Tonight was another instalment of "things foster carers do that other people never have to do". Belle's social worker arrived this afternoon with all of her belongings - several bin bags and a huge plastic tub full of mostly clothes, but also bedding, toys and bath bits. She asked us to go through it and decide what to keep to use for Belle, and the rest would be collected and returned to Belle's mum.
This is not something we've done before - Peter and Andy both came from another foster placement so had an appropriate amount of clothes and toys, and Jack-Jack arrived with absolutely nothing from home.
It was an emotionally tiring and heartbreaking task. Belle's mum had packed up absolutely everything - from the tiny baby first clothes that she's long grown out of, to bits and pieces in the next size with the tags still on. Warm coats and padded trousers for winter. Hand-knitted bootees and cardigans. Pretty dresses that might have been worn to a party or wedding. Tiny little pram shoes. Piles and piles of vests and sleepsuits, dresses, trousers and tops.
Of course, not everyone has the same taste and we needed to sort them out without any judgement or opinion - this wasn't "would I put my own child in this?", but rather "is this seasonally appropriate and in the correct size?"
We've ended up with lots of really lovely little outfits - some for Belle to wear day to day, and some which will be saved for her to wear at contact sessions with her mum.
We arranged the belongings nicely into groups and took some photos which we'll put in Belle's memory box for her to take with her when she moves on.
It's good for mum to see her daughter in clothes she's chosen so she still feels involved, but it will also be good for Belle to know when she grows up that her mum loved her and provided for her even when they weren't able to live together.