I have been a foster parent for nine years. In those nine years I have seen things I read in books, heard stories I could not have fathomed and been loved and hated by people I try to help. Never in nine years, and I mean never, have I had a service plan meeting leave me so concerned about the children returning home. It was as if we are staring at an incoming freight train and everyone knows it is coming but we are forced to watch it arrive and hit us all.
I actually heard Little Man’s father say “We need to talk about his behavior and not me being clean and sober because he is one of the reasons I started using again.”
I was floored silent. I couldn’t imagine blaming my children for doing something like using but I don’t know addiction so I remain silent. We go over what I am doing and what is working with him and Dad claims he does all of it with no success. He even raised his voice at me and said “I take away his video games and his television and his privileges then I am stuck doing something with him myself” He then pointed out how much help I have with my nine year old helping to raise him and I am stymied. I look at him incredulously and ask him to please stop. The case worker cautions him too and he looks at me. Carefully I say to him “My daughter is handicapped. She does not have the capacity to help me do very much as she is autistic”
The parents looked at me in shock and I held my tongue. I didn’t mean to make everything awkward but really a nine year old helps me raise a child? He continues to talk about when he relapses and did we understand that he needs to know what options he has when he relapses because statistically it could happen again. DSS takes the high road, you use we terminate rights period. You have to choose between drugs and your kids. Dad gets mad and says “Look just because I use drugs doesn’t mean I am not a good Dad”
The whole time Mom says nothing. Neither Mom or Dad feel they can handle Little Man’s behavior and both get overwhelmed by him. How can we maintain in the home if no one can manage Little Man? How are they going to manage? Who are their supports? Neither parent can answer these questions. Repeatedly the parents are told they need more supports and repeatedly the don’t come up with options. How is this not a recipe for disaster? How can this go well?
We leave the meeting and Dad confronts me outside:
“Outside, here where there is no one I want you to answer a question and not lie to me. I want you to tell me the truth and not what you have to say because they are listening. I want to know if you are serious about being a resource for us when they come home or if you just said that because you had to”
I assure him that as long as they are sober I wanted to be a resource. No I am not really an awesome person but if they let me stay in their lives I can know if things are going bad sooner. I sort of feel selfish for my motivation but I am so concerned and yes I do love the kids.
Meanwhile I will pray for the kids safety. I cannot stop the kids life from playing out as it will but with God’s grace maybe I can be there should it fall apart….