We met with our agency caseworker this week for her "post-adoption visit."
We've worked with this particular caseworker -- off and on -- for the nearly entire time we've been fostering. (She came on as a new hire when our very first caseworker went out on maternity leave during L & O's time with us.)
It was bittersweet. It was good to talk with her and visit and chat about M and how things are going one last time, just like we've done twice a month for all these years. It was strange to realize it was the last time.
We told her we were closing our home "for now." Both Mr D and I felt compelled to justify the decision -- it's no longer the best thing for Peter and Edmund to share a bedroom, so we no longer have a spare room; "younger than the youngest" would now mean another newborn and I can't handle the sleep deprivation while keeping up with the super active M; adjusting our age range to go "out of birth order" and take older than M would mean a high risk of dealing with behaviors I'm not sure I can handle right now either; we're thinking in terms of my returning to the workforce when M is in school full-time. She didn't push. She understood perfectly. We all agreed that we might consider signing back on when Peter goes to college in 4 years, even if it's just to be a respite-only family, but at that time we will have to take all the introductory training classes again. I don't know if we'll do that or not, but foster care is full of never-say-never moments, so I won't say it here.
And that's it. We're done. It's slowly hitting me that this huge part of our lives is over.
Sometimes the revelation moments are exciting. M fell down this morning and smacked her forehead pretty hard on a plastic toy. My first thought, when I noticed the red mark turning into a small goose-egg? I don't have to document this. There is no need to take a photo, write up a narrative of how it happened and send it to 3 people. I also don't have to wonder if it will have faded before the next family visit.
Sometimes they are just startling. M's first birthday is coming up and people keep asking me what we're going to do to celebrate it. (We'll keep it small -- some family, a few presents, cake.) First birthdays are really more for the family than the child (other than the pictures for the child to see years later), so I'm having to wrap my head around the idea that we're the ones who get to choose the best way to celebrate it. Last year, we had N for his first birthday. We didn't celebrate it at all. I lobbied the caseworker to get his family visit rescheduled slightly to be on his birthday so they could celebrate him as a family. M's birth family is not currently stable enough to have in her life at all, so it's really all just about what we want. Weird.
Sometimes they are a little sad. Susan hadn't realized we'd be closing the home. I heard her talking to M about how someday there would be other kids coming and going and she'd learn how to be a great foster sister. Having to explain to Susan that we are done with this ministry "for now" was difficult, especially as she initially understood "for now" to really mean we were going to start up again as soon as there was space in the house. Susan is my deepest thinker about faith and service and she has soaked up having the opportunity to share her home, her family and her love for God with children in need. It was hard to tell her that it was over, whether she wanted it to end or not.