All about Bear.


Slightly different post this week. It is all about Bear (above) and the trauma associated with soft toys!

Attachment is a word we hear a lot about, primarily we think of it with regards to people and parenting, however for children who have been adopted and / or in foster care a soft toy or something similar can provide comfort in a changing world and they form many different sorts of attachments.

Bear is the love of James’ (1) life. He has had him since he was born and will not sleep without him, Bear needs to be within 2 inches of his face or he wakes up! When James is upset he cries for Bear. Bear is so precious he doesn’t leave the house.

Bear has been chewed a lot (good for teething) and his nose has had a few repairs however this week the nose had to come off as it was at risk of being a choking hazard.

I took off Bear’s hard stud nose and replaced it with a fabric one (took me over an hour as Bear’s fabric had been chewed too much).


Now I think I did a good job on the nose, it looks like the original and is at the same weird slant, but it’s different.

I gave James back Bear, he chewed the nose, it didn’t feel right. He then threw Bear across the room (much to the shock of his brother). He then spent the rest of the evening pointing to his nose then Bear’s. He just sat there distraught and confused at how his most precious thing was different.

Watching this acute trauma reaction was heart breaking. I would go so far as to say Bear is one of his main attachments and seeing this little boy deep in thought about the changes was so sad.

His elder brother (Tom -4) was also upset to see his brother not playing with his precious bear and decided to help them re-attach! Tom spent lots of time sat next to James cuddling and stroking Bear, talking and signing to him in the way James does. This was beautiful to watch. Eventually James went to bed with Bear and seems to be learning to love him again, though he still touches the nose with real sadness on his face.

It was horrible watching the distress but beautiful to watch Tom’s reaction and understanding of his brother’s needs. (If he hadn’t been able to cuddle Bear by the time he went to bed he wouldn’t have slept, as we know from washing day).

Seeing how they now play together and respond to each other is lovely, something I didn’t think we would see at one point, let’s hope it continues and Bear remains in one piece.

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Foster sibling relationships.

  

Tom has 2 half brothers, however he will say he has several more, he includes the children of his foster carer and the other children in the foster home as his brothers (4 under 10- the woman is amazing to have had 6 children under 10 at the same time). We are fortunate in that we have a very good relationship with the foster family and have met up a few times in local parks, always to the benefit of our boys. It is worth noting our SW and the department in general have a very negative view of this foster family and discouraged contact (more on that in a bit).

Tom loves his “other brothers”. The foster carer’s own children are 8 & 10 and he looks up to them and respects them, they taught him how to kick a ball, run, play on the trampoline etc. they were a massive part of over half his life so far.

The 2 other boys (also brothers) in foster care for the last 8/9 months are of a similar age to Tom. They are being adopted separately, the elder hopefully going to his new family in the next few weeks. It was the elder’s birthday last week and we were invited to his party. For us this was hard as we knew this was potentially the last time Tom would see his “brother”, this little boy a few months older than him who shared so much with him, Tom had no idea. 

The party was amazing and fortunately the elder’s new family were also there (his is a special guardianship order), it was so lovely to meet them as we have also come to care for this child having seen him grow in the 7 months we’ve known him.

There were also quite a few other people who knew Tom well at the party and it was so encouraging to hear how positive they were about him. Both boys coped with the party amazingly well and really enjoyed seeing old friends again.

What has really struck us in our contact with the boys’ foster family is that the relationship between foster siblings is largely ignored by social services. We feel our boys have benefited from seeing the other 4 boys on the 3 occasions greatly. Tom regularly asks if the boys are ok and if they come up he always refers to them as his brothers. 

I don’t think it’s helpful that these relationships are ignored, there may not be a sharing of blood but there is a sharing of experience and after all adoption is not about blood relationships!

We intend to see the boys foster family 3 / 4 times a year as long as it is of benefit to ALL the children involved. Now we envisage this may decrease / change over time as it’s not so easy to meet up in the park or neutral ground, but we want there to be a sharing of information between the adults so when the children ask about their “other brothers” we don’t just make something up.

I do know that it is not always appropriate to continue contact and sometimes it can be to the children’s detriment but because that can be the case doesn’t mean the relationship should always be ignored.

Going back to an earlier point about social services view of the boys foster carer, they told us she was difficult to get along with and awkward with them. This could not be further from the truth in our experience, she has been happy to give advice when needed and her primary thought in everything she does is for the benefit of our boys. I think they found her difficult as she fought for the children she cared for and never let things slide if she wasn’t happy with them, that is the sort of person I want caring for my children! On that note I think I’ll text her and remind her how wonderful she is and how much we value her.