And then there were three

I spoke to soon.
I chatted with David over breakfast on Friday morning to see how he would feel about us taking in a little person (a baby was my thinking) while he stays with us. Someone else who needs a safe place to stay for a while.

Surprisingly he seemed really keen about the idea. “Awesome” I thought, I’ll chat with the agency next week and let them know. Little did I know!

Later in the afternoon the phone rang, with a placement.

A little boy, 3.5 years, and his sister 14 months.

The third little sibling is just 3 months old and they had already placed her within the agency. Could we please take Clyde, the little boy for a week and Bonnie his sister overnight as they had someone who was willing to take her but only from Saturday.

A quick chat to MM on the phone and we would take both for the week.

Imagine David’s surprise when I picked him up from school and let him know later in the afternoon we were going to have not one but 2 new additions.

So, now we have a full house.

Well, our full quota of children we are registered to care for. I have no idea what will happen if Bonnie and Clyde haven’t moved on before the week is out and Kelly is due back for respite.

Actually I know what might happen. An exceed will be applied for, probably granted, and we will have 4 children next weekend. Then our new family car won’t be big enough…should have given more thought to the mini -van!

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Sweet Tooth

We’ve all heard the expression but our little man David thinks he literally has a sweet tooth. 4 to be precise.

We were eating ice cream last night and he said that he has 4 sweet teeth.

We tried to explain that it just means you like sweet food but he was adamant he really has sweet teeth.

We kept chatting and asked what he meant by sweet teeth and it seems he has 4 teeth that feel funny when he eats sweet things.

I think David has a trip to the dentist coming up.

And then there was one

Tuesday bought a new day.
Tuesday bought two happy little boys, excited by their first access visit, an opportunity to see mum and their two younger siblings who are placed with another family.
Tuesday bought a day full of hope.
And then, Tuesday wasn’t so good.

It  started with Trevor’s teacher handing out notices for a fun excursion to a water park. That would have been fine. We could have used that excursion as an incentive for Trevor to try hard at school, to try to stay each day for the full 90 minutes. Except, the teacher (Insert many negative thoughts from me) made a snide comment to Trevor along the lines of “I don’t know why I’m bothering to give you one of these, you won’t be going because you’re too naughty”.

Great work teacher! Trevor is now upset, so he lashes out and says he’ll go anyway, and now his friends are into it and encouraging him telling him he can just jump the fence and then he won’t have to pay. Of course this escalated and next thing you know Trevor is threatening people and throwing his grapes around the place, and, next thing you know, he has managed to get himself suspended for the rest of the week. Poor little man. The teacher should never have made a comment like that, and before anyone says, how do you know…well, the student counsellor told me.

I had a big chat with the counsellor and we decided we were going to talk to Trevor at his re-entry meeting the next week and use it as an incentive. If he could manage to stay at school for the next week until 10.30 am then he could go on the excursion until 10.30 am, and I would pick him up early. I even offered to go on the excursion and if he got out of control I could just take him straight away so no one would be in danger.

Then came access. To make an already difficult day harder, mum blamed the boys for them now being in care. Comments like, if you were better this wouldn’t have happened. So frustrating. David seemed to take it a bit better, but, it was the straw that broke poor Trevor. He decided he just wasn’t coming home to us. He wouldn’t get in the car with the social worker. So David came home and Trevor sat in the department office until almost 10pm while the social worker tried to find a placement for him.

She tried, and it didn’t happen.

At 7.30 pm he commented that David would be having a bath now.
At 8 pm he commented that David would be getting read a bedtime story. At 10 pm he was placed in emergency accommodation. A motel.

My heart breaks for him. For a little man used to roaming the streets with total freedom, a little man who struggled with the four walls of our home, he is now stuck in a smaller environment with those 4 small walls closing in around him. I can only imagine that it’s making his behaviour escalate.

I know the department won’t ask us to take him back and even if they did MM is adamant, the answer we have to give is no. David is settling well, it would be a step back for him. The stress levels for every one in the home would go through the roof. But more importantly, Trevor was getting increasingly violent, mostly targeted at his little brother, the soft option, but after we saw him fighting the police when they brought him home, MM is worried that Trevor will work out he is actually my size and I’ll be the next punching bag. After all, that’s what his experience is, men hitting women.

I worry for Trevor. I worry about his future.
I worry that the damage done to him psychologically by his mum and step dad might not be repairable because he is so resistant to people helping him.
I worry that this boy will become another foster statistic. Not because the system has let him down, but because he doesn’t want to change.
I worry about how his future might impact on David, a bright young man who could have the most amazing future if  given the opportunities other children have.

Do we ever stop worrying about the little children that come into our homes and hearts?

 

Oh Oh Oh

A first experience for us.

I got to call triple zero, the police emergency number to report a missing person.

Trevor ran away on Monday when we went back to school to pick up David. Trevor only goes to school until 10.30 am as they just can’t keep him there, he wanders off, and he has some very difficult behaviours. The biggest issue is he is a little man with no ability to self regulate his emotions and once he gets himself all worked up he just can’t bring himself back down, so he keeps getting worked up until he explodes.

On Monday at home doing worksheets, he must have told me at least half a dozen times that he wanted to  go home to his mum. And each time I replied that as soon as mum has done whatever she has been told she needs to do to make it safe there for you, you can go home. Each time he would storm off in a huff up the stairs and come back a little while later, calm again. Then sure as eggs, he would ask again, get the same response and have the same reaction. By the time we went back to pick up David he had just one thought in his head….seeing mum.

So he did.

I ran and jumped in my car, but it’s his home area and he had a head start and he took a side street and lost me, so I was left with no option but to call the police.

About 30 minutes later his mum had called the department and let them know he was there. The police picked him up and bought him home.

As soon as the police opened the door and let him out, he took off down the road, only to be tackled by a big burly policeman and then marched/half carried back home. Gotta give the kid credit for effort, even if it was a poorly thought out plan.

Soon after Trevor’s social worker and another social worker came to talk to him. They got to see a little man with no self regulation ability lose control at his brother just for being there.

It was such an emotional day for everyone.

Trevor, hell bent on going home to mum. Proof that it doesn’t matter how badly your birth parents treat you, there is a bond that is hard to break.

David, trying to deal with his big brother’s outbursts and not understanding why he want to leave us. In his words “But we’re safe here”.

MM, trying to keep me calm. Reminding me in my tears that Trevor was like this before he came to us. He was already running away, these behaviours came with him.

Me, feeling broken hearted for the pain and confusion Trevor is clearly feeling, and unable to accept the help of others at this stage.

Let’s hope that we don’t have to do many more missing persons reports.

The police were great on the phone, and they got straight out to look for him, but, regardless, I still felt like a failure for him getting away on my watch. But, as I’ve been reminded by the social workers from the department and MM….when these kids get the idea in their head, there’s very little anyone can do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know how to help

Our double trouble little men arrived on Thursday night.
They come to us from a house full of violence and neglect. I’m finding it hard dealing with the violence.
Both of the boys have really short fuses and their go to response is to lash out. I feel like I need a referee jersey, whistle and a red card to wave at them.
The older boy Trevor, is by far the worse of the two for his temper and the younger boy David, is great for pushing his buttons to get him really riled up.
Today they have been playing the card game Monopoly Deal…like monopoly but a game only lasts about 15 minutes, and the littlest thing can set off Trevor. Who’s turn it is to start. Who has a deal breaker card. His brother winning.
As soon as the bickering starts we just tell them to pack it away and tell them when they have both calmed down they can start again. Sure as eggs, in about 10 minutes they’re laughing and playing….until the next time.
We get arguments over who’s turn it is to choose a movie to watch. All arguments are settled by us. The solution to that one is either we turn off the TV and they have to find a quiet activity to do until they feel better, or we pick a movie for them.

Trevor is also ‘runner’. He is used to wandering the streets all day, so to find himself stuck with us all day must be a shock to the system. He’s only once tried to escape (got halfway down the driveway…lesson learned for me, door is key locked at all times and keys in my pocket) and when I reached him, I put my hands on his shoulders and turned him around and walked him back to the house. He didn’t fight. He didn’t struggle. Maybe he just wanted someone to care enough to come and get him.

I’ve been playing the piano more while they are here hoping they ask why, so I can explain it’s what I do when I don’t know what to do. It’s what I do when I’m happy. It’s what I do when I’m sad and it’s what I do when I am mad. It’s my outlet. I’m hoping then we will have planted a seed for a future conversation about what they can do when they feel sad or mad.

Is there more that we can do right now other than just role modelling quiet and calm?

Their little lives have been tipped upside down this week. I can’t imagine how they must be feeling. That we haven’t had actual physical contact between them is a blessing.

How do we help these little men who only know violence?

How do we teach them that you don’t have to yell and hit to be heard?

How do we have more of the sunshine times and less of the thunder?

My guess is time.
Lots of time.
Time to see a different way of living.
Time to feel safe and not have a need for fight or flight.
Time to spend with men who don’t hit women.
Time to spend with women who don’t yell all the time.
After all…

Time heals all wounds doesn’t it?

Harry Happiness

A week on from saying goodbye to our little man Harry and finally 2 nights of sleeping through and not waking to feed my imaginary baby, I find myself sitting on the couch thinking about the lovely little boy who blessed our home with his presence.

Things we will always think of when we think of Harry.

His big gummy grin. Will I ever get tired of those baby grins? Harry’s was so good to see as he came to us and his bottom lip used to quiver almost non-stop. We found it was something he does when stressed, so to lose that and have it replaced with big grins will always mean the world to us.

His little chuckle when getting tickles. Sometimes he would start giggling just when he new he was going to get tickles. There’s no sound as beautiful as a baby’s little laugh and even more so from a baby that has come to us from a traumatic start in life. To see the healing and hear that sound is truly music to the ears.

My dad singing. Dad doesn’t sing, (and for good reason), but Harry had him singing to him almost every time we went to visit. Little Harry had Pa around his little chubby finger with Kangaroo rides (not Horsey rides) and singing him “my boomerang won’t come back”. Dad’s way of supporting us with our indigenous baby.

His sleep transformation. In 3 short months Harry went from having to fall asleep in my arms and having the bassinet right by my bed so I could sleep with one arm in there in contact with him, to being wrapped and placed awake in his cot in our room where he would fall asleep and sleep for 7 or 8 hours before needing a feed and then going back to sleep for another 4 hours.

Snuggles. Our little snuggle bunny. Harry did love a snuggle and was happy to just be in our arms where ever we were. Regardless of when we tried to eat dinner Harry would want a snuggle. We tried dinner at all different times around Harry’s schedule, but he would always wake up and want to just sit on my lap being part of the family at meal time.

I think back and those colic nights seem a distant memory, and definitely not the first thing I remember when I think of Harry. There are too many happy memories, that those difficult times don’t even pop up.
Wishing our little man the happiest of lives with his forever family. His new mummy and daddy and his 3 big sisters. One little man set to be snuggled all he wants with so many big sisters.

Harry’s Home

Harry has gone home.
Harry is with his people.

He hasn’t gone back to his birth mother, but to an extended family member.
It’s such a great outcome for this lovely little man.

What’s best is when Harry was placed with us we were asked if we could have him for 3 months.
The plan was to give his birth mother 3 months to show she wanted to change, and wanted her son. If so, then give her 12 months to work towards reunification. If not then the case would go GOM18 and the little man would be placed in a long term placement. The day we handed Harry to his forever mum, was 3 months exactly since he arrived in our home.
I love when a plan comes together in the best interest of the child.

After all, isn’t that all that any foster carers want? Action in the best interest of the child. Not the birth parents, they had their chance, but, the best interest of the little people who’s lives have been turned upside down and inside out.

Little Harry will now be doted upon by his new big sisters, and it was love at first sight when his new mum came to collect him.

We’re both so happy that this little man with the biggest gummy grin and cutest little chuckle when he’s having tickles is in his forever home so quickly. Of course we will miss those big brown eyes that just melt your heart and his wonderful sleeping habits, but, for Harry, to be with his people, to grow up in his culture with family who love him, is the best possible outcome.

Little man, we will miss you so much. We have been blessed to have shared in your life. You will always hold a special place in our hearts.