Views of a foster child

(44 Posts)
Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 21:00:34

Have been asked on a previous thread to start a thread about experiences and feeling of being a looked after kid. Anyone who wants to share their own experiences and thoughts please post! Anyone looking for insight or questions please ask.

I don't want to get in to to much about my past or why I was fostered but I'll give you the bare bones. I was passed pillar to post between my mum dad and paternal GPs. I was sleeping around and taking drugs. I used to disappear for days and days because I wanted to be with my friends. Most of my "friends" were older and drug addicts I wanted to be like them, the other half of my "friends" were drug dealers or girls like me. Stupid girls with low self esteem that would do anything for love.

I got placed in FC at 14 after I ran away from my nans in my dressing gown, I hated being indoors, my nan and grandad used to constantly argue about me. My grandad shouted it was him or me to my nan and so I properly ran away. In the end the police brought me back a few weeks later and no one would take me back, emergency SW came out and took me to a BnB and left me till a placement came up.

I loved being in FC for all the wrong reasons, I loved no one cared whether I came home or not, yes they would ring the police but no one was bothered. I loved having a taxi to take me to school I quickly found out all I was entitled to IE laptop for school, £100 birthday and christmas. Anything I wanted I could complain about to SW and she would try to get it from FP for me. I loved they couln't tell me what to do or place any bounderies, I could get excluded from school with no grounding, no disappointed faces waiting for me.

None of that made up for I was still wanting to be wanted. The more I acted up the more I just wanted someone to love me. The first FC was a bitch. An A class bitch. We were only allowed brown bread toast or weetabix with no sugar for breakfast not even proper butter. We had to be out the house all day till 8:30 and not in each others rooms past 9pm. If we came home hungry we were offered brown bread toast or tomato soup nothing else ever.

I wanted to get moved so much, I hated living there but no one would move me, so me and sarah (her names not sarah she was another FC and we were friends) trashed her house. We poured bleach all over her new landing carpet all over her clothes. Ruined her bathroom that we wern't allowed to use and wrecked everything. In the end we opened all the christmas presents in her bedroom (took what we wanted) and led on her bed smoking using a picture of her son as an ashtray.

I really was not a nice teen, theres more but this post will be to long anyway.

So basically in the 2 years I was in care (left day after my 16th birthday) I had 8 placements including respite. Every single time I went somewhere new, this feeling of not being wanted and just used for money intensified. No one can imagine turning up at some strangers house with your black bags looking at where your going to be living from now on. Its the most insecure feeling you could imagine. You finish the paperwork they act so nice (and patronising) the SW leaves you and you go to your room to unpack, and don't feel you can go back down again. You sit there hungry and thirsty but you can't leave the room.

I was such a brattish entilted loud sweary smoking brash tell you how I went joyriding last night type of teenager. You would never of guessed how much I used to hurt inside. Most nights I went to sleep crying over the slightest criticism and feeling of not belonging. The smallest things like not buying the right butter becomes a huge thing that I don't feel anyone who hasn't been there can understand.

The lovliest FC was a no nonsense blunt older single lady. She wouldn't let me have a TV in my bedroom because she wanted me to be around downstairs on an evening. She baked the best ever chocolate tortes and cakes and made me sit up at the dining table every day even if we wern't talking. She let me read her extensive books collections, I had my own bathroom and she trusted me. I still didn't have bounderies as such but I never really broke her rules. Most of the FC I didn't care if they said you can't do that or go there, I would do it anyway but I couldn't be that brash with her. Even though she was such a lovely person I hated it when her family was around, I didn't feel I fitted in and would just disappear. To them I was just another kid there mum had. I would look around at them and feel out of place.

To this day I still feel socially awkward like I don't belong, has got much better. I have my own flat, 2 beautiful children a job, I don't smoke or take drugs anymore, this last year I feel part of society and secure. (sure thats the counselling I had)

I actually feel nervous posting this as a why would anyone care what I went through or about me but argh here goes!

Marking my place to come back later. Good thread though.

I'm sorry your childhood was so shit, and I'm really pleased that you have a good life now. I'm sure your experiences will make you a great mum. Maybe in the future, you could consider fostering - there probably aren't many foster parents who know how it feels to be a cared-for child.

I was in care from 13/14. Residential homes and foster placements. It is true what inneedofbrandy has said, especially ''I loved being in FC for all the wrong reasons, I loved no one cared whether I came home or not, yes they would ring the police but no one was bothered.''

I drank, I took drugs, I ran away, I got pregnant at 14 but miscarried. I got involved with a much older man. I shoplifted, got excluded from school, and did other illegal things....the reason why......well, what was stopping me?! I ran away, got reported as a mis-per after 10pm, found in the early hours by the police who brought me 'home' then I'd leg it again. I was rude and insolent. I felt no-one cared so why should I.

At 15 I had 2 FC'ers. The first one had me for a couple of weeks but had a family emergency so could no longer care for me. I 'ran away' from the second. I had only been there a few days, I stole £6. The police brought me back to her, she opened the door and threw out my bags and wouldn't take me back. I ended up back in a home. I was 'discharged' from the home on my 16th birthday with my pocket money and ended up in a half way hostel. The leaving care team were a god send, helping me get a flat, and on the right path of becoming an adult.

Again, like the op...I cried myself to sleep most nights, feeling unloved and unwanted. Feeling like no-one cared. The day I was discharged from hospital after my miscarriage was the worse. All I wanted, needed, was a hug, but I did not get it. Instead I got 'well, you wouldn't of been able to keep it anyway'.

I was a little bastard, don't get me wrong, I really was. Some people saw the good side of me, but not many.

I self-harmed for a long time from 14-18. Still have the scars to prove it. It's the emotional ones which are the worst, or should I say, were the worst.

It has all made me the person I am today, I am a better person from all that, and I have vowed that I will love my DC's unconditionally, no matter what. I will not have them go through the system.

Inneedofabrandy, people DO care, especially those who have gone through similar too.

rufus5 Sun 28-Oct-12 21:43:20

I found it fascinating reading your post. My parents fostered for years and we had about 30 foster children living in our house throughout my teenage years (not all at the same time obviously!!) Some of them stayed with us for years (in fact, one is still with us, 20 years later) whereas others were only placed with us for a short time.

Each foster child was different, with different needs, backgrounds, issues etc. I hope our family made a difference for them and helped them at a time when life was really tough. I learned a lot from my foster brothers and sisters, and I know they have influenced me in how I look at the world and the direction I have taken with my work etc, and we had a lot of fun with many of them.

It's so interesting reading from your point of view what the experience was like for them. We tried to make them feel at home, part of our family, and welcome in our home. We were more successful with some than with others, but I hope they all felt loved.

I admire anyone who has managed to lift themselves from difficult family circumstances that surround the need for foster care to create and maintain a successful and stable family environment for their own children. Well done OP on getting yourself sorted, and use your experiences from your youth to help you bring your beautiful children up in the sort of family you would have loved to grow up in.

Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 21:47:56

I can relate to all of your post knickers, just wondered do you feel then and now you can't take physical contact from anybody apart from kids and partner or is that just me? I hate hugging friends, cheek kissing even standing or sitting to close to people. I do wonder if it's because I'm not and never have been used to friendly contact.

Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 21:50:27

Thankyou rufus. I always wondered how we would come across to you, and with me and my dc they know they are loved. It actually amazes me how much self confidence they have.

I all honesty I'm not around people often enough to have given it much thought! I do give friends hugs when they need them so I guess not.

amillionyears Sun 28-Oct-12 22:11:39

op and knickers sad
I understand some of what you are saying.
I was a volunteer mentor for young people in foster care,with little or no contact with birth families,for 6 years.
And my DH and I briefly fostered.
The wanting to be loved,the wanting to belong is very strong in foster children isnt it?
I think the black bin bag situation is not allowed anymore is it? And rightly so.
Also,fwiw, because I was a volunteer and therefore not paid,foster children enjoyed that we were not paid because it meant we were there because we wanted to be,whereas they saw some foster carers as doing it for the money.
Which a few of them were.

You two are an inspiration to others,for how well you have some through it all.
Best wishes to you both.

I do still find criticism so hard to take though, even now. Do you get that Inneed? Or very upset over the slightest things at times.

I didn't know that the bin bags were not allowed anymore, that was, in my eyes, like my life was just seen as rubbish iyswim.

And I agree with you amillion, someone volunteering was more enjoyed for that exact reason!

amillionyears Sun 28-Oct-12 22:20:23

Bin bags,at least in our area were banned approx 8? years ago.
For exactly the reason you have mentioned.
I think there was a survey done somewhere,where they asked children who were fostered,their opinions on things,and that one came near the top of the list for many children.

parsnipcake Sun 28-Oct-12 22:33:08

As a foster carer reading this I feel so sad for you. I have a 16 year old with me at the moment who probably could have written much the same, yet I don't want to be a bitch, I just don't know how to connect with her, and if I set boundaries she explodes. It's so hard to pitch things right, especially for teens, who even in 'normal' families often feel isolated and on a different wavelength. Food is such a hard issue. I sometimes give up, but the sometimes really try to make everyone have a spoon of nutritious food, but it causes so much friction it's counterproductive. I can't believe you were llocked out though - all my children have keys to come and go, and I keep in touch, wait up and care about where they are. Reading your posts has made me think I need to work much harder to connect with my 16 year old though.

Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 22:35:03

I had a mentor, she was ok we went to the cinema once a fortnight but I never felt comfortable to talk deep with her, I just used to ask her questions so she didn't ask me stuff.

Bin bags were fucking horrible. It was 8 to 10 years ago for me so pleased they're not allowed now. It was the first act of degradation upon getting moved on, and turning up at a strangers house.

I can't take criticism haven't ever put it down to that. I do have a thing about hoarding, I need to have cupboards, fridge and freezer full. I need to have loads of shampoos and shower gels and housy stuff like bedding towels and vases.

agent sorry I never replied, I have always thought about fostering teenagers or mother and baby places, I only have a 2 bed flat will get a 3 bed house when dc are older, (10) so I don't have a spare bedroom. When dc are grown up and moved out I will look into more seriously.

bonnieslilsister Sun 28-Oct-12 22:37:52

Hi Inneedof and Knickers I was so sad to read your posts. I am a foster carer and wish you could have had a good experience for the whole of your time in fc.

What I wanted to ask was I loved no one cared whether I came home or not, yes they would ring the police but no one was bothered. What would have happened if someone did care a lot? Would it have made a difference and made you feel good or would it have been too uncomfortable for you? Can you say how us foster carers can make a difference to the lives of young people we have living with us?

I was so sorry to hear you both felt unwanted. I am not surprised when I hear what was going on for you. You deserved to be fostered by people who showed you they cared and wanted the best for you and truly meant it.

I am so glad you both have your own family now and are not focussing on that horrible period in your lives well apart from on this thread anyway smile

Homely things!!

I get the shower gels and shampoos etc too!! That's because we had to do with what we were given and had to make it last in the home. Don't know if that was the same in foster.

Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 22:42:13

Parsnips I would give up fighting about food unless she has an eaten disorder. The best thing you can do is love her even when she's being a right cow and make her interact with you. Sit up to the table to eat, have movie nights, do things together.
I'm really suprised she's allowed a key! I remember staying out one night, coming home about 3am and throwing stones to wake FB up to let me in. FM burst into my bedroom demanding to know how I got in, well I couldn't grass up FB so lied and said I used my kirby grip on the lock. Well she went hysterical and called the police shreiking she was going to have me arrested for breaking and entering. The police came and told her no way could I have broke in with a kirby grip on a yale lock with the key still in and left. I still remember how gleefull she sounded that she was going to get me arrested.

Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 22:51:05

Bonnie I can't actually answer that. I wanted to be hugged and feel wanted don't know how I would of reacted to being hugged and loved. I probably would of acted worse and worse till you were all pushed away. No one ever stuck it out (even my real parents although I speak to my mum now) and went past me pushing them away. I don't think I would ever believe that you loved me even if thats what I wanted.

Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 22:55:39

Knickers I can't actually rememeber. I guess from the fact that it wasn't an issue in care. Before when I lived with my dad he wouldn't even buy me tampons let alone shower gel or shampoo (I used to go to my nans and shower) so I think it stems from that. The homely stuff because I need my home to feel like a home because it never felt like home in care.

Fosterangel Sun 28-Oct-12 22:59:01

Inneedofbrandy & KnickersOnOnesHead - If you ask most foster carers they will say that they come into fostering because they "want to make a difference" not because of the money. I am sorry that you found a few foster carers that were in it for the money. That is not a good reason to foster imo and I would hope that the training these days would weed these foster carers out.

It can also be hurtful to a foster carer to feel rejected by a foster child. We are only human but can see that it is the hurt and fear inside the child that drives any rejection. What a horrible experience having your possessions thrown out of the door. A good foster carer will appreciate that a child in care did not ask to be in that situation and heaven only knows would wish only for love and understanding in their lives. I am just sorry that when you needed a hug no one heard you. Your own children will never lack a hug by the sound of it so you have found your loving family.

As for the black plastic bags they (thankfully) were done away with in our LA just as we qualified 2 years ago. I cannot think of anything more distasteful than having your personal items put in a bag used for the dustbin. I would never consider using anything other than good holdalls and our foster children have several each.

Thank you both for your posts - I feel very humbled.

parsnipcake Sun 28-Oct-12 23:04:28

Thankyou so much for these posts. It's really helpful.

I never saw anyone as being in it for the money. I did, and still do to some extent, think they my second FC'er only wanted the 'easy ones'. I was trouble, and hard work.

Bonnie, I do not think I have an answer either. I did get some affection from a couple of the careworkers, which was nice. But I cannot say if things would of been different or how I would of felt.
I think, looking back as an adult, people did care, or at least I'd like to think they did.

Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 23:15:58

Fosterangel This thread is not a foster carer bashing thread. It was meant as an insight and shared experience thread. I know there are loads of lovely decent people who foster but we having been there can articulate why we felt and acted as we did.

amillionyears Sun 28-Oct-12 23:17:40

One question i would like to ask,if I may,is what age do you think foster children should be to be set up to do independent living.
I think the age before was 16?, I cant quite remember.
But I do remember it being very young imo.

I was in my own flat 2 months before I turned 17. In a hostel which was practically independent living at 16.

I think it would have to vary on the individual foster child imo.

Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 23:22:15

I moved out at 16, I drank, slept around, partied, had an ambulance come out for over dose, shop lifted for food, managed to go to college than got pregnant within 6 months. I would just go down the garage and jump in anyones car for a lifts, and more. I would never let my children move out at 16 ever.

amillionyears Sun 28-Oct-12 23:36:23

I think it is all to young too.
I cant see it changing in a hurry though.
I just want to hug the pair of you.

I want to hug your 16 year old self. I want to hug you now (I know very unmumsnetty). I have been thinking for a number of years about fostering or being involved somehow in the fostering "world" for want of a better phrase. I have not done anything about it at the moment as DCs still too young (DH used to say no, but he is now at the "when the DCs are a bit older". We have just downsized house so am not sure if we could foster now. The reason I want to foster is to offer a steady hand to hold for a child. For them to have someone to hold onto , to cry against to ask questions of. To care for. I always thought you would foster to make that difference and am obviously very naive - people do it for the money.

I may not be in a position to foster right now, but this has inspired me to look into the mentoring - I am so lucky in my family life and the love around me I want to be able to give that to/share it with someone who needs it . Oh bugger - I am probably sounding awful now - like some self-righteous lefty do-gooder. Sorry. Hope I have not offended anyone.

But thank you for sharing. I will get off my butt and do something.

Inneedofbrandy Mon 29-Oct-12 00:13:38

I wonder about the HB changes to with that.

No fishfinger go out and do it.

I would say the majority of foster carers do it because they like children and want to care for them. The money isn't good unless you had 3/4 and have extra skills. I think a lot naively go into it expecting the children to be grateful and SS to support them, which isn't the case.

amillionyears Mon 29-Oct-12 07:02:26

I dont know what Innedofbrandy thinks, but I think some do it for the money,but the majority dont?
If I end up upsetting you, op, please feel free to tell me btw.
Obviously no one has gone through what you have gone through, you are an expert compared to the rest of us.

I have to say, SS did support us when fostering,but I did it about 5-6 years ago.
And my guess is that all areas are different to one another.
I did it through the local council,and they were quite thorough about things at the time.

Inneedofbrandy Mon 29-Oct-12 09:16:51

I think the way we look at this is wrong. If someone said oh I want to be a dr everyone would think s/he wanted to help people, you don't sit looking at the dr thinking your only seeing me because you get paid to.

The same if someone wants to be an architect, you realise you need one and pay to employ one.

I think it could be as a FC you look for reasons why they want you, it makes you suspicious and you never quite get over they are just doing their job. ( I don't have any ideas how to change that either) and being someone's job isn't a nice feeling. I feel FC should be paid more it was £3.75 a day back then and that's not even minimum wage!

Some do do it for the money but I would really like to think that people go into this with the best intentions.

bonnieslilsister Mon 29-Oct-12 11:23:39

I look on it as the money I get enables me to foster. I love fostering and feel very passionate about giving the absolute best to the children with me.

I have though heard one particular foster carer bragging about claims she was making for new bedding, clothes etc and then returning them to the shop and keeping the money. Her foster children got their clothes from car boot sales sad

Bluedolphin1971 Mon 29-Oct-12 11:42:22

Hi OP

I really feel for you when you were younger BUT can completely understand where your coming from.

I wasn't in foster care. I lived with my mum and dad who were alcoholics. I had a really unhappy childhood, had relatives, but they didn't do anything to try to help my sister and I. I felt really unloved, felt I wasn't good enough for my mum and dad to ago drinking and look after us properly. Have gone through life always thinking I wasn't good enough and whenever anyone in my adult life let me down, I always thought I was because of me not being a good enough person. It's only in this last year that I have changed and realised its not MY problem, it's theirs.
I have always come across as being needy and craving attention and affection, and I think it's because of my childhood.

I am in the process of applying to be a foster carer (don't know if I will be accepted because of my depression I suffered in the last year).

I'm so glad you have become the reason you strive to be, and I'm sure your kids will be so proud to have you as their mum.

YOU BE PROUD OF YOURSELF XX

Inneedofbrandy Mon 29-Oct-12 13:09:16

Aww bonnie you sound lovely.

Thank you for sharing Bluedolphin, what kind of fostering are you hoping to do?

amillionyears Mon 29-Oct-12 14:36:37

Can I ask,op,what stopped you carrying on going off the rails so to speak?

Inneedofbrandy Mon 29-Oct-12 16:28:31

Getting pregnant/having my daughter then son. I really don't know where I'd be I can honestly say she saved my life. I still have a massive self destruct button that goes off every now and again but I would of ended up even more in the gutter.

My ambition while in school (got kicked out year 10) and before I got pregnant was to marry a drug dealer. I wasn't a great mum at first, did have a drug dealer boyfriend (that's my ds dad) but he got deported when my ds was 4 months. For the first year of having two 17 months apart I used to fantasise about just walking away, I hated being stuck in with 2 babies. But then I fell in love with them and wanted the best for them, so I changed. I stopped leaving them with my nan every weekend and started putting them first and being a mum.

If I could add anything into the care system it would be counselling for every looked after child whether they say they want it or not, whether you think they are ok or not. I don't think me and knickers were the only kids crying ourselves to sleep while everyone thought we were fine/didn't care.

Fosterangel Mon 29-Oct-12 17:28:13

Absolutely with you on the counselling Inneedof. Have had counselling myself when a teen at school but then I was the lucky one as I had a loving home but was just fighting anyone and everything for a few years. I was angry about my parent's bitter divorce and fought everything (school, mum, sister, and any authority) even fought myself at times with an eating disorder. Makes you feel very alone and is a feeling you can't forget and can lead to trying to help others.

Sometimes you just need someone to say it is going to be ok when you are a child. I hold that thought when the foster teens act up.

Still annoyed about the throwing out the door of your bags..... sorry, won't apologise for being annoyed at that foster carer!

Bluedolphin1971 Mon 29-Oct-12 18:38:22

Hi Inneedofbrandy, I just want to foster and try to help children so would love to do any kind of fostering, it doesn't matter if its long term or short term.

amillionyears Mon 29-Oct-12 19:12:28

I hope it is ok to keep asking questions.
A lot of foster children seem to self sabotage. I never did quite get that. Is that all wrapped up with low self esteem,not feeling worthy?

amillionyears Mon 29-Oct-12 19:13:15

And did you want to marry a drug dealer to "protect" you?

CajaDeLaMemoria Mon 29-Oct-12 19:21:15

Inneedofbrandy - I got your message, so I'm here.

I was in FC a lot younger than everyone who has posted here so far. I spent my entire life being thrown between FC's, my parents and social services.

It affects me dearly, and I wish I'd had some of the foster parents who post on here. They do a fantastic job and I didn't have that. It's all still a bit raw, especially because I had a bit of a breakdown last night, so I'll write everything out another time if anyone's interested. I'll answer any questions anyone has, though.

It's bizarre how similar some things are, when most of the time I did (and do) feel very alone. Crying myself to sleep, for example.

The worst thing, I think, it's the feeling of not belonging. I still don't feel like I belong, anywhere. I never have. I've seen six counsellors, four NHS and two private, all of whom have found everything too damaging to talk about, so I'm not sure there is any hope of me getting over it.

Anyway, I'll stop rambling.

Inneedofbrandy Mon 29-Oct-12 19:58:49

Fosterangle maybe you can suggest it if they still those "how to improve ourselves" things?

Blue I hope your successful getting through and glad your happier now.

amillion its fine ask away, I can't really answer for everyone, for me I just thought fuck it about everything. I could be doing fine, staying in going to school and someone could say hey brandy lets get fucked up tonight and I would think fuck it why not. Everything was fuck it why not because well why not. I didn't (still don't really) ever care about myself or getting in trouble. What was the worst anyone could do, I didn't think it was me I was hurting.
The unsuitable relationships stem from parental issues and low self esteem. I wanted a glamorous life style and liked that street status. My best friends mum was a heroin addict and prostitute around 13/14 all I wanted was to be like her.

Caja thankyou for coming and sharing <<hugs>> any time you want to write it down and get it out do so I'd like to hear. It must be awful being younger and in the system I would assume you get more attached to stream of carers.

I used to think I was the only one crying myself to sleep, now I think back to homes where there was 3/4 of us and can see us all doing it in our own rooms non the wiser about anyone else.

Fosterangel Mon 29-Oct-12 20:02:45

,Amillionyears - a foster child can elect to move to supported lodgings (in a family home still but one where you do your own shopping, cooking, washing & ironing,) from 16yrs and I believe that social services will support a foster child in supported lodgings up to age 21yrs if in full time education or an apprenticeship. Makes sense as most yp's can't afford to leave home these days anyway.

I cannot see how a foster child can move on to complete independence at 16yrs when the school leaving age has recently been raised to 17yrs! I guess fostering needs to catch up with the new school leaving age for it to work.

My teens are welcome to stay as long as they need to. If they can put up with my nagging them to help with chores that is!!

amillionyears Mon 29-Oct-12 20:22:17

Caja, do you have any contact at all with your birth family.
From what I saw, even if there was only 1 semi reliable birth family adult,it all helped. Especially in the belonging situation. One of the foster children I knew had a few battered photos, which quite frankly were the best "things" he owned in his life. He had looked at them hundreds of times,and shown them to almost virtual strangers.

Fosterangel,thanks for that. I think things in that way may have changed a bit in the last few years.

Inneedofbrandy, you are lovely. It would be great for you to start to care about yourself. You are important.

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