This weekend we ended up putting Jill in respite at another foster home. She has really been behaving badly, mostly against herself. Last week she missed 2 days of school, and she has thrown away all of her medication. Our big concern is for her health- she is risking stomach surgery if she can’t/won’t take medication. She has also missed follow up doctor appointments, which are every two weeks now that she’s not taking her meds.
The tension from her end has been getting worse and worse. For the first week or two, it was just her and Grace was fine. Then last week, Grace started acting oddly as well. She would be fine for a while, and then suddenly turn belligerent, demanding and aggressive. It culminated in a fight on Saturday morning, where I finally confronted Jill about all the things she’d been muttering under her breath in my presence, or things she would say about us while on the phone with other people. She’s been telling everyone who will sit still long enough that she hates us and doesn’t want to stay with us, so after the confrontation on Saturday, I called the agency to request respite. Well, more like demanded respite. It was abundantly clear that I was making her angrier, and that she had really gotten under my skin.
This is why I’d make a bad therapist. I don’t know how to detach properly, and there’s a point with foster care that you need to detach. It’s virtually impossible to remember that when it’s in your home.
They left the house, but Grace came back by herself and wanted to talk about the fight. She tried to say that it had gone down a certain way, but when I challenged her perceptions on that she smiled awkwardly and admitted that she had been trying to stir the pot with us. She was very worried about why I had called the agency. She’s been in juvie facilities before, and is constantly concerned that she’s heading in that direction.
Though we were kind of looking forward to a week by ourselves, we decided to give Grace a choice. When we talked about it, Leonard and I, we determined that the main issue here is with Jill. Her total inability and unwillingness to talk to us makes it difficult to have anything more than a perfunctory relationship with her. That is not helpful to anyone, and a break would do us good.
Jill did not think it was a good idea. Despite complaining vociferously about our home, our food, our choice in radio programs and TV shows, when the worker arrived to take her to respite it took nearly an hour of cursing and thumping to get her ready to go. The worker who came to pick her up was lovely and patiently endured her verbal abuse. They left, but only after Jill very obviously and pointedly threw her medication in the trash.
We’re going to all have to sit down next weekend and discuss our options. Is it healthy for Jill to come back to our house? Is her behavior going to change, or will she just do the same spiral and end up in the same place? Ultimately, as we keep telling her, she gets to make a choice. At some point we have to let that choice happen.
In the mean time, we’re dealing with an odd form of empty nest. After having 3, then 2 and now 1 foster kid, when Leonard and I finally took an hour today to just sit down together and hang out, we thought for sure we were forgetting to do something. After the 6 months we’ve had, one teen foster kids hardly seems like we’re doing much at all!