Foster kids bring lots of changes into their foster family’s home. When I buy groceries, the cashier always gives me funny looks and sometimes ask me about my eclectic tastes. Just for fun, here’s my grocery list for today.
Rice, seaweed, ramen, dark sesame oil, soba noodles, bok choy, sushi,
Adobo con naranja agria (seasoning with bitter orange), tortillas, cotija (type of cheese), mangos,
Hamburgers, hot dogs, milk, fettuccine
How does one make sense of three different ethnic palates at one dinner table? Check out my post on How to feed your foster kids and yourself to see why my grocery list hops and skips across different parts of the globe.
So Joyful’s and Watchful’s mom has changed her mind and is going to plead guilty to criminal charges of child abuse. So they say. I want it to be true, but we can’t know for sure until she actually goes before the judge and enters her plea. We’ve got a little less than two weeks until she does so.
Why am I skeptical? Well, she originally confessed to the police and social workers. Then she changed her mind and decided to plead not guilty – despite her confession, despite physical evidence, despite having a record of child abuse, etc. At the last hearing in the child custody/foster care case, she was seeking to get the children back by alleging that signing up for parenting classes should suffice (not actually taking the classes, just signing up). It doesn’t seem that her approach to both her criminal and civil court cases follow logic.
The good news is that if mom pleads guilty to child abuse, 10-year-old Joyful and 8-year-old Watchful won’t need to testify in court. (Backstory on this at: Kids have to testify against parents.) They have the option of writing a victim impact statement, that would be read at sentencing. The statement helps the judge get a sense of how severely hurt the children were by their mom’s actions, which he can weigh into decisions on how long her jail time will be.
People involved in the kids’ case have varying thoughts about the children providing victim impact statements. Some feel that it would be damaging to the children in the long run – when they grow up they may realize that they had a part in putting mom behind bars and suffer feelings of guilt. Some feel it would be healing -the kids have been powerless to stop the abuse previously and now they could be empowered to help put an end to it.
As for my husband and I as foster parents? We really don’t get much of a say. We push back where we can where we feel it’s in the kids’ best interests. We tell the social workers, the GAL, the CASA, and the therapists how the children react to being asked to testify, or their strong desire for them mom to be behind bars forever, or their terror that in a year or two she will be out and able to hurt them again. We are speaking for the children who cannot speak for themselves, and as I type this, I realize that that really does count from something.
There it was. On NBC. Staring at me right in the face. The details of our foster kids’ case spelled out in full color. On tv. Online, too. Reporters were talking to the children’s neighbors. They were trying to find out where they live (with us!).
We haven’t told the children. What could we say? What should we say? We’ve been talking about switching their schools any way, so maybe this is just another argument for doing so.
Since this is a criminal case, all the details are out there in the public eye. That’s what hurts the most. Even though the kids don’t know, it breaks my heart that people are reading about the most intimate, painful, dark moments of the children’s lives.
Did I mention that our quasi-permanent foster son Watchful and our foster daughter Joyful do not get along well with their brother Jumping Jack, who usually lives with a different foster family? And that we somehow still agreed to do respite for Jumping Jack? (You can give me the “what were you thinking” look of incredulity here)
So it has been a very long 11 days. And maybe we have been secretly counting down the days until Jumping Jack’s foster family comes back. But hubby and I had to burst out laughing when Watchful’s therapist came out from a session with him, looking completely exhausted and asked “how much longer will Jumping Jack be staying with you?” Hilarious that she was so relieved that he’ll have returned home before the next therapy session. And even funnier that we still have 6 more days and she wryly wished us “good luck with that.”
Wow. That must have been quite the harrowing therapy session. In some weird way, kinda feels good to have a pro be stretched by his behavior in just one hour and we, heavy weight champion foster parents, have survived 11 days!!!
You may have heard how factories say “37 accident-free days.” We kinda have something like that at our house during this respite, except we say “combat-free days.” Technically, we have never made it past zero combat-free days. Or even zero hours. (We did rack up some nice 15 minute stretches, though.) Unless we count when they’re sleeping. In that case, we are on a roll baby. No fights since they went to bed two hours ago. We be jammin’!
He told me to go. I offered to stay. He said he’d be fine. But that was BEFORE.
On my way out the door, he didn’t actually give me the stink eye. I had gotten to go grocery shopping BY MYSELF.
Aggh. But I let him order school books and took his spot playing tinker toys.
But grocery shopping was nearly two hours!
Yeah, well most of the time he let the kids play video games.
Ok. Time to get over the self-imposed guilt trip. It’s ok to be a foster mom and leave hubby at home while I go out with a friend.
So, we are going to leave in 15 minutes to take Joyful and Watchful to court. As I mentioned earlier, the State wants their testimony against one of their parents who is up on criminal charges.
Joyful, per usual, is keeping her equibilium. I don’t know how she does it. Watchful is doing quite well today (thanks, Wii video games!), but skipped three out of the last five meals and melted down for a solid hour yesterday. But maybe that’s ‘cuz he’s also struggling with having his baby brother, 4-year-old Jumping Jack, here. Oh, yeah, did I mention we’re doing respite for 2.5 weeks?