Monday, July 28, 2008


A word that was not in my vocabulary ten years ago. Now, I'm considering which body part to tattoo the word to. Even during my foster orientation classes I laughed at the absurdity of "respite" I mean really, once you take them in they are yours, deal with them. This came from all of my wisdom as a parent of children raised from conception in a "stable" and "normal" environment. Although I thought, probably correctly, that there was some disfunction going on in my family tree, I had no idea that a lot of life is like a Jerry Springer episode.

We muddled through the first long term placement for five months before the thought of respite crossed our minds, of course we had a sitter or two, but for the most part, they were with us. When the, much more experienced in the foster system, kids started sabatoging their placement, we decided that it was respite or eviction.

Although we've had several placements, we really only had two that were of any length of time or consequence. #1 was MMT and #2 was ARM. MMT was an older sibling group, 6-13 when they came 8-15 when they left. ARM a young sibling group, AM placed at birth, R at 18 months(after living in at least 6 different homes).

We tried several respite providers with MMT, T would always be shocked when we returned to pick him up, he had a finely honed defense mechanism of moving on, immediately. I kid you not when I say if I left him at your house for an hour while I ran to the grocery store, he would have forgotten all about me. You were his new parent, he loved you, you were the nicest most bestest mom or dad on the planet. I was evil for abandoning him, and he wanted nothing to do with me.

Until we found what we lovingly refer to as Camp Alston. Ms. Alston was in the Army for 20+ years and she ran a tight ship. I was afraid to walk down her halls without my hands firmly planted on my thighs as not to dirty her walls. She was a loving Christian woman who clearly understood the dynamics of caring for children in foster care and if it was respite, they would not be attaching to her in any way shape or form. Our children always came back singing our praises and knowing we were their parents. She has since moved on, and we miss her, although even if she were still here she would not be appropriate for our current situation.

With all of the kids we've found it works best for us to have the respite provider come here when possible. It's a good excuse for hubby and I to run off somewhere and the kids still feel at home. Also with the born of the body babies, someone needs to be here anyway. We have gotten lax with our respite since the born of the heart babies are in Mothers Day Out. We've recently recommitted to one weekend a month. Our born of the heart children will have us all to themselves for six years once our born of the body babies all leave, and since our B.O.B. children didn't choose this life, we feel we owe them a little one on one time.

Which brings me to my dilema of finding someone. I want someone with a little initiative, someone who can follow simple rules, yet not need me there to hold their hand thru the whole weekend. Sixteen sippy cups of whole milk is not a meal replacement. I want someone who can watch them at our house or at their house. Depending on what I need. Do I hire a parent who knows that the ER isn't necessary if they bonk their head, or do I hire someone who isn't jaded by kids already and will watch them just a little more closely? I can't wait til they all have friends and they can start having sleep overs (at other peoples houses), I am currently forbidden by law to have more than six children under the age of 18 sleeping in my house. Darn. Of course I'll probably have to ask the parents of their friends to submit to an FBI check and random drug tests or something, that shouldn't be too awkward.

I guess what I'd tell me ten years ago, and any other parent for that matter, is take a break. Often, parenting is hard work, and it's nice to be a person who isn't called mom 24/7. I don't want to wake up in 20 years wondering who is sleeping next to me. So, respite, here we go again.

1 comment:

Sugar-n-Spice said...

when i read your posts it just cracks me up that you actually have a 4 yr. old and 2 3 yr olds just like me. and those aren't our only children. i know how narrow minded it is to think no one else on earth knows what this is like. but i do occasionally get sucked into satan's lie that i am very much alone. i get tickled at some of the things you say because they have either come out of my own mouth at one time, or you articulate even better something i've not been able say so well. not to mention the sheer joy of knowing someone really "gets" me. ;) i, too, once knew it all, since even neglected and abused children would obviously thrive in a home where they are loved hard enough, held tight enough, prayed for enough. i think that was my hardest lesson. we are surrounded by "jerry springer" as you say. a place where love isn't always enough, yet it's all we have and what we'll continue to do.

we have not yet tried actual respite care, but we do have excellent supportive friends and family who offer some respite service! ;)