Week into placement, my heart aches(67 Posts)
We are now a week into placement. Our little boy is doing so, so well. His world has turned upside down and he is grieving for his foster carers.
He broke down in tears today, first time we've had tears. Up until now, he's just said he feels sad, but at last today he let out some of the emotion we know he is feeling. It is absolutely heart breaking to see him so upset.
He has been trying to control everything and not surprisingly, food is the one thing he can control. We know he must be hungry, but he just won't eat.
Please someone come along and reassure me that he won't let himself starve. We are feeding him like he is a much younger child, having foods we know he likes etc. his afternoon, we had inclusion time because he didn't eat any lunch. We all sat quietly on the sofa together and read books. We told him we loved him, but that without his lunch, he wouldn't have energy to play. I have no idea of that's a good response, or a terrible one.
Only a few hours until bed time and then I plan on having a big cry, a glass of wine and a cuddle from hubbie!
It is very important for kids to be 'given permission' to move on. Last birthday DS was unsure what he wanted, unsure of a party, wouldn't commit to anything. He had already had a birthday with us but it was not long after he arrived. I had a chat with him. Reminded him his previous carers wanted him to be happy. Half hour later he came through with his party list. He had a great day.
Hi all this is a very interesting thread to read as someone not yet matched, I am starting my own thread now about 'relationship with foster cares how to manage, research on transition etc' and would welcome any comments there but did not want to 'hijack' this one.
Trinny glad all is going better. I am not yet an adopter but am a parent and it seems to me life is up and down with kids! Some days better and some worse. So my only advice might be to keep a note of what works and how and to be able to use it in future. Not work works as in makes him not talk about foster carer or not not appear to get upset but what makes him able to talk about it in a better way, perhaps what allows him to grieve but in a way that is better for him. Sadly, I have no idea how this will work! I will be scanning this thread for guidence from one all!
It is here is anyone wants to advise me, please!
And I will keep reading Trinny and hoping all is well.
Lovely! Thanks for the update
Two weeks in now and I thought I'd update.
He's eating like a horse!
We talked at length to our social worker, and his, about contact with his foster carers, and are planning to see them briefly quite soon. It's obviously very unpredictable how he will react, but we want to do this to reassure him that they know where he is and are happy for him to be with us.
Thanks again for your input and support. I'm sure we will be back in the future with another thread asking for help!!
Even though DD settled brilliantly with us, it was still incredibly beneficial for her to see her FC after about three months (agency guidelines were no sooner than that). They came to us for around two hours one afternoon (ie not over a meal time or some other "care giver"-y time) and played with her and told her they were pleased how well she was doing.
I have no experience of adoption, but was really touched by this thread! My DS is 4 and has special needs (e is autistic) and he has been a very poor eater at some stages in his life, still not great. He was premature and small, and is still very thin so we do tend to worry and fuss when he does not eat. So I do understand a bit. You description of looking at your DH when your little boy was managing to eat is just what we have done/still do: when DS is actually tucking properly into a meal whoever is with him (if the other parent is not there) will shout out through the house "come and look, come and look"!
It will get better, I am sure.
That's sounds very wise, miss fenella . I think it has to be about the child's needs, rather than the FC. Also you need a FC who is able to allow the child to move on ( however they are feeling ) and give the child permission to be happy in their new family
That's why I think it's better for the FC to visit the child in their new home. They can admire a new bedroom, toys, pets etc . If you " bump into " them in a park , the child will always be alert, wondering when you next might bump into them .
I think it should be open and planned ( obviously in an age appropriate way ) . So saying to a 5yo " let's tidy up this morning because x and y are coming here for coffee in an hour. You can show them your new bedroom /kitten /fire engine " . Not " they are coming in 10 days " .
Just my opinion of course
We didn't hook up with the FC again despite FC asking for it from week 2. The reason we did not was because the FC had issues with letting go (culminating in a very bad handover experience) and I could not risk the girls wellbeing with someone I could not trust.
I do think its important that the FC make it clear to the children that it is OK for them to move on and to not feel guilt about moving on. That is what we would not get but if you can I think a meet or call could be worthwhile. How about 'bumping into' each other near a café and spending 30 mins together. That may be a less traumatic situation and easier for FC to leave?
PS DD was knocking on 3 and had been with FCs from a tiny baby.
Just briefly to say that with my DD, who was also very attached to her FCs, we did meet up after about 6 weeks, and found it very beneficial. She was - of course - unsettled to a degree afterwards, but I think it really helped her to understand that they were still there and cared about her and for her to settle with us.
She has done very well since and as others have said, the FCs are an aunty type figure in the background.
It's very hard not to fear the relationship with FC, but if the child can quickly see the FCs supporting you, and know they are still there for the child as well, I think it is to the benefit of all.
Well done- it sounds like you're doing a fantastic job with him.
Ok, imagine you were abducted by aliens and taken to another planet. A very nice planet, where you could have a beautiful new home , and live with loving aliens who would care for you. Would you have forgotten your home and family and have begun to attach to your new alien family after 3weeks?
What if they explained that they were your new forever family -would that make you feel better? Perhaps if you had more things in your new home, nicer food, more attention, a bedroom of your own? Would you be reassured to know that your chances of getting a good education and job in 20 years would be improved, now you lived on a new planet?
Would you be thinking about the aliens feelings? How hard it is for them? how much they wanted you?
How would you think and feel? What would help?
We have adopted a 4 year old boy, who lived with his foster carers for 2 1/2 year. He is very very attached to the mother figure. As a result it has had an effect on our relationship (my previous thread post adoption blues). 3 weeks into placement with us he doesn't ask for her as much as he did, but makes reference to her in conversatuon daily.
He seems to not want to get "fully close" or "attached" to me. His daddy is in the forces & has just gone back away, he initially asks for his foster carer, then his daddy, this is something I am finding quite difficult & to not get upset by (I have been very upset recently).
Does anyone have any advice on the above? We were advised not to allow him to see his foster carers for at least 3 month?? I don't think that will be a problem but it is trust with his new mummy
" I worry that seeing them would confuse him......I worry he would want to go back to their house and it would be so painful for him to say goodbye to them again. "
Well it sounds like he's missing them dreadfully , if he's asking about them every day. And he DOES want to go back to their house , so that wouldn't make any difference. And it is obviously very painful for him now.
So if he's missing them very much , wants to see them and asks about them every day, why on earth wouldn't you let him? Of course he will cry when they leave, but it sounds like he's crying inside anyway, you said that he has been sad. And you said that you were planning to have them visit " in a few months", do you think it won't be painful for him to say goodbye then??
It's very difficult to make a new attachment and grieve a loss at the same time. This is why SW insist on a Gap of several years between losing a child and adopting . This is why there is so much emphasis in the home study on have done some grief work for bio children /infertility issues etc ( if relevant ).
If he is using all his energy grieving for his FCers, he won't be able to bond to you.
If it were me I would be trying to gradually change his relationship with his Foster carers from being his primary carers to being like a distant auntie that you see a few times a year . Not trying to go cold turkey .
Did you read the information about how children deal with grief? I think you have a very sad little boy there and you need to help him . You wrote in your thread title that your heart aches - that is how he is feeling inside. Not talking about his loss, making sure that you don't have to deal with him crying. Not letting him talk to or see the ones he loves so much - won't make these feelings go away. It will just encourage him to bury them, especially if he feels that you can't handle them. And believe me, that's the last thing you want to happen.
Ask the Fc to visit you. It reinforces that this is his home now. He can show them his room and toys etc . Yes he will cry when they leave, but that's better than crying in the inside every day :-(
We met DD's FC 5 weeks after placement (although she was much younger). I had thought it a little soon but we had an appointment near them so tied it in. As it was I was so pleased we did - it was good for DD and for them too.
We exchange photos often and meet up every few months. We talk about them often. I would definitely encourage some contact with them soon.
Not older, but my friend fostered a baby who moved to her new family around 20 months. She was very attached to her foster family as shed been with them since birth.
They meet every few months; I think the first meet was around 6 weeks after. At parents' house, or now sometimes in the park or cafe.
My friend was half dreading the first meeting, but it went very well. She has quickly become an "auntie" figure, who is still important to the child, but in the background. The parents always chat about her etc and sent pictures back and forth.
Don't know if that helps.
Really interested in the view that he should see his foster carers sooner rather than later. We had been pretty certain this would / should wait at least a few months so that he is really settled. I worry that seeing them would confuse him......I worry he would want to go back to their house and it would be so painful for him to say goodbye to them again.
We always planned, and still do, to retain contact with them, but hadn't planned to have the first meeting for a few months.
Does anyone have experience of an older child who was very settled in foster care, who had early contact with foster carers?
I agree with kew. The Foster carers really need to visit you at your home. Sooner rather than later. Does he speak to them on the phone? If not, why not?
Do you have a plan (at least in theory) at this stage to meet them again. I wonder if it might be helpful to talk about seeing them again (in the future obviously when he is more bonded with you). I don't know what the offical advice on this but I always felt it was important for DS to know that the people who cared for him did genuinely cared and that they hadn;t abandoned him and that though they were sad that he had gone, they wanted him to have a family that he wouldn't ever have to leave.
I know that balancing act of reassuring him of their care and presence in the background and that they haven't abandoned him vs the need for him to look to you for comfort and support -there is a horrible no-mans-land when they havev't learned to be comforted by you but have lost the person who could care for them (or in DS's care lost his self soothing mechanisms). I found it the hardest thing because really nothing much that helps - except time. It does pass and in Ds's case it passed within a few weeks.
It was a long few weeks though!
A much better day today. Three good meals!
Took on board everyone's advice and just stopped any of the cajoling and fuss and encouragement.
I realise now we were just adding unnecessary anxiety when he is already in a turmoil of change. Not helpful, but we have learned a valuable lesson. He will eat when he's hungry.
I suspect grief is suppressing his appetite as some of you suggest. I have had that feeling myself. The butterflies in the stomach, slightly homesick feeling and it doesn't make food appealing at all.
He's still asking at least once a day to go back to his foster carers, which we always acknowledge and reassure. They were a very positive influence in his life; big shoes to fill!
Thanks again, the advice is so helpful.
U are incredible op. just keep loving him and everything else will be ok.
Trinny, you sound lovely and caring, just what he needs.
My thoughts on the food issue are that if he's been neglected, he is probably not used to regular meals and portions. I don't know how long he's been fostered for but if he hasn't had mealtime routines or not enough food, he might need a long time to adjust.
I would just treat it as a non issue. It doesn't sound as if he doesn't eat enough. If you just provide food and attach no emotions to it, he will find his own balance.
You have my highest respect
A lot of 4 year olds are like this and that's without a troubled background.
You are doing really well Try not to stress about what he is or isn't eating - don't encourage or cajole, or in anyway make it a big deal (I wouldn't say he wont have the energy to play etc). He will eat when he is hungry and wants to - he will be fine x
or probably a nice hot at this time of night!
Wot Methren said!
I am not an adoptive parent but I do have a five year old and my oldest boy was a fussy eater when he was little.
I suppose for your little boy, it's a bit like going on a trip to a different country. The food is different and everything is different and sometimes you just want egg and chips! I remember being little and having to spend a day in a neighbour's house. She asked me if I wanted sausages and I did but I meant sausages like we had at home. She produced sausages which were sausages but not like "our" sausages and I remember feeling so down about it and that I had to eat these strange sausages because I had agreed to eat them!
When my eldest was little, he was a dreadful eater and I got so much well-meaning advice from lots of people who led me to believe that my child would starve to death! He didn't and he now eats raw oysters!
You are getting used to each other and you sound like you are doing really, really well.
Trinny, I'm not an adoptive parent but both my DCs have been fussy eaters. A couple of things helped me to fret less over how much they ate at each meal.
The first was realising that each of my DCs had their own individual body clock when it came to food. DC1 has to be coaxed into eating any breakfast at all, isn't too bad at lunch and usually eats a big supper. DC2 is the opposite - massive breakfast, less lunch, often just picks at supper.
The second was reading somewhere that small children often balance out their intake over several days rather than eating a balanced diet at each meal. So they might eat veg but no meat at one meal and the opposite at the next, but if you watch over several meals they're taking in a decent range of food groups. DC2 definitely does this, DC1 less so.
I'm sure that grief and stress will be modifying your DS's appetite at the moment, but you're also still learning his individual eating patterns and that's bound to take a bit of time.
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