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Week into placement, my heart aches

(67 Posts)
TrinnyandSatsuma Thu 07-Nov-13 17:07:21

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!

LEMisafucker Thu 07-Nov-13 17:11:29

I don't have any advice, but just wanted to say that i think you are pretty bloody wonderful - what a lucky lad. I am sure he wont starve, so long as he is drinking it should be ok?

Quangle Thu 07-Nov-13 17:16:33

I strongly advise a glass of wine (for you, not for him). You are feeling his pain with him and that's what love is.

No advice re the food as I have no experience but sending good wishes at what must be a deeply emotional time for you all.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 07-Nov-13 17:18:36

It sounds like you're doing a wonderful job. What a lucky little chap to have such lovely parents.

Don't have much advice, it sounds like you're doing great. I guess just don't put too much emphasis on food, but it sounds like you're doing that. Perhaps give him control in another area? How old is he? Could he choose colors for his bedroom or something like that?

Lilka Thu 07-Nov-13 17:20:38

Oh Trinny, it's so so tough at this stage <<hugs>>

Keep looking after yourself and cry out it, drink wine, do anything you can for yourself at every moment you can grab it

No, he will not starve himself. Only a child with anorexia is going to refuse food to the point of starvation, your son will eat enough to keep himself going naturally. I think my approach would be to have snacks throughout the day at certain times and offer a snack at those times in addition to meals, which he might eat. If he refuses then reassure that next meal/snack is at x o'clock and assume he will definitely eat a meal/part of a meal at some point, because he won't starve himself. I might also be inclined to leave a couple of snacks in his room...he might well eat them when he's alone in there and you haven't literally just given him the food

Having said that, there's more than one approach to it, that's just one and you might find a better approach to food for him

My son had a few great days when he came home, then he suddenly realised what was going on, and he grieved really hard. He didn't want to eat (it might have been control, on the other hand it might just have been the grief and confusion, that can make your appetite reduce dramatically). It really is awful to see your child so upset, but this will pass with time

Hang on in there, you're doing a fabulous job by the sounds of it

Italiangreyhound Thu 07-Nov-13 17:22:05

TrinnyandSatsuma huge huge hugs. Please ignore me if this advice is wrong (someone else please tell me to shut up!!) but if he is doing it for control and feels he has none etc I would.....

offer him some controlled choices that you are happy with

Shall we fly a kite today or you can be in charge of the remote controlled car, or shall we do some painting, would you like to do painting or water play, or let's have an art competition and you can be the judge, who does the best picture Mummy or Daddy etc etc.

How about some fun work, building a walll with bricks or drying up soem plastic cups etc. Then just very simply say half way through play, "Break time, the workers deserve a break, fish finger sandwhich for Daddy and for Mummy and for lovely lad etc." Plot a little plate with a little bit of food nearby and don't stress if he does not eat.

For drinks how about lets make some smoothies, you put the fruit in the jug (bananas, blueberries whatever he might eat) and you do mashing and Mummy will mix in milk and who gets to taste it first etc etc.

If he has had a fairly restricted diet before you may need to stick to what he knows.

I don't think he will starve but just try and be inventive. Good luck.

Italiangreyhound Thu 07-Nov-13 17:27:19

All those choices were meant to be presented just a choice of two at a time not altogether!

FairyJen Thu 07-Nov-13 17:41:00

Try including him in basic food prep like baking etc, a bit if raw cookie dough etc won't hurt.

Or include little treats into games. For example play snap but everytime you win you get a couple of grapes etc as well as the cards.

Do keep going, as hard as it is this will pass with time as he grows more secure.

I'm a sw with experience in adoption and fostering so do feel free to ask if you have any questions smile

FamiliesShareGerms Thu 07-Nov-13 17:42:16

Hugs here too. Nothing much to add the sensible suggestion from Lilka and Italian, except to reinforce that he won't starve himself. Is he drinking?

I remember the day DD had her grieving. I have never ever heard crying like it before or since - this was about three weeks in, and it really did mark a change in our relationship with her.

Keep smiling and have some wine

BaldricksTurnip Thu 07-Nov-13 18:10:38

What wonderful people you are who adopt. Absolute admiration and respect for what you do. He is so lucky to have you as his parents and though he came down a different path to meet you, you are a family now and always will be. There is no family that does not have hard times and tears but you all have each other now and in time he will learn to trust and love you. Bless you for taking him forward into the light.

DiddyLady Thu 07-Nov-13 18:42:52

Oh bless you all. It's sounds like your doing a great job. Do you have any plans to see his foster carers at a future date. It's very important that he realises they are happy that he is with you and that he doesn't need to feel any guilt about leaving them.
He won't let himself starve. Enjoy your wine you deserve it.

TrinnyandSatsuma Thu 07-Nov-13 19:13:38

Thanks all, much appreciated.

I'm delighted to report he ate 90% of his tea. My husband and I looked at each other across the table as he shovelled in his peas and were amazed! I'd given him a small glass of milk mid afternoon and we had tea a little earlier than normal, aware that he'd been really hungry. It feels so counter intuitive to let him go hungry for a few hours. He's already suffered such terrible neglect and it just feels awful to know he's hungry. I am so relieved he's had a good meal now, and is going to bed after a nice bath, bedtime story and he's snuggled up with his two favourite teddies.

In answer to your questions, he's 5 in a few months, so has some comprehension of the changes he's been through, but is struggling to make sense of it. Today we had the "why?" After nearly everything we said. I think that's him generally questioning "why is all of this happening?".

Thanks again, your support means a lot.


Broodymomma Thu 07-Nov-13 19:19:27

You are doing amazing! We are also a week into placement and I have to admit I am finding it so much tougher than I thought i would with most of it being down to sheer tiredness. Just wanted to say you are not alone xxx

Lilka Thu 07-Nov-13 19:27:09

So glad to hear he ate tonight and he's all snuggled up now

Now go pamper yourself and have your wine smile

Magslee Thu 07-Nov-13 19:45:03

Glad to hear things were a bit better this evening. I have had similar issues with my DS and have at times been completely panic stricken that it is my awful cooking/appalling parenting etc that have caused him to not eat and that he was going to collapse from hunger any minute. It's particularly hard in the first few weeks after the move as you are all getting to know each other.

It doesn't matter how many people tell you it's fine and he won't starve himself you're probably still going to stress about it but over time it will get better as you get used to his eating patterns - I now know my son stops eating when he's coming down with something and whenever there's change going on. Also, I got the health visitor to weigh my son every 6 weeks or so as that means a responsible adult is also monitoring things and I assume will let me know if/when I need to worry.

All kids are different but the things that work for my son are: I'm leaving eating completely to him (I put the food out but I don't encourage, cajole, comment etc even if he eats none of it - much as I want to!). I also put a snack box on a low table for him with a few things in like crackers, raisins, bits of cheese etc that he can pick at as and when he wants to through the day. And when things get desperate we go off to IKEA as their pasta and tomato sauce is a lot more popular than mine (and you can address any starvation panic with cake (for you and him)).

MissFenella Thu 07-Nov-13 20:57:14

Cooking together is an excellent thing to do - must do more with my girls actually.

You sound an intuitive parent top that with the love you so obviously have and I don't think you will go wrong xx

Glad it is going OK and keep hugging your boy

flippingebay Thu 07-Nov-13 21:01:22

So glad to hear he's eaten something tonight.

You posted some lovely things on my thread and I'm sorry your DS is grieving, but you both sound like fantastic people so hang in there.

Italiangreyhound Thu 07-Nov-13 23:21:15

TrinnyandSatsuma fab news. Very pleased for you.

Broody yay how exciting.

Andro Fri 08-Nov-13 00:21:38

Not eating is a pretty common reaction to grief, I had this with both of my 2 (they were grieving for their bio parents who had died as a result of a car crash). Gentle encouragement and reassurance is the way to go, don't try and force the issue though (a bit of bribery can also work when used sparingly).

It's good that he ate this evening, but it's not necessarily the last you'll see of this.

Solo Fri 08-Nov-13 01:20:26

Trinny your last post made me tear up.

All the best!!

YouAreMyRain Fri 08-Nov-13 04:11:50

I agree with pps, leave accessible healthy snacks that he can help himself too and pretend not to notice if he eats anything. That takes the control out of the situation. My two DDs know that they can help themselves to fruit etc anytime, we have a healthy snack box.

Good luck with it all, you are lucky to have found each other thanksthanks

RudolphLovesoftplay Fri 08-Nov-13 06:19:47

Wahoo for tea eating!!! Well done, it sounds as though you are doing amazingly well.

We had (and still do a little bit) a food gobbler who would eat anything in sight and still beg for more food. He is mostly fine now, but food issues are tricky, and you are handling it brilliantly.

KristinaM Fri 08-Nov-13 12:16:51

That's good news you are seeing progress.

As others have said, it might be a control issues but it might also be grief. Are his FCs coming to see him soon?

If it's a control issues you need to avoid getting into a battle with him. Only pick battles you can win. And you can never win food or elimination battles . So calories by stealth is the best plan . Never punish him for not eating eg by withholding a game or treat

If it's a grief reaction, you might find it helpful to read the webistes of child bereavement charities, like Winston's wish. Children grieve very differently from adults and you might not recognise the signs.

It's good that he can verbalise his feelings and that you don't feel the need to rubbish his feelings or " cheer him up " . He needs to know that you can hold him and his pain and loss, it's too big for him to deal with alone .

Ledkr Fri 08-Nov-13 12:25:11

I am a post adoption sw and read the adoption threads to give me insight.
Your post is so moving and you have such a clear empathy for what he is experiencing its lovely.
My only advice would be to make sure he knows what it is he is actually feeling ie. sadness, fear or whatever and make sure if he doesn't you name it for him.
Congratulations btw, he's very lucky to have you both.

KristinaM Fri 08-Nov-13 12:30:31

Ledkr -it's nice to know that you are listening AND client focussed. :-)

Not many SWs would take the time to update their knowledge and understanding in their own time. Respect to you

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