Saturday, November 30, 2019


Fostering opens doors that aren't easy to kick down for normal parents.

I'm obviously not suggesting door kicking, it's just a term. 

Take for example doctor's appointments.

I called our surgery regarding my own needs and was told they had no doctor availability for nearly four weeks.

A few days later I called for an appointment for my foster child and got in THE SAME DAY.

And that's fair enough.

You also get better from the school if your child is in care. And from the police - who by the way are always fantastic about fostering.

What just happened is this; I was parked up waiting for my foster child to come out of school. His estranged real father is believed to be trying to make contact with him and the thinking is that it's best he doesn't. He's been asked not to. The father's not in any way a challenging individual - there are no physical dangers - but the child would be upset and it's considered best if he seeks contact via the proper channels. All I have to do is keep an eye; if it happens it happens and I report it to my Blue Sky Social Worker and they'll alert the local authority who'll decide what to do.

So I was parked up outside the school in a slightly dodgy spot, I was a bit too close to a corner, shouldn't really have been there, but it was borderline.

I wanted to be able to keep the school gates in view in case dad popped up.

Just before the kids came out a police car cruised up. Locals had complained about school-run traffic outside their homes (common thing) so a car was sent to make sure we were all behaving ourselves. They pulled up next to me and an officer lowered her window and said;

"That's not a very good place to park is it madam?"

Mortified, I replied;

"I know, but I'm a foster carer and my child is…"

I didn't get to finish. The officer held up a hand and said;

"Okay then. Just take care. Keep up the good work…"

And they drove off.

Now, I'm not suggesting that claiming Foster Carer status will get you off a bank heist or blag you grandstand seats at Wimbledon.

But every so often you feel the public's respect for what we do.

And we'd do what we do even if the public didn't give a hoot, but it's nice that they do.

Monday, November 25, 2019


I've got me yet another new best friend, her name is Veronica.

In fostering you find yourself meeting so many new people with whom you have lots in common - namely fostering.

It's not unique to fostering, most people are drawn to like-minded people. But fostering brings out a very special camaraderie, and it's a good camaraderie too. It's a 'we're all in this together' thing, spiced up with a dash of 'no-one outside fostering has a clue what fostering is like'.

I found myself sitting next to Veronica at a Blue Sky coffee and catch-up session (they call them 'Support Meetings', I prefer 'coffee and catch-up').

Veronica is that rare and beautiful thing; a foster child-turned Foster Carer. Despite my antenna being 20/20 and always up and twitching, I would never have guessed ANY of her story.

One of six children by different men, she never found out who her dad was. She came home from school one day to find her mother dead in a bedroom. She told me what the scene looked like, but I won't pass it on. 

The children all went into care, but not all made it. One of her brothers hanged himself, one of her sisters took her own life in the same way their mother did.

Veronica spent time with three different families where her despair and anger proved too much, but eventually found herself in the care of an elderly woman. And that's how Veronica discovered what every grandchild knows (or at least should know), namely that if you stick a whole generation in between human beings the chemistry is superb. 

Veronica was unable to transfer any of the anger she felt towards her real mother onto her foster mother because of the age difference. Therefore Veronica was spared the shame she experienced whenever she felt angry about her mum. More than that, Veronica's elderly foster mum had that child-like carefreeness that comes back to us in our later years, and Veronica found herself learning how to be a child, by mirroring an elderly person.

Veronica became determined not only to avoid the life and death of her mother, but to help others avoid such a fate. She married and has two children. The marriage is secure despite upheavals - they decided to take a big risk six years ago and moved hundreds of miles away in search of a secure future for their children.

She is currently caring for a three-year-old whose story is tragic. One can only hope that with Veronica's help, and that of Blue Sky and the local authority, the child ends up more like Veronica than Veronica's mum.

I'm not Veronica's only new best friend by the way. She's single handed turned our coffee and catch-ups into coffee CAKE and catch-ups. She bakes one specially every time, from recipes taught to her by her old foster mum.

Last time it was a Drozdzowka (hope I spelled it right), a delicious plum cake.

Veronica's Polish, I forgot to mention. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


In fostering you sometimes meet the parents of your foster child.

Before I came into fostering I had no idea I would, but you do. Not always but often.

There's a law that says that children in care must have contact with their 'significant others', usually once a week on average. And it often falls to us - the Carers - to transport the children to these contacts. It might be at a Contact Centre or sometimes at McDonalds. We get to see, sometimes greet and even have conversations with our foster children's real parents.

Awkward isn't the word. But it usually works out.

It is never - in my experience - unpleasant (the real parents are aware they are under scrutiny so even if they feel any resentment I have only ever found it to be controlled and mild).

From time to time I put myself in their shoes. How must they feel?

The parents of children who come into fostering have, in the eyes of authority, got parenting wrong.

We all get things wrong and it hurts to admit it. Better to blame someone else. When I get a parking ticket it's because the signs weren't clear or the machine was out of order.

If my children were taken away from me - and I can hardly imagine anything much worse - I would be unlikely to accept it was because I got my parenting wrong.

So let me tell you how it seems to me for most parents of children who are taken away from them and  put into care. It's this; they don't know how innocent they really are.

When you bump into them, often in a car park for example, they are usually at pains to be model parents. Sometimes you believe you can see where they might be going wrong; they might berate their children for being 'naughty' - as in running across the car park towards them.

One thing I've noticed a lot is the real parent's demanding their children are 'polite' - which seems to be little more than the extensive use of the words 'please' and 'thank you', which is nice but a bit superficial.

Here's my thing; I often ask social workers what they can tell me about the parents. The problem here is data protection and privacy rights and fair enough to  all that, but that's balanced by our need, as Foster Carers, to know everything we can know to HELP our foster children.

The information that helps us sometimes comes from the foster children themselves who might tell us, unprompted, background they've learned about what happened to their own parents when they were younger.

You might wonder 'such as?'

Okay, here's an example.

A child who stayed with a Foster Carer who is a friend of mine had experienced a terrible time at home, her mother had mental health problems and the child had begun to become her mother's carer.

Her father, who had been absent for years but turned up every so often, spent much of his time in Lincolnshire. The child had heard him repeatedly telling her mother that his father - who he had never met - was believed to be working in Lincolnshire. She heard her father shout as she listened from upstairs to the arguments, that he wanted to find his father and have it out with him.

The child's mother had, at age 17, conceived her second baby. The child, from an early age, knew that her mother's father had been abusive to her mother but was still too young to understand what that meant.

The child's mother and father had themselves had an awful childhood. Yet they somehow thought they knew enough to get it right when it was their turn. Or did they give it any thought at all?

In fostering we are often aghast at the awful parenting that results in children being taken into care.

But meeting those parents often helps us understand how they came to be awful parents. 

Monday, November 11, 2019


Fostering; it's just real life.

People who are thinking of becoming Foster Carers often seem worried that they have a cluttered past and lack the magic ingredient, whatever that is.

To tackle the first worry; everyone has a cluttered past. I always say 'Look at the Royal Family'. Whatever you think of them as an institution or as individuals, they are probably the most cluttered family any of us could name, and they keep going.

The fascinating question is; would they get approval as Foster Carers?

If the answer is 'No' it's surely because any child placed with them would be shoved into a fierce spotlight.

But if you take the' Royal' out of them, and they are just another family, then like all families there are those of them who couldn't because they wouldn't, but what would Blue Sky say to those of the Royals who might wish to be Carers? 


Probably older than anyone else in fostering. Cluttered up to the nines for sure but Liz  could mind mice at a crossroads. They've probably rubbed each other up the wrong way plenty of times but like most of their generation they kept it to themselves and  just got on with being married. They'd need their placement children to be not too engergetic. So -in theory - YES.


He didn't do a bad job bringing up two boys, seems a bit eccentric but in a lovable way surely. So what if he talks to his plants? She seems like a sensible rock. Clutter; they had an affair behind his first wife's back -  so what? That was years ago, and their ship seems to have righted. They're solid now. YES


She's a good stick eh? Head screwed on. Divorced, yes, but who isn't these days. YES


Young family, if you foster while your children are young you just have to remember your own children even more than before. YES


Lovely couple. He has every right to be a bit skew-whiff, his mother was all over the place and came to a tragic early death. But she clearly loved him and he understands parental love. Again, young family.  BIG YES.


Mr and Mrs Clutter. He's been round the block, tough as old boots, but sensitive too. She's seen it all before too, what's more theirs is a home where diversity is appreciated. If I was Blue Sky and these two offered I'd bite their hand off. MONSTER YES

Yeah yeah, I know they've never had to hold down a job or pay a mortgage. I'm looking past that stuff and looking at them as potential Foster Carers - as people who can offer good parenting to other people's children.

You NEED to have been round the block a couple of times because the children who will be coming to you have been round the block a few times too, and it'll help you understand what's going on for them if you've experienced things going on for you.

The Royal Family's clutter would not be a drawback, it would be a credential.

A person or a couple could easily put themselves off applying to foster by worrying that their past is less than perfect. Please, DON'T be. Call someone who will give you a bit of wisdom on it; Blue Sky is as good a place to call as any.

As to the second worry; that there's some magic ingredient you need in fostering; if there is I guess you'd call it by its old-fashioned name.