I hoped that the move would not be fast but I was wrong. Upper level people from DSS flatly announced at the team meeting that they were paying too much money to house Fiona at this RTC if she wasn't able to fully benefit from the services. Suddenly team meetings which had consisted of me, the RTC team medical professionals,and occasionally (but not always her social worker) were being attended by her guardian ad litem, the social worker, the upper level number cruncher and more.
I tried to advocate for placement close to us so that visitations could continue. I pointed out the close bonds Fiona had developed with us. I reminded them that we visited very very regularly, called often and had successfully had her at our home for the holidays. I was flatly told that I was no longer a pre-adoptive parent or a foster parent to her and as such had no rights. I pointed out that this was true but that I also was the parent of her biological brother and that she called me Mom. After years of building that attachment, ripping it away by moving her farther from us seemed counter productive to her mental health. I was told that although they would try, they would take whatever placement could be found and that finances were the primary motivation. The secondary motivation was finding a RTC where she could reside up through age 22. It was determined that due to her cognitive delays she would not likely be independent at 18 (and possibly not ever) and therefore a facility where she could live for longer would be best.
It wasn't long before the call came that a placement had been located. Fiona visited the new place and liked it. I knew that this was only because the reality of it hadn't set in. She didn't understand that we were not going to see one another often (or perhaps at all given the distance) Saturdays of movies and mini golf, ice creams and beauty shop trips would be a thing of the past. To Fiona it was something new and therefore exciting. I put on my happy face and said all the supportive things I could think of.
The prom at her RTC happened before her move and I was so glad for her. I went over and helped her do her nails and hair with the staff there and took her picture in front of the pretty back drop they had created. I still have that picture on our computer at home. She looks cute and sassy and very teenaged diva.
The night before she was to move, we took her out to dinner. Our whole family was there and we went to one of her favorite restaurants. It was a bittersweet time. She was anxious now that the move was actually happening. I gave her stationary and prestamped envelopes so that she could draw pictures for us, or write if she wanted to. We gave her some jewelry to remember us by. We smiled and acted like this was a new exciting journey even though I felt dread. I had been told that this RTC didn't have the same level of supervision as her present one. They didn't have the organized activities that she loved and she would have to "amuse herself." She would have to ride a bus and attend school off campus. Fiona was becoming much more aware of her emerging sexuality and I worried just how she would decide to "amuse herself." KC and I drove her back to the RTC after dinner and he held her hand the whole way. I cried all the way home hoping that my little guy would not notice from his car seat in the back of the car.