The Day that changed our lives
Parents do amazing things every day. Exceptional comes as standard; life changing events are to be expected. And some stand out more than others. Thank you to the foster parent who wrote this account of a momentous few days, which will continue for a lifetime. All involved remain anonymous, due to the sensitivity of the story. It's always a good time to be reminded of how we can live through, and beyond, unthinkable challenges. You may wish to equip yourselves, with your own sausage rolls and doughnuts...
The Day that changed our lives It was a normal topsy turvy day as a Foster Parent, when your head is spinning but somehow you manage to get through your day, all school runs had been completed and dinner was on when the unthinkable was about to happen. The one thing you are hoping your foster children will never hear, or any child for that matter.
My phone rang and it was an unknown number - the local authority, a complete stranger - someone I've never spoken to before, about to give me terrible news that my foster children's mum had committed suicide. My initial reaction is why would she do that and leave her babies behind! After a few minutes of processing you realise she must have been in a really dark place and couldn't ask for help.
My thoughts soon changed to the children and how they were gonna be told and who was going to tell them? This was gonna be another devastating blow in their lives that had already seen them taken into care only a short period before. It was decided that the children would be told in the local authority's office by Dad, and I wasn't to tell them anything and I had to hold it all together for them.
The questions were how was I gonna hold it all together?! How was I gonna take them to the office without them asking a million questions? Who should I be talking to apart from my partner? One at a time, I thought.
Diverse Care first and they will help and know what to do. I called one person no answer, I called another no answer - it was late - I thought how's my luck but third time lucky and my hero Carol - who was actually on Out of Hours - answered and was quick to act. She was brilliant and before I knew it I was speaking to Jane who was very calming when I was feeling the children's pain and upset. We spoke about words that had to be said to the children in the car in the morning and how to stick to them, we practised them over and over again which was a great help as foster children can take you to places where you don't want to go.
The whole night for me was upside down but the children's bed routine we stuck to and they went to bed not knowing anything.
I was dreading the morning but it came soon enough and I was on the phone to each of their schools, and then I decided to turn my phone on silent for the car journey so no unforeseen calls might arrive. The children had breakfast and then I told them they weren't going to school as their dad had some important news to tell them. The questions came thick and fast but I stuck to my rehearsed speech.
The car journey seemed like a lifetime but was only 40 mins in traffic and it was very hard to hold it all together. We arrived early and I took the children to their favorite food place Greggs where they had sausage rolls and cakes and we also bought for the meeting as we thought no one would have eaten due to the situation, and we were right.
The children entered the building and were taken to a room and told their devastating news, all we could do was comfort the family and children, and feed them doughnuts.
We left with the children, 4 hours later and I kept thinking how have we done this? How are we gonna carry on with all the constraints that had been placed around us? But your training kicks in and all of your parenting skills and we managed the car journey home.
When we got home the children were very quiet and subdued as you can imagine, I thought a kids film and some hot chocolate was needed. Then it started for me phone call after phone call and all I kept asking was please look after their dad because if he does anything bad to himself then we will not be able to help these children recover in the way they need to. This was being taken on board by the local authorities and the IRO and we were all pulling together as a team.
The children's world was upside down and it was our job to try to put it back together bit by bit. The children wanted to go to school the next day but they hadn't been told the full details about their mother's passing so caution had to be used until we decided with Diverse Care the best course of action. This took days and had to be handled very carefully. The local authorities wanted me to tell the children the full story but Diverse Care was very supportive and said this is a tricky boundary, and that the children may need to hear such difficult information from someone else.
Once the children had been told we started to plan the return to school journey for each child as they have very different needs and would deal with things very differently. One of the schools was very supportive of their child and the other had been very different and made things very hard but I still had to do what was right for both children.
I can say that Christmas came a month later and it was a very difficult time in our house with feelings and emotions but we all stuck together and got through it as a unit. Time has flown and we are now 6 months later and the children are doing an amazing job of managing their lives and settling into our family environment.
I guess my final thought on the situation is all the training you do can change lives and if your family (Diverse Care and my own) can stick together you can achieve what you set out to do, which is help others in their times of need.