I think this is actually more of a plea for help and advice rather than a blog!
My questions is – How do you know the placement you have is right for your family long term?
Due to the way our children came into the foster care system the question around long term placement has always been floating around. At first, it was testing the water, then it was involved in a ‘what if…….?’ type conversation and now, well now I feel it has real potential to be a decision we have to make in the future.
I mean, what am I meant to be looking for? Where is my bar? Are fireworks meant to explode as I gaze into the distance in the form of a romance movie? Or am I just to be satisfied that none of the children in the house have tried to kill each other in the last 24 hours?
I will say that from being a mere mortal in the assessment process to becoming a Foster Carer, to actually being in the depths of a placement, my outlook has changed massively. For example, before a placement, I was adamant that I couldn’t leave foster children at home whilst going on holiday. I wasn’t going to use respite and I was going to love these children like I do my own. I’m not too big to admit I was wrong. On all counts. The emotions I have for these children already run deep, but that is not the same as them being your own. I want to show them the world, but I can also recognise the impact being a Foster Carer has had on my own children. On their place in the home, on their relationship with me and also their relationship with each other. They need their own time. The impact has been greater than I could ever imagine but, the question is, would the next placement be easier…….harder…..different…….the same…..? Any experience and advice VERY welcome!
My husband and I spend a lot of time (and when I say ‘a lot of time’ I obviously mean the five minutes in bed before one of us falls asleep through exhaustion) discussing our future as Foster Carers. Not as in, are we still going to continue, because that is an absolute given, but where do we go? Do we pass over into long term and even permanence if the occasion arrives? We go round and round in circles and to be quite honest the answer/discussion is usually swayed depending on what type of day we have had; children arguing, incessant whining, refusal to eat their dinner and eye rolls bigger than Everest usually end up in us deciding to put our own children on eBay, move our foster children on and go and live in a yurt somewhere. However, a day that has seen homework completed without insults (or pencils) being thrown, movie time where no one has kicked another off the sofa or stolen their popcorn and the washing bins empty (who am I kidding? They are NEVER empty!) tends to see me trying to convince my husband to extend the house so we can have more children, bid for a flock of sheep for our unused paddock, and keep all the kittens in our current litter!
Just the other day I had supervision with my Social Worker, and again the conversation was bought up, this time by me. And quite simply she asked, ‘can you see them being anywhere else?’ The answer, of course, was ‘no’. And I mean it. Six kids in any house is hard. Jeez, one child hard. But hard doesn’t stop us loving and caring and investing in them. It doesn’t mean we give up or move on. It means, until the point where we really have exhausted all avenues of loving them in our own home, we keep them.
So, instead of in a yurt (or 5* hotel), sipping a champagne cocktail while watching the sunset over the sea, I will be washing and cooking and ferrying for six children. And when I have a spare five minutes? Well, I’ll be browsing the internet for some sheep!