I was ready for it. Geared up. Gosh, some might even say, with the amount I had practised my response, that I was even looking forward to it! It was our first meeting with our assessing social worker and OBVIOUSLY she was going to ask me how often my husband and I have sex.
It was what everyone said to me when I told them that we were going to start the process to become Foster Carers. It was the first thing they proclaimed with the inside knowledge that made them sound like assessing social workers themselves! Now, I am no prude, not to say the least, but what was worrying me about this question was – what was the right answer? I mean, was I supposed to say that we never had sex so there was no chance of foster children walking in/hearing us? Or was I supposed to say we were at it like rabbits to prove that our relationship was incredible? This was the conundrum I was in for weeks before we first met our social worker. And do you know what one of the first things she said was? “Don’t worry, I am not going to ask you about your sex life.” To be entirely honest, I was a little disappointed.
What did happen over the next seven or eight months was far more intense than discussing our sex life. I learnt more about myself in those few months than I ever had as a wife, mother three times over, a victim of domestic abuse, teacher, single parent and stepmother. We delved deep, really deep. I came out of our sessions feeling as if I had just left a therapy session. I talked about things I hadn’t thought about for years and it felt good. I really enjoyed the assessment process however, I can fully understand how people are overwhelmed by it, find it intrusive and don’t make it to the end.
I remember talking to colleagues and friends about the length of time and certain things we spoke about and on the most part they were shocked at the intensity of it and on more than one occasion I heard the phrase – “But you don’t have to be assessed in order to be a parent”. It wasn’t until our first placement arrived that I fully understood why that was. It’s quite simply because we aren’t their parents. We can’t cut corners. We have to bring our ‘A Game’ all the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is exhausting, rewarding, challenging and draining all in the same breath and in order to make sure we are capable of that pressure the assessment process needs to be thorough. So, if fostering is something you or anyone you know is thinking about and you are daunted by the assessment process I urge you to keep going. Because, no matter how hard it is, those small moments that make your heart melt or your soul soar when you have a placement, make it all worthwhile.