So we are on day 3 of introductions. Introductions are an intense period of time in which the adopters meet the LO in her/his home and observe their routines. Over the next week (or two weeks if it is an older child), we slowly overtake the foster carer’s routine to the point that we take on the full care of the LO and then take LO home! I haven’t really slept since the day before the introductions so I am tired but not so bad considering.
The first day was a bit of a nothingy day for us as the foster carers had a last minute, urgent appointment that they couldn’t get out of. The original plan was to meet LO for a couple of hours and then have the introduction meeting with us, our social worker, LO’s social worker, foster carers’ link worker and the foster carers. This meeting still went ahead and it was a bit official. We had an independent chair and someone taking minutes. We were informed about what would happen during the week (we went through the introduction plan), what meetings needed to happen after introduction week (social work visits to occur weekly for 4 weeks and then an independent review meeting to take place within a certain amount of time), life-story work and information to birth parents.
After the meeting, we went to our accommodation. The second day, we had a few hours in the morning with the LO and then went away for a few hours to have lunch, then came back to play some more and put her to bed. This went really went. LO was happy to play with us and came over to be picked up.
And then we come to today. On the plan, from 2 hours on the first day to half a day on the second day to a full on day on the third day. I think this was far too much for everyone involved. It started well, LO enjoyed playing with us and we went to the park without the foster carers. However, LO didn’t have her morning nap and then she was a bit all over the place and felt a bit out of sorts with us. She seemed a bit restless and we felt a bit at a loss as we couldn’t go out to distract her as it was near lunch time. After lunch, we put her to bed but she was restless and didn’t want to sleep. Eventually my beloved got her off to sleep and we found out that the foster carer was annoyed as the social worker had changed the plan without her knowing. Without going too much into it, it was a simple miscommunication problem between them both and the foster carers were really good with us but we knew that they were angered by social services. Luckily, we had to leave to change accommodation and it was a good excuse to leave as I think everyone needed a break: LO needed sleep, we needed a break and the foster carers needed some time alone to relax in their home. We went back and LO was in a better mood as she had slept and we had some really good bonding time. However, she was still a bit unsettled when we put her to bed but both times, we didn’t need to get the foster carer and she settled.
I think the social workers forget that introductions is also a difficult time for the foster carers. At the end of each day, we got a phone call from Denise and from the family finder and we felt that we were in the middle of the foster carer and the social workers. Both think they know what is best for the LO and we can see where each is coming from. It is important that we do not get involved with this fight as it really isn’t our fight and could have repercussions with us. Social services need to bear in mind that angering the foster carers during this emotionally fraught time is not the best for us or for the LO. This needs to be a smooth transition and it easily couldn’t have been as the foster carers could have taken it out on us. It is so important that we have a good relationship with the foster carers for the LO to trust us and for us to feel comfortable in their home. Luckily, our foster carers’ LO are very nice and warm and we actually get on.
We had a phone call from both social workers and it felt as if they wanted us to say more about the foster carers or to agree with them about this miscommunication. We didn’t want to get involved so we were diplomatically neutral.
One thing we have noticed is that we feel sufficiently unprepared because Denise has not told us anything about introductions. We didn’t know if we needed to bring toys, a buggy or anything else with us. For example, the family finder asked if we had taken pictures on the first day and was surprised that we hadn’t been told to do this for the LO’s life story book. Luckily we were told in time and took some photos. Also, as LO was coming to our accommodation, we were unsure of how much to bring with us but luckily the foster carer has agreed to let us take some with us when LO comes over. All this should have really been discussed with us with Denise before the introductions. This is definitely something you need to think about and discuss before you start introductions!
All in all, I can’t really complain as spending time with LO has been the best thing ever. It doesn’t really feel real that she is our daughter yet!