Tuesday, August 17, 2010

FWL Episode 06 - Side Aches

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In this sixth episode, I talk about our struggles. Things have become more difficult, and I talk about what those things are and why they're stressful. I want this podcast to be encouraging, but open and honest too.


  1. Great podcast!! You guys have such a busy schedule...thanks for taking the time to record this. Don't get discouraged by the birth family's reaction to you guys being proactive for their kid. They are blessed to have you take their little ones! Can't wait to hear more.
    From J, a foster mom encouraged by your blog:)

  2. J,

    Thank you so much for your comment and your encouragement! My wife has a lot of appointments to get to :) I'm so glad this is an encouragement for you, that's what I have hoped it would be. Things are a little better than they were, but the child and his well being is where our priorities lay, so that's what we're focusing on. Thank again for your great comment!

  3. It's really nice that you've got social workers who will pick up the kiddos for visits...even if they are late...which does suck, and totally throw routines off.

    Your wife has GOT TO get a break. Evening BSF this fall with no kids or...coffee a couple of times a month with a friend...an hour or two or wander Target. As a homeschooling mom to 2 (almost) 6 year olds, plus our foster baby, I don't get many breaks either, but having hubby home and helping..doesn't count as a break (no offense ;o)

    Is there a way you can pawn off the MD stuff on the case worker? That's what I do. I tell the birth parents that we have to report medical issues to the case workers (which we do) and that the CASE WORKER recommended that we take the child in. It keeps you from being the bad guy and puts the responsibility on the case worker. I do this with LOTS of stuff, besides just MD visits. Keeps my relationship with the parents more neutral and then the case worker takes the rap for it...Just an idea.

  4. Stephanie, thanks for the comment! I believe I mis-spoke, I don't think the people who transfer our foster children are social workers, but work for the state in some capacity including (perhaps only) as drivers for foster children. It is very nice having them pick up and drop off the kids, saves us a lot of time and gives us more time to run errands and do chores while they're gone.

    I agree, my wife does need breaks, and she gets them. She sometimes goes out with friends, or just goes out alone to run errands while I stay home with the kids. I think all the MD stuff is our responsibilty, might be different in Washington.

    Thanks for your great comment, I really appreciate it!

  5. I love, love, love this podcast. I'm a huge fan of fosterpodcast.com, too. Though, dare I say that I like your show even better! (No disrespect intended towards T & W's wonderful program.) My husband and I are licensed foster parents in Michigan, awaiting our first placement. We've been trying to adopt children already legally free, but have had no luck and are thinking about taking the leap into full-fledged fostering. One reason I so enjoy your show is how in-depth you get into the day-to-day... machinery... of fostering. While I do benefit from considering the pro-fostering, big-picture issues of other blogs, I appreciate living (and learning) vicariously through others. We all need to hear about when things don't go smoothly, so don't apologize for candor. I sometimes want to scream when bloggers cheerfully hint at the "crazy system"! I wouldn't want to listen to a show that continually bashes the foster care system, but it is frequently a broken and exasperating system. Glossing over the struggles and frustrations, with a wink-wink and a nudge-nudge, does not truly prepare or educate fledgling fosterers. Some caseworkers lie, some judges give children back to parents who don't deserve another chance, some kids are removed from parents needlessly, and others are not removed soon enough. There are times when the system succeeds, too! We are hoping to foster children under the age of four, so I like hearing about how you juggle work and marriage and the special needs of your baby placements. I don't know about other listeners, but that is what I'd like to hear more of. Things like coordinating Dr. appointments with birthfamily, late CASA workers, last minute confusion about placements or placements falling through, or siblings being added unexpectedly, handing off babies to your spouse and whether it's as hard or easier than expected, things like one's placement getting a boo-boo and having to fill out paperwork so you don't get accused of abuse, being able to bathe them but not having the right to cut their hair, etc. The sorts of things that make FOSTER PARENTING different from traditional parenting. What it's like to foster little ones day in and day out. I would also love to hear candid expressions about what it's like to bond with a child when you don't know whether they're there to stay. I'm sure in some situations it's easier to be supportive and cheer for a child's birthfamily. Other birthfamilies won't be easy to cheer for, and one must really struggle with thinking about a child going back. We personally find it difficult to leap into fostering when our motivating force is to adopt. It seems a contradiction to put together people who want a forever family, but must gamble and take on children who might leave. We know and believe in all the stuff about helping a child and putting aside one's own wishes for a time and so forth. Still. It is an odd situation to be in. Longing to keep a child that's been in your care, but having to support and cheer for someone who has perhaps abused or severely neglected the child, someone who has perhaps taken their privilege of parenthood very much for granted. Repeatedly. Anyway, it is nice to hear about your feelings/reactions and specific experiences as you journey (and journal) through fostering.

  6. JaneAustenFan,

    Thanks for the great comments! By the way, the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice is one of our favorite movies to watch together. Thank you so much for your comment, it was VERY encouraging to read. I was thinking that maybe my podcast wasn't all that great because I've just been talking about caring for babies and what's been going on with us, but I'm glad that's just what you were looking for. It it so wonderful to get feedback like yours, very kind, thank you so much! Waiting for your first placement, eh? You know your life is about to change, but for now you just have to wait. Episode 1 probably sounded familiar to you right now :) Something we haven't gone through yet (other than a 3 day placement) was dealing with seeing a foster child go back home. That will be difficult, and I need to keep in mind that even though it will be hard, I still need to invest in these kids and love them as my own even though it will really hurt when they go. I've not been entirely successful at this yet, but I'm trying to let my guard down and not only care for them the best I can, but love them as my own as well even though they might not be staying with us permanently. My wife is going to join me for the next episode, and she's the one who goes through the most of that scheduling and stuff, I'm really excited to have her on too, should be a nice change. Thanks again for your comment, very encouraging!

  7. (WAAAAAYAAAAY Off-Topic: I liked that P&P so much I learned to play the movie score on the piano! Though we purists prefer the 1995 A&E Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version. "Persuasion" is Austen's best work, and is also the best movie rendition as well. NOT the recent Masterpiece Theatre verson, which was horrid! The 1995 version with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hind. Sigh. The writer in you will appreciate The Most Romantic and Beautiful Letter Ever Written near the end, written by "Captain Wentworth. *chills* *wipes away tears*) Sorry! Back to business: I can't wait to hear from your wife on the next podcast. I am hoping that my ten years as a Nanny will prove to be valuable experience, and not just for the obvious reasons. I was with one family for EIGHT years, and felt like the youngest two kids were essentially "mine" and it was heartbreaking to leave them. They grew too old to need a governess... We parted on excellent terms and visit and talk on the phone regularly... I hope that experience will prepare us for facing possible heartbreak.

  8. I'm with JAF on this one...we went into Fostering to adopt as well. We're in a difficult position now with "our" baby...as foster parents we're supposed to be supportive of reunification, however...we loooove this baby. While right now..it's looking as if he may stay, there are sooo many people at play. We're remaining mindful of a flawed system, however it IS difficult when you Looove your foster baby. I've found myself in a difficult position with this baby as we really do care about his Mom. It's an odd position to be in, to care so much about Birth mom...yet want her child. It's not always a great feeling. It's not like our China adoptions where, when the kids came home...that was it. There is so much junk that goes with fostering. All the crazy rules (like you can't cut hair unless you get the parents ok...) It's tough, but for us other than the court and the visits and stuff, we parent these kids just like we do our homegrown/adopted kids. We're doing things now that I NEVER imagined I'd be doing. Like driving our birth mom to and from most visits. Yep you heard me...I'm the main source of transportation. It has enabled me to develop a good relationship with her though. She tells me EVERYTHING and that's good because it must mean that she trusts me. I thought it would be more of a juggle with the visits and what not, but it hasn't been too bad. You just work it into your day. The "Jerry Springer-ness" of it can be exasperating at times, but even in the cases where we've had babies go home...we have been in favor of it, and honestly...kinda glad when some of them left ;o)

  9. JaneAustenFan, I'm not sure what can prepare us for that first foster child that we're attached to who ends up reunified with their bio parents, but lets hope we can get through it and help more kids on the other side.

    Stphanie, wow you are very giving for doing all that transportation, that's a lot of time and work! That is awesome that you've developed a relationship with the birth mom, gaining her trust.

    Thanks for the great comments! Listen to the next episode to hear us mention them.

  10. I forgot to mention that I'd love YOUR perspective on my questions/comments posted in Episode 84 of fosterpodcast. I didn't really find the kind of feedback I was looking for. My posts are #4,7,8. I'm Caryn Elam. http://fosterpodcast.com/episode-84-social-worker/#comments You probably don't have time to read it, so don't feel obligated!

  11. oh dear...I'm not looking forward that potential day baby leaves. I don't know that we will continue to foster if he goes (is that awful?) Well...it's honest if nothing else.

    CDA is small. If I had to drive from say...Liberty Lake to the Northside..or even parts of the Valley...that wouldn't be happening ;o)

  12. ps: Our six month court date is TOMORROW. Pray pray

  13. Hi Dan,

    I listened to all your podcasts over the last couple days after hearing you plugged on Tim and Wendy's podcast. We are foster parents of 3 years and we have one child adopted through FC and 4 bio-kids.
    A couple of things I was concerned about.
    1. Usually we like to refer to the foster child's parents as just that- parents. They are no bio-parents, they are just parents. Bio-parents is used after TPR or adoption.
    2. I am concerned about your overwhelming focus on teaching the babies to self-soothe and be on a routine. While I of course agree that structure is good for kids, I think perhaps your first priority should be healing these kids' trauma. If the baby has been left alone to cry and neglected in his crib, you are not fostering healthy attachment by letting him scream for 2 hours, as you said in the podcast. And while his Mom may have been overusing her sling, I used similar products with all 4 of my bio kids and my adopted son and they all developed great. It does sound like she wasn't giving him independent time and that's unfortunate, but you sound like you need a little work on attachment theory.

    I will be praying for you and your family on this journey. I know I had no idea what I was doing when I started fostering, and now after over 15 placements I still feel lost sometimes.

    Blessings to you and the little ones!

  14. Thank you for this post! You said you wanted to be encouraging but wanted honesty too. I think your honesty was encouraging. We just spent a sleepless night with twin 18 month old foster babies, cleaning up vomit and diareah. I needed this blog today! It feels good to know that we're not alone in this crazy circus called foster parenting. Thanks for your honesty. It was encouraging.

  15. Sarah,

    Thank you for your comments. Thank you for your prayers. I was pretty unclear with how I presented the things you were concerned about in this episode. That is why in the next episode my wife joined me and was able to explain in a much more clear way why our 4 month old needed to learn to self sooth, at a nurse's advice none the less. In most cases foster children indeed need even more holding to learn how to bond. I may have made some exaggerated statements, which I did not mean to do – we’ve never let a child scream for two hours without going in and making sure they’re ok or finding out why they’re not falling asleep. The times our little guy has screamed for a long time has been in the car, where there’s nothing we can do. I’ll let episode 7 speak to the rest of this as my wife clears it all up much better than I can. This little guy was a unique case. Thanks again for your comments, and blessings to you and yours as well. Thank you so much for listening! :)

  16. Martina,

    Thank you so much for the comment. I'm so glad this episode was encouraging to you!!! Sound like you guys had about as rough of a night as one can have. I'm glad you guys made it through the night, and I hope you can find time to catch up on that precious thing sleep is for any parent. We've dealt with vomit a lot as our now 2 1/2 year old used to randomly vomit several times a day. It is very stressful to deal with. Our 4 month old foster child has had diarrhea since we were first placed with him. We're now on a third kind of formula and hoping it will resolve the issue, but it's no fun to deal with! Hang in there Martina! :) Thanks for listening and thanks for the comment.

  17. I know that formula very well. My Son could not have any dairy and was put on it. But it did help him a lot!