4th Jun, 2009

The fostering you do when you’re not really fostering…

Our fostercare agency is having a slow time at the moment with fewer than normal placements coming in.  I guess that’s a good thing – hopefully it means other services of a preventative nature are doing their job and keeping children with their families.  Meanwhile, since Angel went home over three months ago I’ve been keeping myself busy with assorted household chores and constructions and crafts, and even flew up to New South Wales last week to spend some time with my Mum.

(That’s a story in itself.  Mum’s little township was cut off from the airport by floods, which meant hubby and I had two nights in a motel biding our time and impatiently waiting for the water to go down.  When it didn’t my Mum we chartered a helicopter to pick us up and deliver us to the soccer field near her house – an amazing 25 minute trip hovering less than one thousand feet above the coastline of northern New South Wales!  What an adventure – and weren’t my kids envious!)

I can keep myself busy and useful and I don’t mind my own company, but when you’re a foster carer not having a little one to care for leaves life feeling a little empty. So it’s been rather nice the past month or so minding a friend’s little boy a couple of days a week.  This little fellow, nearly three, has been in care with his baby sister for around seven months now.  When I saw my friend (a single mum with no adult children at home) struggling to meet the needs of these two littlies or find any time for herself, I offered to  help with the little boy (I’ll call him Shane) who I’d met a few times and felt very drawn to.

This is the second time Shane has been in foster care, the first time being as a baby.  It would seem both his Mum and Dad have personal problems of their own and struggle to parent their two babies  adequately so Shane appears to have missed out on a good parental attachment and has also had experiences that have caused him significant trauma. He’s a little developmentally delayed, has poor speech, doesn’t know how to socialise with kids his own age, is quite aggressive to his little sister and even occasionally to his carer, and is prone to meltdowns for reasons not always obvious to those looking on. So when I pick him up on Tuesdays and Thursdays to take him home with me for a few hours his carer has a chance to spend some uninterrupted time with the little girl and I have time with Shane trying to make up for some missed experiences that most three year olds would take for granted. And we have fun.

Shane loves playdoh, water and bubbles and, when given a little encouragement, slopping about in shaving cream.  At the park he likes to lay on the grass and play in the tan-bark under the swings.  Sometime soon I need to pick up some clean river sand and fill the plastic sandpit so he can play about with that too. He likes to hold my hand to walk along the curb, but he doesn’t like the swing and won’t come down the slide.  When I make him an obstacle course he will climb over and into things but not under or through them so we’ll work on some of those challenges.

His carer complains that he won’t be comforted easily, that she can’t cuddle him or soothe him, so Shane and I spend quite a bit of time working on that.  We play baby games with his fingers and toes.  I sing little songs that end with me hugging him or tickling or kissing him on the nose.  I roll him around on the shaggy floor mat that tickles his bare tummy. I have furry, fluffy puppets and teddies move over his body and up his tshirt, hugging him and caressing  his face.  Mostly I wrap him in a soft coral-fleece baby blanket and I cuddle him on my lap as I rock in the chair and whisper little stories and songs in his ear and tell him what a sweet and lovable little boy he is.  I only have Shane those few hours twice a week but I’m determined to make the most of our short time together and give him what his own parents were unable to and his foster carer finds difficult to.

While I don’t have a child in my care I borrow someone elses and on those nights I go to bed feeling like my day was worthwhile.


I’ve just found your blog after stumbling across it while researching foster care. You sound like such an amazing woman…how lucky those children are to have you!
Would love to hear an update on how you and the kids are going!

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