Capstone Foster Care Blog

A couple of Wednesdays back I was forty. Although lots of nice things had been prepared to celebrate over the coming couple of weeks, on that particular day I was at work as normal plus I had an important meeting in the evening about something which I knew would be quite hard. In the morning, I came downstairs where Louise was already and she gave me a hug and said ‘happy birthday’. Within a minute Holly was down as well. She stared at me and barked “I’m dizzy”. “…. and a good morning to you!” I said, “do you have anything else to say?”. “Like what?” said Holly, “like happy birthday?” I ventured. “But it’s not my birthday!” responded Holly, completely missing the point.

Of course I left the conversation there. Holly had been told many times that it was my birthday and she had even made me a lovely a card. However, for whatever reason that morning, she could not venture outside of herself (who is good that early in the morning?). It made me feel a bit sad. I found myself saying, surely it wasn’t that hard to remember? Surely today doesn’t have to be entirely about you Holly? Surely I get today to be about me?

I know all of this is irrational. Holly did not mean anything by any of it but I was surprised by how I thought of it through the day. I felt unappreciated, forgotten and well, just not special to Holly. Somehow I had convinced myself that I deserved the day off from something. What though? Selfishness, lack of empathy, a day off of fulfilling someone’s needs without getting anything in return?

I realised that there is a small portion of myself that feels that what Holly does she does deliberately. Like there is a set of decisions that she makes to sound selfish, or a focus on making sure she gets something before everyone else. In turn, my mind assumed that I would be allowed the day off from this because fair is, after all, fair.

In the end Holly was OK around the birthday. She struggled to see me open presents because she didn’t have any to open. She couldn’t find it in her to celebrate with me that easily but none of it was deliberate. It is, and was, just her figuring out how to be in the world and how families do stuff like this. For me, I had to take a breath and remember that our kids don’t always act this way deliberately, sometimes they just don’t get it and need to be walked along that path.

As I start to live out my fortieth year patience is still my biggest challenge and a need to be realistic in my expectations. Holly is not trying to hurt anyone, she just doesn’t get some stuff. I have to say at forty, I don’t think I’m that far in front!

James


hello, in my blog this month I talk about the process of becoming a foster carer, how I found the experience and how I was treated during the assessment. Fostering is very rewarding and it’s something you could be doing in 2017. If there are any subjects you would like me to talk about in the future please state in the comments.

Demi

 


I remember the day that Louise and I decided to investigate becoming carers. It was a conversation in the car and the kids were in the back. We had mentioned it once before but in an ethereal, ‘once upon a time’ kind of way. This time was different though. Life had changed, our work had changed, there was an opening of sorts. Both circumstantially and in our hearts.

We looked around at various agencies and to our Local Authority. Capstone came in as the one that most aligned with our values and so we made a call. Before long someone came to our house and talked it through with us and discussed our situation. At that point it didn’t look very likely that we would be able to proceed because our two kids were very young and there was a real, and well placed, concern that if we had kids who were dangerous or disruptive that our two would be effected negatively. On the flip side, Louise had years of experience in social work, therapy and dealing with difficult kids and I had plenty of youth work under my belt so Capstone agreed to us pursuing our application.

A year later and we were awaiting our first placement phone call… And we are still here today. Some long term and some respite care between now and then and an enormous sense that that this is indeed the life for us. I sometimes think about that crucial decision to let us continue our application. It could have easily have been thwarted and it wouldn’t necessarily have been a bad call given the evidence. An X factor was seen however and in credit to Capstone it was acted upon. Louise and I are really grateful for that.

I was chatting recently with some people who we know who have become carers for our Local Authority. They started because they were inspired and connected with our first young lady and they took the jump. It occurred to me that I know so many other families and individuals who would be so good at fostering but would never consider themselves adequate, equipped or ready to make such a move. In contrast to this I think of the many kids who need people just like them. The hard part, of course, is convincing these potential carers that they would be more than capable and that this could be the most important thing they ever do.

I wonder whether you have people around you like this? I have made a deliberate choice now to keep a thread going with the people I know. I don’t talk about money, I talk about legacy. I don’t major on behaviour issues (although I don’t pretend they don’t exist), I talk about helping a child feel safe. I don’t talk about a child slotting in I talk about an evolution of their family to something better. Not everyone is ready to sign on the dotted line but my hope is that in time someone else, like you and me, will make that call and help a kid who needs a champion and a family more than anything else.

James


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