When Kevin first came into my life, he changed me forever, and I like to think I changed him too. When I saw him last, on his fourth birthday, I was almost brought to tears by how much joy filled his little heart. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Fostering a baby with complex needs
Kevin was around 20 months old when my husband and I took him in. We were so nervous before picking him up but all those fears disappeared in an instant. Our first ever foster child, he seemed too good to be true!
Quite early into the placement it became apparent that Kevin could be very demanding and had some challenges. On his first night with us whilst trying to get him ready for bed, he would run away, darting around the kitchen and living room, constantly bumping into things and falling over. Over time we discovered that Kevin could hurt himself quite badly without seeming to feel any pain. I’ll never forget the time he trapped his finger in the door – he didn’t cry, he made no sound at all.
He also had no concept of patience whatsoever. He would hit his head on the wall if he didn’t get his food instantly and when we went out to restaurants, he would scream at the top of his voice and throw things around. My husband even said we should get t-shirts that said ‘I’m a foster carer’ to avoid stares of disapproval!
We learned early on that Kevin wouldn’t be returning home to his parents. The plan now would be to look for an adoptive family he could settle into for good. This meant he would be with us for some time, so my husband and I thought long and hard about how we could make this beneficial. Routine played a big part in making Kevin comfortable so we focused on this.
With persistence and patience, things got easier. He even started to accept affection and love from us, something we hadn’t seen before. He was building a strong attachment and blessed us with that beautiful smile more and more.
Fear still plays a big part in Kevin’s day-t0-day life. Showers and loud noises frightened the life out of him and he’d throw himself to the floor, shaking. But as with everything else, perseverance was key. Over time, everyday events became more acceptable and less frightening to him. He was beginning to calm down.
At the age of three, Kevin’s behaviour was much better but his development was becoming a concern so we thought it was time to seek a professional opinion. Although it was too early to diagnose, they couldn’t rule out foetal alcohol syndrome, ADHD and dyspraxia. It was heart-breaking to hear, but also a comfort to know exactly what was wrong.
A bridging placement to adoption
Then, one day, the call came. It was two weeks before Christmas and it felt like an early present. We’d almost lost hope in Kevin getting adopted – it had been so long – but there I was, talking to our Supervising Social Worker about a family who’d been showing an interest in him.
We planned a meeting and later that week met with a couple who seemed genuine and quite lovely. My husband reluctantly told them about Kevin’s problems, not wanting to put them off with the hard work that was ahead.
Just like we had, the couple fell in love with Kevin instantly. That smile has a power of its own! At first Kevin looked to me for reassurance but he warmed to them quite easily. The difficult part was explaining to him what was in store, as he had such a limited understanding.
When the day came for Kevin to move out with his new family, we were all grieving. He’d become such a big part of our lives. But we were overjoyed too. This wonderful little boy would finally have the family he’d stay with forever.
So far in his short life, Kevin had overcome so much and progressed so far. We were proud of him and took great comfort in knowing we’d been able to help. Of course we missed him a great deal, but we hadn’t seen the last of him.
We’ve arranged to meet up with Kevin again in the summer and can’t wait. There are two more foster children staying with us now to introduce to him. If we can share as much love with them as we have with Kevin, I’ll end my days a happy lady. Fostering really has changed my life, and I wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world.
As told by Kevin’s foster carer