Last night I has a reaaaaally long talk with a friend who is a former foster parent. While most people love to talk about how the struggle with foster care is all worth it in the end, this person didn't do any sugar coating. Her experience was pretty bad, and so similar to ours. She would say things like how it seems like it's sport to some of the caseworkers to make things hard. Didn't I JUST say that? Her point was that when she finally got done with foster care, she went through a grieving process much like when someone dies, but then, after about six weeks she said she felt a peace that she couldn't even remember. As she spoke of life after foster care, I felt jealous. Little things like spending a night away from home without permission or not having to monitor food constantly. Or the biggie, not having someone call and yell at you or tell you that everything you have planned for the weekend isn't going to happen. Just for sport. She also pointed out some interesting things about the caseworker that perhaps are causing some jealousy issues with me. Gosh, that's a whole 'nother post.
I have said several times that I am done, but after last night, I'm actually looking forward to being done. There! I said it.
This friend is in a unique position because she runs a program that has exclusively foster and adoptive parents as members. She said that every year people who have been members for ever and a day fail to send in the new application, so she calls them. Every year she tells me without fail they loose a long time member who has decided to give up their license with a juicy story to follow. A story that if you didn't live through something similar you would NEVER believe.
So today the ESW called AGAIN to ruin my weekend and I find out that she went to the club and saw the kids without my knowledge. All I can think is that she told the kids NOT to tell me. Why else would they not say a word? So they are leaving tonight to go to the foster home that caused such a reaction they were NEVER going back (her words) to visit with a relative that they have never met and who I was told not that long ago was potentially dangerous to them. My defenses go up and I do feel that mama bear protection mode...but more importantly and fiercely I felt SO READY TO BE DONE! I don't want this stress in my life anymore.
Another issue this friend brought up last night is how technically you can't depend upon stipends as income. Except that you do. You have to. Our household expenses have increased big time since doing care, and they aren't expenses that will quickly go back down. I'll admit, it's scary to think about trying to run our current household without that stipend. We did it, we can do it again, but I don't really know how. And if that makes anyone think that we are doing this for the money, just go away now because I am using all my energy and I have none left to throttle you with.
I'm having a baby in SIX WEEKS and they are still telling me there is no respite available, other than this foster home that is almost an hour away, the one that they are never going back to. (<---please note the sarcastic tone). Could I find childcare for them? Of course, if they were my children I would find a friend to take them, but as foster children they can only go to a foster home. I have been thinking for several weeks now that they are going to use the fact that I have no respite to say that I can't provide for them. And if we can't provide for them, they will need to be moved. It's very convenient that they already have a foster home to send them to.
My biggest fear right now, (and this alone is very telling) is that they are going to pull these kids right when I am going through the myriad of emotions that come with giving birth. I can't imagine having to say goodbye in the midst of that roller coaster ride, but that is my prediction.