The thing that irks me most about other people's attitudes to fostering is the sly remark "They're only doing it for the money".
You suspect it more than you actually hear it, and it's one of those lazy prejudices which certain people keep in the same place as their "prisoners have it too easy" and "immigrants are only over here for the benefit".
I'm sure plenty of parents trot out the "foster carers only do it for the money" when their children are taken into care. I know for a fact some parents knock it into their children BEFORE they are taken into care, along with lots of other myths, just to make our difficult job impossible, if they can.
But is it a myth? Do we do it "for the money"?
I watched a tennis documentary about Wimbledon last time it was around, there was a player from the 1960s called Rod Laver. He is the only one they say was better then Federer, if you know what I'm on about.
Laver played when there was no money in tennis and players were 'Gentlemen'. He won everything in sight, but the gentlemen of Wimbledon didn't like it, partly because he was Australian, partly because hang on... he accepts the odd cheque for turning out at tennis events. Nothing eye-watering, just enough to help ends meet, how else is he supposed to fly to London and stay for a month in digs?
They banned him. See, he "only did it for the money". Charles Robert McKinley Jr a New York stockbroker won it the next year. Much more like it.
Can you think of a more important job than fostering?
Seriously, when I ask people the question "Can you think of any more important job than fostering?" they often blurt "Brain surgeon". Good call I say, brain surgeons are trying to fix a brain that needs fixing. They go "I s'pose you do that in a way" and I go "Yep we do, only minus an ever-present back-up team of twenty experts and a million pounds worth of medical technology, oh and by the way the salary of the brain surgeon peaks out at about £450,000 a year.
Double seriously; seriously, can anyone think of a more important job than fostering? The doctors and nurses who volunteered to go to West Africa and treat Ebola are pretty high in the reckoning. But even they are getting paid.
So why are there people who want to act like the chinless wonders of Wimbledon and look down their noses at the fact that we have bills to pay?
I have a view on why they do it. It's because otherwise they'd have to say something like "God bless those foster carers, they do amazing stuff, without them we'd all be up you-know-which creek without a paddle. I couldn't do it"
It's the last bit that sticks in some people's throat.
People like to think they could do anything better than the people who do it. Teaching, social work, running the country. They can kid each other down the pub they could pick a better team than the Man U manager, they tell each other at the school railings they could run the playgroup better than that stupid woman.
But they cough up short of kidding themselves they could foster, because they know that part of the reason it's maybe the most important job, is that at times it's the most difficult job. Blimey these are often people who can't even parent their own children.
Rather than take their hat off to what we do, they look for a knock, and out comes; "They only do it for the money".
The other thing some people trot out among themselves is that 'there's good money in fostering'. None of them have a clue what the allowance is. For me Blue Sky generally allow £54 per night a child is in your home, £108 for two children, and so on. Half the allowance payment is expenses, half is yours. It's a weird fact that I didn't know what the allowance was until my first payment went into the bank. I didn't want to ask Blue Sky what the payments were for fear they'd think I was...
"Only in it for the money".
Stupid. What, is fostering meant to be a hobby?
I tried a hobby before I had children, I collected novelty tins for a while, would you believe. I thought it must be rewarding, lots of people have hobbies. I still don't know what the rewards of hobbies are.
Fostering is not a hobby. It has many genuine rewards. Including a well-earned income.
It's a profession.