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

Work?

Emma’s Fostering Blog. ‘I don’t work’

I am often asked about what I do for work, and then it’s the usual response ‘You’re a Foster Carer that’s amazing you’re so kind’ generally people don’t see fostering as a job.

I went through a rigorous recruitment and vetting process, and again when I moved agency. The children I care for have additional needs as they have experienced trauma, abuse or neglect and I am an expert in working with them. I agree being a parent is an important role in raising a family, but it’s all that, and more, in being a Foster Parent, the role, responsibility and the complexity of the task has grown over the years. We change the lives of children in our care with good parenting, but need our skills and knowledge through our training, under guidelines, policies and procedures. Children have various diagnoses, Special Needs, disabled, global delay and other emotional, behavioural or medical needs, and daily I am providing a safe environment for children to thrive in.

Every day I encourage Dan by reinforcing appropriate behaviours, we have boundaries, praise and rewards, and responding appropriately in any emotional or behaviour crisis. Each day I am working on those important life skills with Dan as he is a teenager.

At School I am an advocate for him, having discussions with teachers ensuring he has effective behavioural support, attending open evenings, sports days, driving to and from places. Dan has health care needs; dental check-ups, hearing and eye tests, and other appointments as they arise. There is therapy; physical, occupational, speech, CAMHS, administering medications. I believe in Dan, he needs this emotionally and I champion him, show love, listen and act, nurture him and show warmth and treat him as part of our family.

I provide holidays, fun, birthdays and Christmas planning. Dan has Social Worker visits, life story work, working together ensuring his physical and emotional needs are met. I facilitate seeing Dan’s birth parents and other family members. I have to provide accurate written daily records and pass on any relevant information on all his needs including developmental milestones and education. Yearly I attend Dan’s health assessment and twice a year his ‘Looked After’ child Review. Foster carers have a yearly annual Review, monthly supervision; support groups, meetings and training.

Meanwhile, we have to look after ourselves – we have to protect ourselves and our family from allegations. It’s important to consider our own health needs and other relationships that are important to us including our birth children’s needs and make special time for them- and Foster carer’s do all this- and it’s never a problem, because it becomes our way of life..

My thoughts are it’s amazing what Foster carers actually do! We need strong personal relationships with ‘Looked After children’ as it gives them the opportunity to be full member of the family and helps them feel that they belong.

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

Fostering Blogs

Holiday

Emma’s Fostering Blog. Christmas time

At Christmas it’s hard not to be excited with all the festive activities going on around us but it’s not always the same for our Foster Children. Christmas can be a wonderful time for everyone, and every year I try to get the balance right in giving them all a good experience. But this is no easy task and it means that I need to be a little bit more inventive, insightful and thoughtful, with a little bit of careful planning. The run up to Christmas is busy and chaotic, for everyone but for ‘Looked After’ children it can be scary, the routine is different and they may have family contact.

Chloe was emotionally and physically abused before coming into care, and her happy feelings feel false, because she can’t say what she really feels, only what she thinks we want to hear. Every year as Christmas approaches her behaviours increase, her excitement contrasts with apprehension, and this reminds her just how much she misses her birth family. She worries if her parents may be home alone and she feels guilty for experiencing joy and laughter with us as her foster family, but she also remembers sorrow.

I want this Christmas to be a good memory, the one that may last for a life time. I remember her first Christmas here during present giving she just catastrophically broke down and disclosed that her Mother had locked her in a cupboard because she wouldn’t stay in bed, it was Christmas Eve.

Its Chloe’s third Christmas with us, it’s always difficult – no matter how much we tell her we love her, you’re not going anywhere, your safe, she just can’t accept this as she spent her early years with her guard up, listening for the door, hiding – so letting that guard down, letting love in is almost impossible to do, and she never stops looking over her shoulder, waiting for something to happen. ‘It’s as if a piece of her life jigsaw has been removed and, however much you rearrange the other pieces, they never quite fit in the same way again’.

Dan is autistic and he suffers with anxiety so the social expectations are extremely tricky for him to deal with. He doesn’t know what to say, how to respond or even how to cope being in the room with so many people so we have to prepare him ahead of time. During Nov and December we are preparing him by reading social stories together and setting the scene for Christmas festivities, our routine, changes at School and what to expect with family coming over to visit.

My thoughts are, as a Foster carer you need to be a quick thinker, prepared for anything, as there is never a right time for a child to disclose, make sure you have support, as your Foster children maybe particularly vulnerable at this time.

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

Fostering Blogs

Birth Children

Emma’s fostering blog. Birth Children

After a conversation with my eldest daughter recently, she shared her experiences of us choosing to Foster after she went off to university. Sam wrote- “I had been at university for a year when my parents decided to do fostering, I found it disconcerting that my bedroom was going to be used for the foster child – meaning I didn’t have a room of my own when I went home in the holidays. But in the big scheme of things, this was only a small issue and I soon got used to having someone else living at home with my parents. I suppose it helped that I was an adult, as I never felt jealous about my parents suddenly having other children to focus all their attention on.

If I had been still living at home then I might have felt put out, but during my university days, I was too focussed on studying and partying. It’s easy to understand why my parents want to foster, and I’ve never found it hard to interact with the foster kids – it’s great that they have a stable loving home”.

When you choose to Foster, our birth children hear, see things, and put up with behaviour, which they would not have done otherwise. Without a doubt, for me, one of the hardest parts about being a foster parent is the emotional turmoil and trauma a child experiences when first placed into our home, and all your energy is focused on helping that child. Sam was 19 and enjoying university, however she felt unsettled as if someone else was taking over her position, and we never knew she felt this way. Since, we have questioned why we didn’t notice her feelings at the time, and felt sad knowing she had deal with this independently at a time which was obviously challenging for her.

My youngest daughter struggled with the parenting style of fostering- the policies and guidance we had to follow. The different visitors and the many meetings at home, routine changes and safeguarding issues like using the bathroom, entering bedrooms and bedtime stories. She thought it was ‘unreasonable’ and ‘weird’ especially having to always wear appropriate clothing; the constant reminders about wearing a dressing gown.

The way behaviours were managed, having different expectations or discipline for foster children. However eventually they learned the children who came to us were victims of abuse, neglect, and abandonment, and they were scared and terrified coming into our home and they needed nurturing with all the extras.

My thoughts are, the biggest challenge for birth children is the ability to share their parents with other children that are not family. It is really important that you can talk openly, and make quality time to spend together, because our children play a vital role in helping Foster children settle at home, school and in helping to make new friends.

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