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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Fostering Blog | Alice’s choice

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It is finally the last day of the school term. After what seems like a very long term, we have finally reached the end. It has felt over the last couple of weeks that we have been crawling to the end, fighting off the seasonal coughs and colds, keeping anything more serious well and truly at bay. We have friends over the other side of our city who do not break up for another week. I know earlier in the term I felt it was madness to finish over a week before Christmas but now I am relived that we have all made it to the end in one piece.

Charlie will be working next week when the children are off, so I have made a few low key plans. One idea is to take them in to the city by train and go and see the Christmas markets. There is always the option of the cinema – and there is usually a variety of films to choose from. We are pretty much prepared for Alice playing devil’s advocate when it comes to choosing a film. She loves to choose the opposite of whatever Annie and Lauren pick – and she usually gets the reaction she knows is coming. We have learnt from this, and now I choose the film with Lauren and Annie well out of Alice’s hearing. We now just announce we are going to the cinema to see the chosen film – no negotiation!!

We are also hoping for a few quieter days, so I have organised my friend to come to take Alice out for a couple of days respite to ensure this happens. This will not only give me a bit of time with the older girls, but also some precious time to get some of the Christmas present wrapping done and any last minute shopping done.

Alice is not a fan of shops and supermarkets at the best of times so if we can avoid it with her then we do! She will get some quality time with our friend, meaning she will get her one-to-one fix for the week. Sometimes we have to weigh up whether the fall out from this will be worth it, as often she returns like a monster – craving all of our attention. But I figure with Christmas round the corner, she will get plenty of attention and gifts to see her through the phase, before it is back to reality – then she will be back at school!

A Less Ordinary Fostering Family Blog.

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Fostering Blog | Difficult Alice

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So after two snow days all three girls are back to school today. Whilst the temperature has risen slightly and the snow is beginning to melt, I think the conditions are far worse getting to school for the older two. It is without a doubt that getting the wheelchair across ice is much easier than through snow, for Lauren and Annie on foot it is pretty treacherous, although, I think after being confined to the house since Sunday, we are all relieved that school is open today.

Alice can be very difficult to live with when she doesn’t get her own way or if she thinks that something isn’t fair (even when it’s out of our control). We know that we have to play the long game with Alice and giving in to her and letting her what she wants all the time does not help in the long run.

It was the time last year when our boiler broke down and we were sat huddled around an oil filled radiator in one room while the plumber put in a new boiler. We had three days of actually feeling cold and having no hot water to shower. So this year, when the temperature dropped, we really are appreciating that we have a warm home and plenty of hot water for baths and showers! Having no heating was a one off event – because the boiler broke, we are so aware that for so many living in poverty, this can be normal – living in the cold because families have to choose whether to pay for the heating or whether to eat. It is a good reminder, that often foster children come from homes where they have lived in such conditions. They may now live in warm, loving homes, but they carry the emotional (and often physical) scars that came from their life before.

I know when we are dealing with some of these issues with Alice – it is still because of the scars she carries from her past neglect and abuse that are only just under the surface. Her default position is to get angry and lose her temper. Every time we think we are moving forward, it feels like she deliberately sabotages the good things and we take yet another step back. Even after five years, we wonder what progress we are actually making. Every time we meet with other foster carers, or do another training session on fostering or attachment, we know that we are moving forward. We are also reminded of the huge challenge that it is, and things do not change overnight. We realise that meeting together with other foster carers is absolutely vital for us, without that encouragement and acknowledgement that we are often all in the same boat and facing similar challenges, I think the discouragement would be too much.

A Less Ordinary Fostering Family Blog

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Fostering Blog | Happy Alice

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As I opened the curtains this morning, I was quite shocked to see a snow scene from the window. It had certainly snowed this time. My first thought was that I had not yet found the waterproof spray for my coat, the second thought was that I was going to have to manage Alice’s emotions when she realises it has snowed and its not quite so easy for her to go out and play in the snow as it is for Annie and Lauren. Alice is in a wheelchair and snow is not so easy to get through. She also has problems with her circulation due to the complexities of her physical disabilities, so cold weather is not great. We can usually manage things for a short while, but then we get the fall out from Alice as she really does not understand and to her it simply isn’t fair.

So I take a deep breath before I wake the girls. Annie and Lauren are over the moon, they get straight up, and after wolfing down their breakfast in 5 seconds they get dressed, add layers of warm clothes, and then waterproofs over the top, and put their wellies on. They leave the house to go and call for the neighbours. It was so lovely to see the girls outside playing with their friends in the street, building snow men, snow dogs and cats, a huge a huge snow slide. Most of all they were building memories – these will last a life time.

Then there was Alice, I got her up and dressed and took her down for breakfast. I took my time, as I knew the longer I took then I could probably get away with not being out for so long. Eventually, after I was ready, we went outside. There was no way of getting Alice’s wheelchair out in the thick snow, so Charlie brought a sledge round to the front door.

Alice was pretty happy to be sat in the sledge being pulled round. If she had sat upright then we would have managed to stay outside a little longer, but as she insisted on leaning out of the sledge, gathering in as much snow as she could, she got cold quite quickly, very cold indeed. So with much shouting and tears, we had to take her inside. After getting dried and warm, I put on a movie and made her hot chocolate. I know it wasn’t the same as being out with the girls and their friends, but we know her limits!

It was a couple of hours before Annie and Lauren eventually came in. They too were freezing!! They were glad of a chance to get warm and dry. I have a feeling we might be in for a couple of snow days this time!!

A Less Ordinary Fostering Family Blog