Tuesday, August 18, 2009

So High and So Low

What a weird disappointing and exhilarating day.

We got terrible news today - the DCFS supervisor in charge of adoptive placements says it's too soon to move T. into our home under the special clause permitting such things that we've previously been told is available to us. And now they insist we get a full foster care license before he can live with us and before we can start the adoption process. This was crushing, because he is ready to go now, and we wanted him to start school on schedule this fall, three weeks from now, so he'd have a continuous three years in the same place to help him prepare for college and make friends. Now the earliest he can move is at the break in the school year, in December.

We wrote letters, made phone calls, and tried every avenue we could to appeal and failed. After all, when we entered the program, we asked explicitly whether, should we meet and bond with a child, we would then be required to have a foster license before they could live with us. And the answer was a clear and definitive no. But it turns out there is a great deal of subjectivity involved here, and somebody in a powerful position thinks we haven't known T. long enough to be committed to him.

There are multiple layers of supervisors supporting one another's decision on this, despite the pleas of our social worker, who knows us best. So after a frantic afternoon of appeals, I am resigned that it is not actually possible to achieve another outcome. And I do not say that lightly. I understand the logic that says that to move a kid too fast during the honeymoon phase can lead to heartbreak for everyone. But every child and every parent is different and it's utterly aggravating and upsetting to be treated like a statistic by a blind, dumb bureaucracy.

ON THE OTHER HAND! T. called his social worker today and told her that he is ready to be adopted by us. He has no idea all this drama is going on - it was pure coincidence that he called. And the phone call was TOTALLY unsolicited. He didn't even have the social worker's phone number. He had to seek it out with help from his foster mom, who didn't have it either, and had to call around to find it for him.

The social worker says that in the two years she's been working with T., he has NEVER called her on the phone. And she said he was really, really happy when he called. "Happy" isn't a word they have ever used in describing T. before. She says that after she congratulated him and chatted with him about his decision, she explained the likely timeline to him, and he didn't seem to have a problem with it. It probably didn't even occur to him that we might move him within the next month. We didn't share that with him for fear of disappointing him if we couldn't make it work - thank god - and so he never knew it was an option.

I hate that this news is bittersweet because of the disappointment of the day. But it seems somehow appropriate that we should have to be baptized by a touch of the crushing stupidity that has governed his life for the last fifteen years before we can be together for the rest.

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