Sunday, April 12, 2015


There's something one of our foster children once said that will stick in my mind forever, or at least as long as I foster.

The exact words were; 

"I didn't know that foster parents could love you"

As is often the case in fostering you get moments where the child says or does something and you need to sit everybody down and talk for a psychologist's hour (50 minutes) and settle the issue.

Psychologists can have the chat because they haven't got the pasta on and two other children wanting some parenting plus the phone rings and that'll be the garage about the MOT.

So when the child said it I think I kind of went "Well we can and do, if that's alright with you". I smelt the mince browning so I nipped down, botched a salad and found myself working through the dead lunch boxes extracting yoghurt pots and crusts.

Ten minutes later I'm laying the table while checking the paperwork from school (endless) and wondering if we want to sign up for recorder lessons, and this statement keeps coming back to me;

"I didn't know that foster parents could love you"

Two years on, I've had this statement in my head a lot.

It's got about a thousand layers.

First layer, for me, is the concern that children get 'warned' about foster parents by their real parents. I can see why some parents would do this.  A messed-up mum or dad must be in a pretty bad place with their own self-esteem if they are told they are a bad parent. So they try to rubbish foster parents.

The other ninehundred and ninety nine or more layers are about love, and what it is.

So  I keep coming back to what the child may have meant by love.

The whole love thing has been high in my mind again this morning, very early. One of our current brood is not terribly nice to me sometimes, and I totally get why. Nothing serious, just a bit of cold shoulder.  Worse, the child is all sweetness and light with my other half.

The child's life has been grotty. That's to use the scientific medical term. What, she's going to turn into Julie Andrews overnight? If you foster you know the long haul is the thing. When I say 'long haul'; you can do a lot in six weeks. 

So here's my own take on what the child meant when she said "I didn't know that foster parents could love you".

I think, in this particular child's case, this: she was talking about little things that the rest of us hardly classify as love, but actually they are: Someone laying out your clothes for the morning,  tidying your bedroom and making your bed, smiling at you when you get back from school, spending five minutes at bedtime softening down the day.

The tiny trademarks of companionship.

Things we scarecly notice as being love, but which mean a mountain to a child who might have felt the dreadful loneliness of lovelessness.


Post a Comment