Saturday, May 06, 2006

Remarkable Phone Call

I just received the strangest and most heartening phone call I've received since I started my new life almost a year ago.

I answered the phone, and "Josie's" uncle wanted to speak with one of us about what was happening and why. He was pretty upset and felt his niece was being railroaded (as do we), and he wanted to offer to do anything he could to get us into the courthouse on Monday so we could speak our piece. He said he used to work in the courthouse and quit some time ago, calling them "crooked". Apparently he was aware that we are being shut out of the decision-making for "Josie", and apparently he has been impressed with what we have been able to accomplish with "Josie" while she was here.

I can't be certain he wasn't drunk, but if he was he wasn't too far gone, at least, because he spoke pretty clearly and made sense. I mention that because I'm guessing there are those of you out there who are experienced enough to know that calls like this are often inspired by a conversation with a bottle or more than a few cans.

He noted that she had gone downhill after being forced back home too soon, he passed on her grandmother's (his mother's) comments about how she seemed like "a different girl" when she was living with us, and he offered to watch "Angel" while The Wife went to court uninvited.

That's a non-starter for multiple reasons, the biggest of which are that only a licensed foster parent or respite provider will be let near "Angel" and The Wife doesn't really share my temperament. I would walk in there uninvited and speak up at any chance I was given with a certain species of glee...she would probably be too uncomfortable doing that.

That said, I do appreciate the offer, and I appreciate more the sentiments he expressed along with it. He and the rest of her family (quite a number of people, all told) seem very aware of what we've been trying to do with "Josie". They've been impressed with the results we were able to achieve in a pretty short time and they are all allegedly angry that we haven't been given more of a chance to continue trying to help this girl.

This was a lightning bolt out of the blue to me. I figured her family didn't care a whit about us, or have any thoughts of any kind, pro or con, about us...except maybe a mild resentment that we were standing between them and "Josie". That's the most common biofamily reaction I've seen in my years of being around this business. But it seems that this particular family "gets" the situation better than I gave them credit for. I assumed they, like so many families, just assume that the child should be with her parent(s) regardless of whatever problems there are. If I've been told true, then my apologies to them for underestimating them.

This makes it doubly or triply important that I draft my letter to the court very, very carefully. I really, really don't want to screw this one up. The family may not be able to provide what she needs, but they recognize when she's getting it and care that she gets it. That's a lot.

I'll post the text of the letter when I have it in or near final form (tonight perhaps?) and open it up to critique. Stay tuned.


At 2:43 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

I'd be happy to help critique your letter.

I'm a former foster child and current child advocate. Recently, I spoke to the aunt and grandmother of a sexually-abused young lady and helped them to document some of their concerns about the way that this case was handled by the system.

Yes... that was a pretty amazing phone call. Whether it was love, guilt, or liquid courage that inspired it.


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