Stop celebrating the numbers.

As a foster carer I love reading articles regarding fostering, those that celebrate both the wonderful people that open their homes and hearts to children in need but also, and maybe more so the amazing children that come into the lives of foster carers like myself. I adore reading about their strength and courage and their innate desire to change their story.

Still there is one thing that really frustrates me about some conversations regarding fostering and this the celebration around the numbers.

Let me explain, only a week ago I read an article about a foster carer who in her life had fostered over 5000 children and whilst the couple are pretty amazing my heart breaks that over 5000 children needed a home.

5000 children worlds were turned upside down, 5000 children were walking again into an unknown out of their control.

In England alone

  • 56,160 children were living with foster families on 31 March 2019.
  • This is 72 per cent of the 78,150 children in care looked after away from home (Department for Education, 2018).

This isn’t a number we should be celebrating.

Don’t get me wrong, whilst I am so thankful and proud to work in foster care it’s one profession where I wish I was unemployed and not needed.

The other reason I struggle with numbers is that some foster carers will never have 5000 children through their doors, not because they don’t work as hard or aren’t as open, but because they foster long term. Take myself I have now fostered for over 10 years and only 4 children have come to me. This isn’t a failing on my behalf it’s because when they come to our family it’s with a plan for a long term stay and in the case of my now adopted son,forever. There are many different streams of foster care, from respite, emergency to short and long term, from a fostering perspective it’s not about the number of children we have but the lives we can impact upon.

Fostering is an incredible job and one I’m incredibly proud of doing but it is hard at times when the numbers are celebrated.

To me, those numbers are hearts, broken scared hearts that crave love and stability. They are vulnerable spirits craving somewhere to call home.

The only time will should be celebrating the numbers is when the number of children needing to be fostered is reduced and when the amount of families kept together and supported is rising. Then I promise I will be celebrating the loudest.

 

Is it pretend…?

My daughter was in her sociology class last week when the subject turned to fostering and adoption. She was sitting there listening to the views of others when one boys opinion really annoyed her, it seemed that to him fostering and adoption is “pretend parenting.”

Well I’m certainly not going to argue with the viewpoint of a 15 year old because as we all know at this age they are always right, but I would ask him to think about this.

Is it pretend when I walk the bedroom floor for hours soothing a teething baby?

Is it pretend as I wait patiently and worryingly outside the hospital theatre’s door?

Is it pretend when I hold them tight when they wake from nightmares?

Is it make believe the pride I have in all their achievements?

The worry I feel when they are sick?

The missing I feel when they are not with me?

Is it pretend when my heart fills with love for them?

I don’t really expect most 15 year old’s to understand but so many times I come across adults who just don’t get the love I feel for my fostered children. They see them as a means to an end or just part of my job. In fact the current government seems to view fostering as second class parenting but that’s for another post.

It just drives me mad that people view it this way, as it’s so far from the truth.

You see the moment I open my home up to child I also open my heart to them.

Slowly we both get to learn about each other.

I get to watch them as they come to understand that this is their home too.

I want them to know they are so loved, that they are so cherished and that they are so wanted.

I want them to put their stamp on their bedroom, knowing that it is their’s for as long as they want it.

To sleep without fear of moving on or not being safe.

I want them to know that they are now part of the tribe, that no matter what they do there is no giving up.

We fight for family in this home.

We fight for dreams to be realised.

There is no pretend is this family, just pure real true love.

A families love. 

 

 

Monday is the start of the Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight. This years message is Time to Foster, Time to Care. They  want to spread the message that for many prospective foster carers NOW is the time to care and NOW is the time to foster. Please go take a look over on the Fostering network’s website and if you have ever considered fostering now is the time to do it.

There are so many children out there waiting for families to reach past pretend and to embrace them in real family love. 

 

Becoming a foster carer was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

It’s not always easy but it so worth it. 

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A truly wonderful evening, memories, moments and awards.

There are some experiences that will live with you forever and for me Tuesday will be one of those. My beautiful daughter won an award from the Fostering Network for an outstanding contribution by Sons and Daughters. As you can imagine I was one proud mom and was so excited to go to London to watch her receive this award.

Words cannot describe how wonderful the night was, from the moment we reached the BMA House we were so welcomed. In fact many people came up to us and to say hello as they recognised us from the film we had recorded, Brodie’s story.

 

The evening started with a tea party, in a room that was dressed beautifully, we were greeted warmly by one of The Fostering Network trustees Daisy, a truly lovely lady who has such passion for Fostering. We were then seated with another Sons and daughters winner and his family and a lovely gentleman who was there to support the Fostering Network. We were also lucky enough to share a table with the beautiful Holly Willoughby and her equally as stunning mum. We also had the incredible honour to meet HRH The Duchess of Cambridge who sat and chatted to us all.

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How do I explain how amazing the evening was, Holly was truly lovely, really friendly and so genuine and HRH The Duchess of Cambridge was so beautiful, she was warm and interested in what we did. Brodie loved it and I was in complete awe. To sit round the table with these wonderful ladies was a real honour. I think I may have burst with maternal pride, my girl rocks.

After the tea party we all moved into the hall for the awards ceremony. The Sons and daughters awards were the first ones to be given. We then got to watch the video that we recorded a few weeks ago, sharing our story and our beautiful daughter. The video was so wonderful and so emotional, I will cherish it forever.

Seeing Brodie up there on the stage receiving her award from the Children’s minister in England Edward Timpson MP, was incredible, to say I am proud of her doesn’t come close. Fostering isn’t easy and you really have to work as a family to make each placement successful. Brodie is an integral part of making us work. She opens her home and her heart to children who need a home, who need a family. Her motto is , “Our home, your home”. You can read the reason she was give this award here.

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The whole evening was marvellous, the celebration of some amazing people all involved somehow with fostering. From fantastic Foster carers to some amazing fostered children who in spite of their struggles had achieved some incredible things. The atmosphere was inspiring it was a true honour to be there.

Brodie, myself and my husband had a memory making evening, we got to speak to some wonderful people and will hold dear so many moments from the night.

My husband was in awe of Holly, Brodie loved the fact that Holly admired her converse and for me just getting to talk about why I love fostering was wonderful.

So proud of my girl
So proud of my girl

 

I want to say a big thank you to the wonderful team at The Fostering Network, you are an incredible bunch who work so hard to represent fostering and supporting the awesome work of foster carers. Last nights celebration was for you all too as you are all stars.

Thank you for a wonderful evening, thank you Holly for loving my girls shoes and her plaits and thank you HRH The Duchess of Cambridge for giving us a memory to cherish and for wearing the same colour dress as me. ( see I do have some dress sense).

I also want to say thank you to my amazing foster son, you are such a gift to us all and we are so lucky to have you as part of our family, today and always.

Yes, fostering is a job but it so much more, it’s the opportunity to change lives.

I am so grateful that I get to do this everyday. Is not always easy but it is always so worthwhile.

I truly love my job.

It’s not where you come from.

It not where you come from it’s where you belong.

I listened to this song the other day and I just fell apart. The words hit my heart and like a dam breaking inside of me the tears began to fall.

Journeying through life isn’t easy but it’s a lot harder when you don’t have the basic support structure behind you.

Family, friends, community.

These are what guides you and lifts you through the struggles of life.

Yes they may be times when one to two of these break but then hopefully the others step up and fill the gap.

Yet as a foster carer I know that sometimes this structure completely falls apart. For various reasons children find themselves in…

Need of a home.

in

Need of a family.

in

Need of friends

and In

Need of a community.

My heart has broken listening to stories of kids growing up not knowing where they will be tomorrow.

Children scared of making friends because tomorrow they may be somewhere else.

This is why I love my job.

I get to be that structure for a child in need.

I get to love upon and help them to understand that they are loved.

Teach them that they deserve love and most of all they are safe.

I get to be family,friends and community to a child in need.

Each day children are taken into care and the need for foster carers has risen dramatically over the years.

It’s not an easy job, time after time you will find yourself being rejected.

But it’s not about you.

It’s about a child .

A child whose world had changed.

A child who is scared to trust.

A child in fear.

Yet being a foster carer is also one of the best jobs in the world.

You get to change a child’s life.

You get to make a difference.

What could be more amazing than that?

Its not where you come from it’s where you belong.