I pulled up to the DFCS office Thursday afternoon and of course had no idea who I was supposed to meet. No one had given me the name of the child’s case worker from this county. She was however standing at the front desk when I tried to sign in. Turns out the child’s foster mother was standing right behind us. We were led through a warren of tight hallways. This is an old building. Phones were ringing. Offices were crammed with paperwork. We were ushered into a room stocked with old conference tables, old swivel chairs leaning precariously, an odd assortment of old tvs on rolling cabinets. In the corner was a bright colored rug with the alphabet and a plastic picnic table.
We sat down with the foster mother and looked at each other awkwardly for a few minutes while we waited for all the case workers to arrive. I tried to make small talk. I wasn’t sure what I was “allowed” to ask or talk about. Finally everyone arrived. The boy’s case worker is brand new at the job. She was timid and unsure. Not really a take charge personality. She gave us very little in the way of useful information. After an odd pause I asked if I could just ask everyone questions. Sure, no problem. So I pulled out my notebook and asked everything I could think of.
What is his personality like? How does he play? How does he get along with other kids? Do you feel like he has attached to you? What are his eating and sleeping habits? What about acting out behaviors? I just kept on going. Aaron had questions about permanency. What is the current legal status? What is DFCS plan? Any time line for when they expect to file for TPR? What were the causes of him coming in to foster care?
After all our questions there was another awkward pause. Everyone was looking expectantly at us. What was our decision? We had already talked and agreed that unless something really unexpected was revealed during the meeting we would go ahead and agree to proceed with the pre-placement visits. So we said, “We would like to meet him.” There then followed a few minutes of us and the foster mother trying to coordinate calendars. Apparently we both have a very busy week ahead. No final date for the meeting is set. Maybe next Saturday? We will call the foster mother early next week and set something up.
Foster mother is very protective of the boy. She wants to make sure this is done right. I appreciate that in her. This child is being nurtured in her care, not simply physically cared for.
I then asked, “Could I see a picture?” No one had a picture. Foster mother called her daughter and asked her to email a picture to the case workers phone. It was handed over to me. The first thing I noticed was a gigantic smile. A definite light of personality in the eyes. Sandy brownish hair with a hint of red. A dimple flashing from a cheek. I hold the phone as long as I dare before passing it over to Aaron so he can see.
The meeting is wrapped up. We are ushered back through the maze of hallways. We speak briefly with our case manager in the parking lot. She drives away. I turn to Aaron. Every conflicting emotion I can think up is welling up in me. I want to hug him and let excitement in. But I want to temper that too because we haven’t even met the boy yet. And then fear floods, what if we can’t do this?
We drive to Five Guys and have a juicy hamburger. We discuss what to tell our boys. We cautiously skirt the issues of getting the house ready, and fitting in pre-placement visits, and how the actual timing of this is all going to play out. And as I eat my french fries all I can think is that I can’t believe that this is really happening.