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Foster Care | Caronavirus

Helen’s Fostering Blog

Helping Children Understand the Coronavirus

I think it is fair to say that the Coronavirus has taken us all completely by surprise.

We are in unchartered waters which as adults is hard enough to understand and digest so its easy to assume that our children will struggle with it also.   It can’t have helped that they became unwell themselves on Monday with a slight temperature and cough.

Normally we would encourage them to go to school with a cold but on this occasion, we were telling them we all needed to stay in-doors for 14 days.

I have heard some of the strangest things recently, my step-daughter explained that her school have banned the words ‘virus, coronavirus and COVID 19’, personally this seemed like the worse thing we could do, implying just the words themselves are so bad that we shouldn’t even say them.

In our home we are approaching this the same way we do anything else; we talk about it openly.

I have spent the day today contacting Beth and Harry’s school friends seeing if we are able to stay in touch via facetime now that the schools have been closed. So far all their friend’s parents have come back and agreed that this is a brilliant idea and will schedule in time for them to stay in touch.

I am hopeful that in time this will extend to meeting up with their friends for some time out playing in the fresh air.

I have also contacted their sister, brother and grandparents in the hope we will be able to do the same with them.  We are very aware that just simply speaking to their family will help put their minds at ease regarding their loved-one’s health.

Obviously, Beth and Harry are concerned that their Grandparents could die simply because of their age.  Beth and Harry raised their concerns regarding their baby brother today, wondering if perhaps he too might not survive if he caught the virus.  Harry has expressed his concerns that I will die as I have asthma.

This must feel like a terrifying time for these children, to have such big worries on such little shoulders.  Obviously, we have tried to put their minds at ease explaining that my asthma for instance is well managed, we are healthy, active and are following all the advice provided to us.

We will keep them safe and ourselves.

For the time being we are all enjoying this extra time we are getting to spend together as a family.  There are some positives to all of this, we can take time to appreciate all that we have and enjoy time together without rushing around all the time. 

Its time to sit and watch movies together and take a stroll on a Monday morning after breakfast, rather than dashing off on the school run. 

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer

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Friendships Blog

Helen’s Fostering Blog

Friendships

I have some real concerns about Beth and her friendship group.  When I first met Beth she had a best friend whom she’d known for about a year and considering she had only just started at Middle School she seemed to know plenty of the other children when I used to walk her in and out of school each day.  I would often hear other children call her name and want to walk along with her.

At the beginning it was easy for me to arrange a play-date with her best friend, although she was never invited around to her friends house it was always at ours, but that was ok as I was still getting to know the friends Mum so I felt more comfortable with that arrangement.  But there was the only two friends who came to play, in comparison Harry was often invited to friends houses for play-dates and birthday parties.

When Beth was listing who she wanted to invite to her birthday party I was really surprised that there was as many teachers as friends that she wanted to invite.  In those first few months Beth was also invited to her friends birthday parties which of course is what you would expect.  Sadly, things have changed, as it stands to-date in 17th months Beth has not once been invited to a friend’s house for a play-date, birthday parties and we have only managed to organise 4 play-dates with 2 friends in all that time.

Beth and her best friend had a falling out last year, it was an intense friendship, with Beth almost wanted to morph herself into her best friend, she would often want to be called by her friends name, each notebook would be labelled with her friends first name and Beth’s surname.

After they fell out understandably Beth was a bit lost, but she was adamant she didn’t want to be friends anymore, she had a few other friends so I wasn’t overly worried at this point as actually I thought it might be good for her to spread her wings a bit.

Whilst Beth often still talks to lots of the other girls at her school, it is clear that Beth’s mood swings, and the that fact she is so easy hurt, offended or annoyed makes it difficult for the other girls to share such an intense friendship.  She had a few issues recently whereby her group of friends kept running away from her when she approached and no longer wanted to play with her.

Obviously, this is heart-breaking for her.  As it stands she currently has a friend for a few weeks, then she quickly moves onto another one.

My hope is this will change in the future, but for now we have to help her understand that friendships are built on many things and she will need to develop those skills of forgiveness, understanding, trust, sharing and compassion if she is to achieve long standing friendships.  

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer. 

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Life Story Blog

Helen’s Fostering Blog

When a child re-write’s their life story.

Most children have vivid imaginations, and this is all part of growing up, but for many of us overall our childhood memories are happy and there is no need to fantasise.

We have noticed that sometimes with Beth and Harry the lines between what is fact and fiction can become very blurred.

Prior to living with us Beth and Harry spent 18 months living with their previous carers.  They don’t mention them very often anymore and its almost like they have blocked out that part of their lives. Its been 3 years since they lived with their Mum and younger brother and to hear them talk about that time, you’d assume it wasn’t that long ago.

When they talk about living with Mum, they are unable to recall upon any happy memories.  They appear to have no idea what age they were when certain events occurred, often saying “when I was 0, this or that happened”.  They can recall a few details about their home and that the 3 children shared a room together.  Beth remembers looking after her baby brother during the night.

They will often tell the story of when they left the house wearing just their pyjamas to run away, a taxi driver picked them up and took them to the police station.  They recall how they would wake their Mum up and there would be another man in her bed that they didn’t know.

They tell us they used to eat cereal for dinner and chocolate for breakfast.  They remember being so tired when they went to school that they would fall asleep at their desk.

For a long time when Beth and Harry first came to live with us, they would make stories up about their life with their Mum, fabulous stories of the wonderful, fun things they did.  When one is telling a story even though its clear its make-believe the other one will always go along with the fairy-tale, enjoying the happy pretty picture that is being told.

Its not hard to imagine why a child who is in foster care would wish to re-write their history.   The thing is they start to believe it themselves, particularly Harry and I think it’s the reason why he finds it so difficult to understand why he is unable to live with his Mum.

Harry has told me on a few occasions that he doesn’t remember being 6 years old.  I have explained to him, that’s probably because he was 6 when he was placed in foster care and its possible that he has blocked that time in his life out as it is too painful for him to remember.

One of our biggest concerns for Beth and Harry is when they must accept the reality of their history.  How are they going to feel when they learn that perhaps them going into care could have been avoided. 

Obviously, this is something my husband and I talk about often, we want to get the balance right in helping them deal with what has happened to them and allowing them to move on without dwelling on the past. 

Accepting their Mum’s mistakes were very possibly because of her own upbringing and bears no reflection how much she loves them. 

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer.