This post is probably going to be disjointed, but that is because my brain is running in circles.
Okay, this is going much more quickly than any placement has ever gone before. There are multiple reasons for this of course. Kids from his region almost never get into this program, so nobody over there knows how it works. That has led to him being given a false impression about the process and to things like him being brought up for a two-day pre-placement visit before we even had a chance to read the file.
It is difficult for anyone to put the brakes on because school starts in less than three weeks. If we are going to do it, and are willing to do it now then we should, so that we can get him into school at the beginning.
With Evan I was first told about him. Then I called the youth group leader to ask if he thought Evan was a good fit for the family. He gave me a good report and so then I read the file. THEN Evan was told of our existence and we agreed to meet him.
In this case Frankie was told that there was a family in Our Small Town that had been identified as a good possibility for him and asked if he wanted to go for a visit BEFORE the file even made it to the local office.
Now I know that in foster care what typically happens is that you get a call about a kid who needs a place to stay and foster parents agree (or not) with very little information. But this is not regular foster care. This is permanent placement. Though it is possible for me to ask for Frankie to be moved, that is not what this program is about. I am being asked to make a commitment to this kid. I have signed placement agreements for three kids, and all three of those boys emancipated from this home. I view my relationship with them as permanent.
So we are usually careful.
We keep getting information and then deciding whether to take the next step.
In this case we are getting everything all at once. My head is spinning.
I think I know everything that it is possible to know before he actually lives here. I know what his past issues are. I know the ways in which he has been different in the last six months. I have seen the way that he is interacting (so far) with the boys. He seems like our kind of kid and it feels like a go, but it is fast.
Today Evan, Brian, Frankie and I all had lunch with the agency social worker, whom I will call "Diane." When we got to the agency she brought me into her office to tell me that she had just got the full file herself and we had been misled about the severity and frequency of some past behaviors, but not about the fact that those behaviors had stopped when we were told they had. I had a mental flash of Ben's face from the night before when he told us that he hoped that when we read all the details we judged Frankie based upon who he had become and not who he had been.
With that running around my head, we went to an Asian restaurant (one of those places you find in the middle of the country where they serve Mandarin Chicken and Vietnamese Noodles) where we ate and talked about family rules and acceptable ways of handling conflict, among other things. Then Diane took Frankie back to the office to discuss the program and what was expected of him.
I took Evan and Brian to the mall and sat dazed wondering how much to worry about his pre-medicated behavior, was it likely to re-occur? Everyone agrees that part of the issue was the group home environment and his behavior in the same group home has been dramatically different. I decided that I was willing to take a chance on Frankie. He seems like our sort of kid and he has come a long way. He felt right.
Then she called me to pick him up and asked if I wanted to sign the placement agreement.
It was so odd. The signing of the placement agreement along with other forms has always been a bit of a ceremony here. The whole family has sat around the table, after weeks of getting to know each other, and read the documents out loud (especially the sexual safety plan), and everyone has signed it. There has then been much hugging and grinning. The day is thereafter remembered as the anniversary of the day the kid officially joined our family.
She asked me right there, in front of Frankie, and Hubby and Andrew weren't even the same county. I had told her earlier that Hubby and I were prepared to go forward, but it felt like I agreed to an engagement only to have someone produce a judge and ask me to take my marriage vows.
Okay, not quite, but it was disorienting.
I pointed out that Hubby and Andrew had to do some signing too, so I would take the documents home. She gave me a return envelop so that I could mail them back.
I got into the car feeling a bit stunned and Evan noticed the paint brochures I had picked up earlier to give to Frankie to look at. If we all decided this was going to work, I wanted him to be able to paint his room. Evan asked if he could give them to him and I said, "Okay" without really thinking about it.
Frankie of course was over-joyed. I'm not certain he has ever been able to choose colors for his room before. He asked if he could pick any color he wanted. I told him he could have any color, just not any intensity. He could have one accent wall in a dark color, if he wanted, but the others had to be light.
With furious excitement he announced that he wanted his accent wall to be dark red and then started asking Evan for advice on the other walls. He kept handing him samples, asking, but then coming up with another before Evan had a chance to even look at the previous. "What do you think of yellow? Yellow is bright. Would it look good with this red?" "Maybe I should do white. How about pink? Do you think pink would be good?" "Oh. Look. Here is a nice green." Evan said, "NO. No green! I will help you when we get home." "Okay. No green, but I think maybe pink. Or white. Look at these, Evan. Here is a picture with dark red and light blue!"
Evan's lap was covered with brochures, we were stuck in a traffic jam, I was more than a little dazed and Evan grinned at me and said, "You're going to blog this, aren't you?"
This evening, Hubby and I asked Evan for his input. I gave him more information than I otherwise would have but I know he has lived in group homes. I wanted his assessment of the reports. Given the circumstances under which Frankie has been challenging, and given his improvement, what did he think? Evan is advocating for him, and that means a great deal to me.
So, it looks like we are doing it. Hubby said he will take the paper work down to the office tomorrow.
We are aiming for a move-in date about two weeks from now.
Frankie picked out a dark red and off white that work very well with the red block and white fabrics in the log cabin quilt. He likes the center diamond pattern.
Next: More on Frankie