Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What if I treated him like a foster kid?

I was interviewed the other day for a local publication. It's one of those free papers that are mostly advertisements but contain a couple of articles so that you will pick it up. I doubt they would describe themselves that way, of course. Still this one is "Our Location Families," comes out every two months, and can be found in coffee shops and other locations all over the place. There is always an article on some special family. The next issue it will be us, as a representative of a foster family.

I told her about that we are dedicated to gay kids, but I also told her that my children did not want their names and faces distributed around two counties with the label "gay family" attached to them, so I had to ask her to either only use my first name and no photos or have a family photo and no discussion of sexuality. Since we live in Very Red State, she took the second option.

Anyway, she wanted to know how this affected the biokids and if there was any particular thing we do to parent them so that... she fumbled for words and I grinned and said, "so that they will know that they are the real kids?" She said, "I guess. No. I'm not sure exactly what I want to ask." I told her that I tried to respond to each of the kids as individuals. I did not try to help the biokids feel like they were "really" mine. All the kids are real and all deserve to be treated as special. Given the kind of care I do (one kid at a time, permanent placement care) that works for me.

But I have been thinking a lot about Brian's problem and whether and to what extent our having done care was in the mix. I think about the assurances from the various counselors; I think about the fact that my sister has the same condition (not just anxiety, she has THIS symptom when she is stressed); I think about being confident that a very large portion of Brian's problem is a biological predisposition to mild depression and anxiety. I remind myself that he is entering puberty, which is probably a factor, and that his symptoms got worse, not better, since it has been just the four of us.

I asked him today, by the way, if he thought having another kid in the house right now would likely make him feel better or worse. He said, "Probably better because it would distract me and if he was someone that would like do things with me that would be good too."

On the other hand I think that many people, and I could be one of them if I weren't in the situation, see a simple equation: biokid + foster kid = anxious biokid; solution: remove foster kids.

But what I was planning on writing when I started this post is this that I have been thinking about what all this would be like if I was having this problem with a foster kid.

1. I would call the social worker and expect her to have a good idea for a solution.
2. She would ask her colleagues and come up with a name for the best counselor for anxiety in children.
3. Either Medicaid or the agency would pay the bill, and the agency would give me occasional assistance with transportation.
4. I would periodically wonder why this child is this way, possibly think about it as an intellectual puzzle, but the answer would not matter. Whether it was genetic or environmental, it was what we had to deal with.
5. I would not think that my success or value as a mother in any way hinged on my ability to fix the problem. I would view myself as part of a team who could only play my part.
6. I would think that the major part of the solution rested on the child. We would of course provide all the tools and opportunities. We would offer rewards or focused praised to encourage him/her, but I would completely accept that the child could only learn to cope with anxiety if the child was willing to do his/her part.
7. I would not feel like the world was ending because someone at the school said, "Kids who are disruptive in class because of emotional issues are considered 'Emotional Disabled.' They go to the structured learning program." I would not want to cry and have to fight off anxiety attacks of my own at the very idea that someone wants to put my kid in the program where they send children who rage and throw desks.

In short, I would not feel responsible for the existence of the problem. I would also not feel completely responsible for the solution either.

So I wonder if I could get myself into that mind-set. However we got here, this is where we are. There are a limited number of things that I can do aid in a solution. Past that, the best thing that I can do for Brian is to be calm, confident and supportive.

I'm going to try.

And the next time someone asks me if I treat my biokids and foster kids the same I just might answer, "I really try to. I try to be as good a parent to the biokids as I am to the foster kids, but sometimes it is really difficult."

1 comment:

  1. Yondalla, you are such a fascinating person. You never fail to make me think! If I lived anywhere near you I would want to know you in person, if only to bask in your wisdom. *grin*

    (I hope that last part doesn't sound too creepy. You're so cool!)


Comments will be open for a little while, then I will be shutting them off. The blog will stay, but I do not want either to moderate comments or leave the blog available to spammers.