Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A day with Rosa

In my last blog, I wrote about a very special person in our lives: Digger’s fostermum, Rosa. The post described only a fraction of what she means to us. In this blog I will continue my tribute, and include her family. A pivotal point is the trust my husband and I place in her, that strong piece of a puzzle that is Digger’s life.

While Digger lived with Rosa, he spent a lot of time with her close-knit family. Especially her mother and father, where he would often spend the night. But he also stayed with her sister and her family. They were all her back-up carers, and Digger loved spending time with them.

We have kept in regular contact with Rosa and her family. And so it was a natural progression to ask Rosa and her mum to do an evening’s worth of babysitting last month. Very thoughtfully she pinged through a selfie of a cuddle on our sofa which Pierre and I got while we were out for dinner. They looked so in tune and so happy. They share something. And our hearts burst at the sight of it. It felt very good and right to leave them to themselves too. To have their own thing…

‘You have no idea how much it means for us to still be able to see Digger.’
Well, that feeling is mutual.

Just last week, 18 months after Digger left Rosa to come live with us, we upped the game, and let him he spent a whole day with her and her family.

Digger had a wail of a day. Jam packed with people he had know when he was an infant. Blasts from the past.

Rosa returned after supper with a very happy and super stimulated boy. Loaded with a heap of small and big presents, and arms full of hand-me down toys. It was clear that they had had a very special time. There had been dozens of hugs for Digger, and playmates. Bags of attention, smiles, giggles, tickles, tossing up the air, rugby, football and much much more. Rosa told stories of how happy everyone had been to see Digger. She kept it a surprise to her nieces and nephews, and it paid off. They were moved to tears. Happy tears. Each one of them recognised him. At first sighting. From the back.

By the sounds of it, Digger had been his most charming, fun-loving, cuddly, caring self that day.

Rosa said the only time Digger wobbled was when she strapped him in the car seat of her car, got in the driver seat and turned the key. She looked in the rear mirror and saw a frightened little face. She quickly addressed it, turned around and talked to him about the day ahead, and how they were going to come back tonight. She put on some music and soon they were singing along. Later on, when she told him it was time to go home, he smiled brightly and was ready.

That night he went to sleep in his cot with a big smile on his face.

The boy who got out of his cot the next morning, however, was very whining and clingy. The sling came in very handy over the next few days. He spent the greater part of the day clued to my body. You could not have put a piece of paper between me and Digger. And the day after, a Saturday, he did the same to my husband, when he wasn't stuck to me. It was exhausting for us grown ups. So I wonder how it must have felt to him.

I was nervous that I had overstretched him. But now a few days later, all is back to normal. And he has learnt a new word: Home. We use it all the time. He signs it, when he says it. Making a pointed arch with both hands, by letting the finger tips of one hand touch the other. He beams when he says it: ‘Home!’

When we return from our daily business we now play ‘Where does Digger live? Where does mummy, daddy and Digger live?’ And he shouts ‘There! There!’ Points. And then scoots straight up to the front door. He knows where he lives. And that this is where we come back to, whenever we have been out.

Nevertheless we needed to anchor him back into our family after his day with Rosa. He was only ten months when he left her, but those memories of being up rooted are evidently strong.

Typically, I am still a little worried I did the wrong thing, but have decided to use the opportunity to strengthen our bond, and his sense of family and home. I prefer to use the episode constructively. And to let him head off with Rosa again at some future date. 

The future will hold similar situations, I am sure, where he will be upset and confused, and we need to reassure him of the stability of our family. Some will involve Rosa, some his birth family, and some may be prompted in other, unpredictable ways, I suspect.

I feel so strongly that we as his parent must make a concerted effort to integrate his past into his present and his future. There is no doubt I pushed it. More than I knew I did. We got away with it. In fact, the result of Digger’s day out with Rosa and her family has been that our family ties are stronger.


  1. Thanks for this. I am meeting up with a child I fostered for 18 months and his new Mummy this weekend. We have met before but this is the first time he will come to my house (although he never actually lived in this house) and see some other people as well as me and my son, and we will visit a local park. Your insights have been very helpful in preparing me for how things might be from his viewpoint.

    Also, I must just say a word about your role in all of this. At my recent annual fostering review, I was congratulated on a good handover to adoption with this little boy, and I had to say that it was due in large part to the generous nature of his new mummy who really went out of her way to be understanding of the relationship between us and her need to, as you say it, integrate his past with his present and future. Without her open-hearted generosity, I would not have the great privilege and pleasure of being able to stay in touch with a little boy who I loved and nurtured for nearly half of his life before he was moved on. She doesn't need to include me but she does. You don't need to include Rosa, but you do, and that says a lot about you as a person.

  2. Thank you (that is the words I use most often with you!). That is very generous of you to say. It definitely takes two to tango… ;)
    I love your writing too. Your perspective as a foster mum is so valuable. Thank you again for that!