In my last post, I said I knew there was a sunrise over the next hill. The sun hasn’t shown it’s face yet. We are actually in a time of darkness and angst. Flower left last night with little warning and a police escort. My house is too quiet, and there is a hole where my heart should be.
I suppose it’s true that sometimes, there are kids you can’t fix. You can reach them, you can plant a seed in their souls, but you’ll never mend the rifts and the damage. It’s simply too deep. I know that I poured every ounce of everything I had into my girl. For a brief time, I saw her bloom like one of those desert flowers, soaking up the rain from the cracks in the soil. I guess it wasn’t enough, and the drought came back, and she started to wither.
If there’s one thing I learned from Sugar Biscuit and my oldest biological daughter, it’s that you can’t make people want what’s good for them. Wanting it for them isn’t sufficient. Flower chose to continue down her path of self-destruction, and despite our best efforts, was unable to make choices that supported a healthy life for herself. While she was never violent, she was intensely defiant and insisted on choosing a romantic relationship that was inappropriate and sadly, illegal. The agency and I put systems and blocks in place, and she went around them, over and over again.
Since the ORR, Office of Refugee Resettlement, oversees the kids in International Foster Care, they have the final say on what will happen to the kids, and where they live. It was determined yesterday by ORR that Flower needed to be in a more therapeutic setting, i.e. a shelter. The agency fought for her, my husband begged for two more weeks, but it was useless. Everyone felt like Flower could turn it around, but she wasn’t given one final chance. She was taken, the decision made by someone in an office somewhere, and we were all powerless.
We had already planned for Flower to go to respite this week, and give all of us a break from each other while we travel for Hub’s birthday, so Flower’s caseworker called her yesterday afternoon to tell her she was going into respite a day early. She refused. We had planned to have her moved to the shelter while she was in respite, in order to avoid exposing my other kids to a traumatic scene. I was going to get a chance to tell her goodbye, without the chaos we knew would break loose if she was told she was leaving for good while everyone was home. Her refusal meant that we had to change plans.
Hubs tried to talk to her about her refusal to leave, and Flower locked herself in her bathroom. Her caseworkers were on the way. We were concerned when she wouldn’t come out, and had to force open the door. She appeared to be hiding something, and we were concerned she had another way to contact her boyfriend, so we got permission from the agency to check her things. We found his identification in her bag, and took it from her. She grabbed a shoe, put it on, and headed for the door. Hubs tossed me the other shoe, took her by the wrist, and went to block her exit as I called 911. Part of me wanted to let her run, as I couldn’t bear to think of my girl in a shelter. She gets so cold so easily in those settings, her body still not used to artificially chilled air, her body too young to be locked away. Somehow, I held firm as Hubs diffused the situation until the police arrived.
The caseworkers came shortly afterwards, having decided to immediately transport her to a shelter about five hours away, by plane. They explained to Flower what was happening, she packed while the police stood by to diffuse any potential violence, and that was it. She was gone. Flower left behind a pile of pink hangers, a beautiful Mexican blanket, and the smell of tangerine perfume.
At the door, we had a chance to say goodbye. Hubs held her tight, I begged her to work hard in the shelter so that she could come back. I told her I was mad at her, and furious at the boyfriend, and I loved her, and I always will, and this will alwaysalwaysalways be her home. I whispered to her, to her eyes like a mirror, “Eres una chic valiente, mi conejito”. You are a brave girl, my little rabbit. Flower broke free, ran to her room for one last thing, and walked out the door, clutching her Spanish copy of The Runaway Bunny.
I will never be the same.