News From the PastI'm truly enjoying my selected course of study. I started school in September, a 20-month course in Special Education with a specialization in Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Because it's not enough to just be able to come home to foster kids swearing at me...I want that same privilege ALL DAY LONG. Heh. Anyway, I've finished 2 classes and will finish the third, and the first semester, around Christmas time. So far, I'm maintaining a 4.0 average, with a decent chance of continuing that through my current class. Next semester I begin my "field experience", where I get to spend an hour and a half per week in an actual special education classroom assisting the teacher. I'm really looking forward to it.
But the reason for breaking blog silence at this time is that we've had our first news of "Angel" pretty much since she left our house. We had thought the system had swallowed her whole and we wouldn't be hearing from her again. However, The Wife was at a class (which she described to me on the phone half an hour ago as "excellent") and she ran into "Angel's" guardian ad litem. Apparently they had a very nice talk, and The Wife got an update on how things were going.
Our intution about her language skills turns out to have been sort of vindicated. If you recall, she had little to no English, which was perhaps the biggest component in our frustrations. She had no other language either...except that it turns out she did. We called it...well, I can't give her real name, but we called it [her name]ese. Call it Angelese. She used consistent words and syntax to mean the same things...it just wasn't English. She is at the same foster home she went to from us, and it sounds like they have done great work for her. She now has better English and it sounded like while she isn't at age level in a lot of areas, she's at least on the road.
The guardian at litem also said that she "constantly" uses us as an example of foster parents who were failed by the system. "Angel" was with us two months. We were promised home aides and other support inside of two weeks and never saw any, plus we couldn't get a county social worker on the phone, so I concur with her assessment wholeheartedly. After two months of The Wife and I basically being under 24/7 house arrest because we couldn't leave her alone and there was nobody else around to provide respite, we made the reluctant decision to bail out because if we didn't, we ran the risk of permanently burning out on foster care. That's a risk we weren't willing to take.
The bright side of this is that we now know that at least one person appreciates the effort and sacrifices we made for "Angel". For one thing, the guardian understands the position we had been put in and sympathizes. She told The Wife that in speaking to people, she often points to our situation as one that can't be allowed to happen to foster parents. I hope she speaks to many, many people. That was hell, and the more who know about it the better. At least some good came out of it.
For another thing, I think "Angel" had some influence on my eventual decision to become a special education teacher. I think she would provide enough material for a book to someone lucky enough to work with her professionally as an educator. I'm really, REALLY wishing that she was with us now as I go though school, so I could reference her learning and behaviors in my papers and discussion for class. Plus, as I mentioned many times in the archive, it was definitely not all heartache and pain. I had some truly joyous times with her in my household, and she was truly a character. Mom still mentions the time she stood up at the supper table and gave us all a full sermon in Angelese.
Another great thing is that while the county was completely unresponsive to our needs at the time, The Wife's incredible efforts in getting the proper assessments done and services in the pipeline seems to have panned out nicely for "Angel's" new foster home. It sounds like they got the services they and she needed almost from the get-go, and it has made the difference. She now has a stable and loving home. And that's really what it's all about, right? Also, we spent a LOT of money on that little girl, and had a birthday party for her at which we made sure she received a lot of great gifts. She came to us with nothing, and left with many clothes and toys to call her own. Apparently that has not gone unnoticed, either. We did not make money on that placement. We usually don't...but that's a subject for other posts later, perhaps.
I'm suffering from a lot of guilt though, though, in spite of everything. What if we could have just held out another couple of weeks? It sounds like we were SO close. We REALLY didn't want to "abandon" that little girl...we just didn't feel like we had any other choice. It was either terminate the placement or put ourselves at legal risk for not following the letter of the rules. And we truly did not and do not feel that we were given a fair shake. I have a lot of anger about that to this day. I clearly remember feeling for awhile after that like we were the only ones who cared about that little girl. And that made it all that much harder to let her go further into a system that had failed her up to that point. I can say that that was one of two low points in fostering where we nearly flamed out entirely.
I hope sometime that I have the chance to speak to that guardian ad litem personally. I have many questions about how she saw our part in that mess, and how "Angel" is doing. I'd love the chance to see "Angel" too, and see if she remembers us. She could be a really sweet little girl, but she also had a LOT of anger which came out in completely inappropriate ways. I think I'll pray for her tonight. I hope she is and will remain well.
I have no idea if I'll be posting anytime soon or not. I have to do a lot of writing for school, and that seems to relieve the itch quite a bit. But I do know that I'll return to regular posting at some point. I still have to get the poison out somehow and school won't last forever. I still feel as though I have one or more books in me, and once I start teaching I suspect I'll have a steady stream of great material. Hope all is well with my old readers that happen along and see this, and I wish you a happy and contented Christmas season.