I can remember them all. Baby Girl has been in our care for 527 days. I know all of the important dates that have happened during that time. When I say I know them, it’s because I have journaled and written down everything that has happened in Baby Girl’s case while she has been in foster care. I say this also because it is all still very cemented in my mind. I can recall when visits were supposed to happen, but didn’t. I can recall who said what to whom and when. I have a written log of every phone call, every email, and pretty much every conversation that I have had with caseworkers, relatives, and lawyers or judges. I know it all! So, today when our new caseworker (our third one) called and needed dates because she couldn’t find them in the files and wanted to make sure she documented everything well, I was able to provide them to her immediately! Foster Parents!!! I cannot say this enough! Document, document, document! I mean everything!!! Even though we have been visited by a caseworker repeatedly over the last 527 days, and some of them even took notes, I still am the one and only person who knows this case from start to now. Me! What if I didn’t keep track of this stuff? What if I didn’t care, didn’t know to, or didn’t think it would matter? What would be happening to Baby Girl’s case now?
I am so happy that I read somewhere in some blog or book to journal everything! And so, I pass this knowledge onto you! Please take notes, keep track, and journal all that you can! I know you’re busy! I know it takes time, but you might be the only person who does!
We lucked out! We really did! Our new case worker seems amazing! She came to the house today for her monthly visit. She was on-time if not a little bit early. She asked to see the house (thank goodness the kids did well cleaning their rooms last weekend) and the backyard and then we sat down in the living room to talk.
She took meticulous notes, two pages full and didn’t rush to leave. She wanted to hear the whole story from my point of view. She had read the case file and she’d been filled in by her supervisor, but she cared about what I had to say. After all, I am the ONLY person who has stayed the same since day one of this case.
She said the sweetest words to Baby Girl and I can tell that she truly likes children. I should hope so! She’s making decisions about the rest of their lives. Anyway, all in all today’s visit went great! I’m very happy.
The brand new worker from the county will be here Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. This will be Baby Girl’s third case worker in 17 months.
We will pretty much be starting all over again. Through no fault of her own, Baby Girl has now had three different adults who see her once a month (if that) deciding her future. Three adults deciding what is best for her. It is very scary to say the least. But, I’m here. I’ve been here since day one and I will be here to the end. Until she is legally adopted or reunified with birth family, I will be here! I am not going anywhere! I will fight for her, I will advocate for her, I will tell her story to whoever will listen. This baby deserves the best! She deserves family! She deserves love! She deserves to be OUT of foster care!
It feels wrong. I am so used to having a visit from a social worker at least once every two weeks. We have two workers. One from our agency and one from the county. They both visit us once a month. So, it is usually about every two weeks that we see one of them in our home. But, since Little Man left over a month ago, we haven’t seen either of them. Now, we have a visit scheduled for tomorrow with our worker from our agency, so the whole “social worker fast” will be over, but I was just sitting here today thinking how nice its been. It is not that we don’t like our social workers. Actually, the very opposite is true. We like both of them very much, but its nice to just live life and forget about foster care for a while.
We’ve visited the beach, played in our pool, taken walks, watched movies, and just enjoyed being a family. Only one more month and our Daddy will be home from his deployment to Afghanistan too and we’ll all get to celebrate together!
Today… this morning… it was the moment that I had been dreading. Eleven and a half months have gone by since we became foster parents to Little Man and Baby Girl and all of that time, I felt had been leading up to this very moment. The permanency hearing for our precious foster babies.
I couldn’t fall asleep until 1:00 a.m. the night before and then awoke back up at 4:30 a.m. the next morning before my alarm even went off. I got on my knees, my face to the floor of my bedroom and I began to pray. Every fear that I had inside of me, I cried out to The Lord. I begged for His mercy and His grace and His peace that passes all understanding. I drank my coffee, woke the babies and dressed them. We drove the 2 hours to the courthouse. A fellow foster mom sat with the babies as I sat alone with our social worker in a courtroom that was empty for 30 agonizing minutes. Court was supposed to start, but it didn’t and all I could hear were lawyers talking loudly in the hallway. Every few moments, I would ask our social worker, “Where is the judge?” or “What time is it?” I was restless and nervous, “let’s get this over with,” I thought.
After what seemed like forever, a uniformed officer entered the courtroom announcing the judges presence. He walked into the courtroom in his long black robe followed by four lawyers and the supervisor of DHR and that is when I realized it… they didn’t show. The biological family was not here. Not one family member from our precious foster babies’ birth family was present. This was the permanency hearing to decide the future of their lives and not one family member was present. Not one of them showed up. The judge asked, “are the parents here today?” and I wanted to stand, I wanted to say, “I am here! Me… I am here!” But, I sat tight and didn’t say a word. Even though these babies are my world. Even though they are as important to me as my three biological children at home, I didn’t say a word. My social worker had warned me not to speak unless spoken to. I sat still and calm and prayed, “Jesus, be with me, be in this room.”
At the end of the hearing it was decided that our precious ones would return home with me today. They would stay with our family. We get to keep them! Maybe not forever, but at least for now and my heart was filled with JOY! There was joy and there was sadness. My thoughts went to the biological family. What is going on in their lives that they couldn’t be here today? They were given plenty of notice, their lawyers were present, but where were they? Why didn’t they come? I may never know. They did not show.
A good social worker can change the world (for a foster child)!
We’ve recently found out that not all social workers are created equal. Some are very organized, on time, and good communicators and some are not. Some take informative meticulous notes at visits and some do not. Some come out to the house each month to check on the kids and some do not.
We are so very very blessed that our foster children’s current case worker is amazing! She is professional, organized, on time, educated, and is really in this to protect and save the lives of children. Her job is incredibly hard and she gets little recognition or praise. She rarely hears thank you and often has to deal with very disgruntled people who think it is her job to do what they want.
For this reason, I end every email and every phone call with her with, “thank you for all that you do!” If she never hears it from anyone else, she will hear it from me. This person is fighting for truth and justice for “my” babies! This person could change their world!
Three social workers
Two hour drive from their office
One hour visit with Little Man, Baby Girl, and me
I spent at least one hour cleaning the bathroom spotless yesterday!!!
And nobody even used the bathroom!