Wednesday, July 21, 2010

FWL Episode 03 - A Dead Sprint, Then Pacing Ourselves

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A lot has happened since the last blog post. As you know we've been placed with a little three month old boy, and in addition we were placed with his older three year old sister. They share the same bio mom, and they wanted to keep the siblings together. However, she only ended up staying with us for a few days and then she was reunified with her mom. It was determined by the court that baby, however, was not really bonding yet with bio mom, or gaining weight under her care. We have been able to get him to start eating more and so he has gained weight under our care. So for the time being he will be staying with us. We're not sure how long that will be or where it will lead, but we really like the little guy and are happy to provide for him a safe home. So, you read in a previous post that we did not want to change the birth order in our family, and yet we took in a three year old while our bio son is two. We did this because they wanted to get the siblings together, and we wanted to keep caring for the three month old. So we said yes to caring for her. It was an adventure. Also, she really liked her little brother and knew him well, so that was another reason they wanted her to be with him. While she was in our home she played pretty well with our son. Day time was loud and busy, and meals where a lot more work; but for the most part it was just a louder and busier household. Also we had to deal with tantrums every once in a while. For example they would fight over who's baby brother the three month old was. Our son would say "my baby!" and the three year old would say "that's my baby brother." This was very sweet, but it started to become a fight so we explained to our son that he was his friend, but her baby brother. They would fight over toys here and there, and it was good for our son to get more changes to learn how to share more, but it started to become a tantrum. We explained to our son that he is his friend, and her baby brother. They would also fight over toys here and there, and that was good for our son to be around so he can have more opportunities to learn how to share, but it was challenging. The other challenging thing was bedtime. The first night went pretty smooth, the three year old girl was scared at first when we left. We found out she was scared of the dark, so we turned on a lamp for her and she was ok. She did say, "do you promise to come get me in the morning, even if I don't wake up?" That was sad, but we said, "yes we promise to come get you, and we can hear you so if you need anything we'll come right down. She went right to sleep, but the next night was not so easy. That afternoon a little before bedtime she had a visit with Mommy. Her mom had given her some gum, which we thought was nice and said to her "oh you have such a nice mommy to give you some gum," but we couldn't let her go to bed with gum. My wife explained to her how the gum could end up in her hair if she went to sleep with it in her mouth, and that we wouldn't be able to get it our of her hair so we would have to cut your hair. She wasn't buying it. After a long back and forth my wife had to take the gum from her, hoping not to get bitten. She mom had given her more, so we told her that she could have more gum tomorrow but not while sleeping. She fell asleep eventually, but our usual ten to fifteen minute bedtime routine took about an hour that night. So that was a little rough. If you really want to hear about some challenging bedtime situations though, you need to check out the Foster Parenting Podcast with Tim & Wendy. They have two little girls who have given them about as much of a challenge as I can think of for bedtime. I'm mentioned it before, but this podcast is a huge inspiration for my blog and podcast - so I'm plugging it again.

Something we realized while this little girl was in our care was that we weren't able to give our bio son the time and attention we want to give him. We tried bedtime together for the first night, books and songs before bed, and she kind of took over the time. He wasn't able to point things out or answer our questions of what colors or kinds of animals were in the books because she would beat him to it. So the second night we ended up splitting the two, I laid our son down and my wife laid her down. Also her tantrums were starting to rub off on our son. Luckily she didn't use any foul language, but if she had he would have been repeating her. He mimicked everything she did. All of this helped us know that our initial thinking of not bringing in someone older than our bio son was a good call. As mentioned he is two right now. We learned that right now we would also only like to take in one child at a time. This way we can focus on our son and his development, and also provide enough love and time for a foster child under our care.

Something else that helped us come to this decision was the time we had together as a family while the foster children were at their first visit with their birth mother. It was so quiet, and it showed us how different it was caring for three as opposed to our one. We had thought we were super busy with one child, but now we saw that it wasn't much compared to having three.

The next day after that rough bedtime we were going camping for the weekend. We were going to leave in the morning, but that day there was a court date in which the decision of the children being reunified was decided. The social worker felt like they were holding us up and told us to just go ahead and go camping. We decided, however, that the kids probably wouldn't be getting in good naps while camping so we laid them down for a nice long nap around noon at home before leaving. Then when they woke up a few hours after the hearing was to have taken place we had not heard from them. So we decided to pack up and head out. About a half hour out from our house we received a call letting us know that the older three year old sister was to be reunified immediately with birth mom. So we took an exit, turned around and drove back into town. They met us in a hot parking lot, about 45 minutes after we arrived there, and she rode off to go back with her mom. We were happy for her because she had been saying how much she missed her mommy, but it was also sad. We felt bad because we had been telling her that she was going camping with us, and she didn't want to go home at first because of that. She wanted to go camping with us, but then we told her how excited her mom was to see her again, and before she left us she was happy to be going home. The camping with one infant and our son ended up being a lot easier. We had a blast riding a four wheeler, and camping out in the middle of nowhere in tents with friends and family.

One awesome thing that happened the first night camping was that the baby slept through the night for the first time. Wonderful right? That said, one of the dogs was up barking at something at 5:15 to the whole camp was up for the day around the campfire and making breakfast at 5:20, but still he had slept through the night. We had not been looking forward to getting up in a pitch black tent to make a bottle and feed. It may have woken our son up, it would have been really hard to see with just a small bottle, but we were able to sleep. He slept through the night the next day as well. Our two year old did really well to, which was great. We didn't know how well he would do in a sleeping bag, but he did great laying next to me while the baby was next to my wife in a bassinet. We were on a blow up mattress between them. One cute thing - we've found our son asleep on the floor a couple times since the trip, and when my wife has asked him, "what are you doing down here on the ground buddy?" he has responded "I'm camping." We thought that was pretty cute. We're going again in a couple weeks. One thing we thing has contributed to the baby being able to sleep through the night is having him on a schedule. It has helped him to eat more, and there for sleep for longer periods of time. Again, my wife is amazing, and our foster child is doing so much better thanks to her getting him on schedule. we have changed him from someone who snacks all the time to someone who chugs up to six ounces in one feeding.

That's all for now, thank you so much for reading and/or listening!

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God bless.

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