Thursday, April 26, 2012

Respite from My RAD Foster Child: The Follow Up- Lessons Learned by All

By John and Diane
 Well it has been 2 weeks now since me and my RAD foster son’s had our respite and he came back with a new outlook, thank God!  I just wanted to catch you all up on how it went.
I went to the other foster home to pick up my boy, and was greeted with his bags in the living room. I greeted everyone merrily, feeling rested and happy. 

Before we could leave I had to take a moment to do a thorough search of his luggage to make sure he didn’t take anything from the nice foster home he came from.    I do a search of his backpack and pockets every time he leaves a sleepover or stay at Grandma’s or other family members home. This is not new to him. He has stayed with my brother and other family members before and time after time he came home with things that did not belong to him which made it hard for me to ask again. “Could you please watch him again? I know he took your cell phone.  Sorry! But I could use a break.”  So I find it much easier to do this right up front and get it over with.  When I didn’t find anything I thanked him for being good and not taking anything.
So that went well and I felt like this was a good sign. Next we were going to move all his things to the car but now he was going to test me by saying very loud in front of the other foster parent, “who’s going to carry my things to the car!”
 I was kneeling on the floor at the time repacking his things for him. I stood up and said in my strongest voice “You are. OK?” and he did. No more questions.  Nice.
So, home we went. He took his things down to his room and put them away, and then I called a family meeting. It seemed like a good time to re-establish the routine .
I had a copy of the house rules and chores and as they took their chairs I told them “we are going over all the house rules and ever thing just as if you this was the first day you came here so everyone will know what to expect from me and what I will expect from you.”
They took turns reading the chore list and the house rules then I answered any questions they had.  I pointed out the rules that they were breaking and why it was important not to break them and that I was not going to put up with it any more.
 Now you have to remember, I am a foster parent. I did not adopt the children living in my home and they are aware of other kids who had to leave because they were not able to follow the rules of the house.
Now as we were going over all that and why the rules needed to be followed my respite child’s head kept falling lower and lower. I think he was putting two and two together and he knew he was not the only one who needs the respite.
So, he said to me, “Dad,” he always calls me Dad when he wants some thing or he’s happy,
“I’m sorry for how I was treating you. I don’t want you to have to get mad at me or blow your whistle at me any more.”
 So I said “You are going to follow the rules of the house?”
“Yes I want to stay here!”
“Ok” I said to him, “I had a lot of time to think about everything to and whether or not you were going to stay and you are asking for me to let you try again?”
 (Now for all of you who don’t know this, this is at least his 200th time he’s ask too start over.   The difference is this time his behavior is good enough to go somewhere else- other than a hospital. )
 I added, “We keep on learning here, can you do that?”
“Yes” he said.
“Ok that is all I ask from you is you try, and that is all God asks of us. He gives us chances over and over and I can try to do the same.”
Now he was still looking down so I added  “I’m not mad at you and I never was, I was just tired.”
Again he said he was sorry and the day starts new.
Since this child has an attachment disorder and I have had him about three years, I wasn’t sure if I had made any progress with him. I wasn’t really sure if I was just controlling and changing him with behavioral modification or if he was changing because he was attached and was changing to try to please me.
I heard from the other foster family how he would talk about our family while he was gone.
 He would talk about all the fun things we did as a family and with just me (now I call these things “anchors” because they hold the child home and gives them a reason for staying with you or putting up with you and your rules.)
Now I feel like he has a reason to change and that was what I was looking for. Amen Thank you God he has attached to us.  I haven’t even had to blow my whistle at him yet. 
So, the moral to this story… respite for your RAD child is really a learning tool for everyone, especially if you’ve been working with your RAD kid for a while. It’s not only an important break to take from a difficult child, but it is also an important opportunity to test the attachment and re-establish the importance of his family and home. 

AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by AstridWestvang

1 comment:

  1. John, Thanks for sharing this follow-up so glad to hear that it worked out for everyone in your family. I was wondering how it would unfold. Angela