This story is about a five-year-old boy, ‘Peter’, who was removed from his family due to neglect and domestic violence and placed in a foster home. Peter had been assessed as mildly intellectually disabled, but thanks to the committed work of his foster mum, learned to relax in his new home, developed in all areas, and by the age of six, was able to go to a regular school. His foster mum and her family supported him in every way; they loved and cared for him. There was order, rules, but also bedtime stories, cooked food on the table, help with his homework, etc. He continued to see his biological parents every month, although these visits were stressful due to the ongoing conflict between his mother and father. His mother suffered from alcohol abuse. His father had only temporary work and was dating Peter’s 17-year-old half-sister, with whom he eventually had 2 children. After five years, Peter’s guardian decided – despite advice from psychologists and child-protection services to the contrary – that Peter should be reintegrated with his family because ‘they had changed’.
Peter enjoyed the ‘freedom’ he experienced with his biological family, there was no homework to be done and he could watch television until late at night, no one ensured that he brushed his teeth or washed his face. He started challenging his foster mum, trying to gain these same types of freedom at her house, and his grades started to slip.
Finally, he was fully reintegrated with his biological family, and these ‘freedoms’ stopped being sweet; he missed his own room, having cooked food on the table, constant care and support – but there was no way back. Unfortunately, his father could not help with Peter’s school work as he himself did not read or write very well. Clearly, as his foster mum notes, this case demonstrates that it was not in the best interest of the child to be reintegrated into his biological family where he was deprived of a positive future, further studies, and the full expansion of his skills and abilities.