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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiggle Tiggle

Bonnie’s first word.
Tiggle Tiggle.
It took a little bit to work out what she was trying to say, it wasn’t until she grabbed her foot and wiggled her chubby little fingers at her feet that I realised she was saying Tickle Tickle.

When Bonnie arrived she was typically quiet and didn’t say anything.
Now she is comfortable here, she is quite the little chatterbox and has added

Mum mum
Dad dad
Nana
Up
Out
Hello
Moo (because of the cows at the farm)
Ta and
Bub Bub to her vocabulary.

This age is so exciting. Watching her learn and try new words and sounds.
Not knowing how long her stay with us will be is hard.
So, we’re enjoying the giggles when we do “round and round the garden” and “this little piggy” with her, watching her play with little Raj and play “tiggle tiggle” with his little feet, and watching her learn new things.

Such a joyful little lady to have in our home. Truly a blessing.

 

 

An open letter to an abusive parent

Dear parent,

Why?
Why is it that you beat your own child?
Why is it that you think that behaviour is ok?
Why do you not accept responsibility for your actions?
How can you blame the children? They were too noisy. They were too mouthy. They were too messy. They didn’t do their chores. Or any other excuse you have for not taking responsibility for your actions and being the bigger person.

Do you know that the scars you leave on your children go much further than just the bruises on their bodies?

Do you know the emotional and psychological damage you do to them will last long after the bruises are gone and the bones have mended?

If you knew what we know about the trauma you are putting your child through in your ‘punishment’ of them, would you still do it?

I doubt I will ever understand how or why you do this to your own children. I can only guess that you have problems that you need help with, so please get that help. When you see your children looking at you in fear, ask yourself why do they do that? What can you and should you be doing differently.

Parenting can be a tough gig, so ask for help. There is help out there, you just need to ask. If you really can’t cope, place your children in foster care, put them up for adoption. There are people out there who will love them and give them the life they deserve. Give them an opportunity to heal, to be loved, to be all that they can be. Give them an opportunity to know a life without pain and without fear.

Please don’t threaten to send your children to foster care when they misbehave. We are not a punishment for THEIR behaviour, we are here to protect them from YOUR behaviour.

I would love to live in a world where it wasn’t necessary for there to be foster carers. I would love to live in a world where children are safe from harm. Where children are safe from the very people that are supposed to be the ones there to protect them but are instead the people they fear the most.

Please, before you raise your hand to your child, remember you are the adult.  You are supposed to be their protector. You are supposed to love them and guide them through life, not beat them into submission.

Please, before you do something that can’t be mended with plaster casts, or bandages, or years of therapy, get help.
Do it for your children.
They can’t ask you, so I will.
Please get help.

 

 

 

 

Another big week

Now it’s time to breathe.
I thought it was last week, but again we had another big week.
MM home from work and more than a little bored at being housebound.
David had his last week of school and in that time we had to find out about what was going on with his case so we could prepare him.
Bonnie has been gorgeous…thankfully.
And, I got sick on the weekend. Tag MM…you’re it, you have to look after me now!

David’s behaviour never settled right back down after Clyde left. It did a little bit, but, not fully. He was fine at school….but oh! When he came home. It was almost like he was trying sooooo hard to keep it together at school that he just didn’t have any more effort left for good behaviour when he got home. He was mostly not following instructions, answering back and being a real smart mouth.

We have been trying to prepare David for the fact that he probably won’t be going home to live with mum on Christmas Eve like she has told him and that the possible upcoming move to his Aunt’s house is probably going to be a lot longer than just a couple of weeks. It’s been a long week talking with him, drip feeding him information, letting him ask questions and then dealing with him arguing with us, calling us liars, and stomping around the place.

We survived the week and the weekend…thanks to MM for taking over and taking care of the children and me…and Monday brought moving day for David. What should have been a lovely morning was full of stress. David again not following instructions and having his attitude in full force was calmed down once the car was packed and we had some time to kill before going to the office. The drive to the office was lovely. We had a nice chat and David was back to his bubbly self, ready for his next adventure.

So, now it’s time to breathe.