Myth buster Number 1
I can’t foster because I had a difficult childhood / was in care myself
The reality is that many people rule themselves out of fostering before even asking the question. Over the next few weeks we will be myth busting to help you consider whether fostering is something you could do.
Not being able to foster because of your difficult childhood is an understandable assertion. But where does it come from? We all carry baggage with us to some degree and our self-worth often comes from our experiences of childhood. A difficult childhood may have lead to being judged, feeling judged, or feeling like a failure perhaps. But what happened when you hit adulthood? Have you taken your life forward, learned things the hard way? Are you more appreciative of the world and much more worldly wise? Not all adults have the understanding of what it feels like to have lived in a chaotic young world, to be mistreated, to have made mistakes and to have become stronger for it.
When someone contacts UK Fostering and tells me they had a difficult childhood or have grown up in care I sit up straight away and listen. ‘This is someone that knows the world’ I think to myself, perhaps they can understand the children we are seeking homes for. My experience suggests many of those people are wincing at the other end of the phone fully expecting to be judged and ultimately rejected.
At UK Fostering we embrace care leavers and are currently assessing and approving applicants who were themselves in care. We are inspired by Jenny Molloy (Author of Hackney Child, Tainted Love and consultant to UK Fostering). If we didn’t already know before, she has shown us further that those that personally experienced the care system in the past can have much passion and understanding for the children in the system in the present.
Yes you still require:
• A spare bedroom
• A house that is relatively tidy (definitely clean)
• An attitude of positive team working, willing to attend training and work together with fellow professionals (which you are too when approved)
• An ability to communicate with adults and especially children
• A passion and resilience to stand by children even when things get difficult
The path you take to get to the present is your path, it makes you who you are, and potentially gives you the tools that you need to change the lives of others. This isn’t to say that everybody is suitable for fostering, that would be a wrong message to give, but what we can say is that if you have had a difficult childhood and / or you have been in care, do not see it as a weight on your shoulders, but more so an experience that gives you a greater insight than many. At UK Fostering what we will always do is treat you sensitively, with respect, and give you a fair chance to explore why you might just be a perfect foster carer after all.