With J starting secondary school and M moving up to sixth form, followed by the 24/7 respite care of Anthony, it may seem that Baby S has taken more of a back seat.
She loved having a playmate in Anthony; it did seem to speed up her development and they loved passing toys back and forth to each other. She’s thriving and loves to be the centre of attention, always ready with her big beaming smile.
We’ve recently had a number of appointments for Baby S including a LAC paediatric assessment, health assessment, and there have been a number of court dates to establish her future.
The health assessment (with her usual Heath Visitor) at her local doctors is a standard requirement for all babies approaching one-year-old and it went smoothly. I brought up a few concerns, mostly centred around her weight which is still on the low side.
Her health visitor is very experienced and gave me a number of tips to increase her calories (basically the opposite of what I’m supposed to eat), which is getting a little harder as she is insisting on only eating things that she can put in her mouth herself.
She no longer wants ‘baby mash’ or anything mushy, but likes to make her own choice from a plate or high chair tray. Her paediatric assessment is slightly different as it is a requirement by law that all Looked After Children (LAC) are medically assessed.
For older children it’s usually once a year and both M and J are still required to have one, while Baby S has a paediatric LAC assessment every six months.
A concern had been raised at her last assessment in that she may have FASD (foetal alcohol spectrum disorder) as a result of mum’s drinking during pregnancy. The diagnosis of FASD is notoriously difficult as it can present in so many different ways both physically and mentally.
There is also no blood or genetic test that can be done to diagnose FASD, and in most cases any official diagnosis is often made later in the child’s life; usually when they are not meeting their developmental milestones and it can often be as late as six or seven years old.
This is obviously a concern and it’s very easy to become hypnotised by Dr Google, look at images and fact sheets, and suddenly see evidence of FASD in every aspect of Baby S. We decided to stop looking at Google as it’s not who Baby S is and she is not her potential diagnosis.
Baby S is small for her age and on the lower weight percentile, has been slow to sit, and is not crawling. However, she is scooting along on her bottom with determination and our stair gates are now in permanent use.
She gets into everything, trying to open every drawer, and I’ve had to rescue my printer, DVD player and, Sky box before she reprogrammed them!
So, yes, she’s a bit small for her age and not quite crawling, but babies all develop very different speeds. It’s very easy to get sucked into the school of perfect parenting and compare Baby S to other babies in playgroups and listen to the stories of genius babies that everybody seems to have.
She is always the happiest baby in any playgroup, the one with the cheekiest smile and if I do say so myself; with the best social skills (and of course I am aware I’m biased!).
During her paediatric and health assessment, her social skills were noted and, in particular, her eye contact and engaging personality. Baby S’s future is now closer to being finalised. There have been several court dates over the last few months to decide whether she is to be returned to mum or placed for adoption. The social working team have decided after a lot of consultation with mum and professionals that her future lies with adoption.
I can’t go into details of the case or mum’s background, except to say that mum is by no means a bad person.
Baby S continue to live with us and she is an absolute delight. Of course, no baby is easy; she is still having night feeds and now that she is shuffling around I feel like I should have evolved at least four pairs of eyes and another pair of hands!
Both J and M adore her, although M is less demonstrative, after all she is 16. J was very hands-on at the beginning but as he’s getting older he is becoming more aware that boys don’t play with babies according to playground rules.
However, he can’t help himself and he does love to entertain her and make her giggle. J has made a new batch of friends now he’s in secondary school and a couple of them have come back home with him after school and have expressed curiosity at Baby S. (If you are new to my blogs, our household is primarily white, whilst baby S is visibly mixed-race.)
J easily brushes questions aside, whereas M finds it a little harder to explain to her friends as it means talking about her own life in care.
So, while Baby S’s future is still being considered, she continues to thrive with us. Whilst it is the life of a foster carer to grow attached to children in their care, it’s also part of the job description to hand them over to start a new life or return to parents.
I can see a bright future ahead for Baby S, despite her possible FASD diagnosis, but I’m wondering how I even start to say goodbye.