Capstone Foster Care Blog

Recently we had a phone call when we were away on holiday. It was our apologetic social worker with a possible placement that we she thought would work for us and time was of the essence. We had a million questions but most of those would have to wait and instead we chose the key ones which we knew would be the make or break of whether we could continue to see if she was right for us. Most of these could be answered there and then and we decided to setup some meetings when we got back for our kids to meet her and for us to get to know her a little as a family before we proceeded.

After the phone call I found myself in quite an anxious state which surprised me. The anxiety seemed to be from the fact that we were about to open our doors again and to give a young person a home (hopefully forever) and what it would mean. We have only done small amounts of fostering over this year and here we were in the same place that we were five years ago when we opened the door to Alice. As we shared in previous blogs the ride with Alice had massive ups and downs and so I found that this was the set of emotions that presented themselves when we heard about our imminent new friend.

I’m sure some of you are used to lots of phone calls and adapting at the last minute. Maybe some of you do respite and those calls of a quick move do not bring the flutter of butterflies like maybe it did in the beginning. For me though I found that it bought forth a worry as to whether I was ready to foster long term again even though we had been awaiting just that call.

The reality of the situation is that we are more than ready and so are our kids. I find it amazing however that for me there was a need to transition from one placement to another to remind myself that only am I capable but previous experience only informs us how to be better carers for the future regardless of our fears of worthiness. As I write this I can hear Holly playing minecraft downstairs and signing to herself. She is a completely different kettle of fish to Alice and it’s my job to be the best foster dad I can be to her.

I guess any fear that we may feel in moments like this can only be mirrored by the kids who end up in care. What will my family be like? Will I fit in? Will the rhythms of their life fit with how I like life to be? Since Holly has moved in I have tried to be more aware of this and have folded her questions in with mine as we develop relationship. I guess we all have trepidation of big changes don’t we? Maybe the test of us as carers is how we model what to do with our fear and turn it into positive learning experiences so that it will help our kids learn how to look at change to.

James


 

Yesterday we went to Church as normal and we were all sat together for the first part of the service. When it came time for the sermon the kids got up with their respective parents/carers to go to their groups so they could do some stuff together that was more age appropriate. Our church meets in a local high school. It works well for us as there is a big enough hall for us all to be in together, a large refectory where people can mingle and have coffee and an extensive labyrinth of classrooms and corridors which we are allowed to use.

When we left with the kids Louise and I talked briefly about which age group would be appropriate for Holly and her needs. Eventually we settled on a room where our son goes so that she had a secure friend in the room whilst she spent time with some new people. Up to the point of arriving Holly had been nudging me to say that she was bored and that there was not enough for children. She had a good point (something I am working on in Church) but I assured her that she would not have to wait long before there was something for her. As we arrived at the classroom she froze as she looked in. There were tables and chairs. There was a whiteboard. There was a desk for the teacher. Immediately she said she did not want to go in. At first I could not make out why. Maybe it was fear of new stuff, or a fear of being left alone. Fairly quickly however she managed to find the words. “It is a school” she said “school is boring”. I laughed and explained to her that it was not like that at all. There was in fact going to be games and colouring, discussion and fun. She immediately dismissed this as I apparently was not taking in the facts. “Look” she said “there are books and tables – it will be boring”. I explained again but she felt that I must be lying. Eventually I asked the group leader to come over and confirm what I was saying. She was suspicious but entered the room.

Around half an hour later an eager and satisfied Holly bounced in front of me. She was sucking a lolly and had the other hand wrapped around some craft she had done. I laughed and asked her if it still felt like a school. She smiled and shook her head and walked off to speak to some friends.

It had not occurred that Holly would have noticed this when we first bought her to Church. I guess we had such a filter for the school that we do not really notice that the rooms are classrooms or that there are pictures of kids with certificates on the wall. For Holly however the evidence was clear. Our Church clearly was a school! This situation made me reflect on the evidence we present to kids and expect them to understand. What are my expectations of our foster kids understanding of situations when they come into our lives. Maybe some of the things and environments are really hard to understand at first. I was challenged to remind myself that explanation is often necessary and helpful in the moments that we do things for the first time and that anxiety may present in spaces that we least expect. I’m really glad that Holly managed to overcome what appeared to be clear evidence to the contrary but it will make me think about lots of aspects of our lives which maybe look one way but are actually for something else entirely.

James


Last night we had Louise’s sister and husband over for some tea. We were all stood around in the kitchen laughing and joking. After a little while Louise’s Mum and Dad turned up too and the kids were in between us all and the house felt really busy. I noticed all the people that were around the kids and thought and reflected briefly on the relationships they had with each other and me. I also watched as each person interacted with the kids – again in their own way. I noticed that one person was missing, namely our new girl but within a second she came bounding in as well and announced at the top of her voice that she had weighed herself and lost 2 pounds! Everyone gave her lots of praise and there were even a couple of little cheers.

It was great to watch where people were with her. Some of the people in the room had connected with her from the first day she was placed. Others had really struggled with the presence of a new face and how it would affect the family dynamic on a larger scale. My observation was that in this moment however there was a collective voice praising and celebrating her. I guess I have always struggled with people in our extended family who don’t accept our foster kids from day one. For me it is easy and so I think I have projected that onto everyone around me. Having reflected on this a bit though I have judged those people for not being on board from day one and maybe I have pushed them away a bit since they feel opposed to what me and my immediate family are trying to do. This little celebration showed something different. The people who struggled still did to some extent but they had moved a bit toward getting to know her and hoping the best for her. This time she was allowed a hug whereas before there was just an awkward space where one was not offered.

Some people I have realised just need some time to come around to a new idea or situation. As I try to understand I have posed a challenge to myself as to how I can create environments in our home where that relationship can organically grow. I know for our daughter she wants to connect to everyone in our family so this new pursuit is just as much for her as it is for me. I also have a feeling that our fostering lifestyle will help those family members who struggle to evolve for the better and learn as well.


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