Peter's social worker has been in court for the past week discussing Peter and his siblings' futures, and has now confirmed that he'll be staying with us as a long term placement. Long term fostering is completely different to short term fostering. There are many positives, not least of which the fact that it gives the child stability and a permanent home, as there would have to be an extreme reason for a child to leave a long term placement.
Contact with his birth family will be greatly reduced to help him settle. As a comparison - Jack-Jack and Andy as short term placements both had contact three times per week, whereas the average child in a long term placement will see their birth parents around 2-4 times per year. This will give us far more freedom, as we can make normal family plans without worrying about working around frequent contact.
We will be able to move Peter to a local school which will open up opportunities for local friendships, play dates and birthday parties for him as he gets older, and will drastically cut down his travel time, giving him the chance to participate in after school activities.
Many support services and therapies such as CAMHS will only accept a referral once a child has either been adopted or is settled in a long term and stable placement, as the levels of heightened anxiety in a child who doesn't know what the future holds make working with them to help them understand their experiences and feelings very difficult.
We as foster carers will be able to make more decisions (this is known as delegated authority) without checking with Peter's social worker, or getting his parents' permission. Things like school trips, sleepovers at friends' houses, trips to see family, holidays and haircuts become easier as we won't need to wait to get a form signed.
We had an unusual reaction yesterday when someone asked us how long Peter was going to stay with us. They said how sad it was, as once he reaches 18 he'll be kicked out and on his own. I reassured them, as we will reassure Peter as he grows - I very much doubt he'll move out at 18 unless he's off to university, he definitely won't be kicked out, and when he does move out he'll always be welcome wherever we are!
It's not adoption - we're not Peter's parents, his social worker is still heavily involved, and we will continue to be paid an allowance from the local authority towards the cost of caring for him (I'm not going to pretend that this covers everything, because it doesn't!) We will work with Peter to encourage a continued and positive relationship with his birth parents, siblings and other relatives. However, this is where he will spend the rest of his childhood and adolescence, this is his home, and our network of family and friends will love and support him alongside us as he grows up.