With the contact arrangements now in full swing it was interesting to see the difference in the children’s behaviour when they have contact and when they don’t. Mum was obviously unhappy about the lack of control she had over the children and attempted to reinforce her control during the contact weekends. As Foster Carers we want the children to simply have a nice time during contact and not be used as pawns. We were leading up to Christmas at this stage and nothing had been mentioned about contact and what was going to happen. The children went off on the Saturday morning, happy and contented. They had a good week at school and were looking forward to Christmas, regardless of what the plans were. We had helped the kids buy gifts for family members and we were hopeful that they were going to have a great weekend. On Sunday the kids were due back at four. The taxi arrived and the first thing we noticed was the look on the driver’s face, he was stressed. The three kids came in and were hugely emotional. We asked the driver if needed a cup of tea but he just wanted to get home. We sat the kids down and asked what had happened. Apparently Mum and family were not happy with the gifts they had received. They thought that we should of bought them more as we received ‘lots of money’ for looking after them. Mum had also told the children that she was looking forward to a Christmas where they would have a lovely big tree and lots of presents. The children had taken it that she meant the Christmas that was coming up and had got very excited only to be told, in no uncertain terms, that she meant Christmases in the future and that they would not be going home at all, during the Christmas holiday as it was too emotional for her. I found it very difficult not to react but kept quiet. We got the kids to sort their clothes out and I went and sat quietly to write notes to share with the other professionals.

The kids sat down for dinner and it was very quiet. After they went off to school, the following, day, we spoke to their Social Worker who was horrified about the comments made by Mum regarding Christmas. The Social Worker was in two minds whether she would talk to Mum or ‘keep her powder dry’ for now. She said that she would talk to her Manager and get back to us. As Foster Carers we were glad that such decisions were made by someone else. By the middle of the week the children were back to their normal selves and seemed resigned to the fact that they would be spending the holidays with us and not family. It’s a difficult situation for us, as Foster Carers, as part of us would like the children to spend Christmas with their family, not only for their benefit but for ours too. It’s nice to have some down time with our own family, especially at Christmas, but we understand that part of the role of the Foster Carer is to deal with these situations. So as we neared Christmas it was down to us to plan how the holiday would work and who would be visiting. We received a call from the Social Worker stating that Mum insisted on calling the children on Christmas morning. We knew this would prove emotional for them but we thought it was in the children’s best interests to talk to family.

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