Emma’s Fostering Blog is by an experienced foster carer who gives you an honest and revealing insight into the ups and downs of foster care. A great resource for other carers and those interested in becoming carers.

Fostering Blogs

Sexuality

Emma’s Fostering Blog. Sexuality.

Duty rang – Paul is 15 and at the office because his Mother is refusing to have him home.

The family are known to social services, this is a voluntary placement for the weekend and I was given basic information. I arrived to collect him but the office was shut and he was alone outside. I couldn’t believe they just left him outside – It was Friday 5-15pm. I wasn’t sure what to do, I thought surely I should tell someone that I was collecting him but there was no one to tell, so once home and settled, I rang duty to make a complaint.

His mother was very religious, and he suffered strict discipline in the home, and certain topics such as sex were forbidden. When she suspected he was gay, she disowned him and threw him out. I could see Paul was angry and neglected, and I saw the cuts on his wrists and I knew he was cutting himself so he needed help emotionally. We had daily conversations as he seemed to be getting more bad days than good, and he was still cutting and very confused about his sexual orientation. It was hard getting him to accept that he didn’t need to label himself, or be pushed into any one direction, he needed to do what felt right for him, and in time, he would know what felt right.

I was relieved when he had an appointment with CAMHS and over time the anger and the cutting decreased. We looked up information together; ways to keep safe by not sharing personal information always tell someone where you are going and meet in a public place, learning about Internet safety or forums.

We discussed sexual health, and discussed unprotected anal sex and the high risk of sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDS (STIs) Paul was now 17 and in a better place emotionally – I remember one evening I was cooking dinner he came into the kitchen wearing a dress, high heels and red lipstick, he announced he was going to a gay bar, I did not expect this, it caught me of guard. I think I handled the situation well however I was concerned, as he was vulnerable, naive and could easily be taken advantage of, but at the same time he needed to experience his choices and we had to let him. I made a plan so he was safe, and he was taken and collected to the venue.

Paul eventually met an older man and I knew if I made an issue it could be a problem and I didn’t want to create a barrier that would be hard to overcome, so I discussed this with his worker and we supported him until it ran its course.

My thoughts are the weekend turned into three years as he point blank refused to go home, so always expect the unexpected.

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

Fostering Blogs

Achieving

Emma’s Fostering Blog. Achieve

Why are some ‘Looked After’ children not motivated to learn, we need to understand why! The children we work with have more health difficulties than their peers, and their emotional and mental welfare is particularly at risk. There is this stigma from people who tend to think that educational or behavioural problems are because of a child’s ‘in care’ status. We need to be identifying individual needs and putting appropriate support in place. Improvements in the support services available to ‘Looked After’

Children have been seriously undermined by structural factors within the education system.

Sarah was 9 and very small and underweight for her age, at School she had difficulty concentrating and learning, and was very disruptive. Sarah came into care because of neglect and sexual abuse by two older brothers. She had been unable to explain the pain she was feeling but I knew inside she was a volcano ready to erupt. It took time a long time before Sarah settled and began to trust us; she pushed all the boundaries and tested us to the hilt. It wasn’t easy living with her, there was the hypervigilance; she never felt safe, she didn’t like any emotional warmth and really worried about food. At School there were many learning and behavioural issues we had to deal with. Sarah was having School dinners but she was also taking food from children’s lunch boxes, and at home she took food and hid it. By offering food more frequently than usual, Sarah started to trust us and soon became less anxious as it was available when she needed it.

I had to find interests for Sarah because she hadn’t had many opportunities, she couldn’t say what she liked and I needed to build her self-esteem, look at what she was good at and make it happen. I liked gardening and eventually encouraged her to help and she actually started to enjoy doing this with me. Together we made her own patch where she planted things, looked after them and watched them grow. This was perfect for both of us, we had quality time together, and it defiantly helped her as the angry episodes we were experiencing with her seemed less now.

Sarah needed to experience adults that cared about her; she needed time to heal and by us providing a safety net, by introducing new things. We championed her learning by having excellent communication with her School, working as a team around the behaviours. The teacher made a sincere effort to know our family and make a genuine connection, and the rest fell into place as she went on to be successful in many things, including education.

My thoughts are each child is unique and their learning styles are different, if you can break the cycle, there is then great potential for children to grow up in a different way, making good decisions, hold down jobs and have successful relationships.

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

Fostering Blogs

Dinner

Emma’s Fostering Blog. Christmas 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 fidgety 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!