Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We've had yet another rotten lousy Contact, and the child went off the rails after being chronically let down -again - by family members who kid themselves their refusal to co-operate amounts to a valiant stand against the establishment, but all they're really doing is walking all over one of their own children.

"Contact" is where fostered children are taken to meet their real family members. It's the law, but it's rarely a happy experience for the children.  All those issues and memories. Sometimes the family messes with the arrangements to assert themselves. On this occasion they simply didn't show up.

So the poor mite comes home and rips into us, the family, the home. Turns the anger towards itself, writhing on the floor punching itself in the face. 

Thanks Contact.

That was the night before. Tonight, a different moment. Brilliant. If you're going to get onside as a foster carer, you HAVE TO be alert to these bliss moments too, just like you're adrenaline sharp when there's angst in your house.

We've got two placed with us, not related, who have never really known family life. Never known parenting or the family thing where you get a sort of inverted pyramid with the parents at the bottom supporting the layers of children and family pets and extended family and the Inland Revenue.

So these two don't know anything about how to behave like siblings. No idea what brothers and sisters are like with each other. 

They spend their time separately, showing each other the respect of strangers.

Recently they've been kind of prowling around each other as if they want to see what being "family" might be like.

Then tonight, after tea, the older one asked if it would be okay to move the furniture around in their bedroom. We agreed. We had a request for a tape measure. The other child had one in their room. They went upstairs together. 

Partner and I feigned doing the washing up while we kept a discreet eye. So many issues. Foster children involved in other foster children's bedrooms, eek! Generally it's a complete no-no. But sometimes, as long as you're covering everything, you can get a big bucks reward for a ten cent risk.

Protocols observed, permissions sought and granted, doors left wide open, foster parents clearly surreptitiously present but not intruding.

They faffed around mainly on the landing for ten minutes, then began to joke-squabble. One teased the other one, then got teased back. They abandoned the bedroom furniture project and spilled around the landing, high-fiving and fake biffing on upper arms, then tumbled, laughing hysterically, to the top of the stairs, where we stepped in. They went down the stairs side by side, still giggling - at the new depth of their relationship - and had a jumping contest to see who could jump off the highest stair onto the hall floor.

In the kitchen they took it in turns to mock-kick each other on what Americans call the "butt". 

Their laughter was non-stop. Their sense of achievement at finally finding a bond which most of us take for granted; well, it grew and grew to the point where they were nearly ready to love and hate as only siblings can. 

But they both decided, unilaterally, that would be for another day.

Instead they bagged the family tablet and teamed up for some (parent controlled) app game.

Incidentally, one of these two was the Contact "victim".  Or maybe it's the child's family who are "victim", because this child has found someone else to have a loving bickering relationship with, and it was the child's choice.

Still the best thing you can ever do, this fostering.

The Secret Foster Carer.


  1. I really enjoy your blog. I am being assessed to become a foster carer. Am a little nervous as I am single but also very excited. I get the impression that you need a good support network. Would you agree with this?

  2. Thanks, Anonymous.

    Good luck with the assessment programme; I know one or two other single Carers and they are brilliant.
    A good support network is one of life's essentials, or at least, it makes things more comfortable. This is even more so in fostering.

    The Secret Foster Carer