Sunday, September 26, 2021

COMMON SENSE AND FOSTERING 2

Someone once wrote;

"Common sense is the most evenly distrubuted commodity on earth, because everyone thinks they have the right amount.."

Common sense is our best freind in fostering. I've talked about it before.

Recently I've been writing up about Ged's journey. He's an older placement, only been with us a short time, who is due to go out into the big wide world any day soon and can't wait.

But there seems to be a potential setback around the corner and as yet social services haven't raised it with him but I suspect he's got wind of it somehow.

The back-story is this; Ged was abandoned by his real father many years ago. The dad wanted nothing to do with Ged and Ged's mother didn't pull any punches that his father was a rotten egg. You can imagine what Ged had to listen to, she had a drugs problem along with plenty other difficulties, so Ged probably heard some pretty searing tirades.

However. The father somehow got word to Ged that he'd opened a savings account for him and he'd have access to it in the form of some sort of 'trust' when he became 'of age'. The arrangement appeared to be that Ged would receive regular tranches from the fund in a way that would maintain the fund so it would get a decent rate of interest.

It's not the first time I've come across chaotic parents offering fantasy futures for their children "once we've sorted ourselves out."

Now that he is nearly of age, there are doubts creeping in as to the truth. Little niggles such as Ged telling his local authority Social Worker that he remembered that his father believed that the age at which a person comes 'of age' is 21 and not 18. This thinking might be in line with different culture - we understand that Ged's father returned to his native country many years ago, possibly to avoid the rap for something.

Equally, the father may have raided the account himself to 'fund a business venture' or something.

That's if the fund exists at all.

Social services have done a fantastic job with Ged but if he discovers there's no money it's going to be us foster parents who'll have the lion's share of helping him manage his huge disappointments. He'll have to be helped to deal with the damage to the image he's built up of his absent dad. Then there's the loss of his anticipated independence if he won't have an unearned income in a few weeks time. 

He'll be upset and may become despondent or angry or both. He might hit the bottle or the weed. He might even be tempted to get an income by doing something illegal or otherwise dangerous - the County Lines problem is getting worse (see earlier blogs about this growing drugs nightmare involving children, or Google it).

Foster parents are used to helping their children deal with disappointing parents and family members. I remember a Contact session once - 'Contact' is where children in care are brought to have a session with significant others - the mother simply didn't show up. We waited nearly the full hour when a message came in. The mother said she couldn't come to Contact because she was having hair extensions done. Another time I took a lad to have Contact with his dad, it was a hot summer's day so I sat in the car and watched them go out into the courtyard on the Contact Centre where there was an all-weather storage crate-full of toys. The dad spent the entire Contact playing with the toys and didn't say a single word to his son who sat along on the swing musing over his bad luck.

We get a lot of quality training at Blue Sky, but it would be impossible for them to cover every base. Time after time the humble foster mum or dad has to conjure up strategies from out of thin air and, although our Social Worker is ready and able to offer support and advice it's down to us, standing in our kitchen, to come uo with the right things to say and do. 

With Ged I'm not going to break any news or hearsay to him. I'll wait until and unless he says or shows he needs an arm round his shoulder.

So I find myself wondering; what if he says something and the answer depends on exactly what he says and how he says it. I have to interpret. We often have to try to feel the moment and read between the lines. Then what if he starts acting differently? I have to judge if it's a conscious attempt to raise a dilemma or maybe he's unaware he's not himself?

Every call is a judgement thing.

The main tool we fostering folk have at our disposal is our own knowledge and experience of the school of hard knocks.

And dear old common sense.



2 comments:

  1. Oh that makes my blood boil, poor Ged. I hope there is a fund, even a few hundred, just to make he feel it was real and he is important enough to have than done for him.

    Our agency open savings account for the children, and they add a little each week. On long term placements it builds up and the kids get access at 18.

    Family of one of ours heard this mentioned during a meeting, and asked for the account details - so they could put money it in for the child too. Agency wouldn't share them and the family got shirty but we found a nice easy solution - we created a 2nd bank account. We put £10 in, the minimum amount to open an account. We shared the name, account number and sort code so family could add money or send us cheques. 3 years later, that account particular still has £10 in it, plus a bit of interest. We've reminded the family several times it exists, but they seem to have lost interest...

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  2. Sad tale. I think we both know what the family had in mind in the first place, and now my blood is boiling too!
    Some parents beggar belief. I'm often reminded of the single 'mother' who literally told her children to leave the home and never come back when they reached the age at which their child benefit payments ceased. Such disregard is even more punitive if the child discovers how little they matter.

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