So Saturday, when we were having our fabulous visit with Fiona, Jane and I were talking quietly. The kids were walking on ahead of us, Fiona holding KC's hand, Rob holding Lissa's. Jane was talking about how hard she is working with Fiona to help her be oriented and present in the world. Either as a result of her disabilty or as a defense mechanism, she never really knows where she is at any given time. She is easily confused by streets, even streets she visits regularly. Jane has made great strides in this regard and at this rate, Fiona's skills will soon surpass mine, even if I use a GPS. (just kidding, but I am pretty directionally impaired.)
Jane also pointed out a gallery where local artists sell their work and noted that this was one of the areas where students from the Great School were employed and she had really hoped for this for Fiona when she graduated from the program. Then she went on to say that she had just realized that this would not likely happen. The reason is so stupid that I can. not. believe. it.
Because Fiona does not hail originally from the city which houses the Great School in the City, when she graduates, the system will send her back to the original "sending city." Where she has not lived since she was 8 years old. Where she does not have support networks. Where she will not know the streets, or the shops or the bus schedule. She will not know which areas of the community are safe and will have to try and learn all this information all over again. The amount of knowledge she has now has taken several years of very patient, very incremental learning. Frankly I doubt very much that a group home staff will invest that kind of effort into it.
She is learning so many things at the Great School and yet how is any of it going to really help her if when she is 22 they uproot her in that manner. I emailed Jane today and asked for more specifics on how that works. If one is technically aging out of foster care at that point, my understanding is that another agency is taking over (such as department of mental health or DMR) maybe we can start working earlier rather than later on changing someone's mind. I know it is probably tilting at windmills but I have to try.