*** scroll down or click here to read more about what CMB (Counting My Blessings) stands for and why I am doing it. I'm not getting to it everyday but I am trying.
Long long ago I also was a support worker (aka Respite Provider, Special Services at Home worker, Consultant etc etc). I LOVED that job and I was awesome at it (if I do say so myself). So when C came along and daycare and private childcare did not pan out it became clear we would need to go one step further to provide his care while I was working. The first several years after his adoption were extremely difficult and trying times - confounded by the fact that we could not get ANY type of funding or assistance for him or our family. He wasn't "developmental" enough to access services and supports for children with developmental disabilities and our family was not in crisis enough to receive supports through Children's mental health.
So basically we bankrolled our own support workers - which meant I could keep my job (which I loved and kept me sane) as well as keep the awesome extended benefits plan. It also meant that my pay cheque basically went to paying support staff. We have had some awesome workers and a few who were absolute DUDS. I learned quickly that most would come to the interview gushing that they "loved working with all children" but only a few would still be saying that after a few days with our son. We have had some workers that had very little formal training or experience but did awesome with C. They tend to be calm and loving but able to be firm when necessary. Control freaks, we have learned, need not apply. If you are going to freak out every time my kid goes near your car or if you shrink back every time he tries to touch or hug you - well, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. If you are going to need him to do everything you say the minute you say it. Uh, yah, good luck with that. If you tremble at the idea of a kid blurting out embarrassing things while on an outing - uh, yah, might want to look elsewhere for employment.
Support Workers Who Make Our Family Life EASIER are worth their weight in gold. If you haven't experienced it yourself, believe me when I say there are times where we have hired a worker for C only to find that the support and problems solving and training and hand holding of that staff actually adds to our family stress level and takes away any benefit we would have gained from having proper support.
We have been blessed with some amazing support staff over the years and currently. They all have been unique - no two are even remotely alike on the surface. Well, that's not true - the ones that work out the absolute best have ALL been female and they all have been fairly petite with soft voices and extremely loving personalities. But at the core, they have all been able to maintain the control that C so desperately needs someone to hold but they have done it in a way that does not translate into power struggles with him. They allow him to save face, they allow him to use his voice and to negotiate. They somehow manage, no matter how hard the day has been, to smile and hug him and to promise to come back. And they do - they keep coming back. Even those, who through life circumstances (graduation, new jobs, marriage and so forth) - those workers worth their weight in gold, they stay in touch. They send letters or emails, they take time to stop by even for a few minutes. They help C to learn that while people may need to move on in certain aspects of their life, they can and do remain your friend. They still care - just from afar.
To all those who support our son, in the trenches where the days can be long and hard but full of awesome rewards, we count you as one of our blessings and we will be forever thankful and indebted to you.