Archive for October, 2013

Foster Carer “Reunion”?

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Today we met up with the foster carer

We felt fairly comfortable with it right up until the morning…and then I started thinking about it. We got on very well with the FC during intros. Very well indeed. She’s a really lovely, normal person who’s good at chatting away and laughing and makes you feel at ease. But I think, maybe, that can be a bad thing as well as a good thing. It can blur the lines between whats’ right and what’s wrong. What’s professional and what’s not. What should happen at a meet up and what, definitely without a doubt, should not!

It’s difficult to know where to start about this. Do I start from where we turned up at the agreed meeting place to find, not just the foster carer and her husband, but the entire family, including all the children who ranged in ages 2yrs to a teenager, the grown up daughter and son with their partners and children and grandma in tow? Or do I start at the intro’s where it happened then as well and so we should really have known it would happen again?

They’re very family orientated, which is lovely that they’re all so close, but it causes them to not look at the bigger (professional) side to what they’re doing. During our 6 days of intro’s the only time we were on our own with our daughter and the FC was the first day and when we were, eventually, allowed out and to our house. The rest of the time, at the FC’s home, there were always other people there with other children and it was hard work. So really, we shouldn’t have been surprised that they all turned up when we went to see them for the first time since our daughter moved in 6 weeks ago.

Our plan had been to get there early so we could strap our daughter in to the buggy so she wouldn’t be reaching out within minutes of seeing them. Unfortunately we didn’t get that opportunity. My heart sank, just as my whole body would have if I’d not mustered the inner strength to keep my knees from buckling under me, as the FC approached our car and went around me to look in to the car and started saying my daughters name over and over again and calling her “my baby girl”. My worst nightmare had begun and it was only going to get worse.

I had no choice but to take her out the car seat with the FC waiting eagerly behind me and I knew what was going to happen. I took her out and tried with all my might to will our daughter not to reach out to her but, because it had only been 6 weeks, she recognised her and reached resulting in the FC reaching back and taking her from my arms. I felt helpless, powerless, small and not like our daughters mummy any more. I felt like I was there to hand her back to her family. I felt that this was a reunion. I felt sad, panicky, faint and sick. I could see me husband, I could tell he felt similarly to me but we felt we couldn’t do anything to stop this train wreck and it scared me. What was the next couple of hours going to bring? I wondered. I wish that was all I’d had to do but, no, we had to live it.

The FC cuddled our daughter for what seemed like hours. All the other children were clambering to reach her, touch her, hold her, kiss her. There was one girl there who was, quite honestly, like a wasp around a can of coke! She would not leave her alone, kept shouting her name right in her face, kept tickling her feet while I held her causing her to lash out (she HATES her feet being tickled!) kept grabbing at her, pulling faces at her and saying “boo” every 5 seconds! A little bit later she kicked our daughter in the face, by accident, but this caused her to cry and she reached for me which gave me a bit of relief from the intense anxiety I was feeling. It was a nightmare, but it didn’t stop there.

The teenager kept coming up and trying to grab her from me as well, kept trying to take her outside on her own. The FC kept picking her up and cuddling her with my daughter resting her head on her shoulder. She’d only started doing that with me 2 weeks ago, my heart ached. I could feel my husband bristling uncomfortably next to me every time something happened because he knew how I’d be feeling at certain moments. One of which was when the grandma said to our daughter “come on, come to nanny” and I felt like saying (shouting!) “NO! My mum is her nanny”! I was, at this point, deep in my nightmare but I couldn’t wake up because it was actually happening.

The final, worst, moment came as we decided to go. We made our excuses, our daughter was genuinely getting really tired, and I mentioned milk which always gets a tired/rubbing eyes/clicking of tongue reaction from our daughter. It was a good cue to leave. But the FC wasn’t done with our daughter, or me for that matter. The FC went in for a further cuddle from our daughter for a kiss goodbye. She grabbed her, again, from my arms to hold her. I let it go. Then I repeated that she wanted her milk, trying desperately to be subtle and kind but wanting to snatch our daughter away and run as fast as I could to the car. She didn’t take the hint. My daughter did, clicking her tongue at me (“milk please mummy”) and reached for me (which in hindsight and not “in the nightmare” was brilliant!) But in a final, horrifying moment the FC turned, ever so slightly away from me as I reached for our daughter and put a stop to me taking her back. I was traumatised by this point. Trying so hard (and I think succeeding) in hiding my despair. After distracting her for a few minutes from me I eventually got our daughter back in my arms. I’m sure it took less than 30 seconds to get to the car and get her strapped in but it felt like ages.

We drove away all smiles, me waving, our daughter (thankfully) too busy drinking her milk to take any notice and it took me 20 seconds to then completely break down. I sobbed and sobbed nearly all the way home, I was hyperventilating so badly at one point my husband offered to stop the car. I was in a completely traumatised state. I felt out of control, overlooked, disrespected, floored, a “nobody”, a “long term babysitter”. I felt ripped apart.

We actually decided to drive to my mum and dads then. They are 20 minutes more away and it gave our daughter sleep time in the car. I just wanted to see her with our family, I wanted to cement us all together again. I felt like the bond which was holding us together might, somehow, have become weakened by the behaviour of the 15+ people we’d just been forced to spend 2 hours with. I’m pleased, relieved and thankful that I needn’t have worried. Our daughter is a superstar. She was very content at my mum and dads and just got on with what she usually does while she’s there. It was the best thing we could have done after such an experience. Once we got her home it got even better. We allowed her to have her snacky tea (crumpets with tatsziki) on her quilt in front of Iggle Piggle and she stayed very close to us. It felt like we’d become a stronger unit, that it had caused us to become even more bonded and close. That’s the positive I am taking away from this horrendous experience. But I never want to be subjected to that again.

Our daughter coped incredibly well. She is very socially mature for her age, we are so proud of her, she can cope with pretty much anything, she’s amazing. She has come away from it totally unscathed. It’s me with the battle scars and wounds and I would rather it be like that than the other way round any day. But from now on we need to be in charge, we need to learn to say when we feel uncomfortable and when we’re not happy about something.

After all, we are her mummy and daddy. 
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