Don’t call us, we’ll call you

January 22, 2017

Control, Day 44

Filed under: Family, foster parenting, Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , , — llcall @ 11:31 pm

18 October

Of all the “advice” I gave myself in this mammoth post from 3.5 years ago (which, at the risk of sounding too proud, has turned out to be remarkably prescient about the mental and emotional struggles I would face and processes I would need to employ as a foster parent), the one that has replayed in my mind most in these early days is this:

Focus on what I can control

I think this is the reason why it’s so important for me to never wait in the visitation center lobby. I can’t control what happens there, and it breaks all the parts of my heart to witness what must be for some children.

Despite knowing that we would getĀ notices of court hearings as a matter of procedure, the first one I opened surprisingly filled me with a great deal of turmoil. We were too new to know whether we were allowed to attend, expected to attend, or discouraged from attending, but it was clear from my emotional state that the last thing I wanted to do was attend the court hearing. Neal, on the other hand, was quite interested in attending. We still knew so little informationĀ about the baby and his situation, so he was curious whether the hearing would reveal any new information.

As I reflected later on my strong initial response, I realized it all came down to this control issue. I can’t control what happens at court (and it’s more than a little frustrating to think of people, however well-intentioned, who have never met or cared for baby B making decisions about his well-being) so I’d rather avoid it altogether than needlessly shift my focus. (In the end, we were discouraged from attending anyway.) Similarly, Neal has had a desire all along to ask as many questions as we can. I, on the other hand, have felt that dwelling on trying to gather as much information as possible creates an inaccurate illusion that you actually know something. That you might possibly be able to predict something. But if there’s one thing nearly everyone involved in the child welfare system has experienced, it’s getting the rug pulled right out from under them– and not just the foster parents involved. So you have to focus on what you can control. For me, the best days with the baby are the ones where I can just keep him at home, stick to his schedule, buffer him from any effects of others’ choices.

Even at home though, I had to repeat this mantra. In case you missed the memo, this little guy is a screamer/crier/turn-blue-passer-outer. Just as I struggled with Addison’s crying while I was in the throes of my postpartum depression, baby B’s alternately mournful and angry crying was deeply distressing. Initially, I felt that I had to go to almost superhuman lengths to make sure he was never left alone while he was crying. In my head, I knew it was impossible, but in my heart I didn’t want to trigger feelings of abandonment that had clearly already been so damaging to him . . . even for a second. That is another way in which Jennifer was a godsend for me; she gave me permission to let him cry and in the process reminded me that that is yet another thing that is beyond my control.

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