Two Dads, one very opinionated son.

Our Foster story, the journey from strangers to family.


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It makes the world go round and round and…

When we first met Flash on one of your many visits we were astounded to find out some of the processes that took over his life in that little house that he occupied.

With no real friends and no family life to speak of his house essentially existed on his little schedule of waking, eating, playing, sleeping, television, playstation and toy time that consumed all the bits in between. It was evident that there was a struggle within his existence to movtivate him to change, to challenge his behaviours and encourage him to be better. Granted many methods had likely been used before, when you have a child who’s behaviour at the best of times could be likened to a feral cat your options are limited. So the option that seemed most open to them at the time was money. A system had been developed, it was hard to understand, but appeared as though he was given a $14 fund for each week, rather than earning any money, the total amount was simply there, the catch being “poor behaviour” meant that the total amount would be reduced.

The fascinating thing we observed week to week as he still lived there and we began to learn more and more of his day to day activities was that it seemed to take a lot to actually reduce this money and that essentially, short of murder, there appeared little possibility that by the weeks end Flash would actually end up with nothing left in his kitty. Instead come each Saturday morning the weekly trip to the shops would occur, where; taking his treasured reward for a week of substandard behaviour and questionable outcomes, he was placed within the towering aisles of the Big W toy aisles to be given free reign to purchase to his hearts desire.

First and foremost we couldn’t figure out why on a bad week he simply wouldn’t earn any money for spending. Later upon asking we were told that the consequences for himself, the house and his carers was not entirely pleasant, lack of money meant “escalation time”.  Looking in from the outside these escalations were somewhat comical. When they started it was like watching a building crumble in slow motion before your eyes, his eyes would tremble, the tears, perfectly orchestrated would slowly fall from his face and as they hit the ground his whole body would collapse with a glass breaking shriek.

“Noooooooooooooooooo!!!! PLEASE NO!!!!!”

This would be the start and the very clear reasoning as to why his house was littered with so many holes in the walls, he would lash out, throw himself at walls, kick and punch them and in turn make moves against any carer in his way.

The comical part of it all was the instructions that the carers were given, these strong, 20 something year old men were told that when the small, thin, angry child began to get violent, they were not to try subdue him or restrain him, no, their instructions were relatively simple.
“Reason with him, if that fails go to your room and lock the door and call the police”.

Yes, if the child barely taller than your waist chucks a tantrum, call the police.

You can’t begin to imagine the life lessons that teaches a child, when it comes to relationships with adults, with conflict resolution and getting your own way, the solution was always to give the child the power and secure safety, what’s right and wrong in this situation will always be debatable, but consequently we soon learnt why every week it was simply easier to give him some money;
“At least $5”
The boys would always say;
“That way he’s still getting something even if he’s had a bad week”.

A kid in a candy store was almost a literal description for his Saturday mornings. Armed with his money he would ponder and plead his way through the aisles of the shops, trying to find that maximum value for his money;
“How can I spend every cent and ensure I get as many toys as possible?” you could see him thinking.

We accompanied him on many of these trips in the early days and even took him on some trips with just the 3 of us to help him select his weekly bounty.

His determination, tenacity and flexibility were truly remarkable, he would drop hints for more money, pull sad faces, ponder, ask, debate and cry to attempt to procure the necessary extra funds for what was the days latest fascination, but luckily we realized quite early on that holding firm to a “No” was going to be the most difficult but beneficial path to take.

His play room was huge, a single room in the house dedicated to his weekly collection of toys. Stacked with tubs and containers of various cars and lego pieces, haphazardly upended or in various states of creation, you couldn’t tell what was old or new, what was loved or forgotten, everything was just in a constant state of collection.
“More”

You could practically see the word emblazoned across his eyeballs whenever he laid eyes on a toy, whether in the supermarket or walking past another child playing with a toy;

“More”

And with that “more” was what we decided we needed less of.

The rest of this entry can be found in our book “Two Dads & Me: The Story So Far”
Available for purchase soon.

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Big Boys Don’t Fly

In the early days, not long after he had moved in, our greatest test began, his behaviour.
It’s hard to describe what it was like as it was so inconsistent, erratic, irrational and constant.
The slightest thing could set him off and we could have screaming, crying, swearing, throwing, running, you name it, he had it in his arsenal and every single moment of it was a test of our patience.

A lot of it stemmed from his time in residential care, in a world where you grow up with no adults, just youth workers, in a house that is not your own, where rules cannot be enforced and there are no consequences, you begin to make your own rules. His time there had taught him very little, except that if he didn’t get his own way, he only had to scream and cry, which would usually result in negotiations to avoid an escalation, when negotiations failed, get physical, escalate.

When we had visited the house in our first visits there were holes in many of the walls, several walls missing large areas of plasterboard, his bed at the time was broken at the end and he slept on somewhat of a slant. This was the nature of his understanding of consequences, “natural consequences” they called it. In the absence of discipline in any way their only option was to allow him to live with the results of his behaviours, in this case, the damage around him. How effective that choice was is debatable, after having lived with the repercussions of this method we found ourselves questioning it’s validity.

The advice we had been given was to be consistent with rules and expectations, set clear boundaries around what was ok and what was not and to ensure we explained the nature of consequences.
And so we did.
And so it was good.
In theory.
What we could never account for was the sheer volume of the “escalations” as we came to call them when reporting them to the department, yes each escalation required a report, every time. Some of the early ones were the little ones, the running away at shower time, that was the easy stuff, the tough stuff came when we really had to follow through with what we said.

With limited options at our disposal, we had to go with the basic consequences, taking away small privileges for wrong doings, things like dessert, TV, play time, early to bed and taking away toys, unfortunately it was the consequences that quickly proved to be the trigger to our escalations.
Our rules were pretty simple, primarily focusing on basic expectations around following instructions and basic manners as well as good behaviour at school and at home, we didn’t want to set the expectations high, but we had to set them firmly.

The first time we sent him to bed early I was pretty sure our neighbours thought we were murdering him.

The reaction was something from another world, it was like watching the 7 stages of grieving fast forward in front of you. He would plead, beg, apologise, cry and then started the yelling, kicking and screaming. He threw himself on the lounge room floor and howled
“No dad no! Please! NO! DON’T! PLEASE! NO! I’LL DO ANYTHING!”
He knew how to work the system, but we were prepared and stuck our ground.
By the time he got to his room he had turned angry and started screaming, he had headed for the hallway and ran full pelt at the wall at the end, threw himself at the wall and dramatically slid himself to the ground.
He howled, jumped up, ran to his bedroom door and started screaming
“I HATE YOU! I DON’T WANT TO LIVE HERE!”
We tried to remain as calm as possible, reminding him of why he was going to bed early and that if he continued, there would be more consequences. None of this appeared to help, once in his room he screamed louder, we could hear him start to kick walls, throw toys, scream and yell, by this stage I believe the neighbours may have thought we were killing a village of small children judging by the amount of noise he was creating, but we persevered.

Eventually he would settle, often not until he had upturned the contents of his room, his bed or succeeded in rousing a reaction from us that would require us to re-enter the room to check on him. Sadly as we were warned, things would only get worse before they got better and as he continued to test the boundaries that we set his reactions intensified. Within a few small months we had 3 different holes in the walls in his room, we had heard every swear word imaginable and seen some distressing reactions that had shaken us.

Some of the most distressing behaviour was his disregard for his own safety, he would use threats against himself as a means to test us, trying desperately to see if we would really care at the same time as trying to act out against us. This disregard sometimes had to be taken seriously and sometimes we had to show him we weren’t going to react and continue as though nothing was happening.

One afternoon he took to throwing himself against the wall, rolling on the floor and screaming and we had to restrain and calm him, another evening he ran back into the kitchen and grabbed himself the nearest knife, quickly I managed to retrieve it and sent him back to his room. But as he continued to escalate the behaviour our resolve continued to grow, he stormed into the kitchen another evening as I was washing the dishes while he’d been sent to his room, he grabbed the nearest knife (a butter knife, bless) and pointed it at his arm.
“You don’t love me! I’m gonna cut myself cause you hate me!”
By this stage, these outbursts had become almost daily and whilst being aware of how far he could go and the likely hood of his actually following through I simply took a deep breath and turned to him calmly,
“I love you, but you’re going to need to take that outside if you’re going to do that”.
It was as though I’d slapped him.
He stopped, stunned and just stared at me, knife poised in his hand, caught off guard.
I smiled at him calmly and turned back to the dishes, moments later he walked up to the drawer, put the knife away and walked back to his room. It was this sort of attitude and approach that we had to adopt, we had to call his bluff, we had to know that what he wanted was a reaction, he wanted us to freak out and come running and although our natural instinct was to help him, to hug him, he had to know that this was not going to work.

Perhaps the point at which the behaviour hit it’s peak was one of the scariest both for us and for him.
During his end of year break up party  at school he came home on a sugar high unlike anything else, heavens knows what he’d been fed, but he was bouncing off the walls, almost literally. As he arrived home he had reached his peak and was slowly coming down and as he did so the behaviour continued erratically until he was told he needed to go to his room to calm down and that, was when hell broke lose.
The screaming began.
He ran.
Outside he ran to the fence and back inside, he tore up the hallway and into his room, he screamed, he kicked and he threw.
With only one of us home he was testing the boundaries even more and the decision to sit and wait it out was the only option.
Minutes passed and suddenly silence.
Minutes passed again and suddenly a sound outside.
Walking outside and looking down the stairs, below his 2nd story bedroom was a little body lying perfectly still on the ground.
Thankfully “Daddy” was the parent home for the afternoon, quickly he rushed down the stairs to check him.
“Mate, are you ok?”
“Yes, I think so…” came the shaky reply.
He checked him over, somehow, he seemed fine, somewhat shaken, but fine.
“Good, you need to go back to your room now.”
Evidently, boys can’t fly, but they do know how to give you a good scare. He had expected a reaction, he wanted one, he wanted something, somehow he wanted to take back control on the situation, but we couldn’t give in to what he wanted.
After he’d gone back to his room he settled until we were both home together again to talk through the afternoons events.
Evidently he’d been very calculated, climbing down and hanging from his windowsill before dropping himself from the lowest point for dramatic effect, cleverly making it look as though he had leaped the full 2 stories.

This was life for so long, test, trials, screaming and yelling. But it wasn’t all bad, in between was the beautiful good natured boy who just wanted to be loved and make friends. Whilst his methods weren’t optimal they were expected and were the only thing he’s ever known, it made it tough for him and tough for us, but we all persevered.

These days when you meet him you would never believe that he had ever behaved like this, he has adapted and learnt, he knows boundaries and he respects them. His consequences have reduced themselves through consistent good behaviour and this school term marks the first term he has been without a suspension of any form from school.
Whilst we may have taught him about rules, boundaries, respect and consequences he has taught us about patience and unconditional love, he’s tested and tried us and ultimately we’ve all come out on top.


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Brave, Powerful & Talented

Of the many questions that Flash fires away at us every minute, of every day, the one that I find the most interesting lately is;
“Are you proud of me?”
It’s a question that sometime just stuns me, he could ask it for the simplest reason, a good day at school, a good score on a test or because he cleaned his room without being asked, but it still just makes me look at him and smile.
How he could think we could be anything less than proud of him has me floored, for one little person who’s been through so much, every day we’re proud of him.

Perhaps what he never realises is how much we want him to be proud of us.

Being a parent was always going to be a difficult job, being gay parents was always going to be a slightly more challenging task, it comes with this subconscious feeling that sometimes we do have just that little bit more to prove, whether it be to ourselves, our son or to those around us.

For me, I’ve always wanted him to be proud of us, to know exactly who we are, what we stand for and why. Because lets face it, one day someone is going to throw mud in his face about his dads and I want there to be no doubt in his mind about who his fathers are and what they are capable of. I want him to feel pride, not shame if he is confronted with anything unpleasant, because when we are truly proud of who we are and where we come from, nothing can knock us down.

In the last 2 years I’ve taken on a lot of tasks outside of parenting, I sit on a couple of volunteer committees, including helping run our local pride events, some local media gigs and most recently I’ve taken up Rugby Union. Whilst I enjoy these things immensely  there’s a part of me that does them because I feel like I’ve got something to prove to Flash, to prove that his dads can do anything, they can take on the world with one hand behind their back and still come out with a smile on their face.
I want him to be educated, to see his fathers as two men and not simply as “gay men”, capable of doing anything at all, whilst still being fabulous.

He’s been involved in a lot of things for a child his age, occasionally he’s attended meetings with me to help plan our events, he’s been to my media gigs and watched and listened with avid fascination and he’s been to Rugby training countless times, either watching or joining in as best he can. All the while he’s been surrounded by amazing people who role model the best behaviours and experiences for him, I see him laughing, enjoying himself, taking it all in and digesting it all. Later he asks me questions, he wants to know about this decision and that decision, this person and that person and the definition of that word and all the while in the back of my head, subconsciously I’m thinking;
“Are you proud of me?

Part of our routine at home is visitors. From the Department of Child Safety, to our foster agency, then the Children’s Commissioner or his psychologist, at least once a fortnight or so different people from various departments stop to check in and say hello, checking to see that all 3 of us are healthy and happy. It is lovely that they care, but sometimes, just a bit of a drain on the brain when you’re in between marking homework, cooking dinner, cleaning the house and juggling phone calls, otherwise just another day in our house.

However perhaps one of my more favourite visits are those from his child psychologist, every fortnight she stops by to work with Flash and the 3 of us as a family, she generates some beautiful insight from him on how he perceives his  life and those around him and it’s always beautiful to hear him really speak from the heart.

I arrived home last week, walking in the door I was jumped on, literally and told at a million miles an hour the details of the visit thus far, unable to actually take any of it in, I took a seat on the carpet to have a look at what he’d been working on. His psychologist was sitting with him with his “life book” open and written across the page were words written neatly in crayon.
“Kind”
“Caring”
“Enthusiastic”
“Loving”
It stretched across 2 large pages and comprised about 25 words, as I read through them a very excitable little monkey climbed all over my back, squeaking and chattering in my ear about the words to explain them to me.
“They’re words about you and Daddy, like describing words for both of you”
I smiled and continued to read across the page, his psychologist pointed out to smaller sections with words below them.
“All of these words are words that describe both of you, but I asked him to choose one word for each of you and to give me a reason”
Underlined heavily were the words “Brave & Powerful” with a neat little sentence below them
Daddy can make anyone do anything he wants, even me!”
I giggled to myself, an interesting admission really, acknowledging that he used to get his own way, now, not so much.
Across the top of the page was the word “Talented”
“Dad is really talented because he can do anything with technology”
He attempted to climb, somehow trying to get himself onto one my shoulders, excitedly giggling away, wanting to know if I liked it.
“Of course I do sweetheart”
Yay” He squealed, leaped from my shoulders and jumped across the book.

Whether it’s pride, happiness, confidence or a bit of everything, he’s growing, he’s understanding and he’s becoming a bigger and stronger person with every passing day and for both us, we simply couldn’t be more proud of him or more proud to be his parents.
*As a side note our book is now closer to being published, extended content from each of these blog posts will be included in both the printed and digital copy. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more updates as we get closer to publication.
Thank you again for continuing to read our story. 

 


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Do you love me?

People often ask “How old is he?”.
Simple question? No, not it’s not a simple question at all.

In any of the given hours in the day we live with a 5yr old, 10yr old & a 17yr old. Who we’re dealing with varies according to any number of factors, medication, sugar, weather, emotional state, recent events, anxiety or quite simply attitude. It is, by no stretch of the imagination, exhausting. It manifests itself in any number of ways, from cute to annoying, clingy to cuddly, to obstinate and defiant, it’s the russian roulette of child behaviours. 

The 17yr old likes to question everything, answer back and challenge every command, he’s the master in semantics and is quickly learning some of our more dryer humour and cynicism, he’ll be a gem with his peers when he’s older, now, in this house, not so much.

The 10 yr old is probably by far the best and most complacent to live with, he’s the one content with his reading and writing, rattling off facts from school and asking a million questions about the world. We like the 10 yr old, he’s probably our favourite. 

The 5 yr old, well, he’s something else. He will babble, squeal & yell. He’s impulsive and loud, craving attention and wanting everything, your typical 5 yr old really.
The simple task of sitting and watching a movie is sometimes nothing short of a marathon. During a 5yr old day he will start on the couch, end up squatting on the floor, 5 minutes later he’s standing inches away from the television screen. I enter the room again 5 minutes later and his head is on the floor beside the couch, his bum sticking up in the air, knees tucked under himself and his head poking out through his armpit peering at the screen, all the while the noises echo through the house;
“Weehhee!”
“Boom, tck tck tick tick haha!!”
“Hehehehe”
“Wssshh! Zap! Bang! haha!”
*Insert hysterical indecipherable laughter here*

This becomes a challenging task, what do you do?
So many people have had their opinion,
“He’s just a kid, let him be”
But the reality is we’re tasked with helping him adjust to the normality of a social environment he’s never been able to function in before and with high school fast approaching it’s a necessity. Previous efforts from youth workers, departmental hacks and various others have always been to take the path of least resistance, allowing the behaviours and really focussing on not triggering behaviour meltdowns, without ever really introducing reasoning and consequences. Where the ball has been dropped, we have to pick it up and continue and the only strategy seems to be repetition, and so commences our daily reminders;

“Mate, are you acting like a 5yr old or a 10yr old?”
“What do you need to stop doing?”
“Why is that important?”
We have to have the discussions about age appropriate behaviour, because it’s vitally important for his social development. Reactive Attachment Disorder, a complicated condition he has developed as a young child, impedes social development skills and it’s our battle to help him overcome it and be capable of co-existing with his peers to avoid being ostracised and excluded, which can only serve to worsen his self esteem.

At school, quite simply, he has no friends.

This is a harsh reality that we’ve had to sit and discuss with him, through years of bad behaviour and his limited capacity to socialize with kids his own age appropriately the other children in his school have kept their distance. In almost 2 years we haven’t had invitations to birthday parties or social occasions from classmates, the other parents know his story and look on with sympathy but keep their distance and it’s tough, really tough. He knows it, we see it it in every bit of behaviour, because when he does something, there’s a reason to it and it all generally ties in with those common themes, rejection, failure and wanting people to like him.

For us when we get the call from school or meet with the principal in the afternoon it’s always a discussion and investigation in to why exactly he did something.
For example, on a day where he runs out of the classroom, yells and kicks a bin over.
What happened?
The teacher was firm with him for not completing a task.
This may seem rather straight forward, but with Flash, it never is. You see the teacher was firm, but there were other kids around and when he knew they could hear her and they turned to look at him he feared they would think he was dumb and would hate him.
So he gives up and runs away because he doesn’t feel like they can like him anyway, he kicks the bin in anger at himself, because he feels that he is worthless and can’t do anything right.
On the scale of bad days, thats a relatively simple one. 

But the one question that hounds us throughout the day and night, from 5yr old to 17yr old, is quite simple 
“Do you love me?”
Back in the early days before he moved in, as we commenced our transition process and began more and more time together, we were having visits which eventually led to overnight stays. We progressed from one night to two as the weeks wore on until it was time for the big jump. But as the days wore on between visits he was as anxious to see us again as we were to see him, soon we were “allowed” phone calls. I’ll never forget the first time that little voice was on the other end of the phone when I answered, taking no time to breathlessly relay every moment of time that had passed since we last saw each other. 
But more so I’ll never forget as we were nearing the end of one of those first phone calls that he plucked up the courage to tell me something;
“Ummm I just wanted to say that I ah, really miss you guys”
“And we miss you too mate”
“Ummm and there’s one more thing….
“Yes mate?”
“Umm I think I love you, both of you… umm is that ok?”
I giggled inside as I smiled from ear to ear
“Yes mate that is definitely ok, we love you too”
Whether or not he’s emotionally developed the capacity to actually love yet we can’t quite know, it is still something that plays in his mind day in and day out. He tells us every day, morning and night, we are hounded for hugs and affection so that he can convey the message again, seeking our response and affirmation to help him feel safe.

This idea that he can be loved, the idea that he deserves to be loved and the idea that no matter what, we do and always will love him. Its still not locked down in his head tight, there’s a battle that goes on in there that lets itself out quite often.
In any given day, mainly on the 5 yr old days, we will be asked 20? 30 times? 
“Dad, Daddy!”
“Yes mate?”
“Do you love me?”
Mostly it’s just this inquisitive little chirp, in the same manner you’d ask someone to pass you the salt, as though it was some after thought that just drifted through his mind as he played with his toys. Other times it’s a desperate affirmation, after a consequence of being sent to his room or if he’s been in trouble, the question changes to “Do you still love me?”.
The least entertaining is the opposite “You hate me!”, generally reserved for those 17yr old days where the world hates him and there is no justice and we of course are the devil incarnate.
But it’s the constant war that rages in his head. How can I be loved? Why should I be loved? Why do I deserve to be loved? If my own parents couldn’t love me enough to keep me why would anyone else?  
Our response is always the same, whether he’s been suspended from school or playing with his trucks in the yard. 

“Yes, no matter what you do, we will always love you.”

 

 


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A Little Bit of Laughter

After recovering from a hectic Christmas and New Years with our little man and our large extended family I’m still working on putting together our next blog piece.

But in the meantime I found this little gem on a wonderful little Facebook “Dad Squared”

http://www.facebook.com/pages/DADsquared/171102599661333?fref=ts

It’s one of those little things that makes me laugh for so many reasons, but mainly because I hope that one day if our little man faces any kind of adversity from growing up with Two Dads, this is the sort of good humour and confidence he will be able to use to in those situations

Happy New Years Everyone! – Next Post, coming soon… xx

MyTwoDADs


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Preparation and Planning

It’s very humbling the feedback we get from this blog and the number of people that are reading! I’ve been asked many times lately when the next instalment is coming, but between working and parenting the time to unwind and write is sometimes hard to find!

It’s been a rather reflective (and trying) time over the last few weeks as we watch our little man grow and develop both physically and mentally, he reaches milestones in his progress with us that make us smile with pride, whilst at the same time we often watch progress slip away as past behaviours arise again and we commence an uphill battle to help him get back on track. It really seems hard to believe that we’re approaching our 2nd Christmas together already (and starting on amazing plans for our 3rd too!).

Sitting in the living room I look up and catch a flash of him stalking down the hallway, he has a set of glasses on (his 3D set from the movies), a random hat, a bag swung across his back and a variety of toys clipped, tied and stuck to him as he creeps forward. I look at him quizzically.
“Shhh Dad” He says.
“I’m a detective.”
Of course he is.

This is nothing unusual in his day to day play time, but one of those small milestones in his development, he no longer craves the constant attention of adults to play with him and occupy him, he is confident and happy to set about his own activities, create his own games and work with his imagination. 12 months ago this kind of behaviour was much rarer, to see him calm, passive and willing to play and explore on his own was a rarity and if enough attention was not coming his way we were welcomed to some interesting behaviour, which is where our training came in.

When we left off our next step in preparation for becoming carers was our training. An interesting place to be.
Training foster carers is an important and almost impossible task. Not because you cant train them, but because the training is about preparing you for what is ahead and when you are caring for a child in care, nothing is ever predictable and you can never be prepared for any and everything that may come your way.
To put it in perspective, it’s like preparing for a cyclone, you know all the standard behaviours of a cyclone, wind, rain, hail, damage etc, but you can never predict where and how these things will manifest when it hits, the same could be said for a child in care, they can train you for as many possibilities, but you can never know when or how these things may eventuate.

Unfortunately when training came around we had to take it in turns attending the sessions and weren’t always able to make it as a pair, which could have been all the more daunting, but for the lovely ladies who were there to train and guide us along the way. One in particular is a shining beacon of light in this journey, a lady who has worked with us since day 1 and still continues to work with and support us now. You speak to her and hear her stories, the things she says and the work that she does and you know that she has seen the worst and dealt with people and situations that any other person could never dare to think we could handle.

Yet still she smiles, she exudes a love, a light and confidence that make us grateful not only for her help and guidance in our own situation but for the joy and hope you know she has brought in to the lives of countless children in care. She and countless others are the backbone of this system and the words she imparts have been the greatest gift we have received, without her this journey would be all the more harder, it is this support that is provided to Foster carers that is invaluable.

Her training sessions were lively and full of the support we needed, whilst also full of the usual situations that sometimes copped the drier side of my humour, but ultimately they are tough and confronting, they prepare you for situations you will face and some situations you won’t and certainly hope not too. We also learnt some harsh realities about the process which we had to face, such as;

  • You may not know the complete background of the child in your care, sometimes it is not entirely known and sometimes it is for your benefit to not have full disclosure. Something we struggled with.
  • The biological parents of the child in your care will in most cases know your home address, it is their right as the parents to know where their child is. We struggled very hard with this, but our trainers were supportive in explaining the intricacies of this process and how we and the child in our care were protected.
  • All children in care have suffered some form of trauma, this can vary and cannot always be known or disclosed, this was the crux of the training, preparing us for how these differing forms of trauma could manifest themselves.

These might seem like some small points, but when you are preparing to take a child in to your care, you want to know everything you can, knowledge becomes this essential thing which you crave, you want to know so you can do everything you can to best care for this child to the best of your ability.
Knowing and understanding that the parents will know where you live was one of the hardest, it tapped into this fear that starts echoing in your head, all the little “what ifs” that you could think that may happen, you can see little cracks appearing in the plans you’ve started to lay for the sort of happy household you’ve planned for this child, but again the trainers and their words put us at ease and true to form, we are well over a year down the track and everything they say has rung true.

When I say those words ring true, this was in many regards, not only have we been safe and supported and seen our little man grow from strength to strength, but we’ve seen some of those not so pleasant behaviours, they were tough, but they passed and we’re all still here!

I remember in our first 3 months, which were some of the most trying, it was a daily occurrence for weeks on end that he would up and run away, not because we were awful people, but for some of the most simple tasks, most commonly brushing his teeth, having a shower or eating his breakfast. Being taken from his normal routine was such a big thing for him, living in a situation where he had so much routine, to introduce new routines and expectations brought out so much anxiety, fear and trepidation in him that quite often his natural instinct was to run. So off he would go, you turn your back for 3 seconds and he was down the stairs, on his bike, on his scooter or on foot, trotting out of the house as fast as his little legs would take him.
Those first few times, the fear was consuming, out we would run, down the road to chase him and bring him back, until after a week or so of this tiresome exercise, we would walk out on to the verandah, calmly wave goodbye and tell him,
“We’re not chasing you mate, we’ll wait here til you come back, we love you and we want you here, so you have to come back” (or something to that effect) and then watching from a shielded postion inside we would see him only go so far as he could still see the house, plonk himself down on the grass and watch the house to see if we would come for him, it never lasted more than five minutes before he would up and bring himself back, head down, tail between his legs, ready to brush his teeth and get ready for the day ahead.

Theres more of those stories to come, but again we must leave you until our next update where we get to let you in on the story of meeting our little man for the first time, something we will never forget. But in the meantime between now and then we had begun our planning and purchasing for our little mans “room to be”, I’ve included a little snapshot, I still look at it and smile.

More to come..

Bedroom


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How to make the unpredictable, predictable.

There’s a hilarious new blog going around at the moment that gives you a fantastic insight in to what it’s like to prepare to have a baby, it’s funny because we can all relate to it, particularly those who have had a baby, but when it comes to being a foster carer, there’s no funny blog, no manual and no knowledge of what is going to come next, it’s an awesome hit and miss guessing game.

We left off last at our meeting with our foster agency, where we were welcome with open arms and invited to proceed further in to the world of becoming carers. We were given a fairly honest insight into what was to be expected, behavioural problems, agression, emotional and developmental issues, all could be prevalent in any child in care, you just wouldn’t always know, until the problems arise. Nothing we thought we couldn’t handle, all in a days hard work hey!?

Glittering in amongst the sea of tumultuous information presented to us was the words from one of the case managers;

“I dont want to rush anything at you, but I think we might just have a child that would be perfect for you”.

You might what? I thought, you cant be serious? Already? But yes, already was very much the situation, after a string of failed placements with heterosexual couples a certain young man was struggling to co-habitate with women, so perhaps, the theory was, that a placement with us could be just the place to see him feel safe and comfortable. But first, paperwork! There’s always time for more paperwork!

We reconvened with the agency to discuss the fact that we were still interested a week or so later and yes, you guessed it, we had to continue with further paperwork. We were very lucky to work with some very well humoured case managers, because with our sense of humour we could have found some unfunny faces staring back at us. One of the most important things that needed completion was a house inspection and “interview” with both of us individually and together, totalling about 5 or 6 hours. A date was set for our home inspection on the 27th of January. Great we thought, until we realised it was the day after our annual Australia Day party…

Flash forward to 5am on the 27th and two very anxious gay men were becoming the epitome of a stereotype my mother has longed for me to become, “The Clean Gay”. in 6 hours we had cleaned, cleared, swept, mopped, polished and turned that place into a pristine palace of perfection, you would never have guessed a party had taken place just hours earlier.
Nonetheless as our interrogators arrived we apologised for the non existent mess profusely.

“Relax” One said
“It’s ok” Said the other
“You’re allowed to be real people, we dont expect you to be perfect”
That last line couldn’t have rung truer, looking back now this journey has been less than perfect, so it’s nice to remember the expectations were never raised too high to start with.

We settled in for the interrogation of our lives, literally an unpacking of everything in our lives, from our childhoods, to our siblings, our most defining, challenging and depressing moments in our lives, exposing ourselves to people who were somewhat strangers to us was somewhat daunting but also a beautifully reflective exercise. We were frank and honest, no-ones life is ever perfect, so we omitted nothing.

Moving forward we had our household study, with some beautiful questions, which just required the right amount of humour to push through what was edging in to the 5th hour of chit chat.

“Where do you keep sharp knives in the house” She said
“On the floor” I said
“I like to keep them accessible for the toddlers when they visit”
I thought I was funny, my dearest partner looked mortified.

Thankfully, ill humour aside, the household study was passed and we progressed further towards our placement, enter phase 3, the training. Again I dont want to put everything in one post and some of this technical stuff can get so boring! But I like to keep you all coming back for more, so I’ll leave the next stage of our story for my next post. But again I thought a little flash forward to now was much needed.

Pride is something that our little man has come to have very strongly, not only does he seek to make us proud he is very very proud of his family, meaning his dads and his sister and by sister, I mean our canine 4th member of the family. He will often seek to point out or correct people when they make incorrect assumptions about us, most notably when we were recently holidaying overseas.
Whilst standing in a busy foreign supermarket the check out lady looked the 3 of us over and asked him very politely;
“Are these your brothers?”
He looked at her like she was some kind of alien.
“No” he proclaimed at the top of his lungs
“These are my two dads”
The lady looked dumbfounded momentarily, then smiled nicely and packed our bags.
He was just smiling with a certain kind of pride in the situation I think only he truly understands.

The little one dresses himself well