With Sunshine’s reunification plan set in place and a date set it’s starting to get real. I’ve been asked many times if I’m okay and it’s a complex questions to answer. I’m so happy for Sunshine’s mom… that after a year, she’s able to raise her daughter. I’m so sad for me because my life is going to be flipped upside down and I’m going to miss seeing her sweet face every day. And I’m torn for Sunshine… this is the complex part.
I tried finding a blog that talked about this because it would have been much easier to post someone else’s words than try to come up with them myself but here goes my attempt at explaining something that is hard to understand. Reunification should be a happy time for a child in foster care, and for some, it’s the moment they’ve been waiting for for a very long time. For Sunshine, because she is so young, it’s a different story. Many articles talked about the initial loss and grief a foster child feels when they are taken from their family but I think they could quite possibly feel that same kind of loss and grief when they are removed from a loving foster home. Articles I read talking about successful reunification mention that the children get to go “home” when reunified. Again, this is probably true for older children but for a child who entered foster care as a baby, the only home they have ever really known is the home of their foster parent/s. Transition time is crucial but I don’t think it can ever fully prepare a toddler for the life as they’ve known it for the majority of their life to be taken from them. Yes, the birth parent has done all they needed to do and has truly changed their life and yes, they should have their child back but I think it’s important to remember that this is not always a joyful event for the child. I’ve been told many times how resilient Sunshine is. She is resilient because she had to be to survive. She has been through more in her short life than any child should have to go through. I wish she didn’t have to be resilient. With time, her memories of me as her mommy will fade and she will once again see her birth mom as her mommy but it will take time, patience and a lot of love. I’m fortunate to have a good relationship with her mom and there is a good chance I can be a support for both Sunshine and her mom after reunification. I’m thankful for this and I think it will help Sunshine realize that I haven’t abadoned her and all the people who have loved her for the past year are still here for her, just in a different way. She will adjust, she will be happy, but she won’t be celebrating the day she leaves her house, her dogs, the person she’s known as mommy and the life she has known for the past year. My heart will break for her and be filled with joy all at the same time.