It’s been a whirlwind week! We got into a good rhythm as a family, and the bonus boys were learning a lot of life skills in addition to increasing their English skills every day. I can’t begin to say enough about how helpful and agreeable the boys are. They are always ready to pitch in and work and do the things that need doing, and are experts at cleaning up after themselves. It funny how two extra teenagers can actually lighten your load and make your life better, when they are motivated to participate in the family. I’m shocked and humbled at how easy they are and the amount of peace that we’ve had in our family, despite dropping two strangers into our home 15 days ago.
Wednesday, the agency and I were doing some planning on a longer term solution for the boys. There had been talk of an ESL camp while we are on vacation next week, and perhaps an agency (group) home that would be nearer the educational opportunities they need. Our license with the new agency won’t be transferred until next Wednesday, meaning we were only allowed by licensing to be respite providers for a period of 14 days. So as of Wednesday, the plan was that the boys had to leave yesterday and could maybe come back after we retuned from our trip, until the agency home opened. We all as a team agreed that the area we live in can’t serve the boy’s ESL needs as well as the agency home, and that would be the best place for them, once it opened. In the meantime, we hoped to provide as much continuity as possible. So, we told the boys the plan, they were sad, but understood.
Thursday, the plan changed. It was decided that licensing should and would give us a variance and allow the boys to stay as it was in their best interest. It was determined the would just leave for about 9 days while we traveled, and then could come back. So, we told them they could stay, adjusted everyone’s schedules, gave high fives, and moved forward.
Yesterday, at 2:00, the hammer came down. State licensing, in a totally unexpected move, told my agency that they *must* have the boys placed by the end of business that day. Not in respite, but in a permanent home, even if the permanent home they found couldn’t serve their educational needs in the way the agency home opening in September can. Everyone at the agency was stunned, and I am told there were tears among the staff. There were certainly tears here, and what made it more unbearable is knowing that in the boy’s culture, crying is something that just isn’t done.We all had about an hour to pack up and soak in the news. I will never forget Dash’s face, buried in a hoodie to try and hide his tear stained face, as he gave me a million traditional hugs before he was driven away by a new (darling and kind) foster father. It was hard to decide what was more sad- my husband’s tears and anger, my oldest son’s red face and quivering lip, Dash’s heartbreak zipped into a hoodie, or Gus’s stoicism and feigned indifference.
It was certainly a reminder that although we’ve escaped some of the heartbreak of domestic foster care, we are still governed by a broken state system that claims to have a child’s best interest at heart but is often drowning in rules and hampered by it’s own red tape. I woke several times in the night, praying even in my sleep for my bonus boys to have permanence and understanding, the house feeling so much more hollow without their bodies nearby.
As for us, we have our summer vacation, Dozer needs wisdom teeth removed, and Sugar Biscuit is staring down the barrel of some tonsil and adenoid surgery. It is a busy time of year, and there is plenty to accomplish. Our family will use this experience to really narrow down what we want to do as a foster home, and who we want to serve. Initially, we planned to do respite and short term placements only. After seeing how great the need is for homes for refugee youth, Hubs and I are rethinking things. I know the rapid departure that occurred yesterday was a sobering reality for my bigger kids, and Sugar Biscuit is asking this morning where his new foster brothers went.
Personally and professionally, a lot of doors closed for me this week. Although I know my purpose in this life is to serve children, to do advocacy and change what’s broken, I don’t know what this will look like. I’d like to serve on a larger scale than one child at a time, so I am just praying and asking to be shown where to go next. Two weeks ago, I had my foot in several promising doors, and was overwhelmed and excited by my choices. This week, they’ve all been closed. It’s hard for me to believe in a Divine Plan at these times, when children of this world are hurting and a person who wants to use her voice and hands to help is silenced and hobbled. Intellectually, I know this means that something beyond my wildest dreams is about to happen and it’s about to get amazing up in here. My heart has yet to catch up with my head, though.
The travel will be good for us. Time to reflect and reset as a family, to reconnect and recommit. It will be hard, though, to sit in one of the world’s most beautiful places and stare out into the water, with two sweet boy’s faces in the forefront of my mind. Perhaps I will be able to make sense of it all, to see the greater scheme of things. Hopefully, I will return with a new plan and renewed sense of purpose, ready to get back to work.