Welcome to another day, another week and another month of ups and downs. It’s always a fun-filled, headtwirling rollercoaster of feelings and emotions – and I always try and remember this as I live through the harder days!
When I became a foster carer I was already a mother to three boys. If I’m honest, I thought I knew what I was doing. I thought that adding another child to the hectic, busy, funny and wonderful little family I have would be a walk in the park!
I was naturally nervous. After cleaning the house top to bottom, for some unknown reason, I was completely ready to take on the task in hand. We (my husband and I) had agreed to take on one child below the age of ten, so they’d fit the dynamics of our household.
What I agreed to, in sheer excitement and delight, was two girls aged 14 and 15 – much to my husband’s surprise, shock and horror. After a very quick room change, some brand-new bedding and pinkish accessories, at 4:30pm on Tuesday 30th September 2014 in walked two sisters with a Tesco bag of belongings. My heart broke and popped at the same time.
It became very apparent from that moment I knew nothing. I was suddenly a parent of teen girls – and even if they’d been boys aged 7 and 8 I still would have been clueless! Raising other people’s children is like nothing else on this earth. You build bonds with the child(ren). Sometimes the parents are pleased, sometimes angry, always embarrassed and sometimes bitter. Every emotion is understandable and rising above your human instinct to judge their situation is important because you have no idea of their past and that judgment won’t help you bond with their child, which has now become your child.
You have a social worker to work with you. Often this is harmonious and you have a great working relationship, but it can also be a struggle and pulling teeth would be more fun! However, you plough on because they link you to education, health, extra funding and medical requirements needed to support the child(ren). So you breathe deeply and carry on.
Sometimes the child is hurting, angry, grateful, annoyed, happy, a bottle of pop, a bundle of joy, a chat show host, or a void on mute! However, the child presents they are braver than most. They come into your home and are told that’s where they now live, amid strangers and often in an unfamiliar area, and yet they still put one foot in front of the other and come inside! I know if I was faced with the same situation I’d be stuck to the pavement with no functioning body parts and a wash of tears. What’s asked of them is impossible to imagine.
Throughout the process there’s good days and bad days, and this feeling is shared by us all. Often the children settle in and then out the blue they feel overwhelmed and go off track, and you’re left wondering what happened. Often they’ll show an emotion you’re not expecting or ready for and it blows your mind and your heart glows. One moment you might be sitting with your head in your hands questioning everything, and the next crying with joy.
It’s an emotional rollercoaster and at every loop and twist there’s an eye opener, a learning curve, a memory, a tear jerk, a laugh out loud moment or a head bang against the wall situation. And for every tummy turning moment on the roller-coaster its addictive, because you see the changes, you watch your new child unfold, fit in and adapt far more than you could hope for…
in most cases!
When it’s a tough day and you’re exhausted from the emotional battle – the battle with the system, the child, the school, a report, or your own expectations, or just the day in general, always remember the next day will be ok! It may not be sorted fully, but as you ride the funfair that being a foster carer entails life goes on. Everything will be sorted, slowed down, sped up, hugged, laughed at or learnt from! So, ride the ups and hang on during the downs…
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