What business does a white family have caring for black children, or a Muslim family caring for a white girl? And maybe you are right. There are many families out there who are better suited than us. Yet when the call came, on a bleak November evening, we were the ones who opened our door to three children who were tired, cold and frightened. We provided warm baths and towels, hot chocolate and cookies, a bedtime story, a warm bed. We dried tears, and held little hands until sleep finally came. And we set three extra places for breakfast, in silence as we tried to understand the scale of the challenge we had just accepted.
Change needs to come from the top. Directors of children's services can lead by example, giving foster carers an equal voice in their fostering and adoption teams, instead of treating us like providers of bed and breakfast, as is the case too often. Respect for foster carers, no less than we deserve, is what most of us really want.
If I paint a particularly bleak picture of a typical summer in the world of fostering, I apologise. Yet these are some of the concerns that preoccupy the UK's 55,000 fostering families as they prepare for the end of term. This summer they will carry much of the burden of caring for society's most vulnerable children alone, with little help from their communities. I just thought you should know.
We never forget what a privilege it is, to be granted these memories and to share in the joy, nor do we underestimated the scale of the responsibility we have been given. We also are conscious that each milestone we witness is a milestone withheld from a birth parent or grandparent, or a moment that has not been shared with a forever family.
Britain cannot escape from the reality of its demographics. We are an ageing nation, in need of young people to sustain the society we take for granted. Our current response to this predicament is akin to squaring a circle.
Where have children been in this election? The campaign has taken many twists and turns and ultimately has become, above all, an election about security, following attacks in Manchester and London. But there has been plenty of airtime for discussion about nuclear weapons, the IRA, Brexit, immigration, care of the elderly, the NHS, education and foreign policy.
It takes a village to raise a child, as the refrain goes. Fostering is a commitment that affects a broad community. Our grandson will feel the departure of our foster children keenly, but he will not be the only one. Over the past 18 months or so, they have been loved by so many people, both old and young.
No two foster carers are the same, and no two children are identical. Hence, the need for the handbook to reflect a diversity of approaches. Our ambition is that foster carers old and new will reflect on the experiences of our contributors and reflect on how these learnings may be relevant to their own approach to foster care.
When a foster child arrives, we usually do not know how long the placement will last. It may be for days, weeks or months. This placement has lasted for almost one year and a half. That's two birthdays, two Christmases and two Easters.
The most odious articulation of this spiteful and contemptuous treatment of fellow human beings who had the misfortune of being born around the Millennium inevitably resorts to the use of the term 'snowflake'.
Our long weekend was possible only because of the availability of respite care, arranged through West Sussex County Council, for whom we work as foster carers. Our children were able to stay with approved, experienced foster carers who make their home available to give full-time foster carers like us a break when we need it.
It should be a cause for celebration, for it is not every day that one is released from the tyranny of monthly mortgage payments. But I feel almost apologetic, guilty even. Now we are officially members of the generation of greedy baby boomers who gamed the property market and caused the housing crisis that has brought so much misery
04/04/2017 16:01 BST
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