Thursday, September 15, 2016


Time for a quick update on our recent arrival. I say 'recent' but time flies, he's part of the family now, but in his own way.

That's the big difference between foster children and one's own children; foster children have begun to be who they are going to be before they get to you. Your own children grow into themselves with you alongside, so whether everything's alright or not, your own children don't have to learn to fit into a new family, they've always been a part of it.

Difficult challenge for all concerned, for the child and the family; helping them to find their place.

Age is the first big consideration because maturity and physical size determine a child's place in any pecking order, and though we try to minimise the pecking order in our house, it's a logical thing that a 5 year-old feels not quite equal to a 10 year-old.

So Romeo (not his real name) has slotted into his age-related place in the family beautifully well. He tests his arguing skills mainly against my other half Bill (also not his real name) using the second language most British men speak fluently namely sport. To be precise football. Romeo's team is one of the top Premier League side's and Bill's...well...isn't. This is perfect because Romeo can bash Bill by boasting about his team's superstars and the fact they're on telly every week while Bill's team gets ten seconds at the end of the regional sports roundup.

There's a powerful attachment going on between males when they discover that each other likes the same sport, it's quite endearing to watch, and in Romeo's case it's a yardstick of how well integrated he is becoming in our family.

Which is just as well because his situation is starting to look permanent. His mother has found a new man and the new man is calling for her to make a 'him or me' decision, and Romeo is going to lose.

I know, it's shocking and heartbreaking for the kid, that his mother is going to choose some guy she only hooked up with a few months ago over her son. The man is by all accounts no shining knight - how could he be if he's dug his heels in and said he wants the woman but not the woman's child?

Romeo has wind of all this, so is totally excused his low points.

And he has low points. Fostering is not a bed of roses, I'm always honest about that.  I get frustrated when I hear parents talking about their children "always trying it on". You hear them saying "I tell him to do one thing and he does the other".  It frustrates me because this so-called bad behaviour is almost always an expression of a need to constantly explore the love the adult has for the child. They're testing us, testing our application, testing that they are important enough for us to tell them off, testing how much we love them.

So yes, Romeo tests us from time to time. At his previous home the only way he could get any attention was by transgressing, so he learned to get a form of affection by making a racket in another room or drawing on a wall or smashing a toy. And getting yelled at.

So one thing I try to do ( I have to concentrate) is this; when he's been up in his room quietly playing by himself for half-an-hour I go up with a lolly and tell him what a good boy he is.

An even harder thing to do is to pay no attention if he starts smashing a toy. But I try.

And he's testing us less and less. 

BTY; who came up with the phrase "A bed of roses"? It surely means the opposite of what it's supposed to mean. Would anyone get a decent kip in a rose bush? I don't think so.


  1. I love the Romeo updates. Sounds like he's landed on his feet with you.

    A bed of roses is far better than a bed of nails!

  2. That's kind, maybe he has landed on his feet. But don't children in care make sure to remind their foster carers any chance they get, that they've had it rough, and are tempted to present their rough times as a validation for transgressions? The last thing you can expect, at least for the first year, is any acknowledgement that life's come up smelling of roses (dammit, there's them roses again).

  3. Now this is an odd dichotomy... we've seen kids play down how bad things were at home, strongly denying things that are known facts and defending parents in all manner of situations... yet when they think it might make a good excuse you get the tragic and often hammed up version of events.

    As with most things I guess the truth lies in the middle ground.

  4. True. We're probably all a bit like that when it comes to telling how something was. I really agree about the general tendency to play down the hardships of the past, I wonder if it's because they had no reason to believe that what was happening to them was no different from everyone else.

  5. Hi I chatted to you as we waited to go through panel ... and finally we were approved in through form F in August. We are also with an agency. for 2 children ( 3 in a years time hopefully) So far we have had one week of respite care with a 13 year old which seemed to go well but now the piece of string question. Any idea how long we may have to wait until we get a placement that is short term... ?

  6. First off, congratulations are in order. Well done, and welcome aboard!
    And hold onto your hat.
    Second, good to hear your first placement went well; it's a trepidatious business that first child, you never forget them because your own adrenalin is up.
    Third, speaking from experience, you never know what the next phone call will bring. Or when it will come. We always tried to enjoy the gaps between placements, especially once we got to know the job; we treated ourselves to lie-ins and lazy Sundays knowing they'd soon be out of reach for a while. I don't know if other agencies are different, Blue Sky keep you in the loop well enough, and always fed back to us that our open door policy (we stuck to our guns that we'd consider any child), was a big help to them.
    I know that Christmas is a busy time in fostering, a lot of sad families hit the rocks what with all the disruption, cost and chaos over the period, but hopefully you won't be on standby until then.
    Let us know how it goes, meantime keep your mobile close...