Cyclone Stella

Like a cyclone, Stella will blow into our lives, cause chaos, confusion, commotion, and then blow out again.

Stella is a one night emergency placement little girl, who is on her second night here, and our lives will never be the same again.

We got the call, late in the afternoon 2 days ago. 15 minutes before ‘close’ of business time. Could we please help and take her just for the night. There was no where else. We are on the ‘don’t call us’ list with our agency at the moment as we have Harry and every other weekend Kelly, and I have a busy next couple of weeks with work. They know after the next music festival they can pester us as much as they like, so to get the call means they were desperate.

Of course we could help for a night, knowing full well the reality is it would be more than one night. Kylie…1 week turned out to 6 weeks. Scarlett…1 night turned out to 9 weeks and one night. Kelly…one off weekend of respite, now fortnightly respite for 3 years.  But we did put in a clause. We have Harry, so this is 2 little people under the age of 2 as Stella is only 18 months old, so the clause was, if it wasn’t working out, they would need to move her.

Well, Stella is a delightful little girl. Not the quiet and placid little girl the department ladies told us she was when they dropped her off from hospital, but a bouncy, effervescent, never quiet or still little girl. She was quiet and placid the first night, and MM looked at her sitting meekly n the couch and just said….3rd F. Yes MM, you called it in minutes, Freeze mode. Stella has defrosted and is almost impossible to have a phone call around now as she has a loud voice wanting to be heard. A shame she has no vocabulary yet, just really loud babble.

Stella was brought to us from hospital. The police had removed her from her home, her circumstances are unknown to us, and the department took her to hospital. In our 3 years of foster care, I have never seen a child with so many bruises. Most are fading and yellowy in colour now, but, it broke our hearts to give her a bath the first night and see all of the bruises that are covered with clothes. Her poor little face looks dirty, but it’s many small bruises on her cheeks and under her chin that make her look dirty. She has the face of an angel, and it is beyond our comprehension how anybody could do this to such an innocent little person.

Our house has been turned upside down with the introduction of Stella. Poor Harry. He’s doing remarkably well for having such a noisy house companion, but his naps are disturbed a bit, and the little man who was sleeping 8-9 hours solid at night before a feed and then sleeping another 3-4 hours to get his 12 hours for the night is now waking after just 6 hours of sleep and then going back for another 4 hours.

I am now faced with a horrible dilemma and that’s what finds me sitting up at 3 am writing this post.

In 2 days…Friday…Stella needs to leave us. I need to get Harry back into routine before my really busy week for work. But, to my knowledge, there are no carers available. 6 children that I know of came into care the day Stella did, and that’s just in our local intake office of the department. 6! That’s insane right?!?

So, the options for Stella?

Well, I don’t know if there are family or friends that could take her, the case is so new, I doubt the department have had much time to look at that as an option as yesterday they would have been in court getting the guardianship of Stella. That leaves residential care. A word that to me sounds a lot like orphanage. I say a group home by any other name still sounds like an orphanage. I loathe the fact that we need residential care facilities. That there aren’t enough people willing to care for our most precious little children. That the department are willing to fork out the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to keep a child in residential care each year, instead of helping families care for these children. I loathe myself for the fact that Stella may have to go to one. It’s the worst place I can imagine sending such a beautiful little girl, who needs love and stability, not rotating shift workers. A little girl who needs a female carer as we are pretty sure the perpetrator of her injuries is a male judging from her behaviour around poor MM. A little girl who I would love to keep, but has arrived in our home at the most inopportune time.

I wish I knew what to do about Stella. MM will say, by keeping her 3 or 4 days instead of just one, we’ve helped both her and the department by giving them time to find a better solution. I wish it was as simple as saying, she could stay as long as is needed to find her a forever home, if that’s what the plan is going to be for her. My dad would say it is that simple. He popped in for a quick visit to meet the little angel yesterday, and is already trying to think of how he and mum can help support us in keeping her. But the reality is they live an hour away. Mum can’t just pop in so I can have a shower. She can’t just pop in and go to the shops with us, so we have a stroller each (yes we have 2 single strollers, both given to us, if only they could magically be joined together).

How do I live with myself if I allow Stella to go to a resi care facility?

How do I cope with the next 2 crazy weeks of work with 2 tiny ones if I don’t?

How do I make such a decision?

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