They arrived about 9:30 am. We had cleaned the house, made their beds, put a few clothes in their closets that we hoped would fit. We knew dinner was coming, so there was nothing to prepare there. By 9:15, we were both pacing, anxiously waiting their arrival, not sure what to expect, hoping we were ready.
We weren't. R wanted to explore the house immediately. He couldn't settle to one thing long enough to take your eyes off him. A was into everything. I'd forgotten that shelves of books and DVDs are irresistible to 3 year olds! While the caseworker talked to me about the paperwork and the initial things we needed to do, Mr D tried to keep up with both of the kids. Who of course wanted to go in two different directions!
Somehow we got through the paperwork. The caseworker left and we were on our own. Mr D took R out into the backyard to play with a toy football. A attached herself to me. Less than 30 minutes after their arrival, I walked away from her when she wasn't looking. She ran after me, calling "Mommy! Where Mommy?" For a second, I thought she was asking me where her biological mother was. Then she spotted me and joyously cried, "Mommy!" again. She was calling me Mommy already.
Dinner arrived with the volunteer. R and A were excited to see her and she talked with them a little bit. She gave them each a toiletry kit, which A carried around everywhere the rest of the day. She told me to call her if we needed anything, and I confessed I didn't even know what to ask for!
Our three "original" children got home from school and a baseball game began in the back yard. Around 5pm, we were getting dinner on the table. We realized we hadn't bought a baby monitor to put in A's room, so we would hear her if she got up in the night. Her room was at the top of the stairs and we had images of her falling down the stairs at 2am. One of the rules of foster care is that you cannot lock a child in their room, so we couldn't prevent her getting out of the room; we really needed to be able to hear if she got out of bed.
Mr D put a call in to our caseworker, to see if a volunteer would bring us a baby monitor. She said, "You won't need that."
Umm, we won't? We're pretty sure we do!
The caseworker had been about to call us when we called. They'd just gotten out of court. The judge said the kids had to go home.
They had been with us for 7 hours.
When we told R and A that they were going home and someone would come to pick them up after dinner, R asked if they would be taken away again. We didn't know what to say. We couldn't even guess if he was hoping for a yes or a no.
When they drove away, after many hugs and goodbyes and forced smiles, we looked at each other. We were emotionally and physically exhausted. It hadn't even been a day and it was one of the hardest things we'd ever done, letting them go.
Lesson learned: No one ever knows how long a placement is going to last.
The next day, we got the letter in the mail approving us to be foster parents.