Emma’s Fostering Blogs are 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.

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Tuesday.

There are lots of days when I feel like I am juggling too many things. I am pretty sure most people feel like this from time to time – but from my perspective they are definitely hiding it better than I do. Maybe they are just ok on the surface and underneath they feel like me. Today, I feel like I have gone from one thing to the next, without a breath. It started after the older two girls had gone to school, I had to get across town for Alice’s community dental appointment. I don’t know what I was thinking getting a 9 o’clock appointment. I usually get something after school, so not sure what I was doing. Getting across town during the rush hour is not my idea of fun. It is not helped by the commentary coming from the back of the car. Alice has no inner monologue, it makes sitting in traffic jams less than ideal.

I never know from one appointment to the next how Alice will behave. On occasion she can be angelic and we can be in and out in a few minutes. It was wishful thinking hoping we would get an appointment like that today, particularly as I had a meeting to be at afterwards. Alice started the session by asking the dentist and her assistant lots of questions. They always think its cute that she wants to know so many things and they indulge her by answering everything and showing her all the equipment. I know that it is simply a delay tactic and she has a string of questions up her sleeve to delay the dentist and stop her actually going anywhere near her mouth. I know she picks up from me that I am getting annoyed. I must have looked at my watch a number of times. More than ten minutes has gone by and she is now flicking through a ream of good child stickers – she’s choosing the ones she might like to have after the dentist has looked in her mouth.

It is no use, I have to say something. I remind her that the dentist needs to look in her mouth and we need to get back to school. Of course I am really hoping the dentist picks up from my cues – that Alice is wasting time and we need to get on with what we are here for. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work as the community dentists have much longer slots for their appointments, so they don’t feel the urgency to get her to open her mouth. After thirty minutes she has had a good look at Alice’s teeth and says she needs a follow up to have some fluoride coating put on her teeth. I couldn’t help but think, if she had got on with the inspection a little quicker then she could have done the coating there are then. I quickly get Alice back in her wheelchair, we make a follow up appointment (for a time after school!!) and we are back in the car and on our way to school.

As soon as Alice goes in to class, I head off to my foster carer training at the independent agency – back across the other side of town! I arrive a little late and quite a lot flustered. Fortunately everyone understands – they are all in the same boat. It is always good to have a catch up with fellow foster carers, you realise that you are not on your own!! Today’s training is about dealing with stress!! How apt!!!

A Less Ordinary Fostering Family Blog.

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January Christmas

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Friday

It was Charlie’s works “Christmas Do” at lunch time today. I’m not sure exactly why they have it in January – but apparently that’s what they always have done – and its definitely not our place to question why!! Anyway they invite ‘spouses’ to the lunch too – so that means me!! I hate the word spouse!! It just doesn’t sound very nice! I am happy to go along though – it is good to spend time with Charlie’s colleagues. It is a good opportunity to get past the small talk that usually happens when I meet them in passing and actually have time to get to know a little better the colleagues that Charlie spends much of his working days with.

It is nice to be invited to a ‘Christmas Do’, it is something that I don’t get as a foster carer. There have been times when our Fostering Agency have put on events around Christmas – but it’s not quite the same as going out with colleagues and letting your hair down a little.

They opt to go to a local pub for lunch which is perfect – low key, and it means I haven’t got to dress up. Dressing up is not something I do very often and certainly not in the middle of the day when I will have the school run straight after. Unfortunately, it was not quite the time out that everyone had hoped for. The service was really slow. Although we had all sent our menu choices in beforehand, that seemed to have no idea who was eating what. When my meal eventually came – it was the wrong meal, so I had to send it back. Eventually they brought out the right dish but it turned out to be stone cold. I sent it back again. Everyone else was tucking into their dinner while my stomach was rumbling rather loudly.

Eventually my meal came, fortunately it was the right meal at the right temperature. Only problem was that everyone else had finished their meal. I felt very self conscious, and under pressure to finish quickly so they could move on to desserts. In the end I told everyone to carry on with desserts. I was running out of time anyway and had to leave to get to school. The older two were on a 2:15pm finish day and needed collecting from school. So it wasn’t quite the meal out we were hoping for.

I think next Christmas I am going to organise my own ‘Christmas Do’, perhaps with friends rather than colleagues!! I will be choosing the venue and it will definitely be before Christmas not after!!

A Less Ordinary Fostering Family Blog.

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Blog | Fostering Panel

Fostering Alice Blog

Tuesday

I popped into the city this morning to do a little shopping, whilst I was in the queue at John Lewis I saw some old friends Fiona and Peter. Charlie and I went to University with them over twenty years ago. I hadn’t realised that they had moved to the other side of the city to where we live. To be honest it was a blast from the past. We haven’t really seen each other over the last twenty years, I kept thinking about what they were like back then, and then thinking how different Charlie and I are to those kids we were back in college!! So much has changed, careers, moving house (several times), having families, fostering life and so on. It was good to hear about their life and how much they have been up to over the last two decades. As the queue quickly got to the tills, we decided to head to the cafe to grab a coffee.

Turns out Fiona and Peter, had been considering fostering for some time. They had no idea we had been long term foster carers for over five years. They had just finished their assessment with their local social services, and had just been given the draft copy of their Form F. It seems like a lifetime ago that Charlie and I were doing our assessment – felt like we were having our lives scrutinised! They shared how cathartic it had been for them – to see their lives on paper. We laughed about how there are never any small talk conversations with social workers – everything is written down, nothing is hidden. They are going to panel in less than a month, so we spent time sharing with them how it had been for us, trying to reassure them that their social worker must have full confidence in them to get them this far.

I remember how nervous I was before our panel. Charlie less so, he was much more philosophical about the whole thing. He is very good at thinking out loud and answering questions on the spot, he is also used to talking in front of lots of people. I on the other hand, am an internal processor and can find it difficult to articulate what I am thinking on the spot. When I speak at meetings – like LAC (Looked After Child) Reviews or education or health meetings, I am well prepared and often well rehearsed, I am living the things I am talking about. Panel is another thing altogether, whilst you can guess what might come up in questions, you really have no idea what they might pick up from your Form F.

Fiona and Peter seem much more prepared than we were. It is reassuring to hear how well their social worker has prepared them so far. As we parted company, we agreed to stay in touch. It will be good to hear how they get on next month. I have a feeling though that we wont see them much, as we both have such busy lives. I wonder when we will bump into them next and what changes will have taken place at that point!!

A Less Ordinary Fostering Family Blog.