ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Case changes come fast and furious in the child welfare system. Sometimes they're unwelcome. Sometimes they're long-awaited. I'm not quite sure where I should land on this latest case development with Little Man yet.

I sat in a team meeting a couple weeks ago with Little Man's mom, the caseworker, Little Man's mom's attorney, and the foster care unit supervisor. Team meetings are where the case plan is gone over, amended, adjusted, and measured. It's a place where everyone can put all their cards out on the table and figure out what's best for the future for the families involved.

I have sat through dozens of team meetings, and never a single one like this one. A typical team meeting, from my experience, goes a little like this (ok, so this might be a little hyperbolic):

Review of case plan points
Caseworker: How's the job?
Parent: Umm. Well, I tried to call about a job, but they didn't call back.
Caseworker: Why haven't you been going to visits?
Parent: Well, one day it was raining. I don't like the bus.
Caseworker: What about this point of action?
Parent: umm.... well....yesterday my cousin came over and he smokes dope and he stole my stuff.


Point being, there are case plans that parents have to follow to get their kids back. My experience is that there are fifteen excuses per point, some valid, some invalid, some just flat out crazy. This does not reflect poorly on the parents' love for their children. We have yet to be involved in a case where the parents did not love their children intensely. It's just that sometimes people don't know what real love should look like. They do the best they can with what they're given, and honestly, there are so many odds stacked against poor parents whose kids are in the system that it seems like a miracle that anyone ever is reunified with their children.

This past case meeting though? Not like that at all.
Caseworker: How's this point?
Little Man's Mom: Done.
Caseworker: What about this task?
Little Man's Mom: done.
Caseworker: Did you do this part?
Little Man's Mom: Done. Here's the documentation.
Caseworker: So we're going to start transitioning your kids home. You're awesome. You did everything you're supposed to. You are ready.


Seriously. Point after point, she demolished that case plan. She has literally walked from one end of the city to the other several times a day to get her stuff done so her kids can come home. She walks to visits in the cold. In the rain. She is seriously my hero. Things are stacked against her, and she works and works and does her best. 

Does this mean I have no concerns for Little Man's future? For sure, not. People have different standards of living, they have different values, and that's not an exception for our families.

Does this mean I am completely fine and excited for Little Man to leave? Umm, that's a big fat no too. I am excited. I am excited for his mom. I am so happy that I got to meet her. I am excited that this family, scattered across four different locations, will be reunified in a safe and healthy home with services to support them as they work to make their future better. But. I feel the sadness rise up daily now. That anticipatory grief...the pain I know is coming. I want to clench tighter. I want it all to last longer. I want there to be years left of delight with this child instead of months left.

I am so excited to be a part of this particular story. Even though it ends with my grief. It also ends happily for one family. Not pain-free, but definitely happily. This is worth it. Every single bit.
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