Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Worst Day

It feels as though the last couple of weeks has been a series of momentous days. Hard days, emotional days, tiring days. And yet, there has also been a sense of pleasure in the completion of our part of the journey, and the apparent success of the final stages.

Before I started fostering, I probably would have thought, as many do, that the day of final handover would be the worst day of the process for me. That's the dramatic moment isn't it - handing over the precious child you have loved and cared for into the arms of another? But, after saying goodbye to four different little ones, under various circumstances, I now know that the last day is never the worst day.

Why not? Because I know it is coming months in advance. I know what it will look like and how it will happen and I have so much time to mentally prepare. In all of the uncertainties of the process of moving a child onto adoption, that final morning seems the least uncertain. The adopters came at the pre-arranged time. We had been ready for a while. All BG's clothes and belongings had been transferred some days before. The social worker came and did the formalities. Nobody cried. It was all over in half an hour, and then we filled the rest of our day up with pre-arranged activities.

Other days, other moments were much harder. There was the time BG's new parents took her out alone for the first time and when she came back she clung to me and cried when I tried to put her down. Then there was the time, a few days later, when she came back from a day with her parents and didn't seem all that bothered to see me! There's a constant conflict between loving and letting go.

Right now, I'd have to say that the worst day so far was actually the day before handover. I was desperately tired after a week of managing BG, managing OB, managing constant visitors and then travel up and down the motorway and, of course, managing my own shifting emotions. I felt drained and a bit tearful and, to be honest, I just wanted it all to be over. I think, perhaps, this is a hidden benefit of the intense stress of introductions - there comes a point when it's all just getting too much and the end almost comes as a relief.

From experience though, I know that the worst day is probably still to come. Of course, after she's gone, I have odd moments. Although I'm quick to strip the cot and remove the car seat and put away the bottles and other paraphernalia, there are still little things that catch me unaware. Twice now I have reached out at bedtime to switch on the monitor before remembering that I don't have to - I really need to pack that away! Now that her window no longer has blackout blinds and her bedroom door is open, the house feels different each morning as the early sun streams in and onto the landing, bringing an unfamiliar light into my bedroom through its half-glass door. I'd forgotten about that over the last ten months.

But none of these moments make for a worst day. No. I'm fairly certain that the worst day will come when I get that phone call from social services asking me to take in another child. Unlike endings, beginnings in this game are rarely predictable. It is hard to mentally prepare for the completely unknown. I do not know when the phone call will come, or how much time I will have to prepare. In the past I have had as little as 90 minutes. I do not know the circumstances or the people involved. In a few weeks, amid a flurry of activity and professionals all over the house, I will have to welcome a complete stranger into my home, place them into her cot, give them her toys to play with. She will be completely replaced. I know that it will get better, that we will learn each other, that I will become comfortable with the new routine, the new social workers, the new family members, but I also know that on that first, worst day, I will yearn for the comfort and familiarity and easy smile of Baby Girl.


16 comments:

  1. Agree completely - introductions week is so exhausting for everyone (in our case it was made a little worse by the fact that the adoptive parents were not really engaged with the process), by half way through we just wanted it to be over. We didn't cry on handover day but did when packing away the cot and blackout blind. A year later (we had an older child in between) we've settled a new baby into "his" cot, she's playing with "his" toys and sitting in "his" high chair. It's brought back many memories and yes we've shed a few tears again. Fostering is an emotional journey xxx

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    1. Those tears creep up on you don't they! I don't think I really understood just how emotionally challenging the whole journey would be to be honest.

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  2. Beautifully written - thank you for sharing. X

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  3. Thank you so much for writing so beautifully about your experiences. I found your blog a few days ago and am steadily working my way through the years and sapping up all the experience, joy and challenges. As a wannabe foster carer and adopter it is invaluable to hear the reality of life. Thank you for sharing, and for inspiring me. I am feeling remotivated to keep the dream alive since reading your journey. Thank you. I hope you get some time to rest and refresh after the unsettled week x

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    1. Thank you - and do call back and update me about your progress as you pursue your dream!

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  4. Gorgeous and really emotional for me. Such a time full of mixed emotions and how hard you have to work whilst dealing with them. You are a Star and although BG is no longer with you I'm sure a little piece of heart will always be for you and all the wonderful snuggles and cuddles you gave her.

    Thanks for sharing on #WASO

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    1. They are difficult emotions, but really I'm thrilled to have been part of the start of a new family. I always tell myself that when I see the adopters' faces it will all be worth it, and it is!

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  5. I'm catching up with WASO again after a while, and reading this really made me feel tearful - and i'm not sure if in a good or bad way. I could really feel the emotion pouring out of the page. It also reminds me what a lot these little ones have to go through to find permanence and how well they cope. I feel very grateful that the world has people like you in it to care for these little souls. You do a great job - and I hope you are taking care of yourself x

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    1. It's staggering what some of our little ones have had to go through. We can't change their past, sadly, but we can do something towards helping to pick up the pieces I hope. We are giving ourselves a little TLC next week with a few days away :-)

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  6. A lovely post - thank you for sharing. The insight into foster caring is incredible.
    I know I couldn't do it - you do an amazing job!
    x

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    1. Thank you - although I really am just a very ordinary person!

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  7. Thank you, Suddenly Mummy. I'm reading this as an adopter, and wannabe foster carer. This confirmed my own fears and trepidations about fostering. Goodbye's are predictable, but it's hard to prepare for the unknown. A lovely post, thank you for sharing.

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  8. I definitely thought goodbyes would be the worst part, and they are hard, but yes, in some ways beginnings are more challenging! Do please call back and tell me about your journey if you do decide to go into fostering :-)

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