The Affect Fostering has on my Bio Kids

The Affect Fostering Has on my Bio Kids - Becoming a Foster Care Family - Care Providers

When I entered the world of Fostering, I knew it would impact my bio kids, I wasn’t naive. But they were. I tried to prepare them the best I could, but they still had fantasies of new friends sleeping over every night; they thought it was going to be fun.

Now, they don’t think it’s fun.

 

It has been two months since our first placements — a 7 year old boy and a now 6 year old girl — came into our home. My children have realized it wasn’t what they thought it would be. Here is a list of some of the things we have learned through our first placements. I will admit, most of it is negative. That is their current view and we are still working on the adjustment to our “new life” as my son calls it. We are a work in progress as a foster family. It may be the ages of the children, or just personality mixes. I’m not sure, and I know this won’t be true for all foster families with bio kids. I am sure some adjust much better than my kiddos are!

It isn’t like a sleepover

I think my two bio kids honestly thought it would be like having a sleepover with friends. A fun get together with playing and staying up late talking to each other from their bunk beds. The ‘not sleeping well’ part of a sleepover scenario may be true… but that is about it.

One of the children has been diagnosed with a few things that make getting to sleep hard, and sometimes loud. After a month of battles and everyone not being able to sleep, our placement was prescribed medication to help.

However, my son is a light sleeper, so it has been a bit rough with how this affects his sleep. I am now looking into renovating my basement to add more bedrooms and a playroom (In our area bio kids can have basement bedrooms as long as it is to code, but the foster children have to be on the same floor as me).

Sharing with a foster sibling is different than sharing with a friend

I was surprised at this one, but when I think about it, really should not have been.  The kids that came into care did not bring much more than a bag of clothes. They didn’t have toys or books from their house. They came with a pack that all the kids in Care receive which included some markers, a colouring book, toothbrushes, etc. Similar to the package I made up for them.

We had discussed this as a family before taking placements, this was an easy one to talk about (or so I thought). They understood the kids were coming with nothing and that they would need to share and we would purchase more toys along the way, but I wasn’t going to buy “separate” toys for the foster children to play with. All the toys were for everyone in the house.

That lasted a couple weeks until a toy accidentally got broken (total fluke, wasn’t on purpose). Then the fights began about who could play with what. My son became very protective of his toys, creating a “do not play with” section on his shelf of toys that were “so special” to him that he didn’t want to be touched.  His space was being invaded and he needed to take control… that is what I take out of it.  Things have quieted down in this area and it is getting better over time. Also, the kids have picked up some of their toys from home when they went for visits, so that helped as well.

You’re not going to be friends with everyone

My two bio kids get a long very well. They aren’t the typical siblings who fight. They just click and play really well together and are friends. So, it was easy for them to assume it would be like that for other kids that came into the house. It isn’t. It isn’t ANYTHING like that. The boys don’t get a long and the girls have nothing in common. It has been a challenge to try to find common ground to help them form bonds. I continue to look for new ways to have them create things, or play together in a way that doesn’t result in a breakdown or tears. It’s definitely been interesting… and challenging.

You’re going to want to give up

Hard days are really hard. Exhausting, want to quit, hard. For me and for the kids. My bio kids have vented to me and broken down and admitted they are not enjoying fostering. I try to take that as an opportunity to teach them there are going to be things in life that make you want to quit; make you want to go the easy route, but we can’t just give up because of a hard day. Not every day it hard and there is a reason behind what we are doing. There have been many late night talks (well, late for them… around 8pm after the foster kiddos are asleep) about what they are feeling, and what we can do to make things better. Sometimes there isn’t something that is easily fixed, sometimes it is just showing them I am there to support them and they can vent to me whenever they want about how they are feeling. That is how the idea of finishing my basement came about. One night my son was telling me the house was too small and he couldn’t get away for quiet time because everyone followed him.  I am lucky to work for a great company that is in the construction industry, so I have many people to help me plan renovations and find the best (and cheapest) solutions on that end. I am looking into adding 1 or 2 bedrooms and a playroom down there, so hopefully that will work out and be ready by the time our next placements come.

You never know what is going to happen next

Our first week was interesting. It was a constant “what next” feeling in our house. From me having the flu our first day with placements, to head lice (my children have never had lice, so it was a brand new experience for me!), to one of the children eating an ice pack, we just didn’t know what to expect next.  Luckily it has calmed down a bit, but we are now in the “what next” phase of wondering what is next for these children. Will they go home as predicted in the 6-8 month period (probably not), or will they be placed with kin (up in the air right now), or will they stay here much longer than originally thought (a chance). Who knows.


For the other foster families with older bio kids, what have you found to help them adjust to the “new life”?

~Meesh

 

 

 

Update – My First Placements

My First Foster Placements - Becoming a Foster Parent - Canada

I had started this blog to just record the process of becoming a foster parent and had no plans to continue once I took on placements, but I wanted to give an update about my first placement since that ‘officially’ made me a foster parent in my mind.

After I met my worker on November 3, I was put “on the board” to officially accept placements. Then, I waited. And waited. And waited. On January 30th (almost 3 full months of waiting for a call), I received an email from my worker saying she had a potential placement for me, and to call her the next day when she’d be in the office.

When I called her the next day she went over what she knew. The kids were still with their mother, had been in care before, but they had a court date on that Thursday to determine if the kids would be coming back into care. The kids. Two. Not one.. .two kids.

So, did I whip out my placement call list of questions and start rattling them off? Nope. I completely forgot about it to be honest! I listened. She gave me the info she had, which really wasn’t much and then asked my thoughts. The kids both fell in my age range. There was one boy and one girl, so I had the beds available. I said yes.

Then, I had to wait again. This time, for the judge to decide if the kids would be placed in foster care. Thursday afternoon came and I hadn’t heard anything so I sent my worker a quick email (we email a lot, since I work full time outside the home, it is the easiest way for us to send quick messages). She hadn’t heard anything either so she said she would see what she could find out.

The case had been put off until the next week. I had to wait a whole week again to find out if I would be caring for these children. It was a long, hard week. I didn’t know what to expect, would it be put off again? Am I sure I want to accept two children as my first placement? Am I sure I want to accept any children at all still? I starting having doubts, I starting rethinking everything.

Then Thursday came.

The kids were ordered into care and I received the call. The kids would be at my house at 6pm.  On February 16, I welcomed a sibling set of two into my home. Right now it is estimated at a 6-8 month stay, but you just never know. Their Mom has been great though and I am 100% confident there will be reunification. We talk on the phone every night before the kids go to bed.

Some days are hard. Like, really hard. But others are wonderful. I feel like I was definitely meant to have more than two children and this is part of my path…however, my children are sure they do not want anymore foster children to come into our home. Adjustment is hard.

~Meesh

 

My Journey to Become a Foster Parent: Training Session Three

Becoming a Foster Parent - Training Session 3 (mommameesh.wordpress.com)

This week’s session focused on Attachment. With this, we discussed ways children may show attachment, and one of the trainers shared her experience with caring for children with attachment disorders. This session was packed full the entire session with lots of information and stories of experience. With that, we talked about reasons the children come into care and how that affects their attachments.

Reasons for Admission into Children’s Aid Society (CAS) Care

This is based only on the reason the child was first admitted into care. Other reasons for needing the care may come up at a later time that aren’t known at time of admission (example, only 7% come into care because of sexual abuse, but there is a higher percent of children who they realize experienced this once in care). It does not work out to 100% due to some children being admitted for multiple reasons.

  • 65% Inadequate parenting skills
  • 51% Mental health issues
  • 43% Children’s behaviour
  • 39% Drugs / Alcohol
  • 29% Abandonment
  • 27% Poverty
  • 26% Domestic Violence
  • 21% Lack of Supervision
  • 13% Physical Abuse or Risk of Abuse
  • 7% Sexual abuse

Group Activity

In our group activity this week we were divided into two groups. Our instructors then read out two scenarios. One group was Baby Jessie, the other was Baby Robin.  They were born at the same hospital, the same hour.  However, their parents were very different. They went through the first few years of the children’s lives and we talked about our feelings throughout and the attachment (or lack of) that came with how they were raised.

Baby Jessie was born to a young married couple who had tried for the baby and were eager to be parents. When Jessie cried, her mother picked her up, fed her and comforted her. She learned to build trust since when she cried her mother would meet her needs. It continued through development with her parents teaching her to crawl, play and were excited when she started talking. She formed attachments with her parents and caregivers and learned the world was a happy place.

Baby Robin was born to a young couple who eagerly waited for her arrival and prepared the best they could afford. When Robin cried, sometimes she was ignored. She would cry harder and eventually someone would feed her, but would seem distracted. Her parents drank heavily. As she got older and started to crawl her parents would keep her in a play pen in a separate room where they would sometimes come to check on her. She would cry but did not always receive care when she cried, so she cried more. Eventually, Robin was taken into care. Robin learned adults were unpredictable and could not be trusted.

Other Items Discussed

Positive Interaction Cycle – this is where positive adult interaction results in positive child behaviour, which then gets praise (positive adult interaction), creating a cycle.

Developmental Delays – We did not go into depth, but for homework there is reading in our binders about this. Children who come into care may be delayed due to neglect. It could be physical, emotional or intellectual.

Trauma Case Vignettes – There are three cases in our binders to review. They describe a child who is in care and you have to review what kind of challenges their new adoptive families may experience with behaviours. We did not go through this in class due to time running out.

Placement Disruption – This is another item we didn’t have time to fully review in class but is in our binders to review as part of our homework. This talks about impacts on children who have been in multiple places of care. One of my trainers had experience with a girl who had been in 4 or 5 different homes, including a home that had the intention on adopting her (and later changed their mind). An important note was that when she found something that worked with this child she made sure to note it and it was passed along with all of her notes to her next prospective adoptive family.

Stories of Experience

We had different trainers this week (every couple of weeks they switch) and they shared a lot of stories from their years of experience. It was great to hear about real scenarios and feelings that presenting themselves. Something I took away from the stories was the fact there will be days when we all feel we can’t do it; that we want to give up. We need to persevere. There was a story of a child who had been sexually abused at a very young age (under 2 years old) and would not go anywhere near her foster father. She would scream if he came into the room. It took one year… ONE YEAR, for her to warm up to him. One day she decided to sit on his lap and relax with him. He had not given up on her. He gave her space she needed and after a year he was rewarded with her trust.

Video

At the end of class we watched a video – ReMoved, which I have previously posted (See my original post here). It is a great video and great resource tool that they use in training. I am hoping they show the second one in class as well. You can watch both below if you haven’t seen them yet (but I will warn you… you should grab some tissues! I balled like a baby watching these for the first time).

I encourage you to check out the website removedfilm.com as well!

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Parallels between my Pregnancies and my Foster Parent Application Process

Going through the process of becoming a Foster Parent is starting to remind me of my pregnancies, but thankfully with a lot less nausea! Although they are quite different (in many ways), I am finding similarities.  Below is a list of things I have noticed so far.

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