Friday, June 22, 2007

Where to Begin?

This may all seem incoherent as I'm still trying to process the details of Ginger Snap's case and yesterday's events. And I'm a jumbled up mess this morning.

On a side note - Ginger's mom and grandmother did finally show up last week - they had gone back home for the birth certificate and formula that they thought they had to get at that moment. At least they did attempt to come.

First, our visit yesterday with Ginger's worker:
She handed us a letter. It was handwritten on a piece of notebook paper, and in her best efforts, Ginger's mom poured her heart out. She thanked us for caring for her baby, said God was watching over us, and asked us to tell Ginger how much her mommy and daddy love her, how sorry she was for what has happened, and how she will get her back soon, and promises to never let it happen again.

They didn't prepare us for that in MAPP classes.

Ginger's mom also sent a box of clothes, diapers, and all the formula she had along with next month's WIC vouchers, and dates of doctor's appointments and the next WIC appointment.

From here on out, I'm going to refer to Ginger's mom as simply her mom - not birth mom as I refer to Cookie's situation. In this case, Ginger has a mom. And she is grieving. She has made some bad decisions, but she is her mom. And I feel just awful for her. She has so little, and no positive support in her life to turn to.

On Meeting Ginger's Mom:
The social worker took Ginger Snap with her for the visit with her mom. We came to the office a little over an hour later to pick her up. Inside, we saw the social worker, the baby in the carrier, and no one that looked anywhere near 19. Then she introduced me to the girl standing next to the baby carrier as her mom. I almost fainted. I would have easily bet good money on her being 11 years old. I would have had a hard time believing she was a day over 15 for sure. But 19? Never.

She was a pretty little girl with long shiny brown hair that she kept pulling over one shoulder and smoothing down the length of it as she talked. She had big brown eyes, and a round face, and smooth pretty skin like you'd see on a pre-teen face. She wore pants that she couldn't zip or button up past her post-baby weight around her middle, though she was rather rounded all over in a sweet way. Her eyes searched my face in seconds - perhaps for reassurance, perhaps out of curiosity, perhaps for a wishing to be the one taking her child home instead of me. The social worker introduced us. Handshakes seemed inappropriate. The moment overtook my ability to distance myself, and I said to her, "Can I give you a hug?" And she nodded yes. And I hugged her. Huge tears flooded her eyes still puffy from crying during her visit with Ginger (SW said she cried the whole time). I wanted to tell her something that would matter, but there wasn't much I could say. "She's beautiful and perfect", I said - looking down at Ginger in her carrier. Mom nodded in agreement.

Mom asked the worker about the DNA testing for her ex-boyfriend, and the worker explained the court would order it, and no one would have to pay for it. She seemed relieved and mumbled something about him not believing he's the baby's father.

She leaned in to the carrier and kissed Ginger's face, then she turned to Michael and I and thanked us again. Then she was gone.

The SW told us that she was happy when she saw us walk up and that we were a bi-racial couple for her bi-racial baby. She had asked the SW if that was intentional, and even though it wasn't, she was happy about it nonetheless. I'm glad that was a comfort for her.

I asked the SW if she had graduated high school. No. Not even a GED. She will need to take classes.

So, no job, no education, a drug addiction, probable mental health issues, and no support network.

This child needed a system that would have allowed her to go somewhere and be with her baby while she got an education and a job. She doesn't need someone else bonding with her baby while she struggles to do things that are, for her, nigh unto impossible. I do not know how she will do these things.

Her case plan will include drug testing twice a week, a psychiatric eval and possible medication plan for depression/anxiety/bi-polar/post-partum stuff, counseling, and I assume getting her GED and a job. Would she have to have that to get her baby back? Would she have to at least show she could support this baby? I have no clue. I really don't.

What I do know is now I'm having a very hard time wanting this baby, or even bonding with her. What I want is for this baby to be with her mother. And I want her mother to clean up her life. But I wish she could do that and still keep her baby with her. It all seems so drastic to have removed the baby. But then again, I'm sure I do not know everything. But does the judge know everything?

I don't want to adopt this child if the system just throws this young girl to the dogs. Cookie's case was extreme - beyond any doubt. Ginger has a mom who wants her and loves her and needs help. If she were just a little younger, she would have been placed in foster care along with her baby - which is exactly what I feel needs to happen now. But it won't.

Unless this great-aunt in another county checks out (which we were told could take another month or so to determine while they investigate and do a CBC on her), we will likely have Ginger a very, very long time. Mom cannot do everything she needs to do in a matter of months. I honestly do not see how she can do it at all given her lack of positive support. I would do it for her, but I am the foster parent who is supposed to only bring the child to visits. How can I "work with the birth parent" from this position?

If the relative placement does not work out, I am considering asking for Ginger to be moved to a foster-only home. She does not need to be in a pre-adoptive home. This is insane. I'm having visions of Ginger being 3 or 4 and the mom still plugging away and making progress on getting her back but just "not good enough" to get custody back. And I see us in the middle.

The only way I could foresee feeling good about ever adopting Ginger would be if her mom wanted to relinquish her rights and allow her to be adopted by us - of her own free will and without pressure or coercion. And I don't see that happening.

Yup, God is in control. And I'm glad because today I feel completely OUT of control.

I am in mourning for Ginger's mom. If she were really 11 I would adopt them both. She needs a decent mom herself, and it is clear she never had one. Yet she loves her baby girl, that is certain.

We will pray, and ask you to pray.
We will take lots of picture of Ginger and make photo albums for her mom.
We will write her letters about how Ginger is doing, and offer our support.
I am also going to try to get a Bible for her in one of those new versions that she might be better able to read at her level of reading.
And I am going to get her a journal she can write her thoughts in, and write notes to Ginger in so she can have them one day.

Right now I am hoping the great aunt is approved so that Ginger can somehow remain with family. Her mom misses her so.

I'm just a wreck. I feel so blessed to have met Ginger's mom. But I feel so torn up inside now. I don't know how I'm going to process it all.


Julie said...

It is so hard T to see the mom's hurt so much- I hurt for you as well. The balance of caring for a child and falling in love with a child is such a fine line. Yes her mom loves her- just like I think G's mom loves her- but who really knows what the circumstances are. Be careful not to get sucked into the drama of the momma- I hate to be the cloud on her sunshine but people on drugs are very manipulative and do have lucid days where they really want to get it together- they just need to do it. I have sympathy for her on one hand but the proof is in the pudding so to speak. It breaks my heart for Ginger- I hope her mom will use this opportunity to get her life back so she can raise her baby. I will definately be praying!

S. said...

Wow. I understand when you say you feel like that. But I also understand Julie's comment too. We are new and learning at this, but I know what it is more about now. The parents can be very very manipulative and make us feel very very sorry... I have been warned by other Foster Parents and even Caseworkers...NOT to play into it...but I find myself feeling very sorry for them...and I even start to feel guilty for having the kids with us. Our little guy has to go to respite this week because his Mom will not allow us to take him with us to the beach-This Respite family called us---they have had over 50 children they fostered and have done this for 35 years! Awesome guy to talk we really have no real mentor and only on our 2nd placement. (3rd child) He said often the birth family will appear they love them...and maybe they do---and messed up bad...or maybe they don't care about them much...act like they do (put on a good show at the right times) and in actuality just don't want anyone else to have them. I still think I can tell when they really care for them. But in any case he said every child they sent back was a heartbreak (they have their own and adopted also) however...he said-as Foster Parents we are the most important thing in their lives at this God has put them with us for however long needed. These kids need us more than we may ever know. We are trying to bond with this little guy anyway...because he needs it. Even though it will be so hard if he goes--at least we did the best we could and helped him. This guy is 65 yrs old and he and his wife more recently adopted an 8 yr old boy and a set of 3 yr old twin girls! He said they feel young and healthy and can do it. Ginger needs you! Even if not forever! He said the system works about 90% of the time-when it does not...he goes to bat and fights for these kids every time...and he has won. hang in there! You are doing so much for this baby girl.

Yondalla said...

I do know moms who have got their children back from care; moms who made mistakes and needed and took the help.

I hope you keep Ginger, though I know it is difficult for you. Ginger needs to bond to someone. She will bond better to whoever takes care of her if you let her attach to you now. Ginger needs to be with someone who has sympathy for her mother, no matter what happens next.

Addiction is a terrible thing and she might not be able to overcome it, but I don't doubt that she loves her baby.

And there many ways the story could end. You could end up being "aunt" to this child. You could end up having an open adoption. And you might have to say goodbye to the baby and never see her again.

I too often wish it were possible to bring young mothers into care with their babies.

Dream Mommy said...

Wow! Formula, diaper and clothes! Where the clothes clean and wearable? I never got anything from bio parents I could bring into my house.

I know how you feel. I feel sorry for Princess' mom too. I know she is a very dangerous person, but I feel connected to her because we both lost a daughter.

Bubbles' mom got arrested on co*caine charges and I just want to knock some sense into her. Does she not realize what drugs can do to a baby. I've seen it with Princess. The babies aren't always ok.

I agree with the others. Just be cautious and try to encourage her as best you can.

Gawdess said...

You are doing the good work.
You know that poem about footprints in the sand, and not being alone because there is only one set?
I think in this case you are doing some of carrying for this young Mom.
No matter how it works out - that is a blessed thing.

Dream Mommy said...

I doubt she'd have to get her GED or a job. Bubbles' dad doesn't even have to learn how to read.

Emily said...

You know, I'm a newbie...waiting patiently for my first kid, but I've worked so closely to this system for several years, and I have a few thoughts on it.

I read your post, and felt that you truly identified with a wonderful ideal foster parent that wants the family to succeed at reunification, which, in Oklahoma, is always the first priority. Rarely, does that happen here.

You also sympathized with the mom, and I think would be a great mentor for this mom to help get her on track. Our state recently started a new program, I think its called Bridging the Gap or something like that, where the foster family works (only if deemed safe and appropriate case by case basis) directly with the mom and or dad to help educate them on the appropriateness it takes to care for children. Too bad they don't have something like that for this girl, sounds like a young girl as well.

Maybe this long visit, her first visit with her firstborn, will open her eyes and get her to make those changes in her life.

And lastly, remember the story of the starfish. You can always make a difference, even if it's just one.

Good luck and I'll be praying for you all and Ginger and her mom.

(Last three hours of training tomorrow)

JUST A MOM said...

o been there, did you read my book??? yep we moved mom and her next baby in with us....

Overwhelmed! said...

Wow! What an amazing post. I can understand the anguish and mixed emotions you're feeling.

In our MAPP classes, we're encouraged to "mentor" the parents of the children we have in our home. I'm struggling with that concept, considering they did something harmful to their children or allowed something harmful to happen to their child.

And yet, if I were in your shoes, I'd probably WANT to try to mentor this young woman, in an effort to be part of the process that helps her to get her little girl back.

Our MAPP classes talked about situations where foster parents had biological parents over for dinners, family activites, etc. during the time that the parents were working their case plans. Are you willing and able to get that involved with her?

I love your ideas of giving Ginger's mom pictures and a photo albums, letters about how Ginger is doing, a Bible, and a journal.

Ginger's mom will be in my prayers and I look forward to hearing more about how she's doing.

GLouise said...

Wow, it is a tough burden to bear. You have such a warm, compassionate heart, and it is clear that you are loving both baby and mom with the love of Christ...

That is not your fault that the situation has come about...You can only go day by day, and try make the best choices that are in your power. Just like you are doing now. My prayers for you and little Ginger and her mom.

baggage said...

It is great that your heart is so big.

I think that everyone makes good points. You don't know the whole story..that is something I always try to remember. I think the things you are doing are excellent, but just remember not to beat yourself up. You didn't put Ginger or her mother in this situation.

I wish you all the best.

cloudscome said...

I came here from boomerific. I have seen babies go back to their parents after a long struggle. I think praying is the most powerful and hopeful thing you can do. I also think you might be right about the baby being moved to foster only placement. That way the goals are clear and you are not torn in two. If you can see a way to mentor or assist the mom that would be great. But if that way is closed I say pray for it to open for her another way. God does miracles.