It’s OK

Here’s a catch up on what’s been happening in my world:

Baby B is 6 months old and happy as a bumble bee in springtime.

It’s springtime.

L has started on medication to help him to focus, stay on task and retain information. It’s helping.

L&J

J, at almost 2 & a half is finally starting to talk. He helps me to unload the dishwasher and we name everything as he passes it to me. He strikes a pose as he passes me a ‘bowl’, I strike a pose to receive it and confirm, yes it’s a ‘bowl’, and on it goes.

We miss N very much. A couple of weeks ago we were looking at photos and when J saw one of N – he pointed at it and burst into tears.

Being a kinship carer is a big deal and quite exhausting some days.

L is very interested in the Target logo. He now checks all clothing tags to see if it has the precious logo. He only wants to use the towel with the target tag. When we drive past a shopping centre ‘Target! it’s Target!!’

label love

J is moving to live with his baby brother who I was unable to care for because Baby B was coming my way. So his little brother went to another placement and now, he is moving there so that these two siblings can grow up together.

I’m heartbroken about that. But I know they need to be together.

heartbroken

I have had a relentless schedule of appointments and people coming into my home ALL YEAR! Last week I had 6 appointments, supervised two family contact visits, had professionals/support workers in my home on 5 occasions, and on & on.

I also went out to a gig to see some old friends play and (on another night) to a pyjama party. Going out twice in a week is kinda a big deal these days. But fun too.

Dog Trumpet

 

My mother is helping her younger sister move from hospital into a full care nursing home.

I’m helping to organise my mother’s 80th birthday celebrations next month (better do something about that!).

I’m obsessed with taking photos of clouds. They make me happy.

Brisbane sunset

I’m trying to build a sensory room for L, but I am wracked with indecision as to how exactly I should be going about doing this.

Baby B has the biggest, bluest eyes and a headful of luscious dark hair that goes it’s own way and looks a bit like Elvis in his younger years.

J is into dressing up – big time. He is currently wearing 2 necklaces and a medal which he puts on first thing in the morning. He loves to wear a hat and has a bit of a thing for shoes. And tattoos.

J

L is still noisemaking and screeching. There’s an unknown neighbour from a block of units a few houses away who yells out ‘shut that kid up!’

Things can get a bit crazy here. I only need to look away for a second or two and…

NOoooooooo!

But we are OK. In fact we are doing well. I’m working on my foster care zen/twigs in a stream/being in the moment and it’s OK.

OK

 

 

 

The Mysteries

I’ve been busy falling in love with a little girl who is now 11 weeks old. We know each other much better now. She’s responding to the sound of my voice, smiling her big, squishy smiles at me, looking deep into my eyes for connection, love and delight and taking my every waking moment (and quite a few sleeping moments as well). She is growing like a weed, needs LOTS of cuddles and has the most amazing head of thick, soft black hair. While all that loveliness has been happening, there’s been a lot of other things happening as well.

A couple of weekends ago I spent the weekend up the coast in a beautiful lakeside location. A dear friend’s partner had passed away very suddenly and this was a chance for friends and family to come together to acknowledge him and to say goodbye. I didn’t know him well as for most of the years they were together, they lived in a remote location. But listening to the stories of his family, his close friends and colleagues, I was struck by how many things we had in common: we were born in the same year in the same small, north Queensland town, we lived a couple of streets from each other, we went to the same school and for the last 8 or so years, he managed an organisation that was established by my father. You can’t help but take stock of the things that are important to you when life’s tenuous fragility is once again made plain and simple: this is it, this is your life, live it now, don’t wait for later.

Don't wait

 

 

Lake Cootharaba

The Hard Bit

This is the hard bit.
This is the bit that stops most people from becoming foster carers.
Saying goodbye.

I’ve been parenting this little guy for almost three years. He has taught me a lot. Mostly about tractors, motorbikes and garbage trucks, but also a lot about me.

For the last few weeks he has been transitioning out of my care and into the care of his extended family. Transition is now officially over, but he is still coming over one night a week for the next few weeks.

So many things are the same and so many things are different. The dynamic at home is enormously different. When he is here he needs lots of physical closeness and attention. At any moment, he could veer off into emotional chaos. Angry, upset, sad, confused. It’s tough when you are only three and everything you know is changing.

At the same time we are having very special moments. Moments of love, of sharing, remembering. Sweet and precious exchanges.

He has always called me mum but a couple of weeks ago he called me by my first name – Rose. It was an early morning, still sleepy exchange. I smiled at him and asked him if that’s what he’d like to call me now. Not yet, he said.

Water Boy

Water Boy

Cupacake Monsters

cupacake monsters

cupacake monsters

Photo a day in April for autism acceptance

I took these in to N’s day care today. It was for a very special little celebration – his last day at this centre.

On the days that the two little boys are at day care, I have about 45 mins or so in between L (my beautiful ASD 6 year old) coming home and having to go and pick up these guys. I try to make this one on one time with him special. I get him a drink – today he had 2 cups of tea – and a snack and I work on engaging him in conversation. Generally though, there’s only one thing on his mind.

‘Go in car. Get N & J’

So we did just that!

 

 

How do you say goodbye #2

Most of the children who come into my home are babies or at least under the age of 5. I have cared for older children, but somehow over the past few years it’s the little ones who keep coming through my front door.

Sometimes these little darlings go back to their birth families, some go to their new families when they are adopted and some stick around. As I write this I have one playing at my feet and one being burped on my lap while we wait for the third to come home from his family visit. I am perfecting the art of one handed typing.

Saying goodbye is such a personal process. In the weeks, days or hours before one of my kids moves on, I start my goodbye by writing them a letter. In this letter I try to tell them a bit about the time they have spent with me, some of their experiences and milestones. I like to tell them a little about their personality traits and my hopes for their future. Mostly I want them to know how loved and cherished they were.

If they were newborn when they came to me, then I like to tell them some of the details of when they were still in hospital and when they came home. Of course they will have either a lifebook or journal that goes with them, but these letters are something very personal from me to them. I hope I can help them to fill in a little but important piece of a big jigsaw.

For some children who are being adopted, they won’t get to read this letter until they are 18 years of age and able to request their file. I try to imagine how it might be for them to get this little window into their very early lives. I know that I am the only one who can tell them about this time in their lives, so I try to honour that precious role.

On their last morning with me I always take a photo of us together. The protocol for children being adopted is that the foster carer is not in any photos that go with the child. So this photo is for me and for them but they won’t get to see it until they can access their file.

I am usually able to hold onto my emotions right up until the point where they are heading off for the last time. If I can, I like to carry them out to the car, strap them into their seat, tell them I love them and give them a final kiss goodbye. After that, I’m a mess and the best thing that can happen is for the parents or workers to drive off into the sunset and leave me to shed some tears for that little piece of humanity who needed me for a little while.

If I can, I’ll take myself off to a sad movie and sit there in the dark shedding a quiet tear. It’s remarkably therapeutic. After all the build up and the final farewell it’s great to have a moment to myself with a wonderful distraction (I never get to see films these days!!).

Life goes on and I try to get on and do things I can’t normally do when I have a bubba in tow – there’s always plenty of jobs to do around my house & garden. It gives me the change and purpose I need and before I know it, the phone is ringing and someone else is on their way to me.

How Do You Say Goodbye?

First post – something close to the heart.

One of the first things we learn to do as a child is to wave goodbye and throughout our lives we are constantly saying goodbye to the people we love. Most of the time we do this knowing that we will see them again soon, talk to them, send them an email, a birthday card and have all the normal connections and reminders of our love for each other.

Foster families have the very special task of learning to say goodbye to our kids, sending them off with love, with great hope for their futures and no expectations of ever getting to see them again.

We all cope with this difficult, often sad and sometimes disheartening process in different ways. Some of us need a break before taking on the next placement, others find that the new child or young person who comes into their lives helps them to move their focus onto new challenges.

Leading up to the day they leave our homes, our feelings go on hold while we put our energy into supporting the child through this big change in their lives. But suddenly they are gone and you are left with that empty space where a child used to be.

Through our experiences and training we build our personal repertoires and rituals.  We look for ways to acknowledge these kids and our connection to them.

I’ve got a few of my own and plan on telling you all about them as I get into the blogging world but would love to hear of anyone else out there and the things they do say goodbye.