Wednesday, 26 March 2014


One of the reasons we decided to take Peter as a long-term placement was because we went to visit him and saw how much potential he had. It's unusual to be allowed to visit a child before agreeing to take a placement, but the social workers had painted such a bleak picture of Peter, his behaviour and his additional needs over the phone that we stood our ground and requested to be able to meet him first. We chatted to his previous foster carers before he came home from school, and spent maybe 15 minutes in Peter's company. By the time we left, we had already made our decision.

We found out yesterday that the paediatrician who was assigned to Peter's case at the time had told the foster carers that Peter had no potential. Zero. He would never make any progress, he would be unable to communicate or make meaningful relationships. He would achieve nothing. He would amount to nothing. This was about eight months ago. In fact, the foster carers were told that it was not WORTH them even trying to get through to Peter because he was a lost cause.

How dare s/he?

Thankfully the foster carers ignored the doctor's advice, and worked tirelessly with Peter day and night on his issues with food and sleep, reading to him, talking to him, involving him and loving him. They had no training or support, and felt completely overwhelmed and out of their depth, but Peter did make great progress with them. Fast forward to the present day and we're looking at a completely different child.

This was a medical professional. As far as I'm concerned, this is like telling a pregnant woman that the foetus in her womb has no potential. All children have potential. I wonder how often this happens - imagine the lives wasted if this advice was taken seriously by parents and carers.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Progress and first impressions

I'm sure that this is the same for all children, whether looked-after or not, but we've found that people's first impressions of Peter really depend on what time of day they meet him. We had a friend come to visit this weekend, and as she left she commented on how well-behaved and calm Peter is. She'd been here for the two hours before bedtime, when he was winding down, having a bath and eating tea. As any parent will know, that could have easily gone the other way as overtired children rarely come across well! Esmeralda and I are probably more aware of this than most due to Peter's additional needs, and occasional (used to be much more frequent) epic tantrums accompanied by ear-piercing screeching, head banging and face slapping. He is an affectionate, helpful, clever, engaging sweetheart, but it's easy to miss that fact when confronted by extreme behaviours, and it can be soul-destroying to see some people's negative opinions of Peter formed in just a few short minutes.

We recently got to the point where my iPhone was almost filled to the brim with photos of Peter, so we decided to go online and make him a photo book to preserve the memories for him. As we looked through the photos to choose the ones to go in the book, we were surprised how different he looked when he first arrived. It's so easy to forget! He was pale, thin and small, in his own little world, hardly making eye contact and rarely smiling. Fast forward a few short months and we have a vibrant, happy, healthy child with rosy cheeks, full of energy who's shot up a size in clothing and shoes. I'm sure in another six months we'll look back and be amazed at the changes again - it's so rewarding to see!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Moving and attaching

Peter coped fantastically well with our house move. He came with us to pick up the keys, and we did a couple of car loads and long play sessions in the new house over the weekend so that he could get used to the space with some of our belongings in, and then we did the majority of the move whilst he was at school. He loves the new house, and it felt really special to buy him some new bits and pieces of furniture and set up his new bedroom as "Peter's room" to his tastes and interests rather than just an impersonal and mitch-match "fostering" bedroom as it was in our old house.

We're five months into placement now and he's recently started showing the beginnings of attachment behaviours towards me, almost like he's going through an infant phase of separation anxiety. He doesn't like it if I leave the room, and I need to engage him in something and sneak away if I need the loo otherwise he's screaming outside the door. He's always asking to be picked up and if I sit down at all he's on my lap or tugging on my hand. He's a little treasure and I do enjoy the cuddles, but it's exhausting being constantly needed, and Esmeralda has been finding it a bit difficult at times as Peter's no longer as settled with her. It will pass, we went through exactly the same thing with Jack-Jack who came out the other side much more confident and attached to both of us, but I must say it was much easier having an eight month old glued to me than a 20kg four year old!