Monday, June 23, 2008

Fiona, Faith, and Robbie

Fiona initially settled into our house pretty well. She had night time enuresis and wore pull ups. She was on meds to help that and on adderall for hyperactivity. She also had a dx of PTSD and a history that included possible sexual abuse. She seemed happy with us, made friends with the girl next door and began school. We had been told that she had an IEP and pull out services for some scholastic delays and were told the delays were likely the result of very erratic school attendance until she went into foster care.

Our first issues showed up with school. Though she initially made friends, she also lost friends equally quickly. Whether slighted in a real or imagined fashion, she would become very angry at other children and the relationship would be over. Totally over. She had a hard time sleeping and a hard time getting up in the morning. She hated getting ready for school and was so slow doing it that we opted to take advantage of the breakfast at school just so she would get there on time. Our meetings with teachers revealed a huge academic deficit for Fiona. There was no way she could continue in a regular class room in our community. She would need extensive academic supports and pullout services would not meet the need. She was not able to comprehend grade level reading when she read it or when it was read to her. She could not write a coherant sentence and her spelling was so weak that I honestly couldn't read what she wrote. (neither could she when she tried to read it aloud to me.) She hated homework and was unwilling or afraid to accept our assistance. We opted to not fight over the school work now as we were trying to build bonds of trust and security and love. Surely if we were arguing over her school work it would make things worse.

Meanwhile, Faith was expressing a lot of anxiety to her foster mother. She said she was afraid to live with Fiona. She complained of stomach aches and headaches in efforts to avoid visiting. Though she seemed happy when she visited, and though she and i enjoyed each other greatly, we could see that she became very tense and wary when ever Fiona had a tantrum. The tantrums were increasing in intensity and the real problem was that it had always been planned that the girls would share a bedroom. There wasn't a separate bedroom available for Faith. If she didn't feel safe, if she wasn't safe, she shouldn't in my opinion be in a bedroom with her sister. Our placing agency had no help for us. They just kept saying the girls "needed to write new healthy stories together." Lots easier said than done.

Robbie was doing well. He was the second child to move in and settled in quite well. He had sleep issues and we had to keep putting him back in his bed. He had night time wetting as well and wore pull ups. We found that his foster home had tried frightening and shaming him in an effort to stop the bedwetting and my wife and I agreed we would say nothing about wearing pullups for a long time. We would just put them on at night and treat the bedwetting as no big deal. He was a good eater and loved to play. He had the most fun with his sister Faith. Like Faith, he seemed guarded and wary around Fiona.

Finally the mother of all tantrums happened with Fiona. It was an incredibly small trigger. She was asked to put on sneakers so she could come bike riding with her brother and my wife. She chose some footwear that was unsafe for bike riding and was asked to change to sneakers. She began to melt down in a really big way. Ultimately she destroyed her bedroom. Nothing left of the dresser, the bed frame, she ripped up clothing, toys and even her allowance. The screams and sounds of her rage and destruction echoed through the house. Chet picked his chest till he bled as a nervous response to her rage. Robbie ran downstairs and hid under a big quilt, curled up in the fetal position. We called our social worker who said to call 911. We called and the EMT's came and brought her to the hospital. My wife followed in our car; I stayed with Chet and Rob. Faith was luckily not at our home during this. The hospital soon sent her home. She calmed in the ER room and was no longer a danger to herself or others. There were no beds available anyway. We were advised to take her home. We did but that night K and I had a long conversation. This simply was not healthy for the other kids. Something had to change and we needed to have help with Fiona. We called the agency back the next day and said she needed some kind of emergency placement. We were afraid to say anything or do anything with her because she could rage over anything. Chet was angry with her for behaving as she did and was likely to speak his mind if they were together; we kept them apart. The social worker called back and said they had a temporary emergency respite placement and that we would work on something further after that. We explained this to Fiona. We told her we loved her and we needed to find a way to all be safe together. We helped her pack. The social worker came. I felt like the biggest failure in the world. Except that 2 days later she had such a bad rage at the respite home that they asked that she be moved immediately. She was placed in a bed that came available for a 90 day evaluation. We were told by our social worker that at the end of the 90 days she would come home to us and we would have a plan that the hospital would help develop so that we would all be able to be a family together.

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