Curiouser and Curiouser

What are the birth family doing?

Shortly after baby “Jade” came to us I had a meeting with “Angel” and “Jade’s” social worker to talk a little about the case. Part of that conversation was a request for “Jade” to spend one day a month with her paternal birth family. This request came in and a few days later I was asked to offer some dates that would be suitable. We were also asked for little “Jade” to go to respite one weekend a month. An opportunity for her to spend more time with her brother, and as the lady providing the respite was going to support TM (tummy mummy) once the children go back it was ‘apparently’ important for “Jade” to start bonding with her.

Ok….I have to say, I had some really cranky views on all of this that I shared with “Angel”.

How was baby going to bond with this woman one weekend a month?

How was baby going to bond with the paternal family one day a month?

My views were that this was just going to upset baby being passed around to ‘strangers’ and contribute to attachment issues later on as she wasn’t going to be bonding with us, her primary carers.

Being the good little person I am, I submitted dates for the next 3 months. Some had to be negotiated, but, it was sorted. The paternal family saw baby in October, November and December. A tentative date was set for January, but they never confirmed it, so it didn’t happen. In February, the Aunty asked for a date, 3 days before the day, but as we were going away as a family we couldn’t say yes. That was 3 weeks ago, and no alternate date has been suggested by them. Why? They complained about the very first date I suggested, that it was too far away and the first visit had to be moved forward. Now, they haven’t seen her since before Christmas. What is going on? Has the novelty worn off? Was baby a cranky baby last time because she didn’t like being with ‘strangers’?

And then there’s respite. Initially when we took in little “Jade” it was for a 9 day placement (Still smiling as she has now been here for 5 months!), and because of a work commitment which involved 3 long days at the theatre, we had to have respite. Ok. I felt awful about that, but there wasn’t anything I could do about my work commitment. Then, I suggested dates for November and December. November….tick. December, we had already planned to go interstate to visit MMs girls and grand-girls just after Christmas, so while we were going to take “Jade” we suggested that as respite instead. Sadly, we were required to send “Jade” from Christmas Eve so she could spend Christmas Day with her TM and brother as they were both going to be there as well. Fine-ish. We’ll be team players even though it broke my heart to not have her with us for Christmas. And guess what…there has been no respite since then. I asked social worker if they wanted a date for January. No, as she had spent 5 days away at Christmas. Ok. I’m not complaining. Then brothers carer wanted respite for this weekend coming, would it be ok for “Jade” to go too? Ok. It’s been 2 months, better say yes. Asked earlier this week for confirmation that respite was going ahead so I could get things sorted for “Jade”. Got an email yesterday. No respite this weekend.

So, what is going on with the birth family?

Why are they not pushing for more contact now with “Jade”?

Why is the social worker not pushing for the family to have more contact like she did at the start of the placement?

There’s clearly something go on that I don’t know about because if “Jade” is supposed to be bonding with these people, she can’t do that if she only sees them every 3 months.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about her NOT going to see Aunty or to respite. The opposite is true. Love having her with us and those other contacts just upset her routine. I’m confused as t why these people that HAD to have contact no longer are.

Is it just me or does it not make sense that they wanted contact and now don’t appear to?

Am I over thinking this?

 

Advertisements

Oh, Sugar!

Sugar, sugar, and more sugar.

“Scarlett” is the sugar queen!

She’s lucky, at the moment she burns off her sugar intake being active, but, she’s still setting herself up for a really unhealthy life later on with poor food choices.

Don’t get me wrong. MM and I are FAR from perfect. But, we do put a lot more thought into the food and drinks available to children (and while were at it, what we consume as well) since becoming foster carers. We’re trying to teach making healthier choices and moderation.

We’ve noticed that “Scarlett” consumes a lot of high sugar content foods and highly processed foods. Even 5 month old baby “Jade” eats more fruit and veggies than “Scarlett”.

Last weekend “Scarlett” and “Kelly” helped themselves to drinks on the Sunday. Nice, they’re 11 and 12 years old. Not nice, they drank almost 2 litres of juice between them. So, for dinner, I served them each a glass of water and a separate glass with 22 teaspoons of sugar in it. When I explained that’s how much sugar they had helped themselves to during the day they were shocked to say the least.

This week we have insisted that “Scarlett” try some new foods and some that she doesn’t like. Her lunch box contains one treat food and healthy choices. She only takes a bottle with water to school.

I must say, she’s taking to it quite well. “Scarlett” has tried a small piece of broccoli and cauliflower when we’ve had veggies with dinner. When we’ve had salad, she still picks out her tomato, but we’ll get there. We had chinese takeaway for a treat over the weekend and “Scarlett” tried my satay steak and the baby prawns shrimp) in the fried rice. We’ve also made it that “Scarlett” alternates a drink of her choice with a glass of water, and we also role modelled that….yes our coffee intake over the weekend was drastically reduced, which can’t be bad for us either.

Hopefully when “Scarlett” does leave us she will take with her more information to make healthier choices.

 

Mum and Dad

How soon is too soon for a child to choose to call you Mum and Dad?

4 days is all it took “Scarlett” and seeing as she is 11 years old with no developmental delays (none that we’ve noticed at least) we thought that was a bit odd. Actually…..a LOT odd.

Don’t get me wrong, it bought tears to my eyes. As emergency, respite and short term carers, the likely hood of any children ever choosing to call us Mum and Dad is slim to none. That’s ok. That’s the types of care we have chosen to provide.

It started at bedtime one night, when we both got a hug with a “goodnight Dad” and “goodnight Mum”. We smiled and said “Goodnight sweetie”. We didn’t think much of it. Just had a bit of a smile together once she was in bed and commented on how cute was that. The next morning at school drop off, I got a hug and “goodbye Mum”. Hmmmmm. That’s lovely, but very strange, in front of her friends? What’s up with that! Then “Scarlett” called me twice from school that day. The first to let me know it was meet and greet night with her teachers after school, the second to tell me she’d given me the wrong time. That’s fine, it was her finishing the calls with “Love you”.

OK. Now I’m concerned, so it was time to call our Support Worker.

After a chat with SW’s supervisor (SW wasn’t available) she suggested chatting with “Scarlett” about boundaries and that it’s not ok to call us Mum and Dad and that it was a concern because she isn’t going to be with us for that long.

So our chat at the end of dinner was something like this:

We love that you call us Mum and Dad. It’s an honour. But, we need you to understand that you aren’t here to stay forever. The department are looking at your family members right now that you might be able to live with, and that’s the best thing for you. Whether it’s your father, or grandparents or maybe an Aunty and Uncle, family is the best place for you to be. It might not feel like that at the moment, but if you lived with us, it would be very hard for us to organise times for you to spend time with your family, if you are with family, you get to keep in contact with the rest of your family so much more easily. We are right at the bottom of the list of people the department will ask to look after you. We’re here for you until they find a suitable place for you, and we will be so sad when you do leave, but, you will be better off with family. It might not feel like it right now, but, later, when it happens, you’ll know it’s the best thing. We’re worried that by calling us Mum and Dad, you are going to find it really hard when you do need to move on. We’re touched that you would give us this honorary title, and it’s ok if you do want to call us Mum and Dad, but, you need to remember that it doesn’t mean that you will get to stay though.

Such a hard conversation to have.

Any other suggestions on how we could have handled this?

 

Filters

Is it just me, or do children in care have no filter?

“Kelly” once said to my mum, “if you get sick again you’ll go to hospital and probably die.”
Sadly, at the time it was true. Mum has been back to hospital once since then and is still with us, but at the time she was very ill and it was quite probably the case.

The dear “Kelly” also told me once to give up drinking iced coffee and go on a diet so I could be skinny.

“Scarlet” stayed with us last night. She’s a child presently placed with another carer in the same agency who happened to get food poisoning last night so we got a call to see if we could look after her.

MM went and collected her while I stayed home with the sleeping bubs (thank you MM, I was so tired from bubs the night before I lacked the energy to go get “Scarlet”). Somehow in the car on the way home the two of them were chattering away about school and “Scarlet” mentioned they were doing growth and development in class at the moment and she was telling MM all about ‘girl stuff’ and how she hasn’t got her periods yet, but the teacher said it’s ok because sometimes girls don’t start until they’re 16, and if they haven’t started then they need to see the doctor. So, the awesome MM reaffirmed this and let her know each girl is different, and it will happen in time. They also talked about feminie hygiene products and she mentioned her social worker gave her some sanitary pads and she didn’t like them because they were thick and uncomfortable.

Where is this girls filter?

Who discusses this with a) someone they’ve just met and b) a man at that?

From what I can gather, in the conversation somewhere MM mentioned he has 3 daughters and 4 grand-daughters, so he knows some things about girls and girl stuff.

You’re a legend MM, you take what ever these children throw at you and for the most part, handle it with the greatest of ease. I tip my hat to you because I am still getting used to dealing with “Kelly” and her cycle (it happens to fall when she stays here) and helping her with ‘girl stuff’. There really should be an instruction manual!

Anyway, back to filters.

Why is it that so often these children don’t have a filter?

Is it because they have developmental delays and so, like a small child, any old thought that pops in their brain pops straight out their mouth?

Is it because they haven’t been taught to think then speak?

Is it because of the trauma they have suffered and personal rights of theirs that have been violated that they don’t have ‘mental’ boundaries?

What’s the strangest thing a child has told you when their filter was not functioning?