Getting on the same page

I went to a meeting on Wednesday about “Blake”. Well, I went to a meeting and the other players rang in for a phone conference. I’m a bit old school, I think it’s nice to meet people face to face. I know that’s not always possible for people, but I try to where ever possible.

The players were all of his respite carers. Sadly his foster mum couldn’t be involved, she was in hospital with her daughter who had gone into labour a few hours earlier.

My “Angel” had suggested to his carers support worker that we all have a chat and try to sort out what problems we all have with “Blake” and how we deal with them so that we can help each other and ultimately help “Blake” have less stressful respite weekends.

So what issues do we all have?

Well, some of us have issues getting him to sleep without tears, others no problems.

We all have issues with him not bathing or showering and the hassles that come with trying to get him to.

“Blake” tends to run off at parks when there’s other children around to make a ‘best friend’ with all of us, except for one lady who tries to plan activities where there aren’t likely to be too many other children around to avoid this.

“Blake” struggles more at bedtime when his mum and dad have gone away for the weekend. (I’m not sure how to get around that one)

Some suggestions made to help:

If he doesn’t want to have a bath or shower, don’t worry about it, his foster mum is fine if he comes home filthy. (I’m not ok with this, I think he needs to learn to wash).

Have a communication book to go with “Blake” so all respite carers can share highlights, issues and strategies to provide a more consistent approach to his care.

“Blake” needs lots of warnings before events, including going to bed. At home her gets a warning 1 hour before bedtime, a reminder 30 minutes before, again at 15 minutes and 5 minutes before bedtime. (I must say, this would have been GREAT to know before his first placement with us, how much stress could have been reduced for everyone!)

Was good to start to get everyone on the same page to provide more consistent care for “Blake”.

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A Parting Gift

Little “Johnny” was sick the week that we had him. We did the best we could in keeping ourselves germ free, but when you have a little person and you have to hold their hand to cross the road and help them blow their nose, and in this case help him clean his teeth, keeping out of the danger zone is practically impossible.

So, MM and I both have his cold and our first weekend foster child free for 6 weeks was spent with MM working Saturday and me working Sunday, and the rest of our time together, just flaked out on the couch.

For future foster kiddies, as a parting gift we’d much rather just a hug or even a Hi 5.

 

An interesting request

I love “Angel”. She called to check that everything was organised for “Johnny’s” pick up and dropped into the conversation “I have a regular respite placement to talk to you about, we might wait until next week”.
She knows I can’t wait until next week with that hanging out there.

Firstly, we aren’t getting the 2 little girls for respite. The placement team hadn’t figured into their plans my request for a baby placement and therefore the fact that would mean one weekend a month us having 3 children under 5,  our need for a bigger car, and the little girls would have quite a drive to get to us, so they have found a placement more suitable for them. Yah.

So what is the interesting request?

Little “James” (see here for his weekend with us) was a lovely little man and it seems he had such a great weekend with us that his carer has asked if we can have him more often.

We don’t know what this is going to look like yet. If it’s once a month or if it’s going to be on a “Kelly” weekend. More conversations to happen next week but it’s nice to be requested by the carer, especially as he lives a good hours drive from us. That’s a big commitment to bring the little fella such a long way. Nice to know he had a lovely weekend with us. Makes me wonder what it was about our respite weekend that would make them want to change respite placement.

What would make you want to change respite placement for your foster child?

How does your garden grow?

How are children like flowers?

Both need the right nutrients to grow strong and healthy.

Both need the right environment to flourish.

Both are fragile and need tender loving care to be the best they can be.

When happy and healthy both will blossom and bloom.

We need to weed their environment so they can reach their full potential.

Being a foster carer is like being given a seedling in a pot that is wilting and surrounded by weeds and  giving it your love and attention to help it grow and bloom.

So how does your garden grow?

 

Where are the girls?

I was doing a stint at the school Thelma and Louise went to and bumped into the principal, who I knew from the previous school they were at and couldn’t help myself. I had to ask about the girls.

Were they now living with Grandma interstate?

No. They were interstate, but a different one, with their Dad.

Yah!! They wanted to live with him and he had rung quite a few times in the few days they were with us to check on them and even put credit on “Thelma’s” phone so that she could call him whenever she wanted to.

We had a little chat about them and how quickly the move happened for them.

It was so nice to get an update. I am certainly blessed to have had so many updates on our emergency placement babies.

Happy to hear the girls are safe and where they wanted to be.

Another happy ending.

Painfully shy

Ever wondered who being painfully shy was painful for?

I have the answer.

Little “Johnny” arrived on Thursday afternoon while I was at work. In the few hours before I got home from work “Johnny” managed about half a dozen words to MM. Mostly he was treated to head nods and shakes. When I got home, all of MM’s good work was undone and “Johnny” went back to no words at all.

Friday morning and it’s clear little “Johnny” is not a morning person. Not only have his words disappeared, but now he is back to so shy he can’t even shake or nod his head. I kept trying to engage him. Asking questions, giving him choices, and by the time we were on our way to school I had a “yes” for weetbix for breakfast and a “Strawberry” for his choice of milk with breakfast.

So quiet, so shy. It’s so painful trying to have a conversation. Such hard work. And travelling in the car….wow….so silent. We’re used to kids where you can’t get a word in edgewise and now, a little man who can’t get a word out.

I took him to school and while we were waiting outside his class for it to open a little girl called to him and asked him to go and sit with her on the bench. His response, to snuggle closer to me and try to hide. The poor little girl looked pained that he didn’t want to sit next to her.

“Johnny” doesn’t seem to be concerned by his shyness, but I feel pain when he’s not speaking. This poor little man has some speech issues for which he is getting help, but mostly it’s his shyness.

Is he scared to speak because he doesn’t want to be made fun of for all the words he can’t say right?

Is he scared to speak because he doesn’t like being corrected?

Is he scared to speak because of past trauma/neglect?

This afternoon after school he started to speak more, until MM got home from work, and then it was a step backwards. MM had to go out, and that left “Johnny” and I to chat over dinner and we did. We made some good progress and his speech isn’t as bad as I thought it would be once he gets going.

I’m worried about tomorrow. MM will be here, and I’m sure that when “Johnny” gets to spend some more time with him he will come out of his shell, but later in the day “Kelly” is coming for respite as well and I fear the little man will clam up again.

We were hoping to take him to the farm on Sunday, but a new place and two new people, how will he cope?

Will the fun of exploring and seeing the animals outweigh any stress he might feel in a strange place?

Does he feel stressed or is it just me that feels stressed and pained by his shyness?

Why is it that his painful shyness seems to cause me the pain?

 

What made you decide to foster?

I have tried to write this blog several times and it gets deleted and put on the back shelf. Re-written only to be deleted time after time.

Today is the day.

I’m not going to go into a long medical history story, it still makes me sad.

So, the short version is:

I can’t have children.

Simple as that.

Adoption is too expensive and time consuming (looking at at least a 5 year process).

Where I live, you have to source your own donor eggs. I asked my sister, she said no.

What about friends you ask?  I had had such a hard time with the egg collection process that I couldn’t ask someone to do that for me. I would hate for them to feel obliged to say yes because they are my friend. They knew the deal, they never offered and I never asked.

So, after my 3rd doctors opinion of “it’s not hopeless BUT….”

I looked at fostering. It was something I’d looked at years earlier, but it was time to revisit it. The brochure that I received said to wait for 12 months after any major life changing event. Marriage, divorce, death of a loved one, finding out you’re unable to have children. I ticked a couple of those boxes so I waited for 12 months. Marked the date in my diary and went on with life.

12 months later,

I started looking again at fostering.

I went to an information evening.

I filled out an application form.

And, the rest is history.

 

 

Vanessa Williams said….

“It’s not the way I hoped or how I planned
But somehow it’s enough”

I know it is from a love song, but those lyrics resonated with me on the way to the farm yesterday.

In the back seat of my car, there was a small child, napping in one of the two car seats in the back.

My car, the car I bought after I thought I would never have children, a small, 3 door hatchback, perfect for zipping around for work, was now the place for small people to nap.

I always thought I would have children, biological ones, but somehow, despite giving up on that dream, my car is constantly occupied by little people these days.

Is it how I hoped? No

Is it how I planned? Certainly not.

Is it enough? Yes. Strangely it is.

Thank you little “Amber” for coming into our lives and stealing my heart in the few days you were with us. You made me realise that what we are doing is special and important. Not just in sharing our home with you, and keeping you safe, but, you fill a part of my heart that I always thought would be empty.

Creating Chaos

We were told that “Amber” has been creating chaos at home and trying to control everything and everyone. So we’ve put on our thinking caps to work out why and what we can do to help.

A little girl in a very large household, Mum, Dad, 4 bio children and 2 foster children, with little “Amber” is the youngest. The notes that came with her say that her foster parents tell her that ‘big people are here to help you’ and ‘You’re only 4’ which is taking away her perceived independence.

What we know about children in care, is very often they have had to fend for themselves and become quite independent at an early age. My thought is that suddenly having 7 older people doing things for her could be making her feel like she has no control in her life. She has no control on where she is going to live, and with so many in the house, it’s very structured routines and I am guessing, the poor little thing doesn’t get a lot of say in what’s going on.

Knowing that “Amber” is causing chaos and trying to be controlling we put into action things she can control with questions like….

‘Would you like your toast cut into squares or triangles?’

‘Would you like and apple or a mandarin for kindy?’

‘Would you like to clean your teeth before your shower or after?’

I know it’s not big decisions, but for a little person, it seems to be enough to make her feel like she has some say in her day to day life.

Has “Amber” tried to be controlling so far with us?

Well, she tries to get biscuits all day, but how many 4 year olds don’t?

She has to always have one of us with her. She is happy to play by herself, but we have to be in the room with her. Controlling behaviour or just needs to feel secure? I think it’s the latter.

So our little Chaos Causer is all settled, chatting nicely, using manners (mostly), following instructions, and catching up on some sleep (the poor baby hasn’t been getting a full nights sleep she’s been so worked up). Almost ready to go home to her carers and try again with a fresh start.

I must say, I’m feeling a bit like “Mary Poppins” with this little lady. Helping her so she and her family can get back on track together.

 

Amber Arrives

It’s my crazy busy school term. We don’t normally do emergencies during the week because of our work, and guess what….we have a kindy kid and it’s Wednesday.

She is an emergency respite situation. She’s been really pushing her carers buttons for the last few weeks. Hitting, spitting, kicking, slamming doors, and the big one, the silent treatment. Apparently “Amber” has hardly spoken to anyone in her foster family for a couple of weeks.

So, what have we had this afternoon and evening?

Little Miss Chatterbox.

She’s so cute, and bubbly.

“Amber” is here so that her carers can have a much needed break and help her older sister who is also with them settle down, her little sisters behaviours have been affecting her at school. So far they haven’t been able to find anything that works with managing her behaviours. We’ve been asked by “Angel” to keep notes and if any of “Ambers” behaviours start to see if we can find anything that works for her.

So far we have had a little girl who has settled straight in, she’s has been fine when she asked for a cookie and the answer was, “it’s dinner time, you may have one after dinner” AND we both got goodnight hugs.

Lets see what tomorrow brings!