Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Foster care everywhere

I was waiting to be called for an appointment this morning, totally unrelated to foster care.

A woman with special needs was waiting as well and talking to the person accompanying her.  She talked about her lip gloss and how she needed to give it to her mom.  "She's pretty like me."  I figured out soon that she thought the receptionist was her mom.  Later, when she went to leave, she asked to say goodbye to her mom, and the receptionist responded kindly.  The woman said "bless you" to the receptionist, and she replied, "Bless you, too, my dear."  As they left, the woman said, "Bye, Mom.  I hope you get me back."

My eyes immediately filled with tears.

She made visible the invisible.  There are so many people walking around carrying the burden of foster care in their history.  My attention is focused on the child in my home, but the big picture is startling, that so many stories like my kids are going on other places, and that those children grow up and carry it with them.

Lord, help us do our part, in the little picture and in the big picture.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lessons learned: Videos Part 2

Crocodile was talking about missing his mama.  Sometimes we draw pictures for her or we look at a picture of her, but I had a great idea this time.  Let's make a video to say hi to her!  Then I'll show it to her the next time I can!

Yeah, he misunderstood and thought we were going to WATCH a video of her.  And so the video is of him sitting there sadly realizing I don't have a video of her to show him.

This age.  They understand and then they don't.  We had some good hugs and moved on and I know better for next time.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

When I met you

Some of my favorite, most therapeutic writing is writing about the kids themselves.  I know part of it is because I have to keep so much confidentiality that I feel like I'm bursting to talk about them.  Part of it is that I feel lonely in my deep love for them that doesn't go away, when it seems to me that they can be invisible to some of my family and friends.  Some of it is just because it's amazing to watch them grow.

So, something made me think of the moment I met each little one, and I was itching to write them out, stories I may never get to tell the children myself.

Pterodactyl.  You were in your bassinet, being checked by a nurse, and howling mad.  I was trying to talk to your mother, who had asked to meet me, but now was crying and had nothing to say.  I left the room and you were still crying.  Later, you were wheeled into the conference room where I waited with the social worker, sleeping in your bassinet.  I held you and we took pictures, though it was such a strange moment to take pictures.  You had straight dark hair on your little forehead and looked so brand new.

Beetle.  You were sleeping in your Mamaroo in your room in the NICU, a pacifier propped against your mouth.  You weren't officially in our care yet, but I was allowed to visit.  I remember being shocked at how tiny you looked, but actually you were a pretty average weight, just a tiny-looking guy.  I think part of it was your huge eyes, still big and round in pictures I've seen of you as a toddler.   I gave you a bottle and relearned bottle feeding to help you, trying to get as much in as I could.  You definitely did not like having your diaper changed.  The nurses helped me with your care and I said goodnight to you, leaving you in your room to see you another day.

Caterpillar.  You were asleep in your infant car seat, little head of curls resting against the back.  I remember my biggest concerns were some medical issues and getting information that was not being given to us, so my impression of you was fragility.  This didn't last for long, as you were quite a content baby once you settled in a few days.  But that first night, you woke up soon after CPS left and ate, but you looked tired and a little lost.  It had been a long day.

Cricket.  I picked you up, and when the door was answered, the person answering said, "this is her."  You'd run up to the door, too, to greet me.  You were busy, busy, busy while we got paperwork together.  We unplugged a phone so you could pretend to call people.  You had a toothbrush that played music, and you wanted to show me how you brushed your teeth right then, even though I didn't really know where to get a glass of water to help you.  I didn't really know what to do and hadn't prepared myself for filling this time, but I followed your lead and you ran your little show for me.  You were a driven little girl, right from the start.  You fell asleep about two minutes after we drove away, exhausted from the night before, and I realized later a lot of the busy busy busy mode was really overtiredness.

Crocodile.  You were terrified.  I think about it and it still breaks my heart.  You literally backed into a corner by the door, and then tried to leave with the social worker when she tried to leave.  Your big brown eyes stared at us, chin lowered.  We brought out some goldfish and fruit snacks, started up Daniel Tiger.  You shook your little head no.  We gently kept trying and finally you sat with me on the couch, kind of watching the show.  Then you took the snack and relaxed a tiny bit, and the worker left.  You wore a shirt with a saying on it that you still wear as much as possible, and though I can't stand the saying on it, I can't help but let you wear it.  You slept only five hours that night, just quietly awake for long periods.  With these first moments, I thought you would have a very hard time adjusting to our home, but you actually settled in quite well within a few days.

Every time, it was the start of a remaking of our family.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Awkward Moments in Foster Care: Minus one kid

Sometimes it's not unusual to be out and about with less than your total number of children.  Some are in school.  Sometimes it's a weekend and we just send one along with a parent on an errand to divide and conquer.  People get that.  What I have found throws people off is being without the youngest child, and since our foster children have always been the youngest children in our family, this happens regularly when foster children are at visits.

At a play group, the foster child is with me one week because a visit was canceled, then gone the next because the visit is happening.  It's the middle of the day, so it's not common in many families that he or she would be at home for some reason with the other parent.

Or there's an overnight visit and suddenly we have fewer children at church.  Did he move?  Where is she?  A bit hard to explain without prompting more questions about the case.  I usually explain anyway, and just try to avoid the other questions the best I can.

I need a t-shirt that says "Number of Kids May Vary, No Biggie."

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Conversations with Crocodile

Crocodile has always been a chatty guy, though his vocabulary and clarity of pronunciation limited a lot of his communication at first.  Not really behind, but definitely not ahead.  In addition, he is a pretty cheery guy.  So, we don't always face the tough things he's going through as far as talking about them.  We've always started conversations about his family, but he would say something, then move on. 

Lately he's had more conversations, and more of them connect to behavior, and more of them he initiates.  Some of them sound like he's started taking trauma-related foster parent training, and it amazes me what has been under the surface all this time.  Cricket would have conversations like this with me, too, and they always stop me in my tracks.  There is hope for kids and some truth to them being resilient.  But this stuff is also very real to them, even to the foster kids who are surviving it pretty well.

(Crocodile kicking the dresser while I rock him, he's restless but nothing seems to be provoking it)
Me: Why are you doing that?
Crocodile: I mad.  I want to go to my mama house.

Crocodile: (Big sister) was screaming in the car with (case aide).  That bad choices.
Me: Yes, it hurts our ears.  Were you screaming?
Crocodile: No.
(a few moments later)
Crocodile: She want her mama.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

First Day - March 2016: Snowy and sick

March started out with heavy snow falling and me recovering from the previous day's stomach virus.  We still managed to go out as a) I can't stand being at home not feeling great with kids climbing on me and would rather take them somewhere to be active and b) I didn't want to miss my foster mom support group.  I made sure I washed my hands well and kept my distance.  I felt better later and enjoyed a snowy walk to pick up Dinosaur.