Monday, June 19, 2006

No More "Angel"

I've had to let this cook in my mind, processing it for a few days before I was able to write about it. It's painful, and liberating, and everything in between plus a few things that aren't.

Our marriage, as I implied before, was under strain, and both of us needed a break from the daily grind. We took our break last week from fostering and though I had to work it was pretty refreshing. We both did our separate thinking and then we did some talking when The Wife got back. Our talking and thinking, combined with the fact that "Angel" seemed to completely flip out on Friday, led us to the final conclusion:

We've done all we can for this girl, and we can't take anymore or things will happen that can't be taken back and could destroy everything we're working for.

There was no help of any kind for two months. There should have been help after the first week. "Angel's" former foster parents clued us in that they had run into the same brick walls we had with no luck getting any assistance. They apparently burned out too.

You haven't felt out of your depth until you've seen the behavior The Wife witnessed (and I barely missed but heard her reaction from the next room). I can't even go into details for fear of probably breaking some laws and for sure violating every foster confidentiality ethic in the book, but suffice it to say that one of the things that happened Friday alone should get that girl committed for psychiatric evaluation. Yesterday. So, of course, today she's sitting in an emergency foster home, waiting to go to yet another foster home.

Yes, the system does let some kids down horribly. People should lose their jobs over this case.

Among the things I can tell you about Friday is that "Angel" decided she wasn't going to have any seatbelt restrain her. She tried to lock The Wife out of the house, though she's been warned about that almost daily for the last month. "Josie" watched her walk up to Tasha, grab her collar and begin methodically bashing her fist on Tasha's head.

And the kicker...when The Wife wouldn't let her lock her out of the house, she went out on the deck with Willy to pout. Then she grabbed Willy, looked defiantly up at The Wife, lifted Willy's hind leg up and bit him on the hamstring. That dog has supernatural patience. She could easily have broken a bone, and as it was he would have been fully justified in ripping her ear off and spitting it in her face, losing our fostering license for us in the process and probably sending us to court.

But the bottom line is we're not equipped to deal with this kind of thing and we aren't going to. We've reached our limit. Pool's closed, everybody out.

You could tell a huge weight had been lifted off our entire household within a couple of hours of coming home Saturday. Mom was so torqued up over our state of mind that she and Dad came to visit (inspiring my last post) and counsel us. We needed it...but I think our ship is now magically righting itself.

The difference is palpable with "Josie". She had started to truly worry (and rightfully so) about both of us, and particularly The Wife. She had been on very good behavior, helping with "Angel" and generally being an angel herself (if still a pretty lazy one...some things don't change).

"Josie" is really, really starting to bond with us now. She gave me a shirt for Father's day that says "Best Dad Hands Down". It came with some packets of ink, which kids could use to put their hand prints on the shirt. Today when I got home from work, she had put both hand prints between the words, and on the back she had written "Love Ya!" I had to use a kleenex when The Wife wasn't looking.

We're also getting reports back from her family, teachers, counselors and so forth that she really loves it here. I guess we're at least getting the job done with that one.

The thing with "Angel" hurts and we feel like failures to a degree, regardless of how much other people in the system are at fault. But you know, I still don't feel like it was time wasted. We learned a lot out of that, and according to her former foster family (who did the respite last week) and other observers, she came a long ways with us. I did get to have a little daughter and get just a taste of what that is. And I think in the grand design we were just placeholders for her.

You see, there is another foster family downstate that's just coming online, according to our sources. The foster mom is a psychologist. Big score there. AND..."Angel's" ethnicity is "African-American", or "black" to people like me who don't give much of a rip about that political correctness garbage. That new foster family is also black. I don't think that usually means much...but who knows? Maybe in this case it will make her feel more like she "belongs".

Maybe God gave that beautiful child to us as a training mission and a test for us to learn for ourselves whether we're supposed to be doing this? Maybe He gave us to her to love her and take good care of her until her real plan was in place? Who knows why He puts us in these predicaments? I do know that it feels to me like it's all going to work out the way it should...and if there's a chance of a happy ending I guess I'm not going to complain too bitterly.

For our part, we've decided that the rest of the summer or so we'll content ourselves with "Josie" and focus on doing for her what we can. At the same time, we'll focus on each other and make sure we both still remember to keep each other first in our lives.

That won't be difficult for me. You see, there's one other curious thing that's come out of this for me. It started a couple weeks ago, and my guess is that it was the building stress and then The Wife's trip out of town last week that started it and the semi-happy resolution that's continuing it, but I have to admit that I've been especially...frisky.

No bull. I feel like I'm 20 again. Heh. Now...I've heard women complain about that, and I've heard other women complain about the lack of it. Being...well, a guy--I'm not sure which school of thought is prevalent among the estrogen set, but I haven't heard The Wife complain yet.

I'm taking that as a good sign. Yes, a very good sign indeed...because "Josie" just started a part-time job, and that could leave us all alone in the house frequently for a few hours at a time.

I don't mind driving her to work once in awhile.

UPDATE: The Wife has a spatula to my head and is forcing me to emphasize to you that it is me, and not she, who is the "horndog". That is all.

6 Comments:

At 8:19 PM , Anonymous Auntie J said...

I would give you a big hug if i could and even i felt the lose of this little girl but your right in thinking that maybe you just a pit stop on her journy and at best we will always have the good memories. Angel was one little girl i myself will not forget.

 
At 10:03 PM , Blogger Beth said...

You know I understand. If you have had time to read even a little of what I have blogged recently, you know I get it. After Ann left I alternated between crying with dispair and laughing with relief.

I have since learned to focus on the kids whom I can help. There are kids for whom our family is the very best place. Those are the kids we take.

 
At 9:59 AM , Blogger Julie said...

I agree with Beth- You have to know your limits as a family- Angel needed more of a theraputic home it sounds like and since the state was not offering help- is was not helping her in the long run to keep her with you either- You guys did a great job - loved her well and that is what matters. Ya'll hang in there- you have learned a lot and the right situation will come along for you!

 
At 10:25 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

TMI horndog - lol!

Big Sis

 
At 11:05 AM , Blogger Mary said...

Like Beth said (she's always so bright!), I know what you're going through, having been there this winter. It does get better and despite the guilt you feel at the relief, you did what was best for all of you. Right now, our "former" son is spending some days here throughout the week. He's doing great, we're still a part of his life, but we have all moved on. I know our decision was the best decision for all of us. We all learned a great deal, as did you and The Wife. Hang in there! You did a fantastic job ... and you will again.

 
At 11:00 PM , Blogger FosterAbba said...

I didn't post a comment when you originally said that "Angel" had to move on because I had no idea what to say.

Now that I've experienced first hand what it feels like to have a blown placement under my belt, I want to tell you how sorry I am that you had to go through this. I also want to say that you didn't fail as foster parents. There are just some kids out there that are too difficult to be parented in a foster home.

Good luck, hang in there, and keep posting. Hearing your adventures is very helpful and makes us realize we aren't alone.

 

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