We recently received Peter's lifestory book from the local authority. These days they aren't so much a "book" as a "chapter", covering the child's story from birth to adoption. The adoptive parents are encouraged to add a chapter of their own to the beginning and end to soften the impact of the difficult information in the middle. This is vaguely how they should go:
- Peter is a kind, loving and clever boy who lives with his Mummy and Mama and their two dogs Lady and Nana. He is seven years old and he enjoys playing tennis, going on adventures in the woods and drawing. His favourite colour is green and he loves to eat spaghetti! Here is a photo of his family out on a bike ride together.
- Peter was born on 01/02/2010 in Newtown Hospital. He weighed 6lb 5oz. Peter's name means "rock". Here is a photo of Peter as a baby.
- Babies need to be looked after properly so that they can learn and grow. They need to be kept safe, they need enough food to eat, nappies, toys, a warm bed to sleep in, and lots of play and cuddles. Babies need grown-ups who love them, keep them safe and give them all the things they need. Love is not just a feeling, it also means giving someone what they need to be safe and happy.
- When Peter was a baby he lived with John and Christine, his sister Lizzy and his brother Harry. John and Christine loved their children, but they were unable to keep them safe, give them enough food to eat and help them learn all the things children need to learn. Sometimes XYZ happened (age appropriate explanation.) John and Christine were given lots of help to stop, but it's very hard to make changes and XYZ kept happening.
- Peter, Lizzy and Harry went to live with Dave and Helen, who are foster carers. Their job is to make sure children are clean and safe, have enough food to eat and a warm bed to sleep in. They love the children, and help them learn and grow. The children couldn't stay there forever, so a wise judge made the decision about where they should live. He chose a very special Mummy and Mama for Peter. Here is a photo on the day they became a family.
- Here are photos from the day Peter first met his Mummy and Mama. (Bit about how we felt and what we did in the first few days and weeks.)
- Here are photos and descriptions of events and milestones since Peter moved in - first time at the seaside, first day at school, first lost tooth, birthdays, Christmasses, Summer holidays etc.
- Mummy, Mama and Peter are going to be a family forever. When Peter grows up, he wants to ride water slides and be a train driver!
Peter's seventh birthday is approaching, and to help him with his understanding of time we went back and looked at some photos of Peter from when he first moved in with us to now, including his fifth and sixth birthdays. Peter actually came into care (to different foster carers) the day before his fourth birthday, and the other day he asked me if he was going to move to a new home when he turns seven. Due to his autism, developmental delay and speech delay we're not sure how much he understands or remembers about his past but this was heart breaking. We reassured him that he'll be staying with us forever and make sure we openly talk about plans we have for the future together ("when you're eight we'll...", "when you're thirteen we can...") to help him cement that in his mind.