Friday, July 29, 2016

HOW DIFFERENT ARE ONE'S FIRST PLACEMENTS FROM ONE'S EXPECTATIONS

A new reader comments:

"I've just found your blog and read through many of your posts and I'd like to say I've found them really helpful - Thank you.
My husband and I have recently started our assessment process through the LA (after much deliberation about whether we are doing the right thing and will it suit our young family - We have children aged 2 and 4)
We love children, have worked with children and feel like we are doing quite a good job bringing up our own (so far) and that an extra one could thrive within our family...
But I do feel that until we actually start fostering, 
we won't know if it's right for us as a family?! Also, if it will continue to be right for us as our children grow up and develop their own views on us fostering.
How different were your first few placements, to your expectations? Thanks :-)"



Such a good question:

How different were our first few placements to our expectations?

Before I try that one, a word about the contributor's specific situation: your LA should know more than enough to tailor your first placements to your family's profile. I would guess a weekend respite as a great way to kick off. You learn a lot in one weekend, for sure. And come the Sunday night you're a proper foster carer.

So; to that excellent question.

Looking back, I think we expected the unexpected. A bit like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. But we didn't expect how unexpected the unexpected would be.

All human beings are very very different. Have you ever looked at those lookalikes, the people who  make a living looking like Michael Jackson or David Beckham? Only they don't. There are 7 billion people on earth and the fact is that everyone is utterly unique. Even identical twins; get to know them for ten minutes and you'll never mistake one for the other.

Every person's personality is equally unique. Hugely unique. Each of us has genes containing 150 Zettabytes of data which makes us the individuals we are.

A Zettabyte is 150 million,million,million,million,million. That's a lot of differentness.

But if you really want to know for sure how different we all are, wait until you start fostering. 

The mistake we probably made was to focus on the things our foster children would all have in common. We thought;

"They are all in foster care, they have that in common. They have all had a rough time, they should all be feeling the same uncertainty. Hopefully they will all soon feel the same security and safety in our care. And of course, they will all have one thing totally in common; they are staying with us, and our home and family will remain a consistent influence ".

Our first child was a weekend respite, a ten year old boy who had ran his regular foster carers ragged. He never stopped, never stood still, buzz buzz buzz. He'd play X Box for 7 minutes, then beg a glass of squash, then watch Spongebob for 5 minutes. He'd ask to play garden football provided he won something like 6-1 then he'd want to try climbing a tree, then have something to eat, then try to make Brio train track, then have to change his shorts as he'd had a little accident. That was a typical 45 minutes. It was an interesting 48 hours. He was a lovely lad though, and we happen to know he's grown up into a responsible adult and a good dad to his own child.

But blimey, I need a lie down just remembering our introduction to fostering.

Our second child came to us because his permanent placement had a temporary blip. He was a fifteen year-old son of a mother who had eleven children, all by different men. He was charming, thoughtful, witty, kind and generous. He mended our toilet for us. It had previously had a grizzle and took ages for the cistern to re-fill. I'll repeat; our second foster child mended our toilet. He took our tool kit upstairs and fixed the ball cock. He stayed up late on Saturday nights and kept my husband good company watching Match of the Day. He was with us about five weeks. He kept his room spotless, asked for the hoover to keep it nice  and did the washing up every evening.

It puts a spring in my step evert time I think of him.

And they both put a song in my heart. 

But talk about chalk and cheese. Nor were they unusual. I can honestly say that foster children each bring a hugely unique set of things to tackle, and for the first period they are with you you have to be reactive rather than proactive as you get to know them and their individual needs.

So; we learned fast not to have any expectations at all.

My husband says it's like when he used to play cricket and it was his turn to bat. He knew he wanted to hit the ball to the boundary, but had to wait and see what the bowler bowled at him before he could select the right shot.

And, in our fostering innings we have 28 placements on the board.

Thats 28 Not Out.










4 comments:

  1. As a new carer, who so far has only done 2 respite placements. 1st was a sibling group of 3 for a week (talk about in at the deep end) and 2nd a 9yr old for 2 weeks during start of summer hols. I think I was expecting the worst (violence, trantrums, general bad behaviour, The few experienced carers I have met to date seem to relish in sharing their horror stories) but these young people have been well behaved and polite. I know that there will be tough times ahead and not all the children will be such a pleasure to have in our home, but the fact that the carers of the kids whom have come to us have done such an amazing job gives me hope that with love and patience we can help turn the lives around of even the most troubled.

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  2. Well said.
    Love and patience gets the job done alright. My guess is you're going to fill the fostering shoes a treat.
    Oh, and good point about foster carers moaning. I'm afraid it's a vocational tendency to try to elicit "OMG" from other carers, I almost got myself ostracised from one group of carers because I wasn't doom and gloom. Keep the moaners at arms length, they're alright but they can tax your energy.

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    1. True, I always take the stories with a pinch of salt as I'm convinced they get more embellished with every retelling

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  3. We are kind of new carers. We are with our first (permanent) placement for 9 months now. It is hard to expect when you do not know children. In my experience the first real expectations are starting when you read referral documents. Those may be very sketchy and often not clear. Sometimes there could be mistake in age, race, nationality or gender even! This will more likely put expectations of the course :)
    But, as SFC said all children are different and I believe that in all of them there is goodness and kindness – as you all said patience and love is needed to show it.
    Before our three boys arrived we had been warned about some behaviour issues one of the boys. We were told about escaping, absconding, tantrums and violent behaviour. We expected the worst. To our surprise we have found that exaggerated. Yes, he soaked a few times and tested our patience but this boy is just very competitive, independent and he also loves routine. He reacted to boundaries superbly and after few months he is charming polite young boy who often receiving praises from us and school staff.
    We both went for Fostering Changes course. We learned a lot there and we are using behaviour management techniques often but most important we gave them love and our time and they gave us respect and love back. One thing you should expect: you will forget how it is to be bored :)

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