The best laid plans

It was one of those days. Anything that had been planned got unplanned.

The weekend that should have been.

“Jade” was asked to go to respite to spend time with her brother.

We asked for “Scarlett” to go to respite (which ended up approval as sleepover at Ma and Pa’s to give us a weekend child free.

I had a first aid refresher course to do.

MM was going to do a few odd jobs around the house without little helpers.

We were going to go out for a nice romantic dinner (seeing as we had 3 children for Valentines day).

We were going to sleep through the night…Ok I was, MM always does.

We were going to sleep in. MM is up at 4.30 am for work and bubs is up at 5.30 am for a feed.

Then we were going to mosey on up to Ma and Pa’s farm to collect “Scarlett” feeling all refreshed.

Well, that was the plan.

The reality of our weekend.

“Jade’s” respite was cancelled.

MM got asked to work Saturday morning.

The hot weather came in and that meant not taking “Scarlett” to the farm for her sleepover as it was going to be too many hours of travelling in the heat for “Jade”.

My first aid instructor didn’t get to the course. We were going to be sent home, but, fortunately the other instructor found a room and took us all in. What a task for her, teaching 2 different courses at the same time.

Morning played out like this…..
MM went to work. I got the girls up and ready. We went to MMs work, picked him up and he took us to my course and dropped us off. He was then going to go back to work and the boss was going to provide ‘crèche’ for the girls. Ok, “Scarlett” had activities to do and can work unsupervised, crèche was more about “Poppa Paul” having cuddles with “Jade”. MM and “Paul” must have worked like crazy, because they had all the work finished by the time we got there, so after I was dropped off at my course MM took the girls home for a quiet day inside, keeping cool.

Romantic dinner…called for pizza.

Sleep through the night. “Jade” had the sniffles during the night, so I was up a couple of times to see to her.

Sleep in. “Jade” and I got up at 5.45 am for a feed, and that finds me watching old episodes of the Thunderbirds on TV and writing this post while I have some quiet time.

What have I learned since becoming a foster carer?

That making plans is nice, but things never go to plan as there are so many things beyond our control.

I think I might go make myself another cuppa while the house is so quiet, and now I’ve said that, you know as soon as I put on the kettle someone will wake up!

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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?

It’s time to go…..

Dramatic pause for effect like on the reality shows……..
“Kylie”

The call came yesterday. A long term placement has been found for “Kylie”. It’s really such great news. The new carer is a school teacher, perfect for her inquisitive little mind. She will be an only child, perfect for getting to know each other and feeding that mind some more so she can catch up on her schooling. The new carer is in the same agency as us, so we get to see “Kylie” at agency functions. It sounds perfect, it really does. And somewhere deep inside I know it, and I’m so happy.

But still I keep crying.

Damn this is hard work!!!

The plan put to me yesterday is to get this moving FAST. Meet and greet today and a couple more this week and move “Kylie” on Saturday to her new home.
What!!!!
Whoa!!!

We’ve had fast transitions before, but it’s been because the children were going to relatives they already knew. But to a stranger?

On Saturday?

When do we get to say goodbye? What about my family?

So…..I put forth the following suggestion.

Meet and greet today. Day off tomorrow. Thursday we go to see new carer at her home for a while. Friday I drop her there for a few hours. Saturday is our day. We’ll go say goodbye to my family, we’ll go out for dinner to celebrate the exciting new chapter in her story. We’ll pack up her stuff and hang out together.

Sunday is moving day. Then I’ve got MM home to support me because, let’s be honest, I’m going to be a wreck. I know it. It’s the way I roll. MM even said last night when I was having a cry that it’s one of the things he loves about me. That I love the children and am so passionate about their well being.

I’ve gotten permission for “Kelly” and “Kylie” to stay in touch with play dates, phone calls and as pen pals. I think it’s so important for both the girls to continue to have contact as they’ve been like sisters.

It’s all happening so quickly, it’s like a blur.

Is there anything else we should be doing?

You can say No

What’s the best opening line from your agency?

That has to be mine.

I had that call yesterday and now we have another young lady here with us.

Actually we had many calls yesterday.

It began with “Hi, you can say no, but I just thought I’d ask if….”

The first was to explain there is a family of 3 that needed a placement at which point my brain went into overdrive. Yes we’re registered for 3, but baby would make 4 and “Kelly” is due on the weekend and that would make 5, and that’s a LOT more than our registered 3.

I was reassured we were only being asked to help with taking one, so, of course, that’s a yes from me, so the next question, which one do we want. Seriously, I got to pick. With 3 to choose from I had to choose who I thought would fit best into the house taking “Jade and Kelly” into account.

The 5 year old wouldn’t really work, 2 car seats we can do, but I don’t think “Kelly” would fit in the car in between them.

The 11 year old wouldn’t work, too close in age to “Kelly” so I didn’t want to deal with any potential pecking order problems on the weekend.

So that left the 8 year old as being just right. Too big for a car seat, but small enough to not be a threat to “Kelly”.

Then we were told that another family had offered to have the 2 older children, could we take the little one and as terrible as it sounds I said no, it just wouldn’t work in my car. So, I was told thank you but they probably wouldn’t need us at this stage.

Next it was, the other people would take the eldest and youngest and could we take the middle child after all.

Then we got the, actually they are going to try to keep them all together in residential care rather than splitting them up, but again, thank you.

So in all of this, I’ve rung MM to see that yes he’s ok with taking in a munchkin and then I haven’t kept him updated with all the changes. We know that this happens, so I waited until the call that says they were going to put them together. And then…….

10 minutes later the phone rings, and I answer with “I’m just going to call  you troublemaker from now on” as I knew it was the lady from the agency, and guess what….There were no residential care placements available that could have all the children together, so could we please?

So this weekend we will have “Jade” (11 weeks old, short term placement) “Kelly” (12 years, ongoing respite placement) and now “Kylie ” (8 years old, emergency placement)

And almost all of the calls start with, “you can say no” because for one reason or other we probably should have.

“Jade” was a 9 day respite that changed, and because of work we could have said no when requested to keep her, but, seriously…how could we?

“Kelly” was a one off respite that became monthly and is now fortnightly and at any point in there when things changed, again we could have said, no, no to monthly or no to fortnightly.

“Kylie ” we could have said no to because we already had “Jade” and with “Kelly” due for the weekend, that would mean 3 kiddies, but, again…how could we?

How do you say no?

How often do you say no?

Drought or flood

The climate is often a drought or a flood.
All or nothing.

It seems our foster care journey is the same.

For over 15 years I’ve been waiting for a baby in my life.

Now we have little “Jade” for a while and just yesterday we were called and asked if we could also take in a little man for 10 days.

How old is the little man? 10 months!!

Oh my lordy…no babies for sooooooo long and now they are asking if I can manage 2 littlies.

Sadly we did have to say no to the placement.

Why?

Well, we would have had to have bought another baby car seat and a double stroller and potentially a bigger car!

For a 10 day respite placement that was a big financial outlay not to mention “Kelly” is here for respite this weekend. That would have been so much work with the three of them.

I couldn’t even imagine “Angel’s” response when she gets back from holiday later this week if she’d found out I have 2 babies and “Kelly”. I’m hoping that she will agree that we’ve made the right decision by not taking on too much all at once.

What do you think of when you think baby?

Do you think about very premature?

Do you think about drug withdrawals?

Do you think about twins?

I know I wasn’t thinking about that.

But now it’s in my head.

We had another meeting with “Angel” this week about the Dear Santa letter. Work is slowing down so now is the time to jump into this next stage of our foster care adventure.

A few months ago I went to an emergency carer support group meeting and all of the other carers there do 0 – 1 year emergency, with 2 exceptions. One other lady does 0 – 4 years and then there’s MM and I who do 0 – 13 years of age. I can tell you sitting there with all those other people who just do little tiny people made me wonder if we are a little bit nuts being prepared to take in such a wide age range of children.

When talking with these lovely ladies I got the impression that you get “A baby”. One lady is a retired neo-natal nurse, so she quite often gets the babies with health challenges, and will often have 2 at once (not unlike being at work for her I suppose) but, none of them mentioned twins, or sibling groups. I did have a dream about getting twins but didn’t really think that would happen to us.

Our meeting with “Angel” was great for making us think about options.

Would we be prepared to have twins? What about a sibling group with one of the children being a baby? Or maybe a very prem little baby or one going through drug withdrawals?

So I have a question for all of you.

What are your thoughts and opinions?

What experiences have you had?

What advice can you offer us?

 

Father’s Day respite

We had “Blake” for respite for father’s day.

“Blake” has hiss 2 regular respite carers and a new back up respite carer couple as there was a weekend we couldn’t have him. With 3 respite placements MM and I have decided he doesn’t need us anymore, he needs as few placements as possible, and as he can’t be placed with other children and we are looking at a short term placement with a baby, he won’t be able to stay with us anyway. The father’s day weekend was coming up and his respite carer due for that weekend was unable due to family commitments, his other respite carer was unable no reason given and the new back ups, one of them was out of state for the weekend so they couldn’t. So, when asked, I said yes. I can’t allow little “Blake” to go to yet ANOTHER placement.

I’d mentioned to his carers support worker that it was the fathers day weekend and did they REALLY need respite that weekend as I believe kids need to be with their families for special weekends. She said she would check, and apparently they did.

Poor little man. You should have seen his face when he realised he was not going to be home for Father’s Day. We tried to cheer him up by saying we were happy he was with us, but, you could see, he really just wanted to be home.

We had a hassle free weekend with “Blake”, even bath time was relatively stress free.

As a gift from Papa for his last respite weekend with us he scored Papa’s old Akubra hat and went home looking like a little farmer.

I will be putting in a recommendation to his social worker that if respite falls on a special weekend…mother’s day, father’s day, Easter, his birthday, that respite be moved. Maybe he could be home that weekend and he could then have respite 2 weekends in a row. We had “Blake” for both Easter and father’s day and we were scheduled to have “Kelly” for her birthday (fortunately her grandfather came from interstate for the weekend for her birthday so respite was cancelled). In my mind these are special family times and these little people should be home with their families, strengthening those attachment bonds rather than sending them away.

Do families need respite? Yes, absolutely.

Do the children respite? Yes, they do too. “Kelly” needs time with a ‘mum’ figure, and “Amber” needed some quiet time and I think even “Blake” benefits from having that one on one time.

But, does respite need to be on special occasions?
Don’t get me wrong, I loved having “Blake” for Easter and getting the opportunity to be the Easter Bunny, and I had a party planned for “Kelly’s” birthday, but, I feel badly for these children. I can’t imagine how they must feel about coming to respite for special occasions.

It has me feeling very conflicted. I know that respite is important for carers so they can recharge their batteries and that respite helps keep the placement intact, but I also wonder how it effects the children when it’s a special weekend.

What do you think?

 

Can you get a child to keep?

A question I’ve been asked a lot by well meaning people who see me sad at having to ‘give back’ a kiddy.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s crossed my mind, a lot.

The answers.

No, we wont be getting a child to ‘keep’. Our registration is for emergency and respite, and hopefully soon, short term as well.

Which means I get the question “why don’t you have long term registration”

Because to be the foster carer I would want to be, I would have to change or give up the work that I love and it is part of what makes me, me.

Also, we know that the care we provide is important to those we care for.

Emergency care is important for children first removed from their dangerous situations to have a safe home to come to.

Respite care is important for the children and carers we help with respite placements. “Kelly” for instance, her time with us gives her time with a ‘mum’ figure. “Blake” has some seriously challenging behaviours so for his carers, respite is needed so they don’t burnout and the placement can continue long term.

We are kind of having our cake and eating it to.

We know we are helping all the children that come into our home in some way, and we also have the flexibility to go interstate to visit MM’s kids and grandkids without the mountains of paperwork that come with wanting to take foster children over state lines.

I get to have children and do the work I love without feeling like I am not doing my job right or giving enough to my kids.

What sort of care do you do?

Do you work and have foster kids?

How do you juggle the two?

 

Logistics. More questions than answers.

We’ve been asked to consider a regular respite placement for two little ladies. Both under 6, so both requiring car seats. That’s ok, we have 2.

BUT.

I asked Santa for a baby emergency placement that will be 6 weeks to 6 months.

With “Kelly” for respite having a baby too is no problems. We’ve talked to her about it and she is keen to help babysit.

But, a baby needs a baby capsule, and with 2 little girls needing car seats, we are never going to get 3 car seats in the back of my Hyundai Getz. MM has a Monaro which only has 2 seats in the back, so that’s not an option either.

So what would we do one weekend each month?

Not go anywhere? Don’t think so.

Take 2 cars? Not a great option

Buy a new car? It’s on the to do list, but not this calendar year.

Borrow my parents 7 seater car one weekend a month? Maybe

Say no to either option? I don’t want to say no to the little ladies. We can have so much fun with two little kiddies. And I don’t want to say no to a possible baby placement. I’m about to be 40 and I would love to have that life experience.

I know we have just applied to have our registration changed so we can have 3 kiddies, but in my head that was so we could have an emergency placement of 2 when we have “Kelly”. I never thought of it going like that. But….

Can we cope with 3 kiddies under 6 as well?

So many questions, and no real answers…yet!