Life has become very interesting and a lot busier in the last few weeks!
As well as the usual daily school life (J adjusting to life in secondary school and a teenager sitting mock A-levels and BTEC assessments) we also had two new additions to the family!
We said yes to an emergency placement call late one Friday night and a few hours later a 2-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl arrived looking tired and scared. The social worker dropped them off more or less straight from court, but it was a long drive and it had been an emotional day for the whole birth family including the children.
They arrived with nothing but the clothes they were wearing, which is quite common. The little boy had no shoes, and whilst I was doing my best to make them more comfortable and at ease, hubby did the first of many ‘emergency’ runs to a local 24-hour supermarket. We just bought the basics at this stage as children’s belongings can turn up during the following weeks.
Dee, the little girl, was full of nervous energy and excitement. She didn’t stop talking and this was one of her ways of processing what an alarming and strange day it had been for her. George on the other hand was virtually mute. At just over 2 he didn’t know what to make of me, or what had happened to him, he just knew he missed the person who had been caring for them.
Bedtime that night was long and drawn out partly because we had to administer immediate head lice treatment, which again is not uncommon. We had the briefest history given to us when we accepted the placement by phone and a more in-depth official referral document outlining the reasons why they were being taken into care and pertinent information when they arrived.
The story is a familiar one to most foster carers; there didn’t appear to be any apparent abuse but, in this case, it was neglect that brought them to my door at 8pm that night. The social worker, who herself had had a long day, brought us up-to-date as much as she could, and we agreed to talk again on Monday.
Unsurprisingly the children found it hard to settle and it was a tiring night for everyone.
However, the morning held surprises not just for the two little ones, but also for Baby Sabine (Baby S, who is no longer a baby but a cheeky toddler) and J (we’ll call him James from now on as there are too many children to refer to them by initials!) had already gone to bed when Dee and George arrived.
The only one who had been here when the children arrived was Maddie (we previously called her M). I prepared her as soon as I got the call to say they were definitely coming and, after asking a few questions mostly about how old they were, she accepted it. Although she met the children she didn’t really interact much.
That weekend all our plans changed – that is part of fostering! I cancelled my shift at the food bank and hubby rearranged his day so we could spend time together with all the children, letting them get to know each other and settling them in.
They were still very excited, and some people would use the word hyper, but it was more of a nervous energy. We had to go shopping again on Saturday and they enjoyed the experience.
Mealtimes have been interesting but that’s for another blog as they both come with various food complications.
Maddie has been relatively unaffected and stays in her room which is normal at the moment after recent poor BTEC assessment results and a falling out with her best friend, Claire.
James is enjoying being the older child and swings from being super bossy to trying to be very helpful, but regardless of what mood he’s in the two new children follow him around everywhere which he loves.
Sabine thinks she’s in a permanent playgroup and is loving the company.
I’m sure this will change when there’s more demands on my time but at the moment there don’t appear to be any tensions. They’ve been with us 3 weeks now and the big star has got to be Luke, our beloved kind, and gentle big black Labrador. Both Dee and George love him and he is happy to accept even more adoration.
Dee is now in nursery every morning and loving it. Being the new girl didn’t faze her at all. They have all benefited from having a routine.
The biggest change for them is a predictable and consistent dinner, bath, bedtime routine which has become anticipated and accepted.
I realise we may be in the honeymoon period but, in spite of our house being even noisier, busier, and full of kids, it’s been positive for everyone.
Ask me again during the summer holidays when I’ve got 3 preschool children, an 11-year-old (with the pre-teen moods well established) and a 17-year-old all looking for activities!
If you think you could handle the life of a foster carer, give us a call on 0800 389 0143.