I was six when Adam was carried through our kitchen kicking and screaming and saying words I had only ever heard grownups say. This was our introduction to fostering, a child being taken from his family and asked to live with a family he had never met.
Adam soon settled into our home and quickly became another brother to me (along with my own two brothers). I felt sad when he described incidents of abuse and neglect that he had endured with his own family, but I mostly remember the fun times I got to share with him, such as going on holiday together or introducing him to lots of games that he had never played.
You took to fostering as though you were born to do it. Before having my brothers and me, you had agreed that, one day, you would like to foster and now you were doing it. You showed guidance, love, patience and support to Adam for the two years he was with our family, right up until the day he was adopted and left us. Ten years passed and I had just turned 18, when, out of the blue, we received a phone call from Adam – he had remembered our telephone number from a decade ago and he thanked us for showing him love and kindness all those years ago. It is the saying goodbye to the children you have lived with that is particularly challenging. We have welcomed newborn babies straight from hospital into our home, then had to say goodbye two or three years later. No amount of training can prepare you for that “loss”. You can only hope that they continue to be safe and loved and free from abuse and neglect when they move on (whether that be back to family or adoption).
More than 80 children followed Adam, and the majority have kept in touch. That is something I am proud of and I know you are too. I am now a social worker and I know fostering is not easy – it is damn challenging. However, you made it look easy. You have so much love to give. People often ask how I felt about sharing my parents with other children and I reply that it never occurred to me that I was sharing them. You had so much love for me and my siblings, and the fact that you were able to extend that love to two or three foster children (at any given time) astounds me and makes me the proudest, luckiest daughter in the world.
You have never heard me say these things before, but I’m writing this letter to tell you that I think you are the most incredible people I have ever met. Foster carers don’t always get the recognition they deserve for doing such a challenging “job”. (I use that word lightly because fostering is so much more than a job, it’s a constant devotion.) Foster carers welcome strangers into their home, family, life and heart, they provide them with love and stability. For that reason, I not only thank you, but every foster carer in this country for their dedication and love towards these children who have had the most difficult starts to life.
I would also encourage anyone reading this who is considering becoming a foster carer to do it! It will be the most challenging but most rewarding thing you will ever do and I know my parents would share those sentiments.
With love from your daughter
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