Bill came into foster care two-years and nine plus months ago. Bill was a micro-preemie weighing less than two pounds at birth. We met him at two months and he weighed a little over four pounds. He has been my daughter’s little brother since. His dad was given almost two years to get his act together, but other things were more important. Most parents only receive one year to work their plan.
Time has moved on and months have passed. The more we experience, the less we like dealing with Social Services. At first, it was a real dog-and-pony show. For those of you who are not familiar with this term or have never been in the military, it means we are going to tell you what you want to hear and pretend that we are doing everything in your best interest. We have really got our act together. In regards to Social Services (some, not all) and adoption, we get “if we transition back home we will probably take four months” or the transition to a new home will be slow so that Bill suffers no trauma.” “This all about getting Bill into the right home and we want to keep him in the local area.”
What these things translate to are “Bill has been in the system too long and we need to get him placed now.” “My boss and the transition team decided that we know what is best for Bill (most never met him) and we think a fast transition will work best.” “I have too many kids on my case load and if I place him, then that is one child we no longer have to worry about. Even if he is re-homed (put back into foster care), it will go into someone else’s case load.” It’s not really about Bill.
We had a family that was real interested in adopting him until the case-worker and her boss tried to force the family into a transition of 3-4 weeks. The family thought that they and Bill needed to have a longer time to transition. They were told that if they didn’t want to do this, then someone else will be found. So, they backed out in the interest of the child.
Another family was found in another part of the state. We were given no information, such as names, visitation dates, length of transition, etc. We did get a call saying that they (social services) would pick Bill up on a specific day and transport him to another town to meet his new family. Let me rephrase this: they were going to have a stranger pick Bill up and take him to a strange place to meet someone he did not know in order to see if he will be a good fit for their family. Then another stranger would bring him home.
We were trained to believe that a transition needed to begin in the place the child was most comfortable. For the past several adoptions we have been involved in, they all began in our home. We had the adoptive couple in as friends, maybe shared a meal and got the child used to the other couple. We would have some day visits, then maybe an overnight or two, then over the weekend, and so on. Eventually, the child spent more time in the other family’s home than in ours, so the final move was really easy.
Bill went almost three weeks between his first and second visit. The first visit was for one hour, the second visit was for eight hours. Due to his confusion, Bill now hits, pinches, bites, throws tantrums, and screams. He doesn’t know whether he is coming or going, but neither do I. After about a week and a half, it was time for a third visit – pick up on a Friday and return on a Monday. Even the family thought it was a bit much. We did get to meet the adoptive family when they brought him back. We feel that they will be a good match for him and can tell that they are already in love with Bill. They wanted to know if all transitions went like this and we had to tell them that we had never experienced a transition like this before and we had no say so.
Bill will have another visit or so and the transition will happen at the end of the month. The couple seemed like a couple that we would really like to get to know. Maybe we will be able to in the future. I have to think back to a saying an old friend used in regard to something done wrong that actually turns out right – God’s will will be done, even if he has to use the devil to do it.
***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.