Dealing with stealing… and various other “issues”

Okay- I surrender.  Help me.

We have had one ROUGH week in this house.

  Last Thursday, the DFACS case worker took our foster daughters to visit with their biological mother and before bringing them home (or sharing the news with me and Ian), told the girls that they would be moving closer to their mom in the next two weeks.  Their mom lives a couple of counties over, about an hour away.  Of course reuniting foster children with their birth parents is always the ultimate goal, but this is a lot of information to digest for three little girls in the back seat of a car.  This means that after six months of living in our home, they will be moving back to another county, with a new foster family (who are perfect strangers to the girls), changing schools for the third time in 6 months, and in a sense, severing the “family” bond they have built with us.  Each child is handling this information very differently.

“Little” (8 years old) is having potty accidents up to three and four times a day- at home, school, daycare, and even  overnight in her sleep.  Before last Thursday, we had 6 EXCELLENT days in a row with no accidents and perfect behavior.  We haven’t ever had a 6 day streak before,  so we felt like we had made a huge break through for the first time. Visitations  usually trigger accidents… so, even though this time is much worse than we have ever seen, we are hoping we can pull her through and help her understand the changes that are going to be happening.

“Big” (13 years old) has been stealing and lying for the last week.  We caught her  going through my purse,  stealing my makeup, iPod, markers, and things that I purchased for my classroom.  The first time this happened, we talked and talked and she wrote me a very nice letter explaining that she was very sorry and she thinks a lot of her behavior is because she is confused and misses her dad like crazy.  She promised that she had learned from this and it would not happen again.  (I was never upset or angry, and honestly, I don’t blame her one bit for acting out- but it still needed to be addressed).  However, last night, she was caught stealing and lying again… and this time I really am at a loss- I do not know what to do.  I went through her backpack after she went to bed last night and found about 15 things that she had taken from around my home. I don’t know how to handle this situation- especially since she will be not be living here for more than a week- it will be impossible to show any type of consistency.

“Middle”  (11 years old), on the other hand, has repeatedly told me that she does not want to move to another house and says that this is the first time in her life that she has ever felt safe.  She got very teary-eyed the other day while we were at Home Depot of all places and told me how much she would miss me.  She is very worried about being closer to the man who physically abused them.  She, despite my efforts to explain to her that this decision truly isn’t up to us, is trying to help me in anyway possible in hopes that she will be able to stay living in my home.  She brings me glasses of water, cleans constantly, etc, even though I keep telling her to go play and have fun and be a kid…

These girls are great kids and it is breaking my heart to see them going through all of these changes with very few people to talk to.  This is the toughest spot I have been in since I became a foster parent.  I don’t know how to help them, how to teach them right from wrong, or even how to reassure them that Ian and I will be in their lives for as long as they want us to be.

Ideas?  Advice?  Help… please!! :/

2 thoughts on “Dealing with stealing… and various other “issues”

  1. First of all, Andrea, you and Ian are AMAZING people for taking on the responsibilities of caring for someone else’s children, and for that, I applaud you both. 🙂

    I say that you should stick with the ways you have been addressing these issues (stealing/lying/etc…) in the past, if nothing but for the sake of consistency. As for “Middle,” is this something that maybe the case worker could address with her? Unfortunately, she is at that age where she just doesn’t fully understand the way “the system” works, and maybe having someone outside of the home explain things to her will help, if only a little.

    Also, maybe sit down and explain to the girls that you and Ian will be there for them whenever they need you, maybe explain it in the sense that you two will do from playing the parent role to the aunt and uncle role – not there everyday, but there for the important things, and there when they need to talk, type of thing. Unfortunately, for them, this is becoming the norm and they probably have not had a foster family care about them the way you and Ian do, so they probably aren’t used to people wanting to continue to be in their lives after they leave the home.

    Have you and Ian thought about getting something for the girls (maybe an inexpensive bracelet or something), maybe engraved with something sweet that they could take with them (if that is allowed; I don’t know how this stuff works…) so that they could always FEEL close to you guys, even if its not physically possible. Even maybe a Build-A-Bear with your voices recorded on it or something. It might also help in the transition to a new home. 🙂

    I’m not sure if any of this is helpful or not, but… :/ I just thought I would throw some ideas out there.

    Good luck!

    • Ashley,
      Thank you so very much for the kind words and insight. We truly appreciate your advice and ideas. I especially LOVE the idea of the “Build-A-Bear.” Thank you, thank you, thank you- and we will let you know how everything works out. 🙂 XO, Andrea and Ian

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