Why did you want to foster? It’s the question on everyone’s lips when you bring up being a foster carer. It’s deeply rooted in the first discussion we had with Nexus, it was the first topic during our assessment process and it’s the question I ask myself when everything feels ‘too much’ (which happens regularly!).
And it’s funny but the answer will differ depending on who I am talking to and at what point of the day I am asked it. Have I just kissed a small human good night and sat down with a glass of wine or am I currently using military-style negotiation tactics to make sure a child finishes dinner? My answer will differ but my reasoning will always remain the same. I care. Always have done. Sometimes even to my detriment. I care what people think of me, what they say when I am not around and I care about whether I have upset or annoyed people. My mum, husband, friends all say not to care. But I do. And it is with the same strength and conviction that I, and indeed, I believe, all foster carers, care about the young people who are with me. I care about what they did at school and I care that they have nice clothes and I care that they are exposed to all the good things that the world has to offer. And I guess this is why we are foster CARERS and not foster guardians, or foster chaperones. The clue is in the title.
I believe that lots of different carers have lots of different reasons as to why they foster and this, I guess, creates this fantastic web of humans who can offer support and guidance to a multitude of different young people who all have very different wishes and needs. Even the three young people I have are all like chalk and cheese. Three young people, who were raised with the same parents, in the same house and endured very similar abuse are all completely different. And caring is about finding the right way to deal with all of them, in their own way. It’s complex and at times downright exhausting but every day there seems to be this resounding determination to be more curious, to find out a little bit more and to therefore become even a fraction of a step closer to finding ways to best support them.
If I said to anyone, hey, there’s this carer you could do – it is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all working in your own house, (on average) two weeks holiday a year and you work bank holidays, Easter, Christmas etc I’d get laughed at. And I haven’t even mentioned the pay. I dare not work out what the hourly rate for fostering is but I know it wouldn’t be the reason we do it. We do it to try and make a difference. We do it to nurture and respect and to help small humans, who will one day run this world. We do it because we care. And some of us are so very lucky that sometimes, when we care too much, it creates love.