10 days ago we got the call that we’ve been waiting for since the 6th of January- when we were officially approved as foster carers. The call to say that there was a little one who needed somewhere to stay. Even the phone call itself was emotional, and the three days that followed were even more so- the highs of excitement at his possible imminent arrival and getting everything ready, the lows of not knowing if he was definitely coming or what he would be like when he did. It felt wrong to be excitedly preparing for his arrival when even just the fact that we’d been approached to take care of him meant that his little world was about to fall apart even more so than it might already have done. But having waited almost three months for our first foster baby all of us were eager to get started.
Then our social worker delivered some ‘bad’ news- he might not be coming after all, and several hours later, following court we we finally found out for sure that we were no longer needed to be on standby as he definitely wasn’t coming.
i actually found the couple of days of not really knowing if he was or he wasn’t, the hardest. Once we knew he wasn’t I could let go and get on with life as normal. It was disappointing of course, but it also felt wrong to be disappointed and like I posted on facebook at the time, it isn’t my job to second guess the judge and whether or not s/he made the right decision- all we need to do is just be here for when we’re needed, although I won’t lie, the passivity of this bit of the journey is driving me to distraction. There is literally nothing to do but wait.
Anyway, as it turns out we didn’t have to wait long. The following day I had three separate phone calls within the space of 90 minutes, each with a new referral. People have asked me how that works and if we then get to choose which of the three we’d prefer, and the answer is no. It doesn’t work like that. The fostering team call us with referrals that match our approval criteria- we have been approved for one child aged 0-2 of any gender or ethnicity. In this case the first referral wasn’t appropriate (twins!) and of the other two it went on priority. We can of course always say “NO”, if we felt that we couldn’t for whatever reason go ahead with the placement but right now it’s hard to imagine a child or situation or scenario that we would decline, although I’m sure there are some that I won’t have thought about because of being so new to it all.
So we are once again in the position of knowing that there is a baby out there to whom we have been ‘matched’ and we are just waiting for court (again) to make it official.
After the first call we spent three full days completely baby-proofing our entire house, making several trips into the loft and out to the shed, attaching squidgy rubber corners to the sharp edges of furniture, moving all the boys teeny tiny toys into their bedroom and replacing them with more baby-friendly toys so that I wouldn’t have to worry about a baby choking on a Batarang, I got all the 12-18 month clothes out of a box in the loft and piled them neatly in the room, hung curtains and picture frames and searched online for some cute posters to put in them. We did so many things that then felt entirely pointless when it turned out he wasn’t coming that I swore that next time I wouldn’t do anything until I knew for sure.
But that’s just not how it works. You get the call, you’re matched to the child and straight away you’re thinking What do I need to buy/do ready for his/her arrival?
Maybe it’s just my tendency to want to be super-organised and prepared but the idea of waiting for a social worker to ring on their way from court saying “I am coming to your house with a baby RIGHT NOW” before making any kind of preparations is horrifying. I would rather spend hours rearranging and building furniture and washing baby clothes and hanging them ready to be told it was all for nought, than do nothing and be racing around like a maniac at the last minute.
So our house has once again been altered in preparation for this little one, and nappies have been purchased and cot-beds built and baby monitors tested, and now we just wait (again) in anticipation.
There is so much that I won’t be able to share about our fostering experience, because of confidentiality and this blog not being anonymous (an oversight on my part, I have often thought!) but I will continue to share what little I can of our journey hoping that it will help anyone else who is thinking of fostering, or already doing, and that it will be a reminder for me when I want to look back on each stage and see how far we’ve come.