B was a child in care. Her foster carers gave her what she needed most; a safe and loving home with a future filled with love. B and her siblings had been abused by the woman they called Mother. B shares how social workers took her siblings into care because her mother could not cope with them. However, B always stayed because of the same reason.
Her social workers said,’ you’re a good girl B, and good girls stay at home.’ But, at 14, B snapped. She demanded to go into care’ she’d had enough. Sadly, B said life in the Children’s home was no picnic. However, she and the other young people in care shared one dream. They wanted foster carers to give them a future with a family in a loving home. More importantly, they wanted foster carers to understand them.
B didn’t want a mum. B wanted someone to support and love her and understand her as she was. It was important because B knew if she studied the past and let it go, it would not define her future. It makes it better.
What is the future for a child without love?
B was 14 years old. Her life in a toxic family was filled with child abuse, and B had enough of being ignored. Finally, after one beating too many, B went to Children’s services and demanded they hear her voice and keep her safe.
‘I put myself into local authority care the day after returning from a school holiday. Also, I had saved up and paid for the holiday myself. I was 14 years old, and whilst away, my mother did something so awful that I couldn’t stay any longer. This time, Mother had gone too far. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I went to a local children’s home and said you would have to take me, or I would be homeless. Amazingly, they took me in!
They said I could stay for 28 days. After that time, they needed to meet with my social worker to determine my future. This happened before the Children’s Act was in place.
‘The Children’s home was no picnic; it was often utter hell.’
‘The residential home was no picnic. It was utter hell at times. But it gave me a sense of relief, even though it was so scary. There was often fighting in the home, and some children self-harmed. To make it worse, we often had abuse from the locals.
I had dreamed of this moment for years. However, I’d had a life of physical and emotional abuse from my mother. Now, I was free from her and looked forward to 28 days of respite from abuse; it was heaven.
Still, there were other dangers that I’d soon come across. These dangers included teenage prostitution, and drug use and abuse were rife. Also, many children in care had severe mental health disorders; worse still, many staff members did not have appropriate training. They didn’t know how to deal with these children. Worse still, one staff member had very dubious methods, which would cause serious concern today.
I was in the Children’s home for six months; during that time, I became friends with one girl who sadly died of alcohol poisoning. Another child in my care home, a boy, tried to kill himself whilst I was there; he had schizophrenia. I became friends with him for years; sadly, he finally did commit suicide; he was 22 years of age.’
‘After six months, they found me a Foster ‘Mum.’
‘Then, after six months, my social worker said they had found me my first foster carer. I don’t remember anyone ever asking me what I wanted or what my views were. They asked me, do you want to be in foster care or stay in the Children’s home? That was a simple question to answer. I didn’t want to stay!
The first foster carer was in Southport. This foster carer was a lovely lady who had fostered many children before, but she was a foster “MUM.”
‘I did not want another Mum. I’d had a bad enough experience with the one I had. So, I told the social worker no; I wouldn’t live there because I didn’t need a Mum.’
‘My Social worker tried to convince me for weeks to change my mind; then she said she had another set of foster carers. So off we went, and I had little confidence it would be anything different from the last.’
‘My foster carers gave me a future full of love.’
‘However, this time, it was very different. The house was huge and chaotic; a toddler was running around, and a baby was lying on the floor, gurgling happily. The female foster carer was very hippy and laid back. We clicked immediately, and when we chatted, it was clear she wasn’t going to try to be my mum. She wanted to be my support, and I needed her.’
‘So, we both said I’d move in at the weekend. However, the social worker said ‘No, there are processes.” ‘You have to come for tea, then overnight and then at the weekend.’ But the foster carer and I both said, ‘no, that’s fine; she’ll just come at the weekend.’ And that is what I did.
‘My foster carers said I was clever and could achieve things’
‘I was 14.5yrs, and it was a crucial time at school because I had missed much of my education. I had someone who told me I was ‘clever and could do things.’ No one had ever said anything like that to me; it felt strange, but it felt good.’
‘Don’t get me wrong. I was emotionally slow to warm; I was protecting myself and my emotions. It took nearly a decade for me to say the words ‘I love you” to them, but I did. Thankfully, my foster carers stayed in my life for 35 years and were at my graduation and with me at my child’s birth.
My story is the perfect example of the importance of listening to children in fostering. Many foster carers know that fostering is cathartically giving back to another child, which is why I want to become a foster carer.’ Sharing my story is my way of giving something back.
My foster carers saw beyond my labels.
If we study children’s past lives, we know it does not define their future. To heal, children need love to heal from trauma.
Children who have suffered neglect, pain and trauma in their past need to heal with people who will love them and understand that, sometimes, life is not easy for children who can’t quite verbalise how they feel. Sometimes children’s behaviour is extreme as they try to show their feelings. We must understand the reasons for behaviour and look at what lies beyond the labels attached to children in care who have suffered child abuse.
Foster carers understand that for many children, their past was not easy; they need compassion and time to dedicate to them. B knows that with love from foster carers who believe in them, children will flourish and lead happy and fulfilling lives. More children are waiting in children’s homes for safe and loving homes; we need foster carers to give them a future filled with love.
Can you foster and give children a future filled with love?
Can you foster? If you are interested in fostering a vulnerable child in care with a Not-for-Profit organisation which includes Local Authorities, contact me on the form below. Verve CIC offers advice on the criteria for fostering and the needs of children in your community. There’s no commitment or cost, just clear and accurate advice. As B knows, children in care are still children who know what they want but have spent too long protecting themselves; they, sadly, can’t let others in. But with time, patience and love, children learn to trust, and with foster carers to guide them, they can face futures filled with love.