Monthly Archives: January 2017

Woe is me

Ergh. I feel the need to get all of this rubbishy feeling stuff out onto somewhere, but now I’ve come to write it, I can’t figure out how to articulate the murky waters of my current emotions. May this rambling, unstructured post be a reflection of what the HQ of my brain is doing right now.

Basically just feeling pretty bad about myself and how I’m performing as a foster carer. I’ve feel like I’m always grumpy with the kids, constantly telling them to do something, then navigating the defiance and fallout when what we want them to do doesn’t align with what they want to do. And not navigating it well. I find myself frustrated rather than being all nurturing, I end up feeling all cross and often, at least one child ends up sulking or crying. It’s going SO well. A certain small person’s behaviour is becoming slowly more and more defiant, contesting facts that we give and things that need to be done.

“I want the green cup – it’s not fair!” “It’s NOT minus 2, it’s 2 degrees!” “No, I don’t want to go, it’s not fair” “No, I don’t want to listen to the story, we ALWAYS listen to the story [we don’t], it’s not fair!” “No-one ever listens to me [after refusing to listen to me tell said child to move and stop squashing a sibling]!” “I never sit in the middle, so-and-so always sits there…it’s not fair!” “Why? Why, why, why, why, why?”

And so on, and so forth. SO ANNOYING. The most annoying part, though? That I keep getting sucked into this cycle of moaning and end up making things worse. #fostercarerfailsagain

Another thing that has particularly struck home this week is the parents. These particular parents are lovely people, very compliant and all that – just incapable of maintaining a ‘good enough’ home and level of care. They have consistently not met the needs of their children, for most of the kids’ lives, and have made pretty bad choices in their own lives which has impacted their own capacity to manage themselves, let alone 3 kids. And yet this week, we’ve been told that they may, in fact, go home. After 2 months of all professionals being fairly certain that this would never happen. Quite a turn around. And I hear these parents talking in the review meeting, listening to them talking about what they’ve changed, how things will be different now…and I just do not know what to think. It’s not my place to make any sort of judgement, after all I have no say in what happens to these kids in the end, but I find it quite hard to remain completely impartial when it’s 3 kids’ futures on the line.

Not much movement on the attachment front, either. Still feel pretty bad about that, especially as everything seriously points to people ‘falling in love’ with their foster children. As one (pretty awesome) lady put it, I pretty much feel like a glorified babysitter. It does make me feel like a bit of a failure – like I’m not giving them the best care because of that, like they might be better off somewhere else – but hey ho.

I know that it’s me that’s the root of all this, after all, I’m the adult in these situations and cannot expect three young children who have had a pretty awful home life to be perfect and get things right. They need to know that their feelings, even if they’re frustrating me, are valid, and that it’s ok to feel those things. They need to know that we are here to help them manage those feelings and learn what to do with them. They need to know that they are loved, unconditionally. Even if we’re not ‘feeling’ the connection, they are still loved with a love that we cannot match, the love that God has for them. And ultimately, that is the most important thing.

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On not being attached

One of the most common responses to telling people that we were going to become foster carers was, “But what if you get too attached?”. My response was always along the lines of, “But that’s the point, the kids need us to get attached so that they can experience secure, healthy attachment blah blah blah.” Most of the articles that people have written have been about getting too attached and how painful it is for the carers, but ultimately is the best thing for the kids.

So imagine my surprise when, one month in, I’m still not feeling attached. I mean, I like the kids well enough (they’re as enjoyable and annoying as other small people), but there is no ‘connection’ or ‘bond’ or whatever you want to call it. When I thought about how I’d feel if they left tomorrow…I can say with certainty that ‘distraught’ and other such words would not be the emotion of the day. I don’t even know if I’d feel at all sad. (Obviously, if they were going back home I’d be feeling worried and other things like that, but no real sadness that they were no longer in our lives). Shock horror.

The social workers reassure me that it’s normal and nothing to worry about. Friends say that at least my heart is guarded. As for me? I’m a bit disappointed in myself. Am I not making enough effort to bond with them? Should I be doing more to interact and engage with them? Do I get fed up too easily, am I being selfish when I sit in the kitchen for 10 minutes instead of playing with them? Has my temper become too short, are my empathy, compassion and patience running out already? Perhaps. #fostercarerfail

The practical caring continues – children are showered, fed, wearing clean clothes, sleeping enough, taken to parks; lego is built together, we complete puzzles, I admire their colouring and there’s no shortage of things to do. But does it matter that, although I care about them, I do not love them. I have no emotional connection with them that could be described as love. I hug them, kiss them goodnight, show them affection, care for them – the action part of love is all there, but not the feeling, no rooted connection. Does that matter? Does that make the actions meaningless? I sincerely hope not.