It's 11:15pm and I've just spent the past two hours trying - in vain - to calm my foster son *Jason down. He went to bed at 8pm exhausted after a long day which I'll get into later, and soon after woke up screaming. I got him back to sleep, but every time he dozed off he'd jolt back awake in terror.
Now, it's my opinion that *Jason has some sort of undiagnosed sensory processing disorder. His doctors have hinted at it, and his special education teacher is working with him on his sensory seeking behavior. But without a diagnosis to Google (let's just be honest about Dr Google okay? We all do it.) and in the absence of anyone taking the time to figure out what Jason's challenges are, I'm basically parenting by instinct.
Added to this is the fact that my caseworker is perhaps the worst communicator on the face of the planet. No really, she is.
I send one weekly email update for *Jason, and it serves three purposes:
(1) A written record of behaviors and patterns.
(2) To show that *Jason is getting the services the State has provided and is attending medical appointments as needed. (This is also known as the "I'm doing my job" purpose.)
(3) To remind the caseworker that he exists.
This sounds harsh, I know, but I have sent SIX weekly updates complete with important questions about his care and have never gotten a reply or answer to a single question.
At the one month mark I called up my certifier to discuss this. I made it clear that I hadn't gone to the caseworker's supervisor yet because I didn't want to get her in trouble, but that I was frustrated with the lack of communication. The next day I got a voicemail from caseworker saying that she would be better at responding to my questions.
That was the last time I heard from her and she still hasn't answered any questions.
So today was a long day because he had his weekly 3 hour visit with mom.
And just like every other week he left for the visit a happy boy and returned angry and upset. He threw his dinner across the room, had multiple tantrums, and no amount of calming him down or hugs or a warm bath or anything made him feel better. He's speech delayed so he can't tell me what he's feeling or express himself. And now I'm up trying to console him and prevent him from waking everyone up with his screams.
And this happens every week after visits.
And in a few days he's back to being happy *Jason.
... Just in time for the next visit.
I don't want to be that person that takes the stance that these visits aren't in his best interest. I'd much rather assume that it's returning to MY home and not staying with his biological mom that is setting him off. But given what I know about the case history and what I know about how *Jason responds to things, I just don't think that's true. I think he's reminded every week of the neglect and abuse.
It's heartbreaking, and frustrating, and exhausting to sit up with him like this.
It's moments like this where Foster Care sucks.
I'm angry at this whole system -
That more isn't being done to help *Jason thrive and that I don't have the tools I need.
That my caseworker is either so overworked or so apathetic that she's never available.
That every week I send him off to visits knowing that he's going to come back even more traumatized than when he left.
That I can't have a conversation with him about how he feels because he can't speak the words, and yet he's only receiving the bare minimum of speech therapy despite my complaints.
I always try to see the bright side of things and today I just can't.
There isn't a bright spot here.
And don't be fooled - I'm not the bright spot.
Him being here, in our home, isn't the bright spot.
That 'I care enough to sit up with him' isn't a bright spot.
That's the least I can do to comfort a three year old child stuck in a system that isn't serving him.
Having someone hold him through his nightmares is a mere bandaid on a broken situation.
It barely even registers as a flicker.
Foster Care sucks.