This post will not win me any friends.
I already know that.
But there is this burning in my gut that I just can’t ignore. Maybe because it is too close. It hasn’t quite been 3 months since we did the unthinkable.
We took our son, our precious little boy that we raised, and we followed court orders to drop him off at his biological mom’s at 4 pm. I strapped my son in his seat, I kissed his head as many times as I could, I snapped one more quick picture, shut the door, and let my husband take him to his mom’s.
And then I wailed. My stomach revolted.
It was a silent trauma.
He didn’t know anything other than he was going for a ride. When my husband dropped him off, he ran to my husband with arms outstretched, yelling “Daddy.”
There was no media documenting the plight of this kid. He was a “success” for the foster care system. His mom was rehabilitated, and after 17 months in our care, all the damage that he came into care with was resolved. It was a beautiful example of success — for the system.
For Z — Well, imagine a child had just had all of their family, mom, dad, two sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents — everyone — killed in a car accident. And this child was the lone survivor.
This is the plight of my son.
We are all still alive. But we are dead to him.
While many have compassion for Z, for having to adjust to a new family, for being stripped from his family, his home, his bed, many of his things without explanation — many simply say “I know you are bonded, but . . . reunification is the goal.”
“I know you are bonded, but . . .”
Please let me put this in perspective for you.
Perhaps the government came into your home, gave you no explanation, other than they found a “better” family for you. You had a few minutes to collect a few things, say good-bye to your children who were 2-years and 4-years-old and your husband. And you instantly went to another family, where there was another husband and other children waiting for you. For the rest of your life.
If this would be traumatic for us as adults, please try to wrap your head around how traumatic this is for kids.
And I’m not just talking about reunifying. I’m also talking about coming into foster care in the first place.
Any change in family like this is traumatizing.
I don’t care how “resilient” your personality is. This isn’t just hard. This is trauma. Brain re-wiring trauma that follows you into the rest of your life, no matter how “well-adjusted” you have come to be.
When we were told Z would return home, I could not wrap my head around it. Our home was his HOME. It is every single bit as hard as sending your biological child to live with another family with no real explanation.
You see, when you say “you are bonded,” you are admitting that we are emotionally involved. But what I want you to understand is that bonds go both ways. We weren’t just bonded to him. He was bonded to us. Deeply, deeply bonded to us.
Our family is not into “foster bonds” or “adoptive bonds” or “biological bonds.” Y’all. He was ours, we were his, at the very heart of our family.
When I went to court, I had to be compliant. I could lose my license if not. The government had the power to bring the police and pull Z from our home at any point if I wasn’t compliant enough. My entire body screamed that this is horrible for Z, that he does not deserve this trauma. But out of my mouth had to come words like, “I support reunification.”
If I could have fought, I would.
This is not about me not wanting Z with his mom. If I had control of the situation, mom would have been able to care for him safely from the beginning. I never asked for this child to be moved from his mom. I simply was his landing place. His safe spot. And before long, I was his mommy as he knew it. Even as he came into care, I grieved all he had lost to get to the point that he was.
No, it’s not about me wanting him for my sake. This is 100% about him enduring more than his little body should have had to endure. And at the tender age of 1, he should not have also had face the additional trauma of losing the family he was attached to.
This is what it’s like to return a foster child.
Recommended for you:
To read more about the day our foster son left, click here.
For more on how I really feel about our son’s bio mom, click here.
For my stance on foster care, and why giving them back is not a good enough reason to say no, click here.