We have a lot going on right now. Lee’s sister (bio aunt) Grace died on Christmas morning after about a month in hospice. Today Mara and Lee are flying out for her memorial service and so Mara can meet Lee’s family and see where Lee grew up. I get to hold down the fort with Nia and the pets and hope that everything goes well even though Mara’s first adult tooth just broke through her gum and she’s been decidedly not happy about much of anything lately and even though Lee promised she wouldn’t go back for this funeral because she didn’t think she could handle it. I think it will be good for both of them and good for bonding them in a new way.
On Christmas Eve, I got a call from Mara’s aunt Odelia while we were at my aunt’s house eight hours away, feasting and enjoying ourselves. I knew she’d be having a hard time on her first Christmas without her mom, but it was even worse than that. The state had removed Mara’s three siblings still living with her as well as her four biological children. Her children were placed with paternal family and Mara’s siblings went first to a neighbor and then to their great-aunt while her daughter waits to pass a background check to be able to take them in. It’s not clear to me exactly what happened, but I really wasn’t surprised that things had come to a head and the home was no longer safe enough. Odelia is not going to try to regain custody of Mara’s siblings. She would prefer that they go to us, because she thinks no one else in the family can raise them properly.
Lee and I would prefer not to add three children to our home right now, because I’m not sure we could handle the stress. But we also love these three and have always said that we wanted to be a resource for Mara’s siblings. As a middle ground, we’ve agreed that if the initial kinship placement doesn’t work out, we can keep them for a few weeks while a better placement (kinship or foster) is found. I’ve made all of this clear to our worker and the supervisor of Odelia’s caseworker, though I don’t know what it will matter in the long run. Regardless of what we want, if they come into foster care proper we will get the call and we’ll have to make a decision. Well, we’ll make the decision that I’ll take the parental leave I’m due for a new foster placement and we’ll take them on short-term so they have a safe home where they know the people and know the rules and know the place while something else gets figured out for them. I guess.
(What I want is to have Trinity come live with us. I think that eventually paternal family might come forward for Franca and Andre, who’ve had more contact with their dad and his family this past year. I don’t see that happening for Trinity and her needs are the highest of the three, which makes it less likely there will be a family member volunteering to meet them. It would also be sort of insane to be adding another 6-year-old when we have a 5-year-old and a 6-year-old already and are feeling stretched a bit thin at times by just that setup. But it’s what I’ve always wanted, and there’s still a chance Nia might go home, in which case I’d definitely end up heartsick if we didn’t step up for Trinity when we could have and instead ended up with just Mara, not that having just Mara wouldn’t be wonderful in its own way. On the other other hand, it’s likely Trinity is the kind of kid who will blow placements and we’ll end up with her again. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. Lee feels pretty strongly that adding Trinity would be too much, but it’s Trinity! I’d love to have the other two too, but she just needs so much and loves so much and has lost so much that she’s in a special separate category for me.)
At any rate, I’ve told the family that I’m willing to do respite this weekend when I’m home with Nia, in part to see how Nia does with the siblings. She’s spent significant time with them twice and had a great time once she warmed up (which is not a hard process for such a friendly extrovert) but I know it would be hard for her to have to deal with “sharing” when she considers Mara her sister but that doesn’t mean Mara’s sisters are her sisters and so on. Plus Nia wants to spend as much time as possible with her best friend Katrina, a neighbor who was adopted out of foster care and whose mom is Nia’s favorite of the first-grade teachers. We’ll have plenty to keep us occupied regardless of what happens, and I think that’s sort of a mantra for the family at the moment, how we’re living all of our lives. There is plenty going on even when nothing’s going on and we’re managing through that all right so far.