She's 3. She's been in my home for about 4 months. One night, we changed the usual evening routine, so I could attend something with the older kids. She's staying home with the other parent in the household, with whom she is perfectly comfortable. When I told her where I was going and who was going to get her dinner and put her to bed, she said, "OK." Then I said good bye and she looked at me solemnly and asked, "Will you come back?"
She's 8. After a year in your home, she's finally reuniting with family. During the time she was with you, she had regularly scheduled contact (in person and on the phone) with both Mom and Dad as well as some grandparents and occasional contact with aunts, uncles and cousins on Dad's side. Her parents are not on good terms with each other, and the grandparents have told you that this year has been the most regular contact they've ever had with her. She's going back to Mom. After the initial excitement to be "going home," she turns to you with tears in her eyes and asks you if she'll ever see Daddy again. The truth? Probably not.
She's 3. When she got in the car with the caseworker to come to my house, she asked him if he was taking her to jail.
He's 5. You went to the grocery store while he was at school and bought more of the cereal that had become his favorite breakfast since he's been in your home. When he saw the groceries after school, he got very excited. 30 minutes later, you get the call. Pack him up, he's going to Dad's tonight. When you tell him, his first reaction is disappointment because "Daddy doesn't have that cereal." Yes, I sent the box of cereal with him. Dad was probably offended, but I don't care.
She's 3. She's in the car about to head to her first visit with her Daddy since she came into care. As she's being strapped in to the car seat, the transporter's phone rings. No visit. Daddy's in jail. Guess it could have been worse...we didn't arrive at the visit and wait for him only to have him not show up.
He's aged out, without ever finding a permanent family that would claim him as their own. Living on his own and managing OK. He tells you that there a lots of places he can go for Thanksgiving. There are a number of families that would happily welcome him into their home for that celebration. But, he continues, "there isn't one house where -- if I'm not there -- they'll miss me."
She's 3. You're sitting outside at a coffee shop having a snack, when a police cruiser slowly drives by. She watches it until it is out of sight, then turns to you and identifies it as "the police." When you agree, she says, "they ain't coming to take you away?"
She's 8. You received donated Christmas gifts for her that included a board game you already own, so you held onto the new game to be "hers" when she went home without telling her about it. Now, she's reunifying with Mom, so you sent the new game to her mother inside a box, having explained out of earshot what's in it. When she comes back from the next visit, she excitedly tells you that Mom got her "an early welcome home present" and it's the game. With a secret smile, you tell her that's great, pleased that Mom was able to use it in that way. But what this child is the most excited about? "It's new and it has all the pieces!"
She's 3. When she started having visits with her mother, she would sob and scream and cry when it was time to separate again at the end of the visit -- she wanted to stay with her Mommy so badly! Now, she waves goodbye to Mommy with a smile as she gets in the car to head back to your house. As much as I am happy not to have to tear her screaming away from her mother, it also breaks my heart that she's OK with it now.