The court system, to put it mildly, is absolutely mind blowing! Before fostering, I’ve had my fair share of court room time, both in family court and also in criminal (don’t worry, I wasn’t the one on trial!). And if there are two things you can always guarantee with court is that it is slow and unpredictable. Fostering has only emphasised that!
There is much work done in the court room that foster carers are not really privy to that and I can only make comment on what I have heard or been told about. But I do know that, especially for cases like ours, where the children have been freshly taken into care, that ‘court’ plays a huge roll. Papers to be submitted, attendances to made and continuous references to ‘Legal’ are about as far as my understanding goes. Social workers gathering evidence for that ‘next big appearance’. An appearance where decisions are made about the children that live in our houses. I always find it bizarre that foster carers do not have more engagement with the court process. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for us to be kept away from the wrath of potentially angry and hurt parents and I know that the realms of our job ends where the courtroom begins but it still leaves me wondering how a child’s biggest advocate and most ‘known to them’ person, doesn’t take part in the proceedings. It’s almost like an underwater world which swirls around us, just out of reach but something which, in the background we are always conscious of.
I’m not embarrassed to say that court hearings for the siblings we have in the house make me nervous. Their lives are moulded in those rooms and I know that we are not supposed to get ‘too attached’ or ‘invest too much’ but I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t openly state that I wanted them to remain with me. And the courtroom jeopardises that. This place where we are not allowed yet where all of our futures are designed. I can’t now imagine my house without them and, now fifteen months along, we are still waiting for that decision of long term care to be decided.
When you begin a placement on a short term basis, your life seems to be suspended in time. Big decisions haven’t been made and you are at the mercy of that court room. And I suppose that my biggest lesson during this process is the art of patience. Of putting your hands up and allowing someone else to take control because when you foster your lives are entwined with another family. And for all the magic fostering brings it also brings the unknown, which we have no choice but to embrace.