Sam chatted happily to Jah in the back seat as D. drove them home. Jah was making his first visit to our home. If all went according to plan, he would be moving in within a month.
“Do you like peas?” Sam asked.
“Yes” came the reply.
“Oh. Well then you’ll set me an awfully good example”.
D. told me about this conversation between Jah and Sam. I was amused, as Sam’s dislike of peas was legendary.
There was no time for conversation when both boys arrived at our house and tumbled out of the car. Sam had been telling Jah about the bedroom they would share and this must have impressed Jah. All I heard was a great clatter and all I saw were two pairs of legs rushing past me up the stairs.
After quite a while both boys came downstairs. They were laughing so much that their legs nearly let them down. Sam had put a rugby shirt on Jah and it nearly came down to his ankles. It looked like a dress and this amused them very much.
I don’t have a very clear memory of the arrival of the rest of the foster family. We must have been twelve people all together. I expect we went into the garden, the children played
I remember the visit to the park very clearly. The fathers took over and organised a game of football and then oversaw a long session on the children’s climbing equipment. This gave the foster mother and myself time to walk off and have a good long conversation.
She told me how Jah had been ‘too good to be true’ for quite a long time when he first came to stay with them. She had brought him home from a big London hospital when he was just over two years old. He had been ill with diarrhoea, hypothermia and general failure to thrive. He did not understand where he was going when she collected him. She remembered that he sat and wept silently on her lap all the way home in the train.
After all these years I have recently spoken to his foster mother. She said that, as well as sobbing all the way home, he was almost rigid for a few days, because he felt so bewildered and strange and could not relax. They had no chance to prepare him for that abrupt change from hospital to family home.
Fortunately, however, he gradually grew more confident and eventually began to feel much more secure in his new surroundings. Then he felt brave enough to be much more like a normal child and even to behave badly at times! All this background was helpful.
My head was reeling somewhat with all this information, although I knew that it was useful. I was grateful for the careful preparation we were all having
After this discussion we returned to the playground and somebody took a photo of us on a climbing frame.
It didn’t have everybody in, but it was a useful record and later we stuck it into a photo album that we were preparing for Jah.
However, by the end of the afternoon Jah grew tired, so he hopped into the buggy they had brought along and nearly fell asleep with fatigue.
It had been a good visit. The next step was to plan the handover. The foster family were preparing a photo album for him to bring with him, so that he would be able to gaze at their photos and remember them. He would be able to remember all the good times he had spent with them and understand that now he was moving on. Well into the future, when everybody felt that he had fully settled, we would plan an outing where we could all meet up, so he was not having to say goodbye for ever.
We felt that we had accomplished a lot in one day. We needed to let our social workers know how the day had gone. We decided that we would get in touch by phone another day in order to plan the details of the handover.
We had a lot of work and planning ahead of us,but I imagine we all slept well that night.