Thursday, March 01, 2007

"I can be happy in any family"

That's what Miss E told me this morning as I dropped her off from school.

I try not to interrogate her too much. I try to ask her questions that show interest in her life, that encourage her to talk to me without putting her on the defensive.

She told me last week that this new family only had two small children "of their own." The mother, let's call her Marsha, told me that it would be great if I could drive Miss E to school as she had (I think she said 4!) other children to get to school. (I really hope it is just 4 children, the two that Miss E knew about and 2 more. Surely it is. They can't already have 6.)

I told Miss E that I would be driving her because Marsha had to put other kids on the bus, and she seemed surprised.

Today I asked her if she had gone to visit them (remember she is moving today). "No, but I know what their house is like."

Their house? What about THEM? I replied, "Oh." Like I said, I try not to interrogate her too much and she is moving this afternoon.

This is not the way my agency typically works. When I get a new permanent placement (not a respite) I meet them first over pizza at the offices. They come over for a day visit. We take them on an outing. They spend a weekend with us, then a whole week.

None of that seems to be happening. Now I am an outsider with full information but what it looks like is that Miss E treated Annabelle horribly, and demanded to be moved. Her social worker tried to convince her to stay while at the same time keeping an eye open for another place. When a spot came available in the same school district, I guess everyone said yes without spending much time with each other.

When I called about whether I was still driving, the supervisor told me that the parents in both families were working everything out and I should call them.

Today on our drive Miss E began to talk about her sister. I asked how old she was (26) and Miss E confirmed that it was her plan to move in with her and the sister's young children as soon as she is 18. I don't know if this sister is from the adoptive family or birth family.

It is such a train wreck. It was when I was talking to Miss E about her sister's family and if she though she would like living there that she said, "Oh, I can be happy in any family."

Say what? Miss E has pretty clearly demonstrated that she can't be happy in any family. She has consistently gone from somewhat annoying to verbally abusive as soon as she moves in. She complains loudly about whoever she lives with, and if she is not moved on her schedule she reports them for child abuse.

Right now I confess I am feeling angry at Miss E. That is mixed up with a large dose of sympathy, but I am angry. I am frustrated that she is so unable to see that this is her pattern. If people don't behave in exactly the way she thinks they should, she is furious. She tells them how stupid they are. She always believes it is entirely their fault. She is always convinced that the next place with be different and it never is because she is never different.

I don't know anything about Marsha, by the way. On the phone she sounded young and sweet, but that does not mean that she is actual new or naive. It rather sounded like it though. I did not hear that tough, "I know what I am getting into and I can take it" tone. I hope there is more to her than meets the ear.

Miss E has less than five months until her birthday. She will not be finished with high school, but she will move in with her sister anyway. I doubt that that will work either. Maybe it will. Maybe it will because it will have to. There won't be anyone she can call to find her a new home. If she leaves her sister's house she will have to support herself. The agency will help her within the limits of their transitional services program, but she will not be able to re-enter care. Not that she would even if she could.

It's just so hard to watch.

Next: What to hope for


  1. I congratulate you for not laughing in her face.

    "I can be happy in any family."

    Yeah, my big toe.

  2. The irony! And I guess we never really stop wondering about the ones we cared for. I still think, pray and worry a bit for our kiddos who have moved. Wondering how they are and praying somehow they have found a measure of happiness.

  3. Something I try to do to relieve the pain of this is to remember that it's just the beginning of the child's hopefully long life and that whatever choice the child makes now, it's not the end. I'm not explaining this very well. What I mean is, E may make a bad choice now, but she may learn from it--maybe not til she's 25 or 35 or 45--and then make other choices, so that her life gets better and better. She's not stuck with who she is at 18 and the choices she makes then.


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