Light Bulb

Don’t you love when you have that ‘light bulb’ moment and everything becomes clear and you feel like a genius at first, until you wonder why it took you so long to work it out and then you wonder why no one bothered to tell you?

“Kelly” has been having respite here for almost 3 years now. For over 2 of those years she has been coming here fortnightly. That’s a lot of respite.

In that time we have seen some amazing changes in “Kelly”. Seeing that progress lets you know she is healing and all the brain connections are starting to join the right way and it’s so exciting to watch.

But, the last couple of months have been a struggle. A real struggle. She’s not just made any progress, in fact, it’s almost been the  complete opposite of progress.

This morning was so frustrating. Yesterday we talked to “Kelly” about the new basket in her bathroom for her dirty laundry and that she is not to bring her laundry down and dump it on the kitchen floor anymore. This morning her towels were hanging over the balustrade, I mentioned that is not where they belong and her reply was “I’ll take them downstairs in a minute.” After 5 minutes of discussion about where the towels should go I got her to go in the bathroom and asked her to look around and tell me where she should put them. I have to give it to her, she had a lot of suggestions. Hang them on the shower. over the bath, fold them and place them on the toilet, or the hand basin. “Kelly” even suggested hanging them on the door, I don’t know how that would work, there’s no hook there. Eventually she worked out to put them in the basket, but it was one of the most frustrating experiences seeing as we talked about it less than 24 hours ago.

I dropped her at school, and called MM to debrief and it was when I hung up that I had the light bulb moment.

A few months ago “Kelly” disclosed to the police what had happened to her when she was little. Her Foster Dad let us know after talking with the police that her bed wetting had returned, proof that we were correct, it was trauma related and not a medical condition. We had never really had much of a problem with “Kelly’s” bed wetting, and since disclosing, she hasn’t had any problems here so we haven’t given much thought to her having any follow on problems since having to relive her trauma.

That was until today.

When “Kelly” first started coming for respite she couldn’t follow more than one instruction at a time. You couldn’t just tell her to get ready for bed as there were too many steps involved. It had to be broken down into singles steps, and eventually she was able to link them together as one. We seem to be back there. Telling her what needs to be done tomorrow will be forgotten by tomorrow (as shown by forgetting about the washing basket), and many reminders need to be given.

Now the light bulb has gone off it will help us remain cool under pressure, because it is a pressure situation when you have to explain the same thing…again, when it’s something we assume a much younger child could do without instructions.

Now the light bulb has gone off we just have to remember all the things we did in the early days with “Kelly” and start doing them over again and hope that by taking the step back with her we can help her make those forward steps back to where she was, much faster.

Now the light bulb has gone off I wonder does her dad know about this regression? If so, why has he not bothered to tell us? Does her social worker know? Why hasn’t she passed along the information? Are we the first to put 2 and 2 together and work out that she’s not being lazy, not being a pain in the neck teenager, but her mind is struggling to deal with her trauma all over again? Are we on the right track? Time will tell. In 2 weeks time we’ll be able to put my theory to the test and see if we have any more success.

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The Baby Diaries Part 15

This is a memo for my chefs. Milk lady. Milk man. Nana. Anyone that wants to make me food.

I’m almost 8 months old now. I’m not a baby.

I just want to be like you.

I want to eat big people food, because, let’s face it, I’m almost a big person myself. I can sit on my own, I can put food in my mouth, mostly, and I watch you and want what you have.

I love veggies – mashed not pureed, just like you.

I love meat – cut into little tiny pieces because I have a little tiny mouth, even if I do try and stuff lots in there at times.

I love cheese – grated because I don’t have teeth to chomp it yet.

I love toast – but please, don’t try to trick me with plain toast, I want peanut butter like you milk lady.

When we go out for dinner, I know what you’re up to, you feed me before we go and then try to make me sit in the high chair just chewing on a rusk….like a baby. Nope, Sorry! I want to try your garlic prawns, and your salt and pepper calamari (maybe with the batter stuff off) and that chicken parmigana looks soooooo good you just have to share it with me. I know you will only let me eat foods that aren’t too salty or too spicy, but I want to try new things, new tastes, new textures, and things I can play with and try to feed myself.

All this talk of food, I think it’s time for a nap while milk lady makes me some lunch….mmmm…veggies would be nice I think.

Mother’s Day to be

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I fell sorry for MM.

I have no idea what I’ll be like.

In the past, Mother’s Day has been depressing. Wanting my own children and celebrating my Mum, yet mourning my own inability to be a mother.

This year, we have “Jade” and I am so truly blessed to have that little person in our lives, but the reality is, she probably wont be here forever, despite wanting her to be, so I get the Mother’s Day I’ve longed for, but also know that it might be my only one with “Jade”.

I had a conference today, so MM was on baby duty and they went shopping together. He did ask me last night what I wanted for Mother’s Day, and that, I couldn’t answer, because I just don’t know.

I can’t think of any ‘material’ thing that I would want to mark tomorrow.

A full nights sleep might be nice.
MM to hear the baby during the night and do the 2 am feed.
“Jade’s” social worker to call and say we can keep her.
“:Jade” to come out with Mum-mum (MM spends so much time with her saying Mum-mum over and over. He is determined she will say Mum first, and before she leaves our home.)

Thinking of all the mums on their special day tomorrow.

Thinking of all the women like me who would give anything to have their own baby and the difficult day you have ahead of you.

Thinking of all the husbands who hold our hands and hug us and support us on our bitter sweet day unable to make the hurt go away, and love us and our broken bodies.

Argh…Grrrrr

No I am not trying to be a pirate or tigger.

I am frustrated.

Thursday is a big day.

I have an early start for work, 100 kms away, and since they changed bubs access to this day it’s harder because I not only have to pack her day care bag, but a separate bag with her goodies for access.

So, off we go to day care. Hand over notes given.

An hour later they come and collect bubs to take her to access, an hours drive away.

“Jade” was due for a bottle on arrival at access (yes, I time it so that “Jade” either has a bottle or a solids feed at each access so she has that special time with mum) BUT…TM didn’t show up. In their own frustration at having driven over an hour to collect baby, and then an hour back to access they now had to turn around and drive her an hour back to day care, they forgot to give “Jade” a bottle and a nappy change.

Imagine the day care lady’s surprise at receiving back instead of her normally happy smiling baby, a crying hungry little mite.

So frustrated that TM didn’t show up.

So frustrated that she didn’t bother to call them.

So frustrated that they forgot to feed “Jade”.

So frustrated that the only person who is really affected by all of this is the little tiny person in my care who has no voice for herself.

Now to write a polite, yet firmly worded email of complaint that they forgot to give “Jade” her bottle and made her wait 2 hours past her feed time for it. My poor little poppet.

The journey so far

7 months ago today a small pink bundle arrived on our doorstep.

“Jade” or Squeaky, as she is affectionately called by us for her little kitten like squeaks.

When she arrived, it was just for 9 days of respite. Her emergency carers had already planned a holiday and couldn’t take her royal cuteness with them, then, after she had been with us a whole 24 hours we were asked if we could continue caring for her until she was reunified with her tummy mummy.

Reunification was going well, and she should be moving back with mum late March to early April, giving the department a few months to support TM before the court order was up.

Everything was going well until the new year. Something has happened, I don’t know what exactly, but access with mum has been cut back to only 2 90 minute visits per week.

Today I find out that on Thursday this week there will be a meeting between “Jade’s” social worker and her supervisor to discuss the case as “Jade’s” brothers court order is up in under 2 months and between now and then they need to decide what direction the case is going to go in.

Has TM made enough progress in the last year to give them reason to apply for another 12 month court order?

Or do they apply for what is known here as a GOM18 order, meaning the children will be placed in long term care until they age out at 18.

If they are placed on a GOM18 order the department then look to family and friends of TM to see if there is anyone suitable and able to care for BOTH children.

If there isn’t anyone suitable, the department will then look to the list of foster carers in the state to see if there are any carers wanting to take in both of the children.

Then, there’s us. While we aren’t presently registered for long term care, it’s just a form to be filled out.

So, our little 9 day placement, has now been here 7 months, and now we are waiting to hear if we might be considered for the honour of caring for her royal cuteness “Jade”, for the rest of her life.

What a journey so far!

Better than expected

The big day was here, it was time for “Scarlett” to go.

Thank goodness it got moved earlier, and I don’t just mean moved forward a couple of days, I mean the actual time on the day itself.

We had been busy packing the day before. Checking and double checking all the rooms to make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything so that when the big day came, all “Scarlett” had left to pack was her toiletries (she slept the night in a pair of PJ’s we keep on hand for emergencies) and then we just had to wait for the hours to tick by.

Tick tock.tick tock.

I can’t remember how many games of Monopoly deal we played that morning (the card game version of monopoly, takes only 10 – 20 minutes per game).

Mid-morning the phone rang and it was her social worker confirming that we had all the details and to let me know that no-one from the department would be there for the hand over and could I please get her there an extra half hour earlier so that they could have lunch together before getting on their flight.

Ok, small panic attack on my behalf. I know I was handing “Scarlett” to her father, a man she knows, but it just didn’t seem right that no-one official would be there. How was he going to react to me. I’d not had any contact with him. I didn’t know how he felt about his daughter being in care. I didn’t know how he felt about the process taking so long to go through for her to move to him and here I was about to be the only person there.

I did the only thing I could do. Call MM. My knight in shining armour and beg for him to get off work for a couple of hours to come with us. I know, what was I thinking? Of course he can’t do that, but he did tell me to call our agency. Of course! They are awesome, and while I know that no-one could come with me, they would have all the comforting words I needed to hear. And they did. My Support worker was out doing a home visit, so I explained my predicament to the lovely lady that handles the phone and she put me straight on to another support worker who knows me. Yes, it would be ok. Yes this happens with re-unifications. Yes you can do this and then call me after to let me know how it went.

So, off we went, we left extra early to allow time for  the weather being poor and to allow time for road works and to find a park. We got there in good time and there was Dad. Sitting in the check in area waiting and watching.

I have never seen such a big smile. There is one man truly happy to have his daughter come and live with him. He even had gone to the trouble of buying me a big bunch of flowers for looking after “Scarlett”.

It went so much better t than I expected. We had a little chat and I am happy to report he has even got her booked in for therapy.

Another happy ending for one of our babies.

One more sleep

You think I can’t count don’t you?

It was not so long ago that it was 7 more sleeps. Time flies, but not that fast, I know.

“Scarlett’s” departure date got bumped. Which is great, really.

Because we had already started the goodbye process it was going to drag out, so I’m glad it’s happening sooner.

We had to change our last weekend together plans, but it’s worked out fine.

Yesterday I gave “Scarlett” the option of going out to the movies with just me or us getting her a DVD that she can keep always. She opted for the DVD because whenever she watches it she can remember us. Cool.
Dinner out is going to be tonight instead of Sunday, so that’s cool too.

Yesterday was washing day and all of her clothes are now clean and dry. “Scarlett” is wearing spare clothes we have here for the last 2 days so that hers are all lovely for when she gets ‘home’.

This has to have been the longest one night placement ever. For the first time I can think of, I’ve been counting down the hours until this young lady leaves. She is a bright, intelligent girl with many lovely qualities but she counters all of this with little regard for anyone other than herself and by being more demanding than baby “Jade”.

Right up until the last minute before bedtime tonight she has pushed our buttons. The 20 minute shower before dinner (which only ended because I almost knocked the bathroom door down to be heard over what she calls singing), the face that she does when she is being disrespectful but trying to get out of it with what she thinks is her cute face, and still ignoring the dog’s body language that says…get your big body off of me, I’m not your cushion. All of these things we have talked to her repeatedly about since she arrived here.

Well, in a little more than 12 hours we will leave the house for the last time together and take the long drive to the airport. Baby “Jade” had the option of being baby sat by Nana, or coming too, so the poor thing is being dragged to the airport as my ‘get out of jail free card’. When she gets restless it will be time for me to leave.

I just hope that our last morning is a nice relaxing morning together so we are both left with the many good memories.

7 more sleeps

The time has finally come.

It’s time for “Scarlett” to move on.

Well, almost. And by almost, I don’t mean just the 7 more sleeps. We have to wait for her father to be approved to take her, tomorrow is his assessment so we have everything crossed. If that goes well, then, it’s just a few more days and he will fly down to pick her up and they will fly back ‘home’ together.

It’s been a long time coming.

For such a simple thing it has ended up with 2 social workers from here having to fly interstate to do the assessments as they have been waiting weeks for the interstate office to do it. Poor “Scarlett’s” court order runs out next Tuesday and the department don’t want to have to go to court for yet another extension (nor should they, she’s going to a family member it shouldn’t take this long) so the poor social workers have to drop everything and go do the assessment.

We are in for an emotional rollercoaster of a week I think, if the last few days have been anything go by.

Friday was her last day of school as we are now on holidays, so she had to say goodbye to all of her friends.

Sunday we went out to lunch with Nana and Pa and then on to the farm for the last time, finishing with goodbyes to Nana and Pa.

Today “Kelly” went home from respite and she had her last goodbye with her.

Tomorrow we start packing up her desk and school supplies, and bit by bit we will pack her up ready for her big move.

Saturday we’ll go out to the movies and Sunday night we will go out for dinner for the last time as a ‘family’.

She’s been with us for 9 weeks, not bad for a one night emergency.

From “Can you please look after this girl for a night because her carer has food poisoning?”

To, “Can you keep her for the weekend?”

Then “Her placement is about to finish with the other emergency carer, could you please have her until the end of March when her order finishes and in that time she should move to be with her dad”

Finally “We’ve applied for a one month extension, would you be able to look after her for another 4 weeks?”

t’s definitely time for a break after this one.

We will still have “Kelly” for respite and of course the adorable “Jade” but for a while we wont take in another child because things are changing for “Jade” at the moment and until we find out what’s going on there we need to focus on these two young ladies.

Well, with 7 sleeps to go, I better get some sleep to deal with all the emotions we’re going to see this week.

The Baby Diaries Part 13

Bunny reduced

Happy Easter!

I like this Easter stuff.

The Easter Bunny left me a great big ballerina bunny teddy to snuggle with. She’s so soft and fluffy.

The milk lady said that I shouldn’t have chocolate because I’m still a baby. Guess the Easter Bunny thought she was wrong because when we went to visit Nana and Papa at the farm, there was a cute little gold bunny, with a BELL!!! Papa took some of the gold off and showed me the inside is all brown, and then he held it in my mouth. Mmmmmm. I like that.

The milk lady just shakes her head and says “what happens at Papa’s stays at Papa’s, but I think I’m not supposed to watch!”

Nana also gives me a little bit of ice cream in a cone when I’m there. That’s nice too because it feels good on my gums where my teeth are hurting me.

The milk man got a cool photo of me (you can’t see it because I’m not wearing my sunglasses) that milk lady enlarged and framed for my tummy mummy. Everyone keeps telling me it’s super cute, I hope TM likes it. I don’t get to see her as much as I used to, so maybe it will make her want to see me more.

Well, it’s time for a nap for me.

Happy Easter everyone! I hope yours was as good as mine.

Curiouser and Curiouser 2

The birth family just get stranger.

In curiouser and curiouser I mentioned that the birth family of little “Jade” have had nothing to do with her for 3 months. Now, they’ve made contact with the new social worker and all hell has broken out.

Grandma asked on Tuesday for “Jade” to spend 7 hours with them on Easter Saturday, with us being required to drive her an hour to and from this visit, and because “Jade” hasn’t seen them since before Christmas I really needed to stay local to pop back should she need me. What would I going to do for 7 hours?!

But it doesn’t stop there, Grandma wants to see “Jade” every other weekend, again, she expects us to drive her down there. What the…?!

So, I spoke with “Jades” new social worker. I think I’m going to like working with her, she is very child focussed, and was really happy to support me when I said that it was not convenient for us to take “Jade” down on Easter Saturday, but we could reschedule. She also supported me when I said 7 hours is ridiculous, but, perhaps we could go watch a movie while “Jade” is with the family, so 2 hours would be the maximum.

I spoke with my new support worker and she as displeased as us about this. So, as a result I’ve done more thinking and the more thinking I do, the less comfortable I am with this situation.

I asked if other people would be there, or just grandma. Answer, Aunty, her pile of children and possibly other relatives. How is this a good situation for “Jade”? Too many people. Too many strangers and no us there to support her.

“Jade’s” social worker emailed me about the suggestion I put forward and grandma wants to do it next weekend, she’s being quite pushy and not offering to do any travelling herself to make this happen. And, to make it worse has threatened to lodge a formal complaint if she doesn’t get what she wants.

Why is it now, they want contact, and why so much?

They haven’t seen “Jade” since before Christmas. They never confirmed the January date I put forward, in February they asked 3 days before they wanted contact but we were going on holiday, there was no request for March and now, they want fortnightly contact?

Don’t get me wrong, if “Jade” is going to reunify with her TM (tummy mummy) then I would support her having access with her extended family as they will be a big part of her life in the future. But, access visits have been cut back to 2 visits a week for 90 minutes each. From 5 days a week (total of 8.5 hours) to 3 hours a week, things aren’t looking good.

Ever the sceptic, MM suggests that they smell blood in the water. We know that reunification isn’t going well and that in a couple of months some serious decisions will be made about “Jade” and her brother. Is there plan to make contact, and apply for guardianship? Did they not do that when “Jade” first went into care? Were they turned down then and somehow think that by making an effort now it will change the departments mind? How is it making an effort if all they do is demand I drive baby across town or they’ll put in a complaint? So many questions and no answers….yet. I feel a long few weeks coming up.