After the too-short visit, we returned to take the girls home. They were sugar and silly string covered and all smiles. We piled a cake and a half, three bags of toys, and two balloons into our van. After goodbyes to the siblings, Bio Mom and Dad walked our gals back to my van. Little Sister wasn't terribly happy to be packed back into our car but settled down before the doors were closed. Big Sister, however, was a wreck. Her tears turned mom and dad into a mess (and almost had me in tears too). She sobbed and yelled and sobbed some more until she fell asleep about 30 minutes later. It was truly heart wrenching.
Closing the door and driving her away from her parents was the hardest moment I've endured in foster parenting.
I'm wondering if there's a better way to prepare her for visits in the future. I had this fear of parents who didn't show up, so I just told her that we had a meeting to attend and that we'd be coming back to the blue house home after. I didn't prepare her for a temporary visit with her parents, and I wish I would have. I would be shocked if the parents missed a visit, and even if they did, there would be a room full of siblings to greet our girls. It's not like they would be sitting at CD all alone. I wish I'd thought about that beforehand.
How do you talk to a preschooler about this stuff?
She's old enough to understand that Mommy and Daddy can't be here, but not old enough to really understand why.
And I'd love any ideas for better ways to handle the goodbye at the end of their visits. Do I distract her? Console her? Feed her?