David came back

A little over a year ago we had brothers Trevor and David come into our home.
Trevor just for a week before the department moved him because of his toxic relationship with his brother.
David stayed until the end of the school year and then went to live with a family member.

7weeks ago we got a call. We were on the “don’t call us at the moment list” as I was about to have 2 crazy weeks with work and taking in another child at that time was just not going to work. As it was I wondered how we were going to get through it. The previous 2 years we had little babies (Jade and Harry) and each time we had placed them in respite for the 3 busiest days so I could focus on work, but this year was going to be different. Bonnie and Tyla are very attached and struggle with strangers and I just couldn’t bring myself to put them into respite. It was hard enough with the babies, but, babies are amazingly adabptable, and if their needs are being met, they will generally settle in well. But, Bonnie and Tyla are older, and I just couldn’t send them off to strangers. Maybe it’s I’m very attached and couldn’t cope with sending “my girls” to strangers?

So, the first day of my busy 2 weeks the phone rang and I knew it was important for them to be calling with a placement. It was David. Aunty couldn’t care for him anymore. We’ve always said that if any of the children we’ve cared for needed us again we would do our best to be there for them, so we said yes.

What a crazy time we had. It was the start of school term and we had to enrol him in a school, get uniforms, buy clothes, and organise after school care. We somehow got it done and in a few days he was in his new school and settling in well.

Next, music festival time for me and to try and find out what the plan for Daivd was.

How long were we expecting him to stay?

How was the reunification with his mum progressiing?

Were there any other family memebrs that could/would take him?

The joys of emergency care.

All the unanswered questions, and some of them we never get answers to.

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Oh Happy Day

Sunday was a special day.

It marked one year since the beautiful little Bonnie arrived in our home.

I remember the phone call on the Firday afternoon about taking her and Clyde in.
Could we have Clyde for a week (standard request for an emergency placement) and could we have little Bonnie over night as they had another carer that could take her the next day.

I said we were happy to take them both for the week. And here we are now, 52 weeks later with both Bonnie and her little sister Tyla.

What an adventure the last 12 months has been.

We’ve had first words and steps, tantrums, watching her little personality blossom and seeing her little sense of humour grow.

She is on her 3rd court order and we are (not so) patiently waiting for her social worker to be able to tell us formally what the next court order they apply for will be.

Will it be yet another 12 month order to persue reunification or a long term order, meaning the girls can stay with us forever?

I can’t beleive we have been so lucky to have this little angel in our home.

So many people tell us that she is lucky to have us, but I can tell you, it’s the other way around. I never thought anyone would ever call me mum, and now, almost every sentence that Bonnie says starts wtih “Mum…” Truly a blessing for me.

I wish someone had told me sooner how much fun toddlers are.

Ok, there’s tears and tantrums on occassions, but for the most part, Bonnie is just delightful. Watching her with her sister often brings a tear to my eyes. If Tyla cries, normally Bonnie is there with an arm around her asking “matter? matter?” or she’s racing out to me “Mum…issy crying….bottle”.

There’s the fun to be had in deciphering Bonnie’s new words. I often act as translator for MM but sometimes, when she’s trying out a new word we both are left scratching our heads. Funniest had to be one day she came to me with what appeared to be a blank sheet of paper saying “Bactis Bano”. I repeated it and asked Bonnie to show me what she wanted, she took me to the piano, turned over her piece of paper to reveal it had music on it and repeated “Bactis Bano”. How could I have not known that was Practise Piano?

Bonnie is still very wary of strangers, in particular men, but with MM….she is a real Daddy’s girl. I love when he gets home from work and she hears the shed door and runs as fast as her little legs will carry her out to meet him. Such a joy to watch.

I can’t believe it’s been a year already. Our little girl has grown up so much, and regardless of what the next court order brings, we know that at the very least, it brings another year of time with Bonnie. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

 

 

I’m Back

It’s been a while.

MM has been (not) so subtly encouraging (pushing) me into writing again.

I strated blogging as a sort of therapy for me, and then one day I wrote something that upset someone. It was uintentional. One of those times when you know what you mean to say and someone else reads it differently.

For the hurt I caused I am sorry.

But, as MM reminds me (at least once a week), this blog is for me. My place to debrief. My space to vent. My safe place as I don’t use any of our names and very few people that we know, know about the blog.

So, the time has come for me to get back to it and do I have some stories to tell.

 

Visiting Raj

What a lovely afternoon we had last week.
We went out to lunch with the not so little Raj and his beautiful new parents.
So much love in one room.
Boy has Raj gotten big in the last three months.
My lap was a little bit happy when I handed him over to MM, I think my leg was going numb. But, that said he is so round and squishy and snuggly, it was just lovely having a cuddle with him, even though he had absolutely no idea who we were.

It was lovely to hear that they have followed the routine we had him in and that it’s working a treat for them. They are still wrapping him for sleep, but he has grown so much they need to use a cot sheet….had a big giggle over that. Raj was only waking once a night for a feed when he was here, and is doing the same for them, and sometimes sleeping through the night, so they are super happy with that.

We have received a photo every month on his ‘birthday’ and the occasional phone call and chat. It’s probably he hardest part for us, not knowing how much we can/should message them. We don’t want to be a pest but at the same time we don’t want to not appear interested. So we wait patiently for the next month photo to come along and then have a catch up chat.

They are just so happy together. Raj is  happy and content and both of his parents just glow with the love they have for their little man and are already talking about a second.

It has been such a blessing to be able to care for this special little man while waiting for the process to do it’s thing and it’s even more of a blessing to still be able to be a part of his life with this lovely couple.

Being Unique

Being unique is great. Embracing  you’re own special traits and standing out from the crowd is something we should encourage our children to do. Isn’t it?

What if being unique meant that you were the only teenage girl at school with your school top tucked into your track pants and the pants pulled up so high you can’t help but think of Steve Urkel from “Family Matters”? What if being unique meant that you were the only teenage girl wearing a school uniform that was at least 2 sizes too large for  you? What if being unique meant that you go to school reeking of garlic because your parent put so much garlic in your food it takes 2 days for it to get out of your system? What if being unique meant your school jacket was so big it fitted a 6 foot tall man and you were only 5 foot 3?

Kelly is that child. We try to help her, but we can’t buy her new school uniforms just because her foster dad buys the wrong size. I know he means well by buying something she will grow into, but Kelly is 14, so doesn’t have a lot of growing left to do, and her uniform is so big she would have to put on about 30 kilograms to fit it properly. Her school jacket fits MM perfectly and looks like she borrowed it from her dad and then tonight she arrived for respite with her shirt (which is so long it comes halfway down her thighs) tucked into her pants, so you can just imagine how that looked, all that extra fabric shoved into a pair of track pants.

Last respite she arrived and smelled so strongly of garlic you could smell her from the opposite side of the table, and it was 2 days before she didn’t smell of garlic. Imagine being the kid that has to sit next to her in class?

I have no idea to help her. I mentioned the oversized school uniform to her social worker, but I don’t think there’s anything they can do about it either. When she shows up with greasy hair I suggest she wear it in a pony tail. She’s just the kid in class that’s standing out for all the wrong reasons.

Sigh.
I wish I knew how to make it better for her. The saddest part, I’m not even sure if she realises that her clothes are way too big for, other than that I comment on it. Her clothes have never really fit her in all the time she has been coming to respite. We’ve taken to buying her clothes to wear when she is here so she has clothes that fit and are age appropriate. Yes, some of her clothes look like they came from her grandmothers cupboard.

What’s the most frustrating part, is her foster dad’s biological daughter never looks like that. She has trendy clothes that fit correctly and there is a clear double standard going on in the house.

I wish I knew how we could help her just be a normal teenage girl, but sadly with her foster dad and her disabilities she is never going to be that. She will always be unique, for all the wrong reasons.

 

 

 

The greatest gift

“The greatest gift you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return”.

That really sums up foster care in a sentence.

It is the greatest gift we can give the children that come into our home, the love that they deserve and the greatest gift they give us, is their love in return.

While I sit with tears in my eyes because another baby has left our home, and left me broken hearted because I will miss that gorgeous little gummy grin, the little baby babble, and the cute little chuckle, I know that those tears are because I have given that little person the love they needed to start off their life in a safe, happy and loving home.

While I sit with tears in my eyes because that baby has gone on to their forever family, I know that they know how to be loved and how to love. Every time we walked into the room or peered into the cot in the morning and that little face would light up with a great big smile is proof that they will love their new parents and bring them as much joy as they did us.

I have people comment that they don’t know how we do it, and to be honest, there are times when I am crying my eyes out that I wonder how and why we do it. Then I look at a photo of one of the babies we have cared for, and see the smile and know that they are smiling because while they are with us they know they are safe and loved and that that is why we do it.

The joy and happiness that these precious little people bring to our home far outweighs the grief that we feel when they leave.

So, for another day I sit and grieve for the precious little man I will no longer have cuddles with, yet at the same time happy knowing he has gone to a beautiful couple who have been waiting for years for a baby.

For another day I sit and remember the smiles and giggles with tears in my eyes that now another woman will be blessed with those smiles and giggles.

For another day I wait for another little person to come into our home. Another little person to give our greatest gift of all to. The gift of love.

 

 

Mother’s Day blessings

For those who are struggling with infertility, I know your pain and I know how hard this day is. A day that you want so desperately to be a mother, yet it hasn’t happened and you know it may never happen biologically for you. It’s one of the hardest days in the year. A day to celebrate your mum but on the inside is just pain and frustration at not being a mum yourself.

Last year was a day of mixed emotion for me. A day to celebrate the beautiful little Jade in our lives. A gorgeous little lady who stole our hearts and for whom we still shed a tear every now and then from missing her so much.

This year we have Bonnie and Raj. Raj who will be leaving us in the next couple of weeks and both MM and myself are so happy for him and more importantly, for the people that will have this giggly little boy in their family. I have my fingers crossed that he will go to a couple struggling with infertility, to make their dreams come true.

Bonnie is a blessing in a different way. She calls me mum. To this little lady I am the mummy one. I’m the one there in the middle of the night when the nightmares come after access visits to hug her and comfort her. I’m the one there to help her up when she falls over while she’s learning to walk and the one there for “more” horsie rides around the lounge room. This bonnie wee lass has filled the hole in our hearts when Jade left in a way I couldn’t have imagined. She has only been here 5 months, but, she is such a good fit in our home that it’s hard to imagine her not being with us. Only time will tell. In the mean time we will enjoy every minute we get to watch her learn and grow. Giggle at her funny little ways and hold her close when she struggles with the access visits.

Has motherhood come to me how I had hoped or planned?
No.
But, this is motherhood as I know it, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Being the foster mum to these precious children brings more joy than I could have imagined.
For those struggling with infertility, hang in there. Motherhood will come to you if  you open your heart and mind to other ways of making your wishes come true.
Being a foster parent is the most amazing experience. I can honestly say that I am glad that life chose this path for me.

 

Boys, Boys, Boys

Teenage boys.

Teenage girls.

Argh!

When I began on my fostering journey I applied to care for children from birth to 12 years of age. I didn’t want teenagers. Then Kelly was turning 13, so we extended our age to 13. Now Kelly is 14, so we are registered for 14. And then along comes Indiana. A 15 year old girl needing respite.

Our support worker approached us about providing a night of respite for this lovely young lady to start with, and gradually build up from there as she is quite an anxious young person and they wanted to make sure that she coped ok with one night before having any longer respite.

It was going well, until just before bed time she checked her phone, and there it was. A long message from her boyfriend. Her long distance boyfriend. She was so excited as he had been on a cruise with his family and she hadn’t spoken with him for a week. That excitement quickly changed as she left the room to read the message in private. He was breaking up with her, without actually saying he was breaking up with her.

To our surprise she asked if she could talk to us. Indiana had only been in our home for a short meet and greet visit a few weeks earlier, and this was just 4 hours into her respite placement. We spent the next two hours sitting on the couch talking with Indiana about her text message, which she shared with us, and talking about boys and long distance relationships. It really was an honour to have her feel safe enough with us to talk to us. I really thought she would ask to go home to her carer.

We eventually got Indiana settled enough to go to bed, and in the morning she seemed better. We had a lovely day. Did a little bit of shopping in the morning while Kelly was at her dance lessons and in the afternoon we all went to an adventure playground for a couple of hours.

Indiana was collected later that afternoon by her foster carer and to our surprise that evening I got a text message from her. She wanted to know if it was ok for Indiana to call us. She wanted to talk to us more about her problem. MM and I were so surprised, but it felt really good that she wanted to talk to us again even though she was now back home.

I must say a big thank you to MM for being a part of the conversations with Indiana. I don’t know that I could have handled it on my own. Teenager problems. I felt I was way out of my depth, but together, we helped a young lady in her time of need. It will certainly be interesting if she comes back for more respite!

Raj

We have another baby.
If a 17 month old wasn’t enough, we added a new born to our home.
Baby Raj was just 3 weeks old when he arrived and he is so gorgeous.

He came to us from another carer in our agency. She sadly got ill and couldn’t care for him as she needed some medical procedures.

It is truly an honour to be able to care for this little man because he is super special.
Raj is up for adoption.
Last year in our state just 3 children were adopted, so it’s such a blessing to be able to care for this little man while the system does it’s thing.

It’s interesting to be a part of this process.

Before his tummy mummy can sign the consent forms to place him for adoption she has to go through counselling to make sure this is the right decision. Then once she has signed the consent forms there is a 25 day waiting period. I’m sure it has a proper name, but it’s like a cooling off period. Time that mum can change her mind, go into the office and rip up the paperwork. Then things move super fast. The first call to a suitable family is made, they have 24 hours to make a decision, and within the week baby Raj and I will meet with them, and if they are happy to proceed, within the next week Raj will transition to their home.

We have waited and waited for tummy mummy to sign, and this week she has.
It must have been such a huge decision for her to make. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for her. I’m so proud of her though, to put the needs of her child first.

Now the countdown has begun.

In approximately one month, our gorgeous boy will be adopted and live happily ever after.

He who shouts loudest

Just who is the system looking out for?

The children?

Or those that stomp their feet the loudest?

We messaged Jade’s forever family just before Christmas. We had something for each of the children (including their daughter) and asked if we could catch up with them. I know Christmas is a busy time for them. Because just a few days after it’s Jade’s brothers birthday and a few days later it’s their daughters birthday. As if Christmas wasn’t busy enough. So, we were disappointed to not hear from them straight away, but not surprised.

Time went on and we still didn’t hear anything. Maybe the novelty of staying in touch with us had worn off already

MM kept asking if I’d heard anything and then I suggested that maybe we could ask for a play date seeing as Bonnie is the same age.

5 days later and I got a text message that has broken my heart.

Jade’s new mum had some health issues before Christmas and the children were no longer with her and her husband.

They are with Aunty.
The same Aunty who was not approved to care for Jade when she was born.
The same Aunty who was not approved to care the Jade when the court granted a long term order.
The same Aunty who made demands on us to drive Jade over an hour for a family visit and then wasn’t courteous enough to even bother saying hello or thank you to us.
The same Aunty who works 3 jobs and has 4 or 5 of her own children.
How does this woman, have time to care for a toddler?
This is why Jade wasn’t placed there before. Because she was so busy with work and her own children the department saw that with a pre-schooler and toddler, the placement would be likely to fail.
What on earth could have changed so much that now she is a good choice for these children?
Why did the department not offer more help and resources to keep Jade and her brother with the other family?

My guess is Aunty and Grandma stomped their feet and threw an adult tantrum. It’s not the first time. They did it while Jade was with us. Demanding we drive Jade all over the place at their beck and call, and never making a compromise. Instead of meeting us part way so poor baby Jade didn’t have to do all the travelling, they pushed for us to drive her over an hour to visit them. They would threaten to go to the media about the department not allowing them to see their family members and complained long and loud about us being uncooperative. But never did they put the needs of Jade first.

I know for Father’s day there was a problem because Jade’s new mum didn’t ring Aunty’s brother (bio dad). When new mum explained she can’t, that all communication had to go through the department, the family threw a tantrum and never made contact for Jade’s first birthday. No presents, no cards, no phone calls, not even a text message.

How can this woman be a good role model for Jade?
How can she be a good placement for her?

We have let our agency know about this situation and made it know that if/when (and we believe it will be when) the placement fails we will take Jade back in a heartbeat. Don’t even ring us and ask, just ring us and tell us she is on the way. Sadly, they are just as cynical as we are about this placement being successful.

I was devastated when I heard about this development and now, I am mad. Very mad.

Decisions being made that really don’t look like they are in the best interest of the child, but rather, the easiest option for the department when dealing with super sized tantrum throwing toddlers. Why is it that he who stomps the loudest get what they want and the needs of the children come second?  Sadly this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of a birth family getting what they want from stomping and being difficult. When will the department stand up and fight harder for the children?

Here’s hoping I’m wrong. That Aunty has changed and will be a great place for Jade because that poor little girl is 17 months old and is in her 4th placement already, and considering she was with us for 10 of those months, this is totally unacceptable to us.
To think that our darling girl has had to move again and may have to move yet again breaks my heart.

She deserves so much more than that.

All children deserve so much more than that.