It was too good to last! As Foster Carers we nearly always encourage family contact but occasionally it feels more upsetting than beneficial. It felt that it wasn’t in the best interests of the children for them to go through the disappointment of Mum not appearing again. There had, at this point, been about half a dozen no shows and, from our point of view, to get four children fed and dressed and to drive around London was a pain and we made sure our SSW and the LA SW were aware. Mum was told, in no uncertain terms, that not turning up was unacceptable and that contact would be ‘off the table’ if Mum carried on being unreliable. Mum had also been given another chance with rehabilitation at a clinic near her home. This was probably her third or fourth chance and nobody was really confident she would succeed. Previously she had been asked to leave one clinic as she had attacked another patient and on another occasion she had been caught using another patient’s hair for a regular drug test. It had been made crystal clear to Mum that no rehab, no kids. There was a Family Group Conference diarised and it would be attended by everyone involved in the placement including, hopefully, Mum. The meeting room was full of Teachers, Social Workers, a Guardian and myself. The children didn’t come so my wife stayed away to do the school run and look after the youngest sibling.
To everyone’s surprise Mum showed up with a ‘family member’ who nobody knew and wasn’t introduced. The Chair of the meeting gave a summary of the placement and what was happening from a legal perspective. The representatives from the school gave an update of the children’s progress, which was very positive. A letter from the children’s GP gave an update on their health and I gave an update on the children’s ‘home’ life and behaviour at home. After I spoke Mum was asked if there was anything she wanted to add. Mum, encouraged by her friend, launched into a tirade of abuse that was particularly aimed and me and my wife. Apparently we were only interested in earning money and were not looking after the children. According to her the children hated us and living with us and had begged her to take them back. The reason for her not attending contact was our fault and not hers. We made her feel uncomfortable, apparently, and it was upsetting for her knowing how upset the children were being with us. I was very tempted to bite back but decided against it. Nobody else spoke and there was an awkward silence which felt like minutes but was probably only about ten seconds. Then, Mum, and her ‘family member’ got up and left. The Chair of the meeting apologised to me for what had happened and praised my restraint in not rising to the comments. It was made clear that the comments attributed to the children had no foundation. In fact both the Guardian and the Social Worker stated that they had spoken to the children at their last LAC review and the children expressed that they were happy and felt safe living with us.
It was reassuring knowing that Mums tirade had been disproved and that her accusations were answered. However I was angry and upset that our reputations were being dragged through the mud. I got home and explained with my wife what had been said and she shared my anger at what had been said.