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.

 

 

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.

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.

What can I say?

We are truly blessed to have so many people who don’t just care about us, but also our special children. But now, oddly, I have to add NM (new mum) to the list of lovely people.

I wish I could say she is horrible, but she is anything but.

This morning she is coming for another visit with Jade, and she sent me a text to tell me they were running late.

I replied with a thank you and please let me know when you are on your way as a blue bundle of cuteness is arriving this afternoon and I need to hit the shops before he arrives.

Her reply, copied straight from her message:

“Congratulations, I know this has been very hard on you and your hubby and I hope having a new little bubba to love will help you with this transition. You are both very special people doing what you are doing with all these beautiful children”

NM seems to understand what we are going through and is sensitive to that. That means a lot to me. She really does seem like such a lovely lady, how can I be sad that Jade is going to such lovely people?

What more can I say? We really are so blessed.

What more can I say?

They giveth and they taketh away

The beginning of the end.

Or the beginning of a new beginning.

However you look at it, we have entered the beginning of the transition of our gorgeous “Jade” to her new forever home.

I had a meeting today with the senior practitioner and supervisor about the case, and I was accompanied by our awesome support worker and her equally awesome team leader.

I’m surprised at no point either of them poked me under the table to tell me to shut up.

I’ve been able to express my concerns to the department and have them acknowledge their lack of communication about the progress of the case. Our last communication indicated they were still assessing the new people for the care of “Jade” so when we found out it was all sorted it was such a shock. I would like to think if we had been included in the progress of the case, told that they had been approved, told when it was going to court, told that they had the order, we could have been more prepared and ready to accept the decision.

Had we been kept in the loop, our darling “Jade” could have already transferred out of our care during the school holidays and while that sounds crazy, it means I could have cried my little eyes out all school holidays and been on my way to feeling better when I have to go back to school and put on a happy face.

So later this week I will speak with “Jade’s” new mum and we will sort out visit times so she can come and start getting to know “Jade” and more importantly, for “Jade” to get to know her. And, it’s my job to smile and make “Jade” comfortable while my heart breaks.

Soon we will start the conversations of when do we want another child. Do we want to see if we can get a placement while
“Jade” is transitioning out so when she goes I have another little person to pour my love into, or do we want a break. Our lovely support worker said she will support whatever decision we make. It’s nice to know she has the confidence in MM and I to make the right decision for us.

MM, you truly are an amazing man to put up with all the tears and incomprehensible conversations with me and then when I say, lets get another one, you just say…Sure, when?

So the department gaveth me the most beautiful little baby you could imagine and the department taketh her away.

We hurt, we cry, and we know we will do it all again because we have given this little girl a great start to life and there are more little children out there that need a safe loving home.

One more sleep

You think I can’t count don’t you?

It was not so long ago that it was 7 more sleeps. Time flies, but not that fast, I know.

“Scarlett’s” departure date got bumped. Which is great, really.

Because we had already started the goodbye process it was going to drag out, so I’m glad it’s happening sooner.

We had to change our last weekend together plans, but it’s worked out fine.

Yesterday I gave “Scarlett” the option of going out to the movies with just me or us getting her a DVD that she can keep always. She opted for the DVD because whenever she watches it she can remember us. Cool.
Dinner out is going to be tonight instead of Sunday, so that’s cool too.

Yesterday was washing day and all of her clothes are now clean and dry. “Scarlett” is wearing spare clothes we have here for the last 2 days so that hers are all lovely for when she gets ‘home’.

This has to have been the longest one night placement ever. For the first time I can think of, I’ve been counting down the hours until this young lady leaves. She is a bright, intelligent girl with many lovely qualities but she counters all of this with little regard for anyone other than herself and by being more demanding than baby “Jade”.

Right up until the last minute before bedtime tonight she has pushed our buttons. The 20 minute shower before dinner (which only ended because I almost knocked the bathroom door down to be heard over what she calls singing), the face that she does when she is being disrespectful but trying to get out of it with what she thinks is her cute face, and still ignoring the dog’s body language that says…get your big body off of me, I’m not your cushion. All of these things we have talked to her repeatedly about since she arrived here.

Well, in a little more than 12 hours we will leave the house for the last time together and take the long drive to the airport. Baby “Jade” had the option of being baby sat by Nana, or coming too, so the poor thing is being dragged to the airport as my ‘get out of jail free card’. When she gets restless it will be time for me to leave.

I just hope that our last morning is a nice relaxing morning together so we are both left with the many good memories.

7 more sleeps

The time has finally come.

It’s time for “Scarlett” to move on.

Well, almost. And by almost, I don’t mean just the 7 more sleeps. We have to wait for her father to be approved to take her, tomorrow is his assessment so we have everything crossed. If that goes well, then, it’s just a few more days and he will fly down to pick her up and they will fly back ‘home’ together.

It’s been a long time coming.

For such a simple thing it has ended up with 2 social workers from here having to fly interstate to do the assessments as they have been waiting weeks for the interstate office to do it. Poor “Scarlett’s” court order runs out next Tuesday and the department don’t want to have to go to court for yet another extension (nor should they, she’s going to a family member it shouldn’t take this long) so the poor social workers have to drop everything and go do the assessment.

We are in for an emotional rollercoaster of a week I think, if the last few days have been anything go by.

Friday was her last day of school as we are now on holidays, so she had to say goodbye to all of her friends.

Sunday we went out to lunch with Nana and Pa and then on to the farm for the last time, finishing with goodbyes to Nana and Pa.

Today “Kelly” went home from respite and she had her last goodbye with her.

Tomorrow we start packing up her desk and school supplies, and bit by bit we will pack her up ready for her big move.

Saturday we’ll go out to the movies and Sunday night we will go out for dinner for the last time as a ‘family’.

She’s been with us for 9 weeks, not bad for a one night emergency.

From “Can you please look after this girl for a night because her carer has food poisoning?”

To, “Can you keep her for the weekend?”

Then “Her placement is about to finish with the other emergency carer, could you please have her until the end of March when her order finishes and in that time she should move to be with her dad”

Finally “We’ve applied for a one month extension, would you be able to look after her for another 4 weeks?”

t’s definitely time for a break after this one.

We will still have “Kelly” for respite and of course the adorable “Jade” but for a while we wont take in another child because things are changing for “Jade” at the moment and until we find out what’s going on there we need to focus on these two young ladies.

Well, with 7 sleeps to go, I better get some sleep to deal with all the emotions we’re going to see this week.

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.

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?

I couldn’t do that

For all the people (both friends and strangers) who have ever told me “I couldn’t do that, I’d get too attached”
I’m not sure quite what you mean.
I don’t know if you mean I’m a cold hearted ogre that doesn’t cry EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. a child leaves our home.
I don’t know if you mean I have a super inner strength to cry my eyes out and then say yes to another child and know that I’m going to go through it all again.
I don’t know quite what you mean.
But what I can tell you is I do get attached.

I owe it to these precious children that come into our home to get attached and love them like they are my own because someone has to and ok, it’s not easy knowing I’m in for more tears, but, the day I don’t care enough to get attached, is the day I have to give fostering away.
These children need to be cared for and loved.
We’re not super strong, cold hearted or amazing.
We’re just giving some precious little people what they need when they need it most.