Coming Home – Part I

26 06 2009

So far so good. The mostly functional parents arrived at the foster carers slightly late but not unreasonably so. The foster carers we clearly feeling a bit emotional but holding things together really well. After all Little Sis had been living with them for 15 months, almost since she was born.

There were photos of the mostly functional parents, the foster carers and Little Sis – all smiles and warmth.

Then a few goodbyes and hugs and the mostly functional prepare to leave. Pat, who had held it together so well up until this point, turned and walked away purposefully, clearly unable to hold her emotions back any longer.

A final ‘goodbye’ and the mostly functional parents drive away with Little Sis gurgling away in her car seat.

GM turns to see the little girls smiley face and CD notices that she too has tears in her eyes.

Once home LML greets Little Sis enthusiastically and they play together in the hallway with a suitcase and a helium balloon.

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Flashes

25 06 2009

  • Little Sis crawls to GM and puts her head on her lap, sucking her thumb contentedly
  • LML launches the full sized drumstick across the room to bounce off the head of Little Sis
  • Little Sis bursts into tears as crap dad prepares her for her bath. There seems to be pattern emerging
  • The sisters play in the garden together crawling over a plastic sandpit after each other
  • LML refuses to cross main road when the green man shows. When she does decided to cross she falls down in he middle of the road and begins to scream.
  • The Social Worker phones to say good luck with the move tomorrow
  • LML strokes Little Sis’s face, gives her a kiss and a hug as she sits on the mostly functional parent’s bed whilst she wakes up from her afternoon nap.
  • Little Sis eats all of her evening meal without it covered in her desert.
  • Crap dad hands over a large bunch of flowers to the foster carers to say thank you for their contribution during introductions, to the delight of Pat.
  • GM has to protect Little Sis from LML, fighting her off for 10 minutes, whilst CD prepares her meal.
  • GM sits on the settee, LML walks up and stands by the side of her, as GM turns to see what LML wants the little girls leans forward and kisses her mummy.




Introductions Review Meeting

24 06 2009

The living room rapidly fills – three social workers, one foster carer, two adoptive parents and Little Sis, happily playing, smiling and gurning in the middle.

When CD tells the chair of the review meeting that the plans were altered slightly, Pat, the foster-carers almost chokes on her tea, knowing that she and GM sat down early on in the introductions and completely re-wrote them. The chair doesn’t notice though, as she says “but you’re supposed to tell me about any changes to ‘the plan’.”

“Oh, we just thought that Little Sis was ready to spend more time here” says CD, Pat nodding in agreement and adding that “it’s helped LML and Little Sis no end.”

The chair draws out her check-list, “so” she begins

“You’ve both given Little Sis a bath at Pats?” … check (and here too actually, every night for the past three days)

“You’ve both put her to bed?” … check (we started doing that on the second visit at nap times, and have been doing bedtime routine for about four days now)

“She’s eating ok here?” … check (except we just aren’t willing to give her white chocolate with her mash!)

“She’s due to spend the day here tomorrow. Everyone is comfortable bout this?” … check (well, we’re now on our sixth day of Little Sis being here for most if not all of the day)

“We are usually reluctant to move children on a Friday, are you all still comfortable with the move going ahead this Friday?” …

“More than ready!” bursts out of GM before she can stop herself.

The meeting concludes positively, with agreement that everything is going very well indeed.

The mostly functional parents are so ready for Little Sis to come home that the next two days feel like they will last a week each – roll on Friday.





mirror, mirror…

22 06 2009

GM is clearing things way in the kitchen, following Sunday dinner, and looks down the hallway.

She sees LML hiding behind the pushchair, playing boo with Little Sis who is on the other side. LML begins to copy Little Sis’s actions – waving her arms and pulling faces. Little Sis loves to be copied, but she hasn’t figured out the fun of copying others yet, so when LML starts to perform actions for her sister to copy she looses interest.

GM feels a swelling of pride for LML, who is responding so well to this ‘usurper’ in our midst.





No one said it would be easy

20 06 2009

Phew!

Today was hard work.

Little Sis spent her first full day at the house of the mostly functional family.

We made a couple of mistakes, mainly around morning naps for LML and Little Sis. Normally LML will go to bed between 9.30 and 10.30. Today Little Sis arrived about 10.15 and LML was still up. She was so excited to see Little Sis that putting her down was postponed. When we did try, although she was clearly very tired, she just got out of bed and came back downstairs. Even when GM sat with her until she looked as though she was about to nod-off she still came back downstairs. Too excited and too interested in what is going on.

LML did eventually go to sleep and we gave Little Sis some lunch. The little love was so tired that she needed to go to bed shortly afterwards, so forty five minutes after LML had fallen asleep Little Sis was put in her cot. We made the second mistake then by turning on the musical mobile Little Sis is used to going to sleep to. GM didn’t realise just how loud the music was!

Within a minute or two the mostly functional parents could hear little voices laughing and babbling to each other. When GM arrived LML and Little Sis were pulling faces and laughing at each other through the bars of the cot.

LML was scooped up and taken downstairs and the tired Little Sis was soon asleep. LML would normally sleep for at least an hour and a half, so the 45 minutes she had was no-where near enough and she was not happy. In fact she was positively miserable.

One of the great things about LML though, is that she’s easily distracted, so CD took her for a walk to the supermarket to do a bit of shopping and she soon cheered up.

On her return LML was much chirpier and she engaged with Little Sis mostly in a positive way.

As the afternoon wore on LML’s tolerance of Little Sis diminished and she regularly either smacked, threw things or blew raspberries at her little sister. Little Sis mainly took it in her stride and remained indefatigable. Thankfully.





Momentum

19 06 2009

Introductions have their own momentum .. foster carers, adopters and social workers may be able to steer the introductions some what .. but ..

Oh dear. This morning there seemed to be a lot of ‘head banging’, hitting out, stropping, terrible twonesss, from the 3-year-old LML. Taking into account her general sunny disposition, she wasn’t in a particularly happy place.

Anyway .. Aunty five arrives to look after LML whilst the mostly functional parents scoot off to spend the afternoon with Little Sis. CD and GM take Little Sis to the local play park, they finally get some good pictures to email to their family and friends, have a lovely half hour playing on the swing and in the grass, have a look at the local shops and make their way back to Pat and Fred’s, for another half an hour of play (or ‘interaction’ if you want to get professional about it!).

As GM begins to give Little Sis her tea (sweet potato mash, banana & raspberries), CD leaves to get home to LML. Tea goes well, although the sweet potato ends up being mixed with her pudding because she has such a sweet tooth. After her tea, Little Sis plays a bit, but is obviously tired, and eventually GM scoops her up and cuddles her whilst she chats with Pat. Little Sis fiddles with GM’s face, they face pull to each other and have lots of eye contact and smiles, as GM chats, but gradually Little Sis falls asleep. It feels wonderful to GM, the beautiful open face, the ‘dead weight’ in her arms, the trust and confidence that Little Sis demonstrates, simply by falling asleep in her arms. WOW.

However .. GM knows, without having to ask, that this really is too close to bedtime, for Little Sis to be sleeping for any significant time. GM and Pat continue to chat, and as they do, GM is served with some tarte-tatin. She gently wakes Little Sis, who then eats most of the apple from the tarte!

Meanwhile CD arrives home to find LML and Aunty Five racing up and down the hallway on hobby-horses. Once the horses have been ‘stabled’ Aunty Five says, “Right, I’m off. She’s run me ragged.”

As Aunty Five is getting her stuff together LML walks up the stairs. WALKS up the stairs!! For weeks, no months, the mostly functional parents have been trying to encourage her to do this, but she’s resolutely refused. Not only does she do it once but in the period up to bath time she does it three times. So pleased with her action she stands at the bottom of the stairs and shouts “ook” to CD before she makes her final accent.

Back at the Pat and Freds, GM tries to entertain the increasingly tired and grumpy Little Sis. The infant has recently formed a strong attachment to a particular blanket, and this helps no end in calming, comforting and entertaining her – GM is aware that this blanket will probably be a very significant and helpful item over the next few months!

Eventually it is bath time. Pat pretty much leaves GM to it, from undressing Little Sis to washing her hair, to drying and dressing the child for bed. All goes well, barring a little tired whining as Little Sis is dressed, and she snuggles into GM’s arms again, as she is carried down stairs. Little Sis resolutely refuses to have her bottle of milk, from GM or Pat, and she shows GM just how loudly she can squawk in anger and frustration. She soon calms down and has another snuggle with her mummy and then it is off to bed.

Little Sis allows GM to put her in her cot and gazes up at her with a slightly puzzled, but accepting look on her face. GM has seen a similar look on LML face – saw it for months after she came home – this ever diminishing look of confusion. “We’re going to be fine sweetheart” she tells her daughter as she closed the door.

A bath for LML, some crackers for supper, Robots on DVD and it’s nearly bedtime. “Why don’t you get a book to read before you go to bed” suggests CD

LML gets her ‘photobook’ detailing her move home. They look at it and CD talks about meeting LML for the first time, moving to her new home and the people involved. After they had finished LML gets the family photo album out. They spend 10 minutes looking through the photos as CD explains who’s who and outlines the mostly functional parents respective families and some of the key events captured right up to LML’s move home, the day we first met all her siblings, her adoption day and the first pictures of Little Sis.

Later, as CD puts LML to bed she says, “nigh daddy. Nigh”.





Woke up this mornin’…

18 06 2009

The mostly functional parents were woken at 5.30am by Big Sis throwing up into the toilet. This was followed shortly afterwards by LML pushing their bedroom door open saying “Ello” pointing at the bathroom and saying her big sisters name.

“Morning my love” mumbled CD. By this point GM had swung into action and was getting dressed.

“Big Sis isn’t well. It’s OK. You don’t need to get involved.” soothes GM to the clearly inquisitive 3 year old.

CD lifts LML and puts her beside him in bed as GM goes to see what’s wrong with Big Sis.

LML lies there sucking her thumb for a few moments and then begins to wriggle. “Bye” she says as she slides off GM’s side the bed, “bye, daddy.” She runs around the bed and kisses CD on the forehead and says “Bye” again.

Although he can hear GM telling LML to keep away CD can’t motivate himself to get out of bed to intervene.

Once the commotion in the bathroom has subsided and it is clear that they’ve all gone downstairs CD emerges from under the duvet, knowing that he can’t really lie in today. Today the mostly functional parents are doing the early morning routine with Little Sis. That’s getting her out of her cot, giving her breakfast, playing with her and then putting her back down for her morning nap.

When they arrive at the foster carers Little Sis is still asleep and they have time to have a cup of tea and chat with Pat and Fred. GM goes and collects Little Sis once it is clear that she is awake. Little sis is all giggles and smiles and seems really pleased to see GM.

Once it’s clear that she’s fully awake and she has had time to explore and see what’s going on CD gives Little Sis her breakfast. Unlike LML Little Sis eats her food with relish and she’s soon indicating that she’s had enough.

For the next couple of hours GM and CD swap roles, much like a tag team, as they play and entertain Little Sis.

Later in the morning Little Sis starts to show signs of tiredness. GM scoops up the little girl, sits her on her knee and spends the next ten minutes or so cuddling the thumb sucking infant.

Pat suggests that GM takes Little Sis and puts her down in her cot. Little Sis snuggles into GM’s shoulder as they leave the room and without any fuss whatsoever goes down into her bed. As GM closes the door there is a little groan, but nothing much and after a few moments of standing on the landing she makes her way back downstairs.

Another successful session completed the mostly functional parents leave, feeling that things are going so well.








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