still saying goodbye

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Since we’ve sent Baby D home, we’ve been to visit twice. I’ve been able to write about it zero times until today. It’s been much harder than I anticipated. I’m not sure what I expected, but it definitely wasn’t all of this complicated, painful emotion.

We are fortunate to maintain contact with the relatives he lives with. I think it’s likely he will end up calling them Mom and Dad for most of his life given how the case seems to be going. We both (the relatives and us) felt it important that he maintain some contact with us. We don’t want him to believe that we abandoned him. We want him to fully transition to a new family allegiance and new living situation without the trauma that comes from a complete displacement and abandonment. Not that I’m imagining this will be trauma-free; it’s already not been that. I am hopeful, however, that it will be better than what it could’ve been if we would’ve dropped him off and had no contact ever again.

The first time we went to see him, it was two weeks after we had dropped him off. He unexpectedly (at least WE didn’t expect it), but obviously, thought that we were there to take him home. He giggled. He threw stuff at me. He acted out in little, almost unnoticeable baby ways, but I saw. He was mad. We had not picked him up in time. When we got ready to go, he refused to be put down. He waved goodbye to everyone he had been living with. When Wendell saw what was happening, he hustled the rest of the kids out of the door to the car. I gave him to his new family; he was crying, trying to tell them bye-bye. I left him crying in their arms, trying to hold it together myself so the kids wouldn’t see me lose it right there. Niah especially struggled with this visit. She cried, had to be forced into the carseat, and it became a little traumatic for everybody else in the process. She was the one who was too little to truly understand, the one who had been trying to cheer the rest of us up in the previous two weeks since he’d left.

The second time we went to visit, it was better. Just me and the littles. He was so happy to see us. Hugs and kisses all around, giggles galore. He showed us his toys and his table and his kitty-cat and his baby sister. He didn’t cry when we left. We said bye-bye, and he looked a bit confused still, but he was more at ease.

My goal to visit at least one more time, next time hopefully at a park where the kids can all play together outdoors without the weird tension of being in someone else’s home, uncertain with the roles we all now play in one another’s lives.

In the meantime, we live through pictures on facebook. Each one a sharp pain to my heart, a literal taking of my breath – another reaction I didn’t expect. I wanted to get updates, assumed it would make me feel better that he was doing well. Those things are true, but I vastly underestimated how painful that all would be. This little boy who used to be sort-of, kind-of, very much mine is now sort-of, kind-of, very much someone else’s. It hurts more than I anticipated, and it feels more successful than I imagined. Bittersweet. That’s the ongoing tune to this foster care song.

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