Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Really Silent!

Okay, now it has been nearly a year.

B has moved out and is on his own. He is doing reasonably. He's flunked out of school and lost a few jobs. But, he still has a place to live and is still receiving some supports. He gets in contact periodically and he hasn't dumped everyone who cares about him.

So, I think we were successful. We taught him a lot and provided a safe place to practice growing and failing without the consequences being quite as bad as in the "real world". He has still got a lot to learn, but, hopefully he's on a functional track to that learning.

I'm left thinking that there is a great need within the foster care system for families willing to take on youth in B's position. As it is we tend to say, "now that you are 18 (or even 16) (or, now that you have graduated from high school) you are ready to be on your own." Most youth don't strike out on their own without support, so, why do we think that youth who have had a rough life, with insufficient support at some point, are ready to do it?

Unfortunately, we probably won't do that same job for at least a few years. So, I hope that someone else steps up for the next youth.

We have been blessed with a baby and are on hold as a foster family until we adapt. Once ready for the extra work we will resume fostering. But, we will need to be pickier about which kids we take until the baby is old enough to understand safety discussions.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wow...I've gone silent

I didn't mean to. I was actually enjoying this as a space to think. But, I notice that it's been nearly two months since I last said anything.

I think that I've been overwhelmed with life and with trying to figure out what the right balance is in my current parenting 'job'.

I mean, I have a bunch of skills that I could use to improve his success. But, I don't think that using those skills will really help him in the long run. So, I'm trying to step back and let failure happen. But, I can't help but notice the mini failures -- and the impact they have on me -- and want to start fixing them.

I'm growing used to his presence. That feels a bit odd to say, but, it's a bit weird to go from being an adult and pet only home with lots of visitors (of the human and furred varieties) to being a home with a teenager who is an extrovert that doesn't leave the house. So, for awhile it seemed overwhelming to constantly have to engage with someone who wasn't usually all that pleasant. I kept walking away and hiding in my room.

Now I'm doing a better job of expecting his presence. I still treasure the moments when my house is quiet for an hour or so, but, I don't expect it to be that way. My expectation for my home is that it will be a stressful environment and I remind myself that that is okay.

I still question how he'll survive when he's living on his own and doesn't have a trapped audience. But, that is just one more thing that I should let go of. I can't fix it, so, I'll need to let him fail or succeed on his own.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Are we the right place?

I find myself wondering that a lot. We are certainly better than the alternative that was available at moving time. And, we are certainly capable of teaching all of the things that need to be taught. But, are we really the right place?

And, does it matter?

Statistically, every move causes trauma regardless of the reason for the move. So, even if we are only the available place, does that make us the right place now that he's here?

A wanted to retrospect I'm able to see that her attachment issues were WAY worse than B's. But, I was prepared for it with B since he has the diagnosis. But, A was supposedly a "typical teenager". We fought it for awhile, but, then said that she gets to have power in her life and if that means that she wants to leave we should let her leave.

I think that B has been trying to tell us that he wants to leave. He's not quite as clear as A was. But, this time we're fighting it quite differently. Instead of explaining that we care for him, we explain what we can offer him and then tell him that he is welcome to leave if he wishes. It's a different approach and it feels weird, but, I also realize that he is going to have to leave sooner that he will really be ready. So, in some ways if he leaves earlier than that because he made an active choice to leave it might be less traumatic.

All that said, I don't think that he really wants to leave. I think it's some kind of test. I have no idea if we are passing.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm Hiding

B is in a foul mood today. I'm exhausted and had had enough several hours ago.

So, I'm hiding in my room at the moment, dreading the need to go back to interacting.

I can do it, right?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Learning that Love is Less Important Than Skills and Consistency

I've been thinking about love and attachment a lot lately. I've always believed in the importance of love and in the idea that "More than anything else we want to love and be loved." But, I'm learning that it's more complicated than I'd previously understood.

Yes, I yearn to be loved. Yes, I get a lot out of loving others. Yes, it is essential to me to develop loving bonds with my community.

Yes, I know that loving someone can be a choice and that you can treat someone you barely know in a loving way.

What I never fully understood before is just how damaged this part of a person can become. I've read about attachment disorders and I've read about people trying to establish attachments and I focused on that approach.

What I'm learning (sadly) is that if a child gets damaged enough and then gets old enough without developing the skill of attaching then they may not be well served by love. I cannot get past my core belief that internally, perhaps beaten down to a tiny speck, there is a part of them that still yearns to experience true unconditional love. But, that part has been so heavily suppressed and damaged that focusing on it actually creates more damage.

A told us that she hated us because we cared about her. We thought that we needed to break through and keep caring for her and telling her that we cared so that she would understand that love existed in the world. But, with B we are a little less naive, a little more sad and a lot more practical.

He doesn't need us to love him. We might think that long-term he needs people to love him, but, he will never be here long enough for it to be us. What he needs is us to be unfailing in pushing him to grow up and develop self-care skills. It's such a different way of thinking of our job as foster parents. And, it's hard.

I only pushed a little today, because I just didn't have the energy for it. But, everyday that I let go is one that I cannot use to help prepare him. Tomorrow, I must be stronger. Tomorrow, I must issue bigger expectations (than I did today) and make it clear that he must comply.

Natural consequences are often easy, but, it's also easy to let the wrong ones happen when I'm low on energy. I need to be resilient. I'm realizing that part of why I need loving relationship is that love is what drives me to work through exhaustion. For instance, my dog will get a walk regardless of the rest of my day. So, if B doesn't need love and if it's almost detrimental to work on the development of a loving relationship with B, I need to find another motivation for myself in order to ensure I that give him what he does need.

It's a sadder view of the world, but, I really do believe that it's a more realistic view for this teenager. He needs to learn to care for himself and to have a life that is more than sitting on a couch playing video games. I need to teach him those skills. He needs that more than he needs anything else.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Honeymoon is Over

At least it feels that way.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fuzzy Beasts

Have you ever noticed how much stress animals can pull out of a situation?

Or, how you can get a person who refuses to exercise with a 10 min walk to keep moving for 40 min when you explain that the dog needs it.

They snuggle and love unconditionally.

That said, I find it an odd thing to watch youth with attachment disorders interacting with animals.

One said, "Oh, you have a cat; I love cats!" as the first words she said when visiting us. Then, she proceeded to chase off the cat and after moving in she'd shove him out of the way on a regular basis and was completely uncaring about the fact that she could hurt him by leaving small elastics everywhere. Interpretation: she wanted us to like her and she saw a cat, so, she figured she should tell us that she liked them. But, really, she didn't attach to anything enough to care about interacting with a cat.

B on the other hand seems to truly have compassion for animals. The only exercise he does is that forced by us by pointing out that the dog needs it. But, he really wants the dog to be happy, so, he does it. The same cat that didn't like the girl who claimed to love him, climbed into B's lap for a snuggle within 2 days of him being here. But, the pets from his previous placement "aren't his" anymore and he "doesn't care about them anymore". So, he attaches in a way while they are present, but, if he walks away he no longer cares. It's harder to interpret. Does he miss them and think that it's better to pretend that he doesn't? Or, does he really not care? His attachment issues are considered to be more serious, but, it's hard to figure out.