By: Freddie Goldberg
I am the grandmother/foster parent to my 3-year-old grandson who has been in my care for the last 15 months. The current COVID-19 crisis has been very hard on all of us.
In March, my daughter received a voicemail from her social worker advising her that all visits were going to be virtual immediately. She was not able to visit her son in person. We were allowed to communicate via telephone and video chat but that is not very helpful for a 3-year-old. It really felt like a disastrous decision. My grandson would constantly ask “When is mommy coming?” and was extremely unhappy all the time. He was constantly crying on the phone with her and was very uncooperative and difficult to handle during this especially difficult time.
This was also extremely difficult for my daughter. We are in the final stages of reunification and with the COVID-19 crisis, we don’t know what is happening. This has created so much psychological damage for all the parties involved and will cause all types of regression as well. In addition, my daughter and I basically co-parent and I was left on my own while also having to work. There was no consideration for family circumstances.
After a lot of phone calls and consultations, we were able to get the in-person visits reinstated for my grandson and my daughter. The look on his face when he saw his mom at the door was something I cannot explain.
We have tried to make up games to get him to understand why we are wearing masks and gloves. His school re-opened specifically for essential workers which has allowed him to get lots of playtime outside and has made him much happier.
One unexpected hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the fact that our court date keeps getting pushed out. Our April 16 hearing is currently scheduled for September 15, 2020. We have to wait five months to move forward. The current crisis has put us in what feels like an in-between world which is hard on my grandson, hard on his mom and really hard on me. We are hoping for a stipulation of some type to move forward but are not sure if or when that will happen.
We understand that a lot has been put on hold during the crisis – but reunification of a child and a parent should not be among the things that gets paused. My daughter has worked so hard and my grandson needs his mom. We are working through each day together. The courts need to be functioning in order to support families like ours and make sure kids do not miss out on critical months with their parents. A childhood cannot be put on hold.