Waiting for the phone to ring for a First Placement is challenging.
In the past month we’ve repainted 3 bedrooms that we have offered for fostering and to be honest the anticipation is rather like that experienced at the end of a pregnancy. It is almost as though we are nesting –with no set date for the wait to come to an end. We really hope that this will not drag on too long.
Every time the phone has rung ( during half term week ) we have both jumped. I am also mindful that several years ago I attended a training session led by Nancy Thomas – an American lady who had fostered children deemed “unfosterable”.
Her skills were such that she was able to cope with children- many of whom had committed hideous crimes. Her aim had been to build attachments with them, so that they could learn to function within society. I remember her stating that she would advise carers to put away anything with significant sentimental or real value that they would not want to lose, because the most troubled children will hone in on these items if they seek to illicit a negative response – and this is a sure way to upset most carers ! I feel daunted as I look around my lovely home and these words ring in my ears. So I decided that this afternoon I would sit down and watch a DVD which has been recommended. “The unloved” starring Samantha Morton ( She herself experienced living in the Care System ) . The first 5 minutes are really quite harrowing showing the transition of a child from an abusive family home into a children’s home. The footage certainly dispelled any thoughts I had about damage to my lovely home – balanced against the emotional abuse of a beautiful child – who needed a secure and safe place to live.
I was 10 minutes into the film when the call requesting a placement came, at around 4pm . I referred to the list of questions in the back of my diary, provided by an experienced carer . Owen ( Name changed ), a 14 year old boy who needed a placement on an emergency basis, probably for two nights but possibly longer. There was little background information, his foster placement had broken down and he would be coming with nothing. We accepted.
I added another tin of tomatoes and some lentils to the Bolognese in the slow cooker and pulled out a frozen garlic bread to make our planned dinner stretch. Peter agreed to collect Owen, who was with his Social Worker at the house of a friend where he had been all day, while I made a trip to ASDA for Pyjamas, underwear and a couple of T shirts- to kit him out ( on agreement that we could claim back these costs ). Peter later told me that he had collected Owen from the back of a police car in a local retail park car park
Owen was half way through eating his Bolognese when I noticed the “tag” on his ankle. He was clearly emotionally worn out so after his meal he took himself off to his room with some Harry Potter books. Peter and I decided that we would call and insist on some additional information first thing in the morning. I just hope I can manage to sleep tonight!
Jayne Robbins (Alias) A Blogging Foster Carer.