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Andre’s Foster Parents Aim To Help His Adjustment

By Marshall

Greenstein

The first article we met May and Sol. Both are in their 60’s and came to the appointment concerned for their foster son, Andre, age 12. I requested the parent’s presence without Andre in order to obtain some history. Due to the Covid-19 virus, they formally quarantined in their home. They had recently ventured out of their home only to exercise and to shop for food. Early in their quarantined stage, food was delivered to their home. Currently, while Sol and May go outdoors, Andre refused to go out. He expressed concerns for their safety. Andre reportedly began to experience sleep disturbances including nightmares. He wouldn’t even go out for a walk or to buy ice cream, which was once an enjoyable activity.

May and Sol described a cursory history of Andre in foster care. Their home being his second, they treated him well. Once their biological children had left the home, Sol and May initially loved their togetherness. Then, they began to experience the empty nest syndrome. They decided to take the required classes to be deemed certified as a foster home. They described fun times with Andre. They took car rides. He tried foods once unfamiliar to him at restaurants. They visited their sons and Andre responded well to their school-aged children. They went to the library to introduce Andre to paper-bound books. He had previously read on-line. He liked to skate board with friends he had made.

By their description, Andre was living in a bubble. He refused to leave the home. The family had adequately survived the months of quarantine. They followed safety protocols. He sleeps poorly and drags himself around throughout the day. I was left wondering what the next step might look like. I offered Sol and May a suggestion that I see Andre at their home. I could not imagine Andre being interested in going to see me as a viable option. I asked them to consider this idea and then call me. They agreed.

Several days passed before I received a call from May. Sol had just returned home from a walk. They met with Andre. Reluctantly, he agreed to see me with Sol and May at their home. They invited me for lunch on a cool inclement day. I arrived about ten minutes early. Sol was just finishing mowing the lawn. “Please…come on in,” Sol gestured to me. I entered the side door. May greeted me. May’s countenance was behind a comforted mood. “Oh my, Andre fell asleep. Do I dare wake him? He’s not slept fully through the night for days. Do I let him sleep? I’m so sorry.”

I offered to stay until he (per-chance) might awaken. I took a peek at Andre who slept on the couch. I was offered tea and gladly accepted. We all wore masks unless drinking tea. Thank you for inviting me to your home, Sol and May. Your home has a warm glow to it. We drank tea, ate home baked muffins, and talked in a regular tone. So, what did you say to Andre that gave me an opportunity to visit in your home, folks? Sol replied.

“We were eating dinner the night we met you. May made Andre’s favorite pizza and strawberry salad. We go way back with a tradition of eating evening meals together and talking on any subject. Andre is included, of course, in this tradition. He says that the newness of our tradition is cool. May brought up the subject of both poor sleep and his unwillingness to go outdoors. We told Andre that we sought help with you. We needed some guidance and tools to help him. He didn’t seem, at first, to understand why we did that. We told him that sometimes parents reach out for help, if they can’t solve a problem. Like if his skateboard needed repair; we can’t fix it without outside help. He heard us. He said, sure. He was so tired; too tired to debate us. Ha! We do like a good debate.”

Some 20-30 minutes passed and we heard Andre awaken with a yell. Sol and May ran to him. He was groggy and looked shaky. “Are you okay, honey?” May asked. She held him close. “Did you have a nightmare?” Andre slowly sat up, gazed at Sol and May, and then he saw me, a stranger in his house. “Who are you?”

I’m Marshall; your foster parents invited me to your home today. Looks like you fell asleep. Sorry if I gave you a fright. “No, I’m fine. We talked at dinner the other night about you coming to see me. Are you a doctor?” No Andre, I’m a mental health therapist. I talk with people about problems. Sol and May are concerned because you won’t go outside. Plus, you don’t sleep well. Also, you have nightmares, so I came to visit and to offer help. Is that ok?

“I guess so. Can everyone stay?” Sure. What has your life been like these months quarantining at home? “Well, at first it was scary. We listened to news reports and decided to be safe in our home. We had food delivered from supermarkets. We read books, watched movies, and I messaged friends on my laptop.” What did your friends share with you about their experiences? “Well, some did about the same things as us. They stayed in; others didn’t.” Do you know anyone who contracted the virus? “Yes, but not around here. My last foster family’s grandparents got sick.” How are they, Andre? “Both are home. Both were in the hospital.” I hope they’re well.

What, if at all, has changed for you since quarantined at home? “Well, you heard that I’m afraid to sleep, and when I do I have nightmares like just before.” Do the nightmares wake you, Andre? “Yes, they do. If you want me to describe them to you, I can’t. Once I wake up, I forget.” So, Andre, what do you think is going on? What is preventing you from going outdoors? I heard you liked car rides, walks, and ice cream runs. What’s now different?

“It’s too scary to talk about it. Okay…I guess I can tell you. I’m afraid that I’m going to get the virus and die in my sleep. Okay! I said it.” Andre, you look tired. Maybe I can come back another day, if it’s alright with you, Sol and May. You need some rest even if you don’t fall asleep. Is everyone in agreement? “Sure, Andre, Sol and May said in unison. We’ll try lunch. Sorry about today.” No, I learned a lot. We made another appointment.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

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