May 31, 2013

Best Job I've Ever Had

I feel guilty a lot.

Well, in this journey through foster care anyway.

When I experience something that every parent should experience, even a parent who had had their children removed from their care, I feel guilty that I get to enjoy it with their child.

When I am not home to answer an important phone call, even if that phone call was made during a specific time when I clearly stated that I would not be home, I feel guilty that I played a part in delaying a visit or having an effect on someone's day.

When a bio-parent is a no-show for a visit, even though we discussed the date and time numerously prior to the scheduled visit date, I feel guilty that I didn't call to remind them and confirm the details the night before.

When I have to leave the visit site 15 minutes after it's scheduled start time because the bio-parent is a no-show, even though I traveled well out of my way to cater to a location just mere blocks from their home, I feel guilty that I can't just meet at their home and make it more convenient on everyone.

I just feel guilty and I can't help that.

As I was discussing this with my social worker, she said something to me that stuck in my mind.

She said, "Sarah, think of it as a part-time job. If you were a professional offering someone a service and they didn't show up to a meeting that they scheduled, would you feel guilty for that? Would you sit around for an hour hoping for them to show up? No, you wouldn't! You would go on about your day and expect them to call, apologize and reschedule. You devote your life to this baby. You take him to his countless visits and appointments. You feed, change and love him when no one else can. HE IS YOUR JOB."

My first reaction was shock. He most certainly is NOT my job. I instantly thought that by titling him as such meant that I didn't enjoy having him around. That wasn't the case at all.

The more I thought about it, the more truth I saw in her statement.

I start my day off every morning with feeding, changing and snuggling with D before I get all three girls up and take the twins to school. When we get home I have about 2 hours to get chores done around the house before the phone starts ringing.

So-and-so is checking on this.
So-and-so needs to schedule that.
So-and-so would like to go over this.

It's a never ending cycle of answering the phone and then needing to call someone else to confirm something that they also do not know the answer to and so forth.

I don't mean to come off as if I am complaining, because I am not. I'm simply explaining how changing my view on things has helped me find my place in this situation. There are so many people who have a say in what is best for D and yet the person who gets the least amount of input is the one who is raising him. It can be very difficult to feel so overlooked.

I thrive on control. Seriously.

Knowing what the plan is, the what-ifs, making a list...that is my control. Now imagine having NO control over anything, but loving this baby. If I didn't think of it as a job then I would surely loose my mind.

This view has also helped me stay on top of my organization. What I mean by that is, there is a ton of paper work. Extra forms must be filled out at every doctors appointment and sent to my FFA social worker. I must keep a contact log where I record EVERY SINGLE contact with any member of the biological families. That included any phone call, email or physical visit. I must record the type of contact, who it was with, how long it lasted, and what the contact was concerning. I must also keep record of all clothing items purchased for D, where they were purchased and how much they cost. I also need to be able to provide receipts for that clothing. All notes regarding the visits with bio-parents need to be typed up and must include only the facts. No opinions are to be allowed.

This can get overwhelming at times and at one point I don't think my husband truly understood how chaotic my afternoons were until he was home one day. When I say that my phone never stops ringing, I mean it.

I don't mind though. I would take on a work load 10 times as difficult if it meant that I could smell D's sweet scent everyday. I wouldn't bat an eye as long as it was D that I got to snuggle with each evening.

He makes it all worth it.

He truly is the best 'job' that I've ever had


Anonymous said...

I understand what you are saying- I had to learn that if a parent doesn't care enough to come to a visit then we shouldn't force them to be a parent because in the long run, no child deserves a parent that had to be forced to parent. That sounds confusing but if parents are being forced and "babysat" to make visits, classes, etc, they won't make the life style changes that are necessary for them to parent that sweet baby forever.

Are the visits not supervised by social services? You handle the visits yourself? In my area, foster parents do not generally have contact with bio-parents outside of visits supervised by social services.

Sarah said...

Exactly! I'm glad that I made sense to someone. It has taken me 5 weeks to not fee guilty about the parent's lack of interest in their own child.

The county social worker has NOT been present at any of our visits with bio-parents. We did, however, go through a private foster agency and have been lucky enough to have our FFA social worker attend the visits so far. Starting this week, though, I will be alone with bio-parents. It's not ideal, but nothing that I can't handle.

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