Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Don't give me a break

When we enroll the babies into a school type setting I usually tell the school that the kids are in foster care, because that is what I'm supposed to do. This is something that I neglected to do when I signed them up for Mother's Day Out for the summer. I didn't do it intentionally, I just keep forgetting that this is our situation still.

Our little middle boy can be quite challenging at times. It wasn't long before the teacher pulled me aside to discuss some of his behaviors. It happened to be the week of a visit, which tends to escalate undesirable behavior and I relayed this to the teacher.

This additional information has changed her perception of the little middle boy, as if his behavior should be excused because of his life's circumstances. We've had to deal with this since day one. M.E. can't do that, she's had a rough life. Well, if M.E. can't get higher than a 40 in English, M.E. should do summer school. As it turned out the letters won that battle, they gave her a pass because her life was hard. My argument that if I'm the owner of the Acme Corporation and I need someone there to make me some widgets, I don't give a flying flip what's going on in your life, get your butt here and make me some widgets or I'll find someone else to do it.

We have not had to deal too much, with these kids, with attachment disorders. I am anticipating some issues in the future when they realize genetics, but for now we are all happy with the fact that we are a family. In the past, however, attachment was the running theme of our household and I am well versed in it.

Typically you run into issues in attachment when your needs as an infant are not met. They've done studies so those of us who educate ourselves will not feel guilty letting them cry it out every once in awhile. Just so you know, if your needs are met 13% of the time as an infant, you are less likely to incur attachment issues.

That is not a typo people. 13% a little more than 1 out of 10 times that your baby cries you need to take care of that need.

Other factors are length of stability. If your child has spent 72% of their life in one family, they are less likely to have issues with attachment. In our case, the oldest current placement was made at 18 months, so at 3 years post placement it should appear normal. We're almost there. So, if you get a child placed at the age of six, it will take 12 years post placement for the situation to normalize.

Of course, God can override any of this, I believe that to be their only hope. Since most kids aren't picked up from their families until they or an older sibling reach school age when we are talking about neglect. Earlier if there is significant criminal activity or violence.

While I'm not asking you to forget or ignore what these kids have been through, please don't give either of us a pass because of it. These kids can and will bounce back and become normal if we treat them as such. We need to require as much, if not more from them as we would a biological child. Also, please don't require less of us as parents because we are dealing with special needs. We are not saints or special in anyway, God gave us a heart to do this and that is the only difference between us and most parents.

Foster kids will lie, cheat, steal. My foster mom friend and I have a code we used to use when we were both getting regular placements. On a scale of one to ten, how many of the commandments were broken today? Five or more is normal. Nine for some on most days, ten on Sunday's.

The thing about parenting from birth is that most of us get to screw up, repeatedly. After about 18 years we have it figured out and all is well. The thing with parenting inside the foster system is that you may only have days or weeks or months to undo the years they have already endured.


Sugar-n-Spice said...

I am so missing out by not having a relationship with other foster parents! I am glued to every word, I think because I have not had the chance to talk with anyone else who is a foster parent. Particularly one who is "seasoned". We are very much so dealing with attachment issues with one of ours and would love to hear what ways you have dealt with such.

Also, did you have court yesterday? and........?

Tiffany said...

Great post. You are a wonderful mom to all your kids. They love you so much. I admire you and yes, I even take cues from you as to how to interact to my own kids.
Hang in there , you are always in my prayers.
Yes the deadline is this week. Funny how that happens. Pray for an offer.