Fostering Alice Blog
One of the most frequent questions asked to us when people find out we are foster carers is ‘Are you going to adopt Alice’. It is so awkward. And it’s not just well meaning people either. I will never forget when our first foster child was placed with us, the social worker who brought him to us asked if we would consider adopting him – he was only fourteen months and would soon be up for adoption… I was completely taken aback and didn’t quite know how to respond, we had only just been approved and here was our first placement – adoption could not have been further from what we were thinking. People think that it would be the natural thing to do – particularly when you have a long term placement like we do with Alice.
The honest truth is, we have never thought about adopting her. She has a birth family, and although they are pretty hopeless in their ongoing relationship with her, and were quite frankly disastrous in parenting her for the first three and a half years of her life, they have maintained contact and Alice does have a relationship with them (even though it is not what we would necessarily choose). When her case went to court five years ago, it was decided by the judge with recommendations from social services that long term foster care was the best option for her and adoption was not even considered. This decision was not made lightly – after a very lengthy assessment of her needs, parenting assessments etc, this was what was deemed best for her long term care.
Without the financial package we get through fostering, we could not look after a child like Alice – she is complex and requires me to be a stay at home foster carer – in order to meet her complex needs. Putting it bluntly, even though she is very much part of our family, fostering is my job. If we had adopted, then I wouldn’t have the income to stay at home and would have to return to work – and there’s no way I could work with a child so complex. And even if she didn’t have a disability, fostering is hard and you need to be around for social worker meetings, LAC reviews, education meetings, contact – most of which take pace during the day!!
I don’t know why it is just so awkward when people ask, and I really shouldn’t feel like I should have to justify all this – but somehow it has become my default position to be on the defensive. I usually just tell them that it’s not an option because of her birth parents. I know people are often just making conversation and don’t realise how clumsy their question is.
We need a top ten things not to say to foster carers to give out!!
A Less Ordinary Fostering Family Blog.