Fostering a baby

I expect you’ve got a baby photo

Don’t be fooled! This was as friendly as me and my brother ever got in the 1970s. Now that we are grown ups, we chat regularly on the phone, laugh about the past and plot the future. He supports QPR.

Here’s one of me in the arms of my mother, staring at my big brother. I was born in the upstairs bedroom of the house where this photo was taken.

We moved when I was 5, and my Mum and Dad still Iive in the ‘new house’. 

When I return, I still sleep in the bedroom I had when I was at Primary School, although my parents did redecorate sometime in the 1990s.

We’ve only ever fostered one baby, but he did stay twice.

We had him more or less as an ‘emergency’, for reasons I was never quite sure about.

Although we were more set up for school aged children, we did our best.

We fed him, we kept him warm and safe, we changed his nappy, and we sung nonsensical songs to him.

He gurgled and grinned back at us, just as babies are supposed to do.

Our birth kids, particularly our 7 year old daughter, thought he was very cute.

He didn’t sleep well, by which I mean we were lucky to get even an hour of peace either in the day or in the night.  We didn’t know why.

Perhaps it was health issues, or perhaps his body was full of adrenaline, somehow aware that his future was so uncertain and precarious.  Perhaps he was just a poor sleeper.

After a few days, the Social Worker told us she’d found a more permanent arrangement.

I was instructed to drop the baby off at a local Nursery.

I remember learning about Moses being cast adrift in the Nile as a kid in Sunday School. To me at the time, it was just a story and a colouring-in sheet. I am rubbish at colouring in and have no interest in keeping within the lines.

This was a simple enough task, but I did find it very emotional, believing I was unlikely ever to see this child again. The image that came to my mind was a colouring in sheet I must have done when I was 3 or 4. It was of Moses’ mother pushing her infant son into the Nile, nestled in a basket of bulrushes. I hoped and prayed that this little kid would be safe.

That night we got the best night’s sleep we’d had for some time and then carried on with our lives.

A few days later, I arrived back home from work to find a Social Worker looking sheepish in our kitchen.  My wife was cooing over a baby, the same baby I’d dropped off a few days before.

The Social Worker had arranged with my wife for the baby to stay just one more night, as an absolute last resort emergency.

In 1982 I sent this photo of my Mum into a ‘Glamorous Teacher’ competition in The Eagle Comic. I won! My Mum got some chocolates and flowers delivered to the school where she worked. She had no idea I’d done this. I won £5. Viewed through modern sensibilities, this whole concept now seems problematic.

I asked for some further explanation.

‘The baby was due to be picked up by his Mum, but she had never turned up. We can’t find her or contact her.  We knew you still had a cot and the bottles.  It’s 7.00pm and there really is nowhere else.’

Although usually phlegmatic, I was cross.

Who was this feckless mother? What was she up to when she should have been looking after her helpless child? Who would deliberately abandon their child in such a way?

I voiced my thoughts.

The Social Worker, quite rightly, explained such details were confidential.

However, we were told that the Mum had only recently became a teenager and was in care herself.

I know, if it had been possible, we’d have found room for that young Mum and the baby to stay in our home.

This story is 10 years old, and we’ve no idea what happened to that baby.

I do know, that for a few days at least, he was safe.

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Birth parent, Foster Carer, Adopter and Recruiter of Foster Carers for Liverpool City Council

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