The Consult

Last week we finally had the long awaited consult with the trauma specialist. The goals for the call were to get recommendations for placement, determine the role the birth mom should play in Donald’s life and to get treatment recommendations. I had hoped to leave the call feeling like we had definitive answers and a clear course of action, but the call ended leaving me no more certain that the team was making the right choices than before we started.

A few thoughts the specialist shared:

  • There is “nothing to lose” by Donald “trying out” a relationship with his birth Mom. Donald should have some control about their relationship and he shouldnt feel that he is in the role of protector with her. He should be allowed to be the child in the relationship.
  • Donald should be in residential care right now, have “another layer” of trauma work done, but she has no prediction of how long that will take or how effective it will be. She commented that given his age and dilemmas, its very limited what can be done about his attachment issues.
  • She doesn’t feel we (as foster parents) should be involved right now, that its confusing for Donald. She said its premature to make any decision about adoption for him.
  • There is no reason not to move forward with adoption for Daffy and she should not be “punished.” She deserves the opportunity for a happy life.
  • She feels that if sibling work is done, it needs to be after the dust settles from Daffy’s adoption and Donald’s trauma work in conjunction with his birth mom.
  • Both kids should be have the “freedom to be their own people”. Contact between the two needs to be safe and she wouldn’t insist on a lot of visits. Their relationship can’t be forced and they should be allowed to have their own feelings about what they want and about each other.
For Daffy’s permanency, the call was positive…. the specialist supports her being adopted (and, of course, we couldn’t be more thrilled!) and supports her being able to make choices about the nature of her relationship with her brother with an emphasis on safety.
For Donald, the call was far less positive. His plan is no more clearly defined now than the day he left our home. The idea of “trying out” a relationship with his Birth Mom is horrifying to me. If the specialist had said confidently that she believed it was best for him, that would be one thing, but you don’t “try out” reunification 4 years after TPR.
In a “mini” team meeting following the consult, it was discussed that Donald needs answers about his future and that the unknown causes him much anxiety. I agree with that whole heartedly, but how do you give answers that you don’t have? There is not one person who can say what Donald’s future holds. The clinician suggested that she and I have a meeting withDonald during our visit scheduled for that afternoon. I agreed and said I would tell him whatever the team decided he should know… which is really nothing. So, at my suggestion, we decided he would be reminded that the program at the RTC is a year long and that the soonest he would be leaving would be March 2013.
The adoption specialist and clinician had already tentatively scheduled a meeting between Donald and the Birth Mom for this week, so we discussed whether or not that was really in his best interest and no one objected even though this seemed very rushed.
The case worker said that she would be contacting her boss’s boss the next day to discuss the consult and discuss whether or not the state would support a recommendation for Daffy to be adopted. (As a reminder, this EXACT situation played out for the kids 3 years ago at this very same time of year and the decision was made to move Daffy out of the pre-adoptive home and to a group home to be with her brother.)
The visit with Donald following the consult was probably one of the weirdest to date. Apparently before we arrived he was in seclusion for running ahead of the group, not following directions, screaming and telling a staff member he was going to “cut his head off.” It would have been nice to have a heads up on the situation before I blindly entered it. The clinician was on hand when we arrived and asked Donald if he wanted to talk to which he shook his head. He was sitting at the counter eating an apple. He was smacking his lips, chomping loudly and generally letting us all know with his behavior that he wasnt interested in chatting. The clinician told him that we would chat when he finished his snack. He got up to get some water from the water dispenser, spilled it, talked to the dispenser, rolled on the floor, crawled around growling, cleaned up the water, sat back at the counter and tossed his dish. The clinician told him he needed to put it in the sink and he said no. She said nothing. She brought up his birth mom and he responded by smashing his head onto the counter. She then asked if he should be sitting at the counter because those chairs were for staff. He told her he could sit there. She said nothing. He heard someone come in and hid under the counter growling. We were eventually able to share with him the reminder about not leaving before 2013. The clinician, assuming he would be angry, asked him how much contact he wanted to have with us to which he replied “more”. He said we should continue to call every day even though he often doesnt want to talk and that we should visit him more to take him out to restaurants. When the official “talk” was done, I asked if he wanted to play a game, to which he said no, but went and got a game anyway. We played Clue and he remained on edge the entire visit.
The incident report came through the next day. The clinician shared with the team that Donald was “completely composed” from the incident by the time we arrived for our visit. What?? Are you kidding? Growling, crawling on the floor, smashing his head on the counter, being defiant are all “composed” behaviors?? I’m telling you, that woman makes me NUTS and I am so glad the rest of the team sees it!
Anyway, the waiting for the “official word”  from the state began as soon as we left the visit. Would Daffy and Donald’s needs finally be viewed separately? Only time would tell.

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  1. What a mess! I too hope that the CHILDREN’S best interest can be the focus. The sooner permanency can be obtained, the better. I am totally relating to the “Are you kidding me???” reaction after some workers’ evaluations and reports. But what can we do but wait it out, and do our best to speak for the kiddos in our care. While I wouldn’t wish these trying experiences on anyone, it is nice to know that there are people who understand exactly what I’ve been through regarding this “system” called Foster Care.

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