Posted by: fosteringcare | August 3, 2010

“Re-uniting” Families…Lofty Goal

We never will know the extent to which we impact a child’s life for good or evil.         

           Briefly mentioned in an earlier post, we did have one little girl who was being fought over in a custody battle.  As much as we liked the scenario of a child being so loved that her parents were fighting over her, there is no such thing as a “happy” scenario for a child who is taking from her home and put into foster care. First of all, since she was brought to us, that meant there was not one single other family member that was able or willing to take her in, and two, the courts will usually issue “temporary” custody with one parent until the court date. Since there was no temporary custody granted…there must have been some very serious issues going on. Instead, the Judge sought a place other than with one of her parents, that he felt was safer for the precious little girl, a sad revelation.

          She was a tiny, waife-like little girl who looked as if her shoes actually were keeping her on the ground. Pale and wispy, white-blonde hair, with huge blue eyes framed by the dark circles of her glasses. Once inside our home, she looked up at us and slowly blinked, which is how she blinked every time, as if it were not an involuntary response…slow and deliberate…B-L-I-N-K. My entire family noticed her resemblance to my young childhood appearance, it was strangely uncanny, but I do not recall a single person ever thinking that I might float up into the sky the way her little presence threatened to do at any moment. Picking her up and holding her seemed to be the most natural thing to do. Even though she was six, her diminutive stature and timid behavior gave the illusion that she was much younger and needed protection. Her classmates at school thought so too and were constantly reminded that she was their age and did not need to be carried everywhere. Giggling in her hight-pitched fairy laugh, she begged to be tickled and we complied if only to see the change of her countenance when a smile erupted over her face. Sadness was the emotion conveyed most often throughout her stay with us, those huge, blue, blinking eyes just staring at us, answering every question with “I don’t know”, B-L-I-N-K. 

          She never spoke about her life before us, giving away secrets or insight to how and why she came into care like most other foster siblings had. Her young, tender heart was so protected or hidden away, any fear or desire for either parent, was not expressed and we had no idea who to “root” for. State mandated visits were enforced every weekend. Each weekend she would spend the day with the opposite parent of the weekend before. She came home from those visits with presents and trinkets from whatever it was they had done, but she never cried when they left. That still haunts me. Those blinking eyes would look up and simply say,”Bye Mommy”, or “Bye Daddy”, and that was it.  Court dates came and went for both parents, either proving the things they had accomplished towards being a “fit” parent, or being reprimanded for what they had not done. If I recall correctly, one parent had drugs involved in their life and the other was not mentally stable. When we found that out those details we were hoping she would become one of the more permanent foster children. That was not to be.

          The entire purpose of  Child Protective Services is to re-unite families. Although that sounds like a lofty goal, years and years of following-up with various foster siblings and from my later life experiences, I have seen first-hand that re-uniting is not always in the best interest of the child, no matter how it looks on paper! After only two or three months, a parent was chosen for her. I honestly do not recall which one it was, but to my family there was not going to be a “right” choice. They packed her up after Christmas and off she went to live with her parent. I have no clue as to what ever became of her, but I like to think that in the memory of her little 6-year-old mind, she can feel laughter and love and being held and tickled, and that it made a difference in her life.

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Responses

  1. I happened on your site and was captivated by your perspective. I have fostered children for many years and have four daughters of my own [now grown] so I was eager to read your views. This entry struck my heart. In my parenting I have always had only two unbreakable rules: safe and loved. Every child needs and deserves to be safe and loved. Those are the amazing gifts you gave that small girl. While she was with you she was safe and she was loved. I think it is hard for us to admit we can’t control the outcome. I have had foster children who did wonderfully and then after leaving drifted into disaster. We must recognize, however painful, the limits of our influence. What happened later is/was beyond your control, instead focus on what a miracle you accomplished in her life while she was with you. Even if never again, at least for that time in her life she experienced safety, she experienced love. What a gift!


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