Monday, July 14, 2008

The Story of Joseph - The Big Question

For two months we had a regular routine down with Joseph's visits. On Friday afternoons Joseph would be picked up by this sweet elderly couple who did volunteer work for the group home. Julie never came with to pick Joseph up but for some reason a bunch of other mothers from the group home often would. They would all file in and then stand there checking the place out. This always got under my skin so I would have to try to wave everyone out as I called out directions like "Make sure she doesn't give him egg noodles this time!" and "I packed a plastic bag in case some of this clothes get wet. Make sure Julie puts his dirty clothes in the plastic bag so that his other clothes don't get dirty!"

I would always feel a little sick after they left. Although Joseph leaving meant that I would have the weekend "off" I never really felt like I could relax because would just worry so much. No matter how many notes I sent wrote or how many last minute instructions I sent along nothing much seemed to change.

Every Sunday when we would pick Joseph up the tv at the group home would be on some non-child-friendly show and it would be blaring loud. I don't know why this bugged me so much but it always did. If you have to use the tv as a babysitter then at least find a cartoon or something to put on. I complained about this once to someone at the group home and she told me the reason the tv was always on when I was there was because I always came during Family Movie Night. The movie that had been playing to the room full of infants, toddler and pre-schoolers? Die Hard.

But there were bigger problems than the movie selections. Almost without fail when we picked Joseph up from the visits he was wet, hungry and sick. Those two months were one long string of colds, ear infections and cases of pink eye. He was constantly sick. Sending medication along to the visits was pointless. The bottle would come back as full as was when we sent it.

Every single week I would make a list of all the problems that I would see. I would call Sabrina and complain. She would then call the group home and talk to them about everything I had brought up. I think we both knew it was pointless but I also think neither of us felt like we could just sit back and watch it all happen without saying anything. One time when Joseph came home with a rather large bruise on his head and the best the group home could offer for an explanation was "I dunno, maybe he fell over or something" Sabrina had me take a picture of it to keep in his file.

During all this time I had very little interaction with Julie. Most of the time she would hand Joseph to me and then walk away without saying a word. I don't blame her for that. By this point I wasn't really making an attempt to interact with her either. It's odd though, to think back and realize that she would just hand her child over to someone, time and time again and never say one word to them.

In spite of how badly the visits seemed to be going the plan was still for Joseph to live with Julie full time. We were given a schedule. One more weekend visit, the next week a four day visit, the next week a five day visit and then the next week he would move to the group home. Everyone involved with Joseph's case thought this was a bad idea but there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Often on Fridays after Joseph was picked up Jesse and I would head up to St Cloud to visit family and friends. It was nice to have a little break from our parenting responsibilities now and then. On the Sunday evening of Joseph's last regular weekend visit we were headed back home when we ran into a terrible rainstorm that forced us to stop driving. We called the group home to let them know that we would be late but that we would get there as soon as possible.

We got to the group home nearly two hours late. Julie met us at the door. She had Joseph in her arms and a worried look on her face. She nearly threw Joseph into Jesse's arms as a group home supervisor pulled me aside. Julie went back into the house and the supervisor whispered to me "She's been standing there waiting for you guys for two hours! She put his coat on him and just stood there and watched for you. She didn't know what else to do! She was just panicked. I don't know what she's going to do with him when she has hm full time."

It took everything I had in me not to say "Well duh! But this is what you guys have been pushing for so good luck with all that." Instead I murmured sympathetically and then got int he car and went home.

On Monday morning I sat down to make my usual phone call of complaints. Just as I was about to pick the phone up it rang.

"Hello?"

"Jennifer, this is Sherry from the group home. How are you today?"

"Oh. Um, I'm ok. How are you?" I had never gotten along well with this particular worker so I was surprised to hear from her.

"I'm ok. Ummmm, I'm just calling ......." Long pause. "Julie is wondering if maybe you guys would be willing to adopt Joseph."

Adopt Joseph? Take this baby who had been my foster child for nearly a year and make him my actual child, forever? I was shocked by the question but I didn't even have to think for one second before I knew my answer.

"No." I replied. "We would not be willing to adopt him."

17 comments:

Eile said...

What?? AHH! What a masterful cliffhanger that is. I am stunned and confused and want the next section right NOW!

Keep writing. You have me at the edge of my seat.

Eile

Laggin said...

Bargely wah ef hoppens stof?

That's what my brain said as I finished this post.

The Laundress said...

What the?

I know you dint say that, woman.

Cathy said...

This is such a good story!

queermom said...

ugh...keep posting.
this is my most fav story to follow here in blogville.
i join the others on the edge of my seat...

Cinthia said...

Can't wait to hear the rest!!

Sam said...

Uh...what? You must continue!!!

Jill said...

You CAN'T stop there!

I hope you're continuing this tomorrow.

Ben said...

Here's something I discovered out of sheer boredom. If one googles 'the story of joseph' (not using quote tags) your blog comes up before the wikipedia entry for Joseph (of Biblical fame). Yeah.

kik said...

so much about this story is just awful, but it makes me sad and mad that they can't get decent support at the group homes!

letting babies and poor moms live like that... no wonder when they finally get on their own they let their kids sit in dirty clothes and watch junk on tv. If it was okay at the group home...

Alison Wonderland said...

Uh. I don't get it. More. Now.

wheelsonthebus said...

Not a fair place to stop!!

Anonymous said...

Jen, we all know how this ends....but it's not fair to leave us hanging like that!!! Exercise those fingers and get on with the next chapter!!! We want the details!!! I join laundress in saying "you didn't say that"...did you??? Not so patiently waiting.... Grandma Judy

Kim said...

This is my first time commenting- just wanted to let you know that I love the story!

Jen said...

everyone - Yes, I really said that and yes, it works out ok in the end! :)

Stimey said...

This is absolutely an amazing story. Like the others, I'm on the edge of my seat.

nell said...

Thank god I'm behind on my blog reading and don't have to deal with that cliffhanger for longer than it takes to type this comment, dang woman, what're you trying to do?

You are a master of the cliffhanger. Seriously.