What can I say?

We are truly blessed to have so many people who don’t just care about us, but also our special children. But now, oddly, I have to add NM (new mum) to the list of lovely people.

I wish I could say she is horrible, but she is anything but.

This morning she is coming for another visit with Jade, and she sent me a text to tell me they were running late.

I replied with a thank you and please let me know when you are on your way as a blue bundle of cuteness is arriving this afternoon and I need to hit the shops before he arrives.

Her reply, copied straight from her message:

“Congratulations, I know this has been very hard on you and your hubby and I hope having a new little bubba to love will help you with this transition. You are both very special people doing what you are doing with all these beautiful children”

NM seems to understand what we are going through and is sensitive to that. That means a lot to me. She really does seem like such a lovely lady, how can I be sad that Jade is going to such lovely people?

What more can I say? We really are so blessed.

What more can I say?

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Enter Eddie

In all the emotion commotion of the last few weeks I haven’t shared a real highlight.

Eddie.

The day our world felt like it imploded we were to go interstate to visit MM’s new grandson. Enter Eddie. What a little cutie.

We had a lovely weekend away with Jade visiting MMs girls and their girls and now a boy.

It would be a massive understatement to just say MM is happy about a little boy. He is so over the moon that our next foster baby has to be another girl. Why? Because Eddie is special and for a while MM wants him to be the only little man in the family. How can I argue with that?

We had 2 lovely visits with “Ellen and Portia” and their two little ones, Marilyn and Eddie. I’m not sure if my highlight of the visits was watching MM play a frozen game with Marilyn, where he got to be Anna, or cuddles with little Eddie or just being made to feel so welcome.

Next we went to visit Missy, Mac and little Kourtney. Kourtney just loved playing with baby which was so cute because she has only just turned 2. We had a wonderful time there and I can only have one highlight. It must be when Missy asked me to choose a title to be called by Kourtney. I can’t be nana because that’s taken but I need a name like that. So, after tears from me….an overwhelming experience to be so welcomed into their family, and after a late night whisper chat with MM we came up with an option. I am now Nanny.

Our weekend away was so perfectly timed. It was a great way to put all the drama at home behind us and just enjoy our time away and relax.

Thank you to Ellen, Portia, Missy and Mac for sharing your gorgeous families with me.

Thank you MM for being so supportive of me on our fostering journey but also sharing your beautiful family with me and now having me blessed with the Nanny title.

What more could a girl ask for?

Meeting the new Mum

Today was a big day.

“Jade’s” new mum came for her first visit.

You can only imagine how stressed I have been this week. This morning saw me unable to sit still.

She messaged to say she was on her way, and it turned out perfect timing. It was time for “Jade” to have a nap, so she napped while I waited, and waited and waited some more. An hour has never felt so long.

I should actually clarify. She messaged and said “we are on our way”.

We?? We who?? I was just expecting her. Was she bringing “Jade’s” 3 year old brother? The little man with ants in his pants? How would we get any talking done with him bouncing around the house? How would she bond with “Jade” with him demanding attention? Or was she bringing her hubby? That’s ok, but that’s 2 new people for “Jade” to meet and I was really hoping she would get some quality time with her new mum.

The car pulled up, and there were 3 bodies in the car. New mum, dad and brother….e gads!!!

But, only mum got out. Dad and brother took off. Whew!

She explained that dad and brother were off to go look at big trucks together so she could have one on one time with “Jade”.

I can tell you, I was warming up to her quickly.

We had a coffee and a chat while “Jade” was still napping. We chose dates to get together over the next 2 weeks to transition “Jade”, shared case notes (it isn’t just us that have been kept out of the loop, they hadn’t even been informed that they had passed their assessments) and I gave her information about dealing with the department and gave her some paperwork they wont think to give her, but that she should have.

“Jade” woke up and after a clean nappy (have to seriously question feeding her spaghetti Bolognese, man do those nappies smell!) we went to meet new mummy.

While “Jade” was waking up she just sat on my lap staring at this new person in her home. It wasn’t long and her cheeky smiles started to come out, so NM (New Mum) asked for a cuddle. “Jade” was happy to go for cuddles, so I got her high chair ready and some lunch and got NM to feed her. That was interesting. Almost every mouthful “Jade” would turn and look at me as if to ask ‘Is it ok for me to take food from this lady?’. They got through lunch so we went to play in the next room.

“Jade” is starting to take little steps with help, so she would go from me to NM with us each helping her and cuddles from both of us when she got to us. It was when she started to snuggle into my arms that NM decided it was time to go as she could see she was starting to wear down.

I am feeling more at peace with her moving. I don’t want her to go. But, I feel calmed having met this lady and I can see how much she really does want “Jade”.

I told NM I am starting to pack “Jade’s” things, but explained it’s a slow, emotional process.

Her reply “I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you.”

What more can I ask for? NM seems to understand that I am not just a carer, but that we love “Jade” and will miss her deeply. Maybe, just maybe there’s a glimmer of hope that we can stay in touch and still be a part of “Jade’s” life

They giveth and they taketh away

The beginning of the end.

Or the beginning of a new beginning.

However you look at it, we have entered the beginning of the transition of our gorgeous “Jade” to her new forever home.

I had a meeting today with the senior practitioner and supervisor about the case, and I was accompanied by our awesome support worker and her equally awesome team leader.

I’m surprised at no point either of them poked me under the table to tell me to shut up.

I’ve been able to express my concerns to the department and have them acknowledge their lack of communication about the progress of the case. Our last communication indicated they were still assessing the new people for the care of “Jade” so when we found out it was all sorted it was such a shock. I would like to think if we had been included in the progress of the case, told that they had been approved, told when it was going to court, told that they had the order, we could have been more prepared and ready to accept the decision.

Had we been kept in the loop, our darling “Jade” could have already transferred out of our care during the school holidays and while that sounds crazy, it means I could have cried my little eyes out all school holidays and been on my way to feeling better when I have to go back to school and put on a happy face.

So later this week I will speak with “Jade’s” new mum and we will sort out visit times so she can come and start getting to know “Jade” and more importantly, for “Jade” to get to know her. And, it’s my job to smile and make “Jade” comfortable while my heart breaks.

Soon we will start the conversations of when do we want another child. Do we want to see if we can get a placement while
“Jade” is transitioning out so when she goes I have another little person to pour my love into, or do we want a break. Our lovely support worker said she will support whatever decision we make. It’s nice to know she has the confidence in MM and I to make the right decision for us.

MM, you truly are an amazing man to put up with all the tears and incomprehensible conversations with me and then when I say, lets get another one, you just say…Sure, when?

So the department gaveth me the most beautiful little baby you could imagine and the department taketh her away.

We hurt, we cry, and we know we will do it all again because we have given this little girl a great start to life and there are more little children out there that need a safe loving home.

Oh? Didn’t we tell you…?

A great beginning to a conversation when it’s followed by “You’ve won a million dollars.”

A devastating beginning to a conversation when it’s followed by “The case has been to court already,we got the GOM 18 order on the first appearance and “Jade” is going to be moving on from your care.”

And the worst part of this story is that this little gem of information came about by accident. I doubt we would know even now had I not asked the question on a question asking rampage.

It all came about last week. We were getting ready to go interstate to visit MMs family. MM was at work. I had taken the day off to pack. “Jade” was booked into child care for a few hours so I could do the last minute grandbaby shopping and some packing without her help (read as come cuddle me some more). But unlike a regular work Thursday when “Jade” gets to day care at 8 am, we had a nice sleep in and were booked in to start at 9 am. As it turns out, a very lucky decision.

At 8.30 am the phone rang. It was a support worker at day care to collect “Jade” and take her to access, with her father. What? This hadn’t been organised with me. We wouldn’t have planned to leave on the same day as access with her father. Not after the last time when she was so upset for the rest of the day. So, the support worker called “Jade’s” social worker who called me and left a message (because I was on the other line with MM and more than just a little upset)that said they can’t stop her father from having access with his child, so I had to let “Jade” go. The support worker called me back and said the same thing. Then I started with the questions.

Who was going to supervise access? Support worker said she was…Wrong answer, only Social worker or “Jade’s” regular support worker are to supervise access with Father.

Have you supervised access with “Jade” before? Yes, twice…Wrong answer, “Jade” needs to be with someone she feels comfortable with for her second visit with her father.

When was the last time you supervised access? 3 weeks ago….hmmm..interesting, day care provider hasn’t met her before. I know she supervised 5 weeks ago, with the social worker, maybe her maths is out.

Where will access be held? At a playground in a shopping centre.

My response. I will let you know if “Jade” can go once I’ve spoken with my support worker. This isn’t ok to spring an access visit on us when it’s been known for some time we were going on holiday today.

The awesome support worker that I have was straight on to the phone on my behalf. She was as surprised as I was as she had not been given any notification the “Jade” was going to be having access with her father either.

“Jade’s” social worker got her senior practitioner to call me and try to explain things and calm me down and let “Jade” go. I explained I wasn’t against access with her father, just she couldn’t go today. I promised if they named a day and a time the following week I would personally bring her down, just not the day we’re going away. She said there seemed to have been a communication problem, I agreed, but told her it wasn’t my problem, the problem was their office had failed to communicate with me. At that point I asked what else they haven’t communicated. Such as, when is the case going back to court. The reply.

“Oh? Didn’t we tell you? The case has been to court. We got the GOM 18 order on the first appearance.”

I was gob smacked. Angry. Devastated. Heartbroken.

I asked why we weren’t told because we wanted to put in a submission to the court. They asked what sort of submission. I told them it was a submission as to why we would be the best placement for “Jade” long term. You could hear the senior prac back pedalling in her mind when I quoted some of the child protection act at them which states that any interested person who has at any time had the care of the child has a right to be heard despite the fact the applicant is not a party to the proceedings.

It turns out, “Jade” didn’t need to go to access that day after all.

MM told his boss about what had happened and he got sent home from work to be with me…thank you super boss!

I can tell you, we got packed quick smart and left, via my parents house…thank you mum for the massive amount of home made cookies for our road trip. Thank you Pa for the debrief and suggestions.

I think I spent the better part of 6 hours crying that day. I find it so hard to believe that “Jade” is going to be leaving us and we haven’t been given an opportunity to put forward an argument as to why she should stay.

MM and I hatched a plan on the first leg of our journey. Write the court submission anyway. Write a cover letter. Send them to the social worker, her senior practitioner, supervisor, manager of their office, the chief executive of the department and the minister.

We understand that it in all probability it is too late to change the course of events. “Jade” will leave us. But what we might be able  change is how foster carers are treated in the future. We hope to change the attitude of social workers towards carers. We want the department to stop using their one size fits all policy of children should be placed with family first and siblings should be placed together.

We understand in an ideal world this policy fits, but in “Jade’s case, and I’m sure there are others, we could encourage and maintain healthy relationships with her family if given the opportunity and we really don’t think that it’s in her best interest to be placed with her brother. We also believe it would be bad for her attachment to break the strong bond she has with us to start over with a new family at this stage in her development.

We hope to make it so that all carers are given their right to have a say if they should choose, as most don’t know it’s an option.

We hope to make it so that the department stop trying to make all cases fit in one policy, but rather look at each case on it’s own merits and make decisions that way.

From our heartbreak, maybe we can make it better for others yet to come.