As I said in my last post, it feels like it’s been a hot minute since I blogged and since our daughter came home, not the five years it’s really been! Even though all that time has past it feels like only yesterday that we started introductions and the transition period.
In the week between matching panel and introductions starting, Lily’s foster carer, Debbie (not her real name) emailed every evening to let us know what Lily had eaten that day, what groups they’d been to or activities they’d done, and how she was in general. Debbie sent us some photos of Lily to put up in our home, and a picture of her and her husband to put somewhere at Lily’s eye level; this helps the child(ren) to know that the foster carers are still around and haven’t just vanished from their life. Following matching panel Debbie had been given, to start the transition period with Lily, the Lamaze butterfly (if you can get hold of one it’s brilliant, but sadly I think they’ve been discontinued) that we’d recorded messages onto with our pictures, some individual photos of us and our cats, the DVD1 we’d made introducing ourselves and giving a tour of our home (actors we are not!), and a special soft toy2 we’d bought for Lily.
As much as we wanted to get started with introductions it was nice to have that week to prepare and get any last bits that Debbie had recommended, and to make sure we got plenty of sleep!
Lily was two days shy of 13 months old when we first met her. I remember walking into the foster carers’ living room and seeing this rosy cheeked, blonde haired, smiley baby and every ounce of nerves I had just vanished. That first meeting only lasted an hour and although it went really well it felt a bit like being in a goldfish bowl as Debbie was there together with her social worker and Lily’s social worker too. Lily’s social worker had only met her once before (the social worker who had the case was moved to another post just before matching panel) so that made things a little awkward as she had no rapport with Lily.
The next few days of introductions went better than we could have hoped, and Debbie and Dave (not his real name) made us feel so welcome in their home. We expected nothing more than a cup of tea and biscuit but we enjoyed lunch or dinner with them every day including a full roast dinner with apple pie for dessert on the Sunday! Debbie and Dave made us feel like we were part of their family and I truly believe that helped Lily settle so well with us.
Before the end of the week we had a meeting with our temporary social worker (ours was still off sick) and the foster carer to discuss how the transition period was going and check we wanted to continue. Of course we did!
After a week of going to the foster carers’ home it was time for Debbie to bring Lily to
our her new home. It didn’t take Lily long to start exploring, and she noticed the pictures of herself low on the wall and she couldn’t stop touching them and pointing to herself 🙂 The second day at ours we tried naptime which was tough and I’m glad Debbie was here with us for that as she guided us in what to do to help Lily settle and eventually, after what felt like eternity, Lily fell asleep and slept soundly, for 30 minutes! But that was a win. The next day Debbie didn’t stay so it was down to us to tackle naptime alone. Again it was hard to start with but Lily settled and slept for a whole hour, yay! The next few days was a mix of exploring and playing at home, and trips to the local park. All in all it was amazing.
On the 9th March 2016, Lily came home.
Tips: I would imagine transitions training hasn’t differed much from when we went through it, but a couple of tips should these not be mentioned.
1. On the first day of introductions, wear the same clothes you wore in your intro video. This will help your child(ren) to recognise you. Similarly if you give the foster carer photos try to wear the same clothes in them too.
2. If you have a soft toy or blanket for your child(ren), sleep with it for a couple of weeks so that it has your (and your partner’s) scent on it. Again this helps with familiarity. Don’t underestimate the power of smell. We switched our fabric conditioner to the same one Lily’s foster carer used and washed all her bedding and clothes in it.