You know, the one thing I really didn’t expect before becoming a foster carer was the amount of contact we would have have with the child’s family. It’s a much bigger part of the job than most people realise. Keeping up the contact between the children we’ve fostered and their families has definitely been a big part of what we do.
I know our society tends to demonize the families of children in care – often for what seem like very compelling reasons too. But the thing that I’ve learned over the past few years is that these are real people with very complex needs and in very stressful situations. They need as much looking after as their children. Having a child taken away must be one of the most horrendous things that can happen to any parent and so we have to expect a confused range of emotions. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have my own child looked after by someone else – and I do it!
However, I’ve found it surprisingly rewarding, being able to pass on what parenting skills I have and things I’ve learned about their child, helping them towards getting back on their feet. Seeing a family get back together again feels like a real achievement, even if we only play one small part in it.
Of course there’s the logistical side of contact too, which can make me feel like a taxi driver at times. However, I probably was anyway – for my own kids; this is just one more.