Stella sadness

It was a difficult decision to make.
It was a difficult conversation to have.
It was a difficult handover to the case worker.
It was heartbreaking made even more so with little Stella screaming as she was placed in the car seat to leave.

We decided that Stella did indeed have to move on from us because of my work commitments.

I called the placement worker at our agency on Friday morning and with tears in my eyes told her that on Monday Stella would need to go. PW was so supportive. She had spoken with me every day last week to make sure we were going ok and to let me know it was ok to say “No” to continuing the placement at any time. I was constantly reminded that we were called when we were on their ‘do not call’ list and that we were only asked to help out for one night. Taking Stella for 6 nights was giving them 500 % more than we were asked to.

I thought by calling first thing Friday it meant that the placement unit in the department would have ample time to find a family for Stella.

I wouldn’t have been more wrong. At 5.20 pm, close to end of business hours for the agency, I got a message on facebook from another carer in our agency. They were still looking for a place for her.

I so desperately wanted to call and ask for her back, but, as my voice of reason -MM-  reminded me, then it will be one more night, and another, and another.

Stella was up Saturday night, sick as a dog, vomit everywhere. We went through 4 pillows and almost every cot sheet and blanket we own. Sunday we were all flat, tired, exhausted. And I knew then, it was right for Stella not to be here during the music festival. What if she got sick again? A sick baby and 14 hour work days aren’t something that go together very well.

We don’t like children leaving our home unless there is a plan and a placement for them to go to.
We don’t like children being bounced around from carer to carer like they aren’t loved, aren’t special, aren’t wanted.

Stella is the most adorable little lady. Yes, she was becoming quite the expert on tantrums, and me, becoming the expert on defusing them. Yes, she has a problem with nap and bedtimes, but we don’t know what traumas she underwent at bedtime.

I know this is the right decision for us, for now. But why does it feel so wrong?


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?

My first mothers day

As a mummy. Obviously I have celebrated my mum on this day for many years, but this was my first mothers day.

It was a lovely day .

No sleep in, but that’s ok. No brekkie in bed, and that’s ok too.

I did get a lovely new dressing gown, seeing as Jade has a tendency to puke and drool all over mine, it’s nice to now have a spare so when one is in the wash I still have a nice snuggly dressing gown for the middle of the night feeds.

I also got a lovely card, which made me cry. MM’s goal with his card buying is to always choose one with sentimental words. What I thought was strange was the card on the front said from both of us. I thought perhaps it was from Jade and the dog, but no, the handwritten message reads “To my special mum, Lots and Lots of love on this special day. This card is from me but it’s also a thank you from all your other foster kids. Lots and Lots of Love and hugs and kisses from Jade”

We got ready and drove up to the farm where I got another card and gift (Mum made me some lovely Christmas decorations) from Jade (did Mum think that MM would forget or did she want to make an extra effort?).

It was a lovely day with only a few tears from me. Both from being overwhelmed with love and from sadness that this time next year we may not have our little angel with us, but mostly it was a most beautiful day.

My highlights would be

– Jade saying something that sounds an awful lot like “Mama”, so I’m going to take that as her first word on mothers day!

– Having an hour to ourselves while Mum and Dad looked after Jade while we went and looked at a couple of properties for sale in the area.

– Dad’s comment for the day “Jade knows who her Mother is it would be wrong for the department to take her away from you just to place her with a brother she doesn’t know.”

I hope you all had a lovely day to celebrate the people special in your lives.

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.

That went well

Don’t you hate it when you stress out about something and get all worked up, just to have it go well, and then you’re left feeling like a dill for stressing in the first place?

Well, today was my first meeting with “Jade’s” new social worker. I bumped into her briefly when picking up “Jade” from access on Monday but today she came out early to have a chat with me before taking miss cutie pie to access.

I didn’t know what to expect from todays meeting. My new support worker couldn’t be here due to training, so I had myself a list of questions to ask, plus a list of questions for a future meeting when my support worker can be there to ‘hold my hand’.

Because “Jade” had to spend Christmas with TM (tummy mummy) I’ve been worrying that she was going to have to go to respite for Easter as well. Plus, if I’m honest, I’ve been worrying even more that she will have to spend Mother’s Day with TM as well. Well, at this stage “Jade” is not going to spend Easter with TM as she is on supervised access there won’t be anyone available to supervise on Easter, and as for Mother’s Day, SW was honest enough to say at this stage she can’t give me a definite answer as it’s quite a way away, but at this stage, no to Mother’s Day as well.

Sadly things aren’t going well with the reunification. In fact, I get the distinct impression that things are going backwards. Access is about to be cut back from 3 days per week to just 2 days. Next month SW is having a meeting with her supervisor to discuss the case as “Jade’s” brothers court order is up in a few months they need to decide what to do. Do they apply for an extension. Do they apply to have the order be GOM18 (in care until he ages out). SW said once they have that meeting about big brother then they will have a better idea of where “Jades” case is headed and we will have some more information.

She was lovely in saying that we need to know what’s going on as it effects our lives too. Nice to be treated as part of the team, not just as baby sitters, or as MM would say, like mushrooms.

I’m now in that awful place where I have all those conflicting emotions.

I’m sad reunification isn’t going well, but happy that for us we get to have this beautiful little lady in our home longer.

I’m sad for TM that she probably wont get to spend Mother’s Day with her children, but I”m happy that for the first time I will get the joy of my own Mother’s Day.

It seems like the progress is one step forward one step backward. I certainly wouldn’t want to be the social workers. Having to decide what is in the best interest of the children. How long do you give someone to get their stuff together? If TM can’t do it in 12 months, what is the likelyhood she will be able to do it in 24 months? or 3 years? How long do we live with our lives in limbo?

Now to wait another month to get another update.

The plus, another month with “Jade”, and the joy of watching her grow and change before our very eyes.

Needing my Angel

I miss Angel.

I don’t know new PSW as well yet and it’s a weird situation I find myself in.

“Scarlett” spent 9 days with an emergency carer before she came to us and in that time she was introduce to religion.

I’m a bit worried about how much she is throwing herself into it. Every day she has read a daily devotion book and she’s been reading the bible. It seems a lot for someone who’s not been to church before.

I just don’t know how to handle this situation.

MM and I aren’t churchy people, so this is a little out of our depth.

We don’t object to her asking questions, and reading and learning, but, we both have concerns that she is reading it literally.
I mean, literally believing people live to 969 years of age.
How do we explain that to her? How can we explain it when we don’t believe that it’s humanly possible.

Angel was Christian. She would have the most amazing advice about this. She understood MM and I and would be able to help me with “Scarlett” and her sudden interest in God.

I don’t want to stop her from looking at other possibilities, for suggestions on how to live a better life. But, how can I promote the bible when I see so many discrepancies there and know so many people that are so called Christians, but are actually not very nice people.

Why would someone who is only going to have a child for 2 weeks buy them so many books about religion knowing that they wont be there to help and guide the child once they leave their care?

What am I to do?

Worth the wait

This post was going to be about turning 40 and how I didn’t want to be 40. How 40 was a reminder of the things I wanted when I was 30 and can’t have. But, today that post seems ridiculous, so it’s not about that.

When I turned 30 I was so excited. My husband at the time (ex now) and I were about to start on IVF to start our family. It was an exciting time. Never did I think that the IVF would go so wrong (that’s a story for another day) and that I would never be able to have my own biological children. The future was full of dreams that I thought were soon to be realised. How wrong I was.

Instead my early 30’s provided me with failed IVF, depression, weight gain (still carrying that around), divorce, and a loss of my dreams. My later 30s saw a few changes. The ex and I parted ways and that bought it’s own challenges but seriously, it has been the best thing ever.

You don’t realise how much someone can weigh you down with their negativity until they are gone and you start to get out from under that weight and start getting your positivity back.

I went and got re-tested to see about the baby thing. Ok, that didn’t go well, but at least I knew what went wrong and exactly where I stood so I could move forward.

I became a foster carer.

I met the AMAZING MM and life has been moving (slowly) forward.

Now at 40, I can smile, that even though it’s taken a decade, I have a wonderful man who is so supportive of me in so many ways, I have a beautiful baby girl (for now anyway) and I am now a part time worker and part time stay at home mum.

My dreams are coming true.

Has it taken a bit longer than anticipated? Yes.

Has it happened differently from how I planned? Yes.

Has it been worth the wait? Absolutely yes.

Mid-life crisis

What is a mid-life crisis?

Is it when everything you thought you wanted in life comes into question and you start to think about other possibilities? And because you have always been a certain way, that people think you’ve gone crazy because you want to tip your life upside down and shake it up?

If that’s it, I think I’m having a mid-life crisis.

I’ve always loved my work. I am one of those fortunate people that love my job, and I have been in the same job, well, argh…20 years.

Now little miss “Jade” has come along and I either have to put her in child care or do something about my work.

I’m torn.

I love my work and what will I do if/when she’s reunified with TM?
But I love bubs and I don’t want other people raising “my baby” while I’m at work.

If this is how hard it is for me to contemplate being separated from bubs all day, how hard is it on TM? Does the fact that another woman is raising her baby drive her as nuts as it’s driving me thinking about having to go back to work?

I know I don’t want to stop work altogether but I don’t know that I want to do 5 days a week.

I wish I knew how the case was progressing, but honestly I think it’s not. “Jade” has been with us 16 weeks and they haven’t even progressed to unsupervised visits in the office yet.

I am supposed to go back to work in 3 weeks.
I have to decide now.
I have to sort out child care and work.

What am I going to do?

Who’s side am I on?

As I usually do on a Monday morning, I dropped little miss “Jade” off to access to see her TM (tummy mummy). We were a bit early and TM was already there so we had a bit of a chat while we waited for the access worker to arrive.

TM asked where the other girls were, so I let her know that “Kelly” is with us every other weekend for respite and “Kylie” had just moved to her new long term carer. We chatted about this for a while, about how I get upset when ‘our babies’ move on as they are part of our family for a while.

I was touched when TM said that if she gets “Jade” back she would like us to still be involved in her life as she knows how much we love her and thinks that that is important for “Jade”. Such a lovely thing for a birth parent to say.

What hit me was that in our conversation TM kept saying IF she gets “Jade” back, not when. Now, I wont lie and say MM and I haven’t had the conversation about ‘the worst case scenraio’ for Jade and what would happen if the case changed from a 12 month order to an GOM 18 order. Of course we’ll aim to ‘keep’ bubs if that happens, but, shouldn’t TM be thinking she can get her daughter back? Are her demons so bad that she herself can’t see that happening?

So, I did the right thing. I told TM that she should say WHEN she gets “Jade” back not “IF”.
I told her the best possible outcome for “Jade” is to be with her real mum, that there is nothing like your real mum and children have a very special bond with their tummy mummy.
I told her that we believe in her, that she can do it, that she just needs to keep working hard and doing what she’s doing and it will happen.

Part of me wants her to fail then maybe I can keep “Jade” but I also want her to succeed because then they can be together and not only will we have made a difference in the life of “Jade” but also her mum.

Who’s side am I on?


I almost made it

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

It was a long week. It was a short week.

It was a happy week. It was a sad week.

It was a week for new beginnings and a week for goodbyes.

What a roller coaster week.

Tuesday we went and met with M at a take-away outlet with a playground. M brought one of her nieces with her to meet “Kylie” and the girls hit it off straight away. It was a great first meeting although you could see “Kylie” wasn’t entirely sure what it all meant. We’d talked about it the night before but it was a little overwhelming. M wanted to take her home for an afternoon together but I thought it was better to take “Kylie” home for some quiet time (she was all hyped up on sugar and from playing with the other little girl) so she could start to process what was going on.

I may have had leaky eyes at dinner that night as it was becoming a reality for us as well that it was getting closer for “Kylie” to leave.

Wednesday was a nice quiet day at home. We spent a little bit of time talking about her move and started packing a few of her things up. Over dinner we talked as a family a bit more about her move. Asking if she  had any questions and asking if she understood that this isn’t a holiday, but her new ‘forever’ home.

Thursday we packed a few more things and chatted about what we were going to take to M’s house the next day.

Friday arrived and once baby “Jade” was collected to go to access we set off with my little boot packed. We weren’t at M’s for long before I could tell “Kylie” was fine for me to go, so I left to have a couple of quiet hours for myself.

“Kylie” had a great time with M. It was great to hear about all the activities they did together. M commented to me that “Kylie” sometimes said she was going to visit and sometimes forever, that you could see she was struggling to get her head around the upcoming events. On the way home from her visit she was all bubbles, right up until she asked “How long am I going to stay with M?” A valid question. The poor little girl (from what I can pick up from her) had been in a group home, reunified with mum and dad, back into a group home, then with and Aunt and Uncle and then to us. All within the last 8 months. No wonder she wanted to know how long the next one was for. I reminded her that we had talked about it at dinner and she gets to live with M for as long as she wants. Until she’s finished at University, gets her own home, however long she wants. We then had something not before seen from “Kylie”….silence.

Friday night was her favourite dinner, Spaghetti Bolognese with Lemon Pudding for dessert with a chat about the next 2 days to come.

Saturday was a day at the farm to say good bye to Nanna and Pa and then out to dinner at a restaurant.

Sunday, moving day.

“Kylie” slept in Sunday morning, and got dressed but didn’t seem to realise it was the big day. She asked me to buy her more orange juice as we ran out and if she could watch a movie on TV in the evening. We had a nice slow morning getting packed and going out for lunch at her favourite take away place before heading down to M’s.

It was a lovely last morning, and she quickly settled into her new home while we had a coffee and chat with M. I had made a start on a life story book for her which we had gift wrapped and presented to her before we left. She was so happy with all the photos and little messages I had written in there, she quickly ran off with it to her new room. We got the biggest hugs as we were leaving and that was my undoing, the tears started as we were walking out the front door. I almost made it.

I know “Kylie” will be fine. More than fine. We couldn’t be happier with the placement, it’s so perfect for her. We’ve had a couple of text messages this evening.  A photo of her this afternoon and a little video as well. She’s had a great first day and it’s nice to be not quite forgotten yet.

It’s so quiet in the house without the girl with the infectious laugh. No story time tonight. No kids movie….imagine that, watching an M rated movie for the first time in over a month.

All I can say is thank you to MM who has held my hand and reminded me that this is the perfect place for “Kylie” and that when we are ready there will be another little person waiting for us to share our home with them for a while, and in the meantime, the gorgeous little “Jade” can have all the snuggles I need to give.