Monday, September 17, 2018


Time for an update on Ryder, our newest foster child.

Ideally I would post about her more often, people are interested. Thing is a) I kind of feel that even though I'm entirely vigilant about her privacy - as I am with all my placements, occasional updates are more proper than some kind of diary  b) I'm rushing around like the proverbial housefly.

Ryder has become yet another hero of mine. When you learn what children have been through before they come into care you often need the strength and expertise of your social worker to take it all in. The children's sheer courage in trying to stay on top takes your breathe away.

They're heroes.

Here's a good question; have you ever met one of your heroes? The ones we have when we're small? You know, maybe someone like a certain Australian soap star turned pop star....

No offence to the guy but when I was (much) younger, he was a hero of mine. What happened was this; my mum used up a favour from someone she knew and managed to get me a ticket to be in the audience of a TV show where he was the star guest. Imagine the excitement.

Half an hour before the show started we were asked if anyone wanted the loo. I went.  We were led through a corridor and round a couple of corners and when we got there I spent a bit longer than anyone else checking myself in the mirror, so when I came out the escorts had gone and I had to retrace their steps to get back to the studio.

I'm not one for mischief but on this occasion I hoped I'd take the wrong turning and maybe bump into...him.

And it kind of happened.  I found myself near the studio at the corner of a corridor of offices. I peeked around an open door and at the other end, sitting on an ordinary chair in front of an ordinary desk was...him! There were a handful of other people milling a respectful distance from him (he was a star), but he was simply plonked on an ordinary chair staring almost glumly into middle distance with one of his Cuban heeled boots up on the desk, his blue eyes heavy-lidded with tiredness or maybe boredom.

I felt sorry for him. He looked lonely, a bit beat-up, vulnerable.

I was desperate for him to glance up and see me and smile or even beckon me over to give me his autograph. Well he didn't. One of the researchers spotted me and asked if I was lost and took me back to the studio.

The point of all this is that in spite of it being a nothing event it actually increased my hero worship of him. He was not only stellar but human.

And he remained my biggest hero. Until I fostered.

Every foster child is different. Not necessarily more different than your everyday child, but as a foster parent you get a bullet-point life history of each child whereas your own children grow bit by bit with you. Their pain is concentrated into several pages of typed up facts.

The two things that foster children have in common is: one; they've been taken into care and two; they have been through other bad stuff.

When I was young my hero was some pop bloke who had endured nothing more than putting up with being famous, being good-looking and talented, probably a bit lucky and fairly rich. Poor lad. And there I once stood feeling sorry for him!

Fostering doesn't half give you a perspective.

So, what Ryder said to me was this;

"I'm gonna look after my mum like you look after us."

Oh dear, eyes filling up while I'm writing these words as I imagine the life of this dear little hero.

It's becoming clear that Ryder is a carer. She's not yet a teenager, but is looking after her mother, her sibs and possibly any number of drop-in 'friends' of the family.

Foster children sometimes tell us foster parents things that help social workers get a fuller picture of the child's existence.

Ryder told me about the times she's had to put her mother to bed in the middle of the day because she was paralytic. She also has cooked, cleaned, hoovered, washed-up and even laundered other people's laundry. The mother, I can tell you, appears to have mental health problems as well as alcohol and drug-related problems and a whole lot of other  problems getting through every day. 

Ryder's instinct tells her it's wrong that she is having to mum up a dysfunctional home unit. She seems to sense that her childhood has been taken away, and that's one of many reasons she gets het up from time to time.

Who wouldn't?

But when I go to bed tonight and I'm thinking about what to think about to feel good (yep, I'm getting into mindfulness, it's great), I hope I'll remember that Ryder wants to base her parenting of her wayward parent and needy sibs  on the skills that her foster parents try to use.

Or, to put it another way, be like me; her foster mum.

Yet another way in which what we do makes a difference.


  1. I agree. The little heroes brave enough to disclose their abuse even though they are so fearful of going home and getting abused again for telling someone, the little heroes who become parentised in order to protect, care for and feed younger siblings, the little heroes who's bodies show the physical scars and behaviour shows the emotional scars :-( wow... Fostering is the best thing we have done in our lives, along with the hardest thing we have ever done!

    1. Thank you for your inspiring comments. How lucky are the children who come your way!
      Fostering is exactly as you say; the hardest and the best thing.