Sunday, April 08, 2018


It's mixed feelings when a foster child who's been with you a while is gearing up to go.

Not 50/50 mixed feelings, more like 70/30.

The seventy is how pleased you are for them, the thirty is that you're sad to say goodbye.

The children are generally at peace with the world once they know that they are going home.

Yes, they have some conscious trepidations in case things go wrong again, but deep down most foster children are usually drawn home whatever happened and whatever might happen.

We did have one child who was adamant, absolutely definite, that they did not want to go 'home' or have anything more to do with 'home', ever. That wish was granted. But generally foster children view home through rose tinted glasses, mother nature or some other force gives them unfathomable hope and optimism. And a pair of rose-tinted spectacles.

One tricky thing is when you have a foster child going home and you have another foster child in your home who isn't.

As long as you're alert to the feelings of each, things stay just about on track and are smooth.  You can only imagine what goes through the head of the child who must remain in care. I try to give the child who's staying a sense that their presence in our family is special to us. Not hard, because the child is special to us.

At the same time we make sure the child who's going knows they will be missed, that we will always be there for them if they need us. They can't contact us  direct, but they will have contact with social services and we always say clearly; "If you need to come back here again for a while, as long as we have the space, you'll always be welcome."

But I'm not looking forward to the goodbyes. There's nothing like it in normal parenting. Someone once said to me that it must be like a mini-death, well it's nowhere remotely near such a catastrophe, but I got what they were driving at.

Actually the foster parents should be doing cartwheels because the job of fostering is getting the child back together with their real parents.

But I never feel like partying. 

Like every foster parent I've met, regardless of the ups and downs of the placement, once they're gone you find your bond with them strengthens. You long to share their triumphs, whether at school, in work, in life or in love.

You want to be standing between them and the cruel world every time it gangs up on them, rolling up your sleeves and saying; "You want this kid? You're going to have to come through me first!" (Metaphorically of course).

I remember a Blue Sky support meeting at which a foster carer, a mum in her fifties, not the most robust person in appearance, dabbing her eyes with a tissue when the conversation turned to everybody's niggles about fostering. It happens BTW, doesn't matter where you work, or who you work for, it can be delicious to have an office-related whinge.

We noticed she was filling up and asked if we could help.

"I'm alright...' she said, "Too alright actually. The doorbell went last Friday and when we answered it was a girl we'd had placed with us for over a year. She left us about three years ago, and we never heard anything about her. The girl stood on our step and said she just wanted to say thank you."

The foster mum asked her in and they had the inevitable cup of tea. The mum assumed the girl was local and had happened to find herself passing the end of the street. The girl replied that she lived  about ten miles away.

The girl had got on the train and walked up from the station.

To say thank you.

That's it from me on this one, filling up. Haven't got a tissue so dabbing with the hem of my T shirt. 

Talk soon...


  1. Anon here, with the angry 5yo, 2yo and now 3 month old.
    All was going very well until contact resumed. Need I say more? All the little mite wants is to go home, but in the meantime there is daily meltdowns that stress out the 2yo (triggered mostly by sibling rivalry). Many tears from me of a nighttime lately as it's still feeling like it's a bit too much to have taken on, yet the last thing I want to do is ever complicate her life further and make her feel rejected. At the same time, I don't like the 2yo being caught in the middle.

  2. Poor you.
    Yet what a job you're doing!
    Further down the road you'll look in the mirror and go; "Who did that? Some kind of superhero? Yes! Me!!!"
    If you get a moment (fat chance) just remind me...most of the responders on this blog are 'Anon', and I would like to get a fix back on your picture.
    Is 5 year old; 'little mite'? And whose are 2 year old and 3 month old?
    How long has this been you? Who is in your support network?
    As for Contact and its ills, sister... you're talking to the preacher.

    1. We were the ones asking hesitantly about ending a placement? Long story short, the child was moved on and my initial gut instints about us not being the best fit were completely true.
      As much as the guilt at the moment is hard, I ultimately feel that we did everything we could and that just was never going to be enough. I think the foster child is resilient enough that they will be able to be a lot happier now going forward.

    2. It must have been a difficult decision, but it sounds spot on. Take some comfort from the fact that you found it difficult, your concern for the child as well as yourselves is truly commendable. I hope the feeling you call guilt recedes. Surely it's better to see it as a sadness at something that's ended? I suspect you got good support in making the decision, and that support is still there. You aren't alone; one of the very best foster mums I've ever ever met was faced with the same dilemma and eventually let the child move on. The child is fine; he's a man now, a father in fact. How do I know? He turned up for work where my other half works.
      Are you up for another placement yet? As I'm sure you know, nothing blurs the memory of your previous placement better than a new arrival.

  3. We have just accepted our first placement, in the back of my mind I wonder how on earth Im going to let her go again. Thanks for this post.

  4. Here you go then...
    Congratulations to you and also to the lucky child.
    I know that you know that it won't be all plain sailing, there'll be difficult times. One of the most difficult things is taking as much trouble to enjoy the wonderful stuff as we spend trying to fix problems.
    Stay in touch.
    best wishes and love,