As the months progressed we noticed more and more of Molly's needs were becoming apparent - a lot of sensory processing needs in addition to delayed speech and language. It was simply through trial and error that we learnt what worked and what didn't work with Molly and what she could and couldn't tolerate. I remember placing her in a swing at the park. She wasn't too sure getting into the swing but when she realised that the swing moved her eyes were filled with terror and she started to scream uncontrollably. I took her out of the swing and comforted her. She clung to me for a good while afterwards. Another time she needed to be weighed at the hospital. I stripped her off as instructed and tried to place her on the scales. Her reaction was the same as that when she had been placed in the swing. She clawed at me and reached out, screaming for me to pick her up. We were unable to weigh or measure her accurately and trying to measure her head circumferance produced the same reaction. She needed a lot of comforting afterwards and was unsettled for the remainder of the day.
Molly's adoption medical approached and John and I knew that this was the first step to her finding an adoptive family. I felt sad at the prospect of her moving on but also felt excited for her, knowing that she would find her forever family. I hoped that they would be a young family with at least one other child for her to play with and learn from. I imagined what her life would look like and had spent hours working on her life story book which would follow her. I had even spoken to some friends who had recently adopted a little girl, and a teenage friend who baby sat for us and had, herself, been adopted to ask what to save to move on with Molly and I had begun to put together a memory box for her. I wanted her to know how much we had loved her and wanted her to be able to build a picture of her life prior to finding her adoptive family.
For reasons of confidentiality I will not go into the details of the medical other than to say that Molly struggled very much with the examinations. She would not allow the doctor to weigh or measure her properly and clung firmly to me, crying and clawing at me each time I tried to turn her around or put her down to be examined. The doctor started to put together a medical report and expressed her concern at the prospect of another placement move for Molly. She asked if we would consider allowing her to remain with us permanently.
I left the medical feeling dumb struck and shaking. We had not allowed ourselves to even consider the prospect of Molly remaining with us out of concern for building an attachment that could not be easily transferred to her adoptive family and now the seed had been planted for Molly to remain permanently with us. I calmed Molly down as much as I could, sat in car and called our social worker, Fran. I tried to keep my voice level as I spoke and relayed the details of the medical to her. I explained that I didn't know what to think or what to feel and was confused as to where to go from here. We knew that we had a LAC review (review of a looked after child's care plan) coming up and arranged to discuss things further at this point. I the returned home, emotionally drained, and relayed all of the details to John.
Over the next few days prior to the LAC review, John and I thought about and talked about little else. We tried to get our heads around the prospect of Molly remaining with us coupled with the prospect of bringing up a child with additional needs on a permanent basis. We knew that agreeing to this permanency would transform our lives and plans. We had not entered the foster care profession as a path to adoption and knew that agreeing to permanency for Molly would mean that, as she was sleeping in our foster bedroom - which had been our one spare room - we would not be able to foster other children for a lengthy period of time or without having building work done on the house to give us another bedroom...something that we were unsure was possible. The biggest thing, however, was the knowledge that agreeing to permanency with Molly would mean, without any shadow of a doubt, that our journey or trying for another biological child would be over due to the stress and risks attached to another pregnancy already being so high without factoring in caring for a very young child with additional needs who would need extra security, nurturing and continuity. All of these doubts had counter arguements borne out of our love for Molly, our desire to do what was best for her and our belief - in agreement with the doctor and Molly's social worker - that another placement change could be detrimental to her development and not in her best interests. And so, after a lot of thought, prayer, discussion and sleepless nights we agreed to offer permanent foster care to Molly.