15th Mar, 2009

Catching Up

I’ve been away from my blog for a while so this post will be a catch up so my little handful of readers know where I’m at. Life got very busy in the later months of last year. I have to admit it was all a little overwhelming for a while and reading and writing blogs was the last thing on my mind.

Home schooling Seth with a toddler around was difficult enough, but we were renovating at the same time which added extra noise, mess and stress to our lives.  I was so busy most of the time keeping Angel out of trouble as our old kitchen and family room were slowly demolished that I often had to leave Seth working alone, usually on the computer, which meant he never got much work done.

When Angel went off for a couple of hours access or went down for his afternoon nap I attempted to spend some active learning time with Seth.  But wouldn’t you know it, that would be the time the builder would call me out to discuss some tedious but important aspect of the renovations. By the time I got back to Seth he’d lost the little bit of enthusiasm we had built up and I’d wear myself out trying to reignite his interest, usually to no avail.

Is this typical of kids with FASD do you think?  Seth is very difficult to engage, and he doesn’t possess a lot of curiosity about the world.  He showed a little interest in a few aspects of bodily function (typical of a twelve year old boy) so I went out and bought a rather expensive and exciting book (a DK book called “ALIVE – the ultimate pop-up human body book”).  I figured even if we just read it together and explored all the little pop-up sections and the working bits he’d learn something about how the body works, but getting him interested was like pulling teeth!  I got excited about stuff I hadn’t looked at since year eleven biology, but he didn’t share my interest.  Even when I traced around his body (onto a wall that would later be painted over) and we used the book to draw in the main organs  in his body, he kept asking me how long was it going to take,  when would Portia be home, could he go and ride his bike…

In the end most of Seth’s learning came from his interest in computers and cameras. If I could use either of these in the process of him doing an activity it would be a little more successful than if I didn’t. (Thank goodness for modern technology!)  He shares these interests with his big brother and they spent one day together in early December making a video for a competition run by Big Brown Box. Wasn’t Seth thrilled when they won the competition and he’s now impatiently awaiting the delivery of a new computer as part of their winnings.

As much as I enjoyed spending time with Seth during his homeschooling stint (but feeling forever guilty that I wasn’t teaching him enough), I must admit I was glad when mid December came around and we decided it was time for him to graduate from Primary school. Our State schools don’t break up till a few days before Christmas but the private school system tends to finish a week earlier – so that’s the timeline I followed.  The whole family went out to dinner, we presented Seth with a certificate and a book and he began his seven week break before commencing  Secondary School the first week of February.

Just two days before Christmas our renovations were all complete including the new kitchen and an enormous under cover deck which is perfect for family gatherings and a great place for toddlers to play.  We set up a plastic cubby house for Angel and bought him a ride-on tractor with a trailer. After months of not being able to let him outdoors to play, except out the front on the asphalt driveway,  I could now just close the child-proof gate and let him wander in and out as he pleased.

Not for long though. Soon after that was Angel’s court case, and a decision was made that he would go into his Grandmother’s care after four weeks of transition which included increasingly longer overnight stays.  So during the end of January and the first few weeks of February Angel spent most of his time with his birth family, coming back to us for a few days at a time before returning to Grandma again.  He seemed fairly settled in both homes, although he was always very excited to return to us and cried quite pitifully when the worker took him away.  But the reports from his protective worker were positive and she felt he was building a good relationship with Grandma so when it went to Court on the 18th of February custody was awarded to Grandma and he returned home the next day.

Life is quiet without our lively little boy, and at times I miss him terribly, but I reminded myself that the outcome of reunification is what we as foster carers strive for.  But it’s hard parenting a baby for nineteen months then having him leave.

So now we’re taking a break from fostering and I’m having a catch-up time.  Portia and Seth have been at school for six weeks, and Angel’s been away for most of that time.  With the renovations complete I have a few building and cleaning and sewing jobs to complete which would be impossible to do with a toddler around.  I hope to cross them all of my list by the end of term as we’re going camping for a week over Easter and when we come home I’ll let the agency know we’ll be available for placement again.

In the meantime I’ve been doing a bit of extra training, mostly around infant care, although we’re looking at taking on a toddler to preschooler next time rather than another little babe.  I’m rather keen to try out all that training I’ve done (including  seminars by Bruce Perry and Kate Cairns) on reparenting the traumatised child and building up a relationship with an unattached child which will be much more pertinent to fostering an older toddler than a small baby.

Meanwhile, I have plenty of time to read my favourite blogs, and no excuse not to regularly post in mine!


Do you have any further contact with Angel through his grandmother?

OW, We are lucky that Angel’s Grandma has agreed that we should see him occasionally and acknowledges that he is missing us, so we will be having him for respite weekends once a month, probably for six months. I know from past placements that these visits will be bitter/sweet. I will so enjoy having him with me for that 48 hours, but saying goodbye each time will be hard for both of us, Janine

YAY so nice to see and read you are back!!

Hi Janine,

Have you joined NOFASARD? It is an Australian support group for families raising children with FASD.


Thanks Sue…yes I am subscribed to NOFASARD. I have also heard you speak at a couple of foster-care conferences over the years, which started me off on the journey to obtain a diagnosis for Seth. Keep up all the good work.

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