Friday, May 24, 2013


I'll just say this upfront. This is a whiny post. I'm having a difficult day and I want to complain for a while.

I'm exhausted. S is still raging. She saves them for me. I know this because I have seen her turn it off like a switch when she hears another adult come into the house, whether that's Mr D coming home from work or one of the myriad of social workers and counselors that drift into and out of our home on a semi-regular basis.

She's not throwing things at me any more. Well, not physical things. Now she's hurling words at me, as though she is desperately trying to break me. I don't know if she's trying to lessen her own pain by forcing it onto me or what is going on.

I'm trying to implement the things I've learned in training and from reading The Connected Child , but she keeps finding ways to react to them that aren't in the script. When I get down on her level to talk to her, she runs away from me. Do I follow her, in which case it turns into a chase around the house? Or try to honor her desire for space and have a conversation from across the room? She won't give me eye contact.

She resists complying with rules and requests by me with violence and anger...until the moment comes when she realizes that it's "too late" and then she tries to backtrack and begin to co-operate. My instinct is to say that she's missed her chance to make that choice and move on. I don't know if this is the right decision or not. Sometimes that choice is out of my hands anyway, depending on the reason it's "too late."

An example. She wanted to color today, and we had 30 minutes before we had to leave the house for something. So, I got out the crayons and put a piece of paper on the table. She demanded more paper, saying it wasn't enough. "Ask, don't tell." She Would Not Ask. She kept yelling "I want more!" I tried cueing her the exact words to asking, she kept resisting. When the 30 minutes were up and I declared it time to go, she finally said "Can I please have more paper?" I put more on the table for later, but there was no time left to color. She cried for 20 minutes in the car. No, she didn't cry. She sobbed, yelled, kicked, screamed and shouted things at me in the car. (Things like, "You're mean!" and "Nobody likes me anymore!")

And the most exhausting part is that she only does it with me. Oh, other adults get the occasional uncooperative moment, but not the violent acting out rages that I get. And that I only get when there are no other adults present.

I'm trying to believe that doesn't mean I'm doing something wrong. I'm trying to believe that means she's resisting my authority as the replacement mother figure or that she trusts me enough to try to push me away. But it's wearing me down.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

One Step

I've sung in church choirs for most of my life. I'm a "traditional worship" kind of girl, so I sing anthems that are set for SATB choirs to sing with a piano or organ accompaniment. Sometimes, the music from one of those anthems will stick with me and I'll find myself singing it to myself at times that seem random at first. Then I listen to the words I'm singing and usually realize that the message is appropriate to my life.

Foster care repeatedly brings back an anthem we sang at a church we attended a decade ago, when Peter was a preschooler. It's called "One Step He Leads" and it's by a composer called Pepper Choplin.

Sometimes I worry,
And wish I could see
What lies ahead,
What the future will be.
 But God calls me on
To follow, in faith,
And He'll take tomorrow,
If I give him today.

One step, he leads
And one step I'll follow.
God knows my needs,
And he will supply.
I don't know the future,
Or all that's in store.
But I'll take one step,
One step,
To follow my Lord.

There's a second verse, but I can never remember all the words to it. On rough foster care days -- on the days when I don't understand what's going on and I wonder how long I can handle living with this limbo or the days when a little one is melting down over all the ways her world is falling apart and neither of us can fix it -- the words of this echo in my head and I can't help but sing it to myself. "I don't know the future or all that's in store..."

On those days, I KNOW that that those moments are God answering my prayers for guidance and clarity and understanding. And I may not like the answer, which is to take this one step at a time and trust Him. But the fact that it's not the answer I wanted doesn't mean it's not an answer to prayer. Some days singing it out helps me get where I need to be again. "He'll take tomorrow if I give Him today."

Giving you today, Lord. And trying to trust that You will take care of all the tomorrows.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Visit Drama

All the pieces that go into scheduling visits for S are so difficult to juggle and it causes such issues that it's frustrating. And meanwhile, there is a little girl who just wants to know when she'll see her parents again. And I can't tell her.

When visits were just with Mommy (Daddy was in jail), we didn't have that much trouble. Her work schedule is all in the evenings, so visits were on a weekday, mid-morning to lunchtime, always the same day of the week. Perfect. Predictable, routine, evenly spaced.

Adding Daddy's visits originally wasn't that much of an issue either. Tack his time on either before or after hers.

But then he got a job. Which, of course, is a good thing, except it was M-F all day, so he wanted weekend visits. We did a few of those and then he lost the job. During the last one of those weekend visits that he had, he gave the supervisor a ton of attitude when she hinted that a lot of people had made sacrifices to make this happen the way he'd wanted it.

Supervisor would rather not work weekends herself, so we went back to weekday visits.

Now, he has another job and wants weekends back; supervisor is pushing back. I think he rubbed her the wrong way when he refused to admit that he owed anyone some gratitude for adjusting the visit schedule for him (specifically, I think she wanted him to acknowledge that S's mother was owed some thanks for being flexible with her own schedule). She's told him she'll do one weekend a month and if he wants a 2nd visit that month, he's just going to have to request a day off.

I also suspect that she doesn't think this job will last long either and is setting some firm boundaries with him.

But what all this drama leads to is this. There are about 2 weeks between visits. On visit day, I never know when the next one will be. Lately, I don't know until a day or two beforehand. Which sucks. It sucks for me and the other kids in the house -- it's hard to plan ANYTHING when I don't know what time she will need to be picked up or returned and during what time frame she'll be gone. But, bigger than that, it really, really sucks for her. We used to put a sticker on the calender on visit day and mark off the days as they passed, so she could have a visual for when she'd see Mommy again. We're still marking off days, but there's no sticker anymore for long stretches of time. Wouldn't be surprised if it makes her feel like she's never going to see her mother again.

I hate this. This little girl needs her time with her parents to be consistent. This is a child that is desperate for control and stability and the only things she's getting from the state are more disruptions and disorder. I hate the way this increases her behavior issues because she just can't cope with the not-knowing of all of this and I hate that I can't do anything to fix it. I hound the supervisor planning the visit; I remind her that S asks when she'll see them again and it's really hard on her when I can't tell her. But I don't think this is all the supervisor's fault--it's just too many schedules to juggle and too many people to try to get on the same page.

Mommy is requesting a move to unsupervised visits this month, so this may be the last time that there's just the one long visit time with both parents getting a share of it. I'm hoping that will help. I'm hoping that unsupervised means that Mommy and I work it out between us and it's just Daddy's visits that have to be "I don't know." Maybe the supervisor will be more OK with a weekend visit when it's just one parent, instead of two back-to-back. I'm not sure, but I suspect that S will cope with uncertain Daddy-time much better than uncertain Mommy-time. (It's always Mommy that she asks when she'll see her. It's always Mommy she cries for when she's unhappy. It's always Mommy that she wants to know when she can go to her house. Never Daddy for any of those things, although she will acknowledge that she'll see him the same day she sees Mommy.)

Foster care sucks.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Like a lot of foster parents with other non-foster children, I spend a lot of time feeling like I'm living in two worlds that only overlap in my house.

Most of the parents of the Originals' classmates and friends have "normal" children with "normal" problems. I don't want to minimize those problems because they can be very real and legitimate concerns. But sometimes, I just want to slap some of those people.

I hear a lot of people agonizing over "labels." They don't want their child "labelled." They don't want people to "only see the label." (Unless, of course, the label is "gifted", but that's a whole different vent.) That's a legitimate concern...that makes me grind my teeth.

Anecdotal evidence -- my only experiences with a child that's been "labelled" have been positive. My daughter is "special needs." She is "labelled."

And you know what? The label gets the insurance to pay for the therapies. The label gets the school system to make accommodations. The label helps my daughter explain some of her "quirks" to her friends.

We've just started counseling for S. Her new psych eval mentioned the possibility of a behavioral disorder. I don't know much about the specific disorder yet and I don't yet know if that's right or not....but if having that label helps us get help with the rages, then I'm happy to label her. I can't say that too loudly, though, or I start feeling like one of those parents who "just wants to drug their child, rather than work on the problem." I do want to work on the problem; sometimes medication is what helps work on a problem. We don't refuse to give a child an antibiotic when they have an ear infection -- why do we refuse mental health medication, if it helps? (We aren't talking about medication, anyway. We're talking about using different behavioral tools for S because maybe her brain operates differently than most children.)