Father Knows Best – overwhelmed

Sometimes I wonder if we made the right decision

Two weeks ago, we accepted a foster placement of an almost 2-year old girl I'll call Dakota.  We thought it would be a good fit.  She was just a year older than our youngest.  Our other kids have demonstrated friendliness and acceptance to a couple of other foster children we've accepted in our home.  I would say that we've had good experiences with previous foster children in our home (granted, they were for very short amounts of time)

Just before Dakota came to live with us, we worried about whether or not this placement would actually happen.  A part of us was worried that something would prevent us from having an opportunity to care for this girl.  We were very excited at the possibility though.

A lot has changed in just a month.

Dakota is a very high energy child.  This means that she's constantly on the go, and eats and poops A LOT.  Her curiosity gets her many places that she shouldn't be, and I feel like we're constantly correcting and redirecting her.  All the while trying to remember her past and why she came to be placed into care in the first place, realizing that you need to have a different approach to children from foster care than you do your own children.

It has been incredibly difficult, and it's taking a toll on my wife and I.  My wife has been bearing the brunt of the work, spending most of the day with her, trying to homeschool our other children in the meantime.  Luckily the older children are somewhat independent and able to do much of their work on their own.  By the time evening comes along, I try to be intentional about helping out by taking more direct responsibility for Dakota and let my wife have some time to herself.

Dakota does not like bedtime, and would much rather play and run around in her room.  Once she finally does go down, we try to get as much sleep as we can, taking the same approach that many take to caring for newborns - sleep while she sleeps.

I believe it has less to do with her being a foster child, and more to do with the fact that she's nearly 2.  I'm hopeful that we can move past this and come to a new normal with her in our home.  However, our sanity seems to be taking a hit.

We're going to a family camp this weekend that we scheduled months ago.  I'm not sure how it's going to go, as both my wife and I are very concerned how Dakota's presence is going to affect the family dynamic.  If you pray, please pray for our family and for Dakota.  If you don't, well, keep us in your thoughts anyway.

How have you been feeling overwhelmed lately?


11 thoughts on “Father Knows Best – overwhelmed”

  1. Ugh, bedtime. I'm feeling way overwhelmed right now with the Trinket. I don't know if she's just going through a phase, or what, but every night there's a melt down for something or the other. And if we make it through the night, bedtime results in a lot of angst. Yelling, throwing things, kicking people, the works. I try to stay calm, but all too often end up not helping the situation by screaming at her. Nights when I can hold back from doing that end much better, so I know I need to work on it, but it's hard, man. We're both incredibly stubborn, so that probably has a lot to do with it.

    We're going "camping" this weekend, but I'm not worried about that because she' s going to be pretty good. She always behaves quite well around grandparents and other family. I am looking forward to this.

  2. We pray, and we'll keep you and your family in our prayers.

    With all of our kids, it seems like 18 months to 2 years is definitely one of the more challenging ages. Without the opportunity to get to know the child in her younger years, I could see how everything would be difficult, especially bedtime.

    We've had good luck following a pretty tight routine to calm everyone down, then putting our youngest, RMZ, in her room. She's alone in there, but there is a baby gate at the door, which also helps. Usually she settles herself down pretty quickly, but there are certainly some interesting nights..

  3. Ya know, both of those are encouraging as it helps me realize that it's mostly her age. I think it's one thing to gradually work up to that with a child you've had since infancy, versus diving right into that age with very little prep.

    1. The peperoncino is 23 month right now, and he's been driving me crazy lately, so I'm sure age is a big factor. He seems to have opinions about everything and bedtime is definitely a hassle these days. I'm sure it could be worse, but it also could be better . . . oy.

  4. You've got my prayers. And my appreciation. I've been working on some cases where foster care is the outcome, and let me just say that I suppose there's a special bonus in heaven for foster parents. God bless you. Truly.

  5. Also, since you asked, yes, I have been feeling overwhelmed lately. Trying to buy a house is a lot of work. I am so excited about it though, largely because of what it means for my kids. I once had a friend observe to me that much, if not most, of the worlds' children grew up in apartments, in urban settings, with small yards and parks and not having their own space to roam. It helped allay some of the guilt I always felt about not having our own space for my kids to grow up in. Living on the 3rd floor of an apartment building just wasn't conducive to letting our kids run around outside. Now we'll be able to, and... well, it's exciting. It's exciting that we'll have space for all of their toys. It's exciting that we have options for how to do their bedroom assignments. So overwhelmed, yes, but good.

  6. Also, since you asked, yes, I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately.

    For the past 6+ years, I've been in a managerial position in my agency, managing a research staff. For the past 4+ of those years, I've headed my unit, in an "acting" capacity. Last week, the governor finally announced an appointment to that position (not me). And my agency head (relatively new to the job; he's now been here about 15 months) decided that my services in the managerial position were no longer required. I return to a civil service position within the same unit. Big pay cut.

    I've been unhappy for some time, due to a less-than-positive relationship with the agency head, which I won't detail. But these events are certainly stirring me up. My daughter graduates from high school in two weeks, which means family will be in town to help celebrate that passage. Awkward.

    I'd planned to come back to God's Country in mid-June for my 30th college reunion and to see friends and family (was hoping for a mini-caucus), but all of that has gone out the window as I need to focus my attention on finding a new job. Oh, and my wedding anniversary is in another week.

    1. So... what should I say to you?

      Seriously though, that sucks. We're here for whatever we can offer...

      1. Well, I'm not unemployed, so I got that going for me!

        This just will make my next career resurrection all that much sweeter.

  7. My son started autism day treatment three weeks ago, and he absolutely loves it. It's an amazing program and we can already see how much he is learning every day, a little bit academically, but mostly in interacting with others his age. It's been a whirlwind of emotion since the diagnosis, but we've been surrounded by great people and he's such an eager, smart, happy boy that I think it's going to be okay. And, if nothing else, ever since he was 9 months old he rather eagerly goes to bed and sleeps at least 10 hours straight through every night.

  8. To answer the question about being overwhelmed more broadly, the short answer is: yes. I already mentioned that the peperoncino's bedtime has been tricky lately. The jalapeño (age 4.75) has been a challenge for the last several months, ever since he developed a fear of monsters. Of everything we tried, what finally worked best was me sitting in his room until he fell asleep. This was fine when it was a 5-minute affair, but lately he's been really drawing it out. There are times when it feels like a really special time together and other times when I resent it and just want to be able to have more time for other things.

    Add that to a difficult time at work (which is finally ending) and other assorted complications, and I just want a break from everything!

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