OK so I’m about to delve into something I don’t like to discuss because it makes me feel as though I failed. I’m an enneagram Type 1 so if you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll understand that I am something of a perfectionist. And even though I am aware that I am not perfect, I want others to think I am, so a placement disruption (let alone TWO of them) is a big red flag waving as if to say, “Hey this lady is NOT perfect!”
But strong as I feel about wanting to appear perfect, I felt even more strongly that disruption…or in our case, two disruptions were what needed to happen for the good of everyone involved.
To make sure we are all clear, a placement disruption is not something that is ideal, but it does happen…and has not just happened to us but to many other foster families. Now you might be asking, “So why is it so bad? I mean, do the kids even care?”
Well, if you are new to the foster care world, I can see why you might ask so here’s the thing: disruption is something that you should try to avoid, because kids coming into care already have a great amount of loss in their lives; moving them again can potentially further their trauma.
Consider this: they were removed from everything they knew…even if it was abusive or neglectful…that situation was comfortable to them because they were familiar with it. So to take them from that familiar situation and drop them into something new, and then remove them from that “something new” and move them to another new home. It’s all very dysregulating and traumatic…again.
However, sometimes a placement just does not work in your home. For us, our first placement, as I have mentioned briefly in a previous post, had one child outside our preferred age range. We had said we would be comfortable with two kids under the age of four, but one of these siblings was significantly older than that. To be clear, it was NOT our agency who pushed that upon us; all they did was ask if we would consider it. However, since I so desperately wanted to jump in and begin fostering, we said yes. And after about 24 hours, I realized I was in over my head. I tried to remember all the things I learned in training, but it was no use. I called my agency and they were great about talking me through things and I tried what they suggested. Our licensing director even came out to talk with me. I felt very supported, and yet still in over my head.
I will be honest, the final straw was when my biological children, who were really struggling with the placement, finally shared with me that they were very uncomfortable because the older child had been aggressive and threatening towards them. And so after eight days in our home, I insisted they move the girls to a new foster home. In hindsight, I believe I would do things differently but hindsight is 20/20.
Our second disruption was after our youngest son‘s adoption. We waited about nine months after it was finalized before we took another placement. We were placed with the most chill, kicked back eight-month-old baby boy. He ate well, he slept well, he had a charming personality…he was fantastic. But our youngest son, still having issues due to the trauma he experienced early in life, simply could not handle the stress of having another child in the house.
Many people think it was jealousy, but honestly I believe it was anxiety that just threw him over the edge. With this placement, I feel like we gave it the old college try, and stuck it out for a month. And not just a month…but a month of truly trying to make the placement remain intact. But in spite of our efforts, it was a month of my two-year-old being completely dysregulated, and as a result, the whole house was up-ended. And unfortunately we knew we could not continue.
With both of these disruptions, my heart grieved, both for the foster children but also for my own family. I knew that it wasn’t entirely my fault, because I didn’t know prior to the placements what would happen or how things would go.
However, as I mentioned above, I do believe there are “helps” we could have implemented to possibly prevent a disruption (at least in the first placement). However, because this is kind of a big deal, I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much info in one post, so we will discuss these tips and tools in the post next week.