I love being a foster carer (we don’t call it foster parent here in Australia, lord only knows why) but sometimes all the things that are completely out of our control get the better of me, and that’s when I thought…this is like having some horrible disease where I can’t control the situation.
Social workers are like doctors. They all seem to have their own opinion on the case and they don’t always agree.
Like a terminal disease, no one can tell us how long we have the children for. Even a GOM 18 placement has no certainty as the birth family always have a right to contest this in the future.
Attitude makes a huge difference. Do you sit around wallowing in self pity or do you enjoy every minute that you have together because you don’t know when the last minute will be?
We go through the 5 stages of grief.
Denial – denying that the child is going to be removed at some point in the future
Anger – getting angry at the system that allows you to pour your heart and soul into the little children and then takes them away because ‘they would be better with a family member’
Bargaining – trying to bargain with social workers to change their mind. Contemplating writing a petition to the court that your opinion should be heard and you are the best placement for the child.
Depression – spending time thinking about and mourning the loss of the child, who hasn’t left yet, but preparing for them to leave.
Acceptance – accepting that hopefully the powers that be have made the right decision for the child and knowing when the call comes to say goodbye you’ll do it with the best smile you can muster, have a break, and then do it all again with another child.
Losing a child you have loved and cared for breaks your heart just as much as losing a family member, because for the time they are with you, they are your family, and in may cases, once they leave our care we have only our memories of the time they have been with us as we often don’t get to see them again.
So why do we do it?
Because we are prepared to grieve for our loss knowing that we have helped the children in their time with us.