Fostering News: Young man's gut-wrenching tribute to his foster parents: 'The little things meant the most'
After growing up in a violent and abusive home, 21-year-old Josh describes how normal, everyday parenting things changed his life...
You might wanna grab a box of tissues before reading this one
Because 21-year-old Joshua Smith’s tribute to his amazing foster parents, Jane and Bill Aiton, is incredibly moving.
Their touched response will, if you’re anything like us, also make you blub like a baby.
We were especially moved by how appreciative and overwhelmed he was by the little things - simple, normal acts, things we wouldn’t even think twice about doing – purely because he hadn’t experienced them before.
Writing for the MailOnline, Joshua bravely revealed the physical and mental abuse he’d suffered as a child, at the hands of his father, until the age of 11.
He was regularly beaten with household objects like ashtrays and pool cues, and taunted as ‘worthless’ and ‘unloved’.
After his father poured his deceased mother’s ashes over him as a punishment for struggling to eat his dinner, he was able to run away to the local police station, where he was given a social worker and placed into care.
Here’s just some of what he wrote about that nerve-wracking first day in the care of new parents Bill and Jane – and you can really feel how the simplest, parental things were completely baffling to him:
"When I arrived at your home, I didn’t feel angry, scared or upset — just empty. Somehow, you coaxed me into the living room.
"You’d made a buffet so I could pick out what I fancied and eat off my lap. Bill asked did I like football and what sports interested me. Jane said she’d take me shopping for new clothes and a haircut the next day.
"I lay in bed that night thinking you were both weird. By then you’d already praised me several times: for finding a way to finally put one foot in front of the other and sit on the sofa; for managing a few mouthfuls of a ham sandwich; for mumbling ‘thank you’ when you handed me a toothbrush.”
Joshua writes that praise was completely alien to him – and that he was used to words spoken by adults being not so nice at all.
“Yet the last ones I heard Jane speak as she switched off my bedroom light at the end of that first day with you were: ‘Good night, God bless.’”
"I lay in the dark wondering why anyone would want to say something so kind and warm to me. I decided you must have been talking to someone else."
At the end of that week Bill gave me my pocket money,” he continued. “He already felt like a father figure to me — kind, gentle and offering the very best example of how to be a man.
"It was a fiver and the first money I’d had money of my own. I went straight out and bought a potted plant.
"As I handed Jane that plant it was my way of saying: ‘Please, can I stay?’”
Sorry, we’re going to pause here to wipe our eyes a bit
“You shared a life with me I always thought was meant for other children. Holidays abroad, tickets to Premiership football games and lovely family meals out.
“It was the little daily acts of kindness that made me feel truly wanted and safe — leaving clean pyjamas on my pillow, helping me with my homework and taking me for check-ups with the dentist.
“What is the norm for most people felt, to me, like great gifts.”
Joshua went on to thank Jane and Bill for teaching him how to eat properly, how to talk, and for encouraging him throughout the 5 years he stayed there.
In response, the couple wrote back:
"You were only the third child to come to us after Jane gave up her job as a marketing manager so that we could become foster parents.
“We opened our front door to a pale, thin and desperately tired little boy, clutching a carrier bag that contained a few pieces of underwear. It was all you’d taken from your old home.
“We remember that lovely plant you bought us - it was a pink cyclamen in a lovely pale blue pot.
“It was all Jane could do to avoid shedding a tear when you handed it to her. As we both did reading your beautiful letter.
“We’ll never forget the day you turned to Jane and asked: ‘Who are you saying: “Goodnight, God Bless” to each night?’
“You seemed amazed when she insisted that those words really were for you - it was humbling to see how deeply they touched you.
“We’re so proud of the life you’re making for yourself, Josh. You’ve just passed your driving test and you’ve got a lovely girlfriend, your own home and plans for the future."
Our hearts just burst when we read the love and mutual respect between foster parents and foster son
We’re especially happy that they’ve stayed in contact, and that Josh’s life really is on the up and up.
The real reason we wanted to share this story, though, is that it’s an important reminder of just how much the little things can mean.
Saying goodnight, reading a story, a little treat here or there – now, we can see just how much impact they can make on a child’s life.
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