Sooooooooo, last week when I returned Jacket and stayed for the ACS visit it was only the second time I’d ever been in their apartment. The first time barely counts as I only walked in a couple of feet to hand over the Thanksgiving turkey. As everyone has always said, the apartment was immaculate.
The living room, where Jacket sleeps, was bare and I suggested that Jacket go get a book for us to read. She looked genuinely perplexed and said “I don’t have any books”. Those words fell on me like a
I haven’t even been able to blog about it until now. I had to block it out and let some other part of my brain sift it for a while. I have given Jacket hundreds and hundred of books. Some new, some from garage sales. A lot were gifts from my friends. Most were inscribed with a heartfelt message. Knowing how tidy Jacket’s mom is I was worried that the books might be put away and not easily accessible to Jacket, so about a year ago I converted a cabinet into a bookcase that my artist friend Oscar painted “Jacket’s Library” on. I paid for a car service for them to take it home. A while back Jacket mentioned that her aunt’s boyfriend was now using it for his clothes, but I decided that would be temporary.
Everything is gone. Everything. Except the ipad. Ironically, the value of the ipad might be what saved it. The ipad is the symbol Jacket’s mom uses to prove her reliability in preserving Jacket’s belongings. I’ve actually never asked about the gifts I’ve given over the years. They are gifts after all. I refrained from asking Jacket questions like “Do you play with the ______?” because I didn’t want to put her in a difficult frame of mind that she has no control over. I didn’t ask Jacket’s mom because I wanted to model non-harassment over material things.
I can only guess that most items were pawned and/or taken by family members. There were hints, like how Jacket’s mom always stopped Jacket from opening presents. I just always thought that she wanted Jacket to think they came from her- and I was totally fine with that. Who cares? The goal was for Jacket to have stimulation- puzzles, books, toys- it didn’t matter who she thought they were from. There was another time when Elia gave Jacket birthday gifts and her mom immediately hoarded them away. We wanted to open up the beading set but somehow we were thwarted.
I always envisioned Jacket’s large, 2-bedroom apartment filled with all of the furniture I gave them. The children’s stools, the bookcases, the toy chest… for some reason I assumed that all of the giant framed pictures of Jacket and her family would be on the walls. There’s no retail value in those- where did they go? Taken by spiteful, warring relatives?
The maps, paint sets, souvenirs from Argentina, play dough, her dolls, doll bed, costumes and silly hats. All gone. It’s just stuff, but it was stuff that I was hoping would compensate a little for Jacket not going to preschool or pre-K. I feel terrible that my friends’ and even strangers’ investments were squandered. I’m embarrassed.
When Jacket initially returned home I asked most of my friends what they wanted me to do with their presents. Everyone was pretty much split 50/50 between send it home with her to save it for when she comes over. In general I usually save about 1/4 of her gifts unless people ask me to do otherwise. I spend an over-the-top amount of time deciding what to keep and what to send home. I send the items that require the least support and interaction home (dolls, toys) and I keep things like board games and puzzles that I don’t think her family will engage in. Now I don’t think I should accept gifts for her at all any more unless it has absolutely no monetary value.
And I checked the bedbug building registry in the hopes of finding an excuse for Jacket’s mom to have gotten rid of everything. Nada. And really, if they had bedbugs I’m sure I’d have them by now too.
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- mybrainexplode likes this
- theholdingpattern likes this
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- shandel likes this
- bluejayway said: You are the best “thing”, the rest is just details. I don’t even know you or Jacket, but this post is your most heartbreaking yet. I’m so sorry for you. Keep your head up,
- you-n-me-kid said: oh my. yes, they are “just things” but…they were HER things that the family took away. Don’t be embarrassed, but I do hope you get a bit indignant and I do hope that now that you know, you share that with the ACS workers and stuff. I’m so sorry.
- paradisaical said: like so many others said, this is heartbreaking. you are this child’s world and possibly the only redeeming element in her life. i wish more than anything that she was out of that environment and legally adopted by you instead.
- relovingit likes this
- harrenhalsghost likes this
- zeldissima said: Never mind. I reread. Maybe what loosey said??
- laraloveschad said: i am speechless. and horrified. and sad. for jacket. and for you. ugh.
- themoreridiculousthebetter likes this
- lastpetal likes this
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- adventuresintralalala likes this
- ourlittlealaskanfamily likes this
- mamaswears likes this
- 122782 said: I’m glad you’re able to realize these are just material items, but still very sad and frustrating. I’d say keep everything you give her at your place moving forward.
- 122782 likes this
- sforan said: I feel that you must been incredibly torn sometimes - the pain and anguish that this situation with Jacket and her family breaks my heart to see. I am so worried for her and for you. I feel that she should no longer be living with her mother.
- alinalogic likes this
- kushkoala said: ugh. this breaks my heart. I’m sure you’re more used to stuff like this happening than I will ever be, but still, how disappointed you must be…
- stillwishingforfaries said: That is so awful, I know how much effort you put into having things (especially books for her). Now what do you do with that information?
- miniaturebee likes this
- no-evidence-of-intelligence said: So sad. I know you believe in reunification but this seems to be a terrible environment for a child. This situation gives me anger and sadness. I give you props for being able to continue to subject yourself to this.
- aburstingflameoffun reblogged this from fosterhood and added:
- aburstingflameoffun likes this
- charlienovember likes this
- blairsings likes this
- imnotthatkindofgirl likes this
- lovelylyra said: this is so, so sad
- my-little-kumquat likes this
- windowtounderland said: I don’t know anything about child abuse. But isn’t it mildly abusive to remove mentally stimulating items from your child’s environment? I understand if you can’t afford them. But to take them away?!?
- buildingaladder likes this
- annaverity likes this
- gracelandmomma said: You keep doing what you feel led to do because one day its impact will be rcognized. This is just a reflection of Jacket’s world and so are you. You are a wonderful contrast to her life that in the end will let her know she has choices.
- la-sarah likes this
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- gavinandxandersmom likes this
- kristenquotidienne said: I think the word “heartbreak” is dramatically overused but it’s the only word I can think of that fits. Poor Jacket. You have nothing to be embarrassed about in the choices you made. You and your friends acted out of love for Jacket.
- herhairissobig likes this
- meganz likes this
- emilyqualey said: Somewhat unsurprising, after all you’ve told us. But completely heartbreaking nonetheless.
- burningtoemerge said: My heart broke for you. I’m so sorry, sorry for Jacket too.
- feather-hugs likes this
- rachelfershleiser said: This is awful and I’m sorry. But we will happily buy her books a hundred times over if it means she’ll have them for any small part of her childhood. Worry about her, sure, but don’t worry about us.
- inbetweenroses said: ugh. can’t think of much else to say.
- lestrider likes this
- taskscape reblogged this from fosterhood and added:
- sunsaturatedsidethoughts said: Heartbreaking!