When we took in our first respite placement 11 days ago, I never dreamed he’d potentially become our very first placement. After a weekend with him, I may have hoped it, but never believed it’d be in the realm of possibility. He already has a foster family. He’d been with them 9 days prior to coming to us. As his foster mother & I talked more, however, it became clear that she & her husband were open to leaving him in our home. One problem, though: we aren’t officially approved yet.
They need respite again later this week so we all talked (& talked and talked) and agreed that what may be best for him would be staying with us for the duration of that time. We felt that, since he was doing so well here, there would be no point to disrupt his life again before his foster family would no longer need respite any longer at the least.
Unfortunately, there is a rule on respite. A foster child is only allowed to be in it for a certain number of days. Which, for this little guy, meant he had to go back to his foster home. Again. This was his third move while in state custody. And he’s not done. The plan is that he’ll be coming back here again for respite in just a few days.
He is a very scared toddler with extreme separation anxiety. A toddler that cried like he’d just broken a bone each time me, or my husband tried to leave the room. A child who fought sleep in a dimly lit nursery to make sure I was still sitting in the floor next to him while he chugged his bottle.
In the days we had him in our home, I slowly started to see this get better. I could go to the bathroom without him having a full on meltdown, or beating the door down until he could come in and try to sit in my lap. If someone else was downstairs with him, most of the time, he was t a point he wouldn’t scream at me through tears if I went upstairs to fix something to eat.
And, right now, I know all of that progress is probably gone. The improvements that were made because he felt safe & secure have vanished. When he was finally able to act like a regular kid his age, he had to undergo yet another disruption (& more still on the way). All of this because of some bureaucratic red tape that stood in the way. And that is what makes me incredibly angry.
What’s more is that I know he is not the first foster child that this system has failed. And he most certainly won’t be the last.
I am not sure what the answer to fixing this broken system is for these children. What I do know is that I sure hope someone else does. I hope that other foster children don’t have to endure situations like theses that inevitably create more trauma on top of what they have already endured.
That is my hope.