Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Who comes first

Well, I think we may have pulled the plug on our foster parenting experiences.

The thing is, you have to set your boundaries in terms of placements, and then, once they are set, you have to stick to them. Which can limit the number of placement possibilities for your family, but can also minimize the stress and drama you are exposed to.

For instance. We take only infants, under a year old.

Period. That's what we are set up for, that is what works with our family dynamic, that is the age range that I feel most comfortable caring for on the spur of the moment...I can usually comfort a crying baby in moments, even one that has been through trauma associated with being taken into CPS custody. Babies are my thing.

When they asked if we would take a medically fragile infant, I asked some questions, thought for a bit, and then said yes. Of course. Of course we would take a medically fragile infant. I understood that the commitment would be much greater. I adjusted my work schedule to be available to care for the baby, and flew to another island for training on the baby's care. But I also thought I understood the extent of the commitment. Which I did not. To be honest, I don't think anyone really did. And the fact is, the level of care required has increased in scope since I have taken custody, and since the baby's most recent hospitalization, and is no longer something I can provide while still caring for my children, and keeping our lives pretty "normal" - whatever that means.

So I threw in the towel. Called the whole thing off. Baby is in hospital again where he will stay, with his family by his side learning how to care for him and bonding with him, while the state finds a better solution. I hope they do their damndest to keep that family together, and keep baby in a very high level of care.

This has been a very hard decision to make. I feel sick about it. But the honest fact is, this is a very medically fragile baby, and it scares me to be responsible for his wellbeing when his prognosis is so uncertain. My children have already been in the middle of some very scary moments when the baby was in crisis. The stress of caring for the baby definitely reduces my ability to be there for them. The time involved took too much time away from them and their needs............it was just not something that could continue indefinitely.

So while I am very enthusiastic about foster parenting, it is with a caveat. Almost every child in the system has been through trauma. These children deserve everything we can provide, above and beyond their basic "needs" of food, clothing and housing. They need to heal, and be whole, and be cherished, and be the priority. They need foster parents who are kind, patient, and willing to learn about each child's special situation, and particular needs. There will be a lot of appointments. There will be a lot of adjustments and last minute changes and red tape and craziness that doesn't exist in our every day lives.

And while the experience has been amazing and enriching and illuminating and rewarding, it has also been emotionally draining. I remain steadfast in my priorities - my own family must come first. And if the chaos of caring for a foster child begins to affect my children negatively, well, I need to remember who my first priority will always be.

My children first, all children second.


Anonymous said...

V, you did the right thing. LFF

derfina said...

It sounds very promising that his biological family is still visiting faithfully. They obviously care. I think he is better off for having had you as his foster mommy, no matter for what length of time. You do what you can.

LM said...

You are beautiful and kind and caring and hysterical and warm and thoughtful and beyond generous. I know how this hurts your heart but you gave that sweet baby some wonderful weeks full of hugs and kisses. Sending you healing thoughts and lots of love.