OK so today brought a weird phone call. A message to please call Rob's cousin. Cousin adopted Rob's other sister when she felt unsafe living w/ Fiona at our home. The other sister , who I will call Crystal for purposes of the blog doesn't live w/ cousin though. She lives down south w/ other relatives. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that but apparently Crystal is doing well and planning on coming north to go to college in a year or so. (she is 17 now)
The thing is, the cousin, who needs a blog name and i am fresh out of names at the moment--really hates my guts. She disappears from our life for years at a time and then calls.Acts real friendly but I have been told by any person who has spoken with her from any professional involvement with the children that she cuts me and my wife up like you wouldn't believe. (I actually got told this from Fiona's present counselor. Also Dee's family find worker. I told her not to worry. I was a white lesbian and that I thought this was the biggest part of the problem and was therefore not too resolvable.)
Typically Cousin only calls to pump me for info on Fiona. Apparently social services is not allowing her access to Fiona and she is heated about this. I am conflicted. On the one hand, Fiona has very few people (really, what it boils down to is us) who are not paid to be with her. Very few people who just love her. We have been her consistant family, though from afar these many years. Cousin was visiting when Fiona was in the RTC near us. Then she just stopped coming. And she would not answer calls from the RTC as to why. Eventually a story about car trouble was offered but more dates to visit were made and not followed through.
The reality is that this did a real number on Fiona. We were trying our best but we were small potatos compared to a visit from her cousin and her cousin's daughter. And perhaps even her sister. Even at this point in her development, I doubt that Fiona has progressed to a place where emotionally she could handle any significant lack of follow through. Today, cousin told me that she stopped contact because she had a small stroke. Maybe. I hate feeling skeptical but I will just say that stories abound.
I think that perhaps Cousin thought that because Fiona is 18 that she would have access to her without social services having a say and that is I think, not the case. Due to her trauma history and her cognitive delays, Fiona is in a special program that will care for her till she is 22. This is the best case option for her and I tried to help cousin see that Fiona was in no way someone who was able to live independently. I explained that for instance, Fiona desperately wants me to send her the toy oven she used at our home. Cousin could not see that this was an example of Fiona's cognitive delay. When I said that most 18 year olds don't want to play with Easy Bake Ovens, her answer was "oh poor dear is just holding onto anything." Wrong. She really wants to play with her oven!
On the other hand if there is a shred of truth in her stories of how the department has handled Cousin's efforts to try and see her relative, she has been shabbily treated at best. Part of me sees why. She is a tough person to deal with. But she deserves to be treated politely and to have her story heard. maybe her life has changed enough so that she could see Fiona. Maybe she could send a card. She says she is not allowed to send correspondence or a gift. She says her calls to workers go unanswered and that when she finally got an appointment to meet face to face with the worker, that the meeting was 5 minutes long and amounted to being told "go away, you will never see Fiona."
Cousin did speak to Rob briefly after we talked and put her bio daughter on the phone to say hi as well. That was really nice, as they are only a year apart and used to enjoy playing together. I could tell Rob was edgy about talking w/ her. The last time she called and I let him talk, Cousin started talking to him and then passed the phone around so that he was talking to something like 10 people. He didn't remember most of them and it was very overwhelming. At least tonight that didn't happen.
So I am left wondering what the new year will bring for Fiona and perhaps for us. Whether these connections will strengthen or whether they will follow their old pattern of dancing closer, only to disappear like fog in morning sun.