Well, I am sitting here at 4 o'clock in the morning, I can't sleep and my mind won't rest.
We had a phone call late this Friday afternoon, a referral of a 13 year old girl. I said yes but we have nothing ready so I am running around like a mad man trying to get the bedroom ready when the Social Workers turn up with let's call her ‘Tracy’. Tracy is a lovely girl and she and my wife Anna click straight away. They’re talking about girly things and Anna is in her element as she is surrounded by men (there are 4 of us in our home) so it's football, wrestling, boxing, UFC, darts - you get the picture. So they are sitting on the settee chatting away and Tracy is already opening up to Anna about her family. I’m standing there looking at them thinking this is nice, Tracy seems to be happy and it will be good for Anna to have someone to make a fuss of doing girly stuff.
So about an hour and a half later Tracy’s Social Worker says they have to go outside to make some phone calls. When they come back in they say that Tracy can't stay as there is a problem and I watch this girl go from outgoing, to sitting there with her head down and quiet. She gave Anna a look and Anna told me later that she nearly started to cry because of this look. It was a ‘help me, say something’ look, but there was nothing we could do as it was all about politics and bits of paper that another person hadn't been given.
So Tracy was gone. She waved to Anna from the car and we knew she would be ok as she was going to Foster Parents who we know personally and know will take good care of her. But still my mind won't rest. I have been sitting up in bed since about 11pm worrying and when I worry I can't sleep. In my mind I am thinking it’s Tracy’s first time in care, her family didn't want her and now she must think we didn’t want her. She must be wondering what is going on and I must admit so am I.
Let's go back 25 years. I was a little sod and if you would have told me that I would be sitting up all night worrying about some kid I had only met for 90 minutes I would have told you to go away (but with different words). There was only one person I cared about and he’s writing this blog. But everything changed when I met this lovely girl called Anna. I was in love straight away, I knew she was the one. I was 19 and Anna was 20; six months later we were engaged and buying a house. We got married at 22 and five years later we had our first son Harry. I remember talking to myself, “I am not letting him down, I will never leave him, I will never hit him, he will not go through the same childhood that I had.” I made a promise to myself and I have stuck to it, but to be honest it's been easy as I have had a great family around me (Anna’s family).
When I was 31 my son Joseph came along and that's when I started to think about fostering. Two years later we went to Medway Council and started the long road to becoming Foster Parents but they said we weren’t quite ready so we left it at that. A few years later one of Anna’s customers handed her a receipt and on the back was a phone number that would change our lives. I remember asking Anna is it worth ringing because Medway didn't want me so why would these people think any different? When they hear about my past will they just say no? It took me about a week to make the call and when I did I told them all about my past and how I had learnt from it, and to my surprise they asked me to come in for a meeting. I must admit I was bricking it when we walked in. We met Sally, Keith and Jimbo and they made us feel so welcome that my nerves disappeared and I knew it would work out. Everybody I met at Diverse Care was making me feel so welcome, it was a lot different to working on a building site (which I had done previously).
Panel day came and I had only just had an operation at Medway hospital. l looked like death but I couldn't miss it, this day meant so much to me. So in we went to see everybody sitting around this big table and I remember thinking “God, what if they say no? What if I say something stupid? What if, what if, what if..” but they said yes. It was like I was being made not an employee but part of a big family. I am so happy with my life and I feel like I am finally doing what I was made to do so a BIG THANK YOU to Diverse Care for believing in me and giving me a chance to prove that just because you were young and stupid you can go on in life and change.
It is a sad indictment of the state of paranoia within Local Government that means that children like 'Tracy' get treated in the way that Stuart describes. My brother used to say that, 'if Local Government did this job well, then we wouldn't exist'.
We are so lucky as an organisation to have many Foster Parents of the calibre of Stuart who do not forget that each and every one of the e-mails and phone calls that we deal with is about a child just like 'Tracy'. We are fortunate that we have the capacity to to see things from the child's perspective and understand that the work we do, whether it's for 90 minutes or ten years has a profound impact on all of our children.
Last modified on Wednesday, 27 May 2015 18:08