Last July our lives as foster parents were turned upside down. Well, you know, even more than usual for foster parents. We had two foster children at the time, Wheels and a baby boy we'd brought home from the hospital the October previous. So, we'd had him for just over 9 months at that point. We, and the GAL were convinced that the parents were a lost cause, but DHHS had decided they had removed the baby in error. I will spare you the details of why the child had been brought into care in the first place, but let's just say it hadn't been an error. But because this was the stand that DHHS had decided to take, the parents were not required to actually do any services, and they were going to return the baby. The plan was to slowly transition him to their care, since we'd had him his entire life. However, one evening at the end of July 2016, I received a phone call from the baby's caseworker. The judge had approved their request to return the baby home and she was coming to get him the next day.
I called off from work the next day and spent the whole day with him. I packed up all of his things (except for a special baby blanket and his first rattle) and piled it all up in the hallway for the caseworker when she came. The kids and I played in the pool with him. I attempted to explain to Wheels that the baby was going home, but since we had brought him home from the hospital, he didn't really understand what other home he could be going to.
That afternoon, my husband came home early and we played with the baby a little more, before the knock came at the door. DH helped the caseworker load all of his things into the car. I clung to the baby for all I was worth as I tried not to cry. The caseworker gave us her sweetest smile as she loaded the baby into his car seat. Wheels watched in dismay as she strapped him in to take him away. He looked up at me with big eyes and said, "I'm not going away, right?" I managed to keep it together as I explained that he wasn't going anywhere...that day.
The caseworker gave us a big smile, thanked us for taking such good care of him, and walked out the door with my baby. The moment the door was closed, DH wrapped me in his arms and we both fell apart. The baby that we had brought home from the hospital, that we'd watched grow for the last 9 months, that I rocked for hours nearly every night for the first 6 months of his life (NAS), was gone.
No sooner had the tears begun to fall, when another knock came at the door. I brushed away the tears and tried to pull myself together. I assumed the baby's caseworker had forgotten something. However, when I poked my head around the corner of the hallway door, I found Wheels' caseworker standing there with a look of horror and confusion on her face.
First, let me say that Wheels' caseworker is awesome. We loved her from the moment we met her. She's a straight shooter and she makes it abundantly clear where she stands on an issue. She always let us know what was going on, and anyone who's done fostering can tell you, that's a rarity indeed.
So, I went to the door, still swiping at stray tears, and opened it to let her in. She looked up at me and took in the tears, took in my husband who also was trying to hide the tears. She then turned to look down the driveway to the other caseworker taking the baby away. "Oh crap. What is going on?" she asked as she stepped into the house.
I explained that the baby was going home. She looked at me with sad eyes, "Oh I don't have good news either. Maybe we should do this another time."
Sighing I gestured her to have a seat at the dining room table, "You might as well get it over with. I can't imagine that this day could get much worse." For the record...I was wrong.
Wheels' caseworker began her story by handing me a slip of paper with a name and a phone number on it. "Do you know who that is?" she asked me. I looked at the name, and no bells were ringing.
"No. Should I?" I asked.
"You're about to know that name very well. She's the woman who adopted Wheels' older brother. She has decided that now that the reunification isn't going to happen, she wants to adopt him. And my supervisor has advised me that I need to begin the transition to move him to her home as soon as possible."
Oh, this breaks my heart. You have been a blessing in both kids' lives, and I hope and pray that they will both be alright