Foster Care: Visit with bio mom

Thursday, August 15, 2013


It's really late--midnight now, and I should be in bed asleep, but I can't seem to turn my mind off.  Some of you have been wondering how the visit went this week with baby boy's bio mom.   I thought I'd share some thoughts on that since I'm battling my insomnia tonight. :-)

It's has been over a year since baby boy has seen his bio mom.  He was placed in the foster care system at 7 months old and was then brought to our home when he was 9 months old.  As mentioned in my previous post, baby boy's mother has been serving a federal prison sentence while we have been baby boy's foster family.  And during this time we have not had any required visitations with any family members which quite frankly, has been really nice. 

But this all changed last week when we got word that his bio mom was released from jail and now requesting visitations.  I was asked to report with baby boy at 9AM at the CPS office for his first visit in over a year with bio mom.  All weekend I was a nervous wreck---literally dreading this visit.  I had no idea what to expect....but I couldn't fight this nagging feeling that it was not going to be a pleasant visit. I was also really concerned about how baby boy would handle a two-hour visit with her---it was doubtful he'd really remember her and he's in that stage where he's really hesitant to go to other people that he doesn't know.  

I prayed a lot over the weekend.  A lot.  For peace of mind about the situation we find ourselves in.  For baby boy--that he wouldn't feel afraid, nervous or overly anxious during his visit. For bio mom and any family members she might bring with her--that they would be accepting and understanding of the care we are providing her son at this time.  That I would be led and guided with my words.  And that if possible, they might see how much I love him--that I have loved him as my own these past 12 months.

Jody gave me the sweetest priesthood blessing early Monday before baby boy and I had to leave for the visit.  It brought me so much comfort and I felt a sense of peace wash over my anxious heart.  

When we arrived and checked in at the front desk at the CPS office, I was looking around trying to see if his bio mom was in the waiting area--but none of the mothers waiting approached us.  And so we took a seat and waited.  And waited.  And then waited even longer.  During this time I observed how these visitations work with the bio parents.  The foster parents walk in the door and with most of the bio moms that I watched on this day we were there--they were anxiously waiting at the door waiting for their children to come through the doors and when they did so--the bio moms and/or bio grandparents would scoop the kids up in their arms and excitedly tell them it was so good to see them.  That they had missed them.  And then the assigned CPS worker would come out and take the bio mom and her children (and any other family members that were there for the visit) back to one of the visiting rooms.

It was a little heartbreaking to watch all of this play out in front of me--these broken families trying to mend mistakes that had been made---to repair family relationships that had been broken.  I was thinking as I sat in the lobby and observed these families interact--it made me think how thankful I am to have had the parents I have ---to have grown up in the stable, loving home that I grew up in with a mother and father who took care of me and my brothers and loved us more than anything.    

Our visit was scheduled to begin at 9AM...but bio mom did not show up until 9:45.  With her were baby boy's grandmother and uncle.  I was a little surprised that they weren't there right at 9AM to see him---but then again--given the nature of baby boy's case---I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. 
I recognized the grandmother as soon as she walked in the door.  Jody and I met her at baby boy's first court hearing last September just after we became his foster parents.  She was not very friendly at that hearing---so I was a little hesitant to make the first move and say hello when they walked through the doors.  At first they didin't recognize him...he's not that little baby that they remember--but a full-blown toddler now.  

The grandmother and uncle immediately came over and started to talk with him, but the bio mom didn't even stop to greet him---hug him---or even talk to him.  Instead, she walked straight over to the reception desk--signed in and then stood over across the room and just stared at baby boy and the grandmother.  She had her arms tightly crossed and a stern look on her face.  I was  a little taken back by her demeanor.  I mean, from what we had been told by baby boy's caseworker--the bio mom was really anxious to see her son and hopefully try and get custody back.  But given the way she was acting just after seeing him for the first time in over a year--she seemed to have little interest in seeing him. 

I visited with the grandmother and uncle briefly while we waited for the caseworker to come out and invite them back to one of the rooms for their visit.  The mother continued to keep her distance from both myself and baby boy--so I decided to walk on over and introduce myself.  She somewhat timidly shook my hand and told me her name.  She then explained she was going to try and take the required parenting classes.  I told her I thought that was great. But then she didn't really say much after that---she didn't ask me how baby boy was doing---what all he had been up to this past year---zero...nada.  About this time the caseworker came out and invited them all back for their visit.  She asked me to stay for about 10 minutes in the waiting area so she could make sure baby boy didn't get too upset without me being there.  And so as requested, I waited in the lobby area for 10-15 minutes and then the CPS caseworker came out and said baby boy seemed to be doing okay and that I could come back and pick him up in about an hour.  

As I was walking back to the car--I couldn't help but let out a huge sigh of relief.  All in all...seeing bio mom for the first time wasn't as awful as I thought would be.  She wasn't rude (and didn't try to beat me up! :-) ) But I was a little saddened for baby boy---that she didn't seem more excited and happy to be reunited with him for this visit.  

I had a babysitter at the house watching Noah and Taylor---so I drove over to my favorite little place in town that has the best hot chocolate---ordered me up one and then sat down and read a book for a while---taking a moment to myself to relax and clear my head.  Basically just killing time while baby boy visited with his family.  When it came time to go pick him up----I was so anxious to have in back in my arms again.  I waited in the lobby for about 5 minutes and then he and and his family walked through the doors from the visiting rooms.  He looked really tired but his eyes lit up as soon as he saw me---the grandmother was carrying him and she handed him back over to me.  They all gave him some last minute kisses on the cheek and said their good-byes.  The grandmother surprised me when she told me how thankful she was that we were taking such good care of him.  She then tearfully hugged me and said, "God bless you."  The mother still seemed a little hesitant in her interactions with baby boy--but I did notice she was wiping away tears when they were leaving.  

It was most definitely not as hard a visit as I expected---but it was still a little heartbreaking.  Heartbreaking on a few levels...one, overall from what I could observe, the bio mom didn't seem that excited to see baby boy.  Hard to imagine given the fact she hasn't seen him in over a year!! Her tardiness to the visit---45 minutes late knowing she only has 2-hours with him--to me it shows her lack of commitment to being a parent to her son.  And then just meeting the mom, grandmother and uncle--it was very apparent that baby boy (if returned to their care) is going to have a much different life than what he has been living while in our family.  And I hate to say this---but I fear his new environment will not be a healthy, loving, or stable environment--which is just so tremendously heartbreaking for us.

As a foster mom, I have learned through this experience that the parental visitations with bio parents are difficult --- they are a painful reminder as a foster mom that the children in your care are not yours.   We as the foster parents are just merely caregivers for a season of their life until the courts determine what is in the best interest of the child. 

But as I mentioned in my last post ...the situation is what it is.  We are going to fight this recent turn of events as much as we can because from day one have hoped that we could adopt baby boy.  We continue to hope and pray that we can stop the state from moving him to this other family that has been recommended by the bio mom.  We fear that this placement would not be good for baby boy because the bio mom could more easily have access to him and possibly harm him emotionally and/or physically.

Thus far, we're really impressed with the attorney we hired to represent us.  She is planning to intervene on our behalf in the case as we approach our legal standing date and this has brought both Jody and myself a great deal of comfort.  We feel like we finally have someone in our court now---someone who is watching out for us, as the foster parents, giving us a voice with the court.

Until a final decision is made to determine who will be taking care of baby boy long term and if he will be adopted--we are cherishing every minute we have with him.  And trying not to worry so much about those things that we have no control over...for it's in God's hands now.  I have faith that He knows what is best for baby boy.  

I want to thank each of you for all your sweet thoughts and prayers.  We have been so humbled by the outpouring of love and support we have received from so many of our friends and family members this past week.  The emails, comments on this blog, Instagram messages text messages and phone calls from so many of you have truly touched our hearts and helped strengthen our faith.

xo,
jennifer


2 comments:

  1. I am so happy to hear that it went better than expected. It really is sad that she didn't seem excited to see him. I really hope that the court decides to let him stay with you guys. He really does deserve to have a loving, caring family and that is exactly what he has in you guys. God bless and I will be praying for you guys!

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  2. So grateful for the update. My family and I continue to pray and hope for you all, that that beautiful little boy will be in the place that is best for him and that you all will be strengthened and lifted. I hope that his mother's heart will be softened towards you and that she will have the strength to do what will truly be best for her son. I wish I could hug you all!!!

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