Environment is important

29 06 2009

No – this isn’t a Green article – but that is important too.

An interesting article in the weekend Guardian: Family under the microscope. In a study, it was shown that even seriously maltreated children can recover and even overcome early problems given an improved environment. So it’s very important not to give up on them!

Now I know the article isn’t about fostering as such, but that’s one of the main things I think fostering is all about really. Helping a child to recover from a bad start. As I said in an earlier post, it’s amazing the difference you see in just a short space of time simply down to them being in a more stable and caring environment.

A wee plug for Edinburgh who have a campaign at the moment because they need carers for childen between the ages if 12 and 16.


Groundhog Day…

21 06 2009

…well what I mean is, fostering is a little like Goundhog Day for us. Every time we get a new child we seem to live the same things over and over again: the same difficulties and solutions; the same successes – and sometime failures ; the same satisfaction when something goes right; the same stories and songs at bedtime… but everything just slightly different and with a new personality.

That’s partly due to the fact that we choose to foster toddlers – and boys only – all the time. So we are permanently stuck in the terrible 2’s (what’s so terrible about them anyway – I think they’re great fun and just a normal but important part of growing up).

My eldest son put it well: it’s a bit like Doctor Who – our foster children just regenerate into a different person every year or so. Underneath they’re basically the same -they just look and behave a little different.

This struck me just the other day at our youngest son’s sports day at school. There we were, chasing yet another foster child around the playing field, trying to stop him getting in the way of the events, stealing the football and generally running off to where he wasn’t meant to be. Whoa – deja vu! We’ve been here before – several times – but with one minor difference each time – a slightly different little boy. (Never seen my wife sprint so fast as when he disappeared around the corner of a classroom – well it made me laugh 🙂

We think we’re getting better at looking after this age group each time we go through it; we understand their needs a little more, know when a cuddle is required and when a telling off is in order, know what’s going to happen at reviews and hearings, know which health professionals to get involved at which stage, know how to deal with toddler behaviours.

Maybe one day we’ll get so clever that we’ll know how to stop it all happening in the first place?

Well we can dream…

It’s a family thing

6 06 2009

I liked the start of the article in the Guardian’s Down With The Kids column this weekend.

“With the birth of our third child last month, my wife and I now have more kids than pairs of hands. As a footballer friend pointed out, this means we must change tactics from man-to-man marking to zonal defence.”

The truth of fostering for us is that we’re all foster carers, all 5 of us. It’s not just Mum or Dad who are the foster carers, we all do our bit. And it’s been great for our own kids. They have all become much more responsible as a result and take it all very seriously. Imagine having civilised, mature, responsible teenagers 😉 Unheard of? We do!

You know, I think I’d actually recommend fostering just because of the benefits to my own family. Sure, there can be some downsides, but the family is definitely stronger, I think we talk about things more and we appreciate each other too. If they weren’t part of it then it wouldn’t work! It really is something to do as a family for us.

How do you give them back?

4 06 2009

That’s the number 1 question just about everyone asks us about fostering.

“Oh I could never foster because I’d never be able to hand them back. I’d get too attached to them.”

Yup – you definitely do get attached, it’s impossible not to, but I bet handing back isn’t as hard as you think. They generally either go back home or on to adoption/permanent foster care. Here’s why I think it’s not that hard:

  1. We’ve scored a goal: By the time it’s time to hand them back – or over to someone else – we’ve been working towards that for quite a while. By the time we achieve it there’s a sense of satisifaction and relief that it has all worked out.
  2. It was a team effort: We’ve been working towards it as part of a team and so (hopefully) we’re in agreement with it all.
  3. Lovely new family: This is really nice! If a child is going to adoption it’s great to see them with their new and enthusiastic family. Still very emotional though.
  4. Time to play Happy Families: Quite often fostering seems to be about giving a child’s family a little time to get themselves sorted out, so it’s really nice to see them all as a happy family again.
  5. Oh look, here’s another one: It’s never very long until we’ve got a new little person to look after and take our mind off things. They’ll have their own personality and challenges and we’ll have to focus all our attention and energies on them.
  6. They’re not ours anyway: I hope it doesn’t sound too harsh, but they aren’t! We know when they arrive that they’ll be going again at some point, and in my case (I’ve got 3 boys of my own) it’s really not like giving away my own kids.

Well that’s how it seems to me anyway. I hope it’s not a reason for not fostering.

Fostering – you gotta love it!

3 06 2009

It’s great – I love it! Been a Fostering Home Dad for about 5 years now and it’s definitely been the most rewarding job I’ve ever done, alongside being a Dad.

I’m writing this blog because I really want as many people as possible – especially in and around Edinburgh – to know about fostering. It’s not official, just my own views on fostering based on my own experiences.

There is a big need for foster carers in the UK, and that applies to Edinburgh too. There are children still at home who really need to be in foster care. In March, Edinburgh reported that there were around 50 children waiting to be fostered but still had no place to go. I think if more people knew what fostering was all about then they would investigate it a little further and find out how unbelievably rewarding it is.

I’m not saying Fostering is easy, because it isn’t, and it’s not for everyone, but you can make a real difference to a child’s life. And that is worth something!

So read on and I hope you find it interesting. You can keep a little more up to date by following my Twitter at http://twitter.com/FosterHomeDad too.