Today I had two meetings one of which, the meeting with my kids in care’s Mom had me the most nervous. Don’t get me wrong, I Googled her, Facebooked her and did all the research I could to find out more about her prior to our meeting. I had stereotypes in my head I am ashamed to say and though I fought hard against them I cannot lie and say I did not have them. I feared meeting her, being judged by her or worse yet rejected by her. I struggled to convince myself she was probably just as nervous as I was about this meeting.
We met in the lobby of the social services building. The case manager did the introduction. When I looked at her I felt ashamed immediately of my preconceived notions. How could I be such a jerk…what the heck was I thinking? I saw a young and very terrified looking woman standing in front of me. Her voice shook as did her hands as she extended it to me to shake. I wanted to scoop her up and hold her, tell her it would be all right but I dared not do that for tons of reasons. It hurt me to look at her so frail and so scared. I felt ashamed, deeply ashamed at the image I had of her in my mind. No I never thought she was a monster but yes I had made some very wrong assumptions.
The meeting went well we talked about what got her here and where she needed to go. She seemed to understand what her role in all of this was and what needed to happen in the future. She confessed she was terrified of meeting me because “you hear so many stories about foster parents who are monsters” she was sure that I would be one too. Her eyes teared up as she said “I am really sorry I assumed you were awful you seem really nice” I reassured her we all make mistakes and that yes I would take excellent care of her children and wanted open communication with her directly if she was all right with that happening. We talked about her resources and what she would need going forward from here and again she became teary. Her family struggled with their own significant issues and did not want to help her. For all intent and purposes she was alone, alone with her demons and her children.
The head of protective services spoke up and asked me directly “Are you willing to be a resource for (Mom)?” I stated that I would and Mom gasped out loud. I startled and looked at her. She stared at me and said “Why would you help me?” In that instant my heart broke for her, I explained I wanted her to be healthy, happy and if possible reunited with her children. I told her I would support all the healthy decisions she made for herself and her children. The tears started again as she recounted her failures at doing this before so I gently encouraged her some more the whole time deeply saddened at how alone she really felt. She reached out and took my hand and said “Thank you so much for everything I really appreciate what you are doing”
I left the meeting to pick up the kids. I hugged them extra tight and told them I met Mom and how beautiful she was and how much she loved them. Both kids smiled and agreed that yes their Mom is a pretty amazing woman.