2nd Jun, 2008

Angel’s Access Arrangements

I have a little time to myself today while Angel is at access with his birth family. Well… I say that because he was picked up by a worker to be transported to our local Department of Human Services (DHS) office about 45 minutes away, but as his family hadn’t confirmed, they may not turn up so he’ll probably be home fairly soon.

His family have access with Angel three times a week in their own home, so this access at the DHS rooms rarely occurs. For a while he wasn’t collected unless they rang to confirm, but often they’d turn up anyway and he wouldn’t be there, so now he goes most weeks and is returned soon after – an hour and a half in the car, often with him screaming, for no good purpose. I’ve asked for this Thursday DHS access to be scrapped, but we’ll have to wait till it goes to court this week for any decision on that.

I have concerns for Angel’s situation. He is transported to supervised access three or four times a week. Sometimes he is picked up by one worker, supervised by another, then returned home by yet a third. Today, at least, the one worker was doing the whole access and both trips, and even informed me she’d be doing all of tomorrow’s visit too. That’s a plus.

I just wish she was a worker he already knew, but this is her first time with Angel. It didn’t stop him going to her readily, and I can see he is getting used to going to all these strangers without any anxiety. Yet just two months ago he was a typical securely attached eleven month old, preferring to be with mum and reluctant to go to the arms of unfamiliar people. He still looks out for me, and will come to me first for comfort and attention, but that readiness to go with other people worries me quite a bit.

DHS and my foster care agency are both aware of this less than ideal arrangement of supervised access for all their infants, not just for Angel. They’ve even held a few forums for carers and workers to discuss the issues and try to work out some more appropriate policies around infant supervised access. A shortage of case support workers means they cannot usually manage to assign the same worker to every access, and juggling so many children’s access visits generally results in some split shifts with a changeover that results in a second worker transporting home.

It’s good if the carer can also help with transporting, to reduce the number of strangers that the child has contact with. I now regularly pick up Angel from his birth family’s house one day a week. As well as easing the demand for workers it gives me a chance to interact with Angel’s Grandma, who will soon have custody.

The first week didn’t go so well and I came away feeling a little apprehensive about how I was to develop a rapport with her. But the next week we started talking and she suddenly realised I was Angel’s carer and became a lot more talkative. Obviously the week before she had thought I was yet another new worker doing transport, although she may have been puzzled to see Angel straining to get out of the stroller to get to me.

The last couple of weeks I have arrived about twenty minutes before it’s time for Angel to leave and Grandma and I sit on the couch, talking as best we can about Angel’s routine and playing little games with him. Her English is fairly limited and I can’t speak Vietnamese at all, but with body language and hand gestures we’re doing OK. Angel goes happily between the two of us, playing peekaboo games and being chased and tickled, and there’s lots of laughter, so I hope he is sensing a growing relationship between us that will give him a feeling of connection when he has to leave me to go live with her.

This week is Angel’s court date. It is almost certain he will return home but we don’t know yet how long the reunification plan will be. I hope the magistrate is not so insensitive as to send him home immediately as I don’t feel he’s ready yet. The visits home still overwhelm him and he very much needs me in his life to help him feel secure. A month or more to increase access times and introduce a few overnight visits will work in his favour and help him to build up a little resiliency to draw upon after he’s left our family altogether.

This is the most difficult stage in a placement – the child leaving our family. I don’t give it any emotional space yet, except to prepare Angel himself (as much as you can prepare an infant just past his first birthday) and the other children, Seth and Portia.

When he’s gone I will have plenty of alone time to hopefully see my way past his going, to deal with the family’s grief and prepare for the next child to join our home. I’ve done it before, but each child is different, and how I feel each time, is different. I just know it’s never easy.


IT is the tough part of foster care isnt it!

And I havent even had my chance to do this yet but from what I am learning it is the hardest part…


Oh and all my scrapbook pages are all digital ones! I love it I alwasy used to use the paper way but with kids its hard to pull it all out! So digital is so much better and NO MESS! YAY!!!!

I’m not looking foward to our foster daughter being reunited with her parents in July, even though I feel pretty confident that they’re going to do a good job raising her going forward. Selfishly, I’m going to miss this sweet baby girl!

I hope Angel gets the transition time that he needs.

I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. I remember how hard this was when we were doing foster care. Hugs. ~Kari

Hi Janine,

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to my post. Your wisdom is greatly appreciated!

My partner and I decided on littles because we felt we were more comfortable looking after them: I personally come from a background of caring for children of that age group: so it made sense. It made even more sense because like you, I plan to be a stay-at-home foster mum and drop back my uni to part time external.

I feel for you as you go through this really trying time: I know that at some stage in the future (providing we get that final “YES”) we will be going through a similar thing.

I would also like to thank you for the advise on attachment/bonding. I plan to implement similar measures when it comes to my future foster kids…depending on the child of course!


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