I went to visit a previous foster child yesterday for the first time since he left me about 12 months ago. It was lovely to see him again but he's such a different little boy - so quiet whereas he was previously so lively, sitting still and playing with one toy instead of a whole toy box as he would have wanted at my house. In fact that was what started me worrying - there wasn't a toy box. No sign of many toys at all in fact. I could understand that in the living room, parents probably tidying frantically knowing I was visiting! But he showed me his bedroom too and none of his toys were there either, just his bed and a wardrobe. No books, no toys, not even his beloved Mr Tiddles cat that he slept with from birth
I visited shortly after he moved and the house was full of child centred things then but now it's virtually bare. None of his drawings on the fridge, not even any photos of him up! If you didn't know a child lived there you would never guess one did.
I phoned my support worker when we got home but she pointed out (probably correctly) that some people just don't like "stuff". I can't help worrying though. Should I be raising further concerns?? We won't meet again for at least another 12 months...
That sounds so difficult. And, it does sound odd that he has no toys / books etc around. How old is LO?
I am annoyingly tidy (or so my family and friends tell me!!!) and my bedroom is pretty toy / book free. However, there are toys in the living room ... yes I tidy up if someone is coming but there is a basket of toys there. And LO has toys and books in his room.
Its a hard one no more tears. But I would be a bit worried about a lively child becoming so quiet and especially in a house which shows no signs of a child. A social worker I recently met told me of a child that had been placed where it had disrupted within about 2 days. When back in foster care (thankfully the foster carer the child knew), the foster carer was very confused about why LO hadn't appeared in the morning. She went into bedroom to find him sitting there on his bed with his hands together.
Most LOs I know ... even shy ones, tend to be lively once they get going.
Its hard, maybe its just the set up with you visiting??? But then if the foster carer of my LO came, I would be more worried about her seeing my LO had his toys / books around.
Sorry I have waffled on. Is there anyone else you can talk to about it???
Single Mummy to my two boys, aged 4 years and 18 months, who light up my life
That's scary! Ok, so we try and be tidy and we do try and limit the amount of 'stuff' just out and around. But, their bedrooms are full of toys and books and pictures. Photos up everywhere, special cupboard by the table for them to get pens and crayons and colouring books etc. it's not you at all, there is something very wrong happening. If my girls where sitting quietly on their beds in the morning waiting to be told its ok to get up.......... I would be scared!! You have to do something I think, for the child's sake.
Daddy to 2 little Princesses aged 7 and 8. Placed in 2011, aged 3 and 4......... loving every minute of it!
I'd say if this lad was under five I would expect lots of toys about or at least stacks of boxes and storage with toys in. My front cupboard is heaving under strain of toys and board games for just when little grandchildren visit. I think more worrying is the lack of pictures around though, I am big on photos and for my tricky sons pictures have always their "thing" too which is handy! I still have them around even now they're teens.
I think though, his general well being and level of happiness should overshadow what material stuff is in the house. But then, reading what else you said he seems to have changed a lot in a year and you feel uneasy about that too.
NMT that is very worrying. I know some people don't like lots of things/toys around and can understand maybe wanting the living room to be a toy free zone, but not having any in his bedroom, his own personal place, is extremely worrying.
Also no photo's of him or any of his drawings/paintings around, that sounds down right odd to me. I would take this further if it were me. Sounds like a miserable controlling environment for any child to be living in, no wonder he looked withdrawn.
Although thinking about it the fact that the parents allowed you to visit him at home as opposed to in a soft play center or elsewhere, shows that they obviously don't think there is anything unusual in their "tidy" environment.
I agree with all the previous comments it is VERY worrying! It's almost like he doesn't actually live there, but was just there for your visit
Like you Ad-Minnie I am annoyingly tidy and very neat (you ask my girls ) and considering I don't have any children living here anymore. BUT even so ... I have a toy box come seat of GD toys in the lounge. In the dinning room I have 'Rocky' the rocking horse, and on a wooden box containing games a Fisher Price Little ppl house and buses/cars all ready to be played with, when she visits. Plus in my kitchen pics on the noticeboard of GD and the rest of fam which I change every few weeks.
I remember when my girls first came and I prepared their bedroom, one of the first things I did was put up their school photo's on their chest drawers, plus put up notice boards for them to pin any pics/drawings they wanted, to make it feel personal and their room. I also used a (blanket box) come toy box to hold the toys fc gave to me prior to moving in day. Interestingly same toy box is still being used today at AD for GD!
So for this LO to live there with no sign of toys / pics etc I feel is a big concern and am very surprised SW dismissed your concerns so easily
Is there anyone else you could contact because a year is a very long time to wait
Mum to AD's Bubbles (29yrs) and Fizz (28yrs) (came aged 6 & 7yrs). Now Grandma to GD Miss Bubbles (9 yrs) she lives with Daddy Bubbles & GS master Bubbles (6 yrs) he was in fc from 3 months old for a year, now returned to live with sister Miss Bubbles & Daddy Bubbles they all have no contact with Bubbles. Bubbles and new partner now have tiny bubbles SS on board. AD Fizz has DD Miss Fizz 3 yr old. Fizz has really turned her life around having finally got out of DA relationship.
I agree with others, this is very worrying. I think that it is one of those awful things which we as Fcs dread, just what does happen to our LOs when they leave us. Fortunately most go on to good lives, but in this case it really doesn't sound right. What to do? Keep pushing!!!! If you can see the difference in appearance and behaviour then something isn't right, apart from the total absence of toys, books, photos etc. Will anything change? probably not. We moved on a LO to an adoptive family who 'are not the family that presented at prep'! In other words, their parenting style is such that----if they had been honest during prep and assessment the LO would not be with them. Is LO still there? Yes---not enough to remove, just not what we would like for that LO---they will always be the scapegoat for the older BC.
It's awful, but it sounds like lo is now with one of those families who want them to "blend" into their lifestyle! I.e. their pale carpets and clean lines take precedence over lo's needs to play and make a mess! I bet they are hygienically clean and don't like noise too! Poor lo will be trying to fit in for approval! How sad when you've worked so hard to encourage play. Poor lo. x
Mum of two, a teen (14) and a tween (11) still rumbling on after 10 years!
Thanks everyone, I'm glad it's not just me being over fussy!
I spoke about it with another foster carer friend today who also knew the little boy when he lived here (I was his foster carer and he's now been adopted) and am going to give his SW a ring on Monday just to check in my concerns. You're right that its not even so much the missing toys, it's the change in his personality.
When he lived here he was extremely hard work - to the point that it was a struggle to find adoptive parents - but also totally and utterly charming. He could flirt for England! He had many attachment problems though and HV was starting to think about signs of ADHD. That's why I'm concerned about him even sitting still!! On the other hand his SW was always dismissive of the HV attaching any labels to him and may possibly say that all he needed was time to settle properly in a family. Which may very well be true.
I did casually mention the missing Mr Tiddles. His mum said he'd fallen apart in the wash (he was a manky old thing!) and had to be thrown away. I'd been hoping she'd say he was in a box somewhere with all his other toys but no.
(Just for balance, little boy didn't display any overt "distress" signs, was happy to sit on mummy's knee and physically looked the neatest I've ever seen him! And yes, surely the fact that we met at their house is a good sign)
Just to put another perspective on things......perhaps he was quiet for 'good' reasons (although you know him so well and you were there so it may seem a bit much to disagree with you NMT!) Perhaps he is a lot calmer now with 'permanence' and the adoptive parents find that too many things around make him 'hyper'?
On the other hand, maybe he was quiet because you were there and he hasn't seen you for so long?
Our house is full of toys and books and as I have said elsewhere, we are not in the least tidy, BUT I have never been one for putting up pictures on the kitchen cabinets, as I noticed friends do. Dash isn't really into drawing but even the drawing he has done I tend to admire but not put up, so I can understand that. Ditto photos....we're not big on photos in our house. We take a lot which we like to look at on the computer and Dash has a plastic pocket thing in his room which he is slowly filling up with photos he really wants to put up, but in the living room, the photos we have on display all fit on top of the piano and some of them pre date Dash coming to us!
He must HAVE toys (I would worry too if he didn't!!) but perhaps stored away?
Maybe they just don't feel peaceful with lots of stuff out?
I know on the old boards some people said that they took everything out of the child's bedroom except the bed and maybe wardrobe, on advice from profs.
You know him best but if he was sitting on mum's lap etc, he's probably okay.
PS Before placement I did a Portage training course and one of the instructors said she had to tactfully suggest to one Mum that toys were put away, otherwise the child could not concentrate on the games/toys she had brought....too much distraction. I do wonder if its a combination of that and personality type (wish I was as tidy as that personally!
Why do you not call the mother and voice your concerns? To be honest if it was me and I knew the previous foster carer had called social services with concerns about my childs well being without first talking to me I would be very cross and probably discontinue contact. Especially if I let fc be in my house, I would feel trust was broken. If the mother is unwilling to talk or you still have concerns than tell her you will speak to the social worker. Maybe the child is medicated?
Pluto, good point about the medication and very possible. The same with Larsti's point about permanence - tbh that is what I'm hoping. I've had children before who've been overstimulated by too many flashy, noisy toys but they've always had more than just one toy. However, every child is different and it might be that this is what works for him now.
I did make a couple of comments to mum but its drummed into foster carers whenever we move a child on (be that to adoptive parents, relatives or back home) that any concerns should be taken to social workers, not to the parents. I do feel like I'm going behind her back - another reason I hoped people on here would tell me I was being over fussy - but I'd also hate to be one of those people you read about after something happens to a child saying "we had a feeling something wasn't right..."
Well our living room has 2 big storage crates with toys and a load of toys too. Our dining room has toys in, our study has toys in, his bedroom has lots of books and soft toys and a few toys. Toys are all over tbh - its where LO leaves them. We have a few photos in lounge and bedroom. Can you ring adoptive parents on pretext of saying hiw lovely it was to see them and say how tidy you thought it was and ask for tips on where they keep LOs toys as you'd like to do similar? Just an idea. Surely he must have more than one toy? Good luck x
I'm keeping things vague as I realise this is a public forum and I probably said too much already on the posts above. Lets just say SW was aware of certain "issues" already when I finally got to speak to her and has promised he's not just being left with no further involvement from her.
To be honest I've become really depressed by this whole situation and its even made me question fostering. I don't have contact with many of my previous children which used to upset me but now I think I'd almost find that easier!
nomoretears - I really feel for you but please don't let this (almost certainly) one-off situation make you question fostering... what you do for 'our' children is amazing and it would be such a loss if you didn't do it any more...
It's very sad that you don't have contact with many of 'your' children but hopefully they have gone on to have a good life with their adopters and you just don't know about it... I was talking to Zippy's FC today and she pointed out that even after less than a year his memory box is choc-full of stuff which he can look back on and know he was really loved in their family ... and we so look forward to going through that with him...
I guess I am trying to say that the impact you have may not be known to you and is positive - whatever the outcome for the child... and I am glad that SW is following up on what you mentioned and not leaving them be... hugs, Axx
Mum to DS, Zippy (8)... came home Nov 2013, married to Bungle.
Thanks for that Annie, I think I was just having a moment last night. There's so much change for foster carers at the moment "behind the scenes" that often looking after the children is the easy bit! (No training for the past 2 years now, our local CAHMS has been closed, our contact centre has closed, SW visits cut to every 6 weeks instead of 4, children's allowance frozen, not even a Christmas party - when I first started fostering we had outings nearly every month.)
I've given myself a kick up the bum today though and I have a day to myself as little ones are at nursery for the day - time to go Christmas shopping! I just hope I can remember the list they've told me they "need" to have!
As Annie said, please don't let it put you off fostering. My LO wouldn't be the lovely boy who lights up my life without the wonderful fcs he had. I believe your care will be with the children you have fostered always. My LO is still so young and yet occasionally something he says, shows me he remembers his foster family with affection.
If a child is nurtured/loved and has that sort of relationship with someone at least at some point in their childhood, it can make such a difference.
Last Edit: Nov 13, 2013 20:28:08 GMT by Ad-minnie!
Single Mummy to my two boys, aged 4 years and 18 months, who light up my life
Married mum of two nearly adults !!! Grew up in care myself fostered for a long time so have a huge collection of much loved additional children. Fostering is forever xxxxxxx Just been approved for a sibling group who deserve to stay together - AS Left (5), AD Right (3) & AD Delight (13) xxx