Our first day out alone with Jah had gone fairly well, but reality was drawing near. He was very soon going to be our responsibility. We were going to be his new family.
I welcome comments on this blog and I received a comment on my last post, reflecting on the sense of responsibility we must have felt. Yes. That is very true, but I suppose we had been prepared as well as possible by everybody and now we just had to get on with this vital next stage. It was what we had been working towards.
(Once somebody remarked to me that our other children must have been “very tolerant” as we added to the family. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but they certainly were great – and they still are! Maybe I’ll write a post about this one day. )
I do not remember a sense of mounting tension on the morning of our departure. Jah’s foster mother said that she remembers feeling tense and stressed as she waited for all the paper work to be completed by the social worker. It was extra-hard for her, as they had all grown very fond of Jah. He had been with them over eighteen months. She said they were entirely happy about him coming to live with us. She knew that he needed a ‘forever family’. They themselves already had four children and they could not look after him ‘forever’. However it was still going to be a wrench letting him go.
My memories centre more round his little red suitcase that held all, or most of his belongings – clothes and toys.
It was more like a toy than a travel case. It served its purpose, but it was rather touching that these were the only possessions he brought with him. Obviously, one cannot see or measure – or put into a suitcase – the value of his past eighteen months’ experience of love within the foster family but we knew that it was invaluable for his sense of self-worth.
The children of the foster family were all going to draw Jah lovely pictures and would send him other things as time went by. As regards clothes, however, it had been decided that it would be best for us to go shopping for the new clothes he would need as he grew. For this reason he did not travel with a whole lot of clothes “to grow into”. We saw this as an example of their sensitivity and good preparation for the handover.
Another thing I remember was the “mystery” present for us that Jah was very pleased about. It was wrapped in a big tube of newspaper. He would not let us discover what it was until the car drew up outside our house in Leicester.
We had bought a present to divert Jah’s attention as we drove away from the foster home. It was a toy monkey. It had an appealing face and he took to it immediately. He played with it on that long car journey and also for quite a few years.
I have a photo of the family walking up our garden path in Leicester.
(A badly taken photo. My apologies to D. and Lucy for cutting off their heads.)
Here you can see Sam carrying Jah’s mystery present for us. He had unveiled it with a slightly shy smile and entrusted it to Sam. It was a little sunflower plant. We watched it grow and flourish during the summer, as indeed did Jah.
When we opened the front door of our house Jah looked all round him quite solemnly, perhaps to see if everything looked as he remembered from his initial visit. He seemed satisfied and took his little red suitcase upstairs to the bedroom he would be sharing with Sam.