….. So our Fostering journey began that night with a young 9 year old boy, I don’t know who was more nervous, us or him!
When I first saw Aiden there was a little glint in his eyes and he had such an endearing smile and we instantly liked him very much. We didn’t sleep at all that first night although he did, with the exception of a nightmare, which was going to be a regular occurrence every night for the first year.
One of the best bits of advice we received was from the Social Worker that dropped him off, which was to take in what information we were provided, store it and try to draw a line under it, as all placements are different in every home, this is what we did.
In the first few weeks Aiden never slowed down! He ran everywhere and it became very apparent very quickly that he had a very angry, insecure side and a very likable, loving side and was desperate to fit in. We gradually introduced house rules, if you can call them that, we all sat around the table and came up with some guidelines that we all must adhere to and Aiden was very involved in this and came up with some very good ones.
He had been taken into care at 4 years of age and had had 4 different Foster Carers and 1 adoption breakdown, so really all he was familiar with was chaos and he seemed to thrive on routine. He also loved being the only child, as in previous placements there were lots of children and he always felt left out. We made a conscious decision that for the time being we wouldn’t accept any other placements, as he was benefiting by one to one and more importantly he deserved this chance.
We attended some great training provided by FS which helped us no end in those early days, mainly to do with attachment, he clearly was suffering from attachment trauma. There were many triggers, some we knew, some we had no idea of that would cause him to be angry and it was like seeing him go into a trance. He was never violent or really abusive but would be difficult or at times when under pressure at school, begin to run away. We adopted several strategies with him, always changing them when required and he really started to settle and make progress both emotionally and behavioral.
I remember one very challenging evening, we were sat quietly watching TV and it was time for his bed, He loved routine and structure and still does, I said come on Aiden time for bed and I could tell by his glazed look that something had triggered his mood, he replied no I am not going to bed I am leaving this house tonight, this came from no where! I said to him don’t be silly come and do your teeth, he said no and went upstairs and started to pack his suitcase, he had been with us for 2 months at this stage. Whilst he was packing I told him that he couldn’t leave at this time of night and if he did go out of the house I would have to call the police. I told him if he still wanted to leave in the morning he could call his SW and arrangements could be made, he was still packing. I told him that if really wanted to leave he could, however we loved him and we didn’t want him to go. Eventually he started to slow down packing and his face started to soften, so I said to him that whilst he was packing could he not crease all the clothes so that I didn’t have to iron them again when I put them back in his drawers? He smiled gently and carried on. He did go to bed and he slept well, we didn’t! He got up the next morning for school, unpacked and said that had changed his mind.
These type of events are extremely challenging and require on the spot decisions and sometimes in the heat of moment being able to deal with these to ensure the best results, can be very upsetting and draining, however can be crucial in the bonding process with you and your placement.
These coupled together with Aidens successes at home and at school have enriched our lives, but mainly seeing him get a good result or award and him wanting to do well makes all the hard work so worthwhile and work to build his very low esteem. Some of these are……..