One of the things that fostered and adopted children have to come to terms with is a feeling of abandonment. Whether or not the parent loses their parental rights because they left the child or because they didn't do what was necessary to keep the child doesn't really matter. Our kids feel the sting of abandonment.
My kids felt that sting when their birth father left the state and they didn't see him for ten years. They felt that sting when their birth mother wouldn't appear for visits, and when she didn't do what was necessary to get the kids back. They felt the abandonment when occasionally we would get a letter, only for her to disappear for a year, or four years. They felt the joy of seeing the birth mom again, but then when the birth mom stopped calling or visiting, they relived not only this abandonment, but all the times in the past. They saw the birth mom do what was needed to regain custody of a sibling and wondered why she didn't do that for them. And now with the birth dad, they heard him say that if he knew they would be taken away permanently, he would have come back for them. But why did he leave in the first place? I know he was on the run from a felony arrest, but the kids and the birth dad blame the birth mom. They don't want to believe that he had abandoned them.
Yesterday, Hubby made plans to visit a church today with Birth Dad and Ms. D. So we woke Ms. D up this morning, she got ready, and was looking forward to another time with her dad. As they went out the door, Hubby called Birth Dad to tell him they were on the way. Birth Dad told Hubby he changed his mind and was with a friend. He didn't call or text to tell us of the change of plans. He didn't show any reservation when the plans were made. He just changed his mind and didn't tell us. This kind of behavior didn't surprise us. There's a reason he lost two of his kids. But it crushed Ms. D.
Birth Dad got upset when Hubby texted him that Ms. D was disappointed. He made all sorts of excuses and tried to put the shame on Hubby. But Birth Dad needs to know. He needs to know that our kids are extra sensitive to abandonment, no matter how small. We have worked years to show them that they will always have us, they will not be left alone, and will always be loved. Not showing up today is a huge thing. Of course Ms. D doesn't want to talk about it. She internalizes everything. Thankfully she hasn't had a seizure, but she has slept a lot and it's been hard to get her to eat and move. My heart goes out to her.
So how will I respond to this? I'm not entirely sure. I hope Hubby will be able to talk to Birth Dad about giving us warning if his plans change, and being more sensitive to the needs of our kids. We have to be so careful to not promise something we don't intend to keep. And Birth Dad needs to do the same. He needs to learn to follow the words with actions, so that the children learn that parents are trustworthy. I don't know if Birth Dad is capable of following through. We've learned the hard way that Birth Mom isn't. But I hope he will be. I hope that this is a one time relapse and he will do better in the future. I hope for the kids' sake, so they will learn to trust and love. It breaks my heart to see Ms. D suffer through abandonment again and again. How is she to learn of a loving God who is always with her if she doesn't even believe her parents are there for her?