"One Wednesday morning in November 2002, I had a phone call from my social worker, telling me about a little girl. Five months old and brain-damaged; parents at the end of their tether. Would I be interested in taking her for a few days? Nothing was definite at that point, Imogen was in hospital and her parents might still decide to take her home themselves."
Click the quote to get the rest of the story - my story starts about halfway down the page.
As we walked out of court, I gained a daughter.
I also lost something. I was approved as a fostercarer in September 1999. My first fosterchild moved in the day after I was approved. Since that time, the longest I have ever been without a fosterchild has been ten days. Whilst I still have children, whilst I now have children who can be considered legally my own (although I have a problem with the idea that anyone can claim to own a child, people are not property), I am no longer a fostercarer. I do not foster any more. My occupation now is simply "parent". I'm delighted to be that parent, but it is still a little strange to me.
I seriously doubt that I will never foster again. This is a hiatus, not the end of an era. There will come a time when my skills are needed, and the phone will ring. But until then, for now, I am not a fostercarer.
This is a happy day. Mog wore her smart green dress, she looked beautiful, and she enjoyed all the attention whilst waiting for our moment in court. The judge thanked us for bringing joy into his day, a day otherwise filled with difficult and negative child and family law stuff. Mog sat up late tonight (until she couldn't hold the seizures off any more), we had a nice meal, Little Fish gave her lots of cuddles, and we enjoyed being a family. We've been working towards this day ever since we knew that Mog would not be able to return home to her birth family. I hope today is a happy day for them too - the knowledge that Mog's status in their lives is unchanged; she remains legally as well as emotionally and physically a part of their family whilst gaining legal status as a member of our household too.
It's also a sad day. For four and a half of these five years, Goldy was there to hold Mog, to laugh at her and to tell her stories. Goldy loved parties, and would have loved to have been able to be a part of this one. Always, when Mog was younger, I pictured Goldy being with us in court for this day. I can picture her now, clearing her throat loudly and stealing some of the limelight, finding a way to somehow stain whatever smart clothing I would have put her in, and demanding pizza as a celebration afterwards. We have a bottle of champagne, and my mind is drawn back to a different family celebration - in my memory, Mog is lying under the table, having been worn out by a morning of having people pay attention to her. Goldy is pulling on my arm as we toast the guest of honour. I hold a glass of champagne to her lips, she sticks her tongue into it, and, as the rest of us raise our glasses "To Harry", Goldy raises her voice and loudly demands "BEER". She would have enjoyed today, she would have loved the rain and the wind and arrived in court as high as a kite, fizzing on the weather and the emotion all around her.
We included her memory. Mog wears Goldy's "teddy bear skin" blanket, my smart court clothes are the ones I bought for Goldy's funeral, Little Fish has the capacity to be just as loud although in a very different way. Goldy will be forever on my mind and in my heart; I would have liked it if she could have been here in our lives still too for today.
She isn't. My two girls are though, and are both sleeping sweetly after an exciting day. Tomorrow Little Fish is the birthday girl, and a slew of presents and cards dropped through the letterbox this morning for her. Today was a happy day, tomorrow will be a happy day, and I will be heading for bed myself shortly. It's ok I think to take a few minutes in the meantime to be sad for what is not, as well as thankful for what is.