Jo is back with another blog for us…

Ours is a loving but busy home, and even though the house is trashed with cat-scratched furniture, insurmountable wads of laundry, and paraphernalia relating to every family member’s various hobbies and enthusiasms, we thought it was about time we threw that chaos into turmoil.

So, last month, we adopted a dog.

We’re regulars at the local animal shelter. We’re forever donating bedding, food and toys, and making sure that on every visit we stop in at each of the cages and kennels to make a fuss of the cats and dogs that have been brought in or found. On one of our most recent visits, my other half fell in love with a two year-old Husky named Akira. Her owner had recently passed away, and a relative had taken on Akira and her brother, Blue, before proceeding to do a fantastic job of neglecting them both to the point of starvation.

After the necessary bonding sessions and home visits led by the shelter, it was time to bring Akira home. As we led her away from her kennel, it destroyed me that we were leaving behind her brother. Akira howled, Blue pined, and I sobbed my heart out. It always upsets me whenever we visit the shelter that we’re leaving those animals behind, but this time it was more intense, because we were actively taking Akira away from Blue; the brother who I truly hoped she had shared some wonderful times with as well as the horrible ones.

It’s now a month later, and I still feel awful.

Where am I going with this, and why have you clicked onto this blog expecting to read about fostering?

When you take a foster child into your home, you’re thinking directly about them; what you can do for them and how you can positively involve them within your family. I have to be honest and say that the last thing on my mind is the family that child has left behind. It’s very much an ‘out, away and move on’ philosophy. I don’t know if this is how all foster carers feel, if any, but the hope with all of my blogs is that they will resonate with someone.

I joke that getting the dog has systematically destroyed several elements of my life, but in all seriousness it’s also taught me a hard lesson. Just because you didn’t see that child’s family at the point of the separation, or the child’s reaction to it, it shouldn’t render it ‘out of sight and out of mind’ when it comes to everything that results from that separation.

They say dogs are loyal, but so are children. They can be a part of some of the most abusive and neglectful homes and still scream for their mums and run away to find their dads. What’s worse, is that even when you take the parents out of the situation, you have to think about the siblings. Chances are, if one child has been mistreated, their brothers and sisters will have been, too. I can’t tell you how much adopting Akira, and still mentally picturing Blue pining for her in the shelter, has shocked me into thinking about that now on a constant basis.

I realise this blog is a little more downbeat than my previous ones, but I felt compelled to write it to share it with anyone who may be thinking of fostering. You WILL make a positive impact on a child or young person, you WILL change their lives for the better, but you WILL also face a past as well as a future. When your agency actively tells you all of this in the training stages (and they DO if they’re worth their salt), listen to them! Trust me, it’s much better to prepare for these situations early on, rather than have something blindside you later on when it hits you out of the Blue.

When you become part of the Capstone Foster Care family so does your own family. We regularly plan trips out for birth children as well as the children you care for.

Recently children of our local foster carers went on a trip to Cannon Hall Farm giving them an opportunity to introduce new children to the friendship group called the ‘Gateway Gheckos’ and encourage friendships to blossom further.

The children and young people spent most of the day having fun and playing together in the various play areas around the farm, a well as having the chance to feed all the animals and have fun on the climbing frame.

We had intended to design a logo for the ‘Gateway Geckos’ on the day, but unfortunately because it was the school holidays the farm was really busy and we ran out of time. We intend to focus on the logo design for our next group activity – we can’t wait to see what it looks like.

On the 15th December, staff, carers, looked after children and young people all came together from our Barnsley office and celebrated at their Christmas party and enjoyed all the festive fun, activities and food! All the children took it in turns to visit Santa in his grotto and received a present each. The day was fun packed with activities such as making Christmas crafts, handmade cards and tree decorations to give to their loved ones. The staff even made a Christmas photo booth and helped the children decorate cupcakes.

The day ended with a buffet, Christmas treats and a DJ and some of our young people joined in with the karaoke as well! It really is a joy to see staff, carers and children all come together and celebrate as a big family.

Thank you to everyone who came along and we’d like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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