I put in to take Friday off many weeks ago so that Fiona would be able to visit here before Rob goes away to camp. At the time, she was only eligible for a day visit but has since met the guidelines for an overnight. Woo hoo! We are going to go to a local history museum where you see how people lived, worked, and played long ago. It is a good venue, appropriate for all ages and abilities. And best of all, while this would normally break the bank on a family my size, they are doing a special on Friday of $5.00 admissions!
Jane also had emailed me when I returned from California and wanted to know if I would reduce the time Fiona spends being safe to 2 weeks and when and if K and I would consider double overnights. (staying the whole weekend.)
Personally, I have no problem with the reduction in safety things. I actually think that unless she is actively in a cycle of violence that family should see family and there is no "earning." Fiona still has no real sense of time so it is sort of wonky to do it this way.
However Jane said in her email that the staff think that all Fiona's behaviors are "institutionalized" and that was why they felt a weekend visit was okay. Well, that becomes a bit of a problem. Fiona was removed from our home due to the same violent and aggressive behaviors that she still has. She likely, in my mind, will always have them. They are a cocktail of mental illness, trauma, and cognitive delays that are very hard for my duaghter and the medical community to manage. Fiona had not been institutionalized before our removal, except for one very short emergency hospital stay. My wife and my oldest son still have strong memories and fears of those days leading up to and including her removal.
Added to the safety component is the fact that the kids are busy folk. I am good at shuffling around our schedules to make a day visit and/or an overnight happen. But I want her time here to be enjoyable. Not a 3 ring circus, but more than coming out and watching me shuffle the kids from their various activities. All that would do is reinforce all that she missed. I am not going to short change my kids either--one of the bad things that happened when we were in the first two years of our life with Rob and Fiona was that the agency still had a lot of say and power. They mandated that Rob be taken to every residential visit, no matter that it was far away from us. Soimetimes we would get all the way there and Fi would not be willing to even see us. Rob missed ball games, play dates and parties for those situations, and tension resulted. It caused an additional barrier between he and Fiona for a long time as he was angry over what he missed and also feflt guilty about feeling that way. I know the agency was looking at keeping the family connection but they failed to see the big picture.
So I proposed an alternative: one day visit a month AND one other overnight visit a month. To me the most important thing is a strong sense of connection and family for Fiona and less about consecutive overnights. This would essentially mean she is here every other week for some period of time. The staff all agreed that this was a good plan and for now, that is how we will proceed.