Guest Blogger | 4 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Began Fostering

Thanks to Rachael Walker for allowing me to share this post with all of you! I am always interested in other’s perspectives!

Becoming a foster parent is definitely one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. However, it is also one of the most difficult and draining!

Before we began fostering my husband and I went to a lot of classes, training and meetings with the agency we foster with. While our agency was certainly helpful and informative they can’t prepare you for the way you will feel and the everyday reality of being a foster carer.

It certainly isn’t for the faint hearted, but I am so proud of the difference my family and I have made in children’s lives.

If you are considering fostering, these are some points that might help you. These are four things I wish I had known before I started to foster:

How it would impact on family life

Of course I realised that having another child in my home would make a huge impact on my family life; my husband Tim, teenage son Jack and myself, but I didn’t consider just how much.

When you put yourself forward for short term placements you have to accept that you will have to drop everything at the last minute – for instance when we accepted Lyndon we had planned a trip to see relatives for the next week that we had to cancel. The child comes first in these situations, but I have certainly had less opportunity to see extended family since we began fostering.

How I would feel about my foster placements

I was worried that I would fall for every child that I cared for, but luckily this hasn’t been the case. While I have felt a bond with all of them, some children are harder to let go of than others.

Some placements are very short term, and this makes it easier to mentally detach yourself from feeling too close to the child on a personal level. Some older children are also easier to part from, as they don’t need you to be maternal towards them in the same way. However, my first foster daughter Lucy is certainly a very special little girl to me, and I hope to keep in touch with her for the rest of my life.

That I may have to experience rejection from a child

I hadn’t considered before we began fostering that a child may not want to live with us, and may have been happy with their previous foster family and not wanted to leave. I naively assumed that if a child had come from a difficult home life they would lap up the attention and affection we gave them, but of course most situations are a lot more complicated than this.

If a child felt that their last foster placement was their family and they were happy there, they are going to be angry that they had to come and live with you. And even if their biological parents were addicts or abused them, that they still loved them and this was their home. This is completely understandable.

No matter how perfectly you set out a bedroom for them and how many cookies you bake, be prepared to meet with ‘get away from me, you’re not my mommy!’ If you expect to go into fostering and receive a child that is grateful and in awe of all you do for them, then you are making the wrong decision. That is not a reason to foster.

That I had realized how much these children had lost

I obviously knew that the children I would care for had lost their home and parents, but of course it runs much deeper than that. These children have lost their neighbors, their friends, their family pet, and the blanket that they like to sleep on at night.

Their school may have been the only continuous stability in their life, so if they have moved schools this is even more difficult. You have to accept that most children you care for will be missing the life they have lost, and will cling to you or feel animosity towards you as a result.

If you are wondering whether fostering might be for you I would recommend that you have an informal chat with somebody from a fostering agency or request some further information; the agency I foster with offers a chat function on-site which is a little less intimidating than making that first phone call.

Fostering is so rewarding but certainly not for everyone; it is so important that you get as much information as you can before hand and really consider whether you can handle the emotional pressure that this special job will involve.

guest bloggerRachael Walker is a foster parent, wife and biological mother of one from Birmingham, UK. Read her blog here:

The Missing Social Studies Book & What Happened To The Baby?

The Missing Social Studies Book

The last few months I have posted only general updates. Last night it occurred to me that I am missing a critical factor by not blogging on a more regular basis and with details: DOCUMENTATION. I know how important documentation is. I’ve used the information I’ve documented on my blog numerous times as reference for dates and events. It’s time for me to push through the fact it’s uncomfortable and blog more frequently.

On, that note, the ongoing minor drama of the week is The Missing Social Studies Book! Daffy’s teacher emailed me Monday and said that we need to pay $80+ for the book. She said that Daffy had searched the school and couldn’t locate it and asked that we look at home. First of all, Daffy NEVER mentioned any missing book. I have no idea how long it’s been missing. Second, when I asked Daffy about it and said she should spend time looking, she said she had already looked at home but that she needed to check at school. I confronted her with the fact that contradicted what her teacher said and of course she shut down. Per usual. I’ve emailed the teacher about the book and indicated that I DO NOT want a new book issued. I do NOT have the money to be replacing books that Daffy loses. I have yet to hear back from the teacher and Daffy doesn’t seem to be spending any time looking. This doesn’t seem to bother Mickey at all. Maybe he has hidden money that I don’t know about.

I’m sure you are really here, though, to find out what happened to the baby? So last night a friend of mine came over. She comes over on a fairly regular basis and usually brings her littlest one, who is now 18 months. We hang out in the game room and her son usually is in the same area, sometimes going into the dining room which is up 2 steps from the game room. All of us (myself, Mickey, my friend, Tink, Tink’s friend and 9 month old baby and the 18 month old) were in the game room last night, except Daffy. She was in the dining room. The 18 month old wondered over and went into the dining room. Since my friend had already put up the dog bowls, there really wasn’t a lot of concern. Suddenly, there was an ear piercing scream. There was a split second where everyone froze and then my friend raced around the corner into the dining room. She found Daffy standing calmly next to the 18 month old. Daffy matter-of-factly stated “His fingers are jammed in the drawer.” My friend had to pry the drawer back open to get her son’s fingers out (which were already badly bruised) and scooped him up and brought him into the game room.

She walked in to dead silence. I think everyone had realized at the same time the likelihood of what Daffy had just done. Well, everyone except Mickey of course. He maintains that she was “emptying the trash” around another corner and into the kitchen. Since there is a window into the kitchen from the game room, I could clearly see that Daffy was NOT emptying the trash. Then Mickey decided that maybe Daffy WASN’T emptying the trash, but that she had been there but was totally calm because she didn’t know what to do. Ok, Mickey, smoke another one. No matter what Daffy’s behaviors, either she, Mickey or her therapist have an excuse to explain it away. It kind of reminds me when my mother was sick and not yet diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. She would say that the muscle weakness was from one thing and the cough from another and other symptoms from other things. As a nurse, she did not want to admit that all her symptoms together would ultimately diagnose her with a a fatal illness that would kill her in two year’s time. I think that Mickey and the therapist are in that same denial. If they excuse away each behavior (drawings, threats, suicidal and homicidal thoughts, etc) they don’t have to look at the reality of the problem we have on our hands and the fact that our mental health system is not equipped to help her.