It’s not ok that our children died.

Often when we face a loss in our community of special needs parenting, our hearts break alongside those facing the pain. We emphasise with the anger and missing we feel the disbelief and sadness. Myself personally I ache for the pain I know those left behind will feel. Each new loss reopening a wound that is far from healed.

Yet one of the things I still do not understand about loss in the disability community is that from those outside of it, is the feeling that somehow it’s acceptable. That in some way it is less. The concept that a life lived with a disability is not as full as one without.

There is no denying that being part of the special needs community we face loss maybe more than most, the wider our community the wider amount of pain. But that’s our life, we choose to walk alongside one another through the good and the bad. We celebrate the achievements and too often we have to grieve the loss.

Yet often those outside the community do not understand our journey and more often than I would like, do not understand our joy.

Statements like “oh well she had been poorly for a while” “sometimes it’s for the best” or my favourite (irony) “God knows best”.

When Livvy died she had a devastating neurological condition. Her body faced so many obstacles, seizures, abnormal breathing, sometimes uncontrollable movements. Yes, to list her conditions it may seem dire. Yet what the reality was that yes she had this list of issues but what she also had was a life filled with love and laughter. She had a family that adored her, she had parents she wrapped around her fingers. Sisters she teased and played with. Teachers she adored, friends she loved. Her life was full of joy and mischief. She was not her list of conditions. Yet still when I speak of my missing, people speak of her with pity. When I speak of her loss, people speak with acceptance, as if her disability makes her death more ok.

Whilst I know this attitude is meant with kindness I need to share that it’s not. When someone who has a disability dies it’s not ok, it’s not even a little ok. It’s a heartbreaking, soul destroying grief.

You see people are not their disabilities they are simply people. A child with disabilities is simply a child.

So I beg of people, I ask desperately that when dealing with a grieving mother, a broken father a missing family, that before you speak of freedom from pain, limited lives or God’s choices, STOP. Whilst the lives lost may have seemed hard to you, or the disabilities overwhelming those grieving see the little boy whose eyes twinkled as he looked at them. The little girl whose smile lit up the room, their son, daughter, sister, brother. We don’t grieve the disability, we grieve the one we loved and their disability wasn’t what defined them. Our pain is not less and their death is not and never will be acceptable.

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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Fostering Network Conference

Last week I attended the Fostering Network Conference in London held in the beautiful surroundings of the BMA House in Tavistock Square.

The conference was open to anyone work worked within the field including, foster carers, social workers, senior management and policy makers.

The theme of the conference was the “Future of Foster Care” and each speaker brought their own interpretation of what this means from their own perspectives and fields.

I cannot fit into one post all that I took away from this conference but what I do really want to share firstly is what I felt was at the heart of the day.

“The children.”

Regardless of which field the speakers came from the core overview was that the needs of the child should always be in the forefront of every decision made and every piece of policy written.

No matter how many professionals involved in a child’s life we should always remember we are the “team around the child”.

The need for a child to be listened to and their views taken into consideration at all times was paramount.

This point was reiterated when we heard from three care leavers who bravely and elegantly shared their care experiences with us.

Each one spoke about the loss of control of their own lives being a hard thing to accept. Whilst they accepted that some decisions needed to be taken by professionals the desire to be consulted, informed was extremely important to them.

They just wanted to be heard.

One explained that for him this was especially important regarding contact and information regarding his birth family. He understood that seeing his birth mother was not a positive thing for him but he still wanted to know about her and who she was.

‘By understanding my mom’s journey I was able to move forward with my own’.

As foster carers we are the ones there with the children every day. This conference was a great reminder that we really need listen to the children but also how important it is for us to advocate for the children with other professionals.

We are their voices and their advocates and this is something we need to be extremely pro-active in doing.

 

 

You can find this blog and others written by me over at Foster with Progress Care 

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Benefits Street broke my heart.

Last night I sat at watched the conversional program Benefits Street. Its been a weird one for me as part of me didn’t wish to watch it in protest of the appalling way channel 4 have used these people .Yet temptation and inquisitiveness won the battle and for the last four weeks I have followed the story of James Turner Street with millions across the country.

Over the last weeks I have felt so many emotions, I can’t work out if I’m cross with the nation or with the people. What I do know is that the television programme has been made in such a way that it has raised debate all over the country. It has been edited to raise negative attitudes towards the residents and benefit users in general.

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The media are  covering stories regarding benefit fraud as if it the worst crime in the country. That everyone claiming benefits is a thief or a scoundrel this is so very wrong and a terrible stereotype to create. Personally I think a closer look and more outrage should be turned towards the millions being lost through tax loopholes and uncollected tax. I think the image below speaks for itself.

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Anyway less about this and more about the people, those who really matter. I want to talk about last nights programme. As I sat  watching it I was in tears. James Clarke better known as Fungi is a man who is in serious need of help. The news have been full of his exploits the “big issue” con and so much more but all I saw was a very vulnerable man being used.

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Addiction is a cruel disease and while many will talk about it being a choice using drugs they forget the stories behind the people. We should never judge the choices they made.

All I wanted to do last was night was hug this man. When the cameras entered his home I was heartbroken. Animals live better than him. How wrong is this world?

I don’t know James Clarke and I never will but I do know that he needs help. The newspapers are reporting that he has moved out of James Turner Street and his friends are worried for him and so they should be. The article states that the production team are in contact with him and I really hope and pray that this is the truth and he is ok.

I saw a man in need of help.

Addiction is a disease that needs treatment. Suffers need support not condemnation. It destroys lives everyday.  I really hope Fungi is getting the help he needs and I encourage anyone who is suffering to seek help.

There are organisations out there for you, contact one of those, speak to your GP but please take that first step to recover.

Places of help.

Your GP.

Action on Addiction 

Addiction Helper 

 

 

Not ready for you to be a grown up.

This weekend I had to face something I don’t think I was prepared for. Next year my daughter will leave home for university.

That scares the pants off me.

Don’t get me wrong I was aware it was happening. I mean she has been driving me mad about visits and personal statements. Still I don’t think it hit home until she uttered the words ” I have an offer”.

How did this happen?

One moment I was holding my firstborn in my arms and next she is talking about halls, lectures and leaving home.

I so wish I had a rewind switch.

I am so not ready for her to be so grown.

I understand this has to happen and I am also mindful that it is months and a few very important exams away but this still has me reeling today.

She is my firstborn, the one who I learned all about this mothering lark with.

The one I swaddled so badly she nearly suffocated.

The one whose sweet tears broke my heart on the first day of school.

University really?

I am so very proud of her determination to get the career of her dreams. I am so impressed by how hard she works.

But does she really have to be so grown?

This girls drives me to distraction and so many times I have considered packing her bags but the reality that this time next year she will be gone is not one I am ready to acknowledge.

Denial, yes please.

Not ready for you to be grown.
Not ready for you to be grown

So am I after your body?

Seriously at times I have considered getting rid of the pre-approval of comments on my blog and just trusting in the human race.

But then a couple of months ago I had quite an aggressive one about me being a bad mother so I left well alone.

But nothing prepared me for today’s highlight.

A few weeks ago I wrote this post about starting to learn to love and respect myself as I am.

It was a well received post with a lost of people tweeting, messaging me saying they also are trying to get into that place too.

Well today I was surprised to receive this comment.

“This isn’t about finding yourself it’s about getting attention cause you are vain. Or maybe you are after a sympathy shag”.

Seriously how in the world do I respond to that?

Obviously this person believes my journey is about vanity rather than self confidence and self respect.

To be perfectly honest I’m in shock at this response. I don’t believe I was courting attention at all.

I wasn’t going to publish this as to be honest I was embarrassed but you know what that’s how bullies work. By making you stay quiet and question who you are.

My journey is simply that MINE. It’s something I am going on for me.

I share it so others can relate not to procure sexual favours.

Enough said !!!!

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Say NO to displaying porn around children.

There has been a number of posts, tweets and Facebook status’s regarding the campaign to say no to nudity in men’s mags.

Well this is my opinion on it all.

Let me start off my stating I am no prude. I think the human body is a beautiful thing and I admire it greatly.

Saying that I don’t really want to be exposed to naked pictures everywhere I go.

I believe we have lost respect for ourselves, especially as women. I don’t believe equality is to be found in nudity.

Our body should be saved for our partners our husbands not the local lads in the town in the nightclub.

Don’t get me wrong back in the day I loved dressing up and feeling sexy but I learned that sometimes I really needed to love myself more.

But regardless of the whole debate of how women should dress etc.

The main reason I don’t want these nude pictures in the magazines is this.

 I have children.

I have three amazing girls who are growing up believing beauty is to be found in the way you look.

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Self confidence being destroyed because they don’t look like the model they see in the magazines.

Believing that to get a boyfriend is all down to the short skirt and crop tops.

It’s so wrong.

I also believe we are selling the guys short. I know many men my husband included who don’t find the false images they see in the magazines sexy.

They understand that there is more to relationships and more to life.

Yet the new generation of men are being raised up differently. Seeing woman as a sex subjects rather than the beautiful people they are.

Its because of my convictions that I was happy enough to sign this petition. Asking Edward Timpson MP to make it illegal to display porn around children.

Please consider adding your name to this petition.

Let us respect ourselves and respect each other.

Standing Together

I hate war, I hate the fact that people have to fight, people have to get injured,and mostly i hate that people have to die.

Yet while I hate war I understand that at times war is the only answer, that fighting is the only way to protect the human rights of people and to ensure the liberty of others.

So today as a country we remember the brave men and woman who fight in these present wars and the ones that have passed.

Who put themselves, their lives on the line fighting for freedom.

Today we stand together united in remembrance.

Today I pray for the many soldiers who bravely fight for this country.

Today I pray that they will all return home to the loved ones waiting for them.

Today we honour them.

Lest we never forget.

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Choosing not to write

Sometimes I choose not to write, not to throw my hat into the arena of comments and opinions. I virtually bite my tongue and stay quiet.

 

Not because I don’t have an opinion, I do, but I just don’t know enough.

 

I don’t know the real situation behind the headlines or gossip.

 

I don’t know the real people behind the photos or blog posts.

 

Being behind the computer gives us an opportunity to be.

 

A place where we can be ourselves and let our voices be heard.

 

But I ask the question, are we who we say we are?

 

Sometimes I read stories and blog posts and wonder, did that really happen?

 

Is their life really that perfect?

 

So many times we create ideas and ideals that people cannot or shouldn’t try and live up to.

 

Then we feel disappointed when we meet them in real life or the truth is unearthed.

 

But whose fault is that, have we created our own opinion or have they created one which isn’t true to what we now see.

 

So when the news headlines fill my screens or the television is full of the latest reality television show, I simply switch off.

 

I will not form an opinion of another from another’s words, I want to meet, feel and listen to their heart. 

  

Only then when I know the full story, 

Will I choose to speak,

Choose to write.