As you know I am a court appointed advocate for a foster child. I began working with him in June 2006 when he was 12. In this time he has lived in four different foster homes, ranging from mediocre to practically abusive. All he ever wanted was to go back to his “mom” – the woman he lived with until he was 7. For some reason she never adopted him, and he was removed from her home due to neglect and emotional abuse. Later there were allegations of sexual abuse from the woman’s adopted daughter, who is 2 years older than him.
This is a very frustrating job. He has a social worker and a case manager along with various other mental health professionals and an assortment of attorneys. He has a guardianship hearing twice a year and we never seem to have the same judge twice. I am never informed about anything, everything that goes on his life I find out by accident. I make recommendations that are ignored, I ask questions and no one gets back to me. I write long court reports that are never read. My child has never lived in my county in any of these homes, he has lived between 30 and 50 miles away, and I have visited him pretty consistently every week over the last four years.
The frustration has been growing. I don’t feel that I do anything for him; I feel that I am extraneous. The one thing I have been is a constant presence, while the social workers, case managers, attorneys, therapists, doctors and families come and go, I have been there. That is really all I could ever offer him. My supervisor tries to convince me of my value, but I know that is her job.
In August he moved back in with his “mom”. He is so happy now. I have only seen him twice since he moved, which is another frustration. His foster mother, his high school schedule, his social life, all have made it very difficult to see him. I came to a soccer game that he was playing in two weeks ago.
Finally tonight I had an appointment to visit him at home. I drove an hour and a half in rush hour traffic to see him. I got to his house and he wasn’t there. His “grandmother” told me that his soccer game from last night was canceled and rescheduled for tonight. I called his foster mother and she told me that they are at the high school. So I drove over there and there she was, happy as a clam. She told me that she found out last night about the game today, and “I didn’t even think about you girl!” That’s ok, this is not the first time this has happened. I can’t even tell you how many times I have driven 50 miles to see him and he is not where he is supposed to be and I was not informed of a change of plans. I am used to it and I don’t take it personally.
But the frustration is getting to me, and I think it is time to throw in the towel. I swore I would not leave my child until he turned 18, and I never would have left him if he was in one of the previous three homes. But he is finally with his “mom”, he is happy, he even introduced us to his girlfriend at the game tonight. He is doing well in school, taking college courses in 11th grade. I emailed my supervisor saying that I would like to talk to her about resigning.
I don’t feel good about this though. I made a commitment, and I hate to back out. Granted when I made that commitment I wasn’t working nearly as many hours as I am now, but that is just an excuse. Plenty of people who work full time are advocates. I am angry at myself for not being to stick this out for two more years. I really do think my frustration will be detrimental at this point though. I know my supervisor will try to talk me out of it; she will try to convince me yet again of my importance. Frankly I don’t think he even needs an advocate anymore, especially since no one involved in the case takes the job of the advocate seriously. And it is the social worker who requests that the child have an advocate, yet she is the one who totally ignores me. Of course, it was four social workers ago that the advocate was requested.
Now I think I am punishing myself. I came home, and I was really hungry. But I got on the scale and I reached the weight I think is my limit for the day, since I ate too much earlier in the day. So I made a low calorie/high protein dinner that did little to dissipate my hunger. I told myself I could have one glass of wine, but I’m not even having that. I’ve gotten into the habit of having one or two (or three) glasses of wine a night, and I don’t want drinking to be a habit.
And my training schedule calls for me to run 7 miles tomorrow morning, so it is a good thing not to be drinking tonight. But I really think I am doing it to punish myself. This is just another example of me not being good enough. And being selfish. A real pity party here, want to come? I don’t advise that you do, it’s not much fun.