What happened to you, fostered child?

Dear Fostered child,

You came into my life, and my home like a whirlwind. Aged three, blonde, pretty, and confident, you arrived late one afternoon, with very little notice. The fact that you’d never been away from your mother before didn’t seem to worry you. neither did the fact that you’d spent time with a social worker you’d never met, and now had been brought to a stranger’s house where you’d have to spend the next few weeks.

The toys that littered the sitting room floor didn’t really interest you much. You ignored them whilst you ran round the bungalow examining every room, before running in, climbing up on my lap and giving me a big hug. When you wanted my attention, you grabbed my face with both hands, and turned it towards you. You talked a lot, but your speech patterns were those of a younger child. “Where my bed? My sleeping there?”

At bedtime, I waited for the inevitable tears. After all, this had been a very traumatic day. I sat on your bed and read you a story, then explained that your Mummy would phone you the next day, and would come to see you soon. You didn’t really react to that very much, just settled down and went to sleep.

The next day, it was as if you’d always lived with us. You didn’t ask for your mother, or talk about her, and I began to wonder what sort of relationship you had with her. When she phoned she was very brusque with me, didn’t ask how you had been, just said she would like to speak to you.

You chatted happily to her, telling her where you’d been and what you’d been doing, then suddenly dropped the phone and ran off to play. no goodbye or tears. When I picked up the phone your mother said she’d be visiting as soon as she could. She seemed hostile towards me, but I could understand it. In her mind I was part of the establishment that had taken you away from her. I wasn’t to be trusted, and she was going to make sure I didn’t take your love and affection away from her.

The first time she visited, she came with her boyfriend. She grudgingly said hello, and asked where you were. When told you were in the garden, she went to the door and called your name. I’ll never forget your reaction. A look of delight and surprise lit up your face, and you launched yourself into her arms, covering her face with kisses, and asking “Where you been?”followed swiftly by “I sleeped here” and most touchingly,”This my Jennie”.

Over the next few weeks, my relationship with your mother slowly developed, as she learned to trust me, and realised I wasn’t trying to take her place in your life. Ironically, that brought its own problems, as she started to take advantage of the fact that you seemed happy with us. Suddenly it didn’t seem so important to her to come and see you when she said she would.

When she missed a promised visit for the second time, I confronted her on the phone and told her that she was the most important person in your life, that you needed her, and that she needed to keep her promises to you. She reacted like a very hostile teenager, but the next day she rang back, and apologised, telling me that she knew you were happy with us, and so it hadn’t seemed such a big deal when she hadn’t managed to come and see you.

The next few weeks were spent preparing you to go back home, and reminding your Mum she needed to visit as often as she could. When the great day came for you to go back home, you left as you’d arrived, a whirlwind who dashed backwards and forwards to the car with your belongings. You had to be reminded to come and say goodbye, which you did by jumping into my arms and wrapping your legs around my waist. “I love you my Jennie” you said, then ran off to the car without a backward glance.

I wondered if I’d ever hear from you again. Your mother had said she’d keep in touch, but I didn’t hold out much hope that she would. I was right. I never heard from you again.

You’d be about thirty now, I think. I hope your life was happy. When I imagine you now, I think of your Mum. You looked so much like her. So that’s how I imagine you now. Pretty, a bit scatty, perhaps with children of your own. I wonder if you ever knew that once, for a few months, you were part of another family. Did your Mum ever tell you? …



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Glo
    Mar 28, 2012 @ 20:28:13

    That’s a wonderful insight into foster care from the carers point of view. So sad that for so many children this is a reality. What a lovely post.


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