By Diane Ponist
Sometimes, being a foster parent requires more patience than one can imagine. You fight and fight for what is best for a child. You are the voice for a child who does not have one. You know what’s right, but that’s not important. You have no real say in the outcome of this child’s future.
“Natalie”, who has been in the system for two years, is a nonverbal 3-year-old with many health. She was court-ordered to visit her bio brother, also autistic and nonverbal, and her bio grandmother once a month. Not knowing either of them well, she experiences extreme anxiety every time she has to leave our home.
The grandmother is no longer being considered a resource for custody because it is clear that her interests lie in the possibility of financial gain, and not in the best interests of Natalie. And yet, despite the fact that the grandmother has no more adoptive rights, Natalie was still sent to visit with the grandmother yesterday. The grandmother currently lives in the same house in which Natalie and her brother were held captive and abused. So although the house was once being treated as a crime scene, Natalie was still sent there for a visit.
So here we are the next day after the visit and Natalie has been asleep most of the day. She is exhausted from the high levels of anxiety and fear. During the visit the case worker even texted that it wasn’t going well, yet the visit continued anyway. Apparently a child’s health and well-being are not enough to end a court-ordered visit.
Here at home with us, Natalie has started multiple physical and play therapies to help her (and us) cope and to normalize her behaviors. Speech therapy will start soon, too. All around Natalie is doing so much better. Once spring arrived she was able to walk in the yard and step on grass for the first time in her life. It was very emotional, watching her walk cautiously over the strange “new” surface.
Somehow, like always, we will push over the obstacles constantly put in front of us. Every time we move forward with her recovery, the system has us taking a few steps back. But at what expense? The system seems so concerned that we are keeping up with Natalie’s therapies and appointments and, yet, the biggest threats to her are being put in these scary court-ordered visits that she can’t emotionally handle.
Some good news: at this time it’s definite that adoption is the only answer because both bios were denied parole and there are no other options. Hopefully Natalie will soon get to live a normal life and leave the past where it belongs.