Update from the front lines: Evie is still here. I still have no idea for how long. I am still totally, utterly in love.
I have absolutely abandoned all common sense and reason, and broke every single rule of mine - and of the system in general - when it comes to foster parenting. I made it personal. And I am afraid that I may have passed the point of no return.
I love all of the children we have cared for, each in their own way. I care for them and nurture them and love them, and then I give them back to their mothers and I get on with life. But so help me, I cannot imagine this little girl with anyone else as her mother.
This is very, very bad. For many reasons. The biggest reason is that she is not mine. She has a mother. And other relatives. And the state will try to reunify the biological family, because that is absolutely the guiding principle of foster care: to provide parents and relatives with resources and support and education, in the hope that they will be able to raise the child. The foster system is not set up as an adoption agency - adoptions of infants in particular are extremely rare, and everyone involved in foster care knows that reunification is the goal. Social workers spend long, hard hours trying to assist parents while keeping children safe.
I have always been very supportive of this goal. I have encouraged parents time and again as they have tried to get their lives together. I truly believe that a baby is the very best reason to get your life back on track.
But not this time. Every time they mention a visitation with relatives, my jaw tightens and my heart pounds. And finally, after 5 days of this torture I had to say it out loud: I don't support reunification in this case. As a foster parent, this is terrible. This is a huge conflict of interest. This is absolutely inappropriate. This is way, way out of line.
I know it, and I feel sick about it. I have heard that line "the heart wants what the heart wants" and I always thought it was a big bunch of bullshit - an excuse for doing whatever the hell you felt like doing without concern for other people, for consequences, for right and wrong. And yet, here I am.
I have been caring for other people's children, in one way or another, since I was 9 years old. I am very good at keeping it professional, at remembering who the mother is, at not getting attached. And now I find myself at odds with everything I have ever known, everything I have ever believed about myself.
I used to be good at this. Even as recently as last month I was good at this. Something has changed.
I went so far as to suggest that they take me off this case entirely, and transfer her out of my home. But of course I don't want them to do that.
I have put on a brave face and tried to sound cheerful and rational.
I have also cried.
I have cried on the phone, I have cried in the rocking chair late at night, I have cried in the car driving her to visitations. I have cried because I can't imagine keeping her any longer and because I don't want to see her go. I have cried because I can only imagine the life she might have - and there are two very different paths her life might take. I have cried for her mother, I have cried for the women who want to be mothers.
I have cried at poop on the couch and puke in the car seat.
I have cried because her bellybutton stump hasn't come off and she really needs a bath (see poop and puke, above).
Is it possible to have postpartum mood swings when I am not only postpartum, but post-menopausal?
(The answer to that is no.)
I feel like I am losing my mind.
I don't know what to do. I am at a loss at the prospect of losing her.
And yet she was never mine to begin with.
14 hours ago