And so it begins …………

 So D Day finally arrived, after months of meetings, our Form F completed, and all relevant boxes and documents ticked and crossed we found ourselves sitting in front of panel. Everyone did their best to make us feel at ease but that still didn’t stop us from feeling as nervous as a teenager on a first date – it was the sense of the unknown – like walking down a dark alley and not knowing what would be waiting on the other side. We need not have worried. The panel were professional but did their utmost to make us feel valued and welcomed. We were relieved to know their decision would be swift as I’m not sure our nerves would have held out for another day. The feeling of elation when we heard we had passed panel will always be a special moment. Once home we celebrated by opening the bottle of fizz we had saved (once we unlocked it from its new home in our shed - our once exposed wine rack being the lone victim from the fostering process)

 Having passed panel things moved on pretty quickly. We were allocated our supervising social worker who talked us through the next stage of the process. Being ‘newbies’ it was advised that we ‘dipped our toes gently’ as it were – starting off with one day a week respite care for a ten year old boy. The information we were given on ‘H’ enabled us to plan a day that we thought he would enjoy and also include our own children in.

On the morning we were due to meet ‘H’ and his long term foster carers, a million questions ran through our minds ‘Will he like us, what if we cannot meet his needs, what are his hobbies and what if he absconds’ were the main questions at the forefront of our minds. The initial meeting went well, ‘H’ was a little quiet but made good eye contact and seemed enthusiastic about spending a day with our family.  With all in agreement, a date was set for our first day of a respite care.

 When the day arrived the nerves came back with a vengeance – it was decided that we would all go as a family to ‘Army Forces Day’ a great idea we thought as it was something we would all enjoy together. What we forgot, however, was how crowded the venue would be and when ‘H’ went out of our sight for even a second it was hard to hide the panic on our faces. It was ‘H’ himself that calmed our nerves with his sunny disposition and a statement of ‘this is a wicked day out, I’m having a brilliant time’ With our nerves put back firmly in their box the rest of the day was super fun.

 Since our first day of respite care we have had ‘H’ on other occasions. Through his eyes we have reconnected with nature and the outdoor world. I have learned to fish, make decent scout knots and even tackle the hardest course at the Cyclopark. I’m sure there will be many lumps and bumps as we continue our journey as ‘newbies’ but nothing can surely be as painful as bruising my posterior whilst ‘stacking it’ (you will also learn lots of new words from your foster child) at the Cyclopark.