Wednesday, October 31, 2007

One More "What If"

I don't know that it would have made a difference for Frankie or not...this what if is so far from what we did experience that I can't project us into it and predict an outcome.

But still...what if Frankie was the only child?

So, so often I think placements end because of conflict between siblings.

Ann left Mandy because she got into a fist fight with another girl. She left me, in large part, because it was too hard on Andrew and Brian to see her scream at us. Well, you know, that and she insisted on being moved and threatened to harm one of us if she didn't -- but the risk assessment there again involved the boys.

David's younger brothers lost their last pre-adoptive placement because of the stress they were putting on the previously adopted son. (There are more details, but they are irrelevant).

This is not an argument for separating siblings (although I do think that sometimes they replicate in their own relationships the abuse they experienced from their parents and must be separated), but it is an argument for more single child adoptive and foster homes.

One child plus one child does not equal two children. One child plus one child equals two children and their relationship.

Before, there were just your needs and the child's needs. If the child needed quiet time, the child got quiet time. If the child's anxiety regarding food meant that you needed to keep plenty of food in plain sight, you did. If they child needed to rage, you coped.

But when you have one child who needs to SEE that there is plenty of food, and another who is a compulsive eater and needs for a good deal of food to be out of sight. Well, then you have a problem.

When one child needs everything to slow down and be quiet for a while, and the other needs to express rage ... you get the idea.

Ann has been moved and moved and moved again. I have said since she left me that she needed to be the only child or a child with much older siblings. I don't know if she would have succeeded in that environment, but it was never tried.

And I wonder if Frankie would have managed better in a family with no other children. I don't know.

But I find myself wanting to beg all of you who are parenting one traumatized child not to take another. I want, without really knowing the details of your home, to say that if things are going well, maybe that is because your child is getting what he or she needs.

I don't know really what is going on in your homes. I don't know what is best for you.

But I wonder how many placements have ended primarily because of concerns for children already in the home.

I'm turning anonymous commenting back least for this post. If you have a disruption experience you are willing to share, please do. And you can leave it anonymously if you like.


  1. Anonymous8:53 AM

    Is there any question about whether or not I agree with you? Given the trauma you helped us through this weekend, I can't stop beating myself up about the number of kids we took in, and the speed in which we did it. Part of it was ignorance... we didn't know that they ALL either had special needs, had trauma or were chronically ill. Part of it was seeing tremendous need in their country of origin, and feeling that we could DO MORE than we were. I love each of them fiercely, but I'm not sure that some of them wouldn't be better off as only children or in a much smaller family.

  2. Very interesting.

    One problem is that if you don't have kids, and you've never had kids, you lack confidence. I know I do. How do we know we'll be successful, since we'll get new foster care challenges on top of new childrearing challenges? It's all new. I have no real knowledge about what my parenting strengths and weaknesses are, just vague premonitions. You just have to hope for the best.

    If you do have kids, you're somewhat more prepared, but you also have potential sibling issues like you're talking about.

    The ideal parents are probably "second-nesters" who already have adult, independent children. They have the time and the experience. But then they could be missing a certain youthful energy... there really is no 100% ideal I guess.

  3. Yeah, we decided Huckle will be the only placement we'll take. We'll re-evaluate later, and we haven't ruled out bio kids, and there's always the possibility of Huckle having a biological sibling coming into care, but we're not looking or inquiring for another child for a long time.

  4. I can admit that one of our two foster disruptions came due to my bio son's needs (bipolar, OCD, GAD) combined with the needs of the foster child (FAS & RAD in one, and severe RAD in the other). We have let our license go and will not foster again until my son is an adult, if we even do it then.

    I agree. They felt like we were a good placement for challenging kids with our background with my son, and my background in Special Education, but it turned out to be a disaster for all involved.

    Our placements that were toddlers and/or "normal" kids all worked out, but we couldn't handle a challenging situation that just exacerbated my son's conditions.

  5. I feel two different ways. I strongly believe that separating siblings can sometimes be the very best thing..that is VERY true for one of my kids who was not able to function in the same home with their siblings, despite their love for them.

    Having Butterfly in the home was a disaster for Bug. Having the mix we do now? It has been one of the best things for her. She is doing so much better now. She grew up in group homes and in large families and the pressure of being an only child..or having to compete with a child her age..was not good for her. She thrives at being an older sister for the youngers and being a younger sister to the olders. I've never been more pleased with how she is doing.

  6. Th limited research that exists indicates that biokids do better with fostering if they are older (10 years seems to be a turning point) and if they are several years older than the fostered children.

    Of course I have broke those guidelines.

    I pass on that advice to people all the time, but I know that it means that there are even fewer people to take the teenagers.

  7. I think it so depends on the kid. When I was matched with Boy Wonder, they considered me "ideal" because I was single and had no other kids. The problem was, Boy Wonder had been in homes like that and he had withered every time. (This is largely the reason I decided I wasn't right for him.) He had severe RAD and had always been more successful in families with lots and lots of kids or in residential care. I think, sometimes, for kids with severe attachment issues, the big families are a haven for them. They don't have such pressure to attach in a typical way.

    I think the environments in which kids thrive depend so much on the particular child and their issues.

    I know that I want to adopt again someday. But it will be after Slugger stabilizes some more and I will have to be very particular about the child I take into my home. The wrong mix of issues could make Slugger downspiral just as you described.

  8. We have one kid. For a while, we considered siblings, but have since decided against it.

    Part of it is because our house is small, and "Danielle" would have to share a room. Part of it is because we are already having enough trouble getting services for one high-needs kid. Part of it is because "Danielle" has demonstrated that she would be very jealous of siblings, as she already demonstrates an overwhelming jealousy both my partner and my pets.

    But mostly, it's because we are already stretched thin trying to meet the needs of one child. There's no way we could do more.

  9. We had a wonderful child placed in our home as a second foster child. Itwas the frist time we had ever had 2 fosters at one time. During the time he was with us, We had an infant and adopted my first foster son. After months passed, we did put in an intent to adopt this boy as well. He was 12 at the time.

    2 days after placing the intent he sexually molested my adoptive son in our home. The first thing the therapist said when I called her to tell her he had been removed from our home was "I was worried something like this may happen." Pardon me???

    I was totally flabbergasted that the system would allow this. Later we found out that he had been suspected of perpetraiting several other times and no one made us aware. They even knew the boys shared a room and had bunk beds.

    That was one of the last straws. We took one temporary placement after that for a sibling group. That only lasted 3 months and after I had another baby we quit.

    2 small children and one FAS child is enough thank you.

  10. We decided with Little Man that we would only consider a younger sibling if one came into the system. We are fervently hoping that no other sibling has to go through anything that would put them in care.

    I think he will do fine as an only child, it allows us to focus our energy and resources to his needs. Of course our case is unusual in that he was so young when he was placed with us.

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