Monday, 12 March 2012

Day four of introductions

It's a later post this evening, and I've actually had a few messages from people asking where the update is today - wow - didn't expect quite such an attentive audience!

Today has ended up being a really good day!

We both felt a bit odd this morning. Yesterday was a good day, but I think we both felt a bit wobbly when we left. The boys had been adorable don't get me wrong, but yesterday was the first time we started to see our role as parents and we could start to see the kids playing us. It made us realise that it's not going to be an easy job, and I think we both came away worried about whether we were up to the job. Then this morning we got a phone call from the boys social worker, to say that foster carer had said that Joe was getting anxious about his first trip out with us alone this afternoon.

She reassured us that this is absolutely par for the course, and in reality is a positive time. Without boring you with attachment theory (or at least, my understanding thereof), essentially it's better that a child has an attachment to someone because even though that will make separation from that person hard and traumatic, the fact their brain is capable of forming an attachment, means that it can learn to attach to us. For some children in care, if they didn't receive love and affection for a significant period of time in their infancy, the part of the brain that deals with attachment just doesn't develop, or the child has such a distrust of adults, that they will never form an attachment to anyone. Joe's anxiety at separation from his foster carers is a good thing for us, as it confirms that his attachment to them is real and established, which means sure, we're going to have to deal with an upset little boy next week and for a while after that, but it means he has the capacity to bond with us.

Their social worker had suggested that the foster carer spoke to him about what it was Daddy and Papa were going to do with him this afternoon. We had made our first mistake, we didn't mention it yesterday - so there's something we've learnt, now we will make sure that each night we explain what's happening the following day! The social worker also arranged to go over there half an hour before we arrived, but suggested that if he was very anxious, we take one of the foster carers with us this afternoon. We really didn't want to do this, as we felt it was important that we start doing things alone, but we understood entirely.

I made the most of my morning off and had some time to chill out a little. We stopped off at a shop on the way to buy a few more arts and crafts bits, and some footballs and bits and pieces, before arriving somewhat apprehensively at the foster home.

We needn't have been concerned! Joe and Charlie came running to the door shouting 'Daddy! Papa!' and throwing themselves into our arms. The social worker looked at me and smiled, 'We're all okay!' she said reassuringly!

G played in the play room for 10 minutes whilst I caught up with the social worker and the foster carers and then we packed them in the car for our first solo adventure!

Turns out the first adventure was working out how to use the new car seats and turn on the child locks!

Once we were safely onboard, we set off for a local farm, where lambing has just started. This little trip included a tractor ride to the top of the Downs where we saw lots of sheep, cows and calves. There was a bit of 'testing' from Joe, but we took a firm stance and that seemed to work well. He is actually a very well behaved young man, and very keen to please, but he's pushing boundaries with us to find out where they lie, and following a heart to heart last night between G and myself, we are starting as we mean to carry on. It's tough instantly becoming a parent to two established children, but we've got to make a start somewhere, we can't just try to be their friends. It was actually easier to do this when we were in sole charge than when we're sharing the responsibility with the foster carers.

The boys loved the tractor ride, and I was proud when the tractor stopped and Joe politely thanked the farmer and said how lovely her tractor was!

Joe told me he had been there before with his sisters. It's very odd having a little boy for whom we don't actually know what he has and hasn't already done - or the people he's referring to in his experiences, but I guess that's something we'll soon learn.

After the farm, we headed over to the local air strip for a drink and some fruit (would have been a cake if it had just been G and I, but we're trying to lead by example.....) and we sat outside and watched the light aircraft and helicopters take off and land - which both boys thought was great!

Our tactic today was to occasionally refer to the foster carers, so that the boys knew we weren't just taking them away without any link back to them. So occasionally we said things like, 'Are you going to tell J & P how many planes you saw landing' or 'Why don't we take this leaflet from the farm back to J & P so that you can show them a picture of the tractor we rode on' which by and large seemed to work. When Joe asked me when he could come to our house I said that J & P were going to bring them for lunch on Thursday to which he replied 'Can't you just come and collect us?' which I think is a great sign!

After about three hours though, he did ask if he could go home now, which was bang on cue for our departure in time for tea.

We sat and had tea with the boys, and then G did bath and bedtime routine with Charlie whilst I did some colouring with Joe. I was delighted when I asked him what he wanted to draw and he replied 'Daddy, Papa and Charlie.' This is a good sign that he's already starting to think of us as his family. I was also fairly chuffed to have my first picture with his handwriting 'Daddy' on it!

Next G did bath and bedtime for Joe too, and again all were very relieved that it didn't phase him have one of us doing bath time and drying.

The boys went straight to sleep - they are exhausted, and we sat and had a good chat to J & P.

We're back there for 7.45 in the morning to wake the boys up and give them their breakfast.

A couple of firsts for me tonight, I've just ordered our supermarket food shop to be delivered on Wednesday - with all kinds of foods that I've never ordered before! I've also just signed my first birthday card to a friend from all four of us! Funny the things that make you feel all warm inside!

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