As part of Foster Carer Fortnight 2021, we asked our foster carers about their experiences of fostering and the theme of ‘why we care’.
This is what Lornna had to say 😊
“I dropped my boys at the childminders at 7am, after a much-rushed breakfast and hurried frenzy to remember school bag, PE pumps, water bottle and coats. I drove to work in a natural state of anxiety that someone else was walking my children to school and seeing them play in the playground and although I loved my job, they’d also enjoy the end of school pick-up time and finding out what they’d learnt that day, before giving them tea and having a cuddle on the sofa with them. Every evening, I race back, hardly leaving 3rd gear, in the typically, slow, rush hour traffic to eventually collect my brood; just in time to snatch a quick bath-time routine with them and put them to bed, ready for the next day’s hasty return to the childminders to start the groundhog effect of my children’s lives flashing before me as I worked harder and harder to be a great businesswoman and failing mum! …And as I passed the billboard that asked me daily, if I could help Sarah reach her potential and give her a home to grow in, I wondered how old Sarah was and why she was in care and who are the people out there making her life better? Could I make her life better, could I make my own life better? Could I have a career and be a better mummy… to all children, not just my ‘home-grown’ children!? Is this a possibility!? Could I?
After 18 months of passing this advertisement and the subliminal messages of my own thoughts questioning what I was doing allowing someone else to raise my children and living for weekends and only feeling truly at ease whilst enjoying ‘family time’, I decided on that Wednesday morning at 8:10am, in 2014, sat in that mind numbingly, infuriating traffic jam, caused by road works that never seemed to be ending, adding an extra 20 minutes on to my journey into the office, making my precious time with my boys, even more reduced, I decided there and then, that I was the person to help Sarah and any other Sarahs out there needing a home, a family and a chance. I was going to be everything that Sarah needed and more and Sarah wasn’t going to just be on a billboard asking for help, Sarah was going to be a part of my world!
I went home and discussed with my husband, how I was going to help Sarah and that Sarah needed our lovely little family in her life and as I envisaged how we could welcome Sarah into our world; without really questioning who Sarah was, he agreed that I should enquire… I’m not sure if he knew what I was going on about or he knew exactly what I was going on about, he just knew who ever this Sarah was, one day, soon they were going to be a part of my life, our lives and 7 years on, several Sarahs later, here I am! Here we are!
I’m not really sure I understood the complexities of fostering, until I was actually fostering. The courses we attended were great and informative and books I read, shed light on questions I hadn’t thought of, yet until that little life comes into your home, you’ll just never truly understand how surreal it all is. These lives can be passed from pillar to post like Amazon returns and they are braver than the average and have more inner strength than they’ll ever realise, to be able to even make strangers and four walls their ‘new family and home’ simply because someone says they must do so!
With any relationship there are ups and downs and unlike any other job, you may have done before, you have to think with your heart and not your head. You have to be professional and yet solve issues with a cup of hot chocolate or a pepperoni pizza. You may need to tread on eggshells to find some common ground and yet you may receive a birthday card that’s written with more love than grains of sand on the beach. You’ll predict the worse and be elated it’s all ok and you’ll cruise along life, feeling pleased with the progress made and out the blue, for no reason at all they’ll be an emotional volcano that shatters you clueless… but as you ride the poignant wave of fostering life, you’ll enjoy the highs and get through the lows. You are dealing with little lives, so fragile and sometimes so broken, you’ll wonder if all the love you offer, can ever mend their broken bits. You’ll laugh as you bond and get to know them better and soon, you’ll read the signs and when you speak your voice is truly heard, respected and even loved. It can be stressful, but its so rewarding its unmeasurable.
Our boys were 10, 5 and 3 when we agreed to open our home and hearts to another child(ren) and with the help of our ‘home-grown’ children, we have worked hard as a family to make all the children we have cared for, feel a part of our close-knit family. We have been amazed at how well our children adapted and welcomed new faces into their lives. They understand as a family we help these children and its so natural and delightful to see how well, children respond to children. Our boys are now heading towards 18, 12 and 10 and they have always had children/teens in their lives that they know we need to understand, accept and love. As a family we Foster, that’s all of our jobs.
There’s been many memories made along the way, some huge learning curves, some head banging against a brick wall days and lots of heartfelt, pure love celebrations and I’m pleased to say we have fond recollections of all the children we have cared for. We have also endured some bumpy moments on our fostering path too, however, the good has always outweigh the…moments!
One moment in my early fostering days, will stick with me forever. We laugh about it now, however at the time I was dumbfounded at how brilliantly defiant and insolent and quick thinking my 14-year-old teen was! She’d been told off and, as a consequence, I insisted she gave me her phone. She immediately put the mobile down her bra! I stood there, completely bewildered as to what my next move would be in this battle of wills! This was the first time, I realised that being a parent mattered nothing. In this stand-off, I was simply the opposition, the authority, the enemy. This child was in fight or flight mode and she had single handily won the battle by putting her phone down her bra, knowing full well, I wasn’t going after it! I laugh so much now, replaying this memory, as I think my mouth dropped open and hit the floor and a million things went through my head at that very moment and half of them, not appropriate to say aloud! After a minute, although it felt like an eternity, of searching my inner parent for wisdom and the next move, to resolve the issue and not heighten it, I calmly said, ‘you can give me the phone for 24 hours and accept this consequence, or I will turn off the contract for a week, I will let you decide?’ I turned around, left the room (feeling powerful), went, and sat in downstairs toilet and regained my composure, my heart from bouncing out of my chest and bit the towel to stifle my laughs, as I was secretly impressed with her resilience! I’m pleased to say, after 20 minutes of consideration, she gave me her phone, an apology and sobbed as I hugged her! This moment will live with me forever and has taught me to be a mastermind at the one step ahead game and has also taught me to pick my battles, because not all need to be won!
Overall fostering has been a joy and given us many wonderful and fulfilling memories. I’m so fortunate I get to be at home with my boys and I try hard to be the parent to all ‘Sarahs’. Being a foster parent has taught me more about motherhood than I ever knew possible, and I’m so truly blessed, privileged and honoured to be their parent.”