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Fostering Referral

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When a Referral Becomes a Placement!

When I received the referral that ended with us being placed with two children, I was aimlessly wondering around Costco with my brother and sister.

I took the call from my agency whilst leaning up against a fireplace that had caught my eye.  Over the phone I was told about two children who required a placement by the following day.  I was given some brief details about them over the phone and I telephoned my husband to discuss.  At that time, we were still waiting to hear about two other sets of children we had been discussing for a few weeks and as I’ve said before we were already invested in these children.

It appealed to us that those children would be able to get to know us a little over a period of time before they came to live with us.

That said, I was intrigued enough to go straight back home and read through their referral.  I telephoned my husband who was at work and went through the referral with him.  We agreed that I would speak to the children’s social worker but ultimately, we wanted to carry on with the children that we were already involved in.

Things turned on their head when I telephoned the children’s social worker.  She told me all about these two children and my heart went out to them.  The decision changed to wanting to take them the minute their social worker explained to me that if we were unable to take them, they would have to be split up as there was no-one else available who could take them together at that time.  My own link and love for my sister and brother is so strong this thought really sadden me.

It was a little difficult to be heading in one direction and then all sudden you do a 180 degree turn in a different direction. I think it is fair to say we didn’t really have time to think much more about it than that, we kinder just had to hit the ground running.

The children sounded like they were perfect for us and what we believed would work best for us as a family.  So, with plans changed so quickly we had to get ready to have our first placement and two children that would be arriving the very next day.

I remember that evening being a bit of a blur. As soon as my husband came home from work, we drove to both of the children’s schools so that I knew where I would be taking them on the Monday.

We read and re-read their referral and discussed at great length what we might need to be mindful of.  Most importantly we needed to call Libby (my stepdaughter) and explain to her that for her birthday that weekend she would be getting two foster siblings that hopefully were going to become a big part of hers and our life.

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer

Fostering pet

Fostering Referrals

Helen’s Fostering Blog

Receiving referrals

We received our first referral about two children whilst we were away on holiday.

My husband and I had always agreed that as lovely as babies are we felt school age children would fit into ours and Libby’s lives better.  So when the first referral came through about a 1 year old boy and 11 year old girl  we learnt our first lesson about fostering and that is you will get contacted about children who don’t match what you had spent months expressing you thoughts and feelings about what was right for you and your family.

I remember it felt difficult reading their story and how instinctively my desire was to just say “yes” put us forward for these two children, but I knew it wasn’t right.  If we were going to do this we needed to learn to rule with our heads not our hearts and stick to what we had thought long and hard about.

We had a few other referrals over the next few weeks, some of which felt right for so many reasons and wrong for others.  We did need to think about the location of the children’s family, I recall one set of children who lived very close-by, whilst this was a plus as the children could stay at their school that was down the road from us, but raised concerns about whether or not they would migrate home. Then there was other children who lived too far away but would be remaining at their school and I personally didn’t feel it fair to expect young children to spend so much time travelling to and from school each day.

Next came a referral for 2 boys that George and I just didn’t feel ready to be able to care for due to their needs.  Whatever our reasons were for not asking to be put forward for these children I can assure you the decisions were never taken lightly and it was so hard to say no!  We just kept the faith that our decisions were right not just for us but for the children also.

Finally we had a referral for two children that seemed perfect for us. Funnily the little girl had the same name as my step-daughter.

We had a meeting with our Supporting Social Worker, the children’s Social Worker and her Manager.  What we were unaware of at the time was that this was the start of a matching process, which normally is done after the children have been living with you for over a year.

There was a lot of waiting in-between the various meetings, but we were becoming very invested in these two children.

A couple of weeks in there was another set of 2 girls this time that also seemed right for our family.  So, meetings were arranged for them also.

Needless to say neither of these two sets of children were placed with us, but I still remember their names and think of them from time to time and hope they are doing well wherever they have ended up.

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer

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Tough Life

Helen’s Fostering Blog

Life can be tough sometimes

So, our family holiday was booked over a year in advance and we would be joined by my stepdaughter, sister, her partner, my brother and his wife and two nephews.

This was to be a special holiday as we had booked it after my Mum had passed away.  We thought it might be nice for us to all have a holiday away together after having to cope with my Mum’s passing and with her long and drawn out demise caused by dementia for over 7 years.

For any of you who have experienced a loved one with dementia you will know how devastating it can be for the person themselves and those close to them. I had lost my Dad around 5 years prior to my Mum from heart disease so it had been a tough few years for us.

The other reason this holiday was so important was that my brother who had been diagnosed with Oesophagus Cancer back in 2014 and after many years of treatment was sadly given around 12 months to live in April 2018.  It felt incredibly important for us to enjoy spending as much time with him as possible and help create some happy memories for his two boys who were 14 and 17 at the time.

Sadly by the time the holiday came round my brother’s health was really starting to decline and whilst the hospital discharged him just days before we went away he only managed a couple of days on holiday before he had no choice but to return to the UK and the hospital.   This was devastating for us all and I personally felt completely heartbroken because I was acutely aware this would be our last holiday with him.

Obviously, this raised a lot of emotions for myself and my husband as we were aware the next few months were clearly going to be difficult for us as a family.  We started to think about how we would cope and was now really the right time for us to be welcoming two children who understandably would need our undivided attention and time.

Was I emotionally stable enough to give them what they deserved?  Eventually we agreed that we needed time to adjust and absorb the knowledge that the immediate future was clearly going to be emotionally difficult and it was important to deal with one thing at a time.  We therefore asked our agency to put a hold on any possible referrals until further notice.

It is so important to be in-touch with your own feelings and be mindful about yourself.  After about a month we had come to terms as much as anyone can that my brother was going to be very unwell and eventually, we would lose him.

We both agreed that cancer had already taken so much away from us, it was not going to stand in the way of us doing something as amazing as fostering.

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer