Reunification hits home
By Brittany Keeperman,
today at 10:00 pm
today at 10:00 pm
I didn’t have work or anything to do today but the second my eyes opened at 6 a.m. I was awake for good. We knew this day was coming but the reality sat heavy in my chest.
My two youngest children are moving out today.
As a foster parent, you know going into your relationship with your child that it could – and likely will – end at some point. You pour your heart out anyway. You read bedtime stories. You snuggle. You enjoy the inside jokes and silly moments. You have serious talks. You are met with brain melting frustration, exhaustion and anger over both the system itself and the behaviors your traumatized children exhibit. You deal with the doctors visits, the therapists visits, the destroyed toys, walls and furniture. You wash their little scarred bodies in the bath. You hear “mama?” – more times a day than you can count – from a child you did not give birth to, and have only known for a few months.
You see improved behavior, more smiles and less meltdowns, better reports from school. You are making a difference. Possibly not you, possibly just stability is making a difference. It makes it worth it.
And then they leave.
We said goodbye to our youngest two children today, having received notice yesterday that their grandmother was willing to take them until their biological mother is stable enough to reunify in June.
We knew it was a possibility. We know it is good for them to transition back to their biological mom via family. That didn’t make the experience much better.
I paced around the house all day waiting for their caseworker to show up. I scrubbed random surfaces. I swept aimlessly.. I folded clothes. Every time I heard “Mama?!” My stomach twisted, We packed up their belongings. They came in with a box of poorly fitting, weather inappropriate clothes each – how did they get so much STUFF? We did about 20 loads of wash to get all of their things in order. We colored. We played games. We gave lots of hugs. Whenever the toddler wanted “Up?!” even when I was in the middle of something I stopped, picked her up, and sat with the weight of the last time.
I lost it when the caseworker showed up. I wanted to keep it together for the kids but tears streamed down the moment she texted “10 minutes away!”
We moved their things into her van. We talked for a minute, about what’s next, about the coronavirus and state shutdown. We told them we loved them and we hoped they grew up well. No postponing it anymore.
They were cheerful. They are little. They don’t know what’s going on. They have left and come back dozens of times with their caseworker. I hope they aren’t scared. I hope they aren’t confused. I know they probably are. I know it will pass.
I locked myself in my bedroom after they left, fell to my knees and sobbed so hard I could barely breathe until our 7 year old (also foster) knocked on the door and asked for a hug. She was crying too.
We cried together. We wrapped ourselves in blankets and played a game of cards. I went for a long run. I ran until my brain was shutdown, my legs were quivering and I felt empty.
The house is quiet. I am not sure what’s next. This is the most emotionally tolling thing I have done in my entire life.