While I Was In Paradise

Five years ago I was just getting home after two weeks of sunshine, coral reef snorkelling and utter pampering in that paradise. Yes, the fine white sandy beaches, the turquoise hues of the ocean, the unbroken azure of the sky and every other descriptive cliche you can imagine . . . . a little patch of luxury in the middle of a wide ocean.

It had been a 'last hurrah' holiday with my family before I started fostering. We figured it would be a long time before we had chance to do an 'adult' holiday again. With my parents, my sister and one of my nephews, I sauntered around for two weeks in bare feet and swimwear, frequently donning the flippers and snorkel to explore some of the richest coral reef in the world. We laughed, we ate, we swam, we relaxed, we ate, we took lots of photos and did I mention we ate? Suffice it to say some of the clothes I took with me no longer fitted properly on the return journey.

If I had thought about it at the time, I suppose I would have realised that future foster children of mine were already born, and living their lives far from paradise. I didn't think about it. Yet, less than two months after this holiday, I accepted my first placement, a tiny four-month-old who would later become my adopted son.

Sometimes I think about where he was and what was happening to him while I was on that holiday. I don't think about it to be maudlin or to depress myself. I don't think about it because I feel bad about being on a soft, sandy beach while he was . . . There's no point in thinking like that. Five years ago, when this photo was taken, our lives were completely unconnected. I could have spent that two weeks anywhere; it wouldn't have made any difference to what happened to him.

And yet, every year, when Timehop throws up the photos of our little piece of paradise, I think about how my son was already alive somewhere, the subject of assessments, meetings, reports and plans, and I didn't know that he even existed. It's an annual reminder, if I needed one, of the twisty path that his little life has taken. I wish his path had been straighter for his sake but, as it is, I'm glad one of the turns brought him in my direction.


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