Monday, March 30, 2009

moving kids

I just got back from placing Sister in her new foster home. Late night, but I wanted to do it and I couldn't do it any earlier due to prior appointments. Sister is with a pretty good agency and they are confident this home is a good match. I hope so, but it still sucks. Sister was really happy and excited to be moving to her new home. Moving kids sucks. Sisters attitude made the car ride easier. I didn't have to try and convince her that this is a positive thing, but her response makes me worried. Does she just not get that she isn't going back to the home she has known for half her life? Is she just pretending to be happy (I don't think she is that sophisticated, but maybe its a survival technique?). Maybe some attachment issues, but I really feel she was attached to her last home. I feel like I will be waiting for the next shoe to drop. Is she going to have a big blow up? Is she going to cry tonight? I am.

Even when moving kids is the right thing (like in an "easy" removal) its still horrible. Sure its hard on me, but thats not the point. If its hard and stressful on me, can you imagine what it does to the kids? I know I'm preaching to the choir here on the trauma of moves. I don't know how many of you have done this before. Trying to stretch out what little details you have about where we are headed, and who will be caring for them to last the car ride. Trying to answer the unspoken questions of shell shocked children. Letting them know its ok to cry and be scared. Being scared yourself of what you will find when you knock on the door of an unknown foster home. What if the kid (especially a little older one) tries to run off before you get there (I had to hold down the lock button of a car once the whole way there as a child kept trying to open the door on the highway).

I've picked up methods or things I do to try and introduce the family, tour the house, go over basic rules but it doesn't really make it any easier. The look in the child's eyes as you leave... even if you are the one who took them away from their former home, even if this its a teenager with a long line of moves, their eyes plead with you to not leave them, not leave them alone with strangers. But you talk to them about how transitions and changes are hard, but this can be a good thing for them. I try and remember not to tell them to be "good" its not because they were "bad" that they were removed. Then even with their eyes on me I have to act cheerful and upbeat as I get in the car and head out.

There is a bit of a relief to be out of there, its uncomfortable and sometimes finding the placement has been so difficult, that I'm just greateful the child has a place to stay tonight. Some foster homes are good at breaking the ice, others not so good. Some try to be helpful and get me out the door so they can get on with getting the child into their family's routine. I like to stay and see the child get involved in things before I leave... somewhat settled in if posible. I don't know whats better, and schedules don't always permit that. Either way they still look at you. As I drive away I often cry. Or I have phone calls to make and let everyone know about the placement, tie up other loose ends. Take care of crisis that happened while you were trying to make the placement. Then I go back to the office and try and get things ready for the next day. Then I go home and cry.

Also I want to eat bowls full of icecream, and lots and lots of greesy food. Cheesburgers, fries, fried chicken, fried anything. Lovin from the window as I like to call it. I still want that tonight even though I'm not really hungry. hmmm and I wonder why I've gained 30 pounds since starting this job :)


Tudu said...

My children still talk about their moves, the good and the bad. Their emotions always revolve around how they were treated at the new place. The worst was a shelter of sorts that had a very uncaring staff. They came after dinner and the staff got mad b/c the 3 girls were crying. They told them to get in the shower and shut up already. They had a caring SW and never blamed her for anything b/c they saw she had a hard time holding back her tears when they were so upset. Trust me, she wasn't great but she was very compassionate. That's all they saw.

I know you job sucks, I know the weight gain sucks. The fact it moves you to tears is wonderful. Don't lose that. Enjoy your love from the window. The kids need you to feel it so they know someone cares.

SocialWkr24/7 said...

Ugh, I hear you - moving kids SUCKS. Even the 'good' ones - or the ones you have to do to keep the child safe. They all just suck. The absolute WORST one was when I arrived at the home after a LONG meeting about how the foster parents and I were going to tell this child that they were moving - only to have them stop me at the door, tell me that they had told the child that she was going to a doctor's appointment and threw her bags into the trunk of my car! Next thing I knew I was having to tell this child ONE MY OWN while DRIVING DOWN THE INTERSTATE. Seriously - I'm pretty sure I consumed every unhealthy food item possible for the rest of the day. And I cried - a lot. Luckily - that little girl is adopted now. NO MORE MOVES!

Dia por Dia said...

I just found your blog recently and just wanted to say I plan on going back to the beginning. I think caring, passionate and compassionate social workers make a HUGE difference to kids, foster and adoptive parents. I see all of that in you. I have 3 children adopted from foster care and the two older ones remember every SINGLE one of the moves and the workers involved. They can tell me which workers seemed to care and which didn't. From what I have read so far you really consider so many of the different feelings and issues involved and that is worth its weight in gold. I hope you don't mind me following.


Anonymous said...

I have never done this kind of social work and honestly it would be really hard for me. What an intense process.... I'm sure you have had a positive impact on that experience for many children.

Mike H. said...

requested this. (which we now realize was not the truth because the new placement is no closer then we are and the birth mother had no idea her children were being moved. We tried to get the girls attorney to do a "walk-on", however she would not do it. The girls are now in a strange place, probably scared to death. Never once did this social worker even visit our home. We are not sure what to even do about this... we have been told because of code 827, we can not even complain to anyone because we are no longer connected with the case. Sorry to vent.. we are just so worried about these little girls.. and don't know where to turn.