|Fireman Respite 1, Trick or Treating with the YoGabaGaba Gang|
Most of our respite cases have been vacation placements. Respite 1 was a 3yr old boy who we had for 10days in October 2009. His foster parents were helping foster Grandma move to Florida for the winter. We've had him several other times since then, and eventually had to stop becuse his fostermom was using respite like discount babysitting, but I enjoyed him very much. Respite 2 was an 11mo baby that stayed just overnight while his foster mom went to her cottage for the weekend. We have respite #4 right now, and her foster family went on vacation with their older children for winter break.
If a foster family has to leave their child for over 8hrs (or 12?) the caregiver must be a certified foster parent. Kids you get with vacation placements can't go with their family for a variety of reasons that can include: bioparents won't give consent for them to go, the trip isn't kid-friendly or is work-related, the child has school, the child doesn't adjust to change well, etc. We love vacation placements because we can go all-out spoiling the child without being too concerned about discipline or getting into a schedule. You also get to be blissfully unaware of the terrible details that come with every foster care case. And just when you get tired or realize you've eaten out all weekend- their foster family comes back and you ship them off , eat some vegetables, and take a nap. I want my respite kids to think my house is Disneyland, we go to the zoo, Build-A-Bear, indoor play centers, parks, anything fun! It's a vacation for the kids in my home too since they get spoiled right alongside the respite kids.
|Baby 2 jumping with Respite 3|
Behavior/Medical respite kids have special needs that require a more intensive care than vacation respite cases. They get repite regularly to give their families time to refresh since having a special needs child is so demanding. We've never had a medical respite, but are super-open to it. Respite # 3, a 4yr old boy, was our only behavior respite. We had him first for a 3-day weekend that went GREAT! Now I understand the phrase, "Honeymoon Period". The next stretch was 19 days that included Thanksgiving and the start of Christmas season. I experienced his first meltdown on the night of our Family's Thanksgiving dinner. After telling him he could have another apple after dinner, but not before, since he already had 2- he insisted that he had never eaten an apple. This escalated into him punching, kicking, biting, spitting and saying things like "I hate you!", "I'm gonna kill you", "I'm telling my Daddy you pinched me!", "I'm gonna cut my head off!". Remember, this was over an apple and he's 4yrs old. Immediately after he calmed down, he crawled into my lap and politely asked to watch a movie together. If he were my kid I would be all up in arms, calling his caseworker and diagnosing him with PTSD and bipolar while looking up treatment plans on WebMD. I'd be so embarrassed that my family just saw a 4yr old punch me in the face. But, alas! He was going home in a mere 10days and it wasn't my problem. I was able to love him without the obligation to understand or fix his behavior. Afterall, his foster family was at home resting up so they'd be fresh to do that when he got back to them. I let them and his caseworker know about the incident, then took him to the climbing wall at the indoor bounce center.