2+2=4 : 2+3=5?

Foster Care

Blogging 101 Assignment:

Make a Prompt Personal: 2 + 2 = 4

For inspiration, I searched other posts, Tumblr (avoided Pinterest or I would have been there all day) and then went to Facebook. Saw the above graphic. I had my post.

The statistic cited is American – it is likely similar in other countries, including Canada. It is also likely my daughter would have been that statistic had she not been brought into foster care soon after her fourth birthday.

2 + 2 = 4 years of neglect and abuse

She spent the first four years of her life in an abusive and neglectful situation. The most important developmental years of her life. However 2 + 2 = trauma no child should be subjected to. But she made it to 5. She entered the foster care system in her fifth year, but another struggle – to reclaim her life – began.

4 + 4 = our life in numbers

Our lives so far are a combination of 2s, 4s and 8s. She spent four years in her birth family. She spent two years in one foster home, then two years in another. Four years in care. Then we found each other. We have been a family for eight years.

The first two years she lived with me were okay. We were adjusting. There were issues, some extreme, but nothing like what the next two years would bring. The next two years were violent. Rages. Defiance. Acting out in every possible way. She was re-enacting all the abuse and neglect and hurt she had suffered because she didn’t know how else to express it or really to live. She rejected the calm household, instead preferring to create chaos. Because chaos was where she was comfortable. She tried her very best to get me to give up on her.  Her life had followed a 2 + 2 = 4 pattern.

foster care 2

I didn’t give up. Oh there were days I wanted to. Days I really thought I would have to. But what kept me committed was I really did feel a bond with her. I really did love her. And I knew if I gave up on her, she would never trust anyone again in her life. I knew I had to hold on. Inside was a little girl who had been hurt so bad. She needed someone to help her emerge. I was the one chosen for her. I could not give up on her. I had to help her break the pattern.

8 years of hurt = a big explosion

We had one very big, very traumatic and financially costly rage. That was the climax and the turnaround. We started a downward slope and the rages and acting out started to subside. By the time she was 12 – four years after she had come into my life, she started to settle.

8 + 4 = a new start

At 12, I moved her from the school in our village to one in a nearby town – for a fresh start. Because she spent four years in her birth family and four years in foster care, I knew I had to make it past the four year mark  in our home for her to settle. The rages stopped, but the FASD took over. She was at a critical age. The gap between her chronological age and her developmental age was starting to widen. Her peers rejected her. And the struggle to keep her in school began.

In the last four years she finished grade seven at home with an EA the school provided for four months. Skipped grade eight – because it made no sense to put her back into that peer environment. Was put directly into high school with a reverse integration in the Learning and Life Skills class (which was a made up phrase that meant she didn’t qualify for the program, but they would let her in half-time to get her used to high school). She discovered boys and I realized how sexually vulnerable she was. At the end of grade nine, she shaved her head for Cops for Cancer. It wasn’t a rational decision – the FASD brain cannot plan, think ahead or understand consequences.  She missed a month of school because she was so embarrassed about having a bald head she couldn’t face her classmates. She thought because her hair grew fast it would grow back fast. This was when I realized the school had no concept about what they were dealing with. At 14 she is not allowed to sign herself in or out of school, but as an identified student with exceptional needs she is allowed to shave her head.

Grade 10 started with a full slate of classes that were adjusted every couple of months. The stress became too much. Grade 10 ended with two months of tutoring at home.

Grade 11 started off fine for three days. On the fourth day she stayed home. She went the next week, for four days, and on the fifth day stayed home. She went for two weeks and has been at home for four.

The school in the current format is not working for the maiden. It is time to stop trying to force the square peg (the school) in the round hole (the maiden’s brain).  The school system, where I am, is a big unwieldy system that works for the masses. Not for the person who doesn’t fit the mold. It is time to stop this damaging force.

8 + 8 =  the connection

Two things happened yesterday that have opened my eyes. I met a woman from an organization called Wraparound. We decided to be honest about school. She is too smart for LLS, but not smart enough for basic courses without one on one support. The school will not provide one on one tutors. Homeschooling is an option – but why teach her courses which she does not need to succeed in life.  We need to focus on matching her interests with something that will help her meet success while transitioning her into the next phase of her life.  Giving her a tailored co-op placement in a supportive environment might just be the route to go. I don’t know if the school will agree and place her in this stream, but if not, I will have to do this with other community supports. Others have. I can.

Last night I read an article about un-schooling. I wish I would have known about this movement four years ago, because I would have joined it. One issue that many people use as a way to discredit both home-schooling and un-schooling is the social aspect. How will children be socialized if they do not attend school?  I hear this concern every time I pull the maiden out of school or think about home school. This is what the crone constantly says. Even some professionals mention the importance of the social aspect of school.

This quote appeared in the article:

School quote John Holt

And there it is. She needs to learn how to survive in a competitive, every person for his or her self world. No she does not. Change starts with one person. I am one. The maiden is one. 2gether we will begin a process of change. We change the world by changing ourselves.

16 + 2 = a new phase

for the mother, the maiden and the crone

For the last two days, the Crone has occupied her private, separate, self-contained space in the house. The maiden and the mother are living as only mother and daughter.  The first time in eight years. We are setting up our part of the house to reflect our needs, desires and interests.

In two years she will be 18. In years yes, but she will stay 8 in many of her actions, thoughts and processes because of the FASD. That does not mean she will not grow and develop.

I want the stress of school and the feeling of not fitting in replaced with a calm, centred place at home and a place in the community which highlights her strengths with people who appreciate her.  It is about time she gets to shine.

My maiden made it to 5. Many may not.

If you want to feel the perspective of a child taken into foster care watch ReMoved – a powerful 10 minute video which won the best film award for the 168 Film Festival. If you want to join me and 623 other backers and support the making of Part Two – to bring awareness so other children will make it to 5, click ReMoved Part Two.

October is Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month in Ontario. No matter where you live, you can help children. To learn how, go to: Use Your Voice

8 thoughts on “2+2=4 : 2+3=5?

  1. Pingback: Motivation Monday
  2. daveb42 says:

    That’s a very moving story. You certainly have had your hands full. Congratulations and kudos for your gentleness and persistence.

    We have a “grandson” who has Asberger’s plus stage 4 renal failure, so we have some understanding of the difficulties you are experiencing daily.


  3. Maria says:

    your strength is amazing! i had a beutiful strong fostermother some years during my childhood, i am thankful to this day for the strength and calm she gave me when life at home was chaos. you are amazing <3

    • our sacred breath says:

      Thanks Maria for your kinds words and sharing your personal connection. I haven’t always felt so calm and strong! I made mistakes along the way, but all parents do. I’ve found persistence and openness have helped me become strong and calm. I am so proud of who my daughter is and is becoming.

      • Maria says:

        No parent is perfect, I know that too. But as long as we strive to do our best I believe we are great parents ❤️ I hope that when my kids are teenagers our life will be so stable that I will be able to open our home for kids in need. Always been a dream to give back what I got 🙏