Emma’s Fostering Blog
For several years we have been foster parents to Charlie, he had a number of foster homes before, and eventually went into residential care.
I always remember the first time we met; Charlie came to tea as part of a planned introduction. He was surprisingly charming, smiling a lot and chatting away as if he had known us for years. As we got to know him, he was in fact good at masking what was really going on because underneath he was terrified and hypervigilant.
Charlie believed that eventually all adults in his life would fail him, as they had in the past – birth parents, social workers, family members, foster carers, all eventually abandoned him. ADHD was diagnosed as we suspected, but didn’t get diagnosed until a lot later.
I knew I had to be calm and very patient during my therapeutic work with Charlie as he was a very frightened and angry child. Working alongside other agencies we provided a good team around the child, and the support from our Fostering Social worker was invaluable over those years.
I had to be aware of not taking things personally and not having my love reciprocated but this meant days, weeks or months of being the only one to meet his needs, and eventually he would know that I cared. It was about after a year later we began to develop this fragile kind of trust with him.
He had a good routine and we set boundaries so this helped by using reward and praise methods, he knew his bed times, his personal care routine and when meal times were. Now he could just play, grow and thrive and most importantly he knew I would keep him safe.
It may not have come simply or naturally or easily, but when it does come, it is overwhelmingly beautiful – by loving and attaching to him, I gave him the ability to love and attach to me. Over many years I have learned children can love unconditionally despite things that happen to them, they are resilient, they can move on from many situations, some horrific, and go on to be well-adjusted successful adults, they just need someone who will champion and believe in them.
Charlie is almost 18 and will be staying on with us through his next stage of his journey in life. As Christmas is approaching we are mindful that this is a difficult time for ‘Looked After’ children, however with Charlie it’s very different because he claimed us a long time ago as his Mum and Dad. Our adult birth children have been incredible with Charlie they are so supportive of him and really accept him as their brother and like us, they never gave up, stuck with him, no matter how difficult he became.
My thoughts are Trust is built over time, especially with someone, who wasn’t fortunate enough to have experienced trust.