Foster Care Blog Cat

Baby Birth

Helen’s Fostering Blog

When Mum has another baby

Beth and Harry have 3 brothers and 1 sister.  The two eldest are also in foster care, but in separate placements and their youngest brother was adopted, whilst one of their brothers still lives with his Dad.

Beth and Harry are full siblings and only ever lived with their youngest half brother.  We have contact with all of them except for the brother who lives with his Dad.  Recently their Mum gave birth to her fourth child with a new partner and the hope is this baby will remain with Mum.

When we were informed last year that Mum was pregnant again and that the hope was, she would be able to keep this baby.  We and everyone else had many concerns as to how this news would affect both Beth and Harry.

Would they feel it was unfair that this new baby would be able to live with Mum whilst they couldn’t? Would they worry that they too would have to return home to live with Mum? Would they be concerned about the baby staying with Mum?

The time came for the children to be told about their Mum’s pregnancy, there was a few discussions that went back and fourth as to who was best to tell them, should it be us, their Social Worker or their Mum.

Whoever told them my gut feeling was that they would be pleased they would be getting a new brother or sister as they love their siblings dearly.  Their Social Worker decided that she would supervise the contact when they were told, and Mum asked if I could be present also.

I have developed a good relationship with Beth and Harry’s Mum and was pleased we were all going to be together when they were told.  As expected both Harry and Beth were pleased about their Mum’s pregnancy and she had given them a framed scanned photo, which Beth proudly took to school the very next day.

I did notice a few changes in behaviour but nothing that I was overly worried about.

Over the months that followed we spoke openly about the pending arrival of the new baby and at no point did they ask any of the questions we were expecting them to.  The only thing they appeared to asked questions about was who was the babies’ father and why couldn’t they meet this person. It was totally understandable, they still worried about their Mum previous boyfriend who had not been a particularly nice person.

At our LAC Review I asked if it was possible for the children to both be able to visit Mum at the hospital when she had the baby.

From my point of view it was important for Beth and Harry to be as much part of this special occasion as possible.  We knew that once the baby had arrived, he would be brought along to their future contact so they were going to spend time with him anyway.

There were a few different opinions on them visiting the hospital and at first the request was refused, thankfully Beth and Harry’s Social Worker agreed with us and asked again, this time they said yes.

It was totally the right decision; the children met their new baby brother yesterday and it was a special occasion for them all to be part of.  This was also an opportunity for them to meet their Mum’s new partner and the baby’s father.

He was really lovely with Beth and Harry and in all honesty it couldn’t have gone better.

I think each situation has to be assessed on its own merits, but a lot of the time, really all these children want is to be as much a part of their family as is possible. 

I took some lovely photos for them to keep and I am confident they will grow to love and have a bond with their new baby brother.

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer

Fostering pet

Fostering Christmas

Helen’s Fostering Blogs

Reflection from last Christmas to this year.

Beth and Harry have been living with us for 15 months now and this Christmas marked our second together.   Throughout the month of December, I couldn’t help but notice the difference in them both from this Christmas to last year.

If I am honest our first Christmas together was a bit strange for us all.  My husband and I didn’t really know how the children were going to be at such a special time of the year.

What were their past experiences of Christmas? Were they good or bad memories?, Could they be overwhelmed?

During their relatively short lives we were their third family they had spent Christmas with.  I wondered if they had even had the chance to create what was a traditional Christmas for them, given their age and different families that they had lived with.

We quickly noticed that Harry was struggling in the build up to Christmas.  He seemed uninterested and emotionally he was very up and down.

I recall each morning we would listen to the radio on the way to school and Heart FM would do ‘Sleeps till Santa’ each morning, it must have taken two weeks of listening to this to grab his interest and slowly he become a little more excited, but I felt like I was having to really push the excitement.

Harry and Beth’s arguments seemed to increase as the Big Day approached and by Christmas Eve, they went from playing nicely to a full-blown argument screaming and crying hysterically.  We sat down with them both and started a conversation around not being able to be with our family at Christmas.

Harry was very vocal and explained that for some people they can feel very angry and sad.  We also spoke about the fact that they were also not able to spend Christmas with their previous carers who they had lived with for eighteen months.

They had only been with us for less than 3 months so in many ways we were still strangers to them.   I recall explaining that I did have some understanding how sad it was as I also missed my Mum and Dad.

After our chat both Beth and Harry seemed to relax, and the arguments stopped.

I think sometimes it’s also hard for them both to say they want to be with their family for fear of upsetting us. Obviously now they know us much better they don’t have to worry about stuff like that, they are fully aware we totally understand that their family is everything to them, and we have total respect for that.

A year on and it was totally different, firstly they now know us very well but most of all they know what to expect on special occasions.

They were constantly remembering what we did last year and were excited about doing the same again.  They love our cheeky elf that comes to stay and this year there was a new addition to the elf family, they couldn’t wait to decorate the Gingerbread Houses and receive their Christmas Eve boxes.

This year just before bed Harry read ‘The Night Before Christmas’ poem instead of me telling it to them.   They knew that they would get a day out with their youngest brother who had been adopted, visit their grandparents, and call their Mum on Christmas morning.

We try very hard to ensure that there is contact with their family over the season so that they can feel like they are still very much part of their lives and Christmas as much as they can be.

For us it was such a magical Christmas, finally we all knew what to expect, we all feel completely comfortable with each other.

It feels natural and we look forward too many more Christmas’s together.

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer.

Foster Care Blog Cat

First Time

Helen’s Fostering Blog

First Week

Our first week was a busy one, my poor feet never touch the ground.  I would go hours without having time to eat and I certainly didn’t sleep very well.

Beth was off school sick on the Monday, not a good start, but she had been sick the night before and whilst I was pretty sure it was due to the stress of moving in with a new family I couldn’t be certain she wasn’t actually unwell and lets face it I had only known her for just over 2 days.

We had a visit at home on the Monday from the children’s IRO (Independent Reviewing Officer) as they had a LAC Review coming up the following Monday.  A LAC Review is a meeting  with all those that are concerned with the care and care plan of the children, they will look at how things are going, and what changes there might be in the future.

This did give us an opportunity to meet the team involved with the children and also meet their Mum and Nan.

The following day I had both of the children’s PEP Meetings, which is an education based meeting held for children who are in the Local Authority Care.   This was then followed by the Placement Planning meeting.

A Placement Planning meeting sets out why the placement was chosen and how the placement will contribute to meet the child/children’s needs.  They also discussed the children’s history and explained their other family members.

The children we were placed with had 1 sister and 3 brothers.  The children’s Social Worker was also making more regular visits and therefore visited on Wednesday and the children had their monthly contact with their Mum re-arranged for the Thursday as she had been too unwell to see them the week previously.   I also had to get both Beth and Harry registered with our local Doctors, Dentist and Opticians.

The children’s previous carers had clearly been smokers as all of the children’s belongings smelt of smoke. Being an ex-smoker myself I was very sensitive to this smell and hated it with a passion. I therefore decided I would wash and iron all of their cloths and as many of their belongings that I could.

There was so many people I had to start to get to know and remember the names of teachers, family members, Social Workers and anyone who was involved in the children’s care.  I had to get to grips with working with a new database for my recordings, my god this took up a lot of time.

I am not going to lie by the Friday night I wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew.

I recall that I had lost nearly half a stone, I was completely exhausted and sat with my husband that evening and cried my eyes out.  I was unsure if this really was the path for us.  It was a horrible feeling because already I knew I was invested in this two lovely, sweet and funny children, but I had not envisaged the amount of meetings and paperwork that came with them.

I just had to hope that somehow it would get easier and that I could at least have time to catch my breath the following week! 

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer