Saturday, January 21, 2012

Settling in

We have had the baby for ten days and are starting to get a little used to it. The lack of sleep is still bullshit, but we're trying to find what works best for both of us, and the baby seems to be thriving. She had another checkup yesterday (one week after her first) and has gained four ounces, which is great.

The baby had a visit with her mom on Wednesday. We also got to meet the mom, which is part of a program our county does to a) humanize both sides (i.e., mom doesn't think we're baby snatchers, and we get to see that mom is a human being who made some bad choices, not a monster), and b) make sure everyone is on the same page about the baby's care. The meeting was about as awkward as you'd think it would be. Her mom is 21, but we both thought she was younger. She seems a lot like a kid in a lot of ways, and she's definitely not a confident parent. We did our best to reassure her that it's our job to support her goal of trying to get custody back, and in the meantime we'll keep the baby safe and take the best care of her that we can.

I thought it was interesting (but honest) that the mom talked about trying to get the baby back and if she gets her back, instead of talking about it as an inevitability. She even at one point started to say, "Well, if I don't get her back, you..." but the very skillful worker (we love the baby's worker, you guys) redirected her by gently interrupting and saying something along the lines of, "Well, we know that your goal is reunification and Rachael and Andy are here to support that, and they'll keep the baby until that happens. But the ball is in your court and you know what you need to do to get things moving."

Towards the end of the meeting, the baby kept fussing (mom was holding her loosely, and patting her very, very gently, when the baby has shown a marked preference for snug holding and firm patting). The mom tried shifting her once or twice, then said, "Well, maybe Second Mommy can do something for you" and handed her to me. The baby quieted pretty quickly, which made me have all sorts of feelings. She actually referred to me as "second mommy" or "[baby]'s other mommy" a few times. I guess it's good that she trusts me, and I'm trying not to read anything else into it.

I invited the mom to the baby's doctor's appointment on Friday morning, but she said that she was going to visit a sick family member out of town. I am playing my "assumption of positive intent" game and believing mom that she was, in fact, going to see a sick family member out of town.

On Thursday at court, they decided that the baby would stay in care for at least another week (until January 26), when there will be another court date. At court, mom identified another possible resource who she thought might agree to take the baby, but then it turned out later that mom hadn't actually asked the person, so it looks unlikely. (For those of you not familiar with foster stuff, the parent can identify a friend or family member who might agree to take the kid, and said resource would then have to agree to become a certified foster parent within a certain amount of time and have their life totally torn up and stuff. When I told friends that mom had identified someone to take the kid they were all amazed, but it's not like they just take her word for it that her roommate's cousin Jenny's best friend would be a good choice or whatever.) Oh, and we found out from the baby's worker that the grandmother has legal custody of the baby's three-year-old brother and has since he was a baby, so he won't be being placed with us. The grandma declined to take this baby - apparently she said she has her hands full with the brother and doesn't want to be responsible for the baby too. In court the mom (or her worker) requested that they ask grandma again if she'll take the baby, but we haven't heard anything further about whether that's likely.

We signed the baby up for daycare yesterday. She'll be six weeks old on Tuesday, so she'll get her first round of shots on Wednesday and she'll start daycare, if she's still with us, on Monday so I can go back to work. The daycare is about a mile from our house and they just opened an infant center, so the baby will be part of their first group of infants. Right now they only have two other babies signed up, and they're both part-time, so our little peanut will get lots of attention.

What haven't I told you that you want to know?


  1. Wait... wasn't it because of the brother's existence that they placed her with you? In case it came to you needing to take both of them? Shouldn't someone doing the paperwork have known that Grandma had custody? WTF?
    I am now pretty sure I couldn't handle the stress of being a foster parent now... I found myself reacting to your post, which means I have a long way to go. All the same reasons I decided against social work as a career.
    She is lucky to have you guys providing some stability, attention and care while those she came from are clearly not able to give it.

  2. Haha, Jenny, the brother was just a factor in finding a home that could take an extra kid. I think it takes a while to sort out all the different factors and people involved during the removal, and I'm also guessing the foster workers hear multiple stories, not all of which are true. The records system is also sort of archaic, so it's better to say, "Ok, here's the baby, and we'll find out about the brother" than, "Okay, baby, you sit here in the waiting room while we sort through three-year-old records trying to figure this out."

    Patience isn't my default setting, so this has been interesting. I was surprised that the second court date was only a week after the first. I hope if they further extend her stay, it'll be for more than a week at a time!

  3. ummmm...this case could go one MILLION different ways...but it sounds like she doesn't plan on getting the kid back...and that usually is how that story ends. how crazy.

  4. Man, I guess if you don't start out patient you must learn how quickly. I am sure that the system is much more complex than I could ever imagine. Especially with so many different "hands in the pot" if you will.

    Do you go to the court dates? Are you even allowed? If she's in daycare while you're at work, and the court decides to place her with someone else, do they give you notice, or do they like go repossess her with no warning?

    This is all very fascinating to me! MamaFoster, I'm getting into your archives now!

  5. I am not sure what else I want to know, but I find this all terribly interesting and am totally interested in reading about your experience.

  6. I'm welcome to go to the court dates, but I didn't go last week and I'm not planning to go this week. So far there's not much I can contribute, and I trust the accounts the worker has given me so far. If we keep the baby a while, I'll probably try to attend for a more complete picture. If they decide to move her, we'll probably get a few hours' notice. Also, I loved the use of the word "repossess".