I think I was definitely luckier than most when I entered the world of fostering!
I have mentioned before in previous blogs that my parents were foster carers for many years, and only retired recently after having fostered for over 27 years! Through my life as a ‘foster sister’ I gained a wealth of experience which made the transition of becoming a foster carer so much easier!
Becoming a real life foster carer was still a daunting place though, I can tell you! I often think perhaps the only part that wasn’t daunting was the children themselves!
One of MANY things I really felt nervous about was the daily logs. I had come from a world where mostly the only writing I did was my daily facebook status or writing out whatsapp messages such as ‘hey how r u? ‘ or ‘u gonna be out this wkend?’ Not so helpful when you have to write out daily logs ummm (as the name suggests) EVERY day!!!
Not only was I worried about how to write but also WHAT TO SAY? Surely people i.e your supervisor or your child’s social worker don’t want to know what the children ate for breakfast, said to you about the bloody Tellytubbies, or even that they fell out their new posh glam buggy because you actually put the wheels on back to front!
Well actually YES they might!
Here we have one of my early daily logs…
B is up as usual before I awake and wakes me up with calling and singing. B has a bath and breakfast. We go for a walk in the park with the dogs. We go for a picnic in the park and B has a fantastic time running around with the big children and eating the picnic. Several times tries to take things from other children, a toy, a scooter, a lollipop and gets very angry when is asked to to give it back. B enjoys being with Tanya the most who is 5 and follows Tanya everywhere, even when its time for Tanya to go home she tries to go with her. After the picnic, we go home and a new buggy has arrived. I build the buggy and we go to the park in it! B is very excited about it. 20 mins into the walk I park it next to a flower bed and walk 5 steps to the bin and as I walk back the whole buggy topples over with B in it and falls into the flower bed. B screams and cries and several people come to help. B is ok and not seriously hurt but we are both upset. When Scott comes home later he finds I have screwed the wheels on back to front and corrects it and he thinks this is why it toppled. B goes to sleep within seconds tonight I think due to the busy day she has had!
Seriously!!! Only I could screw a wheel on back to front!! How is that even possible it’s a wheel for god’s sake!
Joking aside sometimes it can be easy to forget that our daily logs have huge importance in our role as foster carers. One very important role of daily logs can be helping to document things like accidents! In my log above, I explain everything about the buggy accident which can if needed be used word for word to explain to any concerned parents or social workers as to why this child may have been hurt!
There are so many important reasons for our daily logs! Another one which I was unfortunate enough to have first hand experience of, is many of our foster children are the subject of ongoing court cases! Our daily logs can provide a really huge insight into these children’s lives! The reality is that people who HAVE never, and ARE never, likely to meet your foster children, (such as court judges or panels) are often given the task of making life changing decisions about their futures!
For me as a foster carer that horrible moment of realisation dawned on me soon after the arrival of two children who had been severely neglected by their parents! Within a month they were placed up for adoption! However, little was I prepared to find out that actually the plans were for the children to be separated and to go to two different adoptive families!
Court cases were being prepared and the children’s social workers matter of factly informed us that the children should be adopted separately for their own good!
Aged just 4 and 5, how was it even possible for someone to come to this decision? Let alone in such a short space of time?
I felt so angry that this was even happening to these innocent little ones and that in this modern day it was possible to split two, ending one that way and the other a different way!
” The reality hit me that this fight was ours and that actually my daily logs were now valuable ammunition!”
….they must stay together. Sometimes if Ryan goes shy in front of new people he will whisper what he wants to say to Rose and Rose will say it out loud for him! Also vice versa if Rose is troubled and withdrawn about something as she sometimes gets after School, Ryan will answer questions for her! For example, if I ask Rose “are you hurt”? Or “Rose has someone pushed you?’ Ryan will also ask her these questions and will even answer for her when she is silent by saying things like ‘I didn’t see anyone push her Amee’ or ‘I think she has a tummy ache Amee.’ They really are so sweet to each other and just love playing together constantly! Rose has changed so much in such a short space of time and she now is very caring to Ryan without the domineering almost menacing way that she used to be towards him saying things like ‘your’re for it now’ or ‘look what you done now’.
He loves to be encouraged by Rose and dotes on her.
Sunday weekly summary
She has changed so much but maybe she feels more settled now. Her true personality shines through and actually Rose is a very funny, quite cheeky girl with a huge sense of humour. This week I have really noticed that Rose has changed towards Ryan and is now very supportive and encouraging to him. She is always saying ‘oh well done Ryan’ ‘oh you are good’. Or when he runs she shouts ‘Don’t stop Ryan keep going’ which is quite funny to hear because she has copied that from me. Rose now also reassures Ryan if he has an accident! For example, if he spills something once she would have said ‘you’re for it now’or something quite mean but now she will say to him ‘Ryan just tell Amee and Amee will mop it up don’t worry Ryan don’t worry’. Another example is when he is eating a sandwich she will say ‘Ryan don’t forget if you want another one just let Amee know’ and she repeats it several times to him in a caring fashion!
It wasn’t just me that felt the full impact of such horrible news. The School that the children attended were very distressed to hear the news that the plan was to separate the children!
Parents evening: When we got to Rose’s teacher’s table the lady broke down crying it was awful, poor woman! She apologised for crying and I comforted her and she said Rose had a special place in her heart! Then she said that Rose is SO well behaved and SO caring. She also said Rose had no recognition of numbers which is true as she seems unable to write them. When I’ve done homework with Rose she needs me to write the number down and then she copies it. We then went around Rose’s classroom and spoke with her other teacher Mr W.
Rose enjoyed showing me and her brother her books and then told me off for touching a wall display as she said Mrs. V said nobody is allowed to touch the wall displays!
And so just like that you can find yourself thrown into a world of uncertainty and fighting to protect children you have known only a short time yet have already grown to love! Innocent children who trust you and look to you for comfort and care. Children who think you have their back no matter what! How can you not do everything in your power to help them? All of a sudden words especially the written ones of daily logs become a very powerful thing.
We fought long and hard for these 2 children! The social workers refused to believe that they should stay together! Together with their school and their court guardian and the support of our GLF supervisor we managed to get the judge to see the truth that these two little ones belonged together. The judge was given my daily logs to read before making a decision! One day another judge may be given yours!
Sadly, for many foster children they are not so lucky and day in day out children in the care system are separated from their siblings!
Don’t be afraid to disagree, don’t be afraid to write it down and don’t be afraid to fight as hard as you can. You may be all they have!