No one understands more than I do what it is like to raise a baby in the knowledge that one day you will have to give them away. In fact you may be surprised to learn that the first newborn I ever had the privilege to parent now happily resides elsewhere. Indisputably it’s not an easy task to form strong attachments with a little one and then move them on with your blessing, I’d be lying (and not quite human) if I told you it was. Surprisingly it was something we became quite successful at for many years while fostering.
I remember, we’d not long been approved as carers when I took our first call with regards to a two day old emergency baby placement. Walking around a field with my bestie’s dog and my phone pressed to my ear (and much to the dogs confusion) we continued to do circuits for some time whilst I listened in nervous excitement to the news. My mission (if I chose to accept it) was to pull together as much stuff for a newborn as I could in the next few hours as she was coming that day and my equipment delivery hadn’t arrived! Feeling like Anneka Rice I literally begged, borrowed and just about avoided the need to steal from the people who surrounded me for the next few hours before finally making it back to the house just in time to meet the social worker and the baby – ‘stop the clock, stop the clock’!
Six blissful months flew by in a sea of bottles, nappies, and pink washing. After sleeping through the night from the age of five weeks, our temporary member of the family turned out to be the most chilled out baby I have ever cared for. Naturally being part of the family meant she went everywhere with us (including her first holiday abroad). In fact, it was just before this particular holiday that we received the groundbreaking news that she would be leaving our care.
You tell yourself that it won’t be a problem when the time comes however when those maternal instincts kick in they are a bloody bugger to switch off. Sat in turmoil at the LAC (looked after child) review days prior to jetting off (with the dodgiest spray tan ever I may add) I watched intently as two generations of men sat united and nobly fought for their family. Exhaling a sigh of relief after the meeting I knew there and then as hard as it was going to be, this special little lady had only been on loan to me and now I needed to return her to where she rightfully belonged.
Thinking further back and reflecting on this difficult moment in time I remember my husband naively asking the Foster carer on introductions (during our very own adoption adventure) if it gets any easier. Her response to the departure of (what I believe to be) baby 59. ‘Whilst they all affect you differently, saying goodbye is never easy’……and of course she was absolutely right.
Comparable to the Love Island contestants trying to count their previous partners (yes some were in the high double digits), hubby and I have just totted up the number of children we cared for and we believe that that we may have made it to eleven placements in total. Not quite Love Island or the giddy heights of some of the longer standings carers out there but hopefully we made a difference. So…..eleven placements (we think) and ten farewells later our fostering career ended with a monumental bang. Remember those maternal instincts I told you about? Well they started to scream at me (as nature intended them to do) when I had genuine cause to believe that our baby (at that time) was not being kept safe.
One of the biggest challenges a Foster carer is likely to face during their career is being asked to follow through with a plan which may (for whatever reason) to them feel inherently wrong. With empathy, support and aftercare in some instances they may be able to bounce back, however without these being provided it’s fair to say that it quite literally could be the make or break of your career. In this particular case it shattered ours into tiny irretrievable pieces.
Adoption support can provide a life line for many adoptive parents and in a weird twist of fate it turned out to be mine for very different reasons. Entering the profession not knowing if I would ever be able to work with social workers again (professionally or personally) I was quite literally plonked on a desk in between two of them. Cue the tune ‘Stuck in the middle with you’ (dedicated of course to the office bestie). It was there surrounded by the kind and compassionate words of advice that they offered me and others that I began to heal and my life after Fostering began.
So this week (post leaving lunch) as I prepared to leave my work family, I took a phone call out of the blue. Stood in the same sodding cow field (due to crappy connection) as I was when our previous match fell to pieces I received the devastating news that our current match has now been placed on hold due to legal complications.
Later that evening, surrounded by pink sparkly stuff from our first match and tiny blue outfits from our current one I didn’t actually know whether to laugh or cry at the absurdness of it all. Stuffing all items away in a cupboard and closing the door I turned to the wine given to me in my leaving basket and Celine Dion…..scandalous on a Monday night I know – please don’t judge me!
Now in the aftermath as I prepare to return to my office and resume my position next to the beut who loves me more than Love Island and our office baby Lily. In true Magnus Magnusson style I will continue to write my story to the very end, even if it is a flipping novel, (with tragic undertones) by the time I finish!
Note to self – Email admin on Monday morning to inform them of my name change to Jonah.