March 25, 2011 by greenhouse04
Meetings are part of foster care. We have a meeting at least once a month, this month we’ve had two meetings. The first month after receiving a new child into your home you have at least five meetings.
We have meetings with our foster home worker; meetings with the child’s case workers; meetings with the therapist; meetings with the CASA worker. Just a few days ago, on Eddie’s birthday, we had a case-planning meeting with his case workers and family.
A case-planning meeting’s purpose is to review how the parents are doing on the tasks they were given to complete before their child can be returned to them, and to assign them new tasks if needed. Anyone involved in the case is invited in order to be updated and to give their opinions or advice. I’d been to 4 or 5 case-planning meetings for our various foster children before this one, and they were always around a table, with maybe 6 to 8 people present.
This one was different. We arrived at the office of our agency, and walked into the midst of Eddie’s family. After he was zealously greeted, we made our way to a large room decorated in an African Safari theme. Mr. Green and I sat on very large, wooden rocking chairs. Slowly everybody involved in Eddie’s case filtered in. Besides Mr. and I, his mother, father, step-mother, and grandmother were there. Of course, the two case-workers who were in charge of the meeting were present. Their supervisor also came, plus another case-worker who was a third-party. The lady from Healthy Families who works with him came. Soon, his CASA worker arrived, then our foster home worker, and finally Eddie’s therapist. In all, there were 14 adults sitting on couches, rockers, office chairs, and stools around the room, while Eddie roamed around in the middle, watched by all and unsure where his place was.
The only word I can use to describe the meeting was WEIRD. That was the word going through my mind as I listened to his grandmother describe in her smoker’s voice the battery-powered toy she got him for his birthday, but is waiting to give him once “all of this is figured out.” By that time it’ll be a Christmas present.
It was the way I felt as I heard his dad and step-mom saying with great aplomb that they “own their own business” – a gift store, which can also be described as a consignment store and even a craft store, of sorts.
It was the way I’m sure little Eddie felt as he was overwhelmed with affection from his family, asked questions by near-strangers, and watched as he played with toys.
It was the word I would use to describe the look on his face as he was bombarded with hugs from a dad he hasn’t seen in weeks, and a grandma he hardly remembers. It was his look as his mom said teasingly over and over, “you don’t love me, do you?” as she hugged him. What 3-year-old child understands teasing like that?
Weird was just the general feeling in the air in that large, brightly-lit room filled with people who would never be acquainted if it wasn’t for a small child and mistakes made. Every time I go to a meeting like that I look forward to a day when such meetings are a memory, and when my children won’t be subjected to such weird situations.