Thursday, October 11, 2007

Respite Care or "I'm Getting Tired"

Some people find the very idea of respite care offensive. I've read or heard, "You would never put YOUR OWN children in some foster home for a weekend because you wanted a break! Parenting doesn't come with guaranteed breaks."

Of course these people will generally acknowledge that it is okay to have babysitters and that it is nice when grandma take the kids for a while or when they get invited to a sleep-over. But put your kid in another foster home because your tired and rarely have time to talk to your spouse? Come on.


These comments make sense from a distance, but the reality is different. My reality is that I Frankie can't go spend the night with anyone unless they have had a criminal back ground check and I am on call to pick him up. The reality is that Frankie is a difficult kid and even most people with criminal background checks (and I know a fair number because they are required for anyone who works in public schools) are not prepared to cope with him and would definitely call. My reality is that Frankie is not going to be invited for a sleep-over or go on a youth group trip any time in the near future.

My reality is that I am getting tired, that because Hubby and I do such a good job of taking turns being "on" for Frankie that we seem to have little time to be "on" for each other.

My reality as that though I have been actively looking for someone who could be a babysitter, I can't find one. The one we hired before spent three hours sitting next to Frankie at the computer periodically saying "Weren't you supposed to get off after an hour and a half?" while Frankie said, "Just let me show you on more thing..."

My reality is that the only way I am going to get time have a complete conversation with Hubby without someone coming in after three minutes saying, "Do you know...?" is to take advantage of respite.

I confess I don't like it.

Have you ever been in the position where you encourage others to take a break or take advantage of assistance while being pleased that you don't have to?

I haven't needed it for a long time. David and Evan had lives. They left the house for trips, sleep overs, rehab. When they were home they behaved like normal teenagers and sometimes spent entire evenings in their rooms. They did not have a need to tell me everything that they were doing, or share every thought they had.

I know that a big part of the reason I feel this way is that one or more of us has been sick for 3 weeks. I have felt like I am fighting off all the bugs that are laying them flat one after the other, except for Frankie, nothing stops Frankie. Ever.

Another big part is that work is just more stressful and demanding this year. We are under going our five-year departmental review and I am chair. 'Nuff said.

And I think that if I could just find a qualified babysitter, Hubby and I could go out for dinner.

But then I think we would just stare at each other in exhaustion.

I don't want to go out for dinner. I want to go to bed early and sleep for 10 hours, wake up and have a quiet breakfast with my husband. Then I want to read a book while he does whatever he does, take a leisurely bath, and go out to lunch and THEN have a conversation about something other than who will go grocery shopping or take Frankie to his next appointment.

And I am beginning to think that that is going to mean respite care.

Of course we will farm out the bioboys. That part will be easy. If I bring myself to tell the social worker to arrange respite care I can get them invited over to one of their friends. The friends' parents know us. I probably would only get as far as, "Next Friday night Frankie is going to be in respite care and..." before they offer.

But I don't know how Frankie will respond. I don't know if I will "pay" for it in escalated behaviors afterwards. I don't know a family that could take him.

I would have to, you know, trust the social worker's judgment.

So I know what I have to do. I have to call the social worker before I am too tired to be a good parent and ask her to identify a home that could provide respite care. I have to take Frankie there so that he can meet them and get comfortable with it.

I am going to have to accept that I am human.

Don't you just hate it when you have to do that?

Update: I went to lunch and sat down with one of my previous students. She is a non-traditional (read: somewhat older) student who has a nephew with Asperger's that she sometimes sits for. I found a qualified sitter! She has even been background checked already!


  1. I hear ya.

    Signed the girl with the double ear infections who hates the idea of respite care but would kill for some sleep right now.

  2. Yep, confessing I am human hurts. And is the one thing that always seems so logic when looking at some one else's problem/. I dothink I would have confessed it earlier then you....

    My 2 and 5 year old will be at the grandparents next weak for fall break..

    What am I looking forward too..? Dinner in front of the tv.... Pathetic

  3. I'm eligible for "services" for Ray but it's so hard to find someone qualified I can trust.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly. We NEED respite to care for ourselves so we can care for these children. The only time we have been away from Dustin since we adopted is when he was hospitalized. UGH

  5. Absolutely you deserve respite. And I would spit in the eye of anyone who says you shouldn't have it.

    I get tired of the self-righteous folks who brag that they never have respite from their kids. Sure they do, in the form of sleepovers and the like.

    But for us foster parents, we don't get those luxuries, because we can't farm out kids that aren't technically ours in the first place to just any old person.

    Enjoy your respite...every bit of it.

  6. I have been contemplating respite for our kids. The thought had never crossed my mind until our last meeting with their sw and she brought it up. Said not to forget it was available.

    With all their issues do you explain to them why they are spending the weekend somewhere else???

  7. We had our kids go to respite care once. Not that it was a bad thing, but it just didn't "feel" right for us. Now we squeeze in a night at grandma's when possible (which is rare) and simply started laying down ground rules for bedtimes. That way, Hubby and I have some time alone....

    As to people saying they wouldn't put their "own" children in respite care, they usually aren't dealing with ODD, ADHD, RAD, PTSD, FASD, OCD, etc. They are dealing with neuro-normal kids and, from experience, we all know that's a completely different kind of living. Give any one of those self-righteous folks 24 hours with our kids and they'll sing a different tune!

  8. Isn't it great when you know what you need and the Universe responds so quickly and perfectly?!

    We didn't use respite for 7 months and it was so hard to start. We really needed to be talked into it. The thing is, my foster kids can't even go to a friend's house unless the parents have been background checked and spoken with the caseworker (who never returns calls). So my own kids are not here every minute of every day because they can go ride their bikes or hang out with a friend.


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