I’ve lost count of the amount of times people have referred to me as ‘the woman in the shoe’. I’ve never really batted an eyelid at this statement ……well at least not until my office bestie reliably informed me that in the original poem she beats the children before putting them to bed – and now I can’t shift the image when someone says it!
If you had asked me when I was younger how many children I was going to have I would have most definitely wrinkled my nose and told you none. Yet here I am twenty odd years later having recently submitted our application to adopt our fourth. Sometimes in life we find our calling and I think it’s fair to say that I found mine in the care system.
It’s easy to contemplate how the global pandemic we are currently facing is impacting on the NHS, our jobs and our lives however how about the impact it’s having on our care system? Well some court dates will undoubtedly be delayed whilst others are reporting failures within their virtual legal proceedings. A high proportion of Foster carer’s will naturally fall into ‘at risk’ categories (due to the average age of a carer) and moving children on to their forever homes will ultimately become more complex as a result of additional risk assessing.
Given these challenging and uncertain times we are living in, the demand for Foster carers and Adoptive parents is just as great (if not greater) as before. With my panel member hat on, I do have to question just how robust a virtual assessment can be. After all, you can tell an awful lot about a person from meeting them in person and visiting their home. From the pictures they hang on their wall, to the books that line their book shelves and not to mention their standards when it comes to cleanliness and hygiene. Surely Body language, how people respond to each other and watching scenarios unfold in the family home during the assessment period are all equally as important? This of course is temporarily lost and has been replaced by virtual forums whereby you can only see people’s upper torso and if you’re having a day whereby the connection is poor you’ll be lucky if you can hold a conversation for long before a hilariously frozen face covers your screen.
Some social workers have a trained eagle eye when it comes to spotting things within the home which naturally may form part of their assessment process. One of my social work buddies demonstrated this ability the other week when I innocently uploaded a picture of my Mother’s Day purple bath bomb. Swiftly taking action she heroically saved my modesty when much to my mortification she spotted my naked reflection in the taps (I kid you not). Needless to say I received a phone call (within minutes of uploading it) which consisted of her howling with laughter for at least twenty minutes whilst I blushed profusely and frantically tried to log on to remove it!
Lockdown will ultimately impact on families in very different ways and I think it’s fair to say with all of this additional time together it could be the make or break for some. Whilst we have personally had our highs and lows this unusually long period of undisturbed time together has allowed us all to develop a strong bond with our new addition as well as providing us time to continue to work on existing ones.
Now, I know some of you will think I’m crazy – I say this because last week one of my close friends (in her squiffy state) told me so. Weaving through the fields together on what transpired to be the longest walk home from our first gathering in eleven weeks, I waffled animatedly about my aspirations until she stops suddenly turns to look at me and then announces ‘ I think your f**cking crazy’ (cue long pause and goofy smile) before she continued with……’but I bloody love you’.
You see just like the thousands of NHS workers who put themselves forward to help protect us and save our NHS (whilst by no stretch of the imagination would we ever be comparable) hubby and I similarly agreed that during these unprecedented times we too could come out out retirement (as Foster carers) to support the system that as a family we hold closest to our hearts.
The response we received from the Fostering team……Please contact us again in twelve months🤣🤣🤣
And so at a time whereby we need people to stand up and be counted for varying significant causes within our country. As a person who refuses just to ‘exist’ I’ve resided myself to the fact that (due to our recent adoption) the biggest challenge I can dedicate myself to at this time is……yes that’s right, clearing out my loft.
And whilst it doesn’t take a detective to conclude ‘ I must be f**cking crazy’ even with this response (and a few Fostering horror stories in my closet) Fostering still accounts for some of the best days of our lives and just because we can’t, I will never be deterred from encouraging others to put themselves forward during this national time of need.