A few weeks ago, the children’s court guardian came to visit. She did what, I guess, would be the usual things; talked to the children, saw their bedrooms with them and spoke to us about how things have been going. She was at the house, really, to tell the children that she would be telling the judge, at the upcoming hearing, that she thought that they should remain where they are. That it still wasn’t safe with mum and dad. The children took this well.
After she had left, she messaged me to ask me if I would mind sending her a photograph of each of the children of when they first arrived and one of a more recent calibre. She had spotted a picture (among a variety I had put up) on the little one’s bedroom wall, a picture from within the first two weeks of him being here. This is what prompted her request. She told me she wanted to share them with the judge to try and bring to life the difference in the children.
Although I thought it to be a reasonable request, I did not really see the purpose of it. I guess it’s a little like when you’re a child and a relative you don’t see regularly tells you you’ve grown. Well, of course you have but it’s not overly noticeable to those who see you every day. Anyway, that evening I started to scroll.
As you’ve probably guessed, the job took a little longer than I imagined, mainly because going into my photo app is a little like falling down a rabbit hole. I’m so easily distracted! Eventually, I focussed and found 3 photos of each child at the beginning of the placement and 3 recently. And my mind was blown.
Professionals visit the children and say they look well or healthy or different and I’ve always shrugged it off as a standard line they use to try and tell you you are doing a good job. But, for the first time, the stark contrast was literally right in front of me. I couldn’t stop looking at them, especially the tiny one. Obviously he was physically different, longer hair, taller and finally with his two front teeth but the most striking difference was his demeanour. His emotion. His expression. In the first photo he was scowling into the camera. A snarl across his mouth, shoulders hunched and a tension in his body that made him look like he was about to attack someone. He looked angry and frustrated and lonely. In the second he looks like a completely different child. He is glancing over his glasses, smiling at the camera, pointing to a sticker he had received at school for good behaviour. He looks happy and proud and carefree.
I have kept those side-by-side comparisons. Stored in my phone. I get them out when I’m not feeling like I’m doing a good job or when I want to clarify with myself that what we are doing is making a difference. I would highly recommend the process to any foster carer. It only takes minutes (if you have more focus than I do!) but it reaffirms everything we do and everything we stand for.