The Blanchard Bunch

The Blanchard Bunch

Saturday, January 14, 2012

See, what happened was...

December 16th we officially became a family of 9 again when Chelsea came to stay with us. I received a call around 12:15 am asking if we could take a “special case” teenager. Thankfully, her “special case” was just that she’s already 18, but is required to stay in foster care until she is 19. No biggie there for us.

Chelsea is from a different county and different DCS region than us, which is about an hour away from our house. We were told that the DCS worker on call in her home region would get her and meet us at the shopping center near our house. We gave them plenty of time to get everything together and get on the road to meet us around 1:30 am and then Sissy and I headed out to meet them. We decided to pick up the few things we had on our shopping list while we waited for them to arrive. Just as we got started, the DCS case worker called to tell me they hadn’t left yet and that because he was a guy (duh!) and the one on call, he would have to have someone else with him to transport Chelsea to us. That someone had to drive the hour from their house to where he was, they then had to go get Chelsea and then they could head our way. He figured it would be about 4:30 when they arrived. Needless to say, we were more than a little upset. If they had said this in the beginning, we would have just gone on to sleep and then woken up around 4. Sigh…welcome to working with certain DCS folks.

Anyway, I told him that they would just need to come on out to our house at that time. Knowing that the roads would be relatively clear of traffic, I got up a few minutes earlier than planned and it’s a good thing I did, because they showed up about a half an hour early. Once again, I was given charge of a child who had nothing with them but the clothes on their back. The guys didn’t even think to ask her if she had anything with her, or where her clothes were, before they left. The first time they thought about it was when I asked her if she brought anything with her. Thankfully, she was able to wear some of my pajamas, so she could at least had something clean and comfortable to sleep in.

We went shopping the next morning so she would have a few things to get her through the weekend. She was only supposed to be with us until that Monday, but having worked with DCS for almost 17 months now, I know that’s code for “we have absolutely no idea what to do with her and you’re going to have her for an indefinite period of time.” Obviously, she didn’t think that was true and fully expected to be back at her previous location on Monday.

After the ‘emergency placement meeting’ on Tuesday, it was decided she would stay with us until she turns 19 in June. Because she is 18, there really was no other option for her. Foster homes aren’t really approved for 18 year olds, as the kids generally age out of the system on their 18th birthday and almost no one will take a teenager anyway. There are only a couple of facilities that will take an 18 year old, and as she ran from one of them, she was pretty much out of options.

Thankfully, she’s a good kid and has fit in around here pretty well. She has her issues, as do we all, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. It killed her the first week or so that she didn’t have any chores to do; she really wanted to pitch in and do something to help out. That’s always a good sign, in my eyes! We did finally get some of her clothes later that first week, but the rest of her stuff was still in her old room. Her case manager went on vacation for two weeks, so she just now got the rest of it this week. Sadly, when they packed up her things, they broke several items that were of special sentimental value to her. I was able to fix a couple of them, but the most prized one was broken beyond repair. That realization hit her hard; so hard that she took to her bed for the rest of the day and night. I don’t understand how people who work with these kids can be so careless with their belongings. It baffles me.

Chelsea is not a hugger, but she has had to endure a few of them since she arrived. I’ve only seen her cry a couple of times and when I see people cry, my instinct is to hug them. I do try to give her fair warning that a hug is coming so she can brace herself, but I’ve also gotten in a few sneak-attack-hugs as well. She’ll live.

Chelsea loves to run. I have no idea why. I have never understood why anyone in their right mind would want to run, but she seems to enjoy it. Even though it was super cold here today, she went for a jog. She came back all happy and hyped up, so I guess it’s good for her.

She loves to read and is very smart. At one point, she was reading three books at once. She loves Stephen King (another point in her favor) and also loves the classics. She thoroughly enjoyed Wuthering Heights, the only novel by Emily Bronte, and one of the few classics I did not like. At all. Heathcliff irritates the daylights out of me. So, we’ll just have to agree to disagree about that one.

Chelsea is hoping to be able to get a job soon. We were hoping to get her enrolled in Pellissippi for the spring semester, but since her case manager was on vacation until after the enrollment deadline, that will have to wait until next semester. Once we get her ID, she will be able to actively hunt for a job. It will give her something to do during the day and will also help her to save some money for when she does age out of foster care and will be out on her own. She has an appointment next week with the Independent Living Counselor at DCS. Hopefully, she will come away from that meeting with a lot of good information and will be able to start thinking about what she will do come June.

Until then, she’s one of the Blanchard Bunch and we love her very much. 

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