If you want your nephew to have your phone number in a few years, even if he goes into a variety of residential care settings, write it inside his coat. People may, for his own protection, take away an address book. They may black out contact information from the letters you send. A couple of years later when he asks if he could have your number his social worker may say he would sure like to help, but he hasn't been around very long and he can't find it in the file.
But maybe, when your nephew finally makes it out of residential treatment and group homes and goes back into an ordinary foster home, they will take the rest of his possessions out of storage for him. He will toss them in the closet and pay little attention, but one cold autumn day he just might pull out that nice warm coat you got him.
And he might notice that sewn-in label that says "Frankie: 102-555-1234" and shout with glee and say, "That's my aunt's number!" Mistakenly thinking his foster mother would want to take it away from him he might also say, "And you can't touch it because its a down coat and you're allergic to feathers!"
Auntie was very pleased to hear from him. Early in the phone call he said, "It's okay if I talk to you. I can only write letters to my dad, but I can talk to you. Mom says so." "No, not my real mom. I mean Yondalla. She's a special foster mother that I really trust. Sure you can talk to her!"
Auntie told me what a good boy Frankie was. I agreed. We also agreed that sometimes life was tough for him and frustration got the better of him, but he wasn't the kind of kid to break rules just to break them. She said, "I think a lot of his problems are because ... [snip] ... I think he's been looking for a mother figure he can trust for a long time."
He got to talk to his cousin too. He said that he really likes Star Wars things and did Cousin remember when they used to play with light "savers"? Cousin said no, but I bet later he will figure out what a light "saver" is and remember.
Auntie gave him the phone number for the other Auntie and for Grandma. Other Auntie gave him the number for a grown up cousin. He called them all. He only had to leave a message for one.
He is so pleased.
I am pleased for him. I know that sometimes the extended family has as many problems as the immediate family, but I think in this case there is an excellent chance that these aunts will be healthy contacts for him.
Monday, October 15, 2007