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.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

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?

Oh Happy Day.

Who’s a happy girl?
Well, Jade is, but so am I, and MM is just as happy.

Why?

Well, we caught up with Jade and her new family for her birthday.

What an amazing experience.

Jade at first looked at MM and I,and you could see the cogs in her brain working overtime trying to work us out. You could see that she was trying to work out where she knew us from. It’s been 7 weeks since we’ve seen her royal cuteness. It didn’t take long and we were getting a few little smiles, and once she was out of her stroller, I asked if she wanted to come for a cuddle.

The little chubby arms reached out for me and my heart melted.

Jade was happy to have cuddles with both MM and I, but we never got the flappy arm wave. But, NM (new mum) did. She was out of sight for a few minutes and when she reappeared Jade gave her the big grin and flappy arm treatment. It was both awesome and a little sad at the same time. Sad because that was how she always reacted to us, but happy to see that excitement has been turned to her new family.

While we were at the barbeque, Jade was so cute with little Harry. I was sitting on the ground holding him while she played and she crawled over….yes our little bubba can crawl and has 2 little teeth poking through… to come and sit on my other leg and look at Harry. Then she wanted to touch Harry, and then, to share her toys with him. She had a toy biscuit in her picnic basket, and you could have knocked me over when she took Harry’s dummy out of his mouth, and instead of putting it in her mouth, as I was expecting, she tried to feed him her toy biscuit. What a little sweetie!

It was so lovely to have this time with her and her family. I thought they may have invited other family or friends as well, but it was just us. They really are so thoughtful and sweet.

It was a magical day.

What do you see?

big grin

What do you see when you see this smile?

Do you see a child that came into this world in a home of domestic violence?

Do  you see a child born testing positive to different narcotics?

Do you see a child happy with life?

Do you see a child that looks loved and cared for?

What do you see?

I see our darling Jade’s big gummy smile that made people stop and talk to her in the shopping centre.

I see a beautiful little girl who has known nothing but love in our home and is happy and content…but, that’s just me.

I see that beautfil smile every time I look at my phone as that picture is my screen saver and it brings a smile to my face.

MM uses that photo whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed as a mum with our little Harry and his colic. His crying breaks my heart and knowing that I’m doing everything I can for him and still he cries. MM reminds me with that photo that together we make happy, healthy babies and this time will pass and Harry will go back to being his normal happy baby self and in no time he too will be giving us big gummy grins.

I see that photo and forget that Jade had such a hard start in life.

I see that photo and smile with a tear in my eye.
How can one little girl be so darn cute?
How can we love her so much, even though she isn’t our biological child?
How can one little person make such a huge impact on so many people with that gorgeous smile?

I see that photo and think how lucky we were to be blessed with her in our home.

What do you see?

I keep waiting

And waiting for the day to come when someone asks me to stop bringing bubs to work.

First it was Jade when she was tiny and now it’s Harry.

After Jade started getting more vocal and restless during rehearsals it was time for day care, but while she was little like Harry is now, she came to school with me.

I wait for someone to ask me not bring them, but it doesn’t happen.

Today when I went to school I was stopped twice on my way to rehearsal with Harry.

Twice stopped so people could look at him and goo and gaa over him.

Twice people told me how lucky he is to have us.

Twice I expected the “please don’t” comment and got the opposite.

In fact, the first lady to stop me runs the Children’s Centre at the school. A centre where they support parents with advice and classes and a playgroup. Harry and I were invited to come on Wednesdays for baby massage sessions. Amazing right?

Like so many other people, she told me what an amazing thing we are doing for the children and I just replied with “I’m actually selfish. I can’t have children so I’m doing this for me”.

Her reply “What you are doing is anything but selfish. It’s selfless.”

Feeling so blessed.

The support from so many people is awesome, but the support from total strangers is the greatest gift of all.