Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Letting go

As the days led up to Amanda leaving us, I started to slowly collect all of her belongings and send them to her Aunt Samantha.   As the items were being sent to Samantha, she would place them in Amanda’s new room so that there was a sense of familiarity.

Anytime we have a foster child leave us, packing their items is always very difficult for me.  Packing their items is something that I have always done alone. Even though my husband has offered to help, I refuse to let him. Packing their items is my way of going through my range of emotions privately and saying my final good bye in an informal way. It’s a moment I have to reflect upon what accomplishments and struggles we have faced and to somehow search for closure on this chapter in my life.

When I had most of her belongings together, she had about 13 bags. I started to send one or two bags a week to her Aunt.  She was very happy to receive all of her items and they were already decorating Amanda’s new room.  She shared with me a beautiful picture of a princess they had painted on her bedroom wall as a mural. Samantha and her husband were getting excited and a bit nervous knowing that Amanda could be with them any day.

The last bag of items was sent only four days before Amanda was to leave.  We received the call that Amanda would leave our home in two days.

We had hoped that her leaving us would go calmly and without her crying for us. I have terrible visions of her screaming for us and CPS having to pull her off of us. Thankfully, this never happened.

We had hoped that by all of the visits with Samantha, photos of Samantha and with us talking to Amanda about going to stay with her Aunt would help.

When CPS arrived to take her to her Aunt’s home, Amanda left with big pink pair of sunglasses sitting on the tip of her nose, a bright pink tutu, a bag of goldfish and the biggest sippy cup I could find filled with apple juice.

As we carried Amanda in our arms out of our house for the last time, we made a big effort to show her big smiles, give her lots of hugs and kisses. We didn’t want her to see us upset that she was leaving. She’s only 20 months old and if she were to see us visually upset, she could get upset too and we wanted to avoid it. As soon as she was in her car seat and we shut the door, I stood at the back of the car and I couldn’t hold back the emotions. I kept thinking, there goes the little girl we have loved and cared for and she is now gone.

My new found friendship with Samantha continues. We do text or email each other a few times each week. Our family is excited to know that Samantha would like for us to attend Amanda’s birthday party and we have received a few photos of Amanda since she left us. We are grateful for the time we had her and we have peace knowing that her Aunt is caring for her and our new friendship that has developed.

While Amanda was an emergency placement and we were to have her for a weekend, our amazing “weekend” lasted 9 months or 273 days.

Christy Benson is the director of Clinical Informatics Analysis & Measurement for Texas Health Resources, Mom to two boys, and Foster Mom. 

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