"Are we coming back here tomorrow?"

Well, it finally happened. After being told they were going home and then, in the same 24 hours that reunification was being delayed indefinitely, twice in the last week, the twins are back home with mom as of 9:45 yesterday morning.

Thursday last week we were told to expect them to be with us for at least a month. After we were expecting to get home from vacation to an empty house. After we said our goodbyes thinking we would not see them after that drop off at school on Wednesday.

Monday came and they were so excited to see Mr. J pick them up at school and play with Hutchie. Tuesday afternoon (also Mr J's birthday) we ran around like crazy people (read parents at Christmas) trying to make sure we had what they had been asking Santa for. A few stores and Amazon orders later we had everything taken care of.

Tuesday little man called me mom.

Wednesday they told Mr J about this, they talked about family, and asked Mr J if they could call him "dad".

Then, comes the unexpected call on Thursday morning. Mom had been back in contact and informed the worker that she completed her part and the worker would be going out to verify sometime today. She would let me know as soon as it's scheduled but, the twins would probably be going home tomorrow. Tomorrow. 3 days before Christmas. The Christmas we just made ourselves crazy making sure they would have. "Give them an early Christmas" I'm told.

10:30am: the worker is scheduled to go out at 5:30 that night to verify. Sorry it's late and she knows that doesn't give me much time but that's when mom is available.

1:30pm: this is not going to be the best situation but, mom called and said she won't be ready until late tonight. The worker can't go over until 8:30am Friday and the kids will still be leaving at 9:15 if they are going.

While they are still at school, I pack their bags, again, and hide them in Mr J's office. They don't need the uncertainty staring them in the face. It's bad enough we're wearing it all over ours. We'll wake up, have breakfast, wait for word, and pretend Santa came early if needed.

8:40am: it's needed. Mom did what she needed. Kids will be picked up by an aid around 9:20.

"We have some exciting news guys! You get to go home today!"

Little man: "no"

"Well, now it's present time" (he had been asking since he saw presents under the tree)

"Yay"

So we rushed through presents from my mom and dad, ours, and finally Santa's. With only about 15 minutes to spare we had to get dressed, get clean, and they wanted to play with Hutch until pick up. While we were getting dressed little man asks "are we coming back here tomorrow" , "no buddy, you're going home to mommy", "Oh mannn".

I attempted to do some safety planning (therapist hat on) and reminded them to talk to adults if they feel unsafe and remember everything they learned while they were with us. Nice hands, nice words, and asking for help when they need it.

Goodbyes were quick, they had to rush to the doctor's appointment. Not too quick for last long squeezes and "have so much fun with mommy". Little man had his grumpy face on and she just looked dazed.

Then, we cried. Mr J more than me. I'm just too annoyed to feel sad about it. How is this in the kids' best interest? How is it in anyone's (besides mom) best interest? The worker was at her beck-and-call, same as we were anxiously awaiting the final word. Why is it she had the power? The woman who had her children pulled from her care the night before Thanksgiving. The woman who has made 2 out of the 6 visits she was scheduled to have while we had the children, and, just last Friday no-showed on them. Why??

Because the court said so.

With each placement the change that is needed becomes more and more clear. Last time I focused my energy in a way that has led me to create change with foster parents. Ensuring they hear my story and I share my knowledge on the effects of trauma, hoping they remain mindful in their caring of these kiddos. This time? This time I will focus on sharing that knowledge with the ones who hold the power. The judges. They need this education. They need this mindset change. They need to realize that they are not always acting in the kids' interest at all.

So, with an empty house again, Mr J and I will enjoy our first solo holiday season. It will be different but I'm looking forward to having some quiet time with my guy. My partner. Spoiling him and giving him all the love because, he deserves it. He was a complete rock star with this placement. Going from "we can't possibly do this" to absolutely rocking the foster parent game. I cannot express enough how much this guy makes this home, this crazy-weird family, whole.

Sending everyone all the light and love this holiday season. Remember, some of us may need it more than others so spread it around like glitter.