My failure as a foster mom
Our FD had shown me a completely different side of life. I have been filled with pity, compassion and affection for her as she has processed through her experiences. Her behaviors have been challenging in many ways and yet she can come SO far in the last 8 months. Many times I have been amazed that a child who has suffered such horrendous abuse has really perservered to such a degree.

and then, yesterday....

She deliberately and with planning and with taking steps to avoid being caught, harmed one of our cats. This cat who has never done anything but love on her, every day.

I simply cannot get past it. I don't want to even look at her. All my feelings for her are just gone, all I feel is anger. I am completely beside myself. This is not even any appropriate consequence (ok she's never allowed to even touch one of the cats again. whoopie.). All that is left is punishment and that's not appropriate either. I realize intellectually that it is not her "fault". That simply doesn't have any impact on how I feel.

The kicker is that today is her birthday. So, she does one of the most unforgivable things one can do (only one step removed from harming a child, IMO) and today we get to spend making the whole day special for her. I don't even want to be here today and I know I am the worst mom in the world, no, the worst person in the world.

Thanks for listening to me...I know some of you might understand and give me some words of wisdome how to find a way to turn this around.
I understand you. I have three rescue dogs, two of them are therapy dogs. They are very tolerant and loving. If someone hurt them purposefully, I imagine I would feel the same way as you do. That is actually on my list of "no-no"s, (known abuse of animals).

My dogs are rescues and know abuse and neglect themselves. My home is supposed to be the healing and safe haven from that previous life. I would be very angry as well.

I guess my best advice is "fake it until you make it" for her birthday today. Keep her in line of sight until she leaves in a few weeks, so she won't have an opportunity to harm the cat again.

And of course DOCUMENT.
AS: A-man, age 8.5 years.
Foster Son, special needs/medically fragile- 17 months. -TPR 3/15/ Adoption to be fall 2015.
You did not fail! You are human and you are having the same human feelings that you should have. I agree with the above poster, today is about faking it, and know that you will visit the issue with her, and her caseworker and a possible therapist later. Looks like she will have to be on a thether to you for a while, which will be very uncomfortable for both of you. When my son was little about this age he hurt my niece in what sounds like a very similar situation. I was devestated. He is now 14 and would not hurt a fly. That age is hard because they don't always get that some things can't get fixed and that he can have a bad effect on someone else. Also, I wonder if this has to do with the upcoming move. While T may seem like he is transitioning well, this could be his way of saying he is not. Also - birthday = trigger to events that brought him into care. This could be triggered from any pstd flash back that was occuring in his birthfamily. Sometimes if kids see something over and over again in their heads, they believe that it will go away if they act it out.
I will pray for all of you. God loves to test our abilities and it sounds like he is doing that. Keep in mind he gives us the test first and then we learn the lesson - bass ackwards I know.
I don't know what I'd do if one of my children hurt one of my pets, so I'm afraid I don't have any good advice for you there. I do hope your kitty feels better soon and its sweet loving nature will not be damaged by that experience.
I'm sorry you're going though this. I don't have any advice either. Abuse towards animals is also on our list of no's. I've had my cat since before I was married and before I had kids. So I totally understand how you feel. I would be devastated.

FWIW, not with foster kids, but with my Biological kids, my DS had a birthday that wasn't one year. He was awful and mean and so we didn't have cake, he had to wait until the next day to open his presents, etc. I just couldn't spend the whole day being "all about you" when he had been so bad. I don't know that it's a bad thing. She did something horrible and hurtful. There should be consequences and they should be big, IMO.

My last thing I want to ask is if she's in therapy. If she's not, I hope 1st thing Monday you will start looking.

((((hugs))))
ImpactingLives said...
I'm sorry you're going though this. I don't have any advice either. Abuse towards animals is also on our list of no's. I've had my cat since before I was married and before I had kids. So I totally understand how you feel. I would be devastated.

FWIW, not with foster kids, but with my Biological kids, my DS had a birthday that wasn't one year. He was awful and mean and so we didn't have cake, he had to wait until the next day to open his presents, etc. I just couldn't spend the whole day being "all about you" when he had been so bad. I don't know that it's a bad thing. She did something horrible and hurtful. There should be consequences and they should be big, IMO.

My last thing I want to ask is if she's in therapy. If she's not, I hope 1st thing Monday you will start looking.

((((hugs))))


Thanks ladies. I'm faking it for all I'm worth. :arrow:

I'm just focusing on all the stuff that needs to get done right now. DH is having an easier time than I am and is taking point today. We talked a lot yesterday about what to do about the birthday stuff today. In the end the decision was that she wouldn't connect the loss of the party with what she did and would likely escalate her behavior even more. We have 2 more weeks....maybe it would be different if she was staying long term...I guess we need to make it as easy on everyone as possible.
You know, your a strong person! We've dealt with it too, I dont know what your FD did but ours stabbed our dog.
Those feelings are like something that is out of left field, how do you manage them, how do you cope with them and how do you move on! I dont know, I'm so glad that you only have 2 more weeks, when our FD did that we had no end in sight (as they are still here)
I wish I had some words of wisdom for you, I know I would drop the party but you know your FD best. Ours at that age would totally get the connection.
Hang tough and get through and early bed for her so you can relax and reflect!
(((hugs)))
Deb, don't beat yourself up. I get what you are going through. I don't know what's worse, the feelings of anger towards the child, or the guilt we have feeling that way. Our 2yr. FS had a serious "event" during the night that involved destruction of property (much less serious than harming pet) and today I am struggling with it. Outwardly I am smiling and doing the things an adoring mother would do, but I don't "feel" it, not today. I just can't help it.
I know your FS is very young but I think it's ok for these kids who do these things (either foster kids, adopted kids, Biological kids or relative kids...ANY kids) to see that when they do "wrong or naughty or outright mean" things that we are mad and angry, hiding it from them doesnt let them see that part of the consequences.
JMHO. I think it's healthy for a kid to see the disapointment and anger (appropriate) when they do things like that, we are modeling for them and it's normal to be angry and upset in some situations.
It's sure hard to know what is the right way to go sometimes. Easy for me today though cuz right now I'm on this side of the screen. You both hang in there with these little ones and best of luck for a good day after all!

(((hugs)))



teacher1998 said...
Deb, don't beat yourself up. I get what you are going through. I don't know what's worse, the feelings of anger towards the child, or the guilt we have feeling that way. Our 2yr. FS had a serious "event" during the night that involved destruction of property (much less serious than harming pet) and today I am struggling with it. Outwardly I am smiling and doing the things an adoring mother would do, but I don't "feel" it, not today. I just can't help it.
I believe in consequences along with unconditional love. If this child were to get caught as an adult doing something like this the day before her birthday, her birthday wouldn't be great. People do spend many birthdays behind bars. Maybe this b-day should be a little different. Maybe a quiet b-day at home with cake but no fanfare. Kids need to learn consequences at an early age regardless of what has happened to them. We can understand why she did it but it still is unexceptable. You are right feeling that this day should be different. You wouldn't want her to be rewarded for doing something so deliberate and planned.
sometimes when things are going well the stress is too great. the lies in their mind tell them that they don't deserve to be safe, happy, loved, taken care of, etc, etc. ad nauseum. they just don't believe it.

Bubba is one of those kids. he used to harm our little dogs with great regularity, but only when he was feeling particularly close to us. that meant he was being "unfaithful" to Barbie. that meant he'd better do something quick to make emotional distance between us and him. the fastest way was to grind Tony's paw under his foot or kick Molly or pull a tail or twist an ear. it didn't matter to him--he just did whatever he could to make any of them yelp. his meanness wasn't confined to the animals--he'd punish Flowergirl as well. she was smaller and nonverbal.

it was a constant supervision thing. his consequence was that he was told that we did not yet trust him with the animals or his sister alone, therefore he would not be allowed to play anywhere that we could not directly see him. he hated it. it worked.

knowing that her birthday was very soon, i'm going to bet she had to act out. i bet she didn't feel like she deserved a happy birthday to her. she probably feels like she is bad incarnate. that's what abuse and neglect do to kids. and if she doesn't deserve it, she was determined to sabotage it. Bubba still does it sometimes even after 4 years with us.

it's hard. you failed no one--not you, your pet, or your foster child. you got blind-sided by an unexpected action. the hardest part right now is going to be helping your fd deny the garbage inside of her that caused her to act out on something smaller and weaker than herself. right now you feel shock, hurt and anger. those feelings are overriding your feelings of love for her. you are also reeling from the sudden loss of trust as well as your empathy for your poor kitty. again, these strong feelings have taken over and blocked out the love.

it's still in there. love is a CHOICE in this instance. she is practically screaming at you to love her but don't love her too much. you have to decide is this something that you can live with and choose to love her or is this too much for you to get beyond. honestly, there were many times with Bubba that i thought that there was no way i could continue to let him live with me because _________ just wasn't normal. and it wasn't! but.

what i did was say to myself--and to him--i still choose to love you, but i don't like your behavior so much that right now i'm having a hard time feeling good about being with you. i will need to work on my tender feelings and you will need to work on not harming our pets. then i would set the consequence of no contact and constant supervision. after that, i would set my own consequence of deliberately being tender with him-rocking, hugs, stories, lap sitting, whatever.

i have found that when he is at his most disgusting is precisely the time he needs me to be the most loving. he doubts his worth and shows me in shocking ways. my job is to create the road by which he can return to me. sometimes that is a very, very rough thing for me to do.

it would not be inappropriate to lower her birthday celebration. she chose that when she hurt the cat. but she is also trying very hard to see if you really love her or are you going to "go away" just like her other mom. it doesn't make any difference to her brain if she instigated it. as counter-intuitive as this feels, she really needs you to keep on loving her through this. this is a test. and it's probably the first step past the honeymoon--it's likely to get worse before it gets better.

just don't beat yourself up--we all do the best we can with what we've been given. all of us. God be with you through this time.
Thank you all once again for your responses and support.

The day went fine. My family was all here and so I got to pretty much do my own thing while one or another of my family members focused on her.

The best I can do is keep on keeping on. 12 more days and she will be moving. I hate how much I am looking forward to that. This foster care journey has opened my eyes to many things in the world that I wish I had remained ignorant of; and this unforgiving place in myself is definately one of them. Again, thank you for your support during this difficult day.
I hope it's in the plan for the new family to be aware of animal abuse? Would be horrid if it was worse next time.
((hugs))
Debralous said...
Thank you all once again for your responses and support.

The day went fine. My family was all here and so I got to pretty much do my own thing while one or another of my family members focused on her.

The best I can do is keep on keeping on. 12 more days and she will be moving. I hate how much I am looking forward to that. This foster care journey has opened my eyes to many things in the world that I wish I had remained ignorant of; and this unforgiving place in myself is definately one of them. Again, thank you for your support during this difficult day.



I completely understand. Our fd has been totally out of control lately. She pees her bed on purpose, tantrums on purpose (as soon as another person enters the situation other than me and my husband, she stops the crying, screaming, growling, everything), she purposely damages our property, and this week I got kicked in the stomach.

Tomorrow is her birthday. We were going to have a party in a few weeks but we canceled it. We're just having cake and some presents here at home. It will still be a special day, but she has got to realize her behavior has consequences.

I really get keeping the party though too. Sometimes it's just easier.

I hear the hurt in your 'voice' when you say you hate that you're looking forward to the day she isn't there. We have 3 months left. Hang in there. I am hopeful that not all placements will be this tough.
I am so sorry that she did something to your cat. The first time my ffs tried to hurt the dog, I saw RED. I was SO mad. I agree with others who have said make sure that she isn't alone with the pets now.

Also, know that you did not fail her. She have given her a great home for the past few months and she is better for it. Good luck with the next two weeks and the transition to her new house.
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