Ten years ago I met my son for the first time. Those first days are coloured forever by memories of 7/7 and I am copying below a piece I wrote about those events.
It was nine years ago today, on 6th July 2005, that I met my son for the first time.
The new family will first meet the child/ren on 6th July 2005.
The programme of introductions is laid out below.
Planned date of placement: 23rd July 2005.
Date and time: 6.7.05 1 pm
Location: Foster home
Comments: J to be taken out of school early to have lunch with Isobel at the foster placement. Visit approximately 1 and 1/2 hours.
At 1 pm I rang at their door and Colleen answered it, and J was there, right behind her, with a big grin on his face and saying “Hello Isobel!”. He led me back to the dining room, where the TV was on and all the talk was about the 2012 Olympics and the announcement that had come through just seconds before that London would host the next but one Games. I said to J “You’ll be 14 when the Olympics are in London”. I say I said it, but I think I probably shouted it as the TV was on loud and I was a little overcome. My memory of many of the conversations that followed over the next few days is of me talking very loudly.
So we sat down at the dining room table where lunch was laid out, and Colleen and Ray were in and out, chatting, all very easy. Me, inside, in shock and awe that this next to me was the child that I had wanted for so long, and he was perfect.
Then colouring with J and a 14 year old who was also being fostered, and that first meeting was over in a flash. I left elated.
The second day of introductions did not go exactly to plan.
Date and time: 7.7.05 2 pm
Location: Foster home
Comments: J to be taken out of school early. Isobel will take J out (maybe for a walk) and have dinner at the foster home at 5 pm. Isobel to leave after dinner.
The first indication that all was not right that day was a call from my sister at around 9 am. She was crying, she’d heard a bomb go off, they’d closed Euston, and she was walking to work from Euston station. We had both lived in London for many years by then, and during that time there had been several bomb attacks, including one in an office opposite mine where one person had died. I tried to reassure her that there had been a massive power surge, which was what Radio 4 was reporting, but she was unconvinced. “It was a bomb, I know it was”.
She was right of course. Those terrible events that morning, which resulted in 52 people losing their lives, and over 700 injured, cast a black shadow across London over the following weeks and months. I, meanwhile, was crazily living the happiest days of my life.
A journey which should have taken just over an hour took 4 hours to drive each way that day. Central London had been shut down and we were asked to stay at home unless our journey was absolutely necessary. All roads around the centre were gridlocked. I just knew I had to get to Day 2 of introductions, come what may.
So while the dead and injured were removed from London’s underground tunnels, in shocking and appalling circumstances, I sat on a swing in a park in Catford, with J on my lap, and felt as if I was the luckiest woman alive.