Monday, October 31, 2016



You get them in fostering, boring it isn't.

Our newest arrival..the one I've called 'Romeo' on the blog?

The one whose mum had to decide between him or her latest bloke since her latest bloke was considered a risk? The one whose mum went and chose the bloke? That child. That poor discarded little mite.

He's found his groove with us, got a bit of traction on life. He fits in, enjoys our routines, responds maturely to the normal disciplines of a normal house. By which I mean he moans about bedtime, moans about there always being something green on his plate, has been known to lob a remote control across the room if whatever he's trying to do on the X Box goes pear shaped. And sulks when he's banned from it for 48 hours for the lob.

We like him. He likes us. He's on the way up.

There's been talk of permanent placement, after all he has nobody; real father has vanished, no other relatives to speak of, mother shacked up with a drug-doing, possibly drug-dealing reprobate complete with Asbos, convictions, convictions pending including contravention of a Court Order and carrying something allegedly with intent, who is believed to have several other offspring from other 'relationships' dotted around several different social services.

The mother wants Romeo back.

The story we hear is that she's left the bloke, and says she's mended her ways.

These are the occasions when we have to remember that we foster carers are first and foremost, professionals.

Professional parents. And while the business of being a good parent is so demanding and complex it's way more of an art form than a science, there are times when we have to be cool and collected and push our feelings into the right place.

We have to remember that the job in hand is to get them ready to go home. Even when our heart aches, our fears are running riot in our head, our reservations are real and profound. We are part of a system which on the whole is fantastically thorough and deeply caring.

The decision-makers will decide and we have to support that decision and do our darnedest to make it work.

I might have misgivings about the woman's suitability to parent, not to mention her motives for wanting her son back (accommodation, benefits...), but if it happens, my job is to conceal those concerns from him, which at the moment is what we are doing - he has no idea what sort of discussions are taking place.

If and when he goes it will be heart-breaking for us, yes. But how do we want him to feel?

This is a big question. Do we want him to feel sad to leave? We instinctively want him to have appreciated his time here and therefore miss the things he's not likely to get when he goes back to a troubled mother. Or do we want him champing at the bit to get home (wherever home is)? Or a bit of both?

The fact is it's out of our hands. We could go extra-kind and generous to help him store up some emotional strength and well-being before he goes. Or we could begin to neutralise so that whatever attachment may have developed isn't overly weighted to the point of risking damage to his next step in life.

But I suspect it doesn't matter much how we approach the departure, so we'll carry on as before; providing material needs first and a consistent, caring, loving environment second.

Because one thing you notice quickly in fostering is that it doesn't matter how wayward a child's biological parents are, the child has a longing to be with them that is as powerful a force as anything in the Universe. 

Forget gravity and Newton's second law of motion.

The pull a child feels towards mum and dad is so seismic that if it could be harnessed it would solve the eternal mystery of perpetual motion, so it would.

So I fully expect Romeo to dance off with a song in his heart, full of hope.

That said, there'll always be a bed for him here.

That old Chinese saying for parents sometimes applies to fostering; 

"Let them go and every path they take will lead them back to you". 


  1. I feel like this might be a window into our future a little...! Our first placement will arrive in a few weeks (still waiting to be approved but already matched) and whilst going home shouldn't look likely, we have to put how we feel about parents to one side. Thank you so much for your blog, I've followed you as we go through the process ourselves and now it's really close...! I've learnt a lot from your posts, thanks again :)

  2. Exciting days! One's first foster placement is one of the biggest 'firsts' life has to offer. Not many people are lucky enough to get to enjoy it, it's an experience that stays with you forever.
    Welcome then, to the often amazing, sometimes frustrating, occasionally harrowing, utterly consuming, always rewarding, totally worthwhile world of fostering.
    Feel free to feel good about your life!
    ps If you get a moment once the dust settles let us know what's what.
    pps What am I saying! the dust never settles in fostering...

    1. Thank you so much!

    2. Dear SFC, I expect you think I've gone away or given up, but not so. It has all just taken so long that I didn't have the heart to keep reading your blog, in case it never happened. But now the time has come, and tomorrow I go to panel and perhaps start the journey with my first foster child. Goodness, I had cold feet last week, but now I'm a bit steadier. Your blog, as ever, is realistic. I know this will turn my nice, comfortable life upside down, if the panel says yes. Can hardly imagine what it will really be like. But if I can do just something to help another little Romeo (or more probably a Juliet) then it will have been worth it. Thanks for all your help so far. You can be sure I'll continue to follow your blog if and when Juliet arrives. Good luck with the letting go... Helen

  3. Helen, I quite understand. And I know how you are feeling this morning. panel looks scary from the outside, but they are on your side, they might ask a couple of serious questions, but your team wouldn't put you in front of panel unless they believed in you and were confident.
    Please please please let us know tonight how it goes and how you're doing.

    1. And the amazing news is that the fostering panel are recommending me! SO happy that the journey continues. I have to await the formal letter of approval, a couple of weeks, and then I will be there for whichever child they feel needs me. Thank you for all your support along the way. I'll stay in touch! Helen x

  4. We have taken our first step towards fostering . .we have sent the enquiry had the pbone call and now next week our first appointment with a blue sky.representative . . I have read the blogs watchsd all the videos . .i am excited and nervous and terrified.all at the same time . . What if we are not suitable . .what if we are suitable . .what if what if . . It the single most important interview i have ever had . . Our life as we know it is in the balance . .and my whole family are under the spotlight . .what if my almost 13 year old so does his grunty teenage thing of shrugging and doesnt communicate? What if my 22 year old lovely adorable daughter who is adhd blurts out the family joke of being a middle child and invisable . .what if my dog barks at the stranger in the house whilst shaking on the settee . .its easy to say be yourself . .we are a nice loving normal family . .but then you question what is normal . .. i am taking a deep breath, will probably spend the weekend expending some nervous energy cleaning and looking critacally at my house and family . .so excited to make a difference but terrified all at the same time . .wish me luck!

  5. I, we all, wish you luck. Welcome to fostering.
    Anyone who can entertain such diverse thoughts and notions has a big enough brain and heart to make it through the early days when it's all so new, and get onto the front foot before you know it.
    You're right to be alert to your families needs, there will be issues, but your children sound, as you say, normal, and normal is what foster children need in buckets. In years to come the foster children you help will speak quietly of their hero - your 13 year-old - such a resounding role model. Your daughter might benefit from feeling like the adult she is and therefore a full player in your team. Tricky. Maybe ask her for her advice more than usually.
    Our children need to know they are still our most precious things.
    Your dog will be a star. Every foster child feels they are on the bottom rung of the family ladder, so they start by relating things with the family dog.
    I, we are all, excited for you. Your home is beautiful, it's just missing one more child, one who needs you more than anyone ever has.
    All our love

  6. HELEN: I've had to re-post your last comment myself as it got lost for a moment in the technology, AKA I pressed the wrong button...

    You said:

    "And the amazing news is that the fostering panel are recommending me! SO happy that the journey continues. I have to await the formal letter of approval, a couple of weeks, and then I will be there for whichever child they feel needs me. Thank you for all your support along the way. I'll stay in touch! Helen x"

  7. Helen, I'm delighted for you! That’s great news.

    SFC - Oh dear, I know its part of the job but I'm still saddened for you and Romeo.

    Recently we thought our FC's mom was going to ask for a reassessment as she'd arranged to meet new social worker. I was in a state of panic and like you my main worry was for the girls and the emotional damage another upheaval would do to them. Luckily Mom just wanted to discuss contact.

    I hope the decision makers do a thorough assessment of Romeo's mom, over a longish period to see if this isn't just a temporary phase. I hope they make her prove she can give unselfish, more than "good enough" care this time round. And I hope they will consider what is best for Romeo, not just what is financially best for the council. Wishing you all well. Xx

  8. Hi Mooglet, and thanks for your kind thoughts.
    I suppose in my heart I'm hoping that the services are going through the motions; that is to say fulfilling their professional requirements in dealing with the mother's request thoroughly and without prejudice.

    1. Yes, lets hope so. I'll be thinking of you all.

  9. Sad news, especially for the boy.. I trust as a experienced and professional carer, you will be coping with it much better than the boy. He has to go back to where he came from and I do hope he will be all right and what you have done for him will help him in some ways.
    What is the average waiting time for you to get a placement?

  10. Thank you for your kind thoughts.
    Waiting time for first placements depends on several things, consequently I know many carers who received placements almost straight away, and others who waited many months. The main factors are the carers specific situations - many fostering families have to place restrictions on the ages, numbers, and types of background of children they are able to welcome. For example a family with young children may not have room for three, or may not feel that taking a child a couple of years older than their eldest would be good for their own children.
    I often think that putting yourself up for weekend respite is a good way in, it's what we did and our first child arrived the same week.
    If you are interested, call Blue Sky, they have a better overview than little ole' me.

  11. Well we have had our visit . . . 3 days of nervousness and excitement and then wham!
    We were put at ease from the off . . A proffesional and honest approach
    The worries . . The almost 13 year old spoke properly ( well for an almost 13 year old!) Only a few shrugs and dunno's the wonderful daughter asked intelligent questions and the other half made a heartfelt and surprising speech on why i would make a.great foster parent ( i know he loves and supports me but to hear him explain to a stranger what my strengths were was cringing and touching at the same time!) The house (cleaned within an inch of its life) pasted muster just a few minor things like maybe a lock here and there and finnish decorating the hallway as you may not want that ongoing when a placement arrives . .but everything else was good . . My worries about the spare room being neutral enough big enough etc were swept away with an
    " ideal" and we relaxed and got enthused by the thought that we could actually make a difference and that a pipe dream could become reality! Wow wow and double wow again!
    Is it normal to feel this excited???
    Application form being filled in and an e mail to book us onto the first weekend course has arrived . . ( surprisingly quick . .gulp!)
    So i guess we have taken our second steps to becoming foster carers . . And the story continues . .. thank you for you wise words of encouragement and hoping to hear many more as our journey continues . .

  12. Fantastic news Marie.
    It's a great feeling to get your fostering under way. You seem to be a smashing family, and always remember that out there, somewhere, are troops of poor children who desperately need you, your other half and your children.
    Some of them will have funny ways of returning their appreciation...
    Keep us informed, Oh "Ideal" One.