Friday, June 13, 2008

The Story of Joseph - Visitation

Shortly after we got Joseph Sabrina let us know that his one month placement was going to be extended a bit. "Two months, three at the most" we were told. I was surprised to hear this because I knew what requirements Julie had to fulfill in order to get Joseph back and they were pretty simple. I didn't see how anything on that list could have taken longer than a couple of weeks.

I wondered if Julie developmental delays were causing some of the problems. I thought that maybe she was having a hard time doing what was expected of her and I wondered if anyone was helping her through the system. I also wondered if she was really capable of caring for a baby if she couldn't even manage the simple things she needed to do in order to get her child back.

When I would take Joseph for visits I would always stay and wait in the lobby while he was with Julie and Joey. I always enjoyed the quiet time to just sit and read a book. A bonus was all the people watching I would get to do as other foster parents and parents would come for their scheduled visits. That was always interesting. Another interesting thing was that from the lobby where I sat I could overhear a lot of what was being said in the office. I would often hear bits and pieces of information that the visitation supervisor would give to her boss about Julie and Joey. I would overhear things like "Julie looks like she hasn't showered in a week" and "She gets so flustered after 10 minutes with him. She just doesn't know what to do." and "No matter how many times I show her how to do it she just can't fix him a bottle."

I seriously began it doubt Julie's interest in or ability to raise a child. I tried to remain neutral on the whole situation though. After all, my job as a foster parent was to take care of Joseph, bring him to visits, keep my mouth shut and hope like heck that he never got a diaper rash that looked like a bruise. (Spoiler alert! He didn't.) Anyway, it was hard for me to get a read on Julie. She showed up for visits late and often left early. It was not unusual for visits that were supposed to be an hour long to be chopped down to half an hour. She never talked to me or even looked at me. In fact, I bet it was a good two months before I heard her speak at all and even then it was only to mutter a word or two to Joey.

Joey was on the opposite end of the spectrum. I liked him right away. He was friendly and talkative with everyone. He showed up for visits early (the site staff told me he sometimes came an hour early) and didn't leave until the very last second. He often carried Joseph back to the car for me, chattering all the way. "You guys are taking such good care of him!" he would say. "I like the outfits you dress him in!"

Joey always got a big kick out of it when Joseph wore clothes with Twins or Vikings logos on them so on I made a point to dress Joseph in sports-themed outfits on days he had visits with Joey. The day I sent Joseph to a visit wearing a tiny little baseball cap Joey just about died laughing. He took Joseph around to everyone he could find in the building showing him off.

As much as I liked Joey I also wondered about his ability to care for a baby. His developmental delays were so significant that he couldn't hold a job and lived off of social security. He told me he didn't really have a place to live and couldn't get a driver's licence. I overheard the visitation staff saying that Joey didn't understand how to change a diaper. As much as I liked Joey? I just didn't see him taking care of Joseph.

For one month and then two and then three and then four the routine continued. We would go to visits and Julie would be late or sometimes not show up at all. Joey would be early and eager to see Joseph. I would sometimes bring them both pictures of Joseph. Joey always liked that. Julie never seemed to care one way or the other.

In a lot of ways Joseph was the ideal placement. He was the easiest baby on the face of the planet and my relationship with him parents was totally drama-free. I never complained but at some point I did start to wonder what in the heck was going to happen with Joseph. It was very clear to me that Julie had no interest in parenting Joseph and that Joey had no ability to parent him. When was someone going to do something to find this child a home?

Luckily the foster care system had a brilliant plan! Or did they? (Hint - No, they didn't.)


The Laundress said...

God that's heart wrenching.

You are such a strong woman.

Cathy said...

Still lovin' this story - I keep hoping for the next "chapter"!

Laggin said...

I loved the detail of Joseph's bio dad getting such a kick out of the baseball hat. It's sweet and sad all at once.

Alison Wonderland said...

It sounds to me like their plan was just to let you keep him. Hey look, it worked out!

slackermommy said...

I'm catching up on your story here and just want to stop and say that I think you are doing such a wonderful thing.

Foster Mom to Many said...

I just found your blog and read the whole thing. Our very first placement was very similar to Joseph. He was 4 weeks old, severely neglected, he never cried because he'd already learned it didn't matter. We spent month working with him and loving on him, he also had some severe sensory problems. He's now almost 8 years old and he's absolutely a delight to parent. We also went thru the nightmare of a false allegation by a birth parent and a horrible social worker. Sometimes it's a scary system!

Jen said...

laundress - I spent a good amount of time wringing my hands over Joseph's fate back then. I'm not so strong.

cathy - More to be added today!

laggin - It makes me sad too. I always felt bad for him.

alison - It's crazy how it all worked out but I'm gald every day that it did.

salckermommy - Thank you! I don't think I did anything wonderful though. Fate handed me a wonderful gift and I would have been a fool not to accept it.

foster mom - It is a scary system but people like you make it a little less scary!

nell said...

I think if I didn't know how it turned out this story would be to hard to read. It just makes me sad, for everyone, you know? I'm so glad that I know everything was okay in the end.