We got to the bottom of the crying fits at bedtime. Smiley told her therapist that she's had dreams of the dog dying and of us dying and getting lost. At 5 her concept of time isn't good and so this seems recent and continuous to her.
The Good Dreams spray has been important for her. Every day she asks me, well in advance, if I will spray her pillow. Like I'm waking her up for school and she's talking about bedtime. We've had a few nights of no crying so maybe talking about it helped.
This weekend brought a lot of foster care type experiences. We had an event at school that we included Sheila in. It took place during her visit and I supervised for the two hours we were at the school. I think it went well.
It seemed hard for Sheila to speak to me. Perhaps it was awkward for her. I'm sure it's the first time she heard her kids refer to someone else as Mom. I'm sure she felt that I was taking away from "her time". There were also a few instances where the kids needed comfort and Smiley came straight to me. She didn't even look at her Mom. Stella also got hurt (it was a school even lots of kids running everywhere with objects in their hands) and while she went running to her Mom, Mom wasn't really able to comfort her. It was like she was at a total loss. She attempted to calm her down and it wasn't really enough.
I asked Stella how she would like me to handle that in the future. She told me she'd like me to also intervene of I thought I could help her further. I'm not sure how much modeling Sheila picked up on. Sarah bounced between us and out of all of the kids seemed the most comfortable. Simon seemed really anxious and really tried very hard not to be physically near his Mom.
I took pictures of the kids with her. I plan on printing them out for her and making a book for the kids. As the visit was ending she once again reminded them that if they want to call her, they can. Which was interesting because just this week Sarah told the therapist that her Mom missing phone calls makes her angry and worried.
Today, we had the first part of our adoption training. Ironically, it's taking place in the town where Sheila lives. There were almost 30 people in the training. Only 4 or 5 families were adopting non-relatives which was very surprising. There were also a lot of grandparents adopting grandchildren.
We didn't learn much new. The concept of sharing your children with the original family was discussed and because of the family connection dynamic a lot of the adoptive parents seemed very much against contact.
Contact should be limited to the wishes of the child and the safeness and appropriateness of the birth parent, but some of those in the class seemed to want to wish those connections away entirely. It made me very worried for their children. There was a lot of pain in the room this morning and I hope those families find peace.
This is a long road. I am so grateful that we've seen that foster care can end with positive connections and forward progress. Not everyone gets that opportunity. I hope that Sheila sees that while her rights might be terminated, it doesn't have to mean the end of interacting and feeling love from her kids.