We are, as far as we know, the first foster family that has ever attended our church. We're certainly the only currently active one and appear to be the first one that's been as actively involved in the church's programming as we are and as open about what we are doing. How the foster system works is a learning curve for the other actively involved members just as it is for us...
When L and O came and stayed for over a year, they got enmeshed in our church community, just as the rest of the family is. So, now that the new school year has begun, I am still getting asked about them at church.
Do I hear anything? Do I ever get to see them? Is there any kind of contact? How are they doing?
The questions come from loving places. They are asked by good, Christian people who loved those children. They want to know that the children they welcomed into their hearts are OK. They want updates.
And I can't give those to them.
Some foster parents maintain contact with the bio-families after reunification. We may someday have a case like that. But this was not one.
While we were transitioning them home, the caseworker commented that BioMom was likely to want to pretend our family had never really been important in the kids' lives. That she wouldn't be calling me with updates on how the kids are doing and probably would not respond if I tried to reach out. Unless she had something she wanted to do and needed a sitter, and then she was likely to dump the kids with me while she did what she wanted. And that wouldn't be healthy for any of us. L's therapist recommended I not maintain any sort of regular contact in order to prevent that specific scenario from happening.
I don't live close enough to her to be useful for emergency pickups from school or occasional short playdates. If she wanted them to come here, it would be for overnight visits. If the kids came back here on those terms, how confusing would that be? And yet, how would I say No if she asked?
So, I called a few times, just to say hello. She answered the first time because she wanted to talk to me about getting L's school records transferred anyway. After that, she didn't pick up. I left cheerful, hopefully non-threatening messages, but suspect that my well-wishes were not passed on to the children.
And that's OK. (Well, it's not, when I think about how abandoned O might feel, but I have to let his biomom make those decisions now.) As I try to explain to the people who ask, she's under no obligation to maintain contact with me. As far as I know, the kids are doing well. That's probably all I will ever know.
I kinda hope it is all I ever know, because the only way I'm likely to hear anything about them again is if they get pulled back into DFCS Custody. But it's hard to explain that to people who don't really understand fostering....