This past Friday, I was finishing up the day at work when I got an email from a visit coach for one of my Saturday morning visits. She is hired by an outside agency that helps out case planners by supervising visits so that families can go places in the community rather than stay in a small visit room at the agency. Her email said that she had to cancel. I knew that the mom was really looking forward to the visit because she wanted to take her daughter shopping for an Easter dress. I had just arranged to supervise another visit at the agency, so I would not be able to go shopping with them, and I dreaded having to call the mother to tell her that the plans had changed. I would like to blame it on the 45 hours I had already worked for the week, but it is more likely due to the fact that I went to a midnight showing of the Hunger Games the previous night, but I started to tear up as I walked to a home visit near the agency. I was overtired and frustrated that things rarely seem to go as planned in child welfare.
Saturday morning, I had to get up early to make my long commute to the office. I made it there for 9 a.m. when the first visit was set to start, only to find an answering machine message that the mom was not feeling well and wanted to cancel the visit. I ended up being able to get some much needed paperwork time in before my next family arrived. I had just went to court for this family on Friday morning, and the agency was granted the ability to transition the mother to unsupervised visitation with her four-year old daughter for the first time since her case began nine months ago because she has made progress in her drug treatment program. She arrived early and was ecstatic. We walked to the park across the street, and she told me, “It feels so great to finally be able to walk outside of the building and take my daughter somewhere, just me and her.” The mom was pushing her on the swing set and laughing, and she said, “Mommy, I’m just so happy right now, aren’t you?” This is a moment, amidst the chaos, that makes my time and hard work seem worthwhile.