Foster caring is a temporary experience - and it is time to say goodbye again

The last night is always a weird one as we anticipate what’s to come for them, and who will next come our way.We’ve had four ‘last nights’ now, as each of our foster babies has become ready to fly our temporary nest.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 6:00 am
Foster carer and child.
Foster carer and child.

Our current boy has been our longest, and this weekend he moves to live with his dad.We’ve known this is coming for quite some time, and for the last five weeks or so, he’s been spending more and more time with his dad, as well as his brother and sister.

This is a great result, without a doubt, but the last night always makes me think about what will be going on in their head over the next days, weeks, even months.

We’ve had our boy for nearly 18 months, which is over half the time he’s spent on this planet so far.For most of his life, he’s known the comfort of my parents’ house, and for the last year, the most important relationship in his life has naturally been even more intense because of lockdown.

Foster child playing in foam.

He’s always thrilled to see me each time we meet outside, but he will not yet run up to me for a cuddle or hold my hand when he needs help in the same way the others were so freely able to do. He is a lockdown child, and as such, is very used to home comforts, and the safety of my mum and dad; his foster carers.

It’s this last night where my heart aches for them, and the way they might feel tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. If they had the choice, which option would they prefer?

Four times now, I’ve had these musings and worries, and each time so far, I needn’t have. Our first boy, now aged four, is happily running rings around his auntie. Our second baby is enjoying seaside life with her dad.

Our third is at the heart of a growing and loving family. Each time they have been perfectly placed for a life that suits them down to a T, even if we hadn’t seen it at first.Our vision is blurred by the love and protectiveness we feel for our temporary family members, but I think that’s exactly how it should be.

It’s our job to love these babies as though they are our own. It’s our job to protect them, and teach them, and care for them.It’s the social workers’, support workers’, and judges’ jobs to see past the emotion and think clearly and logically about where these children will be happiest, and for our babies, they’ve got it exactly right every single time.

We are only ever a temporary safe space. A stepping stone. A helping hand to a happier future. These children are among the bravest, the strongest, and the most resilient.

They will miss us, but by the time they leave, they know how loved they are, how valued they are, how important they are. And they’ll take this confidence, this attachment, this happiness on with them, wherever their next steps take them.

The time has come for us to say goodbye once again, but there’s no doubt in my mind that my temporary little brother will be so happy in his new home.

And that’s all that matters. Before long, we’ll welcome a new little life into our family, and we’ll love them too, exactly the same.

N In the past year, and amidst the Covid19 pandemic, over 55,000 foster families provided stable and loving homes to more than 65,000 children across the UK.