12th April, 2017
Well, that’s how I feel.
Our first eagerly anticipated foster placement ended less than one month after it started. We’d called time.
There had always been a lot of pressure on my husband and I to be “great” at this fostering stuff. It’s a positive pressure though, rooted in the fact that our friends and family know our strengths, recognise our skills and have witnessed us in action driving our passion for positive outcomes for kids. We’re qualified in working with young people, we’re experienced in dealing with ‘challenging’ behaviour, and we’ve got form for turning around some fairly dire situations for the benefit and future of kids who may have really needed it.
What we’re definitely not, are qualified psychologists or mental health practitioners.
You will only ever know so much about a child that comes into your care, and as you get to know them, you will find out a wealth of information; some interesting, some upsetting, and some outright terrifying. No matter how good your Agency is, they simply will not know everything about the child coming to stay under your roof. As a good Agency though, what they will do is support you when this information comes to light and you have to deal with it. This happened to us.
After what literature might call ‘a series of unfortunate events’, Capstone agreed that with our own safety and sanity being the priority, our placement simply could not continue. Yes, we’d called time, which was our right as Foster Carers to do, but the Agency fully supported the decision, having done what they could in the run-up in attempt to avoid this situation for the sake of the young person.
I would hate to think that this scenario will put people off fostering, because while for good reason all children in care are going to hold and present issues, generally speaking, patience, boundaries and guidance will all win out. For some children though, all the discipline and love in the world would never help them. When it’s an issue of emotional health so severe, foster care is not the place to be – and that’s nobody’s fault.
For the short time he was with us, we kept our young person safe, and we did all we humanly could to give him the support we believed would help him in any way he needed. I’m not going to say that wasn’t enough, because in some ways he responded really positively and showed parts of his personality that revealed him to be a lovely young lad. But that was just one side of him, and the other side is not one we could face, either personally or professionally.
If I allow myself to keep drifting back to that feeling of failure, then I’d never foster again. When I reflect though, worse than the feeling of failure is the feeling that there may be a child out there who really wants, needs and could truly benefit from our support, and if we call time on fostering all together, then we wouldn’t be around to help that child. That’s lot to take on board.
For as long as we’re safe, which our Agency will always ensure, we’ll keep going. I’m not going to change my parenting style to adapt to situations – that’s not fair on anyone and it’s certainly not sustainable. For as long as I feel that I can physically and mentally carry on with fostering, I will – the positive pressure will keep me going.
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