Time to Go

Our family now consists of Janet, Ivy, Billy and me. Lea is visiting weekends and will be with us soon. Janet seems to be adjusting to the loss of her baby that she has given up for adoption. Janet may call the adoptive family anytime she pleases and she does not call them. They invite us to dinner and we go. One rainy afternoon, Janet has gone to the mall to go clothes shopping. She has had her 18th birthday but is still in foster care because she has not graduated from high school. I give Janet a clothing allowance instead of buying her clothes.

The police call my house. Janet is being held in the security office of a major department store at the mall. She has been filmed on security camera, shoplifting. Not surprisingly, Janet is weeping in the office with the security guards. A police officer wants to speak with me before I talk to Janet. The police officer takes me aside and tells me that Janet has confided in him that she just gave her baby up for adoption and he is suggesting I consider that she has committed this crime under the influence of post-partum depression. I say nothing. I sign nothing. I leave with Janet following me but I am ahead of her, not talking. This incident is reported by me to our social worker. This time it is a $500.00 civil penalty. Our social worker is able to persuade the department store not to assess the penalty because of Janet’s status as a foster child. I don’t want to discuss this with Janet.

Soon after the shoplifting incident, we move to the four bedroom house. I have a bedroom for me, a bedroom with two beds, which, for now, will have only Billy sleeping in it, and a bedroom with two beds which will be for Janet and Lea, and Ivy has a room of her own. This is the best arrangement because the age difference between Janet and Lea is six years making them less likely to compete with one another. Janet and Lea are both very tidy and organized. Janet lets me know that she should have her own room because she is the oldest. Granny and Billy go shopping for new bedding for Billy’s room. Billy has been sleeping in a bed, between the sheets, and new bedding was promised if she was able to sleep in her bed between the sheets. I have also warned Billy that one day, maybe soon, she could have a roommate. We are ready for Lea.

Within days after moving to the four bedroom house, I receive a call from Lea’s social worker. She tells me she is ready to place Lea officially in my home. I tell her that is good, and I ask her when that might be. She says; “right now, we will be there in about 15 minutes.” All of the girls are still at school. Ivy is the first to get home. Lea and her worker have not arrived but they are next. Ivy and Lea are very happy to see each other and Lea likes the new house. Soon, Billy arrives with a huge duffle bag containing JROTC equipment. She drops everything in the middle of the floor, in the living room where we are talking and starts showing everything to Ivy and Lea. They are laughing and having fun. The social worker is pleased.

Lea has brought a small overnight bag and I am told that the previous foster father will be bringing the rest of her things in the next day or so. Lea has matured very early and is wearing clothes that are no longer suitable for her. Her new school also requires uniforms. It is the school next to our house. Ivy is in the fifth grade and Lea will be in the sixth grade. Lea and I will go shopping the next day before I enroll her in her new school.

Lea’s clothes arrive. Lea still needs clothing for a maturing girl and she has only what I purchase her which is not enough. I buy Lea more new clothes and lay them out on her bed for her to see when she comes home from school. I put two bras, 2 shirts and one pair of pants on her bed. I asked her later if she saw her new clothes and she smiles in the affirmative. Then, I ask her if the bras fit. Lea tells me she did not get any bras. As I walk to the room, Janet is walking out wearing one of Lea’s new bras. I ask her to please take the bra off, it was on Lea’s bed and it was meant for Lea. Janet throws herself on the bed kicking, screaming, crying that I never buy her new clothes and she should have her own room. I tell Lea not to worry, she will have good bras. I call our social worker and tell them I am submitting my official notice that Janet can no longer live in my home. According to our contract, the agency has seven days to remove her. This is the only notice I have ever given on any foster child. Janet and I have no more conflict before the social worker arrives to take her to her new home. I tell her to pack her things the night before. She steals my new bath towels.


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