A meeting with the foster carer was arranged. I hadn’t positioned in my mind how significant this would be. We sat there staring at the women who had cared for our little one as if they were her own. Knowing that they would never be. Knowing that one day they’d care for them no more. What an incredible thing to do. She’d been doing it for many years. Had been involved in many adoptions. Supported many children to return to birth families. What an incredible person. Reuniting families. Bringing new families together. A fellow adoptive mum once said to me – “without foster carers, there would be no us”. This couldn’t be more true.
She knew every tiny detail about our child. She talked lovingly. With joy. Certainty. Protectively. I felt an immediate pressure to get everything right. I couldn’t let her down. I wondered how on earth she did what she did. Worried how she would feel – cope – when the day came to say goodbye.
I kept thinking I hope she liked us. What if we were sitting there and she was thinking that we weren’t right. That we didn’t seem suitable to be parents. What would she do about it? Who would she tell? How would this impact matching panel? Might they say “no” now? Like I always do, I over thought it. But I couldn’t help but question how I could ever do as good a job as her.
Don’t get me wrong, the feeling was also incredible. We were talking about our child. Not just a hypothetical scenario. Not an “if you were approved”. Not an “if you were matched”. We were all these things now. Finally going to be mummy and daddy. But it was strange talking in such detail having never met. I found it a lot to get my head around.
I wrote absolutely everything down. Verbatim. Listened intently as she relayed their daily life together. Likes and dislikes. What caused upset. What to do to provide comfort. I remember paying particular attention to things like bowel movements! I was surprised that they seemingly lived such a normal life – going to singing classes, soft play, playgroups. Just like mother and child. Why wouldn’t they? I don’t know. Did I think they just stayed in 24-7 waiting for us to turn up to take over? They’d even been away on a holiday. Our child had 100% lived a full life there. It’s crazy to look back at these thoughts. At my naivety. But it really hit me that we had a very difficult time ahead. Amongst all the joy, there would be upset for everyone. Separation. My heart was bursting. But my head was whizzing.
I’d bought some sleep-suits and a book to give as gifts. For some reason I felt awkward about this – like I had to ask permission. Fumbling the words “would it be ok if” “are you sure you don’t mind…”. This remarkable lady of course very gladly took them. Our first gifts. The first of many.
We are still in awe at the role foster carers play in bringing families together. They provide love, security and safety. Often to traumatised and vulnerable children at the most difficult of times. A lot of adoption forums focus on the difficulties of separation from birth families. Of course, this is quite right and absolutely true. But there is a whole different separation to prepare for when they leave foster families. Foster carers often take the brunt of uncertainties and fears. Support children as they express their feelings, not just emotionally, but often physically. They may have shown these children the only stability they’ve ever experienced. Of course they are going to be upset to leave them. Will miss them. Foster carers steady them, until we – their adoptive parents – are ready to take over. And it wouldn’t be long before we could do just that.
Thankfully, everything went smoothly at matching panel . We had the same set of nerves as we’d had for approval panel, but uncharacteristically for me, I was actually much more confident. We knew so much more about our child now and already had a strong connection. We were able to talk about them with such certainty that they were “the one”. Because we felt it. Surely, we hadn’t got this far and the match would be rejected. I was right – we were unanimously approved. We were over the moon. At last, all the stars had aligned. Our dreams really were coming true.