Are we bad?

We’ve been asked to have “Blake” again.

We’ve said no.

I’m feeling pretty guilty about it.

The weekend in question is pretty busy. We’ve been asked to go to a quiz night for one of the schools I work at, one of the places I teach piano has their mid-year concert, so I’d like to go and support my students, and one day I have rehearsals all day. It’s my busy busy busy school term!

The problem is we can’t take “Blake” to the quiz night. It’ll be a late night and he just wouldn’t cope. We have enough trouble getting him to bed with a routine, could you imagine what it’d be like if we had a late night!?! Not to mention, the hours of trying to get him to sit still for that long. We can’t ask my parents to babysit him. Again, he wouldn’t cope with the change of routine, and I wouldn’t want him stressing them out if he has one of his screaming sessions.

The mid-year concert is in the afternoon so getting him to bed wont be a problem (well, no more than usual), but it provides similar challenges in getting him to sit quietly while students perform. We could go and leave early if he gets too restless, but, he’s just such a  wild card. Will he just get restless or will he go banana’s?

The day I’m at rehearsals is fine, MM can look after him, but if we’ve already had 2 days of struggles, it has the potential to be a really hard day, and I prefer for tough days to be both of us, so we can support each other.

I told “Angel” it’s a no, but if it gets to the last minute and they still haven’t been able to find anything else, we can work it out, but, it’s hard knowing that we’ll have to NOT go to the quiz night, and possibly will only get about 20 minutes at the concert, as I really don’t think he’ll be able to sit for much longer than that.

“Angel” told me to prepare for having him as last time we had to say no (we already had a child booked in for respite, and “Blake” can’t be placed where there’s other children) he had to go to ’emergency respite’ which I don’t like. From what I can tell, its normally a ‘group home’and that just wouldn’t be the best thing for “Blake”.

This is hard. Do we put our life on hold for the weekend to take in the little man?

Why can’t his regular respite carers have him? He has 2 regular placements and we’re supposed to be just a ‘back up’ placement.

Are we bad to say no?

Just what the doctor ordered

We were asked during our review if we were free on the weekend for a respite placement. A little boy. I can tell you, with our “Blake” weekends in our minds, I’m sure we were both wondering what the weekend would hold for us. Well, it was a lovely weekend with an awesome little man.
“James” was dropped off by his ‘mum’ and MM sat on the ground out the front chatting to him while I asked a few questions of ‘mum’…bedtime, bath or shower, are we dropping him home or will she pick him up. By the time we were done, “James” was all ready to come inside and start exploring the house with us.

We went through all the rooms upstairs and let him choose his bedroom. The exploring starts with the bathroom so he knows where that is, then he got to choose which room he wanted to stay in. One has a bed with a floral cover, the other had robots. The last room upstairs is ours, so we showed him where it is, and explained we sleep with our door open, so if he needs anything he can just come and get us. I’d had an opportunity to ask ‘mum’ before he arrived what his favourite food was, so we had lasagne for dinner and apparently it was almost as good as mum’s!

On Saturday we took him to the farm, and despite getting stuck in the mud and starting to panic, once I rescued him and he covered my jeans in mud from his boots, he was back to normal and bubbly again. His highlight, helping MM drive the little tractor (ok, sitting on MM’s lap on the ride on mower)

Sunday I had to work for a while so the boys made a photo book of pictures taken from our day at the farm, they did the grocery shopping (“James” had 50 cents and wanted to buy a toy car, so MM chipped in the other $2.50), they had lunch out and spent the rest of the afternoon watching movies and playing “go fish”.

Other than being a never ending food pit and sucking on his fingers, we had no troubles with “James”. Even when he woke up in the mornings, he just played quietly in his room until I got up…his choice, not our rule. In fact, the first morning, I walked in to find him sitting on the floor trying to read by the light from the night light. His finger sucking is clearly a self soothing thing, and seeing as he was with ‘strangers’ for the weekend, we said nothing about it.

After my emotional week (see Demons I never knew I had) it was so lovely to have such a lovely child, just what the doctor ordered, a weekend of fun and laughs.

My favourite moment was when he came inside from playing outside on the farm he came and snuggled up to me and said, “did you see me on the swings?” and my favourite quote has to be
James: “Excuse me”
Me: “Yes”
James: “No, I mean the Dad one”
Us: giggle

Our weekend was so lovely. A beautiful little man with lovely manners, a bubbly personality and just a pleasure to have in the house. We will miss you very much “James”. Our door is always open for you.

Demons I never knew I had

We had our annual foster care review this week.
I think it went well.
What’s strange is we don’t get a ‘report’ of how we are going. It’s more to review how we feel things are going, our highlights and challenges, and where we are going in the future. So, of course the Dear Santa issue was raised. I thought I was good, until the tears started. “Angel” and MM were both just expressing their concerns about the emotional challenges of saying goodbye to a little baby. When I could eventually speak, MM very nicely stepped out the room and left me with “Angel”. I think they both thought the tears were me getting upset in advance of a placement (Ok, I’m a sook but I’m not that bad!). I was able to tell “Angel” that the tears weren’t about that, but rather, I feel that them expressing their concerns is actually them telling me no, in a roundabout way.

Upon reflecting, it seems all those many people that have been in my life before now that have told me “No” I can’t have a baby their voices all combined and I thought that’s what my two special people were telling me. So, who’s told me no baby?
Well, there was ex no.1 “get pregnant and I’ll divorce you”.
Then no.2 told me if I couldn’t have a baby naturally, we weren’t going to have any…made that wonderful announcement on the way to the IVF clinic for our first appointment.
There was IVF Doctor number 2 who told me “If you were my sister I’d tell you to get another dream”
Doctor number 3 You’re best chance is with Donor eggs, which you have to find yourself.
My sister who said “No” when I asked her to donate eggs, and of course there’s mother nature who has made it so I can’t have babies.

Was it any wonder I figured these two people were also saying no?

I had a chat with MM after “Angel” left and told him I need to hear that it’s ok. That poor man told me that “It’s not a bad idea”, to which I of course replied “That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea”. He’s so very patient with me. I then got a real hug and a sincere, “It’s a good idea. I like it very much.”

And now today, I got  the most beautiful email from “Angel” stating also that it’s a great idea and a lot of wonderful things about us as carers (it counts as the report MM wanted if you ask me). It was so lovely I cried…again!

To MM and “Angel”, thank you both so very much for being patient with me and thank you for not getting upset with me for misinterpreting what you were saying to me. Thank you both for caring about me and supporting me in this journey. I couldn’t do it without you. xxx

So, how are you really doing?

I have been asked Can I say goodbye, and I’ve been wondering if I can. This post from “A little bit of Everything” touched me and lets me know, when I have to say goodbye and cry and cry, I wont be alone. It’s a touching post. Please read.

A little bit of everything...

Today my foster baby left my home.

This is the goal of foster care.

And the reason that most people who consider becoming foster parents decide not to do it.

So many of you have stepped in and asked me how I am doing, and I am grateful for every single one of you—even if I cannot bare my soul at the exact moment that you ask.

The truth is, this is hard.

Ridiculously, unimaginably hard.

So, how am I?

Today, I am not ok.

I will be ok again.

And that is good enough.

Today, no matter how hard I try, I cannot be the strong one.

I will be strong again.  Stronger, maybe.

In the meantime, I will be honest.

And that is good enough.

Today, I can only cry (and cry and cry).

Another day I will think and write about the gift of loving this little…

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Did the chat work?

7.01 wake up “Kelly”. She goes to have a shower.

7.14 “Kelly” gets out of the shower (I can hear the water stop running down here)

7.35 “Kelly” is still upstairs. What is she doing up there? I can feel myself getting frustrated but, maybe she is packing her bag, so I’ll chill out and wait a few more minutes.

7.37 “Kelly” pops into the room I am in to tell me she’s had her breakfast and is going to make her lunch. (Seems she came downstairs in just socks so I didn’t hear her clomp down the stairs)

7.46 lunch is made and she needs a hand wrapping it. (almost 10 minutes to make a sandwich! I suppose Rome wasn’t built in a day) then it’s time to go upstairs and check that she has packed everything. I help “Kelly” remake her bed so that it doesn’t look like there is still a person in the bed. We go downstairs and she writes in her ‘respite book’ her highlights of the weekend and her check list of things she will need to bring to respite in 2 weeks.

8.07 All ready and 10 minutes to spare so she gets a choice. Read a book or go online to google play for apps for her tablet (she has a gift card to use)

8.18 in the car and off to school and a chat about how well she did today.

CJ: What did you do differently today?

K: nothing, I just told myself to be a bit faster.

CJ: Do you feel as though you were rushed or hurrying?

K: No

CJ: If you can do that again next time then we can start letting you have a few minutes extra sleep. Wouldn’t that be nice?

K: Yes.

Yah….Progress!!!

Dawdle Dawdle..ARGH !!!

This morning It took “Kelly” 40 minutes to get showered and dressed.

OK…it’s Sunday, but we had somewhere to go and that’s an awfully long time.

I find myself getting frustrated at her slowness and then I get frustrated with myself for getting frustrated.

So, what to do?

Well, I’ve been reading “Kids, parents and power struggles” and so it was time to put this learning into action.

Recognising that I don’t like dawdling and she is a dawdler means we need to find a solution that works for both of us. MM seems to be quite relaxed about it, maybe that’s because one of his children was much worse for getting ready.

In the car I raised my problem and asked for help. What can we all do to make it so “Kelly” doesn’t get nagged and feel harried, and so I don’t get as frustrated.

Solution….I will work on chilling out. “Kelly” will work on not being so slow.

We told “Kelly” about 3 different results on Monday’s when getting ready for school, getting up at the same time and leaving for school at the same time.

a) was ready, made her own lunch and had time to read for 15 minutes.

b) was ready and made her own lunch

c) was ready

We have asked why sometimes she can get ready in time, and others not, and she doesn’t know.

We don’t know.

Tomorrow we find out if any of our chat has sunk in. Can she get herself organised in a timely fashion?

Can I say goodbye?

The last few days have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me.

I spoke with “Angel” a few days ago about my letter to Santa and she asked similar questions to MM, but was something that was niggling in the back of my mind. She said there weren’t any red flags, just that she was concerned about how I would cope when it was time to hand baby over.

That made me wonder, could I do it?

Were “Angel” and MM somehow suggesting that I couldn’t?

It wasn’t something they said, but me reading between lines I thought were there.

So, I withdrew into myself, was quiet, and when MM wasn’t around, I cried.

Were the people who’s help and opinions I value so much trying to tell me I’m not meant to have any babies? Was I never going to have that experience?

After a couple of days I said to MM, “I’ve been thinking…”

I told MM I was thinking that I was thinking about selling the cot and change table. It seemed crazy to keep them if we don’t/can’t do babies. Like a permanent reminder of my own inability to have babies.

It took a few hours for me to dribble my thoughts and feelings out to MM (thank you so much darling for being patient with me).

So, today I went along to the first agency support meeting for emergency and short term carers. It was nice to meet others who do what we do, except…MM and I were the only ones that take over 4 year olds. Most of them do babies only and one does 0-4.

One of the topics we discussed today was saying goodbye.

It was so nice to hear from the others, the baby whisperers, that they ALL cry when their babies move on. It was so nice to hear from one of the support workers that to cry is not only normal, it’s a good thing. What’s not good is if you cry for months.

So how do I feel now?
Energised. Normal. Ready.

I know I have a great support system with my family and “Angel” and the amazing MM, so I know, when we have to say goodbye and I end up in tears, that I will have lots of people there to talk to.

Dear Santa part 2

No, this is not me asking for more things for Christmas.

After I came up with my wish list for Christmas I ran it past MM.

He didn’t say no.

He didn’t say yes.

He did however ask me a LOT of questions.

I knew he would. I’d done a fair bit of thinking about it before I mentioned it to him so I was prepared.

Now, “Angel” has read the post (yes, my awesome support worker takes time to read my blog, isn’t she lovely?) and she has questions for me.

I’m hoping they’re the same questions MM asked.

What questions do you think I should be expecting?

Part 2.1

Well, wouldn’t you know it. In the middle of writing my post, “Angel” called. We had a bit of a chat about my letter to Santa. Just clarifying a few things.
Did this mean we wanted to change to long term care?
Have I thought about how I’m going to cope when the time comes for bubby to move to a long or short term placement?
Do I know that an emergency placement with a baby is a 7 week minimum placement?
That sometimes these placements can stretch out to short term placements?
How will this effect our regular respites with “Kelly”?

So, at the end of the call, I’m wondering if I can do this.
It’s not ability to care for baby.
It’s ability to give baby to their ‘forever’ family.

Party on!

We’ve heard from “Kelly’s” social worker about a few things, she even called me…Yah!!

  1. When we go to the party in a few weeks, “Kelly” is allowed to sleep over at the farm with Nana and Papa (that will make one VERY happy young lady).
  2. We can take “Kelly” for swimming lessons. We wanted to put her into classes when she comes to respite a year ago, but as she has had several changes in social worker it got put aside and now, it’s back. It’s something “Kelly” is interested in doing as it’s not something her foster siblings do, so it will be an activity just for her.
  3. In a couple of months we are taking “Kelly” to the theatre. It was something I just mentioned in passing to her social worker, and she loves the idea and said if “Kelly” enjoys it, she said we can order the DVD and she / the department will pay for it.

Such a great conversation today.

So nice to be getting on the same page and working together for “Kelly”.