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Friday, 9 December 2016

There is a name for that...

It's been a very hard couple of months.  The permanent three are thriving well.  Miss 9 has had some trouble. Unfortunately quite extreme.  I can't write the details - because it's actually too painful to think about.  Instead I am going to copy and paste from the internet.

Before I do - I want to acknowledge how hard this is on the other kids (and myself), we are seeing trauma like we have never experienced it before.  All of us will be seeing a psychologist several times between now and christmas - as we all need to gain understanding and strategies to deal with what is going on.  Most of all Miss 14, who is the sister of Miss 9 - and currently feels like she can't love her because her behaviours are so extreme.  Psych team believes we can overcome this - we just need to educate her a little. She remembers much less of the abuse than Miss 9, and did have pretty bad behaviours at the start too.  The difference is she has had stability since being in foster care.  She hasn't lived in 7 homes adding to the rejection and feeling that makes one feel impossible to love.

Most of the information I am copying comes from Wikipedia.  Only because it explains it in the most user friendly way.  I have cross checked with more academic websites and conversations with psychologists and social workers.  I have added strikethroughs to behaviours we haven't seen.

Emotional Dysregulation Disorder.

Emotional dysregulation (ED) is a term used in the mental health community to refer to an emotional response that is poorly modulated, and does not fall within the conventionally accepted range of emotive response. ED may be referred to as labile mood (marked fluctuation of mood)[1] or mood swings.
Possible manifestations of emotional dysregulation include angry outbursts or behavior outbursts such as destroying or throwing objects, aggression towards self or others, and threats to kill oneself. These variations usually occur in seconds to minutes or hours. Emotional dysregulation can lead to behavioral problems and can interfere with a person's social interactions and relationships at home, in school, or at place of employment.
Emotional dysregulation can be associated with an experience of early psychological trauma, brain injury, or chronic maltreatment (such as child abusechild neglect, or institutional neglect/abuse), and associated disorders such as reactive attachment disorder.[2] Emotional dysregulation may present in people with psychiatric disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorderbipolar disorderborderline personality disorder, and complex post-traumatic stress disorder.[3][4] ED is also found among those with autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger syndrome.[3] In such cases as borderline personality disorder, hypersensitivity to emotional stimuli causes a slower return to a normal emotional state. This is manifested biologically by deficits in the frontal cortices of the brain.[5]
Smokingself-harmeating disorders, and addiction have all been associated with emotional dysregulation.[10]Somatoform disorders may be caused by a decreased ability to regulate and experience emotions or an inability to express emotions in a positive way.[11] Individuals who have difficulty regulating emotions are at risk for eating disorders and substance abuse as they use food or substances as a way to regulate their emotions.[12][13]
Emotional dysregulation in children can be associated with internalizing behaviors including[10]
  • exhibiting emotions too intense for a situation
  • difficulty calming down when upset
  • difficulty decreasing negative emotions
  • being less able to calm themselves
  • difficulty understanding emotional experiences
  • becoming avoidant or aggressive when dealing with negative emotions
  • experiencing more negative emotions

Externalizing behaviors[edit]

Emotional dysregulation in children can be associated with externalizing behaviors including[10]
  • exhibiting more extreme emotions
  • difficulty identifying emotional cues
  • difficulty recognizing their own emotions
  • focusing on the negative
  • difficulty controlling their attention
  • being impulsive
  • difficulty decreasing their negative emotions
  • difficulty calming down when upset

As you can see from the above behaviours we are in quite a state of chaos.  It would be easier on all of us to say enough is enough.  But Miss 9 really can't face anymore rejection.  She needs someone with the skills and patience to see her through.  To take her back to the experiences she should have experienced in infancy and early childhood in order to learn how to behave and self regulate.  

We are not committing to permanency.  And I will not allow this to be forced upon us.  But we are committed to ensuring that this child gets the help she needs in order to make sure her next home is her final home!  

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Physical pain or emotional pain?

School holidays are the best. I'm home from work. Chores get done. Well... some of them. And the kids get quality time.

Miss 14 is away on holiday and having a blast. Think she secretly misses me though... judging by the number of messages I get that have absoloutely no purpose!

Miss 6 months has learnt to sit unassisted this week. It only lasts a couple of minutes but she loves it.

Miss 16 is slowly relaxing after the trauma of the last 6 months (let's be honest...16 years). We have received a very generous sum of money this week (well the promise it's coming) from a good friends university friend. This will cover legal and other associated costs of applying for residency (legal aid doesn't cover this). I have also applied for a grant of $2000 to cover one years worth of psychologist appointments.

Miss 9 is doing good.  Mostly. She seems to experience a lot of physical pain which I think is actually emotional. There are a lot of sore fingers, shoulders, headaches etc. and they go away very quickly.  This suggests to me there is more trauma than she is ready to acknowledge. I think this is huge... but haven't done any research into it yet. Have got permission today to enrol her with my doctor so will eliminate the physical before writing it off. Will also discuss with her psychologist.  She asks about her last foster family a lot, but over the last couple of days this has only been about the children.  A couple of days ago she said she felt it was all her fault she had to leave (because she wanted to) -and struggled to comprehend that 9 year olds don't make that sort of decision, adults do. It makes me furious that adults can let a kid feel they got to make such an important decision on their own (kids should be kids, but also what it teaches them about getting what they want). But at the same time the balance Ian hard because I don't want her to just stack it up in her list of life's rejections (be they really that or not).

Today she enrolled in school and is extremely excited. She will start on Monday.  We the. Took her to get a nice haircut as her hair was an absoloute mess! She is pretty resistant to haircuts... but all it took was ' I'm taking you to a fancy salon' and some very understanding hairdressers her pampered her like a princess for half an hour before cutting. She is over the moon with her tidy hair and wishes she didn't have to wait three months to go back. She also thinks she might be a hairdresser when she grows up!

All in all a good week... but what happened to those sleep ins I needed!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

When does the hurt become irreparable?

Almost two years ago two children were placed with what were to be permanent caregivers. Against my strong advice to social workers that these two children would not manage together. 

Instead of supporting the caregivers ... The social work team left them to flounder under extreme behaviours. When it was offered to continue caring for one child... This option was taken from them completely. I did all I could to help... But ultimately I couldn't do more. It hurt. 

For a temporary placement the kids were seperated. Things went wonderfully. Then the social workers decided to put them back together. There were a number of reasons I didn't feel the placement would be successful. But again... I was forced to sit upon these thoughts. And when I tried to raise them (to ensure family number two was supported) I was told that the social workers are the ones with the experience and qualifications... 'You are just a caregiver'. So I stepped back. 

I regularly offered support for these children and was declined. For the boy, the permanent placement ended earlier this year. His family gave up. He was too hard. Just this week it ended for miss as well. 

Although I am delighted to have this wonderful young lady back with me... (And that the social workers were brave enough to let me have her back despite them probably expecting me to say 'told you so') I am heartbroken for her. Another permanent home broken. I fear the damage is irreparable. I remember when she was moving to her last home I said to the social worker 'this has to be her last... She can't take any more'. I was assured it was her last. I just hope I was wrong. I hope she can take more! I hope this hasn't broken her beyond repair. 

There is a young girl hurting so bad that she shows no emotion about what has happened at all. She sees what has happened as just another experience to put on the list. 

I have no idea what the future holds. I can't commit to anything for her due to several other complications. However what I need to focus on now is making sure this kid is not hurt beyond repair. That she finds her way home. Wherever home is. 

It made a difference to that one

When I embarked on the journey that is foster parenting I expected it to be hard. I expected that kids would come to me with some level of trauma. That I would be tasked with provide love, guidance and stability. I also knew that it would be riddled with heartbreak... But I chose the journey... And I choose to continue it. 

Throughout the Journey I have learnt a lot. I have a pretty clear idea about how the legal system works in relation to children's rights and care of children. I have learnt how social workers work, how cases are pieced together. I have learnt the ways that behaviour reflects internal thinking. I have learnt that physical age is not necessarily emotional, social, sexual or academic age. I have learnt how to cater the needs of a child that has a different age for each facet of their being. 

What I did not count on, was my international student. A guest of my foster child, becoming what I now think of as the very reason I have learnt all I have. I took on an international student... The easy one, the one that comes from a supportive family, is educationally focussed with huge carer aspirations. One that wasn't filled with trauma in such a way that it could bubble over at anytime. 

But by what can only be divine intervention... She applied to the school to become an international student at the same time I applied to become a host parent. For five months... My 'idea' of an international student remained what I had always pictured it to be. Idealistic, the perfect child! Then the earth shattered around me. 

The young girl I had accepted as part of my family became a mum. Over the coming six months I had to use every skill I had learnt in order to keep her safe. I had to jump through legal hoops, I had to spend hours researching, I had to reevaluate the everything I knew about the world. 

I sat through and translated numerous psychologist, doctor, lawyer, government, and social work meetings. I had to, more than once, put myself in dangers way. I had to be very careful which parts of the story I shared with whom. Some of the people closest to me I couldn't even share details with. 

Some of the details I couldn't share as legal cases sat right on top of them include things like an international embassy threatening miss 16, miss 0 and myself. Like a school right here in my own country treating a child in a way I wouldn't even treat a rodent. I watched basic human rights be broken right before my very eyes. 

Yes... I agree... I think she was lucky to be placed with me... I think that I was the best person for the job of protecting her. But the bit I'd like to clear up is this... No one else would have given up months ago (like lots of people suggest... Making me out to be some sort of life saving hero)... No one else quite had the insight I had into the extreme danger that was probable. No one else had seen with their own eyes the physical threats, or heard with their own ears the emotional threats. I can assure you of this... ANYONE who had seen what I saw...would have done the same thing. 

I'm not saying I'm not proud... Because I am. I took on a mammoth responsibility that at times was all consuming. What I am saying is that for quite a few years  I was learning the skills I needed so that I had them, I was placed in this life to protect it, and the job was done. 

That's the most important bit. The job was done. The girls have refugee status, they can remain here forever. There is a 20 page document from refugee services outlining the dangers miss would be in, and a ten page psychologist report outlining the danger she has already been in. 

My girl is no longer my international student, she is my child. And every day I get to hold her beautiful daughter in my arms and see her eyes light up when I enter the room. Cos that's what love is, right?

But no... Kind and concerned people in my life. This isn't the end of the journey for me. I know I can do it now. My fostering count is sitting around the 20. There have been others while this saga has unfolded I just haven't had the energy to blog. I will keep doing it...and instead of asking me why... Remember this .... It made a difference to that one. 

 Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing.He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions. 

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

Monday, 1 August 2016

How to help.

I won't keep this page up here forever...because it does link to my name.  But for those of you who currently follow... we really need your help.  When you've asked how to help and I have said - I can't think of anything - it's because I don't want to ask you for $2557!  But I am hoping this way everyone who wants to help can do a little bit and help us get this bill paid off.  Thank you XX

Monday, 25 July 2016

So what are we waiting for?

WARNING: Contains graphic content

Life is a bit on hold.  While we get used to the idea of having a baby in the house, there is a whole other situation unfolding.

The school Miss 15 attended breaking several laws is only the beginning.  The other is the severe risk to her should she return to her home country.

The cold hard reality is that she will be killed or tortured and put into prision (for having a baby).  Her baby will be killed (due to the genocide of melanesians).

Due to this we are aiming to gain refugee status for the girls.  This is hard, because she is under age and it would cause irreparable damage to her family if they were to come and support the application. So things are slow.  Lawyers need to seek advice from lawyers.  Immigration need to seek advice from the united nations.

The process, by normal timeframes, should have been completed 6 weeks ago.  And although the lawyer says our case is very, very strong.  It is still a waiting game.  Because you just don't know what is around the corner.

A lot of people have asked "What the?" because they don't really understand what is going on there.

Information is hard to find because of a media ban (As usually happens in countries with war going on!) but there is some information that comes out various places via a facebook page that their government has no control over.

Here you will read of torture, rape, genocide and corrupt police and military.  You will see very easily why we are scared for Miss 15 to return home with Miss nearly 4 months!

On a happier note Miss 15 is now Miss 16 :)

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Our Surprise. Or...shock... or What the actual hell just happened?

We didn’t believe what was happening.

After a day of chocolate on Sunday, when Miss 15 complained of a sore tummy around 10am on Easter Monday.  I told her she had eaten too much junk.  When she told me she had been in pain since 3, I started to suspect a bug.  When she asked me to take her to the doctor, I hesitated.  At near $300 for a non citizen, public holiday, visit – I was going to hold it off as long as possible.  I called a friend, a bit more in the know than myself.  Panadol? Has she had any Panadol.  No.  So she took some Panadol, and I told her if she wasn’t right in a few hours we’d find a doctor.

Miss 15 persisted. I need to see a doctor, I am in a lot of pain.  Okay. I figured if it was bad enough she wanted to pay nearly $300.  It was bad enough to see a doctor.  We went to our local after hours, and were told after seeing the triage nurse that there was a three hour wait – but in the meantime could she do a urine test. On returning from doing the test she told me that there was blood in her urine. What does that mean? Only moments after returning the test, the nurses asked for her to come through immediately.  My previous thoughts of appendicitis changed to a bladder infection.  The weight was off my shoulders.  A bladder infection is much more manageable.

After a good half an hour the doctor called me through.  Permission had been given from Miss 15 to discuss the details with me, due to her lack of understanding.  “Is there any chance she could be pregnant?” Asked the doctor.  I replied “No.  She isn’t that sort of girl.  If she says there is no chance, there is no chance”.  “In that case” he said “We need to make an immediate referral to oncology.  Are you able to drive her to the Emergency Department.” “Umm. Yup” I say, but thinking ‘what the hell, cancer, you must be joking, she is 15’. 
We arrived at the ED half an hour later, stopping for McDonalds on the way.  If you’re about to get admitted into hospital for cancer treatment – you might as well get a treat before you arrive!  Thankfully, we stopped for some food.  As it was another 3 or 4 hours until we were seen by the doctor again there was plenty of time to google.  I had read the referral forms which stated “positive pregnancy test, no pregnancy, abdominal swelling, refer oncology”.

The more I read online, the more I started to wonder.  The only other way I could find to have a positive pregnancy test was cancer.  The form of cancer that could cause a positive pregnancy test was incredibly rare.  She either has a rare cancer or a baby.  I sat there juggling in my mind which one would be easier to manage.  Miss 15’s current status meant that having a baby would be incredibly dangerous for both her and a baby. I don’t mean the birth either.  Cancer can be cured. 
As the hours ticked on, and the pains became more intense and more frequent there was a little bit of wonder creeping into my mind about that the chances of pregnancy. So that conversation was had again – in more detail.  No.  There has definitely been nothing happen that could cause that.  We were later to find out, “nothing that I remember” to cause that.
We were finally called in by an ED doctor, who said they were going to do a quick ultrasound before making any further decisions about the rest of the night.  A few moments into the ultrasound, the doctor looked at me and said “I’ll be back in a moment” she returned with another doctor.  A specialist.  They did the ultrasound together, the second doctor left and the first said “There is a baby in there, we don’t know what stage of the pregnancy this is, you could be experiencing Braxton hicks.  But we need to send you to the delivery suite regardless, you need a full examination.”

I was in shock. Miss 15 was in shock.  My mind was racing, what do we need, where do we get it from, how do we keep them safe.  I’m sure her mind was racing too, probably in a different way to mine.  I text a friend and asked her to meet us in the delivery suite.  I made some quick calls to make sure the other children were sorted for the night (they were already at friend’s houses so was not too hard).  I quickly sought support from my support people. 
We had a lovely midwife, Katie, who was incredibly reassuring when she told us “There will be a baby here, and tonight”.  She talked us through what would happen – seeing as none of us (my friend was there by that stage) have ever had a baby.  She then began to ask questions about the conception.  Concerns then flung into overdrive.  Something had happened.  We now had massive concerns for the care and protection of both Miss 15 and her baby. 

Baby was monitored intently, and as Miss 15 became more and more anxious we became thankful that the birth was going to be over with fairly soon.  At 10.50pm we welcomed a baby girl into our little world.  She weighed just over 6 pounds.  The NICU team on standby were stood down and we were told she was healthy.  No sigh of relief was heard, this was only the start of an uphill battle.  But for one day, we had been through enough.  The day was over, we had another girl to love.  No sleep was had (by me anyway…the new mum slept extremely well) as I arranged bassinets, carseats, clothes.  So much to plan when a baby suddenly arrives.