Wednesday, December 20, 2017


We're entering a couple of weeks of a special time in fostering, namely Christmas.

I'm told that more children come into care over Christmas than at any other period.

Blue Sky social workers tell me (and some would say their observations are merely anecdotal, but I like anecdotal, it means it's what someone has seen with their own eyes, and that's my kind of evidence) that chaotic families come under the greatest pressure over Christmas.

Look, in part I'm flagging this up because if you flip back at a bunch of recent comments on the blog from new carers, a couple are wondering where their placements are.

My response to them has been; 'Hang in there, it takes more than a few days, more than a few weeks, can be a month or two.'

The prospective carers, who've got their accreditation and are on standby, have posted comments about this during the first weeks of December.

Here's why these folks are invaluable to fostering;

You'd think that Christmas is the ten days that glues even the most fractious family together. In fact it's the period that can test the happiest of homes.

Some author once wrote that every happy family is identical in their happiness, every unhappy family is unique in their misery.

Well, mate, (Dostoevsky or some Russian), not quite, not over here in England anyway.

Every family experiences unhappinesses over Christmas and their unhappiness is about the same.

First there's the blue nostalgia for Christmases past where adults remember better Christmases than they really had.

That makes them browned off about the Christmas they're enduring. In these parents mind, when they were age nine, they got a train set and an Action Man or a Barbie Doll and a Tressie (Her Hair Grows). They didn't, Or if they did their elder brother/sister or 'uncle" or "cousin'" trashed them before the Queen's speech, but no-one remembers that stuff. Doesn't stop the poor parents lamenting inside that they ain't getting a box-fresh Audi or a years supply of Joe Malone, like they think they remember.

When we were little we looked out on a world that was set to welcome us and make us all happy heroes. Doesn't work out like that for most of us does it? Christmas can bring that all back. And extra;

Booze has become a central feature of Christmas, There was no Buck's Fizz for Christmas breakfast in my childhood. My mum and dad never had to attend liquid works do's. Port? Sherry? Egg freaking Nog? Dubonnet? We lay all these particular poisons in for one fortnight only; Christmas.

Alcohol and nostalgia are a bad mix.

An even more toxic component is a fractured family unit where dad is with another woman, mum with another man, alcohol and nostalgia comes together with other substances and the heady suspicion that your ex is having a better time than you...and bongo!

Children in need of a home away from the rubbish nonsense.

They need you.

Imagine the scene. You're a foster carer, it's half-past three on Christmas Day. Your phone rings. Some kids need a roof.

Hasn't happened to me yet, not like that; it happened to one of the many friends I've made at out monthly support sessions.

She got the phone call out of the blue having lulled herself into thinking that fostering went into some kind of hibernation over Christmas. Blue Sky have people on the go 24/7, respect to them and their families...

So her phone went. The crackers were being laid out, people were being told "Ten minutes or so" to dinner.

"Would you be prepared to take...?"

This friend has the same policy as us: say 'Yes" ask questions later. There's a kid needs a roof.

She got a teenager and an infant (two different dads). The build-up had been coming, it involved about ten or twelve family members with grudges/issues/grievances etc, and Armageddon  was Christmas Day.

The police came out and said hello, it's us again, (I sometimes feel like an auxiliary copper myself, the way they greet me like a colleague!)

She said the police dropped the kids off and declined a glass of mulled wine, professional.

I asked her if it kicked the teeth out of their normal Christmas, she said no.

She said their Christmas starts to taper off about 11.00am anyway. When the phone rang it was better than a Bond film or Two Ronnies repeats.

Apparently the eldest went to live with an aunt once the paperwork clicked ( about 8 weeks) and The little one is still pending after a year.

Point is it was a Christmas-driven event that made it all happen.

One thing I've noticed on this blog is that carers who are waiting for a placement have time to comment. Soon as they get a child they go quiet. Quite rightly so. It's only because I'm a bit of a grizzled old hand that I can find time (just) to write.

So, to those folks who are champing at the bit; you know the phrase "Be careful what you wish for".

It does NOT apply in fostering.

What you wish for is much more fantastic than you could imagine!


  1. Feels a bit wrong as a "waiting foster parent" wishing for my first placement call, all the while knowing that I'm sort of wishing for a child to have to go through a horrible trauma. It's one of the many paradoxes of foster care complexity I guess. Thanks for this post, Secret Foster Carer.

  2. Never thought about it like that...
    You know what, there are so many children going through horrible trauma at any time, too many for the system to help as we would like.
    Your hopes and wishes are that one or more of them will get the break they deserve and find shelter and safety with you.
    Thanks for your thoughts.