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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Nervousited!

Alice – Fostering Blog

Monday

We bumped into some old friends a few weeks back, they were just about to be approved to become foster carers. They got in touch this morning to tell us that they had been unanimously approved and had been awaiting their first placement. I had a strange sense of dejavu. Almost like a flashback to six years ago when Charlie and I were first approved. I can remember that feeling of being really excited and yet incredibly nervous at the same time – Lauren calls this being “nervousited!!” I can remember keeping my phone to hand at all times of the day – just in case we got that call.

It was incredibly frustrating as the days and then weeks went on before we had that first call. As the call came, my adrenalin levels rose and I became a little anxious about the placement. Then only a few hours later, the agency called to say there had been a change of plan and that the child had been placed elsewhere. I felt both disappointment and relief! Were we ready?? In the following few days we had a couple more calls like this. But then only a week or so later, we got another call and this time it did lead to our first placement – a little one year old boy. Panic set in and we rallied round to get all the necessary equipment in place. And that was the start of our fostering journey.

Our friends had just had “the call”. They were ringing for a bit of advice. I told them not to tell their birth children until the placement was confirmed. I remember the highs and lows we felt, but for Lauren and Annie who were only 6 and 8 years old at the time – it was much more difficult. They didn’t need those disappointments! I also told them to only get the basics – the essential things.

Once the child is placed, they can get everything else they need. I could hear in my friends voice, a little panic. I reassured her that it was going to be fine. After all, they have just gone through the most rigorous of tests to get this far and they would not have been unanimously approved if there was any doubt! In the meantime, I reminded her that I would be at the end of the phone, and only across the city should she need to call on me in the coming days and weeks.

A Less Ordinary Fostering Family Blog.

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Alice’s IRO

Alice – Fostering Blog

Thursday.

Talk about needing to count to ten. I think I need to count to a thousand. And this time it’s nothing to do with any of the children. Social workers can be very frustrating. Today’s meeting did not exactly go according to plan. It didn’t help that the local authority social worker was running late, so late that by the time she arrived my agency social worker only had thirty minutes before she had to go to her next appointment. She couldn’t leave any later as she was heading off to a LAC review – it would not go down well if she was late for that. So we had to make a choice of what we were going to tackle today. I decided the most pressing thing to talk about was therapy and life story work. Home assessment and education was unfortunately going to have to wait for another day.

I feel that we expressed how urgent we felt therapy was. Alice’s behaviour is still pretty erratic, and while we have good days, there are many more bad days. There are times when we feel that it is impacting family life. Whilst Lauren and Annie have been hugely supportive, we know it is impacting them too. The truth is, sometimes we feel like we are doing this solo. It feels like social services have failed to remember who the legal parents are and they leave it entirely up to us, yet we do not have parental responsibility nor the rights that go with that. I wonder if it’s because we do such a good job. We have always met Alice’s needs, gone above and beyond. It feels like that has really backfired on us because now we need some help we are not getting it.

Alice’s social worker failed to grasp how serious the situation is. Alice’s emotional needs need to be met as a matter of urgency. There are only so many times we can be fobbed off with excuse after excuse this time we have had enough. As we had got nowhere in our meeting, I decided it was time to call Alice’s Independent reviewing officer (IRO). With the backing of our agency social worker, we decided to call an emergency looked after child review. We have felt for some time that social services have not offered us the support we need as a family, but more than that Alice is not getting the help and support she so desperately needs.

Whilst we understand the pressures that social workers face and the number of cases they are holding, it is now time for action. Alice has waited for over five years to get help with her emotional needs, we need help for her now before it is too late, my worry is it may already be too late.

One of the most frustrating things about being a foster parent is that so often, you feel like your hands are tied behind your back that you are gagged and unable to speak for your foster child. I know if it were our own birth children, by now I would be taking further steps, I would be posting details on social media and I would be contacting my local member of Parliament, but I am unable to do this for my foster child and her needs continue to be left unmet. So we will wait to hear back from the IRO and hope that she can get us the help we all need.

A Less Ordinary Fostering Family Blog.

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Holiday Alice

Fostering Alice Blog

Friday

Today we are heading home. Although we had originally planned to come here fore a week, we were offered a last minute respite weekend. No amount of sun and sea could stop us having a couple of nights break. The holiday has been mainly relaxing, with only a handful of tears and tantrums from our foster daughter. It is inevitable when the routine is disrupted that we are in for more boundary pushing. We see this every holiday, particularly when we go somewhere new. Although we try to keep to the routines as much as we can, there are many times when things will be different just because we are not at home.

Despite some of the more difficult moments of the week, we have managed to pack in some lovely activities – a visit to a caste, trip on a steam train, fish and chips by the sea, as well as walks along the promenade – Charlie and the older girls walked along the beach – jumping the waves as they go. They were sensible enough to bring their wellies, so even though the temperatures were nearing zero on some days, they were still able to enjoy being by the sea. It’s not easy to get the wheelchair on the sand, so I stay on the paved promenade with Alice.

One thing we all missed was visiting one of our favourite coves. We haven’t been there since fostering Alice – for the simple reason it is totally inaccessible, It is a long walk from where we can leave the car – the little cove is only accessible by clambering over some rough terrain and craggy rocks, and finally climbing down a very steep hill. We used to bring the girls when they were little. I’m not even sure they really remember it now, or whether their memories come from the many photo’s we took over the years, but Charlie and I still miss going there.

Once we gave the house a good clean and packed up the car, we were soon on our way. We had arranged to drop Alice off at our friend who does her respite care, on the way home. A weekend to ourselves could not come soon enough, and we would soon be recharging our batteries before the beginning of the next half term.

It is a very short half term and the next break from school is already in sight. But for now my mind turned to the weekend ahead, we had absolutely no plans, just two lazy days to ourselves, we would probably go out for a meal and take the girls to the cinema, whatever we end up doing we will not be rushing about, we will try to be as relaxed as possible until Alice returns on Sunday and the chaos of life resumes.

A Less Ordinary Fostering Family Blog.