Things have been quiet on our blog lately, but it's not because I have nothing to say. I actually have several posts that are half done and I either can't make them sound nice enough to publish, or I wander off topic while writing and end up with just another half-done post. I'm pretty sure there's a pill for that, but I'm not willing to medicate just yet. I thought I'd try to push past this by whipping up a quick update about the foster-happenings in our house.
May is National Foster Care Month. Our county sent us blue ribbons as a "small token of our appreciation to celebrate all you are and all that you do". The accompanying letter asked us to "wear it proudly". Ah, Free advertising! Little do they know I advertise every chance I get, even without the NFCM excuse. So here's my two cents- There are kids in your backyard that need parents. If you have any inkling that you could be that parent, you should Google "foster care" + your county and attend their next informational meeting.
Baby 4 is doing well. He seems to be settling into our family nicely. This means he's learning how our rules and routine work, so we're seeing less defiance and crying. He's also very comfortable with us, so we're seeing some other issues that he never showed us before. As I spend more time with him, I'm seeing that he's not retaining most of the information we cover during our school time. No colors, counting, or alphabet yet, even though he's 4yrs old. He is also limited to one-step directions. If someone gives him 2 or 3 things to do at once, his behavior deteriorates. He will get on all fours and make animal noises when asked to put his "dinosaur in the toybox, pick up the ball, and bring it to me", but will comply if the steps are given one at a time. I spoke to the pediatrician who made a referral for Early Intervention Services to do an evaluation. I'm hoping the gaps in his learning are from lack of exposure, but even if there is an organic problem- 4yrs old is still early enough to start getting help.
We've also happened upon another issue- sexualized behavior. I first saw it in the hospital when 4 was trying to be silly and he said that his toy was performing a sex act. I stopped that immediately by teaching him the proper terms for genitals and telling him that nobody should touch his penis. If someone tries, he should yell "NO!" and come tell me. We've reviewed that everyday since, and our conversations have lead me to believe that there hasn't been any abuse in his past. He's not shy or excited to talk about it, his reaction is pretty normal when I bring it up. He knows some shocking language, but when I ask "What does that mean?", "Who does that?", "Where did that happen?" he can't give any information. From the words he uses, I think he picked most of it up from adult TV and music. Since we've been home, he has started trying to hug and kiss us inappropriately. It has become very normal in our house to talk about good touch/bad touch, and how adults hug and kiss kids. "We kiss on the cheek to tell you that we love you" and "When you hug someone your penis shouldn't be touching them." are said multiple times everyday. I've kept his caseworker and therapist updated on his behavior, but neither of them have stepped in at this point. We are vigilant about monitoring his interactions with other people. He does not play with other children out of our sight. That's probably unnecessary though, because he hasn't been sneaky with any of his acting out. All of his talk and behavior has been directed to us and very up front.
The next big thing with 4 is that there has been a relative resource identified for him, and she has submitted a petition for custody to the court. This relative lives out of state, so the judge ordered a inter-state compact. That basically means the county here was ordered to contact and work with the county of the relative to get her homestudy-approved and set up with all the services she needs to bring him home with her. The caseworker said that the judge could order an expedited compact that has to be completed in 30 days or it could take up to 3 months. She couldn't remember if the judge in our case had ordered it expedited (more later on the memory of 4's caseworker). I've heard several different opinions about this placement option, and it's way too early to tell if the move will actually happen, but my gut says he's going out of state. Now I'm balancing encouraging attachment with protecting my heart if at all possible. I'm also supporting a phone relationship between this resource and 4. Very early in his case, I gave her my cell number because I thought having a family member to talk to would make his move to my house easier. She has called nearly everyday since he came home. Talking to her everyday is exhausting, but I understand what it feels like to have the child you love and want so desperately to be living with someone you don't know. While this person and 4 were close at one point, I don't think he really knows who she is when they talk. Mostly he just says silly things and copies what I tell him to say:
"4, tell relative resource you love her"
"I love you"
"4, tell her you played outside today"
"I played outside today" **Dino Roar**
If those phone calls are helping, then I'm happy to go the extra mile for Baby 4. Even if they're not, it can't hurt.
With Baby 4's possible Goodbye, we've started lobbying for Baby 5. Having just 4 while we were going through all his medical transitions was a God-send. Now that we're settled, though, having just one child seems odd after we had two for a year. The first call we got was for an 18mo girl who had multiple injuries including broken bones. The timing didn't work out with her needing medical attention and 4 having a new trach, so I had to say no. When I say I had to say no, I mean it. I went through every possible resource we have that would help me balance these two, but it just didn't work. My homefinding caseworker later told me she ended up only being in care for a couple of days before going with relatives, so it was kind of a blessing we couldn't say yes. Then we got repites 6&7 for a week, during which I decided we need a baby. I called my homefinding caseworker and told her we prefer our next placement be under 18mo. That same day we got a call for... an 11yr old boy. What? No, matchers, sorry. So we're still waiting for Baby 5, but I'm keeping hope alive by washing and keeping out our preemie sized clothes.
Hopefully this ends my writers block. I'd like to start posting more. We are having our recertification inspection on Tuesday, so expect a detailed account of that if I don't think of anything more interesting in the mean time.