Saturday, June 25, 2016

Another Respite Placement

This month we did respite care for two different sibling groups.  I wrote about the first group here

The second sibling group was a brother and sister as well- the older sister was 7 years old and her younger brother was 2 years old which means that for a couple of days we had two 2 year olds, one 3 year old, a 7 year old and an 8 year old under one roof.  Speaking of which, I saw this and it seemed extremely accurate to me:

While I'm on the topic of kids and summer, is it just me or are kids less heat-aware as children and much more heat-sensitive as they age?  For example, begging to go outside at the absolute HOTTEST time of the day.  "Do you not realize it's burning hot right now and you could be indoors playing where it's cool and air-conditioned?"  I have thought that or said it out loud to my kids when they beg to play outside at noon on summer days.  Needless to say, most of our outdoor ventures during the summer are early in the morning or in the late afternoon or evening but NOT during the middle of the day.

Back to this sibling group: I will refer to the girl as "Kari" and to her younger brother as "Zeke". Two-year-old Zeke reminded me of a little stocky caveman who used only a few words and many grunts to communicate.  He was pretty easy to care for as long as he was fed and had something to keep his attention.  I think he was able to settle in well in large part because he followed his older sister's lead.  And she was not shy.  At all.

Like her brother, Kari was somewhat stocky in her stature as well so she appeared to be much older than her seven years- perhaps ten or eleven.  In fact, my oldest daughter who is over a year older than Kari and average in her build looked downright petite when the girls played together. 

Kari not only looked older than she actually was but in some ways she also seemed more mature and responsible than most children her age by the way she watched over her little brother (parentification, anyone?), helped clean up around the house, and made sure that all of the kids shared their toys with each other or used good manners.  However, I was reminded that she was still a 7 year old when she would want to show off for me and clamor for my attention- whether it was performing a song she made up on the piano or doing a trick on the trampoline or showing me how she arranged stickers to decorate a piece of paper. 

Children of all ages need attention- not just younger ones with their constant "Look at Me!"s  "Watch What I Can Do!" but children in middle childhood and tweens and teens as well.  I think they just "ask" for it or "perform" in different ways.

I don't know a whole lot about why Kari and Zeke came into care but I do know that the reason they were placed with the foster family they were placed with is because they had adopted Kari and Zeke's half-brother.  With that in mind, I thought it was interesting when, during a moment of playing "doctor" (Kari grabbed the Fisher Price Dr's Kit from our toy room and insisted that I be her patient as she measured my blood pressure, gave me shots, and listened to my heart), Kari handed me a baby doll and announced, "And now you just had a baby.  And you get to stay in the hospital with your baby for ten days!"

ME: Ten days, Wow!

I must have been smiling or had a funny look on my face because she immediately looked at me and asked, "Is that how long you were in the hospital with these kids?"

After verifying that "these kids" were my children since only one of them was in the room I answered,

ME:  No- they didn't come from my stomach in the hospital (although I did bring two of them home from the hospital as newborns) because they were adopted.

Kari's face remained stoic.

ME:  Do you know what that means to be adopted?

KARI:  Because their mom couldn't take care of them?

ME:  Well, no- not exactly.  M's birthmother (I was nodding in M's direction as I spoke) could have taken care of her but she wanted M. to have a mommy AND a daddy so she chose my husband and I to be her parents.

M (Interrupting excitedly):  Isn't is cool how my birthmom's name is on my bike?!

ME:  Yes.  And how that was the name of the horse you rode that time we went horseback riding, too?  True stories- we thought that was serendipitous in both instances considering M's birthmom doesn't have an unusual name but it's not an overly common name, either.

I went back to explaining to Kari . . .

ME:  But my other children's birthmom couldn't take care of them.  So they were in foster care . . .

(as soon as I said "foster care" I wondered what feelings it would produce in Kari but she looked unfazed)

ME: . . . and that's why we were able to adopt them. 

Kari went back to playing with the doctor's kit.  I thought it was interesting that when I brought up adoption in the presence of a foster child with a half sibling who had been adopted, Kari  immediately associated the phrase "adopted" with birthparents not being able to care for a child.  Sometimes that's the case but many times it's not.   Many times a birthparent would be able to care for a child and they might make an exceptional parent (or they already may be an exceptional parent if they have children) but they want to give their child something more than what they can currently give them- whether that be a two-parent family [as in the case of our daughter's birthmother] or a life free of poverty and domestic violence and the effects of addiction [as in the case of our youngest children's birthmother.]

One last thing I'll add about an advantage to fostering a sibling group with a younger and an older child: It was very helpful to have Kari's help when trying to decipher Zeke's cave-man language as well as being able to ask her about his food preferences or what worked well to calm him down when he was upset, etc.  

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