Thursday, September 24, 2015


We have a spare bedroom at the moment. A child has gone home.

Keep wondering whether to close the bedroom door or leave it open; it's an issue if the child has touched you.

It's not a very big issue.

Randomly; I remember once giving a new foster child the choice of a big bedroom or a small one and she chose the small one, she felt safer in there. This child used to like to climb under a small corner table in the living room and just lie there out of sight for a bit. When we played hide and seek, the minute I shouted 'One hundred! I'm coming!' The child would shout 'I'm in the cupboard under the stairs'. Hide and seek is a good game because you're usually the seeker and you can stretch the countdown so you can get a few quick jobs done.

Oh, look if it's not obvious, I'm waffling.

Waffling because the child has gone and I'm a bit here there and everywhere. Worrying a bit too.

Worrying about two things;

One: I'm worrying if it's going to work out for the child going home. The things that worry me are to do with the things I found out about what was going on in the house before the child was taken into Care.

Two: that the next phone call from Blue Sky will mean something as meaningful as the child who has gone.

On Worry Number One;

When you've developed feelings for a child, which is impossible to avoid, and which is essential anyway in my view if you're going to foster properly, then letting go is a wrench. On several layers.

At the highest level you are desperate that they go on to happiness, that their real home shapes up, that they don't suffer any more.

Further down the pecking order of worries you find yourself hoping that the good work you managed to do with the child, whatever it was and however it might be measured, isn't going to be undone by someone's bad parenting. You're not sure if it's just some kind of professional pride in your work or a big-headedness based on the fact the child was taken from the real parents and housed with you, ergo you are a better parent than most, better than the real parents for sure.

When you're emotional you get all sorts of thoughts, then you get thoughts about your thoughts. So you find yourself wondering if you're getting too big for your boots thinking of yourself as a top parent, because deep down you know that even the best possible parenting is 90% making up for your mistakes.

You find yourself wishing you were a fly on the wall in their house so you can see what's going on. Wishing they miss you, that's another wierd one; you're supposed to be rewarded that your job was well done and you hit the bullseye, namely you got them back to their real home. 

You worry that your work will be unravelled, that they'll go back to having dog bisuits for breakfast and sleeping where they like in their clothes. 

I stayed in touch with one young person who went home, but I went under worrying about her, and when I found myself calling her social worker to inform her about something that needed to be done for the child, the tone in the social workers kind voice told me to back off, so I did, and have never looked out for a former placement again.

On Worry Number Two

Fostering is, as Forrest Gump says about life, like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get. If I ever go to America I'm likely to buy a box of their chocolates to see if they don't have a map on the inside lid that tells you which one is coffee cream and which one is marzipan, because with every British box of chocolates you know exactly what you're going to get.

God, aren't I all over the place here, sorry.

The number two worry is a mix of excitement and trepidation, because you never know when the phone might ring, or who the next child will be; which type of parent you're going to have to be. 

Maybe they'll need a homely earth mother always in the kitchen baking cakes, humming songs from the Sound Of Music and on bedtime standby with a fairy story and a mug of warm milk.

Maybe they'll need a clued-up ex-biker elder sister-type who knows what's number one in the charts and likes it, who thinks Grand Theft Auto is cool and doesn't think 1.30am is too late to be up on a Friday night.

I know there are foster carers who breathe a sigh of relief when a difficult child goes, part of me does that too. I know carers who moan when they have to pull in the drawstrings because a child going home reduces your budget, and I can't pretend I don't notice the difference.

But most of the carers I know, the ones I'm closest too, are first and foremost a bit emotional when a child goes.

Sorry to have blithered a bit.

I'm fine. Hope you are too.


  1. Ah, this brought a tear to my eye. If its this unsettling for you, then how must the child feel. I hope it works out, I hope you ARE ok. I hope another child arrives (for their sake and as a distraction).

    I am sure you do what I do - worry about the little things - will their parents remember to keep up hard won routines - brushing teeth, clean school uniform, homework before tea... but I have deep deep worries about the big ones - medicine, food, safety. You know what I mean.

    Your thoughts on thoughts reminded me of quote from Terry Pratchett:
    “First Thoughts are the everyday thoughts. Everyone has those.
    Second Thoughts are the thoughts you think about the way you think. People who enjoy thinking have those.
    Third Thoughts are thoughts that watch the world and think all by themselves. They’re rare, and often troublesome. Listening to them is part of witchcraft.”

    Part Fostercarer too I think.

  2. Thanks Mooglet, you're spot on about the little things, the hard won routines. I have worries too about the big things, mainly the quantity of love.

  3. Ella here - Eve and I worry quite often about people we knew in Care who just disappeared. Once they left the Children's Home others didn't bother. We worry because we care, so do you!

  4. I did not experienced emotions and worries of "child's leave" yet. It must be not great feeling. I do know the feelings of awaiting for a child. I am going through it now and it is not easy. We are waiting for our first placement, waiting for care order decision.
    I can imagine your worries about child; I've read many referrals and often find myself worrying about children I read about. Never met them, do not even know how they look like, sometimes I do not know theirs real names. But for some strange reason I worry and feel for them.
    I do not have children on my own so where from those feeling and emotions are coming from? No idea. Sometimes I worry I am too soft for fostering ...

    1. Exciting times, but trepidatious too.
      When you say 'soft' maybe you mean caring; that's nine parts of the job, so you sound like you have the key bit of equipment. There are tought times, I wouldn't pretend there aren't; that's when your social worker goes into overdrive. You can always share here, with us; just keep the details of the child private, of course.
      Good luck. And welcome to fostering!

    2. Thanks also Me JustAMan for your private comment which I've not published at your suggestion.

  5. You may delete or amend this comment.
    Thanks SFC. I am not new here; I've just changed nickname to hide my real name :) S.