In MAPP class we take time to talk about maturational vs. situational losses. It's the difference between losses that are expected, and generally have gains that accompany them, and unexpected losses that don't have much of a silver lining.
Moving away from home: Maturational loss. It's expected. You lose living with your family and the immediate support of them being there (and probably someone cooking meals for you.), BUT you gain independence and responsibility.
Family member dying in car crash: Situational loss. It's unexpected, and there isn't any gain that goes along with the loss.
So. In theory, a child going back home from foster care is a maturational loss (for the child and the foster parent.). This always trips up my MAPP classes. But it's (hopefully. ideally.) planned for, prepared for, and is a planned out transition. (I said ideally.) There are losses involved - foster parents, foster siblings, new friends, school, etc. - but there are also obvious gains - being back with their bio family, reuniting with old friends, etc.
A maturational loss, it is.
But, to me as a foster parent, it doesn't always feel that way.
I know that Bella is going home. I know that we are in the midst of a rather long, and planned out transition. I know that it is a good thing, and that there will be gains that accompany the losses.
But it still catches me off guard.
I spent a long time packing Bella for her Christmas trip. I wanted to make sure she had everything she could possibly need, and probably several things she won't. I wanted to help her feel safe in the transition. All that packing was a good mental prep for me too - reminding myself that she won't be here for Christmas, and that it is a good thing.
But as we packed her things into the transporter's car, it didn't feel so maturational. I wanted her to stay. I wanted to watch her Christmas morning. I wanted her to be there for our very last night of advent as the anticipation rises in our hearts and the kids go to sleep longing for the sun to rise.
She spent Christmas where she should be. Outside of the hurt from watching her transition out of our lives, it is where I want her to be. I'm so glad her mom and dad got to watch the excitement in her eyes that morning. She is building memories and traditions with them that she will have forever.
But this does not feel maturational.