I returned my first kid to his mom recently. He came into care because mom was using drugs pretty heavily and not properly taking care of him. Kid was removed and mom got into an inpatient treatment program. I really think that having him taken away was very painful for mom and it really motivated her to get committed to getting clean. And she has been doing great in treatment.
Fortunately for me, returning a kid to a parent is not just me deciding at some point that I want to do it. When that is something we are recommending, we present the case to a team of community members – professionals in the child and family mental health/welfare field, but not employees of the Dept. – and they make recommendations that we follow 99.99% of the time. So I brought this case to them and they agreed with my recommendation to start a transition home that would occur over a month. And so we transitioned him home, gradually increasing the time to allow both the kid and Mom to adjust to each other. And there are no issues.
So the kid is now full-time with mom, which is mostly great. I just still have that little bit of worry – that little place in the back of my mind that wonders, “what if?” Some of those ‘what ifs’ include: what if I have been played by mom? What if mom really isn’t able to care for him full-time? What if mom relapses? What if mom takes off from treatment and take the kid with her? What if my judgment was off?
Intellectually, fundamentally, I do think I have been right. I do think this mom is on the right path, is committed to treatment, and will not do anything to jeopardize the placement of her son. And, at the moment, I have to trust myself. I guess I just also have to feel comfortable with that self-doubt. I suppose that it is healthy. But it is just another reminder of the dangers of this job.