As you can tell by the title of this post, today has been pretty intense. Let me be clear that everyone is ok and healthy and all accounted for. I just want to say that when adopting older children, every day is intense for a while (I’m not sure how long, but at least 13 days since that is where we are at now!) Today has been more intense then what the new “normal” has been.
This morning S got up early and played a video game until it was time to get ready for school. When she was getting ready for school there was some extra sassiness and disrespect and apparently didn’t like being called on it! (Although neither do I when I am sassy) However, I kept saying how much I loved her and how disrespect is not an option and offering alternative wording. Getting her off to school was a joy, well, that was a lie, but it was a spiritual experience as I stopped and prayed for strength and wisdom many a time!
When we got home C, P, and I relaxed and watched some PBS. I was sitting about 3 feet away from a dog sleeping on the back of the couch (I swear he thinks he is a cat sometimes) and 4 feet from two kids coloring in their coloring books on the floor. All of the sudden out of nowhere (as happens surprisingly often with children I am finding out). I hear a yelp, a growl, and a scream/cry. I quickly found out what had happened. P had seen that our dog was comfortably sleeping and thought “Hey, you know what would be the smartest idea, giving the sleeping dog a death grip hug”. Actually, I am pretty sure nothing like that entered a 3 year old’s mind.
Anyone, thought process analysis aside, here is what happened: P decided our dog needed a hug around his neck WHILE the dog was fast asleep. I think you can guess what happened next. For those with poor reasoning skills I will spell it out. The dog was not very happy and let P know. This super happy and kind dog (that was in training to be a therapy dog none-the-less) growled and nipped at P. Unfortunately for everyone involved the puppy made contact with P’s check and bite him. I quickly confined the dog the my room and comforted a very freaked out P. I realized at this point that the bite was more of a “nip”. I won’t post pictures of bites versus nips but suffice it to say that a bite has the purpose of hurting and tends to puncture deeply and/or take chunks out of skin. What happened (according to me and others involved that I will talk about later) was a nip where the dogs teeth scratched the skin but the dog did not close his jaw. The wound was more of a scratch wound with barely any blood.
Since P, and all the children placed with us, are still technically foster children I knew that we would have a lot to do today. A little explanation on that, when adopting from foster care, the kids are placed with you as a pre-adoptive foster home and are designated as foster children until the family goes to court to finalize the adoption. The finalization usually takes place 6-12 months after placement. Until court there is still a social worker, GAL, and everyone else involved just like “normal”.
So my brain totally freaked out, but after months to years of working in high stress constant emergency situations (read day treatment) I was luckily able to assess what needed to be done. I contacted Joel and we decided to take P to the ER for assessment to make sure everything was ok. P, C, and I loaded up (with colors and a coloring book for each in case we had to wait a long time) and went to the local hospital ER to get P checked on to make sure everything was ok.
At the ER we went straight to the triage room and stayed there until we were done which I thought was a little weird since they had lots of rooms open. P was scared out of his mind at the dr, but calmed down soon. C didn’t help by gasping loudly at everything that happened, freaking P out even more. Luckily I distracted C with her markers after I realized they would not be moving us to a real room. There were no shots needed, they basically cleaned the wound and put Neosporin on it. No bandage or anything. Although P insisted on getting a bandage and putting it on his shirt. They gave some antibiotics since dogs’ mouths are not good and basically said the whole thing was P’s fault and the dog didn’t seem aggressive by the description. That this would be a learning experience and that P would have probably learned his lesson.
So that is the ER part of the story, not to the Police Officer part. I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that there was mandatory reporting in ER’s of dog bites. I understand that but I guess when I thought about it on the car ride to the ER I figured it was a database the dr would update or something like that. Looking back now, that is way to pulled together and efficient for the government to have any part of it! Anyway, what I found out ACTUALLY happens is that they call the local police who show up to assess the situation.
The officer that came to speak with us was very nice and sweet and basically said the same things as the dr, no safety concerns for the child and I was doing what I needed so no follow up needed. However, I had with me 2 newly adopted children, adopted from foster care. For a little background children that have had experience with the “system” have often times been told not to tell authorities things (and cops are the ultimate authorities) and may have been in a home that was raided (drug raid) by the cops or had to be taken by the cops from their bio home to foster home or from foster home to foster home.
For my kids specifically I have no idea if that ever happened, only their reaction that was one of pure fear. C asked me after if the police man was going to take out his gun and shoot us. P was just in silent fear. I know that for foster adopted kids police can be scary, so after the policeman got done asking me questions and asked P some questions I made sure to ask the police to stay. I picked up P and made sure that C was listening and explained why the cop was there. That there is a law that whenever a dog bites a kid the police have to make sure everyone is safe. I then asked (read: prompted) if the cop thought the kids were safe. He said yes. I then told the kids while look at the cop (pleading with my eyes to confirm to them that this was the case) that the cop was hear to make sure they were safe, just like the dr’s nurses and me and that we are safe. And next P, C, and I ALL get to go home together and no one is in trouble. Thankfully this amazing officer caught on and confirmed everything I was saying.
So that was traumatic! I felt like a horrible mother and even worse FOSTER care adoption mother. If the post sounds defensive that is because I feel very defensive about it. I called the placing social worker right when we got home and openly discussed if we have to get rid of the dog or not. She said that it didn’t sounds aggressive, just need to educate P. We had conversations with S, C, and P and as a family about dog safety and what will happen if this happens again (we find Sammy a new home). This was a tough conversation to have with kids who have been shuffled around and we want them to believe that we will never get rid of them. We said how their safety is our #1 concern and if the whole family can’t have appropriate behaviors around the dog that would make it so people are not safe.
We picked up meds, got drive through fast food and then it was nap/room rest time. It gave me some time to process the day. I updated Joel and got ready for the rest of the day. S came home with the same sassy disrespectful attitude from the morning and to be honest my patience was gone, I was done for. I did my best and we got her homework done but the minute I said C got to go first for something today S freaked out. Luckily Joel got home at just this minute and helped with the whole situation.
Then when Joel and S took a ride to get dinner, some teen selling something from school. I saw that it was someone that I didn’t know so I asked the kids to wait upstairs and not come to the door. I think I actually said “Stay here”. I dealt with the guy at the door and come upstairs to find P cowering under the table. I went and picked him up and he told me that he was worried that the person at the door was going to take him away from us. We chatted about that but the whole situation brought tears to my eyes.
Needless to day, some days just suck and today was one of those days. We are now trying to teach P about appropriate behaviors around animals and that no one will ever take him again. Reasserting to S that she is a child not a parent, which is where a lot of the sass and disrespect comes from. I am so tired and yet so anxious at the same time. I did not do a good job of staying patient towards the end of the day, but I can’t handle everything that is thrown at me. Today was one of those days where I called “uncle” and figuratively hid in the corner until reinforcements (Joel) arrived.
So for all the moms out there dealing with things they never saw coming these are for you. For all the moms dealing daily with the consequences of your child’s other parents’ decisions these are for you. For all you moms out there that feel like they are daily failing their children (like I feel today), know that it is not up to us. God put us where we are and he is with us always! Somedays you have to remember that and repeat it to yourself over and over, but even on the longest, hardest, more traumatic day I have had since having my kids here I sit at the end of the night, worried about how the day will effect them, and loving them with all my heart. These following quotes are for those that can relate.
This last one is really for premie babies but I think it totally applies to foster care and all forms of adoption.