Daffy recently shared a story with me, one that I feel compelled to document here. During our chat time, she told me that on her last birthday (while celebrating her birthday for the 3rd time at the group home), as she blew out the candles, she wished for a family. She said “And then a couple months later, there you were!” If only life were really that simple… if only kids in foster care could wish to go home, or wish their parents would not be addicted, or wish they had not been abused. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
Each team meeting that I sit in reminds me of this fact. Daffy is encouraged to write letters to the team and attend meetings herself, but at only nine years old, not much weight is given to her voice. The team- consisting of foster parents, former foster parents, social workers, case workers, therapists, Guardian Ad Litems, bosses and more- makes choices for her. They decide where she will live, where she will go to school, who her therapist will be, what programs she can enroll in, what medications she can take, what evaluations can be done and what sibling and birth family contact will look like. Sure, the team, cumulatively, has a lot of experience, but the one thing they lack is a crystal ball. They have no way of predicting the future and no way of saying whether those choices are the very best ones for Daffy. And historically, if you look at the decisions of Daffy’s team, their decisions have kept Daffy in care 4 years longer than necessary.
As Daffy’s 10th birthday approaches, it gives me a measure of peace that she is safe and loved knowing she can finally go back to being “little girl” who wishes for things like a horse or a diary with a voice protected password or a trip to Disney or the latest Littlest Pet Shop set!