A few days ago we had our first post placement reunion with our daughter’s foster carer and her children. It’s been about 11months since we last saw them, so I was quite nervous as to how it was going to go….
The good news is that it went really well, couldn’t have really gone any better actually. I’ve kept in contact with the foster carer, let’s call her Susan (not her real name) since placement last September. In the early days she was really helpful and I would email/text for advice/help on how to manage certain situations/behaviours. More recently, the contact has been more to share updates and photos of our daughter, as she was very much loved and part of their family whilst she lived with them. We wanted to keep the lines of communication open to facilitate direct contact if at all possible as we knew how valuable it would be to our little girl. Our daughter has not been fully aware that Susan & I email/text every now and then, we considered FaceTime/skype, but felt that it would probably confuse Little One. Susan and family live a few hours drive away, and Little One doesn’t really understand distance. Susan and her children happened to be sort of in the area, so agreed to pop in on their way home. Little One was told the day before, as like the contact with the family member, we felt that a little bit of time to let the news sink in would be beneficial. It worked well, and she went to bed and slept pretty much as usual.
Now I know there has been lots in the news about foster carers this week, but I just wanted to take the opportunity to say a huge big thank you to Susan and her family for being so amazing for our little girl. Thank you to them for taking such good care of her until her Mummy & daddy were found. Thank you for loving her as if she was their little girl/sister. For including her in their family. For giving her maybe her first taste of stable family life. For all the life experiences they introduced to her (holidays, birthdays, nursery, playgroups). I’m pretty sure her positive experience of foster care will have a life-long impact. She came to us a happy, confident, loving little girl, and this must have been in part due to their excellent care. I don’t think she could have been anywhere better.
Our little girl talks a lot about Susan and her family, always happy memories. However, it was clear from the visit that she see’s us as her family and where she belongs. There didn’t seem to be any desire to go back to them (even if she has said that a couple of times before). She seemed ok with them leaving at the end, appropriately missing them, but equally happy to be staying with Mummy and Daddy. She was very excited when they pulled up outside our house, but also appropriately unsure when they got out the car and said hello. She accepted and was comforted by cuddles from me initially, but soon was excitedly running around and talking to them. She was so proud to show them her house. She introduced them to Daddy which was cute, “this is my Daddy”. She had a great time playing with the children (all teenagers now I think) They were so good with her too. I can’t imagine it’s easy being a foster carer’s child, so they were amazing. I heard one of them say to the others ‘she’s still adorable’, aww, cute! We were able to take some lovely photos, which we’ll have available to Little One so that we can reflect and talk about the visit. She has photos of them up in her room, because they really are like extended family to her. We also finally got a better picture on Susan, and some of the two of them. When Little One was first placed we asked for ages for a photo of her, and she would’t give one, which was a bit strange, but would have been so helpful.
One thing we’d advise anyone about to go through intros is to ask for photos of the foster family and their home, as well as any significant places/activities they did with the child/ren. We have very few photos (apart from some in the excellent memory photo albums from Susan), and they would have really helped to be able to talk to Little One about what she did with her foster carers. Also, ask to spend some time with the rest of the foster carer’s family or significant people. I don’t think we properly met Susan’s husband, children, or the other foster children whilst on intros, and it would have been really helpful too. Little One talked a lot about them initially (actually still does), and we don’t know what they were like to really join in the conversation. It really was a big regret of ours, but going through it all, we just didn’t think about how important it would have been.
Anyway, back to the visit, it was lovely to see that Little One is clearly well attached to us, and well settled with us. I think this visit just highlighted and re-inforced both, and made me think, yes, we’re doing a good job and we’ve got something right. She demonstrated this best and most clearly herself when at the end Susan was giving her a goodbye cuddle. Little one said ‘give me back to Mummy’, and reached out to me to passed back. She clearly knows who her Mummy (and Daddy) are, and where she belongs. Also, we were expecting some fallout and unsettled behaviour afterwards, but several days later and it hasn’t really happened yet. It may well be still to come, but she seems pretty settled at the moment all things considered. She did ask if Susan was coming the next morning, but hasn’t seemed too upset when she was told she wasn’t. Hopefully the visit has helped to re-assure her that Susan and family are still ok, and that they still really love her too.