Well we survived! We took 8 children with special needs and our 1 year old Bassett camping for the first time this year. What an adventure let me tell you!
Tents sent by other foster parents for their kiddo that came with us that is only a bug screen, 10 bikes with 9 helmets (again other foster parent didn’t think this thru), 2 tents, and oh so many sensory tools. we always wonder why we choose this activity, however I don’t think it is the activity, I think it’s our family!
We had fun and the kids got to try fishing (only because my Mom and Stepfather are brave souls). The kids rode for over 25 miles, one of the kids walked over 26,500 steps, and they ate over 20 s’mores between them all!
Our youngest placement struggled to learn that camping is different from home and if you don’t have something you make the best out of it and move on or use what you have. This was the case when I forgot the spoons and most of our children love oatmeal for breakfast …… you got it oatmeal with forks!!! Oh yes the weird things we do in the woods!
Between having a puppy that is acting as though we are on Mars and a little girl that had never “lived in these woods” we spent the entire time hunting for the two of them making sure they didn’t wonder off.
So as if camping is adventurous enough let’s look at the fact that on Saturday morning at 2 am we were woken to an autistic son screaming as though he is being murdered because his back hurts. Ray being the saint he is, puts the kiddo in the truck and drives off to find a place the screaming won’t wake the dead and he can assess if it is kidney pain, kidney stones, constipation, or just a pulled muscle. Do you know how hideously hard it is to tell where and why a kid is hurting when they can’t communicate! IT SUCKS!!! So after playing the sharad game of how bad and where or do I need to call an ambulance or can I safely drive him to Flagstaff, Ray decides to attempt to get this child to poop to see if this stops the problem. The child pees a rather large amount and instantly his pain is gone ……. (tummy breath mom,tummy breath) …… the child has held his urine for over 36 hours, but has been pounding the Gatorade and lemonade! How is this even humanly possible?
People wonder why so many autistic parents are tired or foster parents reply with “you really think this 13 year old can be on his own during the summer days”….. unfortunately we are faced with raising kids that have survived by being a survivalist. So often we here things like “he will pee when he has to pee” ( so can I send him to your house when this happens again at 2 am), they don’t know how to manipulate (as the 9 year old is walking up to strangers on the side walk stating that he is an orphan and has no family for Christmas, oh yeah but he leaves out the part where he is under investigation for setting the fire that killed his family), or pushing the envelope just to the very edge of the line for law enforcement involvement or freaking out until you take them to the hospital where they turn into a saint with proper manners!
We are faced with these issues over and over, however non-fostering families don’t understand that you live with these stressors constantly! How many parents have to prompt their almost 14 year old son to use the bathroom and literally walk him to the bathroom and listen at the door! How many people have to perform juvie level pocket, waist band, bra band, shoes and mouths searches to look for items that are not theirs or items to use to harm either oneself or roommate. These are some of the things they need to talk about during foster training instead of making a memory book that is the last thing a child wants when they are living through traumatic events. I mean who wants a memory book of a major car accident, right?
Yes it is ABSOLUTELY true that we have continued to do this job for 11 years and yes I have experienced sssooo many things I would not have ever expected as a parent to only my children. Some of them are … well ….horrifying, however some of them rock you to your core. Like seeing one of the kids that you had in your home for over a year walk up to your oldest son at a car show telling him that he is a single parent now working two jobs to support him and his son and that he would never amount to any kind of father if he had never been around your dad. Or having one of the kids that left your house in a very abrupt way and has struggled for 9 months to move on, message you out of the blue and is telling you that he is on AB honor roll without a tutor and has turned his aggressive behaviors around because he hears your voice in his head reminding him that he is facing two options and will have to live with the consequences of both!
Yeah it is a crazy world we have entered into, however it is one I would never trade (even the 2am freakouts over having to pee!!) for a simple life that only has bio children with issues that are no bigger than first world drama!