Monday, 1 June 2009


Eight years ago I agreed to take a second child alongside Goldie. Pre-Mog, this was a child who had had to move suddenly and unexpectedly and who landed on my doorstep with her life tied up in twelve bin bags. A child who had loved the people she called Mum and Dad, and who couldn't understand why she was suddenly here with us. A child who was so sweet, so desperately keen to be helpful (and who helped by piling the dirty washing in with the clean and then pushing all the dry stuff from the tumbler into the machine and hitting run, over and over again), and yet so furiously angry with me as the nearest target and the easiest person to blame for being away from her home.

I've dealt with harder situations. I don't like to use it as some kind of trump card, but watching your daughter die whilst mediating between different family factions wasn't exactly the easiest thing I've ever had to do. But it was elsewhere, it was in hospital, in neutral territory. I could leave if I wanted to, walk away, breathe fresh air. This fosterchild was in my house, was sitting in my dining room (refusing to eat the meal I had cooked), beating up my first daughter, kicking out at me and then clinging on desperately, and glueing herself to my side; hating me but needing me and just plain exhausting me.

I should have called time sooner. Should have asked for her to be removed earlier. There were key pieces of information missing from the initial handover which might have made me change my mind about accepting her in the first place. Living with a child who was so unpredictable - so wonderful at school and at church and everywhere else, and yet so stubborn, awkward, violent, at home, was beyond exhausting. All she needed was everything, and I couldn't give it to her. And the more I pulled back, the more she clung on.

She did move on, and had a really good permanent placement, and was able to leave the vast majority of her challenging behaviour here with us. If for nothing else, her time here was not wasted. She fought that anger out of her system and was able to settle and make some good relationships.

I'm still not sure I'd be willing to go through that again. I couldn't give her what she wanted, and she couldn't be the child I wanted her to be either. It wasn't ever going to end well. Her placement did teach me to trust my instincts, to be ready to say no and mean it if I didn't think things were going to work out; and I think it helped her to be ready for her new family, so I hope it wasn't time totally wasted. But it certainly wasn't our finest hour.


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