I'm not a 100% expert on 'Life Story Work'. That's not to say I don't care for it, far from it, but I'm glad it's one that tends to get left to experts; psychologists and their ilk.
The thing for us foster parents is that our foster children ask us sudden, unexpected and hugely significant questions about their past that need some kind of answer. There's no trained expert in the kitchen except ourselves. We have to give it a go.
I think a child, especially a young child, who spends enough time in care learns about their past in a series of snapshots. They wonder about all sorts of things, then when they trust us to give kind, thoughtful and truthful answers to their big questions, they ask.
"Why doesn't anybody know who my daddy is?"
Or they ask why their daddy is in prison. I actually was asked that question and the little fellow was too young to hear the full story, I was peeling potatoes when he just came out with it.
"Why did my mummy burn all my toys?"
Worst of all for me, this one, from a few years back;
"When it's okay for me to go back with mummy could she come and live here with us so she can find out what a mummy should be like?"
The Life Story teams (as I understand it) have sessions with the child and a session with carers, and put together a joined-up version of the child's life that is age and development appropriate. They give carers a copy of the 'script' so we have answers for questions when they come up.
It also helps carers understand why the child is as the child is.
I was once advised by a child psychologist to always tell a looked-after child the absolute truth but I remember on the way home from that session wondering if he'd told the child there was no Father Christmas from the off?
And how do you answer truthfully a child's questions about God and whether He deigned horrible things to happen to the child?
Add "Archbishop of Canterbury"* to all the other fostering jobs we do.
I don't think many of us end up with a very accurate picture of our lives, especially those crucial early years up to about 7.
I'm always amazed how many people , when I ask "What was your birth like?' reply "I don't know, I've never asked".
Or even "Why did your parents choose your name". People don't know anything about themselves, why they act as they do, think what they think.
I've transferred quite a few practices that we are trained to learn and apply with looked-after children to myself and my family. Life story work is one.
Just another little benefit from being in this fostering lark.
* Other religions are available.