It is too late for me to be blogging, but since I needed to log in to this account to respond to a comment (hi Bryna!) I figured I should give a quick update on the clustercurseword that is Sabrina's relationship with the child welfare system.
School starts Monday (I hope that enough school systems start Monday that I'm not giving anything away about my location) and Sabrina has been with her dad all summer. Her birthday was earlier this week as well, so I called to wish her a happy birthday, see how she's doing, see if anyone had done ANYthing to prepare her to come back to me, make arrangements with her dad to pick her up, etc.
Sabrina has better phone skills than me and I am convinced is more polite than I am as well. What a sweetheart. Unfortunately: 1. someone (I assume dad) got her a Barbie car for her birthday so I have to do a lot to buy her love, and 2. no one had told her anything about needing to come back to my house. Nice, being the bearer of bad news.
Then I come to learn the reason why no one has told her that she would be coming back to my house: dad has done all sorts of things as if Sabrina is just with him for now and forever--enrolled her in school near his house (remember, he's in another state entirely), bought her school uniforms (I'm sorry, but any school whose uniform is a yellow top and green bottom needs to reconsider), registered her for piano lessons and another after school program--and when I tried to talk to him, he got snotty and then hung up on me.
As if that weren't bad enough, either he refuses to talk to Sabrina's social worker, or Sabrina's social worker isn't trying hard enough to reach him. So while dad kept saying (before he hung on me) "well, you need to talk to Wilma"--to which my responses were generally along the lines of "Wilma would say exactly what I am saying"--he hasn't spoken to her himself. As soon as I got off the phone with dad, I emailed Wilma, Wilma's supervisor, and the GAL (followed up with a second email after I received text messages from dad with the details of school/uniforms/after school activities and a statement that "maybe you should tell Wilma that Sabrina isn't the foster child for you") with the situation.
Guess who I did not hear from at all today? Guess who the GAL didn't hear from at all today? That's right, Wilma. The GAL spoke with the supervisor and then I spoke with the GAL. The GAL told me first that Sabrina is going to have to come back to me on Friday, which is fine although my apartment is STILL a wreck (I did finally get rid of the plants that were sitting, dead, on the dining room table when Sabrina was last here) and better for transition for Sabrina, but I don't know if the agency will ultimately agree. The GAL also told me--and this I was extremely relieved by--that the agency will have to pick Sabrina up from her dad's house and bring her to me. I expected to go myself, but after the call yesterday, I wanted to have "back up" with me to support my right to bring her to my house. And the GAL said I shouldn't have to go at all, yippee! I just need to make a list of the things that are at dad's house that Sabrina needs to bring back to my house. Like her inhalers. And the umbrella that I bought for her, and one of the two pairs of sunglasses, and the blanket I knit for her. I have no problem if things that I buy for her end up at dad's house, but I won't buy an umbrella a week or a pair of sunglasses a week just because Sabrina takes them to her dad's and then doesn't bring them back.
I still need to register Sabrina for school, and the GAL said I should hold off on enrolling her in my neighborhood school (if Sabrina goes to live with her aunt in a month or two, it does make sense--sort of mostly--for her not to have an extra school change) until we have a conversation with the social worker and her supervisor, but who knows if that's going to happen.
Even before this mess, I was talking to a friend who said I should tell the agency director about my troubles. But this friend has political clout in his job, and I'm just the local equivalent of a civil servant and have no professional relationship with the director, only with his chief of staff. So... who knows. I haven't made that decision yet.
I didn't miss Sabrina as much as I "should" have this summer, but I'll tell you what was really nice about her not being here: I didn't have to deal with the agency OR with her dad. It was nice while it lasted.