We are indebted to both Katie and Pip's Foster Carers for the wonderful job they did. Both children were well taken care of both physically and emotionally. They were loved as if they were members of the family. You can't ask more than that. Both Katie and Pip were in foster care from birth. Katie stayed for 2 years and Pip for 7 months. We have stayed in touch with both sets of Foster Carers for several reasons.....
Katie was incredibly attached to her Foster Carers and the whole family to her. We didn't feel it was in anyone's interests to sever contact with them as is often the advice to do. We have not regretted that decision. Katie often has questions about her birth family and her Foster Carers are able to fill in lots of blanks and I think this will prove beneficial throughout the years. Katie does not feel rejected by her Foster family because we see them every few months. They are a part of her life, not the focus as they were at the start of her living with us, but they are a constant. She knows where they are and she knows they love her. In many ways, Katie's foster family were her first real family and we never wanted her to feel that she did anything wrong or that they wanted her to leave. This is not to negate or miss out Katie's birth family but to support Katie's emotional welfare in recognising the bond she had with her foster family and honouring her memories.
Pip was only with his foster family for 7 months but he was a big part of the family during that time. Pip also lived with a large family with lots of children around. It's one thing moving a child on from the adult Foster Carers but a whole different issue when there are children involved, I think. We could see the impact Pip's leaving was having on different members of his foster family, particularly the children, and we offered to stay in touch to help their transition. Our contact with his foster family is less frequent than with Katie's because he won't hold onto as many memories of living there but he does remember their house when we visit and gets very excited to see his Foster Carer and the children, and they him. Pip's Foster Carer is also very important because she too had a relationship with their Birth Mother and can answer questions about that period in their lives when the time comes.
It obviously helps that we get along really well with both sets of Foster Carers. That isn't always the experience for Adopters and I think it can be a strange time to meet someone for the first time i.e. when you're going to adopt a child that they have been taking care of; and loving; not to mention the fact that you spend an awful lot of time in their house during introductions. The Foster Carer may do things entirely differently than you might as a parent and there needs to be a lot of rubbing along together to make it all work. The child might have been placed for adoption against the advice or wishes of the Foster Carer. It's a very intense and emotional time. The Foster Carer may be managing the emotional needs of the children who are remaining in their family be that their birth children or other fostered children. That is a tough thing to do and must be stressful. The Foster Carer is the person who prepares your child to become part of your family. It is their skills that help with the transition. If a Foster Carer feels negatively about the Adoptive Parents or the fact that the child is being placed for adoption, for whatever reason, this can impact tremendously on the relationship both parties have. I have heard many stories about the relationship between Foster Carers and Adopters over the past 5 years; some good stories and some not so good (a few were even downright concerning).
I do think our relationship gets very confused by the insistence from Social Services that you don't remain in contact with each other. I personally don't get this unless it's what everyone feels is for the best. I can understand the need to transfer the attachment from Foster Carer to Adopter and for this not to be confused but I believe that, in the longer term for the child, it is important to maintain those links if the placement was a positive placement within the Foster Carer family.
Anyway to kick off my link with the NFA I am sharing below a video that is currently bring promoted around You Tube and Social Media sites. It is called ReMoved and tells the story of two children who are the victims of an abusive home and are taken into foster care. The story is incredibly emotional to watch but I do think it's an important video for anyone who is involved with adoption or foster caring to watch because it raises so many different issues about foster care. You can see how a simple act of kindness can trigger a painful memory and understand why a child who has lived in an abusive situation might react in certain ways. Personally for me, the children look so much like Katie and Pip that I just cried my way through the whole video. I certainly don't ever underestimate the role that Foster Carers or Adopters perform but many people do. Many people think that once a child is removed from an abusive situation that solves their problems but the truth is very far from that. It's important to try and wrap your head around it though if you're planning to be either a Foster Carer or an Adopter and ask yourself what would you do to help these children?
Have a watch and let me know what you think.......