Fostering Blogs

Fostering Holiday

Emma’s Fostering Blog

Holiday

With the New Year comes the thought about holidays. I always make sure I get a letter from the Social worker in plenty of time, arranging permission, getting paperwork signed; obtaining passports and overcoming any legal issues, booking a holiday can be a lengthy process. Before our main summer holiday we go camping as often as we can with all the children and young people as they all love the fresh air and the freedom to run wild and play games, and making great memories about places they have been.

Experiencing a ‘typical’ family holiday benefits children in a number of ways – it introduces them to new cultures and experiences, helps them to socialise, builds confidence in different circumstances. And of course, it gives them notes to compare with school friends about how they’ve spent their six weeks off!  I have different experiences of taking foster children away with us so I can say sometimes it is very stressful and they don’t always cope well with the change so I always complete a risk assessment, and involve them with showing and talking about where we are going. However sometimes a child just can’t cope with a holiday it depends how long they have been with you and their nature. 

Despite my best efforts I took Megan 11 on holiday she was very excited as she had never been on holiday but the expectations for her were too much and she ended up having several meltdowns before we decided to cut our holiday short to return home.

Going on holiday is fun but it can also pose a risk as in safety- less familiar with the child’s personal sense of safety, or  running away as holidays made Megan think about her own family and how she wanted to be doing this but with them. This holiday was in the UK and we were prepared and briefed for any potential hiccup, I wanted to test the water as I had doubts whether she would manage going abroad this year.

Over time going on weekend breaks and getting her used to camping, team working, being involved putting tents up, cooking and other tasks, she absolutely loves it. Now settled Megan has enjoyed so many holidays abroad, taste of a different culture, language and food.

My thought are thinking and planning ahead and fighting for the rights of looked after children to have as much normality in their life as possible, which includes holidays. We should also take annual leave to allow the opportunity to rest and recuperate too. It’s getting the right balance which stops you burning out as a Foster carer.

Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do! 

Fostering Blogs

Another rejection

Emma’s Fostering Blog. Another rejection

I feel like I have failed with Craig.

When Craig 14 yrs. came to us we knew it would be a challenge but we never realised just how much. Craig had been in Foster care since he was 6, then his Foster Carer died so he was moved, and has had two carers since. They were seeking a placement urgently as his current Foster carer had given notice and wanted him out immediately as they couldn’t cope any longer. We agreed to a month while they were looking for a more suitable placement as we knew we couldn’t support long term.

It has been 4 months now, the behaviour is out of control, and we are hanging in there by the skin of our teeth. Craig has stolen items from our home, sold most of his things, he absconds from school on a daily basis, and he has thrown a brick from a bridge onto a car windscreen.

He smoke’s cannabis; he lies compulsively, and is in trouble with the police, refuses to come back on time and often turning up in the middle of the night. I understand it’s not his fault and during supervision I was talking about this and I became tearful because I felt like a failure, I know my feelings are real, I really do care, and I know I shouldn’t feel guilty. It’s not the social workers fault, but I needed some empathy from her as she goes home at the end of her shift, I don’t, and I can’t recharge my batteries ready the next day.

I know my job is to advocate as strongly as possible for Craig as I have his best interests at heart, but I can’t do this anymore, I’m exhausted, and its awful feeling so guilty and responsible for him. There is so little support, because there isn’t much available, and they can’t find anyone willing to have him because the behaviours are so challenging.

This is now impacting on my family life, and I have to look after myself, my own mental health. I’m worried about the other children in placement because it’s not fun anymore as he keeps playing up and they are getting upset. Our agency won’t like us giving notice, and we probably won’t get another child for a while because of this, as if frozen out, and on the naughty step. I know I have to give notice as he needs far more support than a Foster family can offer and maybe this is the only way Craig will get the help he needs as I am his fourth Foster Carer now, and it’s happening again, another rejection for him.

My thoughts are I have supported Foster Carers who try and try in situations such as this, and watched as relationships break up, they experience mental health issues, and their own children suffer.

Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!

Fostering Blogs

Lovely language

Emma’s Fostering Blog. Dinner

September – Charlie is 7 and I’m beginning to establish a good routine and boundaries, but I am finding the attention seeking, ‘in your face’ type behaviours difficult to ignore. He is constantly ?dgety and anxious, he is overly charming; he knows everyone’s names, their business and likes to help whenever he can, even if I don’t want his help.

October – Charlie seems to be settling in well he is responding to the boundaries and enjoys getting rewards. November – Charlie is managing his drama club and now looks forward to going every week. December – Almost daily, I am being spoken to about Charlie’s behaviour at School; he is being disruptive and rude, spoiling other pupils work. Charlie had a Christmas contact with his parents, he was excited about going, he had gifts from them then after a couple of days he destroyed them. Now we seem to be walking on egg shells with him, today we went to see Father Christmas, in hindsight, I wish I hadn’t, Charlie told him that he wasn’t real and he was a F*****g liar.

Christmas morning – Charlie is super excited, but this seems false, as if overshadowed by some horrible incident. Rapidly opening his presents, a quick glance, declaring several times ‘how lucky he is’ and ‘his favourite things ever’. Christmas dinner – we saw a very different Charlie – ‘I’m not eating this F*****g Shit’ then throwing the plate across the table he became louder, and very controlling, as if two people, in and out of character.

‘Triggers’ sounds, smells, tastes, things he saw, emotions he felt, reminders of trauma. I really wanted this day over and I was upset at his actions, my extended family were great, really supportive and despite everything they made him welcome. On reflection the gift from a particular family member had triggered anger, pain and loss; he had witnessed domestic abuse and was acting out the behaviours, ending up in disruptive and challenging behaviour. There’s lots of pressure to have fun, it can be difficult to cope. If things go wrong, they often go spectacularly wrong, so it’s very important to have an extra layer of support around this time of year.

It’s the most difficult time of the year for some children – Adam, care leaver once told me about his early experiences of Christmas with us, ‘I hated the emotions it stirred in me as we sat at the table together, there was laughter and a real family sense, but for me it felt like a physical pain in my heart because this is what it should have been like for me at home, it’s the dread of feeling that way because I felt so heartbroken’.

My thoughts are Step out of the box- think and plan in advance, you can have a happy Christmas; you might just need to tweak your routine or traditions.

Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!