an ad "Hey are you a foster parent and live less than 20 miles from me!!!"
    Even our agency hasn't been that helpful. We go to a lot of their events but our agency serves a wide area, and so far everyone we've met has been super nice, but lives way far away and/or only fosters older kids, while we are living in baby and toddler land. Not exactly conducive to play dates, coffee, or "Hey can you watch so and so for a couple hours..."
    Anyway, it's awesome that you've found some great people, and I'd try my darndest to get that doctor every time :) I really enjoy your blog, and am so happy that you're little ones will be safe with you, even though I completely understand the bittersweet feelings you have. On the other hand returning a little one to their family is another type of bittersweet - joy that a family is reunited, hope that their future will be a good one, but anguish that you won't see this beautiful child you've nurtured for months grow up.
    I look forward to seeing what you do with the blog.

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    1. Here I am, a month later, about to actually do some of those new things on the blog. Oh work deadlines...how they take over...

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  2. Love following your blog! I was nodding my head through this whole post thinking "yes! Yes!" I was just telling a newly licensed foster mom how important it is to have other foster moms/parents in your life.

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    1. Even if they aren't in the same city, it's good to have other people to talk to, bounce stuff off of, vent to, who truly understand what you are going through. It's such a foreign thing to so many people and there are so many ins and outs that you just can't expect non-fostering folks to really know about. Yay for community, near and far.

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  3. Love your blog! We are also in Texas and have been fostering for three and a half years. We have had the honor of fostering five babies throughout this journey.

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    1. That's a lot of babies! So good to hear from others in this same boat. Keep up the good work.

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  4. Just found your blog! Staying up way too late, stalking foster care fb pages and blogs after saying goodbye yesterday to our 3rd foster child. We only had him a month - a sweet 6 week old infant, but feeling so blah, wondering how he is doing, and wishing for one more snuggle. Would love to connect with other fostering families - it is so true that you find yourself on a strange "island" when you choose to enter the foster care system!

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    1. Oh my goodness, prayers for your sweet family. See...we haven't dealt with that side of foster care, the goodbye, since we have ended up heading towards adoption with our first ever placement. I can't imagine how hard it is to wonder how that child is doing, if they are ok and safe and loved. But God calls us to the hard parts of this. May your family be surrounded by peace in this season.

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