July 29, 2014 by greenhouse04
The foster-machine is starting to move a little and I have some updates to share in regards to Baby M.’s case… finally!
One week ago on Monday evening we went to the courthouse for a CRB: “Citizen Review Board.” A CRB is sometimes held instead of a regular court hearing, probably to save the judge’s time and the government’s money. The board is made up of concerned citizens who are trained to give recommendations to the judge. They hear the case from the social workers, ask questions to the parents and foster parents, hear their concerns, then make a recommendation.
At 6:15, after leaving the kids with my parents, we parked in front of the building in which we became a forever family two years ago, and walked up the broad steps to the front doors. They were locked. It was after-hours… how were we to get in?
Just as we were wondering what to do, M.’s dad came to let us in. He’d been let in by the social worker. I could tell he was nervous and excited for the CRB. To be honest, I wasn’t nervous or excited, just kinda pleasantly contented to be out of the house and without kids for a while and to be talking with those involved in M.’s case – things I don’t do often.
We pulled up some chairs in the area usually used by people waiting to renew their vehicle tags, which happened to be right outside the conference room where the CRB was meeting, and waited our turn. Evan, the Case Manager was there; Jo, the new Family Support Worker came, plus an even newer worker who was shadowing her; and of course Baby M’s dad and Mr. Green and I. Baby M.’s mom wasn’t able to make it because of work.
We all chatted congenially. Evan is a self-described optimist, and never has anything bad to say about the case or anyone involved. Baby’s dad is very talkative, and he and Mr. converse very easily together, so the stories kept flowing. When Jo arrived, she looked at the dad and there was a surprised moment of recognition. Yes, the know each other – in fact, they’re related by marriage! Yay. Jo interrogated Baby’s dad on his friendship-level with some druggie family members. I think he passed her not-so-subtle test.
The social workers were invited into the conference room first, then 5 minutes later we were asked in. We filed in a sat in a row of chairs facing four people seated behind a table. There were two middle-aged white women, a middle-aged black man, and a middle-aged black woman. They all looked very respectable and kind, especially the man. Everyone in the room introduced themselves, then the review board members began questioning us, especially M.’s dad.
They asked about his job, his living arrangments, his health insurance, his relationship with Baby M.’s mom… and more. When it was all over we left the room so the board could discuss the case. After about 5 minutes they called us back in to tell us the recommendation they would give to the judge.
As I expected, they recommended that M. return to his dad as soon possible. One aspect of the case came to light that bothered me: once M. is reintegrated with Dad, the foster agency will no longer work with M.’s mom; she will be cut loose, and it will be totally up to the dad to determine how much M. should see of her.
One thing about the meeting with the review board made me feel good, though. Evan, the case manager, commented to the board that he has never had a foster family so willing to work with the bio parents, and that our relationship with M.’s dad is amazing and extremely helpful. That makes me happy to hear, but also sad that other foster families aren’t willing to help the bio parents more – it’s what’s best for the child, after all.
As we were walking to our cars after the meeting, one of the review board members ran up to us. She told us that she was also a foster parent, had been fostering for 27 years, and had had 157 foster children. Yes, you heard me right – 157!!!! She took the cake for the most foster children of anyone I’d ever met! And for most of those years she has been a widow! And she just seemed like a normal, nice, elderly lady.
So, baby M. should be going home to his dad in a month or two (or three… you never know with foster care). Meanwhile, I’m already beginning to prepare myself for our next little one. We got two calls for children last week – an almost-two-year-old girl and a 2-day-old boy! We said no to both, which was hard, but the right thing to do. I’ve decided that I only want one crib in use at a time.
Baby M.’s case is moving, and he is moving, too. He does the “frog crawl” (as my mother pointed out). His little legs look like frog legs as he scoots himself around the floor, a look of pure determination on his face to get that toy! And he likes to stick out his tongue, wave, watch wheels spin, and smile.
And on a final note, I want to say that I absolutely love our little guy. Even though I know he won’t be with us much longer, I still look at him and see my little boy. My little brown-eyed, big-eared, brown boy. I see him as his dad’s boy, too, which is good. It is good that he’s going home to Dad. But right now it’s good for him to be here with us.