Saying Goodbye to My Foster Son

This blog is extremely hard to write. I feel guilty. I feel like a failure. I feel like a bad mother. I don’t even know how to explain all the feelings. Before we begin, please keep any negative thoughts to yourself. Please understand that this is all new and hard and I’m sharing my story in hopes to comfort someone else. I personally know NO ONE that has gone through this—I wish I did so I had someone to talk to who really GETS how difficult this is. Maybe this story will find a crying momma somewhere and give her comfort.

I love my foster son so much. I loved him before he was even born. He is sweet, smart, ornery, and absolutely precious. He’s brought so much joy into our home—he’s also brought many challenges. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been hard. Having a baby with RAD in quarantine is HARD. I had zero experience with babies that have experienced trauma and it’s HARD. It’s 100% worth it, but it’s HARD. Loving a baby that’s in foster care is HARD. With those challenges, we have all grown. Every single one of us is better for this experience. It’s something I often hoped wouldn’t end. So what happened?

Here’s the story. Back in April visitations went virtual due to the pandemic. We had comparatively few COVID cases in our region but our family was in full-blown quarantine mode and welcomed this change. After 10 weeks the county reopened in-person visitation, even though our county has become a nationally recognized hot zone. Yeah, we’re at the epicenter. His bio mom’s lifestyle doesn’t meet any CDC guidelines, and we are a high-risk family. So needless to say, we were very uncomfortable with this change, especially given the rapid growth in cases, still rapidly growing to this day, weeks later.

COVID-19 affects every family and every profession in a different way. As a family with two diabetics, one with asthma and a 10-year-old with asthma too, we are CAUTIOUS. Like, real cautious. I love my parents and my brother so much we don’t even touch them. Not because we are fearful they will infect us but because what if we infected them? The thought of all of us being sick is just too much for me to handle. On top of that, we are self-employed, so the financial implications for our family are enough to send me into a spiral.

Finger touches instead of hugs these days….

Because of this, we fought to continue virtual visits. We meticulously outlined the unique health and financial risks a possible exposure would have for my family. We offered social distance visits. We explained how my family has been able to build a beautiful relationship with him while social distancing. We offered daily virtual visits. Anything that would keep our family safe from exposure and keep us from having to make this decision. We were instead given an order for outdoor, masked, touching visits with a negative COVID test. Two weeks later his bio mom produced a negative test and the visit was set.

Given, she did follow the rules of the visit and did everything she was asked—for this we are very grateful. But with every day that passes my anxiety is growing. Her lifestyle continues to conflict with CDC guidelines. Her lifestyle is not necessarily a safe one, not that of a typical mother with a one-year-old child. So just because she was negative 3 weeks ago isn’t enough for me to relax. And testing her monthly or even weekly wouldn’t make me feel any better—there’s still too much risk.

Of course, she is free to make her own decisions and live her OWN LIFE. Under typical circumstances I wouldn’t have a problem with any of it. During a pandemic, these conditions make me extremely fearful for my family’s safety. I’m a pretty flexible person. I tend to see every side. But when it comes to my family, I’m a full-blown mama bear. I fought for him, too. Lord knows, I FOUGHT. I did what I thought was best as his foster mom. But the simple truth is, I’m not his mom and I don’t have the right.

That in itself is HARD. It’s maddening to love a child so much when you have absolutely no say for them. We care for him day in and day out every day. We don’t have babysitters, we don’t get a break. As I said, we’re taking EVERY precaution because we feel that’s what’s best for our family—that’s our right and our choice. And having someone in an office somewhere tell me what I “have to” do when I believe it puts him and my family in harm’s way has been HARD. I mean, if he gets sick are the people in the office going to come over and take the night shift? Are they going to fix dinner? Are they going to help with the laundry? Are they going to pay my lost wages? NO. Yet they have the right to make these decisions for my family.

I don’t mean to sound terrible—I do truly value social workers and all the work they do. And I love loving this child. The simple fact is, we’re just not an ideal foster family during a pandemic. Which feels like a cop-out, because who is?? But we just can’t do it anymore. I can’t willingly put the rest of my family at risk.

Please know this beautiful boy is not going off with a stranger, he will be with a beautiful loving family that we know and care so much for. I’m so grateful since that means I’ll still be a part of his life, but in a way, it makes this even harder. Even though it’s their decision, I feel like I’m putting them in harm’s way too. I just feel like I’m letting so many people down, including this beautiful boy. We love him so much and we will continue to love him and his new family. We’ll be as involved as we’re safely allowed to be and hopefully someday sooner than later we can hug and be close again.

This was not an easy decision. It’s still hard and it will probably hurt forever. Yet I’m so lucky. I had a beautiful son for 5 wonderful months. I loved him through the flu and cutting countless teeth. I watched him learn to crawl, pull up and stand. He has grown into such a talker! He will forever be a part of me. All I can do is think of these moments we had as a family and send him off with love to his new one. I hope you hug your family extra tight today—I’ll be doing the same with mine.



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