So the previous two weeks have been Foster Carer fortnight, lots of things on the TV about fostering and being in foster care – all really great and positive ways to raise the profile of fostering and the need for more foster carers in the UK. Also a very appropriate time for us to have our first placement!
We were able to give respite care for Jay* while their regular foster carer was away. OK it was only for a couple of nights but for the time they were with us we were their foster carers, officially!
It was a good first placement for us, our children had fun with an extra young face in the house and Jay seemed to enjoy staying with us too. It wasn’t without its hiccups though and there was a lot to learn (very quickly!)!
I realised just how routined we are as a family unit, doing things in a certain way at certain times. Routine isn’t a bad thing – it can bring a sense of security and safety, but Jay came into our house with their own routines and ways of doing things – not having them in place may have made them feel unsettled and unhappy in our house. All it took was a chat about their normal day and I got a sense of what routines were important to them.
It was also interesting to discover how quirky we can be – silly little jokes or phrases have become codes for different things and though this puts a smile on our faces it can ostracise a new person in the fold. I found myself explaining things to Jay so that they understood the conversation and could join in. I’m sure with a foster child that stays longer than a weekend they will bring their own quirks as well as adding to ours, but in the early days in-jokes are something to watch.
Another thing learned during our first placement is just how important foster dads are. Even though I am named as the primary carer and do most the ‘caring’ and ‘parenting’ on a day to day basis, my husband had such a positive impact on our young visitor. They listened intently to his instructions, they didn’t question his authority and actively sought him to ‘hang out’ with (it wasn’t always the same for me!) With such a short stay I am not to know what other male role models they have had before and who they have now – but it was clear that they benefited tremendously from having my husband around. You men are so much more important than you realise!
So all in all, our first placement left me smiling, exhausted but smiling! I wonder what we have in store for us next?
[*Jay is not their real name]