…so far it’s not really much harder than two.
We had a much better night last night. I planned and strategised and managed to intervene in a helpful way each time Champ tried to climb the crazy tree at bedtime. Digging in and doing research again about trauma and dysregulation always helps ME to stay regulated and to be compassionate rather than annoyed. And that helps both of us.
I tried, softly, to get Champ to talk a little about how he was feeling about baby brother. He has always know that baby lives with X, big sister lives with Y and Champ and Buddy live with Mummy N. Having baby brother come and hang out has made him realise that there might be a different way. And he’s not stupid. Twice he has said to me “I no wa ‘baby brother’ to live with X, I wa him to live wit us”.
Sat down and wrote a list of what I think I would need to make it work. If I get those things I think I could make it work. I think I might be leaning towards yes… don’t tell anyone yet, I haven’t decided for sure. I need to wait and see how having him Thursday day and for all the weekend goes. I might be a disaster…
As the time grows nearer to truly beginning this fostering journey I found myself beginning to get somewhat stressed about what is the ‘right’ decision to make when it comes to welcoming a child into my house. I began to really want a younger child (as in under 18 months). A younger child is so much more in my experience and comfort zone. A younger child would make it easier to finish my Masters. A younger child would be easier to parent for my first experience at fostering. And I was feeling so torn, trying to work out if this was just the selfish me talking, or if was a practical and sensible decision.
I think a part of it was also the fact that one of my friends has just had a baby and, being honest here, that makes me want one too. My friends, who love and support me totally, were encouraging me that it was ok to think I should take a younger child, and perhaps God was telling me that it was the road I should be taking. I think my friends care for me, and they want to protect me, so it’s natural for them to want this to be as easy a journey as possible. But in the middle of all the thoughts was the nagging feeling that I was being selfish. I didn’t get into fostering so that I could have my own child. I got into because I wanted to be a part of making the system better, because I believe I can offer stability, because I believe in social responsibility, because as a social worker, and someone who is quite informed about parenting children from hurt background I believe that I have the skills to help children to heal, and because I believe that that is what God wants me to do.
And so I finally did what I should have done so much earlier. I prayed. Now I know that not all of you believe in God, and so perhaps you won’t understand this. And that’s ok, but I do believe in Him and gain more strength from Him than sometime even I can imagine. And so I prayed. And now I feel peace. I started looking at my motivations again, at why I am doing this, and felt reassured once again in God’s purpose for my life. I’m not in the journey for myself. I can’t know what each child will bring. I can’t know how easy or difficult it will be to complete my studies. And I can’t limit myself or a child based on my own desires for things to be easy. So I am once again content with my chosen age bracket, which is 0-6, in keeping with the age of child I would be parenting naturally and the age of children that my peers are currently parenting. I don’t know if the phone call will be for a newborn or a kindergartener, but I feel that when the call comes I will be able to separate selfishness from sense and make a decision that is in the best interest of this child. I feel at peace.
So I’ve had my training now (which for the record, in my state, is 15 hours. I was very fortunate to have that modified, taking in to account my previous training etc. but I doubt this happens very often at all) and all went well. I did, however, get my first experience of saying no!
So Helpful Holly, after a few minutes of polite chit chat, says “I know that you were planning on taking littlies, but we have a 15 year old girl who we are really having trouble finding a placement for. I would really be only a year and a half, as most teenagers remove themselves from care at 17, but I think you would be really good at being able to provide that focus for her, helping her out with things, setting her up in life.” Keep in mind that I said I was only interested in taking under 6! I totally appreciated where she was coming from, we are isolated where I live, and there really aren’t a lot of carers to choose from. That said, I think it was a really helpful experience for me. I really feel strongly called to parent younger kids, it’s what I’ve been focusing on, have done miles of reading about (therapeutic parenting, reparative parenting, parenting children from trauma backgrounds, you name it), it’s what my peers are doing now. So in saying all that, it really was quite an obvious no. The part where this was a helpful experience was in realising that even though this was an obvious no I still felt a lot of guilt, questioned if I was being selfish and second guessed myself. I’m feeling very ok about saying no now, but it has really made it clear that I need to be very sure of my own limits and have quite concrete ideas about who I will accept as a placement. Helpful has already told me that child protection will work down the list when they are calling for a placement, there will be no matching, it will be entirely up to me to say yes or no. I think I’m going to have to put my big girl pants on…