Hope Rises, So Does Fear

Em and Little Miss examining the wild violets

Yesterday was the six month meeting with the Family Support Team – a group of professionals as well as foster and bioparents. Well, at least that’s the hope, unfortunately Little Miss’s mom has only attended the first of these meetings, just three days after Little Miss was removed from her home in April.

Six months. We don’t talk about it much, we just run through our routines.

6:30 (or so) Little Miss wakes up. She’s an early bird like me. By 8 a.m. on weekdays she is at daycare, my husband at work, and I’m back home fixing breakfast for the rest of us – my dad, Em (who is currently in Germany, lucky girl), and me.

The evenings, which started off so rocky, are now much smoother. Little Miss definitely had food fears, mainly that she wouldn’t be fed, and could be a bit of a handful at dinnertime. We would rush about getting the meal ready with her chanting “Hungee!” at full volume, sitting in her booster seat.

Nowadays she knows we will feed her and is a lot more patient. This has lessened our stress levels considerably. By 8 p.m. it is time for bed and she usually goes peacefully after brushing her teeth and being tucked in.

Fostering is so different from the traditional sort of parenting – I honestly had no idea how much so until I found myself in the middle of it. 

The biggest issue is that of ever-present question of impermanence. How long will they be there? How do you provide for their needs, especially their emotional ones, and protect your own heart?

It is one thing to have children in your life that you know will move on, it is another to be sure they will be with you forever. And I’ll be honest here, I had convinced myself that she would be leaving us. I did it to protect that spot inside of me that is fragile, that remembers every hurt, that fears loss and loneliness and rejection. In believing she would leave, I have backed off, given half of my heart, provided for her diligently, but as one who must someday say goodbye would do.

Yesterday’s meeting changed that assumption, however. And I now find myself in a place I would rather not be. It is a land of unknowns. Where things could go one way, or they could go another.

In truth, we have been in this place from the start. Nothing has changed. But as the GAL (Guardian ad Litem) asked us questions about Little Miss and then turned to the bio side of things, we learned that:

  • biomom is not in compliance with the actions she needs to complete to get her child back (drug testing, counseling, regular visits)
  • extended biofamily in another state (who had been burning up the phone lines the first couple of months trying to get Little Miss) have been denied kinship foster

The GAL asked us if we were interested in adoption. Well, actually my husband beat her to it.

We showed the team the notebook we send back and forth with the parent aide to the biomom. They were impressed at this and the GAL commented on it a couple of times.

The notebook was my idea. Of course, I am a writer after all! I thought it would be good to create a connection and have her see us not as an enemy, but as people who just want to help care for her child. I update her on different things and ask her questions about Little Miss. She has responded well to it.

The team discussed the other children, four of them, who were taken from biomom when she lived in Oklahoma eight years ago. She never got them back. 

At the end of the meeting, we left and went to lunch. My husband was excited, heck, so was I, because there’s hope. A lot of it. Biomom has six more months to get it together. If she doesn’t, they will begin moving towards termination of parental rights. And if biofamily has already been denied, then we have a chance at adoption.

So there’s hope, and there’s also a great deal of fear. Part of me wants to bond, deeply, with this little girl. And part of me, still wounded and raw from the rejection of my firstborn, is terrified of being hurt again. 

Years ago, still reeling from my second divorce, I reconnected with a guy I had been head over heels for in high school. He was flying into town and a co-worker asked me, “After what your ex-husband did, how can you ever trust a man again?”

I remember telling her, “Life is too short to never fall in love again.”

I married that man and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Huh, perhaps I should take my own advice.

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