Fostering Blogs

Rhianna

Emma’s Fostering Blog.

Rhianna.

Rhianna was 11, refused to go to School, now permanently excluded, she had disrupted every class and her learning and social skills were poor; I was even refused 6 hours a week respite! 

She was challenging and complex and was reported as ‘missing’ from Foster care.  Rhianna wore her hoody down over her face and found eye contact difficult and it was clear from the start that she had very strong views about her identity- hair short and dressed as a boy.

I actually felt things were improving slightly, she seemed settled, chatty and no longer wore the hoody, then one night she didn’t come home so I made some calls, went out to look for he then later I phoned the duty team, and reported her missing to the police. I was contacted later by someone who claimed she was at their house, when I arrived I felt out of my comfort zone, it was very intimidating. Then every night we were ringing duty and the Police.

One evening we saw her get out of someone’s car, she told me they were her friends, but I knew they were encouraging her to stay out. The Police and her Social worker tried to talk to her but it didn’t help, her attitude changed, she had all ‘new friends’, the hoody was back and it seemed she was in the same dark place that she had come from.

We didn’t feel supported, no one seemed to care, she had been let down before and it was happening again so eventually we had no choice but give notice, she was breaking down the placement and we couldn’t keep her safe, so she moved. That placement broke down, she was homeless and in the emergency bed. I got a call from duty Social Worker as they were desperate to find Rhianna a bed for the night. It was difficult, I couldn’t say no, I felt sorry for her, but I made it clear two weeks tops as I had a holiday booked, duty assured me they would find a suitable home before then. I was told to keep her in 24 /7 as I needed to keep her safe. Two weeks were almost up; I worried as I still hadn’t heard anything despite many times calling them. On the holiday day 9am the Social worker came, as we packed her belongings into the car, I was told they hadn’t been able to arrange anywhere.

Later Rhianna phoned me to say that she had been dropped off in town until 4 o’clock, left to walk the streets.  I was so upset, this was so wrong, let down again by me!

My thoughts are Rhianna needed therapeutic help, they wouldn’t listen, and they wanted me to hold her.  I found it impossible to work with this Fostering Social Worker, our professional relationship had diminished, and there was no trust now.

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

Fostering Blogs

New carers

Emma’s Fostering Blogs.

New Carers.

As new carers we were resilient and determined to do our job well and make a big difference, but it wasn’t easy, we went through tough times and were tested to breaking point on many occasions.

We welcomed Jessica aged 7 to our home it seemed nothing was positive on paper with so many labels. It wasn’t long before we saw her qualities, she had a lovely way about her, talkative and receptive and she soon formed a strong bond with our family members. There were times when we became exhausted, and we knew we could count on them to step in and relieve the pressure. 

Every Christmas or birthday celebration she tried to spoil, as if the green eyed monster within would erupt often violent and destructive; even to this day we sometimes see a glint of envy as others open their presents, but now she can talk about her feelings openly and with good humour.  Family holiday were difficult, despite preparing her and she would become uncomfortable in the lead up to it and the routine was different so she struggled to cope.

As the years went on this started to improve, and when she was 15 we took her to Greece and she finally managed this holiday using the many strategies we had given her. When we reflect back on her journey, we can see where those influences came from as she had a very traumatic start to life, she came in to care at just 3 years old and usually a child so young would have been adopted, but there were family issues that prevented this.

We are very proud of the young lady Jessica has become, she has worked since leaving school, lived independently for seven years, a highly valued member of our family and a firm favourite with our foster children who love her insight and empathy. She still holidays with us and we see her regularly. Jessica stayed in touch with people who over the years were always supportive, her school teachers and support staff through social media, and she never lost touch with the original Social Worker who had taken her to the Foster placement and to this day, is still in touch with her.

The continuity of Jessica’s journey has given her the best chance to break the cycle; our family count her as a daughter, sister, and a friend. When our Grandson was born Jessica was asked to be Godmother, a role which she takes very seriously.  She is very special, part of our family, we all know the journey we have made together and are forever grateful that we were given the chance to know and champion this young lady.

My thoughts are breaking the cycle has been the most important thing for us and for her, to achieve in being that strong, independent, compassionate and resilient person that she is today.

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

Fostering Blogs

Emotions

Emma’s Fostering Blogs.

Emotions.

Emotionally being a Foster carer is challenging, even as you vow never to take in another child, never to allow yourself to become so involved again, having to face the heartbreak of giving them up – we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and carry on, then you wait for a call from the duty team saying they have a child who needs a caring nurturing home.

Hannah will not be returning to her birth parents and we have permanency and I couldn’t imagine life without her now.  Importantly she is part of our family, and I have given her a sense of belonging because I believe in her and made sure her voice is heard.  We have made so many good memories for the future together, and the joy of knowing she will grow and develop into a confident and capable independent person.  Hannah has a good education, and I know she will get a good job.  When Hannah has finished her education, is in work, and is ready to leave home, as our birth children we will support her.

Being a Foster carer can really pull on your heart strings when decisions are made about returning a child home, we are looking after vulnerable children who have been neglected and abused, and we worry because we need to be sure that they will be safe if they return.  It is heart breaking when you feel wrong decisions are made and the damage this can do to a child. Hannah has two younger sisters, her half-sister Emily, and Rebecca; both are happy and   living together with another Foster carer. One day on Social media the father found Rebecca he hadn’t been in her life for years, he left when Emily was born, as she wasn’t his.

Suddenly after years he was back on the scene wanting to take care of his biological daughter, he didn’t want Hannah because she had a disability or Rebecca as she wasn’t his.  The Local Authority made it clear they would not split the two sisters, and eventually he agreed to take them together. Before the plan was adoption, but they struggled to find an adopter as the youngest had special needs, so the professionals involved decided this was a good outcome.

We all thought this was a bad decision, we expressed our concerns – but they didn’t listen and it went ahead.  This decision tore the three siblings apart, from having contact, to none, as he moved miles away and eventually stopped the contact. Two years later Emily was rejected again and back in care without Rebecca.

My thoughts are Foster Carers want to ensure children improve their quality of life, but sometimes bad decisions are made and we feel powerless to help.  High quality social work practice and sound professional judgement will always need to be at the heart of any decision to separate brothers and sisters.

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