We're in the middle of a very busy few weeks where two stories are playing out simultaneously in our house, as two little girls are meeting and moving in with their forever families.
Belle is meeting her new parents tomorrow for the first time. She has gone to sleep in her cot tonight oblivious, but tomorrow is the start of a new life for her. She'll spend more and more time with her parents as they gradually take over all her day to day care, and then in about a week she'll go to live with them and their lives will never be the same again.
Another little girl, we'll call her Alice, is also oblivious to the changes that are about to happen. We haven't met her yet, but in just a few weeks she'll be living with us. It might be a tough transition as she's been with her current carers for several years, but we're going to be her final move as she'll stay with us until adulthood.
Even though the legalities of permanency for the two children are very different, the process from the child's perspective is very similar - once plans are made the child is prepared in advance as much as their age and level of understanding will allow. We have received a special talking photo album for Belle from her new family to help familiarise her with their faces and voices. They've also sent videos including all family members and pets, and taken her on a virtual house tour - technology is a wonderful thing in preparing a child for permanency! We've done a similar photo album for Alice and are thinking about recording a bedtime story for her carers to play for her.
There are quite a few good products to help out there, here's a selection:
Whoozit photo album
Lamaze hear me see me photo album
Sparkup magical book reader
We'll all miss Belle but her new parents are lovely, and hopefully it will be a good week. It would be awkward if the foster carers and adopters didn't get on at all, since most of the "action" is in the foster carer's home, for the first few days at least! Once Belle has moved on, we will take down the cot, rearrange the furniture, put away the baby toys and start decorating the room ready for Alice.
That's something we've learned in fostering - there's always another child who needs a safe home, so rooms are never empty for long.