No Red Capes
This is my third time attempting this blog. Let's start with a little background information so that the latter will make sense. In October of 2019, we decided to take a placement of a 2-year-old boy who had various physical and cognitive needs simply because he was the brother of our current [foster] daughter. We are licensed for traditional foster care, because my husband and I both work very demanding jobs. Despite our reservations and uncertainty, we decided to try and see if we could make it work.
December 2019: Screams of “MAAA-MAAA” fled from the room down the hall. I nudged my husband several times for him to go see what was up with Brother. About 10 seconds later, I hear my husband, DJ, roar “ARGH! There’s sh*t everywhere!” I hesitated but threw my robe on tiptoeing down the hall to see my toddler standing in his crib, hands covered in gooey brown while wearing no diaper. It was probably the grossest thing I’ve ever seen.
That night we debriefed over the events that followed that morning’s massacre while also adding that we were exhausted. Brother had 6 therapists that I had to coordinate with, one daycare change (to better meet his needs), reorganization of our home, and behaviors that prevented us from being outside of our home for long periods of time. His needs were great and his behaviors were growing to be more frequent and unmanageable. We were determined to not give up the placement so that Princess T and Brother could be together (which was a first since being in foster care for over a year).
January 2020: We were pouring from very empty cups! Life was still a roller coaster with Brother and we were barely holding on. Now don't get me wrong, at this point he had made a ton of progress. He was getting along with others (ish) at daycare, he learned to walk stably and even climb the stairs. He learned his own name, added about 8 new words to his bank (including Hallelujah), and was coping through partial blindness. No doubt the boy is amazing!
Nevertheless, I'd be lying if I didn't say we were spent. DJ and I argued more. I was trying to find reasons to escape my home, even if it was just to go for a drive and DJ was working nonstop to avoid our reality. My marriage was impacted, our fuses were short, we felt less joy about fostering. Princess T was also at her end. She was tired of waking up to Brother screaming to the top of his lungs, bandaging her bite wounds, and hiding her most valued toys from toddler demolition.
April 2020: Late April, we called our worker back and let her know that we needed to have Brother moved. We weren't in a rush as we wanted her to find the very best foster home for him that could meet his needs. To be clear, we didn't make this decision because of his special needs. We didn't even want him to leave at all, but at some point we couldn't ignore that we had become victims of compassion fatigue and needed to refuel. Furthermore, we had to acknowledge that what Brother needed was far beyond what we could provide. Once we took off those red capes and realized that we were drowning and not saving anyone, we knew that placement disruption was best for us all.
[I just want to mention here that I know that many families who have children with exceptional needs are not able to get away from it or even want to. I respect those families and have deep empathy. It is amazing to see how many families have learned to support their children.]
May 2020: God is so good in the way he works things out! A woman reached out to me after learning about Brother’s need to move. She and her husband have a ton of experience with fostering and raising children with needs. After a few respite trials with Brother, they accepted the offer to foster him. It was an absolute Godsend.
I'm grateful I got to be Brother’s mom for a season. I am a better woman because of it. I am a louder advocate for children, a more empathetic special educator. Simultaneously, I am sad that it didn't work out, but relieved that I can heal now. However, my submission to God reminds me that his plan his perfect and He loves these kids much more than I do.
Last night: We ate pizza and cake and recalled our favorite memories of Brother. We danced to his favorite song, Revelation 19:1 by Kanye's Sunday Service Choir. We packed his things and hugged a lot. We allowed Princess T to sleep next to him. We remind them to say "see you later" to replace "good-bye because this is not their end. This is just a new chapter for us all.