After the last post, things have plummeted downwards. Jill proclaimed loudly and absolutely that she was not going to return to us. As she’s about to turn 18 and the home she’s in is good, we decided to go ahead and comply with that. She’s officially not our responsibility anymore.
I have mixed feelings about this. From a personal perspective, I’m glad to have more space and time and less stress. From a maternal instinct perspective, I’m worried sick about her.
The home she’s in is really great, though. The foster mom has been at this for a long time and is no nonsense and kind at the same time. We talked with her a little bit about what’s been going on, and she is very understanding. What was even better was that she reassured us that we have not somehow fucked up really badly. According to her, we’ve been very patient with the girls.
About a week and a half ago, we had a family therapy session with just Grace. It went fairly well. Then later that night, things got really bad. When I asked her (in a very restrained and quiet voice) to go upstairs, she really let me have it. She then called Jill, and sat next to me with Jill on speakerphone and mocked me. Some pretty unforgivable things were said then.
The cussing and the attitude continued right up until tonight. There have been a few periods that were marginally better, but tonight was Old Grace. She calmly asked us why her phone had been turned off and listened while I explained about the way the billing worked. She talked about working on her homework, and what her plan was to get back on track with her grades. She was joking around and hugging on us. We were able to talk about what happened that night and talk a little bit about why she’s been awful to us for almost 3 weeks now.
We kind of think being the only kid in the house is not a good setting for her. She’s very sociable and friendly, and has 10 siblings. She’s never been in a room by herself. The transition was always going to be hard on her.
But the conversation we need to have is what is fair to us. How long do we have to wait for her to have another episode like this, where she’s going AWOL and we have to file a missing person’s report on her? When will she flip out and say the next inexcusable thing to us? At what point do we stop being able to help her, and are just enabling an abusive cycle of behavior?
This is all exacerbated by her worker being on vacation. The girls are lucky to have such a competent worker on their case, but I’m really missing her right now.
Most of the seasoned professionals we’ve talked to have told us that we’ve given them far too many chances, and that it’s amazing we haven’t kicked them out sooner. While it’s entirely understandable that a kid from their situation would behave angrily, violently and inappropriately, it’s not fair to think we’ll just sit by and let it roll all over us.
This is where being a true foster parent becomes difficult. From some of the things Grace said tonight, I suspect that their mom was telling her today that we’re going to give her up. This isn’t a conversation we’re ready to have with her at this time, but she asked me if we were going to “give her up” about 5 times tonight. I asked her how she’d feel if we did, and she said she’d be mad. So despite treating us like toe rags for the last 3 weeks, she wants to stay with us.
My biggest fear in this process is hurting her any more that is necessary or reasonable. We love this kid, and I think she truly loves us back. It makes decision making very difficult. Though I will say that in the last 2 weeks, since Leonard and I detached some, I think we’ve been better parents. Maybe that’s the key- detachment. These kids are, after all, not ours. Finding a balance where you can love a kid, be open with a kid, but maintain a sense of distance with that kid is very, very hard.