We have just completed the moving on process, and another baby bird has successfully flown the nest.
Lots of people ask me what the moving process involves so I thought I would share my experience from my view-point.
Once the social workers have identified a possible match, I get to meet the potential adopters. I always feel very nervous, I could possibly handing ‘my’ baby over to these strangers in the next few weeks. It truly is a strange feeling but however nervous I am, I know it is not a patch on how worried the adopters must feel. I never know their story, but experience tells me that not many get to this stage without facing heartbreak and disappointment somewhere along the way. It is a brief meeting, all very polite. They say first impressions are important, well they certainly are in this case as soon after social workers are asking for my opinion of the potential adopters. I feed back my thoughts and then they social workers carry on with the next stage and I carry on caring for my baby bird, knowing that it will soon be time to fly the nest.
The next I hear is about matching panel, where the couple are officially matched with ‘my’ baby and if successful, a date is set for a Life appreciation Day. Photographs of the new parents are sent to us so baby gets used to seeing their faces, we have mummy & daddy time every day.
Life appreciation day is a day long event, bringing together everyone who has been involved in the child’s life. For our babies this is usually social workers, health visitors, the adopters and us, the foster carers. Around the room are pictures of the child, for me it is when I have to choke back the tears, these are my pictures, my memories. Introductions are made and everyone shares their information. As the meeting goes on, people start to relax. It comes to my part and I tell everyone my story with baby bird, routines, likes & dislikes. I blink back the tears and soon it is time to break for lunch. After a break we begin the planning meeting, where we set dates and times for the introductions and a date for the final move. This is the bit I cry though, I have been very lucky to work with some fantastic social workers who really understand how hard this is. We all have a little joke as I pull out my family size box of tissues and tell them just to carry on and ignore me. I write down dates and nod my head and there is, all written down in black and white, my last 10 days with ‘my’ baby. There is a sense of relief when the meeting is over, I have a plan and I work best with a plan. I know have a very important job to do, I have to help baby bird transfer his attachment from me to his new parents. I know it will be done, I’ve seen it before. Amazing how, when handled correctly, it can happen in a very short space of time.
And so we begin introductions. On the first meeting, I hand over baby bird to his new parents. I always feel so increadibly honoured to be a part of this. I get to be there when a couple meet their baby for the very first time, it truly is an amazing moment.
We build up visiting times over the next few days, baby is thrilled every time his parents arrive and is happy to spend time with them. I potter around in the background, a little like a visitor in my own home. Soon they are taking care of all baby’s needs, getting him up in a morning, feeding, dressing, changing, bath and bed time. I am on hand to offer advice if needed, but I generally just get on with all the jobs I don’t get chance to do when you have a crawling, inquisative baby around!
Half way though we meet with social workers and if everything is going well, we progress to the next stage which is them caring for baby in their own home. So for the rest of the indroductions baby is collected from me in a morning and brought back at bedtime. Baby is still very content with all the change, still smiling, chatting and eating well. On the 3rd night of this, baby comes back to me all smiles, but I notice him watching his parents putting their shoes on and he’s looking between them and me as if he is thinking “where are you going?” “why are you leaving me?” and I know he is ready. He has made the switch and I know he now recognises them as his primary carers, his parents.
Moving day arrives and as I wake up, my stomach is churning. I feel like I have a lead weight in my chest. Soon the social workers are here, we make small talk, I cry, I make cups of tea, The parents arrive, my tears are now heaving sobs, my heart is pounding in my chest and it hurts, it physically hurts as I had my baby bird over to his new parents. We move very quickly now and they drive away.
Once the car is out of sight, there is a huge sense of relief. We did it, another little family has been created and we played a part in it, I shall never lose sight of how precious that is.
In the week that follows we feel very loved. We have cards, presents and flowers sent from baby bird and his parents, even cards and flowers from social services.
I love my job, but if you don’t mind I’m going to have some hot cups of tea, long bubble baths and some unbroken nights sleep before I do it all again 🙂