Transition Planning

The reality had set in that the situation had become unsustainable with David, the 12 year old boy in our care (fictional name used) and we needed to shift the focus to transition planning. Some of you may be thinking why say 'transition planning', isn't this just a 'placement breakdown'? Why don't you call it what it is? It's true this was a placement breakdown and all the negative aspects associated with breakdowns were being experienced here: feelings of failure, being overwhelmed in the current situation and a fear of what will be the next step for the child and how they will cope. The whole situation sucked, there is no other way to describe it. We had a choice: we could dwell on all the negative aspects, or we could do our best to … [Read more...]

Unsustainable

A quick refresher in case you haven't been following along - we suddenly became full-time carers with David - a 12 year old boy (fictional names used) in our care. About 4-5 months into the placement we had seen a lot of improvement in overall health (better eating, weight gain and growth for his age) and had committed to caring for David long-term. However life wasn't easy and we were dealing with some pretty severe transference and anger issues in day to day life which were continuing to escalate. When I started writing here I committed to share my experiences both good and bad for the benefit of carers and potential carers alike, and this post definitely falls into the bad category. But in amongst the difficult situations we must learn … [Read more...]

Transference

As foster carers you experience a range of challenging behaviours and one such behaviour we started to see on an increasing basis was transference. A simple example of transference is having a bad day at work only to come home and vent at your spouse because you have pent-up frustration. Taking this example a step further transference may involve speaking or acting to one person as if they are a completely different person. This is known as transference. With David, the 12 year old boy currently in our care we mostly experienced these as 'yellow zone' moments (for those unfamiliar with the 'arousal zones' in therapeutic parenting in summary there are 3 zones: 'green zone' - the child is calm and thinking logically, 'yellow zone' - the … [Read more...]

The big day

Since our short term emergency placement transitioned to long term care thoughts of working towards any transition were dropped completely replaced by longer term planning. As primary carers this opened the door up to more involvement in David's future planning (fictional names used) and a whole lot of appointments. From the beginning despite the temporary arrangement we had always tried our best to keep his best interests in mind from (not backing down from any challenges we could have ignored and left for a potential next carer). However when our commitment transitioned to long term this did change our perspective from working towards a smooth transition to personally handling the long term. There were two big appointments on the radar … [Read more...]

Welcome to the family

The moment we suddenly became full-time carers it was clear that finding a suitable full-time carer to transition David to a long-term placement would be difficult. We increasingly discussed the possibility of changing our plans again and welcoming David into our family long term. On one hand there was a lot of anxiety issues and lack of clarity around what was happening in the future was feeding into that. On the other hand there were logistical issues to deal with from us both working full-time and we were facing a lot of challenges with anger. We had made it clear to our agency about how long we could commit to caring for David but every time this date got close we pushed it out further. We deliberated. We discussed long into the … [Read more...]

Life in the red zone

Let's not sugarcoat it, being a foster carer can be tough and about 3 months into our first full-time placement (more details about how this all came about in Suddenly full-time carers) we were faced with some truly challenging situations to deal with. In the therapeutic parenting arousal graph when a child enters the red zone it is defined as an extremely heightened state of intense alertness and emotion, often reacting through instinct (flight/fright/freeze response) and neglecting rational thought. We had seen plenty of anger outbursts up until this point but the first extended severe red zone episode was a little terrifying. "the red zone it is defined as an extremely heightened state of intense alertness and emotion, often reacting … [Read more...]

Suddenly full-time carers

We had been warned as foster carers from day one to set limits about what you can and can't do and stick firmly to that, because of the great need for carers those limits would be continuously tested. We had generally been good at enforcing our limits but this all went out the window earlier this year. We received a phone call on a Monday morning with news that the placement for one of our regular respite kids (a 12 year old boy named David - fictional name used) had broken down and he was in urgent need of a place to stay. We knew there were some issues in the current placement but the placement of many years ending so suddenly still came as a surprise. Our agency were asking if he could stay with us for the night while they searched … [Read more...]

Reflections from our foster care journey twelve months in

February 2016 marked twelve months since we were approved and took on our very first weekend respite placement as fresh foster carers. It seems like a good an opportunity as any to stop, take a breath, and reflect on what has transpired over the past year. Where we expected to be, where we are, and where we are heading. During our first year we have cared for 19 children in 9 sibling groups during 28 weekend respite or short-term emergency placements through a total of 77 days. Thankfully I have not tracked amount of coffee consumed or hours of sleep lost. However I have also neglected to keep track of the number of high fives, hugs, smiles or laughs. Throughout the year there have been many challenges but these are outnumbered by the … [Read more...]

Weathering an anxiety storm

It's 7:25am on a school day and the transport worker scheduled to pickup David (fictional name used) the 12 year old boy currently in our care is waiting in the driveway. While we aim to have him ready and on his way by 7:15am as long as he leaves by 7:30am he should get to school on time. Mornings are a struggle at the best of times but this morning wasn't so bad as David is in the final stages of getting ready and just needs to get his shoes on and fix his hair. On an impulse David decides he wants to take his black hoodie to school with him so he goes into his room to find it. As it always does the anxiety storm hits us without warning and escalates quickly. A few seconds after entering his room to grab his hoodie we hear loudly "No, … [Read more...]

Hated in my own home

Without warning one of the 2 year old girls we were caring for erupted into a panicked coughing fit in the room nearby where they were currently napping. It was nothing serious but she was panicked trying to catch her breath and upset by it. As I happened to be closest at the time instinct kicked in and I immediately dashed into the bedroom to assist her and make sure she was okay. As I walked into the room to see her struggling with her cough, she rejected my offer for help by turning away (while still struggling) until my wife entered the room in what was probably about five seconds behind me to provide comfort which she readily accepted. I was heartbroken. This is a reflective post on our first respite placement with sisters Karla … [Read more...]