When my first, infant foster son was returned to his mom so that they could attend a mommy-and-me rehab (more info here from my last post), I made the commitment to always be there for them. I didn’t define “be there,” and I still struggle with what that means, especially since she lost her parental rights to her son and he’s since been adopted.
Now she’s 7 months pregnant, homeless, and addicted to drugs. A few months ago, she called me from jail. I used to visit her in jail and rehab and psychiatric hospitals, but now I have two babies. This afternoon, she called me from a psychiatric hospital asking me to bring her a sandwich. A sandwich isn’t too much to ask, right? I strongly believe that the ‘Family-to-Family’ model taught in my foster parenting class is the way to make a difference. Gone are the days when foster and birth parents didn’t meet. Now we are encouraged to exchange phone numbers, attend pediatrician appointments together, and, if possible, maintain a post-reunification relationship to fill in the gap in community that can’t be replaced by a paid professional.
But there’s no guidebook. No “how-to” support your former foster child’s birth mom with a drug addiction — short of enabling them. I often say it’s the Wild, Wild West. I’m making it up as I go along. Social services comes and goes. Rehab counselors come and go. Mental health clinicians come and go. But when all is said and done, it’s just me and her for the long-haul.
*Note: forgive my overly fantastical stock photo (Image Credit: istockphoto)!
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