Back in 2008 we lost a little boy who had been in our home as a pre-adoptive placement for almost a year, after DCF lost the TPR trial. The little boy was almost two years old and had been in foster care since shortly after birth. He was our first child (the first grandchild in our family) and we were beyond devastated. We always said that if he ever came back into care, we'd take him. But after 3 1/2 years, we had pretty much given up and went on to adopt our son and have another little boy as a pre-adoptive placement (TPR done, just waiting out the appeal).
Well, two nights ago we got the call... our first little boy (now 5 years old) and his brother (4 years old) were being removed on an emergency basis, and would we take them. Of course we said yes. They came with directly from daycare with nothing.
And here we are. It is great to see our little boy, but he's not our little boy anymore. He is a great little kid, albeit tough around the edges, and has no memory of his time with us. Both he and his brother are terribly homesick and we spent 2 1/2 hours last night trying to comfort them. But they don't want to be touched (we're strangers, of course!) and just want to go home. And as much as my heart breaks for what they've been living with (alcoholism, domestic violence, some neglect), I want them to go home. Selfishly, because I don't think we have the space or energy for four preschool boys (age 3, 4, 4 and 5), but also because I couldn't bear to tell them that they're not going home.
I get it now. I really do. Foster care is different. We never signed up to be foster parents -- we signed on to an agency that does adoption and we agreed to take legal risk. When our adopted and STBA boys came to us, they had entered the system as infants and had been in foster care and away from their birthparents for at least 18 months. When we got them, they were ours. But this is different -- these two boys aren't ours -- they are their parents' and I so want for them to go home.
The 72-hour hearing is next week. Please, if you pray, pray that DCF can figure out how to keep them safe at home. But what do we do if they can't go home? I couldn't bear to pass them off to another home, but we don't even have a car big enough for them. And we've already been through a year of birthparent visits with these parents and it was HELL. How could we commit to going through all of that again? But how could we turn our backs on them?? But is it fair to put my other two kids through this? Especially since we haven't even finalized on my 3-year-old?
Of course, I'm also sleep-deprived and overwhelmed so maybe it will get easier in the next few days. But I'd love any advice on how on earth we figure out what to do from here....
Also -- some practical questions: they haven't pooped since they've been here--how do we make that happen? And one of them isn't eating, although we've given him everything he says he likes. We've been telling them that their social worker will let them know when they can go home, but how else do we answer that question? And their teeth are rotting out of their mouths -- until we can get them to a dentist, is there anything we can do about that? Any other advice on managing four preschool boys????
First (((hugs))) to you.
I get what you are saying. We had a little girl go with family a few years ago and she has been bounced from family member to family member. I worry about her, but if given the chance I dont think we would take her again.
If the boys stay with you they will adjust to being there.Your sleep deprovation will get better as they settle in and sleep better. Putting all the boys on the same schedule will help as well, actually them being so close in age might work in your favor since you should have games, movies and toys they will like. For missing mom and dad find a short answer that they understand and repeat it word for word every time. I tell my little ones mommy misses you too and is doing her work so you can go home, until then you are gonna stay with us. I have said it so many times that its part of what they tell me now. "I miss my mommy and she is doing her work so we can go home." All I have to do is agree with them and we move on to the next thing.
Only you know what you can handle so dont feel badly if you decide your family cant keep the boys right now. You have to take care of your family first or you wont be able to help anyone.
It sounds like your home is very, very busy. Don't get down on yourself yet... a lot of people (including myself) get the post placement blues AKA "WHAT THE EFF I have got myself into?!?"
Another thing for pooping is raisins. Helps a lot with kiddos.
As for managing preschool boys, I have two, and one with the maturity/mentality of one even though he's eight. lol LOTS of activity. Go to the park as much as possible. Try to see if there are any malls with indoor play areas. Separate when necessary to allow everyone a breather.
I agree with all of the PPs. Excellent advice. (I would add corn to the poping issues, and emphasise sleep and naps for you.)
I think though that you should also consider whether you really want these children to stay with you if this does go long-term with visits and family planning, and also possibly to termination. You should be honest with yourself about this. Now is the time since they don't know you and aren't bonded to you. If you truly can't handle it, maybe another family is the right family. Maybe that other family can keep in touch and you can do respite if they stay in care.
If after some sleep and soul-searching your heart says yes, you want to be there for them, then go forward and never look back. It is tiring, but if your heart is in, the rest of you will follow. We upgraded to a used caravan and love it. It's something to consider in the future if you decide to go for it.
Hugs to all of you. I hope these boys can go home safely and that the family works through its issues. All the best to you.
I don't have any advice minus this one thing: whatever decision you make will be the right one for you and your family. I honestly believe that things tend to work themselves out like they should be eventually... GL and I hope things get easier for you soon!
I remember when you were going through all of that with your ffs. I kept checking in to see the updates. I can't believe after all of this time he is back in care! That is such a long time. The weird thing is, my ffs just came back to us about a month and a half ago after being gone for 2-1/2 years. He also was 2 when he left and is now 4-1/2. He's a totally different kid now. I have had contact with him since he left though, and he's stayed with me a few times but now dcyf has stepped in and he is technically a fs agian. I know how you feel about being overwhelmed and looking out for your other kids. As much as you love him, your first priority is to the kids you are adopting. If you can do both, it certainly will be beneficial to your fk's but it has to work for everyone. If you don't think you can do it, then at least like you said he doesn't seem to remember you so it wouldn't be so hard on him to move. Also, he has his brother with him so that would be a comfort. Good luck!
One tidbit about the pooping problem -- we had a little girl who had encopresis, and the best advice I gleaned (other than high fibre foods, of course) was the five minute sit. After meals, every meal, with a timer, until child gets in the habit of going. Physiologically this is the time when a child needs to go. However with all the change and confusion, little ones often won't take the time on the toilet, or take the time to recognize that they have to go. I now do this with every young child that comes in to our home -- supply with books if necessary :-).
You know, you'll be shocked if they stay, how fast they can become yours, and start to fit in. That's not say that maybe they shouldn't go home, but I wouldn't assume that they will never be your little boys again - I've seen that happen with ours very quickly. Sometimes it helps to just focus on the day to day, and give them what you can. I hope it works out!
Isn't it strange how fast we realize the kids we once loved with all our hearts grow to be different kids outside our care? It's rough. Good luck, no easy answers. We brought back a FFD who was reunited with her bios and she came back with a baby sister. We had to go out and get our first mini-van to fit us all. It was not even a question of taking them, we just had to make it work. Busiest, craziest months of my life but we loved every moment and I miss them every day.
Ok, three days in and feeling a bit better. My hubby is 100% committed to being there for our FFS and his brother, no matter what. I'm not there yet, but I'm starting to feel the glimmers of attachment to them (at least on my end). And I keep telling myself that it was rough at first with our adopted son and our STBAS when they first came, too.
And let me just say, our friends have rallied around us like troopers. We haven't cooked a single meal since the boys arrived -- it has been a steady stream of friends bringing over food and good wishes. (Plus they all knew and loved our FFS when he was with us before, so they're all dying to see him!) I know it's not good to expose foster kids to too many new people, but I don't think we could get through this -- logistically or emotionally -- without them. I hope everyone else out there has the kind of supports we didn't even know we had (if that makes any sense). We don't have family nearby, so our friends are our support!
The boys are pooping now -- in their pants, so they're back in pullups, which is fine. Thanks for the tips!
Please keep the prayers and good wishes coming -- I think it's helping!! And I'm so grateful for this forum to be able to talk to people who get it!
OK - off to bed now!
How does he respond to seeing pictures of himself with you when he was little? Videos etc?
I wonder if that would help him ... and would trigger lots of memories I am sure.
@Jensboys -- we haven't shown our FFS any videos of himself yet (although we have a ton!). Just a few photos and comments like "this was your blankie when you were a baby," etc. He seems to be taking it all in. No questions yet -- but I have him and his brother alone all day tomorrow so we'll see what happens.
We had a couple of doozies of tantrums today. The 4-year-old called me a "f**kin' baby" while he tried to kick in our bedroom door. Wonder where he heard that. Ugh.
I am sorry :( It has got to be so tough. We had our boys former foster mom come and stay with us for 10 days about 3 years after we adopted them (they were 3 and 4 at adoption, had been with her 3 years). Her presence, and going through old pictures etc triggered LOTS of memories that they had seemingly forgotten until that point. What a complicated situation.
We got word that the boys will be here another month. After that, who knows.
I'm freaking out a bit... ok, a lot!
Their social worker said he "might" be able to get them a daycare voucher for the days I work. I only work part-time, but I have to be at work on Monday and I don't make NEARLY enough to pay for two extra kids in daycare. What happens if he doesn't get a voucher?
I asked him about getting the boys set up in therapy, and he didn't want to "have to go through all that" if they'll be going home in a month. So I asked him if he had any suggestions on how to manage the 4-year-old's wicked tantrums -- he said, "put them in front of the TV." AARGH...
My husband is thrilled... but he won't be the one at home with four boys all day.
I think I'm just freaking out because I really thought they'd be going home today and had come to a kind of peace about it. I spent their naptime trying to get a therapy appointment for myself. )
Hugs and prayers to you and your family. I am one of those people that has a hard time distinguishing between who needs help and who i CAN help without going crazy. It's great that your husband is supportive. I know what you mean, though, about being the one who will be raising them 24/7. With just a 1 and a 3 yr old, I feel like I have nothing left to give at the end of some of our rough days. Hopefully you'll find peace and a clear route to take. Kuddos to you for braving these first days with a whole new dynamic. I would be adamant about the daycare vouchers. I'd hope that since you have a previous connection to the kid that they'd try to make this work out for you, if that's what you decide. How are all of the kids getting along?
It seems to me that the boys should automatically qualify for a state funded preschool program like Head Start (in CA once they are in foster care they automatically qualify) I think you should really push the social worker to get you some help! If they want this placement to succeed they need to support you, with daycare vouchers, therapy - what ever! In my experience, the foster parent can give an ulamatum (sp???) (I need this or I can't keep these kids) and social service usually gives in, with - in reason, of course.
My best method in dealing with tantrums is to put the child in his/her bed and tell them when they are done they can get up. Be as unemotional about it as you can, as if you don't really care one way or the other. If you are able to keep your calm and not be moved by the tantrum then they soon learn it is not working for them. There are times with I would sit with the child and rub his back until he settled down, if I felt that part of the problem was related to grieving or missing his parents.
Hope this helps! Hang in there!