Foster Carers will always tell you how rewarding fostering is.
People who admire Foster Carers will always tell you how rewarding fostering must be.
These people are all correct, but usually, these rewards are reaped way down the road of your fostering journey.
If you think in fostering you will witness daily rewards, you really may not. It may even be the fact that you find yourself having to steal the smallest of victories from each day, just to keep you assured that things are all moving in the right direction. For us during one placement, a daily victory was if the child had stayed in school for a full day. It may have been the case that while he was there his behaviour was absolutely shocking, but if he physically stayed in the building without being excluded or choosing to run off, then we had to take the positive.
Another joy for us was when the child in question offered to help pick up our dog’s poo when we were out on a family dog-walk, having up until that point insisted that “they did nothing for no-one”. It comes to something when a bag of dog muck is your trophy for the day.
I never said it would be glamourous.
The children in your care will unlikely be grateful to you for what you’re doing and what you’ve sacrificed to do it; certainly not in the early days, anyway. They don’t know you, and they won’t trust you. That’s a good thing though, because why should they? They need to protect themselves. You’re not their parent, and in their heads they see you as the person to blame for the very fact that they’re not curled up on the sofa with said parent right now. You’re never going to get a reward from anybody who fires so much anger and upset at you. There’s time, though.
The biggest skill a Foster Carer will need in order to overcome all of this is to bond with the new addition to their home. This is easier said than done, because sometimes you may even find that it’s a real struggle to find things to even like about the child in your care. That sounds horrible, but it’s absolutely true. It could be weeks or months before you gel with any kind of redeeming feature, but the day you do – that’s a reward in itself.
Keep going. If your child is alive, clothed, being fed and sleeping in a warm bed every night, you’re doing a fantastic job that one day, you’ll be rewarded for.