Co-Sleeping and Family BathsWhen we were matched with an eight year old, one of my first thoughts was sadness that co-sleeping would probably not be an option. In Australia (AKA AusOMGPEDOPHILEStralia) having an eight year old sleeping in the same bed as foster parents would be unthinkable. Yet, contrary to my assumptions, we were expected to co-sleep. As it turned out, co-sleeping really really wasn't for us. After a sleepless few months we gradually transitioned first from sleeping in the same room but different beds to then sleeping in separate rooms. This really bothers the social workers and gets brought up every single time we have a visit, and was even included in the report submitted to the courts for the adoption application. They have ascribed it to "cultural difference" despite me saying that I have no cultural objection, I just really don't enjoy getting kicked in the face and feel that I am a better parent after sleeping than I am when sleep-deprived. Almost a year in, when speaking to a psychologist about self-harming issues yesterday I was told "it's probably because you make him sleep alone". Although not sleeping together seemed to be the most upsetting, they were also quite displeased that we don't take baths together. We somewhat redeemed ourselves by making periodic trips to onsen together, but it still gets brought up from time to time. It's funny that our failure to do two things Australian social workers would absolutely black list us for doing (and possibly have us arrested for) earns such displeasure.
EatingThere is a huge emphasis on eating. For the first three months pretty much all anyone asked Tiger was "do you like your mama's cooking?" When I expressed concerns about some violent incidents and talk of suicide I was asked "is he eating? If so, there's nothing to worry about." The courts asked me to provide example menus. The bento I made for his school picnics were described in detail by the teachers to the social workers and feature in our documentation. The psychiatrist asks every month about his appetite but never about his drawings, what he has been saying, how his relationships with friends are or any of the other questions I was expecting.
|I got good marks though ;)|
Self-Harm and SuicideI have tried not to violate Tiger's privacy on this blog, so I wont go into any details, but to me for a child to self harm or talk about suicide should always raise red flags, and especially if the child is already "high risk" in other ways. Yet, these issues have never been addressed in depth or treated with the seriousness I expected they would deserve.
Violence and DisciplineNo one, from social workers to psychologists to the court, has ever asked us if we use physical discipline (we don't). It's very common and not illegal here, so it may not really be surprising that no one has asked, but given that everyone is aware that he is a challenging child I was expecting some kind of advice on or scrutiny of how we handle discipline. On one occasion Tiger told his teacher that I had given him a blood nose. She mentioned it in passing and excepted my explanation* without making a big deal of it... which was a relief for me but also quite troubling objectively. If he were being abused and had opened up to a teacher he probably wouldn't have bothered mentioning it again after that response. Likewise, despite having been on the receiving end of violence from Tiger, in one case I was actually meeting with a social worker with this bite mark on my arm:
*It's actually quite funny, Tiger probably has a brilliant career as a lawyer ahead of him... We were arguing about something or other (whether gumboots were necessary on a rainy day, I think) and he got a blood nose. He is prone to them and gets them quite often. At the time he told me it was my fault and I asked how on earth that was the case when I was standing at the other end of the hall. "You're so annoying my blood-pressure increased and that caused the nose-bleed" he replied.