Yesterday, at our Initial Fostering Panel One Panel member , who was a former foster carer and a retired prison governor addressed me,
“ Jayne, You have held some pretty responsible leadership roles. How do you think you will cope, as a foster carer, caring for a child, but not having the authority to make things happen.”
– In response I gave examples of large community collaborative projects that I had been involved in and spoke of how my career had been very successful because of my ability to work in partnership with others.
I think, on reflection, that he may have imagined that we were looking through rose tinted spectacles, when in reality I have already spent a considerable time listening to the frustrations of foster carers who I have known personally and professionally. I suspect that the reality of fostering will be far more demanding and be far more difficult to circumnavigate but hopefully with a great sense of achievement.
We laughed after the panel when Norman – the Independent Form F Assessing Supervisor spoke to us of his conversation with our younger daughter . Apparently he had asked the question, “ How do you think your mum and dad would cope if they had a foster placement who really pushed the boundaries? “ She had laughed and said “ They coped with me and I was far from a walk in the park ! “
It is true that from 13 years of age she was mature for her age and we were kept very much on our toes. It was not that she was a bad kid it was just that she had a very adventurous spirit and far too much confidence . She would take off on a train – to meet friends 400miles away with literally an hours notice – when you were stuck in a meeting with no way to intervene in her plans!
On the way home in the car we both agreed that the children who we were likely to meet would be far more challenging than our birth daughters. We feel very proud of what they have achieved and the women that they have become. We laughed and agreed that we have not done a bad job as parents – but we suspect that our parenting skills as foster carers are likely to be stretched further.
We have made a pact that we will always have one another’s back, in that the young people who come to us- should we be approved – will see an even more unified approach than we had for our own kids. We would speak with one voice in that pester power would never break us down and even if we did not agree with a decision made within the parental partnership we would go along with it wholeheartedly – until there could be a private discussion.
Jayne Robbins (alias) A Blogging Foster Carer.