Sunday, July 17, 2011

Adventures in foster parenting!

This little boy has been in my life for exactly two months today. He was born on May 15th, 2011, and pulled into the foster care system as soon as his blood work came back positive for cocaine. His mother's came back positive for cocaine. She did not seek prenatal care until she was approximately seven months into the pregnancy. During that time she used crack, pot, alcohol, and that good old fashioned standby, cigarettes.

His father turned up a rap sheet that runs some forty-nine or fifty counts long, the most recent of which was for beating on the mother. Both of them were recently released from prison.

So, at two days old (and it's still a mystery as to why the hospital didn't keep him longer), he came into our home addicted to drugs and gearing up to go through withdrawal. During the placement phone call, the agency told us that the parents had lost all rights, and that the little boy was adoptable. When they dropped him off several hours later, we found out that that was a lie. The parents still had rights, visitation, and a chance to get their shit together to get him back. We went through with it anyways, because he was a tiny two-day-old infant that needed some serious TLC.

At first, he was the easiest baby in the world to take care of. Never cried, never fussed... But we found out that this was simply indicative of the drugs that were still coursing through his system. As they wore off several days later, the pain started. He was in constant discomfort, shaking uncontrollably almost all day long, and all we could do was hold him, talk to him, and give him all the love that we could.

Over the next few weeks, the shakes started to subside, but it's become evident that he will probably carry some of those tremors with him for the rest of his life.

We've spent the sleepless nights, the four-night hospital stay when his withdrawal symptoms got out of hand, and we've loved him as if he were our own through all of it, knowing that the fact of the matter is that he will not be staying with us forever.

And we are fine with that.

BUT (and this is a huge, mumu-wearing, reaching-wand-using ass of a but), the agency that placed him with us has done nothing but piss me off at every given turn. We're on our second case worker, and probably heading towards the third.

Every week, at one-thirty on Wednesday afternoons, we take the little boy to his visitation with his parents. These are supervised visits, and every week for the past five weeks, the supervisor (caseworker) has been late or not shown up at all. So Pammie and I had been doing the parents a solid and sticking around long enough for them to visit with their little guy for a bit. Not our job, not our place, but we felt like it was the right thing to do.

Until last week. I had already spoken with the caseworker's supervisor, told him how pissed off I was getting at this situation, and he begged me not to give up on it. He said that we were already going above and beyond just by doing the transport for visitation, as most foster parents simply refused to make the drive. He went on to assure me that he would tell her to be there early, and that we could just wait outside, hand over the baby, and pick him up two hours later (like we were supposed to be doing from the start).

So that's what we did. Rather, that's what we tried to do. But when one-thirty showed up, there was still no sign of her. The father came walking up (late by a few minutes himself) and I got out of the car to greet him.

(This is where I split into two. There's no love lost between me and this guy, as I simply haven't reached a spot where I can forgive him for putting that little boy through everything that he's been through. On the other hand, given what followed, I can put myself in his shoes and see why he was pissed. Guy just wanted to see his son.)

He asked if the worker was there. I said no, and that we were only waiting a little bit longer. I told him that he needed to start making all of the same phone calls that I've been making, and start riding someone's ass. He told me that this was bullshit, and went over to my car to open the door.

I had to stop him. That's not allowed to happen. I told him I'd walk inside with him to see if we could get a hold of someone to sort everything out. And he walked with me, but told me the whole while that he was "going to see his son one way or another today."

Long story short, we went in to find the baby's mother waiting. They both started getting loud with me, threatening the same thing. "One way or another." Now, I don't respond well to threats, and I have a bit of volume myself when I need to. I told them that they didn't want to threaten me, and the shouting was just escalating, when the elevator doors opened behind us to reveal the case-worker, Pammie holding the baby, and my almost-four-year-old son.

Pammie handed over the baby, and I went into the visit room with the parents and the case-worker. The mother had immediately calmed down. The father kept going at me. I kept telling him to put his anger on the woman that simply refused to show up on time. She started to get defensive, and I laid into her. I don't have to kiss her ass like the parents do. And when I finally left (with the father shouting after me "THIS IS NOT YOUR SON! GO BE A FOSTER PARENT"), I talked to her supervisor. He told me that he'd instructed her to be there by one o'clock.

When we showed up to pick up the baby, the father came out, looking like a little kid with a shit-eating grin on his face that's been told to apologize. Which is what he did. I told him that I would not stand being threatened again. Which is right when he started denying that anything had happened. He never said anything about "one way or another," he never tried to open my car... I just walked away. Bitched out the caseworker, because none of that would've happened if she'd just shown up on time.

That's just one event in the whole book of shit that's gone wrong. Just the most recent. But every week has had something, like when I left my dad's hospital bedside to meet her at the house and she never showed. Then I have to listen to how she came by, but didn't get out of her car because she didn't see my car in the driveway. I had to tell this woman that perhaps she should try knocking on the door next time.

All right. That's enough of my griping for now. Let's see what happens this week.

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