Foster care would be that little bit easier if you could press a 'pause' button on your own life. What would we not give for some sort of arrangement to put everything on hold, as we work to resolve the seemingly intractable problems of the children who come into our care? But the reality is that our own lives carry on: stuff happens to us too, with no regard for the children and young people who have been entrusted to us.
Stability affects us all, and when you have none you feel alone. Children in foster care are our children, and as a member of a fair and good society we have a duty to do all we can to make them feel loved and supported. They deserve a positive future as much as any child and at The Fostering Network we're determined to help them achieve that.
As I recalled my earliest memories I was keen to impress on the group that I don't look back and see my time in foster care as a negative, my expression wasn't from feeling sorry for myself, I completely understand that in the absence of my biological father, my very young mother, too young to even consider a woman would want to get herself together after having me at the age of 15 and, in some respects I think it was very brave decision to take. I didn't say this in front of the room of kids but I'd prefer to be fostered than to have been aborted and to not have had the privilege of life in the first place!
I'm sorry that when the DOCS ladies dropped us off at Grandma's, you weren't allowed to stay because you were too much for her to cope with. I can't imagine how awful it must have been to watch your sisters get smaller and smaller in the distance as you were driven away in a car you didn't recognise.
In an ideal world, nobody would need to be adopted, but this is not an ideal world. Adoption parties cannot prevent a child being taken into care, but they can help take them out of care. They give 'hard-to-place' children a greater chance of placement. They tackle some endemic problems in the adoption process.
We attempted everything under the sun to get pregnant and, although we are currently working with a surrogate, we got elbow, neck and knee deep in to the adoption process before that opportunity presented itself. When we made our announcement that we were adopting, we were shocked by the misconceptions people have about adoption.
Children's homes can provide the upbringing a young people deserves. Opportunities struggled for and achieved despite a system that actively undermines such success deserves national public recognition. Imagine the self-esteem that would be shared by young people and staff. Imagine the change in public perception.