Thursday, November 7, 2013

Visit to visit

Pterodactyl should have had a visit with her birth mom yesterday.  Her birth mom canceled it ahead of time because of a doctor's appointment.  I haven't written down how many times they've been canceled due to having another appointment, but it has to be at least five times in the past five months.  Either there's a serious medical condition I'm not aware of or she is cancelling visits unnecessarily.  By the tone of the case worker's voice when they relay the cancellations to me, I assume the latter.

I don't like assuming any of that.  There's nothing productive in me rolling my eyes when a visit is canceled.  When I read about birth parents missing visits before we had a placement, I felt the foster parents were being judgmental of the birth parents by complaining about missed visits, especially in cases like mine when Pterodactyl isn't even old enough to know that she had a visit planned.

I thought I wasn't a judgmental person.  Honestly, I know I have plenty of flaws, I am told by others that this is one of my strengths.  I can put myself in someone else's shoes.  I have an extra dose of empathy.  I thought that this part of foster parenting would be easy.  It would be more difficult for my husband, and he would have other strengths to bring to foster parenting.

Then I became a foster parent.

I am still always trying to put myself in her shoes.  I am telling myself I don't know the whole story.  But there's something about the practice of mothering that erodes my efforts not to judge.  I make sure Pterodactyl wakes up at the right time so that her schedule is on track because I don't want her to need a nap during the visit.  I put on her clothes, picking out an outfit that her birth mom would like.  I plan my errands and activities around the visit.  I am hopeful, but I'm also waiting for the phone to ring.  It does, and plans change.  I look at the clothes on her and feel sad her birth mom won't see them.  I'm grateful for the freedom in my schedule, and feel guilty at feeling happy about that freedom.  The next visit day, I have a plan A and a plan B for whether or not her birth mom will stick with her commitment to visits.  I don't like the plan B mentality, especially as plan B usually makes me happier because there's more freedom to do what I want.  I don't want her failure to meet her commitment to make me happy.  That's another trait I thought I possessed a little more than the average person: unselfishness.  Then I became a foster parent.

Then there's the other kinds of visits, as we scheduled Pterodactyl's first overnight visit with her grandma.  I'm glad it's happening because I want the momentum to keep going in this transition.  The grandma was so positive about the last visit, and I'm happy for her and Pterodactyl's brothers.  I know it'll be the first glimpse of what life is like accepting she's moved on.  The uncertainty here is that we still don't have an official date for when she is moving.  Living life, visit to visit.

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