one more thing

Sunday, June 27, 2010

One thing that I can share is a favorite quote that I ran back across while reviewing some of my writing from months past: Hope is not the expectation that things will turn out well, but the conviction that something is worth working for, however it turns out. (unknown)


So here it is. What I'm clinging to right now. The absolute conviction that this thing that we're doing - this life that we're living, these children that we're loving - is worth working for. However it turns out.

uncertainty

at this point, I'm just uncertain about how much to write down and how much to share. I want a record of how this process took place, of what we dealt with and went through, but I also want to be mindful of privacy for the case. I want to protect the children. I want to protect their mother, frankly. Since the mom is back in the picture somewhat for the case, things have gotten a little more complicated. I want the very best for these children, but I also have this very strong desire to protect them. What has happened to this family is just so sad, so devastating. The trauma that the kids have endured is unbelievable to me sometimes, but I just can't help but feel an overwhelming grief for the demise of this family. Sometimes people say to me how lucky they are to be in our home.  I just have a hard time seeing that right now. What about what has happened to them is lucky? Do people not get that they are in our home because they have been devastated by traumatic events and situations. That there is a family involved here that will probably never be healthy and whole and together again. So, so unbelievably sad. How God must grieve over the pain His children - both the actual children AND the parents - are experiencing.

triggers

Sunday, June 20, 2010

When you are fostering, you have a lot of appointments.  Especially if you have a child in therapy or children who have visitation with birth families.  Fortunately for my schedule, we don't actually have to do visitation with Mr. B and Baby R.  We do have weekly therapy however.  In addition to the children's appointments, we also have several people out to the home each month.  The caseworker is required to come visit us in our home once a month.  The CASA worker also visits once a month, as does the Help Me Grow worker.  This week, all of them came to visit on three consecutive days.

Mr. B did not do well with these visits.  There has been lots of crying, fits, anger, sadness, anxiety, and defiance.  The visits clearly do not make him feel secure.  He loves his caseworker, but when he found out she was coming, he immediately went upstairs and brought down his shoes.  To him, she represents moving.  Six moves in a little over a year will do that to you.  My heart breaks for the pain that these kids have been through.  

The information that we have now on childhood development tells us that when repeated trauma like this happens to a child, that their brains actually rewire.  So Mr. B not only has the memories/impressions from his past, his brain is actually wired differently than a normally attached, normally developed and secure child.  It's just devastating.   I have found a lot of help and encouragement in several different books on adoption.  I know that we're not technically in the 'adoption' category at this point, but the information is still highly relevant.  People like Nancy Thomas (Attaching in Adoption), Gregory Peck (Parenting the Hurt Child), and Karyn Purvis (The Connected Child) have been gifting parents with help to parent their hurt children.  I owe them a great debt of gratitude.  What a blessing it is to not have to go through this on my own.

Mr. B has been asking for extra nurturing activities - several Theraplay techniques that we learned in therapy (God BLESS you, kind therapist).  I'll try to explain more of what each individual routine consists of.  The ones he specifically asked for during this traumatic week were boo-boo cream, band-aids, and fishies.

'Boo-boo cream' is a routine that we go through where I inspect his body for boo-boos.  He is responsible for telling me where they are.  I gently rub lotion onto each spot (real or imagined), and reassure him that I like to take care of him.  That it's my job to take care of him.  Thanking him for telling me where he hurts.  Letting him know that I, the adult in the relationship, will always be there to take care of him and care for his hurts and pain.  The band-aids go right along with this.  Just a reassurance that as the mama, I am the one who can care for his needs.  That I provide a healing and safe presence, instead of an inconsistent, anxiety-inducing, hurtful presence.

The 'fishies' are a nurturing feeding activity that we do.  He sits in his bean-bag chair, and I feed him goldfish (or some other small snack).  He does not touch the bag, the food, or anything during this time.  I put the fish directly into his mouth when he tells me he's ready.  This exercise is to reaffirm the nurturing and caretaking aspect of our relationship.  Of course he can feed himself, but it's my job to take care of him.  It's my job to provide him with his needs.  For children that have largely been left to themselves, to care for themselves, and with no safe parental figure to turn to for needs, this is a very important skill for them to learn.  I also like the 'baby' aspect of it since this is not a stage of life that I got to experience with him.  The regression, I think, is extremely bonding both for him and for me.

One of the most important things during all these activities is the attempt to make and maintain eye contact.  When Mr. B moved in, he was very reluctant to make eye contact.  He still has some hesitancy.  But his willingness to trust me and just the simple act of meeting my eyes is healing for him.

Maybe I'm not describing these Theraplay techniques in the most clinical way.  Maybe the things that I'm getting from therapy aren't actually the things that are designed.  But they're working for Mr. B and me right now.  We are bonding, albeit slowly.  We are attaching to one another.  He is learning to trust me as a parent, as someone who will always keep him safe and care for his needs.

In other news, Baby R has been introduced to several new foods.  She LOVES food.  I am enjoying watching her discover new tastes and textures.  She is clearly attaching to all of us significantly.  We are her family (as far as she knows for right now).  And she's adorable, and I am falling in love.  The end.

favorite thing

Friday, June 11, 2010

Here, quickly, is my favorite thing from yesterday:
Mr. B and I are talking about families. Me: "Mr. B, what is a family?"
Mr. B: "A family is happy."

Yep.

Terrible Days

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mr. B has had three really, really terrible days. I have literally spent the entire day with him all three days. He wants to control every tiny thing, and full-on fits ensue when it doesn't happen. It's so obviously driven by something other than regular 2-year-old defiance and independence. Something deeper is going on, and we can't quite reach it. I think that it's mostly fear. I wonder if he's really starting to feel safe and secure and love towards our family, and maybe that frightens him. There's a lot of anxiety built up in his little being, and I want so badly to relieve it. It is so frustrating - not his behavior, but the fact that I can't fix his problems.

I also know that there is a spiritual component. We are in a battle for his healing and wholeness and happiness. For his future. That's a physical battle and most definitely it's an emotional battle. But beyond that, it's a spiritual battle. Fortunately, we have the Healer on our side. I'm just praying for His intervention. Mr. B needs His healing touch, and Wendell and I need His strength because this is beyond what we can do on our own. This is the hardest thing that we've ever done. This is the hardest thing that I've ever done. I wasn't prepared for the depth of what this would require of us. It wasn't really my intention to be this invested; I intended to protect myself from some of the emotional fallout in case these children are moved from us. I realized over the past three horrible days that I'm all in. I have to be. It's what Mr. B needs to heal. How can I protect myself at the expense of his healing? How can I not love him with everything I have? How can I not surrender all of myself to what God has called me to do? Anything less would not be obedience. Anything less would not be true love.
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