When I was first asked this question, it stumped me; not because I didn’t have any ideas, but I almost had too many. Should I take him to the park? The beach? An indoor play centre? Realistically, I’ll need to do some food shopping, and take him to get his school uniform sorted. But which one do I start with?
But of course, it’s not as simple as all that; it’s not like his foster carers will drive him down here, unpack his belongings, and then go again. That would just leave behind a very frightened, confused young man, and wouldn’t do any of us the slightest bit of good.
The introductions usually take place over two weeks, or something very similar. I’ll be in his home town for a week, gradually being introduced to him in the safety and security of his current home. But I can’t for the life of me imagine that we’ll remain inside its confines for the entire week; we’d want to go out and just spend time together locally. Bearing in mind he lives in an area I have no idea about, I will need to be a quick study, and also make sure I use Google Maps on a regular basis – even if it’s going down to the shops or the park, I don’t intend to spend half of our time together having to admit that I’m lost. I need to inspire confidence in my capacity to look after him.
After a week, we’ll have already spent a good amount of time together, in an area he’s comfortable in, so when he travels down to his new home,
Then I’ll just need to feed him – What foods does he like? How does he like things cooked? Will I be able to cook so that he even likes what I’ve made him? – and organise his routine.
When he comes down to his new home, he and I will have the beginnings of a relationship – the very early stages, granted – and his foster carers will be coming down with him. That’ll give him security and safety; when his foster carers go, a few days later, he’ll have explored part of our home town with me and also with them. He’ll be able to associate certain parts with some laughs already, with people he already trusts – and I can then work on that.
So perhaps it doesn’t matter what the first thing is that I do with him. It’s more important that I’m with him.