Let's start with the bad, if only because it's shorter. I walked into Sabrina's classroom to pick her up this afternoon and one of her classmates said "Sabrina, your mother's here!" Ouch. Way to make her feel bad. (Another girl then said "No, that's her step-mother!") We had a bit of trouble then; she wouldn't let me zip her coat but couldn't do it herself, so I asked if she wanted to ask her teacher for help. She did, her teacher zipped her, and then told her to be nice to me. Then walking down the hall she was dragging her bookbag but wouldn't put it on her shoulders OR let me carry it for her. The security guard convinced her to put it on and then told her to be nice to me. Then she wouldn't get in the car. And after she got in the car, she wouldn't let me buckle the seatbelt.*
The good: I met Mom today. She met me at school just before the end of the day with some additional clothes and toys, and chocolate donuts and chocolate milk. She told me her version of how Sabrina ended up in care; I know that there must have been details she left out but it also sounded like she was victimized a bit as well. (I imagine a lot of parents involved in the system have been victimized by it.) Her story is that she was at the doctor getting a pap smear and the doc asked if she had had unprotected sex. She said "not willingly" which the doc took to mean she had been raped. (She explained to me that the guy had said he had a condom and put it on, but it turned out he hadn't.) So the doc, who asked this question while s/he was doing things "down there" while Mom wasn't entirely comfortable talking and explaining, decided that Mom was repeatedly allowing a known unsafe man into her house. Mom reports that she then said she needed to pick up her child at school so needed to leave, and that this was taken to mean that she didn't know whether her child was a girl or a boy, or what school. (Okay, as I type this, it is beginning to seem more like the stories that my clients told me when I was working with adults with mental illness. Everything she said sounds very reasonable from her perspective, but there are so many unexplained gaps in logic that there just must be details missing.)
Nevertheless, Mom seems stable enough for a good, reasonable conversation, and I was able to tell her face-to-face that I really hope Sabrina is able to be with family and that I'm not trying to take Sabrina away from them. We talked about school (especially if Sabrina goes to live with her dad, who lives in another school district, and would Sabrina be able to stay at her current school) and some problems she is having with the Agency, and when she talked about visitation, she clearly understood that they would have to be supervised. She also knew that for Sabrina's sake, she needed to leave before Sabrina and I came out of school. It broke her heart not to be able to see Sabrina, but she knew that it would be really hard on her.
Update: More good. Sabrina had a dentist appointment this morning (thank you, Agency, for telling me the appointment was at 9, when it wasn't until 9:30, and thank you, doctors' office, for keeping us waiting in a room full of sick kids until 10 for our 9:30 appointment). No cavities, she's been doing a good job with brushing, hooray hooray. So I was able to commend Mom about this, as well as other things that she clearly has done well--hand-holding in parking lots, and Sabrina is also really nurturing and says all the right things when playing with her baby doll, so she must have gotten that from Mom.
*As an aside, I have a confession, which is that I just realized that we should be using the 5-point harness and not just the booster seat. I tried to get it set up this afternoon but couldn't find one of the pieces. Anyway, I'm wondering if it is safer to keep using just the booster since she can undo the harness buckles so easily, and has a much harder time with the regular seatbelt. (Task for tomorrow: find the missing piece. Or stuff her with loads of food 'til she gains 4 pounds.)
Are you thankful for the good things?
44 minutes ago