The theme for #WASO this week is support. I didn't think I was going to write to the theme this week as I didn't know what to say . . . since April when our adoption was finalised, I haven't received a single thing in the way of support except the training session I went to on my own initiative, which was pretty disappointing. I haven't even received OB's life story book yet and I've heard that the SW who is meant to be responsible for that is leaving or possibly has already left. It's the month for letterbox contact and I had to phone OB's family finder myself because I had no idea what to do about it.
While some of the individual social workers I have dealt with have been fantastic, lack of communication, bizarre admin decisions and total inability to get hold of the people I need means that frustration is a major feature of my dealings with Children's Social Care.
I am about to change my fostering team social worker as my current one is agency and the powers that be have decided to move all agency workers off active cases and reassign them. I got hold of the name of my new worker and phoned her three times last week, leaving messages for her to call me. She didn't. I'm anxious to get hold of her as I don't have a child in placement and I'm worried that a possible match will come in and I won't be considered because I'm not on my new SW's radar yet.
Meanwhile, the final act of my outgoing social worker was to apply for a second lot of retainer payments for me - something I didn't even think was possible until she mentioned it, and here I have been languishing with no fostering income since my last retainer ran out at the end of July. At the end of the week she rang me out of the blue to explain that my new SW is very busy but she does have all my details (clearly new SW has had a word with old SW about troublesome carer!). And as an aside, she asked if I have received the retainer yet. I haven't. She was surprised.
Several phone calls later, it turned out that admin had come up against a problem. They couldn't find on the system where it says that I am a Level 3 carer. So, due to this discrepancy, they decided to stop all retainer payments without informing either my social worker or myself. Sigh. I became a Level 3 carer in September 2011, although they didn't start paying me as such until January 2012 because they lost the email request from my then social worker. Yeah, really. So they've been paying me as a Level 3 for well over 18 months but apparently it isn't registered on the system. Apparently it's sorted now and I should get the retainer . . . . I await with baited breath!
So, over time, I've come to expect very little support from that department. And yesterday, it was brought home to me again that, as a single parent, another important source of support is missing. I had what we call in our family a 'sick headache'. It started in the afternoon while OB was napping, and was in full force by teatime. I managed to throw some fish fingers and potato waffles in the oven for him in between trips to the bathroom for throwing up, but most of the evening I spent draped over the couch occasionally pressing a button on the DVD remote as one Wallace and Gromit finished and the next was requested.
Bless him, he really was a sweetie. He dragged the blanket over to me and gave me kisses on the head, endearingly asking "All better now?" after each one. And he did manage to be a bit less energetic and active than usual. Nonetheless, it was nearly 9pm before I could gather myself together enough to get him safely to bed and then I just plopped into bed myself.
Now, I know that I've heard wives complain about how little their husbands do, and make (hopefully jokey) comments about their uselessness around the house, with the kids, whatever, but I'm pretty sure that any decent husband, coming home to find his wife flaked out on the sofa and the child eating fish fingers with their fingers while glued to some DVD would step in, even just as a one-off, and give his beloved a little recuperation break!
Most of the time it doesn't bother me that I'm doing this on my own, but just occasionally I do wonder what on earth I've signed up for! A couple of days ago, while wondering what to make us for tea, it dawned on me that I have at least another 16 years of teas to think of and make - it was a sobering moment!
What I do have around me are friends. Lots and lots of great friends. Oh, and do they bear the brunt of my need for that elusive thing . . . adult company! Beware, friend that visits me - you may well go home with a melted ear! They are good for practical support too. I blogged a while back about their amazing capacity for turning up with meals, and I do have friends who would come round and care for OB if I was truly incapacitated. My friends are babysitters, counsellors, ports in storms, playdate organisers, encouragers, inspirations and listening ears - all of this wouldn't be possible without them.
And in a month, Mamy and Papy will come to stay and I will get a mini holiday in my own home! Who wouldn't love that?!