I have been in foster care since the age of 6, I am very fortunate as I have been with my foster family for 10 years. I am settled, happy and content, life is great, but it wasn’t always like that.

Before I came into care my life wasn’t a bed of roses, it was chaotic, harmful and turbulent. I can remember first coming into care, although I was only 6. I can remember feeling scared, anxious, and apprehensive, I didn’t know what was happening.

Although I was only there a short time my first foster carers were very strict and it was a complete mismatch. There was no feeling from them as to what I was going through, although it was a safer environment, I was angry and this came out through my behaviour. I had only known violence as an answer to everything.

I was then moved to where I am now at the tender age of 6. I had problems, I preferred not to speak, I had no diagnosis and a feeling of rejection and abandonment. My first memory of being with my current foster parents was my foster mum having some milk chocolate buttons with smiley faces on them. She told me no one can eat these chocolates without smiling and guess what I smiled, first breakthrough.

I also remember sitting down to dinner and feeling scared, because I was full but still wanted a pudding (my previous carers would not allow me to have a pudding if I had not eaten all my dinner). My foster mum told me that it was ok as my pudding tummy would be hungry, second breakthrough.

Over the years my foster parents have been amazing advocates, fought and won many battles for me from getting me my diagnosis, education, support and encouraging me in everything I have chosen to do. Making me feel like part of the family, not treating me like a foster child but always encouraging me to use my voice and explaining how my voice is more important than any other which is why I am doing so well now.

I have been lucky with my experience and my foster parents, but I understand this isn’t the same for all children. After being in the “care system” for 10 years, I do think that the terms ‘foster child’, ‘being in care’ and ‘being looked after’ has a stigma to it. People do not understand the looks, sympathy or unkind words which can make a child feel shameful, embarrassed and can cause anxiety and low self-esteem.  What we have to remember is, it’s not the child’s fault.

There is so much expected of a foster child, so many people in their lives, so many meetings about them, it can be very overwhelming and if we don’t react well then there must be a problem, or it could be that we are just acting as any child would.

It is important that foster children are:

  • Involved in what is happening with their lives, obviously it must be age and understanding appropriate and if they WANT to be involved.
  • They must have a voice and be encouraged to use it, this should involve all  contact with birth families.
  • Be given time to adjust and build up positive relationships with their foster families, social workers, birth families and everyone else involved in their lives.
  • School’s play a huge role and they must understand one shoe does not fit all and the trauma foster children have gone through.
  • I cannot emphasise this point strongly enough to all local authorities, fostering agencies and foster carers, a better system must be introduced for matching children and carers it makes all the difference for a successful foster family.

The nameless onion

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