Saturday, August 6, 2016

didn't sign up for easy, right?

Foster care is hard. It is. It's crazy, unpredictable, emotional, challenging, discouraging, and terrible... it's also beautiful, redemptive, sanctifying, and worth it.

Saying goodbye to a daughter I loved was heartbreaking. But, I am not hopeless. I trust the Lord's sovereignty and I will continue to love any child He brings in our care, for however long He sees fit.

**We are taking a small break from fostering to enjoy our time without the stress of new placements, bio visits, cps visits, etc. But, Lord willing we will foster again.. maybe sooner rather than later.. or not.... more on that in the next few days.. something to do with Kade and a fractured femur!

For now, here are a few of my Baby B faceless favorites:

Custom Ash and Boot watercolor (here)

Packing and taking inventory. 

Early flight. 

Photos from her aunt. 

Grieving Baby B

I wrote about Placement #2 back in December. You can catch up here.

I posted most of her life with us on my Instagram (@jpiatt2) and clearly haven't posted much on here at all. She came to us straight from the hospital and we were instantly in love. Blonde peach fuzz all over her body, but bald as bald can be. Her bio parents did not have a place to live and had a history with CPS, and no willing kinship or fictive kin. As the months progressed, they missed close to half their visits with her and refused to work services. It's hard to pinpoint what their exact struggle is, not that I could fully share on here, but it was a bizarre case from the beginning.

They were very unhappy with everyone involved. They constantly complained about the care I was giving her. They spent most of their visits yelling about how awful I was and how unfair CPS is. They made threats to sue everyone, and threatened to follow me home from visits and issue an amber alert. It was one thing after another. CPS officially changed the goal from reunification to termination in May, and we couldn't help but get excited. We knew there was an out of state aunt getting a home study done, but we didn't really think her home study would be approved. Mostly because she's young, early 20s, and single. We broke all the foster care self preservation rules and started discussing name change. We picked a name for her and were convinced she was ours. It was still early in the case to do so, but we loved her so much, she felt like she was ours. Such a beautiful baby girl. She had a few physical issues, high muscle tone, torticollis, slight delays. We worked with ECI and physical therapists. She improved so much in our care. She ate great, slept through the night, and had the best smile. Seriously, she smiled with her whole body. Killer blue eyes. Our sweet, Baby B, first daughter. We wanted her to be a Piatt something terrible. But, The Lord had different plans.

We found out the same week as the goal changed, her aunt was approved and she would likely be removed in 2-3 weeks. We contacted attorneys, spoke with our agency, and sought advice from experienced foster parents. It was too early to intervene and we didn't feel peace about exhausting our finances. This is foster care. Kinship trumps foster parents, and in our eyes, this was not a good placement. But, at least she wasn't going back to bios. We are not anti bio parents, but at this point, if she returned to them, I would be highly concerned for her safety. I hope they are able to make changes some day. So, we knew we would have to let this situation play out. Her staying with us or going to aunt, it was out of our hands. We still had hope because CPS signed off on the home study, but CASA could argue against the department in court. We weren't sure what CASA's stance would be, but then we found out what we were up against. Turns out the number one reason they all signed off on it, judge included, was because we found ourselves in an ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) case.

Apparently, Baby B is part native american. Her aunt is a card holder. That was the end all be all for our chances of keeping her. I felt ill when we heard she was leaving. Hard to imagine her leaving our love and protection, going from a two parent home to a single parent.. in her early 20s. We were all extremely heartbroken.

It was a strange transition. I was sad she was going, but I still had her with me. It was a weird limbo of knowing she couldn't be mine, loving her as my daughter, and doing my best to prepare her for a move across the country. I worked hard on a memory book for her to take with her. Pictures and letters. Took inventory of her things and packed them all up. CPS picked her up at 4:00am July 5 to catch an early flight. I didn't know if I would ever see her again or hear how she was doing. I felt paralyzed and emotionless. It was a strange day. I didn't cry. I felt sick and very sad and prepared for the grief to come, but it never did.

Then, that evening, I decided to check the email account I set up in her name. I didn't think her aunt would email me, I just wanted to make sure it was set up and the password was correct. There it was, an email from her... I lost it. I couldn't even read it. I sobbed. Jake and I read it together and looked through the pictures of her trip and arrival and I felt so much peace. Her aunt wants to stay in contact with us, she appreciated the book and letters we wrote. With so many unknowns in the foster care world, it's nice to know how kiddos that leave your care are doing. What a gift it is to see her face and know she's being cared for well. She looks clean and happy in all her photos. I can tell she's had some physical regressions, but I know they are working to get ECI involved and get her the help she needs. I cannot express how thankful I am to know we are able to stay in contact with her. I hope I get to see her face to face again some day. Her aunt is young, but she is committed to care for Baby B, and ultimately adopt her as her own should that day come. I commend her for taking on this huge responsibility, and I am proud she sees how much we love her and wants to keep us in her life.

So, here's where I am today. I miss her. I think about her all the time. I wish she was ours, but I trust she wasn't supposed to be. I am leaning heavily on the Lord to comfort me, and trust His sovereignty. I pray for her daily. I still have panic moments where I feel like I left her in the car or forgot her at home. It's this gnawing feeling something is missing, or something bad happened. It's weird. I have those moments less and less, but it does feel strangely empty in our home. At the same time, I'm so thankful for our boys, and the gift of adoption we've experienced. I'm so thankful the aunt emailed us. I feel blessed to have contact with her aunt and to receive updates from her. The pictures we get are priceless. I still feel like her mom... I don't know if or when that will change, but for the first 7 months of her life, I was all she knew. I feel honored to have loved and cared for her in those first crucial months of her life. I was able to mother her, love her, protect her, comfort her, soothe her, nourish her, and help her thrive. I'm thankful I was able to document her time in care and that she won't have to wonder what her life was like in foster care. She learned to bond, trust, and love in our care, and I'm encouraged that will help her all the days of her life.

I love you, Baby B. You changed me and I pray you always know how loved you are. Always.