Introductions have been an amazing experience. Wonderful, exciting, nerve wracking, and tiring.
One thing is clear though, if you have a good foster family helping you things go a lot better than they otherwise would.
Introductions are customised to the age of the child/children that you’re being introduced to. Younger ones tend to have a shorter period, older ones slightly longer. Sibling groups longer still but again depending on their age.
They are structured so that the first half is based at the foster carer’s house with them showing you the routine that the child/children is currently in, and slowly allows you to take it over. The second half is usually based at your own house following the same routines as best you can in your home environment. This part of introductions works really well, although I think how effective this is would wholly depend on the foster carer.
What I think should be addressed is the structure of Introductions. They are very formulaic, yes there is a review meeting halfway through for any “tweaking” but they could do with being more tuned to the individual children to begin with. In my opinion this could be done by having the social workers work more closely with the foster carer to come up with the plan, and to empower the foster carer to tweak as they see fit. After all the one person who knows the child/children best is the person who has looked after them for the last few weeks/months/years of their lives. They know whether the children are reacting well, or badly and whether they will need more or less time.
The social workers do do check up phonecalls throughout to both the adopters and the foster carer, but they generally take a back seat until the review meeting.
We were lucky enough to have a plan that more or less worked as written, although traffic conditions, rain and very hot weather required a few on the fly adjustments – probably unauthorised, however the children had to come first! – but I can see how that could have gone a completely different way very easily if the children had reacted differently.
All in all though, we survived introductions, we are tired, a bit emotional, but over all very happy parents.