i wrote to coconut (roxy’s sw) on wednesday because we hadn’t spoken since last week and i never know if she is even filled in about how visits go (she cannot supervise because of threats from bio-mom). i let her know that roxy was a fragile mess after monday’s visit. i realize every email we send could be admitted in court so i tried to be as objective as possible about how we witness the effects of roxy being stripped down, changed, and photographed. well, we just heard back that there won’t be any more changing of clothes! our family therapist had been fighting for this since the fall but coconut had said something about bio-mom still having rights (which none of us understood) but we think nobody was comfortable confronting her.
last night we thought it would be fun to break out of our normal stodgy (i kid) routine and do temporary tattoos. roxy was so game until red put the paper on roxy’s upper arm. she went into full-on panic mode, obviously reliving needle trauma from past hospitalizations. there is no consoling in these situations. her gut-wrenching screams are meant to push people away. it went on and on and we couldn’t get near her to pull the damn wet paper off. yet again, i was sure the police were going to be called by terrified neighbors. it took about thirty minutes of working through this, of red and i getting tattoos, of putting words to her fear, of finally getting to the point where she got not one but two temp tattoos after her trembling subsided.
the rest of the evening was full of roxy admiring her ink and red and i feeling like parenting her was beyond our capabilities. we put her to bed and talked and talked and talked. of course we will never give up on her. roxy woke up happy as can be this morning and must have apologized about last night fifteen times in fifteen minutes. she’s so wise. she knows when we’re feeling defeated. but when she goes to that dark place…we’re helpless, but not for lack of trying. then we remember she went to that place 3-5 times a day last year and we’ve come so far. but we never seem to predict these triggers. roxy and i were taking a shower the other day when she remembered the police coming to her previous foster home in the middle of the night. heavy stuff.
i won’t get into the caterpillar trauma we witnessed this past weekend but i will say she will probably get used to them. our offer was accepted on an antique farmhouse complete with barn and almost 2 acres. the inspection is tomorrow so we’re still holding our breaths. in addition to that potential major change, today is red’s last day at the university. she’s been getting recruited left and right off of link.ed in and it was a matter of time before the offer she couldn’t refuse arrived. so she starts a new job with a “senior” title on tuesday and i couldn’t be more proud. we’re all a little scared about these changes as we’re pretty cozy sleeping in to a reasonable hour and having red working within walking distance. but we’re also excited to garden, to create in our workshop, and to let roxy run free. and of course, we won’t have to worry about bio-mom finding us out there. coconut’s response to our potential move? she cheered! brighter days ahead.
red took roxy to her supervised visit yesterday. we do a hand-off with a social worker in a nearby parking lot once bio-mom is securely upstairs with security. red got a call thirty minutes after roxy had gone upstairs with a social worker (not our usual one) and was told bio-mom hadn’t shown up (never mind that protocol wasn’t followed and that bio-mom could’ve been stalking outside). so red thought roxy was being back brought down but then got another call that bio-mom did finally show up and in the twenty minutes they had to visit together, bio-mom changed roxy’s clothes three times. and sent her home with a working cell phone (which red told the social worker we weren’t taking). how do i know about the clothes? bio-mom’s facebook is wide open and she has finally learned the name of roxy’s disease (which is currently managed) and is soliciting all kinds of sympathy and prayers. dios mio indeed.
i try to talk to roxy about “belly-mother” and adoption and she’s receptive but who knows what she really thinks. i did confirm that bio-mom is saying “yo soy tu mami” and probably telling roxy she’ll be going to live with her soon. there is usually a plan for language during visitation so as not to confuse the child, but this bio-mom is uncooperative – it takes a few confusing and sad days for roxy to get back on track. she crumbled into a puddle at dinner last night over nothing obvious and crawled into red’s lap for lots of cuddles.
or maybe “foresight be damned”
such is the life of a foster parent. i remember the years when red and i thought we had so many balls in the air and actually savored the sweet busyness of our days. it was, of course, true for us at the time. but now that we are trying to straddle the fine line of planning a future in roxy’s best interest while not getting too comfortable* in case of reunification, it really feels like there is little peace to be had. i’ve read momma ze.n and piles of other books but nothing that goes on about the uncertainty foster parents face.
and beyond all of these looming questions/issues, there is the day to day of parenting a medically-fragile toddler with anxiety. her sweet and wise expressions slay me every day and i feel so sorry for her when i can’t find the language to describe why she visits her bio-mother every other week or why bio-mother immediately strips off roxy’s best clothes and scans her tiny body for something to file a report about. or really, i can’t explain who her bio-mother even is except that “you came from her belly and she really wants to take care of you but is not able.” somedays i think it’s all hopeless**, this adoption stuff, even though i peruse enough forums to see that many people are, in fact, doing alright. but the day to day, that’s the work, and i need to remind myself of that.
*because why? the possible heartbreak?
**extremely broad, i know – always processing it
seeing red’s parents after so many years was as rough. they were all-consuming from the start until the end and instead of respecting our wishes to give us a day before they arrived, they showed up to red’s sister’s house less than an hour after we did. fortunately they got a hotel around the corner. the worst parts? on saturday her dad asked if i’d go for a ride with him in their new convertible. red was busy cooking and i was sure she didn’t even see me leave and that i was legitimately a goner. he talked casually at first and then put his hand on my knee and launched into his speech about being thankful we’ve opened our hearts. i told him that red will never forget how telling them we were getting married was like telling them she had cancer and how she sobbed after. and i also told him that telling us that our wedding “was the most excruciating day of [their] lives” would never be forgotten. he told me wants to go spend a week in ptown and talk to the people about his journey. i told him he shouldn’t and that very many gays don’t wake up every day saying “oh man, i’m gay, how will i get by?” in that fifteen minute drive around what resembled pleasantville, i looked out at the barren horizon and thought i wanted to die in the intensity of the moment.
her father didn’t say another word to me directly the rest of the weekend. no doubt a woman has ever spoken so bluntly to him. then on sunday, red took roxy to the bathroom and her mother came towards me for a hug and then cried on my shoulder. she said she felt like we were all “coming home.” again, the physical discomfort i felt cannot be described – i worried she could tell just how not into the moment i was. red said a few times to me in passing “i never want to see them again.” i thought red was avoiding them and (unintentionally) leaving me as their target but the fact is, they didn’t even try to have any serious talks with her. they were, to their credit, great with roxy. where do we go from here? i think we just try to keep it light. they’ve texted and emailed at least 5 times since we parted ways.
in other news, roxy had an appointment today and we had another first. they surprised us by deciding to draw blood. we had no time to show her youtube videos but gave her a quick rundown of the process and even played with her fake syringe in her doctor kit that we always bring along. she was bubbly until they wheeled the cart into the room. she had so many hospitalizations before we knew her and we knew she had some trauma but this was unreal. oh the screaming. red held her so tight while roxy looked in my eyes and i could do nothing but watch her face turn various shades of red. her therapist later described the process of her brain shutting down in that moment. it was heart-breaking. red and i recalled when she did that same screaming many times a day back in the fall when there was no obvious physical pain and my, how far we’ve all come.
finally, the best part of colorado? meeting the world-famous newjexico ladies and their little guy (who is seriously SERIOUSLY good-looking). the visit was too fast as we were working with nap-time and demanding inlaws but we cannot wait to see them again when they visit the east coast this summer!