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foster parents in need of help with four year old foster child

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

My husband and I have been fostering for about 15 months now. We foster children between the ages of 0-6. We have had four foster children so far, who were babies. About a month ago we got a call asking if we would be willing to take in a four year old boy, and of course we agreed. He has expierienced alot of emotional trauma, and suffered some physical abuse. We take him to supervised visitations with his biological mother and her parents every two weeks as ordered by court. The problem is we have caught him on multiple occasions digging at his face, biting his leggs, pinching himself. He is in counseling three times a week, but the councelor has said nothing about concerning behavior, he pretty much looks at my husband and I like we are the ones who belong in his office, not our foster child. He tells us all the time that he doesn't like us, that he doesn't want to live here, hurts himself, and I am lost. I foster because I have a medical condition that makes me infertile, I have been around children and babies my whole life, but I have never seen a child act this way. He gets mad and throws just rampages kicking things, throwing things, refuses to sit in time out, tells us he would rather (and yes my jaw hit the floor when he said this to me also) "I don't like time out my mommy just beats my ass" He wakes up in the morning and pees all over the couch, the floors, anything! When I ask him why he did it, to try to see if maybe he is just feeling upset or anything that I can talk him through and try to help all he says in return is, "I did it on purpose". Counceling is just not doing it for him, I don't know what else I can do. Giving up is not an option I turn no child away, but I am concerned that his temper could harm another child, (I babysit also) himself worse than he has, or even my dog. What else can I do? We have been loving, caring, and very open with him about anything he needs to know. He does often ask why he can't be with his mommy, but I just tell him that mommy is working on some grown up things to make it safe for him there. Even though I feel awful because I feel like I lied to him because I honestly don't know how hard she is working on improving things.Sorry this is so long tried to give as much background information and information on what is going on. Any advice would be very deeply appreciated from the bottom of our hearts.

post #2 of 34

1.  It might be really helpful to read Parenting the Hurt Child by Keck. http://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Hurt-Child-Adoptive-Families/dp/1576833143

 

2.  Try to get a different therapist.  Look for an ATTACHMENT THERAPIST.  Any therapist that thinks you are the problem is going to be useless, at best.  Kids like yours are very manipulative, and they need a therapist that understands what is going on.

post #3 of 34

 Hugs to you!  That sounds so hard greensad.gif The part part I highlighted really caught my attention.  It is very similar to my experience.  Every therapist my daughter had blamed us until we found someone who specialized in trauma.  I would suggest this book.  It changed everything for us.  Sadly no silver bullet answers, but it helped to know that trauma produces these symptoms and there is help.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Building-Bonds-Attachment-Awakening-Troubled/dp/0765704048/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236642827&sr=8-1

Quote:
Originally Posted by LovingMyKids4 View Post

 He is in counseling three times a week, but the councelor has said nothing about concerning behavior, he pretty much looks at my husband and I like we are the ones who belong in his office, not our foster child.

post #4 of 34
Thread Starter 

I just had the biggest scare of my life. I woke up at 12:35am to pee, and foster child was not in his bed. I looked all over my house for him for about 25 minutes. The longest 25 minutes of my life. Only to find him hiding in one of my kitchen cupboards that are really close to the floor, sneaking and eating three pudding cups. Yes I am happy he is fine and safe but that is not my point. I looked for him frantically and was panicing thinking oh my god how do you lose a child in the middle of the night. With all the stories in news headlines about children being abducted in the middle of the night right out of thier beds, that's all I could think of. I am still shaking and its almost 1 am. Wow, I have never been scared like that in my life. That was just absolutely horrible.

post #5 of 34
Thread Starter 

The being very manipulative part is what scares me the most. If we can't get control of it now, we are speaking with caseworker about possibly adopting if it is in the cards for us, then we are going to have alot more problems down the road as time goes on. Thank you I will definately order it today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zombie View Post

1.  It might be really helpful to read Parenting the Hurt Child by Keck. http://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Hurt-Child-Adoptive-Families/dp/1576833143

 

2.  Try to get a different therapist.  Look for an ATTACHMENT THERAPIST.  Any therapist that thinks you are the problem is going to be useless, at best.  Kids like yours are very manipulative, and they need a therapist that understands what is going on.

post #6 of 34
Thread Starter 

Something I forgot to add in the main beginning post, is that both my husband and I have caught him hurting himself. He digs his face open with some pretty nasty scratches, I have caught him biting his leg. I have seen this self harming behaviors in teenagers or  young adults that I have helped through it, but I have never seen anything like that in a four year old child. It makes me so sad to think that a four year old would feel he has to do that instead of talking to us. I am definately calling around to find a different councelor tomorrow morning.

post #7 of 34

I second the attachment therapist idea.  A friend of mine had a foster son who really benefited from one and he had a lot of the same behaviours (self harm, peeing all over, etc.).  He was still a handful (a lot was attributed to RAD and fetal alcohol syndrome) but with her dedication and the therapy he made improvement.

post #8 of 34

I just wanted to throw out a word of caution about attachment therapy, it can be a catch all for therapies.  Some are proven and researched based, some are not.  It has been my experience that looking for a trauma therapist is a better "term."  It weeds out the stuff that is not research based or just outright quakery.

post #9 of 34

My daughter and i recently started attachment therapy, we found our therapist through http://www.attachment.org/  but she does not take medicaid (which is what most foster children will have in terms of insurance) she is private pay only and only a part of the fees will be reimbursed through the medical adoption subsidy my daughter has. So if you do find an attachment therapist be sure to ask if they take medicaid, otherwise it will likely be too expensive to do.

 

I know you said you'd never give up on a child, but its also possible what this little boy needs is a treatment/therapeutic foster home where he will be either an only child or where there are only older children in the home. These kids can really bring chaos into the home and its not always fair to younger children to put them through experiencing that. Not giving up doesnt necessarily mean he stays with you, not giving up might mean finding him a more suitable placement. Just throwing that out there. The behaviors you are describing are not normal behaviors and at the very least you should get him certified at a higher foster care rate so that they will pay attention and give him the services he needs. Wasting time with a therapist who isnt any good (we wasted a couple of years on pointless talk therapy) will not help him.
 

post #10 of 34

Attachment Therapy is considered an unvalidated and inappropriate therapy by APSAC and the APA: http://depts.washington.edu/hcsats/PDF/AttachmentTaskForceAPSAC.pdf

post #11 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamjar View Post

Attachment Therapy is considered an unvalidated and inappropriate therapy by APSAC and the APA: http://depts.washington.edu/hcsats/PDF/AttachmentTaskForceAPSAC.pdf

 

 

ugh i hate when these 1 post posters reply and run.  Is there some way that whenever "attachment therapy" is posted on a board, those affiliated with "children in therapy" (the anti AT website) show up and respond??

 

Dude, seriously...you do not live with my child. She was in "regular" therapy for years, it does.not.help. She can do regular therapy in her sleep, she totally knows the drill...show up, play games, whatever. Nothing changes.

 

Attachment therapy isnt about holding a child down and making them scream to "rebirth" them...maybe thats what happened in the past, but that is not what is happening now, at least not with legitimate therapists. Our therapist is going to do things like EMDR which is quite helpful to children w/ trauma.

 

The most important part, or at least one very important part, is that the therapy will be my daughter and me TOGETHER....whereas more traditional therapy is often the child and therapist alone. THAT does not help build a bond with the parent. And even worse is when these kids can manipulate the therapist into thinking they are angels and its the PARENT with the problem.

post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamjar View Post

Attachment Therapy is considered an unvalidated and inappropriate therapy by APSAC and the APA: http://depts.washington.edu/hcsats/PDF/AttachmentTaskForceAPSAC.pdf


You should read your own article because the Task Force does NOT say that attachment therapy is considered unvalidated and inappropriate.  They are specifically talking about "treatment techniques or attachment parenting techniques" that are abusive (withholding food/water, physical coercion and psychological/physical holding, etc) and "that portray young children in negative ways, including describing certain groups of young children as pervasively manipulative, cunning, or deceitful, are not conducive to good treatment and may promote abusive practices." 

 

These are fundamentalist views and techniques and they are NOT just specific to some highly unethical therapists' bastardization of attachment theory/therapy.  Such practices and views have been used since before attachment theory was even developed. 

post #13 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by queenjane View Post

The most important part, or at least one very important part, is that the therapy will be my daughter and me TOGETHER....whereas more traditional therapy is often the child and therapist alone. THAT does not help build a bond with the parent. And even worse is when these kids can manipulate the therapist into thinking they are angels and its the PARENT with the problem.

 

Children are a part of a system (the family) and the entire system needs to be a part of the treatment.  Nothing has been more powerful (and challenging) then when I have done family therapy versus child therapy.  Honestly, just working with the parents is far more therapeutic for the child than working with the child alone. 

post #14 of 34
Thread Starter 

The caseworker is helping us find an attachment therapist in our area and he is going to see what other services are available to our little one. I really hope he finds something. He has been very helpful so far so I am hoping he sticks to it. Other than that, everything is going as smoothly as it can I guess. He is now starting to shut down when we try to talk to him, he just sits or stands there with this little look on his face that says, "I'm mad, get away from me." We have tried so hard to get him to let us in. I don't know what else to try.

post #15 of 34

You could try napping or co-sleeping with him if you are allowed to and it doesn't seem to trigger sexual abuse issues.  Whenever my adopted son is feeling really insecure or I am feeling less bonded, we sleep together, and it really helps us.  My theory is that breathing each other's pheromones and having unconscious awareness of each other while sleeping helps bonding on a biochemical level.

post #16 of 34

It really sounds like such a challenging situation, I get the feeling you may be in a bit over your head. At the most extreme that could mean you need to find a new placement for the child, you are new to fostering so it may just be that he needs to be in a home with someone who has much more experience with his situation. That doesn't mean you failed, it means you did what was best for him by getting him the help he needs. I'm not saying you have to jump right to that, but you should know it is an option.

It sounds like first and foremost you need more support, especially a new therapist. I personally don't think you have to have an "attachment therapist" specifically, I would just shop around for someone you like and make sure who ever you chose has experience with the kind of trauma he has been through. It sounds like his current therapist is doing more harm then good at this point. Also, could you get some more support from the child's case worker? I know sometimes they aren't that helpful, but it is their job. They should always know what is going on and have experience with the issues you are dealing with. It sounds like there is such extreme trauma, this is going to be an intense and difficult road for you and him. I wish I had more advice but I really think the most important thing you can do for him is to seek more/better professional help.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zombie View Post

You could try napping or co-sleeping with him if you are allowed to and it doesn't seem to trigger sexual abuse issues.  Whenever my adopted son is feeling really insecure or I am feeling less bonded, we sleep together, and it really helps us. 

 

I've never heard of foster children being allowed to co-sleep, I would stay away from that because from what I've heard it could jeopardize you being a foster parent to future kids as well as him.

post #17 of 34

I actually attended an orientation last  night when someone asked about co-sleeping. Not acceptable on a permanent basis- children must have their own bed. However, it was suggested that lying down for a little while to calm them is okay in many circumstances (assuming no sexual abuse trauma).

post #18 of 34

I actually attended an orientation last  night when someone asked about co-sleeping. Not acceptable on a permanent basis- children must have their own bed. However, it was suggested that lying down for a little while to calm them is okay in many circumstances (assuming no sexual abuse trauma).

post #19 of 34
Thread Starter 

I don't know much about the kinds of trauma he has endured. The caseworker hasn't given much information. He did tell me that there was alot of physical violence. And that his biomom was given a week to clean what I consider normal daily stuff: Dishes, vacuuming, picking up toys, laundry, moping, sweeping, etc. And she couldn't do it. So from what I gathered the home was disgusting. He has opened up about his moms ex pushing on the back of his head really hard and smashing his face off of the wall repeatedly. That's about all he has said about it, not that what he did to this four year old boy isn't bad enough, but I would like to eventually help him open up more I feel that talking about things will help his behavior tremendously. There is a little girl I babysit who is three years old. Her parents just started potty training, (they waited until she could tell them when she has to go) but when she is sitting on her little potty, or getting a diaper change on days that she doesn't want the potty, his nose is literally right between her legs. The expression on his face and just the way that he stares at her makes me wonder about the possibility of sexual abuse. But I don't know how to approach the topic with him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deborahbgkelly View Post

I actually attended an orientation last  night when someone asked about co-sleeping. Not acceptable on a permanent basis- children must have their own bed. However, it was suggested that lying down for a little while to calm them is okay in many circumstances (assuming no sexual abuse trauma).

post #20 of 34

Here is a good article by Margaret Blaustein, originator of the ARC Model of treatment for trauma and attachment.
 

 

http://www.traumacenter.org/clients/Intertwining_Nature_of_Attachment_and_Trauma.pdf

 

As pumpkingirl suggested, attachment and trauma experiences are totally intertwined and usually have to be treated at the same time, but WITH the parents/caregivers for the best effectiveness.

 

I hope you can find some very good support soon!!!

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