Suzanne and Chris’ Fostering Story23 January, 2019
Suzanne shares her powerful story of fostering a young boy, who completely transformed in her care and preparing to say goodbye as he went on to be adopted by his forever family.
*James came to us in February 2017; we were his second placement as his previous carers felt they were unable to meet his medical needs. I had attended James’ Looked After Child Review, where a lot of the comments were negative – they said he could be aggressive towards others, wasn’t very social, had very little boundaries and had many complex health needs, especially to do with his spine. I talked after the review with my partner, Chris, and decided we were still happy to lovingly welcome this little boy into our home.
James came to us one afternoon and didn’t seem phased at all, he jumped right in and started playing with some toys. But soon after, we started to pick up on some of the behaviours that had been mentioned in the review. We quickly worked on developing some boundaries, rules and positive reinforcements, which we noticed really helped James.
I enrolled James into the local preschool and he started in April after the holidays. He really loved going to playgroup and came on leaps and bounds in regards to sharing and learning about personal space. Unfortunately, the playgroup shut down in July, so we enrolled him into a new pre-school. He didn’t seem at all phased by the move and seemed to progress even further at the new preschool, as it was more structured.
A court case regarding James and his siblings was due to take place in July but was moved to September. James was still having regular contact twice a week with his mum and siblings, but was always a bit subdued when he got back from seeing them. During the summer, the family finders had been looking for potential adopters for James once the court case had happened. We had monthly meetings with them just to keep them updated with how he was getting on.
Come September, when James was really settled at home and school and all negative behaviours had pretty much disappeared, the court case happened and a full care order was given for James and his older sister – they would both be adopted but separately. We had a meeting after the court case and I was told by the family finders that they had found an adopter for James. I was a bit shocked that they had found someone so soon. I went home and told Chris and our daughter the news, obviously they were upset but also very happy that James was going to get the forever home he needed and deserved.
Over the next 6 weeks, I kept updating the family finders on James’ progress and gradually got to know more about Kelly*, the lovely lady who would be adopting James. In November I went to an introductions meeting and met Kelly, her mum and her dad. Instantly I knew she was going to be lovely – she had a really friendly smile and her parents were lovely, retired social workers, so the background was ideal. We chatted, they asked questions and I showed them lots of pictures and some videos I had taken of James.
We decided to have a fantastic Christmas and make lots of memories with James. We made a memory book and a memory box for him with lots of things in from days out we’d all had together.
On the 3rd of January, after Kelly’s final panel, it was official that James was being adopted. This news pleased Chris and I, but our daughter was quite upset. After I explained to her that James was going to live in his forever family, she felt a lot better about saying goodbye.
The week after, the introductions began and James met Kelly. Kelly looked so happy and James knew exactly who she was as in the book Kelly had made for him there were pictures of her, the house, garden, grandparents and James’ own room – her voice was also recorded into the book. We had read this book several times a day to James over the week.
James absolutely loved the time he spent with Kelly in those first few days and was upset whenever she went and he had to say goodbye. But once he knew we would see her the next day, he was happy. Over the next week Kelly came over every day and was involved in important parts of James’ routine like breakfast, lunch, dinner, bath time and bedtime. At the weekend I took James over to Kelly’s house. James was happy as he had seen it in the book and couldn’t wait to play with all the new toys.
The next Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, we took James over to Kelly’s house where he would spend some quality time before Kelly would bring him back later on. James was having a great time and seemed so happy. But It was hard adjusting to such a quiet house.
On Wednesday 24th January, the day had arrived. Kelly came to our house at 11am to pick James up forever. We kept ourselves busy by sorting the rest of his James’ belongings out and loading them into Kelly’s car. We said our goodbyes and let them go to the car on their own – we watched from the window and cried as they drove off. But it really helped knowing we could call, FaceTime and visit, as Kelly wanted us to stay in touch with James. We went out for lunch to cheer ourselves up and then our daughter went back to school for the day, she was happy when she came out because she knew James was so happy.
We have seen James a couple of times since January and he hasn’t forgotten us. Kelly is doing a fantastic job and she loves him to bits. She has even invited us to his celebration day later this year, which is lovely and we can’t wait.
We had a few weeks off and took our wonderful daughter to Harry Potter world as a treat and some family time and then it was back to helping the next child.