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The first visit. The reality of being a foster parent sets in.

March 7, 2012

Going back to Safe Place was not easy. We got there early, and at the advice of a good friend Kristina (who is a foster parent for 5 years who has had 9 foster children, with the honor of adopting 2) only one of us brought Ian into Safe Place.  I brought Ian in while Ryan waited patiently in the car. This was supposed to be a quick drop off. We were 20 minutes early for the visit.

No sooner did I walk into the lobby of Safe Place did a slender older woman greet me at the door.  She is fair skinned with long blonde hair. Upon first glance she did not look like anyone from South Florida. In a soft gentle voice I heard “IAN”.  Through my mind all I could think is  *&^%#$@!  I did not know what to do. Was this the woman who had lead this perfect little man to foster care?  She reached out to get him, and I clutched on to the little guy for dear life. No sooner when she tried to reach in to take him from me did the child advocate (child-net employee who acts as the child’s guardian while in foster care)  who was working that day come out from the back office and greeted me. He was a familiar face at a very frightening moment. This was the same man who had introduced Ryan and I to Ian several days earlier.  I got ushered to the back where  his office was as  the lady was told in a firm voice to wait in the lobby.

To this day I thank him for that few moments to gather my thoughts. I had a lot of questions about what do I do, what will happen during visit, etc. It was all very confusing. I did not know what to do, where to turn or what was going on at this point.  I felt as if I had no control of my own life. The child advocate knowing that Ian was our first placement allayed my fears of what was going to happen. No matter how many times Tiffani had prepared us for family interaction in MAPP class I was not prepared for the reality. Kristina the day before said it was like a feeling you can’t explain unless you are living it.  To me it felt as if my heart was being ripped right out of my chest, and my whole body was like one sore nerve.  Through out all this I was clutching on to Ian for dear life.  The child advocate assured me that we can wait to start the visit until I was calm, and ready to go back out there.  I knew I had to be brave. I was a father now, and could not let my fears get in the way of my responsibilities.  First and foremost Ian deserved to see his family.  The child advocate walked me outside to the lobby, to ensure that I was ok. He held on to Ian for me as I gave my little guy a kiss on his check.  This was to be the longest hour of our lives.

I returned to the car and Ryan was calm and collected or so I thought. Later on that day after we got home he admitted that it was tearing him up inside. Sometimes this what I need is a rock of Gibraltar. This was one of those times.  I am one of those who wears my heart on my sleeve. Ryan is not.

Finding an hour to kill, seemed like an impossible task. Every minute seemed like an hour. We finally got back to safe place a few minutes after the hour was up. Expecting to see the one person who I wanted to hold more than anything in the world, I got greeted by the child advocate who was supervising the visit.  I was informed that the lady who was visiting with Ian was his grandmother, from the Midwest. Now that Ian was in foster care, and she lived out of state getting her grandson was a more complicated task. In the back of my mind I was hoping that she would see him, and not even try.
Yes I know this was a very selfish thought in my mind, but I was not in the most clear headed space at this point.  The visit with his grandmother lasted an hour and a half.  She was leaving back for home to start the process to bring him back, and this would be the last time she would see him for months. Looking back I cant blame her for wanting to spend as much time with him as possible, I would too.

The rest of the weekend was spent preparing for our up coming wedding in Cohasset Massachusetts, two weeks later and most importantly Ian’s fist day of school on Monday.

© 2012 David Z. Pfeffer

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  1. I am reading and re-reading….it’s almost eerie how parallel your story is to ours. My partner and I got a call Feb 6th…2 boys…16 days old and 14 months..brothers..they are now 5 months af 18 months..everything you have experienced from visitations to daycare is what we have gone through..and the fight continues…the feeling in the depts of your soul that these kids are yours..yet that painful reminder every Tuesday for visitation that they are not….it is killing me.

    Thank you for sharing….not sure where you are located, but I would give anything to meet you both and know there are others in our same shoes!

    -Joanna Crews
    Winter Garden, FL

  2. I mean, when you invest nearly every day of your
    life hiding your true self from the world, you really start to feel adversely
    about yourself and your future.

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