I've always found the ancient saying "Even a thousand mile journey begins with the first step" annoying. Nowadays a thousand mile journey is about the equivalent of going to the Seychelles, and it would begin with a ride to the airport. Or some injections.
With fostering, people give it a lot of thought before the watershed moment of getting in touch. Quite right, it's a big thing no mistake. But you can think about something too much.
For me, looking back to when we were thinking about it, I remember one weird misconception: I somehow thought that if I took the plunge and made the phone call and said; "Hello, I'm interested in fostering" something massive would change for ever, at that moment. I remember I actually felt nervous just thinking about making that phone call, so I put it off.
I've been trying to get a picture of why I put it off because it's a good thing to know everything about yourself but also because it might be of interest to anyone else who is in the same boat.
I have a feeling that I had a vague worry that I'd be rejected. We suffer lots of rejections in life, and often end up simply not taking the risk of being told "No thanks" for the umpteenth time. Well that particular worry was very ill-founded, the response down the phone was one of pure delight that I'd called. People who are involved in finding new foster carers, in my instance Blue Sky, are always, always delighted to get your call.
Another mysterious worry was that some of the good things in my life would change or even disappear at that moment. I put it off because it felt like it would be a 'No going back on it' moment. Silly, but it's true, I think the negative part of my brain was telling me that the moment I made the call, the very instant I got in touch about fostering, my life would change, and like everyone I was a bit afraid of the unknown. I don't understand my own logic with this one because I knew that nothing would actually happen at that moment, I suppose I was a bit afraid of making that first commitment, putting wheels in motion.
The other thing that was in my mind was that it was nice thinking about fostering, but would it be as nice to actually be in the real-life process of being checked out? I'd go from being someone bowling along merrily musing about fostering to someone weighed down with all sorts of massive burdens. A cheerful daydream would be replaced by harsh reality.
And the final thing was the worry about being checked out. Is our house alright? Will the wallpaper in the front room let us down? Is the main road too near? Does it matter that my partner has three points on his licence? Will they like us? The woman who lives two doors down thinks our sons shouldn't skateboard on the pavement, are we bad parents? Is there a medical? Will they want to see out bank statements?
So for a while I kept putting the call off. I honestly can't remember what made me actually make the call, all I can remember is a huge sense of relief that I did, because instantly I handed the burden and the worry over to someone else. It became Blue Sky's job to sort me out for fostering. I literally sat back and enjoyed the ride.
A Blue Sky man, all big grins and two sugars in his tea paid me a visit that lasted fifteen minutes and we chatted. There were no tricky questions. He got up to go and said something like "Yes, we're definitely interested in taking things along with you, we'll make a date for someone else to visit"
And a few days later I was getting know a social worker whose job was to accompany us through the process, hold our hand if you like. Our concerns about being checked out turned out to be almost daft, it was a friendly, respectful process.
I find myself often saying to myself and others that I wish I hadn't put it off, because now I know that getting in touch isn't the same as signing on the dotted line.
I'm not saying fostering is as much fun as two weeks in the Seychelles, but I'm quite certain that the first step is more enjoyable than injections.