Yesterday I went to an information session on fostering. It was with the same local authority as the Adoption Meeting so I was half expecting it to be awful, but no. In fact it couldn't have been more different.
The presenters were much more relaxed, and the whole atmosphere was warm and friendly. There were 5 of them and they all introduced themselves and their roles. Then all the people attending were asked to introduce themselves and saying what experience we had and what we were interested in finding out more about. The session was then tailored accordingly. The 'talk' was relatively short, then the team of 5 social workers spoke to each person or couple individually about their own situation. They had such a warm and lovely approach. I lost count of how many times I heard "there are no blanket rules as each case is different" - music to my ears. They really seemed to care, and to have a system set up that actually works in the best interest of the kids. They made us feel valued too, like we all had something to offer, and they were pleased to see our interest. I left there really wanting to foster.
I also learned that the process for being approved as a foster parent is much shorter than it is for adoption, so if I registered my interest now, and was approved, I would likely be fostering by Christmas. I actually think that's too soon, but I it is good to know the time frame we are looking at so that I can make some informed decisions.
Also, I am not sure what I want now. When I signed up for the fostering session, it was because I was interested in concurrent care, or fostering to adopt. I am not sure that I want to do that any more. In a way, the fact that the fostering session was so positive makes the adoption session seem even worse. I felt like I really wanted to work with the team from yesterday. The feeling I got from the adoption team was more like dread - I think I would hate the whole process.
Also, in the past I have collected a few teenagers who might be described as 'at risk'. I seem to have some useful skills for supporting people in that time of their lives and am still in contact with many of those that I have worked with in the past. Before making the final decision to become an SMC I spent many years thinking that I would foster young people in that age bracket. My sister recently suggested that I would be an ideal person to foster a young mum and her baby. That sounds great - I think I might be a good choice for that and would love to do it. I did mention that too, but I need practice first, with less complicated cases. I would also need a bigger house, so that is definitely one to put on hold for now, but to consider very seriously for the future.
The lady that spoke with me yesterday was able to answer lots of my questions. I was able to tell her about our 'family' so she fully understands the situation. I did tell her that I was definitely interested in the future but that I thought it was too soon for BB. She agreed, but suggested that we stay in touch and proceed slowly through the process. She is going to call me in a couple of weeks.
I feel a huge sense of relief from the fact that it no longer seems so urgent, and also seems very possible. I could start fostering once BB starts school for example - that would be great. I think it would be really good for him too. Knowing that he could still get to experience sharing his home with other young people is a nice thought.
In the meantime the sense of relief that all of this is possible and that there is no rush, combined with the fact that I am feeling so much younger on my wheat free diet, I have actually decided that I could extend the TTC process a bit longer too. I loved the idea of having a baby in spring (BB2 was due on 3rd May) so I think I am prepared to keep trying for a few more months, up to a May 2014 due date, which gives mu until August TTC. I know that my chances are slim, but I feel like giving it a shot. I am much more relaxed about it all now - whatever will be will be. Even if I do manage to have another child of my own, fostering is still something I would love to do in the future.
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