Pre-Monica, I had a lot of opinions. Okay, I still have a lot of opinions. The ones I am referring to here are about parenting. Now, I am actually a very tolerant and inclusive person. I am all about different parenting styles. No mommy wars over here. Anyway, I used to have all of these opinions about how I was going to parent. And I no longer have so many. Examples:
These ridiculous things that you strap onto a crib that play music and project light shows on the ceiling. Ew. What’s the point of distracting your baby while they’re trying to sleep? My new opinion: Aahh, this is the magical thing that makes that terrible “I’m dying” noise stop. Okay. Love it.
Microwave dinners for babies. Okay I am kind of steadfast in my opinion that these are no good. If your kid can eat these, they can eat whatever you’re eating. The old K says, “WHO WOULD BUY THESE?” The new me? Ah, this baby goes to sleep before I eat dinner … soooo … sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
And there are more. The list goes on (leaving babies in clothes with food all over them, diapers visibly sticking out …). It’s amazing how quickly things change when practicality is the guiding force.
So back to foster care …
Monica has had a busy week. Her first EI visit was on Tuesday (we were just meeting her permanent provider and signing things), she had her one-year check up yesterday, and her lawyer visited again tonight. In terms of updates – she is still a healthy happy little nugget, making excellent developmental gains (crawling, pulling herself up, more and varied babbling, increased self-feeding and helping with dressing …). I learned a little something about the court system – apparently (in MA), the child’s attorney represent’s the child’s desires. If a Guardian ad Litem was assigned, they would represent their best interests (remember that often their desires do not align with their best interests – I know mine never did growing up). When the child in question is so young, the attorney has to take in all of the information they have and make an assumption as to what the child would want – which can be different from the child’s best interests (or the birth parents’ best interests). It’s good that Monica has someone advocating for her. The whole system is set up to advocate for her parents (while simultaneously ensuring her safety) – every piece of the plan that is made must be with the end goal of reunification (until the court moves to terminate parental rights).
Anyway, her visit tonight was helpful. She let us know that the plan set in place at the last court date was still in motion – that our state and the other state are in the process of doing home studies on one of Monica’s out of state relatives with the intention of transferring the case. I believe that the hope is that that will happen at the next court date (late September). I know that her lawyer will advocate for Monica’s perceived desires – and she made it seem like she sees our home as preferable to Monica (considering the only information she has to go on is the reason for removal from her family, their behavior thus far, and what she has seen of Monica’s progress and happiness in our home). Of course, her lawyer is just one of many involved in this case, all in a system that aims to keep birth families together at all costs. But it is nice to know that (and how) her interests will be advocated for independent of her parents.
Speaking of her parents, Monica’s 6th family visit was scheduled for today. Drumroll please … they showed up! We don’t really know how it went yet, since her SW picked her up and dropped her off at daycare, but our SWs will be visiting tomorrow evening and hopefully will let us know how things played out. I’m happy to hear that they were able to have a family visit. I am really looking forward to hearing how it went. It’s so easy to build fictional ideas of who they are and how they would be with Monica when they are completely absent from our lives. We signed up for this – to be foster parents, to parent and fall in love with children who will be with us for just a little while, but also to work with, get to know, and hopefully support birth parents. It just makes it difficult when you fall in love with the child and so easily lose sight of the part where they are going to go home. I have mantras – I constantly remind myself that Monica is our beautiful, happy, and charming child for a little while, and then she will go home to her family to be their beautiful, happy, and charming little girl. But I do believe that foster parents need more than just will power and mantras – we need to be included as a part of this system, reminded not just that our children’s biological parents exist, but also who they are and how hard they are trying to get their kiddos back. Even supported and encouraged to work with them and be ongoing parenting supports. I know that this also causes infuriating situations when the families are not working hard to get their kids back – but that’s part of all of this too. The more we, as foster parents, are kept on the outside, the harder it is for us to buy into, work with, work around, and exist as a part of the system.
So that’s my opinion on that.
I have one more opinion, and that is that this little ball of sweetness is far too adorable for words (recognize that bedtime soother thing and the sticking out diaper?):