Taking a baby, 2 year old and a 3 year old in was more of a challenge than we could have ever imagined. Our “honeymoon” period with the kids was really nonexistent.
When you take the classes to become a foster parent, they tell you all sorts of horror stories about children that have been in care. Week after week, they literally try to scare you. I assume they want to prepare you for the worst possibly scenario and also make sure you are serious. We sat there, knowing their were rough kids out there, but knew that wouldn’t happen to us. We also were certain that if we had a child like one of “those” kiddos, we’d love them, be consistent with them and “fix” them; that’s all they needed, right?
Our oldest child, who was 3 by the time we got him, was far beyond any horror story we heard in classes. He hit, bit, kicked, spit, scratched, pinched, tried to poke eyes out, threw things, jumped on siblings, intentionally wet and pooed his pants… If put in the same bathtub or a wading pool with a sibling, he’d grab them and try to hold them under water. He could not be left alone for a second. He spent better part of every day in time outs spitting for hours on end. We could not physically punish him, so we’d have to stay close by him to make him stay in his spot. Every time you got near him you became the victim of all his rage. He lied incessantly, for no reason at all at times. He acted out sexually. He had serious eating issues.
In all that we faced with him, the scariest part of all of it was how much pleasure he took in doing harm to others. They cried, he laughed. It was scary! It was impossible not to picture him as a future psychopath.
Despite his behavior at home, he charmed the socks off of everyone he met outside the home. He never met a stranger. Everyone thought he was sooooo adorable. He was so manipulative I can’t even begin to describe it. At 3, he told me how to do everything, how to drive, where to turn, how to cook, sweep, fold clothes….. It took an entire month with our counselor who had years and years of training and experience with this type of child to recognize that our son was manipulating her and running their sessions.
We committed to loving him, but liking him, was an entirely different matter. The state made us take them to daycare. At first, I was adamantly opposed to them not being at home with me. I took them a few hours a day a couple of days a week. Soon I began to live for the days when someone else would watch him for a while. Everyday when I went to pick them up, I was greeted by a swarm of children all wanting to tell me how many times and ways my child had hurt them.
If you haven’t already guessed it, he has Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD. Getting him diagnosed was a nightmare. He was so young, no one on our team saw any need for anything but a consistent home. After the diagnosis, the counselor wanted us to get him “labeled” as a behavioral or therapeutic level child. (Our state has differing levels of foster kids and parents: traditional for “normal” kiddos, behavioral for those with beyond normal behavioral issues, therapeutic for extreme kiddos and medical for those with medical issues. How a child is classified determines how much the state pays you and what options are available to you in caring for the kids). When I approached our caseworker, she chewed me out in front of the entire foster team as nothing but money hungry and threatened to take the kids away. I was stunned to say the least. We were very close to being able to finalize the adoption and being rid of our “wonderful” case-worker, so against the counselor’s recommendation, we dropped it.
Nine months after we took the children into our home, the adoption was finalized. At the age of 45, we became the parents of 6 children. I am now one of those “weird” people with a mess of children. Because our older set of children are out of the house, it still feels like we have 4 kiddos (one is still a foster placement). I still have a hard time spitting out that I am the mom of 6.