Nobody has ever asked me; "Why do you foster?"
Honest, hand on heart, nobody has ever asked me that question outright, apart from way back when we were going through assessment, and even then it seemed only a routine question along with "Do you have a car?" and "Do you have high blood pressure?"
People do ask about the child you're fostering, and often say things like "How marvelous". But they never ask "Why do you foster?"
Mind you, when I think about it, I've never asked anybody; "Why don't you foster?"
I was driving home after the school run yesterday and heard another radio advert asking people to become foster carers.
Sometimes, when I'm reminded that there are tens of thousands of children who need a safe home, I wind myself up a bit and feel like going round asking people "Why don't you foster?"
Take the married couple in front of you in the Saturday morning supermarket queue. They live comfortably enough, judging by what they're buying. At least one of them works, or else they'd do the weekly shop on a weekday. But it's a trolley piled with adult food, so the kids have grown up. They are bickering with each other quietly about whether they should have bought packet ham or paid the extra at the cheese counter. He wanted Parma, she says it's not worth the extra as it's only for sandwiches. He's in a sulk.They will go home to a house with probably two or three empty bedrooms and rattle around it for the whole weekend, getting on each others nerves. Eating ham sandwiches and dreading another long empty Sunday.
Then there's the woman friend of yours. Acquaintance really, who dropped out of teaching young, you met her when your children went to the same school as hers and you've stayed in touch, which is easy now with Facebook. She is bored with her part time job doing the books at her local golf club, where the money is poor and she doesn't see many people. She is good with kids, she's got two who are both at secondary school. She always asks how your kids are doing, with genuine interest.
Or the couple who live opposite you, who mentioned during the Jubilee street party last summer that they had thought about fostering.
Or your own brother who can't get the building site work he used to since he has to be careful now he has an artificial hip, and his girlfriend's curtain business isn't doing very well.
I have never yet asked anybody why they don't foster, because it might sound smug, pushy. They might give me a mouthful, or never want to speak to me again because they'd think I'm trying to be one-up on them or maybe I get paid commission for recruiting (I don't if you must know).
Obviously, most people have sound reasons; their family is complicated enough, they haven't the space, they intend to try fostering when the time is right. I get all that.
I'm guessing, but I suspect most people who give it some thought end up agreeing with themselves that they simply "Couldn't do it".
But if fostering has been through your mind more than just the once, it's time to find out from people who will know whether or not you can do it. Here you are reading this blog. Next step is to click the "Could I Foster?" tab on the Blue Sky home page.
The Secret Foster Carer