Did you think maybe I stopped posting because we threw in the towel and our boy got placed in a therapeutic foster home? Rest assured, we're still hanging in there with Big Guy and don't have any intent to stop.
It's partly the Jewish holidays - Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkos, Simchas Torah... They have taken up a huge part of my time for the last month. It's also partly that there's so much to say and I know I'll never be able to update you on everything that's going on.
Here is a bullet list of just a few of the many things that have happened since I last posted:
- His team (case workers, etc) decided if this placement fails he will be placed not in a therapeutic foster home but in a Residential Treatment Center. Holy crap, talk about pressure on us! We feel so strongly, as does his therapist, that at this point he does not need an RTC, he needs a family. It's one thing if we adopt him and then he needs RTC, because he'd have a family to visit him all the time and then to eventually come home to. If he went to RTC right now we'd have no rights to even visit him and at most he might get a weekly visit with mom and an occasional visit from a social worker.
- His therapist asked me "So, how does it feel living in a residential treatment center?" Because he acknowledged what everyone else is coming to realize, which is that we are basically providing a residential treatment center and therapeutic foster home without the training or compensation.
- Big Guy's therapist is excellent and Big Guy is starting to talk about his anger, why he takes it out on us, his sadness, etc.
- Big Guy has been revealing more abuse history. I'm feeling so angry I just want to kill everyone who hurt him. I have to laugh that I told people when he was first placed with us, "He doesn't seem to have any kind of major abuse history, at most maybe a little emotional neglect." Warning to first-time foster parents like us: Never, ever believe that the story you think you know during the first month or when a kid's placed is anything near what the full truth is.
- We found a great psychiatrist who is starting him on an anti-depressant! Hallelujah! She actually gets that it's not just ADHD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder that are happening here, and she diagnosed him with PTSD after we had been increasingly feeling that some of his behaviors are trauma reactions.
- We have been talking to Patty (Big Guy's mom) a lot and learned from her more about her own and her mom's mental health history which has helped us understand the situation better and also helped us inform the psychiatrist. We have an awesome relationship with her...
- ...Which makes it so frustrating that CPS has decided we shouldn't be allowed to supervise visits. Because an outside agency that CPS contracts with is now doing visits at their offices and doesn't allow any contact between birth families and foster families, we cannot see her, and Little Guy (Big Guy's baby brother who we had for the first week that Big Guy was with us), at all. She literally enters through a different door than us, we think, so we can't even "run into her" in the waiting room. It's awful. So much for our dream that we could help mentor and support her. Basically CPS has made it clear they want to build a case to terminate her parental rights, even though she is parenting her baby and her older kid has only been in foster care 3 months with us. They have a foster family who is very competent and has a good relationship with the birth mom, a birth mom who never hurt her child directly, and a foster child who isn't traumatized by contact with his birth mom... The perfect situation to allow a mentoring relationship between foster and birth family or at least to allow more casual visits outside a clinical setting. Yet they don't want to make more work for themselves or risk her actually getting help from us, so they're screwing everyone in the process. Nice.
- School started and life became much more manageable because of everyone having a set schedule, so we no longer feel we're living in constant crisis mode...
- ...However, around the time school started Big Guy stopped sleeping through the night. He woke us up no less than seven times last night. He simply cannot and will not sleep without a grown-up in bed with him (please, spare me the lectures and horror stories about how foster parents should protect themselves from abuse allegations by never ever laying down with a child. It's the only way to keep from multiple violent meltdowns at night right now, and if those meltdowns are hard to deal with during the day they are impossible to deal with when half-asleep). His anxiety is so out of control. Usually I go lay down with him when he wakes us up, but end up falling asleep and waking up hours later in horrible pain because his bed sucks and I have a bad back. If anything is making my life feel unmanageable right now, it's not his tantrums or violence... it's the lack of continuous sleep and how we're held hostage by him at night because he wakes up multiple times and is terrified to go back to sleep without us with him. Have I mentioned I have idiopathic hypersomnolence, and am therefore supposed to get 9 hours of sleep a night in order to safely drive? Haha.