Friday, April 5, 2013

Did I say a respite?

We've had Child B and Child C for a week today. A few days ago, when bringing them for their visit, the placement coordinator met me at the car and asked if we could make this a placement instead of a respite.
Am I overwhelmed?
Was I going to say "no".
Absolutely not!

These two may have attachment stuff going on so they have quickly bonded (superficially, anyway) and I was sad to think of them leaving at the end of the week - even with Child C's intensity. Child C has the same personality as Del in many ways - just not the support to work with that intensity. I find myself reminded of the early days of Del and Noah. At this point, Del and Noah can be parented from the next room, usually. But it wasn't always that way, for sure. And now I'm finding that once again, I rarely sit down. There's a ton of intense parenting required, cooking, cleaning, laundry ...

That night, after I'd said "yes" to this foster placement, I checked on all four kids before I went to bed. Child B often gets the back burner because her brother demands so much. I saw her asleep in her bed, surrounded by a collection of stuffed animals and dolls and was sad that I hadn't had more time with her today. Del is insisting on sleeping on this fold out bed on the floor instead of a bed. Looking at her, relaxed in sleep, I was sad that the stress of this was leading to a ton of negative behavior from her. I wish I'd had more time with her that day. I saw Noah, looking so grown up and so young in sleep. When was the last time I'd hung out with him? We've done no "schooling" and he's been on his own, more or less. Del and Child C had often chosen to keep Noah out of their play which was devastating to witness and negotiate throughout the day. And then Child C, often feeling such big feelings, and now completely relaxed. I wanted to protect him and ease his big hard feelings - or at least give him the tools to navigate.

I crawled into bed and suddenly felt like crying. Soon it was sobbing. I couldn't figure it out. I was finding this interesting because I cried for reasons I can't say, days after Noah and Del were born - was it not hormonal after all? As I was trying to process, I realized I missed Del and Noah and was struggling with what was best for them vs. what was best for everyone. Was I being selfish? Fostering/adopting is MY lifelong dream - but if it stresses Del out and lessens the time I have with Noah ... is that fair to put that on them? What about Ren Man? He's 100% supportive - but he's also overwhelmed, particularly socially.

And then I thought of how close Del and Child C are becoming and hearing them play ... I wouldn't want that to end.

In these moments I often compare this to feelings and the transition of birthing a baby. I'd still feel like I was missing any older children as my time was relegated to an infant's intense needs. There would be a transition period. That is what this is. There are "newborn babies" in this house who now need me fairly intensely ... and things will get easier as we figure out everyone's needs and quirks and how to meet those needs and quirks.

And then yesterday afternoon I drove Child B and Child C an hour away to pick up two other children who we've had for respite in the past and who will be staying with us for "two sleeps". And I thought I was overwhelmed before! I kept everyone outside as much as possible and then dinner (a madhouse of: "I tried this, I don't like it, can I have something else?!?" - waffles with whipped cream and raspberries - what's not to like!?), and then a hectic bedtime with pj-ing and teeth brushing for 6 (our bathroom is the largest we've ever had, I think ... but that's not saying much). There was one point when one of the girls for respite pushed Child C. It reminded me of when Noah ran across days-old Del and Ren Man and I reacted stronger than we expected. Mama Bear was hard to hold back when talking about the pushing incident between the girls. So I think I'm bonded to Child B, no problem :)

I'm nervous about this weekend but I'm hoping that the coordination of 6 kids will make us really appreciate the ease of 4 kids in comparison. This has also been fun to see Child C and Child B really take ownership of this family and home. While the two kids doing respite have been here several times and know the ropes well, Child B and Child C don't know that. They were enthusiastic about showing the other two around and seeing them act kindly and welcoming.

I think I hear kids awake ... and the day begins!

ps we're taking pictures, but they can't be shared, obviously.


Holly said...

*hugs* You're doing a great thing! For the foster kids. For your kids. For the adults too. Even though it all feels crazy now. Hang in there, mama, and have a good, cathartic cry whenever you need without regret. Kids aren't as delicate as we all think. Your own kids in particular since they've had the blessings of a loving, deeply attached relationship their whole lives. After seeing so many of our friends go through foster/adoption placements (domestic & international) I've really come to believe that love is never the wrong decision, and everything pretty much always works out in the end. <3

Sarah said...

How beautifully summed up! Thank you, thank you.
Looking forward to being back to four kids tomorrow and feeling pretty secure in a relationship that is long term with all four kids. I'm loving them so much!

Sarah1 said...

In regard to your lament that Noah has had 'no schooling' lately....yes he has! This is the most enriching, unique, profound, valuable learning experience he has probably ever had.
I always include our foster care experience as part of our quarterly and annual reports to the school system.